Friday, June 28, 2013

Creative Tuesday -- Moving

The topic this time is to design a card to inform friends and family of an impending move.

Well THAT'S a familiar topic!  I didn't need to think too hard about what I would like to put on my Moving Card. The question is/was could I reproduce my ideas?  I'm not what I think of as a naturally talented artist.  

If you're familiar with the right brain/ left brain theory ( please note -- theory)  I would probably class myself as left-brained -- (but please ignore the science and math aspects.) Most people who know me would say I was pretty strongly left brained dominant.  But I have some strong right brain qualities.  Color, art appreciation, need to express myself artistically for example. I know what I like but would then have to analyze  why I liked it. However imagination is not a strong quality of mine and way-out science fiction or fantasy is not for me either.  So I guess I'm a pretty mixed up person!!  I know that the mix of the two aspects of my brain can cause me to be hesitant and indecisive.  In other words I'm very confident when sitting on the fence!

So my "We're Moving " card has to be accurate.  The houses are recognizable.  Even some of the things in the Garage Sale are accurate and the gray hair in 2013 is also.  One son is blond and the other is curly-haired but that didn't come out too well.

Maybe I should have been an architect or home designer, or perhaps something in home decorating But whatever I  did it would have to be traditional and practical with a dash of self indulgence.

To see more interpretations of this week's theme please click HERE

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

X IS FOR .......


Found this last week right after I made my last ABC Wednesday post for W.  I had my bird book right beside me  when I suddenly thought, I wonder if there is a bird name beginning with X.  Hmm... all I came up with was Xanthocephalus  -- the Latin name for the yellow-headed blackbird.  I didn't think it was fair to use a Latin word  for our project, so I sat and mulled it over a little bit and then I had some inspiration!  Cephalus had to be to do with head, for example the illness encephalitis,  and this is a yellow headed blackbird.  Well of course Xantho must mean yellow.  So off I went on a trip through Google and what a lot of interesting things I found there!  I skipped over the chemical stuff but did find that XANTHONE is an organic compound.

Among other things, I discovered that it is found in the mangosteen fruit, a fruit native to South East Asia.  It is a yellow, latex-like substance actually found in the skin of the mangosteen seed pod.

The Mangosteen

The fruit and rind.

Showing the reddish yellow inside rind where Xanthones are found.

 I expect all you health conscious readers already know that the mangosteen fruit is full of anti-oxidents.  I had never heard of it but apparently you can purchase health drinks that are derived from the mangosteen and its seed pod. (I'd look into this carefully first since it is also used in pesticides!)

I wonder if this is the first appearance of XANTHON on ABC Wednesday, if so I would be 'chuffed' to use a good Yorkshire word.  Maybe you know, Roger.

Once again this is my entry for our fabulous project ABC WEDNESDAY which is almost through with its eleventh round of the alphabet.  Thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt, our founder and Roger, our esteemed manager.  To see who was brave enough to tackle the letter X this week please click HERE.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013



How convenient!   We were visited by a Woodpecker for the first time this week.  Do you know how many kinds of Woodpeckers there are in the States?  Let's just say a lot!  But my bird book helps the situation not by just the pictures, but description, size, habits, and what area of the nation it is to be found.

So first I looked to see what woodpeckers are to be found in Southern California at this time of the year.  That certainly narrowed the selection.  Then I looked at the size -- about 8".  That's not very large for a woodpecker.  Sapsuckers, a kind of woodpecker, are especially quite large.  My Woodpecker is small.  Looking at the illustrations of the smaller ones I could narrow it down to one of two -- the Ladderback or the Nuttall's.

I once saw a Ladderback when we lived up at the other house (about two miles away) and I remembered that it is the only fruit eating woodpecker.  It was in a neighbor's persimmon tree.  But the only fruit trees around here are are mostly orange, lemon or grapefruit, not really the kind for a woodpecker.  So I read the description for the Nuttall's, which is usually found in the western half of California and is not so prevalent as other woodpeckers: --

"The Nuttall's... is usually found in chaparral mixed with scrub oak and in wooded canyons, and streamside trees. Forages on tree trunks, generally probing crevices and chipping away loose bark rather than drilling."

Woah!  Somebody must have been looking over my shoulder, I think -- or else the woodpecker had read the bird book!  I had just been watching him do exactly that. I had not heard any drilling as is usually heard with a typical woodpecker.  But I watched him poking and pecking away at the bark of the tree.  In fact. it did make a few knocks on bottom edge of a piece of bark and then skipped quickly to the top of the loose bark to grab the insects as they scurried away.

The interesting thing about this bird is that I have been hearing a kind of whispering rattle, almost musical, throughout the park for months and could never trace it to any bird.  So Saturday afternoon as I sat out on the deck overlooking the creek mulling over what  W word I would use for ABC Wednesday, I heard the call again.  I was sure it was some kind of warbler.  It kept getting closer but I just couldn't see it.  So I decided to wait.  I waited until after 7:00 p.m. and finally I saw him.  He is brilliantly camouflaged and it wasn't until he was on the large pine tree right behind our bird feeders that I saw him.  He has a kind of red-bronzy patch at the back of his head, not nearly as bright red as the flicker's.

Incidentally my trusty bird book is National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America.  It is excellent!

So I solved the mystery of the musical rattle and what word I would use for ABC Wednesday.

Now I have to find a word for X.  Aaagh!

 If you would like to see more entries for the letter W, please visit ABC Wednesday, HERE 
This project is long running and very popular.  It was started by Mrs. Nesbitt and is now, as we draw to the close of our 11th round, managed by Roger Owen Green .

Thursday, June 13, 2013


A few weeks ago I joined Creative Tuesday.  Every two weeks we are given a prompt. Last time the topic was sweets.  This time the topic is ALPHABET.  This was not difficult for me because I had already started doing a few of these.  So I did a few more.  I will continue to finish the alphabet, but in the mean time here some of what I have done -- some I like better than others. I'd like to think I will improve on them as I progress.

To see more Creative Tuesday interpretations please visit HERE.  Perhaps you would like to join us.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

V IS FOR....

Variegated plants are what makes so many of our gardens attractive. To try to name all the plants, bushes and flowers on our planet is almost impossible.  In fact, it is this enormous variety that makes our planet so beautiful.  Yet today, not satisfied with this vast array, we have manipulated and propagated even more, by producing variations within individual plants, so that some plants would produce leaves and flowers of several different colors.

This one is found all over Hawaii. They greatly add  to the islands' beauty and variety.  Sorry, I'm not sure of the name of this plant but I do like it very much. It could be called Croton.

It isn't only man that has made variegated plants.  Many plants just grow that way.  It's the way they are meant be.  But this plant is almost certainly deliberately propagated to be bi-colored:

It is an amaryllis, a beautiful flower grown from a bulb, that is very popular around Christmas time.  This particular flower grows in the back yard of our old house.  We received it as a gift in a plant pot and when the flower died we planted the bulb in the yard.  It has rewarded us every year since with blooms that are about 9 inches across. This particular variety is called peppermint candy for obvious reasons and is very popular at Christmas.  I certainly hope that the new owners of our old house realize it is there and appreciate it as much as we did.

The Iron Cross Begonia

The Peacock Plant

Pleomele - The Song of India.

(These last three photos are courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens)

I have never been much interested in growing things, although botany and natural history are something I have studied a little.  Yet having done a little research for this blog, I think I might try my hand at raising one or two plants especially since there seems to be quite a lot of information and directions on the web and the many variegated plants illustrated have piqued my interest. I'm not sure I have a green thumb but we shall see. 

This is my entry for ABC Wednesday this week.  This wonderful project has almost finished its 9th round through the alphabet.  I love it because I learn something new every week.  Why not pop across to this blog see what new things you can learn.  Thanks Mrs. Nesbitt and Roger Owen Green!

Monday, June 10, 2013


Our new home is set in a beautiful park for 'manufactured homes'.  Heaven help you if you call it a Mobile Home Park!!

The park itself is beautiful and contains about 450 homes.  There is a Home Owners Association which    has been doing a great job over the years.  Because we have lived in Carlsbad for about 40 years, we have known of the park for many years and known many people who live there.  It has a fine reputation as being a good place to live.  The HOA makes sure the grounds are kept immaculate and also regulates the appearance of the homes, from the colors painted to the appropriate landscaping.  There are lots of trees and small garden areas throughout.

It is not stringent in its requirements.  I went through and read all the board meeting minutes from the past five years before we moved in and found them to be very accommodating with the residents.

At least there is no 'wild life' among the residents!  However, the park is divided by a small creek and narrow woodland area and thus encourages some wild life.  Sorry, I have hardly any photos, but here is a description of our first encounter with wild life.  

Not long after we had moved in,we were woken in the night by loud yipping, yapping and yowling.  Our neighbors to the north spend six months of the year elsewhere, and the coyotes had moved into the back of their yard, which like ours, overlooks the creek.

It is pupping season (there's probably a different name for that for coyotes, but I don't know it), and they had made a fine catch for dinner.  This has happened twice since we've been here, but the neighbors moved back for a while and cleared out the coyotes.  The neighbors have gone again, so maybe we will be visited once again.
I'm told there are racoons but I haven't seen any, but I have seen rabbits and evidence of rabbits, who are eating the new shoots on some of our shrubs.

As can be expected, there are plenty of birds -- house finches, house sparrows, song sparrows, grossbeaks (a beautiful bird in spite of his name) orioles, goldfinches, western phoebes, woodpeckers, mourning doves and crows.  We also had a of pair beautiful Townsend Warblers, who are bright yellow with a black triangle over their eye.  They were only stopping for a while as they were on the move north to their summer haunts.

Now that the birds are fledglings we are also being visited by a red tailed hawk, who finds a baby crow much to his liking.  The crows defend their nests with great vigor and noise.  When I hear he crows I know the hawk is nearby.

In the creek, there are many mallards with quite large broods of ducklings, a pair of egrets, (beautifully white against the greenery of the bank).  It is funny to watch the mallards come flying in at great speed, using the creek like a runway. We also have a blue heron who flaps lazily along the creek and I think is roosting in one of the large pine trees that line the creek.

 Sorry this is such an awful photo, but it was dusk and he was a good way away and my hand shakes too badly to take a good photo without something to lean on.

Up in the lake by the club house there are a great number of coots.  We have been warned about rattle snakes but haven't seen or heard about any so far.

With the hawk and the coyotes we're pretty vigilant about keeping Scruffy inside.  I can't remember if I told you about Scruffy's one escapade outside, so here it is again, just in case.  We hadn't been in the house very long when it happened.  Scruffy is greatly tantalized by the lizards he can see from the windows (ceiling to floor).  We are blessed to have great natural ventilation, so when the weather is warm I open the front and back doors.  What I didn't realize at the time was that the front screen door does not always latch.  So one day I was working away on my lap top, presuming that Scruffy was sleeping in one of his favorite places.  I don't know how long he was outside, but I heard the screen door go and Scruffy came running in looking as pleased as punch with a 6 or 7 inch lizard in his mouth, which he then proceeded to drop in the middle of the living room floor.  Of course the lizard ran, but Scruffy quickly caught him again.  I decided to let Scruffy play with him a bit until the lizard got tired
and then I could catch him.  They can move pretty fast.Then I grabbed a bowl, put it over the lizard, slid a piece of cardboard under it and disposed of it back into the yard!

We have now fixed the front screen door much to Scruffy's disgust!

ABC Wednesday tomorrow.  See you then.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Here's something I found in the newspaper last weekend.  I thought it was very ingenious.

I'm glad they gave the translation!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


What does it take to sell a house?... Well for one thing it means going undercover!  For my British friends this may seem very strange.  No the circus has not come to town.

Termites are the scourge of Southern California.  Before you can sell a house you must have a termite inspection and termite riddled wood must be replaced.  We were fortunate not to have much termite damage.  Our neighbor has just spent a fortune replacing termite damaged parts on his house and he is not even selling it.  We decided to have our house tented as most people do, because we didn't want inspectors going through the attic and crawl spaces and perhaps doing further damage. 

So here it is from the front and back.  The house is tented and then a poisonous gas is infused.  You would think that in this very environmentally conscious area (Southern California) there would be someone out there protesting, but I think this has to be done, by law, if you are selling a house.

The tenting is up for 24 hours and then it is OK.  Since it is completely empty no other precautions have to be taken  --  thank goodness.

The house was listed for sale last weekend and already we have had two written offers.  I think after this weekend, since no one has been able to view it for two days this past week, we will hopefully be able to accept one of the offers and then --  whatever will we do with all our time and attention that has been so focused on selling the house?!

So now that we are out from being UNDERCOVER we are really on the final step.

This post is my contribution to ABC Wednesday for the letter U, a project founded by Mrs. Nesbitt and continued by Roger Owen Green.  I f you would like to see more contributions illustrating the letter U please click HERE

Monday, June 3, 2013


I'm kind of 'doodled out'.  During all the busy-ness of the past couple of months, I didn't do much art except doodles, which are easy to do, relaxing and don't take a lot of planning. So here are my latest ones -- my lack of creativity showing up in the rather bland names.

I'm a little surprised at how much all the extra activity and decision making has actually affected how much I can concentrate on my art.  It's not that I didn't have some time to do something, it's just that my brain was too preoccupied with other things.  Physical activity results in the body feeling tired, but  I didn't realize that over-working the brain also brings about mental fatigue -- something I don't think I've experienced before in quite the same way. Must be old age catching up with me!

Rainbow Leaves

Shrimp and Frogspawn

Scarlet Pimpernel

Manta Ray


Night Shadows -- Leaves on Glass

This last one is not actually a doodle.  It depicts the shadows on the lower glass of our front living room window, which I often see at night when I can't sleep.  I sit in my arm chair without any lights on, but the light from the lamp outside reflects the shadows of the leaves of a small bush outside the window.  The orangey-green is the background light from the lamp on the glass.  It's not such an outstanding rendition, but I like it because it is very familiar and peaceful.

ABC Wednesday is next on my blog.  See you then.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


How long ago was Mother's Day?

Here in the States it was three weeks ago.

Take a look at the flowers which arrived here from my son three weeks ago.  They are Freesias...very beautiful and very long lasting.

The day they arrived.....

One week later...

Two weeks later...

Three weeks later!!!

Wow!  They really lasted a long while.  Think I'll add some more water and see what happens.