Thursday, January 18, 2018

Warm and Colds

#NatureTwinning Part 17

White River Gardens - Inside Hilbert Conservatory--Monday, 12/11/17

Um, didn't I just wear this scarf the previous Thursday?  (It's just so useful for wearing with these dark fall neutrals.)  Ah well, there was an intervening weekend so everything gets re-set, right?  Everybody's brain is erased and we all start afresh with no memory of our current work project, let alone our co-workers' fashion choices, from that distant country called Last Workweek.

Outfit cost per wear (OCPW): $10.93

Though dark florals are a popular sartorial choice, they are apparently exceedingly rare in botanical gardens.  But I thought this hothouse fauna from the arboretum adjoining the Indianapolis Zoo caught the feel of the outfit pretty well.  (Though my outfit really wasn't this damp.)

Indianapolis Zoo

California Sheephead--Tuesday, 12/12/17

I thought this outfit had a jaunty, festive look to it, appropriate to the whole "2 weeks until Christmas" thing.  Because a scarf with fish on it...nothing says Christmas like a scarf with fish on it.

OCPW: $10.43

If only I had heeded the silent warning of this California Christmas fish and not spent the holidays in the state with such a terrible flu season.  I mean, I guess I got off easy, only being very sick for two weeks and not, you know, actually dying.

Newport Aquarium

In other news...Now a bunch of people in my office have colds.  I'm still tired from the flu / sinus infection and am really hoping to avoid getting sick again (or do I mean still?  I'm confused).

It's especially incongruous because we are having unseasonably warm weather right "unexpected patches of liquid water on the parking lot" warm.  Robert reports that the melt from the roof running down the building was so loud today it sounded like rain. Whaaaaaaat?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Black Mirror

#NatureTwinning Part 16

Ah yes, temperatures in the 40s and 50s means a single layer of blouse.  Hard to remember that was a thing.

Ferny Palms--Monday, 11/27/17

I was pretty excited to add a green skirt to my line-up, so I went about as simple as it gets with the rest of the outfit.

*Green skirt (JCP), $17.49

Outfit cost per wear (OCPW): $25.47

More green and dark colors in the Tropical Forest of the Los Angeles Arboretum.

Los Angeles Arboretum

A Shrub Rose and Friend--Tuesday, 11/28/17

Another fall version of the pink floral skirt outfit.  Wearing the below-the-knee skirt with tall cognac boots and a blouse with a feminine shape gave the outfit an unexpected "Romantic Country" look.  A departure from my more usual "Cool-ish Nerd," "Trying for Badass," "Crayon Box," "Semi-Matron," and "1990s Basic Normcore" styles.

OCPW: $22.86

I'm not sure what the little guy adorning this pink rose is.  He looks a bit like a yellow ladybug, but I don't think that's right.  Spotted cucumber beetle is the closest match I could find--I really don't know even the most common types of bugs.

In other news...Have you been watching Black Mirror on Netflix?  During the part of my flu when all I could do was sit in my chair and watch TV, I caught up on Seasons 4 and 3 (because each episode is a stand-alone SF story in the Twilight Zone tradition, this worked fine).  My favorites so far:

#1 S4E5: Metalhead
#2 S4E1: USS Callister
#3 S3E6: Hated in the Nation  I had no idea it was going to be so good.

Monday, January 15, 2018


#NatureTwinning Part 15

A stroll down memory lane to that short week before Thanksgiving, with high temperatures of 29 to 49 F.

Monarch on White Flowers--Monday, 11/20/17

One of the simplest work outfit formulas for late fall: black top, solid skirt, black tights + shoes/boots, colorful scarf.

Outfit cost per wear (OCPW): $13.18

Is it just me or is the monarch butterfly the prototypical representation of the order Lepidoptera?

I had always thought that there were a lot of butterflies that look like monarchs because they were all free riding on the monarch's unpalatability--that they had developed the appearance of nasty-tasting butterflies that predators would avoid even though they actually OK to eat.  But I was surprised to learn that the very similar-looking viceroy butterfly is NOT a mimic in that sense (i.e., not a Batesian mimic)!  It is also an unpalatable butterfly.  When multiple similar species share predators, they can mimic each other's legit warning signals (e.g., appearance) so that predators will learn to avoid them after fewer negative experiences--this is called Mullerian mimicry.  Fascinating!

Indianapolis Zoo

Cape Plumbago--Tuesday, 11/21/17

This sweater is a flattering color on me, so even though it was just a boring cable pullover sweater of the standard, not particularly great silhouette, for $12 I decided to give it a shot.  It's a bit oversized, but it's terrifically comfy (it's cotton, so it's not overly warm--other than relatively thin cashmere, I have given up on wool because it's always so hot to wear, even here in Coldville).  I wore it with navy and floral accents for its debut.

*Dark aqua pullover sweater (JCP), $11.91

OCPW: $42.74

Hey, a straight-up blue flower!  I tentatively identified it through a reverse Google image search (hat tip: Robert), and confirmed it when I read that it grows at the entrance of the Los Angeles Arboretum, which is exactly where I took this photo three days before Christmas.  (Yes, LA has blooming flowers 3 days before Christmas.  What the hell, right?)  It's a beauty.

Los Angeles Arboretum

Pool Outside the Linnean House--Wednesday, 11/22/17

When I made my most recent JCP online order, I couldn't resist this top, even though it's short-sleeved so not really aligned with the current weather.  I liked the drapey fabric, the subtly interesting neckline, and the fact that it has a gazillion colors to match half the things in my wardrobe.  I made it fall-appropriate by wearing it with an olive corduroy jacket, which screams autumn to me.  And I can I just say that the plaid socks made me happy every time I looked down at my feet (which I did a lot more than I usually would because of the socks)?

*Black/olive/red floral top (JCP), $13.99

OCPW: $23.62

For some green/red/blue action, a shot of the edge of the pool outside the Linnean House at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  Have I mentioned that the Linnean House, built in 1882, is the oldest continuously operated public greenhouse west of the Mississippi?  Now you know.

Missouri Botanical Gardens

Sunday, January 14, 2018

California Life Birds

I know it's been radio silence around here lately, but after spending two weeks in California, I came home with that horrible flu that everyone is getting.  I missed work the first week of 2018, then last week I went to work and crashed immediately upon getting home.  Today's the first day I have sat down at my computer longer than it takes to write an email to work telling them I'm home sick.  I'm still on the mend, but I have made some good improvement in the last 48 hours.  I'm hoping to be at least 80% of normal strength by the time I go to work again on Tuesday.

We had two goals for our trip to California:
(1) See birds
(2) Play with my sister's awesome kid and their dog
...OK, and (3) Spend time with my family in general ;)

While seeing birds of all kinds, we hoped specifically that we would see some new birds.  And we did.  Here are the new additions to my ABA life list, bringing my total to 527 species.

1.  Lawrence's goldfinch
2.  Gambel's quail
3.  Golden-crowned sparrow
4.  Oak titmouse
5.  White-headed woodpecker
6.  Red-breasted sapsucker
7.  Lilac-crowned parrot
8.  Yellow-headed parrot
9.  Costa's hummingbird
10.  Red-whiskered bulbul
11.  California thrasher

I managed to get photographs of two of these species.

We saw the Gambel's quail at the (I'm not making this up) Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, where they hung out in good numbers around the front of the visitor's center, mixing it up with desert cottontail rabbits on occasion.

The red-whiskered bulbul...this is insane.  The bird wasn't even on our radar as a possibility because, well, see the page in Sibley for yourself...

The only place it's shown on the map is a tiny dot in Florida.  But if you read the range description, it does say "some also in Los Angeles area."  And apparently one of those places is the Los Angeles Arboretum.  When we saw it, we didn't even know where to begin with identifying it because it doesn't look anything like any bird we know.  But I got the idea to look at the bird check list for the site, and when I saw red-whiskered bulbul, I knew that had to be it.  The briefest look at the bird in Sibley confirmed it.

Um, seriously, I can't believe I got such a decent photo of the bulbul with my little camera.

The Bird of the Week for the northern California part of our trip was a Cooper's hawk that landed in a tree outside the dining room windows at my sister's house.  Later, he made a dive for dinner but missed.

So even though birding in Southern California had its frustrating aspects--including the day that we spent at Big Morongo being so ferociously windy that we saw literally about half a dozen individual birds there...and locations at the Salton Sea being so abandoned that the sign-in sheet at one of them collapsed into dust when Robert touched it--we did manage to come out of our visit with some very nice additions to our list.

The bulbul was the highlight of the trip for me.  The worst part was that despite spending hours trying to relocate the red-breasted sapsucker in the San Jacinto Mountains, we never found it again, so even though I got a good look at the bird, Robert didn't see it at all.  Oh well, we will be back and will try again!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Extremely Popular

#NatureTwinning Part 14:

Purple Water Lilies in Linnean House Pool--Thursday, 11/16/17

Damn, I completely loved everything about this outfit.  How do you make a pink floral skirt fall/winter compatible?  Dark colors.  How do you make it awesome?  Moto jacket and kick-ass boots.  How do you make it not feel lonely in all its pink-ness?  Pink peacock pendant.  It's that simple.

*Pink/burgundy/green floral skirt (JCP), $13.99

OCPW: $24.72

More pink/green/flowery goodness from a botanical garden pool.  I see a lot of nice water lily covered pools, but the gardeners really outdid themselves here with the plants around the edges of the pool.  The lilies are still the centerpiece (you know, being literally in the center) but the overall picture is just wonderful with the variety of sizes, colors, and textures they added all around.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Sable Antelope at African Grasslands--Friday, 11/17/17

I managed not to photograph this outfit which very successfully combined black, brown, and denim.  Wearing cognac boots with black tights/skirt is not natural for me, but wearing a scarf with both shades in it helped a lot in giving it that "yes, I'm wearing brown and black together on purpose" look and not the "I only own brown boots" look.

--Black long-sleeved T, blue denim jacket, black and white polka dot skirt, brown leopard scarf, black leggings, tall cognac boots.

OCPW: $17.07

I'm going to have to ramp up my black-with-brown outfit numbers if I'm going to #naturetwin all the lovely zoo animals that wear these colors like a champ.  Or in the case of this sable antelope, like a chomp?  I know, I know, antelopes don't spend all their time eating grass.  Sometimes they lie in the grass like this, waiting to be photographed.

Henry Doorly Zoo

In other news...As a person with a first name that is both uncommon and yet extremely familiar, I was interested in this article in which a woman named Sarah considers the effects of growing up with an extremely popular name.  (She could always start going by Sally instead, you know.)  Does this ring true?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


#NatureTwinning Part 13:

Hard to Photograph Hippos - Baby Fiona--Wednesday, 11/15/17

This is a pretty low-key outfit despite the striped top with + leopard/floral print scarf  combination (each side of the scarf has a single pattern and I tied it to show the leopard print).  It's instructive to see that when your boldly mixed prints are in very similar shades, the whole thing is toned down.

Outfit cost per wear (OCPW): $21.55

One of the prizes of any zoo trip is, of course, zoo babies!  We got to see quite a few of them, including the amazing baby Fiona, swimming around with one of her parents in the photo below.  It was maddeningly difficult to get a photo of them, but trust, Fiona is a blast.

Cincinnati Zoo

This 2-minute news clip tells a bit of Fiona's backstory (she was born a premie on January 24 and is the smallest hippo known to survive) and shows her at a little over 2 months old, when she met her parents for the first time.  It also talks about the Fiona mania that took hold in the city of Cincinnati.  Excellent photos and videos can be found on Fiona's zoo page that continues to be updated daily, as mentioned in the newscast.

It was sad to learn that Fiona's dad Henry was euthanized on October 31 after failing from an infection for some time.  We were lucky to have visited the zoo during a period when Henry was ill but doing well enough that they could have all 3 hippos were together.  Henry was 36 years old, and the median life expectancy for a male Nile hippo is 35, so he was "already in his golden years," according to his caretaker.  Prior to coming to the Cincinnati Zoo in July 2016 when the Hippo Cove exhibit opened, Henry lived at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield for 34 years.  He had lived there alone for 20 years before moving to Cincinnati, where he was introduced to 18-year-old Bibi (from the St Louis Zoo) and quickly fathered Fiona.  The zoo's curator for mammals said, "The girls will be fine as a bloat of two, but they will notice that he's not around and may wonder why he isn't making his contact calls."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Nearby Farfetch'd

#NatureTwinning Part 12:

Cabbage Tree in the Climatron--Monday, 11/13/17

Wearing a sweater vest, skirt, tights, and Hush Puppies shoes makes me a feel like I'm channeling my inner Amy Farrah Fowler.


But with my elegant bird blouse instead of a plaid shirt, I hope I'm nudged toward "Amy's slightly cooler cousin."

Outfit cost per wear (OCPW): $12.10

Today's green and burgundy twin is this spiffy foliage in the Missouri Botanical Gardens Climatron, which has an interesting history.  Built in 1960, it is the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory.  It's 70 feet high in the center, 175 feet in diameter at the base, and encloses about 24,000 square feet.  In 1976, it was named one of the 100 most significant architectural achievements in US history.  And it makes a kick-ass greenhouse.  (It's the building in the distance in the last photo on this post with the glass onion sculptures.)

Missouri Botanical Garden

Coral with Orange Fish--Tuesday, 11/14/17

Another day, another outfit with this black blouse.  I'm enjoying the last gasp of weather just warm enough that I can wear a top like this in my office without an another layer.

OCPW: $17.06

The swirling blue and lavender of that scarf put me in mind of this eerily-lit underwater scene, featuring a bold orange and black fish for that "pop of color."

Newport Aquarium

In other news...Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving weekend?  Mine was pretty good.  We had a full Thanksgiving dinner--cooked by the grocery store and heated up by Robert--for the first time in quite a few years.

I was sad to have a migraine Thursday afternoon/evening, but we played a lot of Pokemon Go on the other days and we were lucky that we didn't have cold weather.  Friday I was out in a lightweight cotton jacket, of all the crazy things.  The relatively warm weather will continue this coming week with highs in the 40s and 50s, which is welcome.  Today (Monday) it was almost 60!

Over the long weekend, they had the Global Catch Challenge in Pokemon Go, in which bonuses were unlocked as the total number of Pokemon caught during the challenge increased.  We reached the final goal of 3 billion Pokemon on Saturday evening, so they released the regional specialty Farfetch'd for a 48 hour period.  When Robert first saw one show up down the street from our apartment, we quickly put on shoes and jackets and got ourselves down the block.  I ran at just about my highest speed, which meant that Robert was able to easily keep up by speed-walking (sigh).  But we caught it!  And then ended up catching about a dozen more the next day.

Robert thinks Farfetch'd looks like a Groucho Marx duck, which he kind of does, you know?

A duck carrying a green onion seems like an odd thing even for Pokemon, but it makes a lot more sense when you understand the history.