Frogs in My World

Anne’s hand-painted frog quilt.

I have always loved frogs. If I remember correctly, when I was a very young child, my family ate frogs legs at a restaurant. And it was the last time I ever ate them. It was not because of the taste. Like chicken, they tasted good as I remember. But I fell in love with frogs at an early age, and if I had a close relationship with chickens, I would not eat them either.

We lived in El Paso, Texas in an average home except for one thing. When it would rain, the rain would create little puddles, and lo and behold, overnight the tiniest of frogs would appear in the mud and they could live their entire life cycle in the short time that mud puddle existed. When it would dry up, they would go back into the earth and continue to exist in a state of metamorphosis until the next rain storm. Although they were so tiny they could sit on one of my fingernails, they would croak so loud at night, I am sure frogs in the next county could hear them. Another interesting thing about frogs is that all of them have different sounds, and the sounds don’t seem dependent on their sizes.

I used to come out during the rain and get one of two, and attempt to raise them in large jars with water and a little mud so that I could watch them, and before the puddle would go away, I would return them to their home puddles, where they seemed right happy to return. I never did learn all their amazing secrets of their lives, the tadpoles that must have come, or what other things the did such as what they ate in those mud puddles.

One way or another, we would encounter frogs in my youth. In the summers, we often went with an elderly lady we called Grandma Gibbs, and she had a summer cabin in the mountains. My dad was away then I think in Okinawa before we would later join him. In the summertime, we would play out by a stream that was not so far from the cabin, and sometimes we would catch a frog, and examine it and then put it back. It was a magical time. I loved the soft moist feeling of the frogs, and they never tried to bite or anything that would scare a child. Sometimes we would hear them making their croaking noise in the rain, or in the evenings.

Still much later when I was a grown-up living on my own in a small mobile home in a little park in Lomita, CA, when builders in the blocks began to tear down an old farm that took up blocks and dug up the land and pond that existed there to build more large homes, first I found a desert tortoise walking down the street toward the storm drain, and I rescued him and had him for years and years. I took him to the vet when I first found him as he seemed very thin to me. The vet told me that he was very old, and he actually lived to be more than 80 years old, but that is another story.

I was working as a paraeducator substitute (by choice) in Torrance and Redondo Beach, CA and one day during this same time I came home from work, and I heard this little “Ribbit, ribbit” sound coming from somewhere in my side yard, or perhaps the back. I made the ribbit sound back to it, and then it made another ribbit sound, and this kept up for awhile. It started our little friendship, and this small fellow would make his little greeting every day when I would come home from work. I would always greet him back happily. And he too would make his happy noise in the late nights too. I have always loved the sounds of nature, and so I welcomed that and the noise of crickets in the night.

This part of the story doesn’t have a happy ending for a neighbor across the street did not like the little frog’s sound, so one day I came home from work and there was no happy sound to greet me. I never found my little frog friend, but neither will I ever forget him and how happy he made me feel.

A long time has gone, and though I no longer have any live frogs, I have ceramic, rubber, and other kinds of frogs in my home. Many ancient people believed they were a sign of good luck and prosperity, and a friend of mine told me to put some pennies in the mouth of a rubber frog and turn him toward my front door. Sure enough, the frog seems to have brought some financial blessings that literally seemed to come from out of the blue so to speak, totally unexpected.

I will always love and respect frogs of all sizes and types, even the uncommon types that are poisonous. This happens when creatures seem to need some form of protection or ability to catch prey to eat. In nature, there is always some reason why creatures become harmful to other creatures or human beings. And frogs are not found commonly today as they were once. Like many other creatures that are becoming more scarce over time, it may also be a symbol as the ancient peoples believed. Someday I dream of having a little pond with waterlilies and perhaps frogs and goldfish, and once again I will be able to hear that beautiful and peaceful sound from my bed at night in the summertime.

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Talking to Rocks

A rock is a rock, but is it?

Today after a doctor’s visit, I was sitting out on a little circular border surrounding a large tree. It was just about the right height for a bench so I sat on the concrete flat area that seemed made to sit on. Inside that was a ring of rocks. To look at them at first, they were all about the same size and most were round and there was a bit of change in color. I picked up one and began to study it carefully. This one seemed to have one end cut or broken off, and it revealed a much darker and varied , somewhat smooth surface, as if I were looking into it. Down one side of that top area, extended a crack that seemed as if another part of it might split off. And crossing that seemed to be attempts to cut it with a sharp object diagonally.

Something drew me to pick up other rocks in that circle and to look at them. I guess sometimes it seems that, for example, perhaps all grains or sand, or in this case, all rocks in a group are similar in size, shape, color and texture. But in this case, the more I examined the rocks, I saw how distinctly different each one was. And I began to think about how each rock might have formed and what must have transpired to make it so different from all the rest. In my mind were so many questions coming forth, seemingly spilling out like a dam that was overflowing. How could it be that stones that likely all came from the same source/location could all be so different in texture, colors, shapes and sizes. Where was this magical place and what other surprises did it hold?

As I was pondering all these wonderful mysteries, my Lyft showed up and honked for me. I grabbed the one rock with the top seemingly cut from it and put it carefully into my pocket. I wanted to look at it once again at home and I wanted to ask it questions. One thing I learned today was that we should never even take a tiny grain of sand for granted. There is mystery and magic everywhere in this world.

Life is not always as it appears

Rare, four-footed goldfish

Things are not always what they seem in life. There is an old scene in the animated film, “The Point” by Nilsson, released in 1971 where the little boy, Oblio, is vanquished into the “Pointless Forest” by the evil prince. On his journey through the forest, he encounters Rock Man, who gives him a lesson in wisdom. “You see what you want to see, and hear what you want to hear.”

How many times is this true in all of our lives? What do we really know of our world or our universe except what our minds choose to believe or our eyes choose to see?

I have been thinking about creatures of this earth, and recently a conversation came up about the lowly slug. Everyone hated them, and most of the people were afraid of them. Yet, if you think about slugs, they have no means of self-defense. They DO have a bit of a shell inside, but they are easily stepped on and destroyed even with that. They do leave a slime path wherever they go that is created by the water they drink and which mixes with their bodily fluids, to be exuded along the way. They do have eyes located at the ends of their antennae. They sometimes come to a home and will get inside, even though there is nothing visible drawing them inside. And other than their little slimy paths, they do no damage or harm anyone.

I had never considered how sacred everything is in our universe until I searched on the symbolic significance of slugs. I will leave it for any of you who wish to pursue this further to find it on your own, but I will say that after I read it, I thought of how many things in this world I have feared or disliked simply because I never thought of them as being important or sacred in this world. Everything in this world, every person, every creature, every plant, and every grain of sand has meaning in this universe. We are not here by accident; we are the result of an amazing design – a phenomena that has occurred with incredible complexity of evolution.

All is not always as it seems. The tiniest particle in our world may be a chain in our evolution. We need to look closer at those things we take for granted, or that we think we know and perhaps are afraid of and/or dislike. There is always something new to learn and it is good to question ourselves when we encounter something we don’t understand in this world. Maybe, just maybe we have it wrong.

The Secret Life of Trees

I have long had a special relationship with trees.  For me, they are pieces of art in nature, and looking at the photos below, it is difficult to deny.  We are also learning new lessons from trees all the time.  Scientists have discovered that trees seem to have a way of communicating with each other via their root systems.  And some trees are like the most powerful of giants, living through fires, floods, droughts, and many other natural disasters.  They provide food and homes for all types of creatures, big and very small. Without them, the earth would surely be a desert, and we might die of overheating without them.  We too have cut down and used trees for all sorts of shelters and furnishings and other things that mankind can use for his benefit such as boats.  And we have built houses up in the trees.  Some have fruits that provide nourishment as others provide sweet sticky syrup for us as humans while still others provide a source of heat in cold areas. At the same time, some trees have sharp thorns all up and down the spines, and still others can have a poison in their systems.

Inspired by visiting trees regularly each day for years with my dogs, I thought of this secret and magical life that trees live and decided to create some of my own, so you will find them too below the live ones.

Secret Life of Trees 2Secret Life of Trees 3Secret Life of Trees 4Secret Life of Trees 1

So here are my art quilts, all of which have been sold to raise money for a charity.  I did a whole series with acrylic paints used on the fabric like watercolors, and then stitched to give more texture and life. The first one below is called, “Are You Our Brother?” I loved doing these and “framing” them with upholstery fabric. One of the things I don’t try to do is to create “perfect.”  Things come out as they do, and I like that aspect of imperfection. I made seven in all of these quilts, and all of them are 7 x 11 inches.  This size is sometimes called a journal quilt, for you can tell bits of your life with them.

September2 2003 The Secret Life of Trees quilt 2The Secret Life of Trees quilt 1Secret Life of Trees Series quilt 3

Every House Needs a House Tree

Many years ago in the hippy era, I worked as editor for a very tiny independent magazine, Freedom Today Magazine.  The staff all worked for basically nothing, and we ate out of a big soup pot (I did have an apartment of my own) and we worked all sorts of crazy hours, but we would take off to go see a movie or go skating.  Sometimes when work got too hectic, we would all get up and boogie to the latest songs until we would collapse laughing. We were living the hippy life in a good way and we all loved it.

Every time I would go into the kitchen I would see this absolutely magnificent floor to ceiling house tree that had been made from a cut-down eucalyptus branch.  It had little branch stubs coming out all over it and there were cups hanging on each stub or other kitchen things that were truly unique and fun.

From that day on, I never forgot that house tree, and I determined that all my houses or apartments or mobile homes would always have one and I did that.

Annie's house tree found by high school wrapped in yarn 51610Annie's house tree from Mavis 51610Annie's original house treeAnnie's new bathroom Eucalyptus house tree bestAnnie's new Eucalyptus house tree