Archive for March, 2009

barbara1 by rent-a-moose.
(rent-a-moose’s cool photo)

OK, so I went to a basic organic gardening class today. This was at the same place I recently went to learn how to make jelly from scratch and can it in glass jars (yes, I am feeling ambitious lately so it must be spring).

So, I thought this would be a pleasant little gathering of like-minded people. People who, like me, wanted to grow backyard veggies but were completely clueless or, in my case, just completely hapless.

My usual spring garden cycle goes like this:

  1. Garden catalogs arrive with their sweet siren song in late winter.
  2. Blinded by pretty colors and big ambitions, I order seeds & plants.
  3. Seeds arrive and I dutifully tend them in their teeny planter.
  4. Yea, they sprouted! Look at them go!
  5. Well, crap! Over half of them bit the dust.
  6. Double crap! More are dying…no worries, I have some that made it.
  7. Plant the ones that made it and care for them.
  8. Aaaagh! Why did they die?! OK, I’ll focus on the few left…
  9. Weed garden, tend plants.
  10. Weed garden, tend plants.
  11. Get lazy, go on vacation, see something shiny…
  12. Blkkkrk! Where did all these weeds come from suddenly?!
  13. Renew weeding with vengeance.
  14. Realize the weeds are winning no matter what I do.
  15. Rationalize failure (well, I’m just being a very natural gardener, yeah…uh, I’m returning valuable nutrients to the soil by letting them all rot there…right, and I am helping out all those groundhogs and rabbits).

In order to break this cycle, I decided to take the intro to organic gardening class. Again, I thought, “Hey, maybe we can all share some silly gardening stories and bond over our interest in organic thingies and whatnot.” But, alas, it was not to be.

Maybe it was the gloomy, cold weather, but the majority of the people were none too friendly. Now, I’m not altogether a great people person…well, if you are above age 20 that is. I am much more comfortable around kids (hence the children’s librarian…) and although I can do great stuff when I am in “Librarian” mode at work, I really suck at interpersonal skills.

I really tried to make an effort to be outgoing. I smiled (but not TOO smiley…don’t want to give off that stalker vibe) and attempted to make conversation with my fellow classmates. And I even showered before the class 😉

This is about how it went:

Me: “So, how did your soil sample turn out?” ::said companionably::

     ==stony silence==

Me: “Er…so, is your soil very alkaline?” ::said louder::

     ==stony silence AND cold glare==

And then there was OOOTBPG (Obviously One Of The Beautiful People Girl). I mean, who comes to a hands-on gardening class wearing ultra-low jeans (we all saw way more of her than we wanted), designer shoes and expensive shades tilted back on their head?! OOOTBPG clearly felt she was just so darn cute that she could cut in front of everyone waiting in line (OK, it was a line for worms and not a bread line…but still!).

OOOTBP also annoyingly kept saying POE-tash instead of POT-ash like all the rest of us Midwesterners. I will, however, give her credit for at least willingly handling worms and dirt. There were several ladies there who were aghast at the mere thought. So, what kind of gardening were they planning on doing exactly?

The results of my soil sample from the backyard were pretty horrid:

highest possible alkalinity, lowest possible nitrogen, potash and phosphorus and clay soil

Hmmm, maybe I should just stick to making jelly….

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Back when I was working as a naturalist, I lamented that the annual professional conferences of the big name organization were:

  1. Far away
  2. Too expensive for regular naturalists to afford
  3. Offering the same shtick you got at the local conferences

It seems the same is true for the American Library Association Conferences. The upcoming one in Chicago is exorbitantly expensive and that’s not including housing and food (AND drinks…I weep for you, Chicago when the librarians are turned loose…).

And what does your hard-earned moola get you? Some innovative library speakers? Some literary experts?

Sorry, no.

Instead you get:

“James Van Praagh

Saturday, July 11, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
James Van Praagh is a “survival evidence medium,” meaning that he is able to bridge the gap between two planes of existence, that of the living and that of the dead, by providing evidential proof of life after death via detailed messages.Van Praagh’s unique paranormal experiences during the past
25 years have been recorded in his New York Times bestselling books Talking to Heaven, Reaching to Heaven, Healing Grief, Heaven and Earth, Looking Beyond: A Teen’s Guide to the Spiritual World and Mediation with James Van Praagh. He has also produced a number of television programs, including a hit primetime series, “Ghost Whisperer,” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. He has made numerous guest appearances on shows such as “Oprah,” “Larry King Live,” “20/20,” “48 Hours” and “Biography.” His first
memorable encounter was at the age of eight, when he prayed for God to reveal Himself to him and an open hand appeared through the ceiling of his room. Today, Van Praagh is recognized as one of the foremost mediums in the world. In addition to speaking with the deceased, he says he can “feel the emotions and personalities of the deceased,” as well as see the spirit in solid form.”

Seriously. Seriously?!

Shit, why don’t you invite Sylvia Browne, too?! I can picture it now: Psychic Reference Desk. When patrons walk up to the desk we just hand them a book and say knowingly, “This is the book you are truly searching for…I sense it!”

I did laugh at the name of this program in the Children & Young Adults track: ‘Where You Can Go with Every Child Ready to Read.”

Oh, I can tell you where to go….;-p





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ladybug_deathhead.jpg ladybug image by damitjanet_01 (damitjanet_01 )

(And, although its name is not a killing word, it is being killed….)

They’re baaaack!

The Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis) have come out of their winter dormancy and are banging around all the windows and lights inside the house. And driving me crazy. (I know, I know, short drive…aha, ha, ha).

The US Ag Department released large numbers of these buggers in order to help control pecan and apple pests. Apparently, they still maintain that they are not a real problem/threat to native lady beetles:

“Multicolored Asian lady beetles have become a problem in some regions of the United States. It is probable that their introduction into new habitats in the United States freed these lady beetles from some natural population checks and balances that occur within their native Asian range. It is likely that these natural controls will catch up to the lady beetles in time and curtail their booming population. Additionally, a period of time may be required for checks and balances of our native lady beetles to adapt to this newcomer.”

I believe this is called the “wishful thinking” doctrine…

Here’s something I didn’t know about these beetles:

“Asian lady beetles are also becoming a concern of the wine industry. Due to their noxious odor, even small numbers of beetles inadvertently processed along with grapes can taint the flavor of wine.”

One article calls this “their special aroma” which is described as a musky basement smell. I can picture the wine tasting now…”Hmm, it’s a saucy little red with hints of moldy cobwebs in dank corners…”

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The trip to Florida was a much needed respite. We had plenty of sunshine and warm temps. I had high hopes of going out and looking for scrub jays and other fun things, but I mostly ended up just reading and sitting around the beach.

Not that I was sunbathing, mind you. When you have fair skin and your father is a red-head, you tend to slather on the sunscreen (I think I had SPF 270….).

But seriously, the picture below shows the view from one of the beach cafes we sat at….how could you not just linger (and yes, there was a wee bit of drinking, too).


The one thing I did NOT expect was the amount of plastic washed up on the beach. When we last went down to visit my father, about two years ago, there was quite a lot of plastic on the beach.

But that was nothing compared to what it is now. You couldn’t walk along the wrack line looking for shells unless you were wearing shoes or you would cut your feet open on the jagged plastic waste. All I could think of was that not only was it going to keep getting worse but that these things would be around for thousands of years to come.

Here’s an interesting site that encourages you to collect the plastic, make an art sculpture out of it and then recycle it. There are some intriguing creations there and you should look at this picture, too. (BTW, if you put in “plastic” and “beach” together in a Yahoo search, I find it amusing that cosmetic surgeons are what pops up).

Want more bad news? Check this out: Great Pacific Garbage Patch Bigger Than Texas

Despite all of the waste, I did manage to find a few sea beans! The three I found seem to be the more common Hamburger Bean (Mucuna sloanei), which look like….well, duh! These are apparently bat pollinated flowers, according to this article. Sea beans can travel amazing distances on the ocean and look beautiful when they are polished.

Thumbnail for version as of 21:55, 8 March 2008 (from Wikipedia)

While searching through the wrack line, I also found this pretty seaweed (at least, I think it’s seaweed..)

Anyone know what it is?

Anyone know what it is?


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But first…a nap!

I just arrived home from a wonderful vacation trip down to visit my father in Vero Beach, Florida. If all goes well, I will have some great photos and stories to share. But the shock of returning to 20 degree weather from 80 degrees is just too much for me right now. (I know, you weep for me, don’t you…).

So, please enjoy these 2 cool webcams in this link to one of the COOLEST places to visit when in Florida:

The Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

(you will have to scroll down the page a bit)

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