A visit to Federica from Venezuela’s magical Garden of Eden

Federica at work

My new friend Federica, at work

Part of the fun in moving to a new place is really shaking up your routine and meeting lots of interesting new people. When I took part in my international student orientation waaaaaaay back in January, one student in particular intrigued me. Her name was Federica, and she was from Venezuela. She was the only student in that new group of international students who was even close to my age (the other ones were all half my age or even younger!). I made a note to try to chat with her, but I didn’t manage to do so during the jam-packed orientation, and she didn’t show up for the trip to San Francisco on the last day. As Federica had said she was studying horticulture, and all of my classes were in computer studies, I resigned myself to not having a chance to get to know her better. Until….a few weeks later I switched into a different section of my Digital Media class, only to find what I thought was a familiar face. Turns out she was taking that one class in common with me, as she is a photographer and wanted to learn more about digital media in order to best showcase her work! Yay!

venezuela

Map credit: Google

Federica has a very exotic and cosmopolitan background. She was raised in Caracas, but studied at university in both Venezuela and the USA. She then lived in New York for a couple of years to pursue her dream of becoming a photographer. Then she moved back to Caracas and ran a photography studio and school with her dad for about a decade and worked as a freelance photographer for awhile after they closed shop. She moved here in late 2014 because of the political instability in Venezuela and to give her son a better life. Her mom was an ornithologist and instilled in Federica a love of nature, so she was also drawn here because of the beautiful trees and vegetation, like myself. She already had sun in Caracas (I think?!?!?), but had lived in apartments her entire life. She is working on her website for our digital media class now, and when she is done there will be a couple of really cool videos and some of her photos, check it out if you have a second. 🙂

Which brings us to the subject of this post – boy has she ever landed on her feet in terms of being immersed in beautiful natural surroundings! She invited me to visit her sweet garden cottage a few weeks ago after class. The property was soooooooo wonderful. There is a HUGE vegetable garden, she has a giant redwood right outside her deck, there is a giant trampoline (yippeeeeee!), she has a kumquat tree right outside her front door (so yummy!), there is a huge prolific mandarin bush out front, she has seen skunks and other critters mosey on by her deck…I was very tired that day because I had been up most of the night prior completing a photo slideshow for our digital media class, so I didn’t have the presence of mind to get photos of all this super cool garden amazingness, but I did take a few pics of the front garden before I left.

So my friends, without further ado, I give you….(just one small section of) Federica’s magical Garden of Eden!!!! Enjoy!!!

(Click on any photo to see captions and more detail) 🙂

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A post for my friend, Scrawny the Squirrel

In an earlier post I briefly touched on the wildlife that was visiting my garden. Since then, I had the pleasure of briefly getting to know a squirrel I named Scrawny:

Scrawny the squirrel visiting my window!

Introducing…Scrawny!

Scrawny first came to my attention in early to mid March or so, but it wasn’t until 27 March that I got my first photos of him. He was distinctive from the other squirrels that I saw in my yard, because he was so skinny. I didn’t normally put out food for the animals in my yard, but I tried to feed Scrawny nuts. He would always run away when I came out though, and usually the scrubjays or a fat squirrel would get the nuts I had intended for Scrawny. So frustrating!

27 March 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

27 March 2015: my first photos of Scrawny. He had a charming habit of using his tail as a sort of a sun visor!

27 March 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

27 March 2015. Squirrels often hop up on the edge of my fire pit to munch on their hidden treasures, which I find odd since they are so exposed there. You can also see in this photo why I decided Scrawny was a “he” not a “she”!

I was so pleased when on April 4, Scrawny finally stayed close enough to venture back after I went back inside and gratefully ate all the nuts I put out for him!

4 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel 4 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

Interestingly, I read after that that much like in our own diet, nuts are supposed to just be a desert-type treat in squirrels’ diets and they should be eating veggies and other roughagey-type things mostly. However, experiments with putting out carrots were not terribly well-received!!!

I continued to see Scrawny in early April, with mixed results as to whether he would come back for the food I left him. During this time, and in reviewing earlier pictures I had taken, I realized that Scrawny likely wasn’t thin because he was the runt of the litter or something like that, but simply because he was old. His skin seemed to sag a little bit off his body.

On 14 April, we had a major breakthrough! Scrawny came by and ate his nuts and even had some water from the scrubjay water station (for some reason scrubjays use one of my water stations and all other birds and most squirrels use the other):

14 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

Good to the last nut!

14 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

You can see how painfully thin Scrawny is in this picture 😦

After I fed Scrawny and took some more pictures, I went back to work at my computer. Suddenly I looked up and he was at my office window!!!

14 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

14 April 2015: Scrawny waving at me outside my window!

He stayed there for the longest time, looking at me looking at him and taking some photos of him at much closer range than I was normally able to. He must have been there for at least 30 minutes!

14 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

It was only when I looked at these photos later that I noticed that Scrawny’s tail was missing about an inch or so of fur at the base.

I felt like he was trying to tell me something, but I didn’t know what. After a while, I brought him out a little more food, but he took off without eating it.

The next day, on 15 April, he came back to the window! Then he jumped on to the little roof next to the window, where I had left some food for him previously:

15 April 2015 Scrawny the Squirrel

I came out with some nuts, but Scrawny freaked out and jumped off the little roof about 3 feet to the ground to get away from me – I felt pretty bad for making him do this. I also noticed he had a few cuts on his side. I had seen him get chased out of my yard by another squirrel a week or so ago, too. When I told my mom about this she said maybe I should rename him Scrappy. I put the nuts out in the usual place, but he never came back for them.

That was the last time I saw Scrawny alive. A few days later I noticed a dead squirrel on the road very close to my house. Since I hadn’t seen Scrawny in a while, I went back to check that squirrel and sure enough it was missing fur at the base of its tail. I held out hope that maybe it was another squirrel, but I haven’t seen Scrawny since, so I am pretty sure Scrawny is now resting comfortably in the back of my yard. I couldn’t just leave him on the road  😦

Scrawny the Squirrel's grave

I miss you Scrawny and I enjoyed getting to know you!

A visit to Goatlandia, Part II – da chickens!!!

[TV Announcer Voice] Previously on Pegasus in Paradise, I recounted the first part of my visit to Goatlandia, a home and private animal sanctuary north of Santa Rosa, run by a cool woman I met online. This week I will continue this tale – far too much happened that day to fit in just one post!

After visiting the goats, we headed over to see the chickens. Before I talk about the chickens, please know that I am in no way advocating keeping backyard chickens or eating eggs. You can read more about why even eating eggs from rescued chickens is problematic in this excellent overview from the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

The chickens naturally broke into two groups, the ‘regular’ chickens (do you like my extensive knowledge of chicken breeds?) and the ‘silky’ chickens:

Chickens

Chickens hanging out convivially 🙂

Chicken close up

Extreme chicken close-up! Strike a pose! Yeah baby!

Silky chickens!

Yes, these are also chickens!

Silky chicken

First person to find the chicken’s face in this picture wins a prize!

Silky chicken

Chicken: “Put me down you weird lady!!!!”

Silky chicken

Silky chicken photobomb!

All of the chickens lay eggs in these little nesting boxes, except for one rebel chicken who lays eggs behind a tractor in a barn. Hee! Apparently, if you don’t remove the eggs from these nests, they will stop laying eggs as they only lay enough eggs to get a full nest. Another interesting thing I learned about chickens recently is that you can get a contraceptive implant for them them that lasts 6 months and will stop them from laying eggs (it’s called Deslorein). This can be used in cases where the chicken’s body can not withstand the stress of laying so many eggs:

Free living chickens, like all birds, lay eggs only once a year (usually in the spring) and only enough to ensure the survival of their species—an average of 10 to 20 eggs. Domesticated hens have been selectively bred to lay between 260 to 300 eggs a year. As a result of being genetically manipulated to produce an unnaturally large number of unnaturally large eggs, laying hens suffer from a host of crippling disorders of the reproductive tract, many of which can be fatal. (Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary)

Deb said that the chickens really loved eating their eggs, so I took a little video of them in action:

Chicken eating its own eggs

Nom nom nom…

By giving the chickens back their own eggs, it helps them to restore some of the vital nutrients (calcium especially) that are lost during the egg laying process.

After chillaxing with the chickens, we headed back to the garage to look at some of the interesting things going on in there:

Car door decor, burning man bicycle

Stuffed toys! In the garage! Fun!

Burning man bicycle

Sorry this picture is blurry! Deb took this bicycle to Burning Man Festival with her 🙂

Vegetable oil car fuel

Deb had one of her cars converted to run on biodiesel, which she gets from the restaurant she works at (boxes on the left). I wonder if the exhaust smells like french fries?

Then we hung out for a while on the deck and chatted while her sweet dogs kept us company:

Dog

“Don’t forget about us doggies, weird lady!!!”

I was grateful Deb was able to fit me into her busy schedule – the next day she was driving to Half Moon Bay (quite far) to pick up the latest member of her family, Sheldon the pig:

sheldon the pig

Fast forward a month or so later, to Sheldon the pig happily settling in to this new home. Who’s a handsome devil? 😀

On the way home I stopped to look at the memorials at the site of a fatal head on collision earlier that week. One man tried to illegally pass a row of cars, and collided with another man coming from the opposite direction, killing both of them and a dog :-(. So many crazy drivers out there, it’s scary! Makes me glad I don’t have a car, even though if I did I would be better protected on the road than I am on my bike!

Memorials at fatal car crash, River Road, Santa Rosa, March 2015

Memorials at fatal car crash, River Road, Santa Rosa, March 2015

Memorials at fatal car crash, River Road, Santa Rosa, March 2015

Do any of you have any funny chicken stories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and see you next week, when I will be talking about my buddy. Scrawny the Squirrel.

A visit to Goatlandia – Part I – da goats!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a magical land north of Santa Rosa called Goatlandia! I connected with Deb, the creator and caretaker of this awesome home / private animal sanctuary via a vegan accommodation page on Facebook a few months ago, and while the accommodation didn’t work out, she kindly said I could come visit – yippee!

And so it was that I set off with some trepidation on my bicycle on a muggy Saturday in March. The trepidation was not to do with visiting Deb, it was to do with this being the first time I had tried to take the bus with my bicycle. The buses here that go between towns have bike racks on the front, but I had never used them. Thank goodness there was a young lad also waiting for the bus who helped me get it on the racks! The first one I tried was too small, the second one was taken, and then I put it on the third one in the back, which was the right size, but I put it on backwards so it had to be flipped around (goldilocks and the three bike racks!!!!  And as the man helping me said “You sure have a big-ass bike!!!” – he wasn’t wrong, hee hee!!!

Sonoma County Transit bike rack

This is the bike rack I had to wrangle with except that the middle rack had a bike on it. the coolest part is I get to ride free as a college student! Thanks Sonoma County Transit! Image from Metro Magazine.

Anyhow…what an adventure, I had to bike the last half of the way on some busy roads, but I eventually arrived safely!!!

The Pegasus in Paradise mobile arrives at goatlandia and is greeted by Phoenix the dog

The Pegasus in Paradise mobile arrives at Goatlandia and is greeted by Phoenix the dog!

The proprietress of Goatlandia

The lovely proprietress of Goatlandia with some of her lucky companions 🙂

After some chit chat in Deb’s beautiful kitchen over vegan apple oat muffins I had baked for this momentous occasion, we ambled off to the pasture to meet the goats. The goats were obtained from a local goat dairy farm. Either because they were male or if they were female, because they had some sort of defect with their reproductive organs that meant they would not be good milk producing machines. Not everyone realizes that in order to steal milk from animals to sell to humans the animals have to have babies on a regular basis. These babies are then taken away from their mothers almost immediately birth so humans can steal their milk. If they are female, they usually end up as dairy slaves to replace their mothers, who are trucked off to slaughter once their production declines. If they are male, they are usually killed shortly after birth, either for meat (if you eat cow’s dairy you support the veal industry) or often just to be thrown away in the case of male baby goats, because there is not enough demand for their meat. You can read more about goats here and see an industrial goat dairy in action here.

The solution, of course, is written on my T-shirt:

Goat ear photobomb

The goat and the dog are telling me they agree with the message on my t-shirt: ‘Go Vegan And No Body Gets Hurt’. Also note the goat ear photobomb!!!!

Okay, proselytizing over! Back to my visit…I had brought some tortilla chips (it is apparently the goat’s favourite snack!) and some carrots. Deb said the goats wouldn’t eat the carrots but I could bring them for the horse. The goats loved the chips so much, one of the naughtier goats reared up and knocked me over to get more! Luckily, there was a fence behind me, so I didn’t have to suffer the pain of a butt bruise!!!

Goat saying hello!!!! (either that or cvan I please have some tortilla chips?)

Goat saying hello!!!! (either that or ‘can I please have some tortilla chips?’). Check out the funky beard!

Goats feasting on tortilla chips

I ❤ the cloven hooves!

Goat with hooves on table

‘Garcon! Could we get more tortilla chips, here, tout-de-suite, sil-vous-plait?’

Goats eating chips

Eventually the goats realized it would be easier to reach the chips if they ate ON the table, not AT the table!

Gaggle of goats

A gaggle of goats gathered enjoying their chips 🙂

At the same time as all this was going on, Magic the horse was observing the scene peacefully from behind the fence separating us from the adjacent pasture, being adorable, and also intermittently snacking on the carrots:

Horse nose

Extreme horse close-up!!! So sweet!!!

Horse head

‘Hello – my name is Magic and I happily accept carrot and apple donations!”

Pretty horse

It was impossible to get an awesome photo of this beautiful horse as it was behind a fence!

Once the tortilla chip frenzy had died down, Deb and I were able to enjoy some chillout time with the goats:

Goat stealing food from pocket

I had carrots in my pocket for the horse, but the goats picked them out, then dropped them on the ground in disgust….

coco the goat eating a carrot

…except Coco, who was happy to eat them. Go Coco!

inexplicably lactating goat

This goat was mysteriously lactating, even though she had not given birth…

goat with gopher ears

These little ears are called gopher ears 🙂

Toggenburg goat

I believe this chilled out dude or dudette is a Lamancha Goat.

Oak trees with weird fungus

I find these growths on all the oak trees here intriguing, apparently it is some sort of fungus, the green one is the fresh one then it dries out to the beige/brown colour.

Two goats and a woman

Thank you to these two cuties for posing so nicely with me!!!!

Wow! What a fun time! But that was only the first half of the visit! Talk about a lot of excitement in one day!!! Come back next week for part deux!!! Thank you Deb for hosting and thank you treasured reader for for stopping by Pegasus-in-Paradise-land!!!

A tale of ten gardens (and four deer)!

aka…Spring has sprung in Sonoma County!

Hello to anyone out there reading this! In the case of my last post, so far that is only my mom (hi, mom! *wave*) and one other person! Hee!

In a previous post I talked Sonoma county fauna; today I want to talk (more) about flora. Despite the lack of water, the plants and trees here are amazing! Winter here seems to have lasted until maybe the end of January (if you could even say that…I don’t think I’ve worn more than a sweater or a light jacket since mid-January or so). So we have had a very early spring, for example, the cherry trees have already finished blooming now for the most part and new flowers such as roses have taken their place. I am worried about the coming months, we have had so many beautiful flowers in the last couple of months, there will be nothing left for me to enjoy, surely?!?!?! (talk about first world problems! :-D)

Introducing…the Pegasus-in-Paradise-mobile!
Toot toot, toot toot, yeah!

I have been dutifully collecting photographic evidence of this wondrous beauty for you while out walking and on my awesome bicycle, Betty:

Betty on 2nd Street. Electrabike Townie 3i Pearl Pink

Introducing the Pegasus-in-Paradise-mobile, Betty. A wonderful Electrabike Townie 3i cruiser that I brought with me from Toronto, but that seems much more at home in Santa Rosa!

In these photos, Betty is parked downtown on Second Street in front of an Italian restaurant in a historic house with amazing gardens. I believe that is a cherry tree and a magnolia tree behind her.

Spring flowers on 2nd Street Santa Rosa California

If only this were a vegan restaurant, I would love to eat there and enjoy the gardens from the OTHER side of the fence!

Purple bush-tastic!!!

I can show you the pictures, but sadly, I can’t share the wonderful aromas of the plants and flowers with you. To wit, on the same trip, in front of the downtown Salvation Army store, I spotted these unassuming bushes, which to my delight, are EVERYWHERE in this part of the world:

Rosemary bushes, Brookwood Avenue, Santa Rosa California

Come closer and breathe in the delightful scent (in your imagination – sorry!), and admire their small purple flowers, much loved by bees (I discovered recently that bees prefer purple flowers!). They’re rosemary bushes! Divine!!!

Rosemary bushes, Santa Rosa, California

You’ll have to take my word for it – there are little purple flowers on these rosemary bushes!

Wisteria, Santa Rosa, California

Continuing on the purple theme – a peek into my friend’s back garden in north west Santa Rosa. This wisteria had bees swarming it! I’ve never heard or seen so many bees at once in my life!

Pretty in pink at Pegasus in Paradise HQ!

Pink flowers in driveway, Santa Rosa California

A little bush on the way out of the Pegasus in Paradise HQ – these pretty flowers are done blooming, now, sadly! Anyone have any idea what this plant is called?

Cherry tree in bloom, Santa Rosa, California

We have our own little cherry tree, but sadly I am told it produces non-edible-by-humans cherries. Not that we would have had much of a chance to get them before the birds did regardless!

Kumquats! Cacti! Redwoods! And everything in between! Or so it seems…

Here are a few random gardens that I pass a lot on my way to my local thrift store:

Kumquat tree, Santa Rosa, California

A kumquat tree! Sadly not mine!

Kumquat close-up, Santa Rosa, California

Kumquat close-up – try and say that ten times fast! So jealous this is not my tree!!!

Random house, Santa Rosa California

I like the colour palette and modern style of this house and how it coordinates with the garden.

Random house, Santa Rosa California

Random house, Santa Rosa, California

A cute cat lives in this cute pale blue house. I wonder if they water their lawn to keep it so green? Mine stays mysteriously green even though it barely ever rains here.

Cherry tree in bloom, Santa Rosa, California

A bigger, better cherry tree! (I think)

Random house, Santa Rosa, California

This is the sweetest little house ever and I mean Little! What makes it seem even smaller is that those are redwood trunks in front of it!

Random yellow house, Santa Rosa California

More clever plant-house matching! So pretty!!! 🙂

Random yellow house, Santa Rosa California

Turquoise window frames on a mustard yellow house! Bold choice!

Succulent garden, Santa Rosa California

I adore looking at the variety of plant life here, especially the succulents. These are encouraged as they are drought-tolerant plants.

Succulent garden, Santa Rosa California

What a fantastic variety of plants in this garden! Cacti, succulents, rosemary bushes and whatever that other bush in the foreground is! This is a better example of the rosemary flowers I was talking about earlier, by the way.

Random house, Santa Rosa, California

You can close your blinds, but you can’t hide from the roving camera of Pegasus in Paradise!!! Especially when you have such delightful globe-shaped porch lights and a colourful array of well-tended flowers!!!  😉

Great topiary, Santa Rosa California

Lovin’ the topiary! Keep up the good work, house proud peeps!!!

Wait, what? 😮 Yes, it’s deer-about-town!

I am so lucky to be surrounded by all this beauty! But I am not the only one enjoying the flowers (much to the home owners’ frustration!):

Deer near creek, Santa Rosa, California

Nom nom nom…flowers is sooooo yummy!!! Let’s go look for more as soon as this weird stalker lady with the camera leaves us alone!!!

So exciting! I was thrilled to come upon these gorgeous creatures a couple of weeks ago when I was locking my bike in a residential area, I guess it was near one of the creeks that run through town.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to come back next week when I will be featuring the exciting trip I took to Goatlandia, in which I nearly got trampled by some tortilla-chip lovin’ goats! Ah, what an exciting life I lead!!! Hee!

Gold spoons and a blood moon…

Thanks for stopping by, you most excellent Pegasus in Paradise peeps!

A couple of unplanned exciting things happened to me last Friday that I thought someone somewhere might be interested to read about..

1. Thrifty fun (the best kind of fun!)

Those who know me know I ❤ thrifting! Despite being a penniless student, I have definitely been doing my part to support the work of Goodwill Redwood Empire, amongst other local charities (Salvation Army, Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County and new kid on the Santa Rosa thrift store block, Crossing the Jordan) since I moved to Sonoma County.

I don’t like yard sales as much because I don’t like haggling, but I was out and about on Friday and spotted some fluorescent pink signs pointing out a yard sale. I mean, they used my favourite colour for the sign – it would have been downright rude not to check it out, right? Am I glad I did! I found some really cool gold vintage cutlery, displayed below with another recent find, a small Autumn Harvest Pyrex mixing bowl from the eighties:

Autumn Harvest 401 Pyrex Bowl, Custom Design Gold Plated Flatware

I was surprised to learn at this little bowl was from the eighties. It looks so classic seventies!!! I got it for $1.40 at Salvation Army. This type of glass is called milk glass and can be produced in many different colours aside from white.

Close up of Custom Design Gold Plated Flatware

Gold plated flatware from “Custom Design”, Japan. $2 from a yard sale. The small spots on one of the spoons came out in the wash…yay!

2. A blood red moon!!!!

By my standards, that is more than enough excitement for one day, so luckily for my poor little heart, the next phase of the excitement technically took place the next day, although to me it was Friday night. I was lazing around at the end of the day on Friday and I went to check Facebook, and on the trending section (which is pretty much my main source for world news…heh heh) there was an item about a blood moon that very night!!

Feel free to use this song from the XX as the soundtrack for the rest of this post  😀

A blood moon happens during a total lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse is when the sun, earth and moon align in a straight line, with the earth in the middle of the two. It can only occur during a full moon. The red glow which lends the event the name ‘blood moon’ is coming from the parts of the sun’s rays that can hit the moon through the earth’s atmosphere:

Normally there are two such eclipses in a year, but this one was the third in a series of four blood moons, or a “tetrad”. The first one was on April 15, 2014 and the last one is expected to be on September 28, 2015 (CNN). So you still have a chance to see it!

The total eclipse was forecasted for 4:58 AM PST, with those on the west coast of North America to Australia set to have the best view. I duly set my alarm for 4:45 AM, and went outside at 4:50 or so. I was so shocked to be able to simply look up from my front door and see this!

Blood moon April 4, 2015 San Clemente, California

This photo, taken near LA, is the professionally photographed version of what I saw…
Photo credit: CNN

Terrible photo of lunar eclipse from Santa Rosa, CA April 4, 2015

This was the best photo I was able to get with my 8x zoom 16 megapixel camera!!! 😀 What I was seeing though actually looked like the picture above!!!

Luckily for me, Mr. Pegasus in Paradise spotted these binoculars in the cabinet at Goodwill a few weeks back on sale day – so he scored them for 99 cents – complete with case, lens caps and cleaning cloth (they had a price of $19.99 on them)! I “borrowed” them for bird watching and am still figuring out how to use them, but they really helped to be able to see the details of the moon better, albeit squinting through one eye and in front of my glasses!!!

Tasco 2023 10 x 50 mm wide angle binoculars

Tasco 2023 10 x 50 mm wide angle binoculars – a 99 cent Goodwill find – were surprisingly helpful in seeing the moon!

Here’s a cool time lapse video of the whole eclipse, in case you aren’t blood mooned out by now. (From The Associated Press You Tube channel)

What if you missed it?

Don’t despair! As I mentioned above, the last lunar eclipse of this tetrad of eclipses (just wanted to throw that word in again!) will be on September 28, 2015. You will be able to see it from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Yay!!! AND….according to Wikipedia, this one will be particularly rare, as it will also be a harvest moon ( I will be sure to hold my new Autumn Harvest bowl when I look at it!) AND 2015’s biggest supermoon!!!! Whoa!!! Mark your calendars, everybody!!! We’ll all be crying if we miss this one!

But enough about me…what are some of your favourite / most epic thrift store finds? And did you catch this blood moon or any of the tetrad so far? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!