Keeping it real!

 

I am now firmly back in the toad land of work, the long  day stretches ahead and the sky can just be glimpsed through the bars of the firmly shut blinds.

My garden is another five days away and only a few pot plants on the desk remind me of the green I am missing.

A few unexpected specks of spherical black, dot my desk and I realize they are insect frass.  On close inspection of my rose scented geranium, I spot eaten leaves and more frass.  There can only be one explanation.  A caterpillar has hitched a ride from the garden and is slowly devouring my plant, utterly safe from all predators on my desk.

I think it is a garden tiger moth caterpillar and as I write, its hairy body is swelling as it ingests the perfumed leaves.  It doesn’t mind being here.  This is safe and profitable for a caterpillar.

Time to take another lesson from nature, I suppose: but when it turns into an extravagantly patterned moth, I will need to find a way to set it free!

Gertrude Bell – The Ketrun – Desert Queen — Stephen Liddell

I reblog this fascinating post about a very important woman and her legacy. We all have those day dreams about who we wished we had been in another life, well Gertrude Bell is mine. Thanks to Steven Liddell for this excellent read.

From time to time, I have written about iconic and pioneering women in relative recent history, well recent by British standards 🙂 I also sometimes write about the Middle-East which is actually the one area of life that I can actually claim to have some academic expertise. So I have finally taken the opportunity to […]

via Gertrude Bell – The Ketrun – Desert Queen — Stephen Liddell

A cautionary tale .

This photo shows sparrows eating a mound of instant noodles on my bird table. They don’t believe in clean eating and would turn their beaks up in righteous disgust at a spiralised courgette . This doesn’t mean however that I normally cooked up such preprocessed junk even for the birds, so why this heap of quick cook gunk today?

The answer lies in tectonic plates and inescapable caution. We live on a fault line, the Rhine Valley, which may have been dormant for 700 years, but you can never be too careful. If the faults should shift and the house should fall, and we should some how escape, we would be ok, as we have an emergency box in the garden shed.

That is a lot of “shoulds”, but if we managed to drag ourselves out of the wreckage and dig through the flattened wooden shed, we would discover a large trunk of life sustaining goodies.

We have a tent, sleeping bags, first aid stuff, water purifying tabs . We also have basic food that could be cooked on wood from the wood store. These delicacies include tins of hot dogs and instant noodles.

Assuming we survive the nuclear power plant melt down, the zombie apocalypse and final release from the internet, we could get by for a few days. There is even cat food in the box.

This monument to hope/stupidity was assembled some years ago. This summer we opened it again, to find many out of date cans and a lot of mice nests. The mice were evicted, in date food replaced the old, and voila the sparrows got to eat the old noodles!

I hope in a few years time to repeat the exercise, use the next batch of out dated food to feed these sparrows off spring and continue to hope for peaceful times, a quiet earth and a cautious approach.

Slip, slop.

IMG_1984Larkin’s “Work Toad” is slowly, slip slopping his way towards me. With webbing and slime he makes his heavy, warty and unwanted way towards me, slowly, inexorably muttering bills, and health insurance and pension and taxes. And then plop! He is in my lap, heavy and inevitable. I wriggle, but there is no escape and we must share each other’s cold burden for another long year together.

Caught in time.

This tiny blue butterfly took a fancy to my hat and spent much of the day photogenically attached to me, as we wandered around an upland meadow earlier this week. It sat on my hair, when I took off the hat and it rested on my water bottle when it tired of riding on the hat. I don’t know what the butterfly got out of our interaction, but when I looked closely at his wonderful compound eye, I knew I was looking into something immensely old and extraordinary.
This photo was taken using a microscope of a fly caught in a chip of amber bought recently. The eye is concave from the pressure of the ancient resin, but still very recognisably and unchanged: an insect.

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Some other insect eyes from recent moth trapping, watching me across the ages, include lesser elephant hawk moth and oak eggar moth.

I wonder which one of us understands more of life on this planet?

The First Flower

Apologies to any one who clicked on my last post and found nothing.
I was trying to repost a fantastic article from the Guardian news paper about the evolution of flowers. This is a link to allow you to read it for yourself.

Mother of all blooms: is this what the last common ancestor of flowers looked like?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/aug/01/mother-of-all-blooms-is-this-what-the-last-common-ancestor-of-flowers-looked-like?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

I never ceased to be astonished by the variety and beauty of flowers, which I think is actually a very deep seated human acknowledgement of their absolute centrality to human existence. They are not just pretty – they give us life!

To prevent further pontification, here is a picture of one of my garden ornaments contemplating a bat dropping on the bathroom window sill.
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