Sunday, December 30, 2012

what kind of tree is this?

what kind of tree is this?
Originally uploaded by marymactavish.
anyone who knows which firs or spruces are used in California landscaping is welcome to help.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

fritzy's butt

fritzy's butt
Originally uploaded by marymactavish.

Friday, December 07, 2012

City Lights of the United States 2012

I stared at this for about an hour last night. I was most fascinated by Appalachia, with the lights arranged down the folded valleys, and how griddy the Midwest is.

The closer I looked at it, especially east of the Rockies (i.e. away from where I live), the more I got lost, the less I could figure out where I was from the surrounding pattern.

California was easy, but then, I live here.

And the Gulf of Mexico outside the Mississippi River Delta, wow. Those are all lights from oil platforms, no?

Click through to Flickr to see this NASA image, and to find the giganto-version.

Monday, November 19, 2012

reason 100 to like our neighborhood: neighborliness

I love our neighborhood.

Our next door neighbors are renters who have lived here for a long time. They really never go in their backyard, which is overgrown with random yard stuff including a couple of citrus trees and a big apple tree planted by the previous renters a long time ago.

Our neighbor across the street moved into his house when it was built, when he was a boy in the mid-fifties. He worked in local orchards, some in this block, for pocket money, but they're gone now.

Today I went out back to see why our guard-dachshund Fritzy was losing his head and found the across-the street neighbor in the next-door neighbor's yard (with permission) harvesting apples. He called me to the fence and gave me as many as I could hold.

They are so crunchy and sweet and huge.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Originally uploaded by marymactavish.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Gorgeous fall afternoon

Gorgeous fall afternoon
Originally uploaded by marymactavish.
The first hints of seasonal color are showing up, green just starting to dust the hills.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This must be one of the best Earth from the ISS pics ever

This must be one of the best Earth from the ISS pics ever.

Don Pettit, one of my favorite scientist astronauts, took the picture. It's (c)NASA, they usually allow sharing of their photos for (at least) noncommercial use with attribution.

It is, of course, a long exposure to get those star trails, the little blue flashes below are almost certainly lightning, which is flashing in and above the clouds constantly in at least a few places at any given time all over the earth.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

evening light on Mission Peak

I love how, in this part of California, a neighborhood can happily contain Washingtonia palms (native to southern California's desert oases), coast redwood (native to the coast from Big Sur to slightly into Oregon), citrus, stone fruit, persimmon, and wild nearby, all the bay laurel and California oaks and endemic California sycamore and walnut and big leaf maple and chaparral plants that have been so well preserved in this less eucalyptusy corner of the bay area.

chatting with a friend

VIDEO0185 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.

.... about our trip with the family, today, on Niles Canyon Historical Railway:

Geographilic bit bolded:

miche: So you spent the time pointing to native plants out the windows while Owen went ZOOOMZZZZZZ
mary: well yes ;) Casey followed the zoomz.
micheinnz: :D
micheinnz: You guys are just SO adorkable, the four of you.
mary: :D
mary: all four grandparents also came along - was awesome :)
mary: must teach kid about native plants :)
micheinnz: Okay then, the eight of you are SO adorkable.
mary: and just in case you thought you were joking
mary: :D

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'd look this up but I'm on my phone

I'd look this up but I'm on my phone. Anyone know what this plant is? Buckwheat relative? Toxic?


As you might have noticed, I have been sending geographilic photos I've taken from flickr to this blog, but not a lot else lately.

I've got the toddler running me exhausted, and though I said I was going to post "sense of wonder" kind of things here, he's mostly wondrous about garbage trucks these days, so I'm trying to decide how to frame that.

In the meantime, there's this fascinating spread of language video. It's mostly visual, so not vision-impaired friendly, but works well without sound:

I love this sort of thing.

I note that on the phoneme map, though Africa has high diversity for the most part, Madagascar doesn't, which makes sense given it was mostly populated from southeast Asia.

Audrey, my family-member-for-whom-there-is-no-real-label, my son's other mother, my husband's other partner, gave me a membership with 23andme for my birthday this year, and it's fabulous and fun. I found out that the brownness on my mom's side of my family didn't come from Africa, South Asia, or the Americas, but my entire gene pile seems to be European. This doesn't really solve a mystery, as I still wonder why she was so brown, as was my grandmother, but it does clear up "where does the brown come from?" a bit, in that we know where it's not from, now.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

western bluebird at Ardenwood

western bluebird at Ardenwood @ebrpd

Monday, May 28, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

San Francisco Bay from Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

It's one of those perfect spring days here. All the Claritin in the world won't help.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over - I teared up. I'll miss the shuttles. Let's keep exploring, on Earth and in space.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Over nachtelijk Europa.

Western Europe from the ISS, by André Kuipers, Dutch physician and ESA astronaut.

I really don't know why my first thought was the campfire song, Barges:

"Out of my window looking through the night I can see the barges' flickering lights.
Silently flows the water to the sea and the barges too flow silently.
Barges, I would like to go with you, I would like to sail the ocean blue.
Barges, is there treasure in your hold? Do you fight with pirates brave and bold?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

I hope this protects them from climate change

Film maker and writer Terry Jones discovers a colony of penguins, which are unlike any other penguins in the world.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

driving across Australia, west to east

Originally uploaded by battyden.
A friend of mine is driving across Australia, and taking photos as he goes. He'll go through the area where I lived, briefly, an amazing area that reminds me a lot of central California, too. This shot is of the Nullarbor Plains, a vast desert, with one of the longest, straighest stretches of road and railroad track in the world.

More of his pictures are here, including the huge goldmine right on the edge of the town of Kalgoorlie: pics

Friday, March 09, 2012

Visual weather report for Fremont, CA 94538

Visual weather report for Fremont, CA 94538 March 9, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Originally uploaded by marymactavish.
.@giagia @angie_coiro having an 11-month-old toddler is a huge job, but he is fabulous.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Early commuting

Early commuting
Originally uploaded by marymactavish.
Early commuting

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

River Otter 301V7933-3.jpg

River Otter 301V7933-3.jpg
Originally uploaded by BobLewis.
River Otter 301V7933-3.jpg

Saturday, January 07, 2012

over the Palace of Fine Arts

As much as I hate having to schlep across San Francisco to get there, the Palace of Fine Arts and its lagoon are among my favorite places in the area. It's just lovely, and has neat history, and I've been visiting it most of my life. I'll be sad when the Exploratorium moves to the waterfront at the Embarcadero, just because fewer people will incidentally be exposed to the Palace of Fine Arts.

Here's a neat video from the air, from a little bitty airship, so you can see how lovely it is.

I only went out for a walk.....

I only went out for a walk.....

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

San Francisco is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Instead, I just live very near there.

Stephen Fry likes it, in part because it's near so many beautiful places:

That's one of my favorite things about Northern California in general: It's a short drive to the High Sierra, some of the most beautiful parts of California's coast, to farmlands, to really great urban advantages, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to science museums and art, because there is open space and nature everywhere -- visionaries began preserving it here more than a century ago -- and because we have the climate to enjoy it year-round. (That is true for most places depending on what climate you like; with my tendency to get really sick in hot humidity, I can't bear those climates in the summer.)

I don't want to live in San Francisco though. I have before, but now, I want a yard for my dog, and I want not to have my house actually touching other houses (it's just a fire danger worry, house fires there can displace a few families), and San Francisco proper gets a bit cold and windy for me off and on all year, what with water on three sides. And I'm a gimp, and SF has a lot of uphill and downhill.

But it's a nice place to visit, and I'm glad I get to do that a lot. I discover new things there on a regular basis, though I've been visiting for nearly 50 years, and I'm glad I get to raise my child so near such a treasure.