Monday, January 31, 2011

The Price of Gas

Last week during President O'Bama's speech he said he wanted to take oil company subsidies and give them to companies who were working on renewable energy. What has been the immediate result of that statement? Why, the price of gas went down! And we had been told to expect nothing but higher prices. I cannot help thinking that the drop of a few cents in the price of gas is the attempt to placate the public, to cool their anger over being gouged. But don't worry, the price will again begin to creep up.
The long range consequences of not having renewable energy will have an incredibly higher price, both in terms of money, environmental degradation, and the almighty economy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Theo Jansen's Strandbeests

A clear cross between art and science. Enjoy this one.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shadows and Play Houses

As a child I memorized this poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson, and amazingly I still remember most of it. (Now where did I put my glasses?

My Shadow
HAVE a little shadow that goes in and out with me, 
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see. 
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head; 
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed. 
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—         5
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow; 
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India-rubber ball, 
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all. 
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play, 
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.  10
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see; 
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me! 
One morning, very early, before the sun was up, 
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup; 
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

The Daily Guidepost's selection for today caused me to think of this poem as it was about how God sticks as close to us as a shadow.
Before this poem, I had never really paid much attention to my shadow, but afterward I often played games with my shadow, trying to step on it, race with it, and other games.
Another favorite play strategy was making "play houses". This involved  creating an enclosed space on the ground lined with rocks, limbs, or scraps of lumber.One particular play house was infested with black widow spiders, probably from the lumber that I dragged from the shed. I dealt with this threat by using a stick to flip the boards over to check for spiders and smashing any I found. Frequently the space was divided into rooms and I was careful to walk through "doors" and not step over walls. The room that required the most detail was the kitchen and I had a a cache of cooking "pots" and bowls. Plates were usually flat leaves and silverware was sticks. Mud pies were a favorite and they were decorated with china berry balls (fruits), stones, and anything else that caught my eye. The main object here was playing in mud. After a spell of mud pie making, the play house would be moved somewhere else.  I moved those play houses more than I played in them. I guess I got moving out of my system then, because moving has been a dreaded thing in my adult life. Maybe moving clearly points out the stuff  I have that needs to go west and a lot of it is not as obviously disposable as leaf plates.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Miniature Cymbidiums

Posted by Picasa
There are several of these miniature Cymbidiums blooming in the greenhouse now. I have had this plant and propagated it for more than 25 years. It blooms reliably every January and February. These are available right now in bud and bloom for $15.
As soon as it begins to warm in the spring, I put the pots outside the greenhouse in the shade and leave them there til after a light frost falls, usually the first week in December. The cooling helps them to set the flower buds that will open early in the year, at a time when not many other things are blooming. These are just right for  a side table decoration. They are very tolerant of indoor conditions and after flowering they should be kept moist and given as much light as you can manage til they can be put outdoors for the growing season.
Fertilize monthly except when they are blooming.
I got the original start of this plant from a woman in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was cold and she had just returned from Florida, perhaps to winterize her house. When she pulled the plant from her bay window and unpotted it to divide it, I thought"O Boy." There were ice crystals all in the root ball. She seemed unconcerned and brushed my worries aside saying it would not hurt the plant. And she was right. It was not bothered at all. Although it was not hurt, I do not recommend this practice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Big Hair

I could not resist posting this . Her hair looks like a straw hut. It may be photo shopped but even so, it's funny.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beautiful Sunset at the Beach

The winter months have lots of beautiful sunsets. This one reminds me of the old weather adage "Red at night, sailor's delight", and in fact this red sunset did foretell clearing weather and a beautiful day the next day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Short Videos of Gulf Shores

This is a video of the sky and beach at Gulf Shores  which I thought was SO beautiful, even if it was horribly cold at the time.">

This one is of a sea gull bathing. If I had had my wits about me, I could have made a much longer video of this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bird Tracks at the Beach

Posted by Picasa
I liked these bird tracks in the sand. There are several kinds, webbed being the most prominent.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January: A New Year Begins

Here we are at the beginning of a new year and I suppose many people have already made and cast aside their New Year's resolutions. I am still contemplating what I should resolve on that front. Some advice is sage and this one from Ben Franklin fits that category, but without offering too much help on how to accomplish it. It seems to me that finding your own way is hardest, but also the most satisfying. Don't think for me, and I won't think for you.

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. (woman) ~ Benjamin Franklin 

This is a cheerful little poem and one that would be good to recite at the end of each day, New Year or not.

Then sing, young hearts that are full of cheer,

With never a thought of sorrow;

The old goes out, but the glad young year
Comes merrily in tomorrow."

Emily Miller

Here again is my favorite. This time of year I think about this poem a lot and think it offers me my best hope for the coming year. It displays fear of the unknown going forward, and hope for comfort and direction in the unknown.

                       The Gate of the Year        

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

“And he replied,
‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’

“So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the light
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

“So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

“In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention.”

An interesting aside concerns the name of the first calender month. January 's root is Janus, from Roman mythology, the god of gates,doors, beginnings, and endings. He is typically depicted having 2 faces, one looking forward and one backward.
It is good to look forward, but experience has no meaning if we do not use its gift.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gold Hill Ice Storm

                                                                      Japanese Maple
                                                         Japanese Maple at close range
                                                              Cold Blueberry Bushes

Posted by Picasa
Last night we got a beautiful ice storm, and regardless of  the aftermath, it is still beautiful. we may still get a power outage, but let us enjoy today, now.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beach Hair

I made an early January trip to Gulf Shores. Let me tell you, it was VERY cold, but I survived just fine after I put on all the clothes I brought with me. I had never worn socks and shoes at the beach before and had often wondered how people could stand it with the sand getting in their shoes. However , it was the only way to survive the cold this time. Flip flops and bare feet were definitely not the order of the day.
This grass looked like hair to me and I liked the patterns it made against the white sand.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas Cymbidiums

I received these 3 beautiful Cymbidium orchids for Christmas. Needless to say I was very pleased. The pink one is a miniature similar to a yellow one I have been growing for years. In fact I have several in bud and bloom right now in the greenhouse. These are smaller plants and blooms and can be accommodated more readily on a table for display in the home. The large yellow one in the first picture is so beautiful and the white makes me smack my lips!!! What a great present for me!
Cymbidiums are easily grown in a loamy humus in some combination of fur bark, perlite, and peat moss. They  need ample amounts of water in the spring, summer, and fall, but watering should be tapered off to some degree in the winter. The plants should not be allowed to dry out and should be kept moist to the touch. They should be watered bimonthly with a weak fertilizer solution, or they can be fed with a slow release fertilizer. I prefer the slow release fertilizer as it is simpler and does not tend to over feed. High nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided as they may inhibit flowering.I put my Cymbidiums outside in some shade as soon as frost has ended, and leave them there till after the first light frost. Cymbidiums can withstand a good bit of cold, and are generally safe at 40 degrees F. In fact the cooler temperatures cause the flower buds to initiate, and mine usually begin to bloom in January, just when we need some winter cheer.
Blogging tips
Blogging tips