Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Waterlily Competition

I took a walk at Duke Gardens on Sunday and the waterlilies in the koi ponds are just beginning to bloom. The ones that were blooming were simply beautiful. There was sign nearby that announced the following:

The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society has once again chosen Duke Gardens to be the growing site for the organization's annual New Waterlily Competition, a contest that draws entries from skilled hybridizers around the world. The purpose of this competition is to promote interest in hybridizing new colors, forms, and sizes of both tropical and hardy waterlilies. In the past few years, several note-worthy new hybrids have been introduced as a result of the competition, including plants with unusual flower shapes and colors; new leaf patterns and colors; and new viviparous waterlilies. These one-of-a-kind lilies will be on display in the Fish Pool at the base of the Historic Terraces during July and August. Visitors are invited to see these new hybrids up close this summer and to choose their favorites as part of the second annual "People's Choice Awards". Votes can be cast in person using ballots, via cell phone using the Guide by Cell program, or here on our website.

So, you can stroll by and check out the waterlilies and cast your own vote for your favorite because there is a "People's Choice Award" for the lilies too.

Here are a few pictures I took on Sunday at the pond:

And here's the poster describing the competition and containing a ballot box (you can click it twice to make it larger and readable):

Sunday, August 24, 2008

African Milk Plant

Years ago, maybe 20 years ago even, my Mom gave me a small plant to put inside my tiny apartment. I didn't want anything that required a lot of fussing over, but I did want a house plant, something green, of some kind. It was a baby of a plant that Mom had received from her sister. I didn't even know the name of it at the time, but it was happy with sporadic water and some sunlight. It grew slowly.

Now it is pretty big and top heavy and is prone to tipping over, which it sadly often does. I've found that it is not a cactus, but a succulent, and is an African Milk Plant (Euphorbia trigona). I haul it outside in the summer, where it loves the heat and humidity and sunshine, and inside for the winter, when it goes dormant.

I wonder what will happen to it if it gets much bigger and I can't haul it outside in the summer because it is too tall and too heavy. It won't be happy all year round in the house, and I don't have a sunroom where it could stay year round and get enough light. Maybe I need to donate it to someone who does have a sunroom where it could stay in one place? I do have a couple of babies from it, the smaller of which is about the size of the plant when my Mom gave it to me years ago:

Oh, and it's supposed to be good luck to give one of these as a gift, so 20 years late I'd like to say, "Thanks Mom for the good luck gift! But what do I do with it now?"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Daisy Cakes, finally.

I've had a few weekends out of town, so I haven't found a good chance to check out Daisy Cakes. Today on the way to the Durham Farmer's Market, we saw "Sugar," the Silver Airstream and stopped for a couple of cupcakes.

We chose a Raspberry Frosting on vanilla, and a Coconut, which was the special of the day. They were beautiful and tasty. Not out-of-this-world tasty, but very good--and I mean, heck, one can now stop at a cupcake and coffee place on the way to the Farmer's Market! That is a concept worth supporting, even if I have to definitely watch my cupcake intake.

Anyway, they'd sold out of a good number of things by the time we were there (sometime after 11am), but there was still some cupcakes and coffee left. Woo Hoo! The lady taking our order was pleasant, although I'm sure she'd been there for hours at that point. There was a small line but it went fast.

Here's a picture Sugar, the Daisy Cakes Airstream, parked at the corner of Geer and Foster, across the street from Man Bites Dog Theater.

Official site of Daisy Cakes for more information. Carpe Durham has some more information on Daisy Cakes, and so does Valerie at We Love Durham.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Roe, Roe, Roe your boat . . .

At this point, I've sampled sushi from several different places in Durham and in Chapel Hill, and even in Atlanta, but so far the best, as far as I'm concerned, is at Sushi Love in Durham on Erwin Road.

Lenore blogged about Sushi Love twice at her place, here and here, and Carpe Durham blogged about it here. So naturally I had see what all the fuss was about. I went along with my 2 best sushi-eating pals. And, I might add, they concur with my assessment of it being the best sushi so far that we've tried.

Here's our boat of sushi. I thought the boat was very cool, but I like boats of almost any description anyway. If I can't be at the helm, at least fill it up with sushi and put it on table!

And thanks to Jack's hard work (thanks!), we have this illustrated picture of the sushi we three enjoyed (you can click it twice to make it larger):

The rolls tasted exceptionally fresh, crunchy when they were supposed to be, and soft when they were supposed to be. The rice was good and soft but held together well.

And one last observation. Our server was very patient with us. We wanted to really look at the menu thoroughly and make our choices together, so it took us a while to get our order together. She was very pleasant about that and I appreciated it.

I think overall I liked the Insane Eel Roll the best. We agreed that even the pickled ginger tasted above average.

We'll be back for sure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eno in Chicago

This place caught my eye as I walked down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Eno? Hey, I know an Eno (river, that is). So I walk over take a closer look and it looks like a place we might like. Another kind of Eno. Later that evening we take a stroll down brightly lit Michigan Avenue--it was a beautiful breezy night, sidewalks full of people and plenty of activity at 11pm.

Our view from our table:

A friendly Chicago greeting as we step inside, as I've come to expect and enjoy. Nice table by the window and plenty of time to peruse the menu. So many flights of wine, cheese, and chocolate. Oh what to pick on this menu!

We ended up getting the Faux Bordeaux and the Pinot Envy flights of wine. The wine we liked best of the six was the 2006 Eola Hills Pinot Noir.

For the cheese, we chose The International and the Silky Smooth flights. The Quicke's raw cow milk cheddar from Devon was the best of the cheeses we tried. The chocolate flight was one we picked out specifically with just truffles. The dark cherry flavored truffle was the best of the three.

Eno from the sidewalk:

I'd definitely go back and plan to the next time I'm in Chicago. I really should also try Durham's Six Plates and I'm sad to say I haven't so far.

In an unrelated matter, a spider waits in his web on a busy N. Michigan Avenue corner, in a planter. Not sure how good business is there for him:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Off to Chicago . . .

Will be enjoying Chicago over the next few days. It's one of my favorite places and I'm looking forward to it, like visiting an old friend. The Art Institute, Crown Fountain, the Lake, Second City, etc. Last year when I was there I saw a fascinating exhibit on Charles Darwin at The Field Museum. I love The Field.

Here's a picture of Cloud Gate (or "the bean") at Millennium Park (another great place) that I took last year:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. ~ Carl Sandburg

Monday, August 11, 2008

Loggerhead Turtle Nests on Topsail Island

We spent a long weekend on Topsail Island with my family and the weather was beautiful. A lot of the time we were on the beach swimming and playing in the sand and beach-combing and I am happy to report seeing several loggerhead turtle nests roped off just in one small section of coastline. They came complete with with warning signs--penalty up to $100,000 and also criminal prosecution with jail time. Everyone was very respectful of the nests.

One nest even had a little 'runway' dragged into the sand from the nest to the surf by the volunteers who help protect the sea turtles. Evidently the 'runway' means it's close to having the eggs hatch. It takes about 60 days from the time the mother loggerhead turtle lays the eggs until they hatch and the babies make their way out to the ocean. The nests will have volunteer babysitters (nestsitters?) to sit with the nests overnight so no idiot will vandalize the nests at night. An interesting article here from last Saturday about the nests this year: Sea turtles take over Topsail.

Topsail Island has one of the few "sea turtle hospitals" to help injured loggerheads recuperate and get back to the ocean. You can even vist Topsail's Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. It seems to be a big hit with kids . . . and big kids like me too.

Here are some pictures I took:

A roped off nest near the dunes

The "runway" down to the surf:

The warning sign (click it twice to make it readable):

Here's a youtube video (not mine) of some Topsail Island loggerhead babies making their way to the ocean. And also a very quick video of a mother loggerhead on Topsail crawling back to the water.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Grass Scraped Off at the DAP

I pass by the Durham Athletic Park at least once a day on the way to downtown and work. The planned renovations have been under way a few weeks now on the old, well-loved ballpark. It's startling to see nearly all the grass scraped off the field. In fact, I stopped today and took a picture of it, through the construction fencing:

Durham Athletic Park, 8/5/2008 (click to make picture larger)

Some of what will be happening during the renovations were outlined by wral in this article:

Crews will repair the grandstand, install new bathrooms and clubhouses under the grandstand, renovate the concession stands, dugouts and broadcast booth and build a new maintenance building, picnic area and sand-based athletic field.

Field construction is scheduled to be done by the end of the year, with other work wrapping up by next March.

When it's finished, the old park will be a new training ground for minor league baseball. People will come to Durham to learn how to take care of fields and how to "flip" them from festivals to ballgames.

The former home of the Durham Bulls is also getting a new state-of-the-art field and will be home to North Carolina Central University’s baseball team in 2009.

Bull City Rising has covered the renovations and plans for the DAP, and Endangered Durham has some background and fantastic old pictures of the DAP.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

4 Way Stop Intersections

Are 4 Way Stop intersections more complicated than I think?

I learned years ago that one proceeds in the order that one arrives at the 4 Way Stop. The first one there goes first, then the next to arrive goes, and so forth.

Has this rule changed?

It's certainly not a complicated rule, but apparently at the intersection of Watts and Markham, it is a source of tremendous confusion for some. I'm starting to wonder if I simply don't understand the rule anymore and it's now as follows: wait to see if the person waves you to proceed, if they don't, you wave them to proceed.

Don't wave me on if it's not my turn! Let's just stick with the rules of the road, why don't we? I'm pretty sure that's a lot less dangerous for everyone since there's a predictability about who will be moving through the intersection next.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Former Michael Peterson house sells

Looks like from the public records that after sitting on the market for a while the former Michael Peterson house sold, cash sale, at $1.3 million to this somewhat public person (click to make larger or go to the site linked below):

Screen cap yoinked from here

I'm sure I'm supposed to know who this is, but I don't.

Update: Bull City Rising has the story too, here.