NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Black Raspberries

July 4th Week Vacation 2011 073These are Black Raspberries. Many people refer to them as “Black Caps”. As you can see in the photo, when the fruit is picked, the white core remains attached to the plant. This is the simplest way to tell them from Blackberries.

Another way to tell the two berries apart ( in my area of upstate New York and western Massachusetts), is according to their time of ripening. Black Raspberries appear in June and Blackberries are in August.

Black Raspberries are a small fruit and grow in sparse numbers per bush while Blackberries can yield gallons of fruit in a similar space.  I’ve found it hard to find significant patches of wild Black Raspberries. They are susceptible to many blights which also plague wild Raspberries. One final note, they are far less painful to harvest than Blackberries, simply because, their thorns are much smaller and their fruit tends to grow outwardly.

A Black Raspberry patch is indeed a great find!

Working for Nothing in Massachusetts

English: Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
English: Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people, getting public assistance, need it.

Many people, who are working, are barely able to maintain a comfortable existence.

The cost of food is rising faster than most wages.

Income and property taxes are paid by people who are working and those who have property.

Some people, who receive a kind of public assistance, have property.

Taxes are the primary revenue that supports the cost of public assistance.

Do all those statements appear to be fair and true?

Accepting them as true, what happens when our national debt requires the Federal Government to raise taxes and (hopefully) spend less? Our Federal government is capable of raising taxes directly, and indirectly. Directly, is what you have noticed in your most recent pay checks. Indirectly, happens when State and City governments get fewer Federal grants as the spending is cut back. The cities have become accustomed to receiving those grants to the point of relying upon them. State and City/Town budgets suddenly find themselves over, an emptying, barrel from their dependence upon grants. (Makes me wonder about the intelligence of those who create State and city budgets.)

So? There is a scramble to get more money! Where will they get it? Ah ha! “Let’s get Mikey! He owns property.”

Up go the property taxes and property owners are going to be digging deeper. Sucks to own things sometimes! The property owner, not only, has the burden of increased food costs, smaller paychecks, and higher bills for their property… they are getting out of bed and going to work for those burdens, most of which, would go away if they didn’t bother.

Then, the State realizes food is costing more. The decision is made to increase the amount allotted for food stamps.

Uh oh, State taxes and fees are going to go up for food stamp support!

Well, at least sales tax helps create revenue and is paid by every consumer. Sales taxes are the fairest way to get money from everyone because the cross hairs aren’t on any one sector or what you have saved.

Hello! Thought you might want to know that there is a rumor, the State of Massachusetts is considering lowering the state sales tax. What the heck?

I ask you to consider who will pay for the loss of sales tax revenue?

My title makes all kind of sense, now, doesn’t it?

Marriage: Just What’s in the Cards?

A standard deck of 52 playing cards was hanging out on a lovely table in a  worn but comfortable case when a deck of Star Wars collector cards came along. The Star Wars cards were the same size and weight as the playing cards.

“We know you play rummy and it’s a popular game indeed. You get to have a fine cover and are better cared for than we because Star Wars cards are not as popular. Actually, we are just starting to become noticed and desire the same treatment as you. Being kept in a case and played on a felt table is the dream of all cards. It is the best way for cards to be treated.”

The 52 looked at the Star Wars cards. “I had not realized that all cards were not cared for in the same manner. You certainly deserve fine treatment. Come sit beside me. I’d like to help you find a nice case to hold you too.”

The Star Wars cards frowned. “I want to be just like you. Let me slip into your deck and share YOUR case.”

“I don’t understand?” said 52. “If you slip into my deck all the rules will change. I will have to become crowded and the old games, that I love, will take on a new meaning. The new games will take years to develop and we will both lose our original identity.”

“I don’t care. I am as valuable as you and want what you have, NOW. You are so arrogant 52. If you do not give me your comfort, I must assume that you just hate Star Wars cards. I thought you were nice?”

“Please, it is unkind of you to think in order to have a nice case and fine table that you need to take mine. I would be happy to help you establish your own table and I want you to know all the same “card comforts” that I enjoy. But taking mine is not the answer. I’m comfortable with rummy and, in time, you will be comfortable with your own game.”

The Star Wars cards stormed off while calling 52 a prejudiced, selfish deck.

The End

BTW- The Star Wars cards went to court and were awarded occupancy in 52’s case, at least in Massachusetts. Needless to say, 52 decks everywhere are angry and no one is exactly sure how to play rummy in Massachusetts. At the very least, the games are way more complicated now.

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Pileated Woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpeckers are often a delightful sighting. They are as large as crows and their bright red heads and large wingspan have a shocking effect. Their cackle in the forest reminds me of a sound in Tarzan movie jungles.

I was delighted to discover a nest of these largest woodpeckers right in my yard at our camp site in upstate New York. I wasn’t able to study their goings-on as much as I would have liked. I have tremendous patience when it comes to photographing and observing birds but my family draws me away often. Theses few photos are enhanced for clarity but were not my best efforts had I had the luxury of camping alone.

The birds were happily unaffected by the family bustling beneath the nesting tree and placing my camera out while keeping and ear and eye on the tree, produced a few captures to share.

These birds love to eat carpenter ants. Their numbers had dwindled in the past 10 years due to a disruption of their forest habitat from logging and building houses.

As I am at the computer (at home in Northwestern Massachusetts) , I just heard a Pileated Woodpecker outside of my window. I know I am highly tuned to them from my sightings but can’t help but think they are having a “good” year and adapting well in semi-urban settings.

This very morning, the mother bird was hanging around in trees just beyond her nest. She did not approach it and I did not hear the babies crying out for food. I may have photographed the babies’ last feeding hours before they moved out as this year’s fledglings.

I’ll be keeping an eye and ear out for more…

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

A sweet little backyard bird is the Black-Capped Chickadee. They can be very bold around people often landing on and feeding from your hand if you stand patiently still.

Black-Capped Chickadees are the State Bird of Massachusetts so it is fitting that I took these photos in my own backyard.

They belong to the Titmouse family and 70% of their food is insects. The rest of the time they are around bird feeders spreading delight.

Both male and females look the same. Usually male birds are more colorful or distinctly larger than females.

This link will bring you to a site where you can hear their song and get more information.

http://www.birdjam.com/birdsong.php?id=12

Chickadees stay in their region all year round. I pay special attention to keeping my feeder full when winters are harsh here in Massachusetts. If freezing temperatures are maintained for long periods, I put out bowls of warm water. Dehydration is a concern for wintering birds.

Since their song is so very recognizable, I introduce my day care kids to listening for it.

Introducing kids to identifying birds by their songs is a great way to expand their listening skills and ,of course, further an appreciation for Nature.

Valuable information , from others, is often contained in the comments section.  Please read them…

The Children’s Parade

The theme for the annual Fall Foliage Festival this year is “Take Paws”. Since 1985, my family day care group has entered on occasion. We will be entering this year. Many alumni, of my day care family, will be joining us. Thought I’d add some photos today of a few past endeavors. Although I helped with the designing, the kids did most of their own work!

My Unpopular Opinion

Proposition 19 in California.

The legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

I am not a marijuana user.

I DO know many people who do use it.

It is not good for your body. Neither is, tobacco, fatty foods,alcohol, smog,sugars, caffeine, too much exercise,too little exercise etc.

It is currently an illegal substance.

It is used by millions of people for many reasons.

Does Prohibition ring a bell? How did that work out?

Why hasn’t the federal government outlawed cigarettes? ( They seem to enjoy the revenue and lawsuits.)

Now my argument:

Since the discovery of the existence of ADD and like disorders, we are finding that quite a number of folks have issues. (There are some who still believe those ailments do not exist.) I for one, DO believe that they exist. There are many people who are exceptionally shy and have social issues too.

The ability of physicians to diagnose and treat these conditions is sketchy at best. It can take years to find,and treat with the correct personal “cocktail” of drugs. Many people do not ever find relief because it takes a personal committment  to multiple office visits and so on… These sufferers lack the “medical stamina” to find their own cure. Once they become adults, no one can take over for them.

In my own personal experience, I have witnessed marijuana providing relief to these people. Although, it is not the best for the body, it sure beats isolation, unemployment due to social problems, self-medicating with alcohol (which has much worse consequences, in my opinion.), anger related crimes and suicide.

NEVER would I have dreamed that I would agree with anything Californians came up with! I really don’t see a down side to this proposition. I also do not believe it carries a greater risk of harder drugs. Actually, the only reason people have come to this conclusion is that marijuana has been in the “hands” of the illegal drug dealers who then have an opportunity to offer harder drugs to those clients who really were not seeking them.

  • new businesses and revenue
  • those who self-medicate with alcohol will have a better option (never saw someone who was “high” beat their kids or start a fight.)
  • it would still be held to the same standards as alcohol. Driving impaired or possession by minors NOT TOLERATED.
  • separating it from the drugs we all know are most harmful will keep the DEA on the trail of the REAL criminals. (Even Massachusetts believes that marijuana wastes their precious anti-drug efforts. They decriminalized it.)

Just wanted to add my two cents. I welcome your opinion.