Monday, May 24, 2010

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera (Gheeguar) this herb is a genus that contains about four hundred species of flowering succulent plants. These plants have a rosette of large, thick, fleshy leaves, which are sometimes lance-shaped with a sharp apex and a spiny margin. The flowers are tubular, mostly brown, pink or red and are born on densely clustered, simple or branched leafless stems. These herbs are useful in alternative medicines and in home first aid. The herbal extracts of this plant are used to relieve skin discomforts. These plants have strong medicinal properties.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coastal Grasses

Each spring a flush of green grasses covers the rolling hills and bluffs above the sea, and within a few weeks thousands of wildflowers burst forth in brilliant colors. By midsummer the grasses set seed and the hill change back to their green and golden slumber. This is the coastal prairie community, which extends intermittently south from Eureka to Point Reyes and between San Francisco and Monterey.

Until late in the last century the coastal prairie was almost entirely composed of native perennial grasses. These relatively slow-growing grasses have deep root systems and creeping stems that help to ensure their long-term survival; some individual plants are known to be more than 100 years old. Early European settlers found the naturally treeless coastal grasslands ideal for agriculture and ranching. As grazing operations expanded, fast-growing, non-native annual grasses were gradually introduced and these began to outcompete the slow-growing, native perennials. Some introductions were accidental and others were intentional. Annual grasses live only a single growing season but good seed dispersal ensures their return year after year. As a result, few intact native grassland communities remain today.

Representative native grasses include species of bentgrass, Agrostis; hairgrass, Deschampsia; reedgrass, Calamagrostis; and oatgrass, Danathonia. At least four species of bentgrass are endemic, whereas others are introductions from Australia and Europe. Hairgrass provides excellent forage and can withstand close grazing without destruction of its delicate root system, whereas reedgrass is important in the prevention of erosion. Commonly encountered non-native grasses include wild oat, Avena spp., and bromegrass, Bromus spp. 

The California Poppy

The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is native to grassy and open areas from sea level to 2,000m (6,500 feet) altitude in the western United States throughout California, extending to Oregon, southern Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and in Mexico in Sonora and northwest Baja California.
It can grow 5–60 cm tall, with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are ternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2–6 cm long and broad; their color ranges from yellow to orange, and flowering is from February to September. The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather.[1] The fruit is a slender dehiscent capsule 3–9 cm long, which splits in two to release the numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It is perennial in mild parts of its native range, and annual in colder climates; growth is best in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.
It grows well in disturbed areas. In addition to being planted for horticulture, revegetation, and highway beautification, it often colonizes along roadsides and other disturbed areas. It is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens. It is also pictured in welcome signs while entering California.
It is the official flower of California. April 6 is designated California Poppy Day.[ 

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California


It is 714 feet (218 m) long, 24 feet (7.3 m) wide, over 280 feet (85 m) high and has a main span of 320 feet (98 m).[2] Its two heavy buttresses are unnecessary to support the structure, and later arch bridges such as the Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge omitted them from the design.[3] It is “one of the most photographed features on the West Coast”[4] because of its location along the scenic Central Coast of California, and has frequently been used in automobile commercials. The construction of the bridge began on August 24, 1931 and was completed on October 15, 1932.[5] Local legend has it that during construction, a Chinese laborer was killed in a construction accident. Rather than delay construction with a police investigation, the body was thrown into the fresh concrete of the north pillar. This story is frequently told, but has not been corroborated. Before the bridge was opened on November 27, 1932, coastal travelers endured rough wagon roads over precipitous ridges and valleys. The 30-mile (48 km) journey from Monterey to the Big Sur River valley could take three days round trip. It has since become a regional landmark, and was used in the opening sequences of the television series Then Came Bronson and the film Play Misty for Me. The bridge figures prominently in posters and other publicity material of the Big Sur International Marathon. 

Post Cards from Big Sur, California

Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the central California coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big south", or from "el paĆ­s grande del sur", "the big country of the south". The terrain offers stunning views, making Big Sur a popular tourist destination. Big Sur's Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous 48 states, ascending nearly a mile (5,155 feet/1571 m) above sea level, only three miles (4.8 km) from the ocean.[1]
Although Big Sur has no specific boundaries, many definitions of the area include the 90 miles (140 km) of coastline between the Carmel River and San Carpoforo Creek, and extend about 20 miles (32 km) inland to the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucias. Other sources limit the eastern border to the coastal flanks of these mountains, only three to 12 miles (19 km) inland.
The northern end of Big Sur is about 120 miles (190 km) south of San Francisco, and the southern end is approximately 245 miles (394 km) northwest of Los Angeles. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Angel of Grief

Angel of Grief is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story which serves as the grave stone of the artist and his wife at the Protestant Cemetery, Rome.
A replica made in 1901 was made to honor Henry Lathrop, brother to Jane StanfordStanford University co-founder, but was severely damaged in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, leading to its replacement in 1908. After years of neglect, the 1906 replacement was fully restored in 2001.[1][2]
This style of monument is also referred to as "Weeping Angel."

Friday, May 14, 2010

In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams

I love the Spring/Summer when all my favorite fruits and flowers start appearing, berries, cherry’s, peaches, nectarines, roses, dasies, ranunculas. Something about the time just at the end of Spring and beginning of Summer that really heals my soul, maybe it is all the bright colors around me, how can I be down and out when I have all this gorgeous color around me!

I tend to be healthier in the summer months too, I guess my eating gets better, in the winter I tend to eat heavy potato, macaroni type things and in the summer I go for the great fresh fruits and veggies.

Well don’t want to ramble on just wanted to say hello Summer I am glad you are finally here!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Shout Out to the Wildlife Staff and Voulnteers

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing the babies in the wildlife department at the shelter I volunteer with.  I found out it is no easy task to take care of these little ones, the baby birds for example have to be fed every 30 minutes round the clock and there is always someone there to do the job.

During this time of the year the center is deluged with babies found on the road, in trees, in peoples yards.  The Baby Barn Owls were found in a tree along a popular hiking path, the mother had been injured and eventually had to be euthanized but she protected her flock until the very end, a true mother.

The hardest part of this job is not the long hours but not getting attached or letting the animals get attached to you, for their own protection.  This is why I work with dogs as I really don't think I could look at these little faces and not fall in love, it was all I could do yesterday not to cuddle them and I did get a sneak cuddle in with one of the baby raccoons (bad bad bad).

But anyway this is a hurrah to all the great people helping our worlds wildlife you all are very special.