Saturday, May 30, 2009

I've got Stringfever.

These guys are hilarious.  Thanks to LB for posting about the UK-based electronic string quartet today and to a fellow chorus member (and mother of a very talented young cellist) for mentioning it to us in the first place.  Head on over to 3 Ring Binder to see the extremely entertaining History of Music in 5 Minutes.  (Though I take issue with the lack of Bach and Mendelssohn in the medley, I give props for the inclusion of Grieg and Rossini.)  Below is another fun video of theirs featuring movie music:

You can also see many other YouTube videos by the quartet here, 
including an enjoyable snippet of The Devil Went Down to Georgia.  
Now if these guys would just release a DVD!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Learn to garden--read a book!

my almost-Square-Foot Garden, newly planted as of May 24, 2009

As someone who unfailingly turns to books to learn just about anything, I had to take a peek at Dominique Browning's review of gardening books in the N.Y. Times Books section (May 28, 2009).  I'm so glad I did.  Not only did I find a title or two to look out for at the library and bookstore, but my husband heard some pretty serious snickering coming from the general area of the computer while I read.  Some of my favorite lines are below, but please take time to read the entire article here.

What the wine cellar was to the ’90s, the root cellar will be to this decade. Same concept, come to think of it: Climate control. Rotation. Status. Expense. By the time you read this, of course, serious gardeners will have sown their oats and tomatoes, but determined neophytes can still catch up.
If you insist on growing flowers, or as they are frequently referred to with disdain by vegetable gardeners, ornamentals, then you should own UNDERSTANDING PER­ENNIALS (Frances Tenenbaum/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40), by William Cullina.
about the same title:
His description of crassulacean acid metabolism, wherein cacti, yuccas, agaves and sedums open their stomata at night when it’s cooler in order to “bind carbon dioxide on special molecules much like we bind oxygen on hemoglobin in our blood” had me on edge for hours
Sounds like my kind of book.  
Concerning compost:
After reading pages and pages about the virtues of wood compost bins versus plastic and wire mesh, I was relieved to learn that I could simply dig a hole in the ground, dump in the kitchen scraps, rake on some leaves and call it a day.
Even about kids and the newly-popularized term "nature deficit disorder":
Not that we can summon much attention for yet another three-word problem, but I sympathize with her point that children spend more time cooped up than chickens.
And for my friends with chickens and guinea fowl:
They roam all over the road, getting to the middle and freezing in place, trying to recall why they wanted to cross. You have to sit patiently in your car until their brains shift into gear.
To end on a note that sings true to me:
You’ll even get a recipe for mint julep — and I can’t imagine a better place for a stiff drink than a vegetable garden.
Okay, one more--
Dominique Browning’s most recent book is “Paths of Desire: The Passions of a Suburban Gardener.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May - the month in pictures

Trees around here finally came into leaf:
Astronomy field trip:
Rainy weather did not keep the kids from enjoying the "Constellation Court":
One concert down:

A day at home:
Braving the ticks for a spring nature walk:
A wedding:
Another concert:
Revels at the co-op:
We just this past Friday braved the morass of germs that is the Museum of Science to catch the Frogs exhibit before it left.  The Dart Poison Frogs were beautiful,

as were the Chinese Gliding Frogs,
but my favorites were the Waxy Monkey Frogs from S. America, who looked like they were smiling:
Bet this little guy was hoping the fossil skeleton would come to life if he pushed the button enough times: 
A family portrait:

Home again, home again, jiggity jog:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Good finds of the week

1. Stellarium: an incredible, free software program for a variety of operating systems, that turns your computer screen into a planetarium.  We've had lots of fun playing with it this week, especially since cloudy skies have kept us from stargazing.  

2. Clay Center Observatory: in Brookline, MA on the campus of Dexter/Southfield schools (where JFK went to school).  This Saturday from three until ten p.m. the center is celebrating Astronomy Day, and every Tuesday night in the spring and fall (weather-permitting) the observatory has free public telescope viewings.  The center has an LED-lit constellation court, plus a moon court and a sun court to check out.  Pictures from the center's website here.  Short video from our field trip below.

3. Inside Birding: a series of web videos to help hone your birdwatching skills, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All about Birds website.  So far, four episodes are online.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger!

Folk legend Pete Seeger turns ninety today!  I was just singing a song of his (written with Lee Hays, fellow member of The Weavers) to M. yesterday afternoon while hammering nails into my raised bed square-foot garden:

Peter Seeger is possessed of that rarest of human qualities - the inquiring mind. This gentle and at the same time fiery and unbeatable spirit pervades his music, his friendships, his beanpole body and his thought. His performances are true to our folk musicians faithfully and sensitively.
          - Alan Lomax (From the LP "Darling Corey," 1950) 

Visit the Pete Seeger Appreciation Page here.