Tag Archives: flower

Buzz Flower

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I shot today’s photo with my cell phone. This particular flower was captured in Portland, OR in July of 2016. I liked the color of the flower and the bee that was gathering pollen. No, I didn’t get stung, but I also didn’t introduce myself to the bee, either!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1877, Texas Ranger John Armstrong arrested John Wesley Hardin in a Florida rail car, returning the outlaw to Texas to stand trial for murder.

Three years earlier, Hardin had killed Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb in a small town near Austin, Texas. Webb’s murder was one in a long series of killings committed by the famous outlaw-the 39th by Hardin’s own count. Killing a lawman, however, was an especially serious offense. The famous Texas Rangers were determined to bring Hardin to justice.

For three years, Hardin was able to elude the Rangers. Moving between Florida and Alabama, he adopted an alias and kept a low profile. Nonetheless, the Rangers eventually unmasked his secret identity and dispatched John Armstrong to track him down in Florida.

On this day in 1877, Armstrong, acting on a tip, spotted Hardin in the smoking car of a train stopped at the Pensacola station. Armstrong stationed local deputies at both ends of the car, and the men burst in with guns drawn. Caught by surprise, Hardin nonetheless reacted quickly and reached for the gun holstered under his jacket. The pistol caught in Hardin’s fancy suspenders, giving the lawmen the crucial few seconds they needed and probably saving Hardin’s life–instead of shooting him, Armstrong clubbed Hardin with his long-barreled .45 pistol.

Technically, the Texas Rangers had no authority in Florida, so they spirited Hardin back to Texas on the next train. Tried in Austin, a jury found Hardin guilty of killing Sheriff Webb and sentenced him to life in the Texas state prison at Huntsville. He served 15 years before the governor pardoned him. Released in 1894, an El Paso policeman killed him the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Approximately 71 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during the week leading up to Easter. Only 48 million pounds of chocolate is sold during Valentine’s week. In contrast, over 90 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold in the last week of October leading up to Halloween.

How Fragile

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There are many fragile things in nature: a spider web, a newborn baby,  a human being at the mercy of a raging sea. The list is long.

I shot this image of a plant (I can’t tell you what it is but I know it’s not an elephant) because I was fascinated by how fragile it appears.  I don’t know that it is any more fragile than a dandelion, but if you zoom in on the image, you can see it is made up of very thin filaments. Yet it manages to withstand the storms of the Pacific northwest. It isn’t colorful, but it has beauty of its own.

Maybe we can learn a thing or two about strength from some of nature’s weakest things.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1971, a severe flood of the Red River in North Vietnam killed an estimated 100,000 people on this day in 1971. This remarkable flood was one of the century’s most serious weather events, but because the Vietnam War was going on at the time, relatively few details about the disaster are available.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) compiled a list of the 20th century’s top weather and climate events, based upon their natural wonder and impact on people. On the list were such major disasters as the Bangladesh cyclones of 1970 and 1991, both of which killed more than 100,000 people. The “Great Smog of London” of 1952 and the 1972 blizzard in Iran also made the list. Notably, not a single incident occurring in North American was included.

The Red River flood in North Vietnam made NOOA’s list even though relatively little is known about how or why approximately 100,000 people perished in the disaster. During the Vietnam War, information from North Vietnam was neither plentiful nor reliably accurate. What is known is that the Red River, which runs near the capital city of Hanoi, experienced a “250-year” flood. Torrential rains simply overwhelmed the dyke system around the heavily populated delta area, which is not far above sea level. As well as directly killing thousands of people, the flood also wiped out valuable crops, causing further hardship, especially as it occurred during wartime.

Though many more reservoirs have since been built in the Hanoi region, the area remains vulnerable to flooding.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Grover Cleveland was the only president in history to hold the job of a hangman. He was once the sheriff of Erie County, New York, and twice had to spring the trap at a hanging.

For Those We Honor

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I never have the words to say on Memorial Day to express my deepest feelings of admiration and appreciation to those who have served our country – living and dead – so we could live in a free land.  It is a privilege that few in this world have.  It is a precious commodity, this thing called freedom and it has always been a struggle to obtain freedom and to keep it.  I don’t know why, but for some reason, it tends to erode over time.

The least that we can do is to honor those who have fought for it by continuing to fight for freedom in whatever ways we can.  I can hardly think of a better way to honor those who gave everything for us.

Today’s photo was shot on Saturday.  Many flowers will be placed on graves of those who fought for us and who are no longer with us.  This is my contribution.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convened on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. Virginia’s governor, Edmund Randolph, presented Madison’s plan to the convention. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures. Madison’s conception strongly resembled Britain’s parliament. It omitted any discussion of taxation or regulation of trade, however; these items had been set aside in favor of outlining a new form of government altogether.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states. But, the plan also gave Congress new powers: the collection of import duties and a stamp tax, the regulation of trade and the enforcement of requisitions upon the states with military force.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Before Christianity, methods of repelling vampires included garlic, hawthorn branches, rowan trees (later used to make crosses), scattering of seeds, fire, decapitation with a gravedigger spade, salt (associated with preservation and purity), iron, bells, a rooster’s crow, peppermint, running water, and burying a suspected vampire at a crossroads. It was also not unusual for a corpse to be buried face down so it would dig down the wrong way and become lost in the earth.

There Is Hope…

Flowers.  Have you ever thought about how much we use flowers?  We use them for wedding bouquets, the lapels of the groom and groomsmen, bridesmaid wrist decorations, table decorations.  We use them at funerals.  We crush their leaves and make perfumes from them.  We strew them along a walk way at weddings, or as a romantic gesture we may place the petals on our beloved’s pillow.  We get food from some of them (think sunflowers) and spices from others (think mustard).  We like to look at them and smell them.  A little child will pick a dandelion to give to mom as a precious gift.

Flowers.  They’re pretty neat after all!

I have two favorite types of flowers.  I love tulips and I love the flower known as the bird-of-paradise.  For a long time I’ve thought tulips were my favorite (and they may be), but I have a growing love for the bird-of-paradise.  To me it evokes sensations and emotions of freedom, of life springing forth ready to take wing and fly.  It is hope that can’t be held down but which will take to the sky.  I love these flowers!  I shoot them every chance I get.

Every time you see a flower, let it whisper to you: “There is hope!”

_MG_5658autoON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1957, the final report from a special committee called by President Eisenhower to review the nation’s defense readiness indicate the United States was falling far behind the Soviets in missile capabilities, and urges a vigorous campaign to build fallout shelters to protect American citizens.

The special committee had been called together shortly after the stunning news of the success of the Soviet Sputnik I in October 1957. Headed by Ford Foundation Chairman H. Rowan Gaither, the committee concluded that the United States was in danger of losing a war against the Soviets. Only massive increases in the military budget, particularly an accelerated program of missile construction, could hope to deter Soviet aggression. It also suggested that American citizens were completely unprotected from nuclear attack and proposed a $30 billion program to construct nationwide fallout shelters.

Although the committee’s report was supposed to be secret, many of its conclusions soon leaked out to the press, causing a minor panic among the American people. President Eisenhower was less impressed. Intelligence provided by U-2 spy plane flights over Russia indicated that the Soviets were not the mortal threat suggested by the Gaither Report. Eisenhower, a fiscal conservative, was also reluctant to commit to the tremendously increased military budget called for by the committee. He did increase funding for the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and for civil defense programs, but ignored most of the other recommendations made in the report. Democrats instantly went on the attack, charging that Eisenhower was leaving the United States open to Soviet attack. By 1960, Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was still hammering away at the supposed “missile gap” between the United States and much stronger Soviet stockpiles.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Eastman Kodak’s Brownie camera cost $1.00 when it was introduced in 1900.

Hangin’ In There

I know that we have all had times when we’ve encouraged others to just “Hang in there!”  And there are times when we’ve all been given that advice, too.  It seems to just come as part and parcel of life.  Good times, tough times.  Easy and hardship.  Peace and disturbance.  It is all part of the cycle that Solomon described in Ecclesiastes…and at times it seems endless if we’re to be honest about it.

But, the ability to hang tough in a trying situation is a quality that I think we all admire.  We all wish we were better at it ourselves, I suspect.  It is often those who refuse to surrender, who stand strong against the wind and hail and batterings of life that achieve the greatest things.  It is, however, doggone hard.

When I was last in Mendocino, I saw this weed (for surely that is what it is, but even weeds can have a beauty to them!) and thought about how hard it must have fought to live.  It is growing in the vertical face of a cement wall along the main street in Mendocino.  The wall forms the limit to the front end of cars where they pull in to park.  But there it is – hanging on for all it is worth.  With the frequent wind in Mendocino, I can understand how the seed blew into the crack, but not how it managed to stay there long enough to grow like this.  How long did it hold on?  I don’t know.  But I think it deserves credit.

I only hope that I can learn to be as tough and determined when the elements of life batter me.  Coming back from Africa recently, I don’t think that I could take what they do…I would have given up a long time ago, I suspect…and I would probably have been long dead by now.  My hat is off to the Africans who live in the bush in the face of shattering poverty, yet they hang on and fight for each and every day of life.

_MG_2380ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 240 BC – The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes was the first to estimate accurately the diameter and circumference of the Earth. He compared the lengths of the noon shadows in Syene (now Aswan) and Alexandria in Egypt. He derived his calculation by knowing the distance between the two cities and correctly assuming that the sun was so far away that its rays were essentially parallel when they reach the Earth.

1586 – English colonists sailed from Roanoke Island, North Carolina, after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in America.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: According to a recent Gallup poll, 11 percent of the U.S. population believes in ghosts and other supernatural entities.

Sweat the Small Stuff

You know that old saying about “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”  Baloney.  Hogwash.  Horse-feathers!  Don’t believe it!

Stop and think about it.  There are so many small things that can “get you”.  For some reason, since we moved to Georgia, we seem to have been sick about as much as we’ve been healthy (at least I have).  Thankfully, Laurel has been healthier than I have been.  But right now, we’ve both on the rebound (me more than Laurel – she’s still pretty sick) from a nasty virus that’s been hitting around here.  She got it first: runny nose, coughing, headache…and that turned into an upper respiratory infection, sinus infection and ear infection.  Now, though she’s not over that, she’s also got nausea.  She’s been one sick puppy.  She’s a tough cookie, but she’s been in bed all day long today.  I’ve had the same things (without the infections noted above) but I think that I’m turning the corner.  Why do we say it’s a virus?  Because she went to the doc and they put her on a broad spectrum antibiotic (“whatever it is, this’ll take care of it”), but it hasn’t helped.  Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics as I understand it, but the antibiotic can prevent your weakened immune system from falling prey to bacterial infections.

Virus, schmyrus.  I’m sick of ’em!!!  I want to feel good again!

I don’t have the photographic gear to take a picture of a virus, so I had to settle for something else small today.  This is a macro shot of a small blossom I picked off a tree in the back yard and I put an ink pen with it to give it scale.  Oh, one more thing: while macro photography opens up an entirely new world and way of seeing things, it is a P-A-I-N, quite literally.  Even with a tripod, you are hunched over, twisted, etc., until your lats or back start to ache.  I sure hope you all appreciate the lengths I go to in order to give you a picture like this!!!!! You may be seeing more macro shots in the future because here in Georgia there don’t seem to be the wide open spaces to photography like in the west.  There’s too many trees!!!

Flower and pen…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: remember Vaseline?  That smelly stuff that your grandma and mom used to rub on your chest when you had a cold?  It got its name on this day in 1878 when it was patented by Robert A. Chesborough.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a baby in the womb will react to a light that is shined on the mother’s abdomen at 4 months of age.  They respond as if startled and they turn away from the light.  They also react to sounds in similar ways.

Flower or Weed?

I don’t claim to have learned very much in life, nor to have learned my lessons well.  It seems that we have a belief that as we get older, we get “wiser” and people may come to you for some of that “wisdom” that has accumulated through the years.  I must say, I feel ill equipped to dispense anything close to “wisdom” to anyone!  If there is any wisdom that I have accumulated in my time on this cosmic sphere it would be this: I now realize how little I know about anything.

Once there was a time when I felt I was pretty smart, astute…that I had a handle on things.  What foolishness that is!  Things are not always what they seem, and our perspective on things is what often makes the difference in whether they turn out to be good things or bad things in terms of our lives and existence.  An injury may turn a career in another direction.  An accident can short-circuit many an aspiration. Yet are those things necessarily bad?  No, I don’t think so.  So much of life is what we choose to make of it, and of the things that happen to us in our lifetimes.

So, speaking of perspective.  What is the difference between a flower and a weed?  Today’s photo is one I shot early this week, macro-enabled (but without my tripod which was in the trunk of the car with my wife and her friend as they galloped all over Georgia) and tonight I want to know what you think: is this a flower, or is this a week?  I’ll let you know tomorrow what it is…

Flower or weed? What do you think it is?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, John Wilkes Booth died in a shoot-out with federal troops 11 days after he assassinated President Lincoln.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: you probably always wondered about this one…a conveyor printing press is used to print the tiny white M’s on each M&M candy.  Because the peanut sizes vary, the press must be constantly adjusted when printing on peanut M&M’s to keep from crushing the peanut candies.  It’s much easier on the same-sized plain chocolate ones.

Life on a Stick

We all live in relative comfort and ease here in America.  I know there are some who don’t, but if you’re reading this, chances are that you do because you’ve got a computer, which is not something that people in the third world even dream of having.  We are fortunate and blessed.

Throughout history, though, there have been people who willingly gave up comforts for lives of extreme hardship…and, in some cases I would say, weirdness!  For example, I remember reading about some mystic (I think) who lived for a long period of time (about 30+ years, I think) living on a small circular platform on a pole.  He didn’t come down that entire time.  What was he thinking, and how did everyone feel who had to take care of this strange guy?  Living on a stick doesn’t sound like much fun to me.

Flowers, however, generally do that and manage just fine, thank you very much!  Their stick is called a stem, or stalk.  And today I’m featuring a tulip I shot this past Saturday that illustrates the concept of “life on a stick.”  The entire life of this tulip blossom will be spent atop this stalk.  It can’t trade places with its neighbors, climb down for the night, or even get out of the hot sun or pouring rain.  Yet, when I was taking its picture, it never once complained to me about any of that.  In fact, it seemed quite happy!

Living Life on a Stick

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in the desperate last few months of the Civil War, the Confederate Congress, desperate to get more troops, passed a bill granting slaves freedom if they would sign up to fight for the Confederacy.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the first U.S. census was authorized on March 1, 1790.  The results showed that the U. S. population in 1790 was 3,929,214.  I think that’s about the population of level-headed people left in the country today!

A Georgia Beauty

In downtown Marietta, Georgia, is an old, historic square.  There is a fountain in the center and flowers surrounding the center of the park where the fountain is found.

There are times when I get tired of shooting pictures of flowers.  There are times when I can’t resist shooting them.  Some of the flowers yesterday were very pretty and photogenic.  Flowers, however, are a challenge to shoot.  I’ve not quite got it figured out yet, but I hope to get better.  Still, there is something about a beautiful flower that just makes us feel better about life, isn’t there?  Perhaps it is a reminder that there is beauty in the world if only we take the time to look at it and appreciate it.  I fear that far too often we get so busy that we don’t even take the time to see the beauty that is all around us.  And we are diminished because of it.

Life in the Georgia sun

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1935, Herman Goering established the German air force, the Luftwaffe.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: greater Tokyo contains less than 4% of Japan’s land area but fully 25% of its population.

Don’t Fence Me In

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don’t fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,
Don’t fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze,
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don’t fence me in.

The words to this old song were for a movie, Adios Argentina, way back in 1934.  The words were from a poem by Robert (Bob) Fletcher, a poet and engineer with the road department in Helena, Montana.  Cole Porter was asked to do a cowboy song for the movie, he saw the lyrics and paid Fletcher $250 for the rights to use them, and wrote the music.

My photo today isn’t about riding a horse in the open country or any of that masculine stuff.  It’s about a flower that is situated next to a fence in Mendocino, and I just thought the title of today’s post was appropriate.  This flower was just outside the white picket fence, as if it were demanding its freedom.

It is a good thing to not be “fenced” or “boxed” in…we are lovers of freedom in America, aren’t we?  And that’s good…very good.

Don't Fence Me In

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, was first performed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in 1599.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Nationwide, there are too few honeybees.  This is cause for significant alarm, as honeybees are the pollinators of all vine crops as well as certain nuts, some citrus, and backyard apples.  Up to 90% of feral (wild) bees have been killed off in the northeastern United States.