Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hookah-smoking Caterpillar Discovered

Nature never fails to amaze and entertain. I can almost hear strains of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly in the background (a song said to have actually been 'In the Garden of Eden' but slurred by who knows what substance in the 60's).

Thanks to another inquisitive local mind (Gale) Debbie's unusual caterpillar has been identified as the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia). I've seen and photographed the moth in my front yard before, and it is huge, apparently the largest moth in North America with a wingspan of 5 to 6 inches. According to what I've read they are often referred to as silkworm moths and are in the family Saturniidae.

The creature is eating a Vitex (Vitex agnus castus) tree. That's trippy enough as the plant is used in many pharmaceuticals today for a variety of illnesses. Also called the Chaste Berry tree, in folk medicine the berries help women with a number of female disorders, and the leaves used in a tea reportedly work as an anti-Viagra for men.

A Rose is a Rose

[ Except, of course, when it's the blossom of a Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia engelmanii).]

Another moist spring day, not what we usually expect but are grateful for nonetheless. I cannot get Avo's video to load, but I'll keep trying. Perseverance seems to be the secret to posting any video to the blog.

Since the Blow Dry episode, Avo the rooster has begun courting me with the wing and peck dance as he does Phoebe the blind sheep. I suppose in his mind my little act of kindness has given me passage into his harem.

Today I saw a flower blooming in my creek that I don't recognize. It's always nice to be a botanist and be stumped by something new, especially from your own place. Also, a neighbor introduced me to a yet-to-be-identified psychedelic-looking caterpillar that I photographed yesterday. I'll post those photos as soon as I know what they are.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Avo at the Salon

We've been having numerous thunderstorms, heavy rains, hail, and tornado watches over the past three weeks. During one of these Avo decided to sit on the gate and wait for us to put him up instead of seeking shelter. He was one bedraggled, wet chicken. This is the second time I've brought him in to dry him off. Both times he has acted as if a rooster getting a blow dry was the most commonplace event. Maybe all chickens secretly enjoy going to the salon, but my only experience is with this crazy one. For those of you with something beyond a wood-burning modem, I'll post a video of this for your enjoyment.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Finch Scarf

This is my first bird scarf, approximately 8 inches wide and 54 inches long, already sold. It's actually done with dye--not paint--which means I used a resist to contain the colors, then washed the resist out and used black to paint over the white batik lines. This lends suppleness to the piece that paint would not allow.
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