June 17, 2009

Cactus Crazy 2009

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 10:15 am by czygyny

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They are at it again! My cacti garden is bursting with blooms!

MyFirstEchinopsis

Here is the one that started the Echinopsis collection, tentatively identified as ‘Stars and Stripes’.

Pink&red

A nice combo of pink and Schick hybrid  ‘Hot Lips’ red.

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This one, I call ‘Pale Peachy Pink’, is a creation of my very own! It can take many years to get from seed to blooming plant.

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Not too sure, but I think this is another of my creations. I am not a good records keeper, much to my detriment.

Lemony

This yellow beauty came from Home Depot. It has a light citrus fragrance.

Pink

This is another of my seedlings. It differs somewhat from the original parent “Stars and Stripes’.

Icarus

Here is another Schick hybrid, ‘Oracle’, an electric fuchsia and red combination I so love in cacti flowers.

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Not just Echinopsis are in bloom. This Opuntia Santa-Rita looks like a color pumped image, but its delicate purple and blue colorings and its light yellow blooms look great against the backdrop of a purple variegated barberry.

Astrophytum

Lastly is this sea urchin lookalike, Astrophytum. Its very pale yellow flowers with their red rings look like eyes looking back at you.

Only lasting a day in most cases, these cacti flowers are worth rushing out in the early morning to drink up their incredible and fleeting beauty, and they live through my colder than Redding winter temperatures, with the added bonus of not needing much water in the summer, but they do need afternoon shade.

If you would like to try your hand at these beautiful Echinopsis cacti, take a look at these beauties!:

http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/Schick/catalogindex.html

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June 15, 2009

The Tale of Little Chicky

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 7:13 pm by czygyny

April 18. My niece, Stephanie, ran into the house, breathless and excited. It took a minute or two to get the story straight, something about chicks, eggs and murderous hens. I finally stitched together the story: she had gone to the chicken coop to check on the chickens, as she does every day. She brings me back eggs or tells me they are out of food, but today she exclaimed that an egg had hatched and the hens were pecking it and carrying it around!chicky_05

I followed her back to the coop to find a tiny, wet, fuzzy lump, bloodied by the attacks of the senseless hens. I scooped it up and also took the eggs that the broody hen had been sitting on, just in case.

While I didn’t really need any other chickens, I let one persistent hen gather a clutch to herself. She did only a fair job, she was so small she often left eggs sitting around her.

Once inside and under a heat lamp and equipped with a heating pad, we anxiously waited to see if the chick would survive and if the other eggs would hatch.

Days went by. No other egg hatched. Chicky (now named) was listless, but alive. I finally discarded the other eggs, and Chicky chicky_08gathered strength and awareness.

Living in a box in the kitchen, Chicky became the center of attention. Oohs and ahs from the children that came through my house, with the common plea, “Oh, can I hold him?”. Chicky became the star and became quite tame from the handling.

The only permanent damage that seemed to have occured was a scarred and deformed beak, but it didn’t seem to bother him (her?) much.

I didn’t have any chick starter food, so Chicky’s first couple of weeks was a diet of ground dog food and pecans! He thrived on the rich grub. I was pleased to find that our local feed store had chick starter food in 5lb bags, so his diet shifted to a more conventional fare.

Once again, I was blessed to have the sweet cheeping of a baby in the house. I’ve grown to love that little voice. There is a content chatter, a hungry rattle, a introspective tittering, so much communication from such a ball of fuzz.

As he grew larger and stronger, Chicky began to take outdoor trips to the vegetable and wildflower gardens. He began the hilarious routine of ‘dusting’ himself, digging down and throwing dust all over himself.  It is amazing to me how this behavior is instinctual. What a mess!chicky_09

He quickly outgrew his box and I had to press into duty an unused birdcage, complete with his mirror in which he likes to cuddle next to and gaze. Soon the tiny fuzzy chickymommachick began to look like a real chicken.

It is no guess as to who his momma is! Chicky looks just like Kiwi, my super tame black bantam hen…I sure hope ‘he’ is a ‘she’ when all is said and done.

We’ve had a lot of fun times, sitting out in the wildflochicky_07wers while Chicky roams about, or hiding in the broccoli and digging around for earwigs in the strawberries. Watching  him fly to find me is a kick.

He gets the run of the house on occasion, when the dogs are outside…we just have to watch and quickly clean up any ‘accidents’.

 

 

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Wearing chickens is not a good idea, not only do you have to worry about ‘deposits’, he will also peck you in the eye and mouth. Ouch!chicky_04

Chicky is getting big, now. All his black feathers are in and all the down is gone. He spends more and more time outside, whenever I am out in the garden for any length of time. 

Since we have many hawks of different sorts, and the big rooster attacks him, his days of roaming around on his own may never come, but I will continue to enjoy his company out in the garden whenever I can.chicky_01 (1)

So, Chicky, despite a bad beginning, ended up being a very lucky little chicken, after all. Except for a slightly mangled beak, he is a pampered, happy little Gallus gallus being, whatever sex he ends up being.

I guess when I hear a crowing or see an egg, I’ll know for sure.

chicky_10

December 27, 2008

A marvelous creation.

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , at 8:05 pm by czygyny

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I make it no secret that I love mud puddles.  My first encounter with a mud puddle as a toddler was a vain attempt to bring the frozen icy tops deftly removed from the puddles outside, inside the house and keep them for later fun. I carefully wrapped them in a blanket and placed them under my little bed. But, alas to my grief they melted into a sad puddle that oozed out onto the hardwood floor. My three year old brain couldn’t understand that ice melts. 

I still can find lots of interest in a good puddle;  watching the moon reflect off its mirror surface  in the evenings, watching the swirls of milk chocolate mud swirl and mix with the clear water like a miniature weather front when a dog paw stirs the waters, watch the tiny daphnia spin and dance in the clear water of some special puddles–a whole microcosm in a pool, or tickle your eyes with the geometric shapes and curls of consolidated, dried mud.

Most of all, the greatest fun in a mud puddle comes after a night of icy transfomation. Whether it is a solid sheet with little bubbles frozen in the middle and a leaf stuck tight, or like this tiny puddle— crazy, beautiful, creative shapes and textures, all contained in no more than a few inches of crystalline H2O.  

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Above is a star burst of icy beauty. Our temperature dropped to a chilly 23° that night!

Look at the close up, below, of the thin ice formations I believe area called ‘dendrites’. They were no more than about 1/2 inch long!

dendrites

This puddle was no more than seven inches across, and the icy display melted as the morning sun topped the trees. Today, they are all dry.

What fleeting beauty, what a marvelous creation—water. 

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December 8, 2008

Spectacular winter sunset.

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , at 8:14 pm by czygyny

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Most people love sunsets. There is just something awe inspiring about watching the procession of colors, contrasts and textures as the day slowly fades. When everything comes together, cloud, sky and sun, the results can be dramatic. Thus it was so Sunday, December 7,  2008.

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I love a good show of altostratus undulatus any time of day. Fall and spring seem to bring the best displays. Now, most of you wouldn’t know your altostratus from cirrus uncius, and most of you probably don’t try to categorize the colors into a painter’s pallet, or stalk around your property with a bulky camera in hand, but I bet you do stand in awe as the show begins its crescendo, exploding across the skies like a giant fireworks, then darken and pale. The cool blues and greys and tans flowed into hot, firey orange in sharply stippled patterns, then muted to a darkening red-coal smolder and on into a frosty, star-glittered night.

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May this holiday season be a comfort inasmuch as we are in an uncomfortable time and uncertain future. This is always a tough time of year-cold, dark winter. Be thankful for your modern blessings; lights in abundance, heat at the touch of a switch, fresh healthful foods,  ease of communication. Having read  of how folks lived generations ago I have come to the realization that winter used to be a very difficult time to endure. We have blunted its scouring force with many wonderful things. Being the ever-anxious conspiracy nut, I wonder if this winter might be one to be very thankful for, the one to measure against in the times ahead, one in which to reminisce.  Maybe it is just the darkness and cold creeping into the mind and aging bones.

November 30, 2008

A fair walk for a fine day.

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:26 pm by czygyny

west-view

I thought I would break my long silence with the results of a nice three hour hike taken today. Above is one of my favorite cottonwood trees with Bass and Saddleback mountains in the background. What a beautiful day it was today, mid 70s, no wind, deep blue skies. Very nice.

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mudcrak

I could not pass up this drying, checking mud, with its geometric shapes and peeling layers. This image comes complete with dog prints.

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bear-mnt

I love Bear Mountain, and I never pass up a chance for another picture, especially if I can get the lookout. I hope to go up there, someday.

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knothole

This snaggle-tooth mouth shaped knothole made me laugh. it looks like a lamprey mouth or laughing alien creature.

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dying-tree

This tree is slowly losing it’s life. It stands ever starker and barer as time pulls the spirit of the tree. It hangs over a tall bank looming with its grasping branches.

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buckwheat

These orange spotted Eriogonum stems are almost shockingly bright for such muted early winter colors that abound right now.

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Here is the last leg of the journey, just before we get back to our unpaved road. It was a good time for dogs, who wallowed in the mud and explored all over and for me who just enjoyed the quiet and beauty and muted colors of an autumn near ended and a winter near come, that are right in my back yard.

I am so blessed.  🙂

sam

September 27, 2008

Adrift

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by czygyny

I haven’t felt much like writing my feelings and doings in a blog lately. My fears for the future of us all is not something I wish to burden others with, although I know there is a time of rejoicing later. I am troubled in spirit.

I have a lot of things I would write about if I could just make myself sit and start typing.

Still…

I have been taking pictures of course, and here are some of my favorites.

The first is my new betta! I have a beautiful cobalt blue female, too, but I couldn’t get a good image of her.

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One of my favorite flowers to bloom in the spare and dry autumn time is Lycoris radiata, a relative of the much larger pink ‘Naked Lady’ lily. These flowers come up from bare ground and get about 12″ tall.

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This is a new banana leaf, unfurling. The three green tones caught my eye, the two shades causing a deeper shadow of color on the bottom.

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The sun came up on the equinox morning, giving a twice a year shadow to my rusty sawblade collection.

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The last one is a stunning green dragonfly that spent the night on my harvest decoration on my front porch. He just sat there in a cold stupor, giving me a great photo opportunity.

September 9, 2008

T-Shirt design

Posted in blogging, drawing, photography tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:05 pm by czygyny

Although I haven’t done much drawing or art in the last six months, I have been painting T-Shirts. I despair of ever being able to sell them, because they take so long to do, and I am not happy with the way the paints handle after a few washes.

Still, I think that it would be a fun and profitable hobby if I can get the amount of time down to a reasonable limit and make sure the paints, dyes and beads hold up wash after wash.

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This is my purple dragonfly shirt: I am pleased at how the flat paint is holding up, but my pearlescent paint cracks and some washed out of the sponged borders.

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 Here is my Flames shirt. This is my second time at trying this design. The first shirt was too large and the paint faded quite a bit. One trick is to get the paint on very thick. The hardest part for me is the heat-set to make the paint more permanent.

This design is freestyle, painted on without any pre-design patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

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 This is the very first shirt I painted with the Lumiere metallic fabric paints by Jacquard. I created the patterns with real oak leaves, using them as stamps.

 

 Here is the detail on the arm, and as you can see, one of the beads has come loose. I sewed them on tightly, but still have some problems keeping them on.

 

 

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Here is my favorite shirt. This cat design I created some time back on the computer, and used it as a pattern, and started embellishing it. I used embroidery floss for his fuzzy mane. I like the 3D aspect of the floss.

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The blue shirt is relatively plain. I used fabric pens to draw curlicue designs on the borders and painted the sewn hem areas. Alas, the paint cracks due to the stretchiness of the areas, but the fabric pen seems to hold up to laundering. Too bad I dislike sewing so much, I think that some sort of ribbon sewn on these areas would be attractive.

 

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I nearly forgot this shirt, I found the pink one hanging in my closet (which is behind where my printer sits, so it makes it difficult to see what is hanging inside) so I am working on a freestyle paisley/swirl design. I plan on using embroidery thread for some of the detail after I finish with the painting.

 

I really enjoy using the fabric pens for this free-style doodling. It is tricky to get an even and smooth line trying to draw on squiggly t-shirt fabric.

August 25, 2008

Summer endings

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:20 pm by czygyny

 

The sweetest of Springs has now past, a smokey Summer of freedom is passing away. Some blue-oak leaves are beginning to show drought-induced senescence, and the Canadian geese are starting to practice their migration flights, strengthening the wings of this year’s offspring to complete the long journey ahead.

The evenings are sneaking up earlier, and the nights are spangled with stars that have been veiled all summer. The symphony of crickets still fills the night air making me I wish I had access to a top notch recording setup to bottle up their song for silent, dark winter nights.

The garden has matured, looking a bit haggard by the insect invasion that attacks every leaf and stem. Pumpkins, melons and winter squash peek out from the broad leaves and the tiny winter veggie seedlings begin their little green lives under cover of row cloth to keep the melting sun at bay.

The luxury of sleeping in has passed, school comes around again, and its up at a dark 5:30 in the morning now, instead of 7 or 8. It is just as well, the days are still so hot it is better to be outside working in the early morning than to wait until it hits 90° or more.

I haven’t completed my list of things to do: I haven’t had my big yard sale, yet. My sheep haven’t been sold, no firewood provisions made, nor do I have hay in the barn. Where did the time go?

It’s been a great time of being home, life’s busy-making has filled in every niche and opening of time. But, money is getting tight enough to need to look ahead in a few months. Hopefully with the coming cold, dark and wet season, life will slow down to allow me to pick up the job search again.

But, lately I have let my worries get a hold of me when I look at the state of the world, today. We seem on the brink of disaster, our way of life has never seemed so tenuous. My thoughts turn to survival, not business-as-usual. The world’s weather seems to have become a foreign force, floods, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes in various places and in ever larger magnitudes. Unrest in nations, the financial health of banks are suffering, the rock-solid investment in real estate has proven a foundation of sand.

I have a feeling that the next few years will be a testing time for all of us.

But, for now, the year turns on the downhill slide. Soon, blessed rain will fall, trees will bare their branches, birds will depart for warmer climes. The winter coats and mufflers will come out of storage, and the summer of abundance will pass its torch to the cleansing time of winter, with the brief and colorful interlude of fall as a prize to enjoy before darkness falls.

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“Yeah, but what about the photographs?”

Well of course, I have been taking pictures!

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Is this a bee, a wasp or a fly?

It is a wasp-mimic fly, as the large compound eyes that touch one another proves. Cute little guy.

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Now this is the real deal! This red ground-hunter wasp has the most unique smokey, irridescent wings that reflect the blue of the sky. She looks potent and I believe it! I fished her out of the pool, so I had the opportunity to take a series of images of her before she gathered enough strength to fly away.

A relative of hers, a larger, black and irridescent green ground-hunter proves too elusive to get a good picture. She recognizes me, too, unlike the other species who ignore me. When I draw close she hovers in front of my face menacingly, all 2 1/2 inches of black venom! Maybe I can share her later. I hear they really pack a whallop in the sting business.

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I don’t see these formations very often, lines and lines of cumulus undulatus. I more frequently see higher, smoother undulating clouds.

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This is a close up of one of my Astrophytus cacti. This star cactus has a wonderful shape and is covered with tiny dots of white. Close up makes for a good abstract image.

Thanks for dropping by!

August 9, 2008

Potpourri pix

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 3:35 pm by czygyny

This is just a small mixed-salad of photos I have taken lately, life through the eye of my camera.

Water drop on an Aquilegia or Columbine leaf.

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A curve of light and shadow on Shasta Dam

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Solanum rostratum, Buffalo Bur. Just one of those odd volunteers that come up in my garden. It has fascinating prickly seedpods. This is a wildflower that hails from the south, so I haven’t a clue how it came to me.

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I LOVE rusty stuff! This is the door of my 45 Chevy dually flatbed, a rare model. It needs a new home. (hint, hint)

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Howz about that for a pretty sunset! Look at those cloud shadows!

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I can’t pass up a good dry mudpuddle, and this one had great geometric shapes created in the drying film of mud.

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This enterprising bumblebee on a nigella flower has her pollen sacks crammed full of sustanance.

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Botroyidal formations of sulfer and salts forming on the sand of E. Stillwater Creek.

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This last image is from a series I did exploring the bleached roots of a grand old white oak. The porthole led on to more textures and patterns of grey, like dusty hills.

August 1, 2008

Wildflowers in August? In Redding!?

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , at 7:28 pm by czygyny

Recently, I took the dogs down to East Stillwater Creek, which flows by my property. Thanks to beavers, there is still plenty of water in spots, with bullfrogs and dragonflies, herons and ducks enjoying the last haven of water. This is the time of year when the air is heavy with the resinous smells of plants that are tough as nails and that bloom during the driest and hottest time of year. Here are some that I found on my walk.

When the north state is powdery dry and withered, it may come as a surprise to local folks that wildflowers do indeed bloom in August. The oak trees may be hardened off to a blue-green, the manzanita parches away and the grasses are as golden as straw, but here and there you will find splashes of wild color. This Madia elegans grows where most of the late summer flowers are to be found, in dry gravel washes alongside waning creekbeds.

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This next lovely flower has the unfortunate common name of ‘Clammyweed’ due to its sticky plant parts, the Polanisia dodecandra  has an unpleasant odor when brushed. It grows in my garden so well I have to pull out several throughout the season. It resembles cleome, to which it is related.

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These next plants are Hemizonia, the species I am not quite sure of, but these hardy plants have a strong, resinous odor I find appealing.

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This buckwheat, Eriogonum vimineum is a delicate flower that you need to get up close and personal to see its beauty.

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A personal favorite native shrub is the Buttonwillow, Cephalanthus occidentalis. You find this shrubby plant only by areas with water close to the surface, right along side creek beds. It has a spicy fragrance that eludes definition. I use this in my water gardening.

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Now, I dare say that anyone that has been out walking down a country road has seen this lovely sky blue flower, chickory or Cichorium intybus, a relative of the Endive.

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This stunning flower is about 4″ across and sits atop a lanky, sticky plant. It is Blazing Stars, otherwise known as Mentzelia laevicaulis. I also call it Velcro-leaf, for the fact that it will so determinly cling to my clothing that the entire leaf will behave as if it was glued on.

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Not all that is colorful is in bloom. This noxious, but lovely plant is Poison Oak, the bane of kids and dog owners everywhere. It frequently turns red during this time of year as it approaches dormancy.

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This willow has the most interesting green/silver bi-color effect. I believe this is Salix lasiolepis, or Arroyo willow, but I may be mistaken. It makes pussy-willow catkins early in the spring. The beavers find this tree delicious, I find it fascinating.

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Even in death, beauty can be seen. This is the Seepspring Monkeyflower seed pods, looking like tiny paper lanterns. This common yellow wet-land flower, Mimulus guttatus, can be found along side creeks or even ditches alongside roads.

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There is something serene and quieting to a dry-grass display like this. Hare’s tail grass, American brooklime and Mimulus all come together to compose a lovely everlasting bouquet.

The California poppies may be gone and the lupines just a memory, but the determined wildflowers of our area continue on despite the arid weather, all you need do is look.

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