Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Marsh Legends

I went to the marsh! This marsh is connected to Lake Washington. It is a beautiful place to visit on a sunny day.

On the day I went to the marsh, I saw: A rabbit, a bald eagle, and osprey, a red wing black bird, a couple of turtles, and these strange underwater, swimming bugs. One thing I didn't see is will-o'-the'-wisp.....not an animal, but a different sort of fantastic being. The will o the wisp is a ghostly, glowing light seen by weary travelers at night, hovering above...marshes! well, marshes, swamps and other similar bodies of water.

Folklore throughout the world have stories of the will-o'-the'-wisp. In the United Kingdom, the strange marsh light is thought to be glowing orbs of light that goblin fairies hold in their hands with the soul purpose of luring travelers of the beaten path to the treacherous dangers of nighttime nature. Just when the traveler was far enough from the path to be fully in the clutches of luck and nature, the light would extinguish, and the traveler would be left in oblivion with only their own wits and intuition to guide them to safety.

In Mexico, the lights are thought to be souls of witches. The witches leading a dark life of wickedness and black magic, are somehow transformed into light itself. Their hearts may have been dark in life, but their souls glow in the dark after death.

In Columbia, the will-o'-the'-wisp is thought to be the ghost of a heartless grandmother. In her life, she had no compassion for the world, and reveled in the joy of consequence-free cruelty. She had grandchildren that she raised. She purposely chose to raise the children without morals, scruples, or hearts capable of understanding. Instead of raising upstanding citizens, she raised greedy and angry thieves, bandits and murderers.

In Louisiana, the glowing marsh light is thought to be the a vengeful spirit. The spirit creates mostly mischief, but sometimes the mischief becomes more sinister and the spirit will engage in cruel acts such as sucking the blood of children!

With so many legends of glowing lights hovering above marshes and swamps, all across the world, it makes you wonder if maybe they exist! seems like modern day science actually confirms a legend for once. Maybe not the the mystical being or lost soul part of the legend, but a least the part that says glowing light appears above marshes and swamps. Science says the light is most likely caused by burning gasses. Here is an article that does a good job explaining the scientific truth of will-o'-the'-wisp: will-o'-the'-wisp scientifically explained.

While during my visit to the marsh I only saw common marsh creatures, maybe if i had gone during the evening, I would have spotted something strange flickering in the distance.... a fairy perhaps...a ghost...a lost soul...or maybe just marsh gas.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Annabelle in the Woods #12: Annabelle Learns the Secret History of the Squirrels

Here is the twelfth illustration from the Annabelle in the Woods series. I used drawing ink, gouache and acrylic to paint it.

It is tiring spending a day having wild encounters with magical animals and various other whimsical creatures. When she met the squirrel, she couldn’t stop yawning. The squirrel, being a gentle hearted creature urged Annabelle to make herself comfortable. “What better way to greet the daze of sleep than armed with the words of a bedtime story.” The squirrel promised to tell Annabelle a grand story. He would tell her the secret history of the squirrels.

“A long time ago, my kind lived in a different world. It was a world full of peace. The squirrels lived in harmony, sharing everything from acorns to well wishes. But one day, a monster was unleashed upon their land. The monster chased the squirrels away from their home. The squirrel folk wanted to stay and defend their lands, but they had never been the type to tend toward violence. They had no way to defend themselves so they fled. They ran toward the shore where their boats were moored. The sea was turbulent, but not as turbulent as the wrath of the monsters. It would be a great wonder that their salvation came in the same form as their destruction: a monster! Slithering through the sea, they came upon the most magnificent sea serpent. The sea serpent was friendly and kind. She could see that the squirrels were struggling. She asked the squirrels what they were in search for. They replied they were looking for a new land to call their own. The sea serpent bowed and said that upon her back was a land like no other and they were welcome to inhabit the world upon her back. They didn’t know how to thank her, but they wept with joy. The squirrels moored their boats and climbed upon their new home. On her back was a mighty mountain, glistening in the sun. They climbed the mountain for ten months and ten days and finally came upon the perfect forest to call their own. They built homes and a community. The squirrels were at peace again. The squirrels never forgot the kindness of the sea serpent. This is why sometimes on a tree or on an acorn you may see an image of a sea serpent depicted. The squirrels places these images there in honor of their great savior.
And that is the story of my people” The squirrel said, more to himself as he expected Annabelle to be asleep. But the story had riveted her and she was wide awake, wanting to learn more.

The squirrel requested that for each story he shared, he wanted to hear a story from Annabelle about her own secret history. So Annabelle and the squirrel swapped stories and became great friends.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: Burn Town by Jennifer McMahon

Jennifer McMahon writes stories that fuse the magical with the reality in such a delightful and engaging way. All of her books that I have read have had mystery's at the center of the plot. When I heard she had a new book called Burn Town, I quickly put a hold on it at my library.

The main characters name is Necco, after the delicious wafer candy. Necco was born with a different name, she chose instead to go by Necco because of her love for the candy. As an avid fan of, and constant defender of Necco candies, I was glad to have this fictional alley rallying for my cause (that Neccos are delicious and not chalk disguised as candy. I can't believe how much Necco hate exists out there!)

But the main characters name wasn't the only thing I enjoyed about this book. The mystery had me hooked! When Necco was a young girl living with her parents and brother, a great flood separates the family from each other. The flood began right after Necco heard voices on a mysterious radio able to contact the dead. The flood kills Necco's father and brother, and Necco and her mother are left to fend for themselves. Not only is their house destroyed, their family gone and the fortunes non-existent, they are on the run from a man always following them. Necco and her mother live on the streets in order to not be tied to a place where the person out to get them can find them. 

When Necco grows up, she is still living on the streets, but she has fallen in love and has the companionship of her boyfriend who lives with her. Her world is forever altered when her boyfriend is murdered and Necco is the prime suspect! The action and mysterious twists and turns really pick up from here, but you will have to read the book to find out what they are.

This is the perfect book to read during a relaxing summer day. It has mystery, it has plot twists, it is hard to put down, and it has a satisfying ending. I definitely recommend Burn Town!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Endless Spring

The travelling garden show is always an exciting botanical spectacle to behold! Now we are well into 'plant season,' but the garden show usually arrives just in time to be inspired to create with natures medium: Plants! Here are some pictures from this years garden show. 

I was doing some research about interesting gardens around the world, and it seems like Cornwall in the United Kingdom is a hot spot of interesting gardens! Here are three gardens in Cornwall that I would love to visit!
  • The Eden Project: The Eden project consists of HUGE biodomes full of thousands of different plants! In Seattle, we are also getting biodomes. The project is being done by amazon. When I first heard of this project, I heard that the biodomes would be full of plants and that the public would get to visit them! I was pretty excited, but since the the tune has changed, and now from what I hear only amazon employees get to visit the biodome. Talk about disappointment. The Eden Project, however, is open to the public! One of the biodomes is set up to be like an actual rain forest! I don't think there are rain forest animals like monkeys and the such, but there are certainly all the botanical life of the rain forest. The other dome is a Mediterranean climate and also contains interesting sculptures. 
  • Glendurgan Garden has a maze made out of cherry laurel bushes. Garden goers can explore the maze and get lost in the maze. Garden mazes are very mysterious and I have noticed they are sometimes used in creepy stories as a motif. The most famous of course is in 'The Shining.' Little Danny runs away from his crazy father through a garden maze. But years ago I read an aMAZEing (haha, couldn't resist) book by Shirley Jackson called 'The Sundial' that also features a maze. Shirley Jackson is almost always eerie, and the element of the garden maze somehow just naturally reinforced the feeling of unease that persists in Jackson's fiction. What is it about garden mazes, something that should be though of as playful and lighthearted, that is so eerie?
  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan: A mysterious garden indeed full of rediscovered sculptures coated with moss. A wealthy family lived at the estate, but once the devastation of World War Two arrived, the family could no longer properly care for their gardens. Once they employed an entire staff of gardens, but then the war claimed the life of all but two of these men. The garden sunk in to disarray and was abandoned to nature. Years and years later, an intrepid group of gardeners decided to restore the garden.  The best part of the gardens are odd human sculptures, hiding in the overgrowth like resting giants. 
All of these beautiful gardens in one place made me think that probably there are people who travel around the world just to see gardens. There favorite thing in the world is the beauty of a garden, and with so many gardens to see, they are inspired to travel and explore the world, one garden at the time. It is just like the movie Endless Summer (which I have never actually seen, but I believe is about some surfers who move around the world according to where in the world it is closest to summer and then spend all their time surfing), except instead of chasing summer for waves, they are chasing spring for flowers. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Annabelle in the Woods #11: The Night Bird Introduces Annabelle to the Star Folk

Here is the eleventh illustration from the Annabelle in the Woods series. It was painted with tea, acrylic and gouache.

Annabelle thought the forest at night may become a spooky and unwelcome place, but she was wrong. Just as the last bit of light fizzled away, the night raven swooped into Annabelle’s life.

“The only thing I don’t like about night” Annabelle said to the raven who perched next to her with curious eyes, “Is the lack of brightness. I always miss light when it is not around.”

“I know just who you need to meet!” The night raven said.

Without much explanation, the raven swooped down and gently picked up Annabelle with his dark talons. Annabelle and the raven ascended into the sky, higher and higher and higher! The woods were beautiful from such a high distance. Everything that looked grand and foreboding was light and lovely.

A weird thing happened while Annabelle and the night raven left the forest. The further away they got from the woods, the brighter the sky got. Soon, Annabelle and the raven were in the presence of the star people. The stunning light the start people emitted turned everything into a bright glow.
Annabelle was absolutely dazzled by the star people. Not only was their bright glow startlingly beautiful, but they were kind and gentle. Annabelle was full of questions and she rattled them off to her star friends.

“What constellation are you part of?”

“Have you ever seen an alien?”

“Do you ever feel competitive with the sun about the amount of light you make?”

“What are you more afraid of, black holes or asteroids?”

“What’s the meaning of life?”

“Where’s the beginning of the universe?”

“Were you a star when the dinosaurs were around, and if so what did they look like?”

The star people never said a word and answered all of Annabelle’s questions with a gentle twinkling, but despite the lack of words, Annabelle seemed to get all the answer’s she needed.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Joy of Public Art

I love living in a city that embraces public art. Seattle is definitely very art friendly! For fellow Seattlites, here is a link to a public art map: Seattle Public Art Map.

There is a set of three murals in the downtown/ Pioneer Square area that I have always admired. Last time I was in this area, I took some pictures of the murals!

My favorite one is the picture of the mummy ghost and the star person. It is very strange and beautiful and seems like it has interesting stories.

Every city and town should have public art. It gives a place character, and it shows that your town values creativity and artistic vision. Public art isn't just for city's. The rural area (Humboldt county) I lived in before moving to Seattle had amazing displays of public art. We had permanent art like murals and non permanent public art like Pastels on the Plaza and The Kinetic Sculpture Race.

If you value public art in your community, the best way to show your support is to go look at it! But supporting any aspect of the art community will reinforce the community as a whole. Going to your town's art walk or your city's museum shows that the people in the place you live support art! I am glad to live in a place that supports public art- from the city sanctioned sculptures and murals, to weird sculptures made from junk in peoples front yard, to beautiful pieces of graffiti on the trains that rumble on the outskirts of the city. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Befriending City Chickens

There is a drab and beautiful garden on the outskirts of downtown Seattle. It is up some strange stairs on the side of a hill. There are crows, apples rotting in the dirt, men sitting on the gardens benches trying to whittle away the day and chickens!

I've only been to this garden once, and when I went it was the end of winter. It showed all the normal signs of winter deprivation- abandoned garden plots, more dirt than greenery and a chilly loneliness. Now that it is warmer, it may be flourishing.

Surprise visits with animals are the best. That is why it was so exciting to meet the chickens. The chickens at this garden are so showy too- not your average chicken-next-door. These chickens have glistening feathers and ruffling plumage. They each have a noble stance and their eyes gleam with both knowledge and pride.

I heard a rumor about other city farm animals in Seattle-goats! Goats are the best. They are cheerful and strange and stubborn and smart. The goats in Seattle are a pack of goats with a job. Their job is to eat. They go to overgrown patches of weeds or grass and they eat and eat and eat till the grass is short and their job is done. The goats belong to a man and his business is to let the goats eats. People pay him to let his goats eat and afterward, he probably goes home with full pockets and pampers his goats and calls them by their names-Sally or Bruno or Rufus. He says "thank you Mabel, and here's an extra scratch behind your ears' or 'Way to go Earl.' A guy like this, he probably has pictures of his goats hanging in his home. When he is an old man, he will probably pay someone to paint a huge portrait of him and his goats. I don't actually know anything about him. I've only heard about the goats from friends, but that is what I imagine.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Annabelle in the Woods #10: Annabelle Shares Pie with the Lake Turtles

Here is the tenth illustration in the Annabelle in the Woods series. I used acrylic and gouache.

Annabelle had spent much of the day wandering in the woods and was caked with dirt and dripping with sweat. She was craving refreshment. While walking, she happened upon a glistening lake with ducks peacefully floating a top it. The water beckoned to her. 

“Geronimo!” Annabelle yelled as she dove into the lake. The little baby ducklings scattered as the water rippled the surface.

 Underneath the water, Annabelle came across the most delightful party. Several turtles huddled around a freshly baked pie. One of the turtles was just about to slice the pie when Annabelle came floating there way.

“Hewoooooo” Annabelle greeted in a mixture of words and bubbles.

“What a peculiar creature.” One turtle said.

“What do you suppose it is?” Another asked.

“Stranger and stranger!” A third turtle says.

“Let’s serve it some pie and figure out what it is!” The fourth turtle declared with excitement.

Annabelle was willing to do a lot in order to get pie. Answering the prying questions of a group of curious turtles seemed small potatoes for the reward of sweet, delicious pie. So while they huddled around the rock table, Annabelle told tales of human beings. She started with stories as they once were, fur covered and swinging from branches. She told about great humans from history such as Amelia Earhart, Lucy the missing Link, Frances Nightingale and Cleopatra.. She told about mundane days of summer, watching the sunset while making friendship bracelets. She told about grand accomplishments such as exploring the world, creating languages and inventing fabulous creations. She talked about ways humans were different from turtles such as warm blood and the inability to go to long without fresh oxygen. As she finished the last sentence, she realized she really need a breath of air. She gently placed down her plate, bid the turtle’s adieu, and burst upward toward the sunlight and fresh air. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Review: Kaspar by Diane Obsomsawin

I read a really interesting graphic novel about a real story from history: Kaspar by Dianne Obomsawin.

I had previously been acquainted with the story of Kaspar (and even did a post about it once: Piles of Dirt and Kaspar) but it was enjoyable to delve deeper into this bizarre story! The story is about Kaspar who appeared in a small town German town in 1868 with only a letter claiming his father was in the cavalry. Before winding up in the German town, he had spent his life in dark cellar all by himself. Kaspar is a mysterious figure with a mysterious past.

The validity of the story itself seems does a person exist in a cellar completely isolated from human companionship!? But sadly, even in modern days, we here stories of this. People do some really messed up things to each other sometimes.

Although the real Kaspar would have lived what must people would consider a bleak and sad life, the story feels hopeful. Kaspar has gumption and curiosity and a drive to understand this weird new world he exists in. Obomsawin is able to tell Kaspars story in an almost light-hearted while not trivializing the story of Kaspar.

Obosmsawins stylistic choice of simple drawings is a perfect accompaniment to a story about a young man who in a lot of ways will always be a child. One cannot spend their whole childhood isolated from humanity without always being different and in many ways more childlike than the rest of humanity.

Overall, this was a really great graphic novel about one of histories intriguing true life mysteries!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Plant Libraries, Animal Libraries

Seattle has it's very own botanical literature library. It is a library devoted to books about plants! It is called the Elisabeth C. Miller Library and although it is connected to UW, it is open to the public.

I am always tickled by books or, even better libraries, devoted to one specific topic. It is nice the people can get so passionate about a topic that whole libraries can be devoted to that topic. It also makes the world fell like a less lonely place that is world full of information, there are plenty of people out there sharing the same intense passion.

I love plants! I love seeing them out in nature and I love planting them and helping them grow. My actual base of knowledge about them though could improve, so perusing the plant library was a perfect opportunity to learn!

But this library's strengths weren't just in the ability to teach and help people learn more about plants...the books were beautiful! From the book spines to the book covers to the pages inside, there was a plethora of design and art based beauty!

This one is my favorite! It looks downright magical! I feel like when I open it, not only will I learn of the beauty of wild flowers, but I will learn spells using wild flowers.

There are a lot of really amazing libraries out there, and usually when the best ones are mentioned, the beauty of the libraries architecture is also revered. But there are some libraries completely devoid of architecture.

In Columbia, a man created a library called the biblioburro. This man brings books to children in rural towns in Columbia on the back of his trusted donkey companion. The man who created this library is Luis Soriano. He was a school teacher who witnessed the struggle of children from rural towns to have the same learning opportunities. In order to help this problem, he came up with a beautiful idea: The biblioburro!

Donkeys are not the only creature that serve as mobile libraries. Camels help bring books to people in Kenya. The camel library is part of the Kenyan national library with the purpose to serve nomadic people. If you are always slowly traveling, it is difficult to be responsible over returning library books. But these camels make it so nomadic people don't miss out on the delight of enjoying the library!

Sources for information about the animal libraries:

Ruffins, Ebonne. "Teaching Kids to Read from the Back of a Burro." CNN. Cable News Network, 26 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 June 2017. <>.

"Photo Journal | Kenyan Camel Library." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 16 June 2017. <>.