Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

Today began with gloriously overcast skies.  Summers in Florida are not always the most pleasant for hiking, and I really needed my nature fix, so we decided to go for a hike to enjoy the pearly gray skies and slightly cooler temperatures.

Almost immediately after starting along a trail we spotted many deer tracks.  It was a bit late in the morning to see deer so there was little hope of a sighting.  We could see deer tracks in all sizes, even some smaller than my thumb. Of course, I didn't think of taking a photo of the tracks at the time, but this would have been a nice play to insert one. 

I really love velvety green moss, one of my favorite things to line a terrarium with (I even have a little crop of it at home).  This piece of moss peeking up through the oak leaves looks almost like a green heart. There's a bit of reindeer moss growing on top.  I saw lots of reindeer moss, but did not pick any because it is protected. 
We saw quite a large variety of mushrooms, lichens, and moss.  These last few days of rain have really brightened the moss and lichens and helped the mushrooms to pop up. 

We saw some wildlife, although it was elusive and difficult to capture in photos.  We saw a large cottontail rabbit,  tufted titmice, cardinals and red-winged blackbirds.  Mostly we heard the birds singing, and the cicadas buzzing.  Then, I almost walked face first into this:

It's hard to tell in this photo...but this is a large golden orb weaver spider. They really love to create enormous webs across a shady pathway.  Most of the ones we saw measured about 2 to 2.5 inches across, not what you want to walk into face-first, that is for sure!

As we walked, I found this burnt log, that looks almost like it could be the skull of a dragon:

I love to forage through the woods for interesting bits of nature to bring home, and today I found the greatest prize. I found a deer antler! Each year a deer grows new antlers and at the end of a season they shed them.  I'd always hoped to find one, and today was my lucky day.
Here's a photo of it back at my home:

I also found what has been my Holy Grail plant of terrarium creating: The British Soldier Lichen.  It's not an uncommon species, but not usually common in the places where I've looked. Here's a photo of it with a bit of the green cushion moss I'm growing:

It has the most beautiful little red "flowers".  I'm guessing that's how it got it's name--because of the beautiful shade of red, like little "redcoats".

As we were leaving, happy and invigorated from our hike, a friendly black vulture came down and seemed to pose for me:

Today was such a treat, I wish I could do this every single day.  It's so inspirational to be out in nature. My soul feels recharged, my mind at peace.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Little Loopy

Lately, I find myself drawn to very unusual themes and items.  The more off-the-wall, the more drawn I find myself.  For instance, take a look at my latest Etsy favorites:

The general quirkiness draws me in like a moth to the flame. One of the things I really love about Etsy is that quirkiness is not only loved, but encouraged. Where else, but Etsy would I go to sell a ceramic catnip mouse, complete with a poem I composed for the occasion?  For some reason I felt completely compelled to make it, weird as it may seem.  My husband doesn't quite get it, but I'm figuring someone, somewhere will. 

I've been enjoying making pendants and buttons, texturing them with BURLAP. I love the look and feel, and from what I've seen so far, a lot of other people love it too.  I love pressing a piece of lace into the clay and getting the detail of the pattern.  I also enjoy tatting ( a kind of knotted lace making) so I've been tatting motifs to be used for molds and texture.  Seems a little crazy, huh? Making a time consuming type of lace, only to smoosh it into clay.  Keeping my fingers crossed that others will like it too.

So today, as my youngest child experiences her first day of Kindergarten and I'm alone all day for the first time in 13 years, I will embrace my quirkiness, enjoy the unusual works of art created by my friends at Etsy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Menagerie

I always get asked about what inspires me, what's my muse?   Usually, it's some type of animal or plant.  I've got a very active butterfly garden that always teeming with butterflies and caterpillars.  I try to bring one or two caterpillars inside when I see them so that I can watch out for them and then enjoy their miraculous change.  In the garden, the birds and stray garden cats that I have feed seem to have called a truce, the cats barely giving the birds a glance as they stop in for a drink at the bird bath.    Lizards of green and brown languidly bask in the sun, quick to dart away if one of the garden cats gets too close.  These are my animals that come and go as they please, but I know them and love them as if they were pets.

When I go inside,  I've got lots more to inspire me.  We have a greyhound we've adopted, Yorkie (Naughty NuYorker).  He's never really naughty and to be honest, he's no "yorkie". Weighing in at about 95 lbs he's our biggest baby.  We've had him a year now, and he's almost 3.  He's pretty mellow overall, very good about telling us he needs to go out, sometimes too interested in the cats, but not so much that it gets him in trouble.

Our cats are an interesting group, we have Shadow the patriarch.  A beautiful blue and cream tabby who loves to greet guests. He's 10 years old now, but still plays like a kitten.

Then we have our little girl kitty, Ginger. She's a red tabby British shorthair mix.  She's a bit of a diva, but loves to be petted.  She's almost 9 years old.

Jake is our Maine Coon mix kitty, he inherited the looks, but not the bravado. He's 16 lbs, but terrified of the 8 lb Ginger.

Recently, we adopted two more kitties from the pound.  We have a pretty large house so actually people might find it hard to believe we have one cat, let alone five.  They seem to all like to sleep under the same bed so they are fairly easy to find.

 Yoshi is one of our new kitties.  He's a flame point  Siamese (colorpoint shorthair) . He had been waiting 4 months to find a home.  He's an young adult, only 18 months old, such a sweet boy.
Fuji is the baby of the group, I'm thinking about 3 months old.  He's a chocolate lynx point ragdoll mix, he's such a sweet cuddler with the softest fur I've ever felt.  He has really interesting markings--reminds me of a Siberian husky dog.

Alice (held firmly yet lovingly, by my oldest son, Austen) is our big beefy Flemish Giant rabbit.  At 4 months she already weighs 12 lbs.  She loves to chase cats and shake her plastic toys in her mouth...growling. I imagine that when she's full sized (possibly 20 lbs) this will be quite alarming.

We've got doves, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, and fish as well--each with their  own interesting personality! It's easy to find inspiration everywhere thanks to all my sweet animal friends!