Pumpkin time

My first dog was a free puppy from a dairy farm.

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She was the last pup in the litter.

I picked her up, cuddled her and immediately called her Pumpkin.

Pumpkin was an affectionate name in my family, a term of endearment like Sweetie or Honey.  I took her home and we became an inseparable pair.

One of the first adventures we had together was driving from Vermont to California and back in a small Ford pick-up with my boyfriend, and our old, family dog, a German Shepherd named Thumper.pumpkin&ThumperPumpkin came to every class at art school, she was my model and muse and, when I got my first job after college. She came to work with me. When I started dating the reporter, she gave him the seal of approval.

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Her name didn’t fit a black and white border collie, but she ALWAYS looked good with the real gourds!pumpkinstackHalloweenMask

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It is hard, this time of year, not to see her in the Pumpkin Patch.

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We are Making Bear Dens!

I get a charge of energy from working on art projects with young children. Their lack of self-consciousness and freedom with materials is inspiring. I often say 1st graders are art geniuses.

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They have a lot of small motor skills  and they are mostly free of the doubts and fears of not being good enough that seem to set in later, even by age 7!

I did the same Bear Cave project with three classes, a 1st, 2nd and 3rd, at a school in Pasadena.

I started by showing them my book Baby Bear Counts One and talking to them about what happens as autumn comes and how bears prepare to spend the winter in their dens.

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The materials were simple:

An 11 x 14 piece of pale blue paper, an 8.5 x 11 sheet of black paper and a half sheet of brown paper, a thin paper plate, glue stick, scissors, markers/crayons, and a pencil.

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The young artists created the forest first, drawing trees with autumn leaves and making a good, wild habitat for the bears.

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Then they cut the paper plate in half and cut a rough “den” out of the flat, cut side. Now it was time to camouflage the den so it didn’t stick out. A lot of effort went into this step.

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I love this one with two apple trees and apples all over the den.

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And this ‘Welcome’ sign.1stgrade:web_5 1stgrade:web_62ndgrade:web_1

There was a lot of glue being used and sticky fingers were everywhere.

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They glued the brown paper behind the paper plate den so it looked dark.

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Finally, it was time to make the bears out of the black paper.  We had lots of sizes of googley eyes to make the bears look alert.2013-10-22 09.34.32
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Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Gobble, gobble, gobble

When I was young I used to find a thicket of these in my neighborhood, sit in the shadow of the vines, and eat grapes.

These are tiny and tart, but the intense grape taste makes them delectable.

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We called them “Fox Grapes,” According to Wikipedia:  There is ample evidence that the labrusca was growing wild in North America centuries before the Europeans discovered the continent.

If a wild grape is growing, a turkey is going to find it.

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turkeymaleAnd bears will follow…

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Surprise!
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A Home Made Entirely of Paper

Walking in the woods I found the destroyed nest of a Paper Wasp colony.

waspnest:webAccording to Wikipedia:  “wasps gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct water-resistant nests made of gray or brown papery material.”

Cool!

You can see the gray and brown mixing beautifully here.

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The nest is swathed in these sheets and blankets of paper to protect the cells inside. The cells are for brood rearing. They are perfect hexagons, just big enough for the queen to back into and lay an egg.  This post from Hilton Pond Center explains that part beautifully.

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I tried to insert a finger into one, but they were all too thick, including my pinkie.

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Wasps build these nests in protected areas such as under the eaves of houses or in trees. I suspect this one was destroyed by humans and tossed into the woods as trash, but I prefer to think it fell from this pine during a windstorm.

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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free music festival started in 2000, and entirely funded by Warren Hellman, is a joyous annual event in San Francisco.

I’ve been attending, more or less, for many years, and this year’s highlight was the Kate Mcgarrigle Tribute with many of her family and friends singing her songs and clowning around.HSB2013-2:WEB

The set was kicked off by Martha Wainwright, Kate’s daughter, singing Matapedia and Sloan Wainwright, her sister-in-law, singing NaCl.  The guest stars that crossed the stage were some of my favorites, and all friends of the McGarrigle Sisters:

Maria Muldaur, Emmy Lou Harris, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, Kate’s ex Loudon Wainwright, and Richard Thompson. Her songs were as extraordinary, funny, poignant and beautiful as ever, and the one non-Kate song was sung by Loudon Wainwright, about her!

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Here is Emmylou and her Red Dirt Band from 2008

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and Ricky Skaggs

And now for a gallery of those who have passed to the giant Banjo Jam in the sky! earlscruggsHSB'08

Earl Scruggs

hazeldickens'08Hazel Dickens

RalphStanley'08Ralph Stanley

HSBGThank you, Warren!

Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Crunch, Crunch, Crunch

Every September, the cow corn is harvested. This is not sweet “People Corn.” It is pure carbohydrate and is usually chopped and made into silage to feed to the dairy cows throughout the winter.

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Occasionally the harvester leaves a patch, meant to represent the quality of the whole harvest for insurance purposes, and a few stalks are left standing to feed the wildlife instead of the cows.

corn:webThe ears of corn looks pretty tough.

We aren’t going to eat them with butter anytime soon.

But the crows, and the deer, and the bears love them.

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The crisp edges and black lines of the linocut really lend themselves to cornfields and crows.

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And watercolor adds the autumnal burnish.

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