Tag Archives: garden

I Won’t Do It, but I Appreciate It


Today’s photo was also shot in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, USA.  I have to tell you that I hate yard work – always have, always will. I don’t have a green thumb…if anything, my thumbs would at best be described as poisonous when it comes to dealing with plants. If I try to plant a plant, it’s a sure bet that it’ll die.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t appreciate a beautiful garden such as this one – and I admire the amount of work it must take to maintain it. I am glad that there are people in this world who love plants and love to arrange and form landscapes where before there was perhaps nothing but dirt.

Just don’t ask me to do yard work if you want your plants to live and thrive!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1882, John Ringo, the famous gun-fighting gentleman, was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon, Arizona.

Romanticized in both life and death, John Ringo was supposedly a Shakespeare-quoting gentleman whose wit was as quick as his gun. Some believed he was college educated, and his sense of honor and courage was sometimes compared to that of a British lord. In truth, Ringo was not a formally educated man, and he came from a struggling working-class Indiana family that gave him few advantages. Yet, he does appear to have been better read than most of his associates, and he clearly cultivated an image as a refined gentleman.

By the time he was 12, Ringo was already a crack shot with either a pistol or rifle. He left home when he was 19, eventually ending up in Texas, where in 1875 he became involved in a local feud known as the “Hoodoo War.” He killed at least two men, but seems to have either escaped prosecution, or when arrested, escaped his jail cell. By 1878, he was described as “one of the most desperate men in the frontier counties” of Texas, and he decided it was time to leave the state.

In 1879, Ringo resurfaced in southeastern Arizona, where he joined the motley ranks of outlaws and gunslingers hanging around the booming mining town of Tombstone. Nicknamed “Dutch,” Ringo had a reputation for being a reserved loner who was dangerous with a gun. He haunted the saloons of Tombstone and was probably an alcoholic. Not long after he arrived, Ringo shot a man dead for refusing to join him in a drink. Somehow, he again managed to avoid imprisonment by temporarily leaving town. He was not involved in the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881, but he did later challenge Doc Holliday (one of the survivors of the O.K. Corral fight) to a shootout. Holliday declined and citizens disarmed both men.

The manner of Ringo’s demise remains something of a mystery. He seems to have become despondent in 1882, perhaps because his family had treated him coldly when he had earlier visited them in San Jose. Witnesses reported that he began drinking even more heavily than usual. On this day in 1882, he was found dead in Turkey Creek Canyon outside of Tombstone. It looked as if Ringo had shot himself in the head and the official ruling was that he had committed suicide. Some believed, however, that he had been murdered either by his drinking friend Frank “Buckskin” Leslie or a young gambler named “Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce.” To complicate matters further, Wyatt Earp later claimed that he had killed Ringo. The truth remains obscure to this day.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: President James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand simultaneously. (Now there’s a skill that’ll really make someone rich, right?!?!?!)

Prostrate in Portland


Most likely, at least if you’re old like me, you remember the movie Sleepless in Seattle, that starred Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. It was a cute movie…they’ve done several movies together and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

Well, this has nothing to do with that movie, but I needed some intro and thought Prostrate in Portland was a nice play on the Sleepless in Seattle format!

Wandering the street one day with my oldest son, not far from his home, we ran across this scene. I don’t know if there was ever any more to this sculpture or not, but I thought it looked like some angel in deep repose. Perhaps she just was wandering the neighborhood, too, and lay down to take a nap among the flowers.

Is it a medusa?  Minerva? Or just some Sally or Jane? I think she should have a name, don’t you?  So, suggestions, anyone?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1940, the German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis set off on a mission to catch and sink Allied merchant ships.

By the time the Atlantis set sail from Germany, the Allies had already lost more than 750,000 tons worth of shipping, the direct result of German submarine attacks. They had also lost another 281,000 tons because of mines, and 36,000 tons as the result of German air raids. The Germans had lost just eighteen submarines.

The Atlantis had been a merchant ship itself, but was converted to a commerce raider with six 5.9-inch guns, 93 mines ready to plant, and two aircraft fit for spying out Allied ships to sink. The Atlantis donned various disguises in order to integrate itself into any shipping milieu inconspicuously.

Commanded by Capt. Bernhard Rogge, the Atlantis roamed the Atlantic and Indian oceans. She sank a total of 22 merchant ships (146,000 tons in all) and proved a terror to the British Royal Navy. The Atlantis‘s career finally came to an end on November 22, 1941, when it was sunk by the British cruiser Devonshire as the German marauder was refueling a U-boat.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The British wear paper crowns while they eat Christmas dinner. The crowns are stored in a tube called a “Christmas cracker.”

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe your boat…

Oh, wait!  That’s not right.  It’s ROW, not hoe!!!!  And it’s not a boat, it’s a garden!

I remember well as a child working in the garden on the farm near Churdan, Iowa, where I lived with my dad, mom, sister, dogs, cats, livestock…well, you get the idea.  I don’t know how much land the garden actually covered, but I seem to recall it being something like an acre (though I think it was actually probably smaller than that).  But it took a lot of hoeing and weeding and watering.  I didn’t like it one bit.  Still don’t like working in the dirt (at least not by hand…put me on a tractor and I’ll have it any day with a plow, rake, mower, cultivator, etc.!)

When I was in Iowa at the last family reunion, I spent an evening on one of my cousin’s farms and when I got up early the next morning to take some pictures in the morning light, I saw this hoe from a distance and it appeared to be levitating.  Upon closer inspection, it obviously wasn’t, but it still presented the opportunity to reminisce as I looked at the garden behind it and thought about those old days on the farm.  Good old days?  Yes, definitely.  I’ve often wished my children had the chance to grow up on a farm.  It is a good life, but probably only one you can appreciate after you’ve lived on a farm and moved to a city for some period of time.

_MG_2907ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies was made public to the Japanese people.

Even though Japan’s War Council, urged by Emperor Hirohito, had already submitted a formal declaration of surrender to the Allies, via ambassadors, on August 10, fighting continued between the Japanese and the Soviets in Manchuria and between the Japanese and the US in the South Pacific. In fact, two days after the Council agreed to surrender, a Japanese submarine sank the Oak Hill, an American landing ship, and the Thomas F. Nickel, an American destroyer, both east of Okinawa.

In the afternoon of August 14, Japanese radio announced that an Imperial Proclamation was soon to be made, accepting the terms of unconditional surrender drawn up at the Potsdam Conference. That proclamation had already been recorded by the emperor. The news did not go over well, as more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers stormed the Imperial Palace in an attempt to find the proclamation and prevent its being transmitted to the Allies. Soldiers still loyal to Emperor Hirohito repulsed the attackers.

That evening, General Anami, the member of the War Council most adamant against surrender, committed suicide. His reason: to atone for the Japanese army’s defeat, and to be spared having to hear his emperor speak the words of surrender.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: On September 2, 1909, American Annie Smith Peck, at age 57, was the first person to climb the 21,000-foot Mount Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru.


Southern Belle in the Garden

“Well East coast girls are hip
I really dig those styles they wear
And the Southern girls with the way they talk
They knock me out when I’m down there.” – Beach Boys

People my age grew up with the Beach Boys singing about their cars, little old ladies from Pasadena and California girls.  Why not?  It was a glorious lifestyle, I guess…at least on the surface it sounds like a carefree, frivolous existence (but not like real life!)  In their song, “California Girls”, they actually sang the praises of American girls all over the country, including the south.  I guess that whoever wrote the song liked the southern accent.  And, I must say, it does have a certain charm to it (though I must admit that when we were sitting in Butch’s Diner in Jonesboro, GA on Saturday past, some of the accents were rather…remarkable.

At the plantation we’d visited, there were “statues” (nor sure if that’s the right term or not) like today’s subject in the flowerbeds and garden areas.  I’d never seen anything quite like them before, so I captured some on my digital card.  Laurel said that she thought they were used in gardens to put around the kind of plants that might tend to “climb”, such as tomato plants, beans and the like.  I don’t know, but I thought they were interesting with their hoop-like skirts beneath a solid upper torso and their upraised umbrella.  Ah, the epitome of a true southern belle!  (Oh, and this one had no accent, so maybe the Beach Boys wouldn’t have cared too much for her!)

Southern Belle in the Garden

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1968, Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of “The King” Elvis, was born.  She would later marry and divorce the “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the Beatles first #1 hit came in 1964.  Title: “Love Me Do.”


White Bark

My dog, Casper, is white.  From the title of today’s post, you might think I’m talking about him and his speech patterns.  I’m not.  Although I’m always willing, proud and able to wax eloquent about the wonderful qualities of my buddy!!!!

Today’s photo was taken in the same garden at Ferrari-Carano Winery where I shot yesterday’s picture.  In a shady section of the garden, I almost walked right past this tree with white bark (I think it may be a white birch?)  It’s a shame how many times we walk past things that are beautiful, but in our hurry to get where we’re going or to catch up with someone else, we miss the beauty right next to us.  It almost happened with this picture.

You may wonder what the “glowing” area in the area right behind the upper portion of the tree….well, wonder no more, for I’ll tell you.  It was a beautiful bed of flowers, but because I was shooting with a fairly wide aperture, it is blurred and just looks like a bit of smoldering hot coals.  This picture was shot at 135mm, 1/100th second, f-stop 5.6 at ISO 800 (thought I’d start sharing some of that info from time to time for those who are interested.)  One of the things I’m working on is learning to “see” like the camera would “see.”  For instance, to the human eye, as I stood before the branches of this tree, when my eyes drifted to the golden flowers in the background, they were instantly in focus.  Cameras don’t see things like that…they have limited planes of focus, and the photographer needs to learn to think about what the camera will see…and adjust it accordingly to capture the image the way the photographer wants it to be captured.  I’ve got a long way to go, but slowly…I think I’m getting a bit better at it!

The tree in the center of the garden...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in September 1959, the first Barbie doll was sold.  Of course, the original is now a collector’s item worth a LOT of money!!!!  Who’d a thunk it back in 1959?

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the banana and the Bird-of- Paradise flower are in the same family!!!!

In a Cool Garden

The last few days here, at least Friday and Saturday, were pretty warm.  You can really tell the difference if you step out from the sunlight into the cool shade.  Even better, step into a cool garden and treat yourself to the sounds of running water as the waterfalls and stream meander through the lush greenery and the birds sing overhead.  Everywhere you look your eyes delight in the view of sunlight dancing through the leaf canopy overhead, and the stalks of water plants at the bank of the stream sway ever so gently in the cooling breeze.

Today’s photo was taken on Saturday in the garden at Ferrari-Carano Winery near Healsburg.  Our oldest son and his family were up Friday night and spent the day with us Saturday and we took them to the farmer’s market in Healdsburg and then out to Ferrari-Carano to stroll through the garden.

I don’t know how the weather is where you are at today, but I hope you can find some cool shade and let the breeze slide over your skin and through your hair as you enjoy this Labor Day holiday!

Delight in the coolness of the garden...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1975, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford.  She was a follower of Charles Manson, but was never charged with any of the Tate-LaBianca killings.  Her attempt to assassinate the President landed her in jail for a life sentence, but she was released after serving 34 years, on August 14, 2009.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a Club Med survey found that couples who dieted while on vacation argued three times more often than those who didn’t, and that those who didn’t diet on vacation had three times more romantic interludes.  “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, don’t ya go on a diet with your wife…” seems to be the motto of the story (sung to the tune Jimmy Soul’s, “If You Want To be Happy”)

Time for Tea Garden

You know, I don’t like coffee at all.  And I barely ever drink tea – either hot or cold!  I’m just not a tea or hot drink kind of guy.  The only exception I’ve found so far is hot chocolate on a cold, wintry day!  That’s pretty good stuff.  On occasion I will drink hot cider.  And there’s one more hot drink that I have yet to try, but I suspect I might like it: hot Dr. Pepper.  It’s real – no joke – I’ve heard it recommended several times.  I’m gonna have to give it a shot, I guess.

So, why would I go to a tea garden?  I don’t want TEA!  That’s how I always felt, but then Casper (since he thinks he’s so wise now at 6 years of age!) told me that you don’t have to like tea, or even drink tea, to go to a tea garden.  In fact, tea gardens have nothing to do with tea!  So my next question then became: so why do they call them tea gardens?  To that, Casper just shrugged his powerful boxer shoulders and said, as he turned to walk away, “Who knows?  It’s really stupid, so I’m sure a cat came up with that name!”  I told you he was wise!

Anyway, since we’re talking about tea gardens, you may have suspected that today’s picture is from a tea garden…and you would be right!  This is a picture I took in the Japanese Tea Garden located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  It was taken one morning not long after sun-up when I was in the city for something and I had time to burn.  I even was let into the tea garden ahead of time when I explained to one of the groundskeepers (who nearly drowned me when she turned on the sprinkers!) the reason I was in the city: at that time, my wife was trying to donate a kidney to a friend who is in kidney failure.  Unfortunately, she was turned down.  But, the groundskeeper was touched by the story (or was it because of the water she turned on?) and said she’d let me in before the gate opened, so I had the tea garden all to myself for taking pictures.

Because it was pretty early, there was quite a range in light contrast, but I only shot this picture as a single RAW file.  Today, I finally got around to processing it through Photomatix Pro 4.0 HDR software.  I liked the results.  I hope you will, too!

Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The first transatlantic radio signal was sent by Italian Guglielmo Marconi from Poldhu in Cornwall and was received by Percy Wright Paget in St. Johns, Newfoundland.  

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 1418, women’s headgear was so tall that the doorways of the royal castle of Vincennes, France had to be raised, on the orders of the queen, to allow the ladies of the court to pass through without ducking.

Lettuce Eat

We are growing a garden again this year and believe it or not, we finally had some produce to eat!  We’ve had an unusually cool and rainy spring so things couldn’t get in the ground to start growing, but that all seems to be behind us now.  We’ve planted tomatoes (my favorite!), lettuce, melons, zucchini, gourds, carrots, eggplants, sweet corn and some other stuff all growing now!  Anyway…tonight we had the first fruits of this year’s garden…lettuce!  Here’s a picture of the first bowl of lettuce that I ate from our garden this year:

The first bowl of lettuce from our garden this year!

Lettuce all eat!!!!