Monday, August 29, 2011

A 7-foot tall statue of me?

friend: Are you serious, you really want a 7-foot statue of you?

me: I'm dead serious, standing with my right arm extended upward and my hand pointing to the sky and my left arm folded on my chest with a clenched fist, like a dictator in the middle of a pompous and lengthy speech.

friend: And where do you intend to put it?

me: At the highest point in the farm so everyone passing by can see it.

One day, while flipping through the pages of a magazine I received from the Columban Fathers I saw a picture of a statue of Christ the Good Shepherd. I was so enamored by the serenity and kindness of his face. From this encounter I had another aha moment --- since we have a small flock of grazing sheep why not build an open air chapel dedicated to the Good Shepherd near where they graze.

I thought a 7-foot tall cement statue standing on a 2-foot tall base would be tall enough. I mentioned this idea to my parents and they could not agree more. Without my knowledge, they erected a 9-foot wooden board where I said I plan to put the statue. They covered it with white sacks just to see how it will look from afar. Although thousands of miles away, I think I could feel their muted excitement.

The wooden plank around the area where a religious statue will stand as seen from afar.

And so the hunt was on to find a good sculptor who can create a custom-made image of the Good Shepherd based on a magazine picture. I asked some friends if they could recommend one. Then I enlisted the help of a good friend to do the legwork for me. He even went all the way to Paete, Laguna (known for its locals' great carving craftsmanship) in search of an artist to take on this project. But the project stalled for several months because my friend had to concentrate full time to some important family matters.

I thought maybe the time is not yet ripe for this project to commence.

The wooden plank still visible from the driveway near the entrance to the farm.

While this project was floating in limbo, another good friend was under the impression that my search for a sculptor was just a joke because when I was asking around, I jokingly said I would like to have a 7-foot statue of me. Eventually, when he learned of my true (and noble?) purpose he mentioned his colleague, a fellow art instructor at the University of Santo Tomas, College of Fine Arts and Design. He came highly recommended by my friend who is also a talented painter. Since I trust my friend, I commissioned his colleague to create an image of the Good Shepherd based on the picture that I saw in a magazine.

The scaled down clay model of the Good Shepherd in its early stage of carving.

After a brief chat with the artist over the phone, he accepted the project. The steps to take in making the concrete statue are as follows:
  • Create a scaled down model made of clay.
  • Upon my approval of the scaled down model, a 7-foot tall model will be created based on the smaller model.
  • The 7-foot tall model will be used to create a mold.
  • From the mold, a cast will take shape using wet cement reinforced with iron rods and chicken wires where needed.
From the steps I mentioned above, we're still in the first step, create a scaled model. I was told it will take a month to finish the project once I give my approval to the scaled model and pay the 50% down payment. Upon completion, the remainder of the balance must then be settled. The finished product will then be delivered to the farm, a travel by land of about 200+ miles.

A 7-foot tall statue of me? Nah, I'm much too insignificant to be glorified with a statue plus nowadays only martyrs deserve a statue and I don't intend to be one.

to be continued... (click here for the continuation)
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two in one

Two focuses, one subject. Two pictures one frame.
Point your mouse on the picture to reveal the other.

I was just randomly taking close-up pictures of plants in the garden early morning after one rainy evening when I chanced upon this Zinnia plant with a new bud and a flower past its prime.

Some of my blog friends asked if I can teach them how to do the 2-in-1 mouse trick. I'd be happy to. The procedure may look deceivingly complicated and lengthy for non-HTML coders but truth is it's short and easy once you get the hang of it.

So here's how I did it. Click here to show or hide the code.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

The forbidden fruit

The forbidden fruit is not exclusively found in the garden of Eden anymore, it is also found in our garden (and maybe in yours too).

Just outside our humble house in the farm, growing close to the patio are trees that bear a type of fruit that I so love to eat, the pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis). And these particular trees produce an excellent quality of pomelos. But now this is a fruit that I could only touch but could no longer eat. How come?

My doctor cautioned me to refrain from consuming grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) products (fruit, juice, etc.) because it may interact with my prescription medication to lower my blood cholesterol level. There's something in the chemical make up of this fruit that affects the metabolism of some medications rendering them dangerous. This culprit has not been pinpointed to a certainty yet but one suspect is the chemical furanocoumarins. And what has grapefruit got to do with pomelo?

The grapefruit is a hybrid which came into existence by crossing a pomelo with an orange. Since some chemical compounds in grapefruits like furanocoumarins are also found in high amounts in pomelos, it can be assumed that consuming pomelo is also a big NO, and this assumption is supported by some online literatures. So rather than second guess and endanger my earthly existence, I would rather err on the side of caution.

For several years now, every time I go on vacation to the farm our pomelo trees beckon me to come and partake of their fruits, especially those that are hanging low and at an arm's reach. Weak as I am, their seduction draws me to touch and admire their fruits only to turn back and slowly walk away from these luscious temptations.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Make it two

NOTE This post is several days overdue. The truth is I could not decide whether I should publish it or not, and not for any major reason either. So finally, today, at this very minute, I pressed the 'PUBLISH POST' button.

July 31, 2011

Solitude Rising is officially two years old today.

Today marks the second year of my personal record of the development and progress of our little project. In fact, it's so personal that it's open to the public. It's so personal that I didn't even care when it turned one year old. Hmmm, how could have I missed that pivotal event?

So many events transpired during the past year, while time slowly turned this diary's page from one to two. Below are the highlights.
  • the goats got a new house
  • no new plants but the ones we have have been growing well and propagation are in full force
  • new garden spots established, old ones revisited and improved
  • the sheep have a new home too
  • road infrastructures within the farm were improved
  • plants blooming for the first time
  • the farm is now our farm (at least in theory)

There were also missteps and encountered some stumbling blocks
  • the farm was devastated by a super typhoon (category 5 hurricane)
  • the small mango orchard destroyed by the typhoon
  • a new structure recently build was demolished (just because I found it unappealing)
  • several animals died due to disease
  • the farm may be ours but not yet on paper
  • the source of financing for future projects has dried up, growth will drastically slow down

To the very few who have been peeking inside this private (yet very public) journal, I wish to convey my gratitude for all your comments, suggestions, or even your simple 'hi'. Some have come and immediately gone, even their short visits are much appreciated. I know so few have visited and followed religiously, and I understand why this is not a popular destination. After all, who would want to read about just one subject (that being the happenings inside one dusty, forlorn, off the beaten track farm in a similarly unknown town)?

To my target readers, I know you are all still very young (and some of you are not even born yet) to care. When your time has come to take up the reins, here you would know the history of it all, how it all began when Solitude was still rising.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Claw me, claw thee

It's been over a year since I last gave an update on our Lobster Claw heliconias (Heliconia rostrata). Back then they were still growing in the nursery and have responded well to the extra attention they've received so much so that their area in the nursery looked more like a Lobster Claw plantation (Their claws are showing). So what has happened since then?

Weather permitting they were slowly transplanted in the upper/back garden. As expected they experienced transplant shock to varying degrees. Some seemed to have died completely but new growth appeared after a few weeks. Others only had minor shocks, losing several leaves.

Some of the Lobster Claw heliconias already established in their new home in the upper garden.

A solitary clump of young Lobster Claw begins to bloom. With surrounding weeds cleared it looked even more alone.

More Lobster Claws in the upper garden, some displaying new blooms.

These Lobster Claws are competing for attention amid thick, persistent weeds.

With all the weeds in the background, this heliconia is a sight for sore eyes.

What I love about Lobster Claws are their colorful flowers that look interestingly unusual and that they bloom year round at intermittent intervals. So you never know where in the garden the next blooms will appear and when. And even though this plant is now widely and sometimes over cultivated, to me its exotic appeal never diminishes. A proof to this is the existence of more of this plant all over the upper garden.

"Claw me, claw thee" is an old German/Dutch idiom which means "stand by me and I'll stand by you" or sometimes "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine".
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The desert blooms

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
Swedish Proverb

You might be inclined to think that the Desert Roses (Adenium obesum) pictured below were store-bought, that one crazy day my mother went on a shopping spree and bought nothing but these plants alone. The truth is these plants came from just one source. And they are not from cuttings either, they were all grown from seeds.

The second generation of locally grown Desert Roses around the Cardboard Palm.

I know, some big trees come from teeny-weeny seeds so it should not be surprising to see where a Desert Rose begins. But I had no idea what the seed of a Desert Rose looks like. Heck, I didn't even know that it develops inside a seedpod and that there's plenty of seeds in one pod alone. So when Mom sent pictures of the seedpod and the seeds inside the pods I was amazed.

The seeds of a Desert Rose.

From the picture above, one can deduce that the seeds of this plant are dispersed by the wind. The light and delicate strands of silky hair attached on one end of the seed allows the seed to be picked up by even a slight breeze. This type of wind dispersal is called "parachute." For other ways on how seeds are dispersed by the wind, click here.

These are two of our Desert Roses with pods. On the left the pods are encased in plastic bags so that the seeds would not scatter when the pods burst open. The pods on the right are still immature.

In my older post A rose is a rose is a rose I mentioned that our first batch of baby Desert Roses came from a seedpod that was already developing in a plant when it was bought from a plant store. The second batch also came from one of the bought plants but the pods came months after it was bought, enough to say that they're already farm-grown just like the pods shown above.

These will be the next generation of Desert Roses in the garden, safely bagged for future use.

As long as our Desert Roses continue to produce fertile seeds it is safe to assume they won't go extinct in the garden. I can say the next generation of Desert Roses are "in the bag" ... literally.
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