Thursday, January 19, 2017

Really? Really?

For the 48 (as of this writing) Democrat Representatives who’ve publicly said they are boycotting the Presidential Inauguration:  Really?  Really?

I support your freedom to go to the inauguration or not.  But think about this:

Approximately half the US population voted for the President-elect.  That translates to your thumbing your nose at the choice of those Americans.  (And we’re not – again - getting into the electoral vote vs. head count here.)

Of those who voted in this election, a majority voted out the Democrat party’s elected officials and didn’t elect many Democrats running for the first time.  Do you not understand how that translates into dissatisfaction with the Democratic party as a whole?

When Bernie Sanders was visibly sidelined by the Democratic political machine, did you really think his followers would blindly accept your candidates.  Those who desire a form of socialism are not eager to back a party that is more and more smacking of McCarthyism. 

Don’t you understand there is a large segment of the US voters who may be registered in one party, but who always vote their conscious and not a straight party ticket?  By pigeon holing everyone who voted against Clinton as barely being able to walk upright, you are alienating members of your own party or potential voters for your candidates in the future.

Voting against Clinton was not necessarily a vote against Obama.  Stop playing the race card in this election.  Clinton is no Obama.

The era where the voters put politicians on a pedestal is over – long over.  We go to work, we suck up the bad and try to make the business better.  You are not a celebrity; you are an elected business person.  Pull up your big girl/boy pants and go to work to make things better.  It’s called being a responsible working adult.

You do not have to go to the inauguration of your new boss but in the business world, publically boycotting the big welcome for a new boss would be such a huge mistake even the very newest and youngest employee would know better. 

Celebrities love/need to be in the limelight.  They can even begin to consider, because of their performance ability, their opinions are more relevant than the average voter.  Again, you are not a celebrity.  Your personal opinions really don’t matter; your representation of the people matters.

Can you grasp that your job description is not to boycott, not to hit every news service with your closely held opinions and not to alienate the other departments of the government.  Your job is to represent the people of your state.

If those of us who work in the business world threw tantrums every time we had to work for someone who has personality flaws, we would be fired in short order. Long time employees understand it’s necessary to work with all kinds of personalities.  Threats and childish behavior has no place in the work place.  We even say it has no place in schools, yet it’s evident among elected officials to the point it’s accepted as an attribute.

Let me be perhaps be the first to tell you a celebrity insulting me does not help your cause or make me change my mind and accept your politics or encourage me to vote for you next time. 

I vote for the person who does the job I hired them to do.  I vote Democrat, Republican, Independent and occasionally a write in.  The next time I vote, it will be based on that person’s job performance not their party.

And as a long time corporate employee, I vote for the person who has the ability and intelligence to work well with others to get the job done in a professional manner for the betterment of American.  Sound too lofty?  No, it’s good business.

When did teamwork go out of style for elected officials?  Kids in T-ball get it, kids playing Red Rover in grade school get it, the high school scholastic team gets it, college basketball teams get it, your local business persons get it – it’s time for that maturity to be put on the government’s playing field – now.

Boycotting the inauguration and all the other silly marches and whoopla on inauguration day is doing nothing but showboating.  If you disagree with your President elect, then get busy working and doing your job.  He’s from big business, work with him on a level he will respect.  The head of a large organization has to work with those he disagrees, he’s done it constantly in his work and he respects those that have firm opinions, have the facts and intelligence to make a plan and are capable of working with others.

I go back to my career and think of the times I disagreed with my bosses (and sometimes for good reason and quite strongly) and had I refused to work with them, refused to meet with them, threw tantrums, worked to create division among the employees or acted the jerk – seriously I would have been gone immediately – no severance – no gold watch – no pension – just out the door in a quick and ugly way.

Voters must wait four years to “out the door” if our officials perform poorly.  But nothing makes a vote choice firmer than grinding one’s teeth for four years watching the inept.

Elected officials please become business leaders to make America better, to pull us together and not divide.  Americans are begging our elected officials to work together – to act mature – to run our country’s business in a way that makes us stronger, better and proud even if we disagree.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Your Macho Has Left the Building

Whether a teen or an old man, unless you wear them like George Strait, then your jeans just don't fit right.  

You "dip" too much when you look and smell like you've been smiling behind a moving manure spreader.

There's a reason your grandma gave you the manicure set.

It looks like you're embarrassed by being bald and/or you're a clod, if you leave your hat/cap on while eating inside a restaurant. 

Gnarly looking feet and black dress socks are on the same macho level when wearing sandals.

Hot and sweaty from a day filled with hard work can be sexy.  From laying around watching TV or playing video games - not so much.

Carharts may be more waterproof if they aren't washed but when they can stand on their own, it's time for a Tide ride.

If you no longer have your teeth or have trouble hearing but refuse to wear your dentures or hearing aids because of vanity - you're only kidding yourself.  

Do not wear a toupee or wig.   I'm not kidding: DO NOT.  No one is fooled and a guy rocking his shine is macho.

OK, I get it you don't think a clean pick-up is macho.  But a clean family car is quite another bucket of wash water.  

You are NOT manly if you abuse a woman, a child or an animal.  Not one - not a little bit and no!  

Humble is macho.  Think about it.

There is something macho about a big guy holding hands and walking with his little kid.  No young stud ever thought he'd have to do that and every macho guy is proud to have that trust.

A father or grandfather convincingly wearing a princess tiara or a superhero cape is all man.

Want to turn a woman on?  Be nice.

Dress shoes should be polished and clean because you're not three-years old.  

A man is not truly successful if he doesn't treat people as great in private as he does in public. 

If you have to tell others how macho you are, how successful, how good looking, how desired - then you're not.

On that note, if you have to show your everything to advertise your private attributes - it's the old saying:  "A woman may look at the poster but she's not about to buy record."

A poor work ethic is not macho no matter if you're struggling with a low paying no fun job or you're riding the good train.  A slacker isn't respected by anyone.
Learn to iron.  A wrinkled dress shirt looks like it came from behind the clothes hamper when you were fifteen.

A guy doesn't need to read men's magazines to look and act macho; it's an awareness of what's decent.

If people's eyes water when they smell your aftershave, it's too strong or too much.  If in doubt, soap and water clean is always a good choice.

Deodorant:  Cowboys are macho - smelling like a horse is not.

Chest bumps should be done only in the presence of other men.  I'm trying to help you here.

Do NOT ever post anything about a woman (any woman) (any event) (any circumstance) (any action) on social media.  

  • In anger:  you lose.  
  • To be romantic:  you fail.  
  • To joke:  you die.  

Unless it's an emergency, macho men do not check, write or play with their phones in the presence of others.  It makes you look insecure.  It's impolite.  It's so pre-teen girly.
In this particular time in our country, shall I open this up for debate?  That ugly name calling, oppressive and rude display we've come to accept as debate?  Nope, not today but thanks anyway. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pollinator Friendly

I see numerous articles about planting gardens for specific pollinators.  Especially popular right now is butterfly and bee gardens. 

You can have plants that are especially attractive or needed by specific pollinators but an excellent pollinator garden will try to satisfy many pollinators.

I can tell an experienced gardener from a social gardener by their tolerance for the less attractive pollinators.  It’s easy to love butterflies and not as easy to love wasps. 

Some insects need nectar producing plants for long tongues and others plants for short-tongued insects. 

Other insects need certain plants for the different development stages and not for nectar and pollen at all.   Plus, you have to be willing to tolerate some leaf and plant damage if it’s used at the caterpillar stage of development.           

All insects must have their specific needs met at the specific time of the year and specific to their development stage.

Although there are many plants that prove enticing to pollinators, here are some I’ve found easy to grow in my yard and they’ve helped increase pollinator activity.

Any kind of squash (including pumpkins and ornamental gourds.)  The pollinators go crazy over the flower pollen.

Fall blooming asters are another pollinator food.

Plant herbs such as rue, chives, thyme, marjoram, catmint, other mints, yarrow, parsley, basil, lemon balm, lavender, hyssop, borage, germander, sage, savory, chamomile, rosemary, dill, betony, lamb’s ears, thyme and dandelion.  These are used by both bees and butterflies.

Hummingbirds and bats are also pollinators and they will flock to the herbs bee balm, lavender, pineapple sage, hyssop, mints, rosemary, catnip, comfrey, mallow and globe thistle.
This little guy has been rolling in pollen.

Encircling your vegetable garden with herbs will help seduce pollinators to those vegetable plants, too.

People often say they are leery having plants where stinging insects might interact with humans.  If you are allergic to specific insect stings, you may not be the person to have a large pollinator garden.  If you aren’t allergic, this is what I’ve found:  If I don’t bother them while they’re in the process of pollinating, they don’t bother me.
This busy bee has gold pants made of pollen
Use milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the garden early enough to provide the only plant Monarch Butterflies use for laying their eggs.  85% of all monarchs feed on these in their caterpillar stage.

Here's some of Pollinator information:

ü 20,000 – number of species of wild bees.  Some species of butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, bats and other vertebrates also contribute to pollination.
ü 75% - Percentage of the world’s food crops that depend, at least in part, on pollination.
ü $235 to $577 Billion US dollars – Annual value of global crops directly affected by pollinators.
ü 300% - Increase in volume of agricultural production dependent on animal pollination in the past 50 years.
ü Almost 90% - Percentage of wild flowering plants that depend to some extent on animal pollination.
ü 1.6 million tonnes – Annual honey production from the Western Honeybee.
ü 16.5 % - Percentage of vertebrate pollinators threatened with extinction globally.
ü Over 40% - Percentage of invertebrate pollinator species (particularly bees and butterflies) facing extinction.
ü 90% of all wild flowering plants depend, at least to some extent, on animal pollination.
ü Pollinators also contribute to the pollination of plants used for biofuels, fibers, medicines, forage for livestock and construction materials. 
Daylilies have sweetness they love.

Will your little garden make a difference in the pollinator population?  Not a huge difference.  BUT will lots of little gardens, set aside farmland planted with prairie plants, stopping the indiscriminate use of pesticides and not mowing all the roadsides, waterways and wooded areas before insect and wildlife finish their birthing process will make a difference.

The Genetically Modified (GM) food crop issue is a hotly debated one and the research isn’t nearly done or currently understood.  One of the biggest threats to pollinators through GM crops is the loss of weeds.  “Duh” you say!  Weeds in field crops reduces yield, takes away from the end price and often makes picking difficult.  Often these weeds were the necessary food or breeding plant for pollinators.  However, they do not now have an understanding of the risk (direct or indirect) to pollinators of the chemicals themselves. 

Moving away from traditional (think grandpa) farming practices and no longer having foodstuffs raised in all home gardens are cited as a major impact upon pollinators.  While pointing fingers at crop farmers may be convenient for the internet reading population, assigning blame for those of us who no longer raise all our own vegetables and fruits ranks right up there, too.  We must realize it’s no one thing threatening pollinators; it’s a combination of cumulative things.

The good news is farmer, garden and public land management practices are reducing the risks to pollinators.  An example is while managed bees have been struggling, the wild bee population is holding firm.  Since crop yields depend on both, the wild bees are contributing to the stability in pollination.

Many farmers are also reducing pesticide usage, seeking alternative forms of pest control and adopting a range of specific application practices, including technologies to reduce pesticide drift.  Are all farmers participating in this?  No, but then neither are all gardeners.  The good news is most farm organizations (members include not only farmers but the agricultural research universities) are involved in developing best practices and the distribution of information to help farmers of every crop find the best way to increase yields, increase profit while protecting the land.
Lapping up water at the bird bath.

Some state land management departments are also participating in alternative methods of roadside management.  I saw wheat planted down the medium of the interstate out west, poppies in Canada, wildflowers down south and a general reduction in mowing and turf grass along interstates.  Illinois (always the last in the nation to think about what’s good for it’s citizens) still spends millions of dollars mowing every roadside.  Both spending tax monies when it could be used elsewhere and deleting an important food and habitat for pollinators.

With the exception of California, the general populace has realized yards and roadsides that look like golf courses aren’t as healthy, beneficial nor as beautiful as a more diverse landscape.        

As gardeners, it pays to be well informed about the same practices and issues used in farming.  Although our end result isn’t on as large of a scale, the cumulative good is as important.     



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Frank and His Tigers

A stem of my tigers.
“Taliesin” is the Wisconsin home of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Wright designed the building AND the gardens.  If you’ve ever looked at any of Wright’s designs, you can see how he was inspired by nature.  This privately owned home is perhaps one of the best examples of just how intertwined these two passions played out in his work life.

The current Taliesin Preservation Foundation owns an 800-acre campus including buildings from nearly every decade of Wright’s career.  The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation owns Wright’s Spring Green WI and Scottsdale AR estates. 

My tiger and phlox.
Because Wright designed his homes to incorporate the landscapes, is it any wonder so many of the homes attributed to him have a feeling of nature and building holding hands to form unity. 

Whether you like Wright’s personal life or his professional work, his landscaping work is awesome.  The history of Wright’s life is as intriguing as any suspense novel; especially surrounding Taliesin. 

One book you might enjoy is “The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright” by Derek Fell.

With the history and life of Wright published in many books and articles, this article will focus on one of his favorite plants:  the orange Tiger Lily.

A Tiger from my garden
Lilium lancifolium “Splendens” was registered in 1804 - although they’ve been around for centuries in their native Japan.  (They were formerly L. tigrinum.)  I’ve seen these beautiful orange recurved pendent flowers in the oldest of cemeteries and in old abandoned yards. 

The tiger description comes from the black speckled spots on the petals.  They bloom late summer on 30-36 inch stems.

Like so many old garden plants, you have to want to have a piece of history, search out where to find and then let residents of your home enjoy them for another several hundred years. 

From my garden
The reason for having to search for them in nurseries is because they’ve gone out-of-style.   Today many garden designers feel the need to do something new with all new plants in a new way.  This often eliminates the heirloom plants from their designs, hence from publications and then from nurseries.  At that point, plant suppliers will stop raising and carrying them and we must depend on a few heirloom preservation companies or from someone sharing from their old garden.

Tiger Lilies at the Hopewell Cemetery, Howard County IN
Established 1848.
What’s so good about these orange tiger lilies?  Just about everything!  They are nearly indestructible.  They were the first Asian lily to reach American gardens; first starting in the south but they do well as far north as zone 4a. 

Tiny bulblets on the stem fall and root themselves for easy increasing but I don’t find them invasive.  They transplant easily.  Old House Gardens is supplying Taliesin’s gardens with these lilies for their garden restoration project.  

Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota.
With thousands of tiger lilies - Web picture
I’ve had these in my current gardens for almost ten years and they bloom at a time when the splash of color is beautiful.  Because they start blooming on the lowest buds first, the plant never looks messy.  They also keep well in a vase.  My little patch bloomed for twenty days this year. 

Want a little history?  A little Frank Lloyd Wright design?  Want to fill out a Japanese garden?  Need a splash of orange in late summer?  Need something totally easy?  The orange tiger lily “Splendens” is totally splendid! 
Found on line by unknown artist.