Friday, May 29, 2009

Yellow & Brown Spotted Moth

Oooooh neato! I spotted (so to speak) this bright yellow moth from far far away. I was surprised that it didn't fly away when I walked right up to it and turned over the leaf it was resting on, to get a better look at it's pretty Jackson Pollock splatter spots. (Walking softly helps, but not casting a shadow over it is key to sneaking up on just about any insect. )


Herb Starters, Wanna See My Babies?

I think I may possibly love growing herbs more then vegetables. This isn't to say I don't love growing veggies but just something about an herb's ability to give to every meal, that steady and unfleeting life gives it a more personal appeal (long term relationship style). I have been planting herb seeds in starter pots and then slowly moving them into my organic garden spaces... so here's introducin' a few of my babies!
First, dis' is my babie Basil... a fancy kind too that I can't remember the name of. :)
And here is my babie, little Garlic Chive...
My very favorite babie herb is Sage because the seed isn't planted in the ground but is just placed on the surface of the soil, then becomes the strongest woody herb bush with fantastical purple flowers. Mmmm.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Along The Trail I See...

I can walk the same path everyday and it's never the same. The magical thing about living out in the boonies where no sidewalks, parking lots or neighborhoods exist, is that you have the privilege of seeing what nature does when unattended to. And it's pretty awesome. Everyday new flowers bloom, leaves get bigger, wild mushrooms pop out the ground, fresh animal tracks stick in the mud...the creeks rise and fall with the rains that come down and the clouds re-frame the mountainy backdrop in an ever changing dramatic shroud.
Trees will bend, twist and grow depending on how the shadows and sunlight fall - creating canopies and entrances to their own secret kingdom. While the flora below creates the illusion of a soft carpeted ground, one that grows upward by the inches everyday.Livestock, as well as wild animals will carve out perfect paths to walk along that double as geometrical modern art. Every bit of growth frames the next thing behind it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baby Spiders

I love seeing baby spiders all lumped together in these moving sculptures - there's nothing else to say.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walk, Swing & Slide In The Woods

The property I live on in Big Sandy Mush has a neat little trail along a very steep hill - I have decided to walk around the loop everyday to build up endurance enough to start hiking again. These are pics from along my walk... The picture up top is a view from over the top of the ridge.
This cow was looking at me look at it for a while - I tried so hard to get a clear picture of it's ear tag that hilariously read "Mo-Bel" which I wasn't sure if that was short for 'more cow bell' or 'Moo Belle' ? Usually cows are just numbered and not named...that's what I like about living here.The woodpecker that crafted the holes in the log above must be freakin' huge. A screech owl could live in that top one it's so big!
Above is a pic of me standing next to the biggest trillium plant I have seen yet, looks like I am living in the jungle. I felt proud standing next to it the way some red blooded Americans feel when standing next to the Washington Monument... but then what happened next
took me right out my somber amazement................
These grapevines were hanging down like perfect swings to sit and fly on- so primal, majestic and calling me to try them out. Except I had some trouble mounting it so high up and... Woops Leslie! I was hanging there upside down by one leg, calling for help. he he... if it couldn't get any more bananas, when I tried getting up I kept sliding down hill in the wet mud over and over... and you can see the person behind the camera was taking pictures and laughing at me more then helping me. ;)Eventually I got my swing on though, with a little help mounting the thing. It's hard to tell, but the flora is really tall and the vine was super high off the ground plus there is nothing but steep declining hillside to swing over. Which I suppose is why I look like a stiff happy bucktooth hippy (just like my 7th grade Gym teacher)... apparently sticking out my teeth will protect me when I fall. :)At the end of the trail there was this neat centipede. Looks like it comes from the land of dinosaurs!


DIY Glue: Pine Sap Pitch

I watched Bort make some black glue using dried bamboo leaves, charcoal powder, and pine sap. Other then gathering the pine sap from the tree and helping dry out the leaves, I simply stepped back and learned the process... cause this can get a little strong smelling. In spite of the cooking and some smoke during pine glue's creation, I believe it is alot less toxic then chemical based adhesives- it's 100% natural and far more sustainable then a plastic squeeze bottle of elmers. (Which BTW is made with wheat and can't be used by those with Celiac Disease, like me.) After gathering a good amount of sap off a pine tree, you'll need some extremly dried grass. We used bamboo leaves since it's been raining like a motha' here for over a month now. We wrapped the leaves in foil and heated them in the toaster oven to dry them out. You can also dry grass or leaves over an open fire or candle too. The point is to get it dry enough that you can powder it, even in the picture below it could be powdered alot more- but the humidity in the air made this as tiny as it would get.
First you put the pine sap alone (without the powdered grass!) in a container to heat it up. We used an old bean can and held it over a candle for controlled cooking.
Bort made a cool make shift handle with a screw driver to easily hold the pine sap can over the candle. You can see the pine sap beginning to smoke and heat up! Supa' neato!
Once it gets cooking it's good to stir it with a stick (or whatever you like to stir with) before dropping in the dried grass.
It bubbles like a pine smellin' witches brew...
Once it got really bubbling, the dried bamboo leaves & 1 tablespoon of powdered charcoal were added in and stirred, then it turns into this awesome black as night gluey substance.
This is a kind of glue that can be stored in the dry form and then re-heated to make it into glue again. In order to store it you can scrape it out the cooking container with a dull knife or the stirring utensil you were using....
Then it will actually roll onto a stick, which you can twirl around on a smooth surface like the rock picture below. Once it's cooled off enough you can shape it with your fingers too! It dries rock hard and if powdered grass is not added it will be very brittle- the dried grass is the binder holding the glue together in place.
I never knew glue could be so pretty, but that stuff looks mystical. Xoxo

Pine Comb

Let's just say something terrible was to happen, like Peak Oil or Armageddon or you went camping & forgot your hair brush...and you don't want to develop dreadlockin' knots on your well groomed head. When out in nature and in need of a full service hair brush you can just pick up a dried pine cone and comb away on those lovely locks. The more open and bigger the wedges the better- the smaller more compact pine cones like I am holding have to be held on an angle.
I was surprised how well this actually works, seems like something fairies use to brush unicorn hair or maybe how the easter bunny keeps looking so clean cut.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Copperhead Snake

How in the hell I convinced everyone not to kill this creature I have no idea... but here is a true poisonous snake. I saw his tongue slither in and out but there was no striking or hissing which I am assuming he was exceptionally chill because he was about to shed his skin (which I also assume because I read in a book that their eyes cloud over as the skin shedding approaches.) And let me tell ya', it looked like his eye sockets were made of ghostly white haze that could shoot a hole through your heart. A Medusa that could have turned me to stone.
I am actually really fond of snakes and have complete respect for the venomous ones too, I don't F with them so that they won't bite me. The two pictures below are of his quick and creepy departure into thicker grass... are you grossed out?

Rural Entertainment

Here's the deal- in order to live in the woods in a tucked away rural community without a car, one has to be very easily entertained. And I am. Here is yesterday, a day in the life of Big Sandy Mush or better known as the Cabin Fever Prevention Plan...
*Looking for animal tracks while hiking around is a given. Trying to guess what it was gives a sense of adventure and discovery. My guess here is a raccoon or opossum track. * Watching the wildlife through my bedroom window...when they aren't in my house. :)
* Digging through cut invasive vines to find good ones for basket weaving & wreathe making. They have to be pulled out the trees & then the dried ones were gathered to soak in the pond.
* That's when Bort got the idea to swing on a clump of vines over the declining hillside, like freakin' Tarzan...
I took up the Jane torch and swung a few times, each round screaming in a terror that apparently makes my tongue hang out like a happy dog. It hurts your hands, makes you swear, and you want to do it all over again.
* Rock hunting! One of the neatest things to do in the smokey mountains. Many of the rocks we found were quartz, mica, and something that looked like garnets.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lunar Moth

I have waited half my life to see a Lunar Moth that was alive and real. I have pleaded my story outloud to gawd knows how many people during those years, always asking if they ever saw one... gasping if they did and asking what it was like. Lunar Moths are huge, jarring, beautiful, and the kind of flying creature you never forget once you've seen one. It's like you are suddenly special for the mystical thing having let you lay eyes on it.
Not only are there the "fake owl eyes" on the wings but the real eyes of the lunar moth are large and round- like it knows the secret to all creation and sees right through your soul. I love the beauty of the light shining through it's wings in the picture below, it goes from a cartoony opaque to a translucent glow.It was quite docile and got right onto my hand, which made me think it may be dieing. I made sure to not touch it, even when it began to vibrate vigorously on my skin kinda of scaring me to what it would do next. It simply took flight slowly and precisely back to it's place at the window, where it still sits motionless.
Yay! One dream come true down, just a few more to go!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chipmunk Joins My Wild Kingdom (my house)

In the words of the 80's rock band Poison... "Oh my god look what the cat dragged in"! But this little chipmunk outsmarted the two cats running in fanciful circles around the house, with Chippy a few steps ahead- under & over the bed, scaling walls, knocking down knick knacks, taking refuge behind the litter box. For hours. And hours. I don't even want to point it out, but the fur on the end of his tale went missing during this time, which you can see in the pic above...Grossssss! It wasn't until Chippy ended up in the bathroom sink somehow that he was caught and released back into the wild... the other wild not inside my house.
Before going free, most likely to then become snake food - he posed for these professional head shots. Possibly he could achieve some Alvin & the Chipmunks celebrity status as he's always dreamed of. ;)