cereus: Cereus cactus blossom (Cereus)
(Another (personal) version of the Wizards Oath from Young Wizards books by Diane Duane)

In Life/Green's name and For life's Sake
And looking towards the wellspring from which all life springs
I swear to keep the world growing
To turn my leaves always towards Sunfire and Rainstorm
And to transmute them to the stuff of life's need.
To place my roots between hard rock and seedling
And to respect all that grows well in it's own way -
                                                                                          Without harm to others
To look towards growth and life - when it is right to do so
(keeping in mind)
               (the invasive)
                           (The cleansing fire that enriches with ash)
And to respect and love the red land and the black (and all their people)
Looking always towards the wellspring of water that exists within all things
And from which their life extends...

The Hearth

Sep. 17th, 2011 02:03 pm
cereus: Abstract picture of the sun as a fire with the word Hearth (hearth)
The Fire is at the Heart
And the Fire is the Heart
For it's sake, all fires whatever are sacred to me.
I shall kindle them small and safe where there are none
For the wayfinding of those who come after.
I will breathe on those fires about to die in dark places
And in passing, feed those that burn without harm to any.
The fire that burns and warms those around it,
In no wise shall I meddle with it, save that it seems about to consume it's confocals, or die.

To these ends, as the Kindling requires, I shall ever thrust my claw into the flames
To shift the darkening ember or feed the failing coal.
Looking always towards the inmost Hearth from which all flames rise together
And all fires burn, undevouring.  In and of that which first set light to the Worlds
And burns in them forevermore.

-The Saurian/Cat version of The Oath.
The Book of Night With Moon
by Diane Duane

cereus: Cereus cactus blossom (Cereus)

From :

"In light of recent proposed budget cuts in various countries, I feel compelled to mount a defense of the common sense concept of the government being able to “afford” something:

  • If we can afford to spend billions of dollars on weapons systems we will almost certainly never use, we can afford to have a system where a dedicated tax stream pays for some bare-bones retirement and disability benefits, with no more overhead than it costs to print and mail the checks.
  • If we can afford to endlessly occupy two countries for no apparent reason, surely we can afford to help people get health insurance.
  • If we can summon up $700 billion out of thin air to bail out banks, surely we can afford to fill in the state and local budget gaps that would lead to firing people who provide essential services.
  • If we can afford high-tech laboratories to do scientific research the results of which we will basically give away to corporate interests for nothing, then we can afford humanities instruction, which requires a teacher, a chalkboard, and enough chairs for all the students.
  • Again, if universities can afford to run money-losing athletic programs, then they can afford to provide the minimal research support funds humanities people require — basically time off to focus on research and maybe the occasional plane ticket, since the other resources they need consist of little more than the pre-existing infrastructure of a good library that you’d need for the university anyway.

The pattern is the same again and again and again: the thing that actually costs not too much money is denounced as unaffordable, while the insanely expensive thing is never even questioned. It’s like if I overdrew my checking account and decided I needed to start buying store-brand cereal while never questioning if I can afford that Lexus."

That wold be Love/Metta in action.

Also another good site:
cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (ringtail)
I'm up on the mountain today and this creature walked by:

Boreal Jumping Spider or Phidippus clarus

He's a jumping spider  that usually lives farther north in say - Colorado.  But going up the mountain, you get colder climate, so right now I'm in a mixed pine-fir forest.

He (and it probably is a he based on color) was walking on the asphalt path where people were likely to walk by.
I made sure it got off the beaten path safely using a couple folders.

I found this creature in my house a few months ago.

Jumping spider very fuzzy standing on sand

California Jumping Spider or Phidippus californicus


He's more adapted to the desert.  His colors mimic a velvet ant, a potently venomous wasp, so he'll be left alone.

He turned to look at me the entire time, occasionally looking to either side.

Jumping spiders have very good eyesight and 15-20 minutes of working memory (working memory means how long you can keep a piece of information in your memory to think about it or solve the problem at hand), excellent for a spider, they also turn to investigate anything new that comes into their field of view.  If hunting something significantly larger than them, or a spider, they will circle behind and pounce.  These species also have a "freeze" signal for members of their species, they put up their front legs and the other spider will stop stalking them or trying to mate with them.


Here's another encounter with a jumping spider that warms my heart and makes me and Raven laugh:


cereus: Cereus cactus blossom (Cereus)
This is hopefully going to be the start of a series on the diverse and unusual forms of life in this world. 

Extremophies are life forms that can do very well in unusual or "hostile" situations due to unusual physical set-ups.  Sometimes this means they don't do as well in typical circumstances.  Extremophiles inhabit extreme environments, colonize stony, non-living areas first and lead the way for other life, and sometimes inhabit unusual roles in an ecosystem.


Cereus (also called Night-Blooming Cereus, or Queen-of-the-Night) is a tough small cactus (of the Peniocereus family)  that grows in the Sonoran Desert.   It looks about like a bundle of sticks, but instead of being the typical brown or beige, it's a light gray-green.  They usually grow in the middle of a bush like a creosote making it well-nigh invisible and elusive.
Creosote bush in bloom
Creosote bush in bloom

Cereus plant looking like some slim green sticks with ribs like a cactus
Cereus plant in foreground

It's one of those plants you can have a fun time keeping your eyes peeled for.

But for 2 or 3 nights of the year - it changes entirely.  It puts out white flowers the size of your palm or larger.  They are night-pollinated so the flowers have a definite scent.  The people in my neighborhood would keep an eye on all the known cereus plants near the road, and would take "cereus walks"  where in the evening we would walk around the neighborhood and congregate at whoever's cereus was blooming.  There is always photigraphy and soft voices, discussing the news but in a way that I can only describe as soft, or maybe quiet.  Although it was as much a tone as a lack of loudness.

Cereus in bloom yellow stamens above a disk of waxy white petals

Sphinx moth drinking from flower and hovering like a hummingbird. It has narrow wings and you can see the toungue or proboscis.

These flowers become a important nectar source for sphinx moths and bats.  Symbiosis is incredibly important in the natural world - two organisms each giving something and getting something, but what they are getting is more than what they gave.  In this case nectar (food) for the ability to spread pollen and make the next generation of plants.  The plants and animals have evolved over time to be more suited to eachother.  The cereus bloom is white and strong-smelling to make it easy to spot in the night.  The moths and bats have evolved long tongues to reach down into the flower.  Which in turn, gets longer to make sure they get plenty of pollen on their faces. It's not as pretty or peaceful as it sounds necessarily.

The moths also have a part of their brains that tells them to go to shiny white things which may be why they behave so dangerously around porch lights.

The secret behind all this?  Cereus cacti have a huge tuber underground - about the size of a watermelon where they store water and sugar.  This  is how they make it through the year - waiting for the right season.

(Incidentally,I leaned a lot about managing resources from cereus.  And then promptly dismissed what I learned in order to "pass"/survive.  If you have limited resources or capacity to do certain things, like talk, you don't have to be going at full-capacity all the time, just some of the time really well at the right time.)

Cereus tuber - shaped like a fat carrot
Drawing of cereus root


Sep. 1st, 2009 04:10 pm
cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Loveless)
So a couple nights ago was an incredibly hard time for both Raven and I.  I because of grief and sorrow about impending loss combined with hanging out with a friend who annoys and overloads me. And Raven about the latest book on food and the future of food security he had read.
We're both grappling with this stuff still, but this Night took a lot of the stress away.

Scene description here... ) 
Healing is good, whatever form it takes.

Warning: Rough draft.  Rough and incoherent.


Aug. 25th, 2009 08:07 am
cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (NightCereus)

Here's a post inspired by Elizabeth of  Screw Bronze! .    Both her wonderful style of posts involving beautiful pictures and her desire to go up to Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii.


Here's my favorite star cluster.  It's called the Wild Duck Cluster.  It's a bunch of newly formed stars heading out into the world.  Soon they'll break up into ones and twos and threes - but most stars have at least one other star with them throughout their lives.  We used to think that bianary stars were the exception!  Now we know they aren't.  And they can even have planets orbiting around both of them.

I can tell you from experience, going to an observatory can be harrowing and fun - sleep deprivation can do wierd things, but it's worth it.

But it's more fun if you go with people you like to be with!

Stars are born in nebulae (clouds of gas and dust) like this one.  They collapse out, until they're dense enough to burn on their own.  Sometimes stars blowing up close to them help the process out.

What I DON'T want to happen to Beth.  This is the remenant of a dead star.  Our sun's going to look like this someday.

But even when you do die, you'll leave this kind of thing behind - because you spread that much beauty around.  I really admire you for it.  But it shouldn't be soon. When stars are big enough they don't go gently into the good night.  When they run out of fuel and collapse, they do it so fast that atoms run into eachother with enoug force to make it explode outward. This is a Supernova remenant - a star that EXPLODED.

A Galaxy, plus some stars from ours. Rule of thumb: everything you can see it with your naked eye is in our galaxy.  Except on a really dark night, you can see a faint smudge which is our neighboring galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy.

Eventually old blown-up star nebulas turn into collapsing back into new stars nebulas.  It's more complicated than that - they need to drift together into a bigger nebula. This only happens sometimes.
cereus: Ringtail Cat climbing tree (Default)
Charles Darwin's birthday was yesterday.

The man credited with the first widely-read explanation of evolution.

I'll let him speak in his own words:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
(bolding is mine)

That's what it feels like. In the middle of the scene.  Like life springing  from death.
I'd rather rejoice that life creates new forms and gains energy from death.

from TrinityVA:

May 2017



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