Tag Archives: nature

no space plus flamingoes

For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve been concentrating on learning to sculpt in clay. I think I’ve managed to get a handle on the medium and looking back on my sculptures, I believe I’ve progressed reasonably. I’m even rather proud of a few of my pieces, and that, for those who know me, is quite a statement.


There are issues. One is that the art center I go to has become prohibitively expensive. I would buy a kiln but there is no safe place to install it in this teeny, overpacked house. So, my plans to sculpt a series of endangered, misunderstood and maligned animals has become undoable.

Before I began sculpting, my medium was oils, but here again, I have a logistical problem with space. I am working in a tiny corner of the tiny “sunroom” which is actually just an enclosed porch with a lot of drafty windows, ugly paneling and because of its shape, is more shaded than lighted. I share this space with my parrot, Milo. The fumes from turpentine and linseed oil are not so good for parrots. Also a very steeply sloped ceiling makes setting up my easel impossible. Oils are right out.


I decided that I need to develop my ideas using not-toxic materials that can be done in a small setting without spending a fortune. My solution was to learn how to use watercolors and colored pencils. I’m already quite adept with graphite — drawing with graphite is like breathing for me. I used to use charcoal all the time when I was younger, so despite being hideously rusty with charcoal, that’s in the new mix of preferred media.

The first animal I chose to research was the wood stork. By all accounts a most ungainly bird. Ungainly appeals to me. I did some preliminaries and then a graphite portait and a small watercolor. I am proud of  the portrait and not too displeased with the watercolor. Here’s the portrait… what an impressive bird!

Wood Stork by Linda Saboe

Wood Stork, pencil. Resource photo: © Tammy Karr, with permission.

After I worked on this guy, I decided to look for other ungainly birds (I will return to the Wood Stork, I promise). As a lark, I started sketching flamingoes without giving them any serious thought. Suddenly, while trying to figure out that incredible beak, I realized that I needed to research this magnificent bird who has become not much more than a tacky lawn ornament to most in this country.

so here’s some stuff about flamingoes

  • Their name means flame.
  • As far as anyone can tell, they may or may not be related to grebes, storks, ibises, spoonbills, pigeons, doves.
  • There are 6 species, 4 in the new world, 2 in the old.
  • For the grebe-flamingo clade, the taxon Mirandornithes (miraculous birds) has been proposed.
  • Their color comes from the caretenoids in their diet, they filter feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae.

as i was drawing their beaks during research, it occurred to me that their beaks reminded me of baleen whales.

  • The Ancient Egyptians believed them to be the living representation of the god, Ra.
  • Ancient Romans considered their tongues a delicacy.
  • They were worshipped by the ancient people of Peru.
  • They are the nationals bird of the Bahamas.

and in the United States, we have turned them into cheap, pink plastic lawn ornaments.

Wiki entry for flamingoes is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo for more info.

So, this is the work I started with the flamingo. The flamingo (who was once a god) is teaching me watercolor (slowly and painfully), colored pencil (slowly but not so painfully), and a revisit with my old friend, charcoal. I hope you enjoy the flamingoes, and I hope you notice that this magnificent bird is anything but tacky.

Flamingo in White by Linda Saboe

Flamingo in White by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 18″x 24″.
Resource photo: Unable to find valid attribution. Google search filename: Udivitelnye-flamingo.jpg

Flamingo Apart by Linda Saboe

Flamingo Apart by Linda Saboe. Watercolor and ink, 10″x 14″, resource photo: Dreamstime/Yinan Zhang.

Synchronized Flamingoes by Linda Saboe

Synchronized Flamingoes. Watercolor and ink, 10″x 14″. No resource, just made up in my head.


Flamingo by Linda Saboe

Flamingo by Linda Saboe. Colored pencil, 14 ½“x 18”.
Resource photo: American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) (cc) Robert Claypool.

Once, I was a God by Linda Saboe

Once, I was a God by Linda Saboe. Colored pencil, 16″x 20 ¼“.  Resource photo: Daniel Healy (still trying to contact him via Your Shot Photo Community, National Geographic).

One other thing I learned…I’m not very good at taking photographs of art. I also like wolverines.

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 12″x14″.
Resource photos: Dreamstime/Dennis Jacobsen and Dreamstime/Vladislav Jirousek.

But more about her later.



Quick preliminary sketch to get to know this bird.  What a complicated beak!


close avian encounters of a surprising kind


Having finished planting some tomatoes and peppers in the deck boxes, I was leaning on the railing, contemplating nature and stuff, when a young blue jay swooped up from the gully and landed on the railing about 4″ from my elbow. He looked at me, I looked at him, and then a big male robin bombed him and a lightning quick scuffle ensued.

Blue jay beat wings to the other side of the deck with a broken tail feather and the robin, beak full of feathers, perched on the telephone wire and pooped his displeasure.



This fall we decommissioned a large wooden planter where we grew our vegies. When we emptied the planter and turned it over, we found an abundance of new and disturbing life forms living there. If anyone knows what type of fungus this might be, I’d love to know.

Here’s the bottom of the planter


and here’s a closeup of the “colony” of ???

undergrowth 3

and here’s a less disturbing picture of the inside of the planter with embedded roots and if you could see the larger size, tiny worms and snails.


you can see larger pictures of these on my flickr page.

some notes on recovery and a ramble about the wisdom of plants

My husband does everything for me. He feeds me, feeds the animals, goes shopping, cleans the house, cleans me! and has generally taken over all the big and small things of daily living. And, he doesn’t complain or show a whiff of irritation. I have failed to catch even a small sigh of regret. I thank him and my gratitude is laden with guilt and angst with a tinge of embarrassment coloring the edges.

Yesterday, I told him he should be proud of himself. He said, “There’s nothing to be proud about. I’m just doing what should be done. I’m just doing what is right.” I said, “I know others who would not be so patient and giving,” and my amazing husband said, “Then they should be ashamed.”

I do not know what I did to deserve such a person in my life, but I humbly thank the universe for my good fortune.


Bodies are amazing things. I’m so glad I have one that works so well. Granted, I feed it real food, but I’m not obsessive about it. I’ve done terrible things to it over the decades, especially back in the 60s and 70s…ok, I was pretty terrible to it in the 80s too, but not as wantonly as in the two decades previous. I got serious about yoga and started feeding it better in the 90s and with the turn of the century, I gained some wisdom and found my way back to a more earth-centered style of living. My studies of how to live with more kindness in my heart and a lighter foot on the earth has strengthened me in ways that I’m just now beginning to understand.


Two or three years ago I began studying herbalism in earnest. I chose to study in a tradition that spoke to me of the ancients, of old earth magic and lore, the Wise Woman Tradition. This gives me a real and deep connection with nature; a connection that is intimate and personal. I look at what is growing in my yard, in the woods close by, and choose the plants that have come to me of their own volition. I encourage these weeds of opportunity: dandelion, plantain, feverfew, St. John’s Wort, yellow dock, chicory and other “lawn weeds.” I plant perennial and annual herbs and flowers and vegetables that support me, my family and the birds and other critters who live here. I make my medicines from these humble but powerful allies.

If interested, read about my experiences with Poke

tiny moments

sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you get to work on time.

as i was walking to the library from the parking lot, i saw a tiny olive green bird lying on the sidewalk. this is the third or fourth little thing that i’ve found dead on the walkway after smacking into the large windows on the side of the building. always the same spot…always the same species of bird. typically, i pick the poor things up and find a place of repose for them under groundcover or tucked into the ivy.

so i bent down to inspect this little one and found he was still with us! i scooped him up to inspect him and found nothing broken. he was just stunned and covered in fine webbing. i gently removed the webbing as best i could and kept him cupped in my had for warmth and reiki. he gradually perked up and after about 15 minutes, he stopped panting with open beak and took a look at me. he stared at me for quite some time (must have been a very long stare in bird-time). i bent down, placing my hand on the ground. he waited a minute or so then hopped off and flew up into the oak tree.

i found a picture of a similar bird…a black throated green warbler.

so, no matter what else happens today, i feel that i’ve accomplished much.

sunday morning

i like to take my morning coffee out on the deck. if i find myself out there before 7:30 i usually see deer foraging for breakfast or resting. this morning i had the good fortune to see the young buck and his mother lying down in the shady thicket. one yard over, a skinny red fox darted along the fence down to the stream and then out of sight.
the chipmunk family was cavorting in back of my neighbors above-ground pool. two chickadees were chasing each other in circles around the almost empty bird feeder and a couple crows flew in just to make a racket.

i ran for my camera, but my attempts at getting a good clear picture of the deer didn’t work out so well. although i love my little digital, it just isn’t up to the job of taking nature shots over long distance or in shady conditions. i need to resurrect my old bottom of the line pentax and see if i can get some decent photos of the animals who live in the gully.

put your ear to the ground

Typing with people about tsunamis, pharmaceutical companies and gov’t regulations on herbal preparations (badbadbad), and just why do we “hear” stuff…ringing in ears, buzzing, low-level babble (as if over radio waves), slams, creeks, pops, pings, people calling our names. Is it all just electro/chemical brain burps, or is there something else going on?

In this conversation, some of the women talked about experiencing tinnitus, migraines, heightened irritability, etc. just before there was some sort of storm, natural disaster, or before someone they knew died. Some have always been aware of these associations and others are now beginning to chronicle them, giving them more credence than convention and society normally allow.

The premise here is that animals are clued into what’s happening to the earth much more so than we. Animals hear/feel/sense what is happening around them, but we don’t. Animals are AWARE and we simply are not. It makes no sense that we are the only animals lacking the ability to tap into the natural world, so it seems our lack of awareness is more a matter of conditioning. We are conditioned from birth to ignore all things in nature. Our culture and history most of the world over has set us apart from the rest of creation. We are the chosen. We are the ones with god’s ear and we have been given dominion over the earth and all the creatures. In actuality, we have excluded ourselves so thoroughly from the rest of nature that we no longer understand her. As a species, we no longer have the ability that a worm does to interact meaningfully with our environment. We have become ridiculous in the eyes of Gaia.

But maybe it’s not as grim as it seems. The tsunami was a great wake-up call to many that there is something terribly wrong with how we interact with Mother Earth. The animals of the area made it to higher ground, so very few of them died. They felt the quake and the wave and knew to get their asses out of there. *We* have this ability, and we can (and should) reclaim it. The problem is, if we do that, we will have to reassess how we interact with the natural world. We will have to stand back and leave the trees where they grow. We will have to stop poisoning and raping the planet. We will have to stop blasting and drilling in our mountains and coastal shorelines (one possible contributing factor for the magnificent earthquake that resulted in the tsunami is the ongoing “sound bombing” by oil companies looking for off-shore deposits near Tasmania. http://www.independent-media.tv/item.cfm?fmedia_id=10211&fcategory_desc=Under%20Reported ). We will have to learn to be quiet and listen.

I’m not hopeful that people the world over will pay attention, but I am pleased to find so many women are pausing and listening to the rich stillness all around them.

botanical prints

someone sent these websites to the the forum on susun weed’s website.
eerily beautiful.

creatures great and horned

yesterday, i was sitting at my desk, doing what i do, when one of the librarians came rushing up to me. she told me i had to go see something. we walked out of the building, up to the sidewalk, judy checking the ground. then we saw it. a very large bright green caterpillar with an orange face and butt, adorned all over her head and back with large black and orange horns. she was about 5 or 6 inches long and a good 1/2 round and fiercely beautiful.

i got very excited and told judy to go get a box. i didn’t want the poor thing to get smooshed by a student or a car. we decided to take it to the biology department. now, i figured that the wonderful experts over there would take a look and nonchalantly declare it something unpronounceably common. instead, we got, “what the hell is that?” “where’s the entomologist?” “eeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwww,” “does it bite?” “that’s not real! is it real?” and the like. they decided to take it to the insectorium to keep it safe, since by this time, the poor thing was totally stressed and beginning to shrivel.

when i got back to my desk, i googled, “entomology caterpillar monster” and found that my precious worm was a hickory horned devil, totally harmless despite its fierce appearance.

then today….
going back to work after lunch at home, not three blocks from my house, i almost ran over a great blue heron! she was standing in the middle of the road. i stopped. she looked at me and then she flew off. i had to sit there for a good long time to collect myself.

a great blue heron! in the fuckin middle of suburbia! berwyn! just 20 miles from philly for goddess sake!

what does it mean when a great blue heron crosses your path?

cicadas singing

i waited with great expectation for the cicadas to arrive, but they failed to grace berwyn with their presence. moogie did his best to irradicate them in baltimore as my first son told me. i heard they held a concert down the road in phoenixville.

and so, when i went outside to smoke my last cigarette for the night, i was gladdened and amazed to hear them singing down in the gulley.

i guess they were busy elsewhere
til tonight


nature love

so, it appears that the deck railing out back is the millipede mating grounds of berwyn. looking forward to a population explosion in the basement.

at least they’re quiet about it.

spiders & crows

my banana plants out on the deck have become a haven for orb spiders…spider condo. just witnessed a bit of a tiff between two spiders. apparently, spiders don’t enjoy visiters on their webs.

there are crows nesting in our gully out back. the other day, the old man was conducting lessons for the younguns. he sounded just like this very old, boring history professor i had in college. he went on and on, not tolerating any interruption. a young crow was complaining bitterly, but it got him nowhere. discussion was not encouraged.

%d bloggers like this: