Monday, December 30, 2013

Economy in Song Lyrics

How can song lyrics be economical? I write about three types:
  1. Songs with expressions repeatedly peppered throughout
  2. Instrumentals with the song title in it, frequently with few or no additional words
  3. Songs that have one verse, repeated one or more times
The idea for writing about economical lyrics has popped up for a few years, but percolated a bit more when I heard "Deck the Halls" recently, thinking about the "fa la la" part . Another Christmassy song came to mind—"Angels We Have Heard On High Lyrics " with drawn-out "Gloria" ("GLaw-aw-aw-aw-aw ... riah"). Funny that few lyrics websittes spell Gloria as actually sung.
Extreme examples of repeated chanting expressions ("n" words!) that pervade a song:
  • "Nobody But Me" by the Human Beinz, written by Isley Brothers ("Shout") loads up on "No-no, no, no, no-no-no, no, no-no, no, no-no …". This Songfacts Lyrics webpage includes trivia and comments.
  • Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye uses the na-na chant throughout, including fadeout, fadein, and seemingly endless looping. This ST Lyrics webpage states near the end "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye [repeat many times and fade out]". No kidding about many times!
  • The ending of "Hey Jude" ("nah nah nah …") is another example of repeat-many-times in a song, although the end is a final "HEY JUDE".
The previous three songs predominantly feature "no" or phonetic variation of "no". In some songs, the spoken or sung lyrics are the same as the titles, maybe to better remind listeners what the song title is. Some examples:
"Woo Hoo" features one main utterance (ok, maybe two) was obscure enough that the song title initially eluded me—The Rock-A-Teens -- Woo Hoo (lyrics). More recently, "Woo Hoo" was popularized by a group named 5,6,7,8 for "Kill Bill" starring Uma Thurman (lyrics). On a barely related note, Homer Simpson has uttered woo hoo for the past 25 years.

The following five songs repeat their verses—no story here!
What songs cross your mind that fit the lyrics economy models I listed?

Monday, December 16, 2013

McCormicky-Libbyish Pumpkin Pie

Last month, I published "Which Pumpkin Pie?" that described ranges of ease and cost—fast and expensive, or laborious and cheap. For this article I'm publishing the method I used. For the ease, I bought frozen pie shells, canned pumpkin, and condensed milk. I already have cinnamon and nutmeg. Deviating from most recipes I ran across, I added vanilla and sesame oil (a favorite flavoring of mine).

Ingredients and Mixing
The table shows ingredients for the recipes from Libby's, McCormick, and me.
1 pie shell
15-oz can pumpkin
2 eggs
14-oz can condensed milk
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

12-oz can evaporated milk

3/4 C sugar

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ginger

1/4 t cloves

1/2 t salt

1/2 t nutmeg

1 t vanilla

1 t sesame oil

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. In a medium-large bowl, beat eggs. (Both recipes used wire whisks. Have also spotted use of a wooden spoon, a rubber spatula.)
  3. Stir spices and fluid flavorings into the eggs mixture, then add the condensed milk and pumpkin.
  4. Pour mixture into a pie shell. (I used the Pet Ritz deep-pie, 6-oz shell that already is in its own aluminum pan. Costs the same as the shallow, 5-oz pan.)
  5. Place pie into a wider pan in case of filling overflow. (Libby's suggested a foil-lined pan.) Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 40-50 minutes. Insert a knife to test for filling doneness. Libby's recipe says to insert the knife NEAR the center. (Forty minutes was perfect for my pie.)
  7. Cool on wire rack (about 2 hrs).
  8. Serve nekkid (~270 calories) or with whipped cream (ooh la la). :-)
Handy Links

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Which Pumpkin Pie?

Decisions, decisions, decision, varying mostly for labor intensity for getting a pumpkin pie. I wanted to find a pretty pumpkin pie picture that I wouldn't get into copyright problems over. My image is two colored ovals and arced text that I used Microsoft Word's Word Art feature for creating.

The easiest way to get a pumpkin pie is buy it at a bakery or grocery store. Pay your bucks and take it. Might be iffy trying to buy one on Thanksgiving day itself, so buy the day before. The alternative to the easy way depends on the energy you want to expend and time you want to allot for acquiring ingredients and preparing the pie. Two main components of the pie are the pie shell and the filling, with the filling subdividing into canned and scratch pumpkin.

Pie Shell
A pie shell for pumpkin filling should be flour-dough. You can make one from a scratch recipe, which calls for flour, fat (butter or shortening), water, and elbow grease using a rolling pin and pastry blender. Or you can buy a refrigerated shell that you unroll and lay into a pan. Or you can buy a frozen shell that's already preformed into an aluminum pie pan. Either option usually comes in sets of two. A crumb-crust shell is not suitable. A flour shell acts as a liner during baking, not so for a crumb crust. Least work—the frozen pie shell.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
The pumpkin pie filling can be fresh pumpkin that you extract the meat from—cutting the rind off, removing the pulp, and shredding or grating the meat. A jack o'lantern from Halloween works, if it's not moldy. Or you can buy a pumpkin at the store as the BIG EVENT approaches. You can buy canned pumpkin. The fresh-pumpkin approach is very labor intensive, but tends to be less expensive than the very convenient canned pumpkin. YMMV. Least work—the canned pumpkin.

I pretty much knew about cinnamon and nutmeg, just would need to look up quantities. Saw recipes that also called for allspice. What the heck is allspice? The explanation looks pretty thorough.

Candidate Recipe for Convenience
One recipe I encountered lately was in the Parade Sunday paper insert. Looked convenient to make, but the small, 6-point font bugged me. You McCormick people! Really???? 6-point font? Alienating a lot of older folks who have baked pies and might be turned off at the effort required to READ the ingredients and process? Well, I had torn out the recipe anyway, but decided to look for it online. Voila! Bigger font, and numbered steps at the Signature Pumpkin Pie Recipe. The big conveniences are the pre-formed pie shell, canned pumpkin, condensed milk, and McCormick's Pumpkin Pie spice. (You'll pay for the convenience of having all the spices in one jar.) The only additional ingredient is eggs. Hmm, I might make this pie, but maybe not this Thanksgiving Day.

For the record, over the years, I've made pies with scratch pie shells (cheap to make, but a lot more effort than pre-made shells.) I've used fresh pumpkin only, just because I've liked knowing the filling came from a pumpkin I acquired. I don't recall having used condensed milk, but maybe because I haven't baked a pumpkin pie in a few years and don't remember.

Which Pumpkin Pie?
For me this Thanksgiving Day, none of the above. I'm baking mini-cupcakes that have chocolate chips, chocolate cake mix, cherry pie filling, and three eggs. The recipe will be a variation of the Lucky Leaf recipe for Cherry Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake. Besides using chocolate cake mix instead of white, I'll also deviate from the recipe by making mini-cupcakes instead of a bundt cake.

November 26, 2014—
Visit "McCormicky-Libbyish Pumpkin Pie" about the hybrid-recipe pie that I DID bake.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gluten-Free Waffle Grid Tortillas

The waffle grid comes from using a waffle-cone maker, but not the cone shaper. These tortillas, made with rice flour, are thin and pliable, like crepes. They stick to themselves with a mild PostIt stickiness. The stickiness makes for keeping rollup shapes together, making them good for rolling up fillings. The sesame oil provides an aromatic flavor.

My pixstrip shows the following images:
  1. Equipment and utensils
  2. Ingredients
  3. Bowl with mixed ingredients, cooling in fridge, then out of the fridge
  4. Tortilla-baking process by using the waffle cone maker
  5. Finished gluten-free, no-added-sugar, waffle-grid tortillas
Equipment and utensils (spray oil being a bridge from equipment to baking process)
  • Waffle cone maker
  • Mixer (I used an electric hand mixer.)
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Rubber spatula(s)
  • Plastic spatula
  • Mixing bowl(s)
  • Cooling rack
Ingredients and mixing
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C rice flour (available in Asian store or ethnic part of a supermarket(
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Spray oil for appliance surfaces, about every fourth tortilla
  1. Beat the egg.
  2. Add the salt and beat more.
  3. Add the oils and milk and mix more.
  4. Carefully add the flour, which has a very fine consistency. (The batter will be very thin.)
  5. Cover the mixing bowl with food wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator.
  6. After an hour, take out the batter, remove the food wrap, and remix the batter for a few seconds.
Process completion (baking, etc.)
Prepare the iron as instructed with your appliance. Because I've used mine a few times, I've only wiped the cooking surfaces with a clean, warm, damp kitchen rag for cleaning preparation, sprayed the cooking surfaces, and plugged the cord. Heating time is a minute or so.
  1. Spray oil onto both waffle cone maker surfaces and heat it.
  2. Scoop batter (1-oz cup or 2 tablespoons) onto the horizontal surface. (Pouring slightly towards the back makes for easier clanshell closing.) Close the lid and press down with fingernails for about 15 seconds to ensure the lid stays closed, then time for another 45 seconds. The hold-down instruction might not apply to other appliance brands.
  3. Open the clamshell to check for tortilla doneness (light to medium brown color).
  4. Use spatula to lift the tortilla onto the cooling rack.
  5. Roll the tortilla now or later.
  6. Continue the batter dispensing and baking process until you use up the batter. (Use spray oil about every fourth tortilla.)
The recipe makes about 15 tortillas, 5-6 inches wide (~53-58 calories each, depending on nonfat or whole milk). Suggested fillings for microwaving in these disks: cheese, cheese and spinach, cheese and broccoli. Mmmm, cheese.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--16th & Final Week, 3 2 1 0

Gone. Gone. Gone. No Lefty left anymore. From three century plants to none, it's been an interesting mission to photograph the plants weekly and publish weekly articles. The five images illustrate my article's title.
In composing this last article, I decided I'd go take one more set of pix to compare June 17 and publish day of today—October 27. The pixstrip shows a bit of difference in plant looks from then to today, although not so much for the agaves. Weirdly, when I stepped up to the plants yesterday for a look-see, I was surprised to see no evidence of stalks having been cut. The centers were tightly wound, each coming to sharp points.

The only plan I originally had was taking pictures from one spot, all on Mondays around the same time except for one Tuesday session, and coming up with thoughts for that day. Oh, some of the thoughts might have come a day later. Most obvious "tweak" is the one for June 17's shoot.

It didn't take many weeks to consider taking additional pictures at other angles. I took several from across the street. Unfortunately, other nearby foliage tended to obscure the century plants, so I omitted most of them from the series of articles.

I buddied up more with my PaintShopPro tool (very old at version 7.04) over the months:
  • Played with shapes for outlines and backgrounds.
  • Cropped images by way of canvas size and window selections.
  • Placed images on same canvases.
  • Resized pixstrips by percentages.
  • Made slight image rotations, aligning poles to working grids.
In placing previous and current week images next to each other, it was interesting to see changes for comparisons. I found my own way to format the articles for a certain consistency. If you like the series, please spread the word. Thanks!

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
Over the weekend, the lone century plant was still there. Had fingers crossed that it might still be there today when I made my weekly lunchtime pilgrimage to photograph it, as I had been since early March. Nope. These pix no longer have any majestic stalks. I did decide to attach pix from March 4 (start of spotting the upcomers, published July 14), April 22 (approximately midpoint, published September 1), and today. For the most recent of the last standing plant, look to June 10 (published October 20).
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--15th Week, Lefty and Another Week Still

 Lefty looks nearly identical as in the previous week's pix. One obvious difference is about 1/4 the distance up, to the left of the metal pole. The June 3 pic shows a white object, the June 10 pic doesn't. In looking over past images, that area has had parked cars and a dumpster.

Although Lefty looks about the same for those June 3 and 10, May 27 was the date that showed a change from its former majestic erectness. The October 6 article contrasts three weeks, with the last image showing a definite lean.

The rightside angle pix show Lefty looking nearly identical—only the sky showing contrast. The June 3 sky is about as flat blue as can be; the June 10 sky displays a couple of puffy clouds seeming to align horizontally with Lefty's peak.
My thoughts of the pix for that day:
Amazingly, the lone stalk is still there! The top is starting to look a bit raggedy. If I were to use a human adjective, I'd say the top looked a bit gaunt.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--14th Week, Lefty and Another Week

On June 3, Lefty still stands, and with bloom clusters, but taking on a darker look than the previous week. Although the May 27 pic looks more bright andvibrant than the one from June 3, it's comparative views that influence perception. View the May 27th pic in my previous
article's pixstrip
, and notice how lackluster Lefty looks there. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image of May 27 and June 3.)

This is one of the few times I decided I'd post some pix from another angle, although I have been taking front-view and rightside-view pix for a few weeks. I did post some at the bottom of my 11th-week article ("Century Plant Triplets--11th Week, Oh Solo Me Oh!"). The May 27 and June 3 rightside pix below show more contrast between the skies than with Lefty. Love that blueness on June 3! Oddly, the cloudiness in the May 27 pic looks much less ominous than in the "feature" images at the top of the article.
My thoughts of the pix for that day:
The lone stalk still stands, but it's definitely leaning, and the foliage looking less lush. I anticipate this week to be its last week as an upstanding plant in the corner.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--13th Week, 3 Successive Leftys

I decided to deviate from my recent formats of two weeks' pictures side-by-side. As I started prepping the pix for May 20 and 27, I was struck by how much more vibrant Lefty's May 20th pic looked than May 27th. Yet, the pixstrip for May 13 and May 20th showed Lefty's May 20th condition to be drab, which I remarked in my 12th century plants article.
Comparative pix can affect perception. The pixstrip shows Lefty for May 13, 20, 27. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) Note that for each of those picture days, the sky conditions seem to correlate with Lefty's bloom clusters condition.
  1. May 13—blue sky with Lefty's bright and robust clusters
  2. May 20—overcast with Lefty's drabness indicating its decline
  3. May 27—cloudiness with Lefty's drabness, seemingly conveying withdrawal from its former glory
Try covering one of three pix and compare visual states. Try looking at #1 and #2 together, #2 and #3 together, and #1 and #3 together.
My thoughts of the pix for that day:
Surprised that the single stalk is still there! Took the set of pix around 10:40 today, about an hour earlier than I'd been shooting in the previous weeks. Worked out really well. A lot less traffic both moving and standing, maybe because of the holiday, might have also helped make picture taking easier than usual. Comparing this week's to last week's pix, can see the "crowns" starting to diminish.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--12th Week, Lefty's Bloom Clusters Declining

Lefty's bloom clusters display a dramatic dulling of color intensity from the previous week—brightness on May 13, drabness on May 20, as the above pixstrip shows. The pixstrip below shows the larger and zoomed-out older/newer side-by-side image.

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
The single stalk is still there! Unlike the previous few weeks, the stalk counts didn't go three, then two, then one, then none. It is only a matter of time before the property owners cut it down before it falls down. The view is another chance to see the progress, or decline, if you will, of the plant to its eventual end.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--11th Week, Oh Solo Me Oh!

So goes Righty. Actually Righty does go, but Lefty stays for now, all by itself. Peewee departed the scene the previous week. On this beautiful blue-sky day, solo Lefty looks magnificent, a great century plant specimen in its prime with bloom clusters resembling cheerleader pom-poms. The pixstrip shows the century plants for May 6 and May 13. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.)

I'm channeling Lefty, anthropomorphizing him in a short, chorus-part parody of O Sole Mio. You might also recognize the same tune for It's Now or Never.

Oh, solo me, oh.
Now by myself.
My buds ain't no mo',
Just Lefty's left.

How much time,
I've got to stay,
I don't know what's what,
I just don't know squat.
My thoughts of the pix for that day:
On Thursday, May 9, I drove by the corner to view the plants. Only one left. Thought about deliberately deviating from my Monday noonish pic shoot and taking pix Friday, but didn't. Crossed my fingers and hoped the property owners didn't have an order in for lopping the last one, as Friday, being a workday, might be a likely cutoff (g) day. Thought maybe I'd take pix Saturday. Nope. By the time Sunday rolled around, I figured I might as well shoot Monday.

Friday morning, I sent email to Portraits of Wildflowers blogger Steven Schwartzman that only one stalk remained. He wrote back shortly and replied that he noticed the previous day that only one century plant was left.

I took my usual diagonal-view pictures. For comparative pictures to newer angle ones that I took the previous week, I took some from across the street (1st pixstrip below) and from the right (2nd pixstrip).

The angle of the previous two weeks' rightside pix was about 45 degrees. For May 13, I stepped back farther so I could better frame Lefty in the background. That pic includes part of the tower, and the company's masonry sign is now right of the wooden pole, narrower than in the other two rightside pix.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--10th Week, Minus Peewee

Peewee's gone! The pixstrip shows the century plants for April 29 and May 6. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) Lefty and Righty are in full blooms.  Lefty and Righty look to be in full robustness. Alas, poor Peewee. I suspect caretakers cut it down rather than risk having Peewee fall over onto a vehicle stopped in traffic, or pose a road hazard with downed stalk and bloom clusters.

Over the last few years, I've spotted some singular century plants in the initial sprouting stage. A plant would sprout a stalk, spread bloom clusters, which later are surrounded by busy bees boisterously buzzing bulky blooms, ... (Say that last phrase fast multiple times, why dontcha?) One day, the plant would be gone, or cut near the base.

Apparently, cutting a century plant down comes with hazards. Dave's Garden has a webpage that includes posts about stalk removals, with or without blooms. Apparently, the sap can be very painful and dangerous to contact.

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
On Friday, May 3, I received email from Portraits of Wildflowers blogger Steven Schwartzman that he took pix of the "the two remaining century plants". That meant one [plant] is missing, most likely, cut down. On Monday, May 6, I took my pictures and confirmed it was the leaning Peewee that's gone. Thus, the one [pic] I have for Monday, April 29 was the last one I have in my possession with all three plants. I feel lucky that I decided to take the pic last Monday (April 29) while Peewee was still there.

The main pic is the one that I've been taking from the square at the gas station. The second one is the view from the bank across the street. (Tossed out several pictures because of bad timing with cars in the way.) The third one is the view from about 45 degrees from the right. The two remaining plants look like leaners. We'll see how much longer they fare [fare well before the farewell, that is].
In my thoughts for that day, I had intended to use the second and third pictures as individual ones. For this article, I decided to make comparative composites of April 29 and May 6 images for both front and right side views.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--9th Week Peewee's 2x Leaning Angle

Uh oh. Peewee's leaning angle looks like it's doubled from one week to the next. The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics for those April 22and April 29. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) Except for Peewee's bigger leaning angle, the plants look nearly unchanged, seemingly finished with growth spurts and obvious bulking up.

Last week in article #8, I mentioned I'd have "more info about and by the knowledgeable someone … about multiple-stalk century plants". My curiosity about multiple-stalk century plants vs. the set of triplets I'd been writing about stemmed (grin) from the caption for Will and Mary Ross' picture (about 3/4 down the webpage) that indicated a single plant with three stalks— "he was so proud when it bloomed -- and three bloom stalks is rare".

From having read that when conditions were good, agaves grew their stalks and bloom clusters amazingly fast as their last gasp for reproduction. Seemed to me that all the energy could go into only one stalk. Anyway, Dave Moellendorf, at the Austin Cactus and Succulents Society plant sale on Saturday, August 31, 2013, explains how a single century plant can have multiple stalks. (Yes, I'd like you to visit my very first YouTube video production—1 minute and 15 seconds—for more information about Dave.)

My thoughts of the pix for that day:
Peewee is leaning quite lot more. Thinking it's only a matter of time before the property owners cut it, if not all three plants, for fear of hazard or damage to cars from falling over. One other century plant in that clump bloomed just about a year ago, but was cut down.

Today, I also took a pic from the bank across the street. Quite a different view, with Peewee not looking like a leaner. THOSE pix were hard to time for shooting because of numerous cars passing right in front of the plants or stopped, compared to POV from the gas station square. (From the square in front of the gas station, the plants look like they're inline and evenly spaced -> * * *. )
The three asterisks represent the plants' apparent alignment and spacing. The following across-the-street pic shows that Peewee is to the right side of the other two plants and all three plants lean somewhat. In the approach-from-right-side pic, which I did not mention in my blockquote, Peewee looks upright, and the other two plants lean to the left.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--8th Week Lopsided Peewee

Happy Labor Day weekend, statesiders! In the April 22 image, the triplets are very robust. They all grew a little taller, and gained a smidge more bulk at the branches and bloom clusters. However, Peewee is looking unbalanced, maybe a bad sort of top-heavy. I initially thought that "leaning" would be a reasonable adjective for Peewee, but "lopsided" seems even better. The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics for those April 15 and April 22. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.)

From TheFreeDictionary, a definition for "lopsided" that fits well is "leaning or inclined to one side". OTOH, "leaning" could be an appropriate adjective also.
departing or being caused to depart from the true vertical or horizontal; "the leaning tower of Pisa"; "the headstones were tilted"
Come to think of it, Peewee's angle is similar to that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Recently, a friend wondered about weight for a stalk and blooms. I was not able to find much information. Wikipedia had a general mention:
Each agave plant will produce several pounds of edible flowers during its final season. The stalks, which are ready during the summer, before the blossom, weigh several pounds each.
A few weeks ago, I emailed a plant-knowledgeable neighbor and asked if he might know the weight of a stalk and bloom clusters. He didn't know, but gave a guess that the stalk would have lots of water in it and that each flower cluster would be a few pounds. He suggested using geometry for calculating the volume of the stalk, then multiplying the volume by the the weight of water for the same volume.

Yesterday, at the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society 2013 Fall Show & Sale (Zilker Botanical Garden), someone helping out a vendor friend thought a stalk and bloom clusters could weigh a few hundred pounds until the plant dried out. Next week, I'll have more info about and by the knowledgeable someone for article #9 about multiple-stalk century plants.

Note: The sale continues today. In case you miss the sale, the webpage lists the expected vendors and contact info.

My thoughts of the pic for that day:
Even bluer day for taking pix! Blossoms more noticeably robust, especially at the tops. But, uh-oh, Peewee in the middle is leaning rightward. If property caretakers fret over possible fallover, they might cut the entire stalk before the agave finishes its natural course.

Just about a year ago, a century plant at the same location started blooming, reaching skyward, about the same stage these plants are now. Suddenly, it was gone. I'll see how the plants progress next week, keeping my fingers crossed for their existence.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--7th Week Lookit the Tops!

April 15 (tax day!) was a beautiful blue-sky day, and the subjects' details crisper than on April 8. Amazingly, these century plants continued upward growth even while continuing to grow outward. And the bloom clusters grew bigger. The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics for those two days. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.)

Last week, although I talked about gauging heights, the image of a couple in front of their own century plant triplets piqued my interest more than just guestimating the stalks' heights. During the browsing, I landed on Ross Family Photographs, where the same picture had the accompanying text "Will and Mary Ross by century plant in their yard in Burnet, TX, about 1948; he was so proud when it bloomed -- and three bloom stalks is rare".

I noticed a link to Will and Mary's 50th anniversary, which occurred in 1952. I wrote the website owner, Doris Ross Johnston, to talk about the plant and the couple—that it is nice to have such an interesting plant and the couple for height reference, and info about the long marriage, particularly so long ago. Doris noted, "Grandma and Grandpa were rather unusual for that time to have a Golden wedding anniversary. I think it's more common now that people usually live longer."

I wanted revisit heights this week, with a slight bit of refinement. I used a copy of this week's picture to further refine use of the street sign's height (two feet) to indicate how tall the plants are. I started with the bottom edge of the first sign in line with the start of the street sign post. From there, I stacked multiple images. At the top of the plants, I pasted sign images horizontally, with some offset by half the heights (one foot).

Observations about the previous to newer week:
  • All three look about a foot taller than the previous week.
  • Lefty reaches halfway up the "hangman's noose", and is champeen at 24 feet. (I don't know what that wiry formation is or does.)
  • Peewee reached the upper wire (18 1/2 feet).
  • Righty's up to 22 feet.
My thoughts of the pic for that day:
Much clearer day for taking pix! A bit more blossomy development, more noticeable at the tops. Peewee in the middle's doing pretty good also!
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--6th Week Subtle Continued Growth, Gauging Heights

The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics from April 2 and April 8. At first glance, they don't seem to have changed much. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) The shot-put-ball-like blooms seem to show the biggest difference.

Gauging heights seeped into this article from curiosity over another set of century plant triplets.

During a Google search for "century plant bloom", I spotted the image, which also included a man and woman, good for providing relative height comparison. I estimated the century plants' height to be about 15 feet, based on approximately three times the height of the couple.

In my Century Plant Triplets--3rd Week Higher Up article, I'd mentioned using the nearby bike route street sign for a dimensional gauge. For my set of triplets, Righty's height looks to be about 20 feet here. (Click to see my image with 10 signs stacked near Righty.)

FWIW, a few weeks ago, when I went to measure the physical sign height to verify that sign's dimensions, I recalled I had to stretch my arm upward to reach the bottom of the sign. My height and arm totals seven feet, give or take an inch.

While I was playing with this pixstrip composition, I noticed that the distance between the two upper wires happened to be about the height of the street sign. Observations about the previous to newer week:
  • Lefty looks to have peaked in vertical growth.
  • Peewee grew about another half a foot.
  • Righty grew about another foot.
  • All three plants' bloom clusters at the end of their "arms" look a bit more robust.
  • Peewee and Righty look to be fistbumping at one spot.
My thoughts of the pic for that day:
Barely sprinkly weather. Very similar to the pic from April 2, but branches spread out a little wider, bloomer clusters a bit bigger.
It's apparent that my thoughts on April 8 were nowhere in the neighborhood of heights like my thoughts today. Running across the century plant triplets that I found online nudged me to infer measurements and methodologies for the two sets of century plant triplets and distance between two wires.

Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--5th Week Closer Looks at Stalks and Branches

The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pics from March 25 and April 2. (Click for larger older/newer side-by-side image.) What a difference in sky contrast! Furthermore, the zoomed-in blue-sky one (more recent, left side) looks to be crisper than the zoomed-in overcast one (older, right side). (I just pulled up my original, unmodified snapshots and verified.) As an amateur photographer with no professional training whatsoever, the contrast differences surprised me.

For this pixstrip composition, I decided to zoom in more to the plants' stalks and branches. Observations about the previous to newer week:
  • Lefty doesn't look much taller.
  • Peewee reached past the middle wire.
  • Righty extended past the top wire.
  • Peewee and righty grew nearly another two feet.
  • All three plants make me visualize aliens having multiple outstretched arms, holding up "blossom" clumps that resemble shot put balls.
I would have taken pix April 1 as my weekly schedule for Mondays, but I'd overlooked charging my camera batteries and didn't have enough juice to shoot. So I returned Tuesday. For the rest of my series of the weekly century plant pix, I shot only on Mondays.

My thoughts of the pic for that day:
Maybe not as pretty as it could have been because of cloudiness.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--4th Week Higher and Branching Out

The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pic from March 18 and March 25. The newer pic shows the stalks starting to grow branches. Instead of resembling giant, continuous asparagus spears, the upper parts parts of the stalks now look like crosses between Christmas trees and candelabras.

These stalks grew up some more, about half the sign's height for the first plant and another full sign's height for the 2nd and 3rd plant. BTW, during the week, I took a metal tape measure and measured the sign's height and width. Yep, 24 inches each direction. So, another week of the plants growing another two feet—well, ok, the two plants to the right.

My thoughts of the plants for that day:
All three stalks gained just a little more height. The middle one did not reach the wires. All three started sprouting branches.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Century Plant Triplets--3rd Week Higher Up

The pixstrip shows the agave triplets pic from March 11 and March 18. Do a visual comparison of heights of the plants between the picture on the left and the one on the right. The increased height looks to be about the height of the sign on the right. For that matter, the increased height between March 4 and March 11 (pixstrip at July 21 article) looked to be about the height of the sign also.

What kind of street sign and what size is it, you might ask? It's a Bike Route sign with a route number at the bottom, which some future articles will include images of. I found a dimensional specification at the Manual of Traffic Signs site. The height of the bike route sign could be either 24 or 36 inches wide, but I'm guessing more likely 24. The height is 18, but excludes numbers below the bicycle image.

As the sign near the century plants is square, I've inferred the sign's height is 24 inches. So, if my hunch for the sign's height is correct, it means that the plants have grown about 24 inches each week, average of over three inches each day. Woohoo!

My thoughts of the plants for that day:
The closest stalk reached the lowest wires! Will be interesting to see that the other two clear them next week, and see where they reach.
Index to my agave posts, from the time I first spotted the set of triplets in early March to mid-June, about 3 1/2 months.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16