1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Itsy-Bitsy Spider Flouts Copyright Laws, Copies Web Design, and Gains Own Following

Golden-Silk Spider, Nephila clavipes, resting on its artwork

Oh, you Itsy-Bitsy spider, you're getting mighty big.
With all the bugs you've eaten, I ought to call you "pig."
But out from Charlotte's Web fans would come a mighty yell
That "this itsy-bitsy spider her own story must spell!"

A recent blog post by a fellow Floridian, Mary Lemmenes, got me thinking. And then a post by Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out fame got me thinking even more. Mary expressed concern about how discouraging plagiarism is to artists who want to be discovered and sell their work on the Web. It seems that there are unscrupulous people out there (online) who steal ideas/stories/artwork and put them on their own websites, trying to make money with stolen "property.". And Arlee pretty much said that putting my derivative story based on Winnie-the-Pooh and friends (written and illustrated when I was nine years old) on the Web would probably result in legal action by Pooh's modern-day handlers.

Hmm. I think I'll check into this whole derivative/copyright thing a little more closely. Someone might decide to copy and profit from a work of mine before I have a chance to say anything about it. Like, wow, I'm impressed that you can make money from this stuff. I sure can't. Or maybe I don't want to.

After a while--it does take more time these days--the old brain really started to work. I thought to myself: Self, it's a good thing that spiders don't need or pay attention to copyright laws. Otherwise, they'd be hiding their "artwork" (webs) which would never be discovered by those bugs they like to catch and eat, and you, self, would be covered up with bugs a mile thick.

By the way, does anyone happen to know who wrote the song and lyrics to Itsy-Bitsy Spider? I'd like to give credit where credit is due. I just hope whoever it is doesn't expect any royalties from me for borrowing an idea.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Long Ago and Far Away: Is Water Hyacinth Here to Stay?

Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, on Lake Tallavana
While drinking my coffee on the deck Saturday morning, I indulged in some lake gazing. What's this thing? Overnight, a raft of purple flowers and lush vegetation has parked itself in plain view. Will it stay? In one sense, yes. According to this UF IFAS site, the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, water hyacinth has been making itself at home in the United States since at least 1884, when it made an appearance at an exposition in New Orleans. Originally from Brazil, it sure is pretty to look at but not so pretty in terms of what it can do to a lake or river if left to its own devices.

A raft like this one can double in size in a matter of a week or two and spreads easily either vegetatively or by sexual reproduction (seed dispersal). It may have gotten its start here on this lake by a piece of it being carried in on someone's boat propeller (an example of the vegetative method of reproduction). It could have been introduced by someone dumping a fish aquarium into the water. Or, maybe someone thought since it looked so wonderful in one of those backyard water features, it would really spruce things up out on the open water. Oh, yes. You can buy these things online and make your pet fish think they're living it up on the Amazon River.

Still in my pajamas, I fussed with the camera and fumed (blame too much coffee?) at yet another example of humans' carelessness with Mother Nature. SAM and Micah, blissfully unaware of Grandma's numinous musings, had already cast off for a morning of fishing.

Now that water hyacinth may be here to stay, what's a person to do? Fume or fish? Maybe a little of both but certainly not at the same time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

'Get a Life!'

We now live in a tree house!

"Get a life!" Early on Saturday afternoon, these words rang out from the property across the street. I was on the front porch showing Daughter my new plant acquisitions. I do like that word better than "purchases" for some reason. Maybe it's because it doesn't cause someone else's eyebrows or blood pressure to go up. We won't mention here who that someone else is. Anyway, the "acquisitions" came home with me from a tropical plant workshop at NFREC that morning. Get a life? Who, me? Neighbor lady--that I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet but hear yelling fairly often--do you suppose I have nothing better to do than take pictures of plants and get all excited about adding more of them to the collection on the porch? You have no idea...

It could be that the cat generates an unfavorable impression of us. Peanut does tend to irritate the dogs across the street. She's free to roam, and they're not, at least not very often. Not that she ever does wander off. There's a chance she would miss some of the excitement around here.

I spotted this beauty, Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant,' while helping move plants from the shade house at NFREC to the main building. There were quite a few pots to shuffle in order to get ready for the plant sale after the workshop. After helping clean up in the kitchen after the event, I was glad to see this plant still available for purchase. Four dollars seemed like a reasonable price to pay for such a stellar member of the Amaryllis family. The proceeds of the sale of this plant and the other ones we shuffled go to Gardening Friends of the Big Bend, an organization which supports NFREC's research efforts and organizes events like the workshop. Do you suppose being active in that kind of group qualifies one for Getting a Life? 

Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant'

Of course, I didn't bring my camera to take pics of the speakers, the beautiful flower arrangements designed by some of the more creative volunteers, or the many and varied plants for sale. I did, however, take copious notes of the speakers' presentations. Click on the pic below if you're interested in reading some of them.

One of the workshop presenters is a renowned ginger expert, Dave Skinner, who lives right here in Tallahassee. A retired state employee, he has his own website, GingersRus, dedicated solely to the many species of ginger, and he travels around the world scouting out and collecting new specimens.  

Ginger Costus pictus 'Red Stem Form'

Mr. Skinner had his own plants for sale after the workshop, and I decided to add a couple of them to the ever growing collection of potted plants on our front porch. They did "cost us" a bit more than the GFBB's plant selections. I've come to the conclusion that it's not healthy to be a cheapskate all of the time. Gingers are fairly hardy in this zone, but I don't want to take any chances with this investment. The past couple of winters have been especially severe, and who knows what surprises await us for this next one? 

Ginger Costus productus

I hope the 'Red Stem Form' gets a pretty flower bract like this one, but I won't be too disappointed. The spirally arranged leaves of the Costus gingers are enough to keep me fascinated. It doesn't take much to entertain me. Maybe the neighbor lady is right...

Malvaviscus arboreus 'Dwarf Pink' Turk's Cap

I was glad that NFREC's own Dr. Gary Knox talked a little about his work with tropical plants. He offered visitors a tour of the display gardens around the main building to give them an idea of what kinds of plants do well in this region. Hibiscus plants have always been a favorite of mine, but the kind that most nurseries sell are meant for real tropical climates. It's nice to know that there are hardy varieties we can grow right here like this Dwarf Pink Turk's Cap. According to this Floridata article, it's better suited for Zone 9 or higher, but it will grow and bloom in Zone 8. Even if frost nips it back, it's still fine underground and will send up new growth the next spring. Blooms might appear a little later in the summer than usual.

The other speakers besides Mr. Skinner included Hayes Jackson, an Extension Agent from Alabama who described his experience with a number of plants suitable for "tropicalesque" gardening. What does that mean exactly? According to Mr. Jackson:

"It's a landscape with a tropical feel to it."
"It's the utilization of tropical plants with bold textures and colors."
"It's the result of an overwhelming need to recreate a tropical resort in a climate not necessarily ideal for growing tropical plants."

Given the weather that many parts of the country have endured these past few winters, it's not unreasonable to expect that most people wouldn't mind escaping the harshness of winter to spend some time in a tropical resort, real or imaginary.

Secret Aging Man, a true Florida "afishionado"

While various gardening aficionados were spending time on Saturday morning learning about tropical landscaping, other "afishionados" were busy getting hooked (again) by their own particular passion. It's not unreasonable to expect people (especially those married to each other for a really l--o--n--g time) to have some different interests in life. I just wish I knew how to share that idea (politely) with the lady across the street. Do you think the offer of a few fish or--even better--a dinner invitation would help?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Independence Day Recipe: Dark Chocolate Blueberry Clusters

A holiday like July 4th should include freedom from the kitchen

It's not easy to improve on Nature's little blue beauties. Though they do seem kinda plain and naked...

 when dark chocolate enters the picture.

Taste one of these clusters, and those little blue beauties start looking a mite shabby without their chocolate robe.


Fresh blueberries, gently washed and thoroughly dried, at room temperature. The amount varies, based on the size of berries. I didn't measure, but I probably used 4 or 5 cups. You want just enough naked berries to slip comfortably and completely into that silky robe of chocolate.

12 ounces dark chocolate--use a good quality kind, like Ghirardelli 60% Cacao, Bittersweet Chocolate

Microwave the chocolate in a heat-safe glass bowl, first for one minute and then thirty seconds at a time, stirring until smooth and completely melted.

Gently fold blueberries into the melted chocolate and drop by spoonfuls onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Freeze for about 10 minutes or until chocolate is firm.

Clusters should be kept refrigerated and eaten with 24 hours. Around here, that's not a problem.

Happy Independence Day!