July 2012

Besides being featured on the festival’s Home page in a video, there is also an article about her in their Festival News.


Near Moundsville, West Virginia _ If you want to turn your home landscaping into a jungle wonderland, Mary Meberg’s unique gourd animals may be just what you’ve been looking for. Last year’s crop of Lagenaria Sileraria (sic)  (hardshell gourds) yielded gourds with long necks twisting this way and that to inspire a herd of giraffes large enough to populate a fantasy African Savannah. Imagine a giraffe in your home garden, its feet surrounded with ornamental grasses and day lilies. You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood.

If you prefer the homey quality of a backyard barnyard, consider pigs and chickens on the edge of a pumpkin patch flanked by short red mushrooms with polka-dotted tops or the natural brown color of tall pointy mushrooms in a bed of salvia and delphinium surrounding a deck. Stake out a bluebird house by the railing. Plant a few geraniums in gourd pots to create a mobile deck arrangement.

“Every year I add new items to my array of collectible gourds,” Mary says.

You have to see the variety of shapes and sizes to believe what Mary does with nature’s bounty.

“I probably use 10,000 gourds and I’m proud to say everything we use is locally produced. We have a 30-acre farm and do some growing, but we commission Amish farmers from Pennsylvania and Ohio to grow most of what we need. We provide the seed and get the gourds back ready to palette dry them.”

It takes about nine months for gourds to fully dry out depending on their size. During the drying cycle the moist interior creates a perfect environment for mildew and many home growers throw out their gourds when they see the mold forming on the outside.

“Mildew isn’t a problem. When the gourd is fully dried, I submerge them in warm water. You don’t even have to add soap although I might sometimes. Let them soak awhile and then scrub the mold off with a metal scrubby. You’ll find a beautiful smooth surface underneath. Give them a short re-drying time and you’re ready to let the shape guide what you make of it.”

Mary’s gourd ladles and pitchers are safe to hold drinking water and her birdhouses, which she paints to resemble cottages, have a back door for easy cleaning.

“I taught our five children to be involved in gourd craft but none of them have followed us into this farming vocation. The two youngest boys are finished college now and have worked with us on the shows we do.”

This year, Mary will teach a children’s class in giraffe making at the Shaker Woods Festival.

“When the children complete their giraffe, I invite them to come into our booth and see the display. We get a lot of ‘ohs’ and ‘aws’ and ‘wows’ when they see all the animals.”

In addition to animals and household implements, Mary will have an assortment of fall decorations including costumed scarecrows with gourd heads.

Find the Mebergs in booth 146.


Cyanobacteria are small organisms with huge importance. Ancient cyanobacteria created the oxygen atmosphere, and modern cyanobacteria produce a significant amount of the air we breathe. Now, these tiny organisms are helping us again by providing clues to improving biofuel production.

Because of their prolific photosynthesizing, cyanobacteria have great potential for solar-powered biofuel production. To tap into that potential, researchers from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences recently became the first to visualize and control the “biological electrical switch” that dictates how electrons flow through the bacterium.

But what does manipulating electron flow have to do with biofuel? “In chemical terms, fuels are just sources of electrons,” explains Conrad Mullineaux, professor of Microbiology at Queen Mary and study co-author. “So where the electrons go in the cell is vital for fuel production.”

To witness the electron movement, the team used fluorescent labeling to mark certain electron-carrying proteins. These proteins are an integral part of how the cell generates energy, and a better understanding of how they work will be essential to improving solar-powered biofuels.

The study found that altering the conditions of the bacterium, such as changing the light intensity, resulted in a dramatic redistribution of the proteins. This redistribution corresponded with a big change in electron direction.

“It’s rather like a familiar electrical switch,” says Mullineaux. “You press on it to change the position of the wires, and thereby change what the electrons do.”

He added: “At this stage, we’re just trying to understand what’s happening in the cell. But the potential is there to exploit the knowledge for biofuel production.”

Although biofuels are an excellent fossil fuel alternative, growing feedstock is often scrutinized for being resource intensive. “The problem is that [current production] processes are very inefficient,” says Mullineaux. “Huge areas of the planet would have to be devoted to biofuel crops in order to replace our current dependence on fossil fuels.”

To mitigate this concern, biofuel research often focuses on how to produce both energy efficient and cost-effective fuels from alternative feedstock. This research on cyanobacteria is another step towards reaching that goal.

“The imperative,” says Mullineaux, “is to develop photosynthetic organisms that will produce solar biofuels more efficiently. Then we can produce more from less.”

Top image: A fluorescence micrograph of the cyanobacterium. The red is natural fluorescence from the photosynthetic pigments, and the green is the tag added to the electron carrier. These patches disperse when the conditions change, which is the biological electrical switch in action. Image courtesy Conrad Mullineaux.

This article was originally published on ecomagination

Last night was the 2nd annual puspanjali festival in New Vrindaban.  This is the festival where the Deities are showered with flower petals. Two pujaris  stand behind Radha Vrindaban Candra and for the best part of an hour sprinkle lakhs of flower petals over them.

As the pile builds up to Their waists, two pujaris sit in front of them and throw the petals up into the air, looking like a fountain of flower petals.  Gathering flowers takes a lot of effort by a lot of devotees and private gardeners also bring in lots of flowers from their home gardens, as did we.

After the Deities have been bathed in petals, the pujaris gather up the petals and take them up to the 3rd floor where sections of the vaulted stain glass ceiling have been removed and from three different places they begin fluttering the petals down on the heads of the crowd. That went on for another twenty minutes or so continuously.

Soon they accumulate enough on the floor that one can easily sweep one’s arm and gather handfuls and petal showers and skirmishes erupt.

This is a great festival for kids. A whole crew of them sat rapt through the Deities being showered and once the petals fall from the sky the gathering and tossing is great fun. This will make for some distinct childhood memories.

Here is what I wrote last year, with a link to lots of pictures. 

This year my energy level kept me confined to a chair, but I was still feeling so fortunate to be able to attend an event like this. It makes up for a lot of tolerating bodily discomfort just to stick around for. So fortunate to be in a place such events happen.

I have a feeling that over the years this could develop into one of New Vrindaban’s biggest festivals because it is so unique. Here we are able to grow most of the flowers for the festival, though I have already determined to double the size of the Deity flower garden next year to have even more flowers for this festival.  We still had to buy some flowers for this years’ festival, due to the drought,  so next year we need to grow more just in case.

Earlier this month we got nailed with a dereche, a line storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes in multiple states, overwhelming the capacity of the electrical utility companies to respond.

“Definition of a derecho

A derecho (pronounced similar to “deh-REY-cho” in English, or pronounced phonetically as ““) is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

“Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. As a result, the term “straight-line wind damage” sometimes is used to describe derecho damage.

“By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho.”

Read more here.

The power companies flew in hundreds of linemen from all over the country to deal with the damage, setting up camps for them, including locally at a fairgrounds. Still, on our ridge, the electricity was out for 5 days. It came back on for 10 hours at our house then we got hit with a conventional thunderstorm that knocked it out for another day.

Personally it isn’t too bad for us. We are on city water so  had running water and as we live in a cell phone shadow we have a land line so had a phone. Two years ago I realized I didn’t have the energy any more to can much  so gave in and bought a freezer to preserve garden produce. At that time I was afraid something like this might happen so I bought a 3500 watt generator so we wouldn’t lose everything to an outage and have the freezer defrost on us, so we did have some electric.

We ran an extension cord to the recirculating pump on the solar hot water heater so we even had hot water.

As we hadn’t started freezing much yet this season, we had room in our freezer and were able to invite our neighbors to bring stuff over as well.

What didn’t work so well was the computer. I have a UPS  (Uninterrupted Power Source) with a battery so when we do get power outages (which are not uncommon here) I have about 30 minutes to save whatever I am working on and turn off the computer. I hooked that up to the generator thinking I could still use the computer but it didn’t like the electric it was producing.

The UPS has a line conditioner that smooths out spikes and brown outs which  after about 10 minutes  started tripping a breaker so I had to stop using it. I could have bypassed the UPS but figured that protection was there for a reason so chose instead to take a vacation from computing.

By the time 6 days had gone by my daily routine was altered  into a new pattern. The habit I had of blogging was replaced by exigencies in the garden and I have found it difficult to get back on the horse.  I have Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, and it is hard for me to alter a routine once established.  Blogging just fell by the wayside.

It wasn’t truly writer’s block, as I still had ideas just lacked the will to impose them on the screen.   We will see  how it goes from here.

Here is a picture of storm damage to the black walnut tree in our yard I eat the nuts off of.

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again

Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land

Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah

There’s danger on the edge of town
Ride the King’s highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby

Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake…he’s old, and his skin is cold

The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the rest

The blue bus is callin’ us
The blue bus is callin’ us
Driver, where you taken’ us

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door…and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
Mother…I want to…**** you

C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
On a blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
C’mon, yeah

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die

This is the end

I have it

Please  accept our humble obeisances.
All glories to Shrila Prabhupada.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Hare Krishna Crosswords, where every crossword is full of transcendental clues and answers.

Most of the words are from the
Bhagavad-Gita As It Is,
Chaitanya Charitamrita,
Krishna Book and other books (also letters and diaries ) by HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

A  few of the words are from other books by different devotees.
No matter what your age or position is, we are sure that you will find these transcendental crosswords spiritually rewarding and will help you get free from birth, death, old age and disease.
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