A necklace for Leslie

2 10 2011

I created this crochet wire and bead necklace for my friend Carmen to give as a gift to her niece, Leslie, who loves horses. Carmen requested horse-related charms to be added and wanted something that could be worn with denim. I’ve got enough pieces I’ve created that do not have homes yet that I’m thinking of opening up an etsy.com store. I also have one necklace completed that I need to mail to my blog friend Chloe in Australia as a house-warming gift. She and her boyfriend Daniel are “nesting” in their first home and I made her a bird nest necklace like the one I made my niece Macie here). I have another crochet wire and bead necklace that I’m finishing up as a gift for my blog friend Birgitte in Denmark. Stay tuned for yet another undertaking—my Etsy store!

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Nicotiana

2 08 2009

I photographed this Nicotiana flower a few weeks ago at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. Nicotiana, an annual plant, is a member of the tobacco family. Also known as Tobacco Flower, Flowering Tobacco, Jasmine Tobacco and Ornamental Tobacco, this most-fragrant-at-night plant is native to warm tropical and sub-tropical areas of North and South America. Although this plant is considered an ornamental, it does contain high concentrations of nicotine. The trumpet shaped flowers attract hummingbirds (and ants, as evidenced in the photo below). Nicotiana is easy to grow from seed, begins blooming in early summer, and will rebloom if deadheaded. The five pointed florets bloom in red, white, pink, maroon, rose, yellow and lavender. The plant is poisonous, so keep away from children and pets.

Whenever I think of tobacco (the smoking and chewing kind), I’m reminded of the summer my sister Kelley, and my cousin Deanna and I were paid 5 cents a stick to unstring tobacco leaves for my Uncle Roscoe on his farm in Georgia. The dried tobacco leaves (or ‘backer, as it is sometimes called in the south) were strung two across along a stick that was about 3-4 feet long. We were charged with untying the leaves and putting them in piles. The sticks were hung from the rafters in a barn that also housed Roscoe’s beautiful black stallion and a few other horses—most memorable was a slow-moving, spotted Shetland pony named Champ. When we rode horses (never with our parent’s blessings), I inevitably ended up with Champ. His incredibly slow gait thwarted any fantasy I had to look like that model with the wind flowing through her hair as she galloped through a field of daisies on the package of some feminine hygiene product. My sister got to ride a horse aptly named “Shotgun.”

The three of us worked for a few hours (in a hot barn in the Georgia heat) and I remember making barely a couple of dollars for my efforts. I’m not sure what minimum wage was when I was 12 years old, but I’m pretty sure we were paid well under that amount that day! We didn’t care—we just wanted enough to buy Cokes from the vending machine he had outside the riding arena (complete with bleachers for an audience). We thought it was so cool they had their own outdoor coke machine. The soda came out in the cutest little bottles and I think they were just 10 cents each. My cousins were all avid competitive horse riders and had a slew of trophies on display in their living room—so many that one time they gave each of us one (not that we had earned it, but who doesn’t love a shiny trophy?) and they didn’t even miss them!

And while on the subject of Georgia tobacco…there’s an interesting account here about “Growing ‘Backer on the Wiregrass Plain.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Nicotiana





Eastern tent caterpillar

30 04 2008

Scientific name: Malacosoma americanum (Fabriculus)

A little background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_tent_caterpillar

In my research I discovered this unusual tidbit—the caterpillar has been implicated in “Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome” (MRLS), but how the caterpillar triggers abortion in horses has yet to be determined. In the spring of 2001, Kentucky experienced an unusually heavy infestation of Eastern tent caterpillars and their presence has been linked to MRLS.

MRLS link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mare_Reproductive_Loss_Syndrome

And, if they survive being (inadvertently) stepped on, driven over, or eaten by birds, they morph into the cocoa brown moths shown here: http://bugguide.net/node/view/558/bgimage

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.