Notes from a faraway island
January 3, 2009
Digging up the past
Well, this is my third attempt to post this today, so instead of droning on about the work I put into it or the dismal lack of obituary, archical newspaper, and census info on the web. I'll simply post this link: Charles W. Polson's WWII medals, insignia, pins, patches and badges
I have worked on this for the past week or so as a holiday task. If you or a family member has WW II "stars and bars" laying around, you might find this helpful. Plus, at least for me, the search was fun and the results illuminating. Let me know what you think!
January 1, 2009
Nantucket washashore does the evening right
Topic: auld lang syne
Today, in honor of the start of a New Year; I want to link to the Nantucket Washashore blog (from the virtual pen of Linda Sonnestine) and this lovely song and view of Nantucket from yesterday (bit different from the blizzard view we had at the Field Station.
and drop Linda a line.
Here's a view from one of our web cameras of the half frozen pond (-10 degrees this morning wind chill)
December 25, 2008
and to all a good night
Topic: Merry Christmas!
okay, what I meant was............. more the next day.
Yep, the person whose belief system most closely aligns with Christopher Hitchens or Bill Maher says Merry Christmas! Funny I know, I can't help it, I have always liked this holiday although I have not always been a non believer. Speaking of secular; the blog to check out for the day is http://simplyleftbehind.blogspot.com/
you'll have to scroll down to get to the posts between the ad's for bush's last day stuff.....................
Well the red ticket drawing went along its merry way without my winning any money; but a friend of mine who very much deserves it, did win. And one of the many bonuses of having the drawing on Christmas Eve downtown is that almost everyone who is still on island attends. It's a great way to run into friends and reconnect....and a perfect opportunity to send a shout out to one of my few constant readers, Andre' Spears. Hope to see you and Anne tommorrow.
Just came back from two X-Mas day dinner/drink extravaganzas. On Nantucket, a lot of people hold "orphan" get togethers for those of us on island who do not see our family (or chose not to do futile holiday travel) over the holiday. Winter really can be the best season on the Rock; you have the island almost to yourself, and on warmish days like today (40 degrees) a run on the beach is definitely a treat. Here's a picture of Smith's Point (on west end of the island; no longer a point due to erosion) on Christmas Day 2005. Enjoy.
December 24, 2008
Topic: Red Ticket Drawing
welcome everyone from Facebook who is whiling away the hours on the day before Christmas!
today, after I get caught up with some work stuff, Len and I will go downtown for the red ticket drawing, which is a small town event for the folks who stay on island for the holidays.
It is pretty funny, and sweet, and surreal. For every 25$ you spend on island prior to Christmas; you get a red ticket. For us, our major purchases will have been at the vet for our dog Jake. Some people put off buying a car or paying for a trip to somewhere warm for this time in order to get a boatload of tickets. Our town crier (yes, we have one) and the winner of the Junior Miss pageant draws the winning tickets. You have to be there to win, so everyone on island who can shows up, rain or shine today at 3:00 pm. The prizes: 5 $1000.00 prizes and 1 $5000.00. Many generous people donate their tickest (especially if they are going to be off island) to on island non profits. I have no idea how those people keep track of what can be thousands of little ticket stubs. We have about 50 tickets. I'll post tomorrow or later today if we win. Here is a link to last years red ticket drawing: http://nantucket.plumtv.com/stories/it_only_takes_one
This weekend is the Christmas Bird count, and the Nantucket field station is one of the sponsors. Friday night a ton of birders come to the field station to organize as teams and head out early Saturday morning to count birds (species and total numbers) all over the island. We'll be on our way to Haverhill to visit with Len's family.
more later today!
December 23, 2008
Dreaming of an invasive species free XMas
Topic: time to learn something
wow, posting two days in a row! definitely an all time best :-)
The holidays are a perfect time to catch up on web site design and also learn something from fellow bloggers. To take care of the first item, I am working on updating the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative web site and starting up a new and improved Nantucket marine mammal stranding web site and also spreading the news about two web sites I enjoy:
#1 is Dr. Deborah Brosnan's blog; I get regular updates from the site and really liked her Ocean Geoquiz. Take it here and then check out the rest of her site.
#2 I have a wierd black pupae like thing that I need to identify. When I have a question like that, a couple of my etymology friends are always helpful, but I first check my buddy's Jenn Foreman's Invasive Species Blog (finalist for a 2007 Webblog award). You also need to drive by www.knottybits.com
both of these women are hardworking, funny, and very smart. Check it out.
and Happy Holidays!
December 22, 2008
more to the universe
Topic: more to the universe
well, I have 2 New Year's resolutions, and I figured if I start now, I'll have messed them up before New Year Day even gets here:
the first, is to lose 30 pounds...I have a treadmill on the way to assist me in that goal; hopefully it will wake me up each morning and provide painfree and strategic liposuction, but I suspect I'll actually have to use the thing. Wish me luck!
the second is to post early and often on this blog and get it linked on more places and actually develop some interesting things to say...it is very easy to start up a blog and have it fall to the wayside; many of my writerly type friends have fallen into the "I'll get to it someday pit" except for one friend who gets paid for his blog (nice work if you can get it). And, after all, I think I do have a couple of interesting things to say over and above a simple chronicle of my life and times.
At least, I thought I had some interesting things to say before I took a few minutes (okay an hour) off this morning while listening to the gentle 45 mph breeze outside my lab door to persue some science blogs; geez, I suck.
See what I mean at http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2008/12/the_shock_value_of_science_blo.php
and at http://ambivalentacademic.blogspot.com/2008/11/lessons-learned-this-week.html
and at http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/
more tomorrow, or maybe even later today!
October 14, 2008
finally slowing down
Topic: how summer becomes fall
I am even worse about keeping up with this blog than I am about working out. Oh well, better late than never. Lots has been up in the past 10 weeks. I went to a conference at the Black Rock Forest which is located in a beautiful part of the Hudson Highlands in NY state near Woodstock. Got to hike in the Catskills and see the Shawangunks (remember google is your friend ;-)) I'll post pictures soon. Swung by on the way back to see Susan and Jay's bright shiny new kiddo Rowan. Rowan really dug me, in fact, he slept more the night I stayed in Niantic than he ever has before in his short life. Jay and Susan wanted me to stay forever so they would have hope of sleeping, but sadly, I had to return.
My good friend John Stanton wrote a very nice blog entry about me in his islander blog (http://blog.discovernantucket.com/?p=23). I really enjoy John's blog, he gets the whole feeling of small town island right and as a long time member of the community he manages to sense when things are afoot and how best to frame an argument or a moment. If you have the time, definitely check out http://blog.discovernantucket.com. John is an excellent film-maker, fun to be around, married to an uber intelligent woman, and an all around good egg.
Scallop season has started out looking pretty dismal; hopefully when commercial season starts we'll find more adults hiding out in the deeper spots.
I am writing this on the slow boat. It's one of the few places where I can find time to catch up. The past few weeks have been hectic, with bio students down for Columbus day, some traveling, several speaking engagements, our new green lecture series, and, oh...about a hundred other things going on. As the weather turns colder, most of us here on the Rock are able to slow down and enjoy the island. I still am writing for Yesterday's Island, and looking forward to reading more and spending time with friends just emerging from the summer hibernation.
I have reconnected with even more old friends from high school on Facebook recently. Hopefully their interest will be a reminder to me to keep this blog updated.
well, we are almost in "America"; tune in next time!
July 28, 2008
Welcoming Rowan to the world
Topic: new pea in the pod
No not me! I did not just have a beautiful baby, but two of my favorite people on the planet did last Friday (the 18th). Susan and Jay are the proud parents of Rowan, who weighed 9 pounds and was 19" long (just slightly bigger than Susan).
I got lots of cute pics that I am really tempted to post, but don't want to hog their glory. I've heard they'll do a blog for the grandparents and maybe I can link that. Gave me a good excuse to buy some hip organic baby clothes and toys!
As it often is, one life comes in, one goes, so tomorrow I am going off island to Woods Hole for the funeral of my first friend in Boston, Dr. Harlyn Halvorson. It should be a huge funeral, Harlyn was internationally known. Read more about him here: http://www.mbl.edu/news/obit/obit_halvorson.html
Harlyn and I were officemates at UMass Boston and we co-wrote along with a lot of other folks a book/conference proceedings on aquaculture. I have made a poitn of seeing Harlyn and my other friend Flo at least 3-4 times a year even after I came to Nantucket and he was also full of helpful advice, the ultimate mentor, incredibly intelligent and more than a bit rascally. His stories ran the gamut from Watson and Crick to the Pope. The world's definitely a little less radiant, but being an optimist, I am sure the hole will fill (no pressure, Rowan).
gotta run, hope all who are reading this are doing well. Later this week I'll post an update on reconnecting with high school and middle school friends as well as the goings on, on island
July 18, 2008
Topic: reconnecting with friends
For those who don't know much about Nantucket in the summertime, it's beautiful here, warm, lots of beaches and natural beauty and very very very busy. Kind of like Christmas week for retail shop workers; we all try to squeeze in a year's worth of research, or capitalism, or talks, lectures, walks, family visits, beach hikes, symposiums, annual meetings, events, fundraisers, fun runs, vegetation profiles, plant and animal sampling, swimming, cocktail parties, three jobs at once not sure what your name is..........craziness. I have to admit, right now I am pining for October, when the weather is still warm, and I am still working 50-60 hour weeks, but not 80 hour weeks, and I can stop to smell the beach plums. Fortunately, I have a lot of volunteers and a great intern and also a very helpful husband who is picking up the slack and helping lead educational groups here at the field station and do the 9-10 research projects and umpteen other things I managed to put on my plate. We have a great group here which is part of Tulgeywood, differently abled kids and their counselors who windsurf, horse back ride and do many other all access sport type things that you might not expect folks in wheelchairs to do.
I've had quite a few friends and acquaintance write me on Facebook this week and reconnect after 28-30 years. One person asked me what I have been up to, and I thought, wow, how can I get that down to 1 page (not sure I could condense it into one book). I am sure a poem might be able to say it, and i figured, i need to try and condense it into something lyrical which has to save more words than my usual (verbose) articles do. Stay tuned, I am working on it.
The past two weeks, I helped to rescue an entangled female juvenile grey seal and I identified a beautiful moth (whitemarked tussock moth-very cute ....see)
that is eating the invasive plant purple loosestrife down by Sesachacha (pronounced "sack o joe' don't ask) Pond.
Nantucket has been in the news because a great white shark washed up on our southern beaches (dead, 6.5 foot female, sad), some folks think it is a prank by a local fishermen to "thin out" the herds of summer visitors. It probable was caught in a long line or net, and got cut out and discarded. Important to remember for nervous nellies that in over 350 years, only 4 shark attacks (3 fatal) have occurred in Massachusetts. You are more likely to be run down by an ice-cream truck..................which may not sound half bad.
more soon! Cue music from Jaws please.......................
p.s. i do know how to insert music clips, but hate when they come up on web pages and start hogging all the bandwidth ;-)
July 3, 2008
red, white, and blu
Topic: happy 4th
Wanted to do a quick update before another 100 years passes. Nantucket is already knee deep in tourists and summer residents. We all have crazy stories to tell of people going the wrong way down one way streets (with every 3rd person stopping them to tell them their error) and the offender typically breezily says..."oh, I am not going far!"
Another great one is the person pushing the stroller in front of your car, and when you look in the stroller.........yes, you have plenty of time to look, in our localized, I guess you would call it micro-traffic (like microclimate), you have time to check your tire pressure at intersections........you notice a dog, not a tot and a dog, just a dog. I am waiting for my stroller even as we speak ;-)
We have been lucky, it's been warm and sunny forever. Both Len and I have nice farmer's tans/controlled burns right now. There is hope (dim but there) that I may be able to take 1/2 a day off tomorrow, and of course if you are reading this, you may notice I have a moment to update my blog!
more stories tomorrow.
have a happy and safe, although not obsessively nationalistic, 4th!
June 15, 2008
actually had time to read a book!
Topic: Happy Father's Day
Happy Father's Day to those of you who have the good fortune to have a living Father. It's cold and rainy and gray here on Nantucket (the Grey Lady) but after a somewhat hot and then beautiful few days, the grayness doesn't bother me and hopefully I can get some work done.
I actually read a book (Water for Elephants, excellent and a quick read) in 2 days and took some time off last night to watch "The Savages". A little ironic as the article in the Indy last week outed me for being a "workaholic" which of course is no news to pretty much anyone who knows me. I'll be sending an email out to my peeps reminding them of my blog in case anyone wants to do an RSS feed.
Happy birthday to my nephew Justin!
June 14, 2008
Tim Russert dies
Topic: a great journalist
Nantucket, the nation, and the world suffered a very unexpected loss yesterday when island resident and world class political analyst and newsman Tim Russert passed away of an apparent heart attack at the age of 58 while recording voice overs for this Sunday's Meet the Press. All over Nantucket, those who had met him were saddened by the news. Both Len and I had the good fortune to meet Tim and Maureen on a 2-3 occasions which ranged from Boys and Girls Club soirees to encounters at the airport and at our local Planning Board meeting. Maureen and Tim and I were there to speak about a nearby subdivision perilously close to wetlands. Not only is this a tremendous lose of a giving and caring person on island, but we have also lost one of the few political journalists who could conduct a fair and incisive interview and who always did their homework and avoided pandering to our most base instincts. In addition, Tim's death was a big wake up call to Len and I, both larger, slower and in worse shape than we were 2-3 years ago. I even took the evening off last night and read a book and we took a long walk together.
on a much more happy tone, the Nantucket Independent, a local newspaper, featured me in a long article (front page!) this week. Go to
for the article and for breaking local news.
I am also enjoying writing for Yesterday's Island and I'll put more links to recent articles there tomorrow.
May 25, 2008
my trip to CT
Topic: visiting Jay and Susan
well, centuries later, skeletons were found.
it's been a long time since I posted, somehow spring has morphed into summer. I did get a chance to get down to Niantic Ct to visitme friend Susan and Jay. Susan is the cutest pregant woman I've seen (I am a bit biased) and Jay was his usual entertaining and fun self. They have a great place and it was very relaxing. We did 13 geocaches in 4 days in the Rocly Neck state park right by their home and also in other nearby state parks (Devil's Hopyard and Harkness). The beach was only a block away; saw tons of birds, played Wii, ate incredible food made by uber chef Susan. That trip will hold me until my next day off this Fall.
Check out the photo album 2008 trip to CT
thanks guys, for a lovely time!
April 10, 2008
Yesterday's island article
Topic: a good week
This week has been successful one for me and my committee peeps at our Annual Town Meeting. After 2.5 years, dozens of public hearings, hundreds of comments and emails and letters and conversations and testimony and research and........you get the point; we finally passed 4 articles protecting current use of our waterfront for the community and the public. We had a large cadre of lawyers speaking against these articles for their clients and it took a lot of planning, chutzpah, and some well worded and passionate speeches at town meeting to garner the 2/3 majority to pass these zoning changes. Check out these links for details: www.nantucketharborplan.com and www.ack.net or www.nantucketindependent.com
next weeks town elections will be VERRRRRRYYYYYYYYY Interesting (a little D. Anne lingo for those who frequent our local and lively chatroom www.yackon.com).
The Clean Team is ready to swing into acktion starting April 26th (daffodil weekend, don't ask) check out our kickoff events at www.ackcleanteam.org
Also this week, I had an article printed in Yesterday's Island, a free newspaper available from April to Decemeber each year and very popular with tourists and ACK residents alike: http://www.yesterdaysisland.com/2008/features/torpedoray.php
until next time, here's to a warm spring day!
April 2, 2008
Now on Facebook
Well, I have a million updates to do to my blog, but recently I got on Facebook and have been locating old friends and new friends. Lucky for me I can post an rss feed on Facebook and also send it to folks on my contact list who may (or may not) wish to get the latest greatest ramblings from this blog.
This Saturday, April 6th, in honor of National Poetry Month, we will be doing a special show featuring Jack McCarthy. Check out Jack's work at www.standupoet.net
and go to www.nantucketpoetryslam.org for details
see you soon!
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