Monday, April 28, 2008

Poster Bunny

There are almost always two sure shot days for rain in Katonah, during the annual tag sale at the Presbyterian Church and for the Fireman’s Carnival in June.

Each year, the tag sale becomes more and more organized. Donations are made on Sunday afternoon with curbside drop-offs. Volunteers then sort donations by categories.

The “Poster Bunny” once was ours, part of the décor for our forsythia Easter Basket. I didn’t stay long because of the rain, but the biggest category seemed to be children’s toys. The rain did not stop shoppers who arrived early for the best selection. One woman drove away with the back of an SUV almost entirely full, more-or-less equal to what we donated yesterday. More tomorrow when, hopefully, the weather improves. Perhaps, then, we will spot “black cat.”

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I took this photo of one of my peonies to give credit to its secret helper, the ant. (Click photo to enlarge.) Until I researched this posting, I (along with perhaps half of the rest of the world) believed that ants tracking through the gooey residue of these buds are essential for pollination. Not so. A peony’s ability to bloom is directly related to its root stock. So if you are very generous and divide your larger bushes to share with friends, none of you is likely to have flowers for several years, unless care is taken that every divided plant has at least five “eyes.”

Ants do serve two other purposes, according to my research. They eliminate other insects and are actually helpful in opening the dense double-flower buds found in many peonies. I have two varieties in my garden, both given to me by my father who divided them from some given to him. When it blooms, this bud will be magenta and visually exquisitely beautiful, but without a scent. I have two stands of a light pink variety. While it will not be as pretty, it will have the most heavenly fragrance you can imagine.

I find this often happens with roses, too. The most exquisitely beautiful, frequently don’t have a strong scent, while the strongly scented ones are not necessarily the most gorgeous. Has anyone else had this experience?

Oh … and if you have peonies, stand them upside down in water before you bring them into the house and you will rid them of the ants. We will visit this plant, and its paler sister mid- to late-May when they bloom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"N" is for Narcissus: Don't tell the Deer!

There’s little as disillusioning as waking up on a spring morning to find that your tulips have been “mown” overnight by the local deer, or that the rosebuds, which were just about open, had been pinched by the same perps. For that reason, and because they are poisonous, narcissi, the botanical name for the more commonly called daffodil, are generously planted in our gardens.

This photo includes one of every variety in my yard. In the 20 years we have lived here, I would say I’ve easily planted more than 1,000 bulbs, which have not necessarily multiplied as promised. A posting at the American Daffodil Society provides 13 possible things I might have done wrong; for starters, I think I’ll try feeding them.

There are also 13 different descriptive divisions of daffodils; miniatures share these same descriptive divisions but simply have smaller blooms. Pictured are examples of nine of these divisions: trumpet, large cupped, small cupped, double, cyclamineus (it looks like it’s facing a cyclone), jonquilla and poeticus (both of which are usually fragrant), split cupped, and wild. Missing are triandrus; tazetta (paperwhites), bulbocodium, and miscellaneous.

I’m interested in learning what others have to say about narcissus. Do you call them daffodils? Or Narcissus? And how to you pluralize the word?

Oh, and about the deer. Only the bulb and leaves are poisonous. But, please, let it be our secret!

Visit Mrs. Nesbitt's blog to see the work of other Alphabet Wednesday Participants.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Worm Food

In celebration of Earth Day, first observed 38 years ago today, I submit my photo entitled “Worm Food,” three meals worth of organic refuse headed for the composed heap and photographed specifically for this day’s posting. Growing up as the child of parents who lived through the Depression, I have always had the “use and re-use” mentality. It has taken longer for my husband to come to the table. He was forced to change earlier this year when our county (Westchester) mandated (rather than suggested) recycling and threatened to mark trespassers’ garbage with big yellow stickers. Here’s the difference focused recycling has made in our home: in one week’s time, we now have less than one full-bag of trash.

Each year I freshen my (very) small garden with compost from last year’s pile, but I have yet to become a “power” composter … generating the kind of rot that creates an exothermic process with enough heat to steam in the winter. (See yesterday’s post on Symplocarpus foetidus, “skunk cabbage,” for a somewhat related story.) And for sure, I will never become as good as the Megapodes (mound-building birds) found in eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia. These fowl-sized birds incubate their eggs in nests nestled within huge compost heaps. To keep the incubation temperatures exact, the birds add and remove leaves from the pile. But I will keep on trying.

Follow these links for exhaustive information on Earth Day and composting. And to learn about another “Banner Day” occurring in 1970, visit Kate’s blog from yesterday.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Although Katonah is still without the envious spring blossoms already prevalent in more temperate climates, we do have a regional native plant existing only within a small part of the world.

Once it unfolds in the swampy forest, the Symplocarpus foetidus, the “skunk cabbage” is merely another bit of greenery, but when it first emerges, its purple and green coloring and striking shape make it a standout in the otherwise still-brown woods. The plant is native to eastern North America. It can be found from Canada south through Tennessee where it is regarded as an endangered plant. But, according to this USDA map, it mysteriously jumps over Kentucky. Its western boundary is Minnesota. Varieties can also be found in eastern Siberia, northeastern China, and Japan. It is apparently not readily found in Europe.

I have not had the courage to try it myself, but as its name implies, the plant emits a pungent odor when its leaves are torn or bruised, this to attract flies and other carrion feeding insects which help it pollinate. It is also among a small group of plants exhibiting germogenesis: the skunk cabbage can produce heat ranging from 59 – 95° Fahrenheit (15-35° centigrade) above air temperature, allowing it to literally melt its way through snow. Some varieties appear to be poisonous, although several sites cite medicinal uses for the plant. For the most extensive description I’ve found, click here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Like a Chicken with my Head Cut Off

“Running Men” on display at the Neuberger Museum, at Pace University in Purchase, New York is the perfect illustration of why I haven’t posted a photo blog since Alphabet (K) Wednesday.

I’ve been running around like the proverbial chicken without a head, which, as it turns out, is not so proverbial!

Mike, the Headless Chicken, a five-and-one-half pound Wyandotte rooster, lived for 18 months after his owner, Lloyd Olsen, not-so-carefully chopped off his head on September 10, 1945, with a goal of presenting a generous neck bone to his visiting mother-in-law for dinner. After the beheading, the rooster literally shook the whole thing off and continued to “act like a chicken” … pecking for food, scratching and grooming himself. The next morning, Olsen found the bird asleep with his “head” tucked under his feathers, and was so impressed with the its determination to live, that he began feeding him, by eyedropper, a mixture of milk and water and occasionally a small grain of corn. When Mike began choking on mucus, his handlers would clear it with the eyedropper.

An over-night sensation, Mike was written up in Life and Time Magazine and recorded in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and the Guinness Book of World Records. His movie “Chick Flick” is available on Amazon, and, yes, he even has his own MySpace page. Mike spent his last months touring side shows with manager, Hope Wade. At the peak of his popularity, and with an admission charge of only .25, he was earning $4,500 per month, (approximately $50,000 in 2005 dollars). Despite public out-cries of cruelty, examinations by officers of several humane societies declared him to be free from suffering.

Ultimately, Mike reportedly choked on a piece of corn in an Arizona hotel room, on his way home from a trip. His handlers had forgotten his eyedropper at the sideshow and were unable to resuscitate him. The bird had lived because Olsen’s chop missed the bird’s jugular, and most of the bird’s brain stem, which largely controls a chicken’s reflex actions. A clot had also formed and prevented Mike from bleeding to death.

In 1999, inspired by the resiliency of their native “son,” the town of Fruita, Colorado began honoring Mike during Colorado Heritage Week. This year, the two-day festival, is May 17 and 18. It includes activities such as: the Chicken Dance Contest; the Run Like a Chicken with your Head Cut Off 5K; the Chicken Olympics, and the Hike for Mike at McInnis Canyons.

In 2000, Fruita installed a four-foot, 300-pound sculpture of Mike. The artist, Lyle Nichols, grew up in Fruita and was a friend of Mr. Olsen. Fittingly, the sculpture consists of ax heads, hay-rake teeth, sickle blades and other cutting objects. “I made him proud and cocky,” Nichols said in an Associated Press interview.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

K is for Kombination: Katonah Museum of Art and Drew Klotz

This was posted yesterday, Alphabet Wednesday, but somehow became stuck as a "draft," so I'll try again.

“K” day almost passed me by, (thanks Marie of Montpellier, flagged as a favorite) for the shot which woke me up.

Of course K could be for Katonah, but at five in the afternoon, the Katonah Museum of Art seemed a more manageable topic. The museum was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, a well-known architect (1915 -2004), who, if memory serves me correctly, actually lived for a time in Katonah.

“Titan,” by Drew Klotz was installed while I was in France last month.. I’d heard about it, even flew by it on my daily errands. But until I stood in its shadow, I had know idea just how wonderful it would be.

I can’t find a website for David Klotz, he appears to live near Westport Connecticut and is connected with the Westport Arts Center. According to the Museum, “The wind driven sculpture is in constant motion; its red circular forms hypnotically swivel in multiple directions. The 20-foot high aluminum sculpture combines mechanical genius with artistic flair to welcome visitors to the Katonah Museum.”

Last night the wind howled through the trees, leaving us to start the day without power (or computers). While I was shooting this afternoon, the wind, which you can hear on the video, was cold and biting; but it was just what the sculpture needed in order to dance. The museum website says it will be on exhibit until June 2007. I hope they mean June, 2009. It would be lovely to see the sculpture during all four seasons.

I tried to add a video but it was apparently too big. I'll try again another time ... only because it's good for lowering blood pressure.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Theme Day: Slurp!

This is a photo of a nearby reservoir. The dam for the reservoir was begun in June, 1905 and finished in November, 1907. The foundation begins 37.7 feet below the riverbed; not including the foundation, it is 170 feet tall. At the base it is 116.3 feet wide and at the top, 23 feet. The reservoir holds 10,308 million gallons of water.

This was taken after quite a rain and the water is spilling off into a holding area. From there, it will cascade down from a height of 326.4 feet and begin its journey into someone’s home or business. I find it quite amazing to think that the water photographed here more than a week ago has probably already been used to bathe a baby, cook some pasta, or wash a car.

It is so interesting and so much fun to see how different “eyes” capture water all around the world. One hundred seventy eight opportunities follow.

Visions of Water Around the World

theme day id=13
Adelaide, Australia by Gordon, Albuquerque (NM), USA by Helen, American Fork (UT), USA by Annie, Anderson (SC), USA by Lessie, Ararat, Australia by Digger, Arradon, France by Alice, Ashton under Lyne, UK by Pennine, Athens, Greece by Debbie, Auckland, New Zealand by Lachezar, Austin (TX), USA by LB, Bandung, Indonesia by Guntur Purwanto, Barton (VT), USA by Andree, Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro by Paja, Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro by Bibi, Bellefonte (PA), USA by Barb-n-PA, Bicheno, Australia by Greg, Bogor, Indonesia by Gagah, Boston (MA), USA by Sarah, Whit, & Leyre, Boston (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Boston (MA), USA by Fenix - Bostonscapes, Brighton, UK by Harvey, Brookville (OH), USA by Abraham, Budapest, Hungary by Isadora, Budapest, Hungary by Zannnie and Zsolt, Canterbury, UK by Rose, Cape Town, South Africa by Kerry-Anne, Chandler (AZ), USA by Melindaduff, Chateaubriant, France by Bergson, Cheltenham, UK by Marley, Chicago (IL), USA by b.c., Christchurch, New Zealand by Michelle, Clearwater (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Clearwater Beach (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Cleveland (OH), USA by iBlowfish, Coral Gables (FL), USA by Jnstropic, Cypress (TX), USA by Riniroo, Dallas/Fort Worth (TX), USA by A Wandering Soul, Dunedin (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Durban, South Africa by CrazyCow, East Gwillimbury, Canada by Your EG Tour Guide, Evry, France by Olivier, Glasgow, Scotland by Jackie, Greenville (SC), USA by Denton, Grenoble, France by Bleeding Orange, Guelph, Canada by Pat, Gun Barrel City (TX), USA by Lake Lady, Hamilton, New Zealand by Sakiwi, Hampton (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Haninge, Sweden by Steffe, Helsinki, Finland by Kaa, Hobart, Australia by Greg, Hyde, UK by Old Hyde, Inverness (IL), USA by Neva, Jackson (MS), USA by Halcyon, Jakarta, Indonesia by Santy, Jefferson City (MO), USA by Chinamom2005, Jogjakarta, Indonesia by Jogja Portrait, Joplin (MO), USA by Victoria, Juneau (AK), USA by Gwyn, Katonah (NY), USA by Inkster1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Edwin, Kyoto, Japan by Tadamine, Lake Forest Park (WA), USA by Azure, Larchmont (NY), USA by Marie-Noyale, Las Vegas (NV), USA by Mo, Lisbon, Portugal by Sailor Girl, Lisbon, Portugal by Maria João, Lodz, Poland by ritalounge, London, UK by Mo, London, UK by Ham, Mainz, Germany by JB, Maple Ridge, Canada by Susan, Marseille, France by Alex, Mazatlan, Mexico by Kate, Melbourne, Australia by Mblamo, Melbourne, Australia by John, Memphis (TN), USA by SouthernHeart, Menton, France by Jilly, Mexico City, Mexico by Carraol, Mexico City, Mexico by Poly, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Mitch, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Greg, Minsk, Belarus by Olga, Monrovia (CA), USA by Keith, Monte Carlo, Monaco by Jilly, Montego Bay, Jamaica by Ann, Monterrey, Mexico by rafa, Moscow, Russia by Irina, Mumbai, India by Magiceye, Mumbai, India by MumbaiiteAnu, Mumbai, India by Kunalbhatia, Nancy, France by yoshi, Naples (FL), USA by Isabella, Nashville (TN), USA by Chris, Nelson, New Zealand by Meg and Ben, New Orleans (LA), USA by steve buser, New York City (NY), USA by Ming the Merciless, Niamey, Niger by Dinabee, Norfolk (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Norman (OK), USA by Chad & LaCresha, Norwich, UK by Goddess888, Nottingham, UK by Gail's Man, Odense, Denmark by ania odense, Omsk, Russia by Nataly, Orlando (FL), USA by OrlFla, Oslo, Norway by Lothiane, Paderborn, Germany by Soemchen, Paris, France by Gordio, Paris, France by Eric, Pasadena (CA), USA by Can8ianben, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia by Murphy_jay, Pilisvörösvár, Hungary by Elise, Pont-à-Mousson, France by Tintin-j, Port Angeles (WA), USA by Jelvistar, Port Elizabeth, South Africa by Sam, Port Townsend (WA), USA by raf, Port Vila, Vanuatu by Mblamo, Portland (OR), USA by NWgal, Portland (ME), USA by Corey, Portsmouth (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Prague, Czech Republic by Honza03, Quincy (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Riga, Latvia by Prokur, Rotterdam, Netherlands by Ineke, Saarbrücken, Germany by LadyDemeter, Saigon, Vietnam by Simon, Saint Louis (MO), USA by Strangetastes, Saint Paul (MN), USA by Kate, Salem (OR), USA by jill, Salt Lake City (UT), USA by Eric, Salt Lake City (UT), USA by atc, San Diego (CA), USA by Felicia, San Francisco (CA), USA by PFranson, Seattle (WA), USA by Chuck, Seattle (WA), USA by Kim, Seguin (TX), USA by Thien, Selma (AL), USA by RamblingRound, Sequim (WA), USA by Eponabri, Sesimbra, Portugal by Aldeia, Setúbal, Portugal by Maria Elisa, Shanghai, China by Jing, Sharon (CT), USA by Jenny, Singapore, Singapore by Keropok, Sofia, Bulgaria by Antonia, St Francis, South Africa by Sam, Stavanger, Norway by Tanty, Stayton (OR), USA by Celine, Stockholm, Sweden by Stromsjo, Stouffville, Canada by Ken, Subang Jaya, Malaysia by JC, Suffolk (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Sunshine Coast, Australia by bitingmidge, Sydney, Australia by Sally, Sydney, Australia by Nathalie, Székesfehérvár, Hungary by Teomo, Tacloban City, Philippines by agnesdv, Terrell (TX), USA by Bstexas, Terrell (TX), USA by Jim K, The Hague, Netherlands by Lezard, Tokyo, Japan by Tadamine, Toruń, Poland by Torun Observer, Toulouse, France by Julia, Turin, Italy by Livio, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Jazzy, Twin Cities (MN), USA by Slinger, Victoria, Canada by Benjamin Madison, Vienna, Austria by G_mirage2, Virginia Beach (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Wailea (HI), USA by Kuanyin, Washington (DC), USA by Rachel, Wassenaar, Netherlands by Rich, Wellington, New Zealand by Jeremyb, West Paris (ME), USA by crittoria, West Sacramento (CA), USA by Barbara, Weston (FL), USA by WestonDailyPhoto, Williamsburg (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Willits (CA), USA by Elaine, Yardley (PA), USA by Mrlynn,