Friday, May 31, 2013

Abcdefghi…we come to J. J is for jonquil

 Gee, this ABC book is getting harder.  Hmmm what could J be for?  How about Jonquil? Well, I’ve always heard that some people call a certain yellow flower a daffodil while others call it a Jonquil.  Still others insist it is a narcissus.  So what is the difference?
 In some parts of the country any yellow daffodil is called a jonquil, usually incorrectly. As a rule, but not always, jonquil species and hybrids are characterized by several yellow flowers, strong scent, and rounded foliage. The hybrids are confined to Division 7 and the term "jonquil" should be applied only to daffodils in Division 7 or species in Division 13 known to belong to the jonquil group.”
Source: American daffodil society
The name Narcissus comes from the Greek myth.  It seems that Narcissus was a very handsome and vain hunter. Echo, a nymph, fell hopelessly in love with him.  He wasn’t interested, however, and instead looked into a pond where he fell in love with his own reflection.  Eventually he died and in his place was a beautiful flower—a Narcissus.
So what is it, jonquil, daffodil or narcissus? It's an apples and oranges conundrum it seems.
You can decide, but in my ABC book J is for Jonquil-- whatever it is.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We have reached the letter I, and I hope everyone is enjoying my little natural ABC book?

When we talk about words that begin with the letter I, Iris always come to mind.  I guess that is because I have tons of Irises blooming in a myriad of colors all around my yard.  When most people think of irises, they think of purple colors, but that is far from the limit of this beautiful flower.  The flower itself consists of standards and falls.  The standards are the parts of the iris flower that stand up and the falls are the parts that droop down.

In addition, Irises come in multi colors and patterns too!  Some color combinations follow:

Amoena – white standards and colored falls

Bicolor – standards are different color from the falls

Bitone – standards and falls are different shades of the same color

Blend – combination of two or more colors

Broken – irregular slashing with one or more colors

Plicata – marked with stitching, rims, or dotting

Self – standards and falls are the same color

Variegata – falls are yellow, standards are brown or purple

Iris is such a cool looking flower that it has been used in coats of arms and decorations for centuries.  (Fleur de lis)

I think that iris is a fitting example of the letter I…so I is for Iris. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ABCEDEFG…H—is for H20

H20 or water as it is more commonly known is the most important thing in nature for sustaining life. It covers 71% of the earth’s surface.  Wow, that’s a lot of water! You can find water in liquid, solid and gas!  Yes that snowflake you caught on your tongue is H20.  And without water vapor you would never have even seen that snowflake because water vapor is necessary for the formation of clouds, rain and snow.

You can use water to put out fires, use it for recreation, wash with it, cool power plants, irrigate with it, and of course drink it.  And that is just a few of the many uses for water. I doubt there is anything found in nature that is more essential.

In addition 60% of the human body—that means you—is composed of water! 

Want to stay healthy?  The Institute of medicine recommends that men drink 3 liters of water per day and women should consume 2.2 liters per day to stay in the pink.

Just imagine if you had no running water in your home!  Not a great thought. Although our distant ancestors did live without running water in our modern world, we can live without a lot of things, but running water is just not one of them.

Of course while water is good, there are a few negatives if you want to call them that.  Water vapor stored in air reduces the ability to sweat making us hotter!   No worries though, just jump in a pool of...water and it will be all good!
I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.  ~Henry David Thoreau

H has got to be for H20!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ABCDEF… G is for geranium

Every year I have four geranium hanging baskets decorating my front porch. So let me talk about my plant children.  Why do I call them children?  Well, even though my thumb is far from green these plants are approaching school age.  Even though Virginia weather is mild, it’s not exactly mild enough to keep them out all year.  So every year in the fall I take them down and put them in my basement by the sliding glass doors. 

The geraniums that are hanging as I write are 5 years old.  Yes, they last from year to year!  How many of you just toss them out at the end of the summer?

I also take in my hibiscus and mandavilla and they are going on 2. 

G is for geranium.

Friday, May 10, 2013

F is for Fossil

If you are into history you have probably heard of the part of Virginia where I live.  Eight presidents were born right in Virginia.  I can throw a coin across the river in almost the exact spot where George Washington famously did it. (It wasn’t as wide as they would like you to believe though) I can visit the law offices of James Monroe, although he hasn’t practiced law in years. I am able to walk the once bloody ground where civil war battles were fought.  And believe it or not if I were to drive 10 minutes from my door I can walk the bank of what used to be under much deeper water.  35-65 million years ago, right after the extinction of the dinosaurs, Crocodiles, sharks and other underwater creatures lived virtually in my back yard!

Through the years I have collected the fossilized teeth of sharks and crocodiles and other sea creatures, simply by walking the banks and picking them up.  The shark and crocodile teeth look much like modern day teeth with the difference being they are black or shades of gray and very, very hard.  Years ago I would create necklaces out of them, wrapping them with wire since they much too hard to drill through. 

What could be more natural that fossilized remains of creatures long gone?

F in my little book-- is for fossil.

Friday, May 3, 2013

E is for Eagle, eggs and embossing

And now we come to the letter E in this little ABC book.  E is for eggs.  Did you know that the bird that lays the largest egg is an ostrich and the smallest eggs are from a hummingbird?  Ok, that was an easy one.  So lets talk about color.

Did you know that when it comes to egg colors, ground nesters eggs are usually spotted, blotched or in some way camouflaged?  And did you also know that owls that are crevice nesters don’t need to be so careful and their eggs are usually white?  What about tree nesters?  Well, the colors of their eggs are mostly tans, blues and greens. 

Ah but I was going to talk about eagles—the national emblem for the United States.  Did you know that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey and not the eagle to be the national bird?  He felt that the turkey was honorable and proud and that the eagle had much lesser qualities.  Of course Ben didn’t get his way, but can you picture the turkey as the national emblem?

And now I come to embossing.  I know it’s not a nature themed ABC entry but I couldn’t resist.  You see my daughter is graduating from college next week and I wanted to make her a card that is a bit more special than something store bought.  So in honor of her love of horses I made her an embossed 3-D table greeting card.  If you would like to have the instructions to make one for yourself, just follow the link below.  By the way if you don’t have a graduate to honor, you can make one for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, you name it.

                              3-D embossed table greeting cards tutorial at Make it easy crafts

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