"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Friday, March 28, 2008

WOW! There almost ready to open. Can you guess what these are?

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The Magic Metamorphosed Moth ,"Inch worm, inch worm, measuring the marigolds":

There you were, on my walk yesterday, spread out on the ground, looking like a small rock or leaf.
I almost stepped on you, little one. My eyes don't see as well as they use to and sometimes I don't see things for what they are. We had a moment didn't we? How often have you let a human being touch you? Did I smell different? Was I a monster in your eyes? I don't think so. You crawled onto my hand as if you knew me...., or were you just being brave?
In your former life, as a inch worm, I read that you are a pest and chew on trees and shrubs. Well, I guess that metamorphosis is a wonderful thing for you: Letting go of all those bad habits and becoming something new and beautiful. I wish we could all do that. Some say we can.

Communion with Nature: A measureing worm moth(inch worm)




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Thursday, March 27, 2008

You CAN return to Paradise

Recently, I had a comment on my 'This is all I have to say" post. I mentioned where I grew up and Jan, of Little Pink Houses (see My Favorite Sites) wrote that she had also been raised in the Pleasant Hill area of California and we went a little crazy reminiscing about places we remembered. She is a lot younger than I am, but we recalled so many common places, in what was then, a very small town.

Back then, there were lots of farms and country roads. We all walked to school and never worried about strangers. Life was innocent and and, for me, a very safe place. I walked 5 miles , in the snow, to get to school every day..... Ok, I threw that in for my grandkids. It was more like 2 miles and, to my unending regret, it rarely snowed in Pleasant Hill. Once, in the late 50's, we did have snow. It was a BIG DEAL. Dad came home in the middle of the morning and took Mom, my sister and I for a ride up near Mt. Diablo just to play in it. I can still remember the excitement. It was gone by late afternoon. What we did have in winter were heavy frosts. All the way to school we would make fun crunchy noises walking across everyones lawns. We didn't have sidewalks so it was the street or the lawns,; and crunchy lawns were much more fun.

The 2 mile walk to school ended when they built Strandwood School in a field at the end of my street. I was going into the 6th grade that Fall and we were the first graduating class in this brand new school. I had one year of getting up late, eating a leisurely breakfast and worming my way to school and then, bam! JUNIOR HIGH(2 miles away, again)....... My sister, on the other hand , started kindergarden the following year and had 7 delightful seasons of walking to " the school at the end of the street". I know you're reading this, Sis. Just had to get that off my chest.

These photos are a big part of my memories of that time. When I visited my Mom last month( in the same house you see below) I took pictures of some old snapshots in an album of her's. They turned out well and then I touched them up a bit on Picasa, my free photo storage program that makes any photos better. If that sounds like an advertisement, it is. Picasa downloads from your camera , organizes photos, lets you change them and manipulate them as you wish. You can blog, email, print, export and delete ( I love the "click and it's gone" option ). You can crop, straighten , add text , etc. and the photos make your blog look really good. Picasa is a FREE software application owned by Google. Check it out at : picasa.google.com.
Until I can afford one of the photo programs I hear about, I'm just fine with Picasa. Maybe I don't need more. Some of the programs you buy are, from what I here, very complicated. This computer is enough stress for me.

Paradise Valley; in the middle of a walnut orchard- 1950



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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

William Blake altered




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Sorry Mr. Blake

A while back I tried my first altered book. I found an old book of William Blake poems and proceeded to "alter"( or change ) it into a work of art. When I was done I said "Never again."; and this is why.....
First of all: Never use a book, no matter how old, that matters to you. When I started to tear pages from this small old book I felt like I was killing my bantam chicken for dinner. I love books and this seemed almost sacrilegious. Being my first attempt at altering anything other than a hemline, I found the whole process painful.
Secondly: Have some idea what you want to do. Have a plan. I didn't and that my be what made the whole process so difficult. If I had thought about it ahead of time, I probably wouldn't have use "this" book. If I had thought about the guilt of tearing pages, I would have chosen something I didn't care about and the whole experience would have been so much better.
And last: Be fearless! I'm very new to "art". When I look at this altered book now, I think that it's not so bad. In fact, I'm kind of happy with the way it turned out. Maybe you have to suffer for your art; the way I suffer from arthritis and breathing after I clean and work on my gourds. I know that suffering teaches you appreciation, empathy and give you greater understanding of yourself; so maybe it makes you keep trying.... to be braver, better, and more creative too.
I keep hearing Blake saying;
" If you trap the moment before it's ripe.
The tears of repentance you'll certainly wipe;" Yes, I know I'm making a big deal out of this.
Just , please, use a book you don't care about or the author will haunt you.

The Prospector gave me flowers for Easter: aren't they lovely?


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Monday, March 24, 2008

This is all I have to say...

Getting Poison Oak is sort of like a tick bite: You don't notice until it starts itching and swelling. This is hard for me to write about. I have a personal history with this plant, so I feel I owe some folks , that don't know about P.O., a fair warning. Take a good look at the second photo below. This is P.O.'s finest hour( or month, or season). Here in California we have the oak version. In the east, I believe it's poison ivy or poison sumac. What's in a name, anyway...., it's all nasty stuff.

There's a story, on my husbands side of the family, about friends who came to visit my husband's grandmother. She lived on a ranch in Mariposa, Ca. when she was a child . Now, if you know anything about the Sierra Foothills, you know that what survived after the Gold Rush wasn't the miners. The miners didn't leave because the gold ran out. History has it all wrong. The real reason they left was the rattlesnakes and ( yes, you guessed it ) poison oak. Anyway, his grandma's family had friends visit from the "City". They loved being in the country and decided to take a walk. Later, they arrive back at the ranch with a lovely bouquet of wildflowers and ( you guessed it, again) poison oak. Needless to say, they all came down with horrible rashes and they didn't come up to visit again.

My personal history dates back to childhood summers in the Napa valley, where my parent's families lived. I grew up in one of the first housing tracks in the Pleasant Hill- Walnut Creek area of California . We had lots of walnut trees and mustard grass and sometimes a wayward possum or raccoon, but at my grandma's house up on Atlas Peak, in Napa, there were rocks, rattlesnakes and scorpions the color of dirt... and ( that's right) poison oak all over the place. I loved my grandma's place. It was the complete opposite of where I lived with my parents. This dusty wonderful realm was my retreat from the perfection of my regular childhood. Summer's up there were free and wild. The dogs and I (and sometimes grandma when she was feeling good) would hike all over the property and down to the creek where I could pretend I was Princess of the hills. It was a magic place that still lives in my memories. I couldn't wait for Mom, Dad and Sis to come and get me, though, and I'd be so glad to see them. I loved coming home to a clean house and good food, and friends..., and my family. Then, when I was home for less than a week, I would start itching. How I got this stuff practically every year of my young life was a mystery. Grandma always showed me what it looked like and how to avoid it like the plague, but every summer I would come home and break out with a case of P.O..... just before school started. I can still smell the calamine lotion. It was always my number one fashion accessory during the first weeks of school. So, my long history with P.O. makes me an expert and I always like to warn people when they visit us...before they pick a bouquet for our dinner table. Looking back, I think it was the grandma's dogs. I played with them all the time. They would run all over the place and surely through the P.O. bushes, as dogs will do.

After Marrying the Prospector, I was always trying to prove I could be the outdoor partner that he love. So, P.O. became a part of my life. I have ended up in the hospital because of reactions to this plant. Prednisone is on my list of favorite drugs for fast results. You would think I'd learn my lesson: But do you know where some of the best gold is? In the tree roots next to streams and rivers. ...; and can you tell the difference between any old tree root and a P.O. tree root?...., No!
Such is life.

Still.... take a good long look at the photo below. Avoid this plant at all cost. Next time we discuss Rattlesnakes.

POISON OAK: beautiful plague of the foothills.


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