Thursday, June 25, 2015

Epilogue to Balzac's Succubus... Advice for Turbulent Times

Epilogue to Balzac’s Succubus
Good Advice for Anytime... Lest you lose your head.

"I quitted the service of the church, and espoused your.

mother, from whom I received infinite blessings, and with

whom I shared my life, my goods, my soul, and all. And she

agreed with me in following precepts —

Firstly, that to live happily, it is necessary to keep far away from church people,

to honour them much without giving them leave to enter

your house, any more than to those who by right, just or

unjust, are supposed to be superior to us.

Secondly, to take a modest condition, and to keep oneself in it without wishing

to appear in any way rich. To have a care to excite no envy,

nor strike any onesoever in any manner, because it is needful

to be as strong as an oak, which kills the plants at its feet, to

crush envious heads, and even then would one succumb,

since human oaks are especially rare and that none of our family

should flatter himself that he is one, granting

that he be one of us.

Thirdly, never to spend more than one quarter of one's income, conceal one's wealth, hide

one's goods and chattels, to undertake no office, to go to

church like other people, and always keep one's thoughts to

oneself, seeing that they belong to you and not to others,

who twist them about, turn them after their own fashion,

and make calumnies therefrom.

Fourthly, always to remain in the condition of our family business, who are now and

forever drapers. To marry your daughters to good drapers,

send your sons to be drapers in other towns of France furnished

with these wise precepts, and to bring them up to the

honour of drapery, and without leaving any dream of ambition

in their minds. A draper like a Tournebouche should be

their glory, their arms, their name, their motto, their life.

Thus by being always drapers, they will be always

Tournebouches, and rub on like the good little insects, who

once lodged in the beam, made their dens, and go on with

security to the end of their ball of thread.

Fifthly never to speak any other language than that of drapery, and never to

dispute concerning religion or government. And even though

the government of the state, the province, religion, and God

turn about, or have a fancy to go to the right or to the left,

always in your quality of Tournebouche, stick to your cloth.

Thus unnoticed by the others of the town, the Tournebouches

will live in peace with their little Tournebouches—paying

the tithes and taxes, and all that they are required by force to

give, be it to God, or to the king, to the town of to the

parish, with all of whom it is unwise to struggle. Also it is

necessary to keep the patrimonial treasure, to have peace and

to buy peace, never to owe anything, to have corn in the

house, and enjoy yourselves with the doors and windows


"By this means none will take from the Tournebouches,

neither the state, nor the Church, nor the Lords, to whom

should the case be that force is employed, you will lend a few

crowns without cherishing the idea of ever seeing him again—

I mean the crowns.

"Thus, in all seasons people will love the Tournebouches,

will mock the Tournebouches as poor people—as the slow

Tournebouches, as Tournebouches of no understanding. Let

the know-nothings say on. The Tournebouches will neither

be burned nor hanged, to the advantage of King or Church,

or other people; and the wise Tournebouches will have secretly

money in their pockets, and joy in their houses, hidden

from all.

"Now, my dear son, follow this the counsel of a modest

and middle-class life. Maintain this in thy family as a county

charter; and when you die, let your successor maintain it as

the sacred gospel of the Tournebouches, until God wills it

that there be no longer Tournebouches in this world."

*This letter has been found at the time of the inventory

made in the house of Francois Tournebouche, lord of Veretz,

chancellor to Monseigneur the Dauphin, and condemned at

the time of the rebellion of the said lord against the King to

lose his head, and have all his goods confiscated by order of

the Parliament of Paris. The said letter has been handed to

the Governor of Touraine as an historical curiosity, and joined

to the pieces of the process in the archbishopric of Tours.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Solstice and Sedums

Summer Solstice arrived last Sunday ushering in Summer amid global celebrations. The longest day of the year, Solstice occurs when both sunrise and sunset occur respectively at the earliest and the latest time during the year. At noon the Sun was in perfect balance directly overhead and your shadow was not be visible at all. Those who are in tune with nature felt the Solstice and in spite of the heat, childhood memories of cloud watching, gentle breezes, and a walk while listening to the drone of Cicadas were recalled.

 As Summer continues with our traditional heat Sedums become a much cherished addition to the garden. They appear in almost every imaginable shape and form from Aloe to Cacti with their plump water filled leaves the only similarity. There are over 400 species of Sedums and those unique fleshy leaves are their secret to survival as they store water to use during extremely dry spells. These no-fuss gems are sturdy and dependable, needing only well drained soil and full sunlight. The Sedum is not susceptible to pests who are repelled by their stout leaves, preferring more tender foliage, however butterflies and bees are abundant about the blooms.

Easy to propagate, simply break a leaf or stem from the Mother plant, shove it into a hole the size of an index finger, tamp the soil, lightly water for a week, and it will start a new plant. Part of this amazing club is the all time favorite Moss-rose, Purslane, or Portulaca, which are one in the same. They may have either thin spiky leaves or small rounded leaves and flowers open each day from about ten to four. This low growing little plant will faithfully spread and flower from spring to frost.

Purslane was first introduced by to the Northern Hemisphere by Dr. John Gillies in the 1820s and immediately became wildly popular. Gillies had discovered plants near the Argentine Pampas and wrote “they grew in great profusion, giving to the ground over which they were spread a rich purple hue, here and there marked with spots of an orange color“. Further scientific development gave us additional colors and today and this precious little flower is available in the entire spectrum of colors, with sweet traditional or darling double flowers. Since they like it hot, it is the perfect time to add a few to the garden.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fabulous Fireflies

The Strawberry Moon visible in the night sky has absolutely sensational, lighting the landscape making objects appear lovely and luminous. Our days may have become exceptionally hot but we are allowed compensation by our nights, which are something marvelous to behold. Besides allowing us to move about without the overhead heat, the night emerges with a singular life unto itself. If we venture out after twilight, one may enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds which belong only to the summer night. The melodic song of the Cicada, which sings when the temperature is about ninety, dies down as the evening cooling begins with dusk. Suddenly the fireflies appear, magically twinkling and lighting the darkness.

The firefly is a type of flying beetle that glows in the dark with tiny sparks of white fire. This wonderful insect appears in summer and only warm climates. Their abdomens contain five chemicals adenosine, triphosphate, luciferin, oxygen, magnesium, and luciferase which are bound by a chemical controller. As nerve stimulations release another chemical, inorganic pyrophosphate, the bond breaks and the reaction creates the light. Seconds later the light diminishes as another chemical destroys the combination. Since fireflies are one of the few insects that use vision to find a mate… male fireflies are drawn to true love by following the ladies flashing light.

Although they exist all over the world, many fireflies do not have wings. In Europe the female is called the glowworm because she simply sits in iridescent splendor. In Cuba, the beetle is rather large and has been used for centuries as a decoration. Women attach the beetle to their gowns or place one on a special golden chain as an ornament… and who wouldn‘t want such an interesting brooch.

An entire cave is dripping with glowing light in New Zealand and in dense tropical forests it is customary to attach the glowing beetles to the tops of boots to light the path for nighttime walks. In other places, the beetles are placed en mass in jars and give a continuous, though wavering light.

Summer is the time to remember childhood joys and share them with the new generation. From searching for cicada shells to store in a box under the bed or catching fireflies to hold in a glowing jar, childhood has a magical and memorable allure which may only be enjoyed on summer evenings. *Remember to release the fireflies after enjoying their light a bit.*

Photo credit: Catherine Dougherty

Video of Firefly love:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Blue Wood Louse

With the rains, an unprecedented infestation of wood louse, aka: roly-polies, aka: pill bugs has appeared. In all sizes from infants to adults, they seem to be everywhere.... under every rock, in every potted plant, along every piece of damp wood within the garden.

They eat wood and fiber of plant stems, and a multitude of other chewable substances. They will literally destroy a garden, not to mention they can also cause the ruination of rail road ties and home foundations. They are a major problem, especially for organic gardeners.  However there is hope~

I have always depended upon observation to alert me to changes in the garden. Over the course of years it becomes apparent that some changes are subtle, while others are seasonal and appear quite suddenly. Thus it was with the blue wood louse and the morphing bagworms.

The Wood Louse (Armadillidium)
Children have always been fascinated by the wood louse (roly-poly) and observing and collecting them is a timeworn garden hobby. They have battleship gray segmented ’armor’ with multiple sets of transparent legs and boast the interesting habit of endlessly rolling into a tight marble-like ball. However they are not at all passive for they dine on wood in any hidden and damp spot in the garden, eventually causing massive destruction.

Last summer I observed a portion of them were a lovely sapphire blue. At first I thought perhaps it was the blue/green pellets in miracle grow they had eaten, however research indicates they are infected with a fatal Iridovirus named for the Greek goddess of the Rainbow, Isis. In March of 1954 Mr. Claude Rivers discovered crane fly larvae glowing with patches of blue and is credited with discovery of the phenomenon.

Apparently Mr. Rivers was unacquainted with the work of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1862) who had noted it in his poem entitled:
The Blue Wood-Louse

‘Bite, frost, bite!
You roll up away from the light
The blue wood-louse, and the plump dormouse,
And the bees are still'd, and the flies are kill'd,
And you bite far into the heart of the house,
But not into mine.’

With luck, perhaps they will all become infected and die... at the very least perhaps they will feel sick.

My granddaughter Julia is totally fascinated by them~~~ in this video she is on a quest~