urbpan: (dandelion)
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Hooray, it's [livejournal.com profile] elainetyger! It seems long overdue that we meet in person. It was a quick visit, a tour of the Tropical Forest building, then we parted. Next time for drinks!
urbpan: (dandelion)
There’s one person’s LiveJournal that I’ve read for the past few years. It’s really two people—they’re a couple and they live in Boston and they foster pit bulls. For some reason I clung onto them five or six years ago. I don’t know how I found them, but I check in on both of them all the time. I sent the guy a book he was saying he wanted. I hoped he'd write on his blog, "A mysterious stranger sent me the book I wanted," but he never did.

That was Fiona Apple, interviewed in 2012 (and excepted in the oh no you didn't lj comm). The sad truth is that the book never arrived--I had a mailbox at a check cashing place for over 10 years, and then they stopped having mailboxes. I switched to a UPS store for a few years before I realized that I didn't make a zine anymore, and I didn't really need a special place for receiving mail from strangers. Somewhere in that span of time, the book was sent but lost in the postal void.

Fortunately, a short time later, I posted asking if anyone reading my journal was in Los Angeles, since I was going to be visiting. I got a VERY suspicious email from someone claiming to be Fiona Apple, and it caused me to wrack my brain trying to figure out who was trying to gaslight me. After a few emails back and forth, I became convinced that she was who she said she was.

Which was fortunate for me, because Fiona was exceptionally generous, providing opportunities for my father, brother, and I to be entertained at the Largo theater in Hollywood. We even got to meet Fiona backstage:

ANYway you've probably read most of this before, and what I'm trying to get around to saying is, Fiona got me the book again.

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Thanks Fiona! So happy to have you in our life, and at our cottage.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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This blog's biggest fan was in town this past weekend, and really wanted to be in a 3:00 snapshot. How could I say no?
Read more... )
urbpan: (dandelion)
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It may not be as lovely as some of the mushrooms that appear in summer and fall, but Exidia recisa is among the loveliest mushrooms that typically appears in the winter. Translucent, gelatinous, and the color of maple syrup, this mushroom appears on dead twigs blown down in winter rainstorms. In dry weather it dehydrates to a black crust, but can swell back up and resume releasing spores if it gets wet again.

Attempts to give it a common name are surprisingly clumsy, considering how common the mushroom indeed is. "Willow brain" is evocative, but the fungus can grow on a variety of trees; "Brown witch's butter" misses the mark, texturally speaking. The field guides tend to be maddeningly brief when discussing this fruiting body--it often gets a single line at end of the description of another similar-looking or related species.

On the question of edibility--something that occurs to hungry foragers this time of year, when pickings are slim--I have a story I tell my students. I showed a friend--one who is reading this on livejournal and tumblr--how to identify the mushroom when dry and reconstitute it, and she has eaten a great deal of them. And she's still alive.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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This time around [livejournal.com profile] mizdarkgirl suggested that we walk in the Blakely Hoar Nature Sanctuary in Brookline. We had twice as many people participating as we did January 2014. I took about a million photos, of which I've posted 20 or so:
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urbpan: (dandelion)
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This is Don, he works at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory. I didn't know this when he came along on the Urban Nature Walk at Great Blue Hill. All I knew was that he knew his way around the hill well, so I let him lead the way. When we got to the top of the hill, there was the observatory. He led us in and showed us around.

The instrument he is touching is a Campbell–Stokes sunlight recorder. There was another one on the roof of the observatory. It consists of a crystal ball mounted in a bracket that holds specially shaped strips of paper below. When the sunlight hits the crystal, it focuses on the paper, burning a line across as the earth rotates. You can see a bunch of the papers in the lower part of the photograph.
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urbpan: (dandelion)
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5 people for a December Urban Nature walk is pretty good! This was our group picture, taken from the top of Great Blue Hill, the highest point near Boston (also the highest point within 10 miles of the coast, in Southern New England).

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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My friend [livejournal.com profile] dedhamoutside and I co-led an Urban Nature Walk in the Dedham Town Forest (previously seen here). This sign is relatively new. On the one hand, it's nice for the town to recognize the Town Forest; on the other, now it's more visible for use and abuse. We set out with the intention to find mushrooms and other living things!

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urbpan: (dandelion)
Tomorrow I leave for Orlando Florida. There I will attend the national conference for the American Association of Zoo Keepers. There will be some (very small amount of) free time to do other stuff, and I'll be with my brother and father. I'm hoping to meet some friends I only know from online. Does anyone reading this want to meet up somewhere?

It's my first zookeeper conference, so I'm just going to try to absorb the atmosphere and meet a lot of people. I'm very curious about the city and the surroundings, so hopefully I'll see some of it. I have almost no curiosity about the theme parks, except professionally--how are their pest control programs.

I think my snapshots are going to get interesting for a couple days, then really boring (inside of conference room in hotel). We'll see.

I'll try to check up on my social media in case anyone wants to hang out. You know my email address.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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My dad came to visit on Sunday. Unbeknownst to him, an old LJ friend was also in town, so our mission was to meet up. First Dad had to love on his Charlie a little.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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Hey [livejournal.com profile] lyonesse, [livejournal.com profile] m0053, [livejournal.com profile] reikirockerchic, [livejournal.com profile] iainzard the bumper stickers are in. G'wan paypal me 5 bucks

Send a check to Jef Taylor 1 Franklin Park Road Boston MA 02121 and write in one of the following names:
Pittie Love Rescue
AAZK Zoo New England
Planned Parenthood
American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International

I'll send you the bumper sticker when I get the money or check. DON'T FORGET YOUR MAILING ADDRESS.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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At the end of the last Urban Nature Walk my friend [livejournal.com profile] dedhamoutdoors suggested we walk near Little Wigwam Pond (this is pronounced "little wiggum pond" in order to differentiate locals from carpetbaggers). A couple days later she said she found sundew plants there, and I said "sounds good! you're leading!" or words to that effect.

This first picture shows the group exploring life along the train tracks.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
This past Saturday I went to Dedham Trail Day. There were tables from local businesses and organizations (free pulled pork and ice cream!) and a friendly atmosphere. But the main reason I went was because my friend [livejournal.com profile] dedhamoutdoors was going to lead a nature walk on a newly opened trail! photo IMG_6470_zps913e5d80.jpg
As I waited for the nature walk to start, I walked along the milkweed looking for creatures. I found several longlegged flies, but they move so quick that the only way to catch one was to get this shot of its shadow from below.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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We had a great big group on today's Urban Nature Walk at Ponkapoag Pond! I can't remember the last time we had 10 people together on a walk. Great showing, especially considering the weather was damp and raw.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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Wilson Mountain Reservation is a protected patch of woods on a stony hill in Dedham. The main entrance has a parking area which is almost always packed with cars full of dog owners taking their pets for a quick ramble up the path, often off-leash. My good friend [livejournal.com profile] dedhamoutdoors knows her town well, and took me to the back side of the Reservation, where we didn't see another human or canine soul. Perhaps the persistent light rain helped.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
It was quite a nice surprise to hear my story of being covered with peacock lice repeated on the Caustic Soda Podcast! If you would like to hear all about lice, with a balance of good science information, dumb jokes, and grossness, listen here. Thanks to lj friend [livejournal.com profile] wirrrn for immortalizing my tale of bird lice in my beard.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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The beaches at Sanibel and nearby Fort Myers Beach, I noticed, are composed mostly of the surf-ground skeletons of bivalve mollusks. It ranges from unbelievably fine, to entire shells.

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urbpan: (dandelion)
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I am indebted to my friend Ale (pronounced Allie) for suggesting the Cedar Grove Cemetery for our October Urban Nature Walk. It's large, beautiful, and unique. It borders the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester on one side and the Neponset River on the other. It is well-planted with sugar maples and other plants that are aglow with autumn colors (including the Boston ivy shown here).Read more... )
urbpan: (dandelion)
If you like my photos, but would like to see them done by someone with more skill and better equipment (I mean the camera) you might be interested in [livejournal.com profile] cottonmanifesto's journal. Also referred to as Beloved Wife, she makes a mean insect macro not to mention an endless supply of adorable dog photos. ESPECIALLY pit bull puppies.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Alexis and I set off for New York City, the first time the two of us traveled there together. I was quite skeptical about traveling by car--traffic, parking, etc. We were on our way to [livejournal.com profile] buboniclou's wedding, where Alexis was going to be the photographer.
Read on only if you want to hear me whine )


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