Sunday, December 28, 2014


Peritoma arborea

There is a video on YouTube which posits that taxonomists, having no new plants to name, have begun to rename all of the plants with which we are familiar.  That obviously overstates the matter. But, as a non-botanist observer of the plant kingdom, I understand what they are saying. Bladderpod is a good example. 

When I first came upon this plant, in the late 1970s, it had the scientific name of Isomeris arborea (Nutt.). Then about December 1989 the name was changed to Cleome isomeris (Greene). And, in July 2010 it became Peritoma arborea (Nutt.). Also, it was moved from the Capparaceae (which includes capers) to a family named Cleomaceae (spiderflowers). Lastly, It has been divided into three varieties based on the shape of the fruit, with var. angustata having fusiform fruits, var. arborea having obovoid fruits, and var. globosa having spherical fruits. 

It occurs in varied habitats, found throughout the Califronia in Coastal Sage Scrub, Creosote Bush Scrub, and Joshua Tree Woodland. Which is to say, it ranges from the deserts to the Channel Islands. The plant is a branched shrub that can up to six feet in height. It has thin, evergreen leaves about half an inch to an inch long. Bladderpod will flower in any month of the year. This is not very common in our natives. The flowers, appearing as abundant inflorescences at the ends of the stem branches, are yellow with long stamens. The inflated bladder-like fruits give the plant its common name. Some say that the epithet “Isomeris” was a nod to the equal halves of these pods.

Bladderpod is generally described as ill-smelling. However, in my experience, rubbing a pod produces a scent much like that of bell pepper, which I like.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Deer Grass - Muhlenbergia rigens

Deer Grass - Muhlenbergia rigens
Deer Grass - Muhlenbergia rigens 

Deer Grass or deergrass, Muhlenbergia rigens, a monocot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Its range extends north into Shasta County, and south into New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. A member of Poaceae (Gramineae) Grass family, it inhabits a wide variety of habitats such as grassland, riparian, chaparral, mixed conifer, and oak woodland communities. 

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a fixation on plant names. Do they make sense, or not? This is one that seems to be a puzzlement. My research has found indications that deer do not readily browse on this plant. One source suggests that the name came about because the animals hid their fawns in it.  Admittedly, I have not seen it in the wild, but based on the plantings I have seen locally it would not seem to make an effective cover. Perhaps the best explanation is that it does grow in a prime deer habitat - the dry chaparral.

Some Native Californians ate deer grass roots. However, it was more valued for its flowering stalks which were utilized extensively in the making of coiled baskets. While still used in basketry, today it is more commonly used in water-wise gardens.The lovely gray-green foliage, which reaches lengths of about 3 feet, makes it a beautiful plant for home landscaping.  It is evergreen, shade and sun tolerant, grows well in sandy or gravelly well-drained soils, and can be maintained in fall by mowing. While recommended for xeriscapes, it may require some watering during the summer to keep it looking at its best. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shrimp Po' Boy

Originally a classic from Louisiana, this po’ boy sandwich is my creation of breaded shrimp, lettuce, tomato and my secret dressing on a fresh baguette.

Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwich
Shrimp Po' Boy 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chilled Rice Salad

Freddo insalata di riso

I have always disliked the solutions, found in so many newspaper or magazine supplements, for "meals in X amount of minutes" that start off with "put sixteen ounces of cooked whatever in a bowl or pan". It assumes that somewhere along the line I had the time to cook the whatever. However, one thing I almost always have on hand is cooked rice. I use it in stir fry, scramble it in eggs, or try to just reheat it - which never seems quite right. Recently,  I came upon a new way to use it.

A quick and easy meal for a hot summer night, assuming one has leftover rice, like I do. Just combine cold basmati rice with parsley, tomato, and cucumber in whatever proportions suit your fancy. I recommend topping with Italian salad dressing, but your taste may vary.

 Cold leftover basmati rice mixed with parsley, tomato, and cucumber
Chilled Rice Salad

Buon divertimento in buona salute!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Skillet Steak

Skillet Steak with Fried Egg
Skillet Steak with Fried Egg

Steak and eggs, another timeless meal. Many a long haul has been fueled with nothing else. Except may be grits. And, biscuits. Don't forget the biscuits. Guess I will have to cook this meal again and do it up right.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Visual Science Lab.: The roaring debate over small differences in digital sensor sizes masks the reality that we've lost powerful visual tools. Caution: Many Words.

The Visual Science Lab.: The roaring debate over small differences in digital sensor sizes masks the reality that we've lost powerful visual tools. Caution: Many Words.

I like Kirk Tuck's photography and I like his writing. This article is fairly typical of his work on both sides of the equation, But, it, and a companion piece a couple of days later both seem to miss a crucial point.

A good photographer can make a good image with any camera you give him. Clearly, it will not be the same image. A pinhole camera can not do the work of a DSLR. But, it can still be a powerful image. The power is not in the camera. It is in the eye behind it,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Speak for the Trees

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thoughtful Quote

A flute without holes is not a flute.

Blueberry Danish

A donut without a hole is a danish.

- Ty Webb

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"The Cover of 'Rolling Stone'"

Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show sang:

“But the thrill we've never known
Is the thrill that'll getcha
When you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone.”

That is a thrill that will not likely ever be mine as well. But, a photograph I shot has made the cover of a magazine.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden chose my Tidy Tips photo for the cover of their magazine, 'Exploring the Arboretum'.

Exploring the Arborretum
Wildflowering LA

It illustrates the article "Wildflowering LA". I have to say I think that is pretty cool. 

The kicker is that there is also an article on Julius Shulman. This is an added plus for me. He was a photographer whose work I have admired for decades. Little could I have dreamed when I was in my teens that something I shot would ever appear in such close proximity to his photographs.

I am not in his league, but, I too, have made forays into architectural photography. This is my latest attempt:

A back room at Walter's Restaurant in Claremont.
A Bar at Walter's

Earlier work about the Schindler House can be found on PBase.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Visual Science Lab.: Lighting trumps cameras.

The Visual Science Lab.: Lighting trumps cameras.: Too often I let myself get suckered into arguments.........................................................................................

Kirk makes a pretty good case with very few words:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Many Benefits Of Keeping Cats Indoors | Natural History Wanderings

Many Benefits Of Keeping Cats Indoors | Natural History Wanderings

There may be something to this. My cats are already indoor cats. We all feel pretty good about it, except for the "big guy". He was living on the street when we took him in and sometimes seems to long for the days when he was free range.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I am sure that many of us take a moment or two on New Year's Day to reflect upon the past year and to ponder what's to come in this one. And, of course, it is also a time of resolutions.

My resolution record for 2013 was not so great, abysmal even. I had only a 41.07% completion rate. While .411 would be incredible for a MLB player, it is not so good in real life where one really needs to accomplish some goals to keep moving ahead. Hopefully, 2014 will be better.

It got off to a good start. I got up, exercised, took the dog for her first walk of the year, came home, and cooked a healthy brunch. But, it is always easy at the beginning. The trick is to keep slogging away as the days drag past.

Many others had similar plans about walking, hiking, and biking. The parking lot for the trailhead was  full and the overflow lot was half full. I will bet that by the end of February we won't see that again.

Anyway, here is to new beginnings, and regular updates to this blog.