Writing Wins and Woes: Strange Flowers

This is the final edition of my unpublishable  publishings. I’ve enjoyed sharing these little articles with you, but next week starts a new month, and I’m anxious to move on. Because November is the month of Thanksgiving, I’m going to do blogs on things I am thankful for. Tune in and find out.

This edition is about strange and exotic flowers you probably never heard of. Forget Venus Fly Trap or flowers with funny names like Jack in the Pulpit, these flowers are even stranger than what you could imagine.

Strange Flowers

By Shari L Klase

What is the world is a Rafflesia Arnoldii? Believe it or not, it is the largest flower on Earth. This strange flower is nicknamed, “The Corpse Flower”. It is three feet across and weighs nearly 15 pounds. It has huge orange petals dotted with white splotches, making it look almost prehistoric. What’s worse, it smells like rotting flesh. This disturbing smell draws in carrion flies which pollinate the flower. It blooms in the Rainforest for only five days.

If you think that’s weird, how about a flower that wilts immediately if you even lay a finger on it? This plant is called Touch-Me-Not. It has dainty pink flowers and fern-like leaves. Although it will droop if you touch it, the leaves spring back in a few minutes. Because the leaves fold in some varieties, some are called “Prayer Plants”. No one knows why Touch-Me-Not does this but some think it discourages grazing animals from eating it. This interesting plant is native to Central and South America but now it grows lots of places including the United States. You can even grow your own. For more information on owning one, check out ticklemeplant.com.

Flowers are supposed to smell good, right? Well, the Skunk Cabbage doesn’t. This stinky flower grows in the wetlands of eastern North America and smells like its name. This flower resembles a gourd containing several tiny flowers. It can also make its own heat just like a warm blooded mammal, which allows it to melt through snow. Like the Corpse Flower, it attracts carrion pollinators.

What is the tallest flower in the world? It is called Amorphophallus Titanium. That’s a mouthful. This flower grows up to ten feet tall. It’s rare to see one because it grows in Sumatra and takes about six years to open. If you want a chance to see one, the Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California and also in Northampton, Massachusetts both have this unusual plant on display.

Did you know there is a strange flower that is poisonous? This plant is called The Voodoo Lily and it grows in Europe. It is a beautiful purple flower that draws in flies with its smelly odor, but because of its poisonous taste, animals keep away from it.

There are many strange flowers in the world. Some are tall, some are wide, and many are stinky and some you can even grow yourself.1274

Writing Wins and Woes: More Lost Stories

This is my third edition of the lost stories; which are really just stories/mostly articles never published before. Not that I didn’t try. They just never made the cut. Today’s article was an interesting one about animals that can tell when natural disasters occur and serve1389 as a warning to people. The article is called: Animal Storm Tellers.

Animal Storm Tellers

By Shari L Klase

Can animals predict storms or earthquakes or even tidal waves? Well, some scientists seem to think so. How do they do it? Do they have a sixth sense, sometimes called ESP? No, instead they seem to hone in all their other senses, especially their keen sense of hearing.

Have you ever heard of infrasonics? Infrasonics are sounds so low that people can’t hear them. Did you know that some animals can hear these kinds of sounds? Sounds are really vibrations that ae measured in Hertz(Hz). Humans can hear between 20-20,00 Hz. Scientists are finding out that elephants can hear sounds much lower than people can. That is why when a huge tidal wave hit Sri Lanka on Dec. 26,2004, the elephants fled to higher ground before the wave hit. And they weren’t the only animals that did. Even flamingos and nocturnal bats flew away before the tsunami (tidal wave). No dead wild animals were found after the wave hit. Sadly, 230,000 people died in this disaster.

Animals are also in tune to changes in Barometric (air) and Hydrostatic (water) pressure. Hurricanes cause large decreases in air and water pressure. Sharks sensed the barometric pressure dropping during Tropical Storm Gabrielle and Hurricane Charlie and swam to deeper water. Even birds and bees can sense these kinds of changes and fly to their nests and hives.

Can birds predict tornadoes? Birds can predict tiny pressure shifts before extreme weather happens. However, tornadoes move so fast and occur in just one place at a time so  there is not much advanced warning, even for birds. Birds do have an advantage in tornadoes, though. Because they are so quick and alert, they can get out of the way faster than people can.

Dogs are also more in tune to drops in barometric pressure and shifts in the static electric field that come before weather changes. Does your dog howl or get nervous before a storm even starts? That may be because a dog has hearing that is twenty times more sensitive than yours. The more often they experience storms, the better they will be alert to the smallest changes. So, your dog might be able to warn you when a bad storm comes.

In 373 BC an old Greek City named Helike sank into the sea one night in winter. It was said that a terrible earthquake and tsunami destroyed the city. Stranger than this sudden disappearance of a whole city is that all the animals including rats, worms and beetles left the city before it was destroyed.

So can animals predict the weather? Maybe. Some scientists think that by studying animals’ reactions to storms maybe people can learn to predict them sooner. Only time will tell what our dog might tell us about the weather.

Writing Wins and Woes: All About Monkeys

In my last blog I mentioned that I’d be “publishing” my own articles/stories in my blog that didn’t quite make it into other publications. When I try to get something sold, or published, I often have to try multiple venues. That’s just the way it is. What one person doesn’t like, another may, but often times I just write for a theme. I really don’t have any plans to publish this particular work elsewhere. Furthermore, I don’t really even know what other publication would have any interest in it.

That’s what these little articles are that I’m putting in my blog. I really enjoy writing about nature/animals so most of these that I’ll include are about them. The September issue of Guardian Angel Kids was all about monkeys. I sent in an article to them about an interesting species of monkeys called “Howler Monkeys” but it didn’t make the cut. I still think the article is interesting, though, so for your eyes only, my readers, here is my article.

The Loud-Mouthed Monkey

By Shari L Klase

What is the loudest animal in the New World? Bears are loud. Parrots are loud. Mountain lions are very loud, but the loudest animal is actually a monkey. This monkey is called a Howler Monkey. It is named for its howl that can be heard three miles away.

Howler Monkeys live in rain forests in Latin America. They are not only the loudest  monkey there but the largest. They grow anywhere from two to four feet tall. They have big necks and huge lower jaws to support their over-the-top vocal cords.

Why do these monkeys howl? The males howl to defend their territory. Different monkey families called troops holler back and forth to each other so they know where each other are at. They do this at the beginning and end of every day. Howler Monkeys eat leaves, fruit, nuts and flowers from trees so a protected food source is very important.

These monkeys have another interesting feature. They have a tail as long as their bodies that can grip tree branches. They hang from their tails while eating. That’s because Howlers live high up in the trees and rarely come down; not even to drink. They can get enough water from the leaves they eat. Sometimes they drink the water that collects on the leaves like a cup.

Howlers live in family groups of fifteen to twenty members and their leader is usually an old male monkey. There are nine different species of Howler Monkeys and their colors can be anywhere from gold to black. When Howler Monkeys have babies, several females will look after it and sometimes the males will, too, except for the very young males who may hurt the infants.

The Howler is one of the laziest monkeys around, resting 80 % of the time. They spend most of their time sleeping and grooming each other. But they don’t need an alarm clock to wake up. Their booming voices will do that every day!

****Side note: I’m very excited to be a part of a project from Knowonder! that has published readers for dyslexic children. Two of the four volume set have included a story of mine in them. They are not very expensive and they include delightful stories about dragons. Here is the link to those books if you know someone with a dyslexic reader.

dragon on a high hill  and  The Cloud Castle606

Writing Wins and Woes: The X Files

You thought this blog was going to be all about aliens. Sorry to disappoint you. While I love science fiction and all things supernatural, this blog isn’t about any of that. It’s about some articles that I wasn’t able to publish. I try every month to submit something to Guardian Angel Kids and sometimes they just don’t make it in the ezine. This past month I submitted an article about pumpkins and Jack O’Lanterns and I thought with Halloween fast approaching, it would be a good time to publish it myself on my blog. One nice thing about having a blog. If I don’t get it published where I want, I’ll just publish it myself. ha ha.

So, in the upcoming weeks, you’ll be hearing more of those “lost” articles; not quite publishable.

The Legend of Jack

By Shari L Klase

What’s big and orange, grows around Halloween and makes an excellent canvas for spooky faces? A turnip right? Or maybe a gourd? How about a potato? Wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense, does it? But actually, this is how our Halloween Jack O’ Lanterns began.

Carving gourds or turnips started in the Middle Ages in Europe and was used to scare away evil spirits. At first the gourds were containers for fire, because a raging bonfire was dangerous and not easy to carry around as protection, but eventually the gourds began to take the shape of the spirits themselves.

However, when these people came to America, gourds and turnips were hard to find so they turned to carving pumpkins, which were all over the place.

The Jack O’ Lantern comes from an Irish story about Stingy Jack. Jack had a drink with the Devil but didn’t want to pay for it so he talked the Devil into changing himself into a coin to pay for the drinks. But Jack was so greedy he kept the coin in his pocket next to a cross so the Devil couldn’t change back into himself. He set the Devil free eventually after he made him promise never to take his soul. However, when Jack died, God didn’t want such a crooked character in Heaven and the Devil didn’t want him either so Jack was forced to roam the Earth with a burning coal. Jack put the coal in a carved out turnip and he became Jack of the Lantern or Jack O’ Lantern.800