Spring Colours

This morning – with a forecast of rain – another Crazy as a Coot birdwalk (Ocean View Foundation)


Red-winged Blackbird male

Red-winged Blackbird male (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the rain held off, unlike the wind which blew damp and after the winter we have had, felt warm and fresh. All those beautiful muted colours of spring not quite there yet – but promised – and enough birds braving the wind to make a good walk. There was a whole swampful of red-winged blackbirds in glorious technicolour flashes above the green/yellow/brown, but the iphone didn’t catch a good shot.

I hope these photos I did take remind you of the way the trees where you are look at this nearly spring time – just a haze of shade across the tips of the branches, as if the artist had just thrown out his water jar and taken a break before time to return with the full palette to come.

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Pattern Transformations


I found these patterns by serendipitous accident – love the appearance and the math.

Originally posted on [Complex Geometry]:

In mathematics, a Voronoi diagram is a special kind of decomposition of a metric space, determined by distances to a specified family of objects (subsets) in the space. These objects are usually called the sites or the generators (but other names are used, such as “seeds”) and to each such object one associates a corresponding Voronoi cell, namely the set of all points in the given space whose distance to the given object is not greater than their distance to the other objects.

Voronoi diagrams are an over exploited resource in Architecture and Design these days, overcoat because of its beautiful structure and its apparent randomness, but, as explained before, Voronoi diagrams are not a product of randomnes, but a complex decomposition of space.

A general acceptance of the idea of a lack of control over the final result of a voronoi diagram is installed in the mind of designers and architects, but, an understanding of…

View original 322 more words

Reflections/ hubris/ way to go

Hubris – Reflections – Way to go -

Hubris first – I am about to give the last talk of the series on Emotional Education at the library next week. The title of this one is “Individual, Society, Leadership, Flourishing – or not?”. Even thinking I can do this, let alone setting myself up to do it, is “hubris” if I understand that word properly. Who on earth do I think I am having a go at this topic in an hour or so? Still, the whole series has been like that, how would anyone learn anything if they didn’t hear that there was some knowledge/explorations/ viewpoints about it all out there somewhere and all I am doing is starting a conversation as best I can and hoping some others might be interested enough to join me. And indeed more, equally or differently aware etc etc.

As Emotional Education is about experiencing one’s own awareness and then reflecting on it, that’s where the ‘reflections‘ comes in. Because I have been banging on and on about it, call it counter-transference in ordinary life, or using self as a barometer for what is going on in the system I am in, I am just interested in all I can learn about emotion and mind and thus the effect of this learning on everything else that I or we do. It brings life alive.

Way to go – well there is a pretty long way still to go in understanding dialogue, diplomacy and decision making if the state of the local politics or big wide world is any indicator – but for the moment I prefer the other joyful reading of “WAY TO GO”. Yay Yay…I have been having a lot of fun and sheer pleasure putting the various power-points together, searching for you-tubes and pictures to provide illustration, and then taking myself off outside to enjoy the walks and the weather. What a wonderful time to be living in – with the world on my lap and the ocean at my door. I will have to collect the illustrations for future posts – maybe sometime. In the meantime, local pictures, click for bigger ones.

Enjoyment and enjoying”emotional education” is not about ignoring that there is a lot of trouble about – here and further away. The experience is more about being able to do some little thing, take a step or two in a good direction, and that deals with despairing or getting rid of difficulties. I wonder what my hero Michael Faraday would have to say. I can get lots of his writing now from Gutenberg – another marvel.

“It is an extraordinary thing, that man, with a mind so wonderful… should leave it to run wild in respect of its highest elements and qualities…”

Thanks in part to his discoveries, including that wonderful understanding of the electromagnetic wave, minds can be explored with magnetic resonance scanning. But Faraday was on to something else, not instead of science, nor away from science. He was saying we can do something with our mind’s own experience – emotional education – he called it “Mental Education” which must have been an OK expression in 1852. He knew about reflecting, feeling uncomfortable, not falsely raising his own self-esteem, would enable his mind to endure the trouble, whatever it would be, and turn more towards facing than avoiding the truth lying there in plain sight.

Enough, enough – I like blogging and can see I get carried away sometimes.

Next week Block Island Poetry Project happens, for its  11th year. More to look forward to, which way will it go this year?

I think it is spring

I think it is Spring – though there is still a cold wind – the daylight lasts longer. Some of the bulbs are emerging, redwing blackbirds have been seen (though not photographed), Finlay is out in the sun chasing his ball, and as it is USA, St Patrick’s Day has been seen to be done. As it is Block Island, there were several celebrations, any excuse will do after the winter doldrums, and local kids age 9 -14 lined the bar at Yellow Kittens. Everybody goes to Kittens in the winter – age does not matter. They did a bit of singing too.

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I have been busy – talks at the library, starting up a Block Island U3A – can’t believe it is over two weeks since I last posted. Must get out more!

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Tongue hanging out

Literally “tongue hanging out” as in the photo of an unfortunate dead red-bellied woodpecker. Kim thought that it must have crashed itself into glass or some such accident, at any rate found frozen and as life extinct she brought it to the bird walk for “show and tell”.

Such beauty, the feathers, the markings, all of him

And that tongue – we could even see the pointed end with serrations along its edges – what a terrific instrument for getting into the tree bark as required.


The rest of the walk – cold, early morning beautiful Block Island.

Light on the sea, Mansion Beach

Light on the sea, Mansion Beach

snow and sand

snow and sand

Spring is on the way – we saw 21 different species, more than on any previous walk this year. For example, a hermit thrush sitting quite still on a branch, ?contemplating his next move?

Dear March – Come in

The Scottish Poetry Library sent along a reminder – it is nearly March. Someone else needs a reminder – it was snowing again yesterday.


hawk (Photo credit: bagsgroove)

Hawk in Flight

Hawk in Flight (Photo credit: sonstroem)

I saw a hawk in flight soaring over the brush a few minutes ago.

I have no idea what sort it was – medium size.

I am at my son’s home, dog-sitting. Finlay thinks I should go out to play.

Dear March – Come in

by Emily Dickinson

Dear March - Come in -	
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat -	
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are -	
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well -	
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds -	
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -	        
But March, forgive me -	
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue -	
There was no Purple suitable -	
You took it all with you -	        

Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call	
When I am occupied -	        
But trifles look so trivial	
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise	
And Praise as mere as Blame -

- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22829#sthash.v2k10tYV.dpuf

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Weekly Photo Challenge: threes

Three years ago, in a park in Guangzhou, three little cousins were three years old.

One found a good place to climb,


then two


then three


Threes are everywhere.

Their climbing frame is a three from Mao Zedong: the people, the book and the gun.



Invaluable riches: treasure

The weekly photo challenge this week is “Treasure”.

I have been collecting sea glass from our cold icy beaches – when it is not too windy to walk on them (one of my grand-daughters is going to make jewellery). Treasure indeed.

Sea glass - mostly from Ballards - now I can feel more charitable about all the summer partying that happens there.

Sea glass – mostly from Ballards – now I can feel more charitable about all the summer partying that happens there.

And, more frequently ignored treasure: This week I have been spending time recollecting, or indeed re-collecting, riches before unknown … yet invaluable …

This is a quote from my favourite scientist Michael Faraday, talking of the need for self-awareness, though that was not his word for it – he said internal knowledge, a feeling of deficit, mental education…

With encouragement from valued friends I got up the nerve to give a “talk” at the library on Emotional Education – because, following Faraday over 150 years later, from psychoanalysis to neuroscience, quite a lot of emotion, emotional process and pattern, can be named and understood.  And, in —my view, this knowledge is far too good to be just for the ‘experts’. Everyone can use the bits they find useful. Hence – Emotional Education. [I used to be an academic educator - a rather wordy paper can be found here.]

Or, like Faraday, find internal knowledge, through awareness, with criticism or feedback from reality. I wrote about some of it here on my other blog. And, I have just had a great time with some great people who came out through cold and snow to join in and get curious. We are going to meet up some more times.

Treasure – there for those who look.

Ice is Nice

This week the weather has gifted this island with variations on a theme of snow and slushy rain and cold bright sunshine. The result has been a myriad of shapes most of which are ephemeral. I would need much more knowledge of cameras and light exposure and such like to take the photos I imagine myself taking.

Here are some nice ice pictures, including a bit of Myself, from my phone camera (WordPress photo challenge this week is Selfie – show us yourself). You decide if I meant nice pictures (of ice), or pictures of “nice ice”. (Run your cursor over the pictures for captions, or click for bigger photos.)

Winter Bird Walking

More winter walking – on Tuesday the Crazy as a Coot bird walkers met at Beach Avenue. For those who do not know, that was a judiciously chosen place which might just have less wind and less chill factor than many another locality. Would we see many birds – well yes – ducks, geese, more ducks, crows and gulls as always, and a few starlings and brave Carolina wrens (heard more of them and the robins, such a lot of noise for such little creatures). They never do show up much in the photos, but you can see Kim with the scope leading the way for the intrepid few who came out. People that is – there seem to be plenty of birds.

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All the ice is solid, attached glue-like to the tree trunks and twigs and every blade of grass. Underfoot is crunchy. Maggie and Kim were very happy to see several hooded mergansers, so was I once I learnt what we were looking at. The mallards were equally beautiful, except most of them were cleverly tucked in along the banks of the pond, looking like so many rocks.

Hooded Merganser Photo
© Christopher L. Wood Hooded Merganser Female brown, Male glorious white ‘hood’ which can be raised and lowered.

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