Friday, January 27, 2012

Just an Old Dead Tree

The other day a pair of pileated woodpeckers came flying through the trees in the yard. They are always an awesome site; wide wing span and wobbly headed, their call precedes them.

For years they have come to the yard and what do they seek out? The dead wood in the trees. They eat any bugs that inhabit the branches and bark.

Tom and I have always left old dead trees, being careful to cut down to a point that part of any tree that could dangerously fall on the house or my beloved patio.  Hurricanes visiting every year or so has lead us to make that decision. We leave this botton part of the tree, or the dead tree itself if it isn't in a troublesome spot, for the very purpose of attracting the pileated woodpeckers and allowing housebuilding for other birds and mammals.

 In my little corner of the world, I can see the variety of life nesting within the confines of the old dead trees, like the Eastern Screech Owl and the Red Bellied Wood peckers, as well as the insects and the anoles (lizards).

On a greater scale, nearly a third of all forest creatures depend on trees at all various ages and stages of life for their survival. Healthy forests need to contain trees of all ages, even standing old dead trees. Even fish benefit from trees that have fallen into stream channels and use them as nurseries. I just read that wood ducks like to use cavities in old dead trees by water to raise their young. Sweet.


Old dead trees tend to have large branches break off and create an area that is called a snag. This snag is prime real estate for nest building.

Actually, when a nesting pair chooses their home snag, they come back year after year after year to raise young. This is true for the American Bald Eagle, the Great Horned Owl (who actually likes to move into a preowned model); and Coopers Hawks.

Also, snags are loved by mammals, like raccoons and bats (especially if their are cavities adjacent). 


Black bear coming out of hibernation.

Holes are made in the trunks of old dead trees over time or are easily made, the animals who love these are the cottontail rabbit, red fox, striped skunk, and if you live in an area with the habitat, the Black Bear.

Actually, on a hike one time in the Appalachian Mountains, I saw a Black Bear in a tree cavity. I didn't know for certain until I got home and read that this is indeed a hibernation home, an old dead tree, for the Black Bear.

The pictures below are of old dead trees protected by individuals, societies, or communities that have realized that the from death comes life.

Some are just taken by the photographer because of the awesome beauty and untold story of an old dead tree.

I am always reminded of this pattern in life: from death comes life, when I come across the growth of resurrection fern on the rotting log of an old dead tree. The fern was named because of the very notion that from death comes life.

Oh, yes, I didn't even go over all the plant life, flora, that loves an old dead tree. But, that my friends, is another story....

To everyone all over the word PLEASE leave your dead trees standing!

These last two pictures are of the two trees, old dead trees, that are existing in the yard at this time. Slowly, they are contributing to the future of so many tomorrows. 

I hope in some way, the beauty you have seen in the old dead trees, and the realization of the life they actually cradle, will open your heart to allow one to " do their thing," slowly in your yard next time it dies. Maybe you could just leave just a little, cutting only the top part that could be a potential harm to your home or structures.  If you do, you'll be amazed at the life you'll be able to witness. Get your camera ready!!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Seasons in Florida

When the Season passes to this one: No Mosquito Season in Florida, my mind wonders to living in the Tree House.

The cool breeze of the North Florida woods lightly lifts the ivy from the window sills as I mix the granola.

Masala has to be lifted by a levy these days; his arthritis prevents him from making it up the stairs.

Like always, we backpack the cats up. There are just two these days.

The parrot, Emmett, comes up in his little "travel cage."

Tom and I, with cracking knees, hardly make it up without injury.

But, when we settle in, warm blankets all about, the futon bed we carried up years ago in the corner; we read (our e-readers replacing our bags of paperbacks from days past) and drink our chai or coffee in front of the little wood stove.

We can bathe in the light of the waning moon as it shines through the panes of glass above. Later, the stars, in the darkened sky, are like a magical show above.

Tonight, the temperature won't drop to freezing, so I'll be able to enjoy the lullaby of the forest: the pines as they dance in the starlight, the critters as they charm the forest beneath me, without the chattering of my teeth vanquishing all other sounds.

Our breathing and night sounds will, these nights, be a part of the forest; while we breathe in the exhaled oxygen of the trees, they will breathe in our exhaled carbon dioxide. We will sleep in symbiotic relationship.

As a treat for all who would love such a scenario, as would I, the following photographs are chosen for your delight.

Enjoy your daydreams about treedreams.


All these pictures I was so fortunate to find on Pinterest. However, over the pins, the original photographer credits were lost on each. They are not mine. I give honor to whoever had the glorious adventure and the beutiful eye to share these with others.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Eating Seasonally

In addition to Reusing and Recycling, I also try to choose produce that is organic and In Season. Florida may not have "the Seasons" that bring crisp bright leaves falling from the trees and sweaters and then coats out of the closets at regular intervals every year; but by eating Seasonal produce, I can make my life feel that annual change as well as keep the impact of the cost of my foods resource to get to my table at a minimum.

Winter, obviously, is the most challenging in choosing fresh, locally grown produce.

We can't - of course - have a ready knowledge of our community's larder and what has been stored since the local harvest to help sustain us through the Winter or what has just recently been shipped over from Central Africa to reach the produce bin at Publix. So although the stores my have bountiful supplies of strawberries and grapes and bananas; it is not what is in my hemisphere's growth pattern.

Because, I want to pick my food choices by what is seasonal and regional, and because it is Winter, I am limited right now on having many produce choices. I tend to make breads the most in Winter. I also cook grains and add nuts and seeds to dishes in the Winter more often than at other times of the year.

This is not at all suffering, not picking whatever is on the shelves of the big grocery shelves. I find it exciting to live within the seasons. In the heat of Summer, I sometimes find myself thinking, longfully, of the day, in Winter, when I will be preparing and eating a nice warm barley soup with a big hunk of homemade rye bread; something as I sit down to my cool Summer salads, I wouldn't have on the table. Just last week I had that nice bowl of barley soup with fresh rye bread!

I put together a list for Winter in-season produce in North America (below). I keep a list on my refrigerator. It makes meal planning and grocery shopping according to each Season relatively easy.

North America Winter Produce Remember, you can enjoy the taste of any fruit or vegetable year-round. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice – it all counts! But, try organic as much as possible.

Apples (Southeastern Region)

Brussels Sprouts (Southeastern Region)

Buttercup Squash

Cactus Pear

Collard Greens (Southeastern Region)



Delicata Squash

Grapefruit (Southeastern Region)

Kale (Southeastern Region)


Leeks (Southeastern Region)

Oranges (Southeastern Region)

Passion Fruit

Spinach (Southeastern Region)

Sweet Dumpling Squash (Southeastern Region)

Sweet Potatoes (Southeastern Region)

Tangerines (Southeastern Region)

Turnips (Southeastern Region)

Winter Squashes

 Just yesterday I made a potato and leek pie. I think that the leek is my favorite Winter vegetable. Tom loves the winter squashes and I can cook them probably one hundered ways as well as prepare them "raw" another 25; but I like the leek!

What is your favorite Winter produce? How do you like to prepare your cooking and baking to the Seasons?

Joyful Kitchen Dancing!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Mini Album

I like this little mini album because it is a way of recycling not just on the book, but by reusing many materials and having fun.

I should have shown the steps from the start; however, they are not difficult to visualize.

1. Scavenge: The album usually originates as a child's tiny cardboard book, or it could possibly be one of those little adult inspirational books. The ones that are for children are often of the Christian faith and found in the children's section. They are best to find used because of the cost, so have a nice hunt at the second hand book stores or book stalls at the fleas. For the mini albums, I keep a box for little pieces of ribbon, paper, buttons, sticks, tags from clothing and food items, and other interesting items that I think I would be able to use again and add to it as I find things "fun and functional."

2. Prepare Surface: Once you have the book, lightly sandpaper the pages. Then give them a once over with white gesso. After that you can paint, seal, paper or do whatever turns you on. There are endless possibilities and the tags and additions are all recycled papers and tags from different projects and "stuff." You can treat these just like any mini album  and You tube gives you an endless array of ideas for decorating in short videos. I have only done three and have two more books left. I even have one book that has cut out "windows" throughout.

3. Have Fun: I put this one together for my Mother's nurse. My Mom wanted to give her something "Japanese" because she had just adopted a little girl from Japan.  I tried to incorporate Japanese oldschool and newschool prints as well as "young" happy book about new life.

Now, I can start some other things that have been boiling inside. Like the crotchet mandala-dreamcatchers.  I was messing around with some materials last night and came up with these little Snow Bees. They are really tiny, about the size of the pinkie finger and half the length. Since I named them, they have grown little wings (feathers). I plan on hooking a few of them to colorfully adorned slight branches and placing them in vintage glass vases.
This weekend I am going to go looking for the vases at the thrift stores.

Until later.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Few Warm Thoughts on a Cold Morning

I have had such a garbled mind these last few weeks that when I have come to post, I either rambled and left the post in the draft area or I just deleted the few words I could manage to put to type. The same seemed to be true for the crafts I started for my Etsy shop and for those projects that I have on hold.  However, I had a "knock down" illness over New Years. It took me out for three days. Really. I did have good medicine to help me sleep through it! And, when I awoke, I believe I finally managed to have a new look around me. Maybe there was one last obstacle in my way that I needed to psychologically move.

My Winter Gypsy

Well, today, I feel my gypsy muse calling me into the New Year. I decided that this is the Year of the Gypsy.

My sister and I can't mention our "gypsy selves" around my Mom. She is Hungarian; that type of Hungarian that has a nose up about the gypsy. Too bad, because her Mother supposedly had some pretty colorful stories about the old country. Sometimes the love of these things skip generations, yes?

This is my Winter gypsy. She calls from my past, from the great Steppes of China to the Heves horse plains of Hungary. The light of campfires and stars shine about her, energizing her with a warmth I feel in times of need.

Like a cloak, she envelopes my cold, beaten down bones, my aching mind and warms them; she like a mother of old, is from the Earth.

January's Gypsy is here for strength and warmth and renewal.

I am going to make some gypsy Hamsa pieces for the shop. Also some fairy tale pieces. 

I saw this on the Free People DIY website and I want to make one for myself and maybe put one up on the shop also. I won't make my piece as big as this. I'll post it once I get it finished. Check out the FP's DIY site  it has more little projects. I'm working on a little book for my Mother's nurse right now and that is taking some time (I'll show that in another post).

I finally decided on a headboard for the bed. It was a little agonizing. I have a futon and the headboard is difficult. We had been sleeping with the bed diagonal to the corner of the wall for years, so no headboard was needed. But, we recently bought a "fireplace" for the bedroom so we spend more time in here - reading. So, a headboard to fluff pillows up to is compulsory.

The headboard was on sale - 1/2 price at Pier One.

Tom and I found the mirror on a typical "trash pickin" sunny afternoon. It was pepto bismal pink with green ivy painted on it. I painted it the same color as the jewelry armour we bought at the Salvation Army for $20.00. By painted, I mean I took Red Mahogany stain and actually paint the piece. I like the look of that "overly stained" that you sometimes get from a piece that would come from Indonesia or India - a not very expensive piece.

I am working a shelf with two brackets that will go under the mirror. I want to put on it a few Indian and Moroccan candle lanterns. I love the amber colors in the bedroom.

The "fireplace" is actually a heater that looks like a fireplace. I put it up on an old hope chest (that is less three inches in height because it is missing it bottom border); so it looks like it is on a hearth.

I have also started a great book. I trudged through Like Water for Chocolate. Now, I loved the movie. However, the book, with the back and forth love addiction, and couldn't get it together pages and pages, and with my garbled mind, I kept falling asleep while reading it at night before bed. But I picked this book up just last night; and I admit I read too late into the night because it was so good. The book is, Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris. Barnes & Noble site for Five Quarters of the Orange. I hope it remains as interesting as the first couple of chapters!

This is how cold it was last night. Goodness. Cats and Dogs sleeping together. Masala and Alobar always were close buddies. Kudra, however, rather be cold than cuddle in with a dog (or Tom).

Well, I hope for you all the relief of untangling your thoughts and ideas one by one so that you can have a year of plentiful accomplishments and adventure.


"My Winter Gypsy" is from Ancester connection vogue germany. photographer ruven afanador. december 2002