Monday, March 29, 2010

Cactus Monday

Happy Cactus Monday
This cottontop cactus is very serious about protecting its blooms!

Echinocactus polycephalus

A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Visit Teri's Painted Daisies for more cactus fun...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Desert is Blooming

We went camping in the desert last weekend and spring has definitely arrived!  I'll have more photos to share soon.  Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea)

Everything is blooming most recklessly;
if it were voices instead of colors,
there would be an unbelievable shrieking
into the heart of the night.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Spring!

I'll be out and about tomorrow, so I thought I'd drop by today to say
"Happy first day of Spring!"

Kalanchoe pumila

The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.
~ Therese of Lisieux

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Meant to Do My Work Today

I meant to do my work to-day —
But a brown bird sang in the apple-tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand —
So what could I do but laugh and go?

~ Richard Le Gallienne

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Important Day: WASP Honored

I don't usually post things like this, but this story deserves all the attention it can get.  I have always been fascinated with this part of our history.  These women are my kind of heroes.

There is an excellent story with accompanying photos, audio, and video on NPR's Web site:  Female WWII Pilots: The Original Fly Girls.  Be sure to visit the "WASP Interactive" section, especially "Lillian's Story: In Color."

WASP (from left) Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leave their B-17, called Pistol Packin' Mama, during ferry training at Lockbourne Army Air Force base in Ohio. They're carrying their parachutes. Courtesy of Texas Woman's University

And here's an article from the Los Angeles Times:

Women pilots from World War II to be honored

The groundbreaking Women Airforce Service Pilots were buried without military honors and long denied benefits. But now they'll receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

By Johanna Neuman
March 8, 2010

Reporting from Washington - When World War II beckoned, she was a 24-year-old mother of two daughters, ages 4 and 2. Her husband was a draftsman for Lockheed in Southern California, and her brother became an Army Air Forces pilot.

Carol Brinton longed to become a pilot herself -- "My husband had bad eyes so he couldn't get in, and I've always had a hard time letting my brother get ahead of me in anything," she said -- but the U.S. military had other ideas.

"They kept saying women couldn't fly anything bigger than a Piper," she said.

In 1942, with a shortage of male pilots and a desperate need to muscle up for war, the military changed course.

Famed aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran had been lobbying First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for a corps of female pilots. Eventually, Gen. H.H. "Hap" Arnold agreed. The Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, program was born, training the first women to fly U.S. military aircraft.

Recruited by newspaper ads and public service announcements, about 25,000 women answered the call. Of the more than 1,800 selected for training, 1,102 graduated.

During the war, they flew 60 million miles in every aircraft available -- Piper Cubs to B-29 bombers.

Prohibited from flying in combat, Brinton and others transported military personnel, towed targets for gunnery practice and tested planes newly repaired or overhauled.

"I'd fly them over their targets," she said. "The boys went down in the nose of the plane and dropped those bombs on the desert floor. Then I'd go back up to about 15,000 feet and fly back."

By the time the program was disbanded in December 1944, 38 women pilots had lost their lives. But there were no flags or military honors at their funerals. Their bodies were sent home and buried at their families' expense. The surviving WASP veterans paid their own way home and melted from history's pages.

The military decreed that their existence had never been cleared by Congress, and denied them benefits. Arnold's son Bruce lobbied for their recognition as veterans, a status Congress finally conferred in 1977.

This week, with fewer than 300 WASP members still alive, Congress is bestowing Congressional Gold Medals on all the trailblazing pilots.

So many relatives and fans are planning to attend a two-day celebration -- including Maj. Nicole Malachowski, the first female Thunderbird pilot -- that planners in Washington are juggling sites to accommodate the crowds at Tuesday's welcome reception and Wednesday's gold medal ceremony.

One of the pilots attending will be Brinton -- now Carol Brinton Selfridge, 92, and living in Santa Barbara.

"They didn't even let us join the Army," said Selfridge in an interview conducted on Skype. "We were private citizens."

Her journey as a military pilot was made possible by her mother, who agreed to care for her daughters. Her biggest challenge in the early days was finding a uniform to fit her 6-foot frame -- "We all got the same size overalls" -- and getting in 45 hours of flying time before showing up at training camp in Sweetwater, Texas.

She remembers making her solo flight in a rare snowstorm. In the barracks, she shared a bay with five women, including two so short they came up to her armpits.

She thought her greatest asset was her visual depth perception, which allowed her to excel at formation flying. In fact, when she started driving cars, passengers often thought she cut it too close for comfort.

Perhaps her greatest legacy is her granddaughter, Air Force Lt. Col. Christy Kayser-Cook, who followed in her footsteps. When Kayser-Cook was commissioned, two people pinned on her bars -- her great-uncle, who had been an Air Force pilot during the war, and her grandmother.

"She was always ahead of her time," Kayser-Cook said. "She only got to fly props and she was jealous that I got to fly jets."

But mostly what the veteran remembers is the adventure of it all. "The idea of flying always sounded wonderful to me. I was tremendously lucky. We had a lot of fun."

Click here for more photos and videos about Selfridge.,0,3738029.story

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cactus Monday: Play-Doh Cactus

Okay, so that's not its official name. 
But doesn't it look like it's made of Play-Doh??

Coastal Prickly Pear (Opuntia littoralis)

Happy Cactus Monday, and Happy March!

Play is the beginning of knowledge.
~George Dorsey

Be sure to check out the lovely cacti at Teri's Painted Daisies.