Happy Halloween!

We have two pumpkins this year.

My boyfriend carved this one:

This one's mine:

You know we have best candy.

(You knew that without me having to tell you, right?)

UPDATE: So far the costumes are boring and not cute. The kids are more courteous than last year tho'. Lots of "thank you" and such. My boyfriend has amusingly awkward interactions with the trick-or-treators. He says "Hello, how are you?" to each one. (He did this last year too, and I know doesn't like to be teased about it, but I can tell you because he doesn't read the blog.)

UPDATE: Still boring costumes. About half aren't even wearing costumes. And there have been no slutty little girl costumes I've been reading about. The bf reminds me the peak comes between 7:30 and 8, and it's only 6:40 right now. We're waiting for some friends to come over, then we're ordering pizza.

And I'm up to my usual lameness with the camera, but this one's cool. Plus, the 'rents complimented my plants.

And this one's cool too.

UPDATE: Updates suspended. I have to socialize now. More later.

Final update: We live a few blocks away from a little business district that apparently organized a *huuuge* Halloween party (we weren't invited), so this year was kind of a dud for us. We actually had to stand on our front steps to unload the candy.


Last year here. Due to better planning we have way better pumpkins this year. Oh, I made a comment about the plants in that planter:
What's growing in that planter? Purple lantana, a native Ceanothus ("Diamond Heights"), and a very young climbing hydrangea (hydrangea petiolaris).

The Ceanothus and lantana are still there, but the climbing hydrangea is long gone. That plant was a dud. I bought two more of better stock, but put them both in the backyard. It's too hot and sunny on my front steps for any hydrangea. And climbing hydrangea in a container? WTF was I thinking? I wasn't. I didn't know. I replaced it with a sturdy manzanita, Arctostaphylos rudis var. Vandenberg.

The freaks come out at night.

Altars to the dead lined the basketball court at Kezar Pavilion: One was a shrine to pets, another memorialized fetuses that didn't come to term, and a third, with photographs of the first thousand U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, mourned the war dead.

They set the stage for a ceremony where a thousand witches, druids and pagans prepared to meet the dead. It opened with a procession of goddesses, including the Virgin of Guadalupe and Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility, who wore a mask decorated with wheat. A procession of six gods played out a cycle of death and reincarnation.

With emotions building, those in the crowd shook their bodies, flapped their arms and stomped their feet in an ecstatic, pulsing release of energy.

"We feel the ancestors longing for us," trance leader Beverly Frederick told the gathering in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.



About that displeasing truck commercial...

"When it comes to selling bars, trucks or even politicians, you can wave the flag or you can drape one over a coffin. You can’t do both."

Says David Carr in his NYT column The Media Equation. This is an interesting little article full of revealing little observations. And you don't have to agree or disagree with Karr to be interested in his observations.

He's upset about the new commercial for GM trucks featuring John Mellencamp singing "Our Country". Apparently, so are a lot of other people. I've only seen the commercial once, and I thought, "So maudlin. Does this really work?" (Karr reacts much more elaborately.)

Truck commercials aren't known for subtlety or, ahem, nuance. But it seems experts feel this one has a lot of particularly offensive nuance, ranging from John Mellencamp to Rosa Parks and somehow sweeping up Rudy Giuliani too.
National travail obviously touches the heartstrings and it’s hardly surprising that Sept. 11 became a theme in political advertising. At the Republican National Convention in 2004, Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose finest hour occurred during those attacks, recalled in his speech that he confided to Bernard B. Kerik as the towers fell, “Thank God George Bush is our president.”

I expect we'll be reminded of that statement often next year. Will Giuliani have to live it down, or let it ride?

Whitney Houston

It was the singer's first step back into the spotlight since seeking treatment for substance abuse and leaving longtime husband Bobby Brown.

"I feel great," said a blond Houston, wearing diamonds and black Armani. Sounding more calm and focused than she has in years, Houston clearly was touched by the outpouring of love.

"She's looking at the light, instead of darkness," said Houston's pal and the evening's honoree, Quincy Jones, who has known the singer since she was 16.

Link and link. Via Drudge.

I'll be interested to hear what Houston's music sounds like after her long day's journey into night, and back. I have no history as a Whitney Houston fan, but I'm a big admirer of the black divas of yore, like Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday, even going back to Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. I think Houston's part of a rich American tradition, even if her work so far feels too polished and over-produced for my taste. Perhaps she will take this opportunity to step outside the pop context of her Top 40 hits and tap into some deeper currents.


Another visit to Golden Gate Park

My plant ID class got a special tour of the Conservatory of Flowers this morning. I parked across the street, next to the AIDS Memorial Grove.

I really like the white yarrow in front of the redwoods.


Another shot of the same thing.






I've never taken a good picture of the Conservatory itself. Visit the official site, or (better) look at some Flickr sets.

When California land baron and philanthropist James Lick died, they found the building itself packed in crates in his estate. Noone really knows where it came from. It could have been built in England with redwood sent from California and then sent back to California.

It looks like this inside:



(That philodendron high up in the background is over a 100 years old.)

An epiphytic rhododendron (is there a plant family with more variation than the Ericaceae?)


Lots of other kinds of ephiphytes.



And tropical flowers.


Hmmm, hibiscus anyone?




I love this heptagonal travertine planter.


See the flower on top?


It's spiny and apparently smells terrible. I managed to refrain from smelling it myself.


Caudex of the famous yam, Dioscorea macrostachya.


The docent related the story about how scientists discovered progeterone in yams and used it for birth control pills. False! Scientists found an inexpensive synthetic precursor of progesterone in yams called diosgenin. She even lamented how everything is synthetic now when natural alternatives exist. Oi.




'Lavinia Maggi'

"To import plants [to the USA], you need three documents: an import permit, shipping labels and a phytosanitary certificate. A phone call or letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Riverdale, Md., or a download from its Web site will generate the 'Import Permit for Plants and Plant Products,' also known as PPQ Form 597."

This lady went to a lot of trouble for a camellia hedge. Good for her!

Whoreticulture as an HTML-visualized graph:

html visualizer

Thanks, Xris!

More information here.


Okay, making up for yesterday.

Some pictures of my friend's garden in Menlo Park.



Arctostaphylos pajaroensis (Pajaro Manzanita). There are three cultivars that I know of, but I don't know how to identify any of them (Lester Rountree, Brett's Beauty, Roger's Bronze):


The Phormium was sold to her as a dwarf variety. Ha!


Some people hate hibiscus.



Coreopsis gigantea together with Eriogonum arborescens. I just bought E. arborescens seed. I gave her the Coreopsis.


And we went to Roger Reynolds Nursery in Atherton to look at Japanese maples for me; they've got this kiwi vine going on:


With just a few kiwis growing on it.


(The maples in one gallon pots had already dropped their leaves, so no deal.)

My friend showed me some guerilla gardening, Menlo Park-style






And we went to see the redwoods on Teague Hill.



Looking uphill at a drainage. This would be a scary place to be during a heavy rain.



And these are from today, at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

The entry garden:




Plectranthus, my favorite low shrub for shade. Not really a shrub, I guess. A perennial.