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Archive for November, 2010

So maybe I’m referencing Wayne Newton, and that’s atrocious. In my head, I’m referencing Ferris Bueller, which makes it OK for this child of the 80s. Anyway, here’s a mollusk-free but nature-ful posst.

It’s been a slow sizzle between summer and fall in Central Park. It happens a lot later than in the Adirondacks or the Hudson Valley, but it’s pretty great, I must say.

The swan has moved in (perhaps for the whole winter?) and lets me know on a regular basis that I’m not welcome in its domain, which includes the walking paths around the Meer, it’ll have me know.

It’s OK with the occasional egret, however.

One of my favorite things I started seeing in the early fall this year were puffballs.

Then the warblers migrated through. They are so tiny, adorable, and yellow, and nearly impossible for me to photograph. It’s about like this:

Black-throated Green Warbler
(photo: The Zen Birdfeeder)

Then a gentleman in my neighborhood who, like me, celebrates a fall birthday, enjoyed his 107th! Dang!

The leaves finally started changing color.

Even the bald cypress trees, which are deciduous conifers.

The gingko trees started dropping their little vomit-bombs, but I forgive them this offense because they’re so lovely when they turn yellow.

It’s been lovely to witness. It gets a little ugly around here in the wintertime as whatever snow we get tends to leave straight away, but I’m sure there will be a picturesque moment here and there. As a parting image, my favorite that I took this fall.

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When Mollusks ruled the Earth…

OK, it was dinosaurs, but still. Through some funny circumstances I ended up at the American Museum of Natural History twice this weekend. All of these photos came from a single diorama about the Cretaceous ocean. It’s like mollusk central!

This one is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

This ammonite’s biiiiig.

What I love about this phalanx of squids is that the front two are three dimensional and the one in the back is not. Hats off to the diorama painter.

Such cool variety, all hanging out by that big ammonite’s tentacles.

AMNH is really a great place to go if you want some great fake mollusk sightings (plenty of real shells, though!). I’m clambering to see some real live mollusks, but I’m not sure when my next chance for that will be.

All of the above faux mollusks were in just one of the many dioramas in the Hall of Ocean Life. Perhaps the most well known diorama in the hall is the Squid and the Whale. I couldn’t get a photo of it because it’s shrouded in darkness–I love that about it, it’s actually very easy to miss because of just how dark it is– and I was armed with only my flashless iPhone, but thankfully flickr saved the day, as usual.

the squid and the whale
(photo: Cpt Obvious)

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The drive is over for this year, and I’ve emailed all of the prize winners. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who donated! Back to our regularly scheduled mollusk programming.

A new large squid species was discovered! The specimen in that article looks like it has seen better days…

Still not as disturbing as counterfeit cuttlefish!

This one’s the real deal, though.
Flamboyant Cuttlefish Macro

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So I have this rule that I’m not allowed to buy t-shirts, because I can’t wear them to work and I should spend my clothing money on nice work clothes instead. Super boring, right? It’s the reason that the human inside this amazing (and glow in the dark, I might add) t-shirt from the Peabody Museum is my husband and not me. He does wear t-shirts to work, and maybe I slightly coerced him into buying it so I could live vicariously. Whatevs, it glows in the frakkin’ dark!

I recently broke the rule when I saw this shirt on etsy.

Ho-lee cow. Ernst Haeckel nudibranchs on a t-shirt? Sign me up!

I’ve had the shirt for a little while now, and I haven’t actually worn it yet… because I can’t wear t-shirts to work. Sigh. Perhaps this weekend!

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I just finished the book The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. I’m not even sure how I heard of this book, and all I knew going in was that it was about a woman’s convalescence in the presence of a snail. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, honestly. I’m not usually into memoirs, but this didn’t read like a memoir to me at all. It was much more like observations of an old-school naturalist, with some musings on the side about how the snail’s life intersected with the author’s during a time that she was recovering slowly from a debilitating disease that left her in bed all of the time and very fragile with what kinds of stimulus she could handle. This snail, brought to her by a friend on a whim, quite literally saved her life, just by doing its snail thing. It’s charming and beautifully written, and philosophical in a way that isn’t grand or overreaching, more like the personal philosophy one can find in poetry. It’s a book I know I’ll revisit.

The book also is very studied and packed with mollusk facts. It has such a tremendous list of sources at the end, some of which I hope to read myself to get some more snaily goodness in my life. In particular, I’m currently in love with Kobayashi Issa, a prolific haiku poet. He has a searchable database of his haikus; seriously, check out just how many snail poems there are!

I like this one a lot, especially this translation by R.H. Blyth:

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

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Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone came up with some great costumes. I was so thrilled that Winston, my favorite cat on the internet (Maru, you run a close second) dressed up as a mollusk this year. Snailtastic.

I did the octopus costume but I didn’t get any photos. Whoops!

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