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Pysanky (Part One)

September 23, 2014

Several years ago, my aunt gave my mom and me a starter kit to make Ukrainian Easter eggs, knowing that the two of us enjoyed art and working on detail-oriented things. Included in the package was this book, which contains a great history of the tradition as it evolved in communities around the US through the work of Ukrainian immigrants. The book also, of course, explains how to make the eggs and includes many fantastic photos of eggs that the authors or their friends have created over the years, in countless patterns and color schemes. These exemplary eggs have served as perfect inspirational diving-boards for my mom and me as we create our own pysanky every year (when we have the time).

Croatian Easter eggs made for neighbors, friends, and family

The process always starts with creating the dyes. In Croatia, on the island of Koločep where my family lived for a year, we learned that villagers use a boiling water bath of red onion skins, walnuts, roots, and herbs. This creates a reddish dye that stains the egg a reddish color. The problem is that the boiling water also removes the wax that covered the egg before it was placed in the dye, so you only get two shades on the egg, but that’s Read more…

Bird of the Day: Tawny-bellied Babbler (Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu)

September 22, 2014

Tawny-bellied Babbler by Brinda Suresh - RAXA Collective

Let’s Consider Meat Free Monday

September 22, 2014

MFM-LogoAs a former Beatle urges, let’s consider a simple mechanism for doing something other than taking to the streets or publishing an op-ed item–both of which we also encourage if your location and clout allow–in advance of the Climate Change conference. Why this particular mechanism? Well, to start with it is easy. Also, the impact could add up if enough of us participated. You probably already know about meat’s carbon footprint, but here is a message from Meat Free Monday to refresh your memory:


Meat production is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization1, with some scientists saying the percentage is higher. Read more…

From the Flora-Files, Part 4

September 22, 2014

This little gem can be found along the path to the art studio.

And so the flora-files march on (see past posts, starting from the most recent here). Continuing these posts has become a way for me to reflect on the wonderful opportunities I had at Xandari and around Costa Rica to come into contact with a lot of fascinating and beautiful flora and fauna. As I peruse my photo catalogs and look for pictures to post, I feel like I’m back there, even briefly. Read more…

Animals Out Of Place

September 22, 2014

Sure, they’re cute. And owning them is legal in more places than you might think. That doesn’t mean buying a zebra is a good idea.

National Public Radio (USA) shares a story about animals in places where they do not belong:

It’s a hot, dry day in Kerrville, Texas, and more than a hundred people have gathered in a small circular barn. The crowd is mostly men, tan and weathered from working outdoors, but three little girls perch on a bench in the front. The littlest, who wears a Frozen T-shirt emblazoned with Elsa’s face, leans forward, her eyes wide, and announces to her friends: “I really want a zebra!” Read more…

Bird of the Day: Yellow Warbler (Appledore Island, Maine)

September 21, 2014

Night Train, Climate Change, Action

September 21, 2014

Illustration by Otto


If you did not happen to be in New York today, but agreed that small sacrifices are necessary even if insufficient conditions for battling climate change, consider signing the petition mentioned in the following (a guest editorial, in today’s Guardian), which you should read all the way through before deciding:

Back in May I was on a sleeper train between Paris and Berlin, chewing on a biro and filling out a questionnaire. As the sun set across the rolling hills of the French countryside, I assiduously answered question after question about how often I used night trains and how I felt about the standard of service. I was hopeful that the questionnaire heralded a new era of growth in this crucial service. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This month Germany’s state railway provider, Deutsche Bahn, confirmed it has decided to terminate a large number of overnight services, including the lines from Copenhagen to Basle/Amsterdam/Prague, and Paris to Hamburg/Berlin/Munich. The network cites low income, high overheads, losses of millions of euros and slow growth. Read more…


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