The Watering Hole: Sunday, April 16th, 2017: Easter Sunday Roast

The Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson not very far to the south of us, has just been equipped with a live-feed Peregrine Falcon camera. So now that April the giraffe has calved, one can switch gears and watch for a hatching and subsequent hatchlings.

Peregrine chicks are cute little balls of white fluff:

It’s hard to believe that those adorably ungainly hatchlings eventually turn into such impressively majestic birds of prey:

And for those who celebrate Easter, here’s the Easter Rat to wish everyone a Happy Easter!

This is our Open Thread – just go with it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 25th, 2016: Take a Deep Breath

Old orchard in spring

Old orchard in spring

I know that I’ve trotted out this photo a few times over the years, at least in springtime. But it is one of my favorite pictures, and, well, it’s Spring. Although the apple blossoms are barely budding yet, lots of other flowering trees are blooming and the air is fragrant in the warming sunshine. The first of newly-mown lawns add their evocative scent. Bees are humming and I saw my first butterfly of the spring on Thursday. Of course, this also means that there’s a pollen alert every day, and this spring for the first time my allergies have escalated to the “burning eyes” level. But as long as I can breathe through my nose, even a little, I still want to stick my head out the car window like a dog and drink it all in.

Breathe in the springtime – it’ll do you good.

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on your mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 29th, 2013: Tending the Garden

I’m taking off from work today and tomorrow in an effort to, if not resurrect, clean up and replant my poor neglected garden. At one time I had had a nice little garden, nothing big or special, but a garden nonetheless.
GARDEN0305GARDEN0309GLAD7GARDEN031I had started major renovations at one point, expanding the area, installing a trellis/gate with climbing roses on either side, changing the crushed-marble walkway to a wooden one encircling a center planting area, salvaging what plants I could and slowly adding more. Then 2004 came along, with its ever-increasing, time- and heart- consuming care of my dying parents. During, and after this time, I only made half-hearted attempts at maintaining the garden, which usually ended, due to lack of will, right after raking and weeding the area. This year I am trying to muster up some continued impetus to re-create something that I can be proud of, instead of the mess that’s out there right now.

It’s kind of like a miniature version of our country – it’s a big mess, and strangling weeds are doing their best to kill off what was once beautiful. It needs a lot of diligent work and constant attention, but it’s definitely worth trying to salvage.

This is your Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 15th, 2013: Inspiration

While Wordsworth had the good fortune to be inspired by “a host, of golden daffodils”…

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Daffodil_field_in_Northern_Washington
…I, on the other hand, amidst the increasing insanity going on in this country, must be content to find somewhat lesser inspiration in a more simple setting…

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodils in sunlight (photo by Jane E. Schneider)

Daffodils in sunlight (photo by Jane E. Schneider)

This is today’s Open Thread. What inspires you these days?

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 1st, 2013: From Human Idiocy to Nature’s Logic

As a glutton for punishment, I wallowed through hundreds of responses regarding the group of alleged ‘men’, who showed their opposition to an Indianapolis “Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns National Day to Demand Action” gun safety rally, attended by “Moms Demand Action”, by openly facing the “Moms” while carrying loaded weapons.

nra
Most of the real whack-job pro-gun comments got “wished into the cornfield”, and probably a hundred or so were along the lines of “So you’re “intimidated” by a law abiding citizen exercising their rights?” – the word “intimidation” apparently not having the same meaning in different areas of the country – which got old and tired pretty quickly. But I thought you might enjoy the sheer idiocy of the following ones:

“You don’t have the right to be “protected”. You do have a natural right to protect yourself.”

[I and another commenter both reminded that guy about the existence of ‘police forces.’]

“They did nothing wrong and showed gun safety… What wrong? Are you mad that they didn’t shoot everyone? Are you mad that they didn’t break any laws.”

[Aside from the obvious grammar issues here, I love the assumption that liberals want people to get shot just to further our gun-grabbing agenda.]

Oops, I almost left out one of the best:

“WHEN YOU ANTI GUN PEOPLE ARE APPROACHED BY THE BAD GUYS OR WHEN OBAMA TAKES AWAY ALL YOUR FREEDOMS AND MAKES YOU HIS SLAVES, YOU WILL BE GLAD WHEN US GUN OWNERS ARE THERE TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY’S.”

Another genius posted:

“Carrying a lit candle at a vigil could be seen as intimidation because you could set someone on fire. It’s the same argument.”

The final gem is from the same genius:

“The rifle is the emblem of our freedom. It is more American than the flag.”

To which I HAD to respond with:

“Oh, so THAT’s why schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the RIFLE of the United States of America!”
“May I also point out to everyone who is asking why the group who brought loaded weapons to this gun-safety rally would be considered to be ‘intimidating’, since they were only exercising their rights: just take a look at Matt Rhodes’ gravatar (which is also repeated all over the NRA’s website), with the motto: NRA – STAND AND FIGHT.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On to Nature and her logic: While Spring officially arrived on March 20th, for me, the first sign of spring came on March 25th, when I spotted the first robin of the season. As soon as I remarked to myself ‘ooh, first robin’, I realized that that robin was accompanied by close to a hundred others, all ‘worming’ across the large field in front of one of the local firehouses. If I had my camera at the time, I would have taken a shot, since I’d never seen so many in one place at one time.

Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast


Then on Thursday, I spotted the first bee of the season, hovering hopefully over a clump of crocuses. Now, normally I’m not overly fond of bees, but I’m well aware of their intricate place in Nature’s logical order. Coincidentally, one of the local papers highlighted a seminar occurring tomorrow as part of Scenic Hudson’s Naturalist Lecture Series. Here’s an excerpt from a Poughkeepsie Journal article by Stefanie Schappert:

“Every time we take a bite of an apple, drink a cup of coffee or have a slice of blueberry pie, we must remember that every fruit and vegetable was pollinated first,” said Tim Stanley, program coordinator for the Fresh Air Fund at the Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill and a beekeeping enthusiast.”

“Ultimately the food that we eat depends on it,” Stanley said.

Stanley keeps two honeybee hives at his home and one at the reservation.

The lecture will focus on the 4,000 native species of bees in North America and how people can encourage native pollinators into their gardens and yards.

“Although the honeybee is the only perennial bee that produces a food source — honey — through the winter, it was brought over from Europe and is not native to the United States. Stanley said native bees, also known as “keystone species,” tend to be more efficient and better at what they do. Native bees include bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees and orchard bees.”

Honeybee

Honeybee

I don’t know about everyone else, but I think I prefer bees to gun-nuts!

This is our open thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 13th, 2012: Monday Medley

First up: From Foreign Policy magazine:

An article written by George Lakoff, titled “Dumb and Dumber” discusses the term “Low-Information Voter” and the insult implied in the phrase. Here’s a few snippets:

“The liberal use of the term “low-information voters” reveals where liberals need to get real. First, liberals need to recognize that conservatives have a moral system that is different from theirs and that they vote on the basis of it. They need to understand the conservative moral system and how it works, if they are to defeat it. And they need to understand the power of their own moral system and make use of it.”

“…they [liberals] need to understand how brains work: If the facts don’t fit morally based frame-circuits, it’s the frame-circuits that stay and the facts that go out the window.”

“…Never use the other side’s language. And always say out loud the moral framing needed for comprehending the facts. For example, health care is a matter of both freedom and life. If you have cancer and no health care, you are not free and you could die! With the right narrative, it is a powerful message, and one that tells a deep truth.”

Next: At The Weather Channel, an interesting piece about the possible effects of a predicted increase in solar flare activity on our electrical infrastructure.

Third and final: also from The Weather Channel, a look at how the higher temperatures in New York and the Northeast are affecting the breeding rates of certain butterflies. One species is the endangered Karner Blue butterfly – which, oddly enough, “…was first identified and named by novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov,” according to Wikipedia.

Karner Blue Butterfly (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This is our daily open thread — go ahead, get your coffee (or tea, or whatever) and get your Monday started!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 7th, 2012: Signs of Spring

Daffodils

Daffodils


Forsythia

Forsythia (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)


Daffodils and other spring flowers are blooming all over, and forsythia, having gotten over their confusion in November, blaze like floral sunlight in yards and along roadsides.

Opening Day at Shea, 2003


Of course, there are other signs of Spring.
Shea Stadium, Opening Day 2003

Shea Stadium, Opening Day 2003

For baseball fans, Spring means Opening Day. The New York Mets began their 2012 season by hosting the Atlanta Braves for Opening Day, and won by a score of 1 – 0. Of course, as die-hard Mets fans know, it’s likely all downhill from there.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?

Local color

Rock formations, Arches National Park. The balanced rock atop it’s spire is shifting sideways to the right!

Beaver lodge and dams, White River National Forest, Colorado. There are numerous small trout in the clear, and very cold waters of Rifle Creek.

Time for some of us to spring forward

For some reason, I thought Daylight Savings Time was unique to North America, but once again I was wrong. The graphic above, from Wikipedia, illustrates the blue regions that have DST, the orange regions that previously had DST, and the red areas that have never had DST.

That Wiki article makes for some interesting reading, if only to verify that humans, wherever they live, are nuts. This is from the description of British Columbia:

Most of British Columbia (BC) is on Pacific Time and observes DST. However there are two main exceptions:

Part of the Peace River Regional District of BC (including the communities of Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Hudson’s Hope, Fort St. John, Taylor and Tumbler Ridge) is on Mountain Time and does not observe DST. This means that in winter the region is on the same time as Edmonton, Alberta, and in summer is on the same time as Vancouver, BC.

The East Kootenay region of south-eastern BC (including the communities of Cranbrook, Fernie, Golden and Invermere) is on Mountain Time and observes DST. This means that the region is always on the same time as Edmonton, Alberta.

Continue reading

Happy Beltane, One and All

When I was a child, I remember celebrating May Day at school. It was a big event and I never understood what it was all about. Well, this year, the awakening has happened. May Day is actually Beltane which is the Gaelic word for the month of May.

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Wikipedia has a lot to say about Beltane. You can read about it here.

The information below was copied from Circle Santuary.

Beltane

Also known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.

Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend. Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty. Dress in bright colors. Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within. On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it. Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck. Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.

Beltane Custom Notes
from a Workshop by Selena Fox presented at 1997 Beltane Festival at Circle Sanctuary from a work in progress © 1997, Selena Fox, PO Box 219, Mt. Horeb, WI 53572 USA

Sacred Time
Going A-Maying & Bringing in the May — Merry-making and Nature communion. * Midpoint between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. * In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora and the flowering of Springtime. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), and Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. * Roman Catholic traditions of crowning statues of Mary with flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. * Marks the second half of the Celtic Year; one of the four Celtic Fire Festivals. Complement to Samhain, it is a time of divination and communion with Fairy Folk/Nature Spirits. * Pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. * In Pagan Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter and Summer were enacted at this time. * Building on older tradition of this time being a holiday for the masses, in the twentieth century, May Day has been a workers’ holiday in many places. * Some say that Mother’s Day, in the USA, Mexico, and elsewhere has Pagan roots.

Maypole
Forms include pole, tree, bush, cross; communal or household; permanent or annual. * In Germany, Fir tree was cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. * In England, permanent Maypoles were erected on village greens * In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households. * Maypole ribbondances, with two circles interweaving; around decorated bush/tree, clockwise circle dances.

Flowers & Greenwood
Gathering and exchange of Flowers and Greens on May Eve, pre-dawn May Day, Beltane. * Decorating homes, barns, and other buildings with Green budding branches, including Hawthorn. * Making and wearing of garland wreaths of Flowers and/or Greens. * May Baskets were given or placed secretly on doorsteps to friends, shut-ins, lovers, others. * May Bowl was punch (wine or non-alcoholic) made of Sweet Woodruff blossoms.

Beltane Fires
Traditionally, sacred woods kindled by spark from flint or by friction — in Irish Gaelic, the Beltane Fire has been called teine eigin (fire from rubbing sticks). * Jump over the Beltane Fire, move through it, or dance clockwise around it. * Livestock was driven through it or between two fires for purification and fertility blessings. * In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places; later times, Christian priests kindled it in fields near the church after peforming a Christian church service. * Rowan twigs were carried around the fire three times, then hung over hearths to bless homes. * In the past, Beltane community fire purification customs included symbolic sacrifice of effigy knobs on the Beltane Cake (of barley) to the fire, or, in medieval times, mock sacrifice of Beltane Carline (Hag) who received blackened piece of Beltane Cake; Maypoles in Spain were each topped with a male effigy which was later burned. Contemporary Pagans burn sacred wood and dried herbs as offerings in their Beltane fires.

May Waters
Rolling in May Eve dew or washing face in pre-dawn May Day dew for health, luck, beauty. * Getting head and hair wet in Beltane rain to bless the head. * Blessing springs, ponds, other sacred waters with flowers, garlands, ribbons, other offerings. * Collecting sacred waters and scrying in sacred springs, wells, ponds, other waters.

Sacred Union & Fertility
Union with the Land focus, often with actual mating outside on the Land to bless fields, herds, home. * May Queen (May Bride) as personification of the Earth Goddess and Goddesses of Fertility. * May King (May Groom) as personification of Vegetation God, Jack-in-Green — often covered in green leaves. * At Circle Sanctuary, in addition to May Queen & May King, is May Spirit Couple, an already bonded pair. * Symbolic Union of Goddess and God in election/selection, crowning, processional, Maypole dance, feast. * Morris Dancers and pageants (with Hag & Jack-in-Green) to awaken the fertility in the Land.