Monday, October 17, 2011

rain II: a Miracles and Mendel Hybrid

So, the last post featured pictures of my baked-to-a-crisp black-eyed peas. Prior to getting baked, they had some pods which escaped the gardener's picking hands. These pods went to seed under the circumstances. After about a month of 100+ degree temps in direct sunlight for 8hrs a day, the gardener took these seeds, pushed them about an inch into the soil and gave them a good soaking. Then, the Big Gardener in the sky did His work and added 5 more inches of rain and a touch of one of life's miracles (Mark 4:27). The result is a story of complete transformation. From life to death, and from death to resurrection into a new life.

Generation 2 Black Eyed Pea Sprouts
2nd Gen black eyed pea sprouts.

Gen 2 Black Eyed Peas
2 week old 2nd Gen black eyed peas.

It wouldn't be right if I didn't give at least some credit Gregor Mendel for this little experiment. I am taking a genetics course this semester. Get out your Punnett Squares!

While these legumes may not produce much this fall season, they still can serve a purpose:

Legumes make excellent cover crop because:
  • They germinate easily
  • Require no application of fertilizer
  • They form a complimentary relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria which, to make a long story short, take nitrogen from the air and make it into fertilizer that benefit the plants, which in turn let the bacteria benefit from the nutrient supply along their intricate subterranean highway system.
  • They make exquisite shade for tiny fall spinach seedlings, giving them a chance to get going during these Texas fall days that can go from 45 at night to 90 during the day.

Monday, August 22, 2011


or, the lack of it.

dried up black-eyed peas

It seems like an odd thing to complain about. Born and raised in Texas, it seems to me that rain is always something to complain about. Most of the time it's because we have not had enough, but every once in a while we have a couple of houses float away. It makes for good news, good conversation with strangers and acquaintances. As of this post, we are in a drought that has people comparing the weather to that of 50 years ago. The water line out at my in-law's lake house is a good 400 yard walk down into what used to be 30 feet deep in Medina Lake. Walking around out there in the scrappy, dusty lake bottom - it feels like something has ended. Dried up fish bones half-buried in the dry mud. Deer and other animal tracks lead to the ever receding water-line. Trees, boats, and other flotsam drowned from floods in the past are now exposed, tangled in fishing-line and boat anchors. Farmers cautiously sip the remaining water for irrigation. Fishermen gawk at how blue the water is. Boat owners tear their propellers off on boulders that haven't touched the air since the dam went up in 1913.

The first chapter in Arthur C. Clarke's masterpiece is titled: "The Road to Extinction", and begins like this: "The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended." That should get you thinking. Things are slowly changing all the time. Yesterday the Sahara was a vast rainforest, and much of Texas was a shallow sea. The rain will come back, and it will go away again. As for now though, if you live in Texas and want to see rain you need to go on vacation to see it.

Rain, the miracle/phenomenon that it is, happens only on our planet in this solar system (in H2O form that is). Water is the solution in which life's chemical reactions proceed. Let us be reminded that we are a dirty little water droplet floating in an otherwise desiccated universe. A small speck where you can find vast oceans, great forests, big cities, frozen peaks, whales, birds, bugs, and people who like to talk about the weather.

bird bath

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cassini Mission: a short film

A short film that sequences photos taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during it's Saturn fly-by.

Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts I-IV compliments the spectacle.

Brilliant work by Chris Abbas.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the gardener's gin and tonic

Hendrick's Gin contains essences of rose pedals and cucumber, and goes well with tonic and a cucumber slice - of which I just so happen to have a fresh backyard-grown supply. Yum!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

baby birds

Our backyard is alive with new families!

Sparrow condos facing our bird paradise
Here are some sparrow condos I made out of old fence-board last winter. We watch them come and go all day. When they return you can hear the babies inside.

no vacancy
They are some prime real estate, close to food and water. There is no vacancy.

baby sparrow on the fence
A baby sparrow sits atop the fence with unsure feet.

a baby sparrow checks out what all the fuss is about - peanut butter!
Same baby sparrow perched on a pot hanger looking into what all the fuss is about, and discovers peanut butter!

A young inca dove family sticks together
A family of inca dove sticking close in the shade.

baby grackle getting attention
Baby grackle getting fed. Me! Me! Me! is the sound they make.

mockingbird found a nice hidden spot for her next nest
This mockingbird is busy making her next nest in the tangle where our climbing rose meets the crossbeam of the arbor.

mockingbird making a new nest
She peeks out while arranging sticks.

Friday, June 3, 2011

the lion, the grass, and the gazelle

In the garden, the gazelle eats at the cost of the grass, and the lion eats at the cost of the gazelle.

Lion Attacking Gazelle

And all of them need water.

painting "Lion Attacking Gazelle" by Olaf C. Seltzer

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sun-Baked Tomatoes On The Vine

To grow sun-baked tomatoes you need to have all the following:

  • Tomato fruits growing in direct sunlight
  • A particularly sunny day
  • A sudden heat-wave of windy weather in the upper 90's
This combo is critical for achieving a "boiled from within" effect in your tomatoes:


They make perfect candidates for the compost-pile!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Hot Harvest May 18, 2011

the gardener
The hedge to the right is, in fact, my cherry tomatoes! - All organic folks!

the garden 5/2011

Black Beauty eggplant

Celebrity tomatoes
My Celebrity Tomatoes wear panty hose to make them look less appetizing to mockingbirds - who are easily turned off by this early 90's women's underwear-accessory fashion.

Harvest 5/18/2011

Eggplant, banana peppers, TAM-1 Jalapenos, Cucumbers, and Large Red Cherry Tomatoes.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Radiohead former-fan support group

Hilarious spoof video on the new fan-dividing album "The King Of Limbs" by Radiohead. Courtesy of the BBC.

O Ye Devastator

found the album and artist from yesterday's "The Unidentified Song" post after some careful deciphering:

he is a Texas artist and tours here frequently.

Friday, March 11, 2011

the unidentified song

Heard this today on the radio while driving. Shazam and other music ID software have no clue what it is. I have heard this elusive song before, and now I have the end of it recorded as a voice memo. If you know, please tell me. If you think you can string some of the lyrics together, please share in the comment section below.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the pallet compost bin


I made this new compost bin in about an hour using four pallets and four 4X4's cemented in at the corners. I left the pallet facing the camera connected only with twisted wire through eye-hooks for easy bi-annual removal. and yes, those are cutoffs.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I, Coconut

I was comfortable there, where I listened to the sea breeze high up in the palm trees. I would watch the surf come in. I would contemplate the mother turtles who came in from the ocean to lay their eggs in the sand. I studied the gulls as they would dive down into schools of fish.

I weathered many storms there and grew round and fat. Happily I hung in the sun, all the the flowers of paradise blooming below as the bees buzzed about, tending them without rest. I knew all the birds, each with different colors and calls. Never once did I consider my purpose, I thought life would always be this way.

Then one particularly breezy morning I was suddenly released from my perch without warning. And now all I know is falling for what seems like forever. Down, down, down.

I strike the trunk from another palm, and am sent rolling across the sand. It is very coarse despite what it looks like from above. I stop near the water line and consider my current situation as the sun gets nearer and nearer to the horizon. Every new wave seems to be coming further up the beach until a large one laps up around me, lifting me out of the sand. I am then pulled out into the gently rolling surf, adjusting to this new cold and salty environment. I dance and bob in the invisible current, and it takes me further and further from where I began. Further from everything I ever knew.

My island now out of sight, I begin to doubt that I will ever go back. Thinking about this I float across on an open ocean, rising and falling with each passing wave. Content with the cool ocean, with the deep darkness beneath, happily gazing up at the stars in the deep darkness above.

Days pass, weeks pass, months pass. Nothing. Just me, the sky, the sea, and nothing but time. Land will surely come some day, and I will become a beautiful palm. I will drop my own seeds in the ocean to be planted on other distant lands. I bob up and down, completely happy.

But everyday it does not come. Land begins to become a hope rather than what would seem an inevitability. Maybe there is no land where I am going. Soon I stop looking to the horizon, knowing that it does no good.

I wait for an unimaginable time, and am bored for I have memorized the stars, and can count the minutes from sunrise to sunset as they increase and decrease through the seasons. I can map the moon to every detail. I can name all the fishes of the ocean, I can tell you what the whales have been saying to one another. I have counted the days.

I have not seen land for seven years and five months.

Still I cling to life, though it is of no worth. Still I withhold myself from the very God who has created me. In all this nothingness I remain hard and to myself. My husk still tightly wound around my rich center.

Then the clouds came, but not like before.

The waves rose up and became mountains before me. Pulling me into themselves before throwing me out into the wind. I would then hover over immense valleys before splashing back down deep into the blue depths. I float up to the surface slowly, all the while witnessing the silent flashing spectacle above. Gasping for air I resurface again only to be pulled by another mountain. This happens time and again. I am thrown into the flashing sky, the rain pelting my husk. My inner sea having it's own storms.

I finally surrender.

Complete abandonment of self. A coconut in a typhoon, completely given up to you, drifting along the currents of the ocean of your will.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

a celestial conversation between angels adverse

an excerpt from Mr. John Milton's Paradise Lost:

Book IV 1006-1015

Gabriel to Satan (after catching him trying to sneak into The Garden):

"Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine,
neither our own but giv'n; what folly then
to boast what arms can do, since thine no more
than Heav'n permits, nor mine, though doubled now
to trample thee as mire: for proof look up,
and read thy lot in yon celestial sign
where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak,
if thou resist. The Fiend looked up and knew
his mounted scale aloft: no more; but fled
murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night."

Monday, February 21, 2011

no promises

never were any anyway

well, I couldn't wait the full year.

will post more with little or no commitment

face lift too (maybe) :)

that's better