Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I think of in German, machen ordnung, to make order. It is a brutal process that requires a brutal language. Basically I have to tear a place apart before I can rearrange in a way that allows me to use for a certain purpose. In this case, the space is my study, the place where I use to conduct interviews and write, back when I worked for commercial newspapers. After I decided to write for non-profit organisations, I moved my writing quarters to another room and remade my former office into a silversmith's office.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Think Victorian passions, think pteridomania, think The French Lieutenant's Woman, think Queen Victoria's watercolors, Francis Kilvert's journal. Think ferns, think Wardian case, the first ever terrarium, invented in 1829 by a doctor who sought to protect his ferns from London's polluted air. Fast forward to the present and think about the role of Pteris vittata, the Chinese Brake Fern in detoxing hazardous waste sites. The process is called phytoremediation.
According to Environmental Protection Agency, 20, 000 fern plants are hard at work filtering arsenic from what was once an apple orchard in Crozet, Virginia where the trees were routinely sprayed with insecticides cointaining lead arsenate. The use of these chemicals was banned in 1970, but
" Today, there are still areas of the site contaminated with arsenic that poses an unacceptable risk to public, " says EPA's Myles Barto.
Rather than to rely the traditional method of digging up and disposing of the contaminated soil, the EPA opted for phytoremediation.
"Depending on weather and soil conditions, and the length of the growing season, each fern can extract up to 40-50 mg/kg arsenic from a square foot of soil." says Barto, adding that " The result is significantly less waste, perhaps one or two truckloads of waste, rather than 60 or 70 of soil. This technology has been used at several sites around the country but is still considered as an 'alternative' when it is compared to traditional techniques."
Monday, July 21, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Hungarian linen hankerchief circa 1940s
Egyptians used them. So did Romans and Greeks. Medieval knights coveted them. Catullus, Shakespeare and James Fenimore Cooper wrote about them. Penniless in Paris, Post- Impressionist Chinese painter Pan Yuliang embroidered them for the Gallerie Lafayette. With the advent of Kleenex these little squares of embellished fabric vanished from fashionable pockets to become nothing more than collectors items.
Last year, Hannah Carlson, a doctoral candidate in American Studies at Boston University, where she is completing her dissertation on the cultural history of the pocket and pocketed possessions in nineteenth century America, wrote an impressive article on handkerchiefs for Cooper's attempts to market his novella, The Autobiography of a Handkerchief, which eventually appeared as a serial in the 1843 January to April issues of Graham's Magazine. Having valued many antique furnishings and clothing for the stories they embody, as well as for their quality, I find Cooper's idea intriguing. After all pocket handkerchiefs have been, primarily, objects of beauty, rather than practical items. Though far from flourishing as it did in earlier times, the manufacture of fine embroidered handkerchiefs endures to this day in some Asian, European, and Latin American countries and perhaps it might experience a worldwide revival as more of us embrace to a greener lifestyle. More and more young greenies try to distance themselves from a culture that cherishes throw away objects. Whether this means that they will start carrying lacy handkerchiefs to match their hybrid cars remains to bee seen. If they do, I plan to be ready. I have a stash of Irish linen beauties Desdemona herself would have loved.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Passiflora incarnata 'Maypop' is a native of the United States of America winters over in the outdoors as far north as New England. Last year, vision of passion fruit creme caramel dancing in my head, I ordered yet another Maypop from Logee's Greenhouse, in Connecticut.
Ir looked so vigorous on arrival I stuck into the vegge garden and forgot it. It was nowhere to be seen earlier this year.
Intensive planting made it possible for tomatoes, green pepper, beets, lovage, snow peas, pumpkins and beans to cover ever inch of the tilled space. I ordered the fourth or fifth Maypop and planted it in a half whisky barrel where it sulks and looks fit for killing. Imagine my surprise this afternoon, when I discovered a bedraggled Maypop flower among bean vines.
Jubilant, I told my daughter that I had finally succeeded in growing a maracuja vine, almost the same that grew wild in my native Brazil--the Brazilian variety of my childhood was Passiflora edulis, maracuja--and she remarked,
"Oh, I saw a weird flower there the other day."
Such lack of enthusiasm can only be attributed to her paternal Norwegian DNA.
Passion flower vines are valued throughout the Americas for the calming effect its fruit juice has on type-A personalities. Washington Homeopathic Pharmacies, http://www.washingtongomeopathyworks.com/ --located in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, recommends Passiflora incarnata for insomnia. The fruit and root of both Maypop and Passiflora edulis contain passiflorine, an alkaloid alleged to act as a mild tranquilizer effective in the treatment of dysentery, neuralgia, sleeplessness and dysmenorrhoea, as well as a possible, repeat, possible reigniter of the male libido. Considering the needs of Baby Boomers, I could probably get rich selling the the stuff, but I suppose that practicing medicine without a license is an incarcerable offense.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes
Below, Oaxaca tomatoes.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
OF FAVAS AND QUEENS
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
GOOD REASONS TO PLANT A BUTTERFLY GARDEN