Monday, November 25, 2013

Panettone 2013

Panettone, the 2013 edition. For other pictures of panettone from previous years, see Panettone 2011 and Panettone 2012.

Left: Starting ingredients [11:44am].  Right: Pounding the butter to plasticize and incorporate more easily into the dough [1:27pm].
Starting ingredients Pounding the butter to plasticize and incorporate more easily into the dough

Left: Mixing the dough [1:40pm]. Right: The dough with candied citrus and currants incorporated and set to rise [1:52pm].
Mixing the doughThe dough with candied citrus and currants incorporated and set to rise

Left: Third rise in mold, with demerara sugar glaze on top [5:42pm]. Right: Finished panettone with two Lehmann vases [8:32pm].
Third rise in mold, with demerara sugar glaze on topFinished panettone with two Lehmann Keramik vases

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mexican History Mural in Brawley California

Left: A Stern-Looking Lady Liberty; Right: Pancho Villa Headline
Stern Lady LibertyPancho Villa Headline

The headline reads “Villa Captures Carranza Garrison, …” referring to Francisco Villa (1878 – 1923), nicknamed Pancho Villa, a Mexican Revolutionary general, and Venustiano Carranza de la Garza (1859 – 1920), a leader of the Mexican Revolution who became President of Mexico. It’s not clear which of the many skirmishes with Carranza the headline refers to.

The designers seem to want us to read the mural as a very compact timeline from left to right starting with the Maya, moving to the Aztecs, to an eagle grasping a snake (as on the Mexican flag), to something in the middle no longer visible, to the Mexican Revolution, and finally to a very stern Lady Liberty.

The mural is on the east side of a building at B St. and N 9th St.

Mural of Mexican History and Imagery
Mural of Mexican History and ImageryMural of Mexican History and ImageryMural of Mexican History and Imagery

Binomen Art – Ficus

Left: Ficus Spelled in its Small Brown Berries; Right: Ficus microcarpa, Indian Laurel, Branches
Ficus Spelled in its Small Brown BerriesFicus microcarpa, Indian Laurel, Branches
In this installment of Binomen Art, we’ll spend a little time with Ficus microcarpa, known by many names, but we always just call it, Indian Laurel. This particular specimen is over 30 years old and it is massive. As I was listening to the fruits (figs, right?) falling from the tree and rolling down the roof, the idea hatched to pay a small ode to this majestic tree. We spelled out the generic name Ficus with the brown fruits, on the base of the tree. The fruits on the tree are small, yellowish-green, rounded, and at the end of branches. The specific epithet, microcarpa, refers to the small fruit, which is claimed to be not edible.

What’s interesting, is that many pictures of F. microcarpa that you might find, show “aerial roots” - technically adventitious prop roots – growing down from the branches to the ground. However, you don’t see prop roots in the Indian Laurels in Southern California, like this one in the Imperial Valley. Likely, this is specific variety that doesn’t have that behavior, or the conditions are not right, being too dry.

The generic name, Ficus, according to the Quattrocchi is from the:

Latin ficus, i, and ficus, us for a fig-tree, Ficus carica L. or the edible fruit of the fig-tree, Greek sykon “fig”, Akkadian piqu or siqu “narrow”, piaqum, siaqum “to be narrow”…

If Quattrocchi is reaching back to Akkadian, you know this tree has roots.

Left: F. microcarpa Berries on the Branch; Right: Ficus in Berries
F. microcarpa Berries on the BranchFicus in Berries
Left: Ficus on the Root; Right: Indian Laurel in the Morning Light
Ficus on the Root Indian Laurel in the Morning Light

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brawley Cattle Call – Casey Tibbs Bucking Bronc Statue

Bucking Bronc, Park Plaza Downtown Brawley, California


This statue in Brawley California represents the American cowboy Casey Tibbs riding a bucking bronc. This is one of two statues celebrating Brawley’s signature event, the Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo. These photos are of the statue located at Park Plaza downtown (here). Read more about them here: Brawley Cattle Call horse statues get a make over.

Notice the small bucking bronc that caps the street sign post.
Bucking Bronc, Park Plaza Downtown Brawley, California
Bucking Bronc, Park Plaza Downtown Brawley, CaliforniaBucking Bronc, Park Plaza Downtown Brawley, California
Added: 2014-05-01
Photos of the statue at the entrance to the River Park / Cattle Call Arena
Photos of the statue at the entrance to the River Park / Cattle Call ArenaPhotos of the statue at the entrance to the River Park / Cattle Call Arena

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Special Quesadilla – More Imperial Valley Culinary Excursions


Nana Dora’s (Brawley, California) Special Quesadilla (Left) and Sign (Right)
Nana Dora’s (Brawley, California) Special Quesadilla Nana Dora’s (Brawley, California) Sign

To date we’ve had special quesadillas – that deep-fried tortilla, cheese filled taste sensation – at Celia’s (see Special Quesadilla) and Camacho’s (see Camacho’s Place Mexican Restaurant in El Centro California). This time around we tried it again at Celia’s and at Nana Dora’s in Brawley. Both were very good.

Celia’s (El Centro, California) Special Quesadilla (Left) and Sign (Right)


Nana Dora’s (Brawley, California) Tacos and Special Quesadilla Nana Dora’s (Brawley, California) Tacos and Special Quesadilla Nana Dora’s (Brawley, California) Tacos and Special Quesadilla

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kukulcania arizonica – Arizona Black Hole Spider (Would the Real Phyllis Paddit Please Come Out?)


Left: A Beautiful Web of the K. arizonica? Right: K. arizonica at night.Kukulcania WebKukulcania arizonica at night

For years we knew this spider as only a “Phyllis Paddit” spider. It creates webs all over the Imperial Valley ranch where we stay. The webs are sticky and hard to remove. A type of flycatcher uses the webs to construct resilient nests. Despite all of this, I’d never seen one of these spiders. So I investigated.

The investigation trail went something like this:

  • I happened to come across the web site Spiders of the Californias where I was contemplating the type of spider web I was seeing. Answer: funnel weaver.
  • Okay, funnel weaver, but I needed more. So I started searching for spider web imagery, in particular, images of funnel weaver (family Agelenidae) webs. I happened to come across an image that looked very similar to the webs I was seeing. The caption of the photo was “Agelenidae or Filistata”.
  • Suddenly it occurred to me that maybe there was an error in the transmission of the name, a classic case of Chinese whispers or the telephone game. The genus Filstata of spiders are called the filistatid. Sounds like Phyllis Paddit? Another case of funny naming is the “Swamp Molly” (see Swamp Mallet – Eucalyptus spathulata).
  • The genus Kukulcania is another genus in the Filstatidae family – a family known as the crevice weavers. The genus is named for the Kukulcan, a Maya snake deity.
  • Over time, I came to suspect the spider we call “Phyllis Paddit” is likely Kukulcania arizonica – the Arizona Black Hole Spider.

Some other interesting tidbits if this is indeed K. arizonica:

  • These spiders are called cribellate spiders. In the Wikipedia entry for the related species, Kukulcania hibernalis (Southern house spider) there is this statement: “The southern house spider is a cribellate spider. That is, its spinnerets do not produce adhesive webbing. Instead, to capture prey the spider uses its legs to comb webbing across its cribellum, a spiked plate near the spinnerets. This combing action frays and tangles the strands, producing a fine, velcro-like netting that ensnares insect legs.”
  • From the Wikipedia entry for Kukulcania arizonica: “This is a black spider with a velvety texture. It builds a silken tube in a crevice, often on the wall of a building, with silken threads radiating from the entrance. The female, around 13 mm in length (excluding legs), can live for several years.” Yup, radiating webs alright and about the right size.
  • We only saw the spiders in the photos below at night. During the day, you would be hard-pressed to see them. Even at night, many of the specimens we approached retreated into their tunnels/crevices upon our approach.

There is more information about Kukulcania in the Field Guide to the Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States.

As if to prove a point in terms of how much these spiders permeate the outdoors and indoors around here, we went to remove a book on insects from a shelf and out came a K. arizonica. Kulcania is not listed in the book, The Common Insects of North America, of course, because it isn’t an insect!

Kukulcania arizonica at night.
Kukulcania arizonica at night.Kukulcania arizonica at night.

Kukulcania arizonica at night.Kukulcania arizonica at night.

Kukulcania arizonica webs.
Kukulcania arizonica websKukulcania arizonica webs

Kukulcania arizonica webs

Kukulcania arizonica webs
Kukulcania arizonica webs

Kukulcania arizonica websKukulcania arizonica webs

Kukulcania arizonica on an insect book – “Hey, I’m not an insect!”Kukulcania arizonica on an insect book – wrong book for spiders.

Swamp Mallet - Eucalyptus spathulata

A quick visit to the Imperial Valley (and the sun) to escape the Seattle grey for a few days. At the end of the driveway where we stay, there are several Eucalyptus spathulata, commonly called Swamp Mallet. A mallet or marlock is a small tree-form or shrubby Eucalyptus found in Western Australia. (When we first heard of the tree, we heard it as “Swamp Molly” – as in a girl from the bayou.) At night the egrets come in to roost in these tree and it can smell quite rank underneath because of all the crawdads the birds eat.

Swamp Mallet Trunk
 
Swamp Mallet Leaves


Swamp Mallet in Profile at Dusk

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Selected Sundials (Meridiane) of Southwest Piedmont (Piemonte)

Overview

I’ve been stewing over this post for some time because it has been hard for me to wrap my head around how sundials work. I think the modern age has rotted my brain.

We were back in Piemonte in the second half of May this year (2013), and this time we paid special attention to sundials. On a previous trip, Mondovì Sundials (Meridiane e Elementi di Gnomonica), we started to get interested in the sundials that we were seeing and how to read them. In this post, we show twenty sundials and try to delve into how they work. If you are easily confused or, looking for a complete sundial 101 explanation, this isn’t it. However, here are some good references I came across that you might consider:

Twenty Sundials in Piedmont (Piemonte)

The sundials featured in this post are not so much a reflection of towns that have many sundials, rather, the collection of sundials here reflect where we happened to be. That said, almost any town you happen to visit in Piemonte, if you look, will have a few sundials. (In my mind, Piemonte seems to have more sundials than other regions we have visited in Italy. I don’t have facts to back that up.)

All of the sundials (meridiana in Italian) we show here are vertical sundials. Vertical sundials are such that the sun can strike them, all or some part of the year. There can be northern facing sundials, which does make my head spin a little to think about.

Meridiana I

Location: On the path to Santuario di Santa Lucia outside of Villanova Mondovi (location).

Orientation: Faces southeast. Notes: Contains four zodiac signs.

  • Capricorn(♑) – the Goat, winter solstice.
  • Aries (♈)– the Ram, spring equinox.
  • Libra (♎) - the Scales, autumn equinox.
  • Cancer (♋) – the Crab, summer solstice.

From The Sundial Primer site I found this interesting: “The names or signs of constellations are used in sundials instead of dates to specify declination lines. Because of the effects of precession over the period of 2,300 years since the constellations were first named, the signs of the zodiac have slipped by a whole sign, i.e. at the vernal equinox (defined as the first point of Aries), the sun is actually in the constellation Pisces.”

Sundial Near Santuario di Santa Lucia
On the path to Santuario di Santa Lucia outside of Villanova Mondovi

Meridiana II

Location: Briaglia (location)

Orientation: North by northwest approximately.

Saying: Vesperis Aestivis ad Iucunda Convivia Silent Comit… [Pleasant evenng meals during the summer]

Notes: We ate a very nice dinner at Trattatoria Marsupino in this building. We go the pleasant meal part right.

The coordinates of Briaglia are 44.4000° N, 7.8833° E (44 24’ N, 7 53’E). This more or less northern facing dial is unusable from about early November to early February. This date range is what I simuated using using Shadows Pro, a useful program for ceating sundials and simulating shadows on the dial for times throughout the year. To create these images, I created a vertical sundial at the coordinates for Briaglia, with the sundial declination of approximately 158 degrees west. The red line is the summer solstice and the winter solstice is not visible because it’s not useful for this dial.

From the Shadows Pro help “The vertical declining sundial can represent all the states between a vertical direct east dial and a vertical direct west dial, as well as the vertical direct south (north) dial and the northern (southern) dial.” Also applicable to this dial and also from Shadows Pro “A sundial declining towards the North will be lit a litle during the morning and a little during the evening, but not during the day. In Winter, the sundial may not be lit at all.

This dial, during a small part of the year, is lit during the morning. We did not show that here.

The picture was taken on 5/24/13 at 7:30 pm. I also simulated what the sun dial should be showing (removing daylight savings time) and I get about 6:30 pm. The gnomon shadow is hard to make out in the photo, but it’s just over VI.

Sundial in Briaglia, Italy
Briaglia Sundial

Shadows Pro-Created Images of the Sundial in Briaglia. From left to right: Image 1: Summer solstice at 4 pm. Image 2: The day we were there May 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm. (We were on daylights saving time so it was really 7:30 pm.) Image 3: Approximately the last day in Fall when sun stops hitting the dial. Image 4: Approximately the first day in Winter when the sun starts hitting the dial.
 Summer solstice at 4 pm.The day we were there May 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm.  (We were on daylights saving time so it was really 7:30 pm.)Approximately the last day in Fall when sun stops hitting the dial.Approximately the first day in Winter when the sun starts hitting the dial.

Meridiana III

Location: Carrù (location)

Orientation: East.

Notes: We were visiting someone in this building. Nearby is the famous “Bue Grasso di Carrú” sculpture. Italian hours (hours since last sunset) are shown.

Left: Sundial in Carrù, Italy; Right: Annotated sundial.
Sundial in CarrùAnnotated sundial

Meridiana IV

Location: Ceva (location)

Orientation: Faces south by southwest.

Notes: On the left side of the window, local time is shown. On the right side of the windows, it looks like Italian hours.

Sundial in Ceva, Italy
Sundial in Ceva, Italy

Meridiana V

Location: Frabosa Sottana (location)

Orientation: SoutheastSaying: Orariera? solare di Frabosa / Probus invidet nemini [Frabosa sundia / The righteous man envies no man?]

Notes: Date taken 5/23/13 at 8:17 am (local time). The gnomon shadow is near 7, so the dial doesn’t account of daylight savings time. Because the shadow is below the equinox line, we are in summer.

Sundial in Frabosa Sottana
Sundial in Frabosa Sottana

Meridiana VI

Location: Mondovì Breo (lower), Vicolo del Teatro

Orientation: South by southwest.

Saying: Je me suis abillé d’ombre pour defiler dans le temps [I dress as shadow to parade through time?]

Notes: French hours.

Sundial in Mondovì Breo
Sundial in Mondovì Breo

Meridiana VII

Location: Villanova Mondovì

Orientation: Uncertain, but approximately south-facing.

Saying: Senza sole nulla son Io [Without the sun I have nothing]

Notes: This sundial shows daylight savings time in Arabic numbers and non-daylight savings time in Roman numerals. This photo was taken: 5/26/13 at 8:31 am (local time). On this date, Italy would be on daylight savings time (“spring” ahead) so we read the Arabic numbers and we see we are between 8 and 9 am.

Sundial in Villanova Mondovì
Sundial in Villanova Mondovì

Meridiana VIII

Location: Villanova Mondovì (location)

Orientation: West

Saying: El Me’ Travaij o L’è col…ed fete passe’ el temp [In Piemontese… a saying about work and the passing of time?

]Notes: Villanova Mondovì, Coordinates 44.3500° N, 7.7667° E. This dial shows equal hours.

The three images of the simulated sundial are from the program Shadows Pro. To create these images, I created a vertical sundial at the coordinates above, facing west. The red line is summer solstice and the blue line is winter solstice declination line.

Sundial in Villanova Mondovì
Sundial in Villanova Mondovì

Shadows Pro-Created Images of the Sundial in Briaglia.
From left to right:
Image 1: The sundial simulated on January 1st, shadow on the winter solstice line.
Image 2: The sundial simulated on March 23rd, shadow on the equinox line.
Image 3: The sundial simulated on June 21st, shadow on the summer solstice line.

Meridiana IX

Location: Villanova Mondovì

Orientation: n/a

Saying: A va gia ben se pij doiure d sol’la seira…altro che marchè l’ore

Notes: Not a sundial, but a play on them.

A riff on sundials in Villanova Mondovì
A riff on sundials in Villanova Mondovì

Meridiana X

Location: Saluzzo (near Piazza Castello)Orientation: South by South East

Sundial in Saluzzo, Italy
Saluzzo sundial

Meridiana XI - XIII

Location: Outside of La Morra (just south)

Sundials near La Morra, Italy
Sundials near La Morra, ItalySundials near La Morra, ItalySundials near La Morra, Italy

Meridiana XIV, XV

Location: Fossano, Castello degli Acaia (location)

Orientation: Meridiana XIV faces Northeast; Meridiana XV faces South by Southeast. Meridiana XIV is similar to Meridiana III (Carrù), showing Italian hours.

Sundials on the Castello degli Acaia, Fossano, Italy. Left: Meridiana XIV; Right: Meridiana XV Sundials on the Castello degli AcaiaSundials on the Castello degli Acaia

Meridiana XVI

Location: Fossano, Viale Mellano (location)

Orientation: South

Saying: Silenter loquor / Ora vera locale / Pur d’alzar l’alma a quel celeste regno è il mio consiglio, e di spronare di core; erché [il] camin è lungo e [i]l tempo è corto [Silently I speak / True local time / To lift the soul into celestial kingdom my advice is to spur on your heart because the road is long and time is short?]

Sundial in Fossano, Italy
Sundial in Fossano, Italy

Meridiana XVII, XVIII

Location: Cherasco (location)

Orientation: South

Saying: Je dis a tous, meme si je ne les connais pas [I tell to all, even though I do not know?]

Notes: Photo taken 5/27/13 at 4:49 pm (local time). The top sundial reads about 3:30 pm, off because of daylight savings time. The top sundial is equal hours. The bottom sundial contains equal hours and Babylonian hours (slanted down to the right).

Sundial in Cherasco, Italy
Sundial in Cherasco, Italy Sundial in Cherasco, Italy

Meridiana XIX, XX

Location: Cherasco (location)

Orientation: South

Notes: The sundial contains equal hours and Babylonian hours (slanted down to the right).

Sundial in Cherasco, Italy
Sundial in Cherasco, ItalySundial in Cherasco, Italy

Hours Shown in the Sundials Here

French Hours(Ore Francesi) which was an early name for the equal hour system with two 12 hours days that began at midday and midnight.

Italian or Italic Hours (Ore Italiche) – the number of hours elapsed since the most recent sunset (hour 0) with 24 equal hours per day. Also referred to as an Hours Before Sunset Sundial.

Babylonian Hours – the number of elapsed since the most recent sunrise (hour 0) with 23 equal hours per day.

Unequal Hours or Biblical – 12 hours between sunrise an sunset, or during the night between sunset and the following sunrise. The duration of the hours can vary between 40 to 80 minutes during the year.