29 September 2009

2009 Saw Mill River Parkway BIOBLITZ

On this past Saturday, I journeyed with several other resident "nature nerds" here at college to the campus of Pace University, in Pleasantville, New York, just outside of Sleepy Hollow (I know, right?!) for an interesting nation-wide event known as the BioBlitz. Held locally at the Saw Mill River Parkway, it was a two-day event in which many local scientists, naturalists, and ambitious students arranged in teams sought to identify and report as many species as possible within the area. They focused mainly on animals, plants and fungi, and I volunteered for the tedious, but rewardingly fascinating job of data entry; I took the lists from the various teams and entered the lists of species, locations, and scientific names into a computer database. It was long, but after much counting, categorizing, and re-assigning, we came up with a conservative estimate of at least 636 species in that little area! Go Hudson River Valley! It was wonderful to be on the job of data entry, if only to be able to familiarize myself with the still-unfamiliar wildlife in this beautiful area.

Perhaps out of this recent interest pique, I've begun reading a collection of essays called The Poetics of Natural History, a birthday gift from the best friend, which is blowing my mind with its beauty and thoughtfulness. Thanks, my dearest and loveliest lady friend, wherever and whenever you may be reading this!

22 September 2009

Merry Mabon, Everyone!

Today is the first day of autumn, or Mabon, according to Celtic mythology. Here in New York, I can feel the season approaching more and more quickly--the wind is restless, the cicadas are slowly being silenced, and even the dogwoods are turning pink and showing off Christmas-red fruit. It is still sundress weather in the daytime, but at night it cools into something smooth and playful, and the two resident skunks here on campus are taking advantage of the mild weather. I see them scrounging in the rubbish bin outside my dormitory almost every night.

I finished the David Attenborough BBC series, The Life of Birds yesterday on my Netflix online account. It was thoroughly enjoyable, although I've endured no end of teasing from Jamie and the others for being such a nature dork. Speaking of which, I've found out about the hiking/exploration group here on campus--GORP, which stands for something of course, but the R eludes me. So far, the groups I have joined or am looking to join are that one and the SLC Stitch N Bitch (so I can learn to knit!).

I'm off to my history of photography class now, so I shall leave this post, but I thought I'd drop in for a hello. Once again, a merry Mabon to everyone, and I hope it cools down in Modesto soon!

08 September 2009

Fox and Deer

Perhaps I'll develop this imagery in a later piece of writing, but for now, just gaze upon the adorableness:
It's a little like M. Benjamin and me, don't you think? He's all lanky and gentle and quiet, like a deer, and I am all pointy and quick and busy like a fox. Would that either of our ears were as cute as these little guys'!

06 September 2009

From the Top of the Rocks

Well, yesterday was Laura's birthday, so we spent the evening in the city. It's a funny thing, but the whole experience made me feel, for the first time, that I'm actually living here in New York.

We took a train into Grand Central and then hopped the Subway from there to our first destination, a lovely Mexican restaurant called Rosa Mexicano. While the entrées were priced a bit outside our budgets, we took advantage of their sizable and reasonably priced appetizer menu to build for ourselves a meal. Jamie and Laura each ordered the tortilla soup for a "first course," and were surprised to see it come to the table in two vessels apiece: they were each given a bowl with a little heap of chicken, fried tortilla strips, queso fresco, and avocado, and then our server poured in over the mound a thick, brick-red soup. I ordered the house salad to start off, which was a pile of mixed greens, shredded carrots and jicama, quarters red and yellow grape tomatoes, and a delicate, sweet-and-spicy vinaigrette with mint and sweet peppers.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, we got our second dishes. Laura and Jamie had ordered the flautas and taquitos, respectively, and I ordered a dish called "Zarape de Pato," which will go down in history as one of the most delectable dishes that has ever passed between these lips. It was made of tender, juicy, seasoned duck, shredded with spices and sandwiched between two soft corn tortillas and drenched over with a smooth, sweet, creamy puréed corn sauce. It was fantastic, sweet, spicy, smokey, and the duck was cooked as I've never seen it before--not chewy, not stringy, not tough, and not overly gamey. We left very full and very happy, and walked next to Rockefeller Square, where we had previously purchased tickets to go up to the "Top of the Rocks," at the top of the Rockefeller building. I need say not a thing--here are the photos:

Some of them are a little blurry, but I think it only adds to the charm.

You always here people describe the lights of New York City, the silver and neon, the sky that's never black, but it's another thing entirely to see it, and from above. Looking out over the city, with the golden September moon above me, I cannot say that I felt as though I were home. But I can say that this whole experience no longer felt like summer camp.

We walked about the city a little more after that and then caught a 10:30 train back to Bronxville. We were tired and our feet were thrashed, but we'd had a lovely time.

01 September 2009

Almost Forgotten...

I realized this morning that I never posted the surprise I mentioned I had worked on for Michael Benjamin. It was a sidewalk mural, the remains of which I'm sure are long-gone by now. Such is the ephemeral beauty of impermanent street art...

I suppose that's why cameras were invented.

Just imagine these images as left-to-right instead of up-to-down... It's a peach tree in blossom, swarming with honeybees, and it says, "For my Peach, from his Honeybee."

Interviewing Begins in the Hudson River Valley! We All Go Dotty! Yippee!

I don't know that anyone who reads by blog will recognize the subtle Sufjan Stevens reference in the above title. Maybe Sean.

Anyhow, the arduous process of interviewing our professors for classes has begun. This experience, set to the sometimes subtle, sometimes unbearable soundtrack of clicking high heels, frantic asking for directions, and summer cicadas, is unlike any I've ever had. I will admit that despite its anxious effect on my nerves is somewhat counteracted by the fact that searching for all these people's offices has led be to some beautiful and yet-undiscovered corners of the campus, like Andrews House, with its round stone tower, winding staircase, and archways, and the campus Greenhouse, all abloom with all sorts of roses and hydrangeas.

The stress of interviews has caused my friends and I a bit of counter-stress craziness. Observe our anti-dance dance party:

This is Jamie rocking out to some of her excellent music. She should never eat cookies, as they cause her much injury.

Laura loves to wear robes and does an excellent slow-motion seagull dance.

Jamie and I rock the Molly Ringwald. In this picture, she has evolved into full-fledged Anglophile by means of this epic jacket.

So that's a sneak-peek at our reaction to this process.

Below, I want to publish a slightly more nostalgic picture--this is the crew of tried-and-true friends who saw me off to Oakland so very early on Thursday morning. Look how wonderful they are...

That's my darling Peach, Michael Benjamin, myself, Navaz, and Kevyn. How I love them all!