I have been scraping white fuzz found on some of the cactus along E. Guenther Street to collect female cochineal bugs used in dyeing wool. This dyed wool is then used at Mission Espada to demonstrate weaving. It has been a fun and informative experience to take a bug and convert it to a dye bath that results in beautiful pinks, reds, purples and lavenders.

We are lucky to have so much information about ancient processes readily available through our library and the Internet. The two principal resources that I have used are A Dyer’s Manual, by Jill Goodwin (Pelham Books, London, 1982) and Cochineal: A Bright Red Animal Dye, by LaVerne M. Dutton (1992 Master of Science Thesis, Environmental Archeology, Baylor University). If you have a cactus that is covered with white fuzz, let me know. I may want to collect some more bugs. I will be glad to share the detailed process how to collect and prepare the bugs for dyeing.

Read more: Collecting Cochineal

Now that school has started and summer is ending, we can get back to our daily routines.  Many of us have spent time traveling to visit family and friends, or just went to see what’s over the horizon.  Travel is a good thing.  In The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness...” I hope your summer was an enjoyable one. 

Read more: Out in the Garden with Alan Cash: September 2015

With the abundant spring rains, SAWS customers are now under Stage One watering requirements.  Watering by hand-held hose or bucket is allowed any day, any time.  Drip irrigation or soaker hoses can also be used any day, any time.  Use of a sprinkler or irrigation system is permitted any day before 11:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m.  Even with these relaxed requirements, we still need to conserve our water usage. 

Read more: Out in the Garden: August 2015

The Green Anole may seem to be “just another” lizard from the vast reptilian world, but if you ask me, these lizards are wizards!

They can change body color at will and do the classic disappearing act by blending into their surroundings as if like magic! If you are a nature enthusiast living on the San Antonio River Watershed, you would surely have noticed these eye-catching green lizards in sunny areas, amongst greenery and moisture. They are sometimes called “American Chameleons” because of their ability to change color from shades of brown to bright green depending on their mood, temperature, humidity and health.

Read more: Meet Green Anole – Anolis carolinensis

This photo shows neighbor Janie Barrera at 228 Washington St. standing in front of what was left of a very large red oak tree that for decades had shaded her entire front garden.  The trunk was several feet in diameter.  Janie said she was standing on the front porch on the morning of April 24, the day before the King William Fair, when the tree just leaned over and almost blocked the entire street.  Unfortunately, it also fell on one end and corner of her porch and home.  Luckily the limbs blocking the street were removed in time to set up Fair booths along the curb, and the remains made quite a show for passing Fair visitors the next day. 

Read more: Loss of a Neighborhood Monument