Thursday, November 6, 2008

Of Dogs and Children

A fine specimen of muttdom who was once thoroughly capable at dropping a deer solo at full tilt flight. Yet curiously terrified of thunder and fireworks.

So huge is her reaction to booming sounds, I have grown to totally dread the arrival of Independence Day. It means the sudden appearance of having 98 pounds of wriggling, clawing and totally horrified dog flesh ... complete with hair wafting about like rain depositing herself on the top of my desk. Whether she leaps or crawls to seek shelter in close proximity to me her elected protection zone. The outcome is ultimately the same.

Should I be away when the noise begins and she is outside, she will dig for China through wahtever material is handy, seeking shelter in the closeness of her tunnel. If I leave her in the house alone she climbs into the bathtub. Other choice areas deemed secure from fallout will be that30" square cubby hole beneath my desk, the forbidden area on top of my bed or the ridiculous cramped position in the 15" span between commode and bathtub wall.

Fearless and yet totally without a stance, the hunter at times feels she is the hunted. She isn't really a "kid's dog" and never has been. She would never bite, but does know how to sound off a very effective warning. Always followed by the cold shoulder and a royal yet hasty exit of the area.

Old Sadie ... the original "Feather-Lipped Chicken Eater" has grown quite mellow over the years. She now tolerates the gibberish and the clumsy petting of those who are wee but so very close to me. She has not an ounce of patience for being rudely tumbled upon. The antics of my girls can drive her right out the door quickly. An escape she is most emphatic about when her tolerance reaches that threshold.

Who really can blame the wizened old gal. In people years she will turn 13 come Thanksgiving. In dog years that makes her 91. Every year of which her movements definitely echo. I no longer worry about having her deposit her body between me and the screen. Today, this would be a feat far beyond her capabilities.

Oddly enough, she does however get completely excited when the girls arrive for a stay at Nonnie's. At first glance, it may seem a strange and internal argument with Sadie's particular points of view. Until you consider the food factor.

Small children are very messy eaters. Every dog's dream is realized when human food is presented for consumption. While they may irritate her at times, any occasion involving food when the girls are here brings her frantically scratching to be readmitted. She can smell a slice of American cheese being unwrapped through two closed doors while snoring soundly over 50 feet away.

This past weekend, the girls were here for three days on end. Poor old Feather Lips moods radically rose and fell with every meal and sporadic snack occurrence day in and day out. In for food and out when the squealing and silliness got past the tolerance point.

The youngest is 19 months old and her English is at best ... challenged, though she is trying to pick up the language. One morning the eggs were accompanied by bagels with cream cheese. If there is food being eaten, Sadie will take up residence directly beneath that wee one's chair. Always watching each bite expectantly as surely something will soon fall to the floor and become fair fodder.

The child is totally aware of the dog lying in wait. She is also guilty of purposefully feeding Sadie the parts of each handful she has no use for. Trying to keep this pair separated is useless and so the companionship blossoms, though the attraction centers totally around food.

There she is with a quarter of a bagel in her pudgy hands, sitting sideways in the chair while actively separating the cheese from the bread. Looking down, the child removes the chunk from her mouth and vehemently shakes her head at the drooling dog. "Unh unh," she chortles. "Iz mines." This proclamation only holds court until the cheese is completely licked off.

At which point Sadie is richly rewarded with the bagel bone she has waited for with bated breath. Another moment that should have been on film but is totally lost save for memory.

Its a true love saga of strange proportions that unfolds like any soap opera. Always in front of a live audience though it is only me, myself and I who is attending. Such is the bond between my wee humans and this old, crochety dog. Food is good and shenanigans are not welcome.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Plant Scoop ... The Inside Story

The only black leaf Phlox paniculata in the world.



Distinct - Upper Crust - Black Tie

Highly polished rake of garden society.


Presenting Lord Clayton Phlox PPAF ... Available 2009 USA.

Read more about this new perennial.

Your garden will never be the same.

G. G.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Major Overhaul

Have you ever gotten so fed up with the way your personal atmosphere looks that you just couldn't bear it a second longer? One of those moments, that as you glance around at your windows and walls and rebellion screams at your inner mind. At moments such as this, you take stock of it all and announce to yourself,

"This wallpaper and floor plan is on my last nerve. It is high time to make a change."

That is the precipice, the moment of truth settling over your awareness . Down it comes, sheet after sheet, that time worn and repetitious pattern thrown to the floor in a rush for renewal. Nothing a fresh coat of paint can't replace. Just like the right makeup on a bad hair day. A weekend and a paintbrush can mask over a whole lot of ugly.


Image: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0


If I hadn't gone off visiting so many new spaces of late, I may never have seen the flaws in my personal place. I guess it just goes to show you what a little wonder lust and a few hours of spare time can do to a person. Without a fresh view or excitement as inspiration, would any of us have a clue we a due for a change? At times, it might be wiser to just stay home where everything is expectable and familiar. That traveling bug could just place you in traveling the road of no return.

There I was about done repainting the walls and decided I just did not like the color.

Hey come on now, what is wrong with that? There are more colors in the rainbow. Besides, being female, I retain the honor of being allowed to change my mind. Just pick out a different, and decidedly more exciting hue. After all it is only another gallon of paint or two. No big deal.

Except ... that didn't really float my boat either.

The second tint color was most apt to be at it's best display on the paint chip. Hey now, its like baseball - you are not stuck out until you miss the ball three times. I do have to admit that by the time you have repainted the same old walls three times. In three completely different colors, mind you. Without unleashing the smallest inkling of some excitement ... more creative thoughts could come to mind.

Perhaps more drastic measures are called for here. Why not? Things just need a bit more updating than a coat of paint. Bigger is always better ... right? Just get rid of the half wall and open the space up. That would really change everything. In fact, the entire structure would take on a different feeling.


Image: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0


Ewww. What do you call this construction method?

You know this is the fun thing about remodeling. It's always such an adventure. Like whose brilliant invention do you suppose masterful composition was? That's okay, we'll just fix that mess right up. I have just the trick to fix this exact type of construction flaw. I will admit that the coat of paint has become more of a huge project. Fine by me, life will just get more interesting from here on out.

After all, life is short. You only get one time around, so you might as well live a little! Why use a kit when your imagination can really stir up a scene? Major overhauls require some equipment, so I fired mine up and started moving things around. Before long the entire space began to take on the resemblance of a war zone.


Image: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0


Well, starting from scratch is always good. You are guaranteed something fresh and exciting. So thats what I did. Started recreating my blog space from the foundation up. But hey, if you are going to build a new place for your self, why not move to a better neighborhood. You are already in transit. If you're moving, then go up - not down.

It doesn't seem to matter what you focus is anymore. The same rule of thumb applies to everything these days. Whats the word on the block or the street? Location, location, location. Fresh surroundings and new horizons will put a whole new spin on any case of the doldrums. Trading Spaces? It works on TV!

It is just the packaging thats different. Like a new wardrobe, the person wearing it really hasn't changed. Still the same plant obsessed mind with that somewhat different point of view. The only part that had changed is outward appearance. Oh yes, and the street address.

No reason you can't still drop in for a visit. After all you need to keep on top of what is new and exciting ... or even plumb crazy. It all depends on what day you pop in. Stop by for coffee before lunch or maybe you prefer to drop in for happy hour. Its all good.

The final touches may not yet be complete. Isn't that half of the fun of a new plating space? You get to watch it come into its own. Even better the gate at ...

Lost In The Flowers - is always open to friends.

Guilty Gardener is not going to disappear any time soon. Feel free to pass between the two locations, the transition will be very organic. Yet for the time being, all new posts will be published on Lost In The Flowers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Far Prettier than a Vision

Image Courtesy of Plants Nouveau

Astilbe is always a lovely foliage plant with it's lacy presence so welcome as an accent to hosta and other shade lovers. But the majority of the Astilbe plants are quite expected shade of green. Some, such as 'Fanal' Astilbe do have dark red veins that give them a heightened decorative effect in the garden. How about Spruce Blue foliage for a new source of color variation?

Introducing Astilbe 'Delft Lace' whose leaves have a silvery blue overlay that gives it a unique look and added excitement as a seasonal garden player.


G.G.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gardening with Lucky

Image: Creative Commons License

There are times when one wishes they had not made such good friends with a bird. The term birdbrain takes on an entirely new meaning. Like the day I made the new raised planting bed on the north side of the deck.

There I was peacefully playing in the fresh, dark soil and minding my own business. The planting was now down to the half flat of Begonias I saved to fill in the outside corner. Suddenly a flapping of rusty red wings plopped an eight pound body with skinny green legs in the midst of my activity. Damn bird! She was squashing two of my just installed Begonias.

"Lucky! Get out of here ... go on now."

Of course she stood firm, craning her neck around and surveying the scene. I know what her next move is before it has entered that pea sized brain. There is nothing red here so she is about to start digging for her favorite wiggling delicacy. An activity that will not end until she hits the hard ground below. There are no grubs in my just screened soil.

"Shoo! Get!"

I was rewarded with the evil chicken eye. A swiveling head motion that puts their profile face first and places that beady eye up close and personal above your nose. At times the evil eye is comical, but not while the miniature dinosaur is crushing my flowers. She was testing her authority to the limit.

I gently pushed her aside to move her off the broken little plants. But ol' Luck was not in the mood to be told what to do right then, and commenced to digging. The soil she removed was settling over all the little Begonias. At a furious pace, I might add - I no longer wonder why chickens have such sharp edged toes. Those feet work like prehistoric rototillers with a miffed pea brain is minding the controls.

Having had enough of her brand of help, I pushed her off the end of the bed. It wasn't but 8 inches to the grass so I wasn't worried about hurting her. This strategy only served to set the imperious Queen Lucky's feathers on end.

One should use caution when dealing with the head of the hen house. She had more power than any of those cocky roosters. No one, or should I say no bird, stood up against her. I, however, am farther up the totem pole and reserve the right to stop her from time to time.

Shall we say that we weren't seeing eye to eye right then? If you think that chickens have no expressions, then you have never lived in close proximity to them. She stood on the grass almost shaking with anger over her unseating from a moment of industrious glee. Wee little mind that she had, the decision was instantly reached as to the next strategic move should be.

She jumped right back up there next to me and pecked a hole in the back of my hand. Having had the final word in a one sided argument, she drew herself up with all her lofty airs and strutted away like the Queen of England. While I sat there cussing her feathered behind as the wound began to bleed.

Lucky was normally my pal and followed me everywhere. She was actually mad at me. Refusing to keep company with me for weeks. If she saw me coming - she ran the other way. If I tried talking to her when I did get close, she stuck her head in the air and dramatically marched away.

Snubbed by a chicken - can you imagine? What an uppity old broad! She may rule the hen house, but she wasn't in charge of me. Tit for tat, I began ignoring her completely. After a couple of weeks, she must have decided to let the loss of a power struggle slide. She returned to being friendly and placing herself in the middle of any activity that involved in digging in the dirt.

It was rather hard to dig a hole with her around. If you were walking with a shovel, Lucky would come screaming from any direction to help you uncover what lay below. Somehow she figured out that the implement meant there was assistance in uncovering juicy white grubs. If you think digging a hole is hard, try doing it with a big chicken jumping in and out of the hole. Don't stop - she'll attack your feet and untie your shoes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Commonality Highs and Lows

What do stars and flowers have in common?

They both rise out of darkness and shed light on the world.

They come in different colors.
They are brilliant.
Some are single and others arranged in clusters.
Both are a symbol of great tradition.
They are treasured.
No matter how small they are, someone is enchanted by them.
They appeal to young and old.
Both can speak volumes to us without saying a word.
The world would be dreary without them.
They help us to tell time without a clock or calendar.
When their days of glory ends, each falls to the ground.
Both are a mystery man seeks to solve.
They appeal to young and old.
They mark the passing of the seasons.
Yet one is born of soil and the other of elevations unseen.
So very different with many similar traits.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Future Plant Scoop

Guilty Gardener ... Garden Scoop

World's First
Double Orange Coneflower


Presenting Echinacea purpurea 'Hot Papaya'
Image Courtesy of Plants Nouveau

Moy caliente! Talk about hot a hot tamale ... this is one beautiful bloomer. Direct from the breeding artistry of Arie Blom. This is the man who brought us Pink Double Delight and Lime Coconut Echinacea. He has more new coneflower introductions just waiting to come on board too. Impeccable breeding lines is what is behind the performance and stability found in all of his Cone-fections
Echinaceas.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

$100 Tomato Recipe

Free Plants and A Claim To Fame!
How's your culinary arts? Have you heard that you can win $100 for the best recipe using garden fresh tomatoes?

Better hurry and send your most scrumptious secrets to fine tomato cuisine! You can only enter the contest until August 27th.

The winner gets $100 Gift Certificate from Park Seed. Plus, the winning recipe and all of their other favorites will be published on www.SuccessWithSeed.com.

Read the full press release here at Park Seed!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pandora ... Global Giving

Do you know about Pandora? Its a wonderful place for your personal music radio station. You pick a style of music and select what songs they play you like and which ones you don't and the programming customizes your station to your personal taste.

It's FREE! It is the Music Genome Project so anyone can use it free of charge. I love this site, its what I clean my house by. Pandora is all about global giving. Free music without commercial interruption. No dreaded newscasts to spoil your mood. Just the best music anytime you turn it on 24/7 - 365 days a year.

You can setup a station totally dedicated to one artist too. Pandora has thought of everything one would want to do to create your own favorite music station. Imagine never a discordant note, no matter how long you have it turned on.

Join Pandora and voted on the best of some fabulous artists work to help choose the 2nd annual Pandora Poster. I thought you would enjoy these beautiful garden related designs. One of these talented people or another who has submitted an entry for the $500 cash prize if their piece is voted best by the majority.

You can even get your stations on select cell phones with service from Sprint or AT&T.






Saturday, August 9, 2008

Well - I Feel Better Now

From the mouths of those who have authority, we find reason to elect the more common person to fill these roles. Vote for me! I would never say anything remotely this stupid. Plus there would be a national grant fund for struggling gardeners everywhere who's annual income is less than $65,000....


"Sure, it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of something else anyway."
-- Othal Brand, member of a Texas pesticide review board
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"They gave me a book of checks. They didn't ask for any deposits."
-- Joe Early, Congressman (D-Mass), at a press conference to answer questions about the House Bank scandal
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It's only the people who make them unsafe."
-- Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"We didn't send you to Washington to make intelligent decisions. We sent you to represent us."
-- Kent York, Baptist minister to US Rep. Bill Sarpalius

Oh yes, and we would not use food grains for biofuel for I am intelligent enough to see the error here. Only recycled water would be allowed for hydrogen powered cars because this step is going to make all of our water cost us $5 a gallon. Don't these people have to take aptitude tests?

Now about that garden grant foundation....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Free Information ... What A Concept!

Hey! USA and Canada readers...

You now have a reasonable fee way of accessing directory assistance on your phone. I know it has not a smidge to do with plants, but that is really good because I am telling you how you can cut down your monthly costs in a way that will actually help you earmark more of your income for buying flowering whatnots! How perfect is that world?

Depending on how you access this revolution to our traditional telephone directory for businesses, the cost can span from absolutely ZERO to a few cents per access. Sprint and Nextel are up to $1.99 per 411 call. I just learned that lil' tidbit today. If Sprint/Nextel has raised the stakes, then Verizon and the crowd is either on board or right behind them.

No more $1 or $2 fees to find who or what you're looking for. Not only that but the service works on any telephone you dial it from. It doesn't matter if its a cell phone or a land line! How's that for putting a dent in the communication market's hit on your pocketbook?

The charge? Normal calling minute fees for the provider and plan that you are on. Oh yeah, its an 800 number so if you are on a land line ... the call is free! FREE INFORMATION with direct connect!

Wondering who of all your information providers could have gone to such wild and unheard of lengths to assist YOU in a less expensive mode of conducting business transactions? Who, drives the information of the entire world?

GOOGLE ... who else? For Minimal to free directory assistance for anything from ordering a pizza to finding a supplier's direct line. Google drives the world! To access your FREE 411 DIRECTORY...

Dial (800) GOOG 411 or (800) 466-4411.

Goggle will someday control corporate America's profits. Isn't that a refreshing thought after a long a grueling work week? AdSense costs THEM money - not poor lil' ole you.

God bless Google and the horse they rode in on. May they make green a whole new color in the common person's rainbow with the bill footed by those whose success is at our expense.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Artic Blast

January in Michigan
Image copyright - Tammy Clayton 2004


Can you feel that chill? Whew - just looking at that snow made me feel better. Lordy, but its hot! Yesterday you could have baked zucchini bread in my truck. Furnace heat whooshed out and 'bout knocked me over when I opened the door. I kid you not. Scorched the back of my legs when I got in there too. If I had been thinking, I would have let the air run for a few minutes before climbing aboard.

The digital thermometer said it was 111 degrees F. Mind you it always drops a bit when I have been driving around for a bit. Oh it dropped down alright to 103! Thats about par for the sensor cooling factor of movement; it changes by five to eight degrees. Of course, in January I will look at this photo in my files and think about how lucky I am not to be up there in that mess.

This particular snowfall in the photo was wonderful. There was no wind and billions of huge flakes were gently . They were so thick the air was blue with them. The perfect snow that piles up on branches, outlining any vertical surface no matter how slim. It wasn't a storm those come in with a sideways twist. This one was just calmly wafting straight down. The kind of snow that blankets the world in a hush.

I remember emailing the photos to my associate out in California at the time. She was aghast that I should have to deal with such a mess. "Mess? What are you talking it about it didn't even drift!" I played that nice little snowfall for three days of freedom in the middle of a work week. Worked like a charm ... though now I am almost as spoiled with weather as she was.

It snowed once here last winter. Well trained stuff in the South, it only piles up on the grass! What a concept - snow with some courtesy. No scraping, no shoveling and no icy buildup on the roads. Excellent why can't it act so well up in the Flatlands? They tell me it used to snow a lot here, claiming sometimes they got up to 6 inches that stayed for a week. SIX INCHES! This is child's play.

Wasn't that fun? I was popping around in blogs for a bit and all I saw was vegetables and pickles being put up and such. Snow looked like it was just the ticket on a 95 degree day. A little something out of the ordinary for August. Eskimo Pie anyone? Snow Cone perhaps? A frozen lolly for Loose? (Its prob'ly not this hot in the UK - or is it?) Time to water the pots and refill my ice cube trays.
G.G.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Go Green? Rainbow is Better!

Easy Meadow Mix Early
(Image copyright Tammy Clayton 2003)

I always thought that a meadow planted with waves of different blooming perennials would be lovely. That is how Mother Nature clothes the Earth … in sweeps and drifts that grow and spread in the directions the wind and rain sends them. Never in a matched size row, more of a free-formed waft with the older tallest members toward the center and the height diminishes with the youngest beings at the ends. Just like the ocean, where waves rise and fall, a meadow will have high points and low points and change constantly over the days of summer.

One fall, I decided to feed the birds by not deadheading, as I normally would have. The result of this was the discovery of three common garden plants that would lend themselves perfectly to this kind of planting. This created a living bouquet that changed color and shape with the turning of the summer weeks. Left unchecked, the entire area became the most vibrant tangle of bloom power.

The combination of tall Daisies, Purple Coneflower, and Black-eyed Susan will bring a pleasant view from early summer into fall. The daisies start blooming first in late May to early June, depending on your growing zone. Crisp white then intertwines with purple as the Coneflowers begin blooming a few weeks later. When the daisies finish the early flowering period, sunny Black-eyed Susan begins mingling their bold faces with the purple of the Coneflowers. When does the show stop? Black-eyed Susan (also known as Brown Betty) will throw color into early fall. All of these will happily dwell in full sun and low to moderate moisture situations. Many times, the Daisies will put forth a light second bloom in early fall when the weather cools off. This gift will dust the golden Black-eyed Susan display with a smattering of cooling white.


Easy Meadow Mix Late
(Image copyright Tammy Clayton 2004)


All three of these long blooming, hardworking timeless perennials will work well in a rather dry situation once established. These lovely garden staple plants will freely self-sow freely, allowing the planting to thicken and naturalize your wave patterns by blurring the edges over time. These three long blooming meadow dwellers are perennial plants. But why stop here? There are more choices to be had at the candy store!

The addition of spring color would be most welcome to this simple planting scheme. I would use annual wildflower Red Poppies for this early session of flowering, the most beautiful of all wildflowers. This particular poppy variety is sometimes called “Shirley Poppy” or “Flanders Poppy” which is why the American Legion hands them out by the millions near Memorial Day. The appearance of the Red Poppy will be one you will look forward to as each winter ends. These will fade completely from view once the rest of the plants start their seasonal display. Poppies prefer dry feet and bright sunny exposure to perform at their best.

There are many other wildflower plants, both annual and perennial, that will put forth their loveliest face in a meadow planting where little maintenance and low to average water is required. As to how many times a year you need to mow your meadow? Is one time a year an acceptable amount of times to have to perform this chore? In the late fall, after the first frost, you will want to mow to disperse the seeds for next years meadow make-over as well as clean up the brushy appearance that will remain when nature goes to sleep.

What will be there over the cold season? Sweet memories of summer, a treasure that the future holds and will repeat. If everything were constantly in plain sight, what would you have to anticipate? The magic of flowers would dim swiftly if they were always there and never changing. Like beloved old friends, one looks forward to their yearly visit with much excitement. Some of them stay a day or two, others my actually drop by for a couple of weeks once a year. Some will visit a couple of times a year with a spell of absence between. No matter how fleeting their visit, it is something we relish and look forward to repeating for years on end.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eggstra Green Living

Who needs to use natural gas or electricity to make an egg in August?


To add toast to your snack ...

1) Pre-toast 2 pieces of bread, wrap them dry in tinfoil and pack away in your car with the rest of your supplies.
** For my readers who do not motor so freely about, stow your knapsack or picnic basket on your bicycle to have a protein rich snack handy when you need it. Commuting by train, bus or subway? Such a light weight, no fuss set of equipment could even be stored in your briefcase or tote. Just remember to adequately pad those eggs to reduce fracturing and messy cleanup. Thank you Loose & Leafy for pointing out my error.

2) While your egg is cooking, you can unwrap your toast and add it to your improvised stove surface.

3) Butter your toast when you eggs are almost done.

Cooking Tip: Blacktop or asphalt surfaces are twice as hot as concrete allowing you to save expensive energy on a much cooler summer day.

Better yet -
Grilling Outdoors Without Charcoal or Gas!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Can You Say Compaction?

To my regular readers:
Please pardon my intermittent and odd day posting recently. I have had to put in ridiculous overtime hours of late. Talk about draining a person of the creativity or inspiration to write just one more piece. Bear with me, perhaps the sun will shine again soon. And onto today's topic ...

Autumn Amethyst Encore Azalea
Image copyright - Tammy Clayton 2007


I found some time to catch up with a few of my Blotanical pals today. Thank you Dustin for bringing an important misconception to mind that I have not yet expounded upon.

Compaction should be a four-letter word. Let me paraphrase that ... "rock" is a four-letter word and has much the same meaning. Impervious would also make a good word to fit in with this vein of thought and yet has more than four letters. If you are truly a gardener, then you know that compaction is evil and not good for plants one gardens to be able to enjoy and succeed in growing.

Any gardener worth their weight in soiled activity would never and I repeat NEVER lay down weed barrier over their treasured soil. Landscape fabric - weed barrier, whatever you choose to call it is evil and a sign of laziness. If you don't want weeds that is understandable. No one likes weeds. No one really enjoys the task of weeding when there are so much more wonderful things to be done.

Now I have known people who really do enjoy weeding, but they are few and far between. A scientist who once was a maintenance customer of mine refused to let us weed the beds. I never understood this as we did every other task necessary to keeping their affluent suburban landscape perfect and immaculate on a weekly basis. Why? Because he found it that in this simple laborious task he could easily work out the solution to any daunting problem he dealt with at work. Interesting concept. Weeds are stress reducing aids in sorting out one's thought processes.

Soil that is not allowed to be worked (i.e. scratched, hoed, etc) or accept replenishing humus as it naturally is available becomes tired and worn out. The presence of new twigs as they fall need a way to enter the soil and assist it in creating air passages so beneficial to keeping soil alive. The tunnels created for air also allow water from the rain or your hose to travel where it is useful and absorbed.

Weed fabric denies the soil from any of these beneficial additives. This leads to heavily compacted soil. Have you ever seen a plant thriving on the surface of a rock? Never on the surface, only in a crack between two impervious sections. And you wonder what is wrong with your green thumb? Plenty!

There once was a woman who hired me to design and build a most beautiful and costly perennial garden. We arrived to plant all these wonderful leafy beings and found that under her (tsk. tsk!) 4 inches of "rocking red" mulch lay not one - but TWO layers of landscape fabric. Her husband was hell bent on never having a weed in his yard.

Now I tried to explain to these fine folks that we needed to remove all the mulch and the weed barrier to till up the compacted clay beneath or their plants were not going to do very well. This process was emphatically denied and the garden was planted without being able to any more than cut an X large enough to drill a hole to accommodate the poor thing's root ball at a minimum. We were profusely thanked for the instant beauty and earned a handsome tip on top of the invoice amount.

Two weeks later the Mr. phoned to complain that we had not properly planted half of the plants. He had already fixed our shoddy work and requested I pay him for his time in all fairness. Now, I have never left a job without doing a walk through to make sure it is all done and done right. I informed him of this and refused to pay anything because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this could not be farther from true.

The following June, I received a nasty letter from the Mrs. that she expected full compensation for everything in her garden that was missing because it did not live through the winter. Well really. It was mild winter with plenty of snow cover and everything that was planted in her yard was fine and dandy in mine. I fumed in silence for a few days trying to wrap my mind around this mystery.

At first I was convinced the plants were stolen or she decided they had spent too much money. That is until the road grader did the monthly passover on my gravel road. Of course, it rained cats and dogs within hours. The following day I was on my way to town, bumping through the same cursed holes the grader has frosted over. The light bulb of awareness glowed at about 500 watts in my head.

This woman's problem was due to her own ignorance and no fault of mine. So I called them and got the Mr. on the phone to set an appointment for a looksee. He told me it wasn't necessary really and was aghast to learn his wife had sent me this letter. And so we all met up in front of the disaster several hours later.

"Finally decided to come clean and restore your reputation?" Mrs. greeted me.

"Actually, I came here to educate you so that you do not have to go through this kind of disaster in the future." was my reply. And her hair stood on end...

Well the Mrs. stormed into the house and slammed the door so hard the windows rattled. Sheesh, but its hard to teach a pig to fly. However, unbeknownst to me, my competitor had been brought to survey the damage weeks before this day. Mr. was already wise to his error and thoroughly embarrassed by his wife's actions and behavior.

"I really am sorry that you had to come out here today. I tried to get her to see reason, but she insisted you owe her money. I will not let her give you a dime..." and he went on to tell me the rest of the story. The other landscaper had come out and told them already what I knew had happened. The freeze and thaw that happens repeatedly over a Michigan winter had heaved the roots out of the soil and caused the demise and even total dislodging of everything that was missing. Any corpse not present had blown away in the wind.

Compaction is a four letter word! This is why all proper planting instructions say to dig the hole deeper and wider by several inches than the size of the root ball. It is also the number one reason why planting in the fall doesn't work for a lot of people. The frost heaves that plug out exposing the roots to the bitter cold and literally causes death by hypothermia. With a blanket of loose soil to keep those roots insulated, the heaving ground does not harm the roots.

Loose soil and no weed fabric is the proper way to succeed at growing any plant. Scratch the soil around your precious beauties at least once a month to keep the soil loose. Boycott landscape fabric! There is nothing one can truly count on life beyond taxes, weeds and death. We'll talk about stone mulch another day ... someone needs to do the dishes around here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Improved Flavor

Wednesday is Prince spaghetti day ... (Courtesy of Carolyn Diamond)


Do butterflies grow tired of eating the same old stuff day in and day out too? This one seems to have taken a shine to a little zest of pesto. There is nothing like some variety to spice up one's everyday fare. I bet the same is true of many animals and other forms of wildlife. Why else would rabbits flock to level your garden when all the world abounds in juicy greenery?

The experts who create so many delicious brands of pet food seem to be convinced of this as well. I just saw an ad that proclaimed "Sensory Pleasures" from Friskies. Now if only cats would speak English, we would be able to discover if this were a fact or a human marketing campaign.

Normally, I pay no more attention to the print on my dog's food bag while restocking her larder. I just look for the name of one or the other low priced brands she likes. I hate it when the store has a big sale before I get there. This means both brands will be completely gone and I will be forced to contemplate which is the lesser of the ridiculous prices per 18 pound bag.

This means one takes time to read past the words across the bottom of the bag. Its at moments like this that the on-a-mad-dash consumer is assaulted with the craftily designed packaging and marketing slogans. I never cease to wonder when it comes to the claims of dog food manufacturers.

20% Beefier than ever before!
New Improved Flavor!
Preferred by more Dogs!

Has someone surveyed them? Like are they serious? Dogs will eat road kill for crying out loud! The other day I was faced with having to survey what the vultures had left on the shelf in the dog food aisle. No one else was around me, that aisle was empty. As I stood there eying the least costly brand left in the 18 pound bag and not the misleading 16 pound size for the same price. I spied the words splashed across the photo in Godzilla Yellow ... 30% MORE FLAVOR!

I have a bad habit of talking to myself at times. So I spoke loudly to the inert bag of mysterious nuggets, "Really? Did you taste it to measure the improvement." This was met by a hearty chuckle from behind me. When I turned, the lady who had snuck up on me said, "I have often wondered the same thing."

Now granted, there is a difference in some types of dog food brands over others. The very cheapest off brands of dry pet food are shunned by most of our four footed friends. When barn cats and farm dogs turn their nose up at dinner you know there is something amiss. These critters hunt fresh meat and enjoy road kill on a regular basis. Animals can sense when things are off in the food presented. They will go without for days before they will eat some of the cheapest pet foods you can buy.

Then there are just too wonderful brands like Kibbles & Bits. These induce overeating in dogs that are used to a diet of more sensibly priced brands like Gravy Train. My dearly loved BubbaLoo could go through 18 pounds of Kibbles & Bits in less than 4 days. Sadie was not allowed to eat unless I locked him out of the house to feed her. He demanded more and more until the bag was empty. Dam dog ... I sorely miss him and his 130 pound package of silly slobbery love.

Extra sensory pleasure is not a good thing at times. Bubby acted like a kid on Halloween who could not stop indulging until there was no more chocolate left in the loot bag. The boy ate like a horse as it was - who could afford to keep him in Kibbles & Bits! See these types of pet food lure animals to over eat and are probably part of the reason that creates fat pets.

Either way all this improving the flavor is done for the shopper and not the animal. As long as it tastes edible dogs will eat anything. They can't read the bag and don't understand anything in the commercials beyond the presence of another dog in their house. Fifty percent more flavor my eye! If the dog eats it ... its all good. It is even more wonderful and tasty at $4.00 less per bag.




Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fatal Attraction


Echinacea purpurea 'Fatal Attraction'

The ever widening fascination with the beauty of plants is a constant source of entertainment. If it were not for the development of digital cameras, we petal and leaf addicts would surely go bankrupt over the cost of film.

Is this digital? No! I must have several thousand dollars invested in the bin of photos I harbor in the closet. Eighty percent or better in that Rubbermaid bin are photos of plants and flowering scenes. Not all of them are good shots though, so why I am still holding onto them is curious. I suppose it is a memory even if it would be judged poor photography by others.

Perhaps it is a fatal attraction of sorts. The hesitancy to discard the past has some foundation. Like a distant memory there a scenes that are hazy, blurred and wrongly lit ... unworthy of sharing past shuffling through the box. It takes about 2 hours to go through this collection in search of some shot remembered.

Rare pleasant mood - the only such shot ever caught.

In the process of hunting through the proof of an obsession I am reminded of Mr. Crotchety. A fine looking piece of horse flesh with the personality of a rock and demeanor of the devil. It was no wonder they retired him from racing. Smart as a whip, this fatal attraction though very well trained could do some of the most unexpected things.

A horse who thought it hilarious to stand on cat's tails and watch them writhe in agony. I kid you not the baggage could snort in definite hilarity. He would act as if he were lame if a prospective buyer came for a look. He would fall over on the blacksmith while his back was turned, hunched over with a hoof on his knee filing away. Mr. Crotchety was ever a wonder, never boring and always up to something.

Like the time he crawled under the fence and ran away from home. Eight miles away to be exact. It took two sheriff departments and 10 days to find his lousy arse. After it was all said and done, I had to ride the sidewinder all the way home on a 95 degree day. When the house finally came into view through the neighbor's orchard, the blasted jug head came to an abrupt halt. He stood there staring at what he thought to have left forever and grunted loudly. As if to say, "What ... not this place again!"

Mr. Crotchety at his finest.

The horse was so anti-social we had to give back the rescue horse we adopted as a companion. The poor old loving guy was bitten and kicked constantly, living in a nightmare. Mr. Crotchety wanted nothing but to stand in the corner of his paddock with his butt in the wind while dozing in solitaire. If he was dead set against going for a walk, he thought nothing of falling to his knees in the road while at a brisk trot. He actually knew that by bloodying his knees he could go back to the barn.

It is interesting to note that the black devil was owned by women from the minute he came off the track. Suckers for sleek muscles and flashy dressing followed one after another over the years. I bought him from a sheriff's deputy, who bought him from a judge. After 6 years of trying to make friends with him he finally picked a teenage girl to seduce with his charm.

We got a divorce, this black devil and I and for once HE paid the tab. Lured into their trailer with an armload of orchard pears, I waved goodbye to his long flowing tail as it got smaller and smaller driving away. Not one to waste time at an art, he began his treachery before the got him off the trailer. At least he behaved long enough that this poor woman managed to hand me the cash. I couldn't be of much help to her when she called to say she thought he had a broken leg. He did not ... it was part of his act.

They were not as patient as I was. Finally, Mr. Crotchety won the war of pig-headed laziness. At least I am glorified in the knowledge that it was nothing I had done. Lord knows, I was always kind and patient with him as he lashed out and acted a fool. Last I heard he was living large on a retired racehorse pasture somewhere in Kentucky. Best place for him too. No matter how much of a shyster he was - he was far too pretty for glue. The photos are the best I have of him, but they don't really do him any justice save the one where he tries to look like he will eat you if you dare get closer.

G.G.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Forerunner of Eclectic Gardens

Kerascoet cottage garden - Courtesy of Creative Commons


Can you find anything more beautiful or romantic than an English cottage style garden? There is more life and amazement contained in this eclectic style than can be found in any other method of design. Grandeur pales in comparison with the sheer exuberance of life that erupts in such a planting.

Variety is the spice of life and the lifeblood of a colorful garden. I don't believe there is a more vibrant style of bloom display to be found than this method. Cram it all in and enjoy the show. That is the reason we do this thing called gardening in the first place. The toil is repaid ten fold as the succession of blooming erupts and changes, ever moving around the beds as the sun travels from one axis to another.

Wilton House Gardens - Courtesy of Creative Commons


Granted we can't all have a river running through it. I do admit there are no flowery borders in this image of the Wilton House. Yet, the waterway itself adds a particular magic to the view. We can however add a water feature of diminutive proportions to gain the accent of reflection and mirroring found only with a water element.

The feeling of life one absorbs from a cottage style garden is found in no other style of garden design. There are very few rules to follow which gives you the feeling of freedom. You can toss in all manner of plants and so long as you planned the plantings so the center is taller than the ends and the sides, it will all be fabulously displayed.

Of course, one has to pay attention to grouping plants of like minded water desires. More for the leaves than for the roots as the base can always be amended to either retain or get rid of water as required. Overhead watering is really not a desirable feature in a perennial garden. Using a ground water system allows you more freedom in planting combinations.

Ground water reduces mildew and fungus problems on foliage for plants that are prone to falling prey to them. Heavenly perennials like garden phlox is fine with a once a week overhead bath to clean the dust, but if done every day even the most mildew resistant will soon become diseased. The same is true of asters and beebalm.


Anne Hathaway's Cottage - Courtesy of Creative Commons


When planning the cottage style garden, do be sure to create paths that are at least 36" wide. If you have ever been impaled by the wheelbarrow handle while trying to maneuver a curve in a too narrow garden path this tidbit of wisdom will have already been foremost in your mind while planning the spaces in your garden. Or perhaps it was the time that the leg got hung up on a rock as you turned and all the weeds and mess in the barrow was deposited back in the freshly cleaned bed? (Yes, this happened to me, how did you guess?)


Eclectic is not knew as a style of design. It is simply the modernized term for cottage. Cottage gardens or cottage decorating, it is all one and the same. Oh and that shabby chic look? Those that must get by with what they have or find have been practicing the shabby chic look for thousands of years. It is however, about darn time that having everything matching and the same was discovered as boring. Variety is the only way to over come boredom and regularity.
G.G.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Convenient Truth

As a freelance content writer, I do get to cover some really interesting subjects. I do catalog descriptions for two mail-order nurseries. One of them had me write a newsletter on Paulownia elongata recently.

Now, I have to say that I have been aware of this tree for a very long time. I remember junk snail mail received some 20 years ago or more offering this tree at ridiculous low prices. I never thought it to be worth any thought or attention because the ads never showed a photo of a real tree. It was always some poorly rendered color drawing showing the thing covered with bright blue flowers. Totally unrealistic from the word go.

Several years ago, one of my favorite local customers was convinced he needed one of these Royal Princess trees. Since Rich and I had a mutually familiar rapport when he visited, I told him it was a bunch of bunk. Rich always called or popped in to ask my opinion on the latest miracle offer. Secretly I learned that he was not allowed to spend anymore money on these expensive hoaxes without first consulting my advice. So Rich never got his miraculous bright blue flowering tree. Its probably best, as it would not have survived some of those bitter Michigan winters out there in open farmland.

I was correct in my assumption that the artistic blue flowers were a lie. Yet I have discovered that not only are the flowers huge and beautiful in lavender for spring ... the tree is actually in possession of huge earth friendly benefits. It is hardy in zones 5-11 and a tree that should be planted in every community. The following facts and true and undeniably heavy on supporting the green movement.

It takes decades for hardwood shade trees to grow to a size that they give valuable relief from the sun's heat. Royal Princess trees attain such a size in less than 10 years. This by itself is a benefit worth it's weight in gold. Did you know that new homes without the benefit of mature trees to block out the sun and offer wind protection in the winter actually cost about 25% more for energy? Normal energy bills in older homes with large trees around it typically have that much of a reduction in power bills.

Paulownia elongata image published under GNU Free Documentation License


The huge leaves on the Royal Princess tree have proven to actually clean toxic pollutants and produce pure oxygen 10 time faster than any other tree. Like why is this lovely specimen not populating urban communities? It gets even better, the roots have been proven to filter all toxins from the soil they reside in. The tree grows very rapidly and offers impressive erosion control which dramatically cuts down on loss of invaluable topsoil.

The Paulownia tree produces knot free lumber in a span of 3 to 4 years. It is a light colored hardwood that is very in demand for furniture in Japan and is stronger than Basswood. Get this - it is the most sustainable tree on the planet for lumber and paper pulp. Once the tree is harvested, instead of a dead stump remaining, it actually rapidly reproduces a new trunk from the same roots. Can you grasp the meaning of this?

Paper and lumber industries have stripped millions of acres of mature forests from the face of our planet, leaving huge vacancies in the natural system that kept Earth temperatures cooler and our air more rapidly filtered. Developers of cities and suburbia leveled forested areas of vast dimensions. Urban metropolises are even more damaging from mass expansions of concrete and asphalt, buildings and concentrations of humans and vehicles making the heat index soar. Yet if these vast stripped areas around the globe were replanted with Royal Princess trees, they would repair the damage and provide a rapidly renewable source of materials we consume at such rapid rates.

The Paulownia elongata though valuable for it regal beauty, scented blooms and its attraction of flocks of birds and butterflies is the boon of so many benefits that are not yet widely known. It is easy to grow,drought tolerant as well as highly adaptable to soil types and climate differences. The leaves provide super nutrient rich compost too. All in all, the Royal Princess tree is a very convenient truth that should be put to use as a very green living element for sustainable living and an aid to the earth's environment.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Word About Smut

Once upon a time ( a year ago to be about exact) a plant inspector with a state department of agriculture 0pened up his office computer's website browser to do a little research on Ustilago maydis. Like any other person would, instead of typing in all that Latin mumbo jumbo, he simply typed in smut. Corn smut was his attended topic of research. The state government browser window popped open a page full of hits and he scrolled down and clicked on one that looked right.

Had he been thinking, he might have been wiser to type in all that mumbo jumbo Latin lettering. For what to his wondering eyes should appear on his state department computer screen? Porn, porn and more porn. The faster he tried to shut the insanely popping up windows down, the more of them opened in front of his frantic eyes. After attempting to beat the assailant for over 30 minutes and not even gaining on the intrusion, he was resigned to call the IT department to seek help in solving his issues.

Myself personally? I would have hit the power button after 5 minutes! Maybe even three. But hey, like I don't work for the state so I wouldn't have IT to rescue me from such a frontal attack. The biggest source of the inspector's angst was having to tell the technology department what he needed help with. I mean, imagine yourself in this dilemma, so distraught that it never occurred to you to turn off the ignition.

The poor man, a nice upstanding Christian guy who would never go surfing to goggle the wares, now has to tell another government department that his state issue computer in his state department office is hooked on opening up disgusting windows with no hope of gaining control. Why he didn't just shut it down and quietly take his leave I cannot fathom.

Instead he took a big breath and called IT. Sweating with duress in relating his problem he found that IT was not fazed a hair and came right over to ease him of his misery. But only after they had squeezed the entire story out of him one horrifying fragment of a sentence at a time. I mean, put yourself in his office while this is all happening and he is panicking ... totally hysterical situation. IT must have really had a field day dragging the tale out him one phrase at a time.

Since I don't work for nor have ever been employed by the government in that state (or any other), I can only wonder at what anal browser they require the state departments computers to use. Yet, I know the story is true due to the source of it's relating to me. I venture to assume he typed in smut without thinking about it instead of "corn smut". Try it, you'll see what I mean. Just like anyone else so involved in their work he simply typed in the first thing that came to mind.

Image Credit: Courtesy of cc-by-ca-2.0


Talk about a snaffoo! Lucky for him he had an office and wasn't in a office pool setting. Poor guy, he would never have lived that one down in a pool. A totally fungus among us type situation that from the outside looking in is too funny, yet were we in that chair the very same bizarre situation could happen to just about anyone if they type in the write word without thinking.

Incidentally, did you know that corn smut (a.k.a. Ustilago maydis) is actually a culinary delicacy in Mexico? Oh yes, it is commonly referred to as 'ravens excrement' from the word that represents it in one Mexican dialect. It sounds totally disgusting at first notion, and yet there are not many Mexican foods that have mushrooms in them.

A mushroom is a delicacy in many international and even plain old American cuisines. Mushrooms are funguses and where would spaghetti or gravy be without them? Perhaps is good for something that some cultures have yet to investigate. Picked young while meaty they are reported to have a flavor something like a mushroom.

If you order a Mexican wonder meal and it contains "huitlacoche" or "cuitlicoche" at some fine international place of repose, you are eating corn sumt. A crop that brings a higher price on the food market in Mexico than corn does. Now that is saying something since so much of the food made and sold in Mehico is corn based.

Smut, now who woulda thunk such an appalling crop disease would be worth more than the crop itself? Maybe American farmers who are plagued with corn smut should be smarter and get the stuff pickled or canned and sell it on the global market to Mexico. Seems a far more brilliant plan than destroying all that inflated cash crop.

Forget the corn - grow smut! It is easy to reproduce ... all you have to do is save some of last year's spores to infect each new season's crop. You could grow any old kind of seed corn, the cheaper the better because the smut is the real money maker in that field. Amazing the things one sees while simply seeing how much porn links come up on Google out of curiosity over a tale.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Strange Light


I suppose one must be surrounded by a lot of open country to be witness to events such as this on. Above the sky is light. It is not raining in my garden or anywhere in my yard for that matter. Yet across the road in the newly sown cornfield there brews a storm beneath the sky.

That dark blue behind the trees is not a mountain, those are clouds and torrential rain where open space should be. Yet it is dry and quiet west of the road. This was very strange, and weird too. The odd light changing the tone of the Iris blooms as it played oddly on the scene. The edge of that storm did move across the road and drench my silly self out there standing and acting the spectator in foolish awe. Moving onto the dry porch only after my clothes were plastered to my skin.

That field seems a rather strange place with a climate that is perhaps a little off. It has a history of attracting tornadoes too. In '54 one headed straight north up the center of it and picked up Ida's barn. Of course it was the one her daddy built in 1903. The foundation is still there at the corner of the field, inside of which grows a thicket of trees that has engulfed the old cistern. An ancient tractor the tornado left behind will never grace someone's antique machine collection. It will remain until it turns to dust with a tree grown straight up though the iron frame.

The year after I took this photo, a tornado chased me up the road from town. How I outran it I no idea, yet somehow I did. I was going so fast when I hit the driveway I almost went through the barn. The black funnel touched down at the far side of the field raising dirt dervishes up as high as the trees behind it. It reached a break in the trees over there and headed over head, not touching down again until it hit Tornado Alley along the Interstate 15 miles east.

Tornadoes seem drawn to the county line - that road that runs east and west less than eighth of a mile beyond my driveway. The following summer we all had to run for the cellar as one screamed right up the center of that road too. All my potter kids and me giggling in the musty safety beneath the ground. Listening to the phone upstairs ring off the hook. No one was brave enough to go back outside to get into the house and calm whatever mom (or moms) frantically trying to find their child.

In the midst of the howling wind and thunder, someone was actually knocking on the cellar door! It wasn't a mother. She sent her oldest daughter (far braver than she) to make sure we were in the cellar. Of course by then the danger had speed through and what remained was just the wind that drove the eye of the storm swiftly toward Tornado Alley.

Like who would think of grabbing the cordless when safety must be found without hesitation? Where was my cellphone? Dead at the bottom of my purse - where else would it be in a land without dependable or albeit any signal that would allow you to actually use it. Thanks Verizon, you service is priceless.
G.G.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Small Voice

Just one small voice, can you hear her? So much anguish and even heartbreak colors the tone. A mother robbed of her children and her home. Men with no hearts or feelings have plundered, oh so joyous in the spoils of their deeds. It mattered not that they had murdered so many of her beloved. The entire kingdom as it was known, is either in flames or completely obliterated. Never again will she be able to feed or give comfort or bring joy to her beloved family.

In vain, she repeatedly warned them, yet they paid her voice no notice. She raised them to understand they must never allow any harm befall a one of their treasures. Given them the instinct to protect each other and yet in the end her entire life's work was for nothing. It has all been laid to waste, her creatures and beasts of burden lie lifeless and the ugliness of greed wafts heavily like an unbearable stench. The anguish cannot ever be erased, the outcome is what shall always remain. No hope, no plan for the future, she has nothing now but a void that will stretch on for the rest of her days.

Are you saddened by her tears? Do you sympathize with her, feel the need to comfort her over your loss? Yes, your loss - for you are one of those that she has lost. You and the brotherhood of men, every bird she set to flight in the sky, each beautiful mammal lovingly placed upon the soil, all the fishes that swam through her waters and the magnificent beauty of flora that once carpeted the planet and created air for all of her children to thrive. Mother Nature does exist, she who brings life to everything on Earth with a finely woven tapestry of skill and innovation mere man could never mimic. Yet man is so egotistical that he attempts to make a better world than hers. Man was created by nature and cannot ever be nature. To continue to attempt to do so is to dig all or our graves.

You who have all become so specialized in industry that, that place so far removed from the soil. Lowly earth, your true source of sustenance and yet you cannot comprehend nor care to hear the messages. She is not amazed - it is not what you know any longer. The mechanisms and livelihoods of everything in the natural world is something you have schooled yourself to not be able to fathom. If you did understand Earth and Nature would not be in the state of abuse that they are. Natural resources belong to every living thing on earth, not to one group of humans, nor to one man. Without them being there as resources, nature will sicken and die. Without nature, there will be no life on earth. It's a circle, not an oblong. There is no Fix-A-Flat. Just one crack in the circle and that's it dude, all life is toast.

It isn't like there is another one somewhere. You can't mold one out of resin. Of all the things that could ever be broken, this will be the greatest faux pas of all time - anywhere in the solar system. The most deplorable point about all of this? It is not yours to destroy. Not yours, ours, his or theirs.

Perhaps you will understand with your last remaining breath. Perhaps not even then. After all, it would be highly inconvenient, completely non-cost effective and definitely frowned upon by those whose climb to the top you so emphatically seek to mimic. Mere man hath no power whatsoever when faced by an all consuming wrath of Nature.

More horrifying than anything the world has seen before, and yet it is a most inconvenient truth.