Lupines

Lupines

Lupine seeds or beans are an excellent food source, especially for the vegan or gluten-free diet. The Romans enjoyed lupine beans and ‘Lupini beans’ have been a Mediterranean food for at least 3000 years. In the Andes, lupines have been a food source for 6000 years. The beans have to be prepared using a brine-soak to remove the bitter alkaloid flavor. Of course, Lupines are best known for their beautiful flowers in a variety of colors. In addition, lupine plants can be used to improve the quality of home-garden and agricultural soil. 

Roadrunners

Roadrunners

I’ve always enjoyed roadrunners and even more so once we moved to the desert. They are a regular visitor to many neighborhoods, especially those that reside near a wash or creek. In my last house, I had a roadrunner visit my yard often, though I usually chased him out since his goal was to capture a sparrow for his next meal. I love so many parts of nature, but seeing a roadrunner with a limp sparrow in his beak, just wasn’t what I wanted to observe while sipping my coffee. On the other hand, they will eat scorpions and snakes, so for that I can forgive them anything. They are a fun bird to watch. 

Prague

Prague

The old, beautiful city of Prague is the home of ‘Good King Wenceslaus‘. He is the famous, beloved, and well-educated Duke of Bohemia who ruled this part of the Czech Republic from 921 AD to 935. He is known as a king because he was given the title posthumously by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. Wenceslaus’s life came to a sad end when he was assassinated with his brother’s complicity, Boleslaus the Cruel. The duke is revered in Prague and is to this day a symbol of nationalism for the people of the Czech Republic. He is the patron saint of Bohemia.

Grapes

Grapes

Sweet, ripe grapes are one of my favorite fruits, hands down. Years ago, in California, before foods were imported from all over the world as they are today, I couldn’t wait until September when the sweetest grapes, fully ripened, arrived in the store. Today, wonderful sweet grapes show up all the time. 

Daisies

Daisies

Some of the most common daisies are the Shasta daisy, English daisy, African daisy, Gerbera daisy and the ‘common’ daisy. I’ve tried to grow African daisies, but they’re tricky for me with my drip system. When they get that kind of consistent watering, they develop rot and die off.  It’s one of the ironies of living in the desert that African daisies, which prefer a fairly dry soil, would receive either too much or too little water in my garden to thrive. I haven’t tried other daisies, however, something I might do. Daisies, no matter the species, are a sweet, pretty flower that will bloom and bloom with the right environment.

Lemurs

Lemurs

If I was adventurous — which admittedly I’m not — I would plan a trip to Madagascar to spend time with lemurs. The few videos I watched showed me how friendly they can be, especially if you have a food source in hand. I especially liked the last video featured below. The lemur young have a tough time reaching maturity mostly because of predators like hawks. But even harder for lemurs, and which have made them the most endangered mammals on the planet, are the illegal loggers who are destroying the habitat. Because this kind of logging is a result of widespread poverty, conservation efforts on Madagascar are tough to institute. 

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

As a city on the border between France and Germany, and its ownership heavily contested through the centuries, Strasbourg is a fascinating and beautiful mixture of German and French influences. The city has a beautiful, Gothic cathedral, construction of which began in 1176. For over two centuries it was the tallest building in the world. With two rivers framing the old part of the city, Strasbourg is a picturesque, European jewel.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon

An all-around, terrific spice, cinnamon can fill the house with the most amazing aroma. It’s used in all kinds of recipes from baked chicken to carrot cake to the quintessential cinnamon roll. Beyond its wonderful flavor, this spice also has some serious health benefits. One of these benefits stands out the most: Cinnamon may have the ability to help control diabetes with its blood-sugar-regulating properties. To review all the benefits, watch the 6-minute video below.

Poppies

Poppies

In 1903, a poppy known as a ‘cup of gold’ was designated as California’s state flower. To see a video of these poppies in the wild, go here.  Native Americans used poppies as a food source. The seeds of poppies, though very small, are rich in oil, which can be used for cooking or for salad dressings. Though the photos featured below are mostly red, poppies come in a huge variety of colors. Some poppies, like the ones featured in the 2-minute video below are ruffled and hardly look like poppies at all.

Blue Tit Bird

Blue Tit Bird

These fascinating little birds are known to peel the bark off trees hunting for insects. This has led them to do something similar to houses. They will go to work on thatch, for instance, if a bug’s to be found beneath. They will return each year to the same nesting box as well and work hard building their nests. There’s a reason. These little birds lay 7 to 13 eggs in a single clutch. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, which makes the blue tit bird a hard working little creature.