More Ways to Combine Modular Units

Let’s Make a Daisy Wheel and a Star Bracelet:

In previous posts I have shown you how to fold and glue the units to be used to create these new forms. It always amazes me how many ways the units can be combined.

To make these variations you just need to glue them together in new arrangements.

First Things First:

In order to have plenty of units to work with, you should find the colors of paper you want to use and determine the size of the units you will fold. In these projects all the units are the same size. To find the instructions for folding the base units look at my earlier blog entitled : Eco-Balls: Neat away to Recycle Paper which is found in the Origami section under the date of publication: Sept. 18, 2017. You will need 24 units to make the Daisy Wheel and 12 to make the Star Bracelet.

The Daisy Wheel

Above you can see one side of the project. Below I will show you the other side of the same form.

Below you can see the basic units used for this project.

Use 16 of the units to create 8 of the double units pictured on the bottom of the picture above. Keep the rest of the units as singles to add to the perimeter of the wheel you will make first. By gluing the 8 double units together you will have a Wheel.

Though the picture above shows three wheels you only need one.

Next, add the remaining 8 units to the perimeter to finish the form.

Now Let’s Try A More Difficult Form:

The Star Bracelet:

You need 12 units. Choose the colors you want in the finished form. I like to use two different colors to add interest, however, you can have all the same color for a monochromatic look or use more than two colors. It’s your choice.

Glue Together to Form Double Units:

Take your 12 units and make them into 6 double units. This time you will glue them in another way. You will probably find this project more difficult than the previous one. It all has to do with the gluing since it uses fewer units than the Daisy Wheel. Because less surface area is covered in glue you need to hold them together firmly and longer than you did when gluing up the double units.

Notice where the glue needs to be placed on the edges that will make contact with the other units.

Notice that the glue forms a “V” shape in the picture below.

The next few pictures show how the units go together.

Flat Surfaces Outward:

Continue gluing the units together keeping the flat surfaces outward. You should see a Star if David appear in the center of the form if you are combining them properly. It should look like the photo below.

Notice how the outer surface looks compared to the inner star form.

Now You Are A Star:

I hope you are enjoying learning how to make these various projects. If you create some new models on your own, please send me pictures.

Join With Others for New Possibilities:

While gluing these units together I often think of how we join together with others to accomplish different tasks. God has given each of us various gifts that make us different and needed by others in the Body of Christ, the Church. Our differences add contrast and interest just like the colors do in the projects above. It takes a Master artist to combine the pieces to make a whole. God has a place for you to make a difference in the world if you will let Him place you where He wants to. Be willing to combine with others even when they are different. You will be surprised how He can take people of every sort to accomplish His will and benefit all involved.

I Peter 2:4-6

“As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him- you also, like living stones, are built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For the scripture says: ” See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Discover the Mystic Mist Flower

One of my favorite Fall blooming flowers here in Tennessee had been a mystery to me. I finally decided to look for an answer to its identity. After looking at about 50 pictures of flowering blue to purple native plants I finally found an answer. It is the Blue Mist Flower.

What’s In A Name?

To be more exact, the scientific name is Eupatorium coelestinum. The Latin genus name means “coned-shaped, nodding Flowers” while the species name means “sky blue”. It also goes by many other common names like: Wild Blue Ageratum, (though it is in another family than the Ageratums), Break-bone, Blue Bonset, and many others.

A Butterfly and Bee Favorite:

One thing you will notice quickly when these flowers start to bloom in late Summer and early Fall is the many kinds of insects that feed on this plant. You will see lots of different kinds of butterflies, bees, moths, beetles, and flies landing on the flower tops gathering nectar. For this reason they are often planted in Butterfly gardens by those who love to watch their Lepidoptera friends.

Often Comes in Multiple Colors:

It’s interesting to note all the variations you can find in the coloring of the flowers on these plants. Some times they are bright blue. Other times they are more purplish in color and they even come in white. I found it interesting that on some plants you could find all three colors.

Some Identifying Characteristics:

Blue Mist Flowers can be planted by seed but more often a gardener may find rhizome root cuttings to get a quicker result. As the plants grow and spread their underground root system insures they will be ready to spring up and flower in the years to come since they are Perennial plants. They usually grow up in large clumps of closely spaced stalks. They have opposite triangular leaves and usually grow to 1-4 ft. in height. They have composite flowers like other members of the sunflower family. The flowers almost look fuzzy when viewed in their flower heads. They have multiple, long, skinny petals. The flowering heads often tend to droop as they mature. When the leaves are crushed they smell similar to tomato vines.

Water Lovers:

You will often find these flowers growing anywhere where there is an abundance of water, like along ditches, creeks, rivers, lakes, low moist meadows, roadsides, and fence-lines. It is also interesting to note how important these plants are in preventing erosion from the water that runs over the surface on its way downhill. Their root system nets through the soft soil holding it in place.

Found to Be Useful in Many Other Ways:

While reading many different articles about these plants I found that they have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Native Americans and early settlers used the crushed leaves to prevent ticks and mosquitoes from biting. They also used the essential oils to treat sore throats, coughing and skin conditions. One of their common names, Bone-break, comes from their use in treatment of broken bones. It seems that this plant’s rich antioxidants promote calcium production helping bones heal and become stronger more quickly. The oils from these plants have been used as an insecticide to prevent damage from nematodes in the soil that cause crop damage as well as being used in grain storage areas to prevent pests that can destroy the crops. It also kills and repels many kinds of mites and spiders.

It is important to note, however, that any medicinal use of these plants be guided by doctors and scientists that have tested these measures.

Some people are allergic to the pollen and oils of these plants. It is best to leave it to the experts to find new applications to the use of these plants. It’s interesting to note that the oils from these plants are often used in cosmetics for their antioxidants when mixed with other ingredients.

Often Used In Flowering Arrangements:

Since these flowers bloom in the Fall when many other types of flowers are scarce, you will often find them mixed in flower arrangements to add a little color and texture. Since they have long stalks they can easily be added to add height to and arrangement.

Thinking of Flowers:

While learning so many interesting things about these flowers God created, I was also reminded of the promise in Matthew 6: 25-34. How important it is to let God remind us through his creation of his love, care and purpose for us.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you- you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” NIV

Tricky Triggerfish: Designed for Defense

Early Morning Discovery:

Get those lines down! The Triggers are waiting!“, was the cry we heard from the Captain of the Party boat, the Destiny, two hours out in the Gulf of Mexico from Destine, Florida in the early October morning.

I was in for a treat. I was about to hook into my very first Triggerfish. These amazing creatures have unique design and behavior that demonstrate the careful way in which a God made them. They have amazing defensive strategies.

Finally up and in the basket. Take a closer look and see how these fish differ from the ones you have caught over the years.

My fish was only 2″ smaller than the one that won the 2020 DestinFishing Rodeo daily contest when we got back to the dock.

Above you can see The Daily Winner that was Bigger than My Fish.

The Destin Fishing Rodeo is an annual event in Florida to bring in fishermen to extend the tourist season into October. There are daily and overall prizes in several different categories of kinds of fish and age divisions. When you come in for the weigh in, expect a large crowd of onlookers. You will also meet the current reigning Miss Destin Beauty Queen who poses with those who catch the big ones.

Fancy Fins

One of the most fascinating behaviors of the Triggerfish is the way it uses its fins. Triggerfish have two spines on the front of their dorsal fin that are designed to help the fish escape predators. When a shark, Amberjack, Grouper, Sailfish, Marlin or other large fish comes in to attack, the Triggerfish flees into a crack or crevice in the rocky bottom. They then slide into the opening and spring their trigger fins to lock themselves in. The spines interlock when sprung and this makes it almost impossible to remove. When you get one on the line, be sure to maintain pressure so they don’t drop down and use this same trick on you. The name “Triggerfish” comes from this behavior.

Put On Your Armor!

When God created the Triggerfish He gave them a suit of armor. The outer skin of the triggerfish is so strong that when you try to clean them with a knife, you cannot cut through their outer skin. While watching the deckhands that cleaned my fish I saw that they had to cut through the thinner skin around the upper dorsal fins or enter through the vent at the bottom of the fish. They then peeled back the skin while ripping it away from the flesh beneath. The guy that cleaned mine kept the two large pieces of skin to take home, cover with salt, then scrape away any remaining flesh to create leather to use to make knife sheaths. While thinking about how much protection God gave these fish, I was reminded of the Armor God has given to His children to ward off the attacks of Satan. (You can learn more about this in the Bible, Ephesians 6: starting at verse 11.)

How to Out Trick The Bait Stealers:

One thing we had to learn quickly was that the Triggerfish are masters at bait stealing. The deckhands told us that, if we had no bites within 30-45 seconds, we needed to reel in and rebait. So, how does one out trick a tricky Triggerfish? Use circle hooks and the fish will often hook themselves. These special hooks are designed to curve into the lips of the fish as soon as they bite down on the bait. Don’t jerk the line, just reel up as fast as you can. You can also bait your hook with pieces of squid which stay on the line better than the other cut fish bait.

Be Ready for a Battle!

Of the five kinds of bottom fish I caught during my three days of fishing in the Gulf, the Triggerfish were the hardest to bring in. They put up quite a battle. The oval shape of the body of this fish creates a lot of surface tension and resistance when traveling through the water as the fish swims sideways while trying to escape.

Make Sure It’s a “Keeper”!:

Only one of the six Triggerfish I caught was a keeper. Triggerfish, at the time of my trip had to be at least 15 inches long to be “keepers”. The one that I was able to keep was 20 inches long. Depending on the area and season restrictions you may not be able to keep any of these fish. Fortunately for us, they had reopened the season in October due to the lower number of fish harvested this year because of the Covid crisis. Be sure to check the current fishing regulations if you go out to fish in the Gulf of Mexico. If you go on a registered Party Boat the Captain and Crew will help you know which ones you can harvest.

Tricky Teeth:

Triggerfish have an amazing set of “choppers”. Their front teeth are very well developed and are used as chisels to bore holes through hard-shelled prey.

Above is a picture of a Triggerfish skull that shows you what these teeth look like. Since the mouths of these fish are so small, the teeth extrude out through the lips. Even though Triggerfish can chisel through thick shells they have other tricks that make acquiring food quicker.

Be Like a Helicopter:

Two food items Triggerfish like to eat are sand- dollars and sea urchins. To get to the meat inside these creatures requires a strategy. The Triggerfish uses its fins to hover in the water vertically above the sandy bottom of the sea floor. They then squirt out a stream of water through their mouths to blow away the sand exposing the sand-dollars hiding in the sand. Next, they grab their prey in their teeth and swim up and drop it until in lands on its back. The bottom side of the sand-dollar is much softer than the top making access much easier. Once flipped, the fish will descend rapidly and ram the inverted sand-dollar with its hard front teeth cracking the shell. They then quickly gobble up the soft creature inside and repeat the process again and again.

I’ve Got My Eyes on You:

As you have seen in the pictures in this blog, the Triggerfish has eyes high up on the sides of its body. These are placed in just the right place for the Triggerfish to locate and target its prey as well as keep an eye out fir predators.

Just One of Many Bottom Dwelling Fish:

In the above picture you can see only one Triggerfish in the Cooler. If you compare how many snapper fish there are in relation to the Triggerfish you get a pretty good idea that it is pretty special to catch a Triggerfish.

Triggerfish are usually caught when people are trying to catch grouper, Amberjack, snapper, and other game fish since they all live in the same areas. Don’t be disappointed, however. The triggerfish is one of the tastiest of them all!

Fish Family Matters:

While researching these fish I discovered some amazing things about the roles of the parent fish as well as the behaviors of their young. The male Triggerfish actually build and prepare the nesting sites before the females arrive during the nesting season. The males actually prepare more than one nest because one male may mate with several females. The males create depressions in the sandy bottom and guard their territories aggressively. They have even been known to attack scuba divers if they invade their territory, though they pose very little danger to humans. The females will deposit hundreds of thousand eggs and the males then supply the milt to fertilize them. The mothers will stay close by the nests until the eggs hatch. They frequently use their fins to oxygenate the eggs to help the embryos develop. After the eggs hatch the young will rise to the top of the water column where they feed amongst the sargassum (a type of brown seaweed that floats in masses on the surface of the ocean). Within the sargassum the baby fish find all kinds of tiny crustaceans and other food items. When the youngsters mature they drop back down to the bottom of the ocean to live out the rest of their lives.
Triggerfish have been known to grow as large as 30 inches and weigh up to 13 lbs., however these large triggerfish have had to survive for about 16 years to reach that size. As you can guess, most are much smaller, more in the 14 to 17 inch range.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed learning about Triggerfish. Maybe you can go out and catch some yourself.

Let’s Catch Some Mingo Snappers!

Out to Sea from Destin, Florida

It was early in the morning when I got up to go deep sea fishing in the sports fishing village of Destin, Florida. Once you arrive and board the party fishing boat, you are off for a two hour ride into the Gulf Bay. I went out on two different boats during the three days I was there: The Destin Princess and The Destiny.

Ready to Catch Some Fish?

Once the captain located a good fishing site the deck hands gave us instructions on how to catch the fish. To catch Mingo you have to lower the bait to the bottom and then bring it back up about nine cranks of the reel. It doesn’t take long to get a bite! They told us that if you were not getting bites within 30 seconds you have probably lost your bait. It seems the larger fish like to be just above the bottom.

These fish were often caught two at a time on the two hooks on the line. When you get into a school of them you have to quickly get your bait down while they are still biting before the captain tells you to bring up your lines to move to a better location.

What’s In A Name?

At the first stop some of us were a little confused when they called out the names of the fish we were catching. We could only keep the White and the Vermillion Snappers, but not the Red Snappers which were out of season. Sometimes they called the Mingo Snappers Vermillion and sometimes they called them Beeliners. After asking a few questions we learned that these fish have several nicknames. No matter what you call them, they are plentiful and will fill your stringer fast.

Scientists are more specific when naming creatures and use Latin names for each species. The scientific name of the Vermillion Snappers is Rhomboplites aurorubens. As you can see, the nicknames are easier to pronounce and remember.

What Bait Do You Use?

We were offered two types of bait: cut up mackerel and squid. Each piece of bait was about a 1 inch square. We found that the squid stayed on the line better, but the fish will eat just about anything you offer them.

Special Hooks So They Catch Themselves:

I learned that fishing for deep sea fish is much different that fishing for fresh water fish like bass and catfish. When fishing deep in the ocean you use circle hooks.

Don’t Be A Jerk!

When the fish bite you do not jerk back to set the hook! If you do you will just rip the hook from their soft mouths. what you should do, however, is reel in the line like crazy. I discovered that if you brought them up slowly you were likely to have them bitten off by sharks and dolphins. One of the times I was bringing up what must have been two Mingo fish when all of a sudden my line jerked down and then went loose again. When I reeled it up I was missing both hooks which had been cut off by the razor sharp teeth of a shark. Another time my line came up with just the head of a fish.

Here was one day’s catch of snappers. Notice that most are Vermillion/Mingo Snappers. I also caught some of their cousins the White Snappers. Notice the forked tails which help you know they are not Red Snappers which have a square tail.

These Are Great Fish to Catch!

As you probably know, many fish species have been over harvested to the point that they are endangered. When you go fishing you need to know the rules and regulations for the species you are likely to catch. You might even want to choose what time of the year you go to target specific types of fish. I was disappointed that I had to return my largest Snappers because the Red Snappers were out of season. Fortunately the Mingo fish are currently in season all year round which makes them a favorite target fish for the captains of party boats. Catching a big stringer of Tasty Mingo Fish seems to keep everybody happy while you still have a chance to catch other varieties of fish that live in the same environment. Since the Vermillion Snappers reproduce many times a year and produce thousands of eggs, it is assured that this species is a very sustainable catch. They are also tasty! They have a mild sweet tasting flesh that is low in sodium and fat, yet high in protein. They are easy to filet and one fish gives you about the right amount of fish for one person’s meal. You can cook them up several ways: fry them in butter or olive oil, bake them or grill them. They also taste great in fish chowders when cut into small cubes.

The Majority Rules

In my thee days of fishing I caught a total of 56 pounds of fish. The majority of those fish was by far the Mingo Fish.

This is the catch of one side of the boat. Notice how many Mingo fish are in the ice.

Other Interesting Mingo Facts:

Vermillion Snappers are reddish orange on the top and slowly fade to pink as the color goes toward the bottom of the fish. The bellies are silver white. Sometimes you can see some streaks of yellow in stripes on their sides.
Vermillion have very large red eyes.
Mingo fish have small mouths unlike their bigger cousins the Red Snappers.
This species can spawn anywhere between 23 to 93 times a year. A typical 7 inch fish can produce as many as 20,000 eggs. A larger 15 inch fish can produce up to 350,000 eggs a year.
Once hatched, baby fish rise up to the surface to feed on small creatures inside the seaweed mats toward the surface. When they get larger they descend to the bottom where they hang out over reefs, banks, artificial reefs and shipwrecks. They also like to be near where the banks drop off on the sea floor and around oil platforms.
They grow very slowly. It takes about a year for them to reach 5-7 inches in length. They can live up to 21 years and reach weights up to 7 lbs. the world record is 7 pounds and three ounces caught by John Doss in the Gulf of Mexico in 1987.
The average size caught is between 1 and 2 lbs.
Their diet includes crab, worms, squid, smaller fish, plankton, and shrimp.
Fishermen call them “Bull Mingo Fish” when they reach about three pounds. Most of the fish this size are males.
Most Vermillion are caught between 80 and 350 feet deep.
The dorsal fins of Vermillion are rose colored with yellow edges.
They are native from North and South Carolina, the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Caribbean Sea all the way to Brazil.

A view from the Destine Princess on the way out to the fishing area.

Variety Is The Spice of Life!

As I discover new creatures in God’s creation I am reminded of how many different kinds of creatures He has created that live in many different kinds of habitats. Just think of how carefully He must have thought through the design of each species. Some live in the deepest oceans. Others live in to top water. By creating them with different adaptations He assured they could all survive and balance out the food and territory requirements for survivor ability. It is important to realize that He has given man the responsibility for how we treat and manage these resources. When we use common sense and more carefully study a His creation we can enjoy what He has provided for us as well as insure that the supply can be enjoyed by others in years to come. When was the last time you thanked Him for creating the fish we like to catch, eat and study?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5: 17

I often just take the time to speak out, “Thank you, LORD” as I am fishing. If you have a thankful spirit of gratitude you will find yourself enjoying your fishing time more. Someone else might also hear you and you might have a chance to share your testimony of how God is working in your daily life.

How to Create a Sphere Using Eco-Ball Units

Sphere of Influence:

In earlier posts I have shown you how to fold the Eco-Ball unit. If you haven’t seen this blog post they are in the Origami blogs on this site.

Above you can see the basic unit created from a pinwheel base glued into this 3-D form. We have previously combined the units to make a ball, a wreath/candle holder, babies, an owl and a dog.

In this project we had to fold 28 units and glue them together. Then we put them together by twos to create hemispheres. We took 8 of the hemispheres and combined them to make a wreath.

Next you need to create a cross-like unit using five of the remaining hemisphere units.

In the above photo focus on the cross shaped upper portion. Notice that it fits on top of the circle of the wreath below.

You will have to apply a little pressure when gluing the cross on top of the wreath so the paper makes a tight connection.

Below are some of the previous projects made with this incredible building block.

Transformation Leads to Beauty and Usefulness

As I continue to experiment with this basic unit I often think of how God takes the elements of our lives and combines them in several ways to bring out hidden beauty and usefulness. At times the experiences that make up our lives seem chaotic, but in God’s perspective, He can find ways to accomplish His work in our lives for the better of His Kingdom purposes. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

This beautiful transformation can only become possible when we submit ourselves to Him. He can then completely transform our lives into things of beauty.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to a God,, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that’s testing you may discern what the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12: 1-2

Most Frequently Eaten Poisonous Mushroom

Don’t be fooled!

Since moving from California, I have been having to learn a lot about the living creatures here in the south-eastern part of the United States. One thing that I have noticed is that the varieties of mushrooms are much different than those I was familiar with in the west. One of my favorite mushrooms when we lived in Sacramento could be found growing in the grass at the neighborhood park. It was the Shaggy Mane. It was delicious when fried in butter with some onions. I felt very confident that I could identify it and not confuse it with other types of fungi.

My California Favorite:

Now let’s compare with another Mushroom:

Here in Tennessee, where we currently live, there is another Mushroom variety that looks similar when it first emerges from the ground. Both this Mushroom and the Shaggy Mane often appear above ground almost magically after the Spring, Summer, and Fall rains. But don’t let that behavior fool you. This Mushroom is the most frequently eaten poisonous mushroom in North America. It’s scientific name is Chlorophyllum molybdites.

AKA’s

It also goes by these common names: “False Parasol“, “Green-Spored Lepiota“, and the “Vomiter.” Guess what? It is called that for a very good reason.

Below you see the top of the caps of the Vomiter:

In the picture below you see the gills on the underside of the cap.

Some Things Seem To Look Really Edible…but :

It is interesting to note that those who have carelessly eaten this Mushroom found it tasty going down. It was a couple hours later that they knew that had made a terrible mistake. The symptoms of the poisonous effects include: severe gastrointestinal pain, sweating, weakness, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some who have eaten them actually vomit up to 20-30 times in two hours! That would be no fun!

How Can You Be Sure?:

The most difficult time to tell the two types of mushrooms apart is when they first emerge from the ground. As the Mushroom fruiting bodies continue to grow it is rather easy to see the differences. The “Vomiter” (Chlorophyllum molybdites ) opens up like an umbrella into a large circle. The Shaggy Mane remains like a closed umbrella, tall and skinny and begins to dissolve into an inky liquid from the bottom edges of the cap. The gills of Vomiter turn from white to a greenish-gray color.

In This Case, Green Doesn’t Mean “Go”!

Mycologists, scientists who study mushrooms, have learned that the best way to identify mushrooms is by making a spore print and checking the color of the image the spores leave on a piece of paper as they drop from the bottom side of the cap from the gills.

To make a spore print you should remove the stem of the Mushroom and place the cap, gill-side down on a piece of white paper. Put a jar or other cover over the cap to keep it moist within which activates the spores to fall from the gills. Though an individual spore can not be seen with the naked eye, when they fall on the paper by the thousands they create a image that is very visible. Different kinds of mushrooms have different colors of spores that help in identification. You can also use a microscope to look more closely at the spores. Spores vary a lot in size and shape as well as color. If your spore print is green, Stop! Don’t eat it! Chlorophyllum molybdites is the only Mushroom in North America with green spores. The Shaggy Mane has dark black spores. If you look at the spores of the Vomiter under a microscope with high magnification, the spores will look like lemon seeds in shape with a greenish color.

Making a Spore Print:

Separate the cap from the stem and place the gill side down on the paper.

Cover the caps with a bowl to keep the moisture and the spores inside.

Check the Ring Around the Stem.

The annulus, the ring around the stem of the Vomiter can easily be moved up and down the stem when moved with your fingers.

Fairy Rings: Have the Fairies Danced Here?

In the above picture you can see part of a circle of these mushrooms. Amazingly, these mushrooms often pop up over night making it seem almost magical. In the past, the superstitious thought that it was magic, that fairies had danced there the night before they appeared. How else could they be there? Well, the part of the fungus we call the Mushroom is actually the reproductive part of the creature. These fruiting bodies only appear when the conditions are right for spore dispersal. Under the surface of the ground is the actual creature. It will look like tiny strands of hair, (mycelium), with an appearance much like cotton. When the conditions are right, tiny nodules called primordial, which look like tiny balloons, will appear upon the strands. These absorb water and swell up by turbo pressure (water pressure). It would be as if you buried a balloon under the soil and then blew it up. It is marvelous to see the power of turbo pressure in Mushroom development. Though mushrooms seem so fragile they are able to penetrate the soil as they emerge for spore dispersal. You see them first above ground in the button stage. They then open up like an umbrella to expose the gills beneath to release their spores.

Recycling the Nutrients:

The fruiting bodies of most gilled mushrooms are short lived. Once they have done their job of releasing spores, they deteriorate and return to the soil. You can see this in the earlier picture in the post. Often the nutrients from their breakdown are reabsorbed by the mycelium underground to be used again in growth of the organism.

Who Created These Creatures?

One of the most basic questions asked by mankind is, “Where did all the creatures we observe around us come? ” Those who have read the Bible find the answer right away in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We also find this truth in the Book of Colossians: “For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created, in heaven and on earth” . As a believer myself, I believe that this is true and I find more and more evidence of this fact through my study of His creation.

The Big Question of Origins:

So “Why, you may ask, did He create poisonous organisms that could be harmful to man? You can find that answer in the first few chapters of the Bible and throughout the whole 66 Books therein. It was man’s sin that led to the curse of nature. Because man disobeyed God’s command this has happened. Fortunately, God has given mankind the ability to observe what He has created and draw conclusion that can help us learn to avoid the dangers around us. Every creature was created for a purpose and some of those most feared by man offer many blessings to us. Just consider the bees. They possess stingers which are very painful if you do not respect these insects. So how many ways do these same bees help us! They pollinate our crops and produce honey. They provide food for many other creatures as well as many other benefits. The mushrooms that are harmful to us when eaten also produce benefits. Many other creatures can eat them with no harmful effects. Mushrooms help breakdown dead and decaying animal and plant material and recycle it into the soil to be used again by other organisms. *There are many other ways they are helpful that you can learn through research and observation.

I hope you will take some time to carefully examine all the creatures around you. How many ways do they benefit us? “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Why not take some time to thank Him for His gifts to mankind. If you do not know Him as Savior and LORD, He offers to take away the barrier between God and man through believing on Jesus Christ and His work on the cross to pay the debt we owe for our sins. You can be a child of God too. It makes a world of difference in how we view creation and our ability to understand His purposes for our lives.

*Why not do some more research?:

If you find these mushrooms interesting you can discover a lot more about them by doing some research. I had help in the identification of these mushrooms when I posted pictures of them on the Mushroom Identification Page and had mycologists from around the world identify them for me. I also Googled the scientific name and found many articles about them. You can also find many books in the library about mushrooms and their identification.

Modular Origami Constructions

In an earlier post I showed you how to fold and glue a 3-D unit to create a star ornament. Since then I have created many other interesting sculptures using these same units. I thought you might be inspired to create some of your own after seeing some of the possibilities.

It is amazing how many forms you can create from the same units and how you can vary the units for more variations. Check out the following:

Bottom View:

Top View:

Here is another one:

Notice that some sculptures use half units as well as the full ones.

You can also create animals and people.

Terrier

Babies:

Owl:

Below are some of the original forms I created:

As I experiment with creating so many variations of the same basic form I am reminded of the amazing variations possible in the creatures God created in the original creation week. Built into each creature was the DNA that allows for many variations within each kind of animal, plant, fungi, Protist, or Monera species. Though we are limited in how far we can take our creations, just think of how amazing it is that God’s creations are living and continue to function throughout their existence and able to pass on design traits to future generations. The complexity is beyond our ability to fathom.

Why Not Take the Challenge?

Why not try to create some of your own designs using these modules. If you do, send me some pictures so I can appreciate your works of art.

You can find the directions for folding the units in my earlier blog : “Three-D Origami Star Ornament” posted on November 5.

Let’s Make An Origami Lock-Box

Have you ever needed a small gift box? In this project you will learn how to make your own lock-boxes.

This blog was especially created for my Granddaughter who made several of these at one of our family gatherings. It has been awhile since I showed her how to fold and cut them so she asked if I could show it to her again, so here goes. You might remember seeing her in my earlier post where we worked together folding origami cranes for a wedding. We thought you might enjoy this too!

To begin this project you will need a pair of scissors, a pencil or pen, and a sheet of colorful copy paper. ( Note: For a stronger box you can use a sheet of card stock.)

The first step is to start with a square. Next you will fold an X on one side of the paper and a cross on the other. This forms a water balloon base.

Next you will Blintz the paper by folding the four corners to the center.

Then open up the paper and check that it looks like this:

Then take the closest corner of the paper and fold it across to the top horizontal crease.

Repeat this same fold on the other three points. If you have folded correctly, you should find 16 boxes in the crease pattern in the center of the paper.

Now fold each of the four corners inward to the first crease toward the center of the paper.

Now, grab your pencil and put an X on the two triangles in the middle of each side.

Take your scissors and cut out each triangle with an X on it.

Grab your pencil again and mark your paper like this:

Now you will cut on the dark lines to make the tabs that will close up the corners of the final box.

Now fold up the four tabs into a vertical position.

Next let’s make the locking tabs and insertion slits. Mark your paper first so your cuts will be in the correct spots.

Notice that the two left hand points have lines that go halfway back to the middle and that the right hand points have insertion slips. Now cut on these lines.

Now we need to fold in the locks like this:

Check that each of the four square middle tabs are in the up position, then slide one of the locks into the bottom side of the receiving slot.

Now open the flaps to lock it in place.

Slide the square flaps inside as you lift up the two remaining sides and put the lock into the bottom of the receiving slot on the opposite side. Fold out the flaps to lock the box.

Congratulations! You have made your first lock box.

Can You Unlock the Box?

Remember you can unlock the box and carefully open it to insert your gifts or other items.

Other Ways to Use These Boxes:

There are many ways to use and add to these boxes. Here are a few suggestions:

Draw On Your Inner Talents:

You can draw designs or write messages on the outside of the boxes. Another fun way to decorate them is to use colorful hole punches to put dots on the outside.

Butterfly Box

You can add other origami forms to the top as well. Here is a butterfly box:

That Makes Cents!

If you cut a coin slot in the top of the box it makes a cute little bank.

That Smells Good!

If you take a straight pin and punch many holes through the top surface you can make a Pomander. Take some flower petals, (like roses), orange peal and other sweet smelling odor producers inside. The good odors will travel through the holes in top and fill the room with fragrance.

Thinking of Gifts!

As you enjoy your boxes, think of the most favorite gift that you have ever received.

Did it come in a box or was it given to you in another way? Gifts remind us that we are loved and appreciated by others. Gifts bring us joy and connect us more firmly with the gift givers.

The best gift I ever received did not come in a box. It was the gift given by God the Father that made it possible for me to become a child of God.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

When Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh it was God’s plan for Jesus to give his human life as a sacrifice for our sins. He went to the cross and died there for us. But He did not stay dead! He rose again to prove that He had the victory over sin and death and that He had paid the price for us to pay the debt of sin.

Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you have never received this gift, it’s offered to all. What an amazing deal! There is no greater gift.

Don’t Worry, Make Flowers!

How to make an origami Tulip.

It’s Time For The Tulips To Bloom:

I bet you, as I, love the Spring Time when all the flowers begin to bloom. One of my favorites is the tulip. I thought you would enjoy learning how to fold some origami Tulips that will last a little longer than the beautiful ones in your garden. You can make a bouquet for your inside table while leaving the real ones on display outside.

By the way; this makes a great Mother’s Day gift.

What You Need:

To make this project you will need a sheet of green copy paper, some colorful paper (either origami or copy paper), some white glue, scissors, a straight pin, and a pencil.

First Things First:

You will have to cut a square from the copy paper unless you are using a square sheet of origami paper.

Fold the square into the traditional water balloon base by folding an X on one side of the paper, turning it over and folding a cross on that side. It should look like this:

Next you will fold up the right side top wing portion like this:

Do the same on the left side but leave a little gap vertically between the two wings. Then turn the paper over and repeat on the backside.

Save Yourself From Frustration!:

This next step was the most frustrating for me when I first tried to fold the model. If you don’t do this correctly the petals will not fold down later.

Take the top right hand side and fold it to the left, then do the same on the backside. It should look like this:

Next, place the model so that the flat point is at the bottom. Fold the right hand top portion diagonally to the left like this:

Next, fold the left side over to the right diagonal edge:

Next, you will insert one wing into the pocket of the other like this:

Repeat on the backside.

Now for the Fun Part:

In order for your flower to bloom you will have to breathe into it a breath of life. (I doubt if your breath will make it alive, but it will make it more life-like.) If you have ever made a traditional origami water balloon it’s the same process. Just be sure not to blow too hard. You just want to inflate the model not blow it apart. You will need to blow into the hole at the bottom of the model like this:

Petal Power:

If you look closely on the outside of the model you should find four petals. These need to be rolled down to make the bud bloom. Carefully pull out the top of a petal and roll it around a pencil like this:

Repeat on all four petals:

Now for the Stem and Leaves:

Take your sheet of green paper and cut off of one side a long skinny rectangle. Cut out a couple leaves as well.

Let’s Make It 3-D:

For the stem portion you will just keep folding the rectangle in half as many times as you can so it will support the weight of the flower head.

The more times you fold the stem in half the stronger it will be. Use a straight pen or the tip of your scissors to lightly scratch a crease in a curved fashion down the middle of each leaf. When you bend the sides of the leaves together the crease will follow your scored line. Just be careful not to scratch too hard or you will tear through the paper. Now let’s curl the leaf tips. Open your scissor blade and use the flat side against the paper. Pull the paper down over the blade like this:

You Are Almost Done :

Now we will glue the leaves to the stem and top the stem with the flower like this:

Helpful Hint: if you put some glue on the top of the stem before putting the flower on, it will hold the flower place once it dries. Otherwise it is just gravity holding it in place.

It Takes More Than One to Fill the Vase:

In order to have a nice bouquet you will need several flowers and a vase. You can use a nice flower vase or make your own with a Mason Jar. Here are a couple pictures of my bouquet:

Notice the difference in the above pictures. The bottom one still has the label showing on the jar. Above that you can see how I covered the bottle with a ring of colored paper to make it more attractive. You might also see some irises mixed in with the Tulips. You can find origami models for several types of flowers on-line or in books you can find at the library. There are also several YouTube videos available.

As You Think About the Flowers, Think About This:

If you were successful in folding your bouquet, you are probably going to be pretty protective of your finished project. Did you know God cares for us in a similar way, only much more.

Are You Worried? Check This Out:

Matthew 6:28-34

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Notice that this is a conditional promise of God to His Children. If you are not in His family you can be by acknowledging Jesus Christ as LORD of your life. Believe on Him (His death, burial and resurrection) and you will be saved.

For those of us who know Him, the flowers can be a constant reminder of His care for us.

Origami Covid-19 Model

With all of us practicing “Social-Distancing” and staying in our houses during this epic 2020 pandemic, I thought I would amuse you with a fun project and bring you a word of encouragement.

It is amazing to think that a tiny virus has been able to effect changes throughout the whole world. Though we need to respect the potential dangers of this disease and follow the directions given to us by our government leaders, we do not need to live in fear. God is still in control! One way to face our fears is to visualize our enemy. Let’s make a paper model of the virus.

To make this model I made an Origami Quadra-Sphere. You can find the directions for folding this in my April 4, 2019 post. Once you have constructed a Quadra-sphere you just need to add some spikes.

Easy to Fold:

It is really easy to make the spikes. Just cut some long rectangles and fold them in half lengthwise. It takes quite a few spikes to complete the model, so make a lot! You can add as many as you like but I glued one on each corner of the Quadra-sphere.

If Want More Drama:

To make your model more dramatic use bright colors like red, yellow, and orange.

You can make your model any size, but the smaller you make it the more it resembles the real thing. Just think about how small real viruses are. It takes a powerful electron microscope just to see them!

Once you make your model you can place it on a bright paper base or hang it by a string to make a mobile. Guess what? This model won’t hurt you.

If You Are Fearful, Listen to This:

 

For those of us that have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our LORD, we can take courage from the promises in Scripture given to by our Savior.

Isaiah 43:1

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.”

 

I John 4:18

“Perfect love casts out fear.”

 

Psalm 18:2

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and deliverer.”

 

Romans 8: 38-39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither Angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you do not have this peace of mind, you can by asking God to give you eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Is This an Alien Invasion?

 

What Is This?:

A friend of mine found one of these in her yard and sent me an email asking if I knew what it was. I had seen the later stage of this creature last year when I was mowing my lawn out back growing on a cedar tree. After a little research I found that it was Cedar-Apple Rust fungus.

Is This Christmas?

After seeing her picture, I decided to go out an see if my tree had any of these growing in my yard. When I reached the large cedar tree in my backyard I found what looked like a Christmas tree ornamented in orange and brown spiky balls. Needless to say, I was impressed with how successful this group of fungi is in reproducing more of its own kind.

Here are some more pictures of what I found:

It Takes Two to Tangle!

While doing research on this organism I found out it takes two different hosts for it to complete its reproductive cycle, one from at least two different families of plants. Some of the plants that can serve as hosts are the Chokecherry, Mountain Ash, Service Berry, Hawthorn, Pears, Crab Apples, Juniper, Cypress, Quince, Service Berry, Apples, and many members of the Rose Family.

So Where Do They Come From?:

Even though these unusual creatures look like aliens from outer space, they are actually common residents of the Eastern United States. They actually look very different in their various stages of development. It usually takes two years for them to complete a cycle. They start out with tiny spores that drift on the wind once they are released from another host’s parasitic infection. Once they land on the plant the spores send out little root like structures that bury into the stems of other plants. It takes about 7 months until the organism is noticeable. The stem region starts to swell up to form a gall. After about 18 months these swellings start to form gelatinous golf ball like structures. These are brown, as you can see in some of these pictures.

They Turn Orange With the Spring Rains:

After a couple warm Spring rainfalls the little brown balls start to depress around the surface. From these depressions come little finger-like projections. These eventually turn bright orange on the outermost ends of the extensions. Scientists call these reproductive structures Telial Horns”. It is this part that holds the spores that will be released after they are formed. Interestingly these structures can emerge several times on the same gall, ( 5-7 times) during the course of the Spring and early summer.

Are They Dangerous?:

Though these creatures look dangerous they actually do no harm to humans and little harm to the trees they infest. It is the fruit that suffers. Those that tend  apple orchards are the ones that fear this fungus the most. They would not be happy if you planted a Cedar tree near their orchards. When the spores travel to the apple and pear trees, as well as the others mentioned above, they become noticeable first on the leaves.

Easy to Spot:

If you were to see red, or brown spots showing up on the leaves of your trees you would know that the fungus has arrived. Most farmers will have already sprayed their trees with fungicide prior to this development. Others prune out the infected branches quickly to prevent its spread. Most farmers select fungal resistant varieties of fruit trees to also slow its progress.

What’s In a Name?:

These creatures go by a variety of names but the most important one is the scientific name: “Gymnosporangium juniper-virginianae” .

They are in a Family of fungi known as “Pucciniaceae”. The most common name is “Cedar-apple Rust”. The rusty part is how they look when they start to dry out and release the spores.

Why Not Do Some Further Research?:

If you live in the Eastern part of the United States, why not go out and check the trees around your neighborhood? You can also see many pictures  of this fungus and find more information on many of the agricultural web sites on-line.

Consider the Design:

Whenever I discover something new in God’s Creation I’m reminded of just how well designed each organism is in relation to its survival. Some organisms have very complex life cycles. All organisms are dependent on their relationships with others.

Irreducible Complexity:

There is also complexity in all the parts that make up the whole: the cells, tissues, organs, and systems that combine to form the organism.  For each step of this design to work there is irreducible complexity. The organism could not survive unless all the parts were there at the same time. This is why I believe it was all designed by the Master Creator. As you go through the next week, think about this concept every time you see another living organism. God designed it all as a way of showing us His divine power and purpose. He enjoys seeing us considering His care in how everything He created functions. He wants all of us to know He loves us and has a purpose for our lives. Do you know Him?

 

 

Let’s Make An Octagonal Box:

The Product of Much Experimentation:

While exploring origami it is fun to create your own original models. These Octagonal boxes are one of my favorite creations. The most difficult part was to figure out how to lock the edges in the final folds.

Here Is How To Do It:

You will need two pieces of paper. If you are using two sided paper, start with the colored side down.

Use the water balloon base. Fold an X on one side of the paper and a cross on the other side.

Pinch in two opposite sides to collapse the paper into the above base. Do this with both sheets of paper.

Take one of the four wings and fold the outside edge to the center vertical crease. Bend this same crease back and forth like a door hinge to prepare the paper for the next move. Pull up this section like a shark fin. Put your finger inside the fin and push down. It should look like the form above on the right side of the picture.

Now you need to fold the outside edges of the tail section so they meet in the middle as shown in the picture above. You can do this on each of the four sections as you fold them or after you have all four formed. It seems to be easier to align the folds when you have the outer wings in place so you can see the horizontal alignment. Crease these folds well so shaping the box later will be easier.

Fold the paper to lock the previous folds. Repeat this on all four wings.

Now your project should look like the one above.

Bend up the bottom point to the center of the top horizontal edge. Again, hinge this fold back and forth several times so it will open correctly in the following folds.

Insert your finger into the top of the fold and push outward on the inside panels to open the box. Be sure to push out where the crease lines are already in place. This part seems strange until you see the box shape pop out.

Now Let’s Lock The Edges :

Lift up one of the folded down points. Fold out the side flaps like door hinges. Be sure to keep the creases on top of each other when you swing the hinged sections into place. To lock this section, fold the point inside at the horizontal crease.

Repeat on all four sides. Check that all of your creases are the original ones you folded in the previous steps.It’s Time To Collapse The Form:

In this next step you will be straightening all the creases to form a symmetrical octagon. Some people use these collapsed forms as containers to store stamps and other flat objects. These are sometimes called origami tattoos.

Observe the process in the above pictures. By pushing in the center of any two opposite sides you will collapse the form. This can be a tricky step since you have to bring in all the sides to the center at the same time. Fold each of the little shark fins to the right so they overlap and the form is flat. Run your fingers over and push down on the outside edges to straighten all the folds. Use your fingernail to indent the outer edges of the octagon all the way around the circle. This will start to create the crimping you will do with the edge of an ink pen.

Reopen The Boxes:

Now that all the creases have been set you can reopen the box by placing your fingers inside and pressing out on each of the V joints. They will still slightly bend in like the pictures above. Use the end of a pen cap to carefully crimp down the bottom outer edges. Be careful not to tear through the paper. Slide the pen cap left and right on each of the 8 sides to create a lip on the bottom to receive the lid. This forms the bottom half of the box.

Forming The Top:

Now let’s crimp the top section. Place the box on its side and use the pen cap to crimp the edges as shown in the pictures above. If done properly your lid will rest on the bottom crimped edge. Adding these crimps gives the fold strength as well as form.

You Can Stack Them Up:

Use Them For A Gift Box Or Storage Container:

Depending on the size of paper you start with you can make boxes of various sizes. Using a standard 8 1/2″ X 11″ piece of paper your box will hold four standard size chocolate truffles. If using the boxes to hold food items, line them with cellophane or tin foil so the oils don’t soak through and ruin your fold. You can use them to wrap up presents, jewelry boxes, and more. You can stack several of decreasing sizes to form a Christmas tree. What other ways can you think of to use them?

Where Did Form And Design Originate?

As I look around me at all of the designs I see in creation I’m reminded that there has to be a Designer of these wonderful forms. Just like I have designed this box, each designed shape has function as well as beauty. If you see similar patterns in many things you can assume there is a common Designer. It’s like being able to tell which cars are Chevys and which are Fords by seeing similarities in each model. We see the same things in God’s creation. Some animals have four legs while others have two. Many animals are bilateral having two eyes and two ears. Having two of each of these gives us depth perception. No matter which creature you observe you will see that each design has function. How each creature functions has a greater purpose in its survival as well as its place in the whole of creation. I hope you, like I, have come to know this Creator. He is the giver and sustainer of life.

Psalm 36: 9 “For You are the one who gives and sustains life.”

Colossians 1:16a “For by Him all things were created…”