WATER CONSERVATION is a constant concern these days -- just check the daily news. The continuing drought has spawned serious speculation and concern, so much that we now face mandatory cutbacks with penalties for noncompliance.

Shower head with flow restricter

Shower head with flow restricter

We've been asked to conserve another 24% which means restricting indoor use, outdoor irrigation, and using our precious water wisely.  But what are the numbers specifically?  Our water meter tracks every gallon (actually, cubic feet) and this number is recorded monthly.  By checking the meter frequently I've learned what's been used so we can modify our habits accordingly.

Sidewalk water meter

Sidewalk water meter

Each cubic foot indicates 7.48 gallons have been consumed.  Thus, a 4-minute shower uses 15 gallons, flushed toilet 2 gallons, washing machine 20 gallons, dishwasher 6 gallons, while landscape irrigation uses 60 gallons. (Note: your mileage may vary)  Understanding the numbers helps examination and modification of old habits.  How frequent?  How long?  How necessary?

Two gallon bucket

Two gallon bucket

A bucket in the shower and bowl in the kitchen sink collect rinse water for distribution in the garden.  We check for leaks, restrict irrigation, washing, and take shorter showers -- all part of our conservation effort to get through this crisis.  How are we doing?  I'll keep checking the numbers.

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe
Stanford's Quad

Stanford's Quad

SPRINGTIME wouldn't be the same without the amazing bright blue flowers that burst forth on our local Jacaranda trees.  In just a few weeks, they emerge from a common drab appearance to grab "center stage" with an electric blue hue, drawing attention to themselves while dominating the visual landscape.

Violet rain begins

Violet rain begins

But you have to be attentive to enjoy the change because the gorgeous display will disappear as fast as it arrived.  Those azure blue petals will soon fall to the ground as the tree returns to its common appearance -- and once again you will be challenged to identify which tree is the Jacaranda?

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe
Rodin's Thinker

Rodin's Thinker

RODIN'S "LE PENSEUR" (aka, The Thinker) is a well known sculpture displayed AT Stanford's Cantor Arts Center. This powerful statue depicts a man lost in deep mythical thought -- and Is sure to awaken a response from anyone who sees it.  So what philosophical thought is he pondering:  The Meaning of life?  The Human Condition?  Good vs Evil?  or... Where did I leave my clothes?

Papa New Guinea statue

Papa New Guinea statue

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Elsewhere on The Stanford campus rests a wooden statue created by a Papa New Guinea artist that reinterprets Rodin's classic figure. This solitary figure is pondering how he might recreate fellow mates from the surrounding mud and soil. So here we witness man's rejection of loneliness with a desire for human companionship... Now where did I leave my woman?

Now that's a story with consequences!   

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe

Henry Lathrop memorial

Henry Lathrop memorial

THIS GREIVING ANGEL is a poignant memorial commissioned by Jane Stanford that marks the grave of her brother Henry Lathrop.  When on campus and have the time, I stop to visit this remarkable expression of love and loss carved in stone.

Accepting change typically promotes grieving -- that's part of a healthy healing process.  Each of us may respond to loss differently and it can be difficult, but moving on to find new attachments will eventually occur.  Fond memories of what was lost will become the foundation for growth and enrichment of our lives.

 

Emelyn Story memorial  (Wikipedia photo)

Emelyn Story memorial  (Wikipedia photo)

I believe the original sculpture can be found in the Protestant cemetery in Rome, created by artist William Story in loving memory of his wife.  I hope to find it some day during my travels.

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe
Madrone bark

Madrone bark

UNUSUAL SMOOTH RED BARK is common to both the manzanita bush and madrone tree which suggests they are related -- and they are.  In fact they both shed layers of red-orange bark throughout the year, a characteristic that's unique in the plant world.  But why do they do it?

It turns out that madrone tree - the manzanita's big cousin - has been around for millions of years dating back to the great forests, a time of dinosaurs, large birds and insects. To survive those voracious feeders, some plants adapted a smooth exterior bark which proved less tasty because it hosted fewer living organisms. Descendants of madrones, including the manzanita, continued to survive over time because of this smooth bark characteristic.

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Smooth-bark trees have less protection than those with thicker rough exteriors, so they must have another way to protect themselves. The manzanita's outer layer peels away to prevent fungus and parasites, moss and lichens, from clinging to and destroying its trunk and branches.  That's pretty cool!

Also, their red bark is high in toxic bitter-tasting tannins which deter insects, birds, and bacteria from penetrating the exterior and feeding on the tender tissue inside. Thus, the coupling of shedding bark and tannic compounds is really a survival adaption that madrones and manzanita have used to their advantage. 

Foothills Park trail

Foothills Park trail

On the other hand, the bark is very attractive. It's impossible to resist the temptation to admire and touch the silky smooth red bark we find along the trail. That's one more reason to venture out into the wonderful wilderness here in California where there are more manzanita species than anywhere else in the world.

Posted
AuthorRich Monroe