Summer in Full Swing

Jun 30, 2015

Maven the pup hanging out with Arnica. Plumas National Forest.
Pouring honey over aralia root
Pretty face - common name. Plumas National Forest.
Passiflora jamesonii, picked off the bike path. The Land of El Cerrito.
California Bay Laurel 
Red Clover
Painting for someone else is one of my best motivators.

Some photos from my recent trip to Lakes Basin, near Tahoe, with my classmates. 

My summer has been wonderful! How's yours goin'? It's supposed to be 85 degrees F today! I'm starting my day off earlier since it sucks to bike when the sun beats down.


Thank You Card, Rose Hips, and HEY Fused Shiitake Mushroom

May 20, 2015

Based off Kate Beetle's illustration of calendula 

Rose hips! Vitamin C yum.

Hah, what a weirdo. YUM again.


I love artists who work with traditional media, particularly transparent watercolor. The illustrations of Kate Beetle and Ginny Joyner caught my eye years back, and you might recognize their work, too. They both do freelance custom illustrations for the Badger Balm company. They created all of those fun images of badgers picking flowers and beekeeping. Next time you spot Badger products at your local store, look carefully to appreciate the wonderful illustrations!

I was lucky enough to receive the latest Badger Balm calendar (you can get a copy here, they’re on sale!) because the company kindly mailed one to me after I wrote them a love e-mail. They’re one of the few body care product companies that has upstanding values in the environment, labor rights, and safe non-toxic products. Grade A, badass, and a real gem. And they’ve grown pretty big, good for them. Let’s hope they won’t ever be bought by a big soul-less company (cough Burt’s Bees cough).

Oh yeah, so back to illustrations with traditional media. My doodles above are largely inspired by the women artists who work for Badger Balm. If any of you own the latest calendar, you’ll recognize this as an amateur version of some of Kate Beetle’s work!

Annnd, I just wanted to share this funny shiitake mushroom that appeared to have two stems from one head. It was delicious. 

Western Poison Oak - Nature's Ally

Apr 28, 2015

Toxicodendron diversilobum, otherwise known as Western Poison Oak. Aren't its leaves beautiful? Snapshot taken on an early spring day.

I miss regularly writing here. I thought I would share an interesting conversation with someone who retired from my work place last year. He’s a wonderful environmentalist champion, and writes beautiful poetry.
When I verbalized how much I’m annoyed by and fearful of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, here in CA) on hiking trails, he shared two interesting points that grounded and reminded me of how human-centric we people can be about nature.
Did you know that….

1) Poison oak’s potent oil, urushiol, only irritates humans? Poison oak is an important species in its natural environment: it provides food for deer, birds, and contributes as habitat for other insects and creatures. WE are the only ones it’s annoying to. Consider that poison oak helps keep annoying humans from messing with habitat.  

2) Western poison oak is a California native plant with the widest range, meaning it grows in most habitats throughout the state. Some consider it to be a keystone species because of the benefits it brings for wildlife, and adaptability to California’s many micro-climates.

So, I take it back: poison oak, mad props to you. I am crazy paranoid about getting dermatitis from you although I’ve YET to experience your wrath. I attribute that to wearing long pants on hikes and stepping carefully.

I fantasize that I’m one of the few (13% is it?) in the human population who are immune to its oil. But, I’m not willing to test that…have you ever brushed up against Poison Oak on accident? What happened? 

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