Monday, July 27, 2009

A and B are for Agapanthus and Begonia

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday round 5 is well launched with B already the letter of the week. For other participating blogs click on the link above.

O.K.! So I'm cheating! I didn't really make it for the first of round 5 last week, so I am putting in a double post this week.

First: A for Agapanthus, better known as Nile lily. These pictures and those of the begonias were taken about three weeks ago. Please be sure to click on the photos to enlarge.

Here is closeup of a single blossom

This one is blooming at the bottom of the stairs down from the street to our front door.

And these are in the inner patio in front of my geranium bed.

And now B for Begonia

These pink and white begonias in the outer patio share a basket with lobelia.

A closer look at the begonias and lobelia.

And finally a modest little yellow begonia that I have great hopes for.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When in the World?

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Where in the world?"

My question is not so much "where" in the world but"when" in the world. I would give anything to be in a "when" with Otto still by my side. So this is the story (much condensed) of our last trip together outside the United States - a journey to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We traveled by small cruise ship (40 passengers) with extensive land excursions.

This beautiful bromiliad and these burgeoning new coconut palms were in a private preserve on the island of Curu. We visited it on the day after we had boarded the ship after busing from the airport in San Jose down to the coast, and, while many people took advantage of swimming on the pristine beach or being led on a nature walk, I chose to prowl with my camera, entranced by the tropical foliage. This was my last trip without a digital camera, and, stupidly, I had brought no telephoto lens. There were unusual animals and birds, a tribe of monkeys, a tri-colored squirrel, but the photos we attempted showed mostly jungle with teensy dots of the critters which were perfectly visible to our eyes.

We had to settle for this humongous toad (about the size of a man's foot) who was occupying a corner of the communal shower for the swimmers.

This macaw was at a highlands ranch called Los Innocentes to which we traveled the next day.

On the last day on the Costa Rican side of the border everyone explored, in zodiacs, channels in the nearby mangrove swamp -

where this pelican was sighted - probably looking for snakes rather than fish - according to our accompanying naturalist.

The next morning, after the customs inspectors had left our ship, we landed for the first time in Nicaragua. I came ashore before Otto so that I could take a picture of him landing. That's he with the wide-brimmed sunhat.

We then traveled by bus up to the town of Rivas, where these pics show some of the produce for sale.

Otto holds a long specimen of papaya, his favorite fruit.

This shy little girl wore her best clothes to go to market with her mother.

Another day we traveled to the Vulcan Masaya, which has a lake of fiery lava in its center, and where parrots nest in cliffs of the crater in the noxious gases.

For a trip to the cloud forest (isn't that a lovely name) our bus was not deemed sufficiently powerful to take us up the steep and winding road, so we transferred to this truck.

These boys by the side of the road watched our climb.

And the above are what grow in the cloud forest.

These musicians serenaded as we boarded launches on Lake Nicaragua to attend a fancy barbecue at a beautiful home (roll of film lost).

On our last day in Nicaragua, we visited the city of Leon and were treated to the following sights. First, street theater with elaborate stilt figures...

and the cathedral with this dramatic scene through its bells.

As I look at this very condensed version of a memorable trip, I realize how seldom Otto and I took "We were there" photos. Neither of us figures in any of these pictures, although both pairs of eyes saw them, though two people talked, compared, enjoyed them together. Maybe I should have called this post "WHO in the world".

Guess whom I would have chosen?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Z is for Zero Emissions

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday round 4 is at the finish line. For participating blogs go to above link or banner at left.

Please click on these photos.
That way you can read the explanatory info.

Add ImageAn important and deadly contributor to climate change due to global warming is the vast quantity of pollution pumped into the atmosphere by automobiles that depend upon fossil fuels. There is a growing number of manufacturers who have deveoped non-polluting electric cars with zero emissions. These photos were made last Friday of exhibits at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Indulgence (on a Global Scale)

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Indulgence". Follow link to participating blogs.

Yesterday was my son Stan's birthday. He and his wife, Dianne, have been here visiting - actually taking care of me - shopping, meals, gardening, taking out the trash etc. - and I suppose that I could count that as a kind of personal indulgence. When they leave tomorrow for their home in Denver, they will also be driving Lorelei, Otto's and my beloved 1968 Mercedes SEL 300 6.3. Lorelei would be too hard for me to maintain. As a birthday gift for Stan I treated us to a visit to the new Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate park. Stan and Dianne wheeled me around in a wheelchair - another kind of personal indulgence. I was pleased to see that the newly constituted building has a large section on global warming - better called climate change, since some areas will be colder, wetter or drier, or everywhere subject to increasing violent weather.

This giant graph shows the reason that we should be
VERY, VERY worried

This devastating increase in the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be explained by another type of indulgence by civilized and developing countries as they increase their standards of living beyond what our planet can support. Fortunately the Academy building itself displays some ways of mitigating our increased use of carbon-producing energy for lighting, heating, and air conditioning. The rather industrial appearance of the above photo is due to the building's dependence on light admitting panels (offset in most parts of the museum by living exhibits of rain forest, swamp, stream, and aquarium). For temperate control there is a "living roof".

The living roof,
with domes with skylights that also open for ventilation.
The plants are all native to the area.

Another way to fight climate change on larger scale is one that I may suggest on this blog time and time again.

My husband Otto proposed building solar-turbine power plants in such places as the Gran Desierto of northern Mexico, the Yuma desert of Arizona, the Sahara and Gobi deserts.

The power plants, of his improved design, would be the conventional steam turbines now used, with the schematic below showing a more economical design than any current solar plant. Low-cost parabolic trough concentrators would boil water. The wet steam would then be dried and superheated by the focused solar light of tracking heliostats.

This would significantly reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It would be a first step toward slowing the accelerating pace of global warming before it reaches the point of no return.

This is an example of the single-axis parabolic collectors
that would be used for the pre-heat.
These are at Kramer Junction in the Mojave Desert.

Their are improved versions of the above type of pre-heat collector using Fresnell lens for even greater efficiency (i.e. lower cost).

This plant, CPS 10 in Spain is an example of the
tracking heliostats that would provide the super-heating
for the seccond stage.

And there is that indulgence that I have enjoyed for years, doing my part to add to the CO2 buildup in the atmosphere. Her name is Lorelei, Otto's and my 1989 Mercedes 300SEL 6.3. Well, it's Stan's car now. Here we are in Golden Gate Park yesterday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Y is for Years Passing

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday round 4 has reached the letter Y. The above link - also the banner to the left - will take you to participating blogs. Thank you, Denise!

Every year since 1998 I have designed a calendar for friends and family. The custom was started several years before that by my oldest son, and I only took over the practice when he tired of it.

These covers of calendars of the passing years are on 11 by 8.5 inch paper, 32 weight, with a clear plastic cover on top. Each month inside has a similarly sized picture with a pendant calendar marked with important dates - important to the calendar recipients, at least.

These calendar covers prove that the first decade of the 20th century has almost run its course. Sadly, 2009 is the last calendar that will be from both Otto and Phyllis.

Here Otto stands on the Stanford University campus with the chapel in the background. Stanford University is where Otto and I met and fell in love.

This was a sunset view from our bedroom window.

In our front entry hall.
That somewhat battered Webster's dictionary
(brown book at the left) is the one that Otto used as a booster seat
at the table when he was a small child.

California poppies speak for themselves.

I took this picture of sprouting coconuts when we visited Costa Rica.

One morning I arose earlier than usual
and spied this view of San Francisco across the bay
as the rising sun illuminated the tall buildings.

This beautiful wreath of sedums was on a neighbor's gate.

Asilomar near Monterey was the sight of our family reunion
to celebrate Otto's 90th birthday.

This visiting buck apparently enjoyed our backyard lilies.
I took this picture from an upstairs window
in order not to disturb him.

The pictures below show how the October calendar will look as it hangs above my desk. And when I look at it, I will treasure the memory of this, the last October that Otto and I were together.