Friday, July 3, 2020

Congratulations To Sara

I LIGHT THE FIREWORKS this weekend to congratulate my recent high school graduate who understood, despite the tears, lack of garlands, friend group shots and a processed diploma, that she had to forego a real graduation ceremony in favor of a virtual one during this time of pandemic. She will be attending SUNY Binghamton for a degree in Psychology. Congratulations baby, and thank you to Maspeth Kiwanis for the scholarship award.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Too Close For Comfort

MY INDOOR DENIZENS are foregoing social distancing just to bask in the sun on this backyard beach--er, nursery. It's quite a sight while I do horticulture work and polish repurposing the garage, while The Lettermen croon "A Summer Place" on my wife's radio. Are we really back?

The structure was retired from its original service as a garage, fenced off from the driveway, a private door cut on its side wall, and its window widened to convert it into a writing shed, still in progress under the watchful eye of a fragrant linden tree.

Group shot, clockwise from the rear: (1) the first F. philippinensis (jaundiced from having been indoors since last fall), (2) the latest F. philippinensis with an aerial root being trained soilward using an orange drinking straw, (3) the aged and pricey F. microcarpa with a branch being converted into an aerial root using a water bottle filled with soaked sphagnum moss, (4) the popular F. microcarpa ginseng (also called "mallsai"--go figure), and (5) the young tiger bark F. retusa, in training and experimental restyle. Joining the gang are two other Mindoro denizens in welcome company: (6) sampalok (Tamarindus indica) and (7) kalimumogtsaang gubat or Fukien tea tree (Ehretia microphylla), both newly repotted.

The young tiger bark F. retusa out of the box.
The trunk was made horizontal by digging up and exposing the main root and propping it on a rock.
Wired and styled with new exposed roots.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Death Of A Toad (Take N)

RE-REWORKED THIS OLD sonnet for this guy who breathes through the skin. Two viruses together: COVID 19 and systemic racism.

The Toad’s Elegy

What a season this is to be described:
the air is toxic, and noose poles arrive.
Shall I stay at home, as dumb as a fish
copped out because the sun air fries the skin,
no donned N95 to mask its hiss
exhaling voodoo that poisons the rain?

Let at breakneck speed the deluge run wide,
slay a sun breached by the mirroring tide,
genuflect before the crown, this burnt flood,
detox amphibious hearts fed with foul blood.
I shall wear this voice until it is gone,
hip hop on the death of a jaundiced sun.

I shall wear this hide that gifts me with breath,
kill with warts those viruses from the wreath.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Life In The Time Of COVID

TESS HAD TO GO BACK cutting hair when the virus struck and my Chinese barber closed shop in Elmhurst (she now avoids Elmhurst like the plague--ouch!-- including Chinese supermarkets and Pinoy friends she normally visits).  So she gave me this haircut to prove her styling prowess, the one she used on her visiting father (who happened to sport an easy Kojak style) before he passed on. Meanwhile, Andrea Wigert, matriarch of Wigert's Bonsai in Fort Myers, FL sent me this picture of the new Ficus philippinensis pre-bonsai, a diamond-in-the-rough, that I ordered from her before she shipped it from her nursery last Memorial Day weekend.  As soon as it arrived and was by my former garage, Tess volunteered to style it her way, and I must say my new pre-bonsai doesn't look too bad at all. Good job, Mom! Just wait till she gets it repotted and those nebari roots controlled.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Parallel Roots

MY BALETE BONSAI (Ficus microcarpa) has been my keeper of sanity this past week. It is ready to hit the backyard any day soon, but something must to be done first: transform a branch into an aerial root that is parallel with the others and a column of darkly colored soil.

A branch was obstructing the view of the aerial roots.
So I bent it downwards and wired it to an old aerial root.

Removed its foliage and planted it in a pot made from a water bottle filled with black Long Island compost. By the end of summer, new aerial roots will emerge from the branch to be directly planted in and feed on the earth in the ceramic pot. If it doesn't work, I'll use sphagnum moss instead.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A Growing Paranoia

I HAVE IDEAS FROM South America this growing season, but my wife says there is something creepy about this indoor bonsai (Myrciaria jaboticaba) that I'm planning to buy, after she saw pictures of the tree fully grown in Brazil. Would you? Or does it look like namumutiktik sa bundat na garapata?

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Blue (And White) Maspeth, 2015

SINCE THERE WILL BE NO Memorial Day parade in Maspeth this year, I'm going back to this pomp five years ago when NY Dem bigwigs descended on Grand Avenue near Mt. Olivet Cemetery, for a semblance of the normal. From Queens Gazette. Cheers!

Grand Marshals WW II Army veterans 88th Infantryman James Desio and Staff Sergeant William Aronowicz

The NY Shields Police Pipes & Drums

US Senator Chuck Schumer

Queens District Attorney (then Borough President) Melinda Katz

State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, former Assemblywoman Marge Markey, Attorney General (then Public Advocate) Letitia James and Congresswoman Grace Meng

Saturday, April 4, 2020

With Fists Of Turnips Punishes The Land

DEATHS, SUFFERINGS, FEARS--too many to count, all without warning, indiscriminate, not man-made, the result of the natural process of evolution. How do you wrap your head around it?

New Yorkers in the borough of Queens queue at Elmhurst hospital (the center of the city’s coronavirus crisis) for tests as 13 deaths are reported in one day (AP)

A hero: a haunting image out of Elmhurst Hospital in Trump's native Queens that appeared to rattle him. 

A supply shelf in Elmhurst Queens hospital. Dr. Colleen Smith tells ABC News the orange bags are body bags for the deceased.

Workers construct a makeshift morgue outside Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 
Refrigerator trucks are being used as makeshift morgues in New York. (AP)

A 38-year-old nurse at a Manhattan hospital shared this image yesterday of the inside of one of the refrigerated trucks lined on either side with the dead bodies of covid-19 victims. (Daily Mail)
Nature's handiwork

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Safety Days

THREE DAYS OFF EVERY TWO-WEEK pay period (designated as "Weather and Safety Leave" uncharged to an employee's annual and sick leave balance), plus buddies from the largely dead airport joining us at the seaport starting today, are welcome reprieves to essential seaport workers who have been showing up for work day in and day out despite the coronavirus pandemic. My imagination had my eyes glued on that vile swarm on a metallic sign shield, trying to figure out what the heck they were. Were those spotted lanternflies that had invaded Red Hook through a cargo ship from Philly? A portent of new bugs to come, already here? Even the blue sorbet king of the Queens neighborhood was not horsing around. After all, Port Authority boss Rick Cotton, Cuomo's buddy, already got the virus. Just be safe, all!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Fig Of My Imagination

WAITING FOR WARMER WEATHER that would let my new Ficus bonsai ship from a nursery in Florida (at $315 after $150 credit card bonus still not cheap), I ordered a console table from Amazon ($68 shipping included) to replace the metal cover of the thermostat by the west window of the bedroom and prepare a tropical spot for it next winter, then picked up a kerosene lamp at ACE Hardware (on sale at $8.70 tax included) to complete the works, soon to be together. The balete has many uses in traditional Asian medicine, the aerial roots of some species being a good immunostimulant or booster of the immune system. Will they make good fortifying tea against the coronavirus? Check out these collaborative scientific papers by Kmail, et al. (p. 55), Khan, et al. and Wei Chiang Chan, et al. Last is a fascinating article on Mangyan folk medicine by late Mindoro missionary Magdalena Leykamm (Google Translate into English) describing the use of balete bark as an antirheumatic.