Just an Ordinary Blog Post, and The Lost Penguin

The Lost Penguin

Yesterday was mine and Rob’s 4th wedding anniversary. Our first date was in Eureka Springs, so each year we go back and have one of the mochas from Mud Street Cafe.

Well, I must have ordered the wrong thing, or else they started making them a LOT smaller in the year since our last trip!

Didn't really need to attempt sharing this tiny little cup!
Didn’t really need to attempt sharing this tiny little cup!

When the waitress returned, I inquired and was glad to know I should have ordered the mocha. Every year we each get one and they’re huge, but this year neither of us thought we had enough room after lunch to be able to drink a whole one.  So we’d planned to share. That’s why when the tiny cup came to our table, I was surprised.

Much better! Lots of whipped cream and a chocolate covered coffee bean on top.  Mocha from Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR.
Much better! Lots of whipped cream and a chocolate covered coffee bean on top. Mocha from Mud Street Cafe in Eureka Springs, AR.

 

We spent the day in Eureka Springs trying to find places to put our crafts on consignment. We found the perfect little shop called The Lost Penguin.

The Lost Penguin is owned by Ramon & Lemia Laval. They have bonsai plants and hold workshops to teach others how to do it. That alone was what drew me into the shop at first.

But once inside I saw they have all sorts of very cool artsy-crafty things. Lots of miniatures for fairy gardens, and some fairy gardens, even. But the mini’s and gardens they carry now are not like mine, so they’re interested in seeing some of mine, too!

They do have some woodworked items in there, but not boxes like Rob’s, so we’ll be bringing some of his boxes in soon.

Rob and I both left with consignment papers to look over and fill out.

The Lost Penguin in Eureka Springs is an interesting artsy-crafty store.
Such an interesting shop in Eureka Springs, AR!

I couldn’t find a website, but they do have a FB page if you want to drop over there and pay The Lost Penguin a virtual visit. Then the next time you’re in Eureka Springs (AR) I suggest going by the store to take a look around. Maybe our stuff will be in there when you do!

Market Day

Today was market day. I sold the last two bags of ginseng rootlets. There’s 5 first year roots in a little cellophane bag with soil-less mix in it to keep them from drying out. I might be able to find some more for next weekend. Also sold a few bottles of our shagbark hickory syrup.

It was a pretty poor day as far as sales are concerned, but I did get to talk to a lot of new people who might possibly be back to buy next week.

Fairy Gardens still Recovering

The fairy gardens are nearly recovered from my RMSF event. Ha. Took them longer than it took me. Since I didn’t get out of bed to care about anything at all for a week or so, the moss dried out and the ferns died back. After a good soaking, it’s all beginning to re-green. Tomorrow I might get a chance to go out and get fresh moss and ferns to make new ones for next weekend.

The Rest of the Week

Tomorrow I’m likely going to do housework or rest. Then Monday evening the grand-girls are going to get off the bus here and spend the night. Then I’ll put them back on the bus Tuesday morning.

Our neighbor was the driver for our local route for 32 years, but he retired and so there was no bus down our road because we didn’t have any children down here since my own grew up and flew the nest. However, he’s on temporary non-retirement now, so while he’s driving again I’ll have the kids take advantage of the route while it lasts.

For the rest of the week I’ll be making more miniatures for fairy gardens and getting things ready for market next weekend. Oh, and maybe if the ginseng still has leaves that I can find, I’ll package up some more rootlets for transplanting.

What are your plans for the near future?

Driveway Flowers in September

It’s been bone dry lately. This morning I brought my camera with me so I could take pictures of the driveway flowers.

Ordinarily this would have been an “exercise walk” and I wouldn’t have brought the camera because that would have just caused me to stop and take pictures. Which would have defeated the purpose of the exercise, which is to get the heart rate up and sustained up for a little while.

However, I’m still not up to my old self after the tick fever episode, so exercise isn’t “exercise” in the same sense of the word yet. Ha. So I brought the camera and called all the stooping and squatting “exercise”.

Heading out to take pictures of the driveway flowers and get a little exercise.
Dogs waiting for me to catch up.

It’s been so dry. We hadn’t gotten any rain for weeks and the trees are already dropping their leaves. Later in the afternoon, though, we did get a really nice shower.

The creek isn't flowing anymore and leaves are filling up the small pools.
The creek isn’t flowing anymore and leaves are filling up the small pools.

The water goes underground in the creek once it gets this dry. It leaves only a few small pools here and there. I have to check regularly to make sure the horses still have their usual water hole, but so far it’s never dried up in certain spots on their portion of the creek.

When the water is low, it’s easier to find interesting rocks. This one has an inclusion that looks like part of a plant. Or something else. I’m not sure what it is, but it looks like a fossil of some sort.

Fossil in the rock.
Fossil in the rock.

In spite of the drought, some of the driveway flowers are still doing well.

An evening primrose flower.
An evening primrose flower.
Evening primrose blooming in the morning.
Evening primrose blooming in the morning.
Goldenrods never seem bothered by the droughts.
Goldenrods never seem bothered by the droughts.

Many people mistakenly think it’s the goldenrod causing their allergies. In reality, it’s the ragweed which blooms during the same time frame. I didn’t take any pics of the ragweed. It really messes with my sinuses and I didn’t want to get any closer to them than I had to.

This one is called camphorweed, but it doesn’t smell like camphor to me. It plain stinks. It ought to be called stink weed instead. The latin binomial gives a good clue to its nature:  Pluchea foetida.

Camphor weed almost gone to seed.
Camphor weed almost gone to seed.

Down in Louisiana, when someone speaks of boneset, it’s usually Eupatorium perfoliatum. Up here in the Ozarks it’s usually a different boneset. This one is Eupatorium serotinum, or late boneset.

This is the only boneset I've ever found in the Ozarks.
This is the only boneset I’ve ever found in the Ozarks.

I know that E. perfoliatum is an herb once used to treat “breakbone” fever, or dengue fever. I’m not sure if our local variety has the same properties.

Once summer begins morphing into fall, the Lobelia inflata seed pods swell and ripen. I collected enough seeds of this plant last year that I didn’t need to gather more this year. It’s a valuable part of antispasmodic formulas I craft and really works quickly for muscle pain.

Lobelia inflata with swollen seedpods.
Lobelia inflata with swollen seed pods.

I wrote an article on this often overlooked plant for the North American Native Plant Society. It was included in the August 2017 issue of their members-only newsletter magazine called Blazing Star. I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail. I’m excited about this article because it also includes my drawing of lobelia and this issue is the very first color print version.

A prettier kind of lobelia that grows here is the Lobelia siphilitica, or Great Blue Lobelia. This one would look nice in wildflower gardens, but they don’t do so well in drought conditions. The ones growing near the creek still look good, but these are beginning to suffer.

Droopy great blue lobelia.
Droopy great blue lobelia.

The asters always look pretty no matter how dry it gets.

Asters don't seem to mind the drought.
Asters don’t seem to mind the drought.
An asp on the asters.
An asp on the asters.

I found an interesting new to me flower on my walk this morning.

Cuphea viscosissima has purple flowers with sticky calyxes.
Cuphea viscosissima has purple flowers with sticky calyxes.
A small frail plant with purple flowers.
A small frail plant with purple flowers.
The little hairs have a sticky sap globule on the ends.
The little hairs have a sticky sap globule on the ends.

I’ve never noticed this plant here before and I’m not sure if that’s because it was never here, or because I just never noticed it. Of all the driveway flowers I normally pay attention to, this is one of the smaller ones I’ve ever noticed.

It’s only about a foot tall, and fairly frail and the flowers are small. But the entire top half of it has little sticky hairs all over it. The seeds of this plant contains an oil that is being researched for biofuel and for use in cosmetics and food.

I couldn’t find much about it on the internet, but it’s a member of the Loosestrife family. The common name is Tarweed, or Blue waxweed. It’s one I want to learn more about.

Well, that was the end of my driveway walk. After taking that last photo I hiked my way back up the hill and didn’t stop again until I reached the house.

Just a quick check in and update

Figured I’d better make a quick check in on the old blog! It’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been very busy. Mostly I passed the time gnashing teeth and pulling out hair.

Thankfully, I figured out how to transfer my website hosting over before too much blood and hair fell. Well, I should have known it wouldn’t be easy. I moved from regular website hosting to VPS and there was a lot to learn about how it works. Not sure I have it all figured out yet, but the site is up and almost back to normal, and that’s good enough for now.

In between the website technical issues I’ve been trying to sell things at the farmer’s markets. Today I went to the Jasper market for the first time.

Check in on us over at the Jasper Newton County Farmer's Market on Friday if you're in our neck of the woods.
Setting up at the Jasper Newton County Farmer’s Market.

Rob has his new woodworking shop cranking and I’ll be posting links to his website when I get it finished. Will post pics of his boxes in progress, too. Soon. If I can get a booth at the Roger’s Farmer’s market, I’ll be there on Saturdays for the rest of this season. If it’s really good, it’ll be the only market I’ll be at so I can keep up with staying stocked.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to get the Wild Ozark Musings newsletter out tomorrow. If you’re also following my chapters in book two of the Bounty Hunter series, I’ll have the next chapter ready tomorrow most likely, too. If you don’t have the first book, today and tomorrow the ebook is FREE at Amazon.

Have a great week!

In Honor of Forests- Two Worthy Fundraisers for Earth Day

We all depend on trees. A single tree planted in an urban lawn is better than no tree, but the larger collectives of forests are needed, too.

In honor of the forests, for Earth Day 2017.
Limbs of the beautiful oak in our front yard.

The Earth needs large swaths of unbroken forests to maintain habitats that support the biodiversity present beneath tree canopies. These habitats are disappearing around the world at unprecedented rates.

Logging, plantation building, mineral mining are some of the reasons we are losing our forests. We are destroying the Earth in pursuit of money and riches.

Physical

The forests are the lungs of the Earth, for they cleanse and replenish the air we breath.

Forests protect the water by minimizing runoff, but also by holding large quantities of moisture within their bodies. When a forest is extensively logged, the ground becomes drier and springs slow down or quit flowing altogether. That’s because the trees aren’t there to hold the water any longer. It evaporates into the air and is lost.

I have a particular affinity for the woodlands. They inspire me to write books, poetry, create art with pencil and camera, and they give shelter to my favorite medicinal plants. Without the forests here at Wild Ozark, there would be far less of the biodiversity I love and crave.

Metaphysical

Trees are messengers, tapping into a network connected to each other and the rest of the world by vectors including fungal, birds, wind, and insect.

Lofty Goals, Two Worthy Fundraisers for the Forests

There are many other foundations and organizations trying to raise money, but these are two I want to share today.

United Plant Savers

I’ve met Susan Leopold, Executive Director of United Plant Savers. She’s a real person full of passion for the medicinal plants of this country and the world. Many of the at-risk and endangered species of the plant world depend on the forests directly, and all of them indirectly. Susan is a spokesperson on behalf of these plants.

Right now United Plant Savers is competing against other fundraisers for prize monies in the form of donations.

From their fundraiser page: Stand up for Sustainable Medicine! Our future forests are our best solution for climate resilience – trees are medicine for planet Earth and we are saving the forest by redefining its value!

Eden Reforestation Projects

From their documentary: Their village name means “True Village” in English. Eden Reforestation Projects (“Eden” for short) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is alleviating extreme poverty and restoring healthy forests in Haiti, Madagascar, and Nepal by employing local villagers to plant over a million trees each month.

The Ozark Winds of March and Strong Signs of Spring

The Ozark winds of March have been blowing strong since maybe before March even began. But last night really trumped all of our weather-related excitement.

I knew there was a tornado possibility before I went to sleep. The weather forecasts said so and showed the ominous red box surrounding a storm predicted to track in our direction.

But it was still at the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas and by 10pm I didn’t care so much anymore and just wanted to go to sleep.

Heads Up

At 11 pm Rob woke me up by shining the phone screen in my direction so I could see where it was then.

At about the same time my own phone started flashing text notifications from friends to give me a heads-up. I’ve never seen so many people of Kingston awake and all talking to each other so late at night.

Next thing I knew, Rob was putting on clothes and shoes. It appeared that it was not time to go to sleep after all.

Next thing I did was call my parents who were staying down in the camper and encouraged them strongly to come up to the house. Then called my eldest and let him know he might want to take cover. Then messaged my daughter and got no response, so I figured she had already taken cover. She does not sleep during weather like this, and was more likely aware of the situation than the rest of us.

The youngest was out of harm’s way down at college in Russellville, and I was glad to know where he was and that he would be safe.

Ozark Winds of March

The storm approached with bells and whistles. Not literally, of course. But with a lightning show that would have put an ELO concert to shame. Dating myself with that reference, I know. Hail pommeled the porch and it rained down hard. And the winds blew.  It was all quite noisy.

Then all of a sudden it was quiet. Except for the lightning there was nothing at all happening. No wind. No hail. No rain. Frogs and coyotes and owls kept their thoughts to themselves, too.

The quiet lasted maybe a minute, maybe less.

Look for me in Oz

We in the house half-jokingly agreed to look for each other in Oz if the unthinkable happened.

The roar started to the west from out past Penitentiary mountain and grew louder as it barreled closer. Then the rain, wind, hail and lightning resumed. The mountain across the valley doesn’t have a name that I know of, but the road that runs across the top is called “the spine” or “backbone”. That’s where the wind went.

It tore through the treetops, rushing like a lion bringing down a zebra.

A broken crocus, casualty of the Ozark winds of March.
A broken crocus, casualty of the Ozark winds of March.

Then it was all normal again. A little breeze, a little rain. But the roar was gone.

This morning I found out that indeed a tornado had passed along our quiet back road but hadn’t touched down. It waited a few more miles to do that, out near Parthenon. As far as I know, no one was injured, thank goodness.

Is it Spring Yet?

And the sun is shining and flowers are blooming today as if nothing at all happened.

Strong signs of spring are showing. The elephant garlic I’d planted in November are looking strong. Green onions are prime for the picking. Raspberry brambles are putting on leaves. Violets, dandelions, henbit, crocus, and the peach trees are all blooming their hearts out.

I hope we don’t get a late ice storm or hard freeze.

 

 

 

 

Sunrises, Opportunities and Rising Early

Beautiful sunrise. Seeing the sunrise is one of many daily opportunities.

Beautiful sunrise. Seeing it is one of many daily opportunities.

I have lots of photos of Gloria, the tree silhouetted above. But most of them are not about the sky behind her far-reaching limbs. Most are simply about the tree herself and how beautiful she is clothed in her various attires of the seasons. This one is about the sunrise.

Weather Oddities

The weather lately has been very odd. Yesterday the temps were nearly 70*F and today it’s milder, around 50. It’ll be in the low 20’s tonight. But by this weekend we’re expecting 79*F on Saturday. This is absurd weather for February!

Where’s the snow and ice, or at least the cold? I don’t like to stay cold for long periods of time, but at one time I enjoyed the distinct seasons of the Ozarks. The end of one is an opportunity to embrace the beginning of the next. I like definitive beginnings and ends.

Now it seems as if the seasons are trying to all compete with each other to represent themselves each during the same week.

Sunrises, Opportunities and Rising Early

This morning the sunrise was spectacular for a few minutes. It’s a good thing the camera was handy and ready to go because if I would have had to dig it out of a camera bag and change a battery, I would have missed it.

Sunrises are very likely often beautiful and I just don’t know it. There’s a mountain to the east and not far away. It blocks any view of an early sunrise, so it’s not until later in the morning that the sun peeks over the top.

Or it could be that I just haven’t been getting out of bed and functional early enough to see the colors lately.

Lots to do today, though, so it was an 0500 day for me.

It’s always a better day when I get up early. Rob is almost always up and warming by the fire for an hour before I join him in the mornings.

Too many opportunities pass me by because I just don’t have the time to pursue them. I’d have more time if I’d just get up early.

The list

My list of things to do represents opportunities, too. But often this kind of opportunity masquerades as frustrations.

  • Reconcile my QB data to reality – what it says and what the business checking account says are two different things.
  • Ledger summaries – not sure how easy it’s going to be to get my data out of QuickBooks. It’s all in there now, but unless the CPA can make heads or tails of my logic I think I still need at least some ledger summaries on paper.
  • Make jelly – the ginseng jelly is really, really, good and I’m making more of it today. I need to use all the extract I made because I’m not sure if I can freeze it or if that will somehow impact the ginsenoside makeup.
  • Work on website- I doubt I’ll get to this today, but the narrow layout of the content and the close proximity of the sidebar bothers me. I don’t know offhand how to fix that and it’ll take some trial and error time, I’m sure.
  • Newsletters – I’m past the point of having them ready for an early-in-the-month delivery. Now it’s looking like mid- or late-month. Another good reason to get out of bed earlier.

Upcoming

In a couple of weeks I have an appointment with someone at the Arkansas Food Innovation Center to discuss what I need to do in order to be able to sell my ginseng jelly from the website or in other retail outlets.

Wish me luck on this. I’m not sure of the expenses involved and with our shoestring budget making this goal  might not be possible for a while. But at least I’ll have some information.

In the meantime, the delicious Wild Ozark Ginseng Jelly will be for sale at the market booth on the square in Kingston on a nice sunny day in the next week or two.

Let me know if you want me to notify you when I’ll be out there.

I’ll also have it, if there’s any left (along with ginseng seedlings and other plants, books, and art) at the Huntsville Farmer’s Market beginning in late April or early May, and at the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique at the gardens here. I’ll have schedules for all of that once the season is underway.

Feathered Rovers, a Poem

A little time alone watching a flock of birds in the woods today inspired a poem.

My poetry is infrequent and when the drive to write one hits, I just have to get it out of my head. And since I’m not a practiced poet, lol, it never has a formal structure. Just free verse. Some imagery I needed to record, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Feathered Rovers, a free verse poem by Madison Woods
click to enlarge

Keeping up the Juggling Act

It’s the holiday season, so it stands to reason that lots of folks are juggling lots of things in their lives these days.

Juggling and Not Too Successfully

I’ve been dropping a few balls lately. Right now the ones on the ground relate to baking bread. Ha. And I had such good intentions!

My own juggling really has nothing to do with the added tasks of the holidays. I haven’t even started dealing with those issues, yet. So you can see the mess I’m about to make with the balls still in the air …

Anyway, back to baking bread.

Why am I baking bread?

Because we’re out of it since yesterday morning, that’s why.

Why not just get some from the store?

Because I have to go out to town when a package I’m waiting on arrives in Springdale. Doesn’t make sense? Well, to go to town for groceries alone is a half-a-day excursion here if I’m just going to the nearest town with a grocery store. Springdale is a good hour-and-a-half away and if I’m going to go out for that I might as well get everything else on my list while I’m at it.

So I decided I’d just bake some bread and wait until tomorrow to go out.

Part of my juggling act today. Need to grind some wheat.
Had to clean all the dust off the grinder first.

Of course the pictures loaded and turned sideways. Do they look sideways to you too? Throw that ball on the floor too, dammit.

To bake bread means I have to grind some wheat. What?! I hear you asking already, why don’t I just use the flour in the pantry?

*Sigh*

Yeah, I’m laughing too.

There isn’t enough flour in the pantry. Guess what? They sell that stuff at the grocery store I’m not going to today, too.

But I do have wheat that I can grind. And enough regular flour to cut it so the ball of dough actually rises into a loaf.

Stuff all over the counter. Balls dropped when the phone rang.

So I have all the ingredients for this project out and in progress when the phone rings.

Guess what?

The package is arriving at the DHL facility in Springdale in a couple of hours.

So I look at the mess I’ve got scattered all over the counters, consider my options … and decide I might just throw all this back into the cabinet and go out and buy that loaf of bread today.

Balls all over the floor.

I did manage to get one thing on my writerly to-do list done today, though. I created a virtual flipbook of my latest release. This morning I finally figured out how to get it loaded onto this website so I can share it with you.

It’s posted on the product pages for “Ginseng Look-Alikes” so browsers can flip through the whole book just like they could if it were in a real-life bookstore. Then if they decide they like it, they can click through and buy it.

Balls Still Airborne

At least there’s that ball still in the air. Now I’m going to clean up the kitchen and get ready to go out to town. If you get a chance to take a look at my flipbook, would you leave me a review at Amazon? I put the book out too early a few weeks ago.

And More Balls on the Floor

The one review on that dismal first go of it is a very honest, terribly unhappy buyer who left me two stars.

If you think it’s a decent product now, let me know. If you think it’s still as bad as the first reviewer thinks, let me know. I need to take it down if it’s that bad!

End of Autumn and Letting Go of Clutter

Red Oak Leaves. Nature Photography by Madison Woods for Wild Ozark.

The end of autumn brings me to a state of feeling introspective. Depression, melancholy maybe, or just a need to be alone with my thoughts for a little while … It’s not “sadness”, and it’s not a negative thing. It’s normal for me at this time of year.

The Liminal Space

It’s not technically the end of autumn until the first day of winter. But just as it feels like summer before the solstice, it feels to me like winter arrives before Dec. 21. When the leaves are mostly on the ground and the temperatures near freezing, to me, it’s winter.

The time between seasons – it doesn’t feel like fall anymore and it’s not yet winter – is a liminal space. It’s precisely this kind of space that makes my mood like it is.

Letting Go

Let go of what kinds of things?

Clutter.

Clutter makes me feel anxious for no good reason. When I feel anxious, vague fear is usually the underlying emotion. We all have fears that we deal with on a daily basis. Some of us are just better at ignoring them or hiding it.

One of mine is the fear is that I’ll never succeed in reaching my goals. I can further refine that to pinpoint exactly what it is I’m afraid of.

It’s not the fear of never reaching them. It’s the fear that it’ll take too long. The anxiety is just a companion to that fear.

Disorganization in my workspace contributes by magnifying the disorganized feeling of anxiety. When my surroundings get cluttered and my project list piles up I feel the crunch of time. I feel like I’m running out of it and it’s that urgency drives the underlying fear of possibly never finishing.

Getting organized

The problem is my workspace. My desk and office is so cluttered I can hardly find anything anymore. I am going to do a bit of fall organization in there this evening.

It’s more of a job than I can finish in one evening, though, so that project will extend for quite a while. Maybe even a whole week or even longer. Ha. I am not exaggerating. It’s pretty bad.

Letting Go

I know from experience the vague feeling of anxiety and fear will dissipate as the clutter is eliminated. So each thing I find a dedicated place for, or put in the recycle or the burn pile or the garbage will be like one more leaf falling from the tree.

Worrying without doing anything constructive accomplishes nothing. Just like the trees letting go of old leaves at the end of autumn, I too feel the need to let go of stuff I’m clinging to which no longer serve a purpose … starting with my office clutter.

What leaves do you need to drop?

For me this year, it’s the clutter in my office. In years past I’ve had more extreme cleansing to do. The principle of letting go of that which no longer serves is worth looking at. For me, the end of autumn is a great time of year to do it because it matches my mood already.

 

Perseverance

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I’m stubborn and don’t give up easily. And I draw a lot of inspiration from nature.

This snail is steadfastly going over obstacles that could proportionately be called boulders. I watched it for a little while as it went over, under, or around whatever stood in the path blocking him from his destination.

Perseverance Inspirational Poster
This will be available as a poster at the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique soon 🙂

per·se·ver·ance

  • noun: perseverance
  • steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
    “his perseverance with the technique illustrates his single-mindedness”
  • synonyms: persistence, tenacity, determination, staying power, indefatigability, steadfastness, purposefulness; patience, endurance, application, diligence, dedication, commitment, doggedness, assiduity, tirelessness, stamina; intransigence, obstinacy; informalstick-to-it-iveness; formalpertinacity
  • “in a competitive environment, perseverance is an invaluable asset”

Definition from Google search


I created this Perseverance poster for myself. It seems as if everything I’m doing is moving along at a snail’s pace. It’s hard to stay optimistic that I will ever realize my goals.

I’m not sure snails have “destinations” in mind when they’re crawling around, but even in a moment-to-moment life there is at least the objective to get to the other side of whatever is in the way.

So that’s the inspiration intended for this image.

Perseverance

I’m going to keep plugging away at the projects on my desk. Sooner or later, I’ll get there … wherever “there” happens to be. Right now, the goal is to finish the final edits on my first book of the Bounty Hunter series. But there’s also:

  • garlic to plant and garden to prep
  • a pile of things to file
  • ledgers to catch up on before tax season
  • websites to update
  • blog posts to make
  • SEO to review for those sites
  • the next book to begin
  • products to create
  • photography to edit

If the image speaks to you, too, I’ll have posters available soon at the boutique, lol.


***

Comanche’s Eye

My horse's eye

There is just something special about the eyes of a horse. I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t know the words to explain it.


I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging lately, so I think I’m just going to post a photo with a line or two, or nothing at all. Just something pretty or evocative.

Rewind: Between Autumn and Winter: A Liminal Space

We’re in a holding pattern at Wild Ozark right now, which is in its own way a sort of liminal space. Rob has two hernias and we’re waiting for the surgeon’s office to call with his appointment day/time.

So while he limits his movements to the barest possible, I’m staying nearby to fetch things so he doesn’t have to get up any more often than necessary. In the meantime, I’m working on moving the shop items to the new Nature Shop online and cleaning up my blog.

The post below was an article originally published in 2014. I’m in the process of cleaning up some old articles and formatting them to fit the standards required for Instant Articles and AMP. So I hope you enjoy this <Rewind> episode.

A Liminal Space

It’s not a special time of year right now, but kind of in between seasons. A “twilight” of the seasons. I didn’t think there’d be much to take pictures of when Rob and I took a hike on the mountain the other day. All of my favorite plants are already dormant for the remainder of the year. But being a “between” time, makes it a liminal sort of space and that’s my favorite kind of place to be.

I was not disappointed in the photo opportunities.

Trees and Leaves

There were still leaves in various shades of color.

speckled smilax
speckled smilax
red oak sapling
red oak sapling
red oak leaves
red oak leaves
paper thin plum leaves
paper thin plum leaves

We saw some of the largest oak leaves I’ve ever seen.

giant oak leaf
gigantic oak leaf as compared to Rob’s sz 9 shoe.

There was an old tree that had split and a long polished splinter jutted out from the trunk. The grain of that wood was beautiful! It looked like a black walnut tree and I wished we had with us a way to cut that splinter loose so I could bring it home.

split black walnut
split black walnut
black walnut grain
black walnut grain

 

Tree Bones

There were a lot of downed trees, probably from several years ago when the ice storm came. We lost a lot of trees on the mountains during that storm and I vividly remember the sound of trunks snapping as the stress of holding the weight of too much ice crossed the line of tolerance. Just then I passed a partially rotted limb that reminded me of a bone. A tree bone.

tree bones
tree bones

 

downed trees
downed trees

Adam and Eve Orchid

And then I saw an Adam and Eve orchid, which surprised me. I didn’t think they’d still be out at this time of year. I knew they were early risers in spring and have a page or two in my photo essay book that talks about them. But I don’t recall ever seeing them in early winter before. I’ll have to play closer attention each year from now on to see if it’s a normal occurrence.

At the time I composed the book, I didn’t have photos of the roots to show the “Adam” and “Eve”. Now I do. If you read the book and wondered how the roots look, here are some photos!

Adam and Eve orchid showing leaf and connected bulbs.
Adam and Eve orchid showing leaf and connected bulbs.
adam and eve leaf
The leaf of an Adam and Eve orchid.

Fungi

tree fungi maybe ganoderma
Not sure what this is, looks like a ganoderma of some sort. It was huge.

fungi 2

shelf fungi of some sort
unknown tree fungi on horizontal overhead log.

Ferns and Green Plants

There were a few other green plants still, besides the cedars.

dogwood nut on mossy rock

ferns
ferns
green fern frond
green fern frond

There was an old moss covered stump on the ground with only a small opening. It looked like it could have been a fairy or sprite hideout.

sprite hideout
sprite hideout

Here are some grape/rattlesnake ferns. One is bronzed and the other is not. It’s always hard for me to tell which kind they are, rattlesnake or grape fern, so I just lump them both together.

frost bronzed rattlesnake fern
frost bronzed rattlesnake fern
rattlesnake fern
rattlesnake fern

Ozark Mountain Springs

Then we saw what we call “spring grass”. When you see this kind of grass in the middle of the woods, it usually means there’s a spring seeping up keeping the ground moist right there. I brushed the leaves away to see if the ground really was wet, and it was. The picture I took of the wet ground didn’t come out very good so I won’t post it, but there was a lot of moisture. You can see the spring grass, still greenish for now.

spring grass
spring grass

After a bit more climbing we found a much better spring, and then another. Hidden springs are one of the most magical places I know.

a dripping spring
a dripping spring
lots of water
lots of water

springs dripping

dripping spring on leaf
dripping spring on leaf

We finally made it to the logging road. I took it back to the house and Rob returned the way we’d come because he’d left the four-wheeler parked on the other end of the valley where we’d entered the woods.

On the way back I saw some of my favorite grass catching sunlight in a bit of seed fluff.

broomsedge bluestem
broomsedge bluestem

I hope you enjoyed this virtual nature walk from Wild Ozark! If you did, please share it with your friends. This post will eventually become a Wild Ozark Nature Journal e-book. Thank you for joining me 🙂

Ginseng Growing Season is Winding Down, Digging Winding Up

Ginseng Growing Season

The ginseng growing season is winding down now. The plants set berries earlier and most of them have ripened and fallen to the ground already. Some of the plants will soon begin turning yellow most years. We’ve had so much rain and such a mild summer, though, that I’m curious to see if that has affected the way the plants look.

Digging Season

Digging season is winding up for those who aren’t concerned about the prices their roots will bring. We don’t dig roots for market, but if we did, I wouldn’t dig until I knew the prices were good enough to make the time and effort of digging it worthwhile.

In my opinion, it’s better to leave old plants in the ground so they can produce another round of offspring than it is to dig during low demand years. But we dig very few roots at all, and never the old ones. Our focus here is on selling seedlings and seeds, not roots. So our perspective on digging is perhaps a bit different.

Those old ones are the colony matriarchs and they usually set the most berries for new plants. We don’t have enough of the old wild ones left to spare any to sell as roots. Perhaps in a few years or so I’ll reconsider and make limited quantities of our wild-simulated available as fresh roots for local consumers.

But some diggers will just make an effort to dig more, instead. That would make up for the difference in price per pound – just bring more pounds to the market.

Usually low prices of any traded good means there is either low demand or over-supply. The case with ginseng this year, according to the dealers who have shared information with me, is both. The demand is lower because of overseas economy. And there is over-supply. Many dealers still have dried roots to sell from the previous season.

So digging more to make up for lower prices is only setting up the same problems for the next season. It also puts a greater stress on an already endangered plant.

Ginseng Has a Season

Did you know ginseng has a season when it’s legal to hunt, just like deer or rabbits? It does. Season opens on Sept. 1 and ends Dec. 1. There is also “poaching”. Poaching is digging out of season, or digging illegally on private or public land.

The national forests in most states are closed to ginseng digging so it’s considered poaching to dig in those locations. Diggers need permission from private landowners, otherwise it’s poaching if they’re trespassing to dig.

For the past several days, beginning before the Sept. 1 opening date, I’ve passed a parked vehicle on our county road. It’s always parked in areas that look as if they’d be good ginseng locations. Each day it’s parked in a different spot. I’m not familiar with the vehicle and ordinarily the traffic is so low on our road that we (the residents) can usually tell who’s who.

I’m hoping this isn’t someone scouring the woods for ginseng. And I hope they don’t get closer to what’s left of the wild ginseng growing in our own woods. I never see anyone around the vehicle, but I would stop and talk to them to try and find out who they are and what they’re doing here if I did.

Ginseng in September

This is how ginseng looks in September. Today I’ll try to get out to the woods where there is some ginseng growing for some photographs to show you how it looks this year. It’s been dry the past week, but until now the weather has been unusually wet. We’ve had more rain than I can ever remember having in a spring and summer, so I’m curious to see how it’s doing.

Previous Year, Sept. 16, 2015

Ginseng growing in mid-September
This ginseng still looks pretty good even late in season.

This Year, Sept. 6, 2016

I’ll try to get another one on the 16th so we can see the same day, different year comparison.

 

Unveiling Wild Ozark’s New Logo

It’s time for a new logo, and a permanent one. It’s taken me a few years of working on Wild Ozark to finally figure out what exactly it is that ties all of the things we do together.

Why a new Logo?

I’ve tried out several temporary ones over the past few years, but none of them “fit”.

A business needs a logo to help build brand identity and it’s hard to choose a single image when Wild Ozark represents several different types of business ventures.

There’s one theme running through everything, though.

Nature

My art is nature inspired. So is the photography. The writing I do is influenced by nature, even the fiction. My design work for websites and business cards, or any other product I craft or print is heavily influenced by my connection to nature. Our focus on American ginseng, at the heart, is nature. Rob’s woodworking is also influenced by nature and the trees around us or farther away.

Trees

Trees have always been a large part of my experience with nature.

And so we wanted an image that conveyed our connection to nature, but wouldn’t limit the various ways we can use it.

The new logo doesn’t encapsulate just one aspect of Wild Ozark, it represents all of what we do. We chose Gloria, the old white oak in our front yard to be the model for the tree. Of course, my stylized and artistic rendering of Gloria changes how she looks considerably.

Our New Official Logo

 

Wild Ozark's new logo.
The new official Wild Ozark logo.

Now I will have to make all new graphics for the social media, including this website, using the new logo. I’ll use my pencils and add the color to it before doing that, though. (Done! But still working on new web and social media images.)

Wild Ozark's Logo in color

We wanted something simple enough to have a brand made of it so Rob can burn it to the bottom of all the woodworking items he creates once his shop is up and running.

The tree was Rob’s idea. The inspiration for the tree I used came from Gloria, the gigantic old white oak in our front yard. I stylized it quite a bit so it would work for the logo, but here’s a photo of Gloria from last autumn:

Gloria, the Old Oak Tree
Gloria, the Old Oak Tree
She barely fits inside the frame.

 

Ozark Backroad Photo Journey – Come Along for the Ride

Whenever I go away from the house alone, I take my camera. A simple run to the post office or to town becomes an Ozark Backroad Photo Journey. I generally try not to do this when I have passengers or am myself a passenger. It seems that stopping as often as I do when I’m alone is torture to others. And if I’m a passenger, the drivers tend to get irritable after the second or third shout to stop, ha.

The “Ozark Backroad” Begins on our Driveway

The first thing that caught my eye on this trip was a hawk in the tree at the second creek crossing on our driveway.

First sight on the Ozark Backroad Photographic Journey was a broadwing hawk.
Broadwing Hawk

 

Well, I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save draft”, so this post is going out prematurely. I’ll add the rest of the photos as I get them resized for the web!

I’m learning how to use Photoshop, so it might take longer to get the photos ready. This looks like a really versatile program, but so complicated! I want to add my signature to photos with my own handwriting, not the copyright stamp like you see in the hawk picture above. It’s turned into a major challenge to learn how to do what I thought would be one simple thing.

Update: Now that I’ve figured out how to add the signature, I think I want to change it to Wild Ozark instead of Madison Woods. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort “branding” Wild Ozark so I might as well continue along that path.

Back to the Post

So now we can get on down the road. As I mentioned earlier, the Ozark backroad begins on our own driveway. It actually begins the moment we walk out of the back door.

When I got out of the car to see if I could get a better picture of the hawk, it flew away. I looked down and spotted a little frog hiding out under the leaves at my feet. I really love the colors in this photo.

Frog Hiding on an Ozark Backroad
(click to enlarge)

The driveway is long and bumpy, so I go really slow anyway, but going slow gives me the chance to see things. There was a virgin bower blooming that I wanted a picture of, so I got out to take that. While getting ready to take the bower photo, I saw a good-sized preying mantis (or is it praying?) in the greenery.

It was on the prowl for a snack, so I will stick with the “preying” spelling for now.

praying mantis on the Ozark backroad trip
(click to enlarge)

Not even a tenth of a mile farther down the road yet, I spied a nice old fence post with a hole in it and some rocks and other things stacked on top. It gave the post the look of an odd person with a hat. And I just like old fence posts and barbed wire. So this photo had to be taken, as well.

Old Fence Post

 

Our neighbor has some old buckets hanging on the porch of an old shed. I am always trying to get a good photo of these buckets, but I can never capture them in a photo the way they look to me in real life. I just love old buckets.

Old Buckets
(click to enlarge)

Surprises

You never know what you’ll see when you’re driving down an Ozark backroad. Most often it’s plants and landscape that prompt me to pull out the camera. For this photo, though, it was a flock of wild turkeys. I only managed to capture one of them, and just barely.

Flying Turkey on the Ozark Backroad
Poor photo, but the best I could do on short notice and from inside the car.

The only wildlife I ordinarily get photos of are the slow ones. Things that don’t fly, run, or crawl away too quickly, ha. Here’s a box turtle (tortoise) snuggled into a dirt berm under the leaves.

Box Turtle (tortoise)

Most often it’s the Plants

Unless the wind is blowing, the plants don’t stand much of a chance. I take a lot of photos of plants. Even the ones no one seems to like, such as the poison ivy and teasel.

Poison ivy is very pretty in early fall and is often one of the first to begin the color change.

Red poison ivy

One of my fav photos from the day of slowly wandering down this Ozark backroad. These are teasel seed heads. Teasel is considered to be an invasive weed by many. I think it’s a great photo subject, and an unusual and useful plant, though I wouldn’t want it taking over and choking out native habitats.

Teasel is one of the plants on the Ozark backroad that I like to photograph.

 

King’s River

We’re not far from the headwaters of King’s River here. This is always a favorite place to stop and look for beavers, eagles, and other wildlife. Once my husband spotted a large cottonmouth floating lazily on the surface as it drifted downstream.

King's River is a beautiful sight along my favorite Ozark backroad.

If you are in the area and like to hike, there’s a nice trail that leads to the headwaters and the King’s River Falls.

Until Next Time

That’s all of the photos from this excursion. I’m sure I’ll do it again sometime soon!

Mushrooms are Rising and Fall is in the Air at Wild Ozark

With all the rain we’ve been having, and the cool mornings for the past couple of days, the fungi are loving above ground life. This morning there were mushrooms galore!

Fall is Coming

Have you noticed fall in the air yet? We’re on the cusp here in the Ozarks, but this morning held a chill in the air. The sun’s rays are falling to the earth at a slightly different angle. Shadows are casting from a different sort of light. Fall is almost here. I can see it now, feel it and even hear it.

This is my favorite time of year, a liminal time. A doorway between two seasons – one I’m ready to let go of and one I’m ready to welcome.

Mushrooms

In just a small area behind the house there were at least four different varieties.

Rob found the prize, a smooth golden chanterelle:

Chanterelle mushroom
Chanterelle mushroom

I didn’t have a chance to go farther to look for more of them, but right behind the house there were several. Most were already aging, but the one Rob found was fresh. So I diced that single one up and sauteed it in butter.

Then I went down to the other logs where the oyster mushrooms like to grow and picked some of those to go with supper. Here’s an article about how nutritious this wild food is. I had thought mushrooms were empty foods with no nutritional value. That’s true of the white button mushrooms you buy at the grocery store, but definitely not so about some of the other varieties.

oyster mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms

This one is a pretty mushroom, but I’m not sure what it is and there are too many of this sort that are poisonous, even deadly, so I will just take pictures of it and leave it alone:

A pretty mushroom, but maybe it's a death angel.
A pretty mushroom, but maybe it’s a death angel.

Found some boletes that were deteriorating and smelling like dead fish:

Deteriorating boletes.
Deteriorating boletes.

This last mushroom won the prize for most unusual find for today. I’ve never seen one like this.

An interesting unknown mushroom.
An interesting unknown mushroom. Do you know what it is?

 

 

Slugs and Dragons and Ginseng, Oh My! Wild Ozark Creations

I’ve been working on a few new Wild Ozark creations lately. This creative streak seems to have no end in sight, either, because ideas just keep coming and I keep feeling compelled to follow them through.

Slugs

This is the latest drawing I’ve done. The digital and print rights (for business branding, not art prints) and print #1/100 have been sold already, but there are still 99 prints available. I had so much fun doing this drawing, because it made me see poison ivy and slugs in an entirely new light. Whoever knew the two of them could be beautiful together?

Slug on Poison Ivy
Slug on Poison Ivy

Dragons

I’ve been photographing a particular green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) over the past few years, trying to get good photos of all the various phases. A couple of years ago, I even had seeds that I’d gathered from it sprout.

So I was finally able to complete a creative thing that’s been waiting a long time – The Dragon Life Storyboard:

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.
A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

You can get this poster at our Wild Ozark Redbubble shop: https://www.redbubble.com/people/wildozark/works/22836244-story-of-the-dragon. If you know any science teachers who might like to decorate a classroom, send them my way!

You can read more about Green Dragons on one of my earlier posts.

Ginseng

So then I thought, “Well, I can’t have a dragon storyboard without a ginseng one too!”

Story of Ginseng
Story of Ginseng

Pressed Leaves

And for ginseng I also have been making pressed leaves. Some of them are laminated so they’re durable enough to take to the woods. Some I’ll mount on fine art paper for framing. Only the laminated ones are posted to the shop so far. They’re $10.

Mature ginseng leaf prong

Fiction

I’ve been working on my novel and am getting excited by how it’s going. Here’s the story line for that:

Bounty Hunter is a rural adventure fantasy set in post-collapse northwest Arkansas. There’s a rift in the Universal fabric that the Feds aren’t telling anyone about, but it’s the main reason martial law is still in effect. Treya is training to be an assassin for ARSA, a covert government agency headquartered in Bentonville. Punishment isn’t that the criminals are put to death. It’s that they’re killed three times to force them into successively lower incarnations. Treya has to learn how to use her innate gifts that enable her to track a person throughout their incarnations, whether they’re human or not.

Your Turn!

So tell me what projects you’ve been working on? Send links if you have posts about them or Etsy listings or whatever and I’ll link to them. My email address is [email protected]

 

Balanced Asymmetry and Order in Chaos in Nature, Work, and Art

Note: an edited and better composed version of this is posted over at Medium.

I’ve been in a crafty mood lately. It’s probably safe to say I’m always in a crafty mood.  I think I’ve finally figured out why.

I like balanced asymmetry and order in chaos. Noticing when these states occur and capturing them in art or photography, or creating things bring order to chaos in a satisfying way.

I Like Seeing Results

That’s the thing about crafting – results. I love seeing order brought from chaos, order within chaos, and balanced asymmetry.

It started recently with the rocked in culvert. Well, it started long ago, probably when I was born. But the most recent bout of craftiness urges started with this culvert.

 

Before and After the Culvert Wall

I like to see the results of my work. Work that never comes to fruition, or never ends with a sense of balance is frustrating. Housekeeping is that sort of work. The house is rarely clean and orderly long enough to see the end result for more than a few minutes.  And as soon as I glance another direction, I see the same job waiting again!

I would be a very bad production worker because of this unless I got to put on the finishing pieces. I have worked these sorts of jobs before, so I know that I don’t like it and when it comes right down to it, the lack of “finished result” satisfaction is why.

In those positions when I worked on specific projects (like the 245 Startup at Honeywell in 2002), I did get a sense of completion when we brought the unit online, even if I was only a small part of that project. My work contributed to a finished product that I was able to witness. I liked that.

Balanced Asymmetry

I like symmetry, but I like balanced asymmetry more. Symmetry by itself does nothing to spark my sense of wonder. Asymmetrical things without a balance to them just look chaotic and are unsatisfying.

Everything I really enjoying seeing in nature, like sunsets, moonrises, forest paths, etc. are all asymmetrical studies.  The clouds that frame the moon look best when they’re asymmetrical. Sunbeams filtering down between limbs of a tree on an early morning are not equally distributed across the entire scene. If fact, the very non-uniformity in where and how they appear is what makes them so breathtaking.

a study in balanced asymmetry

Building a rock wall using native stone is an exercise in learning to balance in an asymmetrical way.

The whole is balanced. This is not one of my rock walls, by the way. This is an old one that’s been here on this earth for possibly longer than me.

This rock wall is a perfect example of balanced asymmetry and organized chaos.
This rock wall is a perfect example of balanced asymmetry and organized chaos.

The parts are not.

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.
The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

Order to Chaos

There are some who say it is not possible to have chaos and order at the same time.

I say you can. Sometimes.

A pile of rocks is a static sort of chaotic thing.

A pile of asymmetrical rocks even more so.

But when the chaotic tumble of asymmetrical rocks are stacked, sometimes an organized balance can be achieved. That is an example of bringing order to chaos.

Orderly Chaos

Orderly chaos is a different thing. Orderly chaos is a lot like asymmetrical balance. I also think whether something is chaotic or orderly depends on the viewer’s perspective.

To the person who just bumped into the hornet’s nest, the swarm of hornets attacking feels pretty chaotic.

But that swarm is actually very orderly, a whole chaotic mess of stinging insects all bent on achieving the same goal: to kill or run off an intruder.

I see order and chaos side-by-side and even occupying the same spaces all the time. A glance at the news is full of speculation fodder for this topic.

What seems like a chaotic world right now probably has a lot of order to it if we can back off far enough to view it from a distant perspective, both literally and figuratively.

Balanced asymmetry and orderly chaos in Crafty things

My latest creation is a dreamcatcher.

balanced asymmetry in my dreamweaver
This example of balanced asymmetry is for sale at Wild Ozark’s online shop 🙂

It’s pretty asymmetrical too, but is also balanced. The weaving is probably still chaotic in appearance to some, but there’s order in there now, in spite of the chaos that ensued before I was done with it.

It’s definitely asymmetrical. But the whole thing is balanced in spite of that.

Balanced Asymmetry.

Same deal with a website I’m creating. To someone viewing only the parts of this creation, it might seem terribly chaotic. It seems that way to me, too, sometimes.

But eventually all the parts start working together and it becomes yet another example of balanced asymmetry. And of order in chaos.

Things that are both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical at the Same Time

A lot of things probably fall into this category, but the one I see most often and notice happens with plants. Ginseng is a good example.

This goldenseal plant is balanced even though it is very asymmetrical.

 

goldenseal with red berry - Signed & Numbered prints are available now!
Signed & Numbered prints are available now!

On the vertical plane, it’s asymmetrical. However, if  sliced horizontally, it is symmetrical.

Your Thoughts?

Have you noticed yourself attracted to more symmetrical things and only clear-cut order, or are you like me and fascinated with the balance between asymmetrical and ordered chaos?

Mailbox and Back in Under an Hour

Yesterday I brought my camera with me when I went to the mailbox. If I had walked, I know it would have taken more than an hour because I would have seen so many more opportunities to stop and take a picture.

There’s Never a “Quick Trip” Anywhere Out Here

My intention was to make  *quick* trip to check the mail because I was waiting on a delivery of something in particular. But before I started the mailbox run, there was a mushroom that Rob had spotted near where he parks the tractor.

He’d told me about it the day before so I needed to get pictures of it first thing.

A bolete of some sort. This mushroom looks like a pancake when you're looking down from above, though.

Just as I took its picture, I saw there were more of them, just a little up the hill.

Another of the mushrooms that look like pancakes.
Saw this one just a little farther up the hill.
And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.
And there was this one peeping out from behind the leaves. Same type of shroom but the shape is a bit irregular.
Don't they look just like pancakes?
Don’t they look just like pancakes?
But from this angle you can see they do have stems.
But from this angle you can see they do have stems.

The day before that he’d seen a different one, so of course I got some pictures of it, too:

mushroom from above
A humongous mushroom growing at the base of Gloria, the old white oak tree out front.
This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.
This perfect mushroom looked like it should have had a fairy sitting on the edge, with her legs dangling from it.

But I digress. After I finished taking the pictures of the pancake mushrooms I took the 4-wheeler to get on with the mail-checking task.

But the 4-wheeler was having issues and died on me a few times. This, of course, is where having the camera on hand came in handy indeed. I had ample time to walk around a bit and take some pictures while I waited for it to start again.

Dinner Leavings along the Mailbox Route

I know it was a squirrel who left this mess on the flat rock by the first creek crossing. The day before we’d seen a squirrel running across the driveway with a mouth full of mushroom.

Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.
Leftovers from a squirrel. Mushroom stem and nut shells.
Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.
Mushroom stem leftover from a squirrel.

Good thing I wasn’t watching which mushrooms the squirrels were eating so we could try them too! Squirrels have some interesting digestive abilities. They can even eat the deadly mushrooms without it hurting them. There’s more information about that here: http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/greatlakesdata/Terms/squir27.html#Squirrelsa

Leaves to Notice

It’s only July but already the leaves of the sourwood are beginning to color and drop. They always do this a little in late summer. And I always notice them. I love the leaves of autumn and the teasers of late summer.

Black gum leaf on a rock.
Black gum leaf on a rock.

My favorite leaf picture from yesterday is a rock and leaf composition with understated colors. I love the paleness of the rock and the light colored leaf:

Yellow leaf on pale rock in July 2016.

Herbs to Notice

I’ve been watching for a particular herb favorite of mine. It’s about the time for Lobelia inflata to bloom. I use the seeds of this plant to make a tremendously appreciated anti-spasm formula.

A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.
A mature Lobelia inflata plant with blooms and swollen pods.
Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.
Swollen seed pods of Lobelia inflata.

When the seed pods are brown and dry I’ll snip the stem and put the whole thing in a paper bag. Then I can smash the bag a bit and the pods will burst, releasing all the seeds inside the bag. After that, I’ll use a portion of them for my herbals and spread a portion of them outside so I’ll have more to gather next summer.

Frogs and Feathers

I love finding wild bird feathers. It seems that I encounter a lot of crow feathers during my walkabouts. Yesterday morning was no exception. We have free-range chickens, so chicken feathers are easy to find. And I’m always finding feathers as evidence the cats have killed a bird, too. But those feathers don’t catch my attention the way randomly placed ones on rocks in creeks do.

A small crow feather I spotted on the way to the mailbox yesterday on a rock in the creek.

Just as I was getting ready to try the 4-wheeler again I saw this small frog in the creek.

A little frog after he thought he'd jumped away and hidden from me again.

A little frog that was in the creek on the way to the mailbox.

He’s only about an inch or two long and thought he was well-hidden, which he was. But not so well-hidden that he could escape my notice, ha.

Other Posts Like This One

If you enjoyed this, this post reminds me of Why it Takes Me an Hour to Go to the Post Office and Back  so you might like it too. Both demonstrate how I shouldn’t leave home with the camera or a notebook or a sketchpad if the trip is intended to be a quick one.

 

Dirt Road Photos – Ozark Sunset Silhouettes


 

Scene from the dirt road in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas.
Scene from the dirt road in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas.

The Ozarks from a Scenic Dirt Road

I was driving home from my daughter’s house this evening as the sun began setting on our beautiful Ozark hills. Just so happened to have my camera with me (surprised?), so I stopped for a few photos along the dirt road.

It’s spring. Flowers are beginning to bloom in my favorite spots and the landscape is stirring. I usually do bring my camera with me everywhere during this time of year all the way through end of fall, so this habit of mine is likely to be repeated between now and end of November. And then if there’s an ice storm or nice snow in winter, I’ll have my camera then, too.

What I need to be doing is getting my sketchpad and pencils out, though. It’s high time I got back to work on that. I was just waiting for some flowers to start blooming.

Eccentricity? No, Just Talking to Trees

Those who have followed me for long or know me well know I talk to trees. The tree with the big opening at the base is the loudmouth of our “neighborhood”.

If you want to broadcast a message to the Universe, say it within earshot of a tree like this. I call it a “Blabby Tree”.

Blabby Tree of the Wild Ozark neighborhood.
The Blabby Tree
If you want to broadcast a message to the Universe, say it w/i earshot of a Blabby tree. #treemagic Click To Tweet
Click on the photos to enlarge:

To-Do – All the Various & Odd Things on the List for March

The To-Do list today started out pretty clear cut. The plan was to get an early start into town. I need more potting soil, a few groceries, and feed for the horses. That plan was nixed when I woke up and checked email and found a host of notices to alert me of the flurry of spammers that had been working hard linking to my website all night.

So “to-do”plans were rearranged to take care of that matter first. Then I’ll head to town, I thought, if it looks like I can get the errands run and make it home before more rain comes. (Update from later on in the day: of course it would rain before I got back home, and all the packages I had in the back of the truck and the feed too got wet.)

Working on March newsletter

I’m almost done with this and will try to get it posted before the end of the weekend. Maybe tonight if I’m lucky.

Still Writing on Bounty Hunter

This is my rural fantasy novel in progress. I’m at about 30,000 words on it now and approaching the main character’s first experience with making a hit on the character she and her co-protagonist are hunting.

Making business card and brochure card holders

Business Card Holder from Wild Ozark

I have other ideas for holders and things like this, using natural stone and wood and features from the land. Just haven’t had a chance yet to work on them. Maybe I will make a few and see if there’s a market for them at the booth this year. Pretty Wild Ozark things ought to hold cards on every business desk, at least in Huntsville.

Market and Nursery To-Do

roasting coffee
On the To-Do List! Our "Wild Roast Blend", Ginseng Coffee from Wild Ozark
Ahhhh! Fresh roasted artisan coffee. Nothing else compares.

Oh how I am loving our new coffee roaster. I can do a whole pound at a time now, instead of the puny 1/4 cup the Jiffy Popcorn Popper could do. Now I’m getting all creative with the coffee blends and have fallen in love with the ginseng leaf coffee. It’s for sale over at the shop now, if you’d like to try it. I’ll have some at the booth too, but this is easy enough to ship out by mail. I roast once a week now, and if sales pick up I’ll roast more often. Next blend on the list is going to have roasted ginseng root in it. And a third option will have roasted dandelion root. So far only the ginseng leaf roast is listed at the shop, but I’ll add the one without any additions soon. Ginseng and dandelion root roast will come online after that.

making balms

I have some more lobelia infusing in oil now and will make a ginseng & lobelia sore muscle & cramp rub with it soon. It won’t have all the same ingredients as the last batch because some of those herbs won’t be ready to harvest again until the end of summer. So we’ll see how the more austere ingredient list does. More lip balm is on the list, too.

ordering books

I can’t afford to order any more books right now so I hope this month is a good one for sales so I can order books before market opens in April.

starting seeds
  • chiltepin (tiny little pepper native to south Texas)
  • dragon blood tree
  • goji berry
  • beardtongue (certain bumble bees, and hummingbird)
  • still looking for the seeds I put up when organizing the office… they’re in there somewhere
looking for the return of last year’s starts so I can divide and pot up for market
  • beebalm
  • elderberry
  • mullein
  • wild hydrangea
  • raspberry
  • bloodroot
  • goldenseal
  • ginseng
  • black and blue cohosh
  • maidenhair fern
  • doll’s eyes

Sign up for my nursery brochure with the form at my nursery page. These will go out sometime in April, once I have a good idea of what I’ll be offering at the booth.

Upcoming Speaking Gigs To-Do

There’s one in May I haven’t heard back from about, so I need to contact the organizer to see if we’re still on for that one.  Also need to follow up on making sure I have a booth at Fair on the Square in May. Then in June there are two scheduled- A short ginseng workshop at the Fayetteville Public Library and a Nature Journaling workshop at The Place on the Square in Kingston.

website issues

  • spam galore, figure out alternative to paid Akismet. I’m trying the plugin AntiSpam Bee and so far it seems to be working well. When my budget rebounds a little I’ll make a donation to the creator of this one instead of renewing my Akismet since they were so kind as to make it available free of charge.
  • updating to make AMP compatible
  • trying to repair schema markup problems with the AMP pages

So there you have it.

That’s my to-do list I’m working on this month, not including the ever-present housework items that don’t get checked off nearly often enough. Rob will be home by the end of the month so I’ll have to step up my efforts on that end of things soon!

Stone Tool – Relic of a Long Bygone Era

I knew when I saw the rounded hand-sized rock that it was more than “just a rock”. It was a stone tool, & probably several thousand years old.

Stone tool of early Native Americans in the Ozarks - a rounded grinding stone.

There is something special about holding a stone I know once was held in another woman’s hand, possibly as long ago as 6000 B.C. (I’ve since found other references that date tools like this one to only about 1500 years ago. so I don’t really know when it was last used, but “a long time ago” seems to suffice, lol.) It’s exciting to find arrowheads and spear points as well, but they don’t carry the same metaphysical connection the women’s tools do.

This grinding stone is fatter on one end to fit comfortably in the palm.
Fatter on one end to fit comfortably in the palm.

Stone Tool

The shape insisted that it be held with the fatter side against the skin of my palm.  I know this because my fingers only felt “right” in certain spots. There are barely perceptible indentations in the stone, just perfect for my fingers. The weight and balance makes the holding of it uncomfortable in any other position and it just feels *right* in the one instinctive grip.

My fingers curled over toward the rounded edges of the more narrow side. I knew, with no reservations at all, this was exactly where another woman’s fingers gripped this very same rock thousands of years before. Thousands of years. Consider the enormity of that statement. I know you’ve run your hands over antiques before, perhaps those your grandparents left behind when they passed from this world. I love how that feels, to make that physical contact with something we know a loved one also touched at some point.

This rock wasn’t held by one of my ancestors in blood, but she knew intimately this land I now call home. We are connected also by right of genetics in that we are both women and both know the desire to make food or medicine. My desire to do this is manifest in other ways, usually, like going to the grocery store or by growing vegetables in my garden or harvesting the medicinal plants that grow here. The urge and drive to provide food  for loved ones or self is the same. I wrote a post about this a few years ago and have reposted it here, if you’d like to read it. It’s called Hunt Food, Gather Firewood.

rounded grinding stone 3  rounded grinding stone 4

It’s a pestle rock that likely originally had a matching bowl used as mortar, but the bowl was nowhere to be seen. This was a tool used day after day to crack soft nuts or acorns and grind meal. Most likely it was also used to grind herbs and roots for medicines. It could also have been used to sand and smooth the shafts of arrows or limbs of a bow. If this one had been used often in this way, though, there would be deep grooves from passing the rock over the same shaped item over and over. The rock is made of sandstone. I’m not sure whether it was originally made of clay and sandstone and then fired, or if it was shaped in some other way to become the pleasing offset-rounded shape that it is now.

Here’s a link to a text on the Ozark Bluff Dwellers. It’s fascinating to read about the people who lived in this same area so long ago: https://archive.org/stream/ozarkbluffdwel00harr/ozarkbluffdwel00harr_djvu.txt.

One of the side effects of using sandstone tools like this was grit in the food. This likely caused havoc on the teeth, as suggested by this study: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2985353/posts.

I’ll bring it with me when I set up my booth this year during the market so other people can hold and feel this connection to a bygone era of many years past. It’s a connection, a very strong connection, to our human nature and to a time when people lived with no separation at all between themselves and Nature.

Here’s another stone tool I found in almost the same place on the driveway. This one also has one way to hold it. There’s a dimple in the top where my thumb desires to press. I think this one was used also for cracking nuts but perhaps it was used as well to break the bonds in hides so it would become soft and pliable during tanning. This rock is not made of the same material. It’s very smooth on the surface.

An elongated stone tool of the early Native Americans of the Ozarks.

 

 

Some websites for more information:

http://associations.missouristate.edu/mas/macquest/archoverview/ArchOverview.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mano_(stone)

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2985353/posts

https://archive.org/stream/ozarkbluffdwel00harr/ozarkbluffdwel00harr_djvu.txt

What is the “back burner”, really?

Back Burner

You’ve probably referred to projects you’ve put on hold as being “on the back burner”. I understood what the phrase meant, and had used it often myself, but when we got our new/old cook stove, I learned how the saying probably came about.

I'll be putting things on the back burner for real with our new/old wood or coal cook stove.
I’ll be putting things on the back burner for real with our new/old wood or coal cook stove.

While the previous owner explained to us how to operate the stove, the meaning of the “back burner” phrase became very obvious. On these old stoves, the heat is most intense on the front burners. The back burners never get very hot, but can simmer or slow cook the foods.

This link has a very good explanation of the phrase origins. The foods that don’t need a lot of attention can go on the back burner. If it needs to be frequently stirred, put it on the front burner and get it finished.

Nowadays we put things on the back burner if we’re not ready to work on them yet, but don’t want to completely forget about it.

Moving things back to the front

I’ve had some items on the back burner for a few months and today finally got one of them moved to the front, finished up, and taken off the stove altogether.

The first draft for an article on ginseng habitat through the seasons is in the hands of the Blazing Star editor now. There may be some edits required, and when those come back it’ll be on the front burner because the timeline will be too short to move it to the back again.

The Blazing Star is the newsletter for the North American Native Plant Society. It’s a pretty big deal to me to have a byline in that publication, so I’m excited. It should be live in spring.

Moving the pots around

Tomorrow I’ll take two more of the things I had on back burners and move them to the front. Another article for United Plant Savers about our public ginseng sanctuary in Bentonville, AR and a third one about ginseng for a guest post at LiveVote.com. I’m not too sure about the possible exposure for the guest post, but I’m curious enough to find out.

Still on the back burner

I know it seems like my Bounty Hunter novel is on the back burner, and in a way parts of it are… is? Neither tense of the verb looks or sounds right.

Anyway, I’m not working sequentially on it right now. I’ve been recording some notes and ideas for scenes that come later on in the series and I need to write those down as they bubble up or I forget them.

Chapter ten is ready for me to upload to beta readers and so that part is moving to a front burner soon. Then I have to decide whether I’ll wrap it up as a short novel or continue to full-length. The target was 80K or so words, but it seems that shorter works are fairly popular right now and if I break it up to smaller books then I can publish more of them more quickly.

We now have real back burners to go with my metaphorical ones

I can’t wait to get our new/old stove hooked up so I can try it out. Then I can test the origin of the phrase myself and really “put things on the back burner”. As if I need encouragement with that.

Delve Deeper to Observe Nature

Take a moment from your day and delve deeper to observe nature. You’ll gain a sense of awe and wonder.

Delve deeper

Truly experience that moment. If it’s a plant you’re observing, reach out and touch it (be reasonable – don’t touch poison ivy). Notice the texture of the leaf. Is it smooth or rough? Are there hairs on it making it soft or bristly? Look at the veins in that leaf. Do they run parallel down the whole leaf or do they branch and fork?

lobelia nature sketch

I would never have noticed the hairs on the stem of this lobelia had I not taken the time to observe every part of it.

Listen to it. Yes, there are sounds associated with plants. I recorded the wind through these acacia trees when I visited Abu Dhabi recently. It’s a sound I’ll never forget and could have easily been overlooked. Aside from the sound of the seed pods rattling, you’ll hear the wind and doves too.

In nature, everything is multi-layered.

What about the colors and smells. Some things seem fairly uniform in color. Then as I’m preparing to capture it in a sketch, I notice how many different shades of green are on one leaf that at first looked like a simple solid color.

Observe nature and notice the many colors in something that seems one color at first, like the leaves of this ground cherry plant in flower and fruit

On the day I made that sketch, I was in a bit of a rush. I didn’t want to attempt something that would take more than a few minutes. So I saw that plant and thought it looked easy enough, all a fairly uniform shade of green. And then I began the sketch and the game changed. I began to see the details that at first went unnoticed.

Same thing happened with this sycamore leaf. One leaf. A simple subject.

colored pencil sketch of a sycamore leaf in fall

Wasn’t so simple after all once I noticed the many little veins and the multitude of colors.

I pay closer attention to all things when I observe nature, not just plants. Similar details abound in every aspect involving every element of nature. This sort of mindfulness offers great opportunity to celebrate and appreciate variety in all of life.

 

Nature Journal ebook

These drawings are from my Autumn 2015 Wild Ozark Nature Journal. It’s for Kindle or other tablet sized ereaders. These colorful journal entries are gorgeous when viewed on color e-readers but the text is going to disappoint on phones because the screen is too small. Here’s the link where you can get it. Please leave a review and tell me what you thought of it.

A Poem by Joanna Macy

This is an untitled (newly titled!) poem by Joanna Macy, a deep ecologist. I found this poem many years ago on a website long lost to memory, but I’ve linked to Joanna’s website in her name below. I stumbled across the poem again today as I was looking through some of my old files. It still speaks to me, and in so much more than a quiet whisper. I’m sharing it with you now, and I hope you love it, too.

photo paired with a poem by joanna macy
One of my photos from a trip to Germany in 2013.

From the Council of All Beings

We hear you, fellow creatures.
We know we are wrecking the world and we are afraid.

What we have unleashed has such momentum now,
we don’t know how to turn it around.

Don’t leave us alone, we need your help.

You need us too for your own survival.

Are there powers there you can share with us?

“I, lichen, work slowly, very slowly.
Time is my friend.
This is what I give you: patience for the long haul and perseverance.”

“It is a dark time. As deep-diving trout I offer you my fearlessness of the dark.”

“I, lion, give you my roar, the voice to speak out and be heard.”

“I am caterpillar. The leaves I eat taste bitter now. But dimly I sense a great change coming. What I offer you, humans, is my willingness to dissolve and transform. I do that without knowing what the end-result will be, so I share with you my courage too.”

–Joanna Macy

More about or by Joanna Macy

Giving Voice to the Earth