Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Last week we went on a Disney cruise with my family to celebrate my Dad's 75th birthday.  Many people did a double take when I told them we were going on a Disney cruise because we don't have children, we aren't into Disney, and we don't like musicals (yes, I have now publicly admitted to it!).  But we had a great trip spending time with family, plus I was able to find some interesting plants to photograph and even got in a little sketching.

The boat we were on was called "Magic" and we left from Port Canaveral and sailed to Disney's private island Castaway Cay.  Below you can see our boat from the island.

I really enjoyed the architecture of the boat and, of course, I appreciated all the repetition of form.

This sketch was from Deck 4 where they hang all the emergency life boats.  I really liked the lines on the yellow boats and especially loved all those propellers in a row.  I didn't really want to sketch this lady but she sat down as I was sketching the deck chairs and I couldn't see what was behind her.  I guess it is good to sometimes include people in my sketches.

These characters greeted us as we walked from the boat to the beach on Castaway Cay.  It was fun to see all the nautical elements they have laying around.

We weren't so lucky with the weather because it was cool and windy.  I forced myself to swim when we were at the beach because I don't often get the chance to swim in the ocean...but it was cold water.  After swimming George and I went for a walk around the bike path on the island and I was super excited to find some very interesting plants to photograph.

I was especially obsessed with these weird banana-looking structures.  I think they were the base of the palm fronds.  I loved the chartreuse color and the bulbous shape... and I thought even the aged stripes added a certain interest.

We also came upon this crazy palm below.  I'm not sure if it was normal or diseased but the leaves of this palm were all crinkled up and formed the most amazing pattern.  You could see that some of them had unfurled but still retained the wrinkles.  I have never seen anything like this so if you know what this is please let me know.

The pine cones were also unlike any I have ever come across.  It is probably some species native to the Bahamas.

I have seen this red flower before in Costa Rica but I don't remember the name.  We kept seeing the bananquits eating from this flower and it was a beautiful sight to see.

I saved the craziest plant for last.  This spiky pod looked like something from the Little Shop of Horrors.  The fruit inside looked like a pair of eyeballs looking out at us.

The last couple hours on the island the clouds finally cleared and we saw the sun light up this island of clear water and curious plants. As I walked towards the boat I felt so incredibly lucky to be there and so happy to have visited this amazing place.  And I thought "Magic" brought me here.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl

“I want to be magic. I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile. I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree. Or under a hill. I want to marry a moonbeam and hear the stars sing. I don't want to pretend at magic anymore. I want to be magic.”
― Charles de Lint

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cat Valentine Embroidery

My Mom's birthday is close to Valentine's Day so this year I decided to make her an embroidery of our two cats Otus and Bubo.  My mom watched them for the first time over Christmas break and I think she took quite a liking to these orange boys.

As you can see below I started with a quick sketch.

I then re-drew my sketch onto the fabric and started filling in with stitches in alternating colors of orange to give the "tabby" effect.

I had this project in my head but it probably wouldn't have happened had my friend Amy not suggested we get together to work.  So last week she came over and we both cozied in and worked on our embroideries while we chatted for hours.  Amy is a masterful embroiderer and you can see her giant whale embroidery online here, but also in person at FibergĂ©.  (You can also see her quetzal and otter here).

Below you can see my inspiration. 

They may not hold tails in real life, but they get along fairly well.

"Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark,
but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery."
-Wendell Berry

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I don't know why but lately I have been obsessed with eating food in the cabbage family.  It started with me wanting broccoli all the time and has now morphed into me wanting brussel sprouts or cabbage soup for every meal.  So it was funny the other day when I was on my walk and these winter cabbages caught my eye. 

I blogged about winter cabbages almost a year ago and was worried the photos might be too similar. But I think they are different enough, plus I could not resist posting these beauties.

The color gradients are one of the things I find most amazing about these cabbages.  I like it when I see a color combination that I wouldn't normally put together.  I would not usually pair peach, purple, cream and green, but when I see it I am in love!

I also love the repetition of these cabbages.  Their heads remind me of ruffled ballgowns.

I couldn't resist posting the image below.  It was my second choice for "lead" image because of the soft way it changes color from fore to background.  And you know I love a short depth of field!

I would normally leave you with a quote but I couldn't find any cabbage quotes I liked, so I wrote a little poem.

My skirts are ruffled joy.
Peach, lavender, and green.
My arms stretched out spinning
Like a Sufi in my dream.

My head is full of cabbage
My eyes are full of tiers
My legs are rooted in the ground
I am splendor on earth, my dears.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Palm Tree Fingers

As I said before, the Osa Peninsula has no shortage of magical subjects to photograph. And when I saw these palm tree "fingers" I was completely intrigued by their other-worldliness. I know this will show my age, but they remind me of something straight out of the Dark Crystal (weird movie from my childhood).

The "fingers" are actually adventitious roots and the thing I found so visually interesting was the abrupt way they start on the trunk of the tree.

The base of these trees always reminds me of a woman wearing a dress with a big bustle.  It seems that, just like the women who used to wear those dresses, it is difficult for the trees to move around.  This particular tree below, however, appears to be gliding along just fine on her dress of adventitious roots.  I imagine her dancing partner to be the sun and she slowly moving towards him.

The "fingers" below are slightly grotesque but also beautiful at the same time.  I always think, "If I were a sculptor, how would I try to make this?  How much work would it be to make all those fingers?!"  These roots are really stunning when you think about it like that.

The tree below had a nice big "bustle".

Some of the roots seemed extra "hairy." The straw-colored fibers below added even more drama to this rich landscape of texture and color.

I also love the photo below because it captured the three distinct textures of this tree.

I was trying to figure out what it is about these images that intrigues me so much and I think, aside from the repetition (which you know I love), it is the dramatic transition from one form to another. Each texture is amazing all by itself, but when put next to another something marvelous occurs in the contrast.  There is an alchemy in their juxtaposition that creates a visceral, palpable tension.  You can feel this tension where the ocean meets the desert or where the mountains reach the plains.  I believe these places of tension are where the magic lies, where one form gives way to another...they are places of utter transformation.

"Indifference is isolation. In difference is texture and wonder." -Edwin Schlossberg