Sunday, September 30, 2007

Armadillocon on up

As for Armadillocon 2007, it was a nice relaxacon for the most part. I did sell a few things, always a pleasant thing, although poor Scott the artshow director had to drop everything and run home to Houston due to a very rude burglar. I ate a number of carrots and drank a fair amount of pop, esp. diet Dr. Pepper, of course. And gallons of coffee. Had some of the con suite's biscuits at breakfast and chili pie/hotdogs later, with assorted bits of cheeses and veggies, making my contribution at the end of the con to the hospitality suite's kitty. Not bad since it's very nice, handy, and I don't tend to eat much when traveling anyway. In fact I didn't feel too good later on and stopped eating. I mean, I didn't feel bad, except with the thought of eating. Rather odd. Must've been magic carrots. Anyway I don't think I made it to any panels I wasn't on, or at least not more than one or two at best. For some reason I rarely do when 'working' a con. Too much else to do, or what I am interested in is on at the same time I'm doing stuff, lol! Sleeping was great...although we didn't find another roommate, it was quite a luxury to have a whole bed to myself at a convention!

Sunday we checked out of the art show and the hotel and anything else we could wrangle out of, and I followed Nancy C. to Waco. With her graces I'd leave the art in her possession while I ran up north, giving me some breathing and sleeping space in the car. So far so good with the car...considering two decades with the Ford van, I didn't know what to expect with the Toyota. Toyotas are supposed to be good, but I'd only had the chance to change the oil once since I got the I was traveling without having to gas up in every other town, and running A/C and playing CDs...what amazing luxuries, and all, so far, without scary clunking noises.

First we stopped at a Half-Price Books in Austin to sell some of the books Nancy C. still had, I think from her brother's estate. Very big place, impressive arrangement and selection, though no cats or coffee that I could see (common bookstore elements down here).

Then onto the highway, and with just one quick stop between Austin and Waco, we got to Nancy C.'s place...actually I lost Nancy (heavy highway traffic) but I'd been there once before and have a pretty remarkable map-recall, so I found the house ok. We unpacked; she found room in her garage for my portfolio case and 3 or 4 boxes, and then we went in for a bit. She and her son took me out to a buffet, but although the smells and sights were fabulous, I just had zilch appetite and had to apologize and sip water. The idea of actually eating didn't sit well, though I had no particular symptoms but a bit of belly pain. Certainly not like I could use a little fasting...anyway so we chatted, I colored stuff, and we watched a little TV before settling in. I slept on a comfy sofa, though did have a little freizure in the middle of the night. Haven't done that in a long while--no doubt due to a wonky thyroid, now and then I'll have sudden freezing spells...body temperature plummets and it takes an hour or two to get over it. It was plenty warm later, of course.

I really couldn't decide what route to take, and finally decided not to decide, just to let the winds of fate blow me around, so to speak, as long as I headed in the right direction of course. So I gassed up along the highway and headed northeast, blasting CDs all the way in my air-conditioned bullet.

Stopped at Mary of Puddin' Hill. That's in Greenville, way up past Dallas (I just white-knuckled it through the traffic in Dallas, no stops) on I-35E. It's a nice little stop, a chocolate & fruitcake (using walnuts or pecans rather than flour) factory, basically, but with a fun gift shop and other touristy things. I sampled a few tiny things and drooled over some of the desserts they had available, but I still couldn't quite stomach the idea of filling my stomach, so I passed up on any goodies. They would have needed consuming in this heat, so I didn't want to chance it. But I did splurge on a blinky-light bat pin. Thought it just the thing for a Dark Shadows convention, and at any rate a fun thing to wear at the library around Halloween, for the kidlets. I considered taking a few pictures but it was pretty hot and I didn't see anything I hadn't taken pictures of already in previous trips. So the bat and I went on our merry way to Texarkana.

I think I blew past Texarkana before I realized it. Which is unusual since I generally need gasoline or something else by then and so am pretty aware of the off-ramps, though I never can seem to remember which one has what for sure. So I kept going, and stopped at the border Welcome rest stop on the Arkie side, stretched and got some water and a map, & took a snapshot.

Since it was still relatively early in the day, I decided that I'd go up Hi-7. On most trips I will come back down to Texas that way, but rarely do I go north on the highway, being too late in the day. It is a scenic route, and the asphalt equivalent of a rollercoaster ride, going through the Oachitas and Ozarks, up and down and with hairpin turns and switchbacks and sudden slows through small towns and variable speeds and lunatic tailgaters and you-name-it. But it is far more interesting than flooring it through the bypass near Little Rock.

What's the point of a driving trip if you don't explore?

I veered off IH-30 (or whatever it is) and got on the path to Hot Springs. I stopped for a stretch and some photos at DeGray Lake/dam. Kinda late in the day by then, but not so much that the light had gone yet. I'd like to play around Caddo, but that is pretty much a resort area and doesn't seem open to casual quick stopping. I almost stopped to take a picture of the Hamilton many Hamiltons on large lakes are there on the planet, anyway?

Edge of DeGray dam area to the left & access road area...

Rocks. Ok, I like rocks. Perhaps I have a core mineral deficiency.

Looking more towards the actual lake, framed by pine. Lotta pine there. Always know I'm somewhere else when there's a lot of pine around and it isn't a city park...there's a Texas reaction to such look around and say...TREEEEEEES! Man, it's green!

I drove on and stopped at the mall in Hot Springs. It didn't offer as much as I'd imagined in all my times of passing it, but it was a nice rest stop, and I did wind up with a couple of additions to my onyx collection. One cool curio shop in the place with all sorts of Asian & African goodies and weirdities, even including a table full of hermit crabs and painted shells for them. I think I bought a little Indian Ganesha and an animal or two (haven't unpacked yet!). Then walked around the mall a while and decided I still didn't feel like eating, though I was thirsty. I chose to go on and drove up to a Kroger's to get gas. I happened to have a Kroger's card from my last expedition (no Kroger's in San Antonio) so I could get cheap gas. But my credit card was refused! Startled since I knew it was plenty good and I'd just bought the onyxes with it, I kept trying it but no go. So, very embarrassed, I used another card and finished up, then went over to a lot and called the company. After 5-10 minutes of cell phone time waiting on getting connected to the right department, they said it was an error and forget about it. I'd contacted them before the trip to tell them I was going north and not to be surprised by the consequent charges, but an automatic security stop went on the card anyway, and then they saw the note and fixed it 10 minutes later. It was indeed ok after that (wasn't accepted in one place on the way home, but apparently that stop just didn't take that card but didn't post the fact anywhere, since the card was good elsewhere after that).

Always over-pack in the money department!

Drove on into downtown Hot Springs and found free public parking, so I figured I might as well run around. Nothing was open at this point, but the main drag by the springs promenade/bath houses was available for exercise and gawking. It was hot and steamy (well, hot springs, go figure) and a walk was nice (even if my feet are in perpetual torment). I walked around several little public spots and closed gift shops, crossed the street over to the bath houses and climbed up the hill to the Promenade (where the fine ladies and gents used to stroll to show off their fineness) and around to the Springs. Thought I'd attempt a bit of night photography. Neat trick when you have no clue how and can't see. But I tried.

Hot Springs falls in the dark...

Stately old building across from the Hot Springs National Park (where the little falls and I were)...says "Art in the Park" and "The Fudge Factory" on the street level shops...

One of the bath houses along the main road. Many are in the process of being remodelled/renewed to their former glories, so there is a lot of construction in the park.

You can feel the heat of the springs and even fill up with the water, if you have something to contain it. Once we were here in the winter and I made cocoa with a packet of instant cocoa and an empty thermos. The water really is quite hot. I debated over some tea this round, but I was too tired to bother. And I wanted something icy, not steaming...

Tried to get some of the details of the bath houses and other buildings, but it was too dark to do that without a tripod or something. A lot can be done with a photo manipulation program, but blurring is forever (oh I suppose even blurring can be fixed with a few years of work, but it'd be easier to go back and get a clearer picture!).

(I don't do windows, except maybe on the computer)

This is a "Duck Tour" (amphibious vehicle) bus, next to a mural-decorated wall. Loses a good deal in the nocturnal translation, but it was interesting to look at.

Especially all together, with all those verticals...

Finally, before I got back into my car, I was amused by the statue in front of the free parking lot. At a certain artsy angle it just meshed. And now I need to get off the computer before my mind is totally meshed up, too.

Getting ready

Finally, getting down to the trip.

I work, now full-time, at a woefully short-handed town library. Presently we have three full-time people and one part-time person, with a few volunteers off and on. One of the full-timers had a lot of medical problems (bust her foot, knee surgery, etc.) and so ended up being out for much of the year, and da boss has to run about doing boss things, and the part-timer has had medical and other problems of her own. So, suddenly I've been rather busy. I didn't think I'd get another grand trip again, but Boss Lady thought things could be handled, and it sounded like the last opportunity I'd get to see Mr. Frid, and I'd not had a Trip in my van-replacement, the Toyota minivan, so I thought, well...

At the same time there was a con or three to think about. Conventions have art shows, and I like to think of myself as an artist, so it's nice to attend one now and then. But I really didn't have much new, and little sells once human eyes have befouled it. I thought maybe I could whip up a few new wonders, perhaps, and at least sell off the magnets. So whattheheck, I'd attempt two trips in one.

Consequently, taking lots of Stuff, and other factors galore to debate upon, it would be best to drive, even with gas prices what they are these days. I needed to fix up the car for long-distance travel and make all the travel arrangements I could wangle for two different arenas. I got my first cell phone, since Amy was also going on a trip and my parents were going to Houston to see their grandson graduate, and a co-worker set me onto a company she saw in AARP that seemed to have what I was looking for, something simple for emergencies. Amy and I split it as a business phone and so we're now quite with-it, LOL. Of course it would have come in handy a number of times on earlier trips...I have been lucky getting out of dire scrapes. So far.

I narrowed options and decided to go to Armadillocon, since it's close and I get in free for being enough of a somebody to sit on a panel (but not enough of a somebody to be a guest of honor, mrph). And since I just illustrated a book with Amy--Dr. DNA and the Anaconda Invasion, by Lucas Miller, plugplugplug--I thought maybe I could display/sell/speak of that a bit, since Armadillocon is a literary sci-fi con and although Dr. DNA is for kids, it definitely falls into the Armadillocon set of interests. So I got in with Nancy C. to share a room and got some show space, started planning and seeking another roomie and other con-type things.

Jonathan Frid finally announced he'd agree to be at the Tarrytown Dark Shadows event celebrating his anniversary of taking on the role of Barnabas Collins--40 years--so that gave me an excuse to go up north. His first reader's theatre DVD would debut there, and I'd get to see assorted folks I rarely get to see for geographical reasons. Each con was a week apart, which only gave me the problem of just what to do/which way to go, to time things right.

I managed to get ready in little ways...I took my Jack in the Box antenna ball and remodelled it a bit in honor of Barnabas. This was the original Jack, during the great Freeze of 2007 we had in January.

And this is Barnajack. He accompanied me for the whole trip this summer. Actually he's still wobbling on the antenna as I type.

I found that someone was throwing out a large painting canvas...apparently it had been used for some school project, got its grade and was tossed out, though still fresh enough to have the little size triangles attached in the back. So I lugged it home and gessoed over it, sanded it down a tad, and debated about what to do with it for a few months. I thought it would be too large to do something with the idea of showing/selling it at a con, but it would be fun to do a full portrait of someone on it. It took a little while longer to think up something I could do to make it worth the effort...

Figured a series of photos (now that I am armed with the digital camera) of it being painted would make a cool and informative slideshow, so that was a possible Reason to do something...I enjoy drawing Jonathan Frid, but there is certainly a lot out there of him, and he's posed a few times for paintings (if only for TV), so what else...then it hit me that it would be fun to do King Richard III, but with JF's mug. Who better for a regal pose than a royal poser? I had a pose from a photo that was inspiring me, so I started scribbling and sketching and flinging paint around, taking pictures intermittently.

It began looking something like this for awhile.

Just when I thought things would slow down so I could get the car seen to and finish up some art, and finish up Richard, casually...other stuff happened at work and things got ramped up. I got the go-ahead to do JF's DVD cover, but nothing much in the way of instruction so I dove into that too, plus another big commission came up...i.e., when it rains it pours, and boy did it rain a lot in every sense this year. Not even taking work at the library into the equation, stuff snowballed...Virtually at the last minute I had to redo the DVD cover, then something I didn't know about, then figure out how to deal with assorted bits of technology I'd not dealt with before...and as it turned out, the night before the con I was still putting JF's face on Richard once more and then slapping on some varnish to protect it; never did get a moment to take the car in but did discover that the emergency power source wasn't working right so I had to run out and get another one and charge that puppy up (only got it about 3/4 done, however); didn't get much in the way of new pieces done for the con or find another roommate for Armadillocon, and certainly got no sleep (ok, I think I got 2 hours). Not that any of that is unusual for getting ready for a big event. I had just hoped for once (since I took off an extra day at the last minute to give me some margin time) I'd have a good night's sleep and time to go over everything in my head before launching into a 3-week expedition. Ha.

Anyway the sketchy Richard morphed many times until I finally had to accept this as good enough, since I had already entered him in the art show at Armadillocon (backdrop for my magnet table) and I hadda GO! But I was mumbling about it the whole while, kicking myself for redoing something at a point I shouldn't have and thus messing it up, causing me to re- and re-do it half a dozen times. It's tough for a mommy to let go of her baby, and my little hunchback wasn't at all what I had in mind (which I guess is also pretty common, LOL!).

All the same, not too bad. In which case it would have met full frontal gesso.

I did eventually make it into Austin, found Nancy C. and the art room and other points of major interest, got checked in and spent most of the day hauling things here and there and putting things up and finding stuff and whatnot. Phew. I nibbled the carrots I brought but took most of the afternoon just setting up in the show. Got registered and read what I was supposed to do, went and died in the room for a bit, eating my free Doubletree cookie. Explored briefly (feet, ow) and did my best to just 'hang around.' I had no way to show the Dr. DNA books I brought so I'd sit at tables and color stuff or otherwise 'look interesting' and set out a book. Did get a few questions on it and sold a couple! I imagined getting a big raincoat and going around whispering, PSSST!, flashing it open and displaying Dr. DNA books, asking startled people if they wanted to buy a book...but it's too hot for that in August in Austin. Attended the opening ceremonies, which were incredibly short relative to years past, and then it was one of my duties to be at the Meet the Pros party--hang out in the art show, which would be open during it, this time. A good idea, though there wasn't much to do, standing there with a soda. Usually I get a virgin bloody mary (sometimes not virgin) with my drink ticket, but the bar guy said nope this time, no juices, and I ended up with a diet Coke. Which is fine but seemed a waste considering all the sodas in the room parties, machines, etc., lol. The alternatives were a vast assortment of beers--don't tell anybody but I don't care for beer--and a couple of wines. Probably should have had wine, but my default response is 'Diet's ok'...;-).

I was on an artist panel about book covers...not sure I quite fit in, outside of Dr. DNA, but I fudged my way through it; and I was on a Dr. Who panel, in basically the same situation. Wandered in and out of the con suite a good deal, and talked to a lot of people (I brought tons of puzzles and art to do to keep me busy but did very little of either). Once a daughter and her dad came to me, the dad asking me to give advice to her about becoming an artist, what to do about college, etc. That was interesting, especially since my whole life is either about doing things backwards or opposite to the average bear, or how to do them without any actual money, but I did my best to offer what I did know, lol. Nothing in the dealer's room screamed out for my ownership...roamed the halls with Nancy C. a bit for the room parties, ran up and down the stairs here and there, popped into the art show now and then. One lady spent most of my putting-up time telling me how she needed an artist to do this and that for her, and I told her to take my card and contact me but I've not heard anything yet. No biggie, didn't expect anything anyway...friends wonder why I don't leap with excitement over every offer, but about 1% of the opportunities ever pan out to anything, so it ain't worth the energy. But it is very flattering. And that's the main reason (for an artist/writer/etc.) to go to a con, for a dose of egoboo. (ego boosting)

Of course it's way more flattering to Actually get hired.

Anyway the con is teeming with authors, publishers, artists and other bigwigs of that ilk (you can google Armadillocon if you care to know details), so it isn't like there's nothing to take pictures of...consequently I photographed the main star of the show. The hotel.

I mean, I didn't know what I'd do with shots of a bunch of people I didn't really know, and I had other things to do anyway. But I like to take shots for how cool the image is...i.e., got that dang artist's the nifty patterns of the arches screamed for attention. A friend of mine used to ask why I always took pictures of plants and animals and rocks, and I thought a sec and said, honestly perplexed, "What else IS there?" After all, that covers your basic animal/vegetable/mineral stuff. But she meant people and architecture. I do take Lots of pictures of people and architecture, but I don't take photos of anything unless I think the whole shot would be cool or useful...shrug. So I see things a little differently. That's why I'm cursed, LOL...

Anyway I love the sun and shadow pattern off the courtyard here. Hope you do too or we've just wasted a minute of your life that you could have been looking at a celebrity. snicker


So, I can take a picture of a flower. Whoop. What about portraits and stuff? Inside stuff? Not much around I can catch unguarded but every-so-often I'll be able to nab some visages. Still had to figure out the camera, though. Amy, my baby sis, and Paddington, our pooch, had to be tweaked in a photo program a good deal to pull them out of the dark. But I think the smiles were worth it.

Paddington we found at a strip mall. He was hanging out with some people we assumed he lived with...we came back to return something the following week and he was in exactly the same spot, living off of pizza handouts he was getting next door. No one knew where he came from. Reluctantly we offered him the option of coming with us. Unfortunately or fortunately--we're unsure from moment to moment--he became part of the family. Took awhile to name him, but Paddington was perfect...the sweet bear with the yellow he pads around on big soft feet and weighs a ton.

Amy was not found at a strip mall, but came to the family almost as suddenly. She was born when I was 16 and my other sis was 14. Like with Paddington, I reluctantly fed her too and we've been friends since.

Both have fairly strong wills of their own. And can be great fun or frustrating, depending on the situation.

Here's two of a kind, indeed. Paddington is just a canine version of Garfield. Both linked to younger days with an Italian kitchen, both live to eat, both golden, both refuse to let you eat in peace, both characters, both tons of fur....

But I guess I'll keep them all. They do photograph nicely.

And you never know when secret talents will come in handy.


Now I will advance to a few more mobile things. Like bugs!

OK, so this is just a butterfly kissing a lantana, but how cool is that for an early digital photograph? For some reason our area got literally pummelled with butterflies last year. Swarms and swarms and swarms, different kinds wherever you went. And they stayed on well into the winter (at least until our big January freeze), at least at our house, due to all the butterfly-friendly plant life. This summer we had a squatter move into the back window. Since she is smack dab behind where we hang out the laundry, this was somewhat startling a discovery the first few times. Definitely a she, even if one isn't too versed in arachnids...she built a big egg case in the corner. As of the moment (verge of October) she and the bambinos are still in the window, being very Charlotte's Web-by about things. Well, except for the actual web-writing. Though she does have that nifty ladder structure. I think she's a golden garden spider. She's definitely HUGE. I decided early on that as long as she didn't hurt us, we would leave her alone to do her pest-destructive vampire act in peace. I haven't decided what we'll do when her kids hatch, though. Probably we'll just freak out.

It isn't like I haven't done that a kid I made the gruesome error of climbing up a tree to turn and find the trunk had a nest of tarantulas in it. Although most such things don't bother me, especially having a scientist for a dad, the idea of climbing back down over a torrent of skittery tarantulas did distress my nine-year-old cool so I screamed my head off until Dad could come and catch me.

However, it isn't like we aren't spider-friendly, for the most part. I have a rubber tarantula for Halloween wear, and ol' Spidey decorates the corner of the livingroom, by the other (non-garden-spidered) window. Hmm, I hope he's not the daddy of the egg-case kiddies...

And a few more flowers

Even the alley was decorated with flowers this year.
The farm lot behind us was utterly covered with wild sunflowers like these in our alley.
A closer look....
And a very pretty close-up.
I found out the so-called fireworks plant is more commonly referred to in this
area as the Mexican Bird-of-Paradise. Some people take the nationality out of it
and just call it a Red Bird-of-Paradise. Whatever you call it, it is certainly showy!
It does brighten up the neighborhood, even on an overcast day.
The irises that come out earlier
in the year are not as showy, but they do bear a regal stance and bring a lot of
class to the garden. However they seem to be slightly less eager to pose for
photographs, at least when there's any breeze...
Then they become golden blurs. Or a whole 'nother take on 'shooting practice.' All the same, lovely things.
Well, that's about enough practice aiming at the immediate botanical collection.
Now I'll try to take pictures of a few other has to play around with
a variety of camera settings to learn one's way around a camera, after all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Pumpkin

It's hot in south central Texas (almost October and I've got all the fans running their little blades off in the wee hours), though this has been an unusually "cool" year with tons of rain. We've had drought for the last decade and it is like it chose this year to make up for the lack...all in one fell swoop. Rain rain rain. Since I do laundry the old-fashioned way, in a washtub and then hanging it on a clothesline to dry, the rain is noticed...but at least, as you can see, we've had an odd color about: GREEN. And along with that, quite a few other colors just to balance things out.
I like color, so that works out nicely. Lots of dramatic chromatics around here. This shot shows the blue sky with the hot pink crape myrtle blossoms. And the picture next to the front yard's crapes is from the back yard...aloe and something big and green and probably edible (though you can see from the ground, that even lots of rain isn't often enough in these parts)...
We got some pretty grapes and other foodstuffs, for once. However, since the rains
came too often, most things grew fast and furious, then either tasted bad or just rotted.
But each had its moment of handsomeness, at least...
The pumpkin was sorta exciting...we had a big pumpkin in the library last October, sitting at the checkout counter to give the place a bit of Autumnal glory, and then as a Halloween display--I drew a Jack-o'-Lantern face on it and it grinned for some time. Then with a bit of clever paper bits, I turned it around and gave it a turkey head and tail feathers, so it became the Thanksgiving mascot for November. By Thanksgiving I figured someone should do something more constructive with it than toss it in the trash, so I rolled it home and murdered it.

Surprisingly it was still very good (indoor A/C, I guess) and so I gutted it for the seeds and boiled down the rest for pie. Which was quite good, both the pie-meat and the seeds (roasted and tossed with a bit of salt and olive oil). I saved half of the seeds out of some errant hopefulness and strew them around the backyard. Most didn't survive mom's dirt aeration tactics or the pudgy local bird population, but a couple of vines did take root from all the rain, and we gotz pumpkin vineage!!

It was so early in the year (than when you start thinking about pumpkins) it did seem weird, but hey, it was something just to see the vines growing! Then we got a few flowers, and, ta da, a couple of babies! Proud pumpkin mommies, Amy and I kept a watch out for them, but most of them died out before they got too far, for one reason or another. It got down to two pumpkins, which wasn't much after all the seeds and such, but then, it was still more than we'd started with!

So cute...but one got a mysterious hole in it (roughly paw-sized) and fizzled out like a busted balloon. So that left one, which ripened nicely and became our little pride and joy.

It was a gorgeous little basketball, but one morning we found a gaping hole in it, too, from some mysterious night activity, and it deflated. Amy put it out of its misery so it could decompose in peace, but that was it. Apparently it wasn't quite ready to have viable seeds. Drat. But the squashes did sit pretty for their portraits.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Flowers and flowers and flowers

Assorted flora from the local botanica...daylilies abound (and right after any
good rain, we get batches of wild oxblood lilies all over the place).

This is a close-up of a single daylily...

While here is a grouping of a whole nest of the beasties.

A completely different sort of plant, but still very pretty...

And then there's a patch of hen-and-chicks...which are a succulent, sorta like aloe.

Finally, some tea roses. Humongous bush of teensy little pale pink roses. Kinda funny when the garlic comes up under the bush, then there's stinking roses as well! (garlic and roses are cousins, though I don't know if they kiss).

Chasteberry and flax, oh my

The chasteberry/vitex is a small tree that produces lovely lavender flowers. They smell very nice, too, and are quite stunning when the tree is going all out with the plumes.

When the flower petals fall off, they leave hard little bb-sized berries. You can easily harvest these, or let them fall and turn into compost.
Historically, medicinal use of the tree had to do with fixin' "female problems." Chasteberry does indeed seem to regulate the period, so I guess that's why it is referred to as "chaste." Chances were, you weren't pregnant if you were still cycling...and I suppose, in theory, chaste.
For the most part it was cultivated by monks and used for stuff like heart and tummy ailments, and relieving arthritis. The berries are mildly spicy so they were ground up and used as a cheap substitute (in medieval times) for (black) pepper. So the plant is also called "Monk's Pepper."
I have a peppermill ready to try it out/do my Cadfael impression as soon as we can finish off the stuff that came with the purchase.
This is a close-up of flax. Flax too is very pretty and looks delicate, though can take a good
beating, lol...the seeds provide flax oil, which has all those good omega 6 or 3 or whatever nutrients you hear about for lowering the less desirable fatty & cholesterol bits in your blood.
Butterflies also seem to fancy them as well...
Flax does get a bit tall and rangy, though. But for a while, it is pretty.