Handmade Santa by Eileen Greene

The warmth of the holidays

I love this time of year. Although I must admit to get­ting burned out on dec­o­rat­ing for Christ­mas over the years, and I have got­ten rid of most of my large col­lec­tion of orna­ments and dec­o­ra­tions, I enjoy get­ting out my cou­ple box­es of things I saved, most of which are hand­made. This is a San­ta that my sis­ter-in-law made. She’s real­ly good at this, as you can see. I wish you all the warmth of the sea­son.

Mountain sunset, photo by Donna Greene

Gratitude

Novem­ber is one of my favorite months, part­ly because Thanks­giv­ing is my favorite hol­i­day. The sun­sets this time of year are breath­tak­ing and I am able to reflect on so many things that I am grate­ful for. This is a pho­to I took one evening when the sky was just incred­i­ble in any direc­tion I looked. Life offers each of us much to be thank­ful for.

First rain

First rain of the season

Yes, we’re final­ly get­ting a lit­tle rain. Just a gen­tle rain to start out the sea­son. It was very wel­come and I didn’t even mind that it came down while I was swim­ming. Why should I?
I looked for a rain­bow, but it was appar­ent­ly down by the beach, out of view. Hap­py Fall!

Welcome Oskar!

Welcome, Oskar!

We had the best start to Octo­ber!! Oskar was born on Octo­ber 5th and is so beau­ti­ful! The fam­i­ly is doing fine and every­one is well. I’m very hap­py that they are close by and I’ll be able to spoil Oskar ade­quate­ly! He’s a trea­sure. {sigh}

Breville Espresso machine

A nice surprise!

I got this won­der­ful new espres­so machine for my birth­day! What a huge and won­der­ful sur­prise! I’m still fig­ur­ing out all the lit­tle tweaks to make the best cup of cap­puc­ci­no every morn­ing… mind you just one dou­ble shot each day. But I’ve added it to my list of things to get bet­ter at… keep tweak­ing to improve, bit by bit… just like my work. I’m nev­er bored since I’m con­stant­ly try­ing to improve my tech­niques and knowl­edge. I love my job!

Ventura Jazz Orchestra website

The Ventura Jazz Orchestra

I have been work­ing on a new web­site the past cou­ple weeks, and it’s ready for prime time. This is a big band that I joined 5 years ago and we per­form reg­u­lar­ly in Ven­tu­ra and San­ta Bar­bara, and have trav­elled as far as Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia to per­form for the Bragg 100th Anniver­sary Par­ty.

The site uses a respon­sive design, which means it will refor­mat to be viewed on any device, from an iPhone to a full sized com­put­er mon­i­tor.

Feel free to peruse the site and leave a com­ment if you feel inclined. Enjoy!

theventurajazzorchestra.com

Newly hatched Monarch

Transformation

Raising Monarch Butterflies

Monarch instar feeding on milkweed soon after hatching

Monarch instar feed­ing on milk­weed soon after hatch­ing

Monarch instar feeding on flowering milkweed

Monarch instar feed­ing on flow­er­ing milk­weed

Monarch butterfly about to emerge from chrysalis

Monarch but­ter­fly about to emerge from chrysalis

Newly emerged male monarch butterfly

New­ly emerged male monarch but­ter­fly

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I’ve had the priv­i­lege this month of car­ing for Monarch but­ter­flies on their 4-stage jour­ney of life: from a tiny egg… through the dif­fer­ent stages of lar­vae… into pupa­tion (or chrysalis)… and emerg­ing as a gor­geous Monarch but­ter­fly. I feel like a proud (fos­ter) par­ent. As of this post, we have had 4 Mon­archs emerge (all males so far) and sev­er­al more are on their way. This has been a fas­ci­nat­ing project and I’ve learned so much about these won­der­ful crea­tures and their amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tions.

There are four gen­er­a­tions of Monarch but­ter­flies. The first three gen­er­a­tions live a few short weeks to emerge, eat, find a mate, lay eggs and die. The last gen­er­a­tion live up to 8 months, through the win­ter, by migrat­ing to warm places like Cal­i­for­nia and Mex­i­co. There they stay until spring, when they make their way back to repro­duce. Some Mon­archs trav­el great dis­tances (up to about 3,000 miles from Cana­da to Mex­i­co) in these flut­ter­ing bod­ies that aren’t at all aero­dy­nam­i­cal­ly designed. It’s an amaz­ing thing. They trav­el across vast areas of ocean and desert (and back again), and some­how they instinc­tive­ly make it to their des­ti­na­tion.

The female Monarch lays her eggs on milk­weed plants. Once hatched, the lar­vae will eat the egg and start in on the milk­weed, which pro­vides all the nur­ish­ment they need until they are ready to go into pupa­tion.

I have shown some of the stages of meta­mor­phoses (to the left). These are the instars that I was for­tu­nate to watch and care for. We know that all things change… that’s part of life. But with these lit­tle crea­tures, it’s like trans­for­ma­tion on speed dial.

Most of these pho­tos were tak­en out­side. How­ev­er, most of the time I had them indoors where I could keep an eye on them and not let a pos­si­ble preda­tor or some curi­ous crea­ture inter­rupt their life cycle.

They tend to be a lit­tle messy, as they eat and poop a lot, but fash­ion­ing some news­pa­per around the pot of milk­weed kept it more man­age­able. Plus some of the instars decid­ed to go into pupa­tion on the under­side of the news­pa­per. After the first ones, I helped them on to an orchid plant that was next to the milk­weed, and most of them seemed to be hap­py to find a spot under a leaf to spend their time in the chrysalis stage.

Here’s a video about the migra­tion of the Monarch but­ter­fly from as far away as Cana­da to a lit­tle town in Mex­i­co, well worth a view: NOVA The Incred­i­ble Jour­ney of the But­ter­flies

If you’d like to learn more about these fas­ci­nat­ing and beau­ti­ful crea­tures, here are a few links with a lot more infor­ma­tion. You may even decide to take on this project your­self!
http://www.mymonarchguide.com/
http://www.monarchwatch.org/index.html
http://www.linknot.com/Magic-Garden/Monarch-eggs.htm
https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly.aspx
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Danaus-plexippus
http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/monarch.htm
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/monarch-butterfly/

Solstice float

Summer!

Santa Barbara’s Wacky and Wild Summer Solstice Parade

Solstice flower girlfishman scary dancer
There are many who’s favorite sea­son is sum­mer. The warm lan­guid evenings, play­ing at the beach, walks with your dog, get­ting togeth­er with friends… what’s not to like?

One thing that San­ta Bar­bara is known for is cel­e­brat­ing sum­mer with the Sum­mer Sol­stice Parade. It’s wacky, it’s wild, it’s fun! And peo­ple come from miles around to ‘expe­ri­ence’ it.

I was in the parade the past two years (danc­ing, then singing), but this year I was a spec­ta­tor and able to get some fun shots of the parade and after par­ty at Alame­da Park, where there was food, live music and ven­dors sell­ing their wares long after the parade was over.

The theme for this year was “Crea­tures.” There were many great entries in the parade once again and it was a joy­ful way to greet sum­mer.

Fromage

Paris!

Last week, I got back from my dream vaca­tion… 10 days in Paris. Of course longer would have been bet­ter. It seemed like I was just get­ting the hang of it about the time we had to pack our bags and come home. We rent­ed an apart­ment in Mont­martre with a kitchen so we wouldn’t have to eat all our meals out. I found the rental on line and it turned out to be owned by some­one here in Cal­i­for­nia, and a very good choice. The own­er left all sorts of tips in a note­book, so we learned the lay of the land fair­ly quick­ly.

We went to the famous flea mar­ket, right in our gen­er­al neigh­bor­hood… the largest flea mar­ket in the world that cov­ers sev­er­al blocks; vis­it­ed some of the land­marks in Paris; toured the Museé D’Orsay and the Muse­um of Dec­o­ra­tive Arts; famil­iar­ized our­selves with the local shops that sold all dif­fer­ent kinds of food and wine; walked all around the area where we stayed, which includ­ed Sacre Coeur and crypt, Au Lapin Agile, Clos Mont­martre (the remain­ing vine­yard in Paris), and jazz venues; and checked out the Eif­fel Tow­er, vin­tage and thrift stores, the Tui­leries Gar­dens and Notre Dame.

Only decid­ing to go a month before­hand, sort of on a whim because of my boyfriend’s birth­day, we had our work cut out for us brush­ing up on our French. I got­ta tell ya though, one of the high­lights of the trip was walk­ing home one evening after going to the ‘phar­ma­cie’ and being asked for direc­tions. I was able to give them… in French, then Eng­lish, as I asked and she sound­ed as though she was from Eng­land.

I took rather a lot of pho­tos. Some have said I could sell some of them. That’s a thought… maybe I could start sav­ing for my next trip to Paris. {smile}

Texture and color

Focusing your vision

I tend to look for the small details in life… the way some­one looks at anoth­er per­son, the way the light hits a cloud as the sun goes down, the beau­ty of col­or and tex­tures found in every day life.

This is just a reminder to stop and look for the beau­ty and details in your world instead of let­ting them pass you by.