Saturday, July 29, 2006

COOPER 1994-2006

Click on photo to enlarge - photo by Mary Anne

Cooper, an eternal puppy, passed into the hereafter on Tuesday, July 25th.
He was a 12 year-old pup and the much loved companion of our friend Mary Anne.

The following words come from the person who best knew Cooper.

From Mary Anne...

"Cooper was a yellow lab, though a lot of people asked if he was part Dane because he was so leggy and tall. He didn't have a single mean or aloof fiber in his body; strangers were just friends he hadn't met yet.

He lived to play fetch (eating came a distant second) and was happy to play with anyone who would throw a stick or ball or frisbee or pine cone. But, it was always my feet he would be curled up under at the end of the day, and I think he always kept tabs on where I was. Whenever we'd go hiking, he would run ahead up the trail but come back every couple of minutes and bump my hand with his nose before taking off again. Being a lab, he loved the water, even half-frozen Big Bear Lake in the middle of winter.

He had an exuberant life, and I often wished I could approach each day with even half my dog's attitude. Recently, when the eager light went out of his eyes and he showed no interest in balls, squeaky toys, swimming, kibbles, or my proximity, I knew it was time.... "

Click on photo to enlarge

Cooper endeared himself to Peggy and I during one of his first social events, a small gathering of wildlife biologists, botanists, muscians, old & young hippies, and other odd folks, including, of course, several dogs.

We were all just getting to know each other and came together at our house for the afternoon to share some food, stories, and music.

The appetizer was a giant bowl of home-made hummus in the center of the table, and, as we sat down to dip our chips, Cooper, always ready to play, tossed a big slobbery pine cone in the air, which went up over our heads and plopped right into the middle of the bowl of fresh hummus.

There was a moment of silence as we all sat there stunned, before breaking into hysterical laughter, tossing the pine cone back to Cooper, scooping up our hummus, and with some humility, delighting in being initiated to the slobbery spirit of Cooper's carefree dog silliness.

Cooper gave us a very funny moment, an ice-breaking test of just how down to earth our little group was, and I think we passed the test...

Today, in his memory, Peggy made up a bowl of hummus, I plopped a pine cone in it, and we toasted glasses of wine to Cooper.

Here's to you Boy!

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For David - Orb-Weaver - Topanga, CA - 1971

Click on photo to enlarge

I've been an absentee blogger for the past week or so and one of our local bloggers, David, commented that if I'm not going to blog I should at least go and visit his blog to identify a spider he photographed.

Well David, I'm no arachnid expert but your spider (nice photo by the way) appears to be very similar to this Orb-Weaver I photographed on my front porch in Topanga Canyon 35 years ago.

It spun the most beautiful symmetrical webs that were backlit each night by my porchlight. I was very protective of this spider and when anyone came in the yard I asked them to please avoid walking through the web, although I did accidently walk through it a few times myself, only to watch the spider patiently rebuild it in the very same place.

Another of the countless fascinating creatures that make our world so magic and interesting, and David, if you don't want that one around, you can always bring it over to Earth Home Garden and I'll give it a corner of the porch to decorate.

This type of Orb-Weaver is somewhat reluctant of biting people, and, from what I understand, only very mildly venomous if provoked to do so.

I've been too intoxicated with nature to sit at the computer much and I apologize again for neglecting my blog friends, but right now Earth Home Garden reminds me of a miniature version of Califonia's Central Valley "bee pastures" (pre-agriculture era) as described by John Muir in his book 'The Mountains Of California', and I just can't stand to be inside.

I took this photo on my front porch in September of 1971 with my brand new Nikon F1 (a luxury I could afford only because of my, also new, job as a postman). The picture was recently tweaked a little bit in Photoshop to enhance the image copied from a 35 year-old slide and emphasize the spider's striking design.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Fritillary With Yarrow...

Click on photo to enlarge

A Fritillary Butterfly with a beak nick in its wing visits native yarrow in the garden today.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

And A Good Mornin' To You...

Click on photo to enlarge - A bit of Earth Home Garden, 6:58 A.M.

Earth is our Home, the Garden of life...

The fabled Garden Of Eden is not lost, it's all around us...

...waiting for us to come home, and live within it, instead of upon it.

I belong to the Garden Of Earth, and cherish my place here...

...among all the other creatures our living symphony is composed of.

Peace and Love to you all...


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Greens, Eggplant, & Onions...

Click on photo to enlarge

Today, in this corner of the garden, we have Swiss Chard, Japanese Eggplant (with the purple flowers), Kale, Collard Greens, Red Lettuce, Onion, and more lettuce.
The tall lettuce in the left background was really delicious so we're letting that last plant go to seed for saving.
The big leaves in the lower right foreground mark the edge of the Rhubarb patch.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Wildfires And Mountain Living...

Click on photo to enlarge

We've had several phone calls & e-mails from friends concerned about the ongoing wildfires near us, and wondering if Big Bear is being evacuated again, so I thought I'd post this photo taken today, at 2:59 P.M. The photo was taken about a half-mile northwest of our house, which is back in those trees, just below the little yellow asterisk I placed there.

The smoke column rising from the Millard Complex Fire looks quite ominous here looming over Big Bear Valley, but the wind is actually blowing toward the fire from my vantage point there at the east end of the Stanfield Marsh, and keeping it from moving into our area.

The most recent news I heard was that the Sawtooth and Millard fires had merged creating something like a 20 mile long front of flames, and that the two fires, now combined, have consumed a total of nearly 65,000 acres, 45 homes, and another 100+ outbuildings, mostly in the high desert to the east of us.

At its closest point, the fire is now about 8 miles east of the valley, and as long as the prevailing westerly winds continue blowing we should be OK here, but you never know, nature is always unpredictable.

We're somewhat accustomed to impending disaster though, having lived on the edge, in fire, flood, and earthquake country all of our lives, so this is just another of those semi-regular events.

It seems to me that almost any place one lives these days is prone to some sort of disaster; landslides, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, gang violence, industrial chemical spills, terrorist attacks, war, floods, famine, fires, and earthquakes, so I guess we'll just stick with what we know.

In the early 1980s, Peggy and I stood side by side, by ourselves with a fire hose & nozzle, wet towels wrapped around our heads (a tip from the fire department that loaned us the hose), and flames all around, burning within a few yards of us, as we watered down and saved our friends home in Malibu Canyon, where were living at the time. And that's just one of several disasters we've lived through.

In the '60s, during one of Topanga Canyon's devastating floods, the house I lived in was buried by a landslide just seconds after I ran out the door, and the house we live in now survived the big '92 earthquake, structurally intact, but we sure had a mess to clean up inside, everything was upside down and broken.

So, if this fire does turn around and move in on us, you might find Peggy, Dallas, and I sitting out in the middle of the lake with a ringside seat and a cheap bottle of wine.

But Alas!

Poor Dallas is a teetotaler...

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Female Worker Bee On The Job...

Click on photo to enlarge

I'm totally consumed by the abundance of life in the yard right now. Countless insect pollinators of every shape, size, and description, are working over the tens of thousands of flowers now in bloom here, and yesterday, I counted 26 species of birds visiting our tiny piece of paradise.
The lovely Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) posing for me, a female worker, was photographed this morning as she collected pollen from a Prickly Poppy.
Note the bulging pollen sacs on her hind legs.

Canon S2 IS on Manual setting, Super-Macro mode, f/2.7 at 1/1000th of a second, no attachments.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Oriental Beauty...

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A gorgeous non-native drought-adapted Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) graces Earth Home Garden at 8:35 this morning.

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More Of Today In The Garden...

Click on photo to enlarge

Many of our Big Bear Native Plants are in peak bloom right now.
In the left foreground is California Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica) with red spires of Eaton's Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) to the right, and beyond that you can see the pale pinkish-purple of Bumble-Bee Penstemon (Penstemon grinnellii), Blue Flax (Linum lewisii), Palmer's Penstemon (Penstemon palmeri), the tall white paper-like flowers of Prickly Poppy (Argemone munita), and in the distant left a native Thistle (Cirsium occidentale), a butterfly favorite.

Below I have posted some detailed macro-photos of a few of these.

Click on photo to enlarge

Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

Click on photo to enlarge

California Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica)

Click on photo to enlarge

Eaton's Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

Click on photo to enlarge

This is another view of the garden today with some non-native Indian Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia pulchella) which have been in the garden since before we planted natives. I originally planted them from seed some 20 years ago and they come back every year in 2 or 3 places and I like the way they mix in with the natives. Indian Blanket Flower is a prairie flower native to the midwest. It is the State Flower of Oklahoma.
In the left background is our Giant Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus), and to the right of that are the tiny pink flowers of our native Wild Geranium (Geranium richardsonii).

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sleeping Outside...

Click on photo to enlarge

Peggy, Dallas, and I, spent the first night of July out on the deck, under a black mountain sky framed with Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pines, watching bats, stars, and clouds roll overhead until we all drifted off into our own dreamworlds.

Peggy and I agree it was the soundest sleep we'd had in weeks, but Dallas had no comment, he seems to think civilized dogs, and their people, sleep indoors.

Today our friends Craig and Pam are coming up from The Big Smoke (the L.A. Basin) and we're all off to a potluck BBQ beerfest at the east end of the valley.

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