Monthly Archives: March 2012

The bone-eating snot-flower worm

Osedax mucofloris, seen alive, growing on the surface of a whale boneSounds lovely, doesn’t it? But look how pretty it is! I recently discovered this little beauty in my occasional quest for fascinatingly odd creatures. It’s actually Osedax mucofloris, “osedax” meaning ‘bone-eating’, and “mucofloris” meaning – well, you can guess. It was discovered in 2005 on the remains of a dead whale in Kosterfjord on the Swedish coast. The whale had been dead for months, and had already been stripped to the bone by scavenging denizens of the deep. The worm looked like pretty pink flowers growing out of the bones.

Entire Osedax mucofloris animal, dissected out from a whale bone Scientists, as is their nature, dug the flowers out and found that the other half of the animal (the ‘root’) was buried inside the bone, presumably obtaining nutrients from it. The picture over on the right there shows the whole animal. That woolly mass down at the bottom is its ‘root’ system.

The BESFW (as my can’t-be-arsed-typing-the-full-name fingers now call it) is a type of annelid worm, and related to creatures like ragworms, leeches and even the good old earthworm. So far, it has only been discovered on two whale skeletons, those of a minke and a pilot, and both in the same fjord.

Experts ‘guess’ that it’s actually pretty widespread in the Atlantic, although that’s going to be hard to prove given that whale skeletons are REALLY hard to find on the ocean floor.

Fertilised eggs of Osedax mucofloris being released into the water columnThe BESFW exhibits very strong sexual dimorphism – that is, the males do not develop into mature adults, and (rather like human males) remain as big kids all their lives. They are attached to the sides of the female, and fertilise her eggs as they are released into the water (see worm porn, left).

I have as yet no information on why they didn’t call it “The Pretty Pink Flowery Worm”, or for my Northern readers, how they taste when fried.

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Cats in the Sun

On a gloriously Springy sunshiney day like today, what could be more relaxing than watching a cat enjoying the fine warmth? Here’s a few having fun around our house.

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WALMWAYSP Tweetup

Hmm. I may have to think of a snappier name…..

I’ve been besotted by @little_mavis for decades now, and June 23rd will be our 33rd Wedding Anniversary. That day is a Saturday, and we’d like to celebrate by meeting Twitter chums for another YSP Tweetup.

 

DSCF4524Last August a big old gang of us had a rather wonderful Tweetup at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Remember this? Friends, kids, dogs, picnics, sculptures, parkland, lakes and best of all a bloody good laugh. (We’ll gloss over The Boy’s little adventure).

 

DSCF4509So this is just an advance warning, really – I’ll be posting far more details later. But do mark June 23rd down in your diaries to come HERE and have fun with us while also admiring some really impressive artworks, like the dubious one on the left there. It is, isn’t it? It’s a penis. Though admittedly rather a short one.

Mums

Once again, an impromptu #SUNDAYPICS sprang up during what was officially a weekend off. In honour of Mother’s Day, lots of you posted pics of Mums of whom you were rightly proud. It wouldn’t be polite to invoke my usual sarcasm when talking about your Mamas, so I’ll just fling the pictures up. Hover over each photo to see who it was from, and what they said. Click on it to see a larger version. Enjoy!

@ericafairs - My lovely Mum, aged about 21. How she would like to be remembered@_aaronkelly - Not a great pic but one with my mum and Lesley's@alexbrightsmith - Mum hates to be photographed & has a history of telekinetically inducing light leaks, but this one survived@andrewmaginley - My Mum on our old front porch on Staten Island New York, where I was born.@ariadnes_web - My Mum and Dad on their 50th wedding anniversary.@arthurwhippet - This is me and my mum! Her name is Betty.She lives with @JanetHorsfield@avensarah - Since my mom might not appreciate the pic of her I posted earlier, here's one of her & me together@avensarah - Today we are out in tshirts, digging the garden. (Also, that's my mom.)@beanobundle - My 2nd (adoptive) Mother who died in 1983. (Now onto my 3rd Mother)@bhiggi - My lovely Mam having a rest in 1963@bottyb - And here's a more recent picture of my Ma @bottyb - Me and my mum pinching turkey at Christmas@bottyb - Probably my favourite picture of me and my mum@butmadnnw - Looks like fringe #sundaypics is mums. US Mother's Day isn't until May, but here's mine w @mrteller@chazlet - my mum at 19yrs old getting ready for a night out... Awesome picture isn't it @chickenprincess - My grandmother. A mum to me, and so much more. She died when I was 10 and I still miss her every day@davidgilray - My mum relaxing on the patio. Aden 1966.@dawbes - Again at aunty Pats house. Can't excuse the clothing but I LOVED that top. Given to me by a special friend@dawbes - Here's a rare picture of mum when she was able to walk. She was fucking amazing. I was 6. Let up twitter@dawbes - I think this was Christmas drinks at 'aunty' Pats house. I was about 10. Mum reminds me of Cilla Black here@dawbes - The last picture we had taken together  It has pride of place at up home.  Mothers are amazing@dr_steph_ - Happy Mother's day!! We both still look very similar to that and yet also very different

@macjude - Here's mine with the Bengal @littlemammy - here's me and my mum. So my grumpy default expression stems from back then@nyncompoop - me and my mum. Just after being born. My mum looks about 12. She was 25@little_mavis - And my mum@jinjamagarrity - me (right) mom (middle) and Aunty J have a right old giggle at something on my 21st@essers - Donald & Pauline Ashworth (aka Dad & Mum)@essers - Here is a picture for #sundaypics, of me, my mother, and her mother, and her mother @fbishwife - me & my mum@fuckimfortyone - Here's my favourite picture of my beautiful mother x@girlthing63 - Haven't been able to celebrate Mother's day with her for 41 years. But she was the best@hebbie - my mum@heidivodka - Me and my mum with my nephews@hinnyhlw - The three stooges, or my mum, my sister and me (@lyanya58, @KatieWilliamso2)@hugeshark - Here is my mum. She's as silly as I am.@jayalay - my first #SUNDAYPICS! - mum and me at my graduation the star of the show was the hat, of course@judehale - I'll have to #sundaypics too. Here is me with @essers, @torialouise, their mum & dad, my mum & @HaleGC@kateordeath - Although I acknowledge that this may well be a better picture of me and @lauriepink@kateordeath - And THIS is a picture of me and my @lauriepink, toasting marshmallows and being DELIGHTED@kateordeath - This is me and my @essers on my 18th birthday. See our matching smiles@katycoo - my mum, rocking lipstick & excellent nails, shortly after giving birth. i'm the small person in the middle.

@robertcorkesq - my children's mum @nyncompoop - Oh a more up to date picture of my mum. @och23 - not sure exactly what my mum is doing here but it looks like she is having fun@robertcorkesq - my mum (and other assorted people)@sarahhanner - My Mum With my Dad before they were married. Gorgeous pair my Pa was 6 foot  then and he looks like a midget! Odd perspective, must be@sarahpez - love's young dream. Mum & dad on holiday 2011@sarahtregear - my mum holding me (my dad and gparents) at a wedding in 1974. I've worn my mum's outfit to 70's parties @sarahtregear - This is my mum with her mum in 1976 just before my nan died @scullyscully - Here's my lovely mum for impromptu@shrewuntamed - My favourite picture of Ma, on her birthday two years ago. At a Sausage Throwing Contest@smiththewhippet - This is us & our mum,Missy! Me, Ceef (@GypandCeef) white bums. Pogo (@dograd) facing the camera@snowgirl1972 - a #sundaypics for @abbbi @willy_gilly & @lizziestuart_ #mums@snowgirl1972 - ok, #sundaypics looked through a load of pics my dad sorted, presume this is from his wallet so well before my time@sophihardwicke - @wombat37 #SUNDAYPICS My mum, mid-giggling fit after a long night on the, ahem, Travel Scrabble@sundayhandbag - My mother, aged about three, I think. Which wd have been in 1920 or thereabouts@superblouse - Last year my mother tried a burger for the first time ever. She's 64. (I'll have to delete that later)@underbundle - Me Mum 'n' me #sundaypics Some will have seen this before@waywardlou - My mum, me, and my brother. My brother is the pretty 1 on the right. I'm the boyish 1 on the left @wombat

@petitlowry - My mum at Christmas; my two favourite things in one picture

@pixki - my mum (& dad) @pixki - My Nana @quantumtree - My granmum and mummum keeping up the family tradition back in the day They are cleaning fish. The women folk in my family used to go camping a lot and we would catch our own food

Poems: crowd-sourced poetry FTW

Crowd-sourced poetry, eh? Who’d have thought that it would be so much fun? The finished articles turned out to be rather special, as you’ll see and hear here. You complete stars, you. I reckon these deserve as wide an audience as possible, so feel free to pimp the shit out of this particular post. Oh, and thanks to @little_mavis for the original idea, and @matcochr for being a boffin. After the ‘official’ videos, you’ll find a collection of extra poems that various folks were inspired to post. I’m not sure I spotted them all, so if you posted a poem that I didn’t include, I do apologise.

Albert and the Lion, by Marriott Edgar

The Battle of Hastings, by Marriott Edgar

The Licorice Fields of Pontefract, by John Betjeman

Clive the Fearless Birdman by Pam Ayres

Here are the Extras that I spotted in the #SUNDAYPICS timeline. There’s such a variety of types of poem, though all well read; I advise you to give them all a listen. I’ll start with one that sounds so sexy it could be used as a seduction tape. Rather disappointingly, it’s about a lumberjack.

@shrewuntamed, Le Boucheron Eustache

@andromedababe, Shush by Irv Graham

@ladylittleton, When We Two Parted by Lord Byron

@och23, Time by Valerie Bloom

@mizzlizwizz, Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

@jackpot73, Rain by Raymond Carver

@wombat37, Swearin’ Jim by Leonard Henry

@ladylittleton, Whoso List to Hunt by Thomas Wyatt

@alexbrightsmith, A Blade of Grass by Brian Patten

@shrewuntamed, My Granny by Beryl Cook

@greythorne, Hunter Trials by John Betjeman

@andromedababe, Lenten Thoughts of a High Anglican by John Betjeman

@ladylittleton, Antigone’s speech by Seamus Heaney

Poems: crowd-sourced poetry FTW

Crowd-sourced poetry, eh? Who’d have thought that it would be so much fun? The finished articles turned out to be rather special, as you’ll see and hear here. You complete stars, you. I reckon these deserve as wide an audience as possible, so feel free to pimp the shit out of this particular post. Oh, and thanks to @little_mavis for the original idea, and @matcochr for being a boffin. After the ‘official’ videos, you’ll find a collection of extra poems that various folks were inspired to post. I’m not sure I spotted them all, so if you posted a poem that I didn’t include, I do apologise.

Albert and the Lion, by Marriott Edgar

Awww, pretty eyes….

The Battle of Hastings, by Marriott Edgar

Scaryarse cat-person-Brian May cross.

The Licorice Fields of Pontefract, by John Betjeman

Dandelion!

Clive the Fearless Birdman by Pam Ayres

Cousin Itt.

Here are the Extras that I spotted in the #SUNDAYPICS timeline. There’s such a variety of types of poem, though all well read; I advise you to give them all a listen. I’ll start with one that sounds so sexy it could be used as a seduction tape. Rather disappointingly, it’s about a lumberjack.

@shrewuntamed, Le Boucheron Eustache

@andromedababe, Shush by Irv Graham

@ladylittleton, When We Two Parted by Lord Byron

@och23, Time by Valerie Bloom

@mizzlizwizz, Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

@jackpot73, Rain by Raymond Carver

@wombat37, Swearin’ Jim by Leonard Henry

@ladylittleton, Whoso List to Hunt by Thomas Wyatt

@alexbrightsmith, A Blade of Grass by Brian Patten

@shrewuntamed, My Granny by Beryl Cook

@greythorne, Hunter Trials by John Betjeman

@andromedababe, Lenten Thoughts of a High Anglican by John Betjeman

@ladylittleton, Antigone’s speech by Seamus Heaney

The Ghost Chicken of Highgate

DSCF5855A conversation with my daughter prompted me to remember something a once girlfriend had told me when I lived in London – that there was a place in Highgate haunted by a Ghost Chicken. No, really, it turns out it’s A Thing.

A quick Duckduckgo* led me to mentions of Sir Francis Bacon, so I took down my copy of Aubrey’s Brief Lives and found this story of events in April 1626 –

“As he (Sir Francis Bacon) was taking the air in a coach with Dr Witherborne (a physician) towards Highgate, snow lay on the ground, and it came into my lord’s thoughts, why flesh might not be preserved in snow, as in salt. They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. They alighted out of the coach, and went into a poor woman’s house at the bottom of Highgate Hill, and bought a fowl, and made the woman exenterate it, and then stuffed the body with snow, and my lord did help to do it himself. The snow so chilled him, that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not return to his lodging … but went to the Earle of Arundel’s house at Highgate, where they put him into a good bed warmed with a pan, but it was a damp bed that had not been layn-in about a year before, which gave him such a cold that in two or three days, as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of Suffocation.”

psMany doubt that Bacon did experiment in frozen foods, but people began to report strange happenings, and there were several reported sightings of a particularly eerie apparition around Pond Square from the 17th Century onwards. Yes, the Ghost Chicken was on the loose.

In the second World War the unnerving apparition of a ghost chicken was seen many times. In 1943, Aircraftsman Terence Long was in Pond Square one night when he heard horses’ hooves, wheels, and a screeching noise. Instead of a horse and cart though, what he saw when he turned was a half-plucked chicken, flapping its wings and legging it wildly around in a circle before vanishing.

Later, ARP Wardens saw the ghost several times around Pond Square. One tried to bag the incorporeal bird, but failed when it “vanished through a brick wall”

A resident of Pond Square, a Mrs. Greenhill, said after the war that she had seen the ghost, and described it as “a big, whitish bird”.

In January 1969, a “large white half-plucked bird” was seen by a driver whose car had broken down. He moved towards it, but it disappeared.

In February 1970 a courting couple were surprised when a ghostly chicken landed beside them, ran round twice, then vanished into thin air. Coitus henterruptus (sorry).

I couldn’t find anything after that, so perhaps the pecky phantom has found peace at last.

* if you want to search the net without Google tracking you, or bubbling the search results as it sees fit, then try Duckduckgo.