Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Gray & Silver Plants to Brighten up your Landscapes ???

"Gray is a cool, neutral, and balanced color. The color gray is an emotionless, moody color that is typically associated with meanings of dull, dirty, and dingy, as well as formal, conservative, and sophisticated. The color gray is a timeless and practical color that is often associated with loss or depression."
Bourn Creative: Meaning of the Coloer Grey 
Image - Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Uvalde

Agave neomexicana - image, Grootscholten
Growing up in San Diego county, I was surrounded by adults, many of whom came from the midwest. Their midwest biased choices for landscapes were predominently massive lawns, a few trees, some flower beds, but mainly their choices were based on preferences of rich greens like the environments they were transplanted from. I can relate. I grew up around a much more rugged landscape of drier Mediterranean chaparral & desert ecosystems. Hence the patterns and colour schemes regarding my preferences in landscaping are a puzzle over here to most Swedes who no doubt would relate to people from the eastern United States. Take the photo above of the Texas A&M research station. Most people in a Retail Nursery in California will still prefer plants which offer the most brilliant of greens over greys if given a choice. Very few would choose what they would consider the dull grey-blue New Mexico Agave seen above right. But I think mainly it's a lack of ability of visualizing such a specimen in the correct location and with the perfect companion plant which can offer accented colour hightlights which can bring out the richest most effective colour scheme within their gardens. Let's take some examples of human taste in decoration of interiors with greys & whites. Two of the most used colours here in Sweden.

Image - Decoist.com
Somewhere somehow a human a designer of home decor observed this gray and red accent highlight colour pattern before making their decision in use of these colour schemes. The various shades of grays and charcoals on their own would appear boring and depressing, but add splashes of red here and there and the complete picture is beautiful. The opposite would be true of red, overused and it would be too loud, busy and hardly relaxing. But how does nature handle this problem ???

Image by Wyoming Game Warden Bill Bish

Image - Susan Pedrini
My favourite combination of these colour schemes is found in the rugged beauty of a Silver Sagebrush (Artmisia tridentata)  dry high desert habitat interspersed with the bright reds of Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) In many cases the Silver Sagebrush can be found in a high desert monculture which for most people would be boring. But almost always the Indian Paintbrush requires a host. Some say the Indian Painbrush plant is semi-parasitic plant, but not in the negative way you may consider parasitism. The idea behind a parasite is that it only takes without giving anything back, but I believe there is more to this than meets the biased scientific researcher's eye. As with everything else of course.

Image - City of Monterey Park

These are the beautiful flowers of the California Zauschneria (California Fuchsia) which is another of those very gray foliage plants which no one would ever give a second look at were it not for it's lipstick candy red flowers. 

Image - Yerba Buena Nursery

And yet another plant with dull gray-green foliage would be the native state flower known as California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Without the flowers, who would be interested ???
Exotics we wouldn't bother with either if it weren't for their Flowers 😁
Image - Arizona Flowering Plants

Image - Las Aventuras
In the hotter regions of the Southwestern United States (Arizona, California, New Mexico & Texas), there are some popular exotic shrubs from the Caribbean we would not give a second look at were it not for their spectacular colourful flower displays. One of them is Mexican Red Bird of Paradise or Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). The compound leaves and pattern of the shrub is interesting, but again it is the flowers which provide the eye-candy people want. Other similar types of Caesalpinia are also attractive, but only with the flash colour of their flowers. So with numerous examples of what nature does with colours, we can biomimic in our designs in our gardens and large urban landscapes utilizing other plants as companion plantings if all the desirable qualities do not exist on the same plant.

Image - Dave's Gardens
Same is also true of this South American native, Desert Yellow Bird of Paradise - (Caesalpinia gilliesii). Nobody would ever plant it were it not for it's flowers. Because the otherwise dull gray-green foliage is not overly remarkable other than the decorative pattern of it's compound leaves.
Accenting large Chaparral Shrubs with beautiful red flowering vining natives.
Image - proyectos11

Image - Tree of Life Nursery
Many chaparral shrubs around the globe have been described as dull and mundane, but they have interesting partners which provide interest for both wildlife and humans. Take this example. This beautiful native plant to California's interior hills and valley's in it's Mediteranean climate is called, Bush Snapdragon (Galvezia juncea). A coastal or Channel Island variety of this is Galvezia speciosa (Island Bush-Snapdragon). Whenever I have seen this in native plant in the plant nurseries, the people purchasing them usually want them as a specimen plant all by itself. After they get older they generally look like nothing more than a large mounding shrub ball. While the plant is beautiful, the setting is boring. Of course you can do that, but that is not necessarily how I have found them when out hiking in the wild. In landscape design, I want a more wild natural look in the landscape. I deliberately chose both these photos which reveals a pampered plant which is happy because it has all it's favoured conditions met. Notice they have lots of long leggy streaming vine-like branches ??? Where I have found this plant in wild chaparral biome canopy, these long leggy streamers are usually poking straight up through the shrub canopy with vine-like branches flowing over the top of the shrubs from openings. Not overwhelming the shrubs, but just enough to provide wonderful accent of that lipstick red colour. Here is a link to information on this native plant from Tree of Life Native Plant Nursery about them.
Tree of Life Nursery: Bush-Snapdragon – Galvezia
Pipestem Clematis & Chaparral Clematis (Clematis lasiantha)
Image - Las Pilitas Nursery

Image - Philip Bouchard (2010)
This is another one of those interesting vining plants in the chaparral plant community called Clematis. This Pipestem Clematis (Clematis lasiantha) is deciduous and grows to 8-20' and has showy, creamy white flowers from March-August. Pipestem or Chaparral clematis is native in the coast ranges and Sierra Nevada mountains. I've found it previously when I lived in western Riverside County in California just east of Temecula right along Hwy 79. It apparently grows as far south as Baja California. The Clematis fruits are plume-like which you can see here on the right. Another type of Clematis is Clematis ligusticifolia which is a little more vigorous. But it needs a chaparral lattice or tree ladders to climb and support it's vining habit needs. I've never seen anyone use this plant in the landscapes, but for me it has good potential.

Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Santa Margarita California has a link on their pages to a long list on native plant vines.
http://www.laspilitas.com/groups/native-vines.html

Dallas Texas Lanscape - Lee Ann Torrans

Image - Burger's Onion
The landscape above has Santolina and native grasses in a perennial garden. That is Russian sage in the background just about to burst forth in lovely feathery blooms and Salvia Greggii in the front with pink blooms. But in SoCal you can also use various native Sages and even the exotic Mediterranean Lavenders. Also keep in mind SoCal has other native plants like Aloes, Agaves, numerous succulents, even San Diego's native Dudleyas. A good write up on San Diego Dudleyas Yuccas and other native Southern California succulents can be found below.
Burger's Onion: "Succulents of Coastal Southern California: Dudleya"
Challenge yourself next time with landscape design ideas and concepts bordering on those gray areas 😉 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Whitewashing vs Greenwashing. Is there really a difference ???

'There is peace! There is peace!'  When there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14
We've all heard of the expression, "a wolf in sheep's clothing" which is an idiom of Biblical origin used to describe those playing a role contrary to their real character with whom contact is said to be dangerous or even life threatening. In particular, and specifically the biblical reference above has always been directed towards false religious leaders or prophets. But in today's context, it may also reference a politician, business leader, a scientist etc or even a technological advancement that seems to be good and even beneficial on the outer surface, but is actually not good at all. The occurence of the expression "there is peace there is peace. When there's no peace" is mentioned several times in both the books Jeremiah & Ezekiel just prior to the fall of  the nation of Israel and carried off into Babylonian occupation and captivity. The corrupt religious leaders back then were lying in an attempt to counter the judgement warning messages to the people by watering down it's it's inevitable reality. In the end they were exposed as the liars they were and the nation did indeed fall to the Babylonian Empire. If anyone is interested further in various the wording references of both texts & their cross-references of other translations, you may view them from these two links:
And yet in another related text along the same theme is found at  Ezekiel 13:10 actually uses the term "whitewash" in an illustrative way about a flimsily built wall with gross imperfections which was deliberately covered over with whitewash so as to hide the walls flaws and mistakes. But now we have a new modern term in our times called, "greenwashing" which has come to the fore over the past decade to highlight and expose many of the glaring flaws in much of the alternative eco-friendly energy schemes proliferating today. This greenwashing hides the flaws and imperfections of green schemes said to be eco-friendly and sustainable, but in reality are failures. First, it may be helpful to define exactly what both terms mean. In actual fact they are really identical. 
Definitions of the secular terms:
  • Whitewashingis a metaphor meaning "to gloss over or cover up vices, crimes or scandals or to exonerate by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data".
  • Greenwashingis the use of marketing to portray an organization's products, activities or policies as environmentally friendly when they are not. ... Greenwashing is a play on the term "whitewashing," which means to gloss over wrongdoing or dishonesty or exonerate without sufficient investigation or spurious data."
Below is the article published by an environmentalist group which gave me the inspiration for this post.
EcoWatch: "Scientists Develop 'Milestone' on Road to Improving Photosynthesis to Produce Renewable Energy" (Source - EcoWatch)
(Credit: Dink101/Depositphotos)

The well known corporate character to the right here, Elon Musk, is an eccentric often known for his various pursuits of futuristic schemes and making grandiose promises about advances in technology. PopSci magazines, most all Media outlets, social media sites, etc, often employ this same tactic in stirring up enthusiasm among their readers (ratings for advertisers) for the promotion of futuristic schemes and technologies which almost no one reading will in reality ever see in their lifetime. But it does provide the readers the comfortable illusion that all will be well at some future time for all life on Earth. In other words, it's very much like watching a Star Trek episode with all their amazing technological gadget fantasies, though yet to be realized now. Yet one day we are told they will all come true if you only have unquestioning faith and believe. One of the biggest schemes in the alternative energy area are the massive Solar industrial complexes and Wind Turbine Energy Farms which on the surface look promising, but at what cost and with what results ??? 

While claiming to be the ultimate in biomimetic innovations, in reality they often fall well short of anything compatible with nurturing nature. Like a foreign non-native organisim abruptly introduced by humans into a clean ecosystem, they wreak havoc on the already existing native organisms around them. They truly become an invasive mechanized component in Earth's ecosystems. Hence in this top photo above we have an illustration of a tree's leaves with an ability at utilizing Sun's energy in photosynthesis. So far the world's Solar technologies while having some viable potential, haven't exactly met all of it's promised goals. Take note of this EcoWatch article attempting to convince it's readers that one day the Solar Industry will obtain true biomimicry like that of plants. After the article makes numerous claims about the potential benefits, almost as if the technology already exists, they make this admission:
"Reisner told Newsweek that the process outlined in the paper was still new and not ready to be reproduced on an industrial scale, but that the scientists involved hoped to refine it and demonstrate its practical use in the future."
(Source - EcoWatch) 
No time frame of the new innovation's release of course is provided to pinpoint a date for the technology's unvailing. Like so many of those Elon Musk's grandiose promises, the technology's reality is way far off into the future as the technology will take a longer time in it's perfecting and refinement if at all. There already are drawbacks with the present generation of Solar Farms. Unforeseen consequences have reared their ugly heads. For example, clean solar energy was supposed to fight, neutralize and help reverse global warming, but in fact how many of you people even knew that all solar farms ironically create a Photovoltaic Heat Island Effect

Image - Basin & Range
In other words, these larger solar power plants across the deserts and elsewhere on our planet where vegtation is removed and massive farms 1000s of heactares square have increased local temperatures by several degrees. This is especially true of the concentrated solar thermal plants which require massive fields of heliostat mirrors focussing the sunlight on receivers located on centralized solar power towers. Not only are desert temperatures raised significantly, but they obiliterate and incinerate any living thing (birds, bats, insects, etc) which flies over the facility project area. There is also the other very serious problem of acquiring natural resources (rare earth metals) to manufacture these panels. There is the huge challenge of finding more and more of all these rare earth metals which make up the circuitry and other electronic components required to make these systems operate. And there are some devastatingly sad consequences in aquiring these.

Images - www.dailymail.co.uk

So often today on almost every Social Media site on the internet, it's considered hip to post various environmental memes in hopes that these will go viral. The hope of course is that the viral meme will achieve recognition to the social injustice. I've seen several photos of poor mistreated African children 3, 4 or 5 years old (like the real photo above) working in mining pits for rare earth metals with task masters standing over them. Of course it's true that the African continent is literally being stripped and exploited for is natural resources and many of it's poorer peoples are paying a heavy price. Yes, there is no debate that such circumstances in exploiting the innocent do exist and should be condemned. Quite often though the very one's posting these memes are eco-activists who reside in comfortable rich industrial nations. But they often fail to acknowledge that they themselves are also as much a part of the big ecological problem than they care to admit. 

Image - TechFix
Unfortunately we all are. We are all of us tied into this present failed system of things. Rare Earth metals are vital to the manufacture of all electronic devices, Solar Panels and Wind turbines, computers, various electronic gadgets, mobile devices, video games, etc. Ponder and meditate on this the next time you want to upgrade your lifestyle with the latest technological gadgetry when your present devices still have years of usefulness. Huge quantities of rare earth metals are meeded even more for all these eco-green energy schemes. Without these rare metals, there would be no alternatives for energy innovations and often in a rush to compete, these corporations have not exactly perfected their wares before dumping them out onto the marketplace. They also have not been forthright in admitting their failings and their product's negative side effects. For example the claims of long shelf life for Solar Panels and Wind turbines have often been greatly exaggerated. 


I've read so many articles with great claims as to the shelf life and productivity of solar panels or even wind turbines. In other words the reality is that these do not last as long as advertised in their propaganda brochures. I remember reading about some new start up manufacturers in their infancy making claims of panels which could last 30 or 40 years and today those companies are gone. The problem also is what to do with the toxic e-waste that went into making these things when they wear out. For many sooner than advertised.
Growing Concern over Solar Panel e-waste 😕
Consider some of the growing concerns over what happens to solar panels at the end of their lifespan. Consider these following statements:
  • The problem of solar panel disposal “will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment” because it “is a huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle.”

  • “The reality is that there is a problem now, and it’s only going to get larger, expanding as rapidly as the PV industry expanded 10 years ago.”

  • “Contrary to previous assumptions, pollutants such as lead or carcinogenic cadmium can be almost completely washed out of the fragments of solar modules over a period of several months, for example by rainwater.”
Now, were these statements above made by greedy Oil Execs, the gas or coal industries or by other climate change deniers ? Nope! These quotes actually came from the Industry personel themsleves. Inw is a senior Chinese solar official, another is a 40-year veteran of the U.S. solar industry, and still others are research scientists with the German Stuttgart Institute for Photovoltaics. Here, you may read about their concerns for yourself here:
China Science: "China’s ageing solar panels are going to be a big environmental problem"
Solar Power World: "It’s time to plan for solar panel recycling in the United States"
https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article176294243/Studie-Umweltrisiken-durch-Schadstoffe-in-Solarmodulen.html
For Wind & Solar to be Sustainable, you need Oil to power them
Each Wind Turbine & Solar Panel embodies a whole lot of petrochemicals and fossil-fuel energy than publicly admitted
Illustration - Dan Page
Here is a great article explaining in almost every detail the catch 22 problems behind alternative energy schemes. Consider this amazingly candid piece on the logistics with production flaws of building alternative energy mechanisms - ecologically speaking. Václav Smil, is a Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He wrote an open and honest critique of the not so eco-green alternative energy manufacturing apparatus. You can read the entire piece in a PDF link from his own site, but here is the ending conclusion about this revelation and exposure of how and what the renewable energy industry has to go through to manufacture their not so green wares. Warning - you may get a feeling of hopelessness without all the usual propaganda hype euphoria usually experienced on social media eco-green sites:
"For a long time to come—until all energies used to produce wind turbines and photovoltaic cells come from renewable energy sources—modern civilization will remain fundamentally dependent on fossil fuels."
(Vaclav Smil: pdf version)
This is not a slam against the effort to try to design, build and implement something safer and better from an ecological standpoint when it comes to energy creation, but rather a spotlight on much of the untrue propaganda and deliberate ignoring of major fundamental flaws within the industry and their less than perfect technology. I don't care if you saw work on Star trek or Star Wars and imagine one day we'd all be living the dream for real. Those shows were nothing more than mythical fantasy for entertainment value. We need reality folks and people should be able to differentiate between fantacy (greenwashing) and reality (back to the drawing board). And I haven't even touched on the maintenance flaws with both Solar and Wind Turbines, not to mention the replacement costs when natural disasters which are increasing in both intensity and frequency strike these massive infrastructures with ferocious destruction. Wind Turbines - Cellular Towers - Solar Panels were all destroyed as Puerto Rico began to see the impacts of major damage when they were hit by Hurricane Maria. Take note in the video below of what happened in Puerto Rico's electronic alternative energy infrastructure which instantly overnight became a complete failure and will take massive amounts of more money, more rare earth raw materials and quite a long time to get back to normal if ever.


The conventional Media, the PopSci Journals and the Lobbyists for corporate business interests and their political allies will never recognize or admit the negatives and inform the public. The negative things that take place in our times are continually glossed over and sugar coated. This brings me back another interesting biblical text at 1 Thessalonians 5:3 which is said to take place in our modern world's near future. Like the earlier false proclamations of 'peace' by corrupt religious leaders before the Babylonian Empire destroyed Israel, the new cry declaring 'peace and security' is yet another attempt at covering up and sugar-coating the failed reality of this world's leadership at solving any of the major problems that face all of mankind in every country. When does this occur and how will it all play out ??? Who or what institutions will take part in proclaiming this (political, religious, business, science or all) false announcement ???
"While they are saying, “Peace and Security!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
1 Thessalonians 5:3 - New American Standard 1977
Apparently the only correction our world will ever see will be a forced one. Frankly, I really have absolutely no idea or clue as to how it'll all play out as to specific details. But the only thing I can encourage everyone to do is don't fall asleep 😴 Stay wide awake & alert (figuratively speaking) 😨
More Reading on this subject
How Addiction to Electronics Affects the Environment & Our Lives
The Impact of Gadgets on People and the Planet
Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility - Summer Construction and Violations


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pointleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens): Health Benefits from Desert Plants ???


Image by Imelda Marcias


First time I ever heard of the use of Manzanita berries down in Mexico was from a family (Benjamin Larios family) I use to visit who lived on an old Adobe walled farm house in Anza California back in the early 1980s. The husband (Ben Sr) worked for the giant potato grower from San Jacinto up there, Agri-Empire, and his wife was known by the hispanic workers as the lady who made and sold both corn and flour tortillas (two dozen for a buck). So I also purchase my tortillas from her, since in those early days there were not a lot of stores which sold anything Mexican, unless you drove over an hour to Hemet & San Jacinto in the valleys below. She once showed me jar of Manzanita berries from which she crush and made a type of vinegar to get the goat milk to curdle and make cheese. They looked exactly like the picture above right. The Larios family was one of the nicest most humble families you could ever meet. But here below is the story that triggered my memory of my early times in Anza. Nice story from a couple days ago from NBC San Diego you can read here:
Woman Who Reached 118 Years Old Says the Secret is 'Good Food' from Desert Plants
Photograph by Telemundo Local/efe (NBC San Diego)

Image - Marie Bornman
The older woman above is, María Félix, who is from Mexico and she just turned 118. She attributes her health and long life to eating "good food" specifically foods from the desert. Along with the usual better known native foods like the Tunas from Prickly Pear cactus (Nopales), Purslane (commonly cursed by gardeners) and something referred to as quelite. Much like the Southern folk's usage of word/term “greens”, which can refer to collards, kale, mustard, spinach or who knows what, but in Mexico the word quelites is used to reference pretty much any green leafy vegetable. Prickly Pear tunas are a given for Mexican foods. My flavourite are not the store bought, but rather wild collected Nopal which are native to Southern California where I come from. In the Spring time, the tender new grow of the beavertail looking pads are collected, know as Nopales, where the flavour reminds me of green pole beans, but a bit stickier and slimy like Okra. The store bought tunas and pads just do not have the same rich flavour as wild collected.

Imafe by 
I've eaten Purslane in the past which is a well known little weed. The flavour and texture is very reminiscent of Broccoli. It is freely available as you all know and very commonly known by most Mexican descended people as a vegetable. Gringos however have problems with many things commonly viewed as weeds. Yet their ancestors who came out of the great depression often ate such things. Beans were common to eat when I was a kid, but this is viewed as poor peoples food now and I dare say, unless Gringos go to a Mexican restaurant where they serve beans, very few eat them anymore. But the use of Pointleaf Manzanita is what most interested me. From what I said at the top here, it was used by Berta Larios to curdle goat's milk for cheese. Indeed, almost anything with acid content will curdle milk for cheese. This Manzanita can reach between 1 and 3 meters in height. The stems are the typical red bark and a smooth texture, their branches are short and from them are born leathery textured leaves with a bright green color. They have spherical flowering clusters with each individual flower always reminding me of Chinese lanterns and their fruits are a drupe that measures about 5 to 8 millimeters whose pulp is very fleshy and edible. Sweet n Sour like Granny Smith. The fruits to me are sweet and sour which are used in the production of alcoholic beverages, smoothies, syrups, jams and even to flavor soups. But what stands out among the properties of pingüica is its powerful diuretic action. Caution should be used like everything else in the herbal field, but many will always over do it. Humans always have this idea in the back of their minds, "If a little works, more must be even better."

Image from Alimentoscon.com

The fruit tastes like the sour green apple of a Granny Smith or Rhode Island Greening. But dried and the powery interior of the seed is tart and sweet like the old Pixie Dust candy sticks. Among the supposedly beneficial properties of pingüica, the site stresses that in countries like Mexico its fruits and leaves contain very useful compounds which are used in their traditional medicine such as the tannins, gallic acid and arbutin (see link below in references). The later chemical property stands out for being the one that gives it its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also these acid-like properties which cause the milk for curdle for cheese making. But I've provided further reading below. Some sites you'll need to turn on your translation feature from Spanish to English.

Image - Mi Herbolaria
http://herbolaria.altervista.org/plantas/pinguica.html
Anyway, aside from it's uses in traditional medicines, foods, etc, it's also an excellent landscaping shrub for hotter areas for which I'm providing a link below from Las Pilitas Nursery and Bert Wilson's description and uses for this native shrub in your garden.
Further Reference Reading:
https://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/74--arctostaphylos-pungens 
https://alimentoscon.com/pinguica (Spanish - translate)
lifepersona.com/pingueica-nutrition-information-properties-for-health-side-effects-and-how-to-take-it
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbutin
https://honest-food.net/how-to-make-manzanita-cider-Vinegar

Monday, July 16, 2018

Before & After Photos: What do you see as different ???

This isn't Rocket Science. Yet almost everyone misses the obvious! 😕 If it was a Rattlesnake, you'd be dead. 😲
Image - Steve Schmollinger (1973)

This was posted on a Facebook page by a user in the group, Abandoned Rails. The member, Jon Severson, provided tis commentary:
"At the east side of Pipestone Pass, Montana the Milwaukee Road had a passing track and small yard named "Donald". East-west meets were common here and since US Hwy 12 crossed over the Continental Divide at this location as well photo opportunities were easily to achieve. In August of 1973 Steve Schmollinger captured a tremendous photo of the Butte helpers (Boxcabs) that have just cut-off from the eastbound train they have assisted over the pass. A track inspector follows the eastbound on the main to eliminate any fires started by sparks from her locomotives before they get out of hand. Forty-four years later nothing remains of the tracks, trains or railroaders at Donald. Abandoned in March of 1980 the Milwaukee fled its Western Extension in the hopes of returning to its Midwestern roots and surviving. Aquired by the Soo Line, the Milwaukee and its once strong engineered route to the Pacific has faded away among the rocks and pine trees."
Yup, sure enough that was interesting. No argument that it now looks different with no railroad tracks, trains and their crews. But what else can you see that's different ? In the Abandoned Rails group, not one person picked up on the dangerous Mojave Green Rattler in the photograph. Okay okay, there's not really a Rattlesnake, but something equally as dangerous and life threatening. Anybody else notice the dead and dying forest ? 😟


Image - Jon Severson (May 2017)

I'm seeing numerous before (historical) and after (present) photos from almost every physical location on the planet irrespective of the subject matter being discussed and what I notice first is the change in the vegetation health in the wild. For most folks this sad anomaly goes right over their heads. Why ??? Because apparently these days debating various versions of failed political ideologies of one over another on Social Media sites, watching who wins the World Cup or Super Bowl, or any other worthless time wasting endeavour etc appears to hold more importance to one's short attention span these days than if there will ever be a tomorrow. In other words "they take no note" of the world around them and where it's really headed. And many of the worst offenders are those who claim to be a champion of Nature. Yet, as we see in other photos like the one below, on a small scale some positive change for restoration is possible. Especially in one's own urban landscape. Unfortunately at the present time this can only be done on a small scale. Oh yes, such small scale activities get a lot of P.R. as success stories, but generally these projects are milked for all their donations drive worth. The idea of something on a grander global scale is often nothing more than a fantasy dream. In other words, don't hold your breathe for real world viable change.


Before & After Image - CEEweb for Biodiversity

The main failure of the eco-organizations who claim they just want to change the environment for the better is that they see the world through the corrective lenses of multiple materialistic fixes. You know, sign the petition, vote for my guy, protest & occupy a specific location for media attention, claim to have the moral high ground even when you're miles away from it and completely ignore the real causes of environmental ruin. Gain what appears to be massive amounts of followers through social media sites, advertise for more followers to join your organization, even if the majority of followers are fake (appearances are everything), then keep those followers stirred up and angry with misinformation as you beg for more and more donations to fight the good fight. There is a text below taken from 2 Timothy 3:1-5 which highlights with glaring detail the true causes behind environmental degradation. You can verify the truthfulness of those words as you flick on the television and watch any brand of nightly news. Yup, it's just that simple. As long as humans display such traits globally, the Earth will never heal. And the amazingly no one group is targeted over another as to fault. Both the Secular (not open to any agreement) and Religious (having a form of godliness, but proving false to it's power) elements which make up mankind bare major bloodguilt responsibility for global environmental ruin.

"But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but proving false to it's power; and from these turn away."
Think and look harder the next time somebody posts before and after photos  😟

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bitter-Sweet Vacation in Southern California (April 2018)

Cambrian College Grapgic Design 
[definition - "pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret"]
Image - David Broberg
First the Bitter: I suppose this really starts with the world being turned upside down over the past two years since my last visit in early 2016. There has been a constant barrage in the Media of social unrest and combative ideologies claiming to have the moral high ground over the other side and the reality on the ground is that both sides being dead wrong. No wonder I previously lived for 20+ years in a rural mountain environment on the edge of wilderness where TV reception was lousy and summer thundershowers were the main entertainment on the covered porched. On landing at LAX, renting an SUV and driving south to San Diego, it was clear from the start just how far down hill California has really gone into the proverbail cesspit. First indicators of course were the deteriorating visual of the area's native vegetation as we drove along. Seriously the native vegetation has gone incredible down hill, despite all the smokescreening wildflower photos by the local SoCal non-profits who try and reassure their followers on social media that all is still well in Nature because it's so resilient in the face of mass degradation. Then in almost every major city we went through, there are literally 1000s of homeless everywhere. BTW, for everyone's information, Sweden is having the same cancerous pains as everywhere else, despite the propaganda to the contrary. Homelessness and increased crime are found everywhere. My hometown, El Cajon, is overwhelmed with homelessness and the culture has become over 30% Arabic speaking. Not that, that is a negative, but like many other immigrant migrations, the refugee peoples are finding that the grass hasn't been as green as they were first promised it would be in so-called progressive industrial secular nations. Same exact issues exist over here in Sweden, but you won't hear the Media uttering a peep about this. Then came the incredibly sad news of so many friends, family and former neighbours who either have gotten Cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons or have simply died. This later news hung over me like a dark cloud my whole trip, much like the cool dark clouds in the SoCal weather which characterized my whole stay when I was so looking forward to a striking contrast of warm hot weather with clear blue skies as opposed to the cold wet of the Scandinavian climate.
Gardening/Landscaping is my only real therapy away from Sweden  
(generally when I return, I need a vacation from my vacation because I work so physically hard)
Image - Mine 2018

Photo - Mine 2018
The Sweet The well known familiar looking plant above is called by a number of common names. Desert Bird of Paradise, Yellow Bird of Paradise, etc, but it's science listing is Caesalpinia gilliesii. This plant is native to Argentina and Uruguay, but has now naturalized in portions of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts in close proximity to inhabited areas. I've also seen it naturalize in some places around San Diego County in close proximity to urban areas where gardeners have installed it within their landscapes. One of it's amazing qualities aside from being a tough drought and heat resistent small tree or shrub, is it's magnetic attraction to Hooded Orioles. I'm not sure what's in the flower's nectar, but they love it. So it was pleasant to watch them spend a lot of time in my mum's yard at these small trees. Also pleasant to see them finally taking more interest in the native Fan Palms which have grown bigger, allowing them to gathering and harvesting of palm frond fibers for their perfectly woven nests. Maybe one day as the palms gain far more height, they will finally build their nests in these palms. They are shy birds and tough to get close enough for photos. The other long time favourite is the Mexican Red Bird of Paradise or Pride of Barbados whose science name is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Very heat loving plant and easily propagated from seed and once germinated, grows faily quick with the right care. I've often wondered why folks would purchase one at a nursery when germinating seed is so easy as is the care for this plant. Once innoculate with a healthy mycorrhizal fungal blend, just mulch once a year and NEVER feed it with science-based junk food from the local Home Depot or Lowes. Just leave it alone and carefully prune and thin it once a year like I'm doing above along my mum's driveway. Of course, the strict nativists won't like these plants, but I have no problem with them and neither does it seem the wildlife.
At least a sort of sweet surprise in Idyllwild California - Western Redbud
Photo mine in Idyllwild California 2018

Image Mine 2018
I purchased this Western Redbud from Lawson Valley Native Plant Nursery (1983), donated and planted this one gallon Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) which was about 10" tall, in front of the Kingdom Hall in Idyllwild California in 1983. It's amazing how large and wonderfully healthy it has become with little to no care. It's actually one of the few healthy living things in Idyllwild. I neglected to bring my camera from Sweden, so all photos are from my wife's phone. Most of the pines up there are sickly and dying. I've previously made mention of my conversation with former US Forest Service, Wildlife Biologist, Tom Roberts, back in 1983, who told me that one dat all the pines in and around Idyllwild would eventually die out and their best replacement would be Giant Sequoia (Sequoia giganteum). Well that doesn't seem to have worked either since all the Giant Sequoias in Idyllwild are in steep decline now. (HERE) is a 2009 photo in Wikipedia where the decline of Seqoias in downtown Idyllwild is evident. The newspaper there, Idyllwild Town Crier, however has written an article about the decline back in (2017) and appeared encourage by improved health, which may have come from the higher than normal rainfall after the drought the five years previous. But the Sequoias in that new Park (with restaurant now gone) didn't look at all healthy and vigorous when we were there. As of my visit in April, I'll predict next year that some will most likely be taken down. I've already posted about the massive old Ponderosa that finally had to come down in Fern Valley (HERE). On a bright note, La Casita, our flavourite Mexican Restaurant is still there with great food and atmosphere. Now look below here.


Photo was taken by Frazier Drake  (June 1, 2018) & publiched in My-Idyllwild

Thomas Roberts
More Bitter This is the worst photograph I've ever seen of Idyllwild, California. The entire ecosystem up in the San Jacinto Mountain is collapsing before our very eyes. Actually, this is what I saw on the ground while driving through all the community backroads and streets, but it becomes far more dramatic when a view is taken from a drone by Frazier Drake from Idyllwild Elementary School playground. You can clearly see at the bottom of the photo all of the Giant Sequoias are dying, not to mention 1000s of the Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pines. So much for everyone's Mountain getaway paradise. Garner Valley and Anza Valley are not much different just southeast of here. Tom Roberts was both right and wrong at the same time and that's doubly sad. Well, in a bit of an update, here is Thomas A. Roberts obituary from last year, November 27th, 2017 in Legacy.com. I seriously do not know if there is even anybody left in Idyllwild California who would even remember Tom Roberts. Most of the people I remember from there are dead or gone elsewhere.
Okay it's official, you really can never go home again
Image is mine from 2012

Image Mine 2013
More Bitter Went for a visit on the way to Idyllwild and stopped by my old place in Anza on 60180 Burnt Valley Road and to visit two old neighbours. The first neighbour is a French couple from Paris who moved here before I left and they're doing fine. But the long time Anza postman, Charles Confer, isn't doing so well. He is bedridden and has a terrible time with Parkinsons. He was always such a tall strong man and well liked by everyone. He's so frail now. Standing at his place and looking back up the hill at my place, the property has been stripped of most all of it's native vegetation (Old Growth Chaparral) and numerous greenhouses have been installed for the purpose of growing Marijuana. It made me sick. They did leave all the pines, but the entire perimeter now is giant chainlink fencing with black heavy greenhouse shade fabric to prevent anyone from viewing inside the property. Some Asian investors from Los Angeles bought my old place and they have someone else living and caretaking the plantation now. Dobermans run loose everywhere. It's like some kind of military build up and fortress compound. Amazing how rapidly down hill everything has gone in California. After the amazing documentary "Weed" on Marijuana by CNN's Dr Sanjay where they showed the almost miraculous change effect of children with over 300+ epileptic seisures a week and no normal life or speech making complete turn arounds with a single dose or two of cannibis oil (not the THC junk that makes stoners high), I wrote a post about the amazing effects of the Cannibis Oil parents placed on the child's food. Three months ago I deleted that post because all manner of annonymous dope sellers were posting comments with their filthy website links to sell weed. So Colorado was the first State to legalize and others have dominoed ever since. The disgusting thing about the legalization, especially for the kid's sake, is that during all the petitioning and activist movement towards legalization, all the recreational marijuana using stoners refused get on board unless their addictive recreational use habit could be included in the new regulations and laws. And it was all rammed thru with no real world forethought of things like dangers of driving under the influence, etc. Oh well, that place above and the photo below are no longer mine and ultimately none of my business. So they have the right to do with it as they will.

Image Mine 2018

This is the view looking up at my old place from Burnt Valley Road at Jim and Margarite Saunder's old place. This view is looking west from the new owners (nice couple from Paris), place at the Geodesic Dome house on Burnt Valley Rd. The smaller Coulter Pines which were not visible from this spot when I left have now risen above the Chaparral (Redshank) and looking quite healthy with five and six years old growth of pine needles still hanging onto the tree and amazingly all that through the worst 4 or 5 years of drought the State has experienced. Through all the negatives I saw however, these native trees I experimented with (Torrey, Coulter, Jeffrey, Tecate Cypress and Aligator Juniper) are still successfully surviving with zero supplemental watering through all those years of horrible drought is a real bonus. Their success provides proof of the value of utilizing native Chaparral to provide hot summer period hydrological services by means of the natural phenomena known as Hydraulic Lift and Redistribution.
Nice Friday evening at Barrett Junction Cafe near Mexico
Image, Elisabet and Mum 2018

Image - Barrett Cafe
More Sweet Barrett Junction Cafe is quiet location away from the insanity of all the cities to the west in San Diego county. All points east from Barrett Junction Cafe on the Hwy 94 drive are Tecate Mexico and the Railroad Museum in Campo and eventually ending in the towns of Boulevard and Jacumba and then back to Interstate 8. The Cafe hasn't changed it's decor nor menu from the day of it's opening. It's like stepping back in time to the 1930s or 40s. I mean the Cafe counter and furniture still look early 1940s. It's loaded with antiques of all sorts, some of them for sale. In the old days it was more packed out on a Friday evening to where the overflow room in the large old military styled Quonset Hut was used more often than now. My wife and I took my mum there to get away from El Cajon. It was truly relaxing. We often vacationed in the past with a month or more to do things, but this time we had less than three weeks visit. So every day we had things to cram into our itinerary. But the Barrett Junction Cafe trip was perfect. Nothing changed.
"I wish there was a way to know that you're in "The Good Old Days" before you've actually left them.." Ed Helms

Image - Barrett Junction Cafe

Yup, Barrett Cafe's Menu's signature plate hasn't changed in decades one iota. And it's not just what is on the menu, but the flavours are exactly the same as I remember them from my very first visit in the 1960s. But it was nice to do something for my mum and sprucing up her landscape. Getting back to Sweden is always a let down weatherwise, but believe it or not  the weather every single day from May 1st to June 6th today has been hot and dry (temps - in the 80s F - 30C), with the except of one day of thunderstorms. The plants here in Scandinavia cannot take heat and they are so entitled (which requires life-support), because it generally rains almost every other day here and is most often cool or cold. They simply wilt and die in prolong heat with no rain, often with many of the forest trees dying. It's pleasant today, work has picked up incredibly, so hard to finish posts like I wanted. The Media over here is still pimping their usual lousy new reports. A recent Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Ceremony news video yesterday was posted over here in Europe, in which the school authorities in Palastine had the kids stage a mock military attack and hostage-taking play. I watched not even 30 seconds of the 5:00 minute video which was all I could stomach. How in all good conscience can mature adults do this with children ??? It's amazing and we keeping hearing about how things are improving and getting better. Yeah boy, "Peace and Security" just around the corner. So anyway, how's your summer vacation going ??? 😆😎


Image MovieStillsDB.com