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Friday, March 9, 2012

Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I've been to London to visit the Queen

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library

I have been back to London, but I had more interesting places to visit than the palace. It was strange, being back in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library where I've spent a good part of the last decade.  I miss the place and my colleagues and friends now that I'm on the far side of the world. While I was there  The Carolina Chocolate Drops came in for a quick look around before the evening's concert. They were so fascinated, their manager had to drag them out again. We laughed about the irony that I came all the way to London to see them, and they promised they would appear in Seattle soon. Go see them if you get the chance or you can hear them on NPR.
A regatta in the snow
We've been learning about winter weather in Seattle.  Or the distinct lack of it.  My sister in the frozen north e-mails about  temperatures in the double digits below zero F.  Here, we rarely seem to get below freezing.  I was in the UK during Seattle's one significant snow and ice storm, though I got a brief taste of it the Sunday before, when a few flurries resulted in public transportation chaos. Admittedly, the hills around here are murderous when icy and the busses for the most part aren't equipped for those conditions. However, the  sailors were completely undaunted, and as the flurries cleared, they appeared as if by magic, on the dark surface of the lake. 
The rocket that didn't launch
For a change of pace we went to Florida to visit my family, something we always try to do in the winter months when the mosquitoes are dormant.  We timed it to coincide with a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center.  I grew up wanting to be an astronaut, watching night launches from the roof of our house, and witnessing the first five space shuttle launches while I lived in central Florida. Sadly, the launch was posponed due to wind.  But we toured the space center for nearly two days and still didn't see it all. Happily, amidst the glitzy exhibits, they still display an actual Gemini capsule with the scars and scorch marks from re-entering the atmosphere. 
One of the main attractions on the bus tour of the Space Center was the abundant wildlife.  The taped commentary droned on about an historic building to the left while the whole bus was looking to the right at an alligator in the drainage ditch, or an eagle's nest in the trees. Later in the week we took a long walk through the Lake Woodruff Wildlife Center. D. asked me if there were any alligators there, and I pointed out a mound of feathers - the remains of a bird after an alligator had digested it. Sure enough it wasn't long before we saw some basking in the sun, and turtles, and of course lots of birds.
Resident gator at Lake Woodruff
As we neared the exit, we met a man with a couple of poles and stout boots asking if we'd seen any rattle snakes.  I was happy to say we hadn't, since I was wearing sandals, but he seemed intent on finding some, and was well equipped for the job.  Generally though, if I see poisonous snakes, I head the other way.
After a couple busy months of traveling hither and yon, I am looking forward to staying put in the Pacific Northwest for a while.  We have started to hang pictures, make a few improvements, and clear up the last of the boxes, so it's beginning to feel like home at last. Soon we'll need to think about planting the balcony garden.  But that is another tale.