Field of Science

Staying safe and mentally healthy during times of plague

 Like many other people the Phactors have pretty much stayed hunkererd down although the new propane patio heater has been used to keep the cooler temperatures at bay for a few days longer.  However having a big thermos filled with hot gloggwine also definitely helps.  In an effort to not let culture totally take a vacation, an exhibition was mounted to visit Chi-town and see the Monet exhibit before the 30 paintings privately held by local people once again retreated from public view.  It was a good exhibit and the museum did a good job of keeping people spread out.  Unfortunately the state of the 'ronavirus here in Lincolnland has led to the Art Institute reclosing for the time being.  Good timing.  

Gardening came to a rapid halt with a huge leaf round up effort.  A bit of parsley in very good condition is all that remains of the 2020 garden.  A nice late crop of dill weed was put to good use with goat cheese and thinly slice smoked salmon.  

After having elected a new president, who knew it would be so difficult to get the old one to leave?  Can't figure out if T-rump believes his own fraud fibs or not.  At least the courts somehow keep demanding evidence although none seems to be forthcoming.  If this was all a giant conspiracy against him, how the heck did he get elected in 2016?

The Queen's gambit was a very enjoyable series set in the height of the cold war, when even playing a Russian game made you a bit suspect in the eyes of ever suspicious spooks and politicians.  Our recommendation is that you give it a try.  The chess parts were well researched and TPP loved seeing a cute Corvair coupe (he had 2, a sign of a definite slow learner) Interesting that the only place where success at chess was extolled was Russia. 

Only us and the F1 and her personal philosopher will be doing Thanksgiving.  Ms. Phactor is a world class pie maker, so in addition to apple using Norrthern Spys, should it be pecan or pumpkin?  This is important.  

New plant - a succulent

 A friend gave TPP several new plants, all part of a decorative pot of succulents.  All of the plants have some features associated with living in sunny, xeric environments.  My friend lacked the space and light needed to over winter such plants, but he decided we had more.  And well, he's sort of right.  

At any rate this plants leaves are shaped a bit like a banana, round in cross section and tapering to the apex. The most striking feature though is the darker green strip funning from the base of each leaf to the tip.  This is actually the top of the leaf, and far from being pigmented, the tissue is transparent, clear.  The photosynthetic portion is a relatively thin layer wrapping around the rest of the leaf leaving the center of the leaf filled with clear water storage tissue.  But more importantly, this tissue lets light enter the interior of the leaf to illuminate the chloroplast containing cells. TPP suspects that this clear tissue is a multiple layered epidermis.  Such windowed leaves are fairly common in succulent plants.

This plant is not a cactus although many people think succulents and cacti are the same thing.  Sorry, no.  This plant is a member of the aster or daisy family in the genus Senecio, one of the world's biggest genera containing over 1200 species.  TPP thinks this may be S. radicans, but there are several succulent species in this genus.  So pictured above is an inflorescence composed of about 15 5-lobed disk flowers (that would form the button of a daisy).  Each flower has a column of anthers and the pollen gets pushed out the top of the anthers as the style pushes the stigma up and out.  The two halves of the stigma then uncoil sort of looking like an antenna. Also of interest the flowers seem sort of spicy scented, a bit allspicy.  Generally the plant isn't raised for its floral display.

Friday Fabulous Foliage

 For whatever reason, our gardens are very colorful this fall.  Here are several examples: above are leaves on some lower branches of a sugar maple.  Two huge ones drop a ton or two of leaves on our lawn and gardens 

This is a Nyssa, tupelo, and it has very bright fall foliage.  Lacking a defined leader means in grows in an umbrella shaped crown, and stays short. A member of the ebony family.

These are the leaves of a Japanese maple, Acer palmatum a variety call aconitifolium, which Dirr says is among the best of fall color shrubs (Don't know Dirr?  Don't admit it if you want to claim you garden.)

This is Fathergilla, a spring flowering shrub in our front garden, but it's fall color is unbeatable, much like it's relative witch-hazel.  Definitely an orange-red color.

Another Japanese maple with pale green leaves 'viridis'. They turn a nice peachy color that contrasts nicely with the dark bark.

Lastly this is a mass of bottle brush buckeye whose leaves turn your basic yellow; quite handsome in the dappled sun of a boarder area.