Sunday, March 30, 2008

This Ain't Tink

Tessa Farmer's recent exhibit at London's Natural History Museum is titled Swarms and features fairies. These are not your Granny's type fairies, but instead malevolent little demons, she refers to as Hell's Angels. They are tiny, almost microscopic creatures made from pieces of roots. leaves, insects and other organic matter. Her image of fairies is in stark contrast with other sweeter, Tinkerbell type faires we sometimes imagine these come with a spooky preconceived plan to eventually attack humans. She has work featured at Saatchi Gallery.

"These winged creatures occupy a transitory state somewhere between existence and imagination, between life and death. Visually provocative they are macabre, yet strangely beautiful, combining elements of attraction and repulsion. Beautiful as they may seem to some, these are far removed from the benign gossamer beings of the Victorian era. "

This art definitely gives me another perspective on nature and folklore, something that I am always looking for.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Snake Oil and Loquats

I've been plagued with allergies, sniffles and a sore throat lately, and decided that today I would get out of the house. My daughter has been wanting to revisit the new Asian supermarket in Oklahoma City's Asian district.
I think that if I were locked in there, I would probably starve to death, the major cause being stupidity. I've never seen so many products and would have no idea how to cook any of them with the exception of the ramen noodles, some produce and a few meat and fish products. I know I could cook a catfish from the huge tank of live ones, if I could get someone else to clean it. So maybe I wouldn't starve after all.
But while shopping I came across this product. Loquat Extract. Did I know what it was for? No. That didn't stop me, it looked interesting and the ingredients sounded good, except that I had no idea what a loquat was.

Loquat plant with fruit. Note the shape of the leaves, similar to that of the instrument pipa.

Natural Herb Loquat Extract is a product of Hong Kong. The Chinese brand name, Poon Goor Soe (in mandarin Pan Gaoshou) is the name of the product's developer, the elderly gentleman pictured on the box cover (his assistant is pictured next to him). This formula has been made for decades and enjoys an international reputation for quality and effectiveness. The main ingredient of the extract formula is loquat (17%), for which the leaf and fruit are considered very useful in treating coughs and moistening dryness. The extract includes fritillaria bulb (15%, labeled incorrectly as lotus root in English), apricot seed (8%. labeled almond extract; apricot seed is known as bitter almond), platycodon root (7%), licorice root (5%), and peppermint (source of menthol, at 1%). It is prepared in a thin water-honey base.
Loquat leaf is often used in Chinese herb formulas and syrups to alleviate "lung heat" syndromes. These diseases are usually caused by infections, though they can arise from other causes, such as smoking. The main application of the syrup is coughs, but loquat leaves also are used to alleviate skin disorders of the face, which are often attributed also to lung heat. The loquat grows in semi-tropical climates, and is native to southeast China, mainly Guangzhou. It is now cultivated in California and Florida. The Chinese name for the loquat, pipa, comes from the appearance of the leaves, which are shaped similar to that of a stringed Chinese instrument (referred to as a Chinese lute) called the pipa (pee-pah). The dosing of the syrup is two teaspoonfuls each time, about 10 ml. This syrup can be taken 3 times a day, or more often if needed; a bottle contains 180 ml, sufficient for 18 doses. Each dose provides only 9 grams of sugars (mainly from the honey). On the package (under the portraits, is the original Chinese name of the formula, Chuanbei Pipa Gao, which translates to Fritillaria and Loquat Syrup. The Chinese name has been applied to many similar products, because the two named herbs are among the best for alleviating coughs. There is advice on the box (in Chinese) that others should perform acts beneficial to people and not counterfeit the product. Another Loquat Syrup from Hong Kong, Nim Jiom Pei Pa Kao, also has these two key ingredients, but in a thicker honey syrup, which, along with the secondary ingredients, makes that formula especially suitable for treating a scratchy or sore throat.

The Chinese instrument (referred to as a Chinese lute) called the pipa.

Maybe it was getting out of the house or maybe it was Poon Goor Soe's Loquat Extract that did it, but I'm feeling better!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Not Quite a Handful

Check out this Flickr group's pictures of Tiny Animals on Fingers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hedgehog Eggs

Where we live there are a lot of these. They are cockleburs, which grow on a weed. Very interesting seed pods that are usually about 3/4 to 1 inch long.
When they mature they attach themselves to anything they come in contact with, like velcro. It can take hours to remove them from a horse's mane and tail once they become entangled and there can sometimes be dozens on one animal. I hated getting them on my socks. But I guess this is just another of nature's way to disperse seeds.
My Nana would call those cockleburs, 'hedgehog eggs'. Wouldn't it be funny if they were?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pigment Free Friday

I love color and I love it when color is gone.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

If you build it they will come.

At least that's the theory if you are a male Bowerbird. There are as many nest building techniques as there are species of birds. One of the most unique and dare I say, artistic nest builders is the male Bowerbird, a native of Australia and New Guinea. He builds an elaborate 'bower' of foliage and twigs and decorates the 'yard' with miscellaneous collected articles, usually consisting of one color. The bird with the most pleasing arrangement wins the girl. Some country bowerbirds gather neutral monochromatic displays consisting of shells, bones, rocks and other items that appeal to them. While birds dwelling closer to humans can come up with a large variety of same colored items, like toy figures, toothbrushes, bottle caps, clothespins and any other item that suits their artistic palette. So while I've been busy gathering items I need to create assemblage art, I find that there birds that have been doing it for ages. Guess the saying "there is nothing new under the sun" applies here. Check out the article at Zymogyphic Museum for more info.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm a Little Slow

Aside from the incident at the grocery store, the one where I was going to wait outside in the car, I've always known that I'm a little slow. We were parked bumper to bumper with another car. The passenger of the other car was waiting outside also. He was a guy about 18 years old, who happened to have Down's Syndrome. I kind of waved at him and smiled, at which point he flashed me the old hand in the shape of an "L" to the forehead. You know the international sign for loser. So I was a little shocked and looked away, glancing back at him he did it again, and again and again for the 45 minutes it took my daughter to shop. By the time we left I knew that he knew, that I AM slow and you know, L to the forehead. My daughter gave me this CD to listen to about a year ago and finally I listened to it and love it. And I want one of these t-shirts. Check out their myspace page, Old Crow Medicine Show, you'll love them too.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Is it just me...

...or what? I think Cindy McCain just may be a daywalker.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Large Birds...

are laying eggs on my dining room table!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I Shot the Sheriff...

...but I didn't shoot any of these. There are advantages to living in Oklahoma and right around the corner from this place. I went shopping, here at Skulls Unlimited International. Where bones are their business their only business. If you have ever watched Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (yes, I admit it I have a crush on him) you may have seen this place. Their showroom has skulls of every type imaginable, including human and they have a skull and skeleton museum complete with the whale skeleton that Mike Rowe helped clean.
They carry skulls for teaching purposes, museum quality and museum quality replicas and for girls like me, the economy bag of art and craft quality skull assortment. I got a bobcat, fox, raccoon, possum, jackrabbit, turkey and squirrel and I didn't even have to poke them with a stick and drag them home. I am not cold hearted either as I unpacked each little package, I said, "poor bobcat, poor little fox..." and so on and so forth. I loved this place and recommend that if you can't go in person at least visit them at:
Skulls Unlimited, Intl.
and you can see the clips from Dirty Jobs on their myspace page,
Skulls Unlimited Myspace Page

Wabi-Sabi not Wasabi

Today's post won't be about the little ball of green stuff that makes ones sinuses explode. But about an Asian philosophy that appears to describe a concept that I've embraced for a long time. I started my morning blog browsing by clicking on High Desert Diva which took me to Little Brown Sparrow, which in turn led me to Froth from Walt, who had posted on Wabi-Sabi, a very interesting philosophy related to the Japanese tea ceremony. Very cerebral and somewhat complicated by definition, but still facinating. His series of posts give a very concise and thorough explanation of this but for my feeble brain I turned to the "cowboy poet", Baxter Black to get me through the ins and outs of it. Guess he speaks not only the same language but also the same dialect as I do.

Baxter Black on Wabi-Sabi
I was at the sale barn recently and heard one farmer say to another, "Feng shui is passé." "I know," said the second, stuffing a cabbage-sized wad of Redman in his cheek, "Wabi Sabi is back."
I thought, Chinese food? Exotic cattle? Martial arts? A new Secretary of the United Nations? No...a style for decor, as in Louie the XIV, Tudor or Southwestern.
While Feng Shui represents neatness, clean lines and proper placement, Wabi Sabi embodies the idea that imperfection is beautiful; that flaws enhance rather than detract.
Imagine a new milking parlor, a new feedlot or a veal barn; shiny silver rails, painted walls, pipe fence, sparkling dials, clean floors, well-lighted, easy access, heavily financed...Feng Shui.
Now picture a rusting, one tongue manure spreader filled with flowers, your dad's old spittoon holding flowers, or a weathered old boot containing flowers...Wabi Sabi.
I can think of many examples of Feng Shui operations. The vegetable farmers in Colorado and California that farm right up to the edge of the house. In the spring it almost looks like they prune each plant so they look exactly alike...or those farms in Iowa or Tennessee where each lawn is 2 1/2 sections and they mow it right up to the highway. Or any small Mormon town in Utah; houses painted, fences tight and rose bushes trimmed, picture perfect.
So, you must be thinking, that means I'm not a too tired, too poor, too tight, too dumb farmer...I am merely practicing Wabi-Sabi. Sorry, boys, one of the rules: "If you thought the `life experience' of the '86 Plymouth up on blocks in your front yard made it more beautiful, that would be Wabi Sabi. But if you couldn't afford any better, or were too lazy to move it, that would not."
There would appear to be a fine line between Wabi-Sabi and poor facilities, i.e., a broken latch on a swingin' gate that you've been baler twining since your daughter went off to college, a box of dull drill bits that are gathering dust beside the Drill Doctor, or the tangled mane of the old horse you turned out last fall.
Maybe as one gets older the more we value Wabi Sabi; the carving knife that grows smaller every year, the dogs that get grayer, the pickup that just keeps puttering along, the fallin' down fence your dad built, the unused clothesline, all things you could easily replace but somehow, you don't. Because you look at yourself in the mirror every day and, without your glasses you can't see the wrinkles quite so easily or the hair growing out of your ears. And you like to think you've still got a lot of life left in you, like that new saddle with the leather worn smooth that you bought...however many years ago.
It dawns on me, I'm not just practicing Wabi Sabi, I'm it!

Wabi-sabi, speaks of the beauty of things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.

I'll leave you with that thought and will prepare for my next post on the field trip that I took yesterday. It was lots of fun for me, but slightly embarrassing for my entourage (my daughter).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Never in all my born days...

have I seen the likes of what this girl can create. So strange and magical. Their hypnotic creepiness turns into awe and amazement. It is so amazing that the creepy scary things that remind some of death and destruction are to me beautiful reminders of life. Please visit her website to check out both her and her husband's art. You will not be disappointed. Jessica Joslin.

Monday, March 3, 2008

No One Knew Doris Could Fly

Doris would have been my husband's aunt, but she was killed in a car accident when she was 12. The car was driven by her brother.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Living Jewels

It's true I am quite obviously obsessed with nature and all of her creations. Who would think that such beautiful things exist? Check out Poul Beckman's books Living Jewels Natural Design 1 and 2.