Saturday, July 29, 2006

Orange Tree, Very Pretty


This is an orange tree we bought when we moved in our new house three months ago. At that time it was full of  fragrant white flowers and now it has golf ball sized fruits.
Read the Wikipedia article below and tell me how you feel about this ancient food production method.  
Force-feeding of animals

Force-feeding is also known as gavage, from a French word meaning "to gorge". This term specifically refers to force-feeding of geese and young cattle in order to fatten their livers in the production of foie gras and veal respectively. Gavage can also refer to the practice of administering liquids (such as medicines) to laboratory animals via a tube or syringe.

Force-feeding of birds is practiced mostly on geese or male Mulard ducks, a Muscovy/Pekin hybrid. Preparation for gavage usually begins 4-5 months before slaughter. For geese, after an initial free-range period and treatment to assist in esophagus dilation (eating grass, for example), the force-feeding commences. Gavage is performed 2—4 times a day for 2-5 weeks, depending on the size of the fowl, using a funnel attached to a slim metal or plastic feeding tube inserted into the bird'sthroat to deposit the food into the storage area in the esophagus. A grain mash, usually maize mixed with fats and vitamin supplements, is the feed of choice. Waterfowl are suited to the tube method due to a nonexistant gag-reflex and extremely flexible esophagi, so unlike other fowl such as chickens, gavage may be practiced with minimal discomfort for the bird. These migratory waterfowl are also ideal for gavage because of their natural ability to gain large amounts of weight in short periods of time before cold seasons. For this reason, gavage is usually a "finishing" stage before the bird is set for slaughter, for if left to its own devices after finishing, the bird will quickly return to its normal weight. The result of this practice is an severely enlarged, especially fatty liver, when if especially exaggerated is the liver disease hepatic lipidosis. The liver may swell up to 12 times its normal size (up to three pounds). While the livers are the coveted portions of these birds, the unctuous flesh of fattened geese and ducks as well as their feathers find a market. Due to protests from animal-rights groups against the method of obtaining these enlarged livers, gavage is outlawed in United Kingdom, Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Israel, as well as in some, but not all, USA states. The USA's most recent ban on foie gras was in Chicago, Illinois.




Friday, July 28, 2006

Postcards Exchange


Greetings from the home of the Blue Angels, the Navy's elite flying team!!!
I bought my cards yesterday and all I have to do is affix the stamps and mail them out.
For anybody who is saying, "What you talking about, Willis?"  There is a postcard exchange going on in the blogsphere. Basically what it is that an exchange of addreseses so postcards from each participants' state or hometown can be mailed.
I know it is an exercise in trusting strangers. I am OK with that because I trust people until they kick me in the behind.
So those of you who are brave enough to send me your addy, you will get a postcard from the Emerald Coast. Our beaches are known for their white sugar sand. The sand looks like snow in a distance.
I Dare You!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Orleans/ Biloxi Revisited



I was trying to download multiple pics  to no avail (again!!!). So I summoned my inner Zen to corral the aggressive energy directed towards my AOL software. (Breathe, ohm, breathe).
The pic above is one of the many we have taken during our mini-vacation in New Orleans, LA and Biloxi, MS sometime in May this year. It took my son sometime to forward them to me. (I used his camera to take the pics because I forgot mine). 
The French Quarter in New Orleans was business as usual and seem to have withstood Katrina's fury. The downtown area was bustling with tourists and hundreds of people partied at night on Bourbon Street. The familiar smells of Cafe du Monde's exhilarating coffee and sweet yeasty beignets and Chez Pierre's spicy gumbo and briny blackened seafood still permeate the air.   The taste of the food was even better than I remember. I devoured a whole bag of warm and buttery kettle corn while shopping at the French Market. I ate my fill of oh-so-tasty-I-could-cry cajun food. The Garden district was intact save for a few homes that look like they were being renovated. The drive around the Garden district made me happy because the ancient stately homes were there and the cozy little neighborhood bistros were doing brisk business.     
The surrounding areas, especially those subdivisions near the levee, were a different story. I cried the whole time we were viewing the affected neighborhoods because I can not seem to look at the devastation without feeling bad for the owners of the destroyed homes.  I could not stop thinking of how they must have felt to come back to a ruined home and how scary it must have been to lose your home, your job, your community and some loved ones.
Biloxi, MS and the surrounding vicinities did not fare well either. It was heartbreaking to drive through familiar places and find that landmarks were swept in the ocean. I loved the little Welcome Center in the middle of all the high rise casinos but it was not there anymore. I loved looking at the southern grand dames of homes: the massive Tudor with a well tended lawn, the haughty Victorian with its intricate gingerbread details, the proud Federal with sculpted trees... I could go on forever describing these magnificent homes because there's no architecture like the decadent old architecture. I remember one with flying buttresses too. Most of these homes are gone forever. How I wished I took pictures of each and one of them so I can show my grandchildren how beautiful Biloxi used to be.
My heart breaks for the Louisiana and Mississippi people. Our trip to those areas made me realize that even though the media stopped reporting about the Katrina victims because there are more recent natural disasters around the US and the world, these people's sufferings are far from over. 
Please count your blessings and remember the Katrina victims if you have the time or funds to spare.          

Friday, July 21, 2006

Flora sans Fauna




This is a brugmansia plant and its flower up close. Its also called angel's trumpet bush.  By September, it will be about seven feet tall with fragrant flowers measuring between a foot and a half to two and a half feet.

I have several in different colors and some have double petaled flowers.

The functionality of my AOL software is still shaky that is why I have not updated in a while.

I am planning on making my rounds today as I have 293 new entry alerts.

Tata for now.