The Viewing

Almost missed it. For the second year in a row. When I opened the notice Monday morning, the special Sunday night hours were over. But I wanted to go. So I re-arranged my day a little and went off to pay my respects.

One week can make a huge difference in some things. Children have a spurt of growth or learning. Construction takes a leap forward. And plants complete critical parts of their life cycle.

Our subject was growing faster than a teen boy on July 3.

One week later — oh, what a change.

Yes, it’s a Corpse Flower.

It was probably a good time to have a poor nose as I only caught a slight whiff of spoiled meat.

In Addition to Plants…

One of my favorite places to visit in St. Louis is the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Often an afternoon excursion to this refreshing place is a reward for meeting writing goals. It took several attempts and a few “dead ends” to find a reward without calories.

The Garden contains several different sections, featuring plants and plantings typical of different areas of the world or historical times. Often this blog will feature either a particular plant or a piece of public sculpture (permanent or temporary) present on a visit.

But the Garden is home to more. Bees, butterflies, and dragonflies dart between blossoms. Birds and squirrels and other small animals seek shelter within the fenced grounds. And fish thrive in the lake dominating the Japanese garden. And they need to share the lake with these residents.

This basking red-eared slider posed with a dragonfly. He and his friends entertain both young and old.

Time for Plan B

Three years as a 4-H member has given me many good memories. I also learned a lot in the projects I selected and in the whole club activities.

One year I selected a project called “Home Grounds Improvement”. As you can tell from the name, the emphasis was on doing items to make the outside of a house and the yard around it more attractive. We also needed to take an exhibit to the county fair — of flowers we’d grown.

Our family planted three trees in our recently expanded yard that year. The green ash died within the year. The Black Hills Spruce (the tree I claimed as my own) grew large, flourished, and survived past 50 years. The clump of White Birch (which I always referred to as mother’s) dominated the back yard as recently as 2015.

Then there were the flowers. Mother and I created a small flower garden – apart from the vegetable garden. It was a mix of annuals and perennials. And when it came time to sign up for the categories in the fair, I chose to exhibit a vase of perennials.

Did I say we had a puppy that year? Not an adult dog with enough knowledge to know their limits — no, this was an undisciplined canine youngster. He roamed free, like most farm dogs, every day.

And a mere week before the fair – well, he ROLLED, not just crashed through the row, but rolled over the gladiolus. We used Plan B – exhibiting our other perennial, the dahlia.

No puppies allowed!

 

Orange Pop and Bananas

Happy Birthday, USA.

Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Potato salad. Chips. Watermelon. Soda. Beer.               The list continues with the items served at picnics, bar-b-ques, and family gatherings this holiday.

When I was growing up we seldom celebrated July 4 with the traditional parade, patriotic speeches, or fireworks. This may have been the downside of small farm near small town upper Midwest living.

Often the holiday fell in the middle of haying season. My father would always have the day off from his Post Office job and frequently took a few vacation days as well to accomplish the task. It was weather dependent — most of farming is. So it was a summer work day.

And one year — in the middle of our haying — when we took our afternoon break mother served a treat. Orange pop and bananas. For a family who seldom bought pop (soda) or bananas it made a memorable, impromptu celebration.

Happy Birthday!

Looking good at 241!!!

Caught in the Act

You see the photos all over social media. A cute shot of the family pet before, during, or after a bit of mischief.

Capturing the larger creatures is more difficult. First, you need to be in the right place at the right time. With camera. And be lucky enough for the shutter to open and close at just the right instant.

Back in the dark ages — when I used film — this seldom happened. Yes, my mother, a fussy amateur photographer, taught me to pay attention to the light. And to take two, just to be sure one turned out.

Now I’ve gone digital. For several years now. And I take a lot more photos, get the instant gratification, and often a chance to repeat until I get it right or the subject has moved totally out of range.

And sometimes I find a pleasant surprise when I browse through an album looking for a topic for this blog.

Yes, I did just take a drink. And it was good. Thank you.

Early Safety Equipment

My working career was spent in hospitals. Part of the dress code which was common across the years and in the multiple states in which I worked was: No Open Toed Shoes.

This makes sense in hospitals and in many other workplaces. We worked with chemicals would could spill and sharp objects (needles & blades) which could be hazardous. Ignore for a moment that many people, including yours truly, have moments of KLUTZ.

So how did workers more than a century ago protect their feet? You could not order a pair of steel toe safety shoes of either a paper catalog or on-line. And they didn’t carry them at the local general store either.

The idea was imported. They quickly became manufactured locally. And while they have gone out of style and I doubt they’d be permitted on a construction site today — these examples protected many toes from dropped tools and rocks.

Wooden shoes – good for the muddy jobs plus the hazardous ones.

One Hundred Heads Per Head

Yes, you read the title correctly.

Recently I visited a tourist site as part of a day trip with an out-of-state guest. So I’m not sure if I caught the words correctly. So this may be a recommendation or it may have been a requirement. Either way, gardens were part of life for the early settlers in Missouri. So when the German immigrants arrived after several years in an Eastern city, it was natural that part of the association “rules” would include each family to have a garden.

The surprising part to me was not the idea of a garden. It was the specific amount of a specific crop. In addition to the usual beets, carrots, and potatoes, this group requested one hundred heads of cabbage be grown for each member of the household.

No — they were not going to sell coleslaw to their American neighbors. These were Germans. The great majority of the cabbage would be shredded, salted, and fermented into sauerkraut. The people who organized the immigration society determined that this was the amount of cabbage which needed to be grown to sustain a person through the winter and early spring until the garden was producing fresh vegetables again.

A demonstration garden of the German immigrants. The actual garden would have been larger, with more of these defined square planted areas. And several of them would have been row upon row of cabbage plants. Their primary source of several essential vitamins.

 

Open With Care

A good mystery catches my attention.

As an author, I ask and attempt to answer the question — What if?

What if the house really is haunted? Or a tornado takes the old barn? Or your sister gives birth to twins?

So imagine this, a girl is running away from an abusive situation at home. She sees lightning and hears the thunder coming closer. Will she open this door?

What lies beyond?

Good luck as you think about some of the “what if” possibilities.

Built to Last

Strong wood. Intelligent designer. Capable workmen.

The result is a structure which functioned for well over a century. After a few decades, the makeup of the burden carried changed in character. And grew in both size and weight.

Located in Southern Indiana, this covered bridge served the local residents from 1863 until the final decade of the 20th century. According to the sign above the entrance, it is 150 feet long and cost a total of $5,700 to construct.

I walked it during my visit. Imagine crossing it on horseback, horse-drawn wagon, or bicycle.

Carpenter’s Delight

The building trades have my respect. The skill and ability to work with metal, electricity, stone, and wood to create useful items and structures is worthy of much admiration.

On a recent road trip, my friend and I visited a fairly new tourist attraction. Based on ancient plans you can see the use of new methods and admire old-fashioned workmanship at the same time.

Size. Scale. Ingenuity. Use of simple concepts like gravity to the advantage of humans. Storage facilities using materials at hand.

I think if I visit this reproduction of Noah’s Ark again, I’ll bring a carpenter along to explain the construction details.