Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Faeries Friday - Nerida

This is Nerida, who perches on a shelf outside my studio's largest window. I found Nerida waiting to be adopted by me in a little shop in Coos Bay, Oregon. I spotted her in the shop window and immediately went inside and asked her if she wanted to live in the mountains of California with me. She said "Sure, as long as I can take my book with me!" I assured her she could, and I told her I even had many more books that she could borrow. She lives inside my studio in the winter, as do all my garden faeries. None of them are dressed for winter weather!
If you look closely, you can see the Cape Arago lighthouse in the distance. People in Oregon are supposed to be notoriously hateful of Californians, but we didn't encounter any of that attitude at all.


Anyway, Nerida has been happily reading in my garden for years now. I have several other Faeries that also like to read (they will make their appearance in later posts). I think they've formed a book club! I'm always finding books left in the garden (they seem to be partial to murder mysteries, gardening books and, of course, Faerie tales), and the Faeries never seem to be exactly where I left them...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hollyhocks

These Hollyhocks are still flowering along the path to my studio, although they're almost done. I didn't plant them; they're volunteers who just liked that spot, I guess. I just love volunteers!

I used to love to make 'ballerinas' from the flowers of the Hollyhocks when I was a little girl, but I never knew they could be used for more than that until I read an interesting article about Hollyhocks, or Alcea Rocea, written by Marcia Enos. It seems they have medicinal uses because they contain Glycans. Glycans, very large sugars, make up our cell walls and mucus. The plant mucus found in Hollyhocks is used as an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflamatory. It's a good treatment for cystitis, and it boosts antibody response. Hollyhock is good for lubricating the lungs, throat and digestive tract because it increases mucous secretions.

The leaves, flowers and roots of the plants can be used, but if the plant smells of vinegar or is over three years old, don't use the root. The article stated that, after the plant starts to seed, you can place the flowers, leaves and/or the root in cold water (but, the author didn't say how much of these to use) and, keeping the liquid in the refrigerator, drink several ounces a day for NO LONGER THAN TWO WEEKS. Don't use it any longer because it could deplete Potassium.

And, of course:

Don't try any of this without checking with a doctor or a qualified, certified herbalist first!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

Taken at Big Bear Lake last June.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Things That Go Bump in the Day

These are Mrs. Slimtail's children. I call her that because she somehow lost almost all the fur on her tail. I had been painting in my studio this morning and had been hearing very strange bumps and thumps coming from underneath the studio. I was just about to go and investigate when I heard a cat fight starting down in the cottage (I have a baby monitor for just this reason) so I hurried down to stop the argument before anyone got hurt. Eeeek! She's going to look at us with that big one-eyed thing!

When I came back, I first saw these two in the Dogwood next to my porch. (I'm so glad I had my camera with me!) After I took some pictures of them, I looked down...
Uh-oh. She's looking at us! Oh, we should have followed Mama...
And there were these two little guys on my porch. They may be little, but they already have plenty of Raccoon attitude...

I'll stand up, you give her your best stare. That will scare her away!
Already acting like they weigh 20 pounds or more. The males can weigh up to 40 pounds when they're fully grown. I think these little guys would probably weigh in at around 7 to 9 pounds; that's less than most of my cats!

It's not working! Come on, we better climb up the tree, too. Oh, where did Mama go?
But their bravado didn't last long and they scampered up the tree after their siblings. I turned to see their mother regarding me calmly from about 5 feet behind me. I'm sure she knew I wouldn't hurt any of them, since she's figured out that I put out the food for them.
I stepped back out of her way and watched. She went to the foot of the studio stairs and said something that I'm guessing went like this:
You children get down here right this instant! Maybe this will teach you to mind me. When I say 'follow me' I mean RIGHT NOW! Or the lady will let go of the one-eyed thing and IT WILL EAT YOU UP!"
Then she turned and looked at me. I could swear she was smiling. Her children hurried down the tree and steps and formed an obedient line behind her. I raised my camera to get a picture of this charming scene, only to find that the battery had died! (I should pay more attention to the warning light).
Anyway, they hurried on up the path by my studio. When they got to the crawl space opening on the bottom of the studio, Mrs. Slimtail reached her paw out and raised up the crawl space cover so her babies could go in then, with another glance at me, she followed them. I'm sure it was a smug glance, because I had nailed down that crawl space cover top and bottom after having the studio and cottage repainted last year. Raccoons can be very strong, but I was sure I had put enough nails in to hold it firm. Obviously not.
Well, that explains the thumping and bumping noises I had heard; they're living under my studio! I'd like to be able to let them stay year round, but I know that eventually my studio will smell like a Raccoon Porta Potty. So I'll wait several weeks until the babies are teenagers and, when I'm sure they're all out foraging, I'll nail it shut again. Only this time I'll use bigger nails!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Sunsets

Taken last week at Lake Gregory in Crestline, CA.
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