Feathered Friends


Sculptural Bird Feeder

Art.  Sculpture.  Bird feeder.  All in one!  This hand crafted, beautifully intricate sculpture by Missouri artist Joe Papendick is welded from steel & copper and stands approximately 6′ tall.    An “I-beam” shaped base on the bird feeder is securely welded to the upright support, and allows for placement 8-10″ deep into the ground.  A stainless steel screen keeps the bird seed dry and will never rust through.  A lovely verdigris copper hood gives some protection from rain, wind, and sun, and is as beautiful as the birds that will feed beneath it.  I love the fine intertwining metal “branches”, and can imagine that this piece would indeed be very difficult for any bird to resist, as it will provide both a feast and a welcoming refuge.

All new work currently in progress can be seen on Joe’s blog.  In addition to lovely pieces such as this that deftly imitate nature, Joe has some wonderful contemporary designs, including one which was featured in the April 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  His earlier work was featured on the HGTV series “I Want That” back in 2006.   He is also a featured Etsy seller.



Watercolor Parakeet

This precious little watercolor piece is from Welsh artist Alison Fennell’s Etsy shop Eastwitching.  This 8×010 inch print is of Bertie.  Alison states that he is “a real busybody and loves a cup of tea. I had fun painting his plump little body in some of my fave shades of turquoise, lime green and aqua.”  Watercolors have always been a favorite medium of mine; I just love the light and translucent quality they bring to an art piece.  Be sure to check out Alison’s “About” page in Etsy, to follow her interesting story about her life and art.  Looking for more whimsical animals?  She has many, many to choose from, so have fun browsing!

The high resolution and quality of these prints on archival authentic Epson Radiant White paper makes them almost impossible to tell apart from an original.  They are packaged in a clear cello sleeve (including certificate of authenticity) with a piece of rigid cardboard for stability, then placed in a sealed waterproof plastic mailer for complete shipping protection.



Bird, Birdcage, and Tree Wall Decals

Even if you don’t have your own garden, you can have one now with these contemporary wall  murals by Estsy shop Cuma.  Created with the very best vinyl decal material, these look super easy to put on the walls of your home, and are easy to remove should you want to change the decor of the room at a later date.  Decals won’t damage the paint but cannot be reused.  All the wonderful designs on the site are made by Cuma, can be custom made to different sizes upon request, and are offered in a wide range of colors.  Be sure to see all the offerings on the Etsy site with examples of the decals used in different type room settings including nurseries, childrens’ playrooms, offices, dining rooms, and bedrooms.  The decals offer a quick and easy way to change the entire look of a room, or conversely, you could quite literally build your room around them!



Oregon Coast-Part I

This is the first of a three-part series about my trip to the Oregon coast.  Be sure to enjoy all three parts!

Fall is undoubtedly my favorite time of year.  I flip through magazines filled with endless photos of places with beautiful fall colors, while looking out my windows at the lawns that have barely survived another long, hot Texas summer.  It’s time to take a trip someplace where the seasons actually change!  I haven’t been to Oregon since I was a child, so I hop online and search for a nice inn to visit along the coast.  I’m not about to waste my ‘free’ American Airline ticket.  No way.  I opt to stay at the Channel House Inn in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

The drive from the airport in Portland, Oregon to the coast took almost three hours, but was a very scenic trip through farmland and over the low-lying coastal range.  The maple trees glistened gold in the off and on again rain showers, and the fragrance of spruce and fir trees filled my slightly open car windows.  I had some great pizza for lunch in Lincoln City, then on to my destination and some exploration of Depoe Bay before nightfall.  My room at the Channel House Inn was small but well-appointed, and the staff were very courteous.  Best of all, I had a lovely view of the Pacific Ocean, and could open the lower portion of my large window to let in the cool air and the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing into the nearby rocks.  The bed was very comfortable.   I just need to figure out how to bring the sound of the ocean home with me.

Apparently Depoe Bay holds bragging rights to being THE best place for whale watching all along the Pacific coast.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  On my first morning there I was able to sit in the Channel House breakfast room and watch a small pod of whales spout repeatedly while eating my scrumptious breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit, and a hazelnut topped pastry.  It was spectacular!


Summer Rain


A freshness in the air
the smell of summer rain
the sound of thunder
and ever darkening skies
soon it will come
falling from the clouds
in a mad rush
tearing through the boughs
of the trees
flowing through the gutters
and down the rain chain
straight into the mouth
of the thirsty fish
bouncing off
the fronds of the fern
and soaking into
our parched earth


Pets and Toxic Plants


While working in the yard this morning, I started thinking about all the many garden plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.  With so many truly beautiful choices in plantings, I am mindful not to choose ones that could potentially be a problem.  Although all four of my cats are kept strictly indoors, I do have neighbor cats that sometimes join me while I am working outside, and of course my dog is regularly allowed outside.

According to the ASPCA, the number of plant poisonings in dogs increases during the warm summer months.  In some cases the quick urge to taste a bit of plant in the great outdoors can be fatal.  And some ornamental plants such as rhododendrons are particularly toxic, and pets should be kept away from them.  I can’t grow those here (my soil is too alkaline), but there are certainly other plants grown in central Texas that are toxic to pets.  Also, nibbling on grass can be a problem if your yard has been treated with chemicals, so again be careful.

If your pet ingests part of a poisonous plant call your vet immediately.  The vet can give an injection that will induce vomiting.  If unsure about the toxicity of the plant ingested, phone your local poison control center for help, or the ASPCA’s  24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.  Also, keep the tags from the plants you buy.  They have both the common name and the Latin name of the plant, as well as growing instructions.  These tags are good to keep for many reasons, but in this particular case because a toxicologist might need this information.

For a complete list of toxic (and non-toxic) plants to dogs and cats, see this ASPCA site. It also has great photos of toxic plants to aid in identification.  You can never be too careful!


Here is A Partial List of Toxic Plants:
Azalea — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Belladonna — Pupil dilation, hypothermia, muscle collapse
Bird-of-paradise — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Bulbs (hyacinth, narcissus family) — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Calla lily — Contains oxalate crystals which cause oral, pharyngeal and esophageal irritation, salivation and mucosal  edema (swelling)
Cardinal flower — Salivation, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
Castor bean — Vomiting, diarrhea and possible shock
Chinaberry tree — Convulsions
Daphne — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) — Contains oxalate crystals which cause oral, pharyngeal and esophageal irritation, salivation and mucosal edema
Dutchman’s-breeches — Convulsions
Elephant’s Ear — Same as dumb cane
Hydrangea — Cyanide poisoning
Jack-in-the-pulpit — Same as dumb cane
Jasmine — Vomiting, diarrhea, mydriasis (pupil dilation), hyper-thermia, muscle collapse
Jimsonweed — Pupil dilation, hyperthermia, muscle collapse
Larkspur — Cardiovascular effects: nausea, slowed heartbeat, arrhythmia
Laurel — Abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Lily-of-the-valley — Same as larkspur
Oleander — Colic, diarrhea (possibly bloody), sweating, incoordination, shallow/difficult breathing, muscle tremors, and possibly death from cardiac failure.
Mescal bean — Nausea, salivation, vomiting, rapid heartbeat
Mushrooms — Acute gastric effects, liver and kidney damage, abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, vomiting
Nightshades — Delayed digestive tract effects
Philodendron — Same as dumb cane
Poinsettia — Sap irritates the mucous membranes
Prunus species (including apple seeds, but only when chewed) — Cyanide poisoning
Tobacco — Nausea, salivation, vomiting, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
Yellow Jasmine — Convulsions
Yews, Taxus species (Podocarpus species causes only mild gastroenteritis) — Gastroenteritis, cardiovascular collapse


A Little Green Dragon


I have a little green dragon in my backyard.  He sits on top of my ivy covered cedar fence on a plastic cup, scarred, battle-worn, basking in the midday sun.  He waits casually for his next meal, perhaps an ant traveling by, or maybe a fluttering moth.  I watch as he expands and contracts his bright red neck to attract mates, or perhaps to warn me not to come any closer with my metal contraption.  He cocks his head sideways as if curious about my interest in him, then slowly closes his eyes, giving in to the sun’s warmth.  I have a little green dragon in my backyard.  I will visit him again tomorrow.