13 July 2016

Ode to Norm

I found out today that my favorite entomologist has passed away. Dr. Norm Penny was one of the nicest, kindest scientists I have ever met. He gave me one of my first professional jobs doing scientific illustration. A couple of the neuropteran wings I illustrated for him were new species (see below). He always made sure to send me copies of the papers my illustrations got published in. He gave a great tour of the entomology collection at the California Academy of Sciences. I learned so much from him over the years. Thanks, Norm.
Penny, N. (2002) "Lacewings of Costa Rica" Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, vol. 52 no. 12. Image 117 by Diane T Sands. Images 118, 119 by Victoria Saxe

02 July 2016

Brain roll-up

One of my favorite things about brains is they way you feed questions in, let them rattle around for a bit and a solution occurs to you some point down the line. Usually when you are doing something completely different - walking, driving, singing in the shower. Recently, I had one dilemma and, much later, a thought that did not seem related to me at the time.

I like to preserve fruit through canning or freezing.

02 June 2016

Whining about grapes

My hobbit hole.
I inherited an overgrown garden with the purchase of my house. Thick and green, I worked at identifying what I had. Many of the plants have turned out to be sub-tropical, commonly used as houseplants in this climate. They were hooked up to irrigation that ran almost constantly. I deemed this to be a waste of money. If I am going to be watering that much it will be for food I can eat, or establishing native plants that will need less an less water over time. 
Bit by bit I trim, remove and sculpt it to my specifications.

26 March 2016

Bunny Day.

March 27th is Easter this year. Here is my favorite recipe on reprise.

Ode to Shadow

Last Friday, my big crazy dog broke a window latch and my canine boys went walkabout. A neighbor found Bear and called me that afternoon. Shadow remained missing throughout the weekend. A different neighbor saw my lost dog signs and called me Monday morning to let me know that Shadow's remains were on the side of 580. I went out and retrieved his body in the pouring rain, bringing it back to my yard for burial. Shadow was my best animal buddy since my cat, Wacko, passed back in 2004. I will miss him. To celebrate the time we had together, here are some of the many photos I took over the last year we spent together. 

05 February 2016

Hummingbird Help

A friend and I found a sick humming bird today. Or maybe it was just cold. It did go down to 43'F last night. Normally, I leave cold birds alone. The sun will warm them. Songbirds on the ground might be fledglings learning to fly, being watched by adults in surrounding bushes. However, this one was not moving, fluttering or crying. It was smack in the middle of the driveway to a car dealership. I scooped up the still form. As I stood up, a huge black pickup truck approached. It waited as I got out of the way before rolling over the spot my new friend had been.

Witches butter

Witches butter on a log in Redwood Regional Park looking a lot like melted macaroni & cheese.

Witches butter is odd. It is a blobular yellow fungus found on every continent except Antarctica. Thin and unnoticed during dry times, with the application of water it achieves the look of a slimy, golden brain. It is near impossible to draw something so gelatinous.

21 January 2016

Recent fungal finds

These are everywhere in my yard this year. Hard to say if they are natives to the yard, or sprung from the organic soil I brought in to fluff up the beds. Most likely, Russula rosacea. Not edible.
Here in Northern CA, January is often the wettest time of the year. The ground is green with new growth and fungus pops up underfoot. I have been taking photos mostly. I tell myself I will draw them - and I might yet. I pull my two favorite shroom books off of the shelf (All the Rain Promises and More by David Arora, and Mushrooms of North America by Roger Phillips.)

I do not forage for mushrooms, or eat any of the wild ones I find. Mostly because my mycology professor at MSU had way too many horror stories about pumped stomachs, horrible symptoms and painful agonizing deaths. I am capable of taking spore prints and identifying down to species. I'm usually too lazy. Especially when it is so much easier to go to the grocery store, or the mushroom booth at the farmer's market and get the kind I know are edible. 

31 December 2015

The books of 2015

As part of my traditional new year, I post all of the books, comics and magazines I read last year. I would definitely recommend #13, & #60. My daughter introduced me to #124, which was better than I expected. 

What did you read?

  1. Creative Nonfiction #54; 55; 56; 57
  2. Poets & Writers vol. 43 no.1; no.2, no. 3
  3. Drawn By Instinct - Tiffany Bozic
  4. Shimmer #23; 24
  5. Egg & Spoon - Gregory Maguire
  6. Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime - Ellen Prager
  7. The Woman Who Died a Lot - Jasper Fforde

31 October 2015

Mushroom growth

I found this fungus growing on top of the Eucalyptus stump behind my house. The growth pattern reminds me of the Chicken of the Woods mushrooms in the Laetiporus genus. However, it has none of the bright sulfur yellow color that is a major characteristic of that edible fungus.

The spores are white to cream (changing as they get older?). The only Laetiporus I can find with white spores *does* grow on Eucalyptus, but is still much more yellow in color (see photos here).

I will be doing a little dissection and adding to this post. Stay tuned!