Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
For those of us lucky souls who live in South Florida, we have a gorgeous morning today. Crisp chilly morning in the low 60s Fahrenheit with blue sky. Driving around Miami these days, looking up the trees, you'll see most mango trees in bloom. There is one problem for some of us: those who may be sensitive and easily get allergic reactions from all these blooms. That's a small price to pay, I think. This is the Keitt mango tree next to my house that bears fruit every year, some we eat, many go to the squirrels and birds passing by. I think life is so precious.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
One of my neighbors has this beautiful rare bamboo. This aptly named form of "Yellow Groove Bamboo" is spectacular, thus its common name "Spectabilis." Its colors are reversed from the species, i.e., it has bright yellow culms with a green sulcus. It is the hardiest bamboo with yellow and green striped color pattern. Spectabilis is vigorous and rather rare. Like the other forms of the species, this bamboo makes an excellent hedge or screen due to its fast, upright growth to a possible maximum height of 25 to 30 feet. The bamboo in this shot may be 30 feet high and I love its touch.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Today, at about 1:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) the light went out in my office and my house. Then all hell broke loose. Lots of rumor abound. One was that there was an explosion at Florida Power and Light (FPL) in Miami. All schools went frantic... Call the cops, lock down the country...After about half an hour, all my power came back. CNN went on automatic pilot blanketting the airwaves, hoping for a major disaster of the century. At one time they announced that up to 4 millions customers lost power. FPL said it was more like 600,000 to 800,000. From the outside, people may have thought that Miami was confronted with Armageddon of the first kind and the end of the world has arrived. Below are some headlines on CNN and some local television channels. To the disappointment of all these news mongers, it was only a small hill, and no mountain. I know, I lived it, and I am alive. Just lost one afternoon of doing nothing anyway.
Massive Florida Power Outage... Transmission Failure Runs From Daytona Beach to Miami...Eight Power Plants Are Down... Outages in Miami Dade, Broward & Palm Beach... 680,000 Customers Affected...
Monday, February 25, 2008
This is University Drive looking East toward Ponce de Leon Blvd. Technically, this is Coral Gables. The sun just set behind me but the Eastern sky is still illuminated by the last scattered sun rays for the day. At the intersection where you see the red lights of the car on the right side, you'll find a famed steak restaurant named Christy. They have the best Caesar salad in town there.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Traffic in Miami gets worse by the day and traffic jams are the way of life. Major through fares around the city are clogged, especially around the beginning and ending of office days. Commuters know how to gain a few precious seconds by invading smaller neighboring streets. The city of Miami (and all other communities as well) combats this problem by constructing expensive traffic circles that force traffic to significantly slow down. In this neighborhood, a cheaper solution is offered: installation of 4-way stop signs at all intersections. Streets used to be enjoyed by kids roller skating at all hours now have to be shared with illegally speeding cars. These offenders are usually deterred by too many stop signs and will find another way to avoid getting stuck in traffic.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
New vigorous growths like this are springing out from all these longan trees in Miami. It is always exciting to see if flowers will show up at this moment. These tropical fruit trees do not bear every year, and they may skip a couple of years. The only way to know for sure is to inspect these every day and hope for a big new crop. These are all leaves, so far...
Friday, February 22, 2008
These beautiful orchid flowers finally open fully today. For unclear reasons, the flowers are blemished and not as large as usual. The nectar spurs are only about 2 to 3 inches long. It could be that air circulation is not good this time around, or that I neglected to give this plant any fertilizer. Again, these are descendants of the famous orchid that made Darwin famous, the Angraceum Sesquipedale. This one is Angraceum Superbum. These flowers are waxy and very fragrant at night; and they stay like this until May this year. The moth Predicta apparently does not live in Miami because this plant was not pollinated at all for the past thirty years.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
This is the exit from the Miami International Airport. You have to read very fast in order to move to the correct lane to get to where you want to go. The directions are color coded, but you still have to read fast. Not that easy.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
After almost an entire day of overcast caused by the arrival of a cold front, the customary Miami blue sky finally fought back to show its color at about 4PM today. Everything is damp and wet around. Usually at this time, cold fronts are welcome to trigger flowering and fruiting of many sub-tropical fruit trees in Miami, at least that's what I hope to happen. I can't wait to see the flowers budding from my longan trees.
Monday, February 18, 2008
My St. Vincent Lilac (Solanum Seaforthianum) has also made seed pods. They are pretty and look like tiny tomatoes when "ripened" (see insert at left.) It has many common names such as Brazilian Nightshade, potato creeper, Italian Jasmine... The Solanum family is very large, consisting of nearly 1500 species ranging from vegetables like the potato and aubergine, to ornamental shrubs and climbers, plus a number of weeds. Some, as their common name Nightshade suggests, are toxic and need careful handling. Everything of this vine is supposedly poisonous if ingested, including its seeds. I understand that humming birds like these seeds so they must be immune to its poison.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
This was fast! In the last days of December last year, I got a new vine and later learned of its name "Dalechampia Dioscoreifolia"
After a rash of many flowers, this vine now carries a number of seed pods. It turned out that every single flower was pollinated and this photo shows that this particular flower produced three seed pods that came from the three tiny orange female flowers. The bees must have been very busy when I was not looking.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
If you are familiar with the traditions of the United States of America, you may know that today is Valentine's Day.
The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'Valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Me? I have no one to take a photo for me on Valentine's Day today, so I did it myself, through a looking glass. Here is me with the Valentine tie that I wear once every year on Valentine Day. Don't feel too sorry for me, I may be joking, but the photo is through a looking glass. That part is true.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
On "Career Day" today, the most popular kiosk in this college campus is the one set up by the US Army who came to recruit from the student population. The students were fighting to play with their basketball set. I have no idea if any student signed up to be recruited but the incentives are very appealing.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
A peek at the arrival drive through at the Miami International Airport. This is crowded because of the arrival of an Air France flight direct from Paris. The passengers get out at the lower level to find ground transport services or being picked up by family. Security will not allow any car to park or even stop except to pick up passengers so timing of arrival is critical.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Another casualty of the economy down turn: CompUSA, which is going out of business, is closing its doors soon. Now South Miami must go to places like Office Depot, OfficeMax or BestBuy to find items carried by CompUSA. There is no telling when these stores will suffer the same fate. I always find the things I need on line so I rarely depend on these local stores.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
After hibernating for three years, my rare Angraceum Superbum began to flower again, and I am thrilled. This plant is over thirty year old and these fragrant and waxy white flowers will open in a few days to last for 3 months. Its ancestor originates from Madagascar as Angraceum Sesquipedale with a foot long spur (Sesquipedale means foot long) containing the nectar that attracts a special moth with a foot long proboscis, the night flying moth "Predicta" that was discovered 40 years after Darwin, studying the pollination of the Christmas Star orchid (Angraceum Sesquipedale) predicted the existence of such an insect. My Angraceum Superbum's nectar spurs are not as long, and they are only about 4" in length. It's very interesting to watch these flowers mature and twist to get their nectar spurs vertical before they fully open. The fragrance at night is out of this world and I am wondering which insect pollinates them in Miami. This plant is late this year as it should begin flowering in December, thus it is called the Christmas Star orchid. I'll post another photo when they fully open in a few days.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Bitter Cucumber (Momordica Charantia) are being boxed at a South Miami shipper for the market place. Momordica is a genus of about 45 species of annual or perennial climbing herbaceous or shrubby plants belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae, natives of tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Australia. These vegetables have been used in Chinese folk medicine for centuries as a 'bitter, cold' herb, and have recently been brought into mainstream Chinese medicine as well as natural medical traditions around the world. It has been shown that the immature fruit might have some antibiotic, anticancer, and antiviral properties. Not for me. I never touch or eat these.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Ochna is a genus comprising 86 species of evergreen trees, shrubs and shrublets belonging to the family Ochnaceae. The most celebrated flower in Vietnam, the spectacular yellow flowers of the Ochna Integerrima make it very popular in South Vietnam, where the cut flower branches are purchased during Tết, the traditional Vietnamese New Year when this species blooms profusely. For some reason I never understand, these plants flower much better and easier when grown in pots. They are deciduous and mine is full of flowers today as new leaves are beginning to sprout. It's the first day of the new year of the Mouse. Happy New Year!
Another species, Ochna Serrulata is widely known as the "Mickey Mouse" plant because after the petals fall, black berries form that look just like the ears of the famous Disney character. The Mickey Mouse variety is very appropriate for this new lunar calendar year of the Mouse (see its calligraphy on the lower petal of the flower.) Ochna Serrulate is much easier to grow in Miami and they propagate freely when the berries are scattered around. The same is not true for the more difficult to find and to grow Ochna Integerrima.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Here is one of the rare remaining farm land in deep South Miami, at about 240th street just off US 1. This is in a community called Princeton where local crops such as corn, beans, strawberries were everywhere. No longer. I am not sure what this crop is, and it looks like some kind of cabbage, just about ready for harvest. The tall palms in the background are royal palms, grown in a neighboring nursery and they are sold for landscaping of new homes/condos and office buildings. From now on, I am using a Canon PowerShot S3 IS which is a 6 MPixel camera, retiring my 5 MPixel Canon G5 because I don't want to buy a new battery for it.