Saturday, December 31, 2005

Countdown to 2006

I am having my usual wild and crazy New Years Eve. My plans this year included efforts to completely avoid plans, which happened effortlessly, since I think the wild bunch has long since given up on me anyway. Just as well. I never was able to get into the party scene anyhow. :-)

So here I am, working on updating websites, writing blogs, planning some art projects, and figuring the order of things for getting back to work on Monday. Monday afternoon. Monday evening maybe. By Tuesday for certain.

How about you make them? I do but I don't. I don't like to refer to them as resolutions because I have never in my life managed to keep a resolution, so it seems doomed from the start to refer to them as such. I've had the same resolutions for the last, goodness, many years. Obviously I broke every one of them... But they are back again, things I would like to change in my personal and professional life. The line between personal and professional is pretty fuzzy, and in fact that's something I'd like to work on, among other things... Wouldn't it be nice to stop time for a little while and get caught up on things?

Oh, remember a little while back I said I got interviewed by a reporter from Florida about my foil sculptures? I found the article on line today (I am supposed to get a hard copy, I'll believe it when I see it). The article, if you want to see it, is right here.

I need to start making things to sell at the PPBA show. The marble tiles sold well last year but take an awfully long time to make, and they make my hand and wrist incredibly sore (because I have to use SO much pressure to get enough color saturation on such a hard surface). I really try to avoid harming my hands, since without them I'm sort of useless, so I think I may try doing some more "sketchy" type things in graphite on marble--should go quicker and be easier. I like the tiles, they are classy. And they sell, which is a pretty strong motivator these days. Unfortunately I won't have much time to work on stuff between now and then. I'll squeeze it in somehow though. There are tons of small items I could make to sell, but it's hard for them to be worthwhile--they take a long time, and it's hard to put a big price on a small item!

Still no word on the horse show in April. I hope to find out soon. I have a drawing in mind I would like to do for that show if I get in, but I'd have to have a fair amount of advance notice, and even at that I'm not sure I can fit it in until the Standard work is done, and that likely won't be til after the horse show.

That's about all the excitement. Chances are I won't make it til midnight. I know, I know...

I wish you all a Happy New Year, and here's hoping that 2006 treats you fairly, kindly, generously! :-)


Wilton has a tendency to flood, at least parts of it. I grew up on a ranch along the river, and I remember the levee breaks and the flooding that resulted. It was scary, especially the first time, since I was just a little kid. The water didn't reach the house, since the house was up on a bit of a hill (it would have been darn near impossible for the house to flood), but watching the water creep up across the pastures was fascinating and terrifying at the same time. I remember walking down to the river after the water subsided, boot-deep in sticky mud in some places, and being so saddened by the things that had died--cows from somewhere upstream, rabbits, squirrels, and surely lots of smaller critters too. It's really quite scary. The rivers often win the battle of containment.

I think we are safe in the place I live now too. The roads around here flood, but the house and barn are up quite a bit higher than the roads. We got 2 inches of rain just overnight (add that onto the many inches in the last week and it makes for a very soggy place!). I've never seen quite this much water across the road. I was able to walk down there with rubber boots, and could have driven out, but I didn't have anywhere I needed to go today, so I didn't drive through it. I am not worried about it.

The pastures are totally saturated.

Normally you would not see any water here... Those are fields, not lakes.

And that's a road..

Friday, December 30, 2005

new sculpture

I made this as a Christmas present for my brother J. It's 18 inches long, aluminum foil on wire armature, "covered" in aluminum tape.

I also neglected to mention another exploit in the kitchen. I made a chocolate peanut butter fudge cheesecake for Christmas Eve. It was dang good, definitely a keeper, but it got a crack the size of the grand canyon down the center after baking. Does anybody know how to prevent this? They all seem to crack, but this one was the worst, it nearly split in half. I am guessing it has to do with baking time, and thinking I need to leave them in the oven longer. If anybody out there is a cheesecake guru, let me know!

Oh geez, even talking about it makes me want to go get a glass of milk..

Thursday, December 29, 2005

After Christmas

I survived the Christmas insanity! I hope everyone else did too! We got back from San Diego yesterday evening. I think I have only missed one Christmas in San Diego in my life. There is always the temptation to think "well, it would be so much easier/less hectic/more relaxing to just stay home" but the truth is I'm not sure Christmas would really happen if I wasn't down there. It's part of the routine, part of the holidays, part of my life. We have our big family get-together on the 26th every year, so the 25th is always a travel day. Sometimes we fly, sometimes we drive. This year we drove. Almost 500 miles...bleh. Still beats flying though (not a big fan of air travel).

My grandparents' house seemed so much bigger as a kid. It's like a time warp to be there every year, everything almost the same as it has been forever, except the people keep getting older... Ever notice how as a kid, people never really seem to age, but then as an adult, suddenly people really seem to age a lot from year to year? It's weird.

It was fun, it's always so nice to see everyone, though there is never enough time in the day to catch up with all 30something people who are there. Then again, I don't tend to be all that good at catching up anyway, except with just a few people. I wouldn't say I'm the black sheep, but perhaps D.J. was right when he said I'm the black rosecomb of the family. :-) It's not a bad thing.

I am in rather dire need now of some solitude though. My tolerance for family togetherness isn't the highest in the world. I know that sounds horrid,'s just who I am, I need time alone.

We had almost two inches of rain in the last few days, and it's totally gross outside now. I haven't worked the horses for quite some time now, and I can only cross my fingers that the birds will end up in decent condition. I don't have the facilities to keep all the birds indoors (nor would I really want to keep them all indoors) so it's kind of an iffy situation here in winter time. PPBA is a month away. Aaack!

I spent today cleaning the house, which ranks right up there with smacking my thumb with a hammer.

I have not drawn anything since the 23rd, and it's kind of refreshing, though I'm starting to feel ancy like I ought to be getting back to work. The art table is just across the room, taunting me. I needed a break though, to preserve some semblance of sanity. I will start again on Monday. I am disappointed though that the back pain hasn't gone away. It's better, and maybe by Monday it'll be even more better (grammar, I know), but I think it's just going to be something I'll have to live with unless I can come up with a more ergonomic way to draw....and so far I have not. Of course, thinking about it makes it worse, but trying not to think about it means I end up thinking about it more. I have been told I think too much. I think that may be true. ;-)

And last but not least, to the disappointment of anyone on dialup, I am going to post a zillion pics I took in San Diego. I will not show family pics here, in the interest of privacy, but I took a zillion shots of the ocean, and I think that'll make a nice contrast to my usual horses and art and chickens and cute cats. Enjoy!

Anemone in the tide pools. I'd been hoping to find hermit crabs (they are so cute!) but we were on the tail end of low tide and they were farther out than I was willing to risk walking, so I settled for admiring anemonies.


Coastal bird ID is not my strong point, so I had to bust out the bird guide when I got home. Elegant terns.

Ring-billed gull.

Western gull.

The following pics are all taken along a short stretch of beach in La Jolla.

Seals lounging in what used to be The Children's Cove. This apparently has generated a great deal of controversy. It's this little inlet that used to be a beach where kids could play (I remember playing there!) but in recent years it's been taken over by seals.

One view of San Diego from the top of Mt. Soledad. (I took several shots, none are spectacular, so I just picked one).

On the very top of Mt. Soledad there is this huge cross. If I knew more about it I'd tell you who put it up, but I don't. There is a sign though, proclaiming that the site is not city property and therefore the city cannot be sued for having this giant cross there. Probably somebody got offended by it. Good grief. I thought it made a really striking photograph with the late afternoon sun behind it.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Sleigh Bells

To all my faithful blog readers (I think I might even need more than one hand to count you all up now!). I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, or whatever it is that you may celebrate.. :-)

Friday, December 23, 2005

ha ha!

That is SO not a flattering picture (really, I'm not crooked and gargoyle-ish!) but it's amusing anyway.

I am thinking of changing the name of this blog. There are way too many of them called "Ramblings" so even though that's what it is (just me rambling about things), I may retitle it. I do have something in mind...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Pretty pictures!

I'd read something a while back about "camera tossing" (google it if you want more info) and decided as long as we have this pretty tree in the living room, I ought to shoot some interesting photos. I'm not keen on actually "tossing" my camera around, so these are not the real thing...but they turned out cool! I took a zillion photos, but narrowed it down to two.

Camera was shaken. Shutter speed 8 seconds:

Camera was twirled. Shutter speed 1 or 2 seconds (I forget!):

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kind of gross but very amusing

First off, I think I'll now start using people's full initials here when I talk about them because everyone I know seems to have a name that starts with the same couple of letters, and it gets really confusing, so...first and last initials now.

So anyway, I got this box in the mail today from BJ, and that in itself is always a little scary because I can pretty well guarantee it's going to be part of some dead thing. Not like gross horrible stinky dead thing, but well-preserved tidy dead thing. Dead thing nonetheless. I should feel blessed to get such interesting mail. And today was no exception. Wrapped nicely in Christmasy colored tissue paper was a leg bone from an Aseel rooster. Cool! This is to help me with my illustration of the Aseel rooster (as far as getting spur placement and shape correct) but all I could think of when I saw this odd thing dangling off a little string was "oh my word, this is the most disgusting Christmas ornament!"

So of course I had to take a picture. Obviously it's not really an ornament, but at this time of year, my twisted brain could turn most anything into something that should hang on the tree! It was definitely the most entertaining moment of my day. How festive! ;-)

Two years!

It was two years ago today that a little scrap of a black horse came to live here after a rough first few months living in Canada. Shylah was sick, scrawny, unhandled...a real mess. She is now gorgeous, friendly, LOVES people, playful, inquisitive (overly helpful), and such a joy to be around. In six months she will be three years old, and it will be time to start riding! I've learned a lot about horse training in the last two years...having had basically no experience with it. Of course it helps to have a smart and willing student, which she is! I was going to take a good picture of her today, in the same place I had photographed her the first day I got her, but it's been rainy and crappy all day, so you'll have to settle for some older pics:

Two years ago:

Spring 2005:

Two years ago:

Summer 2005:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's a wrap!

Well, the Christmas gifts are done and wrapped, with days to spare! I think that may be some sort of record for me.

I shipped out the Large Black Tailed Red Leghorn and Bantam Mottled Cornish drawings today (the Bantam Rose Comb White Leghorns left last week). I tend to get rather attached to the drawings when I have them around for a while, but it's good that they are finally being sent to the sponsors.

I've been thinking a lot about next year, and life-after-Standard, etc. Things need to change... a lot, or I'm not going to make it in this business. I'm starting to work on revamping the price list. It's really quite daunting. I really have to kick myself or I feel like I ought to be apologizing for raising prices, I worry that they are too high, or too low (well, too high for buyers, too low for me!). I know roughly the kind of hours I spend, and I know roughly how much I need to be making, and it's a pretty simple calculation that comes out with a pretty large number. But why should it not be so? My work is worth that. I deserve that. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It's hard to imagine life-after-Standard. It really has been life-altering. I must admit I am looking forward to being done, and yet I'm sort of scared to be done. What then? More chickens? (Yes! But not right away!) I have things in mind I want to work on--horse art for upcoming shows, a few commissions waiting for me to finish up all these chickens. To tell you the truth I have quite a lot of chicken art in mind that I would like to do, a series of something, but I don't want to get into that yet, and I'm not sure how well it would do. I am not even sure who to market this stuff too. The show crowd wants "perfect" birds, and only in their own particular breeds. Would the general public have an appreciation for the different breeds and varieties? Or, to the non chicken person, does one chicken pretty much look like any other? I suppose the only thing to do will be to just try it, and whoever likes it will buy it. I hate that it sometimes comes down to money, but I'm afraid that the more time goes by and the older I get, that is becoming much more of a motivation (hence the "things need to change"). You know I think I might like to do...actually cut back a bit on commissioned work, and do more things that I can put in galleries (not sure I can pull that off, commissions are sort of the bread and butter...). Or put the originals up for auction somewhere (ebay?) Decide my minimum price and let it go from there. Of course I'd really have to "have a name" in order to pull that off, and I don't...yet. The poultry show crowd will know me when the Standard work is done, but how do people get known to the rest of the world? And could I even handle that sort of thing? Do I really want that? Aaaack!! Kind of scary to think about!

Well, I am in a rambly mood today and could probably just keep writing all night, but, I do need to sleep and don't want to get into a long drawing project tonight either.

But, in closing, I leave you with a random pretty picture, a closeup of a mutt rooster (half Dominique, half BBRed Rosecomb, he's sort of almost Crele colored. I sold him last week).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

O' Christmas Tree!

Yup, it is officially Christmastime here now, as though the insane candy making spree last week didn't confirm that! We got our tree today, which is, to put it lightly, huge. Very beautiful. Makes it hard to walk through the room... The decorations are almost all up, I still need to make one batch of cookies, and I still have to...uh, finish a project by the 24th. ;-) Oh yeah, and draw chickens too! Hmm.

I went to see A Winter Night's YEOW in Sutter Creek last night. Way cool, a floor-stomping good time! This is the second year I have gone to see that, and I wouldn't mind if this turned into one of those long-standing traditions. Lacking musical talent myself, I am in awe of people who can play not one, but a whole bunch of instruments...and sing too! They are totally awesome. It's several groups who perform there, and all in all I'd call it a "bluegrass-folk-old-time-cowboy-celtic-appalachian" sort of thing with a good dose of humor and political-poking-fun mixed in. Sounds odd, I know, I think it's one of those things you have to see to appreciate. I was a skeptic my first time too. ;-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's cold!

There is nothing like starting the morning with a large pile of fresh cat barf right inside my bedroom door. Lovely. Though perhaps there is nothing worse than being in the bathroom when it happens, completely unable to do anything about the unmistakable sound of impending puke happening 12 feet down the hallway. Just lovely. Thanks Homer...

I *finally* went to see the newest Harry Potter movie today. I'm ready to see the next one now! I love those movies. It did not seem to be nearly as long as it really was, I was ready for more.

I am not ready for Christmas yet. Can't reveal my plans too much here but let's just say I still have quite a bit of work to do.

Things are going okay with the chicken drawings, just the usual problems. I'm working on a couple of breeds for which there will likely be some disagreement about how they are supposed to look, so that's always a little daunting when I know I'm getting into something like that. I'm looking forward to be done with all the sketches (that's the initial pencil outline to show breed type). Those are what cause a lot of...angst, shall we say, so once they are all approved I'll just be working on the color drawings. I run into some questions about color pattern, but it's a little easier going once the sketch is approved.

That's about all the news for now.

I am approaching my 100th post, guess I ought to think of something good to mark the occasion. Any suggestions?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Adventures in the kitchen

It was one of those disgustingly domestic days, where I wear an apron, carry a spatula, and make Betty Crocker proud. Except I don't think I made her very proud today. It's not that I'm accident prone, but I have my share of mishaps. For all the good things I make, I've certainly made some doozies as well. I will never forget the first time I made brownies. I forgot to add flour. So they were like chocolate crackers instead.

Today started off well enough. I couldn't decide on just one thing to make, so I figured I'd make two. First up were the chocolate peppermint truffles, which were a breeze and turned out quite nicely, dark and rich. Next was fudge. Nothing extravagant, just plain chocolate fudge, straight off a handwritten card in Mom's recipe box (which tells me it's been made before without incident). Mom warned me fudge was tricky. I made some when I was about seven years old, obviously with a great deal of parental supervision!

So, I boiled and added and mixed and stirred, and poured a gorgeous creamy brown saucy mixture into a pan and stuck it in the fridge to chill. Had I known anything about making fudge, the fact that I was able to POUR it would have sent up some red flags. But alas...

Then it was time for a short lunch break. When I opened the refrigerator door to put the milk away after lunch, I heard a hissing sound from inside the fridge! Uh oh! I quickly closed the door, wondering what the heck could be hissing. At first I thought something was wrong with the fridge itself, and if it was going to explode I really didn't want to be standing there with the door open. But nothing happened, so I opened it again. Sssssssssssssssssss. Hmm, that's not normal. I narrowed it down to something in the door...not the tea jar, not the salad dressing, not the eggs (thank goodness!), not the margarine...hmmm, the whipped cream, now there was a suspect. Gingerly I lifted the (brand new un-opened) can out of the door and yes indeed it was hissing. I guess that little bit of a jiggle was all it took, because at that moment PSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHH!!!!! a thin stream of whipped cream went flying across the room, splattering all over the wall and cupboards. Ack! I put my hand over the hole, ran over to the sink, and dropped the can into the sink. It sprayed out of a not-even-pin-sized hole for several minutes before it ran out of oomph. What a mess. I am just sooo glad though that it didn't explode in the fridge. Oh man, that would just totally suck.

So anyway...about six hours later I decided it was time to slice the various chocolate candies. No problem with the peppermint truffles, but then I stuck the knife into the fudge and exclaimed "uh oh." Would have been more poetic if I'd said "fuuuuudge" but I didn't. It was like cutting frosting. It didn't set. Arg!!! I know I didn't leave anything out of the recipe, so I think I probably didn't boil it long enough. Dang it tasted good though, so I scooped it into a plastic container and froze it for next time I bake a cake. The label says "Fudge Flop Frosting." Yummy it will be.

I didn't have enough marshmallow cream left to make another batch, so I consulted with Betty Crocker and found a recipe that uses regular marshmallows. I boiled and mixed and stirred again, and just barely managed to scoop the glob of stuff into the pan before it started to set. Hmm, now that's more like it! Tomorrow I'll know for sure if it worked, when I cut it. Hopefully it won't be too solid!

I think I'll stick with art stuff tomorrow...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

mmm, chocolate...

I'm posting this pic just because it turned out so weird looking! That's freshly dipped chocolate candy cooling on the kitchen counter in late afternoon sunlight. I'd mustered enough energy to make the Buckeye Balls by late this afternoon, but I'm whooped now. Bleh. Hopefully I will be back to normal tomorrow, I have quite a lot of catching up to do. Them chickens don't draw themselves...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

umm, I can't think of one

I walked outside this morning to get the newspaper (having not gotten up terribly early, I'm still feeling pretty crappy), and was greeted by the sight of a small fuzzy kitten tottering up the driveway. The initial excitement and "aww how cute" feelings were quickly replaced with anger and sadness when I saw the kitten's eyes were completely crusted shut. It couldn't see it all, was sneezing and covered with dried snot, obviously had BAD case of worms, and was just the most pathetic little thing. It heard me and walked up to me, purring like a little motorboat. I felt sick. A couple months back I posted something here about another sick and blind kitten that I had found. I since edited that post, but upon returning the previous kitten to its owners, I had some pretty terse words about getting the problem taken care of. This was obviously not from the same litter as the previous one, so obviously the female was not ever spayed. I took the kitten to its owners' house, but they weren't home. Lucky for them, I was in a shin-kicking kind of mood. I left it on the front porch, hoping it would stick around, and Mom left them a message informing them that we had found yet another one of their sick kittens, etc. I wish they would have been home, I would have liked to have just handed it over with not a word spoken, just a dirty look to convey how utterly disgusted I am by them.


In brighter news, I picked up frames for some of the Standard chicken drawings the other day and assembled them yesterday. WOW. What a difference a frame can make, they look totally awesome. I had to order some shipping boxes, and once those arrive I will be sending out the first batch of drawings. In a way that's kind of sad, I've had them a long time now and gotten rather attached, but it'll be good for them to be at their "final homes" where they can truly be appreciated (I hope!).

It was great weather today, I wish I would have been able to work the horses today. I'm tired of this cold.

I'm such a whiner, I know. :-)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

sick and tired

I don't know what this sign means, but it makes me laugh. It's up north in the town of Anderson, a little way off I-5. Blorp! Maybe it actually says "Biorp!" but that doesn't make sense either so I think of it as "Blorp!" How totally random.

I went with B up to J and D's house (~3 hours north) yesterday morning for our December get-together, and arrived back home late this afternoon. I have a stupid cold, so I'll probably get to feel guilty soon for getting them sick (I hope not though!) and it's not like they weren't warned ahead of time anyway... ;-)

I'm feeling crappy and will not be staying up til midnight tonight to draw chickens. In fact, I'm starting to feel a little bit like all of me is no longer connected, which tells me the Benadryl must be kicking in, so I should probably wander off to bed before my head floats away.

I know this was a pretty useless post, but I do try to keep this updated even if I am being remarkably unfascinating.

Nighty night!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ornaments, etc.

It had dawned on me earlier today that I have a bunch of "stuff" that isn't up on my website--little handmade gifty items that I schlep around from show to show but tend to forget about in between. I went ahead and photographed everything, then got about half way through setting up the web page (which by the way takes me quite a long time!) when all of the a sudden *poof* the program quit. And had I bothered to save it? No, of course not, it's rare that this computer does that so I hadn't really thought of it. Grumble grumble...

I redid it though, and now there is a new page on line here where you can find all sorts of fabulous things.

Frosty Monday morning

It's been frosty in the mornings lately. It burns off pretty quick, but it sure is pretty while it lasts (cold too!)

This morning I picked up all my work from the shop in Auburn where I took part in a show back in October (the work had to hang for 2 months). I didn't sell a single thing (other than some cards the night of the show) so although the people were very nice I would not be inclined to do that show again. If I don't break even, that pretty well diminishes my desire to do a show again. So now I have a box full of art stuff I need to sell...gah. OMG, I have Christmas ornaments!!! I keep forgetting about those! I need to post them on line and maybe with some luck and a few small miracles I might even sell one or two. Hmm, perhaps I'll try to get to that today....

It's almost time to make the infamous Christmas candy (chocolate dipped peanut butter balls, aka "Buckeye Balls" which cracks me up now because my brother and sis-in-law now have a dog named Buckeye...). It's a recipe I got from my friend K (former roomie) while we were in high school, and I've made them every year since then. I think I will also try a new recipe this year...chocolate peppermint fudge perhaps?

Okay, back to work...

Friday, December 02, 2005

late nights in the studio

I can't believe it's December. I am not ready for this!!

It's been another one of those busy weeks. I'm really making good progress on the chicken illustrations, but still have a whole lot of work ahead of me. It's practically time to start getting ready for the PPBA show. Time is flying...

We got over an inch of rain here yesterday (was that just yesterday?!) so hopefully the pasture grass will start to grow now. Everything has turned to mud, the horses won't be clean again until, oh...April or so. :-)

I got interviewed a couple days ago by a reporter for the Tampa (FL) Tribune. Wow, how cool is that?! He saw my foil sculptures on my website and wanted to talk to me about then for a "humorous" article about what to do with leftover foil (it's for the food section).

I ordered a bunch of frames yesterday for various art pieces. I am *finally* able to send out some of the chicken illustrations, and worked out arrangements with a few sponsors for me to custom frame them, and I gotta say, they are going to look SOOO good. It takes me a very long time to pick out frames and mats at the shop. You can make or break artwork by what you do with the frame and mat, so it's important to pick just the right thing. Framing can be a tough sell. It's expensive, and has really gone up a lot in just the last few years. People who don't buy much artwork don't tend to realize how much it costs, and sometimes it's hard to convince people that is really is worth the expense to get a personalized frame job using the absolute best materials. I'm trying though. I want my Standard drawings to last forever, and I'm more concerned that they look good and are well-preserved than I am about making much income on framing (and yet I wonder why I don't have much money...sheesh). ;-)

I've been spending a lot of late nights drawing. The mornings of course suffer because of this, but I've decided that's okay, it just shifts the day sort of later than "normal hours." I just bundle up at night and turn on the portable heater and I'm good to go. Of course it can get pretty rowdy in here late at night, me and my "co-workers" running around wild. I thought I'd share some pics to show you these crazy co-workers of mine:

Fuzzby toasting her buns by the heater. I don't know how she can handle that. Its gets REALLY HOT that close to that heater. Maybe she's just so darn old she doesn't notice. That's her new favorite spot...

And Olin of course is always the life of any party. We got these new beds for the dogs, and they are still in the front room here where they were unpacked (haven't actually put them into the dog house yet) but Olin has decided they make super great cat beds. They're sized for large dogs, but no matter, they'll do! And I must say, the "composition" in which he is sleeping is incredible! Look at how his front leg and tail and like mirror images! Wow! If you squint your eyes and tilt your head about 45 degrees to the right he's almost perfectly symmetrical!