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Archive for September, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce a talented poet and artist, Ruth Bavetta. We met online several years ago through a mutual book friend (thank you, Ginnie) and have been corresponding ever since. She has agreed to let me post a few of her previously published poems here on my blog. This is perfect timing, since I’m embroiled in some biochemistry at school and haven’t been up to the task of posting – stay tuned in the days to come as I post more of her work with some of my photos. Enjoy…and Ruth, thank you so very much for sharing.

...The Muir Woods - California - September 25, 2011


Late September

and so still much to do—
the bending over the bowl
of dough, the mending
of socks worn through the toe,
the paring of peaches, lovely
in their waning.

Statice beyond the glass, lusterless,
like fog against a window, fading
purple blossoms dry
as paper. Dusk is brittle
on my shoulders. I will leave
as I came in, already falling.

~ by Ruth Bavetta

Previously published in Verse Wisconsin Online

...The Muir Woods - California - September 25, 2011

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...the neighbor's tree is in bloom and tiny yellow blossoms are dropping like rain


Pardon my absence, ladies and gentlemen, but I’ve been busy with a passionate love affair…with science! I am loving my new botany class. Learning the new biology vocabulary has been super intense and now we’re moving into the chemistry. That’s even more intense. Not sure how I’m going to remember all these little atomic formulas but I’m certainly going to try.

...green grasshopper resting in the Sunshine


Also, our professor set up a few plots on campus for us to garden. We started last Saturday and I got a good feel for what it’s like to start a community garden. It was so uplifting to spend a little time on a beautiful morning all pitching in to turn the soil over and over, sift out the lumps, and pull weeds. We got it ready and next time we’ll do the planting.

Staking our claim!!

All that turning over and perfecting of the soil in preparation for planting has inspired me to do the same to my soil. So many plants have been overcrowded for so long, it’s pretty exhausted and cramped soil. For the rest of the year, I will be removing weeds and plants that need division. The soil will get fluffed and turned, fluffed and turned, fluffed and turned. Next Spring it will be much more receptive to something new. The plants I choose to keep will have more room and grow better. That’s the plan anyways.

...a lovely abandoned spider web


Today I found this spectacular tomato hornworm, or Manduca quinquemaculata. Those tomatoes weren’t doing well, so I left it there to enjoy the buffet. Maybe she’ll still be in the backyard later and I’ll get to see her in moth form. They’re about the size of a large hummingbird – quite amazing really.

...Manduca quinquemaculata


Right next to the hornworm, I found a Deadly Nightshade plant. This is some seriously exciting news and I will share the photos later when I do a little research. Right next to the Deadly Nightshade, was this garden orb weaver spider, most likely some species of the Argriope genus. They’re common in gardens and are generally quiet and stick to themselves. This one has a broken leg but is still manning the web, although the web itself looks messier than it did a few days ago before she broke her leg. Maybe she got in a fight with a bird and won. Hey, we all have hard times but we keep plugging along weaving our web the best we can right!? Right!

...garden orb weaver against California blue sky

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When we moved into this house in December of 2004, my son Thomas and I planted several bags of bulbs purchased from the local nursery bulb bin sale. There wasn’t any landscaping here at the time and it was the season for planting them, so that was pretty much the first thing I ever did to the house to make it a home. Years later, the purple Gladioli still come up, bright luscious purple happiness. Ahh, home.


There are more than 250 species of Gladiolus, most of them native to South Africa. Gardeners call them bulbs, but they are technically a corm. Bulbs and corms look alike and are mostly treated the same, but the difference is on the inside. If you cut open a bulb, you’ll see it’s made of layers of modified leaves called scales. Like an onion.

But, if you cut open a corm, it’s solid tissue all the way through. What you’re planting when you plant a corm is a piece of stem, complete with nodes that will grow into a plant and roots and give you a big happy purple flower. When a root grows directly out of a stem or a leaf, it’s called adventitious – which mostly means it’s in an unusual place.

The brown papery skin covering on a Gladiolus corm is called a tunic, another modified leaf that the plant uses for protection from animals and insects, or getting soggy when there’s too much water in the soil. It also keeps too much moisture from escaping the stem before it can start to grow into a plant.

Some corms have contractile roots. This means that these roots will literally contract under ground in a way that pulls the corm deeper into the earth allowing for temperature control and space for growth above the original corm.

As a matter of self defense from animals who find them tasty, corms will develop cormels which are tiny and get left behind in the soil to grow new corms.


Some corms can be dug up, cut into pieces and replanted for more new plants.

I don’t dig mine up, I leave them be and they do their thing.

The older I get, the more I appreciate plants that do their thing without my intervention.

These are among my favorite plants in the garden, mostly because of their color and the ‘fleshy-ness’ of the flowers.

They bloom in Spring at the same time as the Matilija Poppy flowers and the color contrast is gorgeous.

The best photos are actually taken in the evening when the darker shades of purple don’t get washed out by the Sun.

I always take a hundred photos of every flower.

No, I do not think that’s excessive in any way.

Here’s a rare photo of Tom in the garden.

I made him pose there so I could see how tall the Gladiolus growing in the meditation circle gets. This one was about 6’4″. It’s always much taller than me.

Next year they’ll come up again and I’ll be reminded of my favorite color, a day fondly spent digging in the Earth with my son, and the ever-eternal optimism that is Spring.

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The past two weeks have been super extra busy and exciting. Learning an extensive science vocabulary and settling into a new semester has eaten up my free time (happily so) and this weekend is a full working weekend. Whenever people get excited about the 4th of July or Labor Day holidays – or most ‘national’ holidays, I tend to cringe inside. These are never great holidays for me since they fall during the busiest time of the month for my business. If I do choose to take the time off completely, things do not go well in the long run. We’ve learned to just bite the bullet and work through, enjoying the holiday as much as we can but keeping our I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Mostly I don’t mind because we take our time off elsewhere and it’s part of being self-employed. Sometimes however, it makes me a little grumpy…like this morning. So, before hitting the office, I went out to water a few plants and readjust my attitude in the garden and soak up a bit of the morning Sun. Then I saw it – the loveliest flower blooming under the bedroom window. I didn’t know it was growing and I hadn’t known it was blooming and I don’t remember planting it. A complete surprise gift from the garden just in time to get my attitude back on track. It’s a Gladiolus callianthus and one of those things I buried and forgot. I’m so glad I did.

Gladiolus callianthus - September 2011


The more I looked at it, the more interesting it was. Like how the topmost petal has no color when the other petals do.

Or the fact that the purple coloring is so dark it looks brown, and the anthers are HUGE.

I hope it cheers you up as much as it did me. Whatever you’re doing this holiday weekend, be safe and have as much fun as you can. Summer is on her way out and, before you know it, we’ll be discussing holidays involving witches and goblins, turkeys and fires in the fireplace. I’m looking forward to Fall, but I always do that right about now.

Ok, time for me to get back to my job before Tom catches on to the fact that he’s over there working hard on our financial reports and I’m over here playing with pictures of flowers….Happy Labor Day!

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