What the heck is that?Salvador Dali might have liked this photo Tomo took of a red poppy about to burst into full bloom. These poppies are a vibrant, deep red and enormous, about five to six inches in diameter. Here in the Northwest, on the 45th parallel, the poppies are bursting through the pod, breaking it into the two sepals that will drop to the ground. Tomo caught this poppy in action. Nature is a wondrous thing to behold! We love flowers and have carved and created some pretty flower rings and pendants. Enjoy!
Flower Ring ~ $ 30 sterling silver. Plumeria Flower Pendant ~ $45 silver.
~Nature in Jewelry~
The Big Nestucca River in Pacific City, OR was peaceful and lazy as it headed toward the Pacific Ocean. This particular stretch of river passed by sand dunes on the west side and houses along the east side. Enjoying the sunny day on the water was a flock of geese that were taking a break in their migration to the north. Swimming, catching some lunch and hanging out together on the lazy river seemed the best of all worlds for this flock of feathered friends. Out of the far northeast came two small specks that were riding the air currents and as they got closer to the winding river, they could be recognized as a pair of Bald Eagles. One was a mature eagle with a large wing span and the smaller one appeared to be a fledgling getting some much need instruction on the ins and outs of being a Bald Eagle. The geese went on alert as the eagles swooped closer and then in a rush of wings and water they rose from the river in mass and started to leave. One of the geese was not as quick as the others and was still sitting on the river when the mature eagle dive bombed to the river. SMACK!! The eagle caught the goose and lifted it to shore where the fledgeling joined him. As the fledgeling enjoyed a lunch of goose, the adult took off and suddenly dive bombed back to earth SMACK into the little eagle and sent him sailing end over end. When the little eagle finally got himself right side up again, the adult had an intense talk with him. Sometimes the hardest lessons are the ones learned best.
Born and raised in San Diego in 1956, in many ways our family was typical of that era. The week was routine in it's form: school and work Monday through Friday, play and yardwork on Saturday, Sunday was a day of church, family gathering, respite and family outings. My mother was widowed very young and with three small children. An educator and a patriot, she had a great love of both her country and her adopted city, San Diego. Our Sunday outings included the many San Diego historical landmarks. By far, the most popular as well as the most endeared to our mother, was the San Diego Zoo and, later, the Wild Animal Park. How excited we were when, following church, she steered the car onto the Pacific Coast Highway and took the Old Town exit!
The San Diego Zoo has morphed through the years having the advantage of a team of individuals and a Board of Directors whose vision rightfully earned the Zoo a worldwide reputation of excellence. When I was a girl there was a sea lion exhibit where children could feed the sea lions small fish, bread was tossed to the Himalayan sun bears, peanuts were dispensed for a dime a handful for the elephants or the prarie dogs, and colorful roosters freely roamed the entire property herding hens and clutches of their bright yellow chicks. As noted, the zoo has morphed focused on the health and well being of the animals and habitat.
Our entire family favored the elephant exhibit above all others. Yes, it was so wonderful to interact with the elephants. It was fun to get the dime from our mother, insert it into the gumball style machine, turn the handle and have the peanuts rattle down into the bin. The elephants recognized the action and sound and would stand near the edge of their sandy yard, trunks actively searching and reaching out. Peanuts in hand, we'd walk over and extend our arms anxiously awaiting our turn to be sought out by one of the elephants. Soon, a beautiful elephant would amble over. It was so exciting to watch the elephant seek out the nuts then watch how clever, dexterous, soft and gentle their trunks were as they selected and took a nut to their mouths.
Of course, the most exciting event was when the Zoo had a baby animal and, as far as we were concerned, a baby elephant was most exciting. The San Diego Zoo has a new baby elephant, a beautiful little girl they've named Quinsa. She's been on the cover of their Zoo News magazine and, as expected, is a big hit with everyone: her keepers and her public! I, of course, agree. The birth of Quinsa rings a bell well known and true, warm and full of pride....for the San Diego Zoo and the best of intentions in those people who value the Earth's creatures.
Baby elephant pendant by All Animal Jewelry.
Well,...they're back! My covered porch is evidently the very best place to have a nest if you are a pair of barn swallows (mud daubers) that have come back north from winter vacation and are looking for that quiet neighborhood to raise a family. A quiet nice covered area with a wide sweeping view in which you can see any other bird or predator that may come looking for you. A perfect location with central heat from the porch light to help keep the nest and eggs warm. The corner the swallows have chosen to build their nest catches light breezes, but is protected from the cold winds that blow in from the ocean. Oh yes, just the perfect quiet neighborhood in which to start and raise a family. Except for one small detail that they have either overlooked or have chosen to ignore...that space is already occupied! By me! Now, I like birds and they appear to be a very nice couple who have brought along a friend for the summer (maybe a nanny?) or is it just that in their dive-bombing raids at me they are moving so fast that I think I see three of them. This is becoming an ongoing battle. Last year this same couple decided to divide and conquer as their strategy and it did work. While one kept me busy taking down the starts of a nest at one corner, the other built the real nest in a different corner. There were eggs in it before it dawned on me that I had been outsmarted by two bird brains. But this time it is going to be a different story! I have gotten wise...I think!?! I was told that swallows do not like barn owl. I was to get myself a plastic barn owl and set it on the porch. Problem solved! So, I found this nice plastic barn owl that is about 18" high. The very nice woman at the store told me to sneak it out in the dark of night (so the swallows won't see it) and place it where it could be seen in the light of day. This I did and, with great anticipation, waited to see them pack up and move to another neighborhood. That next morning, after two dives at the owl and no response from it, they promptly went back to building their new nest. I now have a plastic barn owl and live barn swallows on my porch. I am going to sneak out this evening under the cover of dark and hang it (the owl) from the porch ceiling and hope that it moving in the breeze will convince them that it is real and they need to vacate the premises. However, I'm not holding my breath. These are two pretty savvy little bird brains.
Oh to be young during the beautiful days of spring. The five young calves at the farm have been enjoying laying out in the sun, feeding, and just hanging together as a mini herd. Roaming the pasture from the babbling creek to the fence line and then heading back to mom for some lunch seems to be their daily routine, but on this warm, sunny spring day with just the hint of a breeze, the daily routine was interrupted by a mini stampede. Those little calves put their tails up in the air and ran as fast as they could from one end of the pasure to the center kicking up their heels the whole time. The mini stampede was on! But just as fast as it happened, it was over and back to the daily routine went the little herd of calves
Sun, surf, sand, and sand dollars. There can't be a better combination on a beautiful spring day. Tess, a mini Australian Shepherd, and I went beach combing down at Wi-Ne-Ma beach. The sky was a bright blue with clouds that drifted by on the light breeze and the sparkle of the sun on the shifting and breaking waves made the day even more lovely. We headed north towards the mouth of the Nestucca River and since the tide was out, we could actually wander our way around the ocean side of the big rocks. Tess found more items of interest there than I did. She found moss, rocks, streams of water meandering down from the hillside to the ocean, and gulls to bark at. I found broken shells, some agate beds, and sea foam stranded at the tide line. After checking out the wave action at the mouth of the river and waving to some folks on the Pacific City side, Tess and I headed south to see what treasures the tides may have left on the south side of the outlet from Wi-Ne-Ma lake. Sure enough, after wading through the outlet, we found curving beds of shells and small rocks along the tide lines. As I followed Tess's paw prints along the waters edge and through the shell beds I happened upon an unbroken sand dollar. The great Pacific Ocean was giving up her treasures to the hunters and in the late afternoon sun Tess and I found eight unbroken sand dollars and three agates.
Our lives, our world, are filled with so many possibilities! It can be quite exciting, interesting and thought provoking, or, dismissed as "new age." I find the world to be an amazing place and frequently customers have stories of experiences which underscore that viewpoint.
Recently a woman came in who had been struggling with cancer therapy. She was awaiting her appointment and found the tension too much so she went outside, sat down and closed her eyes and soon was deep in thought and prayer asking for help, asking for healing, asking for hope. And then she asked for a sign, and because she admires dragonflies she asked for a a sign somehow involving a dragonfly. She spent several minutes in quiet, earnest reflection, struggling to have faith and confidence and strength.
And then she opened her eyes.
And there, delicately perched on a leaf directly in front of her, was a beautiful and very large dragonfly. In the next moment, as surprise was quickly followed by overwhelming fascination, joy, and goosebumps, she looked, really looked, at the dragonfly. And the dragonfly...she swiveled her head to the side and looked right back. The woman and dragonfly regarded each other for several minutes, they didn't take their eyes off of each other. The woman was filled with gratitude, and hope.
While a volunteer for the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, when their boundary reached our county, I was fortunate to work with many wonderful and highly skilled wildlife rescue personnel. Because of their training I was successful in reintroducing rehabilitated injured, young or stressed animals back to their environment. One of the silliest of stories was working with Dave and Candace who live in a home no less than that of Dr. Doolittle...at least in our imaginations! Two kind souls with one foot on the firmament, the other aloft, Dave and Candace live side by each with a variety of animals and birds. Every corner of their home is alive.
One spring day I had a call from the State Police regarding a nest of sparrows whose mother had found the perfect spot in the niche between the trailer and the hitch. Somehow the owners didn't notice the nest when they hitched up and then drove two and a half hours from Portland, Oregon to Beverly Beach in Newport, Oregon. Upon arrival they found the accidentally orphaned nest of five sparrows who, after a very unusual experience, were hungry and loud in making their concerns known. Arrangements were made and the nest delivered to my home by a retired Stater and his wife. Through the Wildlife Center a group of us had established a pony express style of ferrying creatures up to Astoria. And so the babies began with me the second leg of their journey to recovery; (not the third, for the first trip was what caused the problem!)
It was unbelievable the racket five little baby sparrows could make! Insistent as each of my three children when they were babies, my reaction was the same. The need to fulfill a baby's cry flips a blinking red light switch in mothers of all species. Some mothers are better than others at ignoring the cries, or being patient, or calm, or methodical in their nurturing. Me, it's a call to arms! Fix it!!! Age has helped...some. So there I was, driving along and only about a mile from my home with 35 ahead of me on a road that wends it's way along the coastline with five, five, babies going at it full tilt. Yikes. Sighting an accessible wet spot at the base of a hillside I pulled off the rural highway and dug with a stick into the goo thankfully finding a handful of worms. Back to the car and opening the box to five fluffy chicks, bright yellow beaks opened straight up looking nothing so much like a flower...but very loud and insistent! They gulped down those worms as fast as I could place them.
On the road again we made it about 10 minutes up the road when I had to pull over, again, and dig through the mud, again! Even with the door closed I could easily hear those five babies calling to me... Feed Me! Fed, we were again on our way and this time made it to Dave and Candace's home. Dave and Candace knew just what to do and graciously and generously shared their experiences. They settled the babies in to their new home, fed them and checked them over from beak to tail feathers and then I was on my way back home.
I called some days later to check on the sparrows and found out, because house sparrows are an invasive species, they are not cared for by wildlife rescue units. Dave and Candace, the humanitarians that they are, thus became foster parents...again. Week followed week, pinfeathers grew out to beautifully plumed little birds. Spring blossomed, the coast warmed and one day Candace left the window open in the room with the rehabilitating birds which included the fledglings. Soon, the sparrows flew but they didn't fly away. They returned, Day after day, the sparrows were like children spending the day outdoors playing and returning to the safety of their home in the late afternoon. After a bit, the window was closed but still the sparrows stayed in the wild landscape surrounding their adopted home.
One day I again ferried an injured bird to Dave and Candace. Upon arrival and stepping from the car, Dave walked up to greet me. I noticed the birds in the trees were very close to us and expressed surprise. Dave introduced the fledglings as the babies of a few weeks previous and their habit of keeping after the humans, flying about their heads, landing on them, and calling after them, so long as they were outside. The sparrows stayed with Dave and Candace all summer long and into the fall. They'd found their way into the world with a little help.
It was a beautiful early summer day and I was reading with my back to my mother's big picture window that looks out over La Jolla and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The still of the morning and my complete immersion in the book was abruptly interrupted by a sudden, and what seemed, staccato beat against the window. While we did not often have bird window strike, the sound is unmistakable and always elicits in me an emergency response. Whipping around and scanning the foliage at the base of the window there was no detectable sign of bird or animal. Dropping the book and running out the front door, carefully picking my way across the close dichondra lawn, again there was nothing to be found. Standing as still as I could, scanning the area slowly and carefully, hoping for some movement, precious moments ticked away. Trauma for birds and animals is similar to trauma for humans, the sooner first aid is applied the more promising the recovery.
I let out my breath and began to turn when there was something different, something not quite right. Looking across the lawn and focusing on a leaf, it was instead a hummingbird! It was only in bending and reaching out to, then carefully grasping the tiny Anna's Hummingbird, that I realized the tiny leaf next to it was a baby hummingbird! Gathering up the baby in my other hand I took both birds inside, sat down, transferred the baby to the same hand as it's mother, then loosely closed my hand around them enveloping them in darkness and warmth to recover. I continued reading and, about ten minutes later, felt the birds begin to stir. Exiting the house to the back yard where there is plenty of hummingbird habitat in sprawling bottlebrush and bougainvillaea, I extended my arm and carefully unfurled my fingers. Mother and baby soon stood up, stepped onto a finger as a perch, and in a blink zipped chirping through the air to a bottlebrush on the hillside. All was well.
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My grandparents home, a grand affair from the 1800's with four large columns, had a pretty little carriage house in the back nestled among the branches of a long lilac hedge. It's charm could not ward off the damages of decades following decades of rain and snow. Pretty as it was, the time had come to take her down. My grandfather was aided in this endeavor by our family's good friend, John. Several of my cousins and I stood off watching the destruction. Together the two men wielded axe and sledge hammer making quick work of the job laying the building upon the ground. Dismantling the roof they found in the beams a dead squirrel and a nest with three young squirrels. You might as well as lit a firecracker under me I was so excited! John removed the nest with gloved hands and placed it in the empty 50 gallon burn barrel that stood nearby. I was but five years old yet tall enough to easily peer over the edge at the beauties. My Nana was pacing, anxious, and left the scene witnessed by the banging of the screen door. Little did I know or care for her concern; I was delirious with the prospect of caring for three such beautiful baby creatures. I should have cared, had I known what her cares were perhaps I could have dissuaded her from what was to happen. Meanwhile, I ran and found a useful baby doll bottle, warmed milk and, wearing gloves, fed the babies. I don't know who was more pleased, the baby squirrels or me. Feeding the babies, one at a time, they would quickly and deftly held the bottle in perfect, infinitely miniscule hands and nursed, their eyes closed in rapture. Noting every perfection of the little squirrels and their delight in being fed was an overwhelming experience for a five year old. It was incredibly beautiful and I was happy beyond words or reason. My, however, Nana left the room.
The next day, Monday, meant I was off to school and the adults promised to take care of the babies. Off I went but when the school bell rang that afternoon I practically flew home. Up the double track drive I ran to the backyard, dropped by things upon the grass and peered in to the barrel. It was empty. I couldn't believe it, blinking, willing them to appear. Still empty. Not possible! Something was wrong, something was amiss, someone had been very bad! Running into the house through the side door, racing around the corner and into the kitchen just as my Nana stepped from the pantry and brought me up short, my heart in my throat. "Nana! Someone has taken the baby squirrels!" Had I noticed I would have seen the answer in my beautiful Nana's drawn face, drooped shoulders, and anxious hands. But what five year old realizes these things. Instead I watched her lips in horror as the realization of what she was saying quickly brought me to the conclusion she was trying to make. She's given two of the three babies away. It was a terrible moment; we never spoke of it again although I wish we had.
The scar upon my heart quickly healed in the care of the remaining baby, Timothy. He stayed in the house, slept in my room next to me upon a pillow, and, when he was older and able, would slip through the sliding screen insert in the double hung hung window and jump to the near branch of the towering oak that once stood just outside my window. A year and many stories later, our little family returned to our life in southern California and Timothy to a permanent home in the trees and woods just behind my grandparents home. My Nana would write of seeing Timothy among the birds that feasted each morning on the bread crumbs she tossed upon the grass outside her kitchen window. There is not one single moment when I watch a big, beautiful New England gray squirrel that I do not think of Timothy and how very grateful I am that my Nana kept one of the squirrels for her grand daughter...even though she didn't want to.