Coyote Howling (or Whatever Coyotes do!)

one-line-drawing

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Video by Sara Grew, taken at Djerassi, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. It’s a very short video. Be sure to put your sound on.

The drawing here (a one line drawing) is actually of a grey fox. Why is it accompanying a video of a coyote? Because I thought the fox was a coyote, until a wise guy pointed out that grey foxes have fluffy tails and look nothing like coyotes. Pfft! Who knew?!

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Before Organic Farming Was a “Thing”

a page from my sketch book

Before organic farming was a thing, there was ital cooking by Jamaica’s Rastafarians. Here is an 8-minute video on hillside farming in Nonsuch, Portland (Jamaica): natural eating.

If you ever get a chance to visit Portland, Jamaica, try to visit the Nonsuch Cave, a system of  nine chambers of stalagmites and stalactites. Inside this cave you will find seashells and other fossils embedded into the walls. This is quite amazing since the cave is high atop a hill! This area must once have been undersea. A favorite place to stay when on this end of the island is Trident Castle: here, peacocks greet you from the rooftops at evening time.

 

Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton

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The Lick 36 inch refractor beneath a closed dome

If you haven’t been to the Lick, here’s something you should know — To get there you will have an 18-19 mile, predominantly uphill climb along a winding road. The vistas are breathtaking, but there are many, many sheer cliff drop offs, so it’s best to keep your eyes on the road. And too, bicyclists love this road; they come tearing around corners at breakneck speed, sometimes, half way in your lane. Yes, you’d better keep your eyes on the road and keep a look out for them too.

BICYCLIST DOWN

I’ve cycled my share of mountains but this road (California 130) is madness for a bicyclist. Yesterday, I was barely 4 miles up (about 2 miles before Grant Park) when I found a cyclist down. It looks like he took quite a tumble descending the mountain. The poor guy was in need of medical attention though I don’t even know where a helicopter could land near where he happened to be. His fellow bikers were helping him and wrapping him up to keep him insulated. A good samaritan ahead of me was directing traffic around the spot. I sure hope he is okay.photo 2a

SEEING ART EVERYWHERE

The building to the left in this photograph looks like it has eyes and a mouth. (This is a side view of the main building where the 36 inch refractor is.)

photo 5There were some really nice 18th century door hinges in a display case but I couldn’t get any good photographs of them. Oooooh they’d make lovely rubbings for an art piece.

This tube-like glass gadget is/was used in photography. This sample is from around the the 1930s. The Lick Observatory itself, was built in the 1880s. This tube will probably show up in my art. You never know where your inspiration might come from!

Below is a slideshow of Lick Observatory postcards:

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Water Story (Fairy Tale, Part II)

4 -life in a bromeliad poolLife on Bromeliadia Island

In the beginning, there was just the rain – rain all day and rain all night. Water ran along and beyond every hill and every canyon. On and on it ran until sea and sky merged together and became one. This is when Slender Bromeliad gave birth to River Mumma. Unlike her brothers and sisters, the ginger bromeliads, River Mumma, from her very inception, refused to stand still or to remain in one place.

When all of the ginger bromeliads’ water tanks were filled to capacity and brimming over, they would call out to one and all, telling us to come live with them in the cave. That is how I got there. Oh it was a magical place, filled with forests and rare understories. It was a perfect home for iguanas and mountain river fish and bromeliads.

Day and night, night and day, the ginger bromeliads and Slender Bromeliad collected rainwater. In the void, the chasm, the abyss of the caves, they all worked hard to keep Water Table level. While River Mumma roamed up and down the mountain and back, her mother and siblings stayed put, replenishing subterranean springs upon which Water Table balanced.

Life in Castle Cave

Rain collectors, as bromeliads are also known, arch their gutters into curves until they overlap to form tight, protective bowls. This is no easy feat and in fact, is really hard work. In a good year, they amass so much water that the creatures of the forest cannot help but find new ways to enjoy the bounty. Some of them even make their homes in the bromeliads’ slender stalks.

The first time Red Crab visited Slender Bromeliad’s castle, Slender Bromeliad was busy sunbathing. What seemed to be shutters to the castle turned out not to be shutters at all, but windows. And far from being closed, the windows were flung wide open. Red Crab climbed across the roof and down the wall near Slender Bromeliad. “Anybody home?” she called out. Slender Bromeliad ignored her. She inched closer sideways. “She can’t hear you,” came a voice from the gutters. Red Crab moved closer. “Are you a tourist or are you looking for a home?” “What?” responded Red Crab. “Are you looking to live here too?” asked Blue Damselfly, trying not to sound too hopeful.

The luxurious blue creature with iridescent wings was happy to see Red Crab. She knew she could count on her to provide nutrients for her larvae. She had, in fact, been waiting and hoping for company to arrive. When Blue Damselfly first made her way to the cave, Slender Bromeliad’s tank had been under the control of miscreants. Damselfly quickly put an end to that and all the miscreants disappeared. Now Blue Damselfly needed a new source of food for her larvae. Her host, Slender Bromeliad, was oblivious to all of this. She was too worried about her wandering progeny, River Mumma, who she heard, had taken the reflection of their cave and placed it firmly in Gold Mine for all to see. No good could possibly come of that.

The Troubles

River Mumma had become a main source of worry for Slender Bromeliad who no longer, if ever, had control over her last born. First there had been the business of all the fish children she spawned with iguana. Now there was the matter of her goings and comings and her late returns home. That had been okay during the rainy season. Now, however, a second season had arrived on the island and like River Muma, it too, seemed to be up to no good. The fish children that lived in the mountain streams were starting to talk. They said the sun was getting jealous of iguana and was getting hotter and hotter under the collar. They feared he might stop River Mumma from returning home one day. What they really were afraid of was that she would dry up, wither away, and then they too, would disappear. Worse yet, if she took the castle with her, the underground springs would dry up too.

5- magical, enchanted Pan IguanaThey blamed it all on iguana for having tempted River Mumma to flow on out of the cave. They said iguana had tricked her into spawning fish in the lower rivers and even further below, in the salt laden sea. Lately, they claimed, he had taken to running pipes along her banks just to keep her close. It was he, they said, that kept her tethered to the golden table that shimmered and glowed and threatened to capsize any day now. He put her at risk and now she was in everybody’s crosshairs. River Mumma, of course, didn’t see any of this their way. She was merely charting her own course and beating her own path. And as for Pan, where would he find pipes in a land without pipes? None of this made sense, unless of course, the place ahd been bewitched by the fairies. Had it?

 

If you wish to read Part I of this tale, please click on this link.

Foggy, Windy, Point Reyes National Seashore

4 lighthouse Point Reyes
Point Reyes Lighthouse, view from one of the 300+ steps leading down, down down
Point Reyes National Seashore

Here is a wild, windy, foggy side of California. The lighthouse at Point Reyes is closed when it gets too windy. This part of California is said to be the windiest, foggiest area in all of the Pacific. It is also a great place to whale watch. When I visited several days ago, I saw grey whales (in the waters below the lighthouse), elephant seals (at Drake’s Beach and Chimney Rock), birds (everywhere!), native wildflowers (along the Chimney Rock Trail) and tule elk (down by Drake’s Beach and out by Tomales Bay). What a trip!

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Finally, an upright photo of the lighthouse. Still foggy though.
 Jamaican Connection

An old name from my Jamaican history books surfaced here; it is that of the old English buccaneer (pirate), Francis Drake. Drakes’ Beach, where I saw elephant seals, and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the main thoroughfare leading into Point Reyes, are named for him. I wonder, do they know here in California, that he was an old pirate and slave trader and not simply, “the English explorer who landed off the Point Reyes coast and claimed California for the Queen?”

EARLY COAST GUARD HISTORY

Check out the Chimney Rock section of Point Reyes Seashore to learn about America’s early Coast Guard program. You can also see elephant seals here. If it is a nice enough day and the fog lifts, you can see the Farallon Islands from the tip of the Chimney Rock Trail. (You will also see a lot of birds and wildflowers here.)

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Historic Life Boat Station at Chimney Rock

 

 

1-boat dock at Point Reyes, looking towards Drake's Beach #2
Boat dock at Chimney Rock, looking towards Drakes’ Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I saw several tule elk down near Drake’s Beach and an entire herd crossing over the hills by Tomales Bay near sunset. (This sunset crossing may end up being translated into a painting!) You can learn about tule elk by watching this short video. Something I learned is that the tule elks’ mating behavior is very much like that of the elephant seals’. Who knew?

 

Some Kind of Adventure This

UntitledSeal Adventures draws many visitors to Ano Nuevo State Park but there is a lot more to this park than the carrying-ons of elephant seals. Just the other morning as I walked towards the Cove Beach area of the park I came across the following scene:

2-oh boy, somebody's dinner

Oh boy, I’d say somebody had a lovely meal. Who? My guess is the bob cat who lives near the pond above Cove Beach, Here he is below. I wonder if he thinks he is camouflaged and we can’t see him? Nice try you; we see you.

AnoNuevo-BobCat-DCruz
Ano Nuevo bob cat, photo credit: D. Cruz

1/31/2015 – Update

Here is another photo of our Ano Nuevo bob cat. I think he’s saying, “What are you looking at?” And then, with real New York City attitude he is saying, “You lookin’ at me? Huh? You lookin’ at me, punk?”Untitled

Bob cat on Cove Beach trail, December 2014. Photo credit: Joan Teitler, Ano Nuevo Docent Naturalist

If you’d like to see some seal adventures online, visit Ano Nuevo’s Facebook page and watch this one minute video of an elephant seal in “the wallows.” Awww, look at his flippers!

Seed Pop

seed pop
“Non-native Breadfruit” (from the Jamaica Series), Pen and inks on paper. 4 x 4 in © 2015

Recently I’ve been doing research on the plants of Jamaica. This is for a series of artworks that I’m working on. Many plants that are now on the island were actually introduced by its two colonizers, the Spanish and British. This drawing is of the breadfruit; it was brought to Jamaica to feed the slaves. The plant has no nutritional value whatsoever. As a cheap food source, it served its purpose of keeping the slaves alive at little to no cost.

On another note, there is a Bay Area company that is doing its part to save the bees. It creates and sells seed bombs. The idea of seed bombs comes from Guerrilla Gardening,  a method of planting begun by environmentalists who would simply throw balls of seeds and fertilizer into fenced-off neglected spaces like brownfields or land that was in zoning limbo. Hmmm, I’m looking at you, fenced off lands near BART stations! Read more about seed bombs and saving the bees here: Save the Bees With Seed Bombs

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