The new sarracenia from Rarefinds came in safe and sound. After giving them a week and a half to catch thier breath, I repotted them into the mini-bogs they’ll be living in for a while.

Sarracenia catesbaie (natural hybrid of S. flava and S. purpurea)


Sarracenia rubra


Sarracenia alata


And the big bog – S. purpurea and an unknown (hybrid?).

More Schnabel

Took a trip up to the Mt. Washington Valley today to see the Schnabel car before it leaves. I’d been told that they were probably going to unload it last – Murphy loves me. It was unloaded and reconfigured for running empty (cradle on it’s attendant flatcar, A and B ends joined) and the riggers were getting ready to ‘jack and slide’ the second, smaller transformer component off the heavy duty depressed center flatcar. Normally the flatcar would have been a ‘lookit that!’ item – with the Schnabel two cars away, it lacked punch.

Apparently ferroequinophiliacs are a problem:


And the slideshow (complete set here):

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

BBCX 1000

Last Saturday the Conway Scenic Railroad brought a BIG load down through Crawford Notch (part of the old Maine Central Mountain Division – one of the biggest grades east of the Mississippi). The load consisted of  a two-piece transformer – one component on a heavy duty depressed center flatcar, the other on a cradle carried by a Schnabel car. The load came in from China (sigh) to Searsport, ME and made it’s way to Hazens, arriving there on Friday. Friday night CSRR hooked up 2 FP9s and a GP7 as motive power and attached a couple passenger cars to the tail end for potentates, panjandrums and poobahs.

I wasn’t able to get up to watch – I am going to try to get up for at least some of the transfer to a truck for the last leg – but the internet comes to the rescue. Some footage of the train going through the Gateway and at Bartlett.




Transporter n

I just caught the male pepperi (they’ve been renamed) dropping the kids off at the pool.


In other critter news, hydrophyte inspired me to re-do the 29 gallon aquarium in the Design Student’s room. After losing all the inhabitants during the ice storm, I repopulated it with an African butterflyfish (Pantodon buchholzi) and a pair of upside-down cats (Synodontis nigriventis).  I’d seen a beautiful West African setup in Yoshino and Kobayashi’s The Natural Aquarium – combine that with a chapter on ‘The Aerial Advantage’ in Walstad’s Ecology of the Planted Aquarium and all I needed was a glimpse of hydrophyte’s ripariums to precipitate a new approach to the tank. I covered the back wall with plastic needlepoint grid and tied Java moss, Anubias and Bolbitis to it; I’m hoping the moss will expand to cover everything. I took the water level down to 10 inches – approx. the golden ratio point –  and I planted most everything so that it has the opportunity to grow emersed. We’ll see what happens.


I changed the filter set-up – without the filter change, the lower water level would have been a problem. I had been using an external hang-on-back style filter – I switched to a piece of foam the same size as the side of the aquarium with a small powerhead behind it. You can see the foam on the right side of the picture above.

I also snuck in a juvenile pair of Pelvicachromis sacrimontis – love those dwarf cichlids.

Yesterday was the three year birthday of the blog – I was too busy being a crazy natural historian to post, but thanks to all who have stopped by over the past 3 – it’s been fun (for me, at least).

Art, animals and wunderkammer

A week or so ago, I heard through the grapevine that the Shark Girl had been free diving with a group of Spotted Dolphins when a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins swept in and sexually aggressed the hell out of the smaller Spotteds (I’m deliberately not using the word I heard when we were talking about it – rape). I was, initially, really disturbed by the story – Flipper? John Lilly’s buddies? Thanks for all the fish? Rapists? WTF? My emotional reaction remains, but intellectually the story made me reflect on anthropomorphism and how little of the interior lives of other animals we understand. I have little doubt that inter-species aggression is not a good thing for the victim and perceiving it as a good thing would be profoundly maladaptive – beyond that, I’m not sure what to think. It sure wouldn’t be the first time that interspecies sex was used to express dominance – that foo-foo dog humping your leg is not in love with your shoes – the message is something else entirely.

With all this percolating in my head, I came across the work of Isabel Samaras in Juxtapoz. Her latest exhibition is called “Into the Woodz”:

I guess the theme is “Woodland Fabulous”!  When I started with the paintings of Goldilocks and Baby Bear I wanted to put in some nice solid visual clues so you’d know who they were without having to be told — there’s a bowl a porridge, some “Just Right” brand oats, and I gave Baby a big gold dookie rope necklace with a gold nameplate that said “BABY” on it.

I had been doing all these animal drawings in my sketchbook and had given some of them necklaces made from gold foil chocolate wrappers.

It suited him so well that I added a gold tooth with a diamond chip and a bling ring and Goldy got some huge gold doorknocker earrings.  I started pulling out old records I had from the 80s – Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock, EPMD, Salt-n-Pepa, Derek B, Kool Moe Dee, Sweet Tee and RunDMC.  Next thing I knew I was painting a porcupine with gold “love/hate” rings and a bunch of mockingbirds having a rap war sitting on a big boom box.

Mocking Box (The Rap Wars)


[I chose this one because I’ve heard of some urban mockingbirds greeting the dawn by imitating car alarms – life = art.  Dr. H]


The next piece was set deep among the trees and I just never left.  I became one of the girls who didn’t come out of the woods!  And I started to wonder ‘who else might be in there’?  Forests are wonderfully mysterious places—if you go to an intensely old one with massive moss covered trees you really do half expect to see a party of dwarves marching along or odd things springing out at you. They’re magical places.

In this case the animals are a bit “urbanized”—they’ve come into contact with human culture and taken a few things back into the woods with them. *

Some wonderful grist for my “we see our reflection in everything” mill. I don’t think it was specifically her intent (that’s why art doesn’t come with an instruction sheet), but the image of a squirrel with a rope and a gold nut really makes concrete for me the way stories and myth make animals avatars of certain human characteristics – for dolphins, the intelligent and peaceful  older brother. On a slight tangent, the painting on Isabel’s book calls another favorite artist to mind.



For folks who want more, Ms. Samaras has a blog and – as noted – a book.


When my Netvibes feed from Bibliodyssey popped up a new post with the title “A Cabinet of Natural Curiosities“, I couldn’t click over to Peacay’s place fast enough. In amongst the monitors and birds of paradise was this fellow:


The birds look reasonable and I recognise the Flying Dragon, but I think Albertus Seba may have gotten a feejee mermaid style gaff as well – I’m not sure there are any Revelation lizards crawling/squirming/dragging around – but I could be wrong. That hasn’t stopped folks from rendering the Beast in Lego (h/t Tom B.).


Let’s see… From delphine rape to the Whore of Babylon in Lego. Yep, that about covers it.

U-ren Ishii

Utricularia reniformis Giant


Seventy-five percent of the purpose of this post is the horrible play on words title. The other bit is to show off a picture of a bladderwort I picked up yesterday at the Black Jungle BBQ. Both leaves and blossoms of this utric get huge and the flowers are beautiful. Keep your fingers crossed!