Flowers #667AR, 670BR, 674A, 696BR & 664BR

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February 24, 2018

The Common Daisy, also known as an English Daisy, is a member of the Asteraceae family of plants. Daisies, whose scientific name is Bellis Perennis, are native to western, central and northern Europe. Over time, they have become widely naturalized throughout most of the world’s temperate regions, including the Americas and Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and a few other neighboring island nations). They are now found to be growing most everywhere on Earth with the possible exception of Antarctica. Daisies can become so abundant that many people throughout Europe and northeastern United States consider them a wild flower, nothing more than a weed.

The origins of the name, it is believed goes back to the old English language of “daes eag,” which is thought to translate as “day’s eye,” because of the manner in which Daisies close up at night, opening up again the following morning. Growing to a height up to two feet, Daisies are technically actually two individual flowers. The inner yellow center (which can also be pink or rose color) is a Disk Floret. The white, petal-like outer part is called the Ray Floret. The plant’s stems are smooth and leafless, with a hairy bract just below the flower heads, while supporting a single flower, up to two inches in diameter. The leaves of the plant varies in texture, are narrow at the base and becoming slightly oblong.

A long-lived, perennial plant, Common Daisies generally bloom from early spring through the middle of summer, even into autumn, depending as always on your location. Traditionally, Daisies bridge the blooming gap of Tulips and Irises. As an especially hardy plant, they love a full sun, but will do well in partial shade. As for soil type, they will thrive in most soil, the only requirement is that it is well-drained. As far as disease and insect pests, there are no known serious problems with either.

I bought these cut flowers while shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart, as I was dying to photograph something with my new camera.  Prepping them, I realized that their stems were the same color as the flowers.  I’m no horticulturist, but that seemed odd.  My first thought was these Daisies were spray-painted.  When I posted a photo on Facebook later that night, I mentioned my discovery, and was told they were painted with colored-water.  I guess you’re never too old to learn something new.

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

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Lilies #4573BR, 4587BR, 4588BR & 4572BR

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February 17, 2018

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. However, there are many plants that have Lily in their common name; yet not all are true Lilies. A few examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies, Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies, Water Lilies and Lilies Of The Valley. 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.

There are a number of different sub-species of Lilies, such as Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet, Martagon, Longiflorum, Candidum and several others. The most commonly grown are the Orientals and the Asiatics, especially for gardeners in more northern regions. Both the Oriental and Asiatic sub-species are hybrids. They are possibly my most favorite flower to photograph, as their design and colors makes it so easy to do so. Friends might think I am a little nuts when I tell them that they like having their picture taken, as they are so photogenic.

Asiatic Lilies, who gets its name because they are native to central and eastern Asia, are probably the easiest to grow, reproduce effortlessly and are very winter hardy. A healthy bulb can often double in size from one season to the next, and produces many smaller bulblets near the surface of the soil. Asiatics can reach heights up to six feet tall and have long, slim, glossy leaves, all the while producing flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red. The one color in which they do not bloom is true blue. Blooming in June and July (depending on one’s region), the flowers produce no fragrance, unlike that of Orientals. Another distinguishing difference between the two is its petals. Whereas Asiatics have smooth edges, Orientals are rough.

Oriental Lilies, native to Japan, are a little harder to grow and tend to reproduce much more slowly, mainly by bulblets sprouting near the surface of the soil. They look somewhat like a football when they first surface from the soil, rather pointy, and its leaves hugging the stem tightly. Their deep green leaves are wider, further apart and less numerous than those of the Asiatics, which first come into sight similar to an artichoke in appearance. Orientals are usually taller than Asiatics, reaching a height up to eight feel tall. Because of their height, many refer to them as Tree Lilies.

Orientals tend to bloom in pastel shades of white, yellow and pink, although some such as Stargazers and Starfighters produce very deep pink blooms. One more characteristic difference between the two types is that Orientals often will be rimmed with a different color, or having two or three colors, whereas the Asiatics most often have just a single color, although there are some exceptions. This sub-specie of Lilies also blooms after Asiatics, usually in August and September, again depending on your region. Other sub-species, such as Trumpets, bloom even later, so it is possible to have Lilies blooming all summer long by planting different varieties.

Most Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is a well-draining 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

Gun Ownership In Itself Is Not A Second Amendment Right

February 15, 2018

I hate to keep posting an updated version of my original post, which was first posted on July 28, 2012 after the horrific shooting at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left twelve dead and fifty-eight wounded, however, once again a mass shooting has shaken America to its knees, and those who lost their lives and their families cry out for me to do what little I can actually do about it, that being to put into writing my disgust with the gun culture and industry in this nation.

This time, seventeen innocent students and teachers lost their lives and fourteen more wounded on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by a nineteen year old, white man, armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle, multiple magazines, wearing a gas mask and setting off smoke grenades before pulling the building’s fire alarm. Only two days before the horrific shooting, Parkland was named the safest city in America. Audio recorded by students on their cell phones sounded as if recorded in a war zone. The shooter, Nikolaus Cruz, has been described as a troubled, former student at the school, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons. One can only imagine the uproar had this man been a Muslim with Middle East heritage.

Because these mass shootings seem to happen all the time in Second Amendment America, I had to update the criteria for making the below list of mass murders in this nation since the Columbine High School slaughter, upping the minimum deaths to five in order to greatly limit the size of the post. The really sad thing is that my list includes only a fraction of mass shootings that occur on average every single day in America. Most of these shootings never make the national news and thus go unnoticed, except for the families involved. In the past two decades, there have been eighteen school shootings worldwide, yet this is the eighteenth school shooting during the past thirty-five days in the U.S.

Despite these senseless tragedies occurring quite regularly, I can already hear gun rights advocates opining that now is not the time to discuss new, effective national gun control laws, as they always do after every horrendous shooting. If not now, in the wake of seventeen innocent lives shot dead, and let us not forget the fourteen wounded, when is the time to properly discuss gun control? Lest anyone dismiss my ramblings as some tree-hugging liberal, take it from a gun manufacturer; William Ruger, Sr., co-founder of Sturm Ruger firearms has been quoted as saying “No honest man needs more than ten rounds in any gun. I never meant for simple civilians to have my twenty or thirty-round mags or my folding stock.”

Proponents of gun ownership and the firearms industry cite the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution as the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms. However, these folks all seem to leave out the extremely significant first four words of the actual amendment. The Second Amendment, as passed by Congress on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill Of Rights states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Yet, these very important first four words of the Second Amendment are never mentioned by gun advocates. It’s as if those four words do not exist.

I have recently been made aware by a like-minded attorney, that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled during a 2008 case, Heller v. District of Columbia that the Second Amendment, responsible for so much carnage in America, equates an individual as being a militia. I’m no attorney, and far from knowledgeable regarding the interpretation of laws, however, the word “militia” dates back to at least 1590 when it was referenced in the book Certain Discourses Military by Sir John Smythe, who gave it the definition of a military force; a body of soldiers and military affairs; and a body of military discipline. How is it possible the Supreme Court has determined that individual citizens constitutes a militia, let alone a well regulated one?

America’s fascination with firearms has evolved into becoming the most violent nation on Earth, with the possible exception of those countries who are presently engaged in actual warfare, which it seems would include this nation as we are currently bombing on a somewhat regular basis seven countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen), dropping 26,171 bombs during 2016 alone. Even more incredibly, America, which was founded on the mass genocide of its indigenous people, has been engaged in some sort of military conflict two hundred and twenty-four years out of our two hundred and forty-one year existence.

There is no excuse for any person to own a military assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine clip, yet our politicians who dare have the courage to speak up for sensible gun laws quiver in fear of reprisal from the National Rifle Association. Politicians who do speak out in favor of new gun control legislation face the wrath of the NRA come their next election. To believe that arming every citizen is the answer to curbing gun violence, as the NRA espouses is just preposterous. Growing up during the hay-day of Westerns ruling television networks, the image I always remember is that the very first thing the town sheriff did when cowboys came into town after a long, hard cattle drive to visit the local saloons was to take away their guns. However, just the opposite is occurring throughout America as more and more cities and states are allowing the concealed carrying of firearms into drinking establishments. Many feel the need to carry their firearms with them into their houses of worship. One can only wonder how God feels about that. My thought is he must be horrified. The ironic thing is that gun ownership does not make a person safer. Statistics show gun owners are far more likely to die from gun violence than non-owners.

The following is a partial list of mass murders that have taken place in the United States just since the horrendous tragedy at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 when two students killed twelve fellow students along with one teacher and wounding twenty-one others before committing suicide:

Twelve dead in Atlanta, Georgia in 1999,
Six dead in Fort Worth, Texas in 1999,
Five dead in Wichita, Kansas in 2000,
Seven dead in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 2000,
Five dead in Queens, New York in 2000,
Ten dead in Washington, D.C. in 2002,
Six dead in Chicago, Illinois in 2003,
Six dead in Birchwood, Wisconsin in 2004,
Seven dead in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 2005,
Ten dead in Red Lake, Minnesota in 2005,
Six dead in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania in 2006,
Six dead in Seattle, Washington in 2006,
Six dead in Carnation, Washington in 2007,
Five dead in Crandon, Wisconsin in 2007,
Thirty-two dead at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007,
Nine dead in Omaha, Nebraska in 2007,
Six dead at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois in 2008,
Six dead in Alger, Washington in 2008,
Thirteen dead (thirty-two wounded) at Ft. Hood, Texas in 2009,
Nine dead in Geneva County, Alabama in 2009,
Ten dead in Covina, California in 2009,
Thirteen dead in Binghamton, New York in 2009,
Six dead in Santa Clara, California in 2009,
Eight dead in Carthage, North Carolina in 2009,
Eight dead in Appomattox, Virginia in 2010,
Nine dead in Hartford, Connecticut in 2010,
Eight dead in Seal Beach, California in 2011
Seven dead in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2011,
Six dead (thirteen wounded) in Tucson, Arizona in 2011,
Six dead in Seattle, Washington in 2012,
Five dead in San Francisco, California in 2012,
Seven dead at Oikos University in Oakland, California in 2012,
Seven dead at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012,
Twelve dead (fifty-eight wounded) in Aurora, Colorado in 2012,
Six dead in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012,
Twenty-six dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, 2012
Five dead in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2013,
Five dead in Federal Way, Washington in 2013,
Five dead in Manchester, Illinois in 2013,
Five dead at Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California in 2013,
Six dead in Hialeah, Florida in 2013,
Thirteen dead at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. in 2013,
Five dead in Spanish Fork, Utah in 2014,
Five dead in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2014,
Six dead in Spring, Texas in 2014,
Eight dead (grandfather/daughter/grandchildren murder/suicide) in Bell, Florida in 2014
Five dead at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Marysville, Washington in 2014,
Five dead in Morgantown, West Virginia in 2014,
Six dead in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2014,
Eight dead in Tyrone, Missouri in 2015,
Nine dead in Waco, Texas in 2015,
Nine dead in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015,
Six dead in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2015,
Eight dead (six children) in Houston, Texas in 2015,
Six dead (single-family murder/suicide) in Platte, South Dakota in 2015,
Ten dead (nine wounded) at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in 2015,
Fourteen dead (twenty-one wounded) in San Bernardino, California in 2015,
Six dead in Chesapeake, Virginia (family murder/suicide) in 2016,
Six dead in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2016,
Five dead in Glendale, Arizona in 2016,
Five dead in Belfair, Washington (family murder/suicide) in 2016,
Six dead in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania in 2016,
Eight dead in Piketon, Ohio in 2016,
Six dead (murder/suicide domestic dispute) in Appling, Georgia in 2016,
Five dead in Green Cove Springs, Florida in 2016,
Five dead in Moultrie, Georgia in 2016,
Five dead in Ravenel, South Carolina in 2016
Five dead in Roswell, New Mexico in 2016.
Forty-nine dead (fifty-three wounded) in Orlando, Florida in 2016,
Five dead (nine wounded in a sniper ambush against police officers) in Dallas, Texas in 2016,
Five dead (family murder/suicide) in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania in 2016,
Five dead in Citronelle, Alabama in 2016,
Five dead in Burlington, Washington in 2016,
Five dead (eight wounded) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2017,
Eight dead (domestic murder including sheriff’s deputy) in Brookhaven, Mississippi in 2017,
Six dead (workplace murder/suicide) in Orlando, Florida in 2017,
Five dead in La Madera, New Mexico in 2017,
Nine dead in Plano, Texas in 2017,
Fifty-eight dead (four hundred & twenty-two wounded) in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2017,
Twenty-six dead (twenty wounded) at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas in 2017,
Five dead (ten wounded) in Rancho Tehama, California in 2017,
Five dead (domestic murder/suicide) in Melcroft, Pennsylvania in 2018 and
Five dead (domestic murder/suicide) in Paintsville, Kentucky in 2018.

This is a staggering list of senseless murders and family lives shattered, and does not detail the total number of incidents along with the considerable number of wounded in the carnage, except in cases of large numbers of wounded. What is alarming is that the percentage of Americans who believe we need stricter gun control laws is decreasing. What does it take a nation to realize that something is desperately wrong with our culture of guns and violence?

If a person wants to own a firearm, fine, join a well regulated militia as required by the Second Amendment. We, as a country always seem to be at war, so there will always be a need for someone who aspires to shoot something.

I see nothing wrong with a hunter owning a few rifles, and have many friends who hunt, but as a general rule, hunters do not shoot their prey with assault rifles capable of firing hundreds of rounds semi-automatically or automatically without having to reload. For anyone to have the ability to purchase military assault weapons capable of creating the type of massacre seen in this country time and again over the past eighteen years is asinine.

Be it this latest, senseless mass shooting, tens of thousands of murders committed every year in America’s inner cities or our seemingly endless wars, this is a violent nation. Our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Gladiolus #101B, 88BR, 87AR, 86BR & 76B

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February 10, 2018

Gladiolus, which is derived from the Latin word gladius and interpreted as a sword, is so named because of the shape of the plant’s leaves. It is the largest genus in the Iridaceae family with two hundred and fifty-five species. The majority of the species are native to sub-Saharan Africa, most originating from South Africa. If not originating from Africa, the other species are native to Eurasia.

Referred to as simply “Glads” by devotees of this particular flower, Gladioli are perennial flowering plants known for its beautiful, showy flowers. Widely accepted as an easy-to-grow flower, its large blossoms grow on tall spikes, with some species growing up to six feet tall. Glads come in a wide range of forms, colors and heights. This flower typically blooms in midsummer, around July and August, although the plant has been cultivated to bloom both earlier and later in their usual growing season. The blooms of this plant range from white, pink, apricot, yellow, gold and orange to blue, burgundy and red.

Gladioli are considered a somewhat hardy plant in temperate climates. Depending on your location, the bulbs may need to be dug up in the fall for storage indoors until the following spring, or replaced annually for convenience purposes. Gladioli like the full sun, however, they should bloom if grown in the shade. Those grown in full sun will produce a larger and brighter bloom and the plants’ stalks will be sturdier. The plant does like a sandy, well-drained soil. One thing to watch out for is to keep to plant away from strong winds, as this flower does seem to be susceptible to falling over due to the weight of their top-heavy blooms. One way to help prevent the flower from tipping over is to plant the bulbs thick enough so that the foliage will support each other.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too great 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

Train Wrecks Vs. Military Parade

February 8, 2018

Ever since witnessing la Fete nationale this past July 14th, celebrating the French revolution on the anniversary of Bastille Day with President Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump has been fantasizing about a similar, although much larger military parade, in honor of himself. Now, it seems the Republican controlled Congress is about to grant him his wish, despite the irony that he was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War, receiving five deferments for college and “bone spurs” on one of his feet, though he cannot remember which foot.

With an expected cost in the tens of millions of dollars, not to mention the cost of repaving the streets of the parade route, which will be chewed up by tanks and other military vehicles, compounded by the exploding budget deficit and national debt crisis that is emerging due to the enormous, unfunded tax cuts to both Big Business and the nation’s wealthy elite, now is not the time for wasteful government spending.

Several recent high-profile train wrecks all seem to have been preventable if only America’s rail system had the money to install Positive Train Control technology throughout its system. Among those wrecks were a crash in Brooklyn, New York in which 103 people were injured, a derailment in DuPont, Washington in which 3 were killed along with 23 injured and the most recent crash in Cayce, South Carolina in which 3 were killed and 116 injured. Furthermore, in a crash that could have been disastrous for the federal government, a train carrying Republican members of Congress in route to a retreat at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, collided with a garbage truck in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring six others.

Making matters worse, Colonel Jack Jacobs, an Army Medal of Honor winner for his bravery during the Vietnam War, stated on television Wednesday afternoon that troops hate marching in parades because of all the extra training required to do so. To quote Colonel Jacobs; “Being in a parade stinks.” Wasn’t the inauguration parade, which according to legend was the largest and greatest of all-time in the entire history of man-kind, though judging by photographs, very few people actually attended, enough?

Instead of wastefully spending tens of millions of dollars with a grand military parade, nothing more than stroking the frail, enormous ego of the president, let’s use that money to implement Positive Train Control on our rail system. Many countries currently operate high-speed rail, reaching speeds up to 267 miles per hour, while Japan has reached a top speed of 374 mph on a test track, all the while in the U.S., our rail system is going bankrupt.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #1648BR, 1640AR, 1644BR, 1655CR & 1646AR

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February 3, 2018

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. However, there are many plants that have Lily in their common name; yet not all are true Lilies. A few examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies, Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies, Water Lilies and Lilies Of The Valley. 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.

There are a number of different sub-species of Lilies, such as Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet, Martagon, Longiflorum, Candidum and several others. The most commonly grown are the Orientals and the Asiatics, especially for gardeners in more northern regions. Both the Oriental and Asiatic sub-species are hybrids. They are possibly my most favorite flower to photograph, as their design and colors makes it so easy to do so. Friends might think I am a little nuts when I tell them that they like having their picture taken, as they are so photogenic.

Asiatic Lilies, who gets its name because they are native to central and eastern Asia, are probably the easiest to grow, reproduce effortlessly and are very winter hardy. A healthy bulb can often double in size from one season to the next, and produces many smaller bulblets near the surface of the soil. Asiatics can reach heights up to six feet tall and have long, slim, glossy leaves, all the while producing flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red. The one color in which they do not bloom is true blue. Blooming in June and July (depending on one’s region), the flowers produce no fragrance, unlike that of Orientals. Another distinguishing difference between the two is its petals. Whereas Asiatics have smooth edges, Orientals are rough.

Oriental Lilies, native to Japan, are a little harder to grow and tend to reproduce much more slowly, mainly by bulblets sprouting near the surface of the soil. They look somewhat like a football when they first surface from the soil, rather pointy, and its leaves hugging the stem tightly. Their deep green leaves are wider, further apart and less numerous than those of the Asiatics, which first come into sight similar to an artichoke in appearance. Orientals are usually taller than Asiatics, reaching a height up to eight feel tall. Because of their height, many refer to them as Tree Lilies.

Orientals tend to bloom in pastel shades of white, yellow and pink, although some such as Stargazers and Starfighters produce very deep pink blooms. One more characteristic difference between the two types is that Orientals often will be rimmed with a different color, or having two or three colors, whereas the Asiatics most often have just a single color, although there are some exceptions. This sub-specie of Lilies also blooms after Asiatics, usually in August and September, again depending on your region. Other sub-species, such as Trumpets, bloom even later, so it is possible to have Lilies blooming all summer long by planting different varieties.

Most Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is a well-draining 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