Calla Lilies #62BR, 66BR, 80BR & 61BR

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September 29, 2018

Calla Lilies, whose scientific name is Zantedeschia Aethiopica, are not true Lilies, but are a specie of Arum in the Araceae plant family. This lily is considered a perennial plant in the hardiness zones of eight and higher while an annual in zones seven and lower. In cooler zones, the bulbs need to be dug up or they will die if the ground freezes. A native in the marshlands of southern Africa, its preferred habitation is in streams and ponds or along their banks. Callas grow two to three feet tall, having large clumps of broad, arrow shaped brown leaves growing up to eighteen inches long. The plant’s leaves can also be speckled with white spots. The flowers of this plant, which twist and curl into a funnel shape ending in a point, come in pink, yellow, orange, blue, red, dark maroon and even black, flowering from late spring until late summer.

Calla Lilies, also called Trumpet Lilies or Lily Of The Nile, like the bright morning sun and late afternoon shade, particularly in hot summer locales. In cooler climates, Callas like full sun. The plant grows best in moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil and especially loves a sandy soil. All parts of the plant are poisonous and may be fatal if eaten. These plants grow just as well in containers. If grown in a pot in cooler climates, bring the plant indoors during the winter and keep in a well-lit area. With enough sunlight, Callas will even bloom indoors during the winter months.

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

 

Orchids #518BR, 516BR, 485AR, 515CR & 519BR

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September 22, 2018

Orchids, whose botanical name is Orchidaceae, has more than thirty-five thousand species and as many as three hundred thousand hybrids in its family, making it one of the two largest plant families along with the Asteraceae family, which includes such flowers as Asters, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Daisies, Marigolds and Zinnias. In addition to being one of the largest flowering plant families, evidence suggest that Orchids first appeared more than one hundred and twenty million years ago, making this elegant flower also one of the oldest.

Because of the exotic appearance of this flower, I always assumed that the plant had its origins in the tropical regions of the world. However, since getting my first Orchid, I have learned this assumption cannot be any further from the truth. Though many species do grow in the tropics, in locales such as Central and South America, Africa and the Indo-China region, other species are found in our planet’s temperate regions along both sides of the Equator in regions such as the United States, Europe, Russia, China and Australia. Even more interesting is the fact that Orchids are also found growing in rather cold regions of the planet, in places such as Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern Russia. In fact, there are only a few countries in the world in which Orchids do not originate, such as the desert countries of northern Africa and the Mid East, and also the continent of frigid Antarctica. In an interesting note, forty-eight species have been found in the state of Maine, while Hawaii only has three.

All Orchids are considered perennials, and grow via two different methods, monopodial and sympodial. Monopodial Orchids has a central stem, which grows upward on top of its prior growth. The plant’s roots and flower stalks all begin life from that same central stem. Sympodials, in which most Orchids are members of, new growth originates at the base of the prior year’s growing season, resulting in the plant growing laterally.

Due to the immense number of different plants in this family, the blooms of Orchids come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some Orchids produce just a single flower, while other varieties produce multiple blooms. The flowers range in size from a pinhead up to nearly twelve inches wide. They come in all colors except true black, although the most dominant colors are white, yellow, pink, lavender and red, although green and brown are very common as well. Typically, Orchids consist of three sepals, three petals. One of the petals is greatly modified, which forms the flower’s throat and lip. The plant has simple leaves with parallel veins, and they normally alternate on the stem and are often folded lengthwise. The leaves may be either ovate, lanceolate or orbiculate in shape. As far as soil types go, this to me is what makes Orchids very unique from most, if not all other flowers. Some grow in soil; some grow on trees, some on rocks, while others survive on decaying plant matter. One more interesting note is that vanilla favoring comes from the Vanilla Orchid.

The particular type of Orchid shown in these photographs is a Phalaenopsis, which are commonly referred to as a Moth Orchid. 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

Brett Kavanaugh vs. Christine Blasey Ford

September 20, 2018

To believe the Republican controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is seeking truth regarding a sexual assault claim against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Professor Christine Blasey Ford is asinine. To conduct a hearing in which only Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford will testify, only a few days after the allegation came to light, without an investigation, is asinine. To require Dr. Blasey Ford to present her written testimony by the Friday before the Monday hearing, with only two days notice is asinine.

To refuse to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation before a hearing is held, an investigation in which former U.S. attorneys and prosecutors state is the only proper way in which to conduct the Judiciary Committee’s investigation, is asinine. To refuse to subpoena Kavanaugh’s high school drinking buddy, Mark Judge, whom, based on his many writings might not be the best character reference, whom Dr. Blasey Ford has stated was in the room during the alleged assault, and that she was only able to escape the assault was when Judge jump on top of them, is asinine.

To believe Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who tweeted “…No other OUTSIDE investigation is necessary for the Cmte to do its investigation” is impartial is asinine. To believe committee member Orin Hatch, who has stated he believes Kavanaugh when the jurist said he wasn’t at the party, and that he seems “honest and straightforward,” or that there are “lots of reasons not to believe” the professor and that she must be “mixed up,” will be impartial is asinine. Or, to believe committee member Lindsey Graham, who has stated that a longer process would be “not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections,” will be impartial is asinine.

It’s funny how Republicans are so concerned about appointing a Supreme Court justice so quickly, when they saw nothing wrong with not even giving Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, an interview, citing the upcoming presidential election, which was nearly a year away. For Republicans to rush through this nomination, with midterm elections only six weeks away, not to mention the Robert Mueller investigation, which has indicted more than thirty people, including seemingly everyone associated with the president along with many Russians, and appears to be very close to knocking on the White House door, is asinine.

The Senate Judiciary Committee does not appear inclined to learn the truth about this allegation, they only seem hell-bent on appointing a very conservative jurist, someone who now believes a sitting president not only should not be indicted, but not even investigated. This newfound opinion is a complete about-face from his view of that two decades ago, when he co-authored the report that found legal grounds to impeach President Bill Clinton for committing perjury when he lied while trying to cover-up a sex act between two consenting adults.

And that, my friends, is asinine!!!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Lilies #5007BR, 5006BR, 5001BR & 5005BR

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September 15, 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 feet 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

Stupid Commercials ~ Direct TV (Or Is It NFL Sunday Ticket?)

September 12, 2018

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted an article about stupid commercials, not because there are no longer stupid commercials airing on television, but after buying my first new camera in thirty-three years, finally going digital five summers ago, and then buying another this past Christmas, I have been busy shooting nearly 185,000 photographs. Shooting that many photos doesn’t take long, I shot 180 earlier this afternoon in about fifteen minutes. It’s sorting through them all, choosing the best ones and then working on them that is time-consuming.

However, after seeing an advertisement for Direct TV (or is it for NFL Sunday Ticket?) the past couple of weeks, I just had to find time to comment on this rather stupid commercial. The premise of the commercial is two little girls are selling lemonade in their front yard when a lady stops by to buy a cup. All of a sudden the girls’ mother appears and grabs the biggest plastic cup I’ve ever seen from under the table and pours two pitchers worth of lemonade into it. The mother then grabs everything, including the money-box and tells the girls it’s time to go. In the closing scene, we see the girls and mom watching an Oakland Raiders football game, presumably on NFL Sunday Ticket. And assumedly, on Direct TV.

Why are the two girls getting ready to sell lemonade (the two pitchers are full, after all) if the mother knew they wanted to watch the game, but what really makes this such a stupid commercial is why would anyone have a two-gallon plastic cup?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Chrysanthemums #210AR, 213AR & 209BR

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September 8, 2018

Chrysanthemums, more commonly knows as Mums, are a member of the Asteraceae family of flowers. This flower is considered a hardy perennial, although many consider them only as a short-season, fall-planted annual, as they bloom in late summer and fall. There are forty known species and thousands of different varieties of Mums. Most species originally came from China, Japan, northern Africa and southern Europe, although China is thought to be the original starting point of the plant, dating there as far back as the fifteenth century, B.C., where the flowers have customarily been boiled to make a tea and also used medicinally to treat influenza. The plant has been grown in Japan since the eighth century. Over five hundred different varieties were known to exist by 1630. Chrysanthemums are considered to have been introduced in America in 1798, when Colonel John Stevens imported a variety known as Dark Purple from England. The plant is considered the death flower in Europe because of its widespread use on graves.

The word Chrysanthemum is a derivative of two Greek words, chrysos (meaning gold) and anthemon (meaning flower). This particular genus of flower at one time included many more species, but was divided into several different genera a few decades ago. The National Chrysanthemum Society recognizes thirteen different classes of flowering blooms of the plant, based on form and the shape of its petals, although there are only eight major types; anemone, cushion, decorative, pompom, single, spider, spoon and quill.

Chrysanthemums are divided into two basic groups, garden hardy and exhibition. Garden hardy are perennials capable of surviving winters in northern latitudes and produce a large quantity of small blooms. Exhibition varieties are not nearly as hardy and sturdy; usually require staking and being kept in a relatively cool, dry location over the winter, sometimes requiring the use of night-lights. In addition to its many different types of blooms, Mums come in a wide variety of colors, ranging not only of gold, but also white, yellow, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. The plant also comes in an assortment of heights as well, ranging from a height of eighteen inches up to three feet tall, depending on the particular variety, growing conditions and whether they are pinched regularly during the growing season. Pinched plants will generate a smaller, bushier plant, producing many more blooms.

These plants can be planted either in the fall or in early spring. Those planted in the spring will produce a more vigorous flower. Mums prefer fertile, highly organic, well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. The plants should be spaced roughly eighteen to twenty-four inches apart, although some varieties might require spacing up to three feet. They can be fertilized once a month up through July. Mums particularly need plenty of water once they start blooming. Every two or three years, Chrysanthemums should be divided to invigorate their growth. If bought as a potted plant in the fall, as many people do, they should be planted at least six weeks if not more before the season’s first killing frost, although it seems that many who buy fall pots will throw the plant away after the frost kills the blooms, having never transplanted the flower into a garden.

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

An Open Letter To My Congressmen

September 3, 2017

The following is a copy of a letter to my House of Representative regarding the ongoing investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller into the Trump presidential campaign and administration’s collusion with Russia and any potential criminal activities. The gist of my letter concerns the “president” openly boasting that he is about to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and taking over the investigation himself, in effect, shutting it down completely.

In addition to this letter, I also sent letters to my two Senators as well. Isn’t the word processor a wonderful thing?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

September 1, 2018

The Honorable Warren Davidson
United States House of Representatives
1004 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-3508

Dear Congressman Davidson,

With the reporting this past week by the Washington Post that the “president” (I will stop using quotation marks when the “president” starts acting presidential) will most likely fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the November mid-term elections, I must write again to implore my three members of Congress to act now to ensure that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is allowed to complete his investigation. After all the bad news last week, in which former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight felony counts, personal attorney Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight felony counts, including implicating the “president” on two counts, and both American Media Inc. chairman David Pecker and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg received immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony, it doesn’t take a prosecutor to realize that Mr. Mueller is not only getting close to the “president,” but to everyone associated with him, including his family.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, infamous for his midnight visit to the White House to allegedly view classified documents, going as far as to swap vehicles along the way, recently went to England, to investigate British MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his dossier. It has been reported that British intelligence officers refused to meet with the Congressman. It was also reported Friday night that Department of Justice lawyer Bruce Ohr testified to Congress last week that Steele told him in 2016 that Russian intelligence had the “president” “…over a barrel.” Ohr is also alleged to have said that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with more senior Russian officials than he has previously acknowledged.

To think that the “president” can fire the AG and replace him with one of his cronies, who in turn can completely shut down the Mueller investigation, or lock the final report in a safe, never seeing the light of day is asinine. I’m no constitutional scholar, but this scenario surely cannot be what our founding fathers had in mind. They must be rolling over in their graves. Yet, during a campaign rally in Evansville, Indiana this past Thursday, the “president” told the crowd that if the Justice Department doesn’t “…start doing their job and doing it right,” he will get involved and take over the investigation, something he has said in the past he has every right to do. Senator Lindsey Graham’s one hundred and eighty degree about-face regarding what would happen if Sessions was fired is appalling. It was only a year ago that he stated “there will be holy hell to pay” if Sessions was fired, now he says the “president” has every right, and valid reason to do so.

Is this potential firing not a classic case of obstruction of justice, a crime in which Richard Nixon was charged with the first of three articles of impeachment, although admitting to NBC nightly news host Lester Holton that he fired former FBI director James Comey in a failed attempt to end the investigation enough evidence to warrant an obstruction of justice charge? Congress needs to do the right thing by taking a stand and put country ahead of party and this, or any presidency. Congress is one of the three equal branches of government, it is past time for it to live up to the enormous responsibility given it. Doing so is the only way to restore some sort of its long-lost integrity.

Despite the “president” whining every single day about the rigged witch-hunt, one need only look at all the indictments, guilty pleas and convictions to see that this investigation is anything but that. And those are only the tip of the iceberg, as only Mr. Mueller knows what all else he has uncovered. Political pundits and legal experts all say the “president” has the right to fire the Attorney General and end the investigation, but does that make sense? How can someone being investigated have the right to end an investigation? And, in a funny, ironic sort of way, it is being reported that Republicans have created a spreadsheet, listing all the potential investigations, not to investigate the “president” themselves, but to be prepared to thwart the Democrats, who are expected to take back the House, at the very least come November’s blue wave, or potential tsunami.

Russia hijacked our 2016 election, and yet our government is doing absolutely nothing to ensure they do not do so again this November. I urge you and your fellow members of Congress to do the right thing, and insure that Robert Mueller is allowed to finish his investigation, and let the “president” know that firing Sessions will result in him being charged with obstruction of justice, resulting in him being charged with articles of impeachment.

What better way of honoring the life and spirit of John McCain, than by Congress regrowing its backbone?

Sincerely,
Steven H. Spring