Monday, May 11, 2009

2nd Week of May

Hot - near record highs for May (everyone muttering that it feels like June). 90s. G. got tough and plowed her way through the annual Unveiling of the Swamp Cooler. (We think we were driven to this nearly three weeks before we usually get desperate....) HOT. According to Herb, this is the second year of drought in a row for Florida. The state is one big tinderbox as is New Mexico. Both of us often under the angry red flag alerts. [We traded fire stories...]

Darwin - The Power of Place.
Read a little before bed 2 nights in a row. I think I was dragging my feet because I was dreading the inevitable conclusion of a biography: his death. So I went ahead and read the last few pages. It was oddly sweet and soothing. Some family upset about where he was going to be buried. They had planned on a quiet cemetery near their estate; the rest of the country insisted he be put to rest in Westminster Abbey. The final pages are not nearly as emotionally difficult as the passages dealing with the deaths of his children. I suppose because he lived a long and wildly successful life, and suffered a great deal from an array of plaguing illnesses.

Through the 1870s, his books more talked about than read; he in danger of being a novelty. Images being worked out in the popular press, in order to explain and convey the new world of science (the world of the lab vs. the university lecture hall).

1872 He publishes 'Expressions'; his goal-to link facial expressions in animals and humans. Was very surprised at the people he collaborated with to produce the book... artists, lots of photographers, and several heads of insane asylums. His work was more akin to what I think of as anthropology and social psychology than biology. ((Take notes)).

Survey of all the imagery in the comic magazines: Darwin as ape. The tree of life with a monkey hanging from it. Browne argues that overall, they helped ease the shock of this idea. And that it appealed to the project of poking fun at self-important scientists & professors.

*The robin's nest near Woodward Hall: I only see 2 sets of beaks, but they are much bigger and their coordination much better. That I can tell, they have not been making much racket. And of course, they are considerably bigger. Must make it hard to "sit" on the nest, though it has been so warm, I can't imagine that's necessary (attempting the reverse? keeping them cool?)
*Swallows: Under the eaves on the north side of Ortega there are at least two fully re-built nests. I felt badly; the grounds or physical plant crews took down every last scrap of those hard fought nests from last season. I wondered if the birds would come back, or find a more welcoming place. But there they are; like a busy airport slash bus station. I watched one for a few moments. It almost looked as if the bird was swishing mud around in its throat; chewing tobacco just before a big fat expressive spit. South side of the building not nearly as popular. At another spot, two birds were raising a ruckus... don't know if it was territorial squabbling or mating dances. Unbelievable, but they appear to hold onto the sheer wall somehow--between spreading their tail into a flat, wide fork and grabbing who knows what with their tiny sharp claws.

All the trees in town have leafed out. Verdant!

*Blackberry canes are full of buds; a few early flowers open early but the bulk of it to come.

*G's little rose near the west fall is battling aphids, but has a handful of buds. One of them cracked just a bit--like a lipstick case partially opened. Neither of us remember what color it was... it came from the bargain table at the end of the season. There were 2; the other one didn't make it. We picked from the ratty gallon-sized choices, selecting for fragrance. Could be hot pink. **Look up the vocabulary for plant parts!

*Raised bed-very disappointing so far. Out of all those seeds, almost nothing has sprouted. Currently underwhelming: the clump of leeks G bought, my slender bit of blue flax (whose blossoms only open during the day when I'm not there to enjoy them) and 2 handsome tomato plants from Teresa Johansen's flock. I believe G had put in spinach, lettuce, beets and carrots? Only thing she can figure is that the straw mulch might have been too deep.

*Peas in the tub - maybe too hot for the sugar snaps? I planted half regular and half sugar snaps. Regulars came up like a charm. Sugar snaps - absolutely none.

*Petunias and geraniums and my miracle gerber daisy are all up and out--resplendent. The underwhelming dwarf red dahlias are up, both the potted ones and the blubs I tossed into the ground next to the tiger lily. Probably won't get quite enough sun there...

*Prickly pear cactus is going to bloom this year! Don't think it's ever done that. Maybe the move scared it /stressed it out. grin.

*What is that dandelion relative I've been battling this spring?! Lovely bronze puffs of seed. Small happly yellow flower. Pale white tap root.
*The foxtails are drying out in the heat and have been starting to disperse. (I jumped the fence Saturday morning & grabbed up a huge pile from the messy back alley of the neighbor's yard. Next year I just need to do that earlier.)
*Silver Leaf Nightshade starting to pop up everywhere. Tend to have 2 sets of leaves by the time I spot them. sigh. Wish I had a vague count.
*Bind weed on the move.
*Wild sunflowers and globe mallow are up.
*Domestic sunflower mix is up; probably ready to be transplanted.

Move the thread grass.
Walking onions - divide? Eventually move the second batch up to the top of the bed? duh.
Sunchokes. Asparagus. Swiss chard (Read about them -- what do we do?!)
Browallia. Torenia. ?! Read about the new shade flowers we got from Alameda.
Sow Amaranth in the back. Get the onion starts in.
Weed the 2 sunchokes out of the flower pot.
Dig in the 2 blue bins and plant sunchokes to eat in them (at the back).
Weed the mint from the outside of the garden.
Aphids bugging the rose bush & awful on the yarrow in the front bed.
Move the compost pile? (pretty ratty looking).


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