Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kinda Like Swords Into Plowshares...and Ultrarunning

More of this, please: taking some 62 chunks of unused military real estate and making nature preserves out of them.  

From Germany (you should go read the whole article):

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany agreed Thursday to turn more than 60 former military bases into nature preserves, with the aim of creating vast new green oases and sanctuaries for rare species of birds.
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said an ongoing overhaul of the German armed forces had made it possible to set aside more than 31,000 hectares (76,600 acres) of forests, marshes, meadows and moors.
She said the government had opted against selling the land, in some cases, prime pieces of real estate, to investors in favour of creating natural refuges.

What strikes me most is that the authorities stood up to development and investment pressures to do the right thing.  

I posted about this type of activity some 5 years ago, here.  

The link to Ultrarunning, of course, is the availability of backcountry places in which to go running.  As population pressures grow, exacerbated by climate change and wealth inequality, the "need" to tap wilderness and formerly set-aside land will grow and must be resisted.  Wild areas are necessary for the proper functioning of the human psyche.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bags o' Money

Image credit here, found via Google Images

The bride and I were recently watching Outlander or something else set a couple hundred years ago--before people used wallets and paper money--and a financial transaction was being done.

When it was time to exchange the money, the buyer tossed a bag of coins to the seller.

They always toss the bag.  They never just hand the bag to the seller.

So anytime you see a bag of coins in a film or on TV, rest assured that it will soon be airborne.

Remember the movie reviewers Siskel and Ebert?  I recall one show where they pointed out the presence of a fruit cart in the film, saying that the sole purpose of including a fruit cart in a shot is its inevitable upset.  Fruit carts never remain intact and part of the background.

Republican Politics and Blind Squirrels

I'm pretty sure but not certain that this cartoon came from a recent issue of Sierra, the monthly magazine from my tree-hugging friends at the Sierra Club.  I'm usually better about attribution, so please excuse my lapse:

By the way, I read over the weekend that while all of the Republican candidates for president are still sputtering over the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, there is a slight break in the ranks.  Lindsey Graham said this on Meet the Press on Sunday:  

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" that if the Republican party doesn't change its official position on same-sex marriage it will "hurt" the GOP in 2016. In 2012, the Republican platform read, "We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

And there's more from Senator Graham:

In an interview Sunday [7 June] with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) continued to distance himself from the growing field of GOP presidential candidates when it comes to climate change and environmental policy. 
“If I’m president of the United States, we’re going to address climate change, CO2 emissions in a business-friendly way,” Graham said during the interview, noting that he does “believe that climate change is real.”

Believe me, I'm solid liberal, won't be casting any votes for Graham, and believe that he's perhaps only the least batshit crazy of that pack of scoundrels (hey, I never used the word scoundrels before in print!), but I give him credit.  
But the snarky side of me thinks this is only an example of even a blind squirrel occasionally finding a acorn (or in this case, a pair of acorns).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cats in Art: The Meeting of Dante and Virgil (Stradano)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. This is the second in my series featuring the art of Giovanni Stradano.

Image credit Arts Connected, The Meeting of Dante and Virgil, Giovanni Stradano, 1546-49, tapestry, 207" x 185", held by Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN.

Arts Connected provides some background:

The subject of the tapestry, the meeting of Dante and Virgil, reflects the renewed interest in Dante's work which occurred during the sixteenth century. In the episode illustrated, Dante has become lost in the Wood of Error, where he is confronted by three symbolic animals which menace his approach to the Holy Hill where Virgil waits to guide him through Hell and Purgatory. 

And here's a close up of the three animals that are blocking Dante's way.  Of course, two of the three are kitties...big, possibly dangerous kitties:

But as I look at the close-up of the cheetah, lion, and the dog-like animal, I just don't get a feeling of true menace or danger.  It's almost as though the three critters are pets or at least following along. Dante has stopped and they--seemingly fixated on his eyes--are just waiting to see where he is heading next.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"No Longer May This Liberty be Denied to Them"


The Supreme Court of the United States has finally rendered its decision in the matter of same sex marriage, and they came down on the side of right, of history, in affirming that same sex marriage is OK. 

Just read these few powerful words from the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

"The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them."
"The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. ...They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. It is so ordered."

And you know what?  The sun rose today, and will again tomorrow.   The Apocalypse is not upon us, and the "institution of marriage" goes on, arguably even stronger than before since it's now a bigger tent.

As I have many times here, I must echo the words of Duncan Black and ask:

Watching some conservatives completely lose their shit over this Supreme Court ruling (including 4 Supreme Court justices) is entertaining but also just bizarre. I mean, why do they care so much? No one is making you get gay married. No one is telling your pastor he has to have God bless this legal arrangement established by the state.

The only theory I can come up with is that they're running out of people who it's acceptable to hate, and when there's no one left to hate what will be the fun in life, really?

And this one, where the light bulb finally goes on in the mind of a staunch conservative.  People, this is how change happens, one person at a time:

Conservative pundit and CNN contributor S.E. Cupp began to tear up on-air on Friday as she urged the Republican Party to embrace gay marriage after the Supreme Court upheld it as the law of the land.

“It’s hard not to watch that and get emotional," Cupp said of the rolling footage showing couples celebrating the ruling.
“Those people there are not pariahs, they’re patriots,” she continued.
She said the couples were simply looking for "human dignity" and the benefits that are allowed for straight couples under legal marriage.
"I would challenge members of my party to look at the faces on the right hand of your screen, and ask yourself if they deserve the same kind of dignity that the rest of us get to enjoy," Cupp said.
"And so for my party — which I deeply, deeply love — my party really has to reconcile with the fact that we are going to become relics if we don’t get to where these people are," she added.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Preflight Cat Check Fail

Via the Earth Bound Misfit, this interesting video.  If the embed doesn't play, here's the link.

What I find interesting is that the kitty seems rather unperturbed and casual about the whole affair, at least until the final removal sequence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Baseball First...and Ultrarunning

Check out the newspaper headline (link here).  I guess they fired the editors to save money:

Let's just hope that this guy does not take up swimming--Michael Phelps better watch out.

Worse yet: what if he embraced Ultrarunning?  The rest of us would not have a chance on a wet and rainy course.  But at a dry venue, he'd be a sure DNF.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What a Vile Person

No, scratch that title, here's a new one: What a Vile Mass of Protoplasm...because this clown does not deserve to be called a human.

Talking about Mr. Charles Cotton, board member of the NRA, who posted the following less than 24 hours after the horrific racist murders South Carolina:

"[Rev. Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."

I'm not particularly a hell-fire type of person in my philosophy, but if such a place exists, Mr. Cotton just guaranteed himself a slot.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Playing by the Rules

Found at Odometer dot com:

Maybe I'm just old school, but I've always believed strongly in obeying the sorts of large and small rules of conduct that help make society function smoothly.

The owner of the auto above, sadly, does not so believe.

I assume that this auto belongs to a guy, otherwise my thought that he has a small penis is inappropriate.

On the other hand (there's always another hand, right?), I used to watch the short-lived series Rollergirls, in which my favorite character, Misconduct, famously said "I don't have a problem with authority.  I just don't like people telling me what to do."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cats in Art: The Alchemist's Laboratory (Stradano)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.  

Image credit Web Gallery of Art, The Alchemist's Laboratory, Giovanni Stradano (or Stradanus), 1570, oil on canvas (or slate), 46" x 29", held by the Studio of Francesco I, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy.

Zuffi's analysis: 

In a workshop bursting with stoves, alembics, pots, and instruments, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco I, dressed an an alchemist, is busily stirring a green liquid in a pan on the stove.  Conspicuous at the very center of this crowded composition is an enormous, crouching cat, observing the scene intently with dilated pupils: no other animal could have represented the "alchemical value" of the experiment.  The epitome of a nocturnal creature, the cat was associated with such experiments, traditionally conducted at night in collusion with the moon, which appeared to have an influence on the animal's power of sight.  Whereas for the Egyptians the cat represented the moon and philosophical Mercury, alchemists appropriated the cat as a symbol of the experiment itself.

I like this kitty.  Tucked away yet central to the image, Stradano captures so well the cat's facial expression of watchful interest, with an overtone of "I could be ready to bolt if I have to."  The cat thinks it's in charge, because no insecure kitty would hang around in the midst of all that action in the lab.

Note that Zuffi and the image info on the Web Gallery of Art differ in a couple things: he spells the name "Stradano" vice "Stradanus" (although that may be just a trivial variation in the Italian language).  Also Zuffi states that the substrate is canvas vice slate.  

Minor differences, to be sure, but these point out what I have found these past few years researching my Cats in Art series: there is no single authoritative source for art information.  

For example, artists often did not title their works, leaving others to assign names that frequently differed; many artists did multiple versions of the same subject, all with the same title; and many books or web sites that purport to be "The Complete Works of xxxxx" have big holes in them.  You get the idea--at times it's kinda like detective work.

But fun detective work!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I'm Pretty Sure I'm Going to be Wealthy

This email just showed up in my inbox, from a guy named Levi Gonzalez, and it sure had me all excited:

I need to let you know Gary right now about something exciting I've been working at these previous month's. 

I've been placing my PC to good use, and earning a living all for a number of hour's every day. 

You will as well Gary at http://link deleted

Well, I was exited until I proofread the short email again.  In the span of three short sentences, Levi managed to screw up not one but two simple plurals, using an apostrophe.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I just can't work with anyone who can't even make a simple plural.  Sigh.  Maybe that Nigerian banker will contact me again.

Reminds me of the time a few months back when my Marx toy train group saved the day, here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Water Garden

I know, I post too much about my water garden, but it is gorgeous right now:

Image credit Gary

I've posted shots of parts of it here before, but here's the global view showing the whole thing.  It's maybe 20' long and up to 5' wide at the waterfall end.

I dug it, laid the liner, and did all the stonework...with the help of some very good articles/books on doing it yourself.  Plus Lilypons, the original water garden supplier, is nearby, so that's where I got my original equipment, plants, and most importantly, how-to advice.

Sitting out there is instant serenity.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What Are They Afraid Of?

Just ran across this appalling story at Wonkette.  

And by "appalling" I mean the fact that a teacher resigned as a result of homophobic pressure...not that this teacher actually read a gay-themed book called King and King to his 3rd graders to make a point about bullying in his classroom.

Thanks to protests by easily-outraged parents, a teacher and an assistant principal at an elementary school in Efland, North Carolina, have resigned after the teacher read third-graders a perfectly innocuous book about a gay prince who finds love. The teacher, Omar Currie, read the story to his class after overhearing students taunting a boy in his class, calling him “gay” and saying he was acting like a girl. He’d borrowed the book from Assistant Principal Meg Goodhand, so she had to go, too — far too much gay propaganda thrown at innocent children who were simply exercising their constitutional right to bully a little homo.

The terrifying gay-indoctrination book, King & King, by Linda de Haan, is the story of a young prince whose parents insist he marry, but none of the princesses catch his eye until one shows up with her cute brother in tow. It’s love at first sight, and the two princes get married and live happily ever after.

The real-world happy ending is that this particular teacher has had a number of positive job interviews with other districts, so he will likely land on his feet (no word on the prospects for the assistant principal, however).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The True Origins of California's Drought

And it's not what you think, at least according to one CA legislator (via Talking Points Memo):

If Californians would like to see an end to the extreme drought the state is facing, they should consider passing more restrictions on abortion. That, at least, was the suggestion of a California assemblywomen in remarks to anti-abortion activists last week.

"Texas was in a long period of drought until Governor Perry signed the fetal pain bill,” state Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) said, as reported by RH Reality Check. "It rained that night. Now God has His hold on California."

Well, I'm glad she cleared that up.  This reminds me of one of my favorite Gary Larson cartoons.  It shows God at a keyboard, looking down upon someone on the Earth, with His finger poised over the "Smite" key.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Peeing, College Dorm Life...and Ultrarunning

Ran across this gem in the local paper:

Wilson College fined 98 students $10 each when no one confessed to causing puddle of urine

Wilson College this spring received $980 after requiring all students living in a particular residence hall to pay a $10 fine when no one admitted to causing a puddle of urine found on a tiled floor. 
In an email to students announcing the fine for everyone if no one came forward, a college official said urine is a biohazard that requires professional clean-up and cannot simply be mopped up.
"I have no way of knowing if it was from an animal or person, however, someone needs to take responsibly for this ASAP. You have until Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. to let me know who is responsible or the entire residence hall will be fined," the email read.
In addition to saying urine is a biohazard, Sadowski told students "it is never appropriate for you or your animal to urinate on the floor," and added that they must clean up after themselves if they "ever lose bodily fluids in a public space." 
"So by leaving your bodily fluids in a public space, you are effectively closing the area until the next physical plant staff shift. This is generally highly inconvenient for both you and your fellow floormates."
No one came forward to claim responsibility for the mess, so all 98 students who lived in the building at the time were fined. According to the residence hall handbook, "In instances where the responsible party cannot be determined, entire communities may be held accountable through the fine system." 

I get it, the whole personal responsibility thing, and the levying of the fine was in accordance with the rules of residence hall life, but to say that "...urine is a biohazard that requires professional clean-up and cannot simply be mopped up" was a little over the top.
So if Mister Tristan (the 7 year old human being, not the blog) misses the toilet a bit and sprinkles the floor, I'd better call in that professional biohazard team.
A close second as the best quote in the article is this one, that "...it is never appropriate for you or your animal to urinate on the floor...they must clean up after themselves if they 'ever lose bodily fluids in a public space.' " 
I think the college administrator meant well, but as many of us often do, she went on a bit too long, forgetting one of the cardinal rules of effective communication: less is often more.
The link to Ultrarunning?  Most people don't think much about their urine, but Ultrarunners better.  The color and volume are good indicators of your hydration state, so in a sport where water in the backcountry is a serious thing, it matters whether you are peeing (no pee = not enough water intake).  The color also matters: think Sprite, not Mountain Dew, and if your urine tends towards the latter, again you have an indicator that you are behind on the water curve.
These rules of thumb continue after you get home.  I know that a post-run beer can taste mighty good, but better limit it to one until your urine is back to normal.  Otherwise you're setting yourself up for a raging dehydration headache, which is never fun.

Monday, June 15, 2015

2 Images: One Good, One Better

Here are 2 shots of the waterfall end of my water garden.

The key elements of the image are the mermaid, the waterfall, my stonework...and a 4th key component that appears only in the After shot.



I don't have to tell you that the second image is infinitely better once the cat plopped itself down right in the middle of the shot.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cats in Art: Saint Jerome Penitent (Lotto)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.  Last week's post was on a truly strange piece by Lorenzo Lotto (here), and now I've uncovered a second painting by Lotto that contains a cat.

Image credit Renaissance Connection, here, Saint Jerome Penitent, 1515, Lorenzo Lotto, 15" x 12", oil on panel, held by Allentown Art Museum of Lehigh Valley, Allentown, PA. 

The Renaissance Connection folks offer this background info:

Saint Jerome was the first person to translate the bible into the language of ordinary people — a form of Latin known as the Vulgate. His work to make the bible understandable for everyone made him a popular subject for Renaissance painters. Legend has it that Saint Jerome removed a thorn from a lion's paw, and in turn, the lion remained his faithful companion for years. In this painting, the lion gazes out at us as Saint Jerome watches Christ's suffering on the cross. The painting is called Saint Jerome Penitent; penitent meaning sorrow and regret for past wrongdoings. He holds a rock in his hand, ready to strike himself as punishment for his sins.
Couple of comments:  first, check out the owner of this small piece.  I'm excited because it's here in Pennsylvania, and not all that far away.  Sounds like a good road trip to me!

Second, this painting by Lotto contrast nicely with the black and white engraving by Albrecht Durer (my subject of Cats in Art from 31 May, here) also depicting Saint Jerome in the wilderness.  Where Lotto's lion above seems calm and placid, Durer's lion below (from some 20 years earlier) seems agitated, angry, coiled and ready to pounce.

I'm kinda partial to Lotto's kitty.

I'll include the Durer engraving image here again:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

You Really Should Read "Wild"

If you're like me, your progression to Ultrarunning probably involved road racing until you became a regular marathoner, combined with hiking and backpacking, eventually leading to trying some trail running.

And getting hooked on the latter.

So even though my backpacking days are long gone, I still avidly like reading about long distance hiking, such as AWOL on the Appalachian Trail (David Miller); A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson); and most recently, Wild (Cheryl Strayed).

(Note: A decent movie based upon the book Wild--Cheryl's experiences on the Pacific Coast Trail--was recently out starring Reese Witherspoon.  The bride and I liked the movie but as usual, a book is just more in-depth and richer than a 2 hour film can be).

You should definitely read the book.  The author is broken in a number of important ways, and is very slowly coming to terms with her mother's early death from cancer at age 45.  Cheryl's writing is SO engrossing and gorgeous that the book is a literal page-turner, even though you know the ending: she completes her hike and finds herself along the way.

Anyway, in describing her beloved mother--who must have been a real trip--this passage leaped out at me to share here:

"I've given you everything," she [mother] insisted again and again in her last days.

"Yes," I agreed.  She had, it was true.  She did.  She did.  She did.  She came at us with maximum maternal velocity.  She hadn't held back a thing, not a single lick of her love.

Which, I suppose, is a pretty good eulogy.  The phrase "maximum maternal velocity" is absolutely priceless.

Read the book...and the other 2 listed.  You will not regret it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Shelter & Trail Part of Adventure Camp

As they have done for the past couple of years, the local Whitetail Ski Resort is offering a teenager adventure camp in the summer later this month.  The kids will kayak, fish, hike, and camp...with the hiking part being along the Tuscarora Trail and the camping part being at the Reese Hollow Shelter where I am overseer.

The front of the Whitetail brochure:

My first Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) group work trip was to construct the fire pit at then brand-spanking-new Reese Hollow Shelter in 2013 so I can well imagine the tired kids hanging out at the first at the end of their trip.  This is the welcome sight they will see as they make the last turn off the Tuscarora for the 1 mile downhill to the shelter:
Image credit Gary

Whitetail's web site is here if you want to learn more of the details of this adventure camp.  Please note that I have no financial interest in this activity, though I'm wholeheartedly endorse it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Cats in Art: Annunciation (Lotto)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. 

Image credits Web Gallery of Art.  Annunciation, Lorenzo Lotto, 1534-35, oil on canvas, 65" x 44", held by Museo Civico, Recanti, Italy.

Zuffi's analysis of this unusual painting:

God claps his hand together and the strong, muscular, imperious archangel bursts into the room.  The Virgin Mary is troubled and frightened.  She turns towards us, almost as if she were seeking help.  She evokes our tenderness with her big, dark, wandering eyes, her fragile little hands raised, and her immaculate, carefully ironed clothes, along with the symbols of a life that is suddenly changing--the book on the lectern, the stool with the hourglass on it, the chaste bed with its canopy, the towel, nightcap, and candlestick.

Feeling free from all convention, Lotto abandons the poetic, contemplative tone of many earlier Annuniciations, choosing to represent instead a moment of high drama.  Fundamental to his vision is the darting cat, fleeing with its back arched in the luminous center of the scene: as domestic peace is being shattered, the tabby with the blazing eyes introduces a disturbing, ambiguous note. Lotto captures precisely one of the fits of apparent madness that suddenly invite the placid days of household pussycats, superimposing on his depiction ancient superstitions about a demonic shudder provoked by the intrusion of the divine into everyday life.

With that, the close up of the kitty, who is more than a little spooked by God's handclap and the sudden appearance of an angel:

My thoughts? (I get to do that, since, after all, this is my blog!).  First, I totally agree with Zuffi that this image is way different from others of the era, in introducing the elements of hesitation and unease.  It's as though this is not so much a divine moment as an "Oh sh*t" moment for Mary.

The cat seals the deal by racing across the dead center of the painting that features God, the Virgin Mary, and an angel...yet it's the kitty at center stage, with a facial expression that's more akin to anger and annoyance rather than fear.

Lotto--and I love that name!--must have been a kitty aficionado to have captured this cat's expression so well.  Likewise Lotto must have been a rebel of sorts to have decided to portray the scene as he did, with a cat and ambiguity, rather than the heavenly chorus happily singing hosannas.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Spring Work...and Ultrarunning

Image credit Gary of Mister Tristan (the 7 year old human being, not the blog) at the Reese Hollow Shelter spring

Now is the time of year when we Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) overseers have come out of hibernation and start, well, overseeing.  That means trail and shelter projects, so when I said "Spring Work" I was being quite literal.

At "my" shelter, the piped spring dumps its water into the splash pool that sometimes does not hold water.  When I see that has happened, I just toss a shovelful of sand into the pool and it temporarily plugs up the holes through which the water drains out.  That works for a couple months.  But having a reliable splash pool under the pipe is a desirable thing, to serve as a repository for food/beverage items that hikers and users of the shelter may wish to keep cool.

So with the help of Mister Tristan, a couple weeks ago we went up to the shelter to repair/create a better splash pool under the piped spring.  The semi-permanent fix for the splash pool was to install a piece of rubber lining left over from my water garden.  Then we rebuilt the surrounding stepping stones to make the spring look natural again.  

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning?  The couple of times I've done trails runs here the spring water has been the sweetest and most refreshing on earth.  During or after a run, there's nothing like cold spring water.

NOTE: It should be pointed out that Mister Tristan absolutely did NOT get wet while working on this project (I also have a bridge in NYC I'd like to sell you).

Friday, June 5, 2015

Responsible Gun Ownership

Seems that the great state of Texas has done this:

Texas is now allowing students, faculty and staff over 21 years old to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, including in classrooms and professors' offices.  

While the 2nd Amendment folks may applaud loudly, fellow blogger Echidne points pout succinctly why this may be a problem.  You should go read the whole post but here's what resonated most with me:

Part of the problem, in my view, is that the NRA has turned the ownership of a dangerous and tricky tool into something like a human right without creating the commensurate human responsibility:  To be properly trained in the use of guns, to employ the necessary care in their storage, and to be responsible for the outcomes of all misuse.

Imagine a world where anyone, in almost any condition, and without any training should be allowed to drive an automobile anywhere, including off the roads or on either side of streets.  Then imagine that no car insurance would be required.

That's what the Texas concealed carry law sounds like to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The New Guardians of the Estate

The bride and I love us some landscaping.  Our place is not large--a subdivision lot of 100' wide by 250' deep--just over half an acre--but with her as the designer and me as the shovel-wielder, we've managed to create a really nicely landscaped place.

Our "estate" has been featured a couple times on garden tours, most recently this past weekend.  We have a variety of beds featuring various native, heirloom, or exotic plants, and the sloping yards have proven to be a good way to incorporate stone walls using local native limestone.  Plus our water garden is a nice feature.

Another one of the things that we've been adding in particular the past couple of years has been statuary--tasteful and understated, sculptures that peek out subtly and surprisingly.  I'm not sure that our most recent addition prior to the garden show meets those criteria, but we fell in love with a gargoyle that we mounted up on our pergola:

Image credit Gary

Actually, we got a pair of alike gargoyles, mounted now on either end of our pergola.  I think seeing such critters on the medieval cathedrals in Europe last fall got us thinking.

Seems that the term gargoyle (see Wikipedia, here) originally refers to their water-diverting function.  Our pair, mere statures, should more properly be called a chimera, but for us, gargoyle is still the term of choice:

In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved or formed grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building, thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Architects often used multiple gargoyles on buildings to divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize the potential damage from a rainstorm. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater typically exits through the open mouth. Gargoyles are usually an elongated fantastic animal because the length of the gargoyle determines how far water is thrown from the wall.

When not constructed as a waterspout and only serving an ornamental or artistic function, the correct term for such a sculpture is a chimera, or boss. Just as with bosses and chimeras, gargoyles are said to frighten off and protect those that it guards, such as a church, from any evil or harmful spirits.

So, we like to think that these guys are the news guardians of the estate, keeping watch both night and day.