Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sky is on Fire!

Some days it just seems like the sky is on fire! This is the sunset out of the bedroom window. Some of the clouds seem as if they were flames dancing on the horizon. It was hot and dry with a withering wind. You could feel your skin bake in the gusts that hurtled out of the Sonoran desert, dessicating the landscape. Yet, the blazing orange skies during the brief but glorious sunset made it all worthwhile.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bad Hair Day?

Carribean Flamingo feeding. Let's say you're a flamingo but you're having a bad hair day. Maybe a bad feather day. Either way, you've got this rogue feather on top of your head that just won't come off. It's sticking up. All the other flamingos are keeping their distance. You've become flamingo anathema. Even the photographers are shunning you! What to do? No hands. Feet are too long to scratch up there? Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it. Kind of like that stock market, eh?

What, you say you need some Flamingo poetry? You say please? Oh, okay. Here it is. I call it, "The Lonely Flamingo."

  • Your feathers are all awry,

  • Nothing seems to work,

  • Your flock is getting snotty,

  • Your pals stay far away,

  • Fair weather flamingos,

  • Are here for just the day.
  • Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Cattleya bowringiana

    Cattleya bowringiana. The person that sold me this plant said it was growing along the side of the road in Belize. It's a bright, nicely colored clone that just happened to be in bloom when I popped into the greenhouse to water this morning. It's hard to see in the picture but these flowers sparkle like diamond dust in the sun. Not much in the way of frangrance though. It's now decorating the baker's rack by the window where it is safe from any creepy crawlies that might have a hankering for flower salad. It's still a small plant. When it grows up, it will be 2-3 feet tall!

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Snow White

    Dendrochilum glumaceum variety album. This little plant is about 6 inches tall and blooms like a banshee. This is a closeup of the flowers. It's blooming in my greenhouse right now! Its delightful fragrance is reminiscent of black licorice.

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Biking Weather

    It's biking weather in San Diego. Hot, sunny and dry. So far, no huge fires to gobble up all that greenery from our very wet Winter. Just nice hot weather.

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    Turtle Days of Autumn

    Green Sea Turtle. Oahu, Hawaii. I found this guy swimming around the reef at Hanauma Bay, Hawaii last Christmas. He was being quite sociable, hanging around the reef with the tourists, to graze on the algae along the coral heads. Some turtle poetry just for fun (yes, no class tomorrow).

    • Everybody loves a turtle,

    • Graceful and gentle,

    • Gliding through the ocean,

    • Grazing on the reef,

    • When I see you surfing,

    • In the wave beside me,

    • My heart sings dear turtle,

    • Faithful, gentle friend.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Will the Real Anacheilium Please Stand Up!

    Anacheilium bulbosum. These hail from Southeastern Brazil and grow on trees and rocks at 3000-4000 ft. This was sold to me as Anacheilium allemanii which, after a little digging, I discovered it looks nothing like. It did, however, look very much like Anacheilium bulbosum so here we are. It smells kind of like licorice. Cool huh? The Anacheiliums were split off as a separate genus from the genus Encyclia and characteristically have these really nifty upside down flowers (non-resupinate or lip up). Are orchid people weird or is it just me? Heheh...(sheepish grin)

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Dendrochilum magnum var. album

    Dendrochilum magnum var. album. This is a pretty hefty orchid at over 2 ft. tall, earning its name, the "Large Dendrochilum". Big for my tiny greenhouse anyhow. It's an albanistic variety, the normal type having orangish petals. This particular species of Dendrochilum originates from the Philippines where it grows in mossy alpine forests at around five to six thousand feet elevation. It's quite different from your typical grocery store Moth Orchid, isn't it? The long chains of flowers can be quite spectacular on a large plant, often creating a display of thousands of flowers. This one reminds me of Hawaiian flower leis. It takes up quite a bit of bench space in my greenhouse but its worth it.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Hummingbird Heaven

    Mexican Sage, Salvia leucantha. I really enjoyed seeing the sun filter through the translucent flowers and having it reflect off of the pubescent hairs. It reminded me of the pipe cleaners I played with as a child.

    Sometimes you see these with white flowers out of the furry lavendar sepals. This one has lavender on lavender. They must be great nectar producers as well since the hummingbirds love them! As for me, they're hardy, grow quick and put on a year round floral show. Plus, anything the hummingbirds love is in good graces in the wayward garden! Needless to say, I have quite a few of them.

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Spicy Stuff

    Yellow Ginger, Zingiberaceae. This beauty is blooming in the yard right now. It has a sweet, exotic fragrance that floats on the breeze. The flowers, while a little bit short lived, look wonderful in a vase on those tall, strong stems.

    Yellow Ginger,

    Fragrant, Sweet,

    Gently beckons,

    To memories of home.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Escargot Eater!

    Caiman Lizard, Dracaena guianensis. I saw this little beauty climbing out of the water onto this branch. It is from the Amazon floodplains and, yes, eats snails! Totally awesome. I could use one in the yard! Well, maybe not but it's still pretty cool!

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Sometimes We All Need a Good Roll in the Dirt!

    This polar bear was rubbing his fur in the dirt and apparently having quite a good time of it. Here he is after the rub looking quite smug and satisfied. They claim that polar bears are quite intelligent. Perhaps there is something to the roll in the dirt thing, eh?

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Unknown Dendrochilum Species

    Unknown Dendrochilum species. This may be unidentified (as in never named) or it may be just unidentified by me. I suppose I'll send it out at some point to get identified by the Orchid identification Center since it has eluded me thus far. In any case, it's blooming in the greenhouse and it is quite a beauty!

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Monkey Genius?

    Swamp Monkey. This little swamp monkey is no monkey genius! He's figured out how to untie the platform that holds him suspended high in the air. I suspect, however, that he has not yet fathomed the consequences of untying the lashing (little less eating the lashing...). Of course, that is a mistake you only make once!

    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Myrmecophila brysiana

    Myrmecophila brysiana. This orchid hails from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia growing on mangroves along rivers in hot, humid conditions. The pseudobulbs are hollow with some of this genera hosting fire ants in their pseudobulbs to protect themselves from herbivores and curious humans. This one is growing safely in my greenhouse. The finger...is mine. Hmmm...could I have a new career as a finger model? Hahah. Don't loose the day job right?

    Saturday, September 13, 2008

    What's New in the Greenhouse

    Tetratonia Dark Prince 'Akiikii'. Tetratonia is a hybrid of Tetramicra and Broughtonia. This hybrid is a dimunitive plant, growing about 4 inches tall but forming dense matts of foliage. This one is growing in a particularly, warm, dry part of my greenhouse.

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    How Could You Not Love a Face Like That?

    Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes. This one's a real nail biter. Maybe he/she is just shy. Still, how could you not love a face like that?

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Napping Cormorant

    Napping Cormorant. I looked in my Western Birds book and he wasn't there. There are some 40 species of cormorants and shags, most of which I didn't find in pictures so "cormorant" will have to do. In any case, no amount of phony bird calling on my part could convince this little guy to disturb his nap and smile for the camera or, at least, open his eyes... So, here he is, the "napping cormorant."

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Hornbill Love

    Mated Pair of Sulawesi Hornbills, Penelopides exarhatus. I started off looking for toucans and soon enough realized that toucans don't have that telltale casque on top of the bill while Hornbills do! Heaven forbid if it was a more mundane looking bird... Our Sulawesi Hornbill friends are found in the tropical lowland, swamps and primary forests of Sulawesi, from sea-level to 1,100 m. They enjoy fruits, figs and insects and the female seals herself into a tree hole/nest to lay eggs and raise the young while the male feeds her. That being said, there was a large nest of twiggs and feathers on a nearby branch. Could be I had the wrong nest or the wrong birds or, perhaps, there were no convenient holes in a tree and a nest was second best. I suppose I'll never know for sure.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    All Grown Up

    Those cute little Carribean Flamingo chicks are almost full grown now. They're the same size as their parents but don't have the brilliant pink-orange plummage yet. This one is taking a nap.

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Some Days You Just Don't Care!

    Orangutan, Pongo borneo. Some days you just don't care. This Orangutan is apparently somewhat non-plussed at all the attention he's getting from the people on the other side of the glass. So, he's decided to give the audience a piece of his mind. He is notably using his middle finger on his nostril suitably giving the audience the bird. You might too, where you faced with gawking tourists all day long. Or, perhaps his nose was just itchy...

    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    Floss Silk Tree (Chorisia speciosa)

    Floss Silk Tree (Chorisia speciosa). These thorny but stunningly beautiful trees originate from Brazil and Argentina and are a favorite with the hummingbirds and bloom in profusion each Fall. The name, Floss Silk, refers to the cottony white fluffy seeds as they burst from the pods.

    Saturday, September 06, 2008

    Bloggin Stud

    Much thanks to the Hunky gardener for the Bloggin Stud award! I hope to be a hunky gardener myself some day! Until then, check out his web page for cool gardening tips and good gnome humor.

    Two for the Price of One (Two-fer)

    Well, actually a three for the price of one. This a fossil Apalone species soft-shelled turtle. The fish below is a Knightia eocaena. If you stare real hard you'll see a Love Bug, Pleacia pealei in the lower right corner as well. These come from Fossil Lake in Wyoming and date back to the Eocene, 54.8-33.7 million years ago. They are all fossilized into the lake sediment.

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    Multi-floral Cattleyas

    Cattleya (Chloe x Mrs. Mahler) x Fred Thompkins. Sure would be nice if people named their hybrids so you didn't have these long names! It would be kind of like calling your child (Bob X Susan) X William instead of Frank or Eileen. Of course, everything costs something. Either way, these are fragrant beauties that are covered with raspberry speckling on huge plants with huges sprays of flowers. An amazing plant if you have the space.

    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    Into the Drink

    This guy was "innocently" sitting on the chair in one of those dunking booths but it looks like he's doing "into the drink." [Another weird American colloquialism] It was a $1 a ball and for gals, if you missed twice, they let you go up and push on the target lever (and in he goes!). How's that for fund raising? It was a hot, muggy, Chicago afternoon so the dunk probably wasn't all that bad.

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Chalmers Topaz

    Chalmers Topaz. At 5890 carrots, this is bigger than any diamond ever found. It was found as a loose stone in a stream! Ironically, we may chuckle at how in olden days, the Europeans swindled natives out of land for bits of colored glass. Yet, today, we pay huge sums for carefully cut, beautiful bits of colored stone. This one is at the Chicago Field Museum if you want to see it up close and personal. If the argument was that there is no real practical value to the baubles, it still holds and we are theoretically still as frivolous under the lure of shiny baubles. [There is a albeit a difference in rareity but you can now manufacture topaz.] If you ask someone, would you prefer a bigger diamond or a bigger down payment on a house, is there really a right answer or is it an arbitrary choice of the participants? Perhaps I'm just spending too much time listening to law professors and just need to go to bed... Happy Wednesday.

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Nephrite Qing Pitcher

    Nephrite Qing Pitcher, Qing (Ching) Dynasty, 1644-1911. There are two officially accepted types of jade: Jaedite, also called Burmese Jade and Nephrite. Typically, Jaedite is used for jewelry while most common large carvings are out of the more common, less expensive Nephrite. Jade is known for being a durable stone that is amenable to carving, being somewhat resistant to fractures. Nephrite has been found in large boulders on the Western Coast of Canada and the NW US among other place. There is rumored to be a recently rediscovered yellow jaedite (rare) mine which was the source of the Jade used by the Incas in South America.

    If you're wondering, I have a small mineral collection but this pretty pitcher was in the Field Museum in Chicago. If you like Jade, I vaguely recall the De Young in SF and the Stanford Museum as having decent collections...or you could go visit the Jade Factory in Beijing which is totally amazing! Note, however, that the Chinese call all sorts of stones Jade, most of which aren't. This is especially true if you're shopping in the street markets or at low tier jewelers. So, Jade Shopper beware!

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    You Have To Love Stegosaurus

    When I was a kid, I wanted to study dinosaurs in the worst sort of way. Unfortunately, growing up in Hawaii, there wasn't much in the way of fossils to be found and what little you found embedded in the lava was probably still alive in the ocean (and much prettier there I might add). Mind you that's not a bad thing but it was kind of the kiss of death for studying dinosaurs up close and personal. I ended up settling for little plastic dinosaurs and had little dino-wars, typically between Stegosaurus and T-Rex. Some things never change. I also managed to get a few fossil trilobytes and clams, encouraged by one of my elementary school teachers who had the tiniest trilobyte carefully wrapped up in cotton that she had brought back from the continental U.S. Lucky for me there was no EBay! I ended up spending more time with marine shells and fishes...and orchids. However, when I saw this Stegosaurus at the Field Museum, I had to snap a picture for old times sake.