Wednesday, November 19, 2008

International Ficus Rescue Association

Mr. X,

Each year millions of innocent baby ficus trees are purchased by well-meaning, but unprepared 'plant lovers'. Plant lovers who have no idea of the amount of time, attention and resources necessary to sustain a ficus tree from a fragile twig to the robust, strong, sheltering tree we all know and love. Plant lovers who, in the midst of their busy days, do not make the time to water and feed their charges. Plant lovers who eventually abandon their plants.

Plant lovers? Ha

I am writing on behalf of abused and abandoned ficus trees around the globe. It has been brought to my attention that you are presently the caretaker of one of the millions of ficus trees abandoned every year. And while you think it may be too late for your tree, let me tell you that ficus trees are incredibly resilient. They have been known to suffer through weeks and drought and deprivation and, with the return of loving care, thrive once more.

Mr. X,

We are asking you to take a long, hard look at that ficus tree in your office. Does it not deserve water? Does it not deserve sunlight? Does it not deserve more than the tragic fate of withering and dying?

But do not despair at the enormity of effort. There is help.

International Ficus Rescue Association does provide a number of services for those unable to care for their ficus trees. These range from home care visits where cheerful volunteers provide pruning, and revitalizing food and water as well as care training for the owner to placement services where the tree goes to a carefully selected home.

Please be a real Plant lover and love your ficus! Let us know how we can help!

Cash donations also accepted.

Rosales Moraceae

International Ficus Rescue Association

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

American History as Travel Writing

This weekend while reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates
it occurred to me, American history is, at it's heart travel writing. i.e. I went here, it's like such and such, I did so and so, and met this and that person. (Putting aside that in American history the next step generally was, "I then wiped this and that person and all their relatives off the face of the map.") Take, for example the folks discussed in Vowell's book, John Winthrop - went to Massachusetts, its got a great hill upon which to build a city, there's also lots of natural resources. Roger Williams - went to Massachusetts, met some well intentioned people but they didn't really have the right idea so he sailed somewhere else, saw a bigger bay, met a lot of interesting new people, hung out with them for awhile, then got together with Winthrop and others and wiped them out. Next traveler, Anne Hutchinson. She sails to Winthrop's city, meets some people, and is forced to visit Roger Williams but finds even his company a bit much so head off to New Amsterdam. Nice place - until the natives get a bit upset.

And so it goes throughout American history. Take The Journals of Lewis and Clark. Adventurers? I don't think so. Really they're just travel writers in disguise. If they'd had some help writing it might even have been a best seller.

Even the Civil War was treated as a travel adventure (although mostly for Northerners.)

And so two streams come together. My love of American history and travel writing converge. (And I get to write a corny concluding sentence before running off to work.)

PS The Wordy Shipmates is a very good read. Strangely inclusive of all of American history while focusing on the Puritans. Brought me right back to my college years and while it may be too densely packed with references only a scholar of that period could understand, still it lends a new perspective.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Adventures in Used Car Shopping: And He Shall Be Called Moby

Last night I purchased Angela's replacement. But no, Angela can not be replaced and despite what the insurance company says I know someone will buy her at auction, fix her up and set her back on the road. Moby is her successor.

Moby is a 2004 Pontiac Vibe. I was looking for a small car that was:
  • In my price range - no car payments thank you
  • Had less than 70,000 miles
  • Could fit a bike or two in the back (a hatchback)
  • Was in good shape
  • Got decent mileage
After 2 weeks of searching the web, reading reviews, taking harrowing test drives, fielding calls from salesmen, and making some really low offers - I purchased Moby at Bald Hill auto. Delivery is Saturday.

The name fits - doesn't it?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

- G. K. Chesterton

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

And another

When preparing for a trip there is always one type of book I look for. Technically, it's not a travel book but it is a book that's good for travel. This book, or these books, if you're lucky are set in the place you're going. Fiction or non-fiction, really doesn't matter. What does matter is that the setting, and the character of the area people is an important part of the story.

The recent passing of Tony Hillerman reminded me of this. Best known for his works about the American Southwest, more particularly, the Four Corners area, it was Hillerman's works that introduced me to the area and it's people. (Not to mention that his books are all in paperback and are easy to stuff in a backpack.) It's hard to say which book is my favorite, and I can't even pick between Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn. They're all good and all good reads for traveling to the area.

Apparently, they are such good reads, and so descriptive that there are books for people who want to visit the places described in the book. Tony Hillerman's Navajoland: Hideouts, Haunts, and Havens in the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Mysteries is probably one of the best. And I have to confess while driving through the Northwest corner of New Mexico I was drawn to Shiprock - just because it features so prominently in Hillerman's books.

But back to the topic...books for traveling that are not necessarily travel books. Sometimes they can make the trip.

PS. The next big trip will be to western North Carolina/Tennesse - anyone have any recommendations?