Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How To Water Tillies in a Tropical Storm

How do you water Tillies in a tropical storm? I found out today with the outer rainbands of Tropical Storm Hermine. The answer is...don't.

Fellow weather spotters had been tracking Hermine (aka 99L, aka TD9) for two weeks. The models promised development, but shear and dry air kept ripping her up. We became bored and complacent.

Today, she finally pulled it together. And then some. Without warning, we got drenched!
Outer Rainband, TS Hermine, 2016
My Tillies were outside in their buckets, waiting for what I thought would be a nice summer shower. Instead, we got 45mph (about 90kph) winds and drenching rain. The Tillies became...concerned (probably).
Waiting for a little summer shower....
I really did not want to go out there and rescue them, but I did. They were starting to blow out of the buckets.
Jeepers! I have to go out there???
Now they're safe and sound, and well-watered, as am I. Like a drowned rat....
Alert Gardeners' Tip: If a tropical storm or hurricane is in your area, keep yourself, and your Tillies inside!
Safely home in their Tillie Tower.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Weekend Walkabout: Munin the Fish Crow and the Bloomin' Babytoes

Babytoes bloomed today, just in time for the weekend. And I finished a difficult painting, a tiny little thing that has been bugging me for months (another in my New Orleans Wall Fragment series), so I put them together for a mini-portrait:
Bloomin' Babytoes with New Orleans Wall Fragment 2, MRobb, 2016
After a whole month of drought, we got a lot of rain (phew, no more evening waterings!), so I thought I'd publish a portrait of Munin, our resident Fish Crow Patriarch and Way Cool Corvid, enjoying the rain on my fence- have I mentioned that Fish Crows are as intelligent as chimps?
Munin in Rain, MRobb, 2016
Here's a more regular portrait of Munin, singing on the balcony while I play my HAPI drum:
Munin at Dawn, MRobb, 2016
And finally, a new soul window, from an indigo center to a bright yellow outer ring. This one will go to the winner of our local poetry contest:
Soul Window, Indigo to Yellow, MRobb, 2016
Have a wonderful weekend and happy gardening!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Think About It Thursday: More Hope for Gaia - Rocks!

Exciting news from the Science Geeks! It's possible to turn CO2 into stone, at least if you are in Iceland. And this technique can work in many places in the world, and it works fast. Take a look:
from the Economist

Inline image 1
A paper just published in Science offers a possible solution (to climate change). By burying CO2 in the right sort of rock, a team of alchemists led by Juerg Matter, a geologist at Southampton University, in Britain, was able to transmute it into stone. Specifically, the researchers turned it into carbonate minerals such as calcite and magnesite. Since these minerals are stable, the carbon they contain should stay locked away indefinitely.
They collected 175 tonnes of it, mixed it with a mildly radioactive tracker chemical, dissolved the
mixture in water and pumped it into a layer of basalt half a kilometre below the surface. They then kept an eye on what was happening via a series of monitoring wells. In the event, it took a bit less than two years for 95% of the injected CO2 to be mineralised.

They followed this success by burying unscrubbed exhaust gas. After a few teething troubles, that worked too. The H2S reacted with iron in the basalt to make pyrites, so if exhaust gas were sequestered routinely, scrubbing might not be needed. This was enough to persuade Reykjavik Energy, the power station’s owners, to run a larger test that is going on at the moment and is burying nearly 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and around 7,300 tonnes of H2S.

from Science (June 2016 issue):

Inject, baby, inject!      H. Jesse Smith  Science  6/10/16
Atmospheric CO2 can be sequestered by injecting it into basaltic rocks, providing a potentially valuable way to undo some of the damage done by fossil fuel burning. Matter et al. injected CO2 into wells in Iceland that pass through basaltic lavas and hyaloclastites at depths between 400 and 800 m. Most of the injected CO2 was mineralized in less than 2 years. Carbonate minerals are stable, so this approach should avoid the risk of carbon leakage.

Most scientists now say that, in addition to steep carbon cuts, we'll have to use some sort of geo-engineering to prevent catastrophic climate change and sea level rise. This is the only type of geo-engineering that sounds possibly safe and effective that I've read about so far. Go, Iceland!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

August Perfume Post: Gardenias!

I love gardenias. I'm a tropical gal and gardenias come with my territory. But it's really hard to find a good gardenia perfume. There has been, until recently, no way to capture that elusive, transcendent, yet funky smell. I searched for years....
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Then I found it. IFF (International Flavors and Fragrances) hosts a competition each year called the Secret Smelling Event. Their top perfumers are given a few made-in-the-house ingredients from which to create an original perfume. They have a much larger budget than usual and are given total creative control. The results are amazing.
Here are my notes on Dominique Ropion's gorgeous gardenia, published this year on Basenotes:

IFF Secret Smelling, OK, it's here! I love the presentation- the perfumes are housed very securely in a black shiny box, well-made. The lab-style bottles are utilitarian but stylish. The kit comes with paper test strips and a booklet that has descriptions of each perfume, a photo and notes from each perfumer, and a glossary. I had to try Dominique Ropion's new gardenia immediately. 

 Ropion's gardenia features a trademarked "Living" gardenia, Cosmofruit, and LMR's "heart" ylang. I am in love. I have looked for a gardenia perfume that captures the real blossoms for years. Never found it. This is 90% there, and sooooo beautiful! If I sprayed this liberally, I would become a walking gardenia.  It's a soliflore and very natural. Yes, buttery, yes, indoles, yes, green notes. I feel as if I'm in my parents' garden in late spring, tending their gardenias. It's really pretty amazing. Is this a headspace molecule? Indeed it is. "Cosmofruit" is a synthetic aromachemical. There is a little ylang ylang undergirding, but I don't smell anything I'd call "Cosmofruit". Sillage is decent and longevity is very good. I've finally found my gardenia perfume. But will they ever make this commercially?? Angst!

On a gardener's note- it's been a month of drought, so I don't have much to report from my outdoor gardens- I am watering like crazy and the plants, lizards, and butterflies are clinging to life. We have a tropical blob moving in, so things may improve soon. Our river has fish again, Gaia has been kind. My indoor plants are doing well--here is some foliage from one of my mini African Violets. Lovely and pink! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Think About It Thursday: Synthetic Gardens Could Salvage Climate

This article from Climate Central really had me thinking:

Now I'm all for more and more real gardens and real forests, and those will surely help the climate as well. I'm all for green roofs, the kind that are used in Scandinavia, and hydroponic farms built on top of skyscrapers in NYC. The farms provide organic produce for city dwellers, and give a lot of oxygen where it's needed.

And of course, Tillie curtains in China and Tillie High Rises in homes (like mine) make my day! They filter indoor air and give a lot of oxygen, and my brain can surely use more oxygen.

But I'm good with synthetic gardens and forests in addition to the real ones. Especially if this technology works and we can pull C02 out of the air and convert it to fuel. Now if only we could do the same with the methane in the Arctic!

What I want to know is, what would a synthetic tree or garden look like?? What do you think?

Watercolor by MRobb
"Fireflowers" by MRobb