Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cactus Plants and Flowers

I went to Home Depot today to pick up a couple of household items - cleaning supplies, light bulbs and some replacement door knobs - small stuffs. Anytime I go to Home Depot, anytime of year, I check out the garden store. I just love plants, flowers etc., and they always have such wonderful offerings.

As we left the payment area, I glanced to my right I noticed plants, hanging plants and thought, gee I should go so if they have any deals. To my surprise and amazement they have a large display table of cacti. Big ones, little one, flowering one, spiney ones. Oh my, what an awesome sight! Can you guess; I absolutely love cactus plants. I have and have had a bunch of them for years now. My friends and family keeps me well supplied. I've been on this cactus appreciation for over 15 years. They are amazing and wierd, very easy to care for and just beautiful.

As I revel in the sight, I had flashbacks of the many cacti that I have had over the years. I couldn't help but to talk about it here. As I prepared to tell you about some of my favorite plants and flowers, I of course did my internet research just so I would give you accurate and useful information. I wanted to make sure that you could appreciate, if you are not as familiar with cactus and maybe fall in love with them too. I think they could become one of your favorites too.
I found so much information and organizations and networks on and about cactus. There is so much that I didn't even know, but I know I love them.

So what are they you ask? Well, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008 lists cactus as any plant of the family Cactaceae, a large group of succulents found almost entirely in the New World. A cactus plant is conspicuous for its fleshy green stem, which performs the functions of leaves (commonly insignificant or absent), and for the spines (not always present) of various colors, shapes, and arrangements. The plants vary from small, round globes to epiphytes, vines, and large treel like forms. The reduced leaf surface, the enlarged fleshy stem, which is well fitted to store water.

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Simply put, what separates cacti from succulents are the organs that produce the spines, and some other characteristics specific to fruit formation, differences between dicots and monocots and a few other differing charcteristics. All this stuff, I didn't know and it didn't prevent me from collecting and caring for them. I like all kinds of cactus. I like them flowering or just with spines. A word of caution, be careful of the spines. You should wear a glove when you tend to them as it is very unpleasant to get pricked or get the needles broken into your fingers.

There is an internet mall for cactus. The Cactus Mall website lists information for growers and others, I think, that provides a wealth of information and resources. I like the plant magazine. Every other month members receive the full-color Cactus and Succulent Journal , which is said to be widely regarded as the best and most authoritative periodical on succulent and xerophytic (dry loving) plants. Another great resource on the Mall is Matts Landscape website. Check out his cactus gallery. Its breathtaking!

I hope you will check out the links and go get your cactus!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jaywalking Men, use the Crosswalks

As I stood at the bus stop yesterday, after exiting the subway at a major hub, 4
lane streets, multiple bus line terminal, mega foot traffic I got annoyed. Annoyed at the foolish things some people do.

There were people, cars, buses, trucks, noise, lights etc., a real busy urban center. As I scanned the scene, my eyes stopped on a group of people, men, walking onto one of the streets amid on coming traffic. You might wonder so what, they need to get to the other side of the street. I guess they did, but here's the thing.
As I said earlier, this is a busy thoroughfare and as such, they have well marked pedestrian crossings, road way markings, traffic signals, lights etc. These guys were crossing from the middle of the block, not at the intersection or marked pedestrian crossing area and into oncoming vehicular traffic. I am making this distinction because in NYC, people traffic can wow you! They are crossing the street; a 4 Lane Street, a wide street with 2 way traffic pattern, as a bus moved toward them, heading to the bus stop at the intersection. Some of us standing at the bus stop gasped at the sight.

The men continue their stroll across, not even attempting to pick up the pace at the sight of the oncoming bus. Ok, so the bus driver stopped. He had to stop, but how silly is that.
When does one stop to think, what if.....
What if the driver' is distracted and not noticed them in the street
What if there's a mechanical failure?
And what if the bus got hit from behind, by accident, propelling it forward and the driver
couldn't hit the brake fast enough.
What if the driver was also a 'daredevil' and kept moving to force their action, intending to stop abruptly, but he wasn't fast enough or the brakes failed.
You see where I'm going with this? No, I'm not paranoid. When you put your self in harms way you not only endanger your self but so many other people. Anything could happen!

It is just absurd for folks to take such chances with their lives and perhaps the lives and livelihood of others. I am always amazed at the things people do and then expect others to accept or share the responsibility for their foolishness. These actions can have such repercussion; everyone pays a part of the cost in some way.

Come on man! Keep that nonsense to your self. There are some things you can take back, correct or endure. Playing with your life and the lives of others and their families is just too expensive. Take the stupid chances to and by yourself if that is your choice. No jaywalking, use the crosswalks!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rise Up Chicago, Help Will Come

As I did my usual blog visits mid-week, I checked out my friend Sathira latest post, Who should guide the younger generation. After reading it I decided to pen this piece because I had a somewhat relevant discussion with my husband after watching a TV show. The issue we agreed is a lack of parents and elders to influence and control the children, to be simplistic.

We watched a broadcast on CNN about the killings in Chicago. This particular segment was on the killing of an honor student a few days ago. Two community activists from the area were on the show giving their perspective about the issues and the strategies they thought could end or at least improve the conditions there. One of the men felt very strongly that absence of African American professionals in the forefront was a problem. He questioned why these individuals are not seeing the crime spree as a problem or a cause for them to take up or why they are not out in force trying to get a handle on the situation. At this point the speaker’s comments and position got our discussion started.

The situation in Chicago is horrible and unsettling. I am very, very sorry for those families that have lost a loved one in this senseless situation. I think that the outcry and the raising up of force must be heightened within the community and it has to be more than complaining about the absence of some. More people need to demand the attention through their action to help to turn things around. Think about all of the events in history when redress was sought for the various ill of society. Enough people demanded action from the larger community by their outcry and action. This maybe extreme but the movie Death Wish with Charles Bronson comes to mind. Ok, so he was a renegade, vigilante and I am NOT in any way encouraging that response, but people have to say, by their action, I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more. I know that the media is picking up on some of the outcry in the communities of Chicago but it needs to be kicked up a few notches.

I understand that when you are broken, dysfunctional, dejected, demoralized and suffering, it hard to muster up the strength and wherewithal to try to fight back. I think that it must happen so that partnerships can be formed or expanded. Not all ‘victims’ will or can actively initiate the fight but the advocates can. So you have the cops doing their jobs and others saying, hey stop, look what you are doing and make a change. This is help and resource that is a catalyst for building that bridge stronger and wider.

I hope that all of the folks in the community – near and far- truly rise up and embrace those who are seeking help and help to influence change and bring the change to town. This must happen for the good of all.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Is the kitchen kettle obsolete?

Is the kitchen kettle obsolete or on its way out? Do you own a kitchen kettle or do you use your kettle often or at all?
I have a big stainless steel kettle that I keep on my stove in the kitchen. It always sits on one of the back burners or on the counter next to the stove if I am doing a big cooking deal. As soon as the burners are free, there goes the kettle again, back to its place on the stove. It takes that place …just because I like the look of it there. I grew up with the old copper kettle and then the various ‘fancy’ versions of the kettle on the stove. We used it back then quite often, 3 or more times a day. It was one of the most used and useful kitchen ‘pots’ in the house. Pretty much everyone in the house used the kettle.

I did my usual end of the week cleaning in the kitchen today. This process involves taking the stove top apart and cleaning the burners etc., after doing the dishes, and back boards etc. My kettle sits on the stove. It is somewhat nostalgic and perhaps the most value to me. Because the kettle sits on the stove it collects all of the spills, splatter and spray from steam and dust, what ever leaves a residue on, over or by the stove. By the end of the week it is really ready for a scrub, well, most of the time.

My kettle is washed and filled with water and sit on a burner all week. When was the last time I used it, you ask? Hmmm, let me see. I don’t recall. I haven’t boiled the kettle in weeks if not months. I may have poured some water from it into my stew the other night because I needed some water in a hurry. Do I have a need for hot water for teas, sauces etc? Yeah but that’s the role of the microwave or the electric coffee/tea pot these days. The Brita filter and bottled water takes care of the rest of water needs.

As I scrubbed the kettle to its very shiny and clean exterior, I wondered how many people have a kettle on their stove top or use a kettle anymore. Is the kettle in its many varieties, designs, sizes and colors gone or going the way of the dinosaurs or the way of so many other kitchen gadgets? I wonder!

Take a minute and respond to the poll below because I would like to know where I stand among kettle users and uses in this century.

1. Do you own a kettle?
2. How often do you use it?
3. What is the most common uses for your kettle?
4. Where do you keep it regularly?
5. Do you think the kettle is over?

Please copy and paste the questions in the comment box and send me your response.