Monday, May 31, 2010

A change of pace.

A video posting from me with no oil? Oh my...


Kula Shaker - Peter Pan (R.I.P) - extended version on muzu.tv

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Salt


Salt Collecting, Peru

Photograph by Dordo Brnobic for National Geographic.


Jane cued me into an outstanding article on salt in food in today's NY Times which I hadn't gotten to yet. It's utterly fascinating. This article shows exactly why we should treasure small local food production companies who take care with their products, and those chefs who can make a masterpiece with little or no salt by employing subtle seasoning and interesting textures and flavours that never leave you wanting for the easy fix of salt. I'm salt-sensitive, as is most of my maternal family. And on the paternal side, my stepmother, as fit as a fiddle, suffers from high blood pressure that has been correlated directly to her salt consumption. I was raised in an environment in which salt, if not exactly reviled, was held suspect as the easy fix of a bad chef.

Processed foods are clearly the bad guys in the salt scene. Today's NY Times has this astonishing graphic in which a so-called healthy choice frozen meal (resplendent in its healthy green packaging) contains 25% of your daily requirement of sodium in one shot:

(Image copyright: The New York Times, 2010)

Processed foods have an astonishing amount of salt. According to figures in the NY Times article, the Department of Agriculture has reported, and processed foods, along with restaurant meals, now account for roughly 80 percent of the salt in the American diet. They cite the fact that a single 150 calorie can of Campbell's condensed chicken noodle soup exceeds the recommended daily amount of sodium for an adult. A single can. The Institute of Medicine has called for a federal mandate (a la the FDA) to regulate and limit salt content in foods. NYC's Mayor Bloomberg has also tried to incite interest in a 25% reduction in salt content in fast food served in NYC by 2014. But resistance is tremendous.

Processed food manufacturers are blaming you, the consumer for the US love affair with salt. It's your fault that you can't taste over-cooked carrots and peas properly without salt. It's your fault that you prefer salt over rosemary, thyme or basil. It's your fault that paprika or saffron are so damn expensive and subtle.


One of the best meals I've had in recent times was prepared by the le Chef de chez moi with no gluten, no casein or whey, no soy, no egg and hardly any salt. (For those not in the know, I have really serious celiac disease- gluten intolerance- and also can't tolerate some related proteins like casein and soya.) It was delicious and le Chef trained at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park and used quality ingredients selected with care and cooked to perfection. Ingredients I bought and paid for. So I've got this huge advantage that your average person out there doesn't have.

I can afford to not eat processed food.

Hey, did I mention I have health insurance with prescription drug benefits, too?

So anyway, I'm reading this article thinking the very people who can't afford to eat anything other than over-salted fast or processed foods are likely the people who don't have health insurance that will care for them when they have hypertension-related health problems.

But we hope that the present administration has fixed that healthcare thing. A whole lot better than they were going to fix that off-shore drilling thing. Right? Right?

And about that off-shore drilling thing, I'm just so discouraged by it (you know robots are up next, right?) . There was this ├╝bercheerful article this afternoon in the Washington Post that Jane also sent me. You know, about how we have to basically wait for the relief wells.

Yeah, I think I'll just settle down and watch that Rachel Maddow footage a few more times. Gosh knows, someone ought to. Because Transocean, BP and everybody else sure isn't. Or if they did, they kind of missed the take home message there.

BTW, putting my money where my mouth is, today I put down my $99 on reserving a Nissan Leaf. I'm going to go with the seemingly (though I'm sure FPL can find some way to feck that up, too) safer nuclear-powered electric zero-emissions car.


Next up in my Memorial Day cheerfest: Exxon/Mobil, Nigeria and fifteen years after the death of Ken Sara-Wiwa.

Serenity Now

No internet for the past 9 hours and endless, mindless customer support by ATT DSL wizards in exquisitely intoned American English accent who all ask me to do the same things again and again and again, hoping that their description in their voice (the only thing that differs in the scripted instructions) will result in the miracle occurring.



Serenity Now.

Update: even though their applications crash on my version of Safari that is 3 iterations ahead of what is required to diagnose, they tell me to run it again!!!!

Update Part Deux: after even Shayda (sp?) was ready to give up and transfer me to her supervisor, it started working for no discernible reason. I just love DSL companies. Really I do.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

PC#37: Since this cold I caught in Seattle is leaving me in a total fog....

(Foggy Field and Bluebonnets, © Charleen Baugh)

Ah the sweet irony of Rachel Maddow...

I saw this right before I left Seattle on Wednesday and just had to share it.



I waited until the weekend so you guys would really have the time to watch it. This is rich stuff Rachel and her crew have found. Especially loving the Sedco connection. You can read more about Transocean, Sedco and Ixtoc here. Nothing like learning from your little peccadillos, right?

And it looks like our US Delegate from the Virgin Islands was equally struck by Rachel's archival footage:


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Just so heartening, isn't it?


.

PC#36

Muir Woods (Image Credit: Rick Dortch)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Simply Wow....



I just love her. You can read more about Sonya Renee here

This video was found on a blog I'm not going to list here because frankly, I'd hate to think of what Darth Mabus might do with that URL.... Thanks to the friend, who I also won't name, that shared the blog with me.

It should be little surprise, given my passionate interest in child welfare, that I am extremely pro-choice. I see the results of unwanted and unplanned pregnancy all the time. It's called The Foster Care System.

And for anyone who wants to slam me with their righteous pro-life rhetoric in comments or emails, be sure to tell me how many children you've adopted. Because I'm very pro-life that's already here. Like instead of safeguarding the unborn, we ought to be safeguarding the already born. Every child deserves the grace of being wanted. And there's a choice involved there.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On the title of this blog....

The Poisoned Apple by Krista Huot


It's an intriguing thing when in the space of a hour I receive two emails from friends who subscribe to the blog about the fact that they think the title of my blog is ironic. So just to clarify, yes, it is a blog that precisely deals with things you'd rather forget. Or rather not think about.  Going back to the inception I've contemplated the idea that sometimes life just seems like it might be better if you could just forget about all this... stuff. But I can't. I obsess about it.  I feel bad if my blog makes my longtime friend TL feel blue. And yes, Meli, I confirm that all the palate cleansers, the beautiful images that soothe the soul and show us the beauty in the world around us, are supposed to be like little draughts of Nepenthe, or a bite of the poisoned apple that makes us forget who and where we are for a time. 

But we always wake up. Always.

To oil in the Gulf of Mexico or animals mistreated or children being bullied to death or given back to somewhere or gender and sexual orientation invalidation or disappointment in our political machine in the US or seemingly quite mentally ill people posting inappropriate threats because of differing religious views, without even considering where those comments are posted and whether they have the meaning they intend in the context they are posted.

We always wake up.

Maybe we can wake up and make change that we can really believe in. Just because of our awareness.

Or maybe we just wake up feeling.

Emergency Palate Cleanser #2

Geez, you guys......

Clematis Jackmanii, from Gindee at DavesGarden.com

Emergency Palate Cleanser

Polihale Beach, near Queen's Cove, Kauai, Hawai'i

Edited to add: Listen, I warned you guys that you might not want to watch the video, or the whole video, okay? I did. And what do you do? You watch the whole fecking video and get upset. (It's so upsetting.... Flip is so upset I can't tell you...) But then you send me these emails demanding Nepenthe and all I can offer you is soothing pictures.

STRONG CONTENT WARNING: On why I'm thinking about going back to being a Vegan...

Got Milk? 

Where'd ya get it?

I have a lot of problems with some animal welfare organizations that are almost like Basque terrorists or something when it comes to their highly aggressive means. But you know, their photos don't lie. They capture a side of our society that you just can't escape. Where, and how, we get our food. What are you eating? What are you drinking? Well perhaps you should hope you didn't get it from Conklin Dairy Farms.

Jane sent me this NY Times article while I was traveling the other day and I couldn't blog it properly. The article reports that workers at Conklin grossly maltreat their calves and cows. It was all caught on video by the folks from Mercy for Animals. Viewers are STRONGLY CAUTIONED. From the opening moments of this video you will be simply horrified. I couldn't even embed the video here on this post because I knew that it would genuinely traumatize a number of my gentle readers who are great animal lovers. But you know, people need to see this, even if they can only watch that first 20 seconds. This may be what we eat and drink really costs. If we're not going to be vegan, we owe it to the animals that we rely on to know what it costs them to fill our bellies. Really we do.


MfA reports (from their link above):

Captured on hidden camera, the shocking scenes of abuse reveal a culture of cruelty at Conklin Dairy Farms in Plain City, Ohio.
During a four-week investigation between April and May, MFA's investigator documented farm workers:

        Violently punching young calves in the face, body slamming them to the ground, and pulling and throwing them by their ears
        Routinely using pitchforks to stab cows in the face, legs and stomach
        Kicking "downed" cows (those too injured to stand) in the face and neck – abuse carried out and encouraged by the farm's owner
        Maliciously beating restrained cows in the face with crowbars – some attacks involving over 40 blows to the head
        Twisting cows' tails until the bones snapped
        Punching cows' udders
        Bragging about stabbing, dragging, shooting, breaking bones, and beating cows and calves to death             







The issue of food is, as I’ve said before, one that is so complex that it is simply daunting. Sustainable food and farming, of any kind (animal or vegetable/fruit) is something that every citizen of the world needs to spend more time thinking about. When so many people who farm go hungry themselves, you have to question what we do to properly source our food. But one thing is without any questions whatsoever in my mind.


I don’t want to eat or drink anything that was got from maltreatment and cruelty. And I’m betting you don’t want to either.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Steel Yourself....

and watch the moving work of Gerard Herbert of the Associated Press. The transcript of this segment is here.

PC #31

Clematis: Marzie's penance to TL for too many oil-soaked birds. Only TL knows the depth of bitterness that clematis represents to me. TL, these are the neighbor's here in Seattle. They are VOLUNTEERS, which ups the bitterness factor even more....

PC #30

For a certain Kitty

PC #29

Rain-battered and still no less lovely...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Should Oil-Soaked Birds Be Euthanized?

Dead Pelican, Breton Island (Agence France Press)

German Biologist Silvia Gaus has been quoted as saying that cleaning and attempting to rerelease oil-soaked birds is inhumane. In an article in Spiegel Online International, Gaus states that mid-term survival of cleaned birds is under 1%. Even the folks at Audubon Magazine are debating the issue on their blog. It's pretty hard to find accurate statistics on the subject but since oil-damaged feathers will fail to thermoregulate a bird's body temperature, it's not surprising. This evening on Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC, I heard that BP exec Tony Hayward says that the environmental impact of the spill will be 'very, very modest'. Sure enough, I found the Agence France Press article quoting him as saying just that. Then I heard him say it on Rachel Maddow. 

Someone really needs to get these people to wake up and see that they are not fooling anyone.


PC #28

Aquilegia, Ohme Gardens, Leavenworth, WA

Monday, May 24, 2010

And the Winner of the Oscar for Best Actor is ...

Barack Obama, for his role in impersonating a Democrat during the 2008 Election! (post title quote directly from my friend, Alan)  The NY Times article that led to this rather acerbic comment, which was also noted by the very taciturn on the matter Jane:


"Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead"


(Image Credit:  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


Since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, and of those at least seven permits and five environmental waivers have been issued since Obama decreed the moratorium on offshore drilling projects.

Wow, I am so impressed. I just don't really know what to say about the situation. I guess the first thing to say is that I'll be peeling that Obama sticker off my car when I get home. Damn, I feel hoodwinked these days.

Ken Salazar's office says that they never had any intention of making the moratorium affect projects already *cough* in the pipeline. I mean, they didn't want to stop drilling new wells and all. They just meant no new, new wells. The old new wells, the ones they were planning to approve, like the other Deepwater Horizon types, well, I mean, those are okay. Mostly. I mean, it's true they still have problems with the sequencing of all these deep wells and the cutoff valves still have problems with the design. But, that's no reason to stop drilling for gosh sakes!!!!

Critics say that the moratorium was too narrowly defined to prevent another disaster and stop drilling permits from being issued. Are they suggesting that it was just spin that Obama gave that nice speech on TV about the moratorium?

COLOR ME CRITICAL.

(Image Credit: Getty Images for Scientific American)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PC #27 Warm and fuzzy...

(Image Credit: Rochelle Greayer and the awesome folks at studio g)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Surprisingly Vulnerable

(image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


The whale shark, at about 40 ft (12.5 meters) and 45K lbs (21 metric tons) is the largest fish on the planet. They are very vulnerable in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. These gentle creatures are filter feeders or top skimmers, which means that they will ingest oil that rises, i.e. the oil fraction of crude with its density lighter than water, while they skim for plankton and the occasional small fish.  In recent years there have been huge gatherings of whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. Reports in 2008 and 2009 confirmed very large numbers sighted.

I was lucky to see a whale shark in the wild in the late 1980's, while on a diving trip in the Caymans. They are gentle creatures of truly awe-inspiring beauty.

Friday, May 21, 2010

BP, the Euro and Kevin Costner?

Well this is my second time around writing this whole post, since the first one was lost and even the autosave draft was lost. Thank you Blogger, thank you...

(Dead duck surrounded by oil mirroring the sky. Image credit: George Silk)

Yesterday, Representative Richard Markey of Massachussetts managed to extract live video footage of the oil leaking from the ill-fated well that was the Deepwater Horizon from BP. Interestingly enough, BP also announced, just yesterday, that their siphon pipe was now siphoning off 5,000 barrels of oil a day from the 3 mile deep well that keeps on giving. Well, that's quite interesting because just a short time ago, BP was claiming that 5,000 barrels was the total daily leakage rate. Scientists, who had decried that figure and asked for this video footage, have estimated that the actual leak may be substantially greater than that. (As in maybe 10-12, or even more than that number of times greater.) Sure enough, the alarming footage that you can see from the so-called SpillCam, (when you can see it that is... the site has been so overloaded they are trying to swap out a different video system with higher bandwidth) indicates that far more oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. BP and even the House of Representatives appear to be surprised at the immense interest in seeing this footage. You can also see the incredibly depressing footage from the Washington Post live feed. I look at this video feed and all I can think of is that I want there to be more of a push toward alternative energy than ever I did before. The House appears to at least be giving lip-service to the the issue of alternative energy if their website is any indication. More so than the Senate.

Anyway, imagine my surprise this morning on reading that the current cleanup plans may involve the actor/director Kevin Costner? Costner it seems has been interested in oil cleanup since making the film Waterworld, which was released in 1995. Amazingly, Costner has invested fifteen years and some $24M USD of his own money in developing centrifugal oil separators that will filter or sift oil out of sea water. The US Coast Guard and BP will start implementing six of his huge  centrifugal oil separators next week in an effort to protect Louisiana's imperiled wetlands. Jumping on the Hollywood bandwagon is director James Cameron, who's offered the use of the deepwater submersibles used to gather the footage of the Titanic wreck, and Robert Redford, who is filming a new set of commercials for the National Resources Defense Council touting the need for promoting research in alternative energy. Which brings us to the issue of the struggling Euro and the European Union angle.

The US has lagged behind much of the first and developing world when it comes to alternative energy development. Indeed we can look to Japan, China and India for much of the current activity in the arena of solar energy. Europe has been a stronghold for development and implementation of alternative energy, as well. In particular, Norway gains fully 99% of its electricity from hydro sources and is not carbon powered at all (that's right Norway, the same country with the seed vault in Svalbard). Likewise Iceland with its geothermal energy yields is off the carbon sources. China, which of course has a huge reputation, as does the US, for coal powered electricity, has been leading the way in recent times for development of solar energy methods. But solar energy companies have been hard hit with the double whammy of the US and European economies faltering. CNN's The Buzz had an article just yesterday about how the European debt crisis is likely to impact the green energy industry. The reasons are complex. The growing austerity in the EU, even among big players like Germany is a factor, but another issue is that at about $67 USD per barrel for crude oil, down off a comparative $90 USD high, the European memory for the oil crisis is about as short as that here in the US. It's easy to forget the reasons why there was that big push toward alternative energy when oil is cheap.

Attention span and commitment seem to be two things that are lacking on the American energy scene. Ed Elanjian, chief executive officer of EnviroFinance Group, a Sacramento, Calif.-based specialty investor and lender focusing on alternative energy, was quoted in The Buzz article as saying, “that there needs to be a ‘consistent act of will" to make solar energy and other forms of alternative energy viable. That's a process that could require 10 to 15 years of focus”. A consistent act of will? You mean like during the Civil War or WWI or WWII? I'm feeling so hopeful at that idea, aren't you?

But then I have to say that I'm incredibly surprised at reading about Kevin Costner, who'd I'd always thought of as some puffed up actor/director with media-spun interests in the environment. All I can offer are kudos to the man. If even half of what's in that LA times article is true (yeah, I'm cynical even if I'm no nymph...) he had not just commitment for the past 15-20 years but put in a heck of a chunk of personal money into the idea of developing a way to remediate the oil-fouled water. Maybe our legislators, and even the general public, could take a leaf from that book- the idea of genuine commitment to independent, sustainable energy, our environment and the world around us. I wonder how many Americans can even sustain their understanding of the link between our over-dependence on foreign oil and US over-militarism and terrorism? What if we spent less money on the military and more money on the long-term goal of energy independence and ended up with some left over to lend a helping hand to the third world instead of offering a military presence to them or to their neighbors?

We need commitment and an act of will on the part of our legislators and our voters. In order to make alternative energy viable in this country we need the government to subsidize research in the area and we need people who want to try to use alternative energy in their day to day life to receive incentives (without jumping through endless hoops to do so) for implementing it.

In the meantime, I'll be hoping that I don't turn as iridescently blue as the tiny corpse above while I hold my breath waiting for that act of will on the part of our government. We can hope that a lot of people in Gulf states begin to question the political will in Washington to effect change we can believe in and so desperately need. And maybe as a result of that questioning, we can develop the will to make changes in our everyday lives, as well.

Edited to add:


I've been surprised further to learn that Costner bought the rights to this technology from the federal government in 1995 and that his brother Dan is reportedly a scientist. You can read more about the centrifuges, the largest of which is capable of separating 210,000 gallons of oil a day, at a rate of about  200 gallons a minute here at the NY Times Green Blog

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seattle: #26



Hellebores!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thirsty for change?


(Mad Hatter's Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Angel Dominguez)


Why, have a biscuit....

Seattle: Palate Cleanser #25


Welcome to Forks, WAby ~Katelyn-renee

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Realities of Adoption


My lovely friend Lynne who is based in the UK directed me to this excellent article by the BBC about the challenges of adoption. The comments following the article are really a panoramic view of adoption realities. The access to adequate resources is paramount when adopting a child, along with a pragmatic sense of the commitment you're making.

The story of Artyom/Justin continues to affect international adoptions, and adopters. The World Association for Children and Parents, the agency involved in overseeing Artyom's case here in the US filed a motion for a state investigation of abuse on the part of the adopters of the Russian child Artyom in a Tennessee Court yesterday. An article on Psychology Today's Blog says it all: with 40,000 international adoptions of children to the US each year, they ask: Are we helping them? One had better be pretty darn sure of what one does with an a child already coping with serious losses. Smithstein provides some great resources for adoptive families to peruse.

Any reader of this blog knows that I'm still very pro-adoption, in spite of the  real and honest difficulties that face any adoptive parent. If you can put resources in place and steel yourself, you're saving a child. As Abby Jones of Pennsylvania can express so eloquently for a 15 year old, "I saw Lidia and said, we can do this." She mentions the need to properly screen adoptive families. With so much at stake, even a sharp 15 year old can see the most crucial step to success. You can click on the photo to read more about Abby and her three Russian siblings and see a short video of their amazing family.



Abby Jones (photo credit: BBC)


© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

Seattle: PC#24


Disclaimer: Since I know Dennis has been reading the blog, I just want to reiterate that green things really have no religious, philosophical or orientation affiliation. They're just beautiful.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Maintaining my position that nature

has no religious or philosophical affiliations, this is for a certain green loving friend.

Plumes



Leaving off with the noisome issue of atheist trolling, the situation in the Gulf of Mexico continues to astonish in the worst possible way. The New York Times reported yesterday that 'giant plumes" of oil had been discovered in deep water by scientists working in the region of the spill. The Times reports that "Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day."  Truly daunting to consider. One such plume is described as "10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots." Oxygen levels in the water are sharply down, boding ill for all marine life and making it likely that the dead zone in the Gulf will be broadly widened by the spill. This afternoon the NY Times reports that BP has had some success at inserting a tube into the blown riser pipe to divert and capture some oil and gas.

On the NY Times Interactive Spill Tracker site, BP's worst case scenario estimate is now 66 million gallons spilt, some 6 times that of the Exxon Valdez. The estimates of Dr. Joye and her University of Georgia team now make that figure look as if it may not be far from the mark when we consider that we are just shy of one month since the Deepwater Horizon rig blew.

Meanwhile, on Friday President Obama announced "Top to bottom reform of the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling. It's about damn time...


Some AP footage of the plumes and the spill in general:

Deep Cleansing


For Jack, I mean Dave. ;)



Saturday, May 15, 2010

PC#22

Summer, Benton Shrine, Shiba by Kawase Hasui

Bee Friendly, Part Two

(Photo credit: CarolinaBees.com)





1. Become a beekeeper

Beekeeping is a most enjoyable, fascinating and interesting hobby – and you get to eat your own honey too. Every year local beekeeping associations run courses to help new people to take up beekeeping and even help them find the equipment they need and a colony of bees. Training programmes continue to allow enthusiasts to become Master Beekeepers. For information on courses visit the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) website or the US Beekeeping Associattion.

2. Help to protect swarms

Swarming is a natural process when colonies of honeybees can increase their numbers. If you see a swarm contact the local authority or the police who will contact a local beekeeper who will collect the swarm and take it away. Honeybees in a swarm are usually very gentle and present very little danger. They can be made aggressive if disturbed or sprayed with water. Just leave them alone and wait for a competent beekeeper to arrive.

3. Plant your garden with bee friendly plants

In areas of the country where there are few agricultural crops, honeybees rely upon garden flowers to ensure they have a diverse diet and to provide nectar and pollen. Encourage honeybees to visit your garden by planting single flowering plants and vegetables. Go for all the allium family, all the mints, all beans except French beans and flowering herbs. Bees like daisy-shaped flowers - asters and sunflowers, also tall plants like hollyhocks, larkspur and foxgloves. Bees need a lot of pollen and trees are a good source of food. Willows and lime trees are exceptionally good. the BBKA has leaflets on bee friendly trees and shrubs. 

4. Buy local honey

Local honey will be prepared by local beekeepers. This keeps food miles down and helps the beekeeper to cover the costs of beekeeping. Local honey complies with all food standards requirements but is not mistreated to give it a long shelf life. It tastes quite different to foreign supermarket honey and has a flavour that reflects local flora.

5. Ask your MP to improve research into honey bee health

Beekeepers are very worried that we do not have enough information to combat the diseases that affect honeybees. Pollination by honeybees contributes £165m annually to the agricultural economy. Yet the government only spends £200,000 annually on honeybee research. Beekeepers have costed a five-year, £8m programme to secure the information to save our bees during which time pollination will contribute more than £800m to the government coffers. Even the Defra minister, Lord Rooker, who holds the purse strings to finance this, has said that without this extra research we could lose our honeybees within ten years. Write to MPs in support of the bee health research funding campaign.

6. Find space for a beehive in your garden

Many would-be beekeepers, especially in urban areas, find it difficult to find a safe space for their colony of bees. If you have some space contact your local beekeeping association and they could find a beekeeper in need of a site. It is amazing what a difference a beehive will make to your garden. Crops of peas and beans will be better, fruit trees will crop well with fruit that is not deformed and your garden will be buzzing!

7. Remove jars of foreign honey from outside the back door

Believe it or not but honey brought in from overseas contains bacteria and spores that are very harmful to honeybees. If you leave a honey jar outside it encourages honeybees to feed on the remaining honey. There is a good possibility that this will infect the bee and in turn the bee will infect the rest of the colony resulting in death of the colony. Always wash out honey jars and dispose of them carefully.

8. Encourage local authorities to use bee friendly plants in public spaces

Some of the country's best gardens and open spaces are managed by local authorities. Recently these authorities have recognised the value of planning gardens, roundabouts and other areas with flowers that attract bees. Encourage your authority to improve the area you live in by adventurous planting schemes. These can often be maintained by local residents if the authority feels they do not have sufficient resources.

9. Learn more about this fascinating insect

Beekeeping is fascinating. Honeybees have been on this earth for about 25 million years and are ideally adapted to their natural environment. Without honeybees the environment would be dramatically diminished. Invite a beekeeper to come and talk to any local group you support and give an illustrated talk about the honeybee and the products of the hive. They might bring a few jars of honey too Honeybees are a part of our folklore and are one of only two insect species that are managed to provide us with essential services.

10. Bee friendly

When kept properly, bees are good neighbours, and only sting when provoked. Beekeepers wear protective clothing when they are handling bees. If a bee hovers inquiringly in front of you when unprotected, do not flap your hands. Stay calm and move slowly away, best into the shade of shed or a tree. The bee will soon lose interest. It is worth remembering that bees do not like the smell of alcohol on people, the "animal" smell of leather clothing, even watchstraps. Bees regard dark clothing as a threat – it could be a bear! Bees are sometimes confused by scented soaps, shampoos and perfumes, best avoided near the hive.



Thanks to a blog reader for this lovely list and article.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Teh Happy

These were sent to me by the delightful Cynical Nymph... Baby OTTERZ!!!!!


and, with Mama and siblings,





The babies who are lighter have a lack of pigmentation due to the genetic condition known as  leucism.  An article in the UK's Daily Telegraph gives more info and you can Name the Otters. I'm thinking one should be called Hermione. What about Luna for the other?