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Archive for December, 2010

SWAMP ANGEL

Decorating my Christmas tree is a trip down memory lane. First and foremost are all the Christmas decorations my children made.  Most of them are too fragile to keep using, such as the bread dough molds of their hands, but I have them all packed in a box and look at them every year. On my tree currently are things I have picked up on our travels.  Some things are actually ornaments but others are little trinkets that I bought and hang on the tree.  I wish I had started doing this when we first started travelling.  They always bring back such wonderful memories. It reminds me of how very fortunate we have been to have traveled so extensively.  When I look at the things I bought or the pictures I have taken it is hard to believe that I was really in so many places. We have been very blessed.

These little figures were on our pillows once night in a hotel in China.

ORNAMENT FROM CHINA

ORNAMENT FROM CHINA

ORNAMENT FROM RUSSIA

ORNAMENT FROM RUSSIA

These remind me of our wonderful trip to Peru and Machu Picchu.

ORNAMENTS FROM PERU

ORNAMENTS FROM PERU

This was a bell I brought home from Japan.

ORNAMENT FROM JAPAN

ORNAMENT FROM JAPAN

ORNAMENT FROM POLAND

ORNAMENT FROM POLAND

One of my favorites is my “Swamp Angel”, which I use as my tree topper.  

SWAMP ANGEL

SWAMP ANGEL

I found her on an after Christmas trip when we did the River Road Plantations. The Mississippi may have been the major highway to the great port cities, but the river roads established the muddy water as a river of riches. There is cultural richness in the many plantations and restaurants along the Mississippi River.

The “Swamp Angel” came with a little book that told about her.  Her hair is Spanish moss, which truly reminds me of the South.   Her story is that she is bound to the Earth by her passion for life, and she is bound to Heaven by her pure spirituality. She is a working angel, not just a lovely display. Her hair is a bit disheveled. She is the intercessor for the farmer, the fisherman, the mother in the kitchen. She inspires the cook, the writer; the teacher. She carries surprises in her pockets and hope in her heart. She is steadfast and gentle, a soother of tears and a mender of moods.  She is all ages, and she is all races, her face radiates pure light. She is like the mists that rise mysteriously from the Southern swamps. Delicate, yet strong enough to move the mightiest boulder. She is known by many names.

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NORTH POLE

We had a surprise visitor last night. After one of his elves passed out candy canes Santa led us in Christmas carols.  Santa told me why he had the sleigh bells with him.  Seems that when he is in the houses, delivering presents, his reindeer are up in the clouds.  Think about it, you never see them.  When he is ready to leave he just jingles his bells and his reindeer come to pick him up in their sleigh.

VISITOR FROM THE NORTH POLE

VISITOR FROM THE NORTH POLE

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While touring the Selby gardens I came across a few plants I found very interesting.  First was the PITCHER PLANT. I had seen some before in botanical gardens but didn’t really know much about them. I found out that they live in watery environments where the soil lacks sufficient nutrients. So they use meat as their vitamin pill. Using nectar or bright colors, these plants lure their victims into their hollow pitchers-and almost certain death. The insects fall into a pool of digestive juices that turn them into bug soup. One variety has pitchers big enough to trap birds and rats.

PITCHER PLANT

PITCHER PLANT

PITCHER PLANT

PITCHER PLANT

 Then there were the EPIPHYTES.  Epiphyte is a plant that grows upon another plant (such as a tree).  It doesn’t take water or nutrients from the hosts’ plant, and has no contact with the soil.  They obtain water from dew, moisture in the air, and rainwater, and nutrients from suspended debris and dust transported by the wind or washed off the host plant by rainwater. They are found in a temperate zone and in the tropics.  They are also called air plants.

EPIPHYTES

EPIPHYTES

BROMELIADS are an easy care, fun plant to have. They include such diverse plants as Spanish moss and pineapple.  Many are epiphytes.   Most can be recognized by their overlapping rosette of leaves which retain water; that is why they are commonly called “vase plants.” They have with a different watering technique.  You water directly into the stems where they create a cup to hold the water. Then the water is absorbed down the stem into the plant.

BROMELIAD

BROMELIAD

The ANT PLANT was something I don’t think I have seen before. Plants that are closely associated with ants are called “ant” or “myrmecophilic” plants. This is a mutualistic relationship benefiting both the plant and the ants. The plant provides a protective home to a colony of ants in its swollen leaves, stems or rhizomes in a system of corridors and chambers similar to those in an ant hill. Ants living inside protect the host plant from herbivores (organisms that are adapted to eat plants) and also provide a nutritious compost of waste materials. Seeds of these plants are often disseminated by ants.

ANT PLANT

ANT PLANT

These holes you see in the base of the plant is where the ants enter.

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Another magical thing about visiting the Disney parks during the Christmas holidays is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios.  Over 5 million lights synchronized to holiday music light up the night. There are also flying angels, twirling carousels and even Santa and his reindeer. You walk down the and are just totally amazed by so many lights.  Entire buildings are blanketed in multi-colored lights.

OSBORN FAMILY LIGHTS

 These lights started out in Arkansas as a family’s annual display.  Each year the Osborne family put up their lights and over the years an elaborate collection grew and grew.  In 1995, the Osborne family decided to share their magic with the world and it has a new permanent home at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. 

OSBORNE FAMILY LIGHTS

 After a dinner at the Brown Derby we went to see the lights, not knowing quite what to expect.  It is so extensive that it is hard to comprehend.  Then as we stood looking at the lights they started blinking off and on and holiday music filled the air.  But then the best was yet to come.  Here we are in our shorts and suddenly there are snow flurries.  If that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit nothing will.  It was just so much fun, only at Disney.

OSBORNE FAMILY LIGHTS

OSBORNE FAMILY LIGHTS

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