Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reminiscences once more!

I want to digress once-in-a while. Travelling is one of my passions, but  have not done so this year so I experience some melancholy. I am posting some old shots from Strasbourg, France, to pacify the wandering spirit. In doing so, I relive some experiences and was able to recall the scenes so vividly. I even remember the slightest of puns and fun.

My companion here was a lady from Croatia, who was my constant companion while we were there. We walk through small streets, took the cruise in La Petite France and we also laughed so well. We also ate a very big sandwich at the above restaurant with a wonderful cup of hot coffee, something so welcome after a long walk in a cold weather. She is a plant scientist and a member of the UPOV or International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties.

 La Petite France with a lot of tourists, cafes and small souvenir stores. At the right is the famous Cathedral, built in a span of four centuries, 1015 to 1439. Housed inside is the 18-meter high astronomical clock, which is one of the tallest in the world, and a fine example of Swiss artistry. I have already posted that old clock in a previous post.  
 It looks like a lazy day and people leisurely walk around. Some old ladies like those at the left seem to be just living here, or locals. This paved concrete is already newly constructed, as older ones have cobble stones like those in front of the cathedral.

Croissants are my favorite even in my own country. So that is what i got with a cup of coffee while waiting for my boarding time at the above gate, F34. Charles de Gaule International Airport is so vast viewed from the air, and reaching this gate took me a long walk using conveyor belts, detour walks and stairs. Whew, it is good i have more time spared before boarding, to contemplate on so many things. And i realized i should have extended my stay for at least even just a week.

I have been to Paris, but was not even able to get close to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. I saw only a two meter Eiffel Tower viewed from inside the plane coming here to Strasbourg. On the way out was a cloudy day and I can't get a better view. Well, hope on all hopes, to visit this  place again in this lifetime! Miracles do happen sometimes, i hope this is one of them!

Scenic Sunday

Monday, December 10, 2012

South Luzon Expressway

Going home to the province is always an exciting moment. I go home twice a month, and it is like an answered prayer when it coincides a long weekend. That means I can eat more home cooked food, organic vegetables from the property, fresh fish and whatever fruits are in season. Moreover, i can always be on the lookout shooting insects, spiders, larvae, plants, flowers, and whatever comes in front of me. It has been my preoccupation these past few weekends to search for small insects and spiders, as i mostly post in my other blogsite. It is timely, as butterflies don't seem to emerge these days. And most special among all these, is breathing freshly produced oxygen from our natural and plentiful oxygen generators. I hope the pollution in the city dwelling in my lungs can be displaced by the newly manufactured oxygen, fresh from the factory!

This is the decoration in front of the bus driver, together with the round mirror, and the view of the road. Maybe some of you recalls my previous post a few months back, when i also posted the decoration inside the bus. This time the bus has angels,  although the biggest angel is not fully shown in the photo. But the mirror easily shows the driver, the standing conductor and someone sitting near the driver, for lack of available seat. 

 The South Luzon Expressway is now continuous from Metro Manila to the Batangas International Port. It takes more or less two hours to drive this route, depending on the traffic situation or the weather condition. Rains surely slows down travel time. This highway brings you to the south of the Philippines if you prefer the land route. There are what we call "ro-ro vessels" (roll on-roll off) at the pier that takes your car in it, so you can drive your own car to the other islands and provinces south of the Philippines. There are also buses which do the same. The passengers get off from the buses while on the ship and board their bus again upon reaching land. This SLEX can even bridge your trip to Mindanao: Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, etc, as well as Visayas: Tagbilaran, Tacloban, Cebu, etc. But most of the travelers are tourists to Puerto Galera, Mindoro; Romblon; Anilao, Mabini, Batangas at the least.

 I love looking at those white grass flowers swaying with the wind. Even the sugarcane fields produce the same kind of flowers and beauty.

 The greens on both sides of the highway and all throughout the journey is so relaxing for the eyes. I never sleep on the journey at all times, and I never tire looking at the beautiful scenery.

 The view of Mt Makiling is very special, as it seldom allows full view. Clouds normally cover its top. This mountain has a very special meaning for me, as our university where i studied and worked for sometime is at the foot of this on the other side. I also have reached the peak four times in the past when i was still in the university campus. It is still heavily forested because it is a national park and forest reserve. It contains a lot of representative biodiversity species of flora and fauna in the country, and some endemic species are found only here! I am sorry for the haze affected by the glass windows of the bus.

The smoke you see at the middle of the valley is from a factory in between the big mountain and the low hills in the foreground. And i would like to inform you this is a dormant volcano, only not erupting because of so many energy outlets at the foot. A big hot and boiling mudspring at the other side gets wider through time.

This tropical rainforest always reinforce its name, because it often rains at this part of the highway, even if other areas are very dry. When it is as clear as this, i always bring out the camera to try shooting even inside  the running bus. You can see the movement on the grasses in the foreground. I always savor this special uncommon scene of our beloved mountain, Mt Makiling.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Spiky Reds

buds of Ixora coccinea

Ixora are hardy in the tropics, they can withstand longer dry season than most plants here. Moreover, they can tolerate some shading, but they really prefer full sun from sunrise to sunset.

 Firespike or Odontonema strictum buds

This plant loves partial shades and cannot flower profusely when fully exposed to the hot sun. When planted into hedges, they give a lovely atmosphere which is favored by insects like butterflies.

Ruby Tuesday 2

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mirror Images

Sorry for the pun! But these are really images i shot through glass windows.

I was in the university last month, my alma mater, doing some prior art search for some inventions. The building is a bit far from the campus, with a still rural landscape beside the rice fields and experimental fields. It is far ahead of the International Rice Research Institute, which owns most of the rice fields in my view.

 This is the view at the West side of the building

 This is also at the west side of the building. At far right is Mt Makiling, a natural forest reserve.

South view: fruit trees and forest trees

East view

The East view horizon shows more mountains, which are more visible in the mornings when it is not as hazy as this time of the day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dry Season Ending

It is December, our most wonderful temperatures throughout the year is now here. As most of my readers and followers know, we only have two seasons, the dry and the wet. Officially, December is still in the dry season, but in reality rains seem to be transported somewhere else. If not because of the colder temperatures, courtesy of colder winds coming from Northern Asia, we seem to be already in our dry season. Our thermometers averaged above 25°C in Metro Manila but higher in our province. Our smaller plants get stunted, and our gardens show their stresses. Most especially in our property in the province, which is bombarded by winds from the sea, our garden plants age earlier than usual. Butterflies are also not as plenty as last year, effect of the long El Niño phenomenon. Below are the Metro Manila conditions today, 29 November 2012.

Passing clouds. Warm.

Temperature:25 °C
Comfort Level:26 °C
Dew point:19 °C
Pressure:1013 millibars
Visibility:10 km
Wind:2 km/h from 20° North-northeastDirection South-southwest
Last update:Thu 05:00 PHT

The long nights favor the blooming of chrysanthemums. The flowers are still starting to open, while the gaillardia seed head is already developing,  had already shed the petals.

At the height of the marigold blooming days, the insects are so plenty, including the butterflies. Look at the legs of this big wasp, full of pollen!

 Only a few blooms are left now with our marigolds, most flowers already dehisced and formed the seeds. In a few days they are all dried and ready for the next generation of planting. High temperatures hasten this early maturation.

Some petals are still attached, but eventually will be totally gone.

Gaillardia already stopped blooming, i hope those seed heads are bearing seeds for the next season.

I am amazed at our little creatures, they are also orange. I am sorry i am not familiar with its ID.

I would love to try linking this to the Thursday Two Questions Meme. This is my first time to link there. Here are my two questions:

            1. Should i for the first time get the seeds from these marigolds to plant next year?
            2. I have not stored ornamental seeds yet, but plants keep coming when season comes, will the  
                 seeds remain viable with our tropical dry conditions? 

Copy this image and its link to place on your blog


Thursday, November 22, 2012

For the Arachnophiles +

This is a continuation of my previous post, where i have been peeping into the canopy or under canopy of plants. These are mostly the spiders that I normally did not see in my daily walks. They are mostly seen in the mornings, when our temperature is not yet so hot. I guess they hide among the leaves when the sun rises. Sometimes, going into the orchard is a bit yucky because of these spider webs, which are sticky to body and clothing. When that happens, unless the owner of the web is so big, I don't bother to look how the owner looks like. This time, I really looked for them, waited and extremely patient for the wind to stop, so I can at least get at least a decent photo. 

I just learned from the arachnophile FB page here, that many of these creatures with 4 pairs of legs are still unnamed. And they are not easy to identify, as a lot of characteristics mostly microscopic have to be considered in the classification. An authority said they will still work on those living in the tree canopy, those under the canopy, and the ground dwellers. I guess it is easier for plants than these spiders. Maybe that's the reason a lot of them here in the country still don't have scientific names. They further said, it is safer to stop at the Genus level at the moment. 

 I saw this one under the crotons and hibiscus leaves. I guess they call this within the Gasteracantha genus!

 This one doesn't have a big web, but i caught it dangling from its thread in space. They assume this is under the genus Poltys.

 Above and below seems unusual because it carry its abdomen uncharacteristically oblique. Its body is just one cm long, so very difficult for me to focus with the light wind. The abdomen looks like a cone shell and very colorful too.
 It is within the genus Opadometa.

 I have always posted this one in the past, as they are very conspicuous in our area. The webs are big and made in between the trees mostly above our heads. The adults are about 2-3 inches in length when fully mature. This belongs to the Nephilia genus.

 Most, if not all, spiders have this ability to produce the sticky sap on their abdomen. This is the facility for making their web. It is my first time to scrutinize that portal called spinnerets, where the sticky web comes out. I wonder why that area is very colorful too, not similar to the color of the body. If only I am close to an arachnologist, I will be so glad to join in the lab and look at these structures in the microscope! Oh how enchanting our world really is!

Camera Critters Meme

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fifth Floor Window Rains

Many of you are very familiar already with my 5th Floor Window scenes, most specifically sunsets. I guess the 5th Floor Window will be known for sunsets. But there's a lot more with it. If only I am a writer, i can make a lot of stories inspired by my 5th Floor Window. What about the drama of real people i chanced upon once-in-a while! The drama of birds are there too, just this morning I saw one dead pied fantail  at the corner of my ledge, with head looking up at me! I will post its picture in a later post. The only thing i haven't seen there yet is an airplane diving down, knock on wood! But i see lots of airplanes and helicopters, and oh yes the jets leaving white smokey trails, they are all there.  And I hope one of these days, i can capture a flight of a UFO, a real one! But who knows I might already have seen one, just that i didn't know how to look. And one more thing, i still have to watch the real meteor showers from my 5th floor window.

And now I have something for you, the rains!

 This is one of the more familiar views of my normal window scenes

 ...also one of the normal sunsets!

 Then suddenly i got this hazy sunset view despite the bright sun there at the horizon!

 my sunset view now becomes a surreal painting

 Big drops of rains so suddenly fall, a bit slanting from left due to strong wind

 This small hut owned by an old man got a thorough drenching. I know the man still use firewood in cooking his food, and he dries his chopped wood near this hut. Sometimes his area gets flooded after heavy rains. I hope he has enough firewood inside his hut to cook his food.

 these banana plants at the back of the old man's hut will benefit from the sudden downpour

 this fruit tree, housing many birds and insects will also welcome this rain beautifully

 this photo suddenly looks like an old picture from an old photo album

...and my basil, kangkong, orchid and ampalaya plants at the window ledge are certainly happy!

That rainfall only lasted for 15 min. It didn't come with any announcement at all, like cloudy skies or drizzles. The sun is hot there in the horizon as if it is just a very ordinary day. It just happened suddenly. And just like how it appeared, it also suddenly went off, just like that. I am awed, but most of us liked it. I love having a  5th floor window!

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