Egret visits the garden

Our garden spreads gloriously beneath my office window. Thanks to the mild Northern California weather and George’s green thumbs, I always have orchids and other blooming plants to admire. The garden also attracts a diverse family of critters; hummingbirds, scrub jays and squirrels are our most common visitors for meals and shelter. Once in a great while more exotic friends drop by, and this week I’ve been entranced by the Great White Egret that first flashed by my window on Wednesday to settle onto the roof next door. For two days I stalked it with my camera, as it stalked its prey – gazing intently from neighbors’ roofs and trees into the creek behind us, the pond next door (George’s fingers crossed that our deep garden pond will protect our fish), and searching the thicket of foliage for mice or gophers.

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Read my earlier posts about visits from Great Blue Herons!

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Garden Delights Gala – new arts & crafts!

My yearly gala, the Garden Delights Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show, is the first 2 weekends of December this year! The Show is at my art studio on December 1-2 and 8-9, from 11 am to 5 pm – or by appointment at your convenience.

Studio

I’m proud to show my photos and mixed-media artwork & crafts, and also upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric. Also new this year -hand-knits! Fashionable fingerless mitts …

… keep your hands cozy during mild winter weather …

… and fancy lace pattern washcloths …

… pair with George’s brand new soaps for a great gift …

Please stop by to relax during the holiday rush, enjoy snacks, and chat. Never any pressure to buy, but if you’ve got a list I’ve got a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts, for yourself and for friends and family – including pets!

Jewelry, wearable art, purses, cards & prints, boxes, home decor, beeswax candles, and more! Our honeybees blessed us with a great harvest of delicious honey, which many people swear help their pollen allergies.

Local honey

Want a postcard reminder sent to your mailbox, or would you like to drop by at a time that’s more convenient for you? Email me. Can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online? Click these links:

Website

Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop

Facebook

Save the Date! Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show

My yearly gala, the Garden Delights Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show, will be the first two weekends of December, so please save the date! If you want a postcard reminder sent to your mailbox email me your address.

The Show is at my art studio on December 1-2 and 8-9, from 11 am to 5 pm (or by appointment).

Studio

I’m so proud to show off my new photos, designs, and mixed-media artwork and crafts, and just as excited about my upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric destined for landfill.

Come see my handmade bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders, all from fabric books and silk neckties; and envelopes and other paper crafts I make from outdated calendars and books. I’ve also been busy assembling kits and supplies for paper and fabric artists and crafters, ideal as a gift for yourself or for anyone who loves to create mixed-media, collage, book, and mail art.

Upcycled garland

Stop in to relax during the holiday rush, enjoy snacks, and chat. Never any pressure to buy, but if you’ve got a list you’ll find a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts (for yourself and for friends and family – including pets), at all different prices.

Jewelry, wearable art, purses, cards and prints, boxes, home decor, books, beeswax candles, and more! Our honeybees blessed us with a great harvest of delicious honey, which many people swear help their pollen allergies.

Local honeyAnd a new batch of soap – plus Honey Kissed lotion and lip balm, handcrafted by George from our honey and wax!Honey kissed

Can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online? Click these links:

Website

Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop

Facebook

Vintage Thanksgiving Postcard

Happy Thanksgiving! As anger swirls and turmoil upsets days and plans, giving thanks and gratitude is one way I focus on what’s important to me. During these hard times I give heartfelt thanks for friends who battle for justice and freedom.

And while I strive with my friends for progress, I value precious pieces of paper that send messages of fellowship from the distant past.

used-2016-from-farm-small

This eternal sentiment in poetic form: “From farm and field come nature’s yield / In the rich autumn weather / From out the scattered walks of life / The household circle meets together.” And at the end: “May you enjoy this Thanksgiving”

The back of the postcard reads: “Dear Little Adah, I received your card and it was very cute. This turkey looks very good, the one on the other side. Love to you all. Arnolda.”

thanksgiving postcard back used small.jpg

The postmark is from San Jose California, November 25, 1913. The postal cancellation advertises the coming World’s Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, 1915.

Some more vintage Tgiving cards for you! My 2015 post.  My 2014 post. And my 2013 post

Monarch Butterflies, in Berkeley?!

For years, George and I have trekked to Albany Hill to count the monarch butterflies for the annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, started by the Monarch Program in 1997. The largest clusters we’ve seen at Albany Hill arrived in 2011.

Monarchs wintering on Albany Hill

Monarchs wintering on Albany Hill in 2011, copyright Heidi Rand

Although numbers decreased for the past few years, early reports for 2015 from citizen spotters are markedly up. Most exciting locally is the discovery of a new clustering site in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park! The news quickly spread from hard-core monarch researchers to locals who had never seen the splendor of monarchs clustering, reported in an excellent article by Elaine Miller Bond on the Berkeleyside news site.

George and I rushed to see them yesterday. We had been told they were near the 14th basket of the disc-golf course, an easy walk from the Park’s north parking lot. Even without seeing many monarchs flying around in the clear winter sky, we couldn’t miss the spot where gawkers gathered beneath an ash tree with cameras and binoculars pointed up.

Monarch butterflies clustering at Aquatic Park

We estimated at least a thousand butterflies were clustering, and figured possibly double that many were flying around and would join the clusters for warmth and protection at sunset.

Monarch butterflies clustering at Aquatic Park

We watched for an hour as monarchs danced; leaving clusters to fly about and then return. Entranced, we marveled and shared information with people gathered there about planting milkweed, raising butterflies, and other local overwintering sites.

Monarch butterflies clustering at Aquatic Park

A closeup shows most of the cluster with wings closed, and one female (the male has two large spots near the veins at the bottom wing) with her wings open.

Monarch butterflies clustering at Aquatic Park

Have you seen any monarch butterflies in your garden or at an overwintering site? Do you grow milkweed or provide nectaring plants for butterflies and birds? For more information, and photos and stories about our adventures watching and raising monarch butterflies, see my prior blog posts:

Monarch Butterfly Mating Dance

More Monarch Butterflies

A Monarch Butterfly Visits the Garden

Monarch Butterfly Emerges

Monarch caterpillar to chrysalis

First monarch caterpillar emerges

Monarch eggs in the garden!

A Very Butterfly Day

A Butterfly Born on the 4th of July

Finally, if you’re a local, I’d like to cordially invite you to my Holiday Gift Sale and Art Show, the first two weekends of December. I have lots of monarch and other butterfly-related photos and artwork and crafts that I make from my nature photographs. Click here for all the deets.

Anise swallowtail butterflies return

The calendar says it’s summer, but my weatherman (aka George) observes: Brrrrr … . Happily, despite our fog and chilly temps, the Anise Swallowtail butterflies are here on schedule. I haven’t seen any adults visit the garden, but they’re leaving precious yellow eggs on the fennel. The egg on top was probably laid today, the one with darkening bands was likely laid several days ago. This is an extreme closeup shot – the eggs are smaller than the head of a pin.

Anise swallowtail butterfly eggs

I took this photo in 2013 of a female laying an egg (ovipositing) on the same fennel plant.

Anise swallowtail butterfly laying egg on fennel

We keep the eggs and caterpillars inside in a net cage where we feed them and keep the chrysalises safe until the adult butterflies emerge. We also rescued several caterpillars from a plant in our neighborhood that has been cut down in previous years. This guy just shed his skin (on the right).

Anise swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

See how coloration varies in different larval stages.Anise swallowtail butterfly caterpillars

So far one adult has emerged.

Anise swallowtail butterfly emerged

When the sun finally came out I put her onto a lily plant on the deck, and after a minute or so she happily flew away.

Want to see more of these wonderful butterflies and their life cycle?

My 2013 post about anise swallowtail butterflies.

And from 2012.  Another from 2012.  And another!

And from 2011.  Another from 2011. And another!

 

 

Bees Are Bustin’ Out All Over

In the middle of a jam-packed weekend George got the kind of call that makes him drop everything and jump into the car: there’s a swarm of bees in a tree near where you live, do you want to get it? 99% of the time the answer is Hell yeah! So equipped with beekeeper suit and nuc box, a’ gathering we went, George singing: “June June June, and bees are bustin’ out all over!” Oh, a nuc box is a half-sized beehive with 5 frames instead of the regular 10, set up to catch and transport bees.

Zowie! The largest swarm I’ve ever seen was settled in a fig tree in the back garden of a house the next town over from us.Swarm of honeybees

George’s Plan: set the nuc box on top of the fence, and the leftover honey and wax on the frames in the box will lure the bees to move into their yummy new home.

Bee swarm

And in they went.

Honeybee swarm

At dusk, when all of the girls had found their way into the nuc box, George sealed it up and brought them to their new home in a friend’s large sunny garden. We checked on the hive yesterday and were overjoyed to see that these hard-working girls have in a week already built comb on 4 of the 5 frames!

Bee swarm

Take a look at the magnificent queen!

Queen Honeybee

George uploaded a short video he took of the bees marching into the nuc box.

This is my post about a swarm George caught earlier this year, using a bee vacuum.

And click here to read my post about the process George and our friend Joan went through to catch a swarm in her garden.