Sunday, December 27, 2009

What a face!!!

Many of us in our middle years have been discussing aging and we are concerned that we don't seem to have a good fix on how to do this "well". To be clear "well" doesn't mean faux or continual youth. Where is the book we are supposed to read? I thought that I would trade off young skin and excess energy for wisdom -- a deal I expected to strike graciously. I am still waiting for wisdom and a better sense of the trade offs. As usual, by and large, there are very few people of any age that seem to be having a really good time but it does seem the odds diminish with time, maybe? Well perhaps in lieu of clarity and insight I was thinking I should get some props, an avatar, and a maybe a new name as I explore my expanded self identity for my elder years. This particular face (in the picture) caught my eye. She is fierce looking, extraordinary, and colorful. There is a wonderful mix of dignified and silly in this face that might be what I am striving for. I took heart from the fact that in my later searches I found the picture of an Indonesian tribal woman wearing a makeshift Hornbill as evidence I might be on the right track. Prove me wrong.

In the biological texts the scientists speculate in wonder about the "horn bill" and "casque" (the hat part) & its purpose. What a silly question really. If you could grow a hornbill why on earth wouldn't looks so cool.

Fun fact.... the bill is yellow because of the secretions from the "preen gland" which they spread onto the bill to give them the bright yellow color. The "preen gland" is near (at) the back end of the bird and common to most birds. Studies suggest that the preen oils are effective against lice. Not only that but the preeny oil harbours symbiotic bacteria whose excretions reduce the activity of feather-degrading bacteria and thus help to preserve the plumage of the bird.

Ok, enough diversion... Anyone else have some good advice for aging with dignity, humor, and imagination? Would it help to buy a red umbrella? Gay was very proud of her "Salon"-- her membership and affiliation with a group of highly intelligent literary women of good humor and various ages who came together to discuss topics of all sorts. These classy women might have a bit to say about the topic of aging if we can get them in the right mood. Cathy, Ann, Win, Libby, Helen, Jo, Ellen, Jane, Betty, et al? There are a group of us here in Vermont that would love to hear more about this topic.

Greetings readers, Barb Contini sent me this book for Christmas and, sadly, I have finished it. What a kick! It is clever, funny, and heartfelt. If you like words and characters, this is a good one.

Anyone else that has a suggestion of a great read please share it. Camille mentioned "Half-broke Horses" by Jeanne Walls. She used the NYT best 10 list. If you have a suggestion-- even if it is old--- send it along. We are headed to Spain (Valendia) and surrounds and one plan I have solidly formed is to sit and read. And, practice my Spanish of course.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I just had to post this. It always makes me laugh. Reiley Lewis, I shall always think of you when I see it too.

Hello, Merry Christmas or whatever midwinter holiday you celebrate. This is a video of my son Morgan (yes, he has grown) juggling the new luminescent balls his uncle gave to him for Christmas. We decided to have our festivities a day early and skip on the wrapping and have more time to play. We were so pleased to give ourselves permission to do this. Despite Morgan's attire it is not warm here. There is feet of snow and way below freezing. I think he does it to taunt his mother-- old ice hands -- as she is known around here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Close up... in case it inspires more keywords. Surely a mascot for something?
Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology | Video on

This is an incredible view into a future possibility and into the mind and experience of one young man whose intelligence and wisdom made my heart happy. Go India!, and congratulations to Panav Mistry for connecting to us mere mortals.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is a snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina). She/he has a wonderful ancient face. There are numerous interesting facts about snapping turtles and I will tell you two.

First, on wikipedia the content about the common snapping turtle is mostly about how to (or not to) pick one up and move it.

The second is that the common snapping turtle is the state reptile of New York. It was nominated by elementary school children and then received "sweeping" approval by the New York Legislature. Anyone who followed this past year of the New York legislature can appreciate that sweeping approval isn't something they are used to. Does anyone know of other state reptiles?

I need to put keywords to this image for the stock photo companies. Besides all the obvious biological ones can you name some conceptual ones that come to mind? Help...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Every day I find a new "favorite" photo in Gay's collection. As I continued working with more butterflies and caterpillars-- sorting and selecting the images I began to wonder "what exactly happens inside the chrysalis?". Ah, you are in for a treat, the answer is incredible.

My image of frivolous beings is gone. I am slack-jawed with what I learn about butterflies (Lepidoptera). In the previous post I was musing about what it might feel like to emerge from the chrysalis state and find yourself transformed into a butterfly (the imago). It is a vulnerable state. They have to dry out, pump up and harden their wings and establish circulation, make a proboscis (the tube they use like a straw to feed with), and not get eaten.

The process of transformation is simply amazing-- science fiction couldn't do better. A caterpillars and butterfly have all the same parts but these parts are formed for completely different life stages and purposes. As one biologist said "Caterpillars are all about eating, and butterflies are all about sex"

The caterpillar molts and then instead of creating new skin it makes a chrysalis. It then digests itself. It melts-- all of it, heart, nervous system, mouth....a partial death.

Most of the body breaks down into the "imaginal cells", which are undifferentiated -- like stem cells, they can become any type of cell. The chrysalis is a thimble-sized bag of fluid like a culture media. From this soup, in a matter of weeks or so, it varies with season and species, the imaginal cells put themselves back together into a new shape.

For a nice verbal and audio description of the process go to:

This process is hormonally regulated, of course....It is impossible for me to imagine what the caterpillar thinks is going to happen as it heads off to make the chrysalis. But, I suppose granting too much psychology to zoology should be done with caution.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Freedom may start by feeling terrible. Wet wings, whole body aches, spinning head, confusion, disorientation, gripping on to a stick, and then..... after awhile, your wings dry a bit, and you think ... "maybe I will go suck some juice out of a flower and feel better"
You aren't even sure what a flower is really but the whole idea sounds right.