Sunday, May 31, 2009

dahlia propagation

This is one of the north windows, and these are dahlia bulbs in moist growing medium. I took the sprouts and potted them up, placing a glass jar over them to prevent their drying out. Within three weeks they had rooted. I then took the rhizomes and planted them in the garden, and within another three weeks of planting they had sprouted. Now one of the sprouts from the rhizomes is three inches tall, and about four inches in diameter.

I still have to plant the dahlias in the pots -- haven't prepared the flower bed yet.

These are small, single-petal dahlias -- they'll grow up to 40 cm tall. But you can use the same technique to increase your stock of the larger hybrids.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

spring gardening

This blog started as a gardening diary, so now, in late spring, it returns briefly to its, uh... roots.

Things I learned as a spring gardener this year:

1. Seeds stored in October 2006 will germinate. Big time. I collected them from hybrid petunias (Petunia x hybrida), zinnias, french marigolds (Tagetes patula), china asters (Callistephus chinensis) and a lot of other stuff. Without much hope (and, foolishly, without a germination trial using a sample in damp tissue paper) I sowed THICKLY over a soil-less growing medium in an old strawberry box. The tagetes came up pretty decently. The petunias germinated scandalously, and in 10 days the makeshift seed flat looked like it was harboring CRESS.

The seeds, incidentally, were stored in an unheated garage, in an airtight can, in separate envelopes labelled with variety and date, and with two little packets of silica gel from a shoebox. I don't know where to get silica gel in Denmark, so I just use these little packets that manufacturers drop into shoe boxes (leather and synthetic) to keep moisture at bay.

Seedlings collected from white petunias with a sprawling growth habit.

2. When a packet modestly refers to 70% germination, it means, like, 200% germination under optimum conditions. At least that's what happened with my Hammenhoeg dwarf-dahlia mix. Now I Live With Dahlias, the way other people Live With ADHD.

(Note: 200% germination is not hyperbole. Most seedpacks will have 50% to 200% more the number of seeds than it says on the fine print, as most gardeners prefer to direct-sow, leading to much loss of seed to drought or birds.)

Dahlia seedlings -- more came up eventually.

3. Used disposable coffee cups make an excellent substitute for two or three inch seedlings pots. The canteen at the Danish language school where I go three times a week serves coffee in wonderfully flexible plastic cups. They contain about 350 ml and this is the perfect volume for a three-week seedling. I ask my classmates for them at the end of each coffee session. Sometimes I fish them out of the recycle bin and rinse them out in the lavatories.

4. Yes, you CAN raise snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus), petunias (Petunia x hybrida), dahlias and larkspur (Consolida sp. and Delphinium sp.) from seed.

5. It's better to buy one pot in a color you like of easily-rooting plants like verbena and impatiens. Take two inch cuttings and root them. For verbena, in sand or compost. I'm still not sure whether rooting in compost or water is better for impatiens.

6. My impatiens, by the way, have NEVER rooted from leaf nodes. The roots, whether in water or in soil, appear to come from various unpredictable points in the stem. This contrary to advice you read from more experienced gardeners, posted on the web. I wonder why. Can anyone comment on this?

7. A small packet of pallid Viola cornuta seeds I collected in November 2006 has, apparently, remained viable. After a three week wait, I see one seedling, and two more appear about to sprout.

8. Copenhagen is in Zone 7B! That is to say, we don't ski from one farmhouse to the next six months a year, and polar bears don't walk the streets. Right now, in fact, all over Denmark, the clothes are coming off piece by piece, though a friend tells me nude beaches are OUT -- holdovers from the 60s or something like that.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Mendoza wins!

Cool! Filipino Brillante Mendoza has won the Best Director prize at Cannes for his controversial film "Kinatay." Now I've really got to see it, in all its dark, distasteful, disquieting glory. I believe the movie remains banned in the Philippines, but it's sure to play in a Copenhagen theater soon -- if not on regular TV. Something to calendar.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lars Von Trier/ AntiChrist


Speaking of Cannes, today's Politiken has at least three full pages devoted to the controversy surrounding Lars Von Trier's "AntiChrist". The film, apparently, has been bought for distribution in various countries -- where for the most part it is expected to play minus Willem Dafoe's full frontal nudity and a gory scene of a woman cutting off her own clitoris.

In the same issue is an article on the special effects, and an image of five prosthetic vulvas used in the scene, each with a tube for pumping the fake blood out of. Plus the note that an adult film actress stood in for Charlotte Ginsbourg during filming.

For the back pages features (art, film, culture) in Politiken alone, I would gladly learn more Danish! The school has promoted me to the fourth level (Modul) though the semester has six weeks more to go.


Opening Facebook, I discovered to my consternation that an old friend, lawyer, writer and writing workshop organizer Ernest Superal Yee had just died.

To find out more about the circumstances of his sudden death (heart attack) and the summer writers' workshop at Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines (first fortnight of May) at which he had been a panellist, I went to the blog of Ian, a writer-teacher at Silliman University.

It had a brief entry on Kinatay (Cannes, 2008), a Filipino film that appears to have been universally panned by critics. That led me to a brilliant post on Rogert Ebert's blog detailing why he thought Kinatay was so awful.

And that same post in turn led me to the mesmerizing trailer for Lee Daniels' 2009movie "Precious" that now I am dying to see.

not again

It's incredible how these sex video scandals never seem to run out of steam. Just shows you how repressed Filipinos are. Until our mindset becomes more sophisticated (is the word "decent" more precise?) the sex video will remain the most potent weapon for destroying a person's peace of mind and career.

Private, non-commercial sex videos are personal. Don't watch them. Don't speculate on them. Don't forward them. Don't advertise them, in a word.

They are none of your business.

Have sex instead.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Words of wisdom

My friend Judy Jover (Danish, a first generation immigrant from the Philippines) forwarded this to me. It's typical ironic FIlipino humor, stemming from the humiliating experiences of childhoods under tough, caustic parents in a tough and caustic culture. It makes me cringe, it's so real. The language is Tagalog. The author is unknown.

It's impervious to Google Translate, unfortunately, so read it with a Filipino friend by your side, someone who knows idiomatic Tagalog or has seen a lot of Filipino movies.

If you're European with a Filipina au pair, now might be the time to learn a bit more about her culture, beyond the population, religion and vacation spots in her country.

Mga Ginintuang Butil

Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan ang mga mumunti ngunit ginintuang butil na payo na nakuha ko sa aking mga magulang.

1. Si Inay, tinuruan niya ako HOW TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE :
“Kung kayong dalawa ay magpapatayan, doon kayo sa labas! Mga leche kayo, kalilinis ko lang ng bahay.”

2. Natuto ako ng RELIGION kay Itay:
“Kapag yang mantsa di natanggal sa carpet, magdasal ka na!”

3.Kay Inay ako natuto ng LOGIC :
“Kaya ganyan, dahil sinabi ko.”

4. At kay Inay pa rin ako natuto ng MORE LOGIC:
“Pag ikaw nalaglag diyan sa bubong, ako lang mag-isa ang manonood ng sine.”

5. Si Inay din ang nagturo sa akin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng IRONY:
“Sige ngumalngal ka pa at bibigyan talaga kita ng iiyakan mo!”

6. Si Inay ang nagpaliwanag sa akin kung ano ang CONTORTIONISM:
“Tingnan mo nga yang dumi sa likod ng leeg mo, tingnan mo!!!”

7. Si Itay ang nagpaliwanag sa a! kin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng STAMINA:
“Wag kang tatayo diyan hangga’t di mo nauubos lahat ng pagkain mo!”

8. At si Inay ang nagturo sa amin kung ano ang WEATHER:
“Lintek talaga kayo, ano ba itong kuwarto nyong magkapatid, parang dinaanan ng bagyo!”

9. Ganito ang paliwanag sa akin n! i Inay tungkol sa CIRCLE OF LIFE:
“Malandi kang bata ka, iniluwal kita sa mundong ito, maari rin kitang alisin sa mundong ito.”

10. Kay Itay ako natuto kung ano ang BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION:
“! Tumigil ka nga diyan! Huwag kang umarte na parang Nanay mo!”

11. Si Inay naman ang nagturo kung anong ibig sabihin ng GENETICS:
“Nagmana ka nga talaga sa ama mong walanghiya!”

12. Si Inay naman ang nagpaliwanag sa amin kung anong ibig sabihin ng ENVY :
“Maraming mga batang ulila sa magulang. Di ba kayo nagpapasalamat at mayroon kayong magulang na tulad namin?”

13. Si Itay naman ang nagturo sa akin ng ANTICIPATION :
“Sige kang bata ka, hintayin mong makarating tayo sa bahay!”

14. At si Itay pa rin ang nagturo kay Kuya kung anong ibig sabihin ng RECEIVING:
“Uupakan kita pagdating natin sa bahay!”

15. At si Itay pa rin ang nagturo kay Kuya kung anong ibig sabihin ng DETERMINATION:
“Hanapin mo yung pinahahanap ko sa ! iyo, pag di mo nahanap, makikita mo!”

16. Si Inay naman ang nagturo sa akin kung ano ang HUMOR:
“Kapag naputol yang mga paa mo ng pinaglalaruan mong lawnmower, wag na wag kang tatakbo sa akin at lulumpuhin kita!”

17. At ang pinakamahalaga sa lahat, natutunan ko kina Inay at Itay kung ano ang JUSTICE :
“Balang araw magkakaroon ka rin ng anak…tiyak magiging katulad mo at magiging sakit din sa ulo!”

Monday, May 04, 2009

My dad the sportscaster

Letter from my father, T. Valentino Sitoy Jr., retired history professor, on the May 3 Pacquiao-Hatton fight in Las Vegas. Oh yes, the Sitoys are big Pacquiao fans too.

"... The four of us watched the fight. Earlier on Fia (7) was asleep but she woke up just in time for the second round. Bea (10) was there all along. The whole morning from 7:00 a.m., your Mama was already on the TV looking for the right channel, and was very much pissed off when she would find no coverage of the fight. It was to be on GMA, not the usual ABS-CBN. Fortunately, your Mama at 10:30 a.m. found it just as it was starting with the undercard fights. From then on, we had GMA-7 channel on till the fight..

"The undercard fights were good. But your Mama and Bea were waiting for Manny. Both got bored with the three-hour long undercard bouts. Then, there were two brown-outs. The last one came just three or four minutes before the Pacman-Hitman fight was to come on.

"This was probably Manny’s most awaited fight. There were 50 Philippine congressmen who braved the swine flu just to be there. There were Filipino screen stars too like Richard and Lucy Gomez. Among the US personalities, there was Jack Nicholson, Mariah Carey, Mark Wahlberg, and many actors and famous people. You can be sure the classmates Bill Clinton and GMA were glued to their respective TVs.

"In the Philippines , everyone was on TV. Pay per view restaurants were full everywhere, even in Dumaguete. A free entrance gym in Quezon City accommodating 500 had 1,000 people in it, with thousands more outside. The latter were finally asked to go home and watch the fight there. In Manila , there was “zero traffic” – it looked like Sunday dawn. Four-lane EDSA had three lanes completely empty; the side lane having only three or four vehicles. The army also went to rest – no fights with Abu Sayyaf, who were I presume watching TV too. The police had a holiday. Through the day yesterday, no crime was committed in all Metro Manila. I guess the pickpockets were busy using their eyes rather than their hands. The three typhoons in early May (climate change, indeed) were also on hold. There was one (Crising) in the South China Sea yesterday, and another today, while another on the Pacific coast of Luzon (Dante) is still hovering east of Bicol.

"When Martin Nievera, the first time a man sang the Philippine anthem in any of Manny’s bouts, sang Lupang Hinirang, he sang the first bar slowly … paused, and then sang the rest in brisk tempo (the regulated 60 seconds flat), until the last bar when, like U.S. singers, he held his last bar and sang it crooner style. Then a very brief announcement was flashed. Martin Nievera’s rendition of the anthem had been approved by the National Historical Institute.

"In the first round, Ricky Hatton came on strong. Very aggressive. Pushed Manny back and into the ropes, at one time. Hatton also had the habit of holding Manny with his left, and then pounding Manny’s ribs with his strong right. Very bad. In the last third of the first round, Ricky Hatton did that again, which made Manny mad. You know it, because Manny for a moment stretched out his arms, and then brought his gloves together in a loud thump. In the last 30 seconds, Manny caught Hatton with a right, and very unexpectedly Hatton dropped, who was nakaluhod on his right. Pandemonium everywhere, including the Sitoy gym, when Bea and Lola raised their arms with a shout. Fia at this time was still asleep. In replays in various TV channels showing the audience – Manila , Cebu, Davao , General Santos, everywhere – Manny’s fans went wild with dancing and shouting.

"Hatton got up immediately. Then about 20 seconds later, with about six seconds to spare, Manny again hit with another right, pushing Hatton against the ropes and then on his back. He was given a count of six. Then in the last second after the bell rang, as Manny was already beginning to turn away, Hatton swung, still part of the round, but Manny safely backed away.

"Pictures of people watching after that first round show everyone all stirred up. Then the second round (Fia now awake). It was again Manny’s round, but Hatton had this dangerous tendency of being able to come back strong. The announcer said it, but it was obvious to those watching, that Ricky Hatton did not bring in any new strategy. He still comes barreling in, as in his previous fights. They had a fierce exchange. Hatton got the worse of it, though he also could hit Manny now and then. You just hope that Manny does not get careless. In the last 10 seconds of the second round, it was Ricky who got careless. He was watching Manny’s right (the one that floored him twice before), and for a split second opened the right side of his body. That was when Manny in a flash came with a strong left hook – Manny is left-handed – and hit Hatton squarely on the right jaw. Ka-blag! The British Hitman was on his back, out cold! It took minutes to revive him.

"The Filipinos everywhere did their crazy dance. I think it is the Pacquiao knock-out dance craze... Cebu TV has a new term – si Hatton gipalukapa ni Manny. The Cebuanos are also saying, just at this very minute, that Muhammad Ali has been called the “greatest fighter ever.” Now, they are asking, is Manny now not the “greatest fighter ever” with six belts to his credit.

"Now, everywhere in Philippine TV, the mesmerizing last 10 seconds of the 2nd round, as well as the two first-round knockdowns, are played and replayed. There is some pity for the Hitman. The one people are angry with is Floyd Mayweather, Sr., Hatton’s trainer, who had been such a foul-mouth, attacking Manny, calling him a easy push-over, and calling Freddie Roach, Manny’s trainer, a cockroach – this on TV. After the fight, Mayweather was nowhere to be seen. He later said that Hatton lost because he did not follow his advice. I had wanted to see his face after the fight, because it always feels good to see boastful people eat their own words.

"Now, the new challenger is Floyd Maywearther Junior, who had retired but is now coming back into the ring.

"As to Manny, he is the Philippines ’ number one hero, the only one who could suspend war fighting and prevent crimes and traffic jams. In Sulu, for the first time, the governor set up a free TV screen, for all people to see. In the war zone, also the commanding Army colonel put up a pay-per-view TV screen for the soldiers and local people. One MNLF unit also came in, and watched the bout along with the armymen.

"As to the world, everybody knows that the top dog in boxing is Manny Pacman Pacquiao. Yes, you can wear your Manny T-shirt proudly."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Go, Manny, go!

"Brilliant Pacquiao cements legacy with win
By Martin Rogers"