Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you all the best for the new year. Good health, good friends, happiness, family and much success in 2013. Enjoy your new year's eve, have fun and stay safe.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ala Wai Yact Harbor and Waikiki

Ala Wai Yact Harbor and Waikiki. Quick shot from Magic Island during a post lunch walk.

Would You Move Rocks for Love?

A Rockmover Wrasse or Dragon Wrasse, Novaculichthys taeniourus, putting on a display for the photographer (a.k.a. me). These wrasses move stones to reveal and, ultimately, eat the prey beneath the rock. Adult rockmovers are known to work in (mated) pairs, the first wrasse lifting the rock and the second wrasse darting in to eat the revealed morsels before they scurry under another rock. Clearly, it behooves the potential prey to find a big, heavy rock to hide under!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas is a "Boar?"

Wild Boar, on truck, with hunting dogs beneath the canopy and hunters sitting atop the canopy with the boar. Wild boars have caused tremendous damage to the Hawaiian ecology through eating tender plant life, eating eggs from ground nesting endemic Hawaiian birds such as the Hawaiian Crow and through grubbing the dirt thereby releasing silt into the ocean that kills the coral reefs. This one was apparently being used for Christmas dinner.

Rhynchostylis gigantea, spotted variety

Rhynchostylis gigantea, spotted variety. I found this lovely, very nicely colored, uber-fragrant first bloom Rhychostylis. The typical spotted variety has a peppering of light pink spots. The ones with darker blotching and larger overall spotting are sometimes referred to as harlequin types. These are native to Thailand and also come in white, red and peach.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The O'io or Short Jawed Bonefish

The o'io or Short Jaw Bonefish, Albula glossodonta, is typically found in shallow reef flats and sandy bays through 100 ft. I've generally seen this fish traveling in small schools of around 20 or fewer individuals. They are smart, inquisitive fish, often circling the diver for closer inspection (in protected areas). They are capable of great speed and put up quite a fight if caught on rod and tackle.

This particular fish was part of a school of 2-3 ft. long fishes that was circling me as I spun counter-clockwise on an axis with my little underwater-cased canon at minimum zoom snapping pictures of them as they passed by around 1-3 feet from the camera. It's quite a trip, especially once you've figured out how to pivot in skin diving gear. I'm sure it made a nice show from the breakwater above. I had both knees bent, one flipper out in mid-air, the other keeping me spinning...I'm not sure if I could explain how to do it if I tried. LOL. You'll just have to try it yourself!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Threadfin Butterflyfish

Threadfin Butterflyfish, Chaetodon auriga, Queen's Surf, Hawaii. I finally made it to the beach and the sunburn proves it, in spite of the SPF30 suntan lotion. I suppose the water washes it off after a while. The water was a bit nippy for Hawaii, but then it is January. It was nice enough for me to stay in for about 2 hours before my fingers turned into total prunes so perhaps it's really the difference between that warm Hawaiian air and the water temperature that makes getting in always a bit of a jolt. Of course, if you put me in a fish preserve with fish to photograph, I will stay in as long as I can as I chase those finny beauties around with my little canon camera, mostly oblivious to anything but the fish.

Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus

Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus, part of a small colony nesting high atop a huge old tree near the trailhead to Manoa falls.

Just a Lucky Ducky

I found a whole patch, well, several patches of four leaved clovers growing in the pond at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. I am indeed a lucky ducky! LOL. One of the local nurseries must be selling them. Ah, but which one??!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Festive Flowers at the Manoa Falls Trail

Some festive red flowers blooming in a little ray of Hawaiian sunshine that penetrated the dense forest canopy along the Manoa Falls trail. May the season bring you joy and good tidings!

May You Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wherever you may be and no matter your circumstances, may you have the merriest Christmas and a wonderful new year. As they say in the islands, Mele Kalikimaka and Hau'ole Makahiki Hou!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holy Hoya Batman! What kind of Hoya is that?

Hoya guppyi. These plants will grow indoors; however, given greenhouse conditions, these plants are hefty and gangly growers, easily growing you out of house and home. With a little creative trimming they will provide some of the waxiest and most rewarding flowers of the genus.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wonderful, Kind People in the World

I was shopping at City Mill when I mentioned to the nice lady at the counter that my Mom was in the hospital with pneumonia. Out of nowhere, she mentions that she has a few four leaf clovers that she says have done amazing things in the past (think cure cancer). Now, I am a little skeptical, but I was totally touched that she went all the way out to her car to get her purse from which she pulled out a little four leaf clover pressed in waxed paper. She wrote some kind words and a little prayer on the piece of paper the clover was pressed in and asked me to get it to my Mom. I brought it to Mom today and low and behold, the hospital said Mom was good to go with a little time to spare before Christmas eve. That's about the best Christmas present ever. Did the clover do it? You decide. ;-P

A Little Holiday Relief

I flew home for the holidays and found Mom in the hospital for small bout of pneumonia when I arrived (is there such a thing as a small bout of pneumonia?). That was a bit of a scare. However, thanks to the good people at Queen's Hospital, she's out and doing well, just in time for Christmas eve. While I feel much relieved, there's still this nagging thought having to do with the mortality of ourselves and everyone we love that just won't go away. I suppose, as we age, it is something everyone must confront and come to peace with. I'm just not there yet nor do I care to speed the process. Perhaps there is some comfort in the angst.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Say Something Profound, Will You?

Sometimes I feel like I should say something profound. I've posted thousands of posts but I rarely say much about life, being a bit private. However, it just seemed like the thing to do so here goes.

I find that the pre-holiday time is quite stressful between shopping for presents, trying to clean up the work at the office and working to get all the bills paid at home. It's just so easy to get caught up in others' expectations and self-imposed worries about every little detail. Ultimately, however, if I put down the credit card and pause for the briefest of moments I realize, in a puff of sanity, that the season is about reconnecting with the people you love most, the people that have always been in your life and who will always be a part of you, even long after they depart this world. Those moments make it all worthwhile.

As for the negativity of the few, the neigh sayers, the doubters and the prophets of doom and gloom, it's best to realize that their negativity is a reflection of their own doubts and unhappiness. While we may try to help where we can, ultimately no amount of tangible gifts or verbal soothing will quell their inner negativity for that fire is quenched only from within, and only through faith, trust and love, rather than through negativity.

Just Shout, "Happy Holidays!"

Blue Dacnis or Turquoise Honeycreeper, Dacnis cayana shouting out (Happy holidays!) These beautiful birds are quite widespread, being found from Panama all the way down to Northern Argentina!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Laelia anceps 'Alpine'

Laelia anceps 'Alpine' just after watering the plants in the sun room. I believe it is the result of crossing the Guerrero form with a larger standard form. Oddly enough, mine seems to be shaped better than the other pictures I've seen online. We'll see what happens when the division grows bigger.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Red Catasetum!

Catasetum Jose Abalo X Catasetum Orchidglade, one of Fred Clarke's hybrids, blooming for the first time in the sun room.

Hope Your Holidays are a Humdinger!

Anna's Hummingbird, Calypte anna, on the now mostly leafless peach tree in the back yard. Hope your holidays are a humdinger with lots of love, full of your favorite people, and, of course, all of that wonderful, oh so fattening holiday food.

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Argument for Social Support for the Mentally-At-Risk

The nation is in shock regarding today's shooting. There will be renewed calls for gun control. Whatever the arguments for gun control, one way or the other, the nation should also take a close look at the legacy of deinstitutionalization of the mentally-at-risk and the de-funding of social programs for the mentally-at-risk that occurred during the Reagan years. For example, we see the legacy of deinstitutionalization and funding limitations in many large cities via the schizophrenics that live on the street harrassing the occasional passing pedestrian.

In this case, it appears that there were syptoms of anti-social behavior in the shooter from early childhood. This behavior did not appear to have triggered significant safeguards in the system, the result of which we see in full clarity today. Early detection, professional therapy, and institutional support, where necessary, might have prevented this day's tragic events.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stanhopea intermedia

Stanhopea intermedia, a beautiful clear yellow Stanhopea with a light minty fragrance, blooming in early December. This wonder is native to the Pacific slopes of Mexico at around 3000 feet.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Spiny Beauty: Agave angustifolia marginata

Agave angustifolia variety marginata, the Carribean Agave, growing in that mini-botanical garden that I call the back yard. These are excellent growers in a moderate climate, quickly forming pups. They make great accent plants, if a little spiny. They are drought tolerant but can also tolerate wet feet without rotting. They also appear to be fairly cold resistant, as long as you stay above freezing.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

San Diego AOS Judging Results for December, 2012

Bulbophyllum spathulatum 'Windflower' AM 80pts
Ctsm vinaceum 'Sunset Valley Orchids' HCC 77pts
Cyc Kevin Clarke 'Sunset Valley Orchids' FCC 90 pts
Cycd Chiriqui 'Sunset Valley Orchids' FCC 90pts
Cycd John Naugle 'Sunset Valley Orchids II' AM 81pts
Cycd John Naugle 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM 84pts
Cycd Spotted Hornet 'Sunset Valley Orchids II' AM 86pts
Fdk After Dark 'Black Cherry Red' AM/AOS 87pts
Fdk After Midnight 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM 83pts
Oncidium Green Valley Sweet 'Heavenly' AM 80pts

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Turkey Albondigas

I had a craving for albondigas so it was off to Vons for ingredients. The meatballs are made with ground Turkey, mint, basil, garlic, onions and pepper & egg's not totally authentic but very tasty and a tad healthier. Spicy too.

If you want to try it, here's a rough recipe. Sorry, it makes a lot...

Pre-sautee in olive oil:
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic, diced or mashed

Add to the onions and garlic in a large pot:
about a quart or two of water
1 bottle of basil sphaghetti sauce (or you can use tomato sauce)
1 small can of diced tomatos
about 2 cans of chicken broth (I used a ziploc bag of turkey broth left over from Thanksgiving)
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of pepper
1 tbsp of dried onion
1 large bag of frozen veggies (I'm guessing this is about 3 cups worth)
1 one pound bag of fresh carrots, diced
1 small box of pre-sliced mushrooms

Bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix:
1 package of lean ground turkey
dried onion, diced fresh mint, garlic powder, pepper and basil to taste (i.e., up to you how strong you want it)
2 eggs
1/3 cup raw white rice (which will absorb the flavor of the soup when it cooks)

Mix the meat mixture thoroughly.
Make into meat balls and drop into the boiling soup.

Let simmer on medium heat for about an hour (to make sure the carrots are cooked). I'd suggest tasting it along the way and adding spice depending on how mild or spicy you want it (sorry, I cook by the eyeball method -- no measuring cups, so you'll need to ad lib a bit.).

Let me know how it comes out!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Black Catasetums?

Catasetum Frilly Doris x Catasetum Vodoo Dragon is a dark brownish black in natural sunlight; deep red under a flash. The Vodoo Dragon parent was very dominant in his hybrid, pushing the color heavily towards dark, glossy reds. Catasetum Frilly Doris improved the shape somewhat but otherwise was generally overpowered by the Vodoo Dragon influence.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Laelia anceps variety alba

Laelia anceps variety alba, in bloom at Sunset Valley Orchids. Actually, there was a whole greenhouse full of anceps in bloom and it was quite a sight!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No Doubt About Orchids!

Fredclarkeara No Doubt, Mormodes Painted Desert x Catasetum Susan Fuchs. Another wonderful Fred Clarke hybrid blooming now!

A Black Orchid! Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' FCC/AOS

Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' FCC/AOS. If you are hunting for a black orchid, these are an incredibly deep wine red which, under a flash, shows red tones but under normal sunlight are black as night. The Fredclarkaras are also easier to grow than the species parents and make a huge display of flowers that last for weeks. If one is calling to you, they are available at Sunset Valley Orchids.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Glimpsing the Divine

Taquitz Rock, Idyllwild, California. There are those moments, when you glimpse the world as if anew, and the worries and cares of modern life seem a world apart, even if just for a while. This was shot from the deep, tranquil shade of the mossy woods as the morning sun pierced the darkness with brilliance from afar, as a song might pierce the silence. For you camera buffs, is that a lens flare I see or is it the dove of peace and light? Happy Holidays friends. May this post find you well and near the ones you hold dearest.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Flower Hat Jelly, Olindias formosa

Flower Hat Jelly, Olindias formosa, at the Osaka Aquarium. These little jewels are native to Southern Japan where they live mainly on fish. They pack a nice little sting, as you would imagine.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Phragmipedium Grande

Phragmipedium Grande, (Phragmipedium longifolium x caudatum), Southland Orchid Show.

Tis the Season for Western Bluebirds and Boughs of Holly

Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana, hopping off of a bunch of holly after a brief meal of holly berries. Western bluebirds are quite fond of berries, thus helping to spread the sticky holly berry seeds from tree to tree.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Magnolia 'Little Gem'

Magnolia hybrid, likely Magnolia 'Little Gem,' in bloom at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. I have loved Magnolias since I first saw the double rows of them in bloom along University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Their flowers are positively huge with a stiff leathery texture contrasted by their pristine white color and plastic-like stamens. These are particularly striking with their hot pink centers.

Apparently, ancient Magnolias evolved more than 20 million years ago, before bees became a major pollinator. Thus, the Magnolia evolved to be pollinated by beetles, including the heavy, leathery segments (tepals) that prevented significant beetle damage. You may see similarly tough flower segments among water lilies which are also pollinated by beetles.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mormodes Exotic Treat 'SVO' AM/AOS

Mormodes Exotic Treat 'SVO' AM/AOS, 85 pts, was just awarded in October at the Southland Orchid Show. Mormodes are native to South America and are known for their gracefully twisting segments and exotic coloration.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Just a Little Squirrely

Western Grey Squirrel or California Grey Squirrel, Sciurus griseus, hunting around for scraps and stray acorns. As opposed to the familiar California ground squirrel found in burrows along the coastal scrub, these squirrels live in trees (arboreal) up in the coastal mountain ranges (from Washington through California). Some get quite large and are quite inquisitive, chittering at you from the trees. This one came down from the tree to get a closer look at me.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Acorn Woodpecker in the Act

Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus, stashing and guarding acorns on an old oak "grainerie" (acorn tree). The woodpeckers drill holes in the bark of the tree and insert acorns into the holes in storage for the Winter. They will guard the granerie from would-be thieves such as jays. These little birds nest in hollowed out cavities in dead trees although they have been known to use telephone poles, houses and other sources of dead wood.

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Favorite with the (Painted) Ladies

Painted Lady Butterfy, Vanessa cardui, on unknown blooming tree. I kid you not, this tree was covered with Painted Lady Butterflies. I have never, ever seen so many Painted Ladies as covered this huge, fragrant, blooming tree. I chatted with the owner but completely forgot to ask what kind of tree it was. I, of course, was very much enjoying shooting pictures of all the butterflies.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Reddest of the Encyclias: Encyclia atrorubens

Encyclia atrorubens. These like to grow dry and warm. The color comes through in hybrids as, unfortunately, does the pinched lip.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Huntleya burtii

Huntleya burtii; this glossy, spectacular flower is native to the cloud forests of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Peru where it grows epiphytically on the trunks of trees.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oaks Showing Fall Colors

Oaks showing some nice yellow tones for the Fall Season and Halloween. With the sun shining through and illuminating the colors, I just couldn't pass up a quick picture. Wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween and a great Fall Season!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Laelia anceps 'Rustic Canyon' HCC/AOS

Laelia anceps 'Rustic Canyon' HCC/AOS, blooming now. It's fall and the Laelia anceps are blooming. The ones grown in a lot of sun bloom a little earlier than those bloomed in shade. If you want to spread out the season, just grow some cooler and some warmer! This is one of the modern cross-varietal anceps with decent sized, bright flowers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flaming Pachyderm

Flaming Pachyderm! At least that's what I see. It's kind of a rorschach test on the fly. What do you see?

Fire display from simulated battle conditions at Miramar MCAS.

Military Skydiver

Military Skydiver with flag at MCAS Miramar.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jet Car Versus AT-6 Wardog

A race between the AT-6 "Wardog", a WWII Advanced (Military) Trainer piloted by John A. Collver, and Smoke-n-Thunder, a jet car that shoots 20 foot flames and has a top speed of up to 400 mph, driven by driver Bill Braack.