A little bit o’ trivia …

January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day

(not to be confused with World Penguin Day, which will come around on April 25).


Photo of King penguins by Ben Tubby via Wikimedia Commons

Were you unaware?

I must admit, I was too.

While there seems to be no real rhyme or reason to Penguin Awareness day (unlike World Penguin Day, which coincides with the annual northward migration of penguins around about the South Pole), it’s an official day of sorts—even the Huffington Post  says so.

And why not celebrate these funny flippered birds that manage to charm us from their remote, icy realm at the bottom of the globe?

If the 2005 movie March of the Penguins wasn’t enough to pique your passion for penguins, I dare you to resist the charm of Lala, the late king penguin who would go shopping for his family at a Japanese fish market wearing a penguin-shaped backpack:

I know!

There’s just something about these birds.

On a more serious note, penguin species are in various stages of peril as a result of climate change and ocean pollution, so in addition to watching penguin movies in a tuxedo, you might consider celebrating Penguin Awareness Day by supporting the efforts of the International Penguin Conservation Work Group.

A fun way to contribute is by “adopting” a penguin. While you don’t actually get a penguin in the mail, it’s the next best thing. You donate $55 for a year’s claim to a particular Magellanic penguin in the Falkland Islands.


Photo of a Magellanic penguin by David via Wikimedia Commons


Other conservation organizations simply send you a stuffed toy and a generic adoption certificate, but the Penguin Conservation Work Group actually places a special marker near your penguin’s burrow with the name you choose for your penguin. They follow the progress of your penguin and send you news and pictures of the bird, its home, some of its friends, and its chicks when they hatch.

Learn more about the group’s work in this video:

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love that video of Lala going shopping!! What an amazing pet experience and one that will be forever remembered by everyone.

  2. As always MaryJane, you made my day! What a sweet video of LaLa the penguin. My half sister, a marine biologist, was stationed in Antarctica with NOAA for over a year. So our family is especially fond of penguins, it’s like our mascot.

  3. Oh yeah, I forgot. I got to meet many types of penguins ( but not the king penguins) up close and personal on the island of Tierra Del Fuego , a province of Argentina. They have no fear of humans at all. They are amazing and comical creatures. So clumsy on land , so graceful in the water. It was the time of year of 22 hours of daylight but still very cold.

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Community Solar Garden

By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the fact that CSA means Community Supported Agriculture.


Okay, moving on …

Now, what about CSG?

Any ideas?

A CSG is a “community solar garden,” which can be installed in urban garden plots alongside the peas and potatoes. It’s all green!


Photo by Rolf1981 via Wikimedia Commons


As explained by Katie Marks on Networx, “Individual members of the community invest in the solar garden and receive a return in the form of a rebate on their electrical bills, reflecting the energy generated in the solar garden installed and managed by community electricians.”

A CSG is an economical option for people who can’t invest in their own solar panels or who are restricted by property regulations, and it’s a small, yet hopeful, step in the direction of energy independence.

“The solar garden represents an indirect method of alternative energy generation, in that people aren’t powering their homes with solar power using their own panels, but it does reduce the demand for electricity in a given town by feeding solar power through the grid,” continues Marks. “Power companies, in turn, provide rebates to the solar garden just like they would individual consumers, and these rebates are distributed amongst those who are partnering in the initiative.”


Photo by Mathieudu68 via Wikimedia Commons


Colorado is a prominent (and sunny) leader of the solar garden movement, with cities like Fort Collins already on board.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Westminster-based Solar Gardens Community Power is helping organize communities to pool their resources and go solar, developing workshops and certification programs for solar panel ownership, and advocating community-based energy development through legislation in several states. Founder Joy Hughes has said, “Now everyone can go solar. For the first time, low-income homeowners and renters will be able to go solar. Solar gardens are sprouting up everywhere!”

Check out Solar Gardens’ nationwide map to see if there is already a garden near you and find out how you can get connected.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    We have solar panels on our roof and they provide our hot water. They were installed in 1985 when we bought the house and have been upgraded several times. With the abundant Florida sunshine, we have had free hot water over the years and the utility company even offered a financial incentive at the beginning to help install the set which made it so easy to get started. Our monthly utility bills have been much lower over the years and the panels rarely require any service calls. The new solar gardens are a great idea and I wonder if there are some developing here in the land of sunshine?

  2. Karlyne says:


  3. That is such a great idea! Even better that those who have invested in the solar garden get to see some financial benefit from it, too. It’s a good way to mitigate costs for those who can’t yet have a rooftop installation.

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Snow Quilts

Snow quilts?

Well, not exactly, but “quilts” are exactly what I see in the mind-boggling artwork of Simon Beck.

Take a look:


Snow art by Simon Beck via


Snow art by Simon Beck via

The delicacy of the designs, the precision of the lines …

Incredible, right?

You’ll be even more bamboozled, as I was, when you realize the scale of these “quilts.”


Snow art by Simon Beck via


Snow art by Simon Beck via


Snow art by Simon Beck via

We’re talking landscapes here.

Blanketing snowy slopes in the French Alps, Beck’s exquisitely ephemeral works are to mountainsides what crop circles are to farm fields.


Photo by FuturePropulsion via Wikimedia Commons

And even though the creator of the snow quilts takes full credit for his work (unlike those pesky “alien” crop circlers!), it’s still a marvelous mystery to me how he executes them so flawlessly with just an orienteering compass and a pair of snowshoes.


Photo of Simon Beck via the artist’s Facebook page

What marvelous meditation it must be.

Needless to say, the next time I’m pecking away with needle and thread, I will be thinking of Simon Beck’s feet stitching perfect patterns in the snow.

You can learn more about Mr. Beck and his unique art form on his Facebook page.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    These snow quilts are incredible! It seems like it would be so difficult to make them so perfect given their size. What an artist!

  2. Karlyne says:

    He must have legs of steel!!! And a mind of unlimited creativity!

  3. Nancy Coughlin says:

    Stunning, to say the very least!

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Let me guess: Tractor wheel back back when they were made from metal with no tires?

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