Friday, July 31, 2009

Wow! Check out my new award

I received the "You are a Great Read" Award from one of my favorite bloggers-- themom over at Attentive Aphorist. Thank you themom for the recognition! I really appreciate it. And the feeling is mutual, of course--you are truly a great read! Attentive Aphorist IS a great read and always so timely and updated frequently--sometimes several times a day. Be fore warned; she WILL speak her mind! I think that's why I like her blog so much!


This award is especially nice, because it has no mandated instructions to follow. It's just a nice gesture! I'm not formally awarding any particular blogs for this award, but I do want to give recognition to a few of my favorites that are written by women, since it is a woman in the award picture. And I have a disclaimer: the woman in the award icon is in no way intended to represent how the bloggers that I mention look, dress, act, what she reads, or any kind of likeness of the image whatsoever!

The award sure would look 'purdy' on Blonde Goddess' blog--"Huh? The Blonde Godess is Confused...", whether in a post or on her sidebar. Her blog is such a good read. It's possible that the award picture has already appeared on her creative blog (minus the caption). Let me explain--she has this unique ability to tell a true story and make it hilarious by using some of the funniest pictures and captions on the Internet! You should check it out sometime!

Another one of my favorite blogs that is a "good read" is Pwn Star. Pictures are rare on her blog, so I don't expect to see this one there. But you never know with her! She is very unpredictable. I love that about her blog. You never know what to expect, but you can always expect a good read. It's a personal blog in every sense of the word! Be sure and read her profile!

One blog that really stands out is True Crime Book Reviews, which is definitely a good read! The blog is just what the title says and is your one stop for reviews on true crime books. For readers of true crime stories, you have the option to search by true crime writer, by title, or by true crime genre. The blog also has many links for readers to buy books online and to access other reader reviews. And who wouldn't want a free book? True Crime Book Reviews is known for its ongoing book giveaways too! If you love true crime books, then you will want to follow this blog.

And I can't resist telling you about a blog called Six Pence and a Blue Moon. It too is a good read. I only recently discovered it, but it has quickly became one of my daily must read favorites blogs. At first glance you night think it is a photo blog, but there is some good writing in the archives too. If you like personal blogs, this will probably become one of your favorites.

And last but not least, I want to give praise to a blogger that has taught me so much and has a very interesting blog! Elizabeth's Hot Topics will update frequently day and night with the latest events happening and what's hot at the moment, and anything that has proved to be interesting. Her blog is very popular and if you notice my 'Widgetbox Network' widget about half way down on my sidebar, you will see that her blog is usually in the number one spot of "Musings, Etc." The last time I checked, there were over 126 blogs in that category, so you do the math! She also authors a couple of other interesting blogs that can be found on her blog in the upper right corner under "My Other Blogs." Beth, your blog is a great read! Thank you for taking the time to publish such a great blog.

As I said in the beginning, this award has no mandated instructions, and as themom put it, IT JUST IS! So, I am offering it out to ALL of you that read this. Feel free to help yourself to it! If you do accept it, a link back to this blog would be nice! Thanks!

Again, a big thanks to themom at Attentive Aphorist.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Government suspends 'cash for clunkers' program - USATODAY.com

Government suspends 'cash for clunkers' program - USATODAY.com

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The government is suspending the explosively popular 'cash for clunkers' program at midnight tonight fearing it would go broke... (click the shared link for the breaking news article).

(photo from Creative Commons)

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The Beer Summit

Policeman calls White House meeting productive - Yahoo! News

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Mmmmm,
an evening of cold beer
to cool tensions!






The president told reporters at the gathering, "I noticed this has been called the 'Beer Summit." It's a clever term, but this is not a summit, guys." (AP)

President Obama sat down for a beer with Henry Louis Gates and the police sergeant who arrested him. That as a national poll suggests from the whole episode has taken a toll on Obama's image. And here's some raw footage provided by the the Associated Press:

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Ooooh it smells soooooo good-- part two

After reading Ooooh it smells sooooo good last night at Imagine (one of my favorite blogs), I couldn't resist sharing this story! I think you should read these links first like I did, and then read the shared news article.



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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kittens on the Farm



Taylor the scrawny little cat recently had kittens, and I took this photo of the new Mama Kitty and her three kittens. This silly cat had them right out in the open in the wildflowers. They were at risk from predatory critters and bad weather, so we placed them in an igloo shelter. At first Taylor moved them out of the igloo to the bottom of a brush pile, but she eventually returned them back to the igloo. I'm sure it's very comfortable, since we lined it with a bed of dried mowed grass. I noticed today that the kittens are beginning to open their eyes, so I will take another picture soon. Hopefully we can get Taylor spayed as soon as the kittens are weaned!


Taylor takes a break from the kittens at the edge of the back patio. The bistro chair is surrounded by Moon flowers. I will show some more of the Moon flowers in the future. They have just started to bloom.


The other evening I spotted these two little kittens hunting for food. They are two of four kittens that were born in the barn and are very shy. Now that they are weened, they will sneak up to the back patio in search of food. We have tried to catch the female cat that had these kittens and get her to the vet, but she is practically wild and keeps her distance. Somebody had just dumped her on us and she has been traumatized ever since. I hope we can find all the kittens good homes, because it is not easy to care for so many cats. And it is very hard to catch them. It's also not cheap to get them all spayed and neutered.

Shame on the people who just dump their pets anywhere they see a little farm! Next time leave a little bag of money too, okay? Thanks!

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Arsenic, Mustard Gas, and Tanning Beds, Oh my!

Study: Tanning beds and UV radiation definitely cause cancer experts say -- chicagotribune.com

International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, deeming both to be as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas... (click the shared link for the article).

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Well, I obviously stay out of these things now,
but I tanned a lot in the 80's and early 90's.
This is definitely not good news. ~ John

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Landscaping with the Castor Bean Plant



On a recent trip to St. Louis, I noticed this beautiful flower bed at Tower Grove Park. The big plant in the center with the bright green large 20" (50 cm) star shaped leaves is the Castor Bean Plant. The darker large leaves at the base are Elephant Ears.

I was prompted to post this picture after reading one of my favorite blogger's latest post. At True Crime Book Reviews, the blogger has reviewed a book by best selling author Ann Rule called "Bitter Harvest." Without giving too much away, I will just say that the true story took place in Kansas City, and a so-called "brilliant" doctor attempted to poison her husband using Castor beans. This terrible deed is nothing compared to the other crimes she committed! Check out the blog's book review for more information.

It's a bit ironic that this Castor Bean Plant is prominently featured in a city park, and yet just a year ago a Utah man was investigated by Homeland Security for growing this beautiful foliage plant in his front yard! Only in America! I guess we've come a long way from such panic over the last year.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Blog Post # 300

It's my 300th post! I wanted to take this opportunity to just throw out some rambling thoughts! First, I want thank everyone, who has visited my blog, especially those that have taken the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate all of you! I love comments and as you probably know, I am one of those bloggers that will take the time to reply to comments. So, thank you again anyone that has ever left a comment!
I also want to thank everyone that has signed up to be a follower. I hope I have returned the favor and followed your blogs as well. If not, just let me know and I will start following your blog.

My biggest thanks though goes to those of you that have Blogrolls and have my blog listed as a link. Thank you so much. I am still in the process of updating my Blogroll. I will be removing those blogs that for whatever reason won't link back to me. I still will list all the blogs that I currently have on my favorite blog list, but they will not be in the form of a link. Only those blogs that link to me will get a link back. I realize many new bloggers don't understand about Blogrolls and the importance of links, so here is a very resourceful link about Blogrolls.

If any of you notice that your blog is not listed on my Blogroll, but you in fact do have a link to mine, please let me know and I will add you.

And to pay tribute to that #300, here's a snippet from a great movie called "300." It is available on dvd for purchase or rental and I highly recommend it. The movie is like no other and in parts of the battles, it almost seems animated. If you have any kind of home theater, hdtv or big screen, than this is a must see movie!.

Thanks again, everyone! And here's to 300 more posts!

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sign of the times

I snapped this photo at a St. Louis bus stop! ~ John

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Hello, Sgt. Crowley, it's the President calling

Hello, Sgt. Crowley, it's the President calling

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This shared link is an article from today's NYDailyNews about the surprise phone call that Sgt. James Crowley received from the President. Sgt. Crowley was sitting in an Irish Pub full of eighty or more people, when he received the unexpected call. They chatted for about five minutes and talked of getting together with Professor Gates for a beer at the White House.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Associated Press put this video (which summarizes everything) on YouTube yesterday. Black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. says he will accept President Barack Obama's invitation to visit him at the White House along with the white police officer who arrested the Harvard professor.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

E. Lynn Harris, 54; Author Told of African American Life on the 'Down-Low' - washingtonpost.com

E. Lynn Harris, 54; Author Told of African American Life on the 'Down-Low' - washingtonpost.com

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His taboo-breaking books about black gay life "on the down-low" made Mr. Harris a star literary figure after an inauspicious beginning to his career... (click the shared link for the full article).

Amazon .com has twelve books for sale by the best selling author.

~ John

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Some Attack Timing of Minimum Wage Hike - washingtonpost.com

Some Attack Timing of Minimum Wage Hike - washingtonpost.com


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The federal minimum wage went up to $7.25 from $6.55 per hour today.

Oh, give me a break! Is that supposed to be a livable wage? Why can't the federal government take a cue from the states shown in green on the above map? Those are states that have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage (www.dol.gov).

Illinois, the state that I live in has a minimum wage of $8.00 per hour and that will increase to $8.25 on July 1, 2010! (source) If you read the article in the shared link, and then look at how several states already have a higher minimum wage (which overrides the federal minimum wage), you'll probably agree that the only thing about the "timing of this wage hike" is that it has taken way too long and is not near enough. But that's just my opinion. What do you think?

~ John

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St. Louis Cardinals get another slugger

Cards get Holliday for Wallace, two other prospects | Cardinal Beat | STLtoday


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The Cardinals have completed a trade for another slugger--Oakland outfielder Matt Holliday, the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold has confirmed...click the shared link for the full story!

This article is from 10:48 a.m. this morning and already has over 438 reader comments!

~ John

In case you didn't know, I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan!

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If you can't think of anything to TWEET...




...you might like TwttrPoop,
for people who really give a @$%! about Twitter!

Found on GIZMODO.COM:
Click the link to find out!
You know you want to!

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Note to self: Never get arrested in Tazewell County

Tazewell jailers cleared in beating case - Peoria, IL - pjstar.com

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Tazewell county is part of the metro Peoria area. By the way, it is pronounced "Taz-well" with the 'e' being silent. Although maybe it should be pronounced "Tase-well" by the way some of these jailers act. I'm not saying a taser was used in this case, but nothing would surprise me after seeing this video.

Don't just watch the video (from YouTube thanks to the Peoria Journal-Star), click the shared link and read the article. You may want to leave a comment under the video at YouTube.

~ John

From the YouTube Page: These excerpts from a 30-minute video released by the Tazewell County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday show inmate Becky Behm, who was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving Oct. 17 in Creve Coeur, in a segregation cell in the Tazewell County Jail a few hours after her arrest. Tazewell County Sheriff Bob Huston attempted to have two correctional officers seen on the footage terminated for using excessive force.

For more information click the shared link.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

OMER BHATTI - Michael Jackson's first born son?

Michael Jackson - Family Accepted Bhatti As Jackson's Son - Contactmusic News

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MICHAEL JACKSON'S "fourth child" OMER BHATTI was accepted as the star's biological son by the rest of the Jacksons, according to reports. The 25 year-0ld dancer was allegedly born after the King of Pop had a one night stand in 1984, and he is now seeking a DNA test to verify whether Jackson is in fact his father...(click the shared link for the full story and photos).

Here's a video of Omer Bhatti through the years.
That is him circled on the left at the memorial service.



Omer Bhatti: Secret Son of Michael Jackson? - video powered by Metacafe

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Illinois poised to be next gambling mecca, but at what cost?

A week and a half has passed since Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed into law a $31 billion construction bill. It may sound like a good idea, until you take a closer look at. The bill relies partially on expected revenue from the legalization of video poker that was signed into law. This has taken me over a week to try and post something about it. I am still shaking my head. I guess I am in shock that by next year there will legal video poker machines in taverns and restaurants and fraternal and veteran clubs, such as the VFW all across the state. I think this is a bad idea.

Illinois already has nine casinos, all of which are located on a river bank. I see nothing wrong with that. These casinos are heavily taxed and thoroughly monitored by the Illinois Gaming Authority. So why didn't the state just make available more licenses for casinos, instead of making the entire state full of these poker machines? It would have made more sense. Everything is already in place. The state currently has a limit of ten casino licenses. Am I the only person that is wondering how this happened? Wouldn't Illinois residents rather have a few more large casinos than have thousands of "mini-casinos?"

It's no secret that for years taverns, restaurants and clubs have had video poker machines "for amusement only," but the winners would be paid "under the table." The state police have even busted dozens of taverns for illegal gambling, arresting both bartenders and patrons. Now there will be no more busts like that. If these businesses are already illegally paying jackpots with the machines they have now, what would make them want to partner with the state and lease or buy these new machines. They would also have to pay the state 25% of the total take.

I think what surprises me the most about this is how it was so quietly pushed through and so under reported. You know how I found out about this? I happened to be reading the online version of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Sunday and that is where I found about it first! I watch my local news, read my local newspapers, and read online versions of various newspapers in the state. I don't know how I missed this!

After I read the Illinois news in the Las Vegas newspaper, I started googling to find out more. I was surprised that I could not find very many newspaper articles about the new wave of gambling about to hit nearly every town in the state. For anyone interested, a list of the most interesting links that I found about the new video poker law is at the end of this blog post.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I like casino gambling every now and then. Video poker is my game of choice; however I have never played these unregulated poker machines that exist now. I wouldn't dare waste a single quarter knowing that the machines could be rigged or set at a minimal payout percentage! One restaurant in my town has what's known as the "back room" and is lined with slot and poker machines! Places like this exist all over the state. This has been going on for around fifteen years in Illinois! I know, because some of my own family members were addicted to poker machines in the local taverns. It almost caused a divorce. I wonder what all problems the residents of this state will face once the legal poker machines turn up almost everywhere? Only time will tell. What do you think?

(Click the title link for the first article I read about this, which was in the Las Vegas Review-Journal). Here are the other articles that I found most interesting:




I really would like to know what people think about this wide open gambling. I realize that I didn't go into detail about how many machines could be at various locations, etc. Those details are very bizarre. For example, bars and restaurants will be allowed up to three machines and the organizations could have up to five. Most places have more machines than that already! Another strange aspect of the legalized poker machines is that the maximum bet will be two dollars and the maximum jackpot will be $500.00. Anybody that has played video poker knows that the machines take up to five tokens, which could be in most any denomination--like quarters, dollars, etc. It would appear that the maximum token will be worth .40! Of course, there is no .40 coin! That would explain one reason for the need for the manufacturing of special machines, which is what got the Las Vegas newspaper interested in the subject.

Are you in a state that has wide open gambling? What do you think about this new legal video poker law in Illinois? Would you want it in your state? Would you want it in your community? Do you think Illinois can pull this off? Crazy idea or not? ...so many questions!

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Yo Quiero No More: Taco Bell Spokes-dog Dies at 15 - ABC News

Yo Quiero No More: Taco Bell Spokes-dog Dies at 15 - ABC News

Shared via AddThis

This is such sad news. I just loved that little dog!
I have heard though, that all dogs go to heaven.
~John

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who's house sitting the Obama Chicago Home?

Chicago police spend $2.2M to secure Obama home - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

This is an interesting and very brief article worth reading! Click the link! What's interesting about this is that the federal government will reimburse the city for only about half of that amount and that is for "securing" the home.

But that doesn't even include the expense of "protecting" the home since Obama's inauguration in January. That amount isn't scheduled to be paid back, and it totaled nearly $650,000.

Be sure and scroll to the bottom and read the reader's comments! You may want to add your own!

~John





(photo from Creative Commons)


Link posted using ShareThis

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Jordin Sparks New "Battlefield" CD



I was impressed with Jordin Sparks' first cd and bought it right away. Now I recommend her second cd, which is released tomorrow. By now you've surely heard her title track "Battlefield," which is burning up the airwaves. You can hear a short sample of each track at the amazon .com link above.


"Battlefield" is the second album from the American Idol winner. Battlefield takes her to another level and introduces us to a more mature voice surrounded by pure pop perfection. She has collaborated with an impressive list of producers on this album including Dr. Luke & T-Pain on 'Watch You Go' and Harvey Mason Jr. of the Underdogs on 'Don't Let It Go To Your Head'. Track # 4, S.O.S. (Let the Music Play) is a remix from the 1983 dance hit by Shannon. Jordin also co-wrote several of the tracks on the album, including 'Was I The Only One' and 'Faith'.

In case you missed it, check out Jordin's performance today on Good Morning America.

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A Message from Chris Brown

Please see the previous post first.

And here is his apologies,
excuses, or whatever from today.

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Chris Brown PSA

This was posted on YouTube on February 25, 2009. After Chris Brown beat the crap out of Rihanna, he decided the right thing to do was to film a PSA about domestic violence...or did he?

It was no laughing matter, but I couldn't resist posting this video before I post the next one, which will be a real message from Chris. Thanks to Liquid Generation Tube for making this one! This really is a lead in for the next post, which is his "real apology" posted today on YouTube.

fo

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Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon 40 Years Ago Today

Wow, it was forty years ago today that Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. became the first men to walk on the moon (NYTimes). I was only seven years old, but I can still remember how exciting it was to watch it on television back then.
As you can imagine, YouTube is full of Apollo 11 videos. Check them out, if you're interested. I chose to share this short montage video that shows highlights from the Apollo 11 mission, from liftoff in Florida to departure from the Moon.

Thanks to ReeINASA at YouTube for making it.

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Poll Shows Obama Slipping on Key Issues

Approval Ratings Drop for Obama on Health Care, Other Issues - washingtonpost.com

Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 20, 2009

Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama's stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll....

(click the shared link above for the full article).

Posted using ShareThis

(photo from Creative Commons)
This is a really neat mosaic of people. Press Ctr and + several times to enlarge it.

Here's another article on Obama's approval ratings from Reuters.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hey, don't shoot the messenger! I'm just sharing some news.
~ John



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LaToya's Tribute to Michael

This is LaToya's tribute song to her brother Michael. It will be available on itunes July 28th. I thought I heard that she was giving the proceeds of this to one of Michael's charity's, but I can't confirm that. I didn't have the patience or time though to comb through her personal website to find out if that were true or not. You would think it would be be plain and clear on her site, but it's not.

I'm happy that they were able to reconcile their differences before his death. Enough commentary from me (for now)! I will reply to all comments though.
~ John

ou

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Copter crash kills 16 in Afghanistan, NATO says - CNN.com

Copter crash kills 16 in Afghanistan, NATO says - CNN.com


KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A helicopter crashed during takeoff from Kandahar airfield in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 16 people, NATO said.
(Click the shared title link for this breaking story and video).

Posted via ShareThis

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Video: Captive soldier fears he won't get home

Video: Captive soldier fears he won't get home - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – The American soldier who went missing June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed to have been captured, said in a video posted by the Taliban that he's "scared I won't be able to go home."

(click shared link for article and video)

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UPDATE 7/20/09 5:30 a.m.
from The Washington Post

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Paula Abdul ‘Hurt,’ ‘Angry,’ May Not Return To ‘Idol’ | Access Hollywood - Celebrity News, Photos

Manager: Paula Abdul ‘Hurt,’ ‘Angry,’ May Not Return To ‘Idol’ | Access Hollywood - Celebrity News, Photos & Videos

LOS ANGELES, Calif. --

Paula Abdul may not return to “American Idol” for a ninth season, her manager claimed in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times. (clicked the shared link for the entire article).

(photo from Creative Commons)

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wildflowers on the farm

I was inspired after seeing the beautiful photos of prairie flowers at the link on the previous post, so I walked around the farm and took some of my own. As you would expect with wildflowers, there's also some weeds. In case any of you take the "Know your Wildflowers" quiz, I won't be identifying some of them.




The black bumblebees really love this variety of thistle, but we consider the plant a nuisance.


These little white flowers do pop up all over the place. I did plant the yellow ones (Rudbeckia), but won't give away their common name in case someone wants to take the quiz in the previous post.


The Rudbeckia will spread like wildfire and choke out other wildflowers, but not the wild clover. These two do make the perfect contrast though.


Here's some wild Yarrow. It too spreads like wildfire.


This is a garden variety of Yarrow that we planted a few years ago. It's great as a fresh cut flower or as a dried flower.

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Know your wildflowers - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

Know your wildflowers - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

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Another shared link from my favorite newspaper.
~ John














This is a photo that I recently took of wildflowers in a street planter box in St. Louis. In case you decide to take the "Know Your Wildflowers" quiz (in the top link), I won't mention the name of these flowers. They sure are pretty though!

Click the shared link if you'd like to see some beautiful photos of prairie wildflowers native to this area. If you dare to take the quiz and submit your answers by noon Wednesday, you will be entered into a drawing fr a copy of "Illinois Wildflowers" by Don Kurz or "Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers" by Frank Oberie and Doug Ladd.

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The Buzz: Michael Jackson's new song

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Sunflower head up close
















Close up of the Towering Sunflower
--photo by John

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My Towering Sunflower

If you read my previous two posts about Sunflowers, then you know I was leading up to this one to show off my tallest Sunflower ever. It is starting to be top heavy, so I decided to go ahead and photograph it before it might blow over.


It is 9 1/2 feet tall. Of course, with me photographing it from the bottom looking upwards, it appears to be taller than the house! If you read the previous post and clicked the link to the website of the world's record holder for the tallest Sunflower,
then you know my sunflower is not even half as tall as the world record! Can you image a Sunflower so tall?

And we didn't plant this Sunflower either. Here's how it came about. Ollie the Parrot is very picky about his mixed food and will not eat certain things in the mix. He will eat some of the sunflower seeds, but isn't crazy about them. If he had his way, he would just eat peanuts!

When Ollie is done picking through his food each day, it gets dumped near one of the bird feeders outside the next morning. Occasionally a seed, such as a sunflower seed will blow to another part of the yard and sprout and grow. That is how this Sunflower came to grow at the edge of the driveway, along the sidewalk in the back yard. It is growing on the edge of a patch of Hollyhocks, so it really stands out and towers above them.

We have a patch of a variety of Sunflowers planted in another part of the back yard, and have left space in between to plant more at different intervals. They will surely brighten the back yard up and be a pretty sight from the highway. I will take a picture of them once they are in bloom.

And here's a photo of Ollie the Amazon Parrot that I mentioned. Thanks to Ollie's picky eating habits, we have the "Towering Sunflower!"

By the way, Ollie is at least thirty years old!

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