Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Search for 10,000 Daffodils

Where could they be?

Mama Spot was feeling well enough to go for a walk today to check on the progress or lack there of, of the emergence of the bulbs. This cat flu lingers. Crawford had a mild case by comparison. He has been back to his normal self for a couple of days and is now old enough to join in on the garden tours.

Poor Collar. She was late in getting started, but now has the Feline Herpes Virus 1 flu with a vengeance. Her eyes have been affected much worse than Spot or Crawford. She didn't go on the walk with us. She had a nap in the sun instead.

It looks like I could have called her Booger. That black spot on her nose is a skin pigment change.

When he was a baby I thought I might call him Cindy. Then it looked like he was a boy and I couldn't call him that, so Cindy became Crawford. He has the softest fur I have ever felt on a cat and this flu epidemic has allowed the opportunity to start turning him into a real lap cat. He demands to be held and petted now.

But what about the 10,000 Daffodil bulbs? Right now there are hardly any to be seen. I may have spotted a half dozen clumps at the most. Last year I spotted the first ones on January 10. By the 23rd there were plenty and by February 5th I was considering it almost spring.

We're not quite that far along this year. Some of the Daffodil foliage actually appears damaged and I know the one patch of Hyacinthoides I had seen and a mystery bulb were pretty much burned to a crisp. Another round of snow and deep cold is headed this way. The Daffodils will just have to wait.

The days are getting longer at least.

The sun still sets in the west.

This is the way it should be.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Well, Well, Wellsphere

That didn't take long.

Just three weeks ago I was complaining about Wellsphere, the health networking site going around the internet and sucking up the entire content from a blogger's site and claiming full copyright privileges to their work in exchange for a really poor link.

Jeanne from The Assertive Cancer Patient e-mailed to let me know the big news.

Health Central just bought Wellsphere for who knows how much. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The money quote from a Business Journal article: "Wellsphere serves nearly 300,000 health-related articles, over 250,000 health-related images, and nearly 20,000 health and healthy living videos."

Somebody got paid for all that content and it wasn't the people who produced it.

The WSJ also has an article on the sale of Wellsphere. It seems this is big news in the business world, so we're not talking piddly amounts of money here. The missing advertising on Wellsphere will commence shortly no doubt with a full scale assault.

It just goes to show you the kind of ethics that permeate the business world these days.

The First Bed

As soon as, whenever that will be, the utility line gets buried and the temporary power pole goes away, it will be a high priority to plant the entry way to the cozy cabin and the large section directly in front of the porch. This will be the primary focal point coming down the drive and the main bed that will anchor the cabin to the site.

I'm not planning a direct path from the front porch down to the basement patio. That would involve stair like steps and I feel it would interrupt a bed that needs to make a very strong opening statement. Instead the path will come down the garden accessory drive and cross the slope below the bed to get to the basement patio. A more direct path down to the patio will come from the rear kitchen door steps.

It's on a slope. This picture was taken one path further down that will go to the bottom of the sunny utility valley. You can just make out the path between the basement patio and the garden accessory road in the center of the slope.

Basically this bed has a rectangular shape with a ninety degree angle that comes to a sharp point, which I hate. That point will have to be smoothed off or rounded when I widen the path. Once I widen the path on this slope, I will end up with a steep cut in the slope and I think that means there is another dry stack stone wall in my future.

The question is, what in the hell am I going to plant in this bed to make a strong opening statement? It has to have winter interest, so it will need evergreens, but I don't think I could bare to look at sad and forlorn rhododendrons off my front porch when their leaves curl up in cold bitter misery. That's not the look I want when I am freezing.

Can't plant any full size trees because it is to close to the utility easement and I can't have any tragic misshapen trees in the opening statement. I will need some height though to step the cabin down from the height of the surrounding forest and to give the front windows a light dash of screening.

What I am going to plant?

This is just a gratuitous shot of the siding I managed to get on yesterday when it was sunny, sort of, and almost forty degrees. Today it was windy, in the twenties and with snow flurries on and off all day.

There will be a narrow foundation planting along this side of the cabin of course, between it and the driveway. Gas and water lines need to cross through first and the final grade for drainage established. Then what will I plant there?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

One Star And Two Moons

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

After The Deluge

A little cabin was dry inside

The temperature plummets
The clouds descend

Next up

The Snowdrops.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Dead Of Winter

The world keeps turning from brown to white. Back to brown, then white again. Once again we're brown.

The Rhododendrons on the ridge top garden account for most of the green in the dead of winter. Many of these are quite large and there are several significant drifts of them. Yet, even large shrubs can feel small in an even larger space. Add in the towering grey and brown tree trunks topped by naked limbs and the tops of bare mountains rising across the valley and the small green shrubs don't even make a dent in the brown.

The little Snowdrops survived the latest icy blasts that sent the temperature down to minus -4 degrees. When the brown returned, they look as if nothing happened, a suspended animation.

Poor Mama Spot has had a major cold for the last few days. The symptoms look most like the Feline Herpes Virus-1. I have never seen a cat with a cold this bad. She could barely move for two days. She seemed to be feeling a bit better today. Crawford was feeling bad and had a minor cold compared to Spot and Collar was just fine. Collar was her usual skittish self darting about and annoying the flu patients to no end. The flu patients have been spending hours at a time inside now.

The front wall of the cozy cabin below the porch roof has all its siding on now. I even did some of the caulking. It took two days to get all those fancy cuts and angles into the Hardie Plank for around the doors and windows and below the pitch of the roof.

Of course my days are short. The above forty degree range may last from 11 to 4. Then I measure a lot and think on it some and ponder a bit and measure some more before I cut any thing. Then I'll stand back and admire it a bit after I get over that ever so slight imperfection that will never be noticed once the final coat of paint is applied.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slipping and Siding

A melt has commenced. All that snow from the beginning of the week is gone.

The cold wet ground down by the cozy cabin has taken on a menacing tone though. Melting snow doesn't seem to drain very well in my super well drained saprolite soil until the ground is thoroughly thawed. The wet just sits there on top and turns the ground into an oozing, sticky, slippery goo. How deep will my shoe sink in this frost heaved slime?

I was not to be deterred. There was sun or sort of sun, warm or kind of warm and dry cabin walls. I walked slowly and gingerly across a field of slippery goo to fetch pieces of the Hardie Plank siding. The siding has finally commenced.

The house of Lowes will slowly disappear and a proper looking home will emerge.

There are always those little details though. There are going to be plenty of detailed cuts needed around the top of the door and windows and at the juncture of the roof structure and front wall. The roof needs to go on and a half circle window needs to be trimmed before the siding can go on above the roof.

The next round of weather is set to commence on Tuesday. This little bit of siding makes me happy though. I can really start to see what the cozy cabin will look like. In between the weathers I'll keep at it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Desert Island Plant Challenge

Shirl's Gardenwatch is hosting a garden blogger's meme at her blog challenging gardeners to pick just three plants that they would have to have if stranded on a desert island. That is a tough challenge for plant nerds.

I may have a slight advantage though. I have lived on a desert island. I wasn't tossed over board and forced to swim through shark infested waters like the lepers dumped on Kalawao and Ka lau Papa at least. I lived on a desert island by choice.

A little water in the desert does wonders. Besides, we were told to ignore growing condition issues for the three plants we had to have. If we chose it, it will grow.

Etlingera elatior or Torch Ginger is one plant I would want to have. This tropical ginger relative has bamboo like canes that can reach fifteen feet high.

The flowers have to be one of the most exotic in all of the plant kingdom. The individual blooms rise alone on a leafless stalk from the thick underground rhizomes and can reach up to four feet in height.

They make great cut flowers that can last for weeks. I loved to give them to friends on birthdays and anniversaries. The long stalk was cut to a nice hand held length. The round club like flower head was reminiscent of a royal scepter. The recipient was granted the right to be king or queen for the day. Torch Ginger was fun.

My second plant choice is Trachelospermum jasminoides. In the south where I grew up this was called Confederate Jasmine. This substantial evergreen vine with glossy dark green, simple leaves would be perfect for training over an arbor to make a nice place to get out of the hot tropical sun.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

In the spring it covers itself in clusters of small, star shaped flowers with a wonderful jasmine scent to fill the warm evening air. Chuck's Hardenbergia violacea might make a great vine choice too. If only I had known about it sooner.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

You gotta have a good tree on a desert island and there is a tree that will live in my heart forever. The fully double flower form of Cochlospermum vitifolia. Native to dry tropical forests, the smooth grey trunk takes on a swollen Baobab type of look.

In mid winter after the leaves have been shed, (Yes there are deciduous tropical trees.) the Buttercup Tree will produce thousands of huge bright yellow blooms that will carpet the ground beneath it. This is another flower that will last for days without even being in water, just sitting on table tops or placed in shallow bowls.

My beautiful Buttercup Tree did have a bit of a troubled life. It got bigger than what was good for it by the powers that be. I wonder if it is still there? The world that swirled beneath it never distracted from its beauty though and I made sure some of its progeny were safely planted in new locations.

Hi Darkie.

That's my trio of plant choices for life on a tropical desert isle.

Thanks Shirl. It was nice to go back for a brief visit while I wait for the shower drain to thaw so I can have a warm shower.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beneath Snow

Clear Morning

Cold Wave Breaking

Pediment Along The Shore



Finding Abstracts

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Time For Spam

In celebration of the inaugural of the first Hawaiian president in US history,

Tonight's dinner will be Spam. This lovely can of Spam came all the way from Maui via the most gracious hostess, Queen Tilifah, who I miss dearly.

Our new president could very likely be one of the few, if not the only president who grew up eating Spam. Spam has a proud history and quite possibly a strong future.

The inaugural address: (I don't think I'll get busted for copyright infringement.)

My fellow citizens

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition. Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction. This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do. Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government. Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good. As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint. We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.

We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

**** (photo in photo "Mother Death" with much appreciation from Pam at Digging from Austin's Dia de los Muertos)

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate. Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true.

They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]." America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

E hana me ka ha`aha`a

I hope that WE can all work towards and live up to the promise of these words, particularly those in the insulated world of Washington DC.

Aloha nui loa Mr. President. Aloha nui loa to the First Lady and daughters.

Time is now. Ho`oponopono

Update: 1-21-09
One thing did change at 12:01 yesterday that I forgot to mention. The new and improved website went live. It is a portal for all Americans into the beginnings of a more open government.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Abstract Photography

We all kind of know what abstract art is. The Wiki page defines it a bit as "departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. This departure from accurate representation can be only slight, or it can be partial, or it can be complete."

That is all fine and good, but abstract photograhy was kind of a new concept for me.

It can start out simple enough,

Then add another twist for further departure from reality

Or move completely into Fine Art Abstract Photography by Zen. Enjoy

Pink Morning

Gives way

To an all white day.