Wednesday, April 13, 2011

OCOTILLO by Patt Sims Tierra Grande Chapter‏

It was a young boy in Boquillas Canyon who formally introduced me to the ocotillo more than 40 years ago. I was walking into the canyon and ahead of me was a young man also walking into the canyon. From maybe 20 feet behind I watched as he reached up to a clump of dazzling red flowers at the end of what appeared to be long, dead sticks and pulled a few off. As I walked by him I stopped and watched as he bit off the base of each flower and sucked out the nectar. Then I reached up to get some flowers and repeated his actions. He laughed at me and then I laughed at him. It was like sucking up nectar from a honeysuckle, maybe even a little sweeter. We then spent the better part of the afternoon walking among the flowers, laughing and sucking out nectar. It was a fine day. At that time I spoke little Spanish but managed to learn a lot about the ocotillo and the roles it plays in the Chihuahuan Desert from this young man.

Few plants can play more on the imagination than the ocotillo. In form it resembles nothing so much as a giant bouquet of dead sticks branching out at ground level and sending as many as 50 stems from three to twenty-five feet into the air. Each stem is armed with spines along its length, making it a rather formidable plant. For most of the year we see only these bare stems, but after a good rain, short, green leaves appear. These are about an inch long and cluster at the base of the spines. When arid conditions return the leaves are quickly shed, preventing the loss of too much moisture from the plant through the leaves. The ocotillo also produces another type of leaf. During its growing season smooth green leaves appear on the new growth. These leaves will curve inward near their bases and change from a soft petiole to a hardened sharp spine one-half inch long. In only a few other plant families do spines develop from leaves.

The ocotillo is well adapted to desert life and seems to prefer the arid gravelly foothills and limestone ridges where little else grows. They may be found as widely spaced individuals or in a large gathering covering several acres. The plant is protected from dryness by a waxy sheath under its bark. The root system is shallow, widespread, and sheathed with a corky substance that enables it to quickly absorb what little moisture may penetrate the ground. It is a sturdy plant, well equipped to survive in the harsh environment of the Big Bend country. Where its only enemy is, seemingly, the wind which will occasionally topple the plant. I have seen woodpeckers pecking at the stems of the plant but only a few times.

Since the ocotillo grows only in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts it is probable that early settlers to the Big Bend had never seen the plant before. A large number of common names were used to describe the plant, including: coach whip, Jacob’s staff, and candle wood. Ocotillo was an native American name for the plant and seems to be the most popular name today. A few other names, such as vine cactus and candle cactus, gave the misleading impression that this plant is a member of the cactus family. Although it was readily apparent to the botanist that the ocotillo was not a cactus (cactus do not develop leaves after a rainy season), they really didn’t know how to classify it. Eventually they decided to place it in its own family of plants which consists of a few different species of ocotillo and the boojum tree of Baja California. In the spring, whether there has been any rain or not the ocotillo usually blooms. Bright, flame-red flowers cluster about the tips of the spiny stems. There are faintly fragrant with sweet, viscous nectar. There may be as many as 300 flowers clustered on a single stem (though the usual number is about 120). Some plants have as many as 500 clusters of inch -long flowers. After the flowers wither, the seed pod matures, eventually splitting open at the top to reveal silky white seed, each with a long fringe of spirally thickened hair. The wind will disperse these so that they can germinate and produce new plants. The process may be repeated several times during the year because this plant is in tune with rainfall, not seasons.

Man in the Big Bend found many uses for the ocotillo. The seed could be eaten, the flowers made a soothing tea. A poultice from powdered roots relieved pains of arthritis and rheumatism. The wax found under the bark of the plant was used for tanning hides. Bundles of dried ocotillo stems were used as torches, the wax in them producing a bright flame. This same wax was used by later settlers as a furniture varnish. The ocotillo was an important building material, whether woven into walls or laid flat and covered with mud for a roofing material. The plant was, and still is, important as a fencing material, often the cut stems, when placed in the ground, take root to provide a living fence, leafing out after summer rains and then blooming.

Today ocotillos are disappearing from the Chihuahuan Desert as ranchers, seeking a cash crop, sell their ocotillo to landscapers. Trucks loaded with thousands of pounds of ocotillo plants can be seen leaving the desert every spring, making our desert just a little bit more deserted. I am glad ranchers have an income, and I’m glad others throughout the country find the ocotillo attractive. But this plant is part of the Chihuahuan Desert so I hope some will always remain.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fear and Worry

Fear and Worry

Today my little girl came to tears in front of me this morning afraid to go to school today.  She got embarrassed Friday at school and was afraid that they would pick on her today.  The first thing I did was wrap her with my arms and I concentrated on sending her thoughts of peace.
I tried to calm her fears by telling her that more than likely they would already have forgotten about it. Secondly to remember that those making fun will soon be the ones made fun of as it is a natural law that which you do comes back to you, and thirdly, your best defense is to walk away, and if they persist to go get the teacher.  I told her not to let fear intrude on her thoughts and to stand tall for she is a beautiful girl and she is always protected by her angels.  Those good thoughts that we keep inside will always be there for us no matter where we are or what state of mind we are in. I also gave her an envelope with 1 dollar in it and I told her to be a secret agent and deliver it to someone, anyone without them knowing it so that you are a secret agent of happiness. She got all excited about this and seemed to forget her fear….I look forward to seeing how her day went.
Then as I am about to write this what appears in my email but this email post from Napoleon I would like to share it with you, and my daughter when she gets home….
If you are worried or afraid of anything, there is something in your mental attitude that needs correction.
Worry and fear are negative emotions that serve no useful purpose. Worse, they are not benign influences on your behavior. Both tend to expand if left unchecked until they crowd out positive emotions and beliefs, taking over your mind and filling it with counterproductive emotions that cause you to doubt your ability to succeed at anything you attempt. Unless you control worry and fear, one day you will discover that they control you. While the emotions can’t always be corrected with logic or reason, they are always susceptible to action. Act, and even if your actions aren’t entirely appropriate for the situation, the very act of doing something ? anything — constructive will have a positive effect on your mind and attitude.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some more pages from the sketchbook...and that was the Sketchbook Project in Austin now...then on to????

Here are some more pages from the sketchbooks as they go off to the Art Co-op.

Some of the pages from the sketchbook

Here is a quick view of some of the sketchbook pages before they get sent out....Hope you enjoy!

Piecing the sketchbook together.

When ever I am about to start a new collage project, I collect, collect, collect.  I am about ready to start collage work for the Sketchbook Project (see the link below). So I  am collecting images, roots, herbs, vellum, wax paper, old empherma, old vintage naturalists prints, an assortment of papers and treasures that will make up this little sketchbook.  It helps me to see possibilities, look at things in new ways, and how things look together. Some might say I am making a big pile of a mess, others can see the creativity inherent in a pile.  What do you see, and how do you begin a project?

The Sketchbook project....

Okay, I am gathering my supplies, distressing my sketchbook and getting the inpsirations in order.  Today I will share the distressing of the pages. Personally I like the look of distressed paper, the aged, the torn, a bit of history.  So with this in mind I decided it would be loads of fun to pretend I was working on an old book-alas distressed pages.  I tea stained the pages, used brown inks, crupled some edges, and then dunked the whole thing in a tea bath then dried it out.  Phew, I am glad I didn't ruin it. Here it is if you are interested...How do you distress paper? PS To find out more about The Sketch book Project go to the link at the bottom of the page and click on it and it will take you there......

Inspirations before beginning the Sketchbook Project

These "What inspires you?" posts are meant to get your creative brain clicking,and forming connections...Thats what they do for me anyway.  I am trying to come up with my theme for the scetchbook project..... so when I am trying to come up with a theme I search for inspiriations.  So these posts are a way of sort of showing you how I work..that is if you are interested.  I am always interested in what other artists look at , and where they find inspiration. What sparks your creative juices, what lights your fire...SO here are some vintage images that sparked my creative fire today as I go off into the studio to work on some collages for The Sketchbook Project..To learn more about the project scroll to the bottom of the page I have a link. Happy creating.....oh and by the way does anyone have any good books on artists creative inspriations they want to recommend?

Sketchbook Project-In Austin Texas

This is the process I went through to come up with the pages of my sketchbook for the sketchbook project.  Look them up online and join their next sketchbook project. The artists
So in these next few posts I will share with you the thoughts that went behind the sketchbook for the sketchbook project. I imagined the sketchbook was a little like Milagros prescription book in Inspiritu Jewelery; Earrings Necklaces and Bracelets for the mind body and soul book.  PS the book is now available to be shipped from, and Barnes and and in stores as we speak.
So back to the sketchbook...The sketchbook has healing recipes, pictures of the desert, and healing recipes from the desert, as well as some quotes,and inspirations...It will be traveling the US and landing in Brooklyn. Hope you enjoy the makings of Milagros Prescription book for Inspiritu Jewelry.

These are some inspirations form my journals that I may use in the sketchbook project fro Milagors Prescription book for Inspiritu Jewelry.

The odd thing about creativity it comes in fits and starts. It never seems to flow at all times. It may be because I have to wear so many hats-mom, student, employee, then I get to work on creative projects-in fits and starts.  Maybe I should call my life Fits and Starts...Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There is a Hero in all of us-Daily

There is a hero in all of us-Daily

There’s a hero in everybody. –Dark Guardian
Good News of the Day:
Crusaders costumed in tights, capes, cowls and other accoutrements are turning up with surprising regularity in American cities to fight what they consider their biggest enemy: public apathy. They call themselves Real Life Superheroes and, with names like Dark Guardian, Red Dragon, and Viper, they might be right at home on the pages of comic books. But unlike their ink-and-paper counterparts, they can’t fly, vanish into thin air or outrun a speeding locomotive. And they usually are armed with nothing more than good intentions. Maybe a camera and cell phone, too. They bring help to the homeless, raise money for charity, or just lend an ear so someone in trouble knows they care. [ more ]
Submitted by: Somik R.
Be The Change:
Be inspired to be inspiring. Do an act of kindness to a stranger today. (Cape and mask optional.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

lechugilla aches and pains remedy

Lechugilla is a tall spindly plant that grows in far west Texas. It reminds me a bit of really thin spaghetti with thorns...But if you are achy and full of pain lechugilla is for you.

cut off some of the new fresh stalks, peel off the thorns with a knife.   pour olive oil or jojoba oil in a jar and cut the stems into very small pieces and soak in the oil for a month in the hot sunshine. let the juices of the lechugilla meld with the oil.  strain and pour into fresh bottle to use whenever you are feeling full of aches and pains...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

spiritual landscapes

I love to look for the spirit in everything, and today when I was hiking I saw spiritual landscapes everywhere.  So join me on my hike today and find the spiritual landscaped within yourself...or join the pictures if you like.