Friday, October 30, 2009

Prepping For the Canary Calender

Recently I volunteered to be part of a calender that raises awareness about people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities - a disabling illness that makes functioning in our modern world darn near impossible due to the fact that these people have been chemically injured and their body will no longer tolerate even slight contact with chems. People get chem injuries from all sorts of places like working in labs, working in factories, being the front line in wars and 9/11 rescue, being exposed to toxic renovations, or other issues of acute pollution. People who end up with MCS are often refered to as the canaries in our 'coal mine' environment, because they are the first to get sick from the unregulated over exposure we now deal with as a society, on a daily basis. Even if you don't live downstream from a power plant dumping junk into your drinking water and don't work in a science lab using aldehydes, you are still being exposed to chemicals through common household and care products like bleach, lipstick, detergents, harsh soaps, perfumes - plus paints, carpeting, varnish and other indoor air quality issues. If going green is not your shtick cause you don't care about the health of the earth, then it should at least be essential to even the most selfish human for your own personal health. The beauty in it is, when we are in balance, things fall into balance behind us.
Now for the calender... The Canary Report is putting together a wildy fun video calender called "The Naked Truth". It's a slightly nude, alluring video of real women of every shape, size and background living with MCS... these pics below are the 'making of' for my submission - *of course I can't show you the final product until it's either published or rejected.* :)I had the idea to write some of my feelings on the subject out in yellow maple leaves, I tore up each leaf into smaller pieces and placed them carefully on a large flat-ish rock. I have been making nature related art like this for years (Andy Goldsworthy does a good job of making beautiful art with leaves too!) I always got flack in art school for using "words" with my images, it left many artists uneasy- but i love the use of powerful words along with powerful images to say exactly what I want. Having the picture being completely in nature was essential to me, because at the core of the issue is that we depend on nature being healthy for our survival- without clean water, soil and air, we are basically screwed.So, maybe this should be the easy part next... getting undressed... but no way! You wanna lay naked on a freezing cold rock in the shade of the evening?!!?? I suppose I did.
I submitted my pictures to the Canary Report for review... I can't publish any of the final shots here yet, but this is just your sneak peak of the fun! Ya likie?

The Last Goldenrod: Bugs Gone Wild

This is one of those wild things that is difficult to convey through a picture and maybe even a story - but this here is the last bursting with yellow, not killed by the frost, healthy goldenrod plant on the property here. Being that most other flowers were soaked, wilted and half dead - the entire world of flying insects were all on this one goldenrod together... in peace, for the sake of survival. Regular flies, bees, wasps, teetsie flies, robber flies, fat hairy black flies, ladybugs, and those micro bee things that like to lick ya' arms in the summer!
This was totally amazing to watch. The movement, the crawling, the buzzing, the way they all worked together not in fear of each other, making sure they each had their turn, they each had some pollen... would humans be able to work so well by instinct if we were in the same situation?
The only insect who got slightly hostile or rowdy towards me the the largest one, the wasp. It did not like my curiosity and was the obvious protector of all there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Jumping Spiders! (Hairy Brown and Black w/ Blue Teeth)

Meet Miss Martha... she once dated Texas (the most handsome jumping spider eva'), but they had to break up & she kicked him out because he was just too wild for her! She couldn't handle all his showing off, she's extremely shy. She can also be a bit crabby and no fun... I chased Martha in literal circles around a piece of bamboo for gawd knows how long, she would turn her face away from the camera - no pictures please!
Living right next door on some dieing wild flowers was her cousin Clyde. He is in love with Martha, but since they are first cousins and all she is against them dating muchless gettin' married. Even if he has those amazing flashy blue teeth and proposes so sweetly!!!
Clyde rocks out wit' his socks out- he's a survivalist, he doesn't need sturdy bamboo to make a good web, he'll take a home where he can get it. He also has good camouflage in his tiny hairy blackness, he fits nicely into just about any shadow. Did I mention he has blue fangs? He wants everyone to know they are NOT buck teeth. ;)
So, who do you love most...Martha, Clyde or Texas?


Sustainable Halloween: Carving My Organic Pumpkin

Yay! I love Halloween, you know except for the fact that it's turned into a multi million dollar consumer spree... but the basic elements of the spooky holiday are based on imagination & putting those strange ideas into solid form. I grew some small pie pumpkins this year in my organic garden and decided to carve one up yesterday! I always aspire to do some tedious carving of a horse in the desert or Pegasus flying over the moon, but it always turns into a giant clownish pumpkin face!
(Note: Please excuse my dirty morning hair, after seeing this pic I took a shower.)
First thing I did with my pumpkin was cut open a hole (too small) on the top of it's head and pull out all the pumpkin seeds - I saved the seeds on a clean plate because I am going to roast those seeds today to eat. I am not the most OCD carver, in fact i leave all kinds of horrid strings of goop floating around like an impatient child. :) Especially when I cut the top hole so small I can't fit my tiny hand in there anyway.
Isn't she cute!? This pumpkin smelled REALLY good on the inside, very sugary sweet and yummy - I can't wait to roast the seeds!
AND NoW ShE is SCarY, MMMaaaahhhwwwwwwaaaaa. I think.
Here's some quick tips on 'greening' your Halloween:
  • Create your costume with things you have, borrow or thrift - don't buy new!
  • Hand out healthy candy/snacks to children rather then something that makes them sick.
  • Get your pumpkins from local or organic growers, and don't forget to eat the seeds.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fog

Having grown up in the regular morning fog in New Orleans, that would roll off the Mississippi River like a wet smokey blanket - I love now living in the Smokey Mountains for the fact that the foggy clouds can roll past my face, blotting out all the colors, making morning a monochromatic wonder just like always. Peaceful. Easy on the eyes. There is one huge difference between the fog of the crisp Blue Ridge and the fog of the dirty Mississippi, and that is in the mountains it does not roll in smelling like rotten peanuts, grain on barges, pollution, mosquito sprays and landfill. Each swampy morning I went out to the car dressed in my catholic school uniform I had to put my St.Rita sweater over my face to blot out the terrible smell. But, oh how some days I wish New Orleans could be clean, 3,000 feet high in the air clean - maybe I would want to go back for a visit.
In the pic above that is the old corn Silo, with bamboo leaning in the left corner. Below is the fog just beginning to clear off the trees... it's nice how it turns everything gray and blue and silver.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Animal Tracking: Bunnies, Opossum and Pig, Oh My!

After all that rain, and the pig digging up half the orchard here it left a perfect field of moist mud for imprinting animal tracks! Wanna help me guess who came through?The pic above and below were in a swampy wet spot were there is spring water puddles which are permanent drinking holes for little critters. The mud here is extremely gushy and wet - making the prints dark and deep. At first glance I would have guessed the tracks (marked with pink stars & arrows) were a tiny skunk or fox because of the size, but each one only had three toes and oval heel... hmmm, me thinks dis' might be a big rabbit!
Further up the hill I found another track, more faded and less deep - but perfectly shaped as a classic bunny print. (See below.)
This next one is the pig! His tracks are all over the place, which is helping me learn the subtle difference between his tracks and a deer - which can tend to look similar when first viewed.
What do ya'll make of this imprint below? Bird of prey, opossum, raccoon? Alien with claws? This was faded, smooshed and appeared to be caved in a little - but has the appearance of being a guess is opossum.
This next track was an animal with a thumb, meaning raccoon or opossum are the most likely characters to be sneaking around. It amazes me how there is so much unseen by humans action going on in the woods, all in balance, all in silence, all under our nose. A super highway of animals and bugs following their instincts to survive.
Last but not least... can you guess what made this track!?!? ME! It's a Leslie's cowgirl boots print!
At the end of my tracking trail, there was an apple tree where my animal friends have been eating. Who eats like this though? Not deer and not the pig? Who done it?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Girl VS Fear

A little something about perspective...

Now, if I would have written the script for this video she would plow through the cooperate a-holes and turn them to dust with the wolf running along side her. But the point is taken anyway. The point being f@ck fear! ;)


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Burger Bun Mushroom

Big rains, a cold snap, more big rains and some warm sunny days = mushrooms! These big guys were growing under all the dense bamboo and I thought they looked like yummy burger buns! I don't know how to identify many mushrooms (except morels) and was wondering if any of my fungi friends out there knew what type this is? Cause if this is edible I am going to make a sandwich out of it. ;)
They are very large, the round part was almost the size of my hand... big mushrooms are exciting!
This last pic shows the white gunky web like stuff under the leaves that the mushrooms grow from, I like that they grow from something that looks like a spider & slug made it together.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Black and White Hairy Jumping Spider

Oh My GAwd! I ... Barely... Know.... what to say! I am stunned by his power, beauty, force and the look of stern disapproval! Possibly the horns, button eyes, stitched lips and mesmerizing stripes have put me into a 'oh gawd it's the best bug in the whole world eva' trance. I am naming this spider 'Texas', as in 'Don't mess with Texas!' Tell me I am not the only one who thinks he looks like a Nightmare Before Christmas Grubby Goth creature full of love/hate?!!
Texas was beginning to make a web on some bamboo, in all his glittery and monster glory. Once he knew I was interested he did some things to show off too... swinging in circles around the bamboo, jumping to other places, looking directly in my eye over and over, and coming really close to me to get a better look.
If you want to feel pure happiness- click on the pic with the blue sky and Texas below, I left it big enough so that if you click on it you can get a good look at his adorable, cute, amazing, wittle, hairy, mean, bad ass face!
Below Texas was working on gathering up some free floating web- possibly he's a upcycler/recycler!

On his back there were three tiny green spots that shimmered in the light.
Texas only had one shy moment, when he had a run in with a beautiful ladybug scurrying by him, he politely got out of her way and hid in the crack till his heart throb was far enough away... you can't love those you want to eat! But Texas, I love you!

Tiny Translucent Green Grasshopper (with brown stripe)

Check out how long this grasshopper's antenna are!? You know it was picking up the classic rock station all the way in Tennessee. ;) This insect was not too shy mainly because it had found a sunny spot on a log after a night of frost and wasn't giving it up jus' cause I was hovering around in the same sun. I have never seen a hopper like this before, it's green color is very bright and almost translucent in direct light, then it has this awesome opaque brown stripe down it's back with matching eyes!
It's feelers are a good 3-4 times the size of it's body and it was definitely using them readily- swinging them all around while keeping the rest of it's body perfectly still.
Can anyone tell me what the difference between a grasshopper and a cricket is?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Organic, Gluten Free, Mayo Free Egg Salad Sandwich

Are you ready for this? I have not eaten a sandwich since 2001, right before being diagnosed with Celiac Sprue during the end of that year! I can remember my very last sandwich I ever ate, it was a "live food" sandwich from the All Natural Store in New Orleans, it was totally stuffed with organic veggies, tempeh, miso & dill, and totally a gluten death sentence for me... I remember picking the middle goods off the whole wheat bread and thinking 'the bread part is sick!' This last year I have finally healed enough to begin eating a few gluten free baked products, mainly all from a brand called Namaste. This is how I got today's idea to make a Egg Salad Sandwich using their sugar free muffin mix and a little cajun DNA to invent something yummy to replace mayo - I am born to make something out of what seems like nothing.
Egg Salad Recipe:
  • 5 hard boiled organic eggs (chopped up)
  • Fresh or dried herbs- rosemary, thyme, chives (or any flavor you like)
  • Lemon squeeze 1/2
  • Olive Oil (a few cap fulls)
  • Ume Vinegar (2 cap fulls)
  • Shredded carrot
Bread Recipe:
  • Namaste's Gluten Free Sugar Free Muffin Mix (bake in the oven)
  • Add a little extra oil to give the bread thickness- cause it's gluten free, basically it's gonna fall apart a little. ;)
You mix the egg salad makings together and then mash a bunch of it onto your "bread" slices. I drizzled olive oil onto the gluten free bread before layering the egg salad on. Mmmmmm.
Oooooooh HOly crap! It is so good! You know exactly what happened next after this next pic... I cleaned the plate. :)