Pacific Tree Frogs at Rosehaven Cottage

Shortly after the first rainy winter we lived at Rosehaven Cottage, it became clear that we had drainage problems in areas of our back garden. So, I got out there with shovel in hand and decided to just take advantage of the situation. I dug a pond... a 1,200 gallon pond (Hubby still thinks I'm a little too happy about playing in the mud and dirt).

Anyway, after digging the pond, lining it, and filling it we hoped that it would eventually attract amphibians to our little wildlife habitat that we were just trying to establish.

We didn't have to wait long. One night the next February, a lone little frog began ribbeting in our back garden next to the pond shortly after sunset. We were so happy! All night the little frog ribbeted. All night! That frog croaked from sunset to sunrise, literally!

The next night at sunset that little frog was joined by two others little froggy voices making a trio that serenaded us all night long. "Wow!" we thought, "The little guy actually got some friends to join him."

The next night we had a whole chorus "singing" out in our back garden. "What have we done?!?!" we thought with panic in our eyes as sleep became harder to harder to achieve.

The nightly froggy serenades continued throughout the months of February, March, and April. We eventually got used to the sound (or at least I did). One night we heard the neighbor come out his back door and scream, "Shut up!!!!" at the frogs. They didn't listen.

Then suddenly around the end of April, the frogs stopped this nightly ritual. We'd hear a little ribbet now and then on a drizzly day, but the nightly cacophony stopped. We had grown so used to it that the silence seemed eerie.

Well, as it turns out the chorus was due to mating season. All that carrying on was so that Pacific Tree Frogs far and wide would be alerted that a great place to lay eggs had been found--our pond!

The tadpoles eventually started to appear as the eggs matured. They eventually grew legs and then set up residence around the pond. I was amazed at how tiny they were. These itsy bitsy perfect little frogs so small that they could fit on the tip of my index finger. They stayed in the cracks and crevices of the rocks around the pond until they were big enough to leap away and find froggy homes someplace else (until breeding season came around again).

The same cacophony happens every year around January and lasts until April or so. It is amazing how noisy a frog can be when it's only less than an inch long. The females "purr" while the males make the quintessential froggy noise that one hears in the background of many movies (Pacific Tree Frog recordings are what are often used in films by sound editors).

Right now the frogs are very quiet. I don't even know they're there unless I happen upon one as it's sitting waiting to catch a nice juicy bug. That's what happened this evening as the sun was setting and the heat in the garden began to dissipate. I found one just sitting on a canna lily leaf waiting for its next meal, most likely ousted from its cool subterranean home by the watering system that had just been on (these frogs really don't like getting wet unless its mating season). I went and retrieved my camera and shot these photographs of the little cutey. I probably won't think it's so cute come January though.
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The Poor Guy Needs Pupils, For Heaven's Sake!

This little guy (currently called "Tur-Ducky") just sits here at stares at me with eyes that have no pupils. I wish I could get up the gumption to just ink them in even if I don't do the rest of the inking. Maybe I will later on today, but it's too blamed hot right now to really care.

As is usually the case, I'll probably get a creative spark sometime after the sun goes down. I seem to be the most creative after sunset. I've always done my best work at that time. An artistic night owl, that's me.

I still need inspiration as to what "Tur-Ducky" will end up as... greeting card... t-shirt design... who knows? If anyone has any nifty ideas, go ahead and throw them out there.

Hubby just loves the little guy (not as much as "Brave Little Chicken" though) and was actually the reason why I ended up sketching him. He started out as a tiny sketch of a duck with a tail that looked more like a turkey tail, so Hubby suggested a "Tur-Ducky" and it evolved from there.

Once I'm done inking in the outlining over the watercolor, I'll scan him into the computer. Then I'll do up a background separately (maybe a fun border too as an homage to Mary Engelbreit). I'll marry the two digitally so that I have the most flexibility for "Tur-Ducky" in the future.

In the meantime, I really need give him pupils. He's looking too much like Little Orphan Annie.

If you want to see more "Brave Little Chicken" follow these links: accessories and neckties
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Very unexpected award

To my utter surprise Anna at My Only Photo has awarded me with the Rockin' Girl Blogger award. I am so touched. I have enjoyed her blog immensely as well as her photography. To then have her give me this award is indeed an honor. She had no idea that I really needed a boost today (it's just one of those days). Thank you, Anna!

I am passing this award on to some of my favorite bloggers that I love to read on a daily basis (albeit only three when I believe it's usually five):

Kris at Gardens By the Lake--a wonderful blogger that let's her personality shine through in her writing and her photography of her beautiful gardens. Her comments on my blogs always make me smile and feel a little bit happier.

Kylee at Our Little Acre--a wonderful writer, photographer, and gardener that has captured so much in her endearing blog that I wait with great anticipation for each new installment to brighten my day and inspire me.

Daisy at Daisy the Curly Cat--a rockin' feline girl blogger that is cute as a button and a fashion diva to boot. I feel very privileged to have her as a kitty friend.

Thank you to all the above Rockin' Girl Bloggers for making my days a little brighter and inspiring me to reach a little higher.
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Creative Blogger Award

I was going about my daily blog reading and was stunned to discover that Mark Eccleston at The Green Fingered Photographer had given me the above award! I am very humbled because his work is absolutely amazing! You have to check it out at Dragons and Damsel Wildlife Photography.

Now I get to pass this award on to three very deserving bloggers.

Peripheral Vision--Inner Sights by Lynda Lehmann
Lynda is an artist and photographer with an amazing talent and eye. Her images are vibrant and inspirational.

Thea Burger's Shade of Life
Thea is an amazingly gifted artist! I love her work (particularly her paintings of pomegranates). It is colorful and a joy to look at!

Helen Read's Brushstrokes, Etc.
Helen is an artist who also teaches art. Her paintings are absolutely amazing. I particularly enjoy her oil paintings. She has a technique that I yearn to have.
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Lizards at Rosehaven Cottage

Daisy the Curly Cat asked if we have any lizards at Rosehaven Cottage. Well, I am pleased to inform Daisy that we do! Daisy loves lizards but does not like alligators. Fortunately, we don't have alligators here in No. California. Whew!

The lizards at Rosehaven Cottage are very stealthy creatures. Although, our wild garden kitty Oreo has caught one or two. Tom Tom caught one a month or so ago. My husband saw Tom Tom on the porch while I was gardening (Tom Tom only goes out when I'm out). Hubby found me in the garden and said, "Tom Tom has some big insect in his mouth." Well, I went to investigate and found that Tom Tom was finishing off the last of a lizard that he'd been eating. We called Tom Tom "Lizard Breath" for the next couple of days after that.

Because the lizards are very stealthy, I rarely get an opportunity to photograph them. That said, I have been fortunate to get the two photographs featured here just so Daisy can enjoy them.

Lizards are fairly easy to attract to one's garden if one takes the steps to do so. I wanted that at Rosehaven Cottage so I researched what I needed to do in my backyard wildlife habitat. Lizards love rock piles and stones with niches between them. So that's why we've provided lots of those around the garden. The lizards in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens love the planters that I've constructed out of chunks of recycled concrete [see photo below].

In the evening right before sunset, I have been privileged to watch a lizard come out on the flat rocks around the edge of the pond and hunt for insects. It was fascinating to watch! In fact, just yesterday as I sat by the pond feeding the fish, a lizard came out on the same rock on the pond's edge. It must be the "hunting rock" [see photo below]. They are great friends to have in the garden because they eat a lot of the bugs I don't want around my produce.

Lizards also need a source of water that is easy to get to so I provided little drippers as part of the irrigation system that are low to the ground which both water the garden produce and provide water for the lizards. The waterfall in the pond is also very gentle as it pours over long flat rocks so the lizards can get a sip there [see photo below]. The little birds like it too.

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Kathy over at Photography by KML just surprised me by giving Rosehaven Cottage this award. Kathy is a very gifted photographer with an amazing eye and incredible talents. I am honored that she comes here and enjoys the Rosehaven Cottage blog.

I am passing this award along to special blog that I enjoy reading regularly and hope you will also drop by to visit:

2 Kids and Tired: In Desperate Need of Chocolate
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Triple Digit Day

On a day like today when the temperature climbs to 100 degrees in the shade, everything in the garden changes priorities. Instead of seeking the warmth of the sun, nature tries to seek relief from it. Birds and insects flit about looking for a water source to quench the thirst brought on by the dry baking oven air. Flowers seem jealous of the mobility of the birds and bugs, seeming to yearn for the freedom to seek cooler climes.

I do the same. I hibernate in the comfort of Rosehaven Cottage where we are blessed to have the relief of small air-conditioning units in windows to drive the heat out. I venture out only because my photographic eye sees the photographic possibilities out the large picture window in the living room. I can only stay out for 15 minutes or so and then I duck back in to the cool refreshment inside.

During my short foray into the heat, I find things that fascinate me. For instance, the paper wasps that walk on the moving water that flowing from the waterfall in the pond. They stand on the water's surface and drink as the current carries them toward the deeper end of the pond. The honeybees choose to stay on the safety of the river rocks and sip. But the paper wasps risk their lives in their pursuit of water refreshment. No wonder I find so many floating dead on water's surface.

Some flowers in the garden really thrive in the heat. The sunflowers seem at home with their distant solar cousin gazing down on them with it oppressive rays. The bougainvillea looks perkier than ever as it basks in the heat radiated off the concrete of the driveway. The zinnia look quite pleased with the triple digit day soaking it in with all of their hundreds of scalloped petals. The canna lilies are a tropical sort and seem grateful to finally have the heat they crave.

Then I see the pomegranate bush burgeoning with its shiny fruits. It is bent over from the weight of so many as they begin to blush deeper with the onset of autumn that seems so far away on a day like today. I find a pomegranate that has literally split open while still hanging on the branch. The heat has made its ruby contents known.

I am reminded of something I just read a couple of days ago. In Jewish tradition, the pomegranate is highly symbolic. Those glistening translucent ruby morsels represented the many seeds of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is fitting that I found this split open fruit today in this heat, less than 72 hours after acquiring that piece of insight. The layers of symbolism flood my mind as I think of the seeds and what they represent to me in this context.

As an 135th great granddaughter of Abraham and Sarah of Agade, myself, I ponder being one of those seeds. Do I glisten? Do I shine? Am I as vibrant as they? Do I do justice to the fruit and bush that bore me? Would Abraham be satisfied to claim me as one of his own?

My mind is as laden with questions on this hot day as the pomegranate bush is with fruit.

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Home At Last!

I am finally home after 10 long days of being away. It's the longest I've ever been away from Rosehaven Cottage. The trip was full and enriching, but nothing is like coming home to my soulmate, my kitties, and my garden. Like the monarch at left, I sipped from sweet nectar but the trip left my wings a bit worn.

I've decided that today is going to be a restful day although I'm very tempted to go out into the garden and just start digging in and installing new planter boxes that were inspired by a class I took on the square foot gardening method. I've employed the method already, but they had some new and inspirational ideas that I am so anxious to implement in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens. "All in due time," I tell myself.

For now, I will rest and get over the "lovely" cold I acquired while away. Maybe I'll watch an old classic movie and eat chicken soup. That sounds like a good plan.

I'm posting some of my favorite photos that I shot while away. I've uploaded more onto my online photo galleries for those that want to see even more. I'm including the links to the appropriate galleries beside the photos.

My Auntie J. brought a box of peaches to my Auntie A. that were so gorgeous sitting on Auntie A.'s front porch I had to photograph them. Auntie A. has a large produce garden with many photographing opportunities awaiting me. I love to shoot photos of produce (I think fruit is so beautiful).

Click here to see more photos in my "Beautiful Produce" online photo gallery.

Auntie A. has a lovely cottage of her own, and I was so intrigued by the lamp shining its golden light out one of the windows [above left].

A sweet little neighbor's kitty (we suspect she was pregnant) was quite timid [above right]. But despite the hoards of kids running around, she desperately wanted to connect with me and my cousin's daughter. What a precious little thing she was. I actually was able to hold her as she purred and purred.

I was also able to add to my "Fallen Fruit" photograph collection as well as my "Candid Portraits" photograph collection. My camera got a workout this trip.
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Mahalo for the Rainbows

I served as the photographer at my cousin's Aloha Open House to celebrate his wedding that occurred in Hawai'i two weeks ago to his beautiful bride.

The couple requested that my shots be candid and not posed so I had a fun and energetic evening taking shots of all the guests just enjoying themselves.

Midway through the wonderful open house, the clouds opened up and rain just poured down. The wind was blowing it sideways at some points. The cloudburst lasted about 15-20 minutes and then the evening sun peeked its face out to reveal a double rainbow in the eastern sky.

Ironically, the wedding card that I had purchased for them was a musical card that had the Hawaiian version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in it. This is my favorite shot from the entire evening. It says so much without any words at all. I know that their marriage has been blessed already and will continue to be blessed for years to come.
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I may not be a lighthouse on a stormy shore, serving as a beacon for hundreds of ships.
I may only be a small light shining in an inconspicous corner of the world.
I may not be piloting ships filled with precious cargo to safe harbor.
I may only be the light needed to navigate just one next step.
I may not have my light serenaded by the boom of a foghorn.
I may only have my soft glow accompanied by the almost imperceptable flutter of moths' wings.
I am shining all the time nonetheless.
Some things cannot be measured in decibels nor candlepower.
~~by Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage
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There are times when I'm given little nuggets that just go off like a light bulb in my head. I've had quite a few this week as I've been enriched and educated while being away from Rosehaven Cottage. The majority of the nuggets are too personal to share here, but there is one that I would like to share because when it came into my mind I knew I wanted to share it. Here it is as I wrote it in my journal notebook during class:
To the person with an umbrella the experience of being out in a rainstorm
is very different than to one who doesn't have an umbrella.

There are many layers to this nugget of wisdom. It will mean something different to different people. I am tempted to write what it means to me, but instead of doing so I would invite you to share with me what it means to you. I am anxious to hear what each of you glean from it and hope that it will add further understanding and dimension for me (and others).
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August Color Galore!

I took a small break from my classes outside midway through the day today. Somehow the fresh air of the outdoors can transform my brain from "mush" back to the mental sponge I need it to be in order to learn and retain information.

I had my camera with me in my pack (like I wouldn't). I strolled around looking for something other than basic grass to photograph.

Then I found a beautiful spot where the landscapers had put in a huge bed of seasonal flowers. The rudbeckia were larger than my hand! Now, I either have small hands or the rudbeckia are quite large.

I was captivated by their bright citrusy yellow petals in the afternoon sun and so were the local honeybees. They buzzed around each saucer-sized blossom. I was fortunate to get a beautiful shot of one busy bee as it gathered nectar from the dark chocolate colored center of one of the massive rudbeckia blossoms [left].

I also found the bees on the smaller flowers too. Size doesn't seem to effective nectar yumminess in bee-dom.

The colors just sent a thrill through me--so vibrant and so representative of the last vestiges of summer.
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Introducing Two New Kitty Friends--Jasmine & Kitten

My Auntie and I drove up to her home after spending the day in class and, joy of all joys, there were two kitties laying on her front lawn in the shade of some flowers. They aren't Auntie's kitties but a neighbor's kitties. We got in the garage and I immediately had to get out my camera and go meet them. My Auntie knows the two kitties well, as they come over to visit and lay around in her yard and on her porch. She told me all about them, so now I get to introduce them to you out in cyperland!

The mostly orange kitty is named Jasmine. She is the mother of the mostly white kitty. She's smaller and has a very pretty little face (so feminine, don't you think?). She was a little cutie, but still quite dignified in meeting a stranger.

The mostly white kitty is the child of Jasmine. It's name is just Kitten. What a silly kitty! It posed, played, and goofed off for me and the camera. My goodness what kitten silliness. The photo at left is when Kitten decided to just spread eagle on the grass and take big long sniffs of the green blades. So silly!

Then Kitten decided to just roll around looking cute and flirting for the camera. My, my what a silly kitty!

Finally, Kitten decided to be a little more dignified like Mommy Jasmine and pose nice for me. It's such fun meeting new kitty friends!

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I Always Manage To Find A Kitty

I flew out on Saturday (yesterday), got picked up at the other end by my Auntie, and was whisked away to a wedding already in progress that she had missed in order to pick me up (is that love or what?).

Since it was a family friend's wedding and wedding reception, Auntie felt it was perfectly fine for the two of us to drop by on the way back from the airport and let me "crash" the reception. I've never done that before. It was an interesting experience to be formally introduced to everyone by Auntie but really have no connection to anyone at the reception.

We ate a delicious catered meal of good ole' barbecue and then everyone just sat around casually chatting in the outdoor garden setting or dancing on the small dance floor set in the grass. As soon as it was appropriate, I stole away to retrieve my camera from the car so I could take photos.

On the way to the car, I passed by a little red house that matched the main red house belonging to a friend of the bride. Wouldn't you know it? It was a kitty house with kitty snoozing in residence! (see photo at left) I always make it a goal to have at least one kitty encounter a day on my trips, and I was already fulfilling my quota only about an hour or two after having touched down. Is that great or what?!?! So the first photo I took yesterday was of this adorable little tabby. He woke up briefly at the sound of my shutter. I said, "Hi Kitty!" in my kitty-whisperer-falsetto, and then he just went back to sleep. So adorable!

The rest of the photos are some of my favorites that were all taken at the wedding reception I wasn't invited to (it's so weird to even type that right now). The photo at the left is of the gorgeous sky as the sun started going down. If you look at it large you can see a jet coming in for a landing probably along the same flight path I had just been on not two hours before this photo was taken.

I'm uploading and typing all this from Auntie's laptop (thank you Auntie) mostly so I can share all of this with my husband back at home. We're best friends and normally don't travel without the other. It's really hard to have an experience without him there because I want to say, "Oh look at that!" or "Isn't that cute?" So this blog is making that possible in an internet-new-millenium sort of way. The rest of you can enjoy too. We don't mind.

Look closely at the photo at the left. Doesn't it look like an abstract heart?

The centerpieces [photo at right] were all different fruits from gala apples to lemons to limes to oranges to cherries. That's how the tables were called up to the serving line for food--by the type of fruit in the centerpiece. The last fruit to be called was not happy.

The photo above was just so precious. Two of the relatives were having their own little dance in the gazebo that wasn't being used for anything else at the time. It was a tender moment that I'm glad I saw and caught in photographs.
The juxtaposition of the gorgeous autumnal wedding cake with the "hot dog stand" in the background was just priceless! [photo at left]

Something about the images of the barefeet of one of the groom's sisters-in-law [left] and the lemonade stand [right] were charming to me--possibly because of the simplicity they exhibit and the feeling of everything being just fun and celebration without a lot of pretense. No wonder I was welcome to "crash" the party!

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The Writer’s Review Inspiration Award

I was so pleasantly surprised when I received a message from Walks Far Woman at Kissing the Dogwood that she had awarded Rosehave Cottage with the Inspirational Blogger Award! It is probably the most touching honor that I (and my husband who also is behind the Rosehaven Cottage blogs) could have received because our main purpose for starting this blog was to somehow be an inspiration to at least one person through sharing our own stories and lives. It was a hard decision for us to embark on this undertaking for many reasons that don't need to be discussed here and now. I'm so glad we did! This award has made all the second-guessing worth it. Thank you!

As is the tradition, I would like to pass this award along to Desert Candy, the very first blog that I began reading on a daily basis. The passion with which this blog is written (as well as the photographs and layout of the blog) gave me a great deal of inspiration when I was just starting my blog and not sure how to do it or whether it was worth it. I was so overwhelmed by all the possibilities and almost gave up until I found Desert Candy on Blogger's "Blogs of Note". When I read the blog for the first time I thought, "This is beautiful! And it IS worth doing this blog thing!" The writing style at Desert Candy is lovely and many of the photographs have left me speechless and staring at the computer screen. Thank you to Mercedes at Desert Candy for being MY inspiration.
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Old Friend Wanderlust...

Wanderlust has often called out to me in my life. Sometimes it's been because I am suffering from the winter blues and am dreaming of a warm beach on a tropical island. My husband knows I've reached my limit when he finds me browsing internet travel sites at midnight in the darkness of January looking at internet airfares to Mexico and Hawaii. There are times that we've had the funds to indulge my need for sunshine. We've gone to that far off tropical island. And let me tell you, indulging one's need is often worse than continuing to tough it out in the dreary cold. It makes it so much harder the next time around.

Sometimes the wanderlust has come, because I can't stand one more day of a summer heat-wave and want to escape to a cool shoreline north of here. I've indulged myself in that arena as well. Once, when I was single, a dear friend and I decided we'd both beat the heat and took off after work on a Friday evening in my un-air-conditioned Honda Civic hatchback and headed up the coast of California to the cooler northern climes of Eureka. It is one of the best memories. I felt like I'd really taken control of a situation that seemed so out my control. Who can control the weather? Well, I felt like we did that weekend! And it felt so great and empowering.

Wanderlust has been a familiar feeling for most of my life. So it has been foreign to me to have this nesting homebody feeling that has come over me the past few years. I suppose it comes with age for many people. For me, it has also come with the reality of actually putting down roots in a home, naming that home Rosehaven Cottage, and knowing that it will be my home (in all probability) for the rest of my life. It is a comforting feeling, this nesting thing that has grown inside me. It has brought me in tune with the cycles of the earth and nature; with the changing of the seasons; and with the changing of myself as I change seasons in my own life.

But old friend wanderlust peeks in now and again. As a result, I am flying out in a couple of days to visit my aunt and attend a week-long continuing education experience that I've always wanted to participate in but haven't. It will be a wonderful opportunity to visit with my aunt, get valuable education in preparation for my volunteer teaching that will begin again in September, and I will also have the wonderful privilege of being the photographer at my cousin's wedding reception. But I leave my dear husband (and best friend) at home with the kitties, the garden, and the fish in the pond.

Prior to marrying my soul mate almost 10 years ago, I considered myself a very independent and empowered woman. So why is it now so hard to leave when I wouldn't have batted an eye a decade ago? Why am I obsessing over vacuuming every nook and cranny and dusting places I haven't dusted in forever? I've done my umpteenth load of laundry today. I've scrubbed the windowsills (when do I ever do that?). I've mentally churned all day.

I think it's because when it comes right down to it, I'm finally content in my life. I finally feel a sense of belonging to something, to someone, and to the very soil that I till and sow my seeds within. It is hard to be transplanted, even temporarily, when I've finally grown roots.
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