Bye bye Birdie

Welp, the preying mantis has moved on- to where? I do not know.

An Aberts towhee landed on the fence, dropped down onto a nail in the fence, hopped down to the ground right next to the lambs ear and pecked it as he went by.

My heart dropped. In a moment everything changed. I went out there and confirmed that the mantis was nowhere to be found.

I do have an alternate theory. When I was looking for the mantis, I noticed that a sprinkler head nearby had popped off. It is evident that water was spraying the lambs ear. Perhaps it forced the mantis to move. Maybe it is happily meditating on another leaf somewhere nearby.

I thank the little white preying mantis for it’s visit to my corner of the world and the wisdom imparted for my life.

It is a creature with intense presence for it’s tiny size and it will be missed!


I go out in the yard mid-morning to check- the birdbath is nearly dry. The lambs ear is wilted in the sun and the praying mantis is hanging upside down and holding it’s gaze in the same direction as always.

Mockingbird is with his girl hopping around up in the palm tree fronds. They’re wind surfing!

I run the sprinkler. The lambs ear perks right up and the mockingbird comes down for a drink.

I remember being so upset a couple months ago when the mockingbird and hummingbird nests were both displaced by palm tree pruning. Now they are back home and really, they never left.

We are here to weather the storm and find new life on the other side. We are resilient. Sometimes we’re hanging upside down to take cover from the hot sun. Sometimes we’re surfing in the breeze.

Cut Corners

It’s been a long time since I’ve been out here blogging! This year, I am called to curate some magical multi-media here on the internet diaries. I got an actual 21 megapixel camera to complement the new adventure. My own page and my own photos shared on my own terms. No need for social or their awkward algorithms. Of course, I am serving this blog up with a smattering of inspirational materials from other sources that I digest on the daily. You’re welcome. 😉

When I graduated college in 2006, I started “such is, the case” on Blogspot to serve as my personal online gallery. My parents gave me an 8 megapixel camera as a graduation present. I was living at 420 Laporte Ave in Fort Collins, Colorado. Here we are 14 years later in Phoenix, Arizona dusting off the old blog and camera. Cheers to carving out a space to breathe, chase our passions and be back in the blogger-sphere.

My friend gave me some green HoJi Cha and black Winter Chai tea. It resonated with my craving for a daily ritual that relaxes and soothes. Tea pervades across the entire globe, preceded by ceremony and circumstance. So I purchased several herbal teas while we were visiting Jerome, AZ. The packages listed ingredients but no brand name or instructions. So when we got home, I went looking to learn the best time, temperature and ratios to use when brewing.

What I found is that there are many traditions of tea, but it is all the same leaf- one plant around the world called camellia sinensis. Depending on the processing, tea becomes white, green, black or even Pur’eh! I also read about herbal infusions like rooibos, hibiscus, mate, mint, nettles, mullein, osha- deliciously endless possibilities. From the webpage I was browsing, I popped over to the shop and started recognizing the blends: turmeric and nettles? rooibos and hibiscus? These are the very teas that I just purchased! Funny coincidence.

Most herbal and black teas are brewed at 212 degrees for 5-7 minutes; for green tea, let the water cool to 175 degrees and only brew for 2-3 minutes.

vegemite toast
Vegemite Toast

With a little practice, I brewed the HoJi Cha well today. Along with the tea, I’ve been eating vegemite toast for breakfast since my friend went back to Colorado.

You see, my friend also brought me a jar of vegemite! She had me sniff it a dozen times before I even tried it. In Australia it is spread thin on toast with butter. My cousin tells me it’s called Marmite in England. It is quite yummy, but definitely an acquired taste.

It’s the cut that counts

Each day, a ritual goes

Thanks for toast and tea

Vege you will and vege you won’t;

Vege ya do and vege ya don’t;

Vege ye maybe and vege-ye-mite!

Tulips to Treasure

I’m sending my mom tulips for Mother’s Day. She is at home in Baltimore and I live on the west coast in a small town that has a delightfully mild climate. Arcata, California is known for its giant coastal redwoods, the cool sea, lush grasses that feed our livestock most of the year and, surprisingly, flowers.

The Sun Valley Floral Farm out in the Arcata Bottoms is one of the largest growers of tulips in the country. That seems pretty impressive until you consider the fact that only 20% of cut flowers purchased in the U.S. are actually grown here. I am excited to be able to send home not only a local product, but a uniquely domestic one too. Feeling patriotic? Oh, wait – it’s not July yet. Send your mom an American Grown bouquet this year!


In my family, tulips have a special memory attached to them. When mom sees the big red tulip blossoms, I know they will remind her of my grandfather- her dad. Pop-pop served our country during WWII. After raising four kids and retiring, he and nan-nan started Rothwell Nursery- not for the profit in it, but for joy. Sharing the beauty of flowers was my grandfather’s passion.

Pop-pop planted so many places in Aberdeen, Maryland: funeral homes, on and off ramps, the Decoy Museum and the Ripken Museum too. I remember when I had just gotten my learners’ permit pop-pop let me drive him around town. We drove by median strips he had filled with dandelions and stopped at all of his plantings. I brought my film camera and took pictures of his work.  It was a special time where we shared our passions together. I made a book of the pictures and gave it to him. I will always remember that day; as he flipped through the pages of my creation and cried with joy.

His favorite flower was always tulips. When we visited the Ripken Museum he showed me two huge rectangular beds full of red tulips blooming. They were tightly planted and all the same height making a spectacular splash of color! I remember those plantings in particular filled him with great joy.

Upon visiting Sun Valley Farm, I found endless greenhouses full of the same. They so reminded me of pop-pop’s work that I just knew he was there smiling with me. Sun Valley grows their flowers not only on American soil, but in it as well (unlike the hydroponic tulips you get from Holland). It makes for a better quality cut flower. This way, mom has a few extra days to enjoy her bouquet.

crate bunch

My pop-pop had the most generous heart and that is the legacy he left us in each bulb that blooms year after year. My mother shares his open, giving approach to life. When she receives those tulips from me, I know she will remember.

Flowers have this inexplicable way of expressing the sweetness that we feel about someone. When we give a bunch, they carry a certain ‘I don’t know what’ quality that reflects the emotion we want to share. Chances are that your mom will be deeply moved by the gesture. Send her a token of your love & appreciation on Sunday and make sure they are American Grown.

Stand Out in the crowd