I love plants and animals, but nothing is as fascinating as man. Man is endlessly curious and self-forgetting, constantly directing his soul toward what he loves. Of course, this is an idealistic depiction of man, ignoring the all too frequent demonic and narcissistic turn toward the self and toward the lower passions of the soul. Nonetheless, it is not hard to find those who wonder and wander like rational children. They make the race worth saving.
Over the summer, I came across a quirky video of a man who shows the viewer his wasp nest collection:
The fellow has another video wherein he discusses his social anxiety. This man is therefore awkward and strange, but his strangeness, like most, I would venture, makes him a more interesting person. He simply lacks the skills to convey his fine qualities to others without disturbing himself or them. Instead, he likely comes across as bully bait in most situations. It is tragic that some of the most mindless, vapid, self-absorbed, vicious people enjoy companionship so easily while there are folks like Terry the Hymenopterist who live and suffer alone.
Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on the Church calendar. May you have a blessed day.
Coincidentally, I received my Friends of Old Bulbs Gazette this morning from Old House Gardens, a Michigan merchant of rare, high quality heirloom bulbs. The newsletter has a remarkable passage from E.B. White rather suitable for the feast and for the season:
Millions of readers are familiar with the books of E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and other well-loved children’s classics. Although his wife’s writings are relatively unknown, gardeners will find Katharine S. White’s Onward and Upward in the Garden as entertaining as her husband’s work.
After 30 years as the head fiction editor at The New Yorker, Katharine in 1958 wrote an affectionate critique of the literary stylings of her favorite nursery catalogs. Readers responded enthusiastically, and she went on to publish the thirteen additional essays collected in this book, with titles such “Floricordially Yours” and “War in the Border, Peace in the Shrubbery.”
White was a big fan of bulbs (another reason I like her so much), and her husband ends the book’s introduction with this description of her planting bulbs “in the dying October,” filled with the transcendent optimism that all true gardeners know:
“The only moment in the year when she actually got herself up for gardening [rather than “grubbing about in a spotless cotton dress”] was on the day in fall that she had selected, in advance, for the laying out of the spring bulb garden—a crucial operation, carefully charted and full of witchcraft. The morning often turned out to be raw and overcast, with a searching wind off the water. . . . The bad weather did not deter Katharine: the hour had struck, the strategy of spring must be worked out according to plan. . . .
“Armed with a diagram and a clipboard, Katharine would get into a shabby old Brooks raincoat much too long for her, put on a little round wool hat, pull on a pair of overshoes, and proceed to the director’s chair . . . that had been placed for her at the edge of the plot. There she would sit, hour after hour, in the wind and the weather, while Henry Allen [her garden helper] produced dozens of brown paper packages of new bulbs and a basketful of old ones, ready for the intricate interment. As the years went by and age overtook her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance on this awesome occasion—the small, hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.”
I have loved E.B. White since I was a child. The Trumpet of the Swan was one of the first books I ever read, which I later recited to my younger brothers to pass along the gift. I did not know that “my” White was the White from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style until much later. The man had a gift for language. As is clear from the moving account of his wife’s bulb gardening, White also had a beautiful soul that could see the world well.
Last month, a Tumblr site titled Dog Shaming went “viral.” The site shows contributed photographs of busted dogs’ being shamed by their wicked deeds.
No scarlet Milkbones upon the breasts?
The pictures will amuse canine lovers, though the commentary edges on PG-13 at times.
Last week, I happened upon Space Dogs—a Russian children’s cartoon about the Soviet space dog program. At first, I thought that the show would be another idiotic animal exploitation film like G-Force or Lenny the Wonder Dog, but it was really a fictional—quite fictional—take on history. After I watched the movie, I looked up the true story, and the film presented several facts—the dogs used in the space program were female strays, and they did undergo quite a training regimen to become canine cosmonauts. Caroline Kennedy did receive a puppy from the Soviets—Pushinka. In the film, I believe that the puppy given to President Kennedy is Pushok, though in reality Pushok was Pushinka’s sire and Strelka was her mother. Belka, Strelka, and the other critters onboard Sputnik 5 were the first earthborn creatures to orbit the planet and to return home alive. For that, they are indeed animal heroes.
RIA Novosti features an image gallery of the Soviet space dogs, including Belka and Strelka. YouTube also has several videos about the historical Belka and Strelka such as this and this.
If you like children’s animation, eye candy in Moscow, and boomer childhood nostalgia, I recommend Space Dogs. The English script is a bit cheesy, but there are some smile inducing moments that made me question whether the line was in the original Russian. For example, does the original script include the Belka’s dressing room reference to Orwell’s Animal Farm? Quite fitting and funny.
Here is a humorous indictment of American front lawns shared by Wild Ones:
To the extent that you are able, please consider natural landscaping. Plant native species especially adapted to your region’s climate that also provide food and shelter to local birds and insects. Let biological diversity flourish in the yard.
You may also wish to follow the video’s advice by growing your own victory garden. Homegrown fruits and vegetables taste better, and growing your own food is fun. The internet has thousands of useful resources for ecologically beneficial yards and for productive gardening. Enjoy the outdoors, help struggling species in suburbia, and share the splendors of nature with your family.
Congratulations and every good wish to my brother and his soon to be wife on their wedding.
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
To honor the couple, I offer this story from RIA Novosti about their favorite critter:
I also wish the happy couple safe travel on their Baltic journey.
Lest anyone think that I harbor ill will toward God’s creatures due to my amusement in yesterday’s post, allow me to offer more animated fare. Last month, my feathers were tickled when I read the following story: “Lost Japanese parakeet ‘tweets’ police his address.” Way to go, Piko-chan!
My mother always had birds while I was growing up. I can assure you that parakeets are capable of many words—many colorful words.
I discovered the green lynx spider—Peucetia viridans—this week. I mean I did not discover it as English botanists discovered orchids around the world. I simply read about it on Dave’s Garden. Being intrigued by its beauty, I went on a web video binge to see more of this lovely arachnid. I found the following backyard video:
I thought about the cuteness of the babies right before the man commented about it, which led naturally to a hearty laugh. It is funny how we find similar thoughts, words, and actions in others so surprising and amusing. It happens so frequently, and yet we persist in the belief that we are so different and alone. I think that it must be symptomatic of the fall.
Krishti u ngjall!
I would like to recommend an excellent source for mail order roses—Roses Unlimited. I ordered six roses from Roses Unlimited in late March, and I am thoroughly pleased with the result. The company is in South Carolina, which is much nearer to Ohio than the west coast’s many reputable suppliers of roses. Thus, the shipping was reasonable, and Roses Unlimited’s shipping charges are as straightforward as possible—$5.00 for each one gallon sized plant. Most of the roses currently cost $16, which even with shipping remains a fair price.
Moreover, the roses arrived in great shape. Two years ago, I ordered eight bareroot roses from the west coast, and sadly only half of them has survived and only one has really taken off well. The six Roses Unlimited gals are already larger and healthier looking than three of the two year old plants, and they have already begun producing flowers. Only one of the two year olds has flowered, and this month was its premiere. I followed the instructions exactly for the bareroot roses, but perhaps that was not enough. I now know that one gallon sized plants are going to do much better. It is worth it to spend a little more for a rose that is “performance ready,” though some of the bareroot roses cost as much or more.
I have been growing roses for seven years, I have had about fifty cultivars, and I have learnt a bit since I began. After two consecutive years of significant casualties with grafted tea roses that I bought at local nurseries—losing almost half of the previous season’s new additions—I decided that I would never again purchase a grafted rose. When a delicate tea died back in the winter, the root stock rose—usually the ever indefatigable Dr. Huey—would grow in its place, taking revenge against the parasitic freeloader in an annual display of garden Bolshevism.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find much variety in “own root” roses in Cincinnati. Once you get past the Knock-Out family, whose reputation for hardiness is well merited—I own them all—there is not much left besides less ornamental shrub roses. Some places carry a few lovely Buck roses, but the selection is scarce. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to find “old garden” variety roses that I particularly like. Therefore, mail ordering is the only way to get most own root plants. Without a doubt, Roses Unlimited is the best supplier of them that I have experienced.
Yet, there is a cloud for every silver lining. Roses Unlimited has a rather primitive web site compared to the large outfits on the west coast. There are not many photographs or much cultivar information. However, it is not difficult to research each cultivar by copying and pasting the name to a search engine. There is no online ordering capability, either. One has to call or to email the order. Lastly, Roses Unlimited does not accept credit cards or any sort of PayPal service. I had to mail a check. Nonetheless, these minor inconveniences are easy to overlook when Roses Unlimited offers such superior stock at a low cost.
The next time that you are looking for a certain rose, check Roses Unlimited. I certainly shall do business with them, again.
Happy birthday to my mother, who has usually indulged my love for God’s scaly and slimy creatures.
A few months ago, I came across several articles about the recently discovered Brookesia micra, a tiny chameleon from Madagascar. Here it is on a matchstick.