exploring life in all its variety

July 7, 2012

Red Dragonfly

Yesterday a dragonfly visited.

Not just any dragonfly. A Red Dragonfly. It flew into my side yard yesterday while I sat idling, taking a break from the internet and my dependence on it, thinking about spending the rest of the day knitting. I sat there looking at our avocado trees, which currently include three new, young ones, two in the ground, one in a pot, the smaller trees staked with bamboo sticks.

On one of those bamboo sticks, this Red Dragonfly landed, took off, flew around, and came back again to sit on top of the bamboo. It did this a few times before I realized what it was doing, using the top of the bamboo stake as a vantage point from which to hunt the tiny insects it kept flying up to snap out of the air. (Photos at bottom of post.) (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 1:28 pm PST, 07/07/12
February 20, 2008

The argument for fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

In an interview at Alternet titled Michael Pollan Debunks Food Myths, author Michael Pollan discusses his new book, In Defense of Food. He talks about why news of the latest scientific nutritional studies is probably not the best source for nutrition information, and how the best eating advice given to Americans in the past five decades is probably the simplest — that fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good for us. According to him, we’re likely best off getting back to basics.

Pollan says:

“I’m not a Luddite; I’m not anti-science. I’m fascinated by nutritional science. But I’ve also acquired a healthy skepticism about how much and how little they know. It has only been around for about 175 years. Its history is of one overlooked nutrient after another. As I see it, nutrition science is kind of where surgery was in the year 1650, which is to say very interesting and promising, but do you really want to get on the table yet?” (read article)

Further on, Pollan mentions how the “imitation rule” was eliminated by the FDA, without going through Congress, and how what we eat has in some sense become a political statement. According to Pollan, cooking our own food from scratch may now be a subversive act:

“It’s funny to think of something as domestic as cooking and gardening as subversive, but it is. It is the beginning of taking back control from a system that would much rather do everything for you.” (read article)

File: — Barbara @ 2:02 pm PST, 02/20/08
September 2, 2007


This has been a good summer for butterflies in my little corner of the world. I’ve seen a lot more variety this year than in past years, and yesterday I sighted a Western Tiger Swallowtail in a pepper tree in the yard behind ours. It surprised me, and at first glance I thought I was seeing an oriole making like a butterfly, it was so large. I haven’t seen many swallowtails since I was a kid, and then I usually saw darker, smaller ones, maybe the Anise Swallowtail, which looks more familiar to me. I think the most common butterfly of my childhood was the Mourning Cloak, but I rarely see those now.

File: — Barbara @ 9:06 pm PST, 09/02/07
August 3, 2006

Global dimming

Ever heard of global dimming? Here are some links worth reading:

Contrails And The Dark Side

Dim Sun

Why the Sun seems to be ‘dimming’

Global Warming Could Mean Less Sunshine

One of the most interesting facts about solar dimming/global warming is that an important observation was made when all commercial flights over the US stopped during the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That pause in flights allowed scientists an opportunity to observe what happened to weather patterns without the contrails from so many aircraft in the atmosphere. I first learned of global dimming in a documentary that aired on PBS’s Nova. Here’s their transcript:

Dimming the Sun

Another documentary aired on UK television last year:

Global Dimming

File: — Barbara @ 7:10 pm PST, 08/03/06
March 16, 2006

Ivory-billed woodpecker extinct after all?

The issue of whether it really was an ivory-billed woodpecker that was video-taped back in April 2005 has heated up, with some experts concluding that the bird in the video was a pileated woodpecker after all, and that the ivory-billed is indeed extinct. Still, some searchers say they’ve heard the distinctive knock of the ivory-billed, and Arkies aren’t discouraged. The search goes on. Scroll down, at this article, for some image comparisons.

File: — Barbara @ 6:35 pm PST, 03/16/06
July 9, 2005

Celebrating modern heroes: Sally Vreseis Fox

In a world where artificial and chemically processed products are too often valued over natural, it’s important to celebrate the heroes of biodiversity and environmentally friendly farming and manufacturing.

One of my heroes of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries is Sally Vreseis Fox, president of Natural Cotton Colours, Inc. Sally developed a naturally occurring colored cotton, once considered an annoying genetic throwback by modern American cotton farmers, into commercially useful, naturally colored and organically grown cotton fiber.

File: — Barbara @ 2:50 pm PST, 07/09/05
April 29, 2005

Ivory-billed woodpecker sighted in Arkansas

This exciting reemergence of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Rediscovered in Arkansas, a bird thought to be extinct in the U.S. for 60 years, made my day. Thanks to The View From My Window for the link, in A Good Day For Birders!

File: — Barbara @ 2:01 pm PST, 04/29/05


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