Knit Your Vegetables

Jung-Jung-VegetablesJung-Jung-plants The detailed needlework pins created by Japanese artist, Itoamika Jung Jung are simply nutritional fiber candy for the summer soul. Using lace threads in muted colors, these jewels embody everything fine in nature.

I’m at a loss to even speculate what level of finite skill it takes to create such exquisite representational fruits, vegetables and flowers from minuscule needles and lace yarn.

Do I have the patience required to knit with lace? No. But, I just had to order Jung Jung's book, Knots, Itoami Plants.

Is this not perfection for the first day of summer?

Credit © Itoamika Jung Jung via Pinterest

Backyard Bear

YES, that is a bear in my backyard.

YES, YES, that is a bear in front of the studio/office.

YES, YES, YES, that is a bear eyeing the one remaining birdfeeder we left up.

YES, YES, YES, YES, that is a bear hugging a tree because my dogs caught the vibe and were barking like crazy.

I could not bring myself to write about this right away, as it scared the living daylights out of me. All four of us, and my son’s girlfriend were home when the visitor appeared in my backyard. They were totally smitten by the uninvited guest. I freaked.

My husband and daughter sprang into paparazzi mode, and my son eventually ran out (which made me totally nuts) and scared it away.

I showed these photographs to a few friends. From their gaping expressions, they will probably never visit my home again. In fact, I showed the images to my friend's Janet and Danny, and when Janet visited this week, I could tell that her bear antennae was working overtime as she tip-toed (in her high heels) out of her car. Her husband, New Yorker cartoonist, Danny Shanahan then published this cartoon:

Check out the whole bizarre bear story here and find out what to do if you have a bear in your backyard.

Have you had any experiences with bears in your yard? If so, please tell me before I visit.

Photo Credit: Ted Fink Cartoon: Danny Shanahan for the New Yorker

Lessons From A (Pet) Heron

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s Party!” ~ Robin Williams

With all the rain, the flowers are bursting, the grass is growing, and the birds have renewed their vow to come back and nest in inconvenient places (right over my back door). Just when I thought the party was under control, my two dogs began their early morning spring barking frenzy. 5AM is now the new 8.

A Pond Story

As the sun began to rise, the pooches were falling all over each other at the glass doors - clamoring to get out to the deck that leads to the pond. After brewing my tea, I checked out the commotion. Standing elegantly on sinewy legs, was the same great blue heron that graced my pond last year. Here she stood...again, with one of our last remaining fish dangling from her beak. I opened the door and let the dogs go crazy. But, this heron is wise to my canines. She stoically turned from the beasts, walked over to a bench, glanced to the sky, then she glided up to perch on a tall tree that overhangs the pond. The heron held its ground while the guys went bananas.

When the saga began last spring, I watched helplessly as my koi fish became gourmet chow for a "scattering" of herons. This year, I'm taking a different tack...

Learning From The Heron

The last few days, I purposely woke in the wee hours to grab a glimpse of beauty radiating from this magnificent and massive creature. Refusing to be bullied, while obliterating the aquatic life in my pond, these birds have proven to me that with a quiet confidence and slow and steady wing beats, a seemingly calm temperament can ward off a multitude of dangerous situations. If two ninety-pound barking dogs don't faze the living daylights out of these birds, it would seem not much would.

Native Americans consider the great blue heron to be nature’s representation of the ability to evolve and find one’s own way. Herons are believed to reflect the journey of self-realization and clarity of purpose. The heron's long delicate legs are likened to unusual pillars of strength. Standing still, waiting patiently, and going forward with inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination are judgment skills worth learning from the heron. Her noble stature seems to go with the flow, as she welcomes the elements of nature. Thus, my heron is truly a gift, (wrapped up in a natural lifecycle eating package).

Yes, I loved my colorful koi. Now I love my heron.

Credit: Ted Fink

Conserve Water With a DIY Rain Chain (with video)

“Sustainability isn’t just about the way we build. It is a state of mind. Good design embodies, there inspires and nurtures that way of thinking and living.” ~ Michelle Kaufmann Last summer, I was sitting enjoying a warm downpour in my garden screened-in porch, when my roof gutter gave way. It was like a dam had broken, and the water started to funnel down like an inverted geyser. I watched, as my usually thirsty plants started to look like drowned rats. The water poured down with no rhyme or reason in a steady gush. It was in that moment that I had a glimmer of recollection about ogling over rain chains that were displayed at a recent design show. These attractively designed rain chains looked something like this, and might just be the solution for the drainage problem.

About Rain Chains According to Harvest H20: “Rain chains (‘Kusari doi’ in Japanese) offer a highly attractive and unique alternative to traditional downspouts. They are hung from the corners of your roof or canal to guide the flow of water into large barrels to catch the water from the roof for household purposes and gardening. They have been used for hundreds of years in Japan, and are a perfect expression of the Japanese knack for combining aesthetics and practicality.” 5 Reasons To Put Up a Rain Chain 1. Rain chains can provide a managed runoff solution that direct water away from the roof alleviating the chance for leaking, soil degradation and erosion. ?2. Along with rain barrels, rain chains are an eco-minded water solution that can aid in collecting water for later household usage. 3. Rain chains provide an enjoyable tranquil water feature that can be used to enhance ponds and gardens. 4. Rain chains are low-maintenance. 5. You can make one yourself!

DIY Rain Chain I’ve followed sustainable building architect, Michelle Kaufmann for years. She is a pioneer in the field of green building. Michelle shares the inspiration from one of her clients who, "...incorporated rain chains to take the rainwater from the roof and direct it down to the reflecting pools and planters, thus conserving water by not using fresh drinking water for irrigation, but rather functionally using rain water. Not only does this help reduce storm water run-off (which is increasingly becoming a problem in many jurisdictions), but it also visually celebrates the water beautifully. This move takes something that is typically seen as a problem or a challenge and makes it into an opportunity for nature as art."

DIY Eco-Gift For The Worker On Your Holiday List

What's a worker with an eco-conscious to do when each day you look over your computer, and notice the wastebasket of your officemate fill up with crumpled paper, junk mail, faxes, post-its, newspapers and plastic water bottles?

The new year is the perfect occasion (excuse) to deploy an eco-agenda on a work space. Want to give a satisfying gift? Give a worker something that gives a green nod to the planet.

Do you know someone who uses a number-a-day calendar? Those calendars throw out 365 sheets of paper a year, and continue the cycle of paper waste.

Give an EcoBotanical Calendar and ring in a sustainable new year. Print 12 plantable pages made from 100% post-consumer waste and soy or veg-based inks. When the month passes, your office worker can plant the seed infused page outside the office window and enjoy the view - wildflowers instead of a mountain of landfill waste.

CLICK HERE for 15 ways to curb office waste.

Photos: Botanical Paperworks