Plantains!

During one of my volunteer shifts at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy Exhibit, I noticed that the big banana tree was gone (there were several little ones in the bed) and the green and yellow fruit was still on the pod laying in one of the beds. I had seen it blooming last summer (see the pictures here) and was thrilled to see that the fruit had ripened.

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A Brookside staff member explained that the fruit was so heavy that it was pulling the tree over, so the tree was cut down to make room for the younger trees. The big bunches of fruit were left in one of vacant areas of the bed. The fruit often ripens after it is cut from the tree and it happened in this case. The tree is a plantain – like bananas but without the sweetness. The fruit was a little different shape as well. The staff member used pruners to cut the plantains for people who wanted to them. I took a yellow one.

The recipes for plantain chips I found on the web seemed easy enough. They advised a green plaintain since the fruit would be firmer – easier to slice. On the downside, the green ones are harder to peel. I had a yellow one so making a few shallow cuts along the ridges of the fruit was enough to peel it (although still more difficult that a banana). I put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and sprayed it with cooking spray. I cut the plantain into slices with a knife and put the slices on the prepared parchment paper…sprayed them with cooking spray…and sprinkled on some garlic salt. I cooked them in a 350-degree oven until they began to turn brown. I hadn’t cut them evenly, so I took the thin ones out and then let the rest cook a little longer.

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Yum! I ate all the plantain chips in one sitting!

Yum! I ate all the plantain chips in one sitting!

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 13, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Coconut Spice Cake Recipe | Magnolia Days – The cake I made for my husband’s birthday. It tasted great even without icing!

Photographer Captures Stunning Images of Ice Shards Along Lake Michigan | Smart News | Smithsonian – Spectacular ice forms – made during the breaking up on Lake Michigan a few weeks ago.

Ancient Caribbean children helped with grocery shopping in AD 400 -- ScienceDaily – Snail and clam shells (small ones) might be from child, rather than adult, foragers!

Thousands of Invasive Cane Toads Overtake Florida Community | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ugh! Not something people want in their yards and pools and driveways. These toads have a toxin strong enough to kill cats and dogs that munch on toads and can cause burning eyes or skin irritation in humans.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: March – National Geographic Society – Beautiful birds….changing environments and habitats.

Where Have All the House Sparrows Gone? – Cool Green Science – House sparrow numbers have been declining since 1966 – all around the world!

66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor -- ScienceDaily – Fossils of animals killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact!

Pairing Geothermal Plus Rooftop Solar For A Truly Renewable Home | CleanTechnica – At what point will the idea of geothermal heating and cooling catch up with rooftop solar for our homes? Will Dandelion – or comparable companies - become nationwide?

Five new frog species from Madagascar -- ScienceDaily – Some tiny new frogs. The smallest is only a little larger than a grain of rice.

These pictures of seed bank samples turn biology into art – The beauty of seeds. The first photograph (of Australian windflower flower heads is my favorite. The x-ray of a red yucca seed head is also interesting….showing the 3D of the pod in the image.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 30, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Check out the map about 1/3 of the way through the article. It looks like quite a few areas along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are going to have moderate or major flooding through May. Almost the whole eastern part of the US is going to have some flooding during that period.

How Chromosomes X and Y Got Their Names, 1891 | The Scientist Magazine® - A little history. It all begins in the late 1800s.

C. R. PERCIVAL’S MICROSCOPE SLIDE COLLECTION | Ingenium – Browse through some of the images made of slides created in the early/mid 1900s. Click on the larger image to get a magnifier that can be moved over the image.

Food Trends 2019: Fermented Foods, Blueberries, Coconut Products, and More | Berkeley Wellness – How many of these are you already eating?

What oil leaves behind in 2.5 billion gallons of water every day in US -- ScienceDaily – Wouldn’t it be nice to not have oil polluted water injected underground…and sometimes into aquafers? Water is already in short supply in some areas of the country (mostly in the west). We need technologies to never contaminate water in a way that it cannot be consumed by plants and animals…and ourselves.

In Germany, Consumers Embrace a Shift to Home Batteries - Yale E360 – Half of the orders for rooftop solar panels are sold with a battery storage system too in Germany. I wonder when the US will catch up.

Butterfly numbers down by two thirds: High-intensity agriculture reduces number of butterfly species in adjacent areas -- ScienceDaily – It’s not just butterfly numbers that are down either. Agriculture research needs to hone practices that are productive in the short term…and the long term. In other words – all agriculture needs to become sustainable for humanity and the rest of the organisms that inhabit the Earth.

Nitrogen pollution's path to streams weaves through more forests (and faster) than suspected -- ScienceDaily – Nitrate is one of the abiotic tests we do for water quality assessment with high school students. This is a new finding to think about and incorporate in to the analysis of readings after heavy rains. The nitrogen might be moving so fast that the forest can’t absorb it!

Missouri Making Hyperloop Plans - News | Planetizen – A hyperloop between Kansas City and St. Louis! What a boon to the two cities and probably easier to build since there is not the heavy population between the two cities like the route that was originally talked about in California.

China Isn't Recycling Tons of U.S. Plastic Trash Anymore: Goats and Soda: NPR – We’re going to have to show some innovation in dealing with plastics – mostly single use – that we dutifully put in our recycle bins and assumed they would be recycled. Now a lot of them are going to landfills or polluting our waterways.  With a little thought, my family has reduced some….but the next step is tough. Some products we need are only available packaged in plastic.

Ten Little Celebrations – February 2019

February is usually a quiet month for me – not much going on. February 2019 was dominated by the birding after the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in January, family visits, and celebration of the staff where I volunteer. It seemed like a busier than usual February.

Conversations with my daughter – I celebrated my daughter being more available recently. Seeing her forging ahead in her career and life is something to savor. It feels good to see how wonderfully independent and caring she is these days.

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Icy day – staying indoors – Ice is much worse than snow but has its own beauty. This one was easy for me to celebrate since I didn’t need to get out and none of our trees were damaged.

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Snow day – What’s not to like about a snowy day if I can stay at home. Since I am retired…staying at home when I want to is easy. I celebrate every snow day – taking pictures and making snow ice cream. On our most recent snow day, the weather was warming to 50 degrees the next day, so we didn’t even shovel the drive way.

Spring-like day – And then we had a breezy day in the 50s. I celebrated that this will become the norm in a few short weeks.

Books – On all the cold days, I enjoyed good books on my PC, on my iPad and regular books. Celebrating all the forms that books come in these days.  

Cleaning out progress – We have so many things in our house that we no longer need or use but getting motivated to collect and then donate, recycle, or trash things is challenging. I am celebrating that I am making some progress…building the will-power to continue the trend.

Howard County Conservancy staff – The volunteers held a big celebration for the staff of our favorite non-profit this month. The staff makes volunteering a pleasure and a shared celebration is one way we show it.

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Downy woodpecker – I was home in cold, snowy, or icy weather and enjoyed birding from my office window. I celebrated many of the sightings…the downy woodpecker the most. It’s small, it’s hyper, and it seems to enjoy both our trees and our feeder.

Pink egg salad – I discovered that adding a few slices of beet to hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise in the small food processor makes beautiful, spreadable egg salad…celebration worthy food.

Headspace app – I subscribed to the Headspace app and am doing a meditation prompt every day. I am celebrating how easy it is to get started and keep going with this app.

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 16, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Mountain Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings this week with bird pics!

BBC - Future - The perils of short-termism: Civilization’s greatest threat – It is very difficult for individuals and groups of humans to think strategically. And maybe since we are now quite capable of catastrophically destroying civilization (atomic bombs and climate change are the two most probable) – we need to make strategic thinking a higher priority.

Could Spider Silk Become a Natural Replacement for Plastic? – Cool Green Science – It is still very far from the goal – mass production cheaply. But it is hot material science topic.

Report: Americans Are Now More Likely to Die of An Opioid Overdose Than on The Road: NPR – Gives another take on the magnitude of the opioid deaths.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fungi Present in Lichen | The Scientist Magazine® - For a long time the textbooks used lichen to exemplify symbiosis of a lichen and a fungus. It’s more complicated than that….and it’s a good example of how science is refined over time to improve our understanding.

BBC - Future - Why it pays to declutter your digital life – Getting rid of stuff needs to be about more than the physical junk we accumulate…we now have email and photos…all kinds of digital media stored and rarely – or never – used. It’s clutter. And it might need different strategies to declutter.

Central Texas salamanders, including newly identified species, at risk of extinction -- ScienceDaily – It seems like I’m seeing several stories like this recently – a newly identified species that is already almost gone. Depressing.

Elevated Nitrate Levels Found in Millions of Americans’ Drinking Water - Yale E360 – I don’t like articles like this because they point to a situation that has negative consequences…then doesn’t have anything that individuals can do to reduce the risk. It’s very frustrating.

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing | Smart News | Smithsonian – Flowers increase sugar content by 12-20% within 3 minutes of hearing a bee’s buzz.

Food is medicine: How US policy is shifting toward nutrition for better health – Glad this idea is getting more attention. We’ve been way to gullible to think that medications can overcome poor day-to-day dietary habits. I hope the 2018 Farm Bill and the “Food is Medicine” working group in the House are good ‘first steps’ to change the way we think about what we eat.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 26, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Learning Rule: Quantity, then Quality | Scott H Young – Quantity as an initial strategy is probably what I do most of the time….but I throw in a healthy dash of variety of mediums as I go after quantity. And I push myself to actively apply while I am learning all along the way.

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining: Feeling alone linked to psychological and physical ills, but wisdom may be a protective factor -- ScienceDaily – Most of the time we hear only about the negative impacts of loneliness (the emotion….not necessarily the physical situation). But there are many people physically alone but who don’t feel lonely. This study had a broad age rage of participants and looked at loneliness from multiple perspectives.

Aerial photos of U.S. national parks from space – National treasures…hope that the damage during the government shutdown is not widespread. Joshua Tree has been in the news….very sad.

Nutrients in blood linked to better brain connectivity, cognition in older adults -- ScienceDaily – Reinforcement that we need to eat foods with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The fatty acids and carotenoids are particularly linked to better functional brain network efficiency.

The Biggest Science News of 2018 | The Scientist Magazine®  - Just catching up on some end-of-2018 interesting posts. I had heard about some of these during the year – but missed some too.

The immune system's fountain of youth: Helping the immune system clear away old cells in aging mice helped restore youthful characteristics -- ScienceDaily -Early days…a lot more research needed. But an interesting idea…helping the body clear out old cells.

There’s a huge and hidden migration in North America — of dragonflies - The Washington Post – It appears that dragonflies migrate. The Monarch is the ‘poster insect’ for migration but it seems like there are more and more articles coming out about other insects that migrate too.

Meeting the Challenge of Feeding 10 Billion People Sustainably in 2050 - News | Planetizen – Land and water to grow food for an expanding population. It’s going to be challenging.

I Dug a Green Grave and Learned the Truth About the Dirty Death Industry – There is a Green Death Movement…and an example is in the Adirondacks called Spirit Sanctuary. In this case the goal is to return bodies to the Earth and preserve a landscape. Interesting…and far more sustainable that the more common burial practices (that include preservatives and waterproof vaults, sealed caskets) and cremation.

The Surprising Evolution of 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' by Hokusai – A little art history.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 19, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

After More Than 4,000 Years, Vibrant Egyptian Tomb Sees the Light of Day: NPR – Hopefully they will take steps to keep the colors vibrant now that the tomb is open to people and light.

The Bizarre and Disturbing Life of Sea Cucumbers – Cool Green Science – Way more complicated than they appear at first glance.

Norway's Energy-Positive Movement to Fight Climate Change - The Atlantic – Norway has some buildings that generate more energy than they use.

Life Deep Underground Is Twice the Volume of the Oceans: Study | The Scientist Magazine® - That’s a massive among of carbon in life that we know very little about….so many unexpected and unusual organisms.

Foods that lower blood pressure | Berkeley Wellness – And the list even includes dark chocolate!

Rising Waters Are Drowning Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor – This article includes time phased projections from 2018 to 2100…lots of track is going to need to be moved – or some other flood mitigation will need to be built.

Google Virtual Tour Preserves Collections Destroyed in Brazil Museum Fire | Smart News | Smithsonian – Some heartening recovery from the tragedy of the fire…Google’s virtual tour work, 1,500 pieces recovered from the debris, and a growing collection of photographs and video clips of the museum the way it was.

Soggy 2018 for the Eastern U.S. – An article from mid-December…showing just how wet we were in 2018. We live between Baltimore and Washington DC….soggy indeed.

New houseplant can clean your home's air -- ScienceDaily – Our houses have become so tightly sealed that concentrations of chemicals that are hard to filter out can accumulate. Maybe ‘engineered’ plants can be a solution.

Periodic graphics: How different light bulbs work – The trend is toward less cost/hour….more hours. Hurray for the LEDs that are not as blue as the compact fluorescents!

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 5, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Ambitious VR Experience Restores 7,000 Roman Buildings, Monuments to Their Former Glory | Smart News | Smithsonian – Is this the way we’ll experience buildings that are ‘lost’ in the future?

Most Top Burger Chains Flunk Fast Food Antibiotics Scorecard | NRDC – We don’t often go to burger chains any more. After this report – maybe the best choice would get chicken rather than beef.

Hundreds of Supplements Spiked with Pharmaceuticals | The Scientist Magazine® - Not good at all. The pharmaceuticals are undisclosed and some of the pharmaceuticals are those that have been withdrawn or were never approved. Advice: use single-ingredient supplements…and not buy supplements that are riding a fad.

7 surprising ways your body changes with age | Berkeley Wellness – I’ve noticed my feet are wider based on the way shoes fit. The others might be harder to see since they happen so slowly.

Twenty-Five Useful Thinking Tools | Scott H Young – Describing thinking tools my using professions where they appear to dominate. I hope that all the professions use multiple tools in their day to day work…even if there is one that is used most frequently.

Your guide to enjoying winter birds – It’s been so wet this year that we don’t have birds coming to our heated bird bath like we did last year. I put the bird feeder up a few days ago. Maybe we’ll start seeing more visitors.

Scientists Find Large Amounts of Methane Being Released from Icelandic Glacier - Yale E360 – A previous unknown source of methane…glaciers that are melting and happen to be covering active volcanoes and geothermal systems are probably all releasing methane. The gas is produced by microbial activity. This extra methane is not factored into current climate change models.

The Best of 2018 from the Prairie Ecologist (part 1) (part 2) – Lots of great prairie pictures.

New butterfly named for pioneering 17th-century entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian -- ScienceDaily – I enjoyed here books on Internet Archive in 2018 (find them here).

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ – History backed up with ice core data.

Gleanings of the Week Ending December 15, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Stunning Abstract Aerial Photos of Namibia's Desert Landscape – A part of the earth with almost no vegetation. There are parts of the US that would be just as stark.

Anopheles mosquitoes could spread Mayaro virus in US, other diverse regions -- ScienceDaily – Another mosquito born disease that may increase in North America as the climate warms. There are already mosquitoes capable of transmitting it here – Andopheles species.

Bad molars? The origins of wisdom teeth – I’ve always wondered why so many people must have their wisdom teeth out. All 4 of mine were pulled when I was 19 because they were impacted. It turns out that eating a crunch/chewy diet when we are young may help the jaw grow long enough to accommodate these late molars. Wish I would have known that; I might have fed my daughter a bit differently. Too late now.

Climate Smart Farming CSF Climate Change in Your County and Climate Smart Farming – Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions – The first link is a county by county look at the history of temperature and precipitation in the Northeast. The second it about the research being done to help farmers plan for extreme weather events…that have become more common in recent years.

How tracking people moving together through time creates powerful data – A discussion of how cohort data is helping us understand health and disease. The example used in the article is the Framingham Heart Study.

Air Pollution from California Wildfires 60 Times Above Safe Limit - Yale E360 – Air quality is impacted by fires. In areas where the frequency of fires is increasing, fire may overtake all other kinds of air pollution for a time.

Can Tourism Save the Ocellated Turkey? – Cool Green Science – What an unusual looking bird! It’s a tropical turkey (Mexico, Belize and Guatemala) that behaves like the North American Wild Turkey.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: November – National Geographic Blog – And more birds.

Forage Wild Nuts for Your Holiday Feast – Cool Green Science – Nuts native in our forests. Too bad the American Chestnuts are no longer plentiful…maybe some of the recent hybrids will survive to repopulate our forests.

BBC - Future - A 'samurai' swordsmith is designing a space probe – Creating corers to use for sampling an asteroid using metallurgy learned making samurai swords.

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 17, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

1.8 Million Clean Energy Workers Employed in Top 50 American Metro Areas | CleanTechnica – Jobs that are future leaning rather than in anchor industries like fossil fuels.

USDA Approves Edible Cotton | The Scientist Magazine® - Edible? I wonder if many people will have digestive problems with the seeds even if they are approved for human consumption.

The rise of sponges in Anthropocene reef ecosystems – Coral is impacted by higher temperatures and acidification more than sponges and there are already some ‘reefs’ that are dominated by sponges rather than coral. These reefs function differently and are expected to become more prevalent.

Study explores infant body position and learning -- ScienceDaily – I am always fascinated about studies with babies…observational but trying to be objective.

$31 Billion Hurricane Protection Plan Proposed for Texas - News | Planetizen – A hefty price tag…and who will pay for it? Would it work for very much of the area if they had another Hurricane like Harvey?

A Day in The Park: Hot Springs National Park – I visited this park years ago…before many of the more recent renovations. Maybe it’s time to see visit again.

'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' awards: Here are the best animal photos of 2018 – Great photography…nature…art. My favorite was the last one – the treehopper guarding her family.

Passive Radiative Cooling Moves Out of The Lab & Into the Real World | CleanTechnica – Cooling without consuming massive amounts of electricity….but is it really ‘out of the lab’ yet.

The Armchair Photography Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park – Part 2, Inspiration Point to Rainbow Point – There seem to be several articles in my feeds that are prompting thought of future travel. This is another place I’d like to go. The last time I was in Utah, the Federal government was closed so the national parks were not open!

Infographic: Exercise’s Effects on the Brain – Understanding the molecular mechanisms that connect exercise to cognitive benefits.

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 20, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Tracking exploding ice cracks on Himalayan glaciers - GeoSpace - AGU Blogosphere – Research about the seismic noise of glaciers.

Researchers have discovered how to slow aging: Natural product found to reduce the level of damaged cells in the body, caused by aging -- ScienceDaily – I never know what to think of these early findings…but the logical take away from this one is eat fruits and veggies since that is the source for Fisetin. But – that’s been dietary guidance for a long time.

Belly Fat Has a Role to Play in Fighting Infections | The Scientist Magazine® - Research is yielding some functions of the omentum…but there is still a lot to discover about the role this organ plays in the body.

Recovery: Prairies Under the Sea – Cool Green Science – Eel grass recovery…a success story close to where I live. The success with sea grass restoration in Tampa Bay faced a setback with this year’s red-tide blooms.

Keep your salad greens safe | Berkeley Wellness – I agree with everything except the ‘bag them’ since I am trying not to get any plastic bags at all. I take a bin with me to the grocery store for wet items and use mesh or paper bags for the dry items. And make sure the meats are in a separate bag from my produce at the checkout.

Voyager 2 Detects Hints That Interstellar Space Is Nearby – Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 is getting closer and closer to leaving the solar system.

The Mystery of the Dying Mesquites – Cool Green Science – Unappreciated trees – dying away – and finally noticed. Too late to be saved?

Decades of Trash Burst Out of Yellowstone Geyser | Smart News | Smithsonian – Yuck! Hopefully we are better now at keeping trash out of the geysers.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Feeding – National Geographic Blog – So much to like about birds….in every aspect of their lives.

Hurricane Michael Flooding Damage Assessment Images – From NOAA. Use the sliders on the images to look images before and after the Hurricane.

CSA Share

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The Gorman Farms CSA season is about done but I am enjoying everything in the shares we are getting. A recent share filled the ceramic top of my stove. There are carrots with more top that carrot – but I like the tops in salads and soups; as soon as I got them home I cut the tops off, cleaned them and put them in a plastic bin with the parsley. I’ll eat the carrot tops first since they won’t last as long as the parsley. The carrots themselves will be eaten with hummus for snacks. They were very muddy. Heavy rain and mud has made harvesting more challenging than usual in our area.

I haven’t tried the watermelon radishes yet but I have enjoyed them in seasons past. We’re still getting a couple of onions every week which fits well with the way I cook. I’m a little behind on the winter squash; at some point I’ll cook them all and freeze the pulp to use like pumpkin. There were three tiny versions of butternut squash in this share; supposedly they are even sweeter and cook faster because they are small. The purple cabbages are small – struggling in the soggy fields probably. The peppers are holding strong; there were bell, banana, and roasting peppers in the share. And then there are sweet potatoes…several pounds every week; I’m saving the ones that are cured to eat after the CSA is over for the year. There was quite a selection at the overage table and I picked the fennel; I’ve developed a taste of it…since joining the CSA several years ago; I’d never tried it before that.

Good eating in October!

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 6, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

BBC - Future - The recipes born from hardship – A little history…and food chemistry.

Fall Foliage: When, Why & How Vibrant Will Maple Leaves Be? – Cool Green Science – A little about the season. Unfortunately our September weather was just opposite of what it takes to get great leaf color from maples.

A mechanism of color pattern formation in ladybird beetles -- ScienceDaily – The Asian ladybird beetle… more that 200 color patterns…from a single gene.

Each Pigeon Painting by Adele Renault Shows the Bird's Overlooked Beauty – Some eye candy of a very common urban bird. Pigeons might be worth a closer look through a birding scope or camera with a big lens.

Praying Mantis Seen Hunting Fish for the First Time | Smart News | Smithsonian – In India…a large praying mantis ate a guppy.

A one-way street for salt -- ScienceDaily – How quinoa gets rid of the extra salt that it absorbs from saline soils.

My Penn’s Woods, Ever Changing – Cool Green Science – A little history about the forest in Pennsylvania (and Maryland too).

Life Thrives Within the Earth’s Crust – We know that there are a lot of living things in soils…but now we are discovering that deeper still – in rocks – there is life where previously we thought there was none. It’s a whole new area of biological research.

The surprising truth about loneliness – Some results from the BBC Loneliness Experiment.

The American Dream is Harder to Find in Some Neighborhoods – Look at the overall US map and read the article…then look at the Interactive: Explore the Opportunity Atlas to look at more detailed map locations.

Fall Harvest

My freezer and refrigerator are overflowing with foods from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In the freezer I have a build up of items that I couldn’t eat quickly enough from the beginning of the season: zucchini and garlic scapes from the beginning, some kale that I chopped up in the food processor and then frozen in a sheet, tomatoes. Each week has brought more bounty, so I haven’t drawn down on much once it went to the freezer. Sometimes I manage to finish off everything from the share the week after I got it.

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Right now the refrigerator is very full. My strategy is to eat the parts that will spoil most quickly, wait a little for the winter squash…but not too long (I already have 2 in the refrigerator)….and try not to freeze anything else. That looks tough with two crispers, two plastic bins, and squashes overflowing into the other part of the refrigerator along with 2 pounds of freshly harvested sweet potatoes.

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What not to like about 3 kinds of peppers and scallions and tomatoes and tatsoi and Romaine lettuce and Napa cabbage and fennel and onions and collards and butternut squash and acorn squash….it’s just the volume that is the challenge.

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I made a yummy ‘pudding’ this morning in the food processor with half of a leftover (cooked) acorn squash: acorn squash, 1 tablespoon almond butter, ¼ cup soy milk, a little honey. I sprinkled cinnamon on it right before I ate it. Yummy!

Ten Little Celebrations – September 2018

Every month when I look at the notes I’ve made for each day of little celebrations – I enjoy them again. Many times, it’s hard to pick just 10 for this blog post. Here are the picks for September 2018:

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Volunteering on the last day of Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit – It was good to be there for the good-bye day…and know that the next exhibit will open again in April. I enjoy being in the butterfly house and interacting with visitors…it’s a happy place.

Window cleaning – I am surprising myself at how satisfying cleaning the windows (taking the panes apart and cleaning all surfaces except the one on the outside) on a rainy day can be. Instead of spring cleaning – I’m doing fall cleaning! I celebrated the difference clean windows make.

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A monarch butterfly emerging – Caterpillars crawled up from our front flower bed to make chrysalises at the top of the window frames. I finally managed to notice one that was still emerged - hanging from the bit of chrysalis still attached – and then crawling up onto the lentil to finish drying. Celebration!

Yummy zucchini bread – I made a double batch of zucchini bread from squash frozen earlier in the summer. We enjoyed it for days. I celebrated the spicy flavor…helped me feel ready for fall.

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Howard County Conservancy volunteers and staff – With the training for fall field trips, we always have a pot luck lunch and this one – for me – was a celebration of those people (and that they are all such foodies)!

Elementary School Butterfly – What a celebration when the first Monarch butterfly emerged from a chrysalis I took to the elementary school! I wasn’t there for the excitement but got the description from the teacher. They even found another chrysalis on the fence around their school garden while they were releasing their butterfly.

Haircut - I told the stylist – with some trepidation - that I wanted it short….and celebrated the results.

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A birthday spent at Longwood - This is a great place to spend celebrating a family birthday…better than a too-sweet cake!

Yard work – Just as the window cleaning – I celebrated the results. It’s good to know that I’m ending the month in relatively good shape when it comes to the yard…before a lot of leaves have fallen.

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Lacewing larvae – Celebrating seeing (and recognizing) a new-to-me organism (looks like lichen since it covers itself with pieces of the stuff)!

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 22, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Curiosity rover surveys a mystery under dusty Martian skies -- ScienceDaily – What makes Vera Rubin Ridge so hard?

The Environment's New Clothes: Biodegradable Textiles Grown from Live Organisms - Scientific American – ‘Growing clothes’ that are sustainable – very different form the current fashion industry.

Change your diet to save both water and your health -- ScienceDaily – Research that looked at the water footprint (the volume of freshwater to produce goods) relative to types of diets. It turns out that many of the foods that take a lot of water to produce also are overconsumed – in the EU where the study was done and maybe even mores o in the US.

How the People of Pompeii Really Died - The Atlantic – New technology looked at bones and teeth of the 19th century plaster casts from Pompeii. Two surprises: they had good teeth, and many died of head injures rather than suffocation.

A Great Brown Storm Is Raging on Jupiter – It’s not like the red spot. They come and go and Jupiter. This time NASA’s Juno spacecraft is there to monitor its progress and show more of its structure.

One big reason why women drop out of doctoral STEM programs: The fewer women in entering class, the less likely they'll stay -- ScienceDaily – This study ruled out grades and funding as the main reason….the academic climate for women is not only harder to measure, it’s also harder to change.

First evidence that soot from polluted air is reaching placenta -- ScienceDaily – There is a health cost for burning fossil fuels…and it begins to impact us before we are born. Previous research had linked air pollution with premature birth, low birth weight, infant mortality, and childhood respiratory problems. This research was focused on determining if the particles in the lung – breathed by the mother -  can circulate through the blood to the placenta.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Gamebirds – National Geographic – Peacocks are considered game birds!

Total of 21 new parasitoid wasps following the first ever revision of their genus -- ScienceDaily – The first revision since 1893…and using specimens from 20 natural history museums.

Something Blue | The Prairie Ecologist – Blue sage…insect magnet.

Yummy Potluck Lunch

There is always a potluck lunch after one of the training sessions for fall field trips at Howard County Conservancy…and the big day for fall 2018 was yesterday. It’s always a delicious feast. This year I tried to take pictures just before we started eating. There were still a few things to go on the tables! This group of volunteers is cooks and enjoys good eats!

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Note that the desert table has less chocolate than the usual potluck (although there are some chocolate squares around the edge of one of the cookie trays and brownies on the other). And there wasn’t anything with a lot of sugary icing. Cinnamon was a popular spice in the pumpkin and zucchini breads and apple cobbler!

There are always a lot of salads…lean meats. The space at the end of the table was taken by a big pot of stuffed cabbage and some slice French bread just after I took the picture. Note that there were no potatoes or chips! This cohort of staff and volunteers is trending more and more toward healthy eating. Good for us all!

The only downside of these potluck lunches is that I eat too much. This time I planned for it – lunch was the only meal of the day. It was a good hour of conversation and eating…and we all had a few leftovers to take home.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 15, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

BBC - Future - How China’s giant solar farms are transforming world energy – Giant solar farms that, when viewed from the air form Giant Pandas. All over the world…but in China particularly…there are more and more enormous solar farms. It’s good for the immediate future but there are still issues with what happens when the solar panels need to be recycled (i.e. in 30 or so years).

New research shows how children want their food served -- ScienceDaily – I didn’t find this a challenge…my daughter always enjoyed her food. It seems more likely to be challenging in places like school cafeterias or other institutional settings.

Photos Show the Icy Glacier Landscape of Northeast Greenland – Life lurking in the ice waters. It’s a difficult place to dive.

Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance (Rutgers NJAES) – Maryland is not that far from New Jersey so this list works for us – although I wish they would mark the plants native to North America. I’d rather plant natives.

How This Popular Garden Plant May Spread Parasites That Harm Monarchs | Smart News | Smithsonian – Aargh!!!! We need to be sure we are not planting tropical milkweed in areas where it is not native….the orange butterfly weed – which is also a milkweed – is native across most of North America and a good plant to have in the garden for Monarch butterfly caterpillars.

New color-generation mechanism discovered in ‘rainbow’ weevil -- ScienceDaily – The researches from Yale propose that this mechanism might be useful for screen displays to enable the same true image from any angle and to reduce signal loss in optical fibers.

What Ötzi the Iceman’s Tattoos Reveal About Copper Age Medical Practices | Smart News | Smithsonian – There have been papers coming out about additional discoveries from the remains found in the Alps in 1991 over the years --- there was a lot we could learn and new technologies have come along to enable more than anyone thought about at first.

Night-time habits of captive flamingos -- ScienceDaily – The forage and roam! Evidently, they are more active at night in the wild as well. During the day they tend to rest and preen…that’s when courtship displays happen as well.

Muscle Clocks Play a Role in Regulating Metabolism | The Scientist Magazine® - Circadian rhythms are not just from the brain! There are timekeepers throughout the body. The peripheral clock in muscles was confirmed in 2007 and it turns out that it is important to glucose metabolism. There is still a lot to learn about all the body’s timekeepers!

BBC - Future - Are hot springs the future of farming? – Maybe there is not one strategy that is the ‘future of farming’ – but this is an interesting idea that we may see in places where it can be done effectively.

Ten Little Celebrations – August 2018

I thought August might be a slow month with the summer camps ending and nothing new starting….but the month developed….not hard at all to pick 10 little celebrations to highlight.

Solitary hike – Usually I hike with other people – most recently with summer campers. Hike my myself at Mt. Pleasant was a change-of-pace and something to celebrate. Getting a artsy picture of two butterflies on Joe Pye Weed with a clear blue sky background was the image to remember of the morning.

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Surviving a long hike – Then there was the much longer hike with camper up and down…across a stream and along muddy paths. I celebrated when that hike was done!

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Blue Jay feather – A special feather is always a celebration for me…and from several perspectives: finding one on the ground, photographing it, remembering my daughter’s feather collection when she was very young, and realizing that know what kind of bird it came from!

Weekend in State College – Deciding to take a weekend trip – spurt of the moment. And dodging the rain to enjoy every minute! Celebrating family.

Butterflies – August seems to be my peak month for butterflies roosting on me in the butterfly exhibit. It’s special every single time.

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Hummingbirds – Last weekend my husband and I attempted to photograph hummingbirds at Brookside gardens for two mornings. We were reasonably successful (a post about our experience is coming) but we’ll both improve with more practice. The birds are fast movers. Both of us are celebrating the photographs we got with the birds in focus!

Blooming bananas – Seeing something familiar but in a little different stage of development….I’m celebrating being in the conservatory at the right time.

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Rulers for 25 cents – I celebrated that several stores in our area had wooden rulers for 26 cents. That’s inexpensive enough I can have my own supply for field trips with children just learning to measure sizes of what we find on our hikes.

Dragonflies – I haven’t found dragonflies in the wheel formation (mating) but I did find two at our neighborhood storm water management pond that were half way there! I celebrated the photographic opportunity and an still looking for the wheel.

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Sweet potato leaves – Yummy sweet potato leaves. Our Community Supported Agriculture must have harvested part of the sweet potato crop in August so we got leaves in one of our shares this month. I hope there are still some left for later since we normally get them in late September. They are probably my favorite salad green….and I get them a couple of weeks a year….so worthy of celebration when they are available.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 25, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Birds that Scavenge – National Geographic and Top 25 Grassland Birds – National Geographic – There have been a couple of ’25 birds’ posts since I last included them in the gleanings list…I am catching up.

Image of the Day: Slimy Business | The Scientist Magazine® - Corn species in Mexico that can trap nitrogen…maybe it can be incorporated into the corn that dominates agriculture; that would reduce the amount of fertilizer required for the crop.

BBC - Future - The simple change that can save patients’ lives – Finally – there is more attention being paid to reducing noise (so many beeps and alarms) in hospitals. I’ve always wondered how they thought anyone could rest enough to recover in the hospital environment. Hopefully lighting will get some attention too….move away from the current dominance of blue tinged light for all times of the day and night.

Maple leaf extract could nip skin wrinkles in the bud -- ScienceDaily – The article contained relatively little information maybe because there is a patent pending on the formulation. There will probably be I have a red maple in my back yard and may try making a strong tea from the leaves…seeing how it feels on my skin.

Stirrings in the Muck: Fiddler Crabs, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons Locked in Climate Change Dance – National Geographic – The picture at the top of the article of the yellow-crowed night heron (which I saw for the first time in Carrollton TX earlier this summer) caught my attention…and I read the rest of the article.

Highly effective natural plant-based food preservative discovered -- ScienceDaily – Hope this lives up to its promise and becomes the food preservative of choice. The preservatives currently in use have side effects that are troubling at best.

BBC - Future - Are forgotten crops the future of food? – I have enjoyed the increase varieties of veggies I get from the CSA…and hope that we can further expand the food crops we utilize – for our health and to build more resilience into our food system which now is vulnerable because of the small number of plants and animals that we rely on.

Reverse Power Flow: How Solar + Batteries Shift Electric Grid Decision Making from Utilities to Consumers (In Depth) | CleanTechnica – I’ve started to wonder when the tipping point will occur – when there will be a mass economic defection by consumers away from big electric utilities. With small-scale solar ramping up to 20% of the new power plant capacity in the last 4 quarters and more people added energy storage to their solar arrays – maybe it is starting. It’s a fundamental shift for everyone. Maybe now is not the time to invest in utility companies unless they are buying in to that shift.

See Shells of Sea Spuds on the Seashore | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d never heard of sea potatoes before…they are a kind of sea urchin. I had hoped the article would say something about how sea urchins respond to increasing ocean acidity. An article from last April said that purple sea urchins were already adapting. Are sea potatoes adapting too?

First biomarker evidence of DDT-autism link: National birth cohort study finds DDT metabolites in the blood of pregnant women are associated with elevated odds of autism in offspring -- ScienceDaily – A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland between 1987 to 2005. The study found that autism correlated to maternal DDT…but not PCB…exposure.