Tag: cheryl baker

Seashell in the Woodlands

It has been my good fortune to stumble across a variety of seashells in all sorts of colors and conditions. Most curious as I can usually find them in the unlikeliest of places while on my expeditions into the far reaches of the Woodlands.  Perched in the crook of a giant oak arm, hidden under morels – why, I even discovered a rather large shell in a robin’s nest! I seem to gravitate towards these hollow vessels as if they are beckoning me to release them from the confines of their muddy prison walls, silently pleading that I restore them to their once glorious beauty.

It was during my last journey in search of wild oregano that I discovered a rather unusual shell. A bright purple tip protruded from a patch of moss attracted my attention. This one was quite exotic looking compared to the others I had collected. Where you would expect to see a rhythm of horizontal bands was replaced by a series of circles and swirls in pastel shades of lavender, pink and crimson blue. Its main body was plump and hollow surround by dull spikes. What made this specimen so fascinating was what was attached at the tips.

Seashell in the Woodlands

“How curious,” I muttered to myself as I ran my fingers across one of the pods. Where the main body of the shell felt rough and hard, these were soft and spongy with a hollow end.

I retrieved a rag from my satchel and carefully wrapped and secured it before gently placing it in a glass jar. I made a quick note in my field journal and secured both items before closing the pouch. It wasn’t long before I found what I had been searching for and made my way back home.

The sweet scent of oregano waiffed into the study room as I loosened the drawstrings of the satchel. Loose threads protruded from a worn seam along with unsightly scuff marks that bore the brunt of evidence from my many adventures into the wild parts of the Woodlands. It had survived tumbles into streams, jabs from thorny bushes and unforgiving rocks. I noticed the beginning of a small hole and made a mental note to patch it up after dinner.

I gathered the leafy plant and tied a long string around the stems. I walked a few feet away and fastened the loose end to a protruding nail on a wall that hosted several other plants in different stages of preservation.  I ran my hands down the floral apron cinched around my waist before returning to the prize discovery patiently waiting for me. I gently removed the stained rag and studied the peculiar looking seashell that rested in the palm of my hand. I grabbed a damp cloth from the basin and carefully wiped away bits of moss and dirt. “What are you, little guy?” I said as I intently studied every small crevice and spike that jetted out from its body. I touched the bright purple pods and was again fascinated. “And what are these for?”

I set the shell on an ornate, silver platter and took a few steps from my desk.  My attention was drawn to a tall wall lined with hundreds of books. Hmmmm….I ran my finger across the ridge of several spines, reading the titles until one particular book caught my eye. The Fisherman’s Nautical Guide to Shellfish. “Aha! That ought to do it.”

I set the book down next to the mysterious object on my desk. A cup of tea was in order before what may inevitably end up becoming a very, long evening. A few minutes later, I had settled myself into my favorite comfy chair with a steaming cup of cinnamon carrot tea. I picked up the book and began thumbing through what must have been hundreds of pictures of crabs, clams, mussels, oysters and squids. Not one remotely resembled what sat in front of me. I let out a long sigh and opened up a drawer from the side table. I removed a magnifying glass and brought it up next to the shell.

Tiny particles of silver, gold and turquoise sparkled as it caught the soft glow of candlelight from a beeswax candle cradled in a metal arm attached to a mechanical desk lamp. A gift from my dear friend, Prof. MacCrumb, which I had enjoyed for both its practicality and thoughtfulness. Suddenly, my gaze was drawn to a faint marking barely visible next to a spongy pod. Etched into the seashell was what appeared to be a single letter.

“M?” I said with an arched brow. My eyes widened as I began to notice other letters carved on several spikes. I grabbed a pencil and pad of paper and scribbled down various markings.

After a few minutes, I sat puzzled looking at the riddle of letters that met my gaze.

D M M R E I A

I must say, it is getting rather late. I wanted to share my discovery with you before any details from the day’s events fluttered away. Nevertheless, exciting news. Indeed! I shall post updates as I discover more about this exquisite shell.

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How a Steampunk Watch Saved Teatime

The Great Discovery

The other day in steampunk watchmy workshop, something peculiar caught my eye that I had not remembered placing on my worktable. It was quite ornate in its design and appeared to have been intended for a special lady friend. I can only assume this beautifully crafted steampunk watch must have fallen through a rusted out hole in one of the small metal crates I had retrieved from my last excursion into the junkyard.

Examining the delicate pocket watch in my hand, a most brilliant idea popped in my head. Genius, really. Isn’t it funny how something so inconsequential can spark your imagination or the next great idea?

I immediately set to work drafting a blueprint design for my next masterpiece!  I must have been slightly parched when the idea struck me. Thoughts of the delicious aroma of chamomile ginger tea spoke to me in such earnest that I felt tea time deserved a little more, how do you say, pizazz?

steampunk watch

No more fiddling with brewing fresh tea. Not when you have a marvelous invention to do the work for you!

It wasn’t hardly any trouble finding and assembling the needed supplies, not when a plethora of eager mice to offer helping hands. After a few trial runs that resulted in 2 cracked teacups, a very wet mouse being mistaken for a sugar cube and a few other minor mishaps, it is amazing how the discovery of a steampunk watch can result in this fine specimen of innovation and imagination!

Why Should You Drink Tea?

I’m not talking about that frivolous imposter tea that you humans seem to enjoy consuming stored in plastic bottles.  Ghastly, if you ask me! I am referring to prim and proper cups of tea that require a little effort on your part.

I must say, my invention spurred by a steampunk watch has performed exceedingly well. So much so that besides the inconvenience of visiting the tall bush frequently throughout the day, I have experienced a few nice benefits.

  1. Less tummy trouble. For those who suffer from nausea or easily irritated stomachs, chamomile leaves or ginger may do just the trick. These herbs are a staple in my kitchen.
  2. Your ticket to a guilt free delicacy. No need to be concerned with calories if you are on a mission to drop a few stones. Bottom’s up!
  3. Your body needs the extra arsenal. Green tea is most ideal to build up your immune system. Just this year, my dearest great aunt had a scare with the 6 lettered “C” word. Naturally, she increased her intake of this wonderful herb and within 6 months, not a single abnormality was detected in her body. It revved up her body’s natural defense to do what it is supposed to do.
  4. Brain candy to boost your concentration and relaxation. This, I cannot stress enough. There is something to be said about increased productivity while sipping a cup of “brain boosting” tea. If you think about it, as your body is being nourished within by such herbs as ginkgo biloba, periwinkle and rosemary – your ability to retrieve facts, critically think and be a smartie pants (in a good sort of way) takes on a life of its own. Before you know it, you will stumble across your own steampunk watch that will lead you to your next invention!

Sincerely,
Prof. MacCrumb

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Vegetable Garden Nemesis

vegetable gardenWait. What?

If memories of your last vegetable garden make you cringe in frustration from the beastly bugs that devoured your hard work, there may be more than what meets the eye! Like many gardeners, you have scoured through countless articles searching in vain for ways to keep your plants in tip top shape without the use of pesticides. Alas, your annoyance grows when it seems like your efforts backfire and you are the laughing stock of the arthropods. Mehrr!

Let me share with you a little secret that only a few humans know about. Indeed, a garden does attract a few pests now and then but if you find your vegetable garden the center of a war zone, there stands a good chance that a Soil Specter has staked a claim on your green oasis.

Vegetable Garden

A quick sketch of this foul pest that I briefly spotted at my favorite park. I assume looking for his next target to spread garden mischief!

These are nasty little buggers that seem to take special delight in being a pain in the rumpus to humans. Their scent attracts the likes of slugs, spider mites, caterpillars and practically any vegetable bug in search of a good meal. I’m not talking about a few nuisances. Times that by a gazillion and you have real problems on your hands.

Oh, and no use looking for these shadowy villains either. They will only show themselves if they want to.

Before you throw your arms up in despair and march off to grab a bucket of chemicals to douse on your precious food, there is a solution that will give these Soil Specters a taste of their own medicine!

Specters. It’s What’s for Dinner.

Before you plant your first seed in your vegetable garden, consider dedicating a small patch to these beauties:

  • Pansies
  • Peony
  • Poppies
  • Thyme
  • Rose
  • Heather
  • Snapdragons
  • Tulips

A few sprouting buds will most definitely lure 2-3 fairies into your vegetable garden. Take it a step further and add a fairy themed garden statue or a fairy house will surely make word spread amongst the winged folk. Before long, you will have an invisible party of fae folk fluttering about.

“And exactly how will this help ward off the Soil Specters?” you ask.

It turns out that fairies absolutely LOVE to devour this nemesis.  They are a delicacy to dine on. And they tell me that it tastes similar to what humans call “soy sauce.” Hmm. Who’d have thunk it?

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