Pale Pink Poppy

(Toledo, OH) Yesterday I was rewarded with the appearance of a brilliant red poppy in one of my gardens, but I was doubly blessed when I walked outside this morning and saw another poppy in the same garden. This specimen is quite pale and pinkish in hue, and I do not recall planting this flower last year.

Not that I am complaining, mind you.

Interestingly, for those of you in the market for acne products, a few alternative health care practitioners recommend poppy oil as a facial cleanser. I am not going out on a limb here to make any health advice, but this might be an option for some folks to investigate.

As for me? I'll just enjoy the colors the poppies bring my garden.


Papaver rhoeas

(Toledo, OH) It always amazes me when I see folks refer to the common red poppy (Papaver rhoeas) as a "weed." I went outdoors this morning to cut the grass and one of these beautiful flowers had bloomed overnight. The sun passing through the petals of this perennial flower produced a brilliant red flame-like effect, and I doubt that a "weed" could bring such beauty to the world.

The term "weed" is of course quite subjective, and I have any number of flowering plants in my gardens toward which other gardeners might turn up their noses. Yet the red poppies in my yard bring me a great deal of pleasure, and anyone who objects to the simple beauty of the red poppy likely also has some interpersonal issues.

The red poppy also symbolized the specter of death in European battlefields during World War I. While this might be an odd time to reference term life insurance, I am doing so anyways, as death is unpredictable, unlike the predictable return of the red poppy each year.


Blue Delphinium

(Toledo, OH) I knew very little about the perennial flowers known as Delphinium before I picked up a wilted-looking potted plant at the closeout bin at a local nursery last year. However, I was pleasantly surprised when my Delphinium plant not only rebounded from neglect, but when this year the plant rewarded me with several new stalks of brilliant azure-hued flowers.

One need not leave the comfort of contemporary sofas to view Delphinium, as the Internet provides plenty of images of this flower. Yet closeup I am amazed at the simple beauty of these flowers, which are in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. An added bonus to gardeners who plant Delphinium is that they produce several waves of blossoms throughout the summer, bringing color to a garden most of the spring and summer.


Homeland Security Zone

(Sault Ste. Marie, MI)While spending a few days in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I was surprised to see anti-terrorism mania in full bloom in this otherwise sleepy region. Many areas around the city of Sault Ste. Marie feature prominent signs like the one in the image on the left announcing the heavy presence of the federal government.

The quasi-militarization of the Soo region is almost surreal to me, growing up as I did in Michigan and making many trips to the Soo to watch freighters. While admittedly the Soo Locks and the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge serve important national transportation purposes, it still strike me as strange to see all the Border Patrol and Homeland Security vehicles deployed in the area.

This is seemingly like calling out the military to chase after people purchasing natural fat burner products and not declaring them at the border: administrative and legal overkill.

St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Sault Ste. Marie

(Sault Ste. Marie, MI) Among the most beautiful of buildings in the Upper Peninsula's Sault Ste. Marie is St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, a church originally built in 1881. However, the tradition of work by Jesuit missionaries in the area extends back to the seventeenth century with Father Jacques Marquette, a man who would be wholly uninterested in apidexin reviews were he walking around today.

St. Mary's is the oldest Catholic Church in Michigan, and only two parishes in the United States are older. I started to delete this image, given its slightly askew angle and an annoying rain spot that appeared, but something about the picture called to me to create a blog post.

Cross in the Woods

(Indian River, MI) It was with a bit of skepticism that I visited the Catholic shrine known as Cross in the Woods, though admittedly my reluctance to visit the site had much to do with my own prior ignorance. I wrongly assumed that any religious icon billed as "the world's largest" in some category must therefore only appeal to certain tourist types for whom size equates with quality.

Instead, the shrine is a peaceful place where a person can quietly reflect on life issues and religious dilemmas. Yes, there is the 55-foot tall crucifix in the center of the grounds, but somehow the gargantuan depiction of the crucified Christ does not seem gaudy or extravagant: it is a relatively unadorned and deceptively simple structure that adds to (rather than subtracts from) the sacred ambiance. Visitors can set aside everyday minutiae such as weight loss drinks and experience a pastoral spiritual moment.


Multicolor Bearded Iris

(Toledo, OH) The first of our bearded irises opened on Mother's Day, and the timing could not have been better. The last blossoms on our late-blooming tulips are about to lose their petals, and this time in early May is a bit light in the number of colorful perennials that bloom.

One of the reasons I enjoy the flowers known as Iris pumila is that they are quite hardy, standing up to dog traffic and thriving in even shaded areas of my yard. You could do worse for bridesmaid gifts than the beautiful bearded iris, provided your wedding party members have a place to keep the flowers until after the wedding.

And a yard in which to plant the lovely bearded iris.


Tree-Based Activism

(Stony Ridge, OH) While talking with the supporters of Keith Sadler and the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League, I noticed that one of the protesters chose a loftier perch from which to take a break. This 100-foot maple tree seemed perfectly designed for the human form, and it made me long for the days of my misspent youth when building a tree fort was the ultimate in coolness.

As a dedicated acrophobe, I also found the tree's main limbs to be close enough to the ground as to remain within the realm of my ability to climb, though of course I did not dislodge the tree's inhabitant.

That sort of activity would be more in keeping with the duties of the Wood County Sheriff or the bank that demanded the foreclosure on Keith's former home.


New Life for an Abused Dog

(Toledo, OH) Pictured on your left is Missy, an eight-year old Terrier mix that we adopted last year. Missy was in an abusive home before being rescued by Planned Pethood, and we fostered her for six months until we finally decided that our house was destined to be her forever home.

When Missy first came to our house, she was emaciated and hairless, weighing in at only 12 pounds. In the past year all of her hair grew back, she put on ten pounds, and Missy is beginning to be socialized again. She often seeks out affection, which is a far cry from the frightened and skittish creature who was almost unable to walk after being neglected for many months.

Missy, of course, does not mind that most of our carpets and rugs have seen their better days. In fact, she probably prefers a well-worn rug to a brand new floor covering, truth be told. This is part of what what "home" is all about to a dog.