Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We Got Tagged!

Sydney (top) Tyler (bottom)

Being English Spots we like games that involve running, so tag is right up our rabbit trail. Some fun games are "Run Like You Have Seen a Hawk" and "Run Like You Can't Stop and Then Flop", oh, oops, this is a name game, OK, we are also into anything that is about Us. We've been tagged by Fez. In case you aren't familiar with The Naming of Cats, in the Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot, we all have three names! ( normally, we don't approve of cats, but if they are in a book that is acceptable ). We think rabbits have at least three names.
Here are the rules:
You must link to the originator of the meme ( that is Tara ), list the following rules, and then tell: 
1-The name that the family uses daily ( such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James ).
2-The name that is particular, a name that is peculiar, and more dignified ( such as Munkstrap, Quaxo or Coricopat ) 
3-What you are dong when you are thinking of the name only you know, and will never confess ( engaged in rapt contemplation ), that deep inscrutable name. Then tag three cats ( or other creatures with better ears and rounder poops ) to give us their names.

Our Answers:
1-Tyler/Sydney ( that was easy )
2-Tai Guy/Miss Black Nose (peculiar, not really more dignified)
3-Sydney is licking my ears/Flopping next to Tyler under the Rattan Rocker.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Herbal Wine

It seemed as good a day as any to get along on the Poppy Sake` project, the purpose of which is to produce a calming sleep supporting medicinal wine. The California Poppies have made themselves quite comfortable in the front and back yards over the past year. One big clump was just right for my needs. The most potent part of the Cal Pop is the root, but the aerial parts are good too when harvested at the point where there are late flowers and seed pods. There are a few different ways to prepare herbal concoctions; water decoctions, extraction, tincturing and pills. An herbal wine is about the easiest, although the alcohol % is low and wont tease out all the active constituents, it is an easy gentle and traditional delivery system. In Chinese Medicinal Wines and Elixirs by Bob Flaws different methods and strengths of spirit are advised depending on the condition addressed, most use something like Sake`, Huang Jui or Yellow Wine, and they age in a sealed container for a month. According to Richo Cech's Making Plant Medicine if you use the fresh herb and macerate the material (put it in a blender and with the alcohol and make a strange smoothie) then the time can be shortened to two weeks. California Poppy or Eschscholzia californica, is used  to treat insomnia, anxiety, mild pain, and in children, ADD type issues. Cal Pop does not have the addictive properties of its opium cousin, Papaver Somniferum, nor is it anywhere near as strong for pain relief. In the picture to the left you can
see, clockwise starting at 5'clock, leaf, flower, seed pod, and chopped root. The roots seep bright orange when nicked. Because we had some and it seemed like a nice addition, I picked some Lemon Balm, Mellisa officianalis, used to allay anxiety, worry, depression and agitation, it is also a relaxant digestive, and can be used to for fever. Ancient sources thought if it as a longevity herb. Current German research shows infulence on the Limbic system of the brain which controls the emotions and nervous system. Lemon Balm is top left in the picture. Top right is Jin Yin Hua, Honeysuckle Flower, Lonceria Japonica, Gold and Silver Flower, in terms of Chinese Medicine it clears heat and toxin, basically inflammation. The freshly picked Lemon Balm and Honeysuckle smell so fantastic together, delicious! Da Zao, Ziziphus Jujuba, Jujube, "Big Date", this Chinese herb nourishes the blood and calms the spirit. Research shows it has a restorative effect on the liver. You have probably figured out the Da Zao are the wrinkly red things. The idea of this little concoction is to help with sleep. the main herb, Cal Pop, does that. It is supported by Lemon Balm, which relaxes and restores the nervous system and helps with digestion. Poor digestion can a cause of insomnia. Because alcohol in general is heating and too much internal heat can be another cause of insomnia, to balance this out is the energetically cooling Jin Yin Hua, which also decreases inflammation, and who doesn't have a little inflammation somewhere. Da Zao helps with sleep, obviously, by calming, but also because healthy blood if important for sleeping. Da Zao as well is an herb that harmonizes the other herbs in a formula. 

Everything is put in the oft used blender with a bottle of Sake`, I used Sho Chiku Bai Nigori unfiltered no sulfites, and given a good whirr, then transferred to a Mason jar which is placed in a dark cupboard and shaken every day for two weeks. At the end of this time the plant material is strained out ( a couple times ) and the extraction re-bottled. A dose of medicinal wine is 2 oz., a shot glass. Bob Flaws recommends dosing until you feel the warming effects but are not drunk. If this sort of thing interests you get one or both of the books mentioned. And for goodness sake don't go out and try this based only on reading my silly blog!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fly On Archie Ann

The Blogging Rabbit Community recently lost a much beloved member, Archi Ann, a special needs Dutchie rabbit girl with a whole lot of attitude and spirit. On visiting her tribute page Tyler and Sydney pointed out that the shape of the white marking on her right side looked like a folded or inverted wing (actually, they don't use words like inverted). Anyway, they were quite impressed and urged me to do a little picture showing Archi with angel wings and her wing shaped marking. I tried to weasel out of it, I told them I had work of various sorts and places to be, but really you have no idea what it's like being ordered about by small self-cleaning mammals who look like they are on their way to a Masked Ball. Over the course of the day winged Archi Ann emerged, perhaps a bit chunky, but buoyant. Others have written fine and wise words for Archi Ann, check out A Houseful of Rabbits, Freckles and Deb, Life and Times of Bunnies, and Bunnies, Needles and Books , I think they have said it all beautifully.( If I have forgotten anyone please let me know. ) 

We are all just passing through and are grateful for having crossed cyber paths with Archi Ann for what seemed like too brief a time, but then what do we really know?
Fly on Archi Ann, 
with love from Tyler, Sydney (and Diana.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to The Spots

Hmm, rabbits are on the topic list up there on the banner, guess it's time to do something on rabbits. Wait! art is up there too, so if I put up sketches of rabbits then it's a two-fer. Last Fall Boyfriend gave permission to get another rabbit. My Big Rabbit, Bandit, had passed that April after several long medical issues, months of nursing and enormous vet bills (another story for another time, but I can understand why he might not want a repeat experience) and I had been sort of despondent ever since, having a rabbit sized hole in one's heart can do that. Our local rabbit rescue organization is The Rabbit Haven so on September 29th I went to one of their adoption shows, unsure whether I could find the right rabbit, but willing to try. I ignored the rabbit labeled  "Rabbit of the Week" he was really too cute, kind of fancy really, someone else would snatch him up just because he got top billing.
 My criteria were simple: healthy ( all Rabbit Haven adoptables are
 fully vetted), good box habits, good human connection. I held a few rabbits, they were OK, but not "the one". I carefully examined the pens to see which rabbits didn't pee outside their boxes. Admittedly the show is a stressful situation and even the tidiest rabbit might mess up a bit, OTOH it is a good test. Only one rabbit passed the test, Tyler, but he was the too cute" Rabbit of the Week". I picked him up and we had a lap sit, he settled in pretty well and relaxed. A gaggle of little  girls came and sat by me, one commented that I should bring that bunny 
home. I wondered if she was planted by Rabbit Haven to say such things, but she seemed quite genuine. Tyler was pretty nice, but I just wasn't sure. I put him back and held some other rabbits, then saw someone holding him and talking about taking him home, I couldn't bare it. Boldly and aggressively I went up this interloper and attending Rabbit Haven volunteer and said that actually I was going to adopt this one, and that sealed the deal. Tyler came home. We set him up in an Xpen in the living room. We learned he will not tolerate being locked in his pen, knows exactly where he wants his box by leaving a pile of beans, he likes to run and will not be denied access to the Study, Behind the Wood Stove or Behind the Couch, only actual doors can keep him away from where he wants to go. A few months later I became more and more worried that Tyler was missing rabbit company,   it seemed an unfair thing to have to live one's whole life without seeing another of the same species. Tyler's, sister Sydney, was still available for adoption, she was the last of the family to be looking for a home. Tyler and I went to meet her and Auntie Heather from Rabbit Haven at a neutral location. Sydney had gotten a bit overweight in her foster home. On several occasions she had been offered the opportunity to bond with other rabbits, but she had ignored them; she was depressed and disenchanted. Her meeting with Tyler went OK, she didn't ignore him, signs were good. She came home and after a break-in bonding period of four days they got the run of the house. This lead to a wild period for the two of them, running around, not willing to be petted, etc......I think having so much more room to roam triggers more instinctive behaviors.
 In retrospect I would have given them less room and increased roaming only gradually. We are slowly regaining our homosapian/lagomorph interspecies social skills; Tyler will allow petting and picking up, Sydney has allowed some petting and will come to see me. Snuggle Bun 101 is just around the corner. Sydney's habits are not as gentile as Tyler's, her box habits are a bit untidy and she has destroyed the back of the couch and (Shhhhhh
 didn't tell) some wood work has been chewed. there is still a certain amount of behavior modification that needs to take place. Tyler and Sydney are English Spots born sometime in early May, the family was found wandering about San Jose, you can see their "baby video" by clicking here, be aware it is awfully cute. Tyler and Sydney are both fun and challenging to draw, they do move around a bit and their shapes keep changing, it can be hard to get a handle on their spots. Kimon Nicolaides says in The Natural Way to Draw (and I paraphrase because I loaned out my book) that drawing and sketching have an authenticity and honesty that painting cannot capture. I tell this to my students at the High School when their first desire after finishing a quick drawing is to throw it away." Look at it in two weeks," I tell them," let's not be hasty."

Drawings from from the top: Tyler, Tyler, Sydney, Sydney, Tyler and Sydney (T on the left)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Mother was a List Maker

My mother is in a box on a shelf in the living room, I think it is a cedar box, though it might be mahogany. I never unwrapped it since picking it up from the funeral parlor. It is quite small, somehow I hadn't expected it to be so small, 81/2 by 7 by 4 inches. At some point my brothers and I are going to disperse her ashes, but for now she is visiting. My mother passed on the 29th of December of last year at 6:30 p.m.. Her downward spiral and subsequent demise is another story. Following is what I read a the memorial;

My mother was list maker, in her honor I have 
made some lists about her.
Animals kept as family pets (mostly)
Goats (Lily and Mandy)
Guinea Pigs
Japanese Quail
Gold Fish
Too many Black Mollies

Countries Visited
USSR (when it was the USSR)


Volunteer Work
Yard Duty
Poll Worker
Recording For the Blind
Stanford Medical Library
Bargain Bin (Children's Health Council)

A word to wise is sufficient.
If you want something done right, do it yourself.
It's not what you look; it's what you do that is important.
Mixing substances together can yield unexpected results.
If you are thirsty, drink water.
Avoid empty calories.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Be efficient.
Keep everything under control.
Wear clean underwear.
Don't stay in wet clothes.
Don't turn up the heat, put on a sweater.
Turn off that light if you are not using it.
Wear comfortable shoes that you can walk or run in if need be.
Don't call children "kids", they are not baby goats.
Don't let anyone slip you a Mickey.

Things I learned from my mother.
Read to your children.
Have pets.
Learn the proper names of plants and animals.
Get some exercise.
Eat healthy food.
Recycle whatever you can.
Embarrass your children by being yourself, it builds character, yours and theirs.
Enjoy your children's interests. 
Play games with your children.
Grammar is important.

Called all young boys "son".
Referred to her drippy nose as her "English Nose".
Had big feet for her height.
Wore glasses from the age of 5.
Got in fights at school.
Was an excellent speller her whole life.
Could do math in her head her whole life.
Had a Boston terrier when young.
Referred to herself as "a little old lady in tennis shoes."
Got a ticket for driving too slow in the Mojave Desert.
She could have said "no"
When her kitchen was used to boil a dead frog so Ben could extract the bones and reconstruct the skeleton.
When her kitchen was used by Ben to make mead, honey was spilled.......
When Nick wanted to paint his room red and have one entire wall a blackboard.
When Diana wanted a horse.
When the boys wanted a BB gun.
When John decided to become a sailor.
When Diana wanted to put a "Shirley Chisholm for President" sticker on the car.
When Nick brought a rattlesnake to Thanksgiving Dinner in a Mason jar. (The snake graced the table through the meal).

She Liked
To look a the moon
To look at trees, "trees are a great thing to a girl raised in New York City."
A bright pink Mohair sweater that got ripped in a bike accident.
Wearing shorts
Post Its.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Back From China


Although he has claimed to hate cameras and photography
he did manage to take quite a few pictures and it was nice for his old mom (that would be me) to able to see some portions of his journey.


                                                                                                                        He really captured some excellent images. I keep telling him he has a lovely sense of composition, even though it is not exactly what a teenager wants to hear.                                               
He said he had no complaints, so I guess it was an awesome tour.
 Highlights were the Great Wall and the Acrobats, 
 and, of course the food, each meal better than the last; Peking Duck, The 18 course Bun Banquet, and Mongolian BBQ. Downsides, though not bad enough to register a formal complaint seem to have been lack of drinking water (for sale only), heat,
 and the amount of attention a 6'5" white guy gets in a country
 where the average height for a male is 5'6". 
 He did observe to his dismay gross pollution
 notably the air in Beijing (bodes not well for atheletes)
 and the Yangtze River. I post here some of the monument and architectural type photos. 

All photos photos courtesy of Dexter Simmons, enjoy!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Unexpectedly Saddened

I find myself unexpectedly saddened by the death of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby. It is one of those incidents that bring a cascade of thoughts and memories, a reminder of the difficulties of maintaining harmony and balance in this modern world. I imagine horse racing to have in roots in the celebration of the horse; what an amazing and supernatural event this riding of a horse must have seemed to the first equestrians. Let's see who can go the fastest and not fall off. No doubt it was learned early on that it was not just the horse or just the rider that made the winner but a combination; 1+1= >2 . A symbiosis ensured between human and horse, the latter was fed and protected (when possible) from predators, and the former was provided with swift transportation. The domestication of the horse allowed any number historical events in the human realm to take place,  notably the invasion of Europe (and China, too) by Ghengis Kahn (his hordes "introducing" sauerkraut to the populace, so it certainly wasn't all bad) and the Spanish conquest of the Americas, which left some horses, runaways or abandoned, who became the noble Mustangs, now tragically endangered. On the home front horses, and oxen too, made farming possible on a larger scale creating surplus that could be sold or bartered; economic structures ensued. As the centuries passed humans created specialized niches for their equine companions. Some were fast, some could jump, some were fast and could jump too, some were strong. Always there were those who loved the animals and those who wanted to use them for their own self interests, and doubtless those had were a mixture of both motives. As a teenager I was lucky enough to have the oppurtunity to ride. In retrospect I think my mother agreed to this dangerous occupation both from her own unrequited love of horses and it seemed safer that the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll teens of my generation were getting into. My horse was a sort of rescued race track thorobred, he had become entangled in a barbedwire fence, the time it took for him to heal put him, age wise, out of the running. I enjoyed most just caring for this enormous shining creature. I groomed him to an immaculate state on a daily basis and when show time came created perfect braids up and down his long neck. What I didn't enjoy was the, what I felt was excessive, use of force to get the horses to do what was considered to be the right thing, like jump over  four foot fences. In the big picture the various sorts of bits, martingales, studded nose bands and nubby spurs were not too bad. But I refused to use them. Probably resulting in my not always getting all the way around the jump course. Flat classes were more my forte`, both Pleasure and Equitation. Before my teen years were out my horse began to come up lame. He had a genetic condition of the Nervicular bone (a small bone in the foot that becomes inflamed). Although we thought we had him vetted for this, in fact because the previous owner had paid for the vet, the full report had gone only to them. At any rate I wouldn't have missed a moment with Nicodemus, not one second. He lived out the rest of his days in hilly pasture with an occasional trail ride from his owner who bought him from us for $1. Back to Eight Belles. Breeding for racehorses is inbreeding. Resulting, for one, in weaker legs. It has been conjectured, not by myself, but by Those Who Know, that horses have gotten as fast as they are going to get. And yet they are pushed, and pushed and on weaker and weaker legs and they give everything they can.  They have great hearts. But remember they are prey. The instinct racing cashes in on is fear, and love. Horses love to run and they do it for fun, and yet fun and fear can be intertwined. Humans know that, think of bungey jumping. Would a horse run as fast without the use of whips and spurs? probably not. What would races be like if these implements were outlawed? Slower, but no less interesting.  There would be no loss of revenue at the tracks, betting would continue, horses would be bought and sold, trainers and jockeys paid. Breeding and training would have to have a different set of values............but it could be done. 
May you be peaceful, Eight Belles, nibble the pasture of the Heavens and run only when you want.