A Gerber Daisy Blooms

Gerber Daisy - September 18, 2015
I have been following this Gerber daisy plant with my camera for the past few weeks. These photos are posted with most recent at the top – you can watch the Gerber daisy bloom through my photos. My daughter and my husband originally bought this plant three Mother’s Days ago – it has survived two winters. At the bottom of this post, you can see what it looked like in the beginning of Spring 2015. The top photo was taken September 18, 2015.

Gerber Daisy - September 16
September 16, 2015

After a lovely day of rain:
Gerber Daisy - September 11
September 11, 2015

Gerber daisy September 10
September 10, 2015

gerber daisy bud
September 9, 2015

This is where the gerber daisy plant started last spring:
gerber daisy plant
March 29, 2015

How it looked two years ago (and virtually visit our sukkah):

Finally a few fun facts from Wikipedia:

Gerbera is a genus of plants in the Asteraceae (daisy family). It was named in honour of German botanist and medical doctor Traugott Gerber[3] | (1710-1743) who travelled extensively in Russia and was a friend of Carolus Linnaeus.

Gerbera is native to tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia. The first scientific description of a Gerbera was made by J.D. Hooker in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in 1889 when he described Gerbera jamesonii, a South African species also known as Transvaal daisy or Barberton Daisy. Gerbera is also commonly known as the African Daisy.

Gerbera is important commercially. It is the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip). It is also used as a model organism in studying flower formation.

For More Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Enjoying Rosh Hashana: Celebrating with Simanim

Rosh Hashana tableOn the first night of Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) we have a table displayed with various foods – most are fruits and vegetables. These foods are called simanim – symbols. When I was growing up, I only remember dipping the apple in the honey as a siman – I don’t recall doing any of the others. It could be that doing so many of the simanim is more of a Sephardi than an Ashkenazi custom; however, the Ashkenazi prayer books do include the simanim. I described and illustrated simanim on past posts: you can see 9 illustrations or photos of simanim here. This past post has a list of the simanim. The Sephardim actually refer to eating the simanim as a Rosh Hashana seder.

Because the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) can be quite serious (the prayers are long and there is a lot of standing in shul), I like to emphasize the parts of each holiday that are enjoyable. Thus the beginning of the title of this post: Enjoying Rosh Hashana. Maybe I will make this a theme for other Jewish holidays as well; however, you won’t find such a title for Tisha B’Av (the saddest day on the Jewish calendar) – that would not be appropriate. Maybe for a day such that one I could say: Finding meaning in Tisha B’Av.

Below is one siman that I have been doing for the past few years. It represents the head of a fish. I did once buy the actual head of a fish. It smelled so bad I couldn’t wait to throw it. We do eat fish, but only if it is fresh! Maybe next August I will write a post on how to make the head of a fish using gefilte fish.

gefilte fish head

This post was written in honor of my blogger friend Batya. Many years ago she found an early post of mine and volunteered to submit to a blog carnival that she ran called Kosher Cooking Carnival. Recently, she has struggled to find people interested in the blog carnivals. I think more people are using Facebook for quick sharing. And the few bloggers that are left may have other ideas (SEO, social media) for sharing posts. Every now and then someone writes a “Is Blogging Dead?” kind of post. No, it’s not, but one does have to get creative. Batya wrote a recent post about Rosh Hashana fruit head (instead of a fish or lamb head or other animal).

Over to You

If you are Jewish, have you celebrated Rosh Hashana with simanim? Which ones have you done? Does it make your holiday more enjoyable?

Are you a blogger? Do you think people are blogging less in general? Do people share differently? Are blog carnivals a thing of the past?

rosh hashana simanim
On our Rosh Hashana table: apple, honey, dates, pomegranate, carrots

Swamp, Lake or Golf Course?

We were visiting my in-laws who live near (10 minutes by car) the Jersey Shore. I woke up early as usual (see moon above), and I went on a little expedition to the lake I mean swamp I mean wet, watery, swampy area that sometimes has birds near a golf course.

jersey swamp
I had once visited this area with my mother-in-law and my daughter. At the time I had an old phone, one with a poor camera. Of course, we saw a heron (see heron photo here). So this time I was prepared with my large fancy Canon, but no heron at all. Not even a bird. I could hear them, but they didn’t land. The day before I came with my daughter; we did see a colorful butterfly flutter around the plants in the distance. But that was Shabbat, and I had no camera at all. Often in life you have to just take what you can get – I noticed in my 2011 post I was complaining that my kale did not germinate. Well, this year it did! We shall see if any seedlings grow nicely into plants.

log in swamp
So looking around, what else was there to see? I did see this log – although it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

lily pads
I looked in the water to one side, and these lily pads floated on top of the lake swamp.

yellow flowers near swamp
I did see these little yellow wildflowers aligning the edge of the watery swamp.

orange wildflowers
Some lovely orange wildflowers were off to one side, further from the water.

orange wildflowers near swamp

sprinklers at golf course
Off in the distance I could see the sprinklers starting for the golf course.

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Sandy Hook: Nature and History

Sandy Hook cove
One of my favorite places in New Jersey is Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook is a little peninsula (a hook?) at the top of the Jersey Shore. On one side there are ocean beaches with places for parking and restrooms. On the other side are little cove beaches. At the far end are a lighthouse and historical buildings.

We first went to the ocean side – it was crowded, and the waves were strong. We then decided to drive closer to the lighthouse, parked the car, and discovered the little cove beach at the top of this post. We swam, had lunch and discovered various beach items.

Sandy Hook lighthouse
I wanted to climb to the top of the lighthouse, but my daughter did not. This is a lesson in patience – I make lists in my head of stuff to do when I have the opportunity. We did watch a movie in the little house next to the lighthouse all about piping plovers, and how they on the threat of extinction list. I suppose I would have to wake up early in the morning and go with another bird lover if I wanted to watch the plovers on the beach myself.

mortar battery at Sandy Hook, NJ
A good number of the buildings at Sandy Hook were once upon a time used by the U.S. military. Above is a mortar battery at Sandy Hook, built about 1898. You can learn more about Sandy Hook and how it was used to defend New York City on this National Park Service article.

horseshoe crabs
I saw these horseshoe crabs (deceased!) on the beach, so I took a photo.
Some facts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation website:

Four species of horseshoe crabs exist today. Only one species, Limulus polyphemus, is found in North America along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Mexico… Horseshoe crabs are not true crabs at all. Horseshoe crabs are more closely related to arachnids (a group that includes spiders and scorpions) than to crustaceans (a group that includes true crabs, lobsters, and shrimp). Horseshoe crabs are often called “living fossils” because fossils of their ancestors date back almost 450 million years–that’s 200 million years before dinosaurs existed.

A scene I found beautiful:
Sandy Hook scene

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

I did post about Sandy Hook way back in 2009.

Ducks Follow Mother Duck

mama duck
When we were in Montreal last month, we had fun watching ducks diving into the pond at the Montreal Botanical Garden. I assume the duck above is the Mama duck; she seemed to be watching it all.

duck dive shot
My daughter asked me to keep taking photos of the ducks diving into the pond – I think the one above finally satisfied her. She loves animals a lot (she also likes to eat animals – but not if they are cute. So no duck meat for her).

ducks walk
After their diving session, the ducks started to walk together.

ducks follow mom
I assume these are teenage ducks following their mom.

I did a little research and Googled: “duck follows mom why.” Came up with several sites talking about imprinting and how ducks will follow whatever they see first after hatching. I’m glad these particular ducks are following a duck that does indeed look like a duck mom.

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens

Shakespeare in Rutgers Gardens - character scene 1
Last week we had the great pleasure of seeing Midsummer Night’s Dream (yes, the play by Shakespeare) in Rutgers Gardens. The play was low budget with wonderful acting, simple modern summer clothes for costumes, and a Starbucks cup was a prop. I am not sure which character was which, but the above female whom I think played a male was the first actor on the stage. The first scene was outside the log cabin. We the audience had to move around with the actors from scene to scene within Rutgers Gardens. It seemed OK at first, but by our tenth time moving, it was a little bit too much up and down. I went with my daughter who had never seen Shakespeare before. I think she might enjoy the kind where you sit in one spot, and the actors wear costumes. When I grew up in a Boston suburb, we used to watch Shakespeare plays by the Charles River (I remember The Tempest, for example). And when my husband lived in Manhattan, he had the opportunity to see Shakespeare in the park.

Duke and Lysander
This is from the first scene – I am fairly sure the woman on the right is the Duke. The guy in the back is Lysander (the other main male lead was Demetrius – I get the two confused. One was in love with Hermia, and the other was loved by her). My daughter was even more confused – she had no idea what was going on at all. But she was happy to see one of her theater friends there. She said everyone was laughing at certain parts, and she did not know why. We figured some of the audience knew the play well (one of my friends did), and others like us were fairly clueless.

Nick Bottom
This actor was Nick Bottom. I enjoyed his antics. I think he was supposed to be putting on a play within a play. We never got to see the end of this production because it started to thunder and lightning at the end. But we did see a lot.

Hermia and Helena
The actress on the left is Hermia (note the Starbucks cup). The one in the blue who is on her knees is Helena. And in the back is much of the audience!

Queen of the Fairies
Here is the Queen of the Fairies (Titania).

Puck with King of the Fairies
On the left is the fairy Puck (he causes a lot of trouble, putting people to sleep and having them fall in love with the wrong people). On the right is the King of the Fairies. I am pretty sure that is a woman dressed like a man.

Here is Puck, who causes (or seems to) a lot of the mix ups and inconveniences. Spraying fairy dust is a dangerous art form.

Nick Bottom donkey
I believe Puck is one who turns Nick Bottom (above) into a donkey. That’s a pretty good donkey, isn’t it?

Hermia and Oberon
This is the finally scene we were able to see. After this, it started to rain. Soon came thunder and lightning. Hermia (the one with a Starbucks cup who is in love with Lysander and loved by Demetrius) is on the left; and Oberon, King of the Fairies, is on the right. I had to use my flash on my camera because it was getting dark.

You can learn more about Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens on the Rutgers Gardens website. The theatrical group is called re-Think Theatrical – I hope they do more.

Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed outside? Which play?