I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

She has a new name... and hair.

Now that my Fairy doll has a mouth, it seems that she want a different name. She says her name is Ariel. 
I decided to look it up, because I thought I better have another answer for people than "That's what the doll told me." That kind of answer could lead to all sorts of speculation on my sanity.
So... the name Ariel means an archangel found primarily in Jewish and Christian mysticism and Apocrypha. The name Ariel, means "Lion of God" and if you keep reading the information on Wikipedia it gets kind of heavy and religious.
 My thinking was more "Hail to thee, blithe Spirit..."or "Spirit of the air"... but the name seems to be rather powerful and filled with mysticism. In one definition she is "a governing angel with dominion over the Earth, creative forces, the North, elemental spirits, and beasts." Elemental spirits are like gnomes, undines (look that one up!) and sylphs. OK! I don't know what a sylph is, but it sounds awfully mythical to me.
I think I will stick to my "Spirit of the air" vision and go with it.
Anyway..... It's what she wants.  Really!

Ariel has hair now. (back view)
I sewed rows of it, one on top of the other... twisting it at the ends (behind the ears) so I would have one continuious row of hair and not pieces at each end. This means that I didn't cut short pieces.I wrapped it back and forth. ( My friend MJ's idea.)
Then I sewed the edges to the scalp. It went well.
The last layer was attached as a separate piece going foward over her face, so I could pull the hair to the side and in front of the ears. Elf type ears are an issue with this doll, because they stick UP and you have to work around them.
The seam between the last hank of hair and the one going foward over her face is covered up by a ribbon with bobbles attached. I only have it pinned on (Those are the tiny white balls that you see.) right now, but I will sew it down and secure it soon. The beads are wonderful. They even look like earrings and the ribbon holds back her hair on each side.
This morning I made her a Nuno scarf. Got out the bubble wrap and the soap...
Found some wool with silk in it and some really pretty fabric...
Cut out the leaves and sparkle... and made her a little neck scarf. It's drying in the kitchen window. It was fun to do something so tiny. It went fast and didn't require a lot of felting.
You will be able to see it better when Ariel is wearing it..
Now, on to the clothing. My art group was here yesterday and gave me all kinds of ideas for Ariel's pretty little body. She's taking on an attitude, so I have to get this right.
I don't want the "Lion of God" to get annoyed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poppies... "a perpetual astonishment." ~Ellis Peters~

I found the poppies. 
They were all partying on a road, close to home, called Electra Rd. This road follows the Mokelumne River down through the river canyon that the Prospector and I saw last Thursday, from high above the canyon.
This is much closer to my home. So, on Sunday, in the late afternoon about 4:00 p.m., I drove over to the river without the "old man" ( He didn't want to go.) and did a poppy quest of my own.
As I drove around the bends on Highway 49 I saw the hillside and the carpet of poppies. I turned left onto Electra Rd., drove up the narrow road and then...

I saw this...
and this...
and a field of orange.
I had hit the MOTHER LODE. 
This was better than panning all day in the river.

The Poppies were everywhere ...
Cheering and waving at the cars

 sliding down the canyon walls
cascading to the edges of the roadside
and dancing with the Lupine, as if they knew this was their coming out party.
My emotions got the best of me. I really wished I had brought someone with me that would appreciate the beauty of this place and stand silently beside me in awe.
You need to share this kind of beauty.
It's a bit overwhelming.
But, there wasn't anyone to share this moment with... accept some strange men drinking beer and laughing.   Probably didn't want to share my awe with them... so I continued to drive up the road, stopping frequently to shoot these images. I waved at other folks that were enjoying the beautiful Spring day and continued on.

There flowers are called Eschscholtzia Californica, the California Poppy.
They bloom from February to September in open areas and grassy slopes. The flowers close at night and the spicy fragrance attracts beetles, which are pollinators.
That's enough textbook information. I don't want to break the spell. Suffice it to say that this amount of poppies, together in one place, makes you wonder about the order of things on this earth and what is really important.

This is the end of the road. The Electra Hydro Electric power plant is down to the right, out of the picture. The pipe line that runs up the hill and bring water down to the power plant never looked so good.
Oh!! I almost forgot about the river. The beautiful Mokelumne River is usually the movie star around here, but it's taking second, this month, because of the poppies..

Saw a couple of Canadian Geese that got caught up in the beauty of the area and forgot to fly further north.  Guess they decided to buy a few acres with river access and settle down in the California foothills this year.
Can you believe that some people walk out onto this concrete weir? Sometimes you have to save folks from themselves.

Oh, beautiful Mokelumne... how I love you. There are some folks who are working on making you a "wild and scenic" designated river, so no one can hurt you. They have your back, or bedrock, so to speak.

This is a big old tree that has rope swings hanging from it. I hope there will be more water in the river this summer to swing and jump out into it, but I doubt it. There is a drought here and it's bad.
 So, coming back down Electra Rd., it was the beauty of the River to the left and the poppies to the right. The sun was low and the shadows deeper.

 Some poppies cascading down into the river.

The Lupine was trying to compete, but this beautiful blue flower was more like an accessory to the "Oscar" winning beauty and performance of the poppies.

When I reached the main road, I stopped and took some images of the hillside along highway 49. They've made a pull out, a third lane on the east side of the highway, just for the poppies. Well.. I believe it's also for accidents, but we do treat these flowers with the respect they are due. 

It use to be that you couldn't stop without endangering your life and everyone did it anyway. So now, it's a lot easier.  On Sunday,there were other crazy people doing the same thing.
While I was hanging out of my open door window to steady my camera, someone went by and waved at me, laughed and yelled something and gave me a thumbs up. This is what the poppies do. They are the goodwill ambassadors of Amador County.
I got my Poppy fix and now I can go back to living a relatively normal life...
Until the real gold starts showing up in my pan.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Poppy Quest Thursday

This is Lake Tabeaub in Amador Co.
It's a small lake and reservoir in the foothills of the Central Sierra Mountains of California. The Prospector and I drove up on Thursday looking for a way to access the Mokelumne River Canyon above Electra Power Plant. We were on a poppy quest. We drove as far as we thought we should on a road called Ponderosa Way, which appeared to be mostly private property and "no trespassing" signs. We always respect these signs and private roads because we live on one too and have had trouble with people who don't.
So, we drove to the lake and took a short hike down a path beside a water channel.
I found some information about these ditches. They were built to divert water over to Pine Grove.  The development of all of these ditches and canals extended from around 1850 until the turn of the century.
During the early settlement of the Amador County, the major industries were gold mining, timber, and cattle raising.  These early settlers, in order to obtain water for domestic, municipal and agricultural uses, diverted  the water from larger rivers and streams.
 When demand increased for power, the Upper Standard Canal was built and water was diverted a half mile upstream from the present PGand E Tiger Creek Powerhouse.  The Upper Standard Canal followed the same course as an earlier canal but remained at a higher elevation.  This water was subsequently released into Tabeaud Reservoir and then could be released into the Amador Canal. It appears that this is still the case.
It's a beautiful canal. From the parking lot to the pump area is a short walk.
This photo shows the pipe that carries the water up out of the lake to the canal.
And this sign tells you that you had better not mess with any of it.
Pacific, Gas and Electric can sound very official in some really beautiful places, but they have had power grids blown up (here in California) so they don't mess around.
We walked back up to the canal and watched the water fall to a different level as it flowed back toward the road.
I had to laugh at the sign on the side of the pump house.
It said, NO SWIMMING. There were tiny, planted trout and a lot of algae in that water. I can't imagine anyone wanting to swim in there anyway.
That was when I realized we were not alone. I turned around and saw a dog... in the water. Guess he didn't read the sign.
His owner pulled him out of the shallow water and stopped to talk for a minute. We said we were trying to find a road that would get us over to the river canyon. He gave us detailed directions about how to do this. We thanked him and he and his dog walked on down the road.
We walked back to the car, drove around the edges of the lake and a few miles later, we found the trail head... right where the man had told us it was. Another car was parked there too. This reminded me of Geocaching only this time we were trying to find flowers, not hidden treasure.
It didn't look very official, but we took all of my camera equipment and hiked up onto the trail.
This was one of those beautiful California Sunshine Days that you heard about in the songs... you know... The Mamas and the Papas dreaming about California sunshine on a dreary, winter's day.
or Waylon Jennings....
...They say those California girls are fine
They know how to really walk your mind
Well, one of you get ready 'cause you're mine
I'm headin' for that California sunshine."
And, of course... The Beach Boys singing about beaches and bikinis, wishing all girls "...could be California girls."
It was a magic word back then... California. I'm sure these songs were written about a day like this one. Blue skies, warm breezes, sunshine........flowers in my hair.
Oh, man. Sorry! I got caught up in the 60's for a moment.

The Prospector and I walked to the top of the ridge.
The view was amazing and so beautiful.... but I didn't see any poppies.
My favorite river, the Mokelumne, is down in that canyon, somewhere.

There was a lot of green grass, small white flowers (California fairy poppies or meconella) and Fiddleneck (Amsinckia retrorsa).

And this... a fiddleneck unfurled.
And one that the Prospector showed me (without picking it).
I believe this is called  Common Brodiaea  or Blue dick, desert hyacinth?..(this certainly isn't the desert.)... or even more likely, a different Brodiaea, called a Twining Brodiaea  or twining snakelily. This wildflower did have a twining stem.
The only poppies we saw were a few miles west on another hillside.
There they were... in all their orangeluminous beauty. I was beginning to think I should stop the madness and just go back to the small display of poppies on my own property, put my macro lens on, and do some 1:1 close-ups of the flowers near my house.
I was a bit disappointed, but I still had some other options. I had directions from another Facebook "poppy lover", who had taken pity on me and given me very good directions to the area off of Ponderosa Way. Should I come up here again? Should I obsess until I find the gold at the end of the rainbow?
Well, at that moment, I had to get the Prospector off the ridge area before I lost him to what he thought was an old tertiary river bed with some very interesting rocks in it.
He was getting that gleam in his eyes.
These rocks were very heavy... with lot's of crystallization in them.
 I might have lost him forever if I didn't make him start back to the car with me. The rock was an interesting lode type rock that could have started a serious dry-washing project... so it was time to move on.

(Why is this being written in orange? Because I went on another Poppy quest today and found what I was looking for. Wait until you see the beautiful photos tomorrow.
 I found Poppy Heaven on Electra Rd.... That sounds like the title of a good song doesn't it? Stay tuned.)