Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pic Today 10/31/10


HAPPY HALLOWEEN

With roots back to the Middle Ages
when poor beggars went door to door
in Britain on Hallowmass (November 1)
receiving food in return for their prayers for the dead
on All Souls Day (November 2),
Halloween has been celebrated on this day
in North American and Europe in many ways.

Today we celebrate Halloween with Jack-o-lanterns
carved from pumpkins, and kids (of all ages)
dressing up in costume, and going door to door
for treats and candy, for their jokes or riddles to solve.
Here's hoping your tricks are fun,
and your treats delicious.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pic Today 10/30/10



A "MAST" YEAR FOR ACORNS

Some years, only a handful of acorns appear on each tree.
When an oak produces a ridiculously abundant crop
of nuts -- like this year -- it is called a "mast" year.
There just aren't enough predator feeding animals
(squirrels, birds, deer, turkeys, mice, critters)
to eat them or "squirrel them away" for the winter.

This ensures that many more acorns get planted
and have a chance to get started as seedlings.

There are 80 different species of oak tress in North America,
and all have acorns, or "oak nuts", which are high in tannin.
Animals can tolerate the tannin and dine on acorns.

Native Americans have used acorns for food
by removing the caps, cracking the shells and soaking
the corns in streams for several days.
This removes the tannins and produces a corn meal
which is a rich food for stews and bread
throughout the winter.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Pic Today 10/29/10


THE SUN'S RAYS SHORTEN

When daylight hours grow shorter during autumn months,
and leaves turn golden and fall,
the melatonin production in animals increases
helping to make the deep sleep of hibernation possible.

Sun's rays shorten for a reason.
It's all about the season.


"Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by.
You never get to stop and open your eyes.
One day you're waiting for the sky to fall.
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all."

- Bruce Cockburn, BARENAKED LADIES

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pic Today 10/28/10


LOVE CARVED

"Talk not of wasted affection;
affection never was wasted."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pic Today 10/27/10



IN SEARCH OF THE
PERFECT PUMPKIN

The weather has chilled.
The harvest is in.
The leaves have turned crimson and gold.
The time is at hand . . .
Grab the kids and the wagon.
It's off to find the perfect pumpkin.
There's carving to do!

This PUMPKIN PATCH is particularly nice
with its golden tree canopy and mountains of plump pumpkins.
(The night lighting adds a festive touch.)
At Webster Hills United Methodist Church,
Lockwood at Berry in Webster Groves.
Open every day until 8:00 pm.
But hurry . . .
Halloween is just 4 days away!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pic Today 10/26/10


REACHING FOR THE PUPIL

Children (of all ages) love playing
at Laumeier Sculpture Park,
St. Louis County, Missouri.

Here, Franklin is the pupil
reaching for the pupil,
at The Eye
(by Tony Tassett, 2007)
12' diameter, resin/acrylic.




Monday, October 25, 2010

Pic Today 10/25/10


A SIGN OF GOOD LUCK

To the Chinese and some Native American cultures,
the GRASSHOPPER is a symbol, an animal totem,
of good luck and abundance.

(A totem, usually an insect or animal, is a natural object
that is a symbol of some personal or spiritual identity.)

Grasshoppers have long been important spiritual symbols
in China, where they are sometimes kept as family pets.
Just to see one is a sign of good fortune and luck.

Behold the grasshopper -- a harbinger of good news and fortune.
Don't be afraid to leap, and remember:
grasshoppers only leap forward, never backward.



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pic Today 10/24/10





LITTLE RIVER BAND
ROCKS DOWN BY THE RIVER

Historic Wildwood Springs Lodge
hosted Australia's own Little River Band last night,
with some special guest artists sitting in.

This 100-year-old scenic lodge,
near the Meramec River in Steelville, Missouri,
with its rustic wood-planked "living room" stage,
offered an intimate, acoustically perfect setting
for 220+ lucky audience members.

In addition to Little River Band's familiar repertoire,
Rusty Young and Jack Sundrud (from the band "POCO")
showed up to perform a bonus set.

It was an amazing night of music
under a full moon along the banks of the Meramec.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pic Today 10/23/10


MISSOURI RIVER
BOTTOMLANDS

Fall view overlooking the fertile farmland
along the Missouri River
(Gasconade County, Missouri).

The longest river in North America at 2,340 miles,
the Missouri River empties into the mighty Mississippi
near St. Louis . . . close to where Lewis & Clark
began their epic expedition "up river" in search
of a water route to the Pacific coast.

Through unchartered territories, brutal elements and
paddling their canoes against the flow of this powerful river,
Lewis & Clark reached the west coast in Oregon, December 1805,
successfully ending their year-and-a-half journey.

(The Missouri River's ultimate headwaters
and hydrologic source is at Brower's Spring, Montana.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pic Today 10/22/10


WHO SAYS
EGGS SHOULD BE WHITE?

In fact, there are as many egg colors
as there are chickens . . .
at least on the outside!
(The insides of chicken eggs are essentially identical.)

Anyone who raises chickens will tell you --
eggs come in a kaleidoscope of colors:
white, brown, green, pink, blue & yellow.

Chickens who eat "free range" have a varied diet,
including minerals which affect the color of their shells.
One breed of chicken -- the Americauna -- is called
the "Easter Egg chicken" due to its predictable
multicolored egg shells.

True "free range" farm-raised chicken eggs
have darker yolks and are much more flavorful.

Factory supermarket white eggs are so boring ! ! !

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pic Today 10/21/10



GET YOUR KICKS
ON ROUTE 66

Nat King Cole sang about it;
a million cars have driven it;
and today there are still sections of Route 66
quietly heading west, commemorating a bygone era,
now known as "Historic Route 66."

U.S. Route 66, known as the "Mother Road",
was one of the original U.S. highways
established in November of 1926.
This concrete 2-lane road took roadsters
from Chicago to L.A. -- 2,448 miles to be exact.

It was the primary path for migrants who "headed west"
during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Many local businesses prospered along the route
during the 30s, 40s and 50s --
especially motel units, some barely more than
a room with a roof and a window.
Some of these units can still be seen along the road:
boarded up but still standing, relics of a grand old route.

In some states, like Missouri, the original Route 66 still exists.
It parallels Interstate 44, from Pacific to Joplin, Missouri,
and you can see some of these original motel units.

Hardly room for a bed and a chair!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pic Today 10/20/10





SUSHI DELIGHT
"PINK ON PINK ON PINK"

Beautiful fresh Arctic Char served raw,
with sliced ginger on a block of pink Himalayan salt.
The delicate flavors combine for an indescribable
mouth pleasing taste.

Arctic char are the northernmost of all freshwater fish.
And Himalayan mined salt is easily the highest altitude of all salt.

Go north, go high, for this great sushi treat.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pic Today 10/19/10






OZARK FROST FLOWERS

Throughout the southern Missouri Ozarks,
"frost flowers" form on the stems of ironweed in the fall.
The formation of these exquisite paper-thin ice crystals
occurs when the temperature of the air falls below freezing,
but when the ground is not already frozen.

The sap in the stem of the plants will expand
(water expands when frozen)
causing long, thin cracks to form
along the stem near the ground.
Water is then drawn through these cracks
via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air.
As more water is drawn through the cracks,
it pushes thin ice layers further from the stem
causing "petals" to form.

These beautiful and delicate "frost flowers"
usually melt when the sun's first rays appear,
and are only visible in the early morning.
(Frost flowers don't bloom in the winter.)

There is a current exhibit of Ozark "frost flower" photographs
on display at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pic Today 10/18/10






FALL COLORS
AT THEIR PEAK

Red dogwoods showing next Spring's flower buds;
rainbow colored fingers of sassafras leaves;
spiny milkweed pods about to launch their seeds;
ancient ginkgo leaves ready to turn yellow;
wild crabapples ripening to fatten winter birds.

All this was just part of the show
during a perfect indian summer hike today.





Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pic Today 10/17/10


JUST ANOTHER WATER TOWER ? ? ?

It's customary for rural towns
to have water towers in their communities,
to generate water pressure for households & businesses,
and hold a reserve supply of water . . .
in most towns, that is.

One can only wonder what's in the tower tank
in BOURBON, Missouri.

Hmmmmm!





Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pic Today 10/16/10



TWO WINDOWS

Abandoned buildings,
Steelville, Missouri.

More "wabi-sabi."
(See previous blog:
Pic Today 10/14/10)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pic Today 10/15/10




SKY'S ON FIRE

The trees are ablaze.
Fall colors are at their peak in the Midwest.

This is the weekend to get out and enjoy the show.

(Where's the Kodachrome when we need it?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pic Today 10/14/10


THE ART OF WABI-SABI

Around 700 years ago, Buddhist teachings
refer to the aesthetic of wabi-sabi,
an appreciation and understanding of the
imperfection of "flawed beauty" and
assertion of impermanence.

Not to be confused with wasabi (the spicy radish-like
delicacy accompanying sushi), wabi-sabi is an intuitive
way of finding beauty in imperfection, and
accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.

Materials that age and weather -- like this abandoned
concrete wall -- become more interesting and beautiful
as they exhibit an unintended change or design
created by natural processes. The Japanese would say
wabi-sabi has transformed the wall into something beautiful,
including its patina, its wear and distress,
with all its damage and abuse.

The elements and neglect have helped create something
quite authentic by acknowledging 3 simple realities --
nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.

Behold the flawed beauty of wabi-sabi.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pic Today 10/13/10


NATURE TURNS AND GROWS
WHERE IT WILL

"In the woods, there is no right way to go,
no trail to follow but the law of growth.
You must leave behind the notion that things are right.
Just look around you. Here is the way things are.
Twisted, turned, fallen, split at the root.
Whatever grows best does so at the expense
of what lies beneath."

-- Louise Erdrich, "Revival Road"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pic Today 10/12/10


AFTERNOON COLORS
RICHART SPRING CABIN

A jar of found river glass
frames a porch window with warm sun and fall colors.
Crawford County, Missouri.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pic Today 10/11/10




OZARK FOREST
KALEIDOSCOPE

Hiking through the fall Ozark forest,
the hardwoods show their camouflage
in many shades of autumn --
sassafras in bright yellow,
oak and dogwoods orange and red.

Soon their leaves will cover the forest floor.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pic Today 10/10/10



FRONT PORCH PICKIN', EASY LISTENIN'
WILDWOOD SPRINGS LODGE
STEELVILLE, MISSOURI

Wildwood Springs staff take a break on the front porch
while lodge guests enjoy their acoustic bluegrass music.
It's no surprise local musicians want to work at this
"underground" Steelville lodge and concert venue,
due to their beautiful 2,000 acre setting and
weekend bookings of some very famous artists.

Wildwood Springs Lodge offers overnight accomodations,
home cooked meals and a down home intimate venue
which has attracted Taj Mahal, Leon Russel, Poco, Richie Havens,
Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Leo Kotke, Arlo Guthrie
and next weekend . . . The Marshal Tucker Band!

(Shhhh . . . it's still a secret!)

And yes, today is 10-10-10,
the tenth day of the tenth month of 2010,
which means you'll have a fantastic day today!
(Or something!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pic Today 10/9/10


PLAYTIME IN THE CORN

Fill a kiddie pool with dried corn
and it's better than a sand box.
And the kids love it.

It's great fun to climb in (no adults, please),
throw handfuls in the air
but so hard to keep all the corn IN THE POOL.

No matter as Kirkwood Farmers Market
has its annual "harvest market" 7-days a week,
with lots of play areas for kids.
Great place to find a holiday pumpkin, too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pic Today 10/8/10


LOTS TO LIKE
ABOUT LICHENS

Lichens survive better than most life forms
on our planet, and have for millions of years.
There are more than 14,000 different species of lichens,
living in almost any climate or condition --
in the frozen arctic, hot arid deserts, rocky coasts,
even toxic slag heaps.
Lichens grow on rocks, sterile soil or sand,
altitudes too high to support plants,
and survive extended spells of total drought.
They've been sent into the total vacuum of deep space
for 2 weeks, only to return in perfect health.

Lichens come in every color of the rainbow,
and can be scaly, leafy, shrubby or crusty.
They don't possess roots, and yet require
water and sunlight to survive.

Remarkably, each lichen is actually a
symbiotic relationship between 2 organisms --
a partnership between fungus and algae.
They thrive together in a unique arrangement
that neither would be able to handle on its own.

You've seen them on rocks, in trees, on gravestones,
in your yard, in the wild.
They've been used in traditional medicines,
soup and salad recipes, dyes and perfumes.
(Yellow lichens are always poisonous!)

Lichens thrive and survive, no matter what.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pic Today 10/7/10






SICILIAN OLIVES
AL FRESCO

If you really love olives
(like my Sicilian friend, John)
then you make your own stash.
Here's how . . .

Order fresh olives direct from the orchard.
(Penna Gourmet Olives, in California, will ship
directly to your door -- "www.greatolives.com".)
Then brine your own, with spices, vinegar and lemon juice.
(Photo of John's family recipe follows.)
Then wait!
(3 months in the basement. Or 6 months in the fridge.)

John tells me "it's worth the wait", and
"it keeps the tradition alive."

He also advises "don't ever try to eat an un-brined fresh olive."