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Komodo Dragons and National Parks: The Majesty of Indonesia

It was only about one hundred years ago that human beings became aware of their Earthly coexistence with real live dragons. Despite this longstanding ignorance, Komodo dragons have been around for millions of years. It is on the Indonesian Islands of Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, Padar, and of course, Komodo, that these guys lurk, flashing their creepy, death tongues. It is widely said that the saliva of a Komodo is so ridden with toxins and bacteria it will eventually kill you, even with a minor bite.

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Komodo Dragons are the largest lizards on earth, reaching lengths of 10 feet and weighing up to 300 pounds. A popular theory states that their size is due to Island Gigantism. This is when the size of animals isolated on an island increases dramatically in comparison to their mainland relatives. Island gigantism is one aspect of the more general “island rule”, which posits that when mainland animals colonize islands, small species tend to evolve larger bodies, and large species tend to evolve smaller bodies. With the arrival of humans and associated predators (dogs, cats, rats, pigs), many giant island endemics have become extinct.

Contrasting with the Island Gigantism belief, more recent research suggests that Komodo dragons are representative of a population of very large, Varanid lizards, which died out after the Pleistocene. These ancestors lived across Indonesia and Australia, with other giant animals. Fossils similar to Komodo dragons have been found all over Australia, dating to more than 3.8 million years ago.

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Because of their size, Komodo dragons are the dominant predators in their habitat. They often hunt in groups, and prey on both birds and mammals. When a dragon is hatched from its egg, it spends its early years in trees, hiding from possible predators. It takes about 9 years to mature and is estimated to live up to 30 years. Because of increasing human activity, their range of living space has been limited and Komodo dragons are currently listed as a vulnerable species. Indonesian law protects them, and a national park was created to help preserve their existence.

Komodo National Park

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Komodo National Park is made up of three major islands: Rinca, Komodo, and Padar, and many smaller islands as well. These Islands originated from volcanoes, and span a total area of 219,322 hectacres. They exist directly at the juncture of two tectonic plates and are part of the “shatter belt” within the Wallacea biogeographical Region. The land is a global conservation priority area. The climate here is dry and hot, yet there is also a rainforest and monsoon element.

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Although the Komodo dragon is the ham of the animal band in this region, there are other notable species living in the background, such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, the Timor deer, and an endemic rat. Because of the strong sea currents and expansive coral reefs, sea turtles, whales and dolphins also hang around.

Tourism
If you plan to travel to Komodo National Park, you can expect nothing short of paradise with a pretty exhilarating “Journey to the Center of the earth” vibe. Pastimes for tourists include lots of picnic lunches, swimming and snorkeling in the clear as glass water, hiking the fantastic and varied terrains of the islands, learning all about Komodo dragons and observing them close up in their natural habitat. It is also possible to stay in one of those mesh-ceiling huts on stilts in the ocean that seem to cover screen savers everywhere. Tourism here cannot accommodate more that 60,000 people a year, which keeps things reasonably intimate. However the buzz is ever-increasing and tourism jumped by 9,000 people between 2009 and 2010.

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Dragon Lust
Despite people two centuries ago being unaware of the Komodo dragons existence, Indonesian myth and folklore (influenced strongly by and often overlapping with Indian culture) is filled with dragon stories.

This one is called, Biwar Kills a Dragon: http://www.st.rim.or.jp/~cycle/MYdragonE.html

Check out our one of a kind dragon sculptures. These guys are made of Teak Wood, and were carved by hand in Indonesia.

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Cisco Brothers Furniture: Family, Nature, Happiness

The celebrated, Los Angeles based Cisco Brothers has a new catalogue out, filled with exciting, yet timeless pieces. What’s more, every item created at Cisco is 100% organic and chemical free. At Mohr & McPherson, we value the ethics, quality and craftsmanship of the Cisco line, which is why we have been working with the company for 13 years. Here is a little about Cisco Brothers, and a preview of the designs we find irresistible. 

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Since 1990, Cisco Brothers has been using sustainable materials and building methods to create furniture that is as healthy for you as it is for the planet. Each unique item is built with pride by local craftspeople at our headquarters in the heart of Los Angeles. Every piece, big or small, brings timeless style and beauty to your home.

While still in high school, Cisco Pineda discovered his passion for furniture when he started working at a small upholstery shop. By his early twenties he was making custom furniture out of the garage of his home, where he recruited the help of his family to run the thriving business. Cisco’s close ties to family and nature are felt in every design. It’s his belief that health, happiness and one’s home are all closely related – and that his furniture combines these elements in a comfortable and responsible way.

A brief selection of some of our favorites is below. Click here to view a small selection of our Cisco case goods in stock!

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Rotor Tables
19” by 12”, Sizes vary
SKU: 131119-4, $585

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Morse Sconce (Left)
8”w by 7.5”d by 19”h, Hand blown glass and Iron in flat black
SKU: 40440, $960 

Insulator Sconce (Right)
6”w by 4.25”d by 12”h, Recycled Insulator and Iron
SKU: 40441, $555

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Wine Barrel Hanging Mirror
23”diameter by 2”deep, Rusted metal ring, leather strap and walnut knob
SKU: 40417, $675

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Vino Side Table
27”d by 25”h, Mirror top, repurposed wine barrel, reclaimed Douglas fir, oiled
SKU: 41076, $900

Stanford Swivel Chairs
30”w by 34”h by 38”d, Soft fill seat, feather cloud back, Fabric: Guiseppe Blue Grade J
SKU: 131120-4, $3,945

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Wine Box Coffee Table Single
40” by 27” by 16”
SKU: 131119-3, $1,695

Seda Sectional Couch
100”w by 31”h by 110”l, Slip covered, feather cloud seat and black waterfall skirt. Fabric: Vanocur pewter
SKU: 38735, Starts at $7,185

Lotus: The Sacred Flower of Peace and Love

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Your home is your haven. Why not fill it with signs of peace, harmony and healing? In Asia, the Lotus leaf is a symbol of exactly those things.

These beautifully unique wall panels are covered in real Lotus leaves from Thailand. The leaves have been covered by hand with acrylic resin and gilt in gold dust. The leaves vary in size, shape and color and no two are alike. Colored richly with gold, rust, crimson, and forest green, these panels add instant warmth to a room. The autumnal aesthetic of the colors conjures up the traditional festivity of the New England Holiday season, and blend seamlessly together with harmonic, Eastern imagery.

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In Thailand, a Buddhist country, the Lotus, or “Bua”, is a sacred flower to the people, because it is the traditional flower of Buddhism. There is a legend that the Lord Buddha was able to walk at birth, and that when he took his first seven steps, Lotus blooms opened up from underneath to support his feet. In murals around the globe, the Buddha is portrayed surrounded with Lotus blossoms.

BUDHA
The Lotus, being a water flower, is rooted in mud, and grows up above the dirty water, into a flower of great beauty. This is used as a metaphor for mans attempt to rise above his earthly existence to attain spiritual purity.

“He who is low-born may develop and improve himself like the lotus growing out of the mire. The followers of the Buddha shine above others through their wisdom like the lotus.” – Buddhist Doctrine

The Lotus is also shown surrounding many deities in the religion of Brahmanism, which is connected to Thai history. Brahman Goddesses are often holding Lotus blossoms in their hands.

LOTUS

In traditional herbal medicine, the Lotus leaf is used to aid in digestion, alleviate fever, heal bruises, reduce muscle spasms and stop bleeding. One of its most common uses is to ease dizziness and nausea. Nearly every part of the Lotus flower is edible. A popular Thai sweet is made up of dried Lotus seeds boiled in Syrup and added to crushed ice.

Here is a delicious and fairly simple recipe to try, Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf:

  • 3-4 cups sticky rice (uncooked)
  • 1 cup chinese sausage, cut up into bite size pieces
  • 3 dried black shiitake mushrooms, soak and cut up into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh shrimp, cleaned
  • 3 salted egg yolks (optional), cut up into small pieces
  • 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 4-5 dried lotus leaves
  1. Soak lotus leaves for 30 minutes, weighing down with a small bowl if necessary. Fry Chinese sausage. Set aside.
  2. Steam sticky rice using a little less water than usual for firm rice. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Put oil into pan and fry garlic until turning golden-yellow. Add rice, mushroom, shrimp, and soy sauce. Stir until all ingredients are cooked.
  4. Pat dry softened lotus leaf and brush back of the leaf lightly with oil. Cut leaf in half. Put half the rice mixture on one leaf and top with salted egg. Wrap rice in a rounded bundle. Repeat with the other half. Either cook immediately or store in fridge for later use.
  5. Steam 10-12 minutes.
  6. Cut salted egg yolk into half. Put Chinese sausage and egg yolk on top. Serve.

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The Edge on Live Edge Furniture

Looking to add a bold, statement piece to your home decor, without sacrificing sophistication? You must be dreaming of live edge.

When the natural edge of a piece of wood is incorporated into furniture design, it is called Live Edge. Unlike conventional woodworking, Gnarly wood such as Alligator Juniper, mesquite, and Salvaged wood is often used in live edge design. The natural holes and cracks of the wood can be featured, or filled in with resin for a smoother look. Live edge is a combination of Western and Rustic furniture styles.

Every live edge slab is completely unique, and offers undeniable wow factor. At the same time, this style is understated and graceful, rooted in obvious organic nature.

Also known as Natural edge, or Free Edge, this style of furniture design originally drew from Modernism, Japanese and Shaker influences. It was first made famous by renowned woodworker, furniture maker, and architect George Nakashima. Nakashima was a Japanese American who studied Architecture at M.I.T., and traveled through Japan, Paris and India studying design. George began developing his signature free edge style while apprenticing for an elderly woodworker at an internment camp during World War 2.

Live edge bench by George Nakashima

After the camp, Nakashima moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he continued to focus on the organic expressiveness of wood, approaching his work with meticulous focus and patience. He later went on to start the American Craft movement.

In 1962, Nakashima wrote a manifesto, discussing the vanishing of excellence in the design world of the modern day, and his appreciation and respect for hard work, craftsmanship, and the profound beauty of nature.

“In a world where manual skills are shunned we believe in them, not only in the act of producing a better product, but in the sheer joy of doing or becoming. We feel that pride in craftsmanship, of doing as perfect a job as possible, of producing something of beauty even out of nature’s discards, are all homely attributes that can be reconsidered.

It might even be a question of regaining one’s own soul when desire and megalomania are rampant – the beauty of simple things…”

At Mohr & McPherson, we understand Nakashima’s passion for the story telling powers of furniture and organic materials. We really love the live edge aesthetic, and currenty feature several pieces from Thailand and Indonesia. Our live edge furniture celebrates the rich beauty of teak and acasia woods.

41421Teak live edge dining table

Owner Kevin McPherson describes his discovery of the log used for four of our massive teak live edge dining tables:

“Approximately 60 years ago, a very old teak tree fell in the jungle near the Thailand/Burma border. A Thai man obtained permission and permits from the government to remove the tree and hired an elephant team to haul it to the road. 

While I was traveling, I came across this tree as it was being moved by truck to Chaing Mai, Thailand. I negotiated the purchase of the 24-foot log and had four tables made of the center of it.

This naturally aged and dried Teak wood is very rare and was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”