Monday, June 22, 2009

Alert from Organic Consumer Association

I was very concerned to get the following information from my Santa Monica Treesaver friends regarding Genetically Modified Trees- information that it is important to share:

Please consider taking action (below) and distributing widely.

From Organic Consumers Association

Alert of the Week 6/17/08

A Quarter Million Experimental "Frankentrees" to Be Grown in U.S

The USDA is currently taking public comments on whether or not the company ArborGen should be allowed to conduct 29 field trials of genetically engineered "cold tolerant" eucalyptus trees in the U.S. This massive experiment, which is on the verge of being green-lighted, will literally be using nature as the laboratory to test more than 260,000 frankentrees. Scientists across the U.S. are voicing concerns over this proposal including:

-The USDA failed to do an Environmental Impact Statement to assess potential negative issues related to the proposed field trials.

-The spread of the these plants into the wild through seeds and plant matter is highly likely, and the impacts on native ecosystems from this invader are unknown.

-One of the experimental GE tree varieties is a known host for cryptococcus gatti, a fatal fungal pathogen whose spores cause meningitis in people and animals.

Comments are being accepted by the USDA until July 6, 2009.

Click to: Learn more and take action

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tulip Tree

No sooner had I settled myself in Ilford- in Eastmost London- than I had to return to Bath due to family illness. This has caused me to yet again get behind in writing about my recent exciting visual experiences. I will write more about these later but in the meantime feel compelled to share with viewers this totally magical flower I saw in Bath's Botanical Gardens, walking home from the Royal United Hospital.

This is the flower of the Tulip Tree- Liriodendron Tulipifera, a member of the Magnolia family. Apart from the trees wonderful, almost "painted" flowers, it has the most elegant leaves. It is an incredible tree- a tree to uplift one's spirits.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Today, I restrained myself from visiting the birds in Valentines Park- though I did manage to sneak in a quick- and exciting- visit to the lake in St James’ Park in London. However, I will leave that adventure for another post. Instead, I will write of an afternoon spent with a very special friend, the artist Helen Ganly. We met on the steps of the Tate Britain, where as students we used to meet, approximately fifty years ago- she then being a student at the Slade and I at Chelsea Art School.

Helen had some research to do at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, so from the Tate we set off by bus, armed with our various free bus passes- the advantages of advanced years! The great thing about being an artist is that you are not embarrassed by your age, being very aware that the most renowned artists produced their best work in their later years, the results of being enriched by a lifetime of experiences; artists never retire, they just- hopefully! - carry on learning and getting better.

Eventually we arrived at Greenwich. For those who don’t know Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum consists of three buildings: the Royal Observatory and the Queen’s House and the Maritime Galleries. To quote from their website: “together these constitute one museum working to illustrate... the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people”. The Observatory was originally designed by Christopher Wren (a keen astronomer) and is the site of the Greenwich Meridian Line, longitude 0, the basis of Greenwich Mean Time. In 1616 Inigo Jones was commissioned by Anne, wife of James 1, to design the supremely restrained, elegant, Palladian styled Queen’s House.

The building we were targeting was the Maritime Galleries:

Helen’s research involved sourcing a model- rather than a painting- of a 12th Century ship. Having previously made enquiries to the museum without getting a response, she had decided on a physical approach. On arrival- shortly before the museum closed-we learned that the expert Helen had been contacting was involved in arranging the transport of 3,000 model boats from Greenwich to Chatham! Perhaps he could be forgiven for his tardiness… The museum staff were wonderfully helpful, unearthing illustrations and descriptions on the Internet- but this all resulted in confirmation that there were no 12th Century models of ships in the museum. Apart from an early Egyptian Funeral boat, their earliest models date from the 16th Century. At least this was a positive, if disappointing, result.

Imagine our amazement and bewilderment at our next ironic discovery: on leaving the museum, we turned round for a last look at the building- and what should we see, flanking either side of the pediment, but two distinctive, 12th Century ships! Regardless of the fact that this building was originally part of the Greenwich Hospital School rather than a Maritime Museum, why, one wondered, in a building that proudly displayed two 12th Century ships on its facade, were there NO 12th CENTURY SHIPS INSIDE IT?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

MORE Swans!

I can't keep away from the Valentines Park Swan family! This afternoon the Coots had left the Swan's nest and never-to-be-hatched egg, and the parent Swans were busy feeding the six cygnets on the lake...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Coots in Valentines Park

Having written about it on Saturday, yesterday afternoon I went to check up on the Swan's nest in Valentines Park, under the Alder tree. I immediately saw the pair of Swans and their six cygnets, swimming on the lake. When I reached their nest I found it had been invaded by a busy family of Coots (maybe I should say the nest had been "recycled" rather than "invaded"?). There the nestling Coots were, surrounding the Swan's deserted egg- and having gained a large slice of white bread! Starting with the now homeless Swan family: