Reason for Blog Break

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I have decided to take a little blog break.
It's getting very busy at work and I'm tired.
I also need to get outside and clean up the yard.
I need to finish some of these other projects that I've started.
I will be back when I'm recharged and when I've completed a few projects and have some photos to prove it.
I've got some stories to share, which are mostly written but...
I can't seem to get my brain focused enough to finish them.
Sometimes, I feel like if I don't blog/share about the things that happen in my life... it's like they never happened.
Does that make sense?
Hmm, well, anyway...
So, just wanted to explain why there won't be posts for a little bit.
Take care and hope to be back soon!
xoxo - Cindi


Sarah Jessica Parker, Twinkle

Haters Gonna HATE.

Seems like everyone I talk to lately, are always judging other people.
I can't get away from them, they are in my personal life
and it's also some of the people I work with.
They always have some snarky comment. 
They think that anyone that makes a choice different from what they would have done is wrong
and stupid.
They seem to enjoy talking people down and criticizing everything.
Maybe it's human nature.
I hope it's not a woman thing.
I would hope women are better than that.
I've certainly done it myself and I feel ashamed.
Yep, sucked into the meanness.
The negativity.
So, as of today I'm going to try to be a better person.
Someone who minds my own business,
tends my own garden
and does or doesn't do whatever I damn well please.
As long as I bring no harm to others,
it's no ones business.
I'm not going to feel guilty about decisions
or feel the need to explain.
I'm tired of feeling bad.
Of letting others make me feel bad.
I'm tired of it.
No wonder I prefer the company of animals.

Sometimes you run across something that has perfect timing.
Like it was meant to be.
Or should I say, meant to see.

Spring Is Sprung

I was recently given authorization to write another article on native plants for Michigan Gardener Magazine. By way of some backstory here, I wrote the first article on native plants to appear in that publication back in May 2012; I penned an article on non-vining Clematis for the 2013 season and have articles on combining natives and exotics and on invasive Phragmites on deck for 2014. The third article for 2014 takes as its topic the various strategies plants have evolved for "getting around" - maximizing genetic diversity through various seed-dispersal technologies.

Most of the plants I took for examples exist in my home garden on Detroit's east side. These was one plant, however, that I had tried to grow (as yet) unsuccessfully that I wanted to discuss - Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symploycarpus foetidus), a plant with very specific, difficult to replicate, cultural needs. Not surprisingly, this plant is not something you just "happen upon" on a casual stroll through your neighborhood.

Why would I want to grow this plant? Well, there are lots of reasons. First, I've become something of an obsessive native plant "collector" - partly for my own satisfaction but also in an effort to introduce as many people as I can to as many native plants as I can at my semi-annual garden tours - everything from native Michigan Eastern Prickly-Pear Cactus to water-loving Marsh Marigold. Plus, I'm not one to shrink from a horticultural challenge - and growing Skunk Cabbage is challenging. And then there's the idea of having a "zoo" garden - a garden of plants with animal names - including Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoidea) and Goat's Rue (Tephrosia virginiana), among many, many others. (I may do a post on those yet!) Plus, it's one of the coolest plants you'll ever see.

Cool? How could a plant called "Skunk Cabbage" be cool? Well, one of the very "coolest" things about Eastern Skunk Cabbage is that, through a chemical reaction, it is able to generate temperatures of up to 95ºF warmer than the surrounding atmosphere, making it one of a very few plants capable of thermogenesis (creating its own heat). It isn't unusual to see the plant's clumps emerging right up out of the snow as it creates little "islands" of heat.

Eastern Skunk Cabbage is one of five species within its genus. Although both are members of the Aroid family, Western, or Yellow, Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) is of a different genus. (Both genera have species native to North America and Asia.) Its nearest relatives in Michigan include Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium) and the ever-popular Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum).

The first part of the common name, as well as the second part of its Botanical Latin name, refers to the plant's strong musty odor (especially noticeable when the plant is crushed), which attracts early-season pollinators, including flies, stoneflies and bees; the scent may also discourage larger animals from disturbing it. The leaves, which are quite cabbage-like, emerge after the plant has flowered.

The flowering bodies of all members of the Aroid family (referred to as "Araceae") - including such floral favorites as the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum), Calla Lily (Zantedeschia æthiopica) and Anthurium spp.  - consist of two parts: the "spathe" - a large bract forming a sheath - around the "spadix", or flower cluster, which actually contains the plant's reproductive parts. The spathe (note the Botanical Latin name for Peace Lily, in which both the genus and epithet contain forms of the word "spathe") protects the reproductive parts of the plant from the elements, assisting in more successful pollination. The heat generated by the plant may also help better spread its distinctive odor while making for an attractively warm haven for any passing pollinators.

Like the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, there is quite a bit of variation in the spathe's coloring, although it is always a combination of burgundy and mustard yellow. More frequently mostly burgundy, the balance between the two colors varies widely, even within a single clump.

Eastern Skunk Cabbage is a wet-land obligate - meaning that it must have wetland conditions to survive. It does like a certain amount of sun and benefits from late winter/early spring exposure in deciduous woods, when there is little leaf cover while it flowers. It also has contractile roots, which actually pull the plant further into the ground as it grows - so the crown is always at the surface while the root system drives down further into the soil, making it difficult - if not impossible - to transplant.

Seeds are born in a club-like structure, most of which eventually rots away, leaving the seeds to fall into the surrounding mud to be dispersed by animals or seasonal flooding.

When I first decided to include this plant in my article on seed dispersal, the first issue was finding someplace to photograph it. I contacted a number of folks in my native plant network who suggested a number of possible locations, including Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, Michigan. My photographer, Don, and I took a drive up that way on April 2 and found a sizable colony in full bloom behind the main building. Some clumps were still surrounded by snow and the ground, though beginning to thaw, was still fairly firm.

We spent the better part of two hours out there - despite dropping temperatures, increasing cloud cover and rising winds. (One very good thing about photographing this plant: no matter how windy, it stays perfectly still!) We took numerous frames - Don calling the shots; I assisting in whatever ways I could. Finally, my hands started getting blue (I had left my jacket in the car as it seemed pretty nice out when we left the parking area!), so Don gave me his jacket. We found the plants utterly captivating, finding one vignette after another to further "explicate" this unusual plant, capturing each blossom's unique form, the transition of the seasons around us and the complexity of the natural community in which they exist.

I'm now thinking of ways to recreate these beautiful forms in clay, from the jug-like spathe and complex spadix to the subtle shading of burgundy and mustard yellow. I also hope we'll have the opportunity to further document its annual cycle later this season.

Pillow Vases V: Sea Urchin

Techniques for applying the decoration can vary. When possible, I score and slip the vase's surface - this works quite well with the "Frosted" design because the decoration is always located around the opening and at the vase's "waist". (I use a large round cookie cutter to plot the line of decoration on the tiny vases with multiple openings.)

Since I have learned that scoring marks not covered by decorative elements can still be visible after glaze firing, I score and slip the underside of the decorative elements of the "Scrolls" and "Rosettes" designs instead. Due to the size and arrangement of the elements for the "Sea Urchin" designs, making sure the vase is plastic enough to take the decoration and then gently pressing it on after it has hardened somewhat seems to help prevent separation. There is no applied decoration for the "Lace" or "Plain" vases so the issue is moot for those designs. I then set the pieces to dry slowly before the final preparation for bisque firing.

Once I find a technique that works for me, I tend to push them as far as I can to see what else I can do. In terms of the slip-filled pastry bag, that was expressed in investigating as many different workable decorating tips as I could.

Not all of them work very well, but I did find that the plain round tips (of various sizes) and the ribbon tips are pretty useful. I use a medium to large round tip for these Sea Urchin vases, so called because the decoration resembles the surface of a sea urchin. I start off with a circle of "dots" of slip placed evenly around the opening, then another, larger, circle of dots, alternating between each of the dots in the first row, continuing to alternate down to the vase's "waist". (Vessels have "anatomy" which relates back to human physiology - with "necks", "shoulders", "waists" and "feet".)


Ellen Kooi nace en 1962, en la localidad holandesa de Leeuwarden. Recibió su educación artística en la Academia de Arte de ABK Minerva en Groningen (Países Bajos) y completó sus estudios de postgrado en Arte en la Rijksacademy en Amsterdam. 
En sus composiciones abundan las tomas en formato apaisado y panorámico, con un uso exquisito del gran angular y con una predilección especial por el paisaje no como localización o ambiente, sino como elemento vivo y protagonista de sus fotografías. Contrapone dicho paisaje natural y ese tratamiento tan especial que le da al color con la intensa y preparadísima orquestación de sus composiciones. Son muchas las horas de trabajo que encierra cada una de sus instantáneas tanto en la localización y el estudio de la luz como en la construcción formal de la imagen.

Si hay algo que me atrae profundamente del trabajo de Kooi es que en cada una de sus fotografías algo mágico está a punto de suceder o ha sucedido ya. Es también muy interesante cómo trabaja la narrativa de sus imágenes, combinando lo inverosímil con la naturalidad de la convivencia y relación del ser humano con el entorno. Constantemente, Kooi se pregunta cómo determinados lugares afectan a la forma de ser que tenemos las personas, a nuestro estilo de vida.

Se la considera como una de las fotógrafas contemporáneas emergentes más influyentes en la actualidad junto a otros fotógrafos holandeses como Erwin Olaf y Ruud Van Empel. Su obra es aceptada de manera integral por crítica y público y ha sido presentada en exposiciones en numerosas instituciones nacionales e internacionales. Si tienes ocasión y puedes organizar una visita, parte de su trabajo también se exhibe en el Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León.

Te dejo con un video que resume un poco su trayectoria artística. Hay un par de imágenes que tal vez no gocen de la calidad necesaria para verse de manera correcta en la pantalla de tu ordenador, pero me parecían absolutamente imprescindibles y no quería dejarlas pasar. Espero que te guste y lo disfrutes al igual que yo he hecho con la documentación y el montaje.

Y ya sabes, si te parece útil e interesante, no rompas la cadena: ¡¡compárte!! ;)

Si quieres continuar recibiendo información de una forma más cotidiana sobre el trabajo de esta fotógrafa, puedes hacerlo siguiendo mi tablero de Ellen Kooi en Pinterest. Te dejo también un enlace a su web para que puedas disfrutar aún más a fondo de su obra y proyectos fotográficos.


WEDNESDAY WORD on Thursday and a YouTube Video

Last week, on Wednesday, I had my work anniversary. I've worked there for 12 years.
 My sick hours and vacation days for the year start over again.
I get 24 sick hours.
and 2 weeks vacation that can be broken down into days or hours even.
On Friday. I took one of those days.
Just to decompress.
It actually helped and I got some cleaning done but...
once again, I was awaken before 5 in the morning.
It's been happening EVERY single day, some time between 4:30 and 5:00 AM
one of the little dogs hears something and starts barking
and then 2 others join in.
They have that really HIGH PIERCING bark
and their room is just feet away from my neighbors bedroom window
and directly below my bedroom.
Once those three start barking, then the whole herd goes crazy.
and I think I'm about to lose my mind in that moment.
That moment: dormiveglia.


and this is why I bought:

NO BARK Collar Citronella Spray Anti-Bark collar for Dogs Kit - Safe, Effective, and Humane Dog Barking Control collar - here

  • Eliminates or significantly reduces nuisance barking
  • Sprays harmless citronella burst whenever dog misbehaves
  • Works with all dogs at least 6 months old and 6 pounds and up
  • Training is instantaneous and painless
I plan on trying it this Saturday.
I've bought three and they are NOT returnable.
Wish us luck.