The Best of Bulbs

The Best of Bulbs
Perhaps because they are native to Western Europe, daffodils never received the adulation that was awarded to the more eastern-dwelling tulip. Nevertheless, to the leader of the Ottoman Turks, it was the daffodil that ruled the courts flanking the Bosporus in the 16th century. And the greatest of these were those of Suleiman, the kanuni or “Lawgiver” as he was known to his admiring citizens, or the “Magnificent” to peoples of the West who have tended to admire militant conquerors.

By Wes Porter - Saturday, September 8, 2018

My Fingers Were Crossed

Our parents believed a halo adorned my brother Rodney’s head, and horns protruded from mine. No story had two sides: I was always wrong — which was the case when we fought the Mexican standoff.

For his birthday, Mama gave Rodney a pirate outfit, complete with feather-festooned hat, Jolly Roger eye patch, and a long, curving scimitar. Rodney jabbed and slashed at me until I could take no more.

By Jimmy Reed - Friday, September 7, 2018

IKEA Swedens its product line with a Bluetooth speaker

IKEA Swedens its product line with a Bluetooth speaker
One may not think of IKEA as a place to shop for audio equipment, but the Swedish company best known for its furniture is throwing caution to the wind and introducing a new Bluetooth speaker system anyway.

It’s the ENEBY line of speakers which, as of the August 1 kick off in Canada, consists of two models, both of which are available for under $100 CAD. The smaller of the two (called the 20x20) includes the capability for wireless power as well as wireless tunes – as long as you buy the optional ($20) battery pack for it.

By Jim Bray - Sunday, September 2, 2018


Will this be a bad winter? If your carrots grew deep, onions have more layers, the sweet potatoes have tougher skins, apples have matured early, while the hickory nuts have a heavy shell, then ancient wisdom warns that to prepare for a worst winter. Or perhaps you place your faith in the weather wonks, global warming and plain luck.

By Wes Porter - Saturday, September 1, 2018

Questions Asked: US Measurements, Metric, a Botanist

From Australia to Afghanistan, Zambia to New Zealand the world measures in metric. Except that is, for Liberia, Burma and, of course, the world’s scientific leader, the United States of America. Why, we are often asked?

Since this involves a famous botanist, we are happy to explain. And for those of you who have no interest in botanists, also involved are pirates, politicians and republicans (French this time). But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

By Wes Porter - Friday, August 31, 2018

$2.3 Million Reasons Bishop Patrick J. McGrath Is Tone Deaf

$2.3 Million Reasons Bishop Patrick J. McGrath Is Tone Deaf
If there isn’t enough anger already directed at abusive Catholic Priests and Bishops over the sexual abuse and cover-up scandals, yet another high ranking elitist Bishop has inflamed the already brittle Catholic laity by choosing to retire to a multi-million dollar home, instead of unpretentious rectory housing as his more humble brethren choose.

If that is not scandalous enough, the San Jose Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, who planned on retiring and moving into a $2.3 million Silicon Valley home, is the same controversial Bishop who told practicing homosexuals in 2017 that they will not be refused Holy Communion or a Christian burial in his diocese, as long as they request them in “good faith.”

By Katy Grimes - Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I Knotted Not Nary ’Nother Noose

I Knotted Not Nary ’Nother Noose
If my boyhood best friend and mentor Jaybird hadn’t shown me how to tie hangman’s nooses, I wouldn’t have lynched Gloria’s dolls.

My sister’s passion was dolls. In her upstairs room, they cluttered her bed, dresser, and bookshelf. These weren’t ordinary five-and-dime Raggedy Ann dolls; they were aristocratic debutantes, celebrities, princesses, and queens.

By Jimmy Reed - Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Iceland Greenhouse

The Iceland Greenhouse
Fancy some tomato ice cream? Or how about a slice of green tomato and apple pie. Either could be washed down with a shot if tomato schnapps. If so, you’ll have to travel to southern Iceland. There, an hour’s drive east of the capital Reykjavik in Fridhemar Fridheimar, Reykholt, is a greenhouse business with a difference.

By Wes Porter - Monday, August 27, 2018

Garden Progenitor: Where It All Began

Garden Progenitor: Where It All BeganAlthough gardening dates to Neolithic times, notes Edward Hyams in his classic A History of Garden and Gardening (1971), ornamental gardening is a product of urban civilization. The first makers of those gardens were ancient Mesopotamians, he says, in the ‘land between the rivers.’

By Wes Porter - Saturday, August 25, 2018

Take A Cold Tater And Wait

Take A Cold Tater And Wait
When he wasn’t busy on his Mississippi Delta cotton farm, my father visited other farmers, and sometimes took me with him. In one grower’s office a plaque with a quote by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe read, “A useless life is an early death.”

By Jimmy Reed - Saturday, August 18, 2018

Edible Acorns: Nutty Nosh

Edible Acorns
Acorn “coffee” was drunk in South by Scarlett O’Hara and her Confederate compatriots. For Turks, acorns yielded raccabout. Under pressure of World War II, Germans drank Eichel kaffee. Hitler deserved it, opined physician and author Richard Gordon. And according to the ineffable Pamela Michaels, the English used oak leaves to make wine.

But before these more recent times, acorns played an important in early gastronomic human history. Neolithic lake dwellers in Switzerland collected acorns ashore, losing some of them in the mud below their homes to be preserved to modern times. Lower classes as far apart as ancient Greece and Japan fed on the nutritious nuts. Roman researcher Pliny the Elder wrote that acorn flour could make bread. He neglected to report if he himself ate it. In California before the arrival of white colonists, Native Americans positively thrived on acorns. Spreading the harvest over several species, they formed a staple diet for a population estimated to have been in the tens if not hundreds of thousands.

By Wes Porter - Saturday, August 18, 2018

Relax everyone, you can still take your horse on the plane

Relax everyone, you can still take your horse on the plane
A few months ago, I delivered the bad news.  Those of you who wanted to take your emotional support tarantula on an airplane were in for a rude awakening.  Airlines were trimming the list of acceptable support animals, and 8-legged bugs were not going to make the cut.

“So,” you thought. “What will I do now?  I can’t fly without some kind of odd companion!”

By Robert Laurie - Friday, August 17, 2018

LG channels Professor Harold Hill with its ‘ThinQ system’

LG channels Professor Harold Hill with its 'ThinQ system'
Music lovers who use their cell phones as a source for their tunes have a nifty new tool at their disposal in LG’s newest smart phone, the G7 ThinQ.

That’s because its innards are also designed kind of like a transmission line speaker, enhancing the bass output from what you might expect from tiny little phone speakers. LG says "the G7 ThinQ uses its inner space as a resonance chamber to amp up the bass and deliver a premium, loud, and room-filling audio experience."

By Jim Bray - Thursday, August 16, 2018