Sunday, May 30, 2010

Killing my Lobster - Parking Gods Episode

Killing My Lobster
is a San Francisco-based sketch comedy group and film production company that just crossed my internet search path.

Founded in 1997, Killing My Lobster, known primarily for its sketch comedy shows, but they also produce comedic plays, and original films. KML Sketch Comedy shows incorporate live music, and are multimedia,with a consistent emphasis on high production values. The collaborations result in a range of comedic styles that melds raucous slapstick with sharp satire, wacky monologues with indulgent musical numbers. KML provides artists with the opportunity to generate and produce performance art across a range of disciplines that provokes, amuses, educates, entertains, and inspires. KML is committed to producing smart comedy that draws upon San Francisco for inspiration and is a reflection of its non-traditional audience.

If you watch the video clip in the link provided below you will become acquainted with the whims of San Francisco Parking Gods. If you share my sense of humor you will be amused. Highlights include the meaning of curbs painted pink, the Gods giving each other a high 5 and intoning "Hell yeah!" and vegan barbecue.

And if you found it enjoyable, KML has another 16 videos on You Tube.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Clever Idea in the Battle against Domestic Violence

While attending an educational luncheon on the topic of domestic violence, I was acquainted with a novel way for care providers to give out domestic hot-line phone numbers, a method likely to fly under the radar of the abuser.

The agency phone numbers are either printed on a clear sticker that can be adhered to a tube of lip gloss or printed directly on the chapstick/lip balm in what looks like a bar code number. That way the victim of violence has the phone number at the ready in her purse or his pocket when she/he decides the time has come to seek outside help.

This is genius on several levels.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


"Something with poison in it, I think"

"but attractive to the eye"

"and soothing to the smell"


"Poppies will make them sleep"

But then again Oz is a magical place

And results in other locations may vary.
Sometimes poppies only bring forth smiles.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Springing of the Year

"Oh give us pleasure in the flowers today; And give us not to think so far away as the uncertain harvest; Keep us here all simply in the springing of the year."

Robert Frost
A Prayer of Spring - 1915

Comfrey or Knit Bone blossoms

Carolina Allspice, Sweet Bubby Bush or Calycanthus floridus
These blossoms smell fabulous.

A showy early blooming white Iris

A Georgia O'Keeffe style camera shot of a pale purple/blue Iris

Two tone Iris

Rescued from someone's pile at curbside this older Iris has smaller blooms than the more modern hybrids but it produces many more flowers per stem.


Trillium sulcatum or Southern Red trillium

Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants. At maturity, the base and core of the trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants extract the seeds from the decaying ovary and take them to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they germinate in the rich, trashy growing medium.

That explains how this plant showed up in one of my front yard flower beds.

Lemon tree blossom

Lemon tree very pretty,
And the lemon flower is sweet,
But the fruit of the poor lemon,
Is impossible to eat.

This lemon tree is potted and lives in my garage during the worst of winter weather. It is a Meyer Lemon and produces several lemons for me each year.

One of my earlier Peonies

Go outside and spend some time enjoying the springing of this year.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ants and Peonies, A Wasp and Scarab Beetles

Research has some interesting answers to help us understand the relationship between ants and peonies.

It is commonly known that nectar is produced in association with plant flowers and that it encourages pollinators. The flower nectar provides food for insects, birds and even bats. Many plants also have extrafloral nectaries.

These special nectar-producing glands are located physically apart from the flower. Studies have shown that more than 2,000 plant species in more than 64 families contain extrafloral nectaries.

These plant species frequently are perennial and woody. Nectary locations vary by plant: passion flower on leaves, trumpet vine on petioles, partridge pea on petioles, hairy vetch on stipules, willow on leaves, smilax on leaves, elderberry on leaves and stems, viburnum on leaves, morning glory on leaves and petiole, sunflower on bracts, peach on leaves, cotton on lower leaf mid-vein.

Russell C. Mizell, an entomology professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, reports that peonies contain these extrafloral nectaries. He has gained knowledge that is useful in understanding the benefits of ants on plants (and peonies).

Studies indicate that various insects use extrafloral nectaries. They receive nectar that is about 95 percent sugar and 5 percent nutrients, protein and amino acids - different from floral nectar and by plant species.

It is easy to observe beneficial insects, such as ladybird beetles, feeding from the nectaries. Many species of ants are found in association with these plants, and the ants are known to use the nectaries.

Research shows there are only a few plants containing extrafloral nectaries in areas that do not have ants. Ants especially seem to benefit from extrafloral nectaries.

Studies of the plant species with extrafloral nectaries indicate that the plant uses these to attract beneficials for plant defense.Possibly, the continuous presence alone of ants may be adequate protection. The ants' aggressive behavior detours pests of prey. Extrafloral nectaries may distract the ants from insects that produce honeydew after feeding on the plant.

Ants may also prune competing neighboring plants, distribute seed and fruit, provide pollination and feed the plant essential nutrients.

Scientists continue to gain understanding of plants' evolution of nectar rewards, and study the correlation between ants and plants. Peonies use ants to defend them from pests and provide food to attract them to the plants.

To assist the natural defense process taking place in your yard, simply let the army of ants continue to march on your peonies.

Another of the insects attracted by the peony nectaries is a type of wasp that looks like a winged carpenter ant. Commonly known as the ‘Spring Tiphia’, the highly beneficial females prey on the underground larval form of Japanese and other scarab beetles so effectively they can eliminate 80% of the grubs in your landscape—before they can become adult plant-eating beetles. And having sugar-producing plants in your landscape is the best way to attract these helpful creatures.

That's right, growing peonies and encouraging beneficial insects like the spring tiphia seen preying on the grubs above can help decrease the numbers of those pretty, but ever so destructive Japanese beetles pictured below.

As we have so much further to go in our understanding of the interactions between plants and insects, I prefer not to use pesticides in my yard. My plantings are constructed with an eye towards supporting biological insect diversity. Support the predators and they will reduce the prey population.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Forty Years Ago

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

John Filo's iconic Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller after he was shot dead by the Ohio National Guard.

Remembering those four students shot dead and nine others wounded when Ohio National
Guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds.Two of the four students killed, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller were participating in a protest against the American invasion of Cambodia. The other two, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder had been walking from one class to the next at the time of their deaths. Schroeder in fact was a member of the campus ROTC chapter.

As teenager when this happened, I recall this tragedy vividly. It was, and remains difficult to comprehend.