Columbine #248B, 242AR, 180BR & 235BR

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September 24, 2016

Columbine, whose scientific name is Aquilegia, which is derived from the Latin word aquila which translates as eagle, is so named because the spurred shape of the plant’s sepals on many of the sixty to seventy species of the flower resemble an eagle’s talons. This easy to grow, hardy perennial blooms from late spring through early summer. Though not particularly a long-lived plant, most die off after only two or three years. However, the plant does grow easily from seed, and if seed pods are allowed to develop annually will reseed themselves. The long spurs of the flower produces a nectar that is a favored by hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

Native to Asia, the plant is now found growing in the wild in meadows, woodlands and at higher altitudes throughout North America and Europe. Columbine, which come in many colors ranging from red, pink and white to purple and blue, are propagated by seed, growing to a height of fifteen to twenty inches. The plant will grow in full sun, however it prefers partial shade and a moist, rich, well-drained soil. Having a long taproot, which allows it to survive periods of drought, this same taproot does make transplanting the plant somewhat difficult.

Columbine, the state flower of Colorado (Rocky Mountain Columbine), were consumed in moderation by Native Americans as a condiment and are said to be very sweet. However, the seeds and root of the plant are very poisonous and if consumed can be fatal.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Flowers #497AR, 494BR, 469AR & 518AR

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September 17, 2016

Orange Stars, whose botanical name is Ornithogalum Dubium, is a species of flowering plants in the Asparagaceae family that is native to the mountainous region of South Africa, where it grows in stony, clayish soil. Growing to a height of nearly twenty inches, the bulbous perennial spouts up to eight lance-shaped, deep green leaves and bears fifteen to twenty spherical-shaped, tangerine colored flowers per each stem. The small, six-petal blooms often have a green or brown center.

Nearly unknown in the United States, where it is hardy only in zones eight through eleven, Orange Stars are said to be a much sought after potted plant throughout Europe. The plant prefers a sandy, well-drained, neutral pH soil and a bright, indirect sun. Water your plant so it is moist, but not soggy during the growing season, as the bulbs can rot if too wet. The bulbs can also rot if they remain wet during its winter dormant season.

If grown in containers, a sporadic drying out of the potting mix can cause significant damage to the plant’s delicate root system. Spent flowers should be removed from the plant as they die, and after the plant has finished flowering, the stems should be cut back as well. Once the plant has yellowed, prune the entire foliage to the ground.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Statue Of Liberty & Twin Towers #75B

Statue Of Liberty & Twin Towers #75B

September 11, 2016

Fifteen years ago, on the evening of the horrific attack of September 11th, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper and opined that until we come to terms with why Osama bin Laden high-jacked four planes and pulled off arguably the biggest surprise attack against any nation in history, that we will never eliminate the threat of terrorism against America. Yet, for fifteen years, there has been hardly any discussion concerning why bin Laden attacked America, if any at all. It’s as if America does no wrong. However, it is all our numerous military conflicts and aggressive foreign policy that is at the root of all the hatred against this nation. America has a very long, extensive history of not only arming and supporting, but help keeping in power malevolent dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world. As a nation founded on the genocide of its indigenous people, we have long ago become the world’s biggest bully.

Since President George H. W. Bush attacked Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1990 over that nation’s invasion of Kuwait, there have been only two years in which we have not been engaged in some sort of war, 1997 and 2000. Osama bin Laden stated in an interview that his attack on America on September 11, 2001 was in response to our nation leaving military personal in Saudi Arabia, the most holy of land to Muslims after that war. Since this nation’s founding two hundred and forty years ago, we have been engaged in some sort of warfare two hundred and twenty-three years, an appalling ninety-three percent of the time. The Iraq War, when it “officially” ended for America was this nation’s longest, and has turned in a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. Every day, it seems there is another car bombing or two resulting in the deaths of several dozen innocent people. The Afghan War, now the nation’s longest, was to end for America at the end of 2014, however, two years later, death and carnage still continues in that war-torn country.

In my writings over the past two decades regarding military matters, I always like to quote former president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower, who in his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, America should have listened.

War is big business and the only way the military-industrial complex stays in business and remains profitable is by this nation engaging in war. We have become so engaged in warfare that Northrop Grumman, the fifth largest defense contractor in the world has taken to advertising its weapons of mass destruction on television. Who exactly are their potential customers, Joe Six-pack and hockey moms? For all of our recent military skirmishes, what exactly have we accomplished? As a nation, we live in constant fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, we are despised by much of the world. In addition to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are also conducting bombing raids in at least five other countries: Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. And, it was just a few years ago that war hawks were urging the president to wage all out war against North Korea.

It is our military endeavors that are bankrupting this nation. With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this amount does not include America’s newly created ultra secret intelligence budget. Since September 11, 2001, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, all the while our country is falling apart at the seams, be it our rapidly aging and decaying infrastructure system, crumbling inner cities that have become battlegrounds or a failing public school system. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call Earth.  Ironically, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls our military depleted and claims he wants to rebuild it.

In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, selling nearly as many armaments as the rest of the world combined. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but also we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. I would not be the least bit surprised if the sarin gas used by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on his own people was sold to him by the United States. For every action, there is a reaction. Heavily arming our entire planet might be great for the American military-industrial complex bottom line, however, in the long run, it greatly impedes world peace.

This photograph was taken, I believe around 1982, and thus it was obviously shot on film. The 4×6 print was then scanned onto my computer, at which time some digital adjustment was made to both the color and brightness/darkness levels. Due to the scanning process, some sharpness was lost, and as such, the image I view on my flat-screen does not do justice to the original 4×6 print.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photograph and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #111B, 101CR, 109CR & 103DR

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September 10, 2016

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. There are many plants that have lily in their common name; however, not all are true Lilies. Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is well-drained soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Allstate Good Hands Good Deed?

September 7, 2016

As collegiate football got underway this past weekend, it did not take Allstate Insurance long to start bragging about their good hands, good deed declarations during games to assert that they have now donated millions of dollars to fund college general scholarships during the past twelve years. Up until two years ago, the insurance conglomerate always told viewers the exact dollar amount of their donations. However, starting last season, they only state the amount is millions of dollars. I do not claim that my measly blog is responsible for Allstate realizing that for all the free advertising it receives all season long in lieu of donating a couple hundred thousand dollars each year, as I have been posting this piece for several years, but I have yet to see or hear any other person criticize the corporation for having the audacity to boast about such a trifling dollar amount considering all the free advertising it receives for its generosity.

Anyone who watches college football knows all to well that the Allstate Good Hands logo is placed advantageously in a great many stadiums across the country in the middle of the netting that is raised behind the goal posts on point after touchdowns and field goal attempts in order to prevent the kicked football from going into the stands. At first glance, it appears that Allstate is doing a great deed by donating money to fund college scholarships. However, when you consider all the free publicity the company receives all season long, generosity might not be the best word to describe Allstate’s publicity stunt. How many times are these logos shown during the course of each season for every college and university stadium that allows these netting logos? How many times during the year will game announcers proclaim to their viewers that Allstate has donated millions for college scholarships? Every time the logo-laden netting is raised or the announcers make the declaration, it is the equivalent one more free commercial for the insurance conglomerate.

I know not what a thirty-second commercial airing during a typical college football game costs, let alone that of a bowl game or the national championship playoffs, however for all the free advertising that it receives every year; Allstate should be embarrassed that it has donated only a few million dollars over twelve years to fund college scholarships. Allstate should have donated at least ten times that amount, if not one hundred times more than it has before it boasts of its good deed.

Steven H. Spring
The Ohio State University, Class of ‘87

Dahlias #216BR, 209BR, 206BR & 213AR

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September 3, 2016

Dahlias are a genus of bushy, tuberous perennial flowering plants that are native primarily to Mexico but also extending further down into Central America and Columbia. Spaniards discovered the flower in Mexico in 1525, where the indigenous population used the plant not only as a source for food, but also as medicine. With at least thirty-six known species, and thousands of different varieties, Dahlias, which is also its scientific name, are a member of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes related genera such as Cone Flowers, Daisies, Chrysanthemums, Marigolds, Sunflowers and Zinnias. Like other flowers in the Asteraceae family, Dahlias appear to be a single bloom, but in reality are made up of many individual flowers. Although this plant produces a gorgeous flower, its bloom does not generate a scent, thus it relies on its stunning colors to attract the insects required for pollination. Dahlias bloom from mid-summer up until your region’s first frost in the fall.

Dahlias should be planted around the middle of April through May, again depending on the region, when the threat of frost is no longer prevalent. The ground temperature should be at least sixty degrees. In much of the United States, these plants do not survive the winter, thus the tubers (fleshy roots similar to bulbs) need to be dug up every fall, and replanted each spring. Before the first frost of fall, these plants should be cut back to six inches. After digging up the tubers, shake off any soil, and then store in a frost-free place. Generally, forty to forty-five degrees is best suited for the tubers.

This plant requires eight to ten hours of direct or somewhat filtered sunlight each day, but especially love the morning sun. Less sun results in taller plants and less blooms. They thrive best in a cool, moist climate, while doing poorly in hot, humid weather. If your summer temperatures routinely exceed ninety degrees, these flowers should be planted in an area that receives some shade during the hottest part of the day. The flower thrives best in a rich, well-drained, slightly acidic, sandy soil. If your soil is too heavy or clayish, sand and/or peat moss can be added to lighten it. Dahlias are considered deer-resistant, though no plant is, in truth resistant to hungry deer. Dahlias are, however vulnerable to slug and snail damage.

With so many different varieties of Dahlias, the plant varies greatly not only in height, but also in the color, shape and size of the blooms. These flowers range in height from miniature six-inch plants to tree Dahlias that can grow more than fifteen feet tall. Larger plants will requiring staking. Colors range from white, yellow, orange, bronze, lavender and pink to red and purple, as well as dark red and dark purple. Blooms range in size from two inches up to twelve inches in diameter. Mature plants are as wide as they are tall. The large variety of blooms are due to the flowers being octoploid, meaning they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes, whereas most other plants have only two.

The tubers should be planted horizontally four to six inches deep, spaced roughly two feet apart. After covering with soil, the tubers should not be watered, as it can lead to rotting. Do not water until the tubers start to spout. In addition, tubers should not be mulched, as mulching does not allow the soil to warm enough for the tubers to spout. Mulch can be applied once the tubers do spout. Young plants do not require much water, again too much watering leads to rotting. Mature plants should be watered only if rainfall is less than one inch a week. If you are like me, and live in a region with freezing temperatures during the winter months, Dahlias can be grown in containers, however these plants only do well in large containers, generally they need pots at least twelve inches in diameter per tuber. Dwarf Dahlias are best suited when using containers. You should use two parts top soil along with one part of potting soil that has not been chemically treated for weeds.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #2540BR, 2556AR, 2522AR & 2532BR

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August 27, 2016

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. There are many plants that have lily in their common name; however, not all are true Lilies. Two examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies and Peace Lilies. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is well-drained soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth