Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Night Ladies

 Another plant I brought with me from Arizona is Night Blooming Cereus, a cactus native to Arizona and the Sonora Desert.  I mention this because it has started to bloom.  And, it is, by far, one of the most beautiful, fragrant flowers I have in my yard.  The biggest drawback is --- it only blooms at night (yeah – I’m sure your figured that out from the name), the blooms only open between 8pm and very dark-thirty, and then they wilt, drop-off and are done.  You really have to pay attention or you’ll miss the show.

There are a couple other names for this plant - Queen of the Night, Princess of the Night, Lady of the Night.  And, the name, Night Blooming Cereus is a somewhat generic name in that it includes several different genera with the same characteristic of blooming at night.  Mostly though, they all look very similar. 

I read that this particular cactus is grown as a houseplant – well, unless you live in AZ or TX (my part of TX, that is).  I’m not sure just how that would work or where it would fit indoors because this is a tall, twiggy, somewhat untidy plant.  The limbs can grow straight up or curve all over itself.  Plus, it could get to be as much as 10 feet in length.  I try to keep mine cut back to a manageable size because, although it lives outdoors from March to November, it does have to come inside during even our winter months.  In past lives, it has lived in a greenhouse but currently it winters over in the garage with a light and promises.  During the season, I grow mine in bright light – it gets the morning sun and is shaded during the hot afternoon.  Seems to do best for me that way.  Use a well-draining soil – I mix pea gravel in the soil and a little sand.  And, if you cut yours back – save the cut limbs.  Let them dry for a few days.  Dip them in root hormone and stick in a pot of dirt and, Eureka! you will have another cereus.  They root pretty easily.  The Cactus Guy tells me to fertilize them with a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote. 

According to those “in the know” the plants usually don’t start blooming until they’re 5 years old (I always think that’s a +/- thing).  The blooms on mine start forming in late September on the end of a limb.  One expert said they put on buds when the nights cool down some.  But others indicate they can bloom all summer.  So, take your pick just be aware, buds form and grow very quickly.  They open and close also very quickly.  And, if, if, if, the planets are all in alignment, the universe is smiling, all is well with the world (or at least at your house) when the flower is open at night, it can be pollinated, and then it can (maybe) produce a fruit --- Dragon fruit.  I’m not sure if all species will fruit or only a specific one (or three) but mine have never produced anything other than beautiful flowers.  Still, DRAGON Fruit – I have to work on this…….

FYI:  Pollinators for NB Cereus

 Sphinx moths resemble hummingbirds because of their body size and the way they feed. These moths act as pollinators for night blooming cereus and other types of succulents and cactuses. The moths are brown with a 2 1/2- to 31/2-inch wingspan. They feed on flower nectar with their proboscis, which is a beaklike, extendable tongue, or hollow tube.  Interesting

Nocturnal, nectar-feeding bats act as pollinator for night blooming cereus like the greater long-nosed bat, the Mexican long-tongued bat and pallid bat.  OK whatever gets the job done.

Hmmmm, what else????  Well there is a Cantonese soup made with the dried flower of the NB Cereus - lǎohuǒ tang.  The fruit produced is brightly colored and sweet to the taste.  The NB Cereus has a tuberous, turnip-like root which is said to be edible.  Good things to know, just in case …..

Still, it’s an easy plant to grow and usually pretty forgiving.  The first picture was taken in 2016.  Then, we experienced THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2017 and it sat under water for three days.  Big sigh.  Was not a happy plant.  But, with pruning, positive thinking and moderate threats, it has come back.

Take care

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Third Week #4 and finally, the Autumnal Equinox and Mabon

The autumn equinox takes place this year, depending on where you live, on Sept 22 or 23.  For us here, in the Northern Hemisphere, in the central time zone, it happens at 8:54pm tonight  (9:54pm EDT, 7:54pm MDT, 6:54pm PDT), Saturday, Sept. 22.

The Autumnal Equinox signals us that summer is gone – and winter is coming.   Shorter days bring cooler weather.  People have stopped wearing white. Creatures of the wild are putting on their winter coats. Yea!  Our long, hot, swampy, soggy, fiery summer is finally coming to an end. 

Please note the time – 5:34AM
in the morning
very early in the morning
before sunrise in the morning

Well, unless someone turns the outdoor thermostat down to 50° probably not yet.  When I went outside early, I walked into the “wet electric blanket set on HOT” that is the atmosphere in my back yard.  Plus I was immediately attacked by the thousands of berserker mosquitoes that are beating on the back door.  I immediately came indoors.

Equinox literally means “equal night.”  And during the equinox, most places on Earth will see 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.  For you purists (quibblers, fusspots, hairsplitters, sticklers) out there, some exceptions occur, for instance, Fairbanks, Alaska, will see 12 hours and 16 minutes of daylight and Key West, Florida, will see 12 hours and seven minutes.

Many people claim that you can balance an egg or a broom on their ends when the equinox occurs - the moon and earth are in exactly the right alignment, the celestial bodies generating the perfect balance of forces needed to make it possible.  And doesn’t that sound cool!  However you can balance an egg on any day if you have the right egg and patience.   

This is also the time when the trees signal their leaves to stop the production of chlorophyll.  The leaves turn a beautiful rainbow of orange, yellow, red, brown – well, not here.  Here they turn dirt brown and fall off. 

I want this!
of course, I’ll have to live elsewhere but ….

During the winter and summer solstices, crowds flock to Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. During the solstices, the sun either rises or sets in line with the layout of the 5,000-year-old-monument.

And while some flock to Stonehenge for the autumnal equinox too, the real place to be is in Mexico.

That’s because on the equinox, the pyramid at Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula puts on an impressive show. Built by the Mayans around 1,000 years ago, the pyramid is designed to cast a shadow on the equinox outlining the body of Kukulkan, a feathered snake god. A serpent-headed statue is located at the bottom of the pyramid, and as the sun sets on the day of the equinox, the sunlight and shadow show the body of the serpent joining with the head.  Very cool.

This is also Mabon, the mid-harvest festival; the day to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World.  Consider this a time of balance, a time to stop, relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from working in the garden, working at a jobs, raising families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life.

Although the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving falls in November, many cultures see the second harvest of the fall equinox as a time of giving thanks.  After all, it's when you figure out how well your crops did, how fat your animals have gotten, and whether or not your family will be able to eat during the coming winter.  However, by the end of November, there's not a whole lot left to harvest.  Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3, which makes a lot more sense agriculturally.

If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast, and count the blessings that you have among kin and community.

Take care

Friday, September 21, 2018

Third Week #3 Hobbits and other creatures

Tomorrow, Sept. 22, is Hobbit Day and the last day of Tolkien Week.  (I’m posting this early in case you are having a Hobbit Party and need some “food for thought”.)

 John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor who is best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.  Those books are only three of the many books, stories, poems, songs, languages, and academic works published during his lifetime and afterward by his son, Christopher.  And, while I’ve read several of his books, I was truly amazed at the number of publications I’ve not only never read, but never even heard of!  I’ve added several to my “book wish list”.

 The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955), are set in a pre-historic era in an invented version of our world which he called Middle-earth. This was peopled by the races of Man, Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs (or Goblins) and of course Hobbits. 

As all Tolkien fans know, The Hobbit grew from a story told to his children.  And, here’s the rest of the story“One day while marking examination papers, Tolkien discovered that a student had left one page in an answer-book blank. On this page, moved by who knows what anarchic daemon, Tolkien wrote “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit“.  In typical Tolkien fashion, he then decided he needed to find out what a Hobbit was, what sort of a hole it lived in, why it lived in a hole, etc. From this investigation (imagination) grew a tale that he told to his younger children, and even passed round.” 

OK, so if you’re having a Hobbit Party or just want to be creative …….

Elven Lembas Bread we call it lembas or way bread, and it is more strengthening than any food made by Men, and it is more pleasant than cram, by all accounts.'

6 Tbl butter, slightly softened
2 cups self-rising flour
1 Tbl granulated sugar
½ cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries), optional
1 egg, well beaten
½ cup milk
4 Tbl heavy cream
Mallorn leaves

With a pastry blender or fork, cut butter into the flour in a mixing bowl until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Do this rapidly so the butter does not melt. Add the sugar and if desired, ½ cup of dry fruit. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk together until mixed. Reserve 1 TBSP of this mixture to brush the tops of the Lembas. Add the cream and egg mixture to the flour and mix just until combined into a stiff, soft dough. Knead three or four times on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to a ¾" thickness and cut with an oval or leaf shaped cookie cutter. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving 1" of space between Lembas. Brush the tops of the Lembas with the reserved egg-milk mixture. Bake for 12 -13 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven.  For safe keeping, wrap each Lembas individually in a fresh, clean Mallorn leaf. If these leaves are unavailable in your area, store the Lembas in a tightly closed container. Makes about 1 ½ dozen Lembas.

Balin's Spiced Beef   Back in the finer days, before orcs and cave trolls ravaged the great city of Dwarrowdelf, Balin’s kin would gather for his legendary feasts, which always included his famous Spiced Beef.

In a big bowl put: 4-5 lb. chuck, shoulder or round roast covered with...

Dry red wine or Apple juice or cider
One or two sliced white onions
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. each of cinnamon and allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Cover and let marinate in the fridge 12 hrs. or more. Drain and reserve marinade. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Put meat in a covered dutch oven, heat half the marinade to boiling and pour it and a cup of boiling water over the roast. Cover and simmer in the oven for about 3 hours.  If you like, you can add carrot chunks, sliced turnip and potato an hour before its done.  You can thicken the sauce like gravy, or have it au jus. Serve with roasted veggies, or noodles, or rice. Good hot or cold.

and, finally –

Bilbo’s Seed Cake   Bilbo serves this at various parties, and is famous throughout the Shire for it.  Thorin and Co. enjoyed it very much on that day before Bilbo's adventures began.

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients. Pour into a greased and parchment-lined 7" round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm with powdered sugar sprinkled over it, or serve at room temperature.

Lothron i fin bo cín toes never dant- ed
(May the hair on your toes never fall out.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Third Week #2

 So, in addition to this being National Indoor Plant Week, it’s also Pollution Prevention Week

“This week is an opportunity for individuals, businesses, and governments to emphasize and highlight their pollution prevention and sustainability activities and achievements, expand current pollution prevention efforts, and commit to new actions.”

And, what can we, as individuals, do to help prevent pollution?  Well –

Conserve energy – turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use.  Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
Limit driving by carpooling, using public transportation, biking and walking. Combine errands for fewer trips.
Keep your automobile well-tuned and maintained. Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
Use electric or hand-powered lawn care equipment.

Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full.
Adopt the 3 Rs of solid waste management: reduce, reuse, and recycle. 
Use sustainable, reclaimed, or recycled building materials.
Start composting leaves and clippings from your yard and food scraps from your kitchen to reduce waste while improving your soil.
Always bring a bag when you shop.  (Mine live in the car that way I don’t forget them.)

Get rid of your lawn: Plant bee-friendly, drought-tolerant, native plants instead. (YES!  I HATE GRASS!  It’s a water hog and has to be mowed all the damn time from March to November.  Arrrggghhh!)
Use water wisely. Do not keep the tap running when not in use.  Water flowerbed not the sidewalk or street.  
Do not throw chemicals, oils, paints and medicines down the sink drain, or the toilet.
THINK before using commercial fertilizers or pesticides (is it going to soak into the water table, run into a lake or river?)  
Do not litter.  (Obviously, this one drives me crazy)

Choose environmentally friendly cleaners, insect repellents and fertilizers.

All-Purpose Cleaner: Put 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon dish soap, and 2 tablespoons vinegar into your spray bottle. Give it a stir/shake then fill bottle with warm water and shake it again. Let any bubbles calm down and it’s ready to use.

Tubs, sinks, tile, toilet cleaner: 1 Grapefruit  1/4 cup coarse salt.  Halve grapefruit, sprinkle with salt, and you’re ready to go.  Add more salt as you scrub.  Rinse.

Weed killer where you want to replant:  Fill garden sprayer with white vinegar, add 1 tsp liquid dish washing soap.  Follow sprayer directions.  This will kill above ground weeds but will not harm anything in the soil.

Weed/grass killer where you want it to die and not come back in your lifetime: Dissolve two cups table salt in one gallon of white vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. You can use a sprayer or a watering can with a sprinkler head.  It may take a second application but it works.

All-Purpose outdoor insect spray: Mix one chopped garlic clove, one chopped small onion and one tablespoon cayenne powder into one quart water. Allow to steep one hour, then add one tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap. This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only one week, so use it up.

Cockroaches. Mix 1/4 cup shortening with 1/8 cup sugar. In a separate container mix 1/2 pound powdered boric acid and 1/2 cup flour. Add to shortening mixture. Stir well with enough water to make a soft dough. Form into small balls the size of marbles or put in lids and hide in those out of way places roaches love. This recipe works far better than commercial products. Just make sure you keep this out of the reach of children or pets.

There are all sorts of homemade fertilizer recipes on the internet depending on what you want to fertilize. 

The Quick Fix Fertilizer
In an empty 1 gallon milk jug, mix 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon of ammonia (a very strong source of quick nitrogen), 3 teaspoons of tea leaves (like black tea not herbal teas - the tannic acid in this helps the plants to more quickly and easily absorb nutrients), 3 teaspoons blackstrap molasses (this helps feed soil bacteria), 3 Tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer, as it combines with the air and water it decomposes, freeing the oxygen elements and thus providing a supplement of oxygen to the plants and aerating the soil), 1/4 cup crushed bone scraps, like fish bones (this adds phosphorus), 1 crushed egg shell, 1/2 a dried chopped up banana peel for potassium.  Fill the jug the rest of the way with water. Replace cap, give it a shake, and allow the jug to sit in the sun for about 1 hour to warm, then water your plants with this mixture at full strength.

There are dozens of other ways we can help with pollution, ways that don’t require anything but habit and the desire to help provide a livable world for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. 

Take care

Monday, September 17, 2018

Third week

This is the third week of September (already!) and a week with many things to be aware of.  Like, for instance, this is National Indoor Plant Week (Sept 16-22)

The goal of National Indoor Plant Week is to increase awareness of the value of plants in home or office settings.  Indoor plants are more than a pretty face.  They can help clean the air, relieve stress, reduce noise, and connect us with the outside.  Statistics have proven there is a large reduction of fatigue, headache, and coughs along with an improvement in overall well-being and attitude in individuals where plants were added to home or work place.

Myself, I’ve had indoor plants off and on over the past many years depending on where I was living and how my windows were arranged.  Right now, I have a bunch of plants indoors.  This past week I decided to move all my succulents and cacti indoors because of all the rain we’ve been getting this month.  (Of course, as soon as I did, the rain stopped!)  But they are all tender and will have to be moved indoors for the winter months anyway so now they are here a little early.  Not a problem.  There are still more that will have to come in before all is said and done but those will come in gradually when (if) it cools down. 

I’ve talked about air cleaning plants before but here are few I’ve not mentioned you can try –

Chrysanthemums are one of the best air-purifying plants you can add to your home. They can remove ammonia and other toxins from the air. Although this plant is an air-purifying powerhouse, it only purifies the air so long as its flowers are blooming, which is roughly six weeks.

Rubber plants are tropical evergreens. These plants love bright settings, moderate watering, and moist soil. They’re not particularly high-maintenance and are good at removing toxins like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from the air.

Peace Lily is one of the few air purifiers that flower.  It adapts well to low light but requires weekly watering.  This year-round bloomer rids the air of the VOC benzene, a carcinogen found in paints, furniture wax, and polishes. It also sucks up acetone, which is emitted by electronics, adhesives, and certain cleaners.

Sansevieria, also known as mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant, thrives in low light. At night it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen (a reversal of the process most plants undergo).  In addition to helping lower carbon dioxide, the Sanservieria rids air of formaldehyde and benzene.

In my current house, the problem I have with house plants is a serious lack of light.  While I have a number of windows, I also have solar screens on the windows and a number of trees that shade the house.  I think a couple of these would solve my problem!

Still, according to indoor plant people, Dracaenas, Bromeliads, Maidenhair Fern, Lucky bamboo, Ivy, and Philodendrons will thrive without much light. 

Take care

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Once Upon a Time - 2

The Wounded Seal
A Tale from Scotland

Long ago in Scotland there was a small fishing village that stood at the edge of the sea. Now in this village was a man who had made his living from the killing of seals and selling their skins in the market. His father and grandfather before him had done it and it was the only way that he knew how to make a living.

One day the Seal Hunter got into his small boat and rowed out from the rocky shores.  He rowed, and rowed until he came to the place where the seals were gathered. He put in his oars and let the boat drift. He watched as the seals swam, and played together.

Soon a large grey seal came up beside the boat. Quickly he stabbed his knife into the seal, and reached for his net. But before he could throw the net over the seal it swam away, with the Seal Hunter's knife still in its side.

The Seal Hunter fished for small fish that day, and then rowed home.  That night as he was eating his dinner there came a knock on the door.

There stood a woman who had come to his door on horseback. She was handsomely dressed, but her eyes were sad. "There is a rich man who would like to buy many seal skins from you," she said. "I will take you to him."  She beckoned for the Seal Hunter to jump up behind her on her horse and they rode like the wind.

Soon they came to the edge of the cliffs and they dismounted. The Seal Hunter looked around but he could not see anyone else there. He was about to ask where the rich man was, when the handsome woman took him by the hand and pulled him over the edge of the cliff. Down, down they fell through the air and then into the cold sea below. 
They swam deeper and deeper and soon the Seal Hunter realized that he could breathe under water. In fact he saw that his body and that of his companion had become seal bodies.  They swam deeper and deeper under the water until they came to a cave opening in the side of the rock face. They swam into the cave.

As they swam deeper and deeper in to the cave, the Seal Hunter realized that they were in a great seal compound, a place with halls and rooms where many seals lived. The halls were dimly lit, but he could see many seals watching them as they swam by. All of the seals looked very sad, and there was a gloomy feeling all around them.

Suddenly his companion stopped and showed the Seal Hunter a large fishing knife. "Is this yours?" she asked.  "Yes," said the Seal Hunter honestly. "I lost it today when I speared a large seal that swam away with it."

"That seal is my father," said the companion. "He now lies dying, and only you can save him."

They came at that point into a darkened room. In the center of the room on a flat rock was a large seal with a deep wound in his hindquarters. All around, seals stood, looking on sadly.

"Lay your hands upon the wound," instructed the companion.

The Seal Hunter felt afraid, but he swam forward and placed his hand over the wound of the seal. All the seals swam closer to watch him.  The Seal Hunter was surprised to feel a great surge of feelings coming from the seal when he placed his hand upon the wound.  They were feelings that he had never felt so strongly before. There was great pain, and sadness, and hopelessness, as if the world would never be right again.  But gradually the wound began to heal, and as it did the Seal Hunter began to feel peace spread through him, and then hope, and then the greatest joy.

Suddenly the large seal rose up as if he had never been injured. There was great rejoicing in the compound.

The Seal Hunter's companion took him by the arm and said to him, "I will take you home now, but first you must promise that you will never hunt seal again."

The man did not know how he would ever make a living, but he also knew that he could not hurt the seals again.

The two swam up out of the cave, and up, up through the cold green water to the surface, and then flew up, up through the air until they stood on the cliffs again.  They jumped on the horse's back and rode like the wind back to the man's home.

There he jumped down from the horse. As his companion turned to go, she thanked the Seal Hunter. He saw that her eyes were no longer sad. The man kept his word and he never hunted the seals again.

A story shared.

Take care

Folktales from around the World  edited by Jane Yolen               and          The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley 

Friday, September 14, 2018

A rainy day

It’s still raining off and on here which makes it difficult to be inspired enough to leave the house.  My usual “to-do” on days like this is to park myself in my chair with a book.  However, today, I have parked myself in front of the computer and to be curious.

On today, September 14 in ….

81 Domitian became Emperor of the Roman Empire upon the death of his brother Titus.

1741 George Frederic Handel finished his "Messiah" oratorio after working on it non-stop for 23 days

1752 Britain and the American colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar  2018 MMXVIII
Ab urbe condita       2771
Armenian calendar  1467 ԹՎ ՌՆԿԷ
Assyrian calendar    6768
Bengali calendar     1425
British Regnal year  66 Eliz. 2 – 67 Eliz. 2
Buddhist calendar   2562
Burmese calendar   1380
Byzantine calendar  7526
Coptic calendar       1734
Hebrew calendar     5778
Holocene calendar  12018
Islamic calendar      1439
Japanese calendar  Heisei 30 (平成30年)
Julian calendar        Gregorian minus 13 days
Tibetan calendar     阴火鸡年 (female Fire-Rooster)
Unix time      1514764800 – 1546300799

1812 Napoleon occupied Moscow
One week after winning a bloody victory over the Russian army at the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée enters the city of Moscow, only to find the population evacuated and the Russian army retreated again. Moscow was the goal of the invasion, but the deserted city held no czarist officials to sue for peace and no great stores of food or supplies to reward the French soldiers for their long march. Then, just after midnight, fires broke out across the city, apparently set by Russian patriots, leaving Napoleon’s massive army with no means to survive the coming Russian winter.

1814 Francis Scott Key wrote the poem "Defense of Fort M'Henry", which later became the lyrics of the "Star-Spangled Banner" 

O! say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
    What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
    O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
        And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
        Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there —
            O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
            O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
    Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
        Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
        In full glory reflected now shines on the stream —
            'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
            O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havock of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has wash'd out their foul foot-steps' pollution,
        No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
        From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave;
            And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
            O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
    Between their lov'd home, and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
    Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
        Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
        And this be our motto — "In God is our trust!"
            And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
            O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

1868 Golf's 1st recorded hole-in-one by Tom Morris at Prestwick's 8th hole

1936 First prefrontal lobotomy performed in Washington, D.C. (note- some question about the actual year – some sources say 1936, some say 1956)

The purpose of the operation was to reduce the symptoms of mental disorder, and it was recognized that this was accomplished at the expense of a person's personality and intellect.  The patients were diagnosed as suffering from depression, schizophrenia, panic disorder, mania, catatonia and manic-depression with the most prominent symptoms being anxiety and agitation.  The youngest patient, Howard Dully was lobotomized because his stepmother said he was defiant, daydreamed and even objected to going to bed.  Today, lobotomies are outlawed everywhere in the US and most of the world.

1939 World’s 1st practical helicopter, the VS-300 designed by Igor Sikorsky, although tethered, took flight in Stratford, Connecticut

1968 1st broadcast of "60 Minutes" on CBS-TV

1979 Theodore Coombs completes 5,193 mile roller skate from LA to NYC & back to Yates Center, KS

Good stuff for your Did You Know? file

Take care

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Did you know …

 September is Library Card Sign-up Month.  Pretty cool.  These days libraries not only have a huge selection of hold-in-your-hand books (hard, soft, and paper), they also have audio books (on CD), movies/TV shows (on DVD), and music (on CD) available to borrow for however many weeks.  Additionally, many libraries have computer stations cardholders can use, free Wi-Fi, plus the option to check-out ebooks and audio books on line.  If you don’t have a library card, you should get one today!

What’s good to read? 

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
It is the story of Katherine of Aragon (first wife to Henry VIII), Margaret Tudor (oldest sister to Henry VIII), and Mary Tudor (youngest sister of Henry VIII).  These three women, three sisters, will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France.  And, as such, they find themselves rivals, allies, and pawns during a time when the only constant in their lives is their bond to one another.  Written from the view of the least well known – Margaret Tudor, it’s interesting, well written, and convinced me I’d never want to have been a royal in the 15th/16th century.

Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews
OK, so I’ve read several of the ‘Meg Langslow’ books and they all are very entertaining – funny with a good mystery and believable characters (plus, so far, no one gets chopped into pieces, tortured, beaten, or raped).  Meg is 8 ½ months pregnant with twins and has a house full of drama students (due to a breakdown in the college heating system).  The sudden arrival two prune-faced administrators, the dean of the English department and a man from the college president’s office making demands and issuing ultimatums causes all sorts of problems.  And then, one of them is murdered.  Meg's house becomes a crime scene, and the only way to restore peace is to help solve the murder before dashing off to the hospital to give birth.  I really love these books!

The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews
I read books 2 & 3 in this series, having read book 1 (Clean Sweep) some time ago.  Sweep in Peace  On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, has a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor.  Sounds nice.  However, her guests are all otherworldly visitors and her Inn is a living thing that defies laws of physics.  In this book, an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species - space vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the merchants of Baha-char.  Big challenge.  It’s a really good book full of monsters, aliens, werewolves, laughs and suspense.  Book 3, One Fell Sweep, is just a good. First, Dina must rescue her older sister Maud, who’s been exiled with her daughter to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to Gertrude Hunt (the Inn) which comes under siege by a clan of assassins.  Again, it’s good.  Different monsters and aliens, funny in some places, sad in others. 

Sector C by Phoenix Sullivan
A sudden rise in stroke-like cases has CDC analyst Mike Shafer on alert.  Patients in every demographic from toddlers to healthy adults to the elderly, are dying with alarming rapidity.  Meanwhile, veterinarian Donna Bailey, is dealing with an outbreak of something like mad cow disease affecting multiple mammal species.  Mike and Donna’s search for answers take them to a big-game compound where they find a secret thought to be extinct for 10,000 years.  Good.  Exciting.  Interesting.  Suspenseful. 

Take care