Archive for May, 2009

Weekly Winners – May 23rd – May 30, 2009

This week’s Weekly Winners once again come from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and focus on the neighborhood kids. On Saturday, Ryan and I did the Pasquotank County Relay for Life. Three neighborhood kids came with us and stayed overnight. They had some misconceptions about cancer, so the event turned out to be educational as well as fun. The boys had a blast walking, playing football, playing basketball and competing in the various games throughout the evening. Even the rainstorms did not deter their enthusiasm.

Relay for Life - Ryan Teaches Kids about Cancer
Ryan Clears Up Misconceptions About Cancer

Relay for Life - Jacal in Poncho
Jacal Still Smiles in the Rain

Our backyard is now home to a badminton net. The weeknight evenings have been filled with impromptu “tennis” matches. I have been amazed at how rapidly the boys have improved. In just a week of playing, they hit consistently and have no problem winding me. It’s also impressive how hard they hustle. Six year old Tykee has to work particularly hard as he is smaller than the rest of the players.

Hunter Street Badminton - Jacal with Racquet and Birdie
Jacal Gets Ready to Play

Hunter Street Badminton - Dontori, Tykee, Jacal
Evening Match – Dontori and Tykee vs. Jacal

Hunter Street Badminton - Tykee Follow-thru
Tykee Follow-thru

Hunter Street Badminton - Dontori and Tykee
Dontori Watches as Tykee Concentrates on the Birdie

Hunter Street Badminton - Tykee Jumps
Little Tykee Jumps for a Birdie

On the subject of badminton, earlier this week a kid I had never met before came over to play.  After about an hour of wacking the birdie around with the other boys, he got thirsty.  As I escorted him inside to get water, he asked me a question.

“Is this a daycare?”

More pictures of the Pasquotank Relay for Life and our Badminton Matches can be found on my Flickr site. Also, be sure to check out more of Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

May 31, 2009 at 1:30 am 10 comments

Silo Tree Updates – May 30, 2009

Three more trees have been added to the Silo Trees of the U.S. listing. Kansas’ count went up by two and solely holds the lead once more!


Entitled “Reclaimed”, this photograph captures a silo tree in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Photograph courtesy of Dakota Dave. Reclaimed


This tree is located on Highway 24 between Lawrence, Kansas and Perry State Park. The photograph won a juror’s merit award in the 2008-2009 Hays Five State Competition and is courtesy of A. Scott Mccauley
Another find by Ken Wolf! This tree is in Douglas County, Kansas. Photograph courtesy of Ken Wolf.

More photos can be found in the Trees in Silos Flickr group. If you spot a silo tree you’d like to share, let me know!

May 30, 2009 at 10:53 pm Leave a comment

Google Doodle Trees

In her book, Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connection to Trees, Nalini Nadkarni dedicates an entire chapter to “Symbols and Signs”. A small part of that chapter discusses business logos. A few years ago, one of Nadkarni’s students, Jade Leone Blackwater, collected and analyzed tree-related logos. Within only a few days she found over 200 logos. Trees, it turns out, are common in corporate branding.

Last week, Google unveiled their Doodle 4 Google Winners. School children were asked to sketch a Google Logo representing “What I Wish For the World”. Just like professionally designed logos, trees make frequent appearances. Out of this year’s 400 State Finalists, 90 artists, including this year’s winner Christin Engelberth, incorporated a tree into their design.

Nadkarni and Blackwater spotted trends in the tree-related logos they looked at. Some of those same themes can be seen in the Doodle 4 Google entries. Many of the young artists used trees to support messages of sustainability, taking care of the environment, green living and recycling. Sometimes a tree was used to identify a place, such as a beach in paradise or an African Savannah. But most telling are the remaining entries. They used trees to convey a myriad of messages– Love, Safety, Friendship, Peace, Happiness, Fun, Hope, Completion, Longevity, Harmony.

Let the War Leaf
Elijah Griffin

One Happy World
Jessica Hsueh

Gavins Google Respect & Renewal
Gavin Raitt Hughes

Happy World
Aravind Arunachalam

Grace Para

Beautiful Land
Kelly Majid

Keep Our Animals Alive
Claire Yuka Bellas

Love Peace Harmony Joy & Happiness
Eshia Rustagi

Treat The Environment Better
Maredeth Steever

Simple Life
Ally Grimes

Sarah Cook

A World Full Of Pets
Alaina Beaver

I Wish For Love
Brooklynn Leary

I Wish For Safety
Kennedy Zufelt

Natasha Marko

Its Good To Be Green
Dakota Brooke Young

Recycling Doodle
Steven Leal

Keep The Earth Clean
Evelyn Larson

Care For The Flowers
Elyse Larson

Recycle For Beautiful Green World
Harshitha Kosaraju

Go Green With Google
Conor Kiely

Helping The World
Galila Lingo

Go Green Recycle
Angeline Faieq

Recycle For The Future
Alyssa Ruehlow

For World Friendship
Elizabeth Boulet

Taylor Hope Mcgraw

Help The World Be Green
Sabah K Islam

I Want The World
Gabrielle Smith

Feed Our Animals
Nicole M Dowling

The Better World
Carli Marie Lynch

A Green Peaceful World
Annie Tsai

Peace Love Hapiness
Jessica Sandler

Conserving Nature
Ashton Brashier

Go Green
Nick Amann

Peaceful World
Logan Stephens

Conserve The Earth
Carlos Lopez

Purple Pants?
Loey Gregory Wiley

Caring Does Matter
Jocelyn K Lee

Endangered Species Matter
Courtney Bodine

Wishes For Peace
Abbigail Barber

Happiness For All
Marissa Schuldheisz

Cleaning Up The World
Adam Cowell

Going Green
Sherry Lambert

Always Having What You Need
Hayden Furman

A New Beginning
Christin Engelberth

Sun And Fun
Austen Westenskow

Electric Tree
Abigail Pearl

Saving More Endangered Species
Arizza Santos

Cleansing The World
Ryan Gielow

Katherine Seeman

Beauty And Peace
Ines Slomic

Haley Pontius

Save The Planet
Tiffany Patmon

Unite The World
Ally Weaver

Camille Saadia Hancock

Live Life
Anna Kapton

Put Things In Perspective
Bridget Johnston

Going Green
Cally Nielsen

Save The Rainforests
Kathleen Stanford

Autumn Ibach

Google Green
Sarah Cozzens

World Happiness
Celeste Herrera

Peace And Happiness
Angelica-Eeva Melissa Digiulio

Ideal World
Sarah Mcnaughton

A Day In Paradise
Callie Roberts

Our Common Home
Kathleen Hazleton

Beauty Of Our Envinronment
Abigail I Ray

An Original World
Janae Mehlhaff

Be Seen Being Green
Jadon Mann

Fading Away
Victoria Wolf

Things That Can Change
Yedi Han

Google For Green
Camille Ohman

How The World Can Connect
Lydia Stevens

United We Stand
Amy Muser

If Everyone Lends A Hand…
Charlotte Markle

Peace For The World
Kelsey Carpenter

What A Wonderful World
Josh Voshell

A Wish For Vitual Reality
Natasha Gemine

Change For The World
Keolamaikalani Ahina

Outside Technology Clear Your Mind
Kelsey Driscoll

The Elements Of Completion
Alexandra Olivier

Facing Humanity
Britteny Hudson

Power Plant
Kyle Butterhof

Amanda Kehoe

I Wish
Meaghan Parker

A Peace And Love World
Joseph Park

Google Doodle
Jose Alexander Vazquez

Long Lasting World
Jamayra Ortiz

Google Go Green
Jourdan Stallknecht

Beautiful Harmony
Stephanie Georgeson

P.S. If we counted tree-related products such as fruit and leaves, the tally would be even higher!

May 26, 2009 at 12:28 pm 6 comments

The Hubble Telescope and my Underwear

When the Hubble Telescope was first launched by NASA, it infamously had a bad mirror. It produced nothing but blurry images and the project became a national joke. But three and a half years later, the telescope was repaired and since then has produced 570,000 images, crisp images, capturing the beauty of wonder of space.

Before and After Hubble Repair (Hat Tip, Ryan Somma)

A few weeks ago at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens I got caught in a rain storm. Sadly, my camera got a few droplets on its lens. Wiping it with my soaked shirt just made it worse– and putting the lens cap complicated the matter even more, adding fog into the mix. All my pictures were coming out blurry. Like NASA, I had to make some corrections. And like NASA, I had some complications. Their telescope was 350 miles above Earth. And me– every garment I had was wet from the storm.

Except one.

Insulated by denim, my underwear was dry.

And like the Hubble Telescope, once attended to, my camera, started to produce crisp images. Luckily, my operation was a lot less expensive than NASA’s. : )

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Before Cleaning Lense with Underwear (Cropped)
Before Cleaning with my Underwear

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - After Cleaning Lense with Underwear (Cropped)
After Cleaning with my Underwear

In case you are skeptical of my claim, Ryan Somma did catch a “Behind the Scenes” moment of my blog.

May 21, 2009 at 11:42 am 13 comments

Arbor Day: Alaska

Bald Eagle and Sitka Spruce
(Photo by DCSL)
Happy Arbor Day, Alaska!

Alaska celebrates its Arbor Day the third Monday of May, so Happy Arbor Day Alaska!

Alaska’s State Tree is the Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis). The needles of the spruce trees are high in Vitamin C. In the 1700’s explorers and sailors found spruce beer to stave off scurvy. In fact, before an 117 day voyage past Antarctica, Captain James Cook ordered spruce beer to be brewed.

The pleasures of spruce beer were not lost to history. You can make your own, or if you prefer– you can purchase Alaskan Brewing Company’s Winter Ale. It’s made with tender Sitka Spruce tips.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

Alaskan Winter Ale
(Photo by faeryboots)

May 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm 3 comments

Arbor Week: Maine

“Pining” for Lower Taxes
(Photo by faegirl)
Happy Arbor Week, Maine!

Last month, on April 15th, protesters convened on various metropolitan areas to conduct “Tea Parties“. They wanted to make a statement about taxes and decided to name their events after a famous 1773 protest – the Boston Tea Party.

The tariffs on tea imports weren’t the only controversial good of the times. Maine’s State Tree, the Eastern White Pine, was also a source of great unrest and “a major motivating factor for the American Revolution“.

The Eastern White Pine grew tall. It’s wood was strong. It was light and rot resistant. This made the tree perfect for the masts of great ships and it just so happened the British had a formidable Navy they wanted to provide for. All Eastern White Pine trees with a diameter greater than 12″ were claimed for Great Britain. It didn’t matter where the tree was or who lived on the land. The tree was marked with a Broad Arrow and just like that, it was property of the king. Valuable material was snatched away. The trees became souvenirs of injustice and “weighed heavy on the minds and hearts of the colonists desire for independence“.

In the winter of 1772, sawmills were caught violating the law and using the marked trees. That spring, a sheriff and his deputy arrived in the town of South Weare, New Hampshire with orders to arrest the leader of a sawmill. As the two men rested in a local inn, they were assaulted by a group of twenty men. The sheriff and his deputy were lashed. Their horses were disfigured. Then both men and their horses were driven away in disgrace, heckled by the townspeople.

This community’s uprising is called “The Pine Tree Riot“. The date was April 13, 1772– more than eighteen months before the Boston Tea Party.

As rebellion grew into revolution, the first Continental Flag was conceived and was reportedly present at the Battle of Bunker Hill. A reminder of what they were fighting for was included in the design. It wasn’t a teabag on the flag, it was a tree.

An Eastern White Pine.

The Continental Flag at Bunker Hill
Jonathan Trumbull’s Battle of Bunker Hill

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

May 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm 3 comments

Weekly Winners – May 10 – May 16th – Baby Opossum

This week’s photo inventory was sparse. I was sick all week. But I did snag a couple of shots and I didn’t have to travel far. I went briefly to Elizabeth City’s Potato Festival. Even closer to home, a baby opossum with a head injury (don’t worry- injury not pictured) wandered into the yard. He’s currently sleeping in a box and waiting to be claimed by a wildlife rehabilitator.

Potato Festival - Clowns
Clowns at the Potato Festival

Baby Opossum - On Street
Baby Opossom

Baby Opossum - with Ryan
Baby Opossom and Ryan

More pictures of the baby opossum can be found on my Flickr site.

Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

May 17, 2009 at 8:14 am 13 comments

May Trainings for American Chestnut Data Collection

Rocky Gap - Leaves and Blaze Two organizations I’m fond of, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the American Chestnut Foundation, are working together to gather data on American Chestnut trees growing along the Appalachian Trail. If you are interested in volunteering, two training sessions are coming up this month.

The Trainings

  • May 23, 2009 Mountain Lake, VA -Katie Burke, UVA PhD Candidate studying chestnut ecology, with Kathy Marmet
  • May 30, 2009 Nantahala Outdoor Center, NC – Dr. Hill Craddock and Dr. Jennifer Boyd of University of Tennessee Chattanooga Dept of Biological & Environmental Sciences

Formal training from 10 am – approximately 3 pm

Data collection practicum after lunch break

Please reply to kathymarmet[at ]gmail[dot]com if you would like to participate

Space is limited for these trainings. Additional trainings may be scheduled if there is sufficient interest.

The Project
The Chestnut Project is part of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)’s AT Mega-Transect Project, which seeks to engage the public in citizen-science efforts to collect data along the AT to raise awareness of threats to the environmental health of the Appalachian Region.

In 2008, scientists and volunteers from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) worked together to develop a pilot project to recruit and train volunteers to collect data on American chestnut trees identified along the Appalachian Trail (AT). Data from the 2008 effort and a slide show summary are at:

The Chestnut Project will be a long-term project. Data collected by project volunteers will contribute to understanding the status of surviving remnants of a species that played a key role in forests throughout Appalachia before being devastated by a blight fungus imported with Asian chestnut trees in the early Twentieth Century, and will inform TACF’s multi-generational effort to restore the American chestnut tree to its former place in the region’s forests. Data on individual trees with the potential to produce flowers will assist TACF in increasing the genetic diversity of its backcross breeding program to produce an otherwise American chestnut with the blight resistant characteristics of Asian chestnut.

2009 data collection efforts will build on the results of the 2008 effort, and will focus on assessing and improving data reliability. Redundant counts by multiple teams will take priority over number of miles covered by counts. ATC plans to seek grant funding with TACF and other partners

Participant Commitment
Training participants will select initial data collection segment assignments at the training. Participants as asked to try to collect and submit data from at least one segment within two weeks of the training, and to plan to complete and return data for all segments selected at training by July 10.

A Data Collector Kit, including report forms to record data in the field will be provided at training.

Helpful Items
GPS locator, binoculars, pedometer, digital camera, trail maps, hand held microscope or magnifier, clipboard.

May 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm 1 comment

Introducing….The Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate!

Look what my good friend and boss, Larry, received in the mail yesterday!

Virginia AT License Plate (by Larry)
Larry’s New License Plate (Photo by Larry Bowman)

Eighteen months after I first posted about the efforts to get a Virginia Appalachian Trail License plate, we have it! And it’s beautiful!!!!

Live in Virginia and want to support the Appalachian Trail Conservancy while having a nice plate of your own? Visit your local DMV!

May 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm 6 comments

Lazarus Taxon and Identification By Cage

There are so many intricacies to tree identification– Are the leaves simple or compound? Do they have hair on them? Are they waxy in texture? Are the leaves alternating or opposite of each other? What are the twigs’ terminal or lateral buds like? How is the bark textured? What color are the flowers? When do said flowers bloom? Is there any evidence of nuts on the ground? What about fruit?

When I was in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens a week ago, I was able to recognize a tree using a different method entirely. I identified it based on the cage around it.

Walking in the rain near the observatory tower, I noticed familiar black bars surrounding a small tree.

“Is that a Wollemi Pine?!?!” I exclaimed and scurried closer. A little sign in front of the tree confirmed it was true.

I first encountered the Wollemi Pine at the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam last November. It was particularly intriguing because I was on a Lazarus Taxon kick. “Lazarus Taxon” is an official term for my “I See Extinct Things” posts. It refers to species that disappeared from the fossil record, were believed to be extinct and were suddenly discovered alive. The term’s etymology is Biblical– Lazarus was the man Jesus brought back from the dead.

The Wollemi Pine is a textbook example of a Lazarus Taxon. Although fossils of the tree date back 90 million years, for the last 2 million years there wasn’t a single trace of the tree. There was every reason to believe it was extinct. And then in 1994, some were found growing in Australia.

I suppose being one of the oldest and rarest tree species in the world does warrant a little extra protection. At least two cities agree. Amsterdam and Norfolk, separated by an ocean, both enclosed their Wollemi Pines in black fencing.

By doing so, they introduced a new characteristic, a new trait, to the tree. Another way to recognize it.

Amsterdam - Botanical Gardens - Wollemi Pine (Portrait)
Wollemi Pine in Amsterdam
Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Wollemi Pine
Wollemi Pine in Norfolk, Virginia

More photos of the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens and of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens are available on my Flickr site.

May 12, 2009 at 6:00 am 5 comments

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