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Daily Dose Of Interesting Information

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#1. Candy barrel cactus.

This is also known by the name Arizona Barrel Cactus. Its cylindrical shape justifies its name. It grows to a height of 3 to 6 feet and a diameter of 2 feet. Specimens ten feet tall and 3 feet across have been recorded.

The cactus has 15 to 28 ribs running from top to bottom. Flowers are yellow to orange red. Flower appears atop of the cactus fruit during the summer months.

The fruit is green when unripe. It turns yellow when ripe. The dried flower sits atop of the cactus for more than a year.

The cactus leans southwards and is given the nickname “Compass Barrel Cactus”.The extreme heat of the afternoon Sun slows down the growth on that side. The plant grows unevenly and leans towards south.

The older Barrel cactus lean so much that they get uprooted during rainy season -when the soil is loose. Barrel cactus lives for 50 to 100 years!

Visalakshi Ramani
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#2. Fish hook cactus.

Fish hook cactus is the common name for any species with hook shaped spines.

This species is very small in size and grows to a height of only 6 or 7 inches. This cactus is similar in shape to the barrel cactus plants.

Fish hook Cacti are seen in Sonora Desert of the U.S.A, the Mexican border and the Mesa Verde National Park. They grow on the dry gravely slopes of the desert.

Fish hook cacti bloom with bright colored flowers with many petals in April and May. They bear red fruits half to one inch long. Hooked spines half an inch long are seen at the nipples surrounded by numerous straight thorns.

The other names of this cactus are Pincushion cactus, Cork Seed Cactus and Nipple Cactus.

Visalakshi Ramani
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#3. Mariposa Lily.

Calochortus is a genus of bulbous plants. It includes 70 species of which 28 are endemic to California.

Mariposa Lily is a bulbous plant. It has wedge shaped open petals. It produces one or more flowers on a stem that arises from the bulb.

This plant blossoms in Spring or early summer. Flowers can be white, yellow, pink, purple, bluish or streaked.

Mariposa Lily flower looks like the master piece painting of the Goddess of Nature.

The inner sides of the petals are hairy which is useful in distinguishing the species from one another.

Visalakshi Ramani

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#4. Lunar Flower.

“Queen of the Night” is the name of the several genera and species of Night Blooming Cereus Cactus. Another name is Lunar Flower! This plant is native to Sonora desert in North America.

This plant grows as a thin stick from a single stem in the ground. Beneath the ground it has a large tuber of the size of a watermelon.

American Indians and early settlers used to eat this tuber for its high nutrient contents.

This plant blooms for just one or two nights a near around May 30th. The flower stays open until early morning and remains closed for another year!

Pack rats usually eat these blossoms before the morning. So catching a glimpse of this cactus blossom is very rare indeed!

Visalakshi Ramani
#5. Desert Dandelion.

Desert Dandelions belong to the Sunflower family. They are found in Sonora desert and Great Basin Desert of North America.

Bright yellow flowers on branched stems bloom from March through June. A single plant can have many flower heads and each flower measure 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches wide.

The plant grows to a height of 6 to 14 inches. The leaves are 3 to 5 inches long and divide into thread-like lobes.

The fruits are topped with soft bristles and resemble seeds. In springs following wet winters, these flowers form brilliant patches of gold carpets on the sandy desert surface!

Visalakshi Ramani
#6. Mexican gold poppy.

Mexican Gold Poppy is responsible for the brilliant wild flower displays on the deserts lands. The number of blossoms occurring between February and Mid April depends upon the winter condition and the amount of rain fall, in the previous year. These flowers are winter annuals.

Flowers vary in color from bright yellow to orange. These flowers have four petals which form a cup 1.5 inches wide! The flowers grow on a single stalk and remain open only in full sunlight.

The plant grows 16 inches tall. It has fern-like leaves which are 2.5 inches long!

Visalakshi Ramani
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#7. Yellow evening primrose.

Yellow Evening Primrose is one of the few native wild flowers in North America. The flower bloom at nights from May to July.

These flowers stage one of the most startling wild flower displays in the deserts. Their vivid yellow blossoms measure 5 inches across! Individual flowers last only one day! They bloom in the evening and wither the next day.

Their leaves are narrow, lance shaped and 6 inches long! Short hair on the surface of the leaves give them a silvery sheen. Plant grow in a low and sprawling manner.

This plant is considered to have many medical properties. It can cure head-aches, induce labor and cure baldness as well as laziness- the first ever known cure for laziness!

All the parts of this plant are edible.The roots are eaten like potatoes.

Visalakshi Ramani
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# 8. Brodiaea.

Brodiaea is known as Cluster Lily. It is also known as Harvest Brodiaea and Elegant Cluster Lily. It is a native of California and Oregon and grows in meadows and woodlands.

It is perennial and produces a stout stem-like inflorescence 50 c.m tall! Showy and attractive flowers in shades of purple bloom! Flowers are 10 c.m long and have six curving petals.

The flowers are late bloomers and are seen in the month of May. The leaves are narrow and long.

The small onion-like bulbs of this plant were eaten by the native Americans. They called it “grass nuts”.

Visalakshi Ramani
#9. Hedgehog cactus.

Hedgehog Cactus is a small barrel shaped cactus. It has several hundred stems in a compact hemisphere clump or mound.

The stems are cylindrical in shape, up to one foot long and 1 to 2 inches thick, with 9 or 10 ribs. The central spines are straight or slightly curved 1 to 2 inches long. Small radial spines arise in at a sharp angle.

The stems are green and contain chlorophyll. Hence the plant has no leaves at all! Its flowers are scarlet red in color, cup-shaped, 1 to 2 inches long and grow on the apex of the stem.

Humming birds are primary pollinators. Fruits become red and edible when ripe. The flowers bloom from April through June. This is the first cactus to bloom in spring.

The flowers stay open all night and last 3 to 5 days. Native American used to make sweet cakes from the fruits of these plants.

Visalakshi Ramani
#10. Lupines.

Lupines or Lupins are members of the Genus Lupinus in the Legume family. This Genus consists of 200 to 600 species.

These are Herbaceous Perennial plants usually 1 to 5 feet tall. Some of them are annual plants and a few others 10 feet tall shrubs.

One species in Mexico grows to a tree 8 meters tall and measures 8 inches in diameter at the trunk.

The shape of the leaves are easily recognizable. The plants have silvery hair on their soft green or gray green colored leaves. The leaves are palmately divided into 5 to 28 leaflets.

The flowers are produced in a dense or open whorls on an erect spike. Each flower is 1 to 2 cm long and pea-flower-shaped. The fruit is a pod containing several seeds.

Visalakshi Ramani
An Introduction.

Rhymes are simple melodious songs and nursery rhymes are what children listen to and learn from their mothers, at a very tender age.

Many of the words and lyrics found in the popular nursery rhymes have been used as a parody of the royal events and political happenings of that time.

A direct comment or reference to those events would end up in arousing the wrath of the authorities and getting beheaded in public!

So the names and identities have been hidden and those bitter truths have been saved and spread in the form of nursery rhymes-appearing really harmless and sounding sweetly innocent!

Visalakshi Ramani
#12. Ring a Ring o’ Roses.

Ring-a-Ring o’Rosies
A Pocket full of Posies
“A-tishoo! A-tishoo!”
We all fall Down!

This innocent looking rhyme first appeared in 1881, in the book Mother Goose. In reality it goes back in time to the 1660s, when The Great Plague ravaged humanity.

Bubonic plague or Black Death prevailed in London in 1665. It had claimed the lives of 70,000 people out of the 4,60,000 residents of London!

Doctors attending on the plague affected people had to wear protective outfits and a huge bird like mask, to protect themselves from being infected by the disease!

Nothing could stop the spread of this deadly disease. Only The Great Fire of London in 1666 could check the spread of Plague, by killing all the rats.

“Ring a Ring o’ roses” refers to the rosy colored rash, appearing on the affected person, as an early symptom of Plague!

“A pocket full of posies” refers to the medicines and herbs people used to carry in their pockets-hoping to keep off the plague!

“Achoo! Achoo! We all fall down” refers to the last sneezes of the affected person before he falls down, quite dead!

So the sad story of The Great Plague lies concealed in the most popular rhyme-which children love most. They love to play in groups, holding hands and running in circles!

Visalakshi Ramani
#13. Mary Mary.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

The Mary referred to in this rhyme is Mary Tudor, popularly known as Bloody Mary. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII. She was a staunch Catholic who could not stand the sight of Protestants.

“The Garden” in the rhyme refers to the rows of graveyards of the Protestant martyrs of that time! This “garden” graveyard was ever increasing it is size, with the graves of the people who dared to continue to adhere to Protestant faith.

The Silver Bells and Cockleshells were instruments used to torture the martyrs before they were put to death.

The Silver Bell was a thumb screw, by tightening which the thumb of a person could be crushed between two hard surfaces. The Cockleshells are believed to be instruments of torture, which were attached to the genital of the person!

Guillotines were the instruments invented exclusively for mass beheading. They were nicknamed as Maidens and in this rhyme the nick name is further shortened to Maids.

The “pretty maids” were far from pretty, as they were the instruments of mass murder.

Yet who could guess that the gruesome story of Bloody Mary lies concealed in song which talks about garden, silver bells and pretty maids!

Visalakshi Ramani.
# 14. Jack And Jill.

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up got Jack, and home did trot
As fast as he could caper
He went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper

One popular interpretation is that the rhyme represents two men Jack and Gill, as there is no historic evidence or reference to any girl!

When Western Europe split into two sectors namely The Holy Roman Empire and France, Cardinal Wolsey (Jack) and Bishop Tarbes (Gill) attempted for a negotiation and peace.

But they failed miserably in their mission. A full scale war erupted. This rhyme is thought to be a parody of their uphill task for peace and their subsequent failure.

Another story goes thus: Jack and Jill represent the King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie Antoinette. Jack lost his crown denotes that the King was beheaded. Jill came tumbling after denoted that the Queen too shared the same fate and followed the King.

The actual beheading took place in The Reign of Terror in 1793. The first publication of this rhyme was in 1795, fitting well with the historical dates and fates.

Visalakshi Ramani.
#15. Rain Rain Go Away.

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!

The origin of this rhyme goes back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. During her reign (1533-1603) constant rivalry prevailed between the two countries England and Spain.

Spanish Armada was launched in 1588, to invade England! It consisted of more than 130 ships and was led by Duke Medina Sedonia.

The English fleet was much smaller and had merely 34 small Navy vessels and 163 armed merchant ships. It was led by Admiral Lord Howard.

Despite the odds, the smaller and swifter English fleet defeated the larger and stronger Spanish fleet!

This miracle was made possible by the stormy weather prevailing at that time, which scattered the larger and slower Armada fleet. Only 65 Spanish ships and 10,000 men returned alive to Spain!

Hence the popular rhyme commanding the rain to go to Spain, and never show its face again!

Visalakshi Ramani.
# 16. Sing a Song.

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!

It appears that during the Medieval Times practical jokes were much appreciated! The cook in the service of a wealthy knight would sometimes put small live birds, under the crust of the pie, he served to the guests!

When the pie was opened and the live birds emerged, the gathering had a hilarious laugh. The cook had another pie ready to be served to the guests, as soon as the birds were released!

The other interesting reference is to the King in his counting house counting money and the Queen in her parlor eating bread and honey.

It reflects the common man’s concept of the royalty who could indulge in money and honey, which were beyond his wildest dreams!

Visalakshi Ramani.
#16. Sing a Song.

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!

It appears that during the Medieval Times practical jokes were much appreciated! The cook in the service of a wealthy knight would sometimes put small live birds, under the crust of the pie, he served to the guests!

When the pie was opened and the live birds emerged, the gathering had a hilarious laugh. The cook had another pie ready to be served to the guests, as soon as the birds were released!

The other interesting reference is to the King in his counting house counting money and the Queen in her parlor eating bread and honey.

It reflects the common man’s concept of the royalty who could indulge in money and honey, which were beyond his wildest dreams!

Visalakshi Ramani
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#17. London Bridge.

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all night,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.

London Bridge is one of the famous landmarks of London. The history associated with this rhyme goes back in time to the First Century, when Romans occupied London. The bridge was then built with wood and clay.

The Viking invaders destroyed the bridge in the 1000s. Many fires broke out on the bridge and many disasters struck the bridge. Every time the bridge was damaged, it was rebuilt and fortified with the different materials available at that time,as listed in the rhyme itself!

A strong bridge complete with a draw bridge was constructed in 1176. The great Fire of London in 1666, weakened the arches and foundation of the bridge.

In 1820, a new bridge was built to the North of the old bridge. It was opened in 1831 and the old bridge was demolished!

The suggestions for improvements stated in this rhyme run thus:

The bridge built with clay and wood should be replaced by one built with bricks and mortar.

The bricks and mortar bridge should be replaced by one built with iron and steel.

This should be replaced by a bridge made of silver and gold! To guard against theft, a night watchman must be put on duty with enough tobacco and a smoking pipe, to keep him awake all night!

Visalakshi Ramani.
#18. Ding Dong Bell.

Ding dong bell
Pussy’s in the well
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Flynn
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout
What a naughty boy was that
Try to drown poor Pussycat,
Who ne’er did any harm
But killed all the mice
In the Farmer’s barn!

This is a rhyme with a message of morality. The origin dates back to the 16th Century. William Shakespeare had used the phrase “Ding Dong Bell” in several plays like The Tempest (Act 1, scene 2) and The Merchant of Venice (Act 3, Scene 2).

The original lyrics of Ding Dong Bell ended with the cat being allowed to drown! Later the rhyme was modified and Little Tommy Stout was made to pull her out of the well and save her life!

Children should be taught not to harm any form of life, which has not harmed them. They should be discouraged from harming the animals and birds living around us.

The modified form does indeed teach Morality, to children at a very tender age!

Visalakshi Ramani
# 19. For Want Of a Nail.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

This rhyme contains a series of events following one another in a logically progressive manner! The causes and effects are listed in an amazingly impressive manner to the children.

The child is taught that a seemingly unimportant event or a thoughtless action may end up in creating very serious problems later in life!

The references to the horses, the riders and kingdom etc indicate the English origin of the rhyme. Most of the English Kings did not leave anything to chance.

King Edward III commanded obligatory practice of archery on all holidays and Sundays. This was to make sure that his archers remained in good shape!

Benjamin Franklin included a version of this rhyme in his Poor Richards Almanack.

During the World War II, this verse was framed and hung on the wall of the Anglo American Supply Head Quarters in London, England.

Visalakshi Ramani
#20. Goosey Goosey.

Goosey Goosey Gander where shall I wander,
Upstairs, downstairs and in my lady’s chamber
There I met an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.

This rhyme has historical allusions to the struggle between The Catholics and The Protestants in the Sixteenth Century.

“The lady’s chamber” was a room owned by a lady of high rank at that time. It is also often referred to as a Solar.

Priest Holes were small secret rooms which were part of many great houses in England in those days. As the name suggests the priests had to hide there to save themselves from being persecuted by the zealous Protestants-who were totally opposed to the Catholic religion.

If a priest got caught, he as well as the family harboring him were mercilessly executed by the Protestants.

Visalakshi Ramani
#21. Hey Diddle Diddle.

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such fun
And the dish ran away with the spoon!

This is a fantasy rhyme aiming at delighting the children with wild and impossible concepts. That is what is being done by most of the cartoon channels now- especially The Walt Disney Cartoons!

The terms “Hey diddle diddle” can be found in many of Shakespeare’s works. It corresponds in its mood and in its vein to the “hey nonny no” found in many Traditional English Folk ballads.

With their imagination running riot, the children burst out laughing in glee, as they picture the bulky cow jumping over the moon in the sky and the dish running away holding the hands of the spoon!

Visalakshi Ramani

#22. Little miss Muffet.

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away

Little Miss Muffet was a young girl named Patience Muffet. Dr. Muffet (1553-1604) was her step father and a famous etymologist who wrote the first scientific catalog on the insects found in Britain.

One day while Miss. Muffet was eating her breakfast, one of the spiders from her stepfather’s collection came running to her. The frightened Miss. Muffet ran away!

There is much relief and joy as this is just a simple rhyme about a frightened child-with no sinister undertones and scary allusions!

Visalakshi Ramani

#23. Old Mother.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none.

The old mother Hubbard alludes to the famous Cardinal Wolsey. He was the most important Statesman and Churchman of The Tudor history period of the 16th Century England.

Cardinal Wolsey was a faithful servant of king Henry VIII. The King wanted to divorce Queen Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, with whom he was madly in love!

When the Cardinal Wolsey failed to facilitate the divorce the king was terribly displeased with him.

The “doggie” in the rhyme refers to the King Henry VIII and the “bone” refers to the divorce. The old mother Hubbard was the Cardinal and the cupboard alludes to the Catholic Church.

Subsequently divorce was arranged by Thomas Cramner, leading to the break with Rome, the formation of the English Protestant Church and the death of Cardinal Wolsey.

Visalakshi Ramani
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