June 27th, 2012


The Earl of Oregano

Today was as perfect a day as you get in summer around here—breezy, not particularly hot, not particularly humid. Pleasant. So I finished this painting (most of which was done in a crazed fit yesterday) with the window next to my desk open, hearing the crows harass a red-shouldered hawk that had wandered by, and watching the various little birds flit around the feeder. (Black and white warbler! Woohoo! I hold out hope it may actually be nesting here!) And the air smells of—well, mulch, mostly, since I took advantage of the cool morning to put down a few loads in the back, and also of oregano, because I pulled some to use for reference material, and now my fingers smell like oregano. And the fireflies are just now filling up the garden, and I can hear the frogs discussing whether or not to hold an orgy tonight.

And we had Anaheim peppers from the garden stuffed with cream cheese with dinner, and I have a nice Crispin cider and I cannot really imagine a better way to work on a painting, although I did have to stop partway through to pull off a wandering tick, and Angus the little orange cat cannot get it through his little orange skull that oregano does not equal catnip—it’s a LEAF! In the HOUSE!—and keeps eating my reference material and then spitting it all over the desk and giving me an accusing look when he doesn’t get high.



Digitally digital. Also digital.

The badger earls of Oregano live in a dry sunny climate, densely planted with the herb from which they take their name. The sixth Earl of Oregano, ruler of the walled town known as Oreganum, successfully stood off the Mongol hordes for over three months, until the Mongols got bored and went looking for easier prey. (Being nomadic horsemen does not make one terribly good at long sieges.) As it is nearly impossible to dig out a badger that doesn’t want to come out of its den, Oreganum never fell into the hands of either enemy or ostensibly friendly forces. (Attempts to use the town as a friendly base of operations were met with polite refusal and later boiling oil.)

Many of the most beloved cultivars of oregano still emerge from this region, often from striped and surly gardeners.

I learned a great deal from the garlic painting, most notably how not to waste four hours of my life inking the bloody thing when I’m just gonna paint over it anyway, and changed up the labeling for something more Art Nouveau. The banner thing was nifty, I know, but a stone bitch to paint, and if I ultimately make spice labels out of these, which I think I might—or at least stickers sized in that general range, to be used as such if desired—I wanted a consistent and easily read label, so that people don’t have to stop and stare at the art in the middle of frantic cookery. Also, this way I get to sneak a tiny Red Wombat logo in. (Should I wind up doing a spice label set, I’ll probably have to adapt the Prince of Garlic to fit. If this actually happens and you already bought a Garlic and want prints that all match, let me know and we can work something out.)

He is wildly out of scale to the oregano, but feh, sez I.

You can order prints at the usual place, and I’ll keep y’all posted if the label thing ever happens.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.


Hummingbird Fledglings!

Ha! I have confirmation at last–Single Female Hummingbird has raised a pair of babies in the yard.

I had a suspicion when two hummingbirds showed up out of nowhere, and Single Female Hummingbird didn’t chase them away immediately. She is merciless to intruders into HER yard. These two she tolerates to be on the other side of the bee balm, although if one makes for a flower that she’s working on, she gets pretty annoyed.

But it was only a suspicion, because a young adult hummingbird looks exactly like an adult female hummingbird*, so for all I knew, I was just hosting some peculiar avian sorority. But today I actually got a close look at one of the newcomers, and he had fluff. The last bits of baby down were still clinging to his little feet, and particularly ridiculously, to the top of his head.

So Single Female Hummingbird successfully raised a pair of babies! (Male hummingbirds are deadbeat dads.)

I am terribly gratified. This goes along with the single pipevine swallowtail caterpillar on the hairy Dutchman’s pipe as Awesome Stuff In The Garden This Summer. And now I can add ruby-throated hummingbirds to the list of birds that have raised babies in the yard, which includes blue-gray gnatcatchers, white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, red-bellied woodpeckers, and possibly most gratifying, the pileated woodpecker. (Only one baby there, but it was a BIG baby.)


*The ruby gorget that marks males doesn’t show up until next year.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.