Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Weekly Roundup 20: The Corpse Flower

It was an exciting week at Colorado State University's Plant Growth Facility when the resident corpse flower bloomed for the first time in eight years!  

Here's what the plant, nicknamed Cosmo, looked like on Friday, pre-bloom:

The much-awaited event happened on Sunday. I was out of town but am lucky to have a friend who was willing to wait in line for 90 minutes to see this:

When I returned on Monday, Cosmo's spectacular bloom had wilted:

I was also not able to smell the rotting-flesh scent the flower uses to attract pollinators, which my friend described as "nauseating but subtle." 

Nature. So cool.

One of the volunteers told me that some of the pollen will be saved in the CSU Seed Lab, which has the largest collection of its kind in the world.

More than 8,600 visitors came to experience this incredible phenomenon. In Colorado's climate, this rare tropical plant can only survive in a suitable greenhouse environment. And it helps to be cared for by a group of very dedicated humans.

Learn more about Cosmo here

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Weekly Roundup 19: Sporting News

As my husband could tell you, I enjoy watching sports, but I can't stand listening to people talk about sports. This includes pre- and post-game analysis, interviews, press conferences, radio shows, random speculation, and any casual sports-related conversations that might cross my awareness. 

In general, I feel that sports news should not even be called news.

But when the real news is as stressful as it has been lately, a few nice sports stories aren't a bad thing.

For example, the Women's National Basketball Association--the WNBA, or just W--has instituted a charter flight program so their players no longer have to fly commercial. 

20-year-old US Open Tennis Champion Coco Gauff is preparing to vote in her first presidential election and encouraging young people to do the same.

Grey racehorses are not very common, but Seize the Grey won the Preakness Stakes last weekend. It was the first Triple Crown win for the jockey Jaime Torres, who has only been riding professionally for two years.

And this amazing story of the baseball fan who caught two consecutive foul balls:


Be a good sport this week!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Weekly Roundup 18: Aurora Skies

Aurora Skies sounds like a good book title, maybe, or a band name. But last Friday, much of the northern hemisphere was treated to an unusually widespread display of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, courtesy of an extreme solar storm.

The sun's activity waxes and wanes over an 11 year cycle called Solar Cycle 25, which is reaching its peak. Here's the nutshell explanation of what causes aurora skies: Coronal Mass Ejections (basically explosions) on the sun blast charged particles into space. If these particles are captured by the earth's magnetic field, they heat up the gases in our atmosphere. Different gases emit different colors, which results in the characteristic waves of blue, green, violet, and red.

In the US, the Northern Lights were seen as far south as the Florida Keys. And they were seen less than an hour from my house. But I missed them! For no good reason other than I was tired and didn't want to hop in my car and drive around in the dark.

This is a decision I regretted first thing the next morning when the pictures began popping up all over social media. I mean, people travel to the top of the dang world to see the Northern Lights. I just had to drive toward Wyoming.

Saturday night, we had cloudy skies, so no second chance.

Oh, well. Life is full of missed opportunities, and this was one of them. I can only hope the sun decides to put on another show before Solar Cycle 25 winds down.

If you saw the aurora, I hope your experience was magical!

See some of the gorgeous photos from around the world here.

Have a great week!


Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Weekly Roundup 17: May Is...

2024 is moving along pretty quickly, and we're already a week into the fifth month of the year. I appreciate that May brings flowers and greenery into my life, and more opportunities to be outside in the spring sunshine before the heat of summer kicks in.

But May is also a great month to focus on physical and mental health, as it is...

  • Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Better Sleep Month
  • National Walking Month
  • Women's Health Care Month
  • Blood Pressure Month
  • Arthritis Awareness Month
  • National Salad Month
  • Lupus Awareness Month, and
  • Bike Month
May includes these notable health and safety weeks:
  • Nurse's Week
  • National Police Week, and
  • Emergency Medical Services Week
And as far as special days go, I am looking forward to:
  • Eat What You Want Day (May 11)
  • Mother's Day (second Sunday in May)
  • National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15)
  • Love a Tree Day (May 16)
  • Lucky Penny Day (May 23)
  • World Turtle Day (May 23)
  • National Wine Day (May 25)
  • Water a Flower Day (May 30)
  • National Macaroon Day (May 31)
The world is hectic and stressful, and I encourage you all to set aside time to care for your physical and mental health this month. Additionally, take a second to thank the people who help keep you healthy and safe, and who bring joy and fun (and macaroons) into your life.

May is also Graduation Month, and I'm so happy and proud that son #2 will be graduating from university on Mother's Day. (The day after Windmill Day.)

Be well! I'll see you next week.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Weekly Roundup 16: Dandelion Season

April showers bring May flowers. And also dandelions aplenty. A few years ago, I started hearing about how important dandelions are for the bees, providing them with early season nutrition before other flowers and trees come into bloom. From this came the "No Mow May" movement, which encourages people to leave their lawns wild to help the pollinators get a good start.

Now, the prevailing opinion seems to be, well, dandelions are fine for bees if there's nothing else around, but they're not really a quality source of pollen and nectar. If you have other food sources for the pollinators, don't feel too bad about mowing your weeds. (Chemical poisons are another story, however. Please try avoid those.) But if the yellow dandelion flower is the only meal around, consider leaving a few for the bees.

I don't know who needs this, but dandelion seeds are available for purchase online.

Mayday vs. May Day: Mayday is an internationally recognized distress signal which comes from the French M'aidez, which means "help me". The May Day holiday is a melding of the ancient Celtic Beltane and Roman Floralia celebrations of spring. Traditional activities include exchanging flower baskets or wreaths and dancing around the may pole. It is also associated with the deadly Haymarket Riot in Chicago and subsequent criminal trials, which is definitely less cheery.

I hope your new month gets off to a great start!