Saturday 14 February 2009

Mushroom Love

More pics on the theme of kissing. It was a photo competition at the guardian, and as usual they picked the predictable cliche as the winner. I think this one should have won. It's the most fun of the bunch, but these mushrooms made my heart sing.

Falling in love at 76 and 77

A brief story of two people who found love together late in life.

Within a week he made the 245-mile round trip from his home in Perth up to me in the Highlands for our first date. He's such a romantic that he'd arranged for a big bouquet of flowers to arrive before him. When I saw him I felt I'd known him all my life. He had lost an eye and part of his leg in the Korean war, but he's a fine man. Instead, I was worried he wouldn't find me attractive. As soon as I opened the door to him, I said, "If you don't like me, I'd rather you just said so now and turned away", but he didn't. As we talked, we knew we were meant for each other.

Stuart's very different from my first husband - he's half bald, but he reminds me that he once was a young thing with a full head of hair. It's strange looking at pictures of each other when we were younger. We wish we'd met earlier, but at least we've met each other now.

It is Valentine's day

and I have been wombatted. Also, dogloved. Oh. ♥

Tar on a wet path

Friday 13 February 2009

Kiss The Frog Only If You Really Mean It

An article about the science and alchemy of kissing:

In a recent study, Fisher's team used a medical scanning technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 49 men and women who said they were deeply in love. Of the volunteers, 17 had just fallen in love, 15 had been rejected and 17 said they were still in love after an average of 21 years of marriage. They concluded that romantic love can become long-term "if you kiss the right person", Fisher said.

A London Quintet

Thursday 12 February 2009

Hey baby, let's devolve together

Lucy, half a million years ago. Go on, you'd have wanted to evolve with me, wouldn't you?

This is a variation on the high school prom picture site that was doing the rounds 6 months ago. It's quite fun. You upload a photo of yourself, and watch yourself devolve (using a somewhat primitive reimaging system but it's fun enough for your next five minutes) and find out how you looked up to 3.7 million years ago. Funnily enough, the 500,000 year old species that was used to inspire the above photo was found in Heidelberg, Germany, which is the native home of Oliver, my friend the species historian, whose specialism is the homos throughout time. His facebook profile image features him holding a skull of a pre-homo sapiens human from a Long Time Ago.

Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Darwin!

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Tuesday 10 February 2009

We talk to ourselves in public

I do, do you? I talk to myself much as I talk to a lover or sister or close friend, about the issues of the day. I've always done it, since earliest childhood. I had my first imaginary friend at 2, her name was Ebony and she was black. In fact, I think she was the only black girl in all of Ireland at the time, imaginary or not. I had various imaginary and living human friends throughout my childhood at different times. But through the whole time, and still, I have always talked to myself. I would be talking to myself now if I wasn't writing this. Though I often talk to myself while I am writing. I break off to talk to myself. It is something very deep in me. Like a cup of tea. Deeper. It is an intimacy, a confidence, a trust, a fun thing. I tell myself jokes and jive, and I think over Difficult Subjects, and I consider out loud the ideas and inspirations that come. And when I get a song in the middle of the night, like I did last night, I sing it out loud.

I am aware that I am probably viewed very differently to an older person, when I walk along the street, yapping away. I suppose there is nothing to be done about that, except to enjoy it while I'm young. I love the fact that I don't really care about how I am perceived, though sometimes it feels like a kind of intrusion.

Do you do this too? Does any of this sound familiar to you? I would LOVE to hear from you. I mean, it's not something that would be meaningful really in itself, to have a roomful of people who talk to themselves out loud in public and private and anywhere they feel like it, because we'd most likely get on with talking to each other. But you know, there would be a kind of kinship.

The murder of Timmy Tiptoes so that Squirrel Nutkin can live off the fat of the land.

They're killing grey squirrels in southern Scotland, and they think they can soften the reality of it by changing a vowel and using an alternate consonant. They call it a 'cull'. It is an effort to increase the red squirrel population in the area. The grey squirrels apparently carry some kind of squirrelpox virus, which has no effect on them but kills off red squirrels.

Naturalists and landowners are joining forces today in a drive to effectively wipe out the grey squirrel from northern Scotland. It is believed to be the largest cull of a mammal yet seen in the UK, with many tens of thousands of grey squirrels expected to be trapped and killed under the government-sponsored project and shot on sight, legally, by landowners.

I was followed around Kew Gardens in London for a whole day by a pair of red squirrels. It was my birthday and I spent it jiving with some squirrels, feeding them brazil nuts, until we met a peacock who felt he deserved them better. He didn't get any. His wife snatched my last brazil nut out of my hand and swallowed it down while I learned something about practicality and the distractions of prettiness. I also got a very sore thumb from chipping at the nuts with my thumbnail. Brazil nuts are hard.

I think it is a terrible pity that humans are intervening in the natural wild profligacy of our friend, personally known to me as the Brooklyn Squirrel. I wonder if Tate and Thea have heard about this? They live in London now. They would HAPPILY make the journey north to help in any way they could to save the noble red squirrels from the pestilent grey one. Um, and then they will HAPPILY eat the red one too, because, uh, you never know.

But really, what are they using: baseball bats? Is this like a baby seal thing? I hear there's a shoot on sight policy. Shooting squirrels? Don't they see how this will be hijacked as a license to vent violent energies without fear of chastisement? Is this why they are really doing it?

And what will be done with the meat?

Monday 9 February 2009


This is being framed in a "When Good Stoats Go Bad" kind of way, but to me it looks like a slinky creature having fun in the snow. Pity I can't embed it, BBC also uploaded it to youtube but disabled embedding, even though they put their logo all over the video.

Apparently the chica can go like this for 15 minutes at a time.

I saw a fox behaving in like manner on Tuesday night in Camden town, London, on Mornington Street, by the bridge. She ducked into a garden when she felt herself being looked at. The second fox I saw in London. The first was on Monday night, sniffing around for food and exploring the snow, in the garden of the house I was staying in, also in Camden.

Um, did you get the Simple Minds reference in the title? Now look again.