Friday, March 31, 2006

Interesting Things Part 2 (not so interesting)

Well, another rainy day, 0.71 inch. It gets depressing! The pastures look like lakes, the horses are soon going to have to swim up to the barn for food (slight exaggeration there, don't anybody start thinking I really make them swim...) I spent most of the day working on the T-word again, that yucky thing that starts with a T and ends with an S and has an AXE in the middle. I crunched numbers til my head hurt and then I needed a break. It was too wet to work the horses or do anything outside so I baked cookies... Peanut butter with mini M&M's and mini chocolate chips. Yum!

So I poked around the stats for the domain and the keyword selection was actually pretty dull this time. A couple entries for chicken butt and horse butt.. There was one that really surprised me, but in the interest of keeping this blog at least mildly family friendly I CANNOT write it. Let's just say when someone pulled up a page of ROOSTERS that's probably not what they had in mind... Sorry, really can't say more than that! :-0

Maybe next month will be more entertaining.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Some interesting things.

Well, I am fascinated that at the moment the blog is the most popular page on my website. Huh! I wonder if it's mostly people I know or people I don't know. Hello readers!

Serisously, this is some nifty stuff. I have access to all sorts of stats regarding traffic to my domain, like how many people, what countries they are from, what pages send traffic here, and my absolute favorite thing to read is what keywords people type into search engines that lead them to my domain. For one thing it's good info for me to have, like knowing that my top referral words are currently "horse drawings." And on the rosecomb domain, way over 50% of my traffic is people looking for chicken coops. But one of the more amusing features is that there are some pretty funny phrases and words that lead people to this site. Sometimes I know where I have that combination of words, and other times I think "HUH??" Some examples: (these are real things typed into search engines that brought people to my art site or blog, in the month of March... maybe I'll do this once a month...).

chicken lady (people search for "chicken lady"?)
chicken lady quarter clip (huh?)
dom females (when I write that I mean DOMINIQUE, a breed of chicken, but being of kinky mind I have to wonder if it may have a double meaning...)
chicken lady sound (?)
le plumer angle (err...)
katherine plumer blog (Wow someone actually searched for my blog!!!)
lady cleaning in snow pic (huh?)
crazy chicken lady (I am not! Am I??) ;-)
wild plumer (dang, the secret's out!) >;-)
freeway calls sop (I have no idea what that means. When I say SOP, it means Standard of Perfection. Apparently in the world of romance novels it means Scenes of Passion, so I tend to giggle now when I write it... I'm talking chickens, not passion!)
foot fetish monterey (ahh hahahaHAHAHA!!!!)
what can you do if you are deliriously tired (take a nap, goober!)
from under the bed (hmm, I am picturing dust bunnies and fuzzy slippers)

And for the absolute most entertaining words thus far in the month of March:

bubble butt bonanza (OMG I about fell off the chair, I have NO idea how that would lead to my website!! Wouldn't that be a great blog title though?)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rain rain go away.

Today was okay, but here's a pic from yesterday. It was sunny in the morning, rained and hailed in the afternoon... Mud is becoming part of life, I am wondering if it will ever dry out here. Weird weather!

Oh to be a cat!:

It was 18 years ago today that I hatched my first chick. Well, okay, technically the incubator did the work... His name was Pheasant, and he was a Spangled Old English Game Bantam, and he was very spoiled, but very cool. It's really odd to imagine only hatching one chick a year. The following year I hatched five. Things have changed! :-)

I have spent the last two days working on my taxes, and I still have a lot more work to do. Taxes suck. I hope I don't get thrown in jail for saying that.

There has been some discussion lately on an online poultry forum about the merits of photographs versus artwork for Standards, and of course this is quite relevant to my work these days! I was surprised to read some pretty strong opinions stating that the Standard ought to use photos. I know there are species that do use photos (and some foreign poultry standards) but I have never thought they come across looking "ideal." I am quick to take offense when people say that artwork cannot capture the accuracy that a photograph can, but I have to remember that only a handful of people have seen my work I've done for the Standard (since it's not printed yet, nor is it even all done! Ack!), and they are not the ones wanting photos. Personally, I think that good artwork can depict "perfection" FAR more accurately than a photograph, because artwork can "fix" whatever flaws the photo has. There would be no way to have photos of all the birds that are currently illustrated (whether those are my upcoming illustrations or the ones already in the book). Finding a perfect example of every variety of every breed... I just don't think that could be done. I can only hope to knock the socks off some of the skeptics when that day comes that they get to see it. ;-)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

busy busy weekend!

Weekend, what weekend? I'm not sure I noticed one! The front room is really really clean right now. About three or four times a year I manage to get it clean like this, but the rest of the time it's somewhat disorganized (yeah, hard to Really? Sarcasm alert!) We had company last week, and then hosted a poultry show planning meeting today, which takes a lot of prep work to get the place ready for 20something people...

Yesterday late afternoon A.R. arrived from the way northern parts of CA to pick up her birds that I'd had since the Fresno show last month. We stayed up late being chicken art snobs and giggling over other people's depictions of chickens. Naughtiness, I know... And we frosted 48 chocolate cupcakes, using the "Fudge Flop Frosting" leftover from the Christmas incident (go to the December archives and read Adventures in the Kitchen...I think that's what it's called). Best dang frosting in the universe. We had to test a few cupcakes, ya know, gotta make sure they're okay...

I got up at 7:30 this morning (gack, yes, on a Sunday!) to finish getting things ready. I baked 103 apricot pastry cookies (something of a tradition now for meetings, as they are best eaten fresh and don't store well), and more than 80 were consumed during the meeting. Wow! It occurred to me later I should have taken a picture, they were very pretty all arranged on the plate!

The last of the poultry people left around 4, and I've been exhausted and useless ever since then.

Sleepy time!

Friday, March 24, 2006

incubators and headaches...

There is nothing like a malfunctioning incubator to really make a poultry person worry. I plugged in the beast yesterday afternoon, and it roared to life, but it didn't take long to notice that the temperature was not increasing. The fan was going, but there wasn't any heat being produced. Ugh. It was too late to call the company for tech support. I emailed back and forth with an incubator-guru friend a few times, trying to figure out if it was the thermostat or the heat element causing the problem, but I just couldn't figure it out. I took the top off and poked around, nothing had obviously fallen off, everything was connected. I tried switching power to the backup thermostat, nothing changed.. Huh, I was stumped.

I called the company this morning, and while waiting for a return phone call I gave it one last effort. Sort of along the lines of kicking it, I reached in and wiggled all the wire connections (yes, I really am smart enough to unplug it before doing this!). I plugged it back in, there was a little sizzle and a funny smell, and then I could feel warm air coming out of the fan. Now that's more like it! But I didn't trust this to be a permanent fix, obviously if something came loose once it could happen again. Some of the wire connections had a little bit of wire exposed under the wire nut, and it looked kinda grungy. So I undid all the wire nuts that I had installed years ago when I put in the electronic thermostat, cut off and re-stripped the ends, and re-connected them. I am a total bonehead when it comes to technical/electronic/mechanical stuff, so this was pushing the limits of what I can handle, but I felt very skilled, even though it was a simple procedure. :-) I trust it to run now that the connections are more solid.

So now I'm just waiting and watching, fine tuning the temperature and humidity. The first batch of eggs will go into the incubator on Sunday afternoon. This is much later than normal!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Busy and Boring

Nope, I have not dropped off the face of the earth, just been extremely busy and generally not up to anything exciting. If I could show you the art I'm working on then that would be exciting, but alas I cannot.

I had a good weekend. I spent most of Saturday drawing Golden Penciled Hamburgs (finished them yesterday morning), and then took advantage of the sunny weather to work with Shylah a bit. The lesson did get cut short when I discovered that the clips on my long-reins (two cotton lunge lines) don't fit through the rings on the surcingle. Dang it! So I will get some smaller clips at the feed store, cut off the ends of the ropes, and just re-splice them. Easy as pie... just need to get it done!

On Sunday, JC and BM came over and we went to look at a horse that JC used to own, since she's going to be getting one of his foals. He is just a gorgeous horse! I took a bunch of pics and then was goofing around with this one in Photoshop and I think it turned out pretty cool. This is "Dito" the Andalusian stallion:

After that, we went to see "Eight Below," that sled dog movie, and I thought it was excellent. Bring kleenex! And then we went to Logan's Roadhouse for dinner. I love those rolls! Throwing peanut shells on the floor still seems like a very foreign concept to me though, I think I was too well trained!

I have a ton of housework to do this week, and cleaning ranks right up there with root canals. I am planning to set the first batch of eggs (put them in the incubator) on Sunday so I need to get that room cleaned out, plus we are having company over so...ugh, lots to do!

But I will leave you with some entertainment, I was having fun taking videos with my camera (it doesn't do great videos but they are cute anyway.) I won't post them all here right now. If you aren't on a high speed connection you might have trouble with these.

Have you ever played with cats and laser pointers? Homer gets pretty revved up!

He's more worn out in this one but I thought it was cute.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kiss me, I'm (part) Irish! ;-)

Happy Saint Patrick's Day Everybody!!!

I am sure looking forward to some corned beef tonight, yum!! :-)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Ok, this isn't a flower, but I thought it was sooo cool. That's a dried-up half of an onion that was out in the compost bin!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

old photos

These are two of my favorite old photos of Fuzzby, back in the way olden days before she got cranky (well, she was always a little cranky...). These are both from the winter of 1988, so she was just under a year old, and I was...younger than I am now. :-)

On my bed:

I still remember this day, I was home from school with the flu. Poor me! She used to sit like that in the chair with me fairly often:

It seems strange that she's not here anymore, there were so many of her little habits that just became an expected part of life, and now it seems like there are gaps where Fuzzby should be, if that makes any sense. Yes, I miss the old snot head...

We had a tornado warning today. I don't remember there being a tornado warning specifically for this area before, so that was a bit scary. Nothing happened, the storm went north of here and we just got a little rain.

I sewed myself something today, and did a pretty decent job at it, I was pleased. It was a pretty simple thing but it took me many hours though, oh well. I hadn't realized fabric was so expensive! You'd think you save a pile of money by making stuff yourself but I'm not totally convinced... I missed American Idol tonight so I won't get to rant about it tomorrow since I did not vote.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Riding in cars with chickens

It's always entertaining to drive with a car full of chickens. For the most part they tend to be pretty quiet, but sometimes they all get to crowing and cackling and it's enough to make a person crazy... or at least give a person a headache! They make noise when the car is stopped or moving slowly, and are quieter the faster I go. They make more noise when I am near my destination, whether that's home or a show (I'm guessing because the car is moving slower and making more turns, versus just driving on the freeway). They have a knack for making lots of noise when going through a restaurant drive-thru, which always gets some interesting looks...

I went down to Monterey this weekend for a show... the last one of the season (I should say the last of the season that I will likely be attending...). I got Best of Breed but nothing more. We've been having some pretty foul weather lately and I was concerned about snow over the pass on highway 152 so I went a different route this time and went through San Jose. I wish I could have snapped a pic of all the windmills on 205, but there wasn't anywhere to pull over. They really are impressive... I can't help but think how badly they would freak out a horse seeing them for the first time. There was some very heavy rain on the way down and traffic was pretty bad in spots, but it was a fairly uneventful trip, and it was actually not raining in Monterey when I got there. I got the birds cooped in and chatted with people for a while, and then headed out to dinner with a couple of friends (WL, BJ, JR, LR). BJ knows the local hot spots, so we went to a teeny place called Turtle Bay Taqueria for dinner. I had a chicken wrap, which was excellent but a tad spicy!! Then we all headed down to Cannery Row, had ice cream sundaes at the Ghirardelli shop (YUM, but it was COLD outside!), perused some little shops and galleries, and I bought two pairs of chicken socks. They are in the washing machine at the moment, but I'm sure you'll all eager to see pics of my new socks, so I will photograph them some time later (I hope I don't have any foot fetish readers!) ;-)

There was a lot of rain Friday night, and the thunder was just amazingly loud. Saturday morning was clear and cold, and my car had a coating of hail. Hail! On the coast! Seems so strange to me, maybe it's not, I dunno. I wasn't expecting to have to use my ice-scraper this weekend! The birds had managed to get themselves pretty dirty overnight (how do they do that?!?!? I will never understand). I cleaned them up as best I could, but it's pretty tough to do a great job without warm water and soap. Diva won Best of Breed, but when it came time for the class judging she just wouldn't "show" at all. She looked pretty mopey. I guess she just wasn't feeling the winning spirit this weekend. There are a number of reasons why that happens to birds. Sometimes they are getting ready to lay an egg. Sometimes they get chilled from being near the door (it was very cold down there this weekend), sometimes the building heaters blow on the birds too much.. they're just tempermental, particularly the females. You can almost always count on a male bird to want to show off, but the females are never a sure thing. So, no big wins this weekend, and that's fine, I am thrilled with how I did at the previous shows, and I had a great time down there anyway. I did some more shopping on Saturday, went down to Cannery Row again with JJ, and took some pictures of the shore so you can all see where I was this weekend. That's one of the cool things about showing-- not only do I raise some cool birds and hang out with the nicest and most wonderful people in the world, but I get to travel around the state and see things I might not otherwise see. As JJ pointed out though, if you are living vicariously through MY blog, you really must lead a dull life!! :-)

Saturday night was the banquet. They have a wonderful catered banquet at that show and the most indescribably delicious bread pudding in the universe. It's like eating a bit of heaven. Truly. Wow. I sat with the fun crowd again at dinner time (same as Friday, plus JJ, CS, and K whose last name I don't know) and we had a great time, laughed a lot... We also all did very well in the wine raffle, like to the point where it gets embarrassing because the table of 8 people won something like 5 gift baskets and 5 or so individual bottles. Craziness. Lucky crowd I guess. ;-)

So despite not winning any major awards I had a great weekend. I only wish there were more shows to attend! It's time to start focusing on hatching now.

Here are a couple of pics taken at Cannery Row in Monterey. Apparently it is unusual to see snow on that mountain!

On the way back I decided to take my chances and hope for the best on Pacheco Pass, not really knowing what kind of weather or road conditions to expect. This is what I saw on approach (I pulled onto a side road to shoot this pic) and I was thinking "uh oh, what am I getting into?" It was fine though, some light rain in places but mostly pretty clear over the pass and along the San Luis Reservoir.

On a very sad note though, I did get some bad news upon arriving home. Our 18 year old cat Fuzzby died last night. It's been a long time coming, there were so many times before this where I didn't think she would make it, yet I'm surprised it happened now, and I'm sad that she's not here anymore. She's buried along the fenceline in the garden, where she used to love to roll in the dirt. Rest in peace Fuzzby.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

a few things

1) I am not completely in agreement with America when it comes to tonight's results on American Idol. I partly agree, but as for the other part, come on America, get it right! Geez.

2) I "Lysoled" my car. Holy moley, I think I overdid it. It just didn't have that new car smell anymore. Okay, it hasn't had the new car smell any time in the last ten years, but maybe I've just been hauling too many chickens around, or maybe I need to not drive around in muddy boots, but it just wasn't smelling too fresh. Criminy, it's so spring-fresh now I keep expecting bluebirds to land on the steering wheel and sing to me, like a fairy princess... Might have to crack the windows open so the birds don't gag tomorrow!

3) Cross your fingers for me this weekend! ;-)

art and chickens

Sometimes the chickens drive me crazy. They can't help it, I know it's not their fault, but it's ridiculous how much food they waste. They fling it around. It's just part of their foraging behavior, they get their beaks into the feeder and push the feed out the sides. Ok, they fling it, they don't just push it.. It drives me bonkers to watch them do that. And it doesn't help that whoever designed chicken feeders perhaps didn't know much about chicken behavior (or perhaps these feeders are meant for rabbits...). I've been trying out various ways of modifying them, anything from reducing the size of the feed pan, to drilling holes and threading a wire through the feed pan. I think the wire thing might end up working best. It physically prevents them from doing the flinging motion. Part of the reason they are doing this though is because I do a custom feed mix. The brand of chicken food available locally only has plant proteins, and while that move probably keeps the tree huggers mildly happier, it's really not a good thing for the birds, they really seem to need animal protein. So I've been mixing game cock feed (loaded with fish protein!) which is a seed mix, and the birds are just nuts about it, so they dig through the boring chicken food to pick out all the seeds. I may have to go back to just straight boring chicken feed though and throw the seeds in as a treat from time to time. Ugh, chickens! I love them dearly but sometimes find them to be incredibly irritating.

I said I would talk about art, so here it is: I have a very strong urge to do a HUGE painting. I know I know, I'm always saying how I'm "not a painter!" but I did some small ones a while back, and they're okay. There are two things motivating this (neither of which is that I have time for it, because I don't). One is that I've had a HUGE canvas behind the lazy boy chair in here for..oh, 5 years I think. I inherited it from the art department on clean-out day one time. It had the beginnings of a colossally ugly nude painting on it, I have no idea whose it was. I've put about 5 coats of gesso on it so far and I think all the gesso in the world couldn't cover this nude thing, because if you hold it up to the light woowee there's a nekkid dude on there! Ugh. But who was I to turn down a huge free canvas that could be painted over. So... yeah, it's just been sitting there, and I ought to either give it away or use it.

The other motivation is something along the lines of interior decoration, and the fact that the house is more or less devoid of color. The walls are white (Mom wants to paint them, but she wants pale pastely colors, and I'm not convinced that's much of an improvement), the carpets are beige, the furniture is neutral grayish-blue. It's really quite boring. So I think a huge bright colored canvas smack dab in the middle of the wall might help. Most of my art is black and white, or pretty neutral tone. I also think a big colorful (red!) oriental carpet would do wonders.

So I'll have to think about that. It would be a chicken, I'm pretty sure...

I also sometimes think about making some folding screens to wall-off my art table from the rest of the room. It's a bit of an eyesore, as I'm not the most organized or tidy person, but it would also bring some color into the drabness.

Monday, March 06, 2006

pictures today

That's an egg, believe it or not. Soft-shelled and deformed, that's among the more strange ones that I've seen... It was about an inch and a quarter long. I know it's not a great pic, I was trying to shoot without the flash, indoors at night, so I had to just try to hold the camera really still.

It is totally soggy around here again. We had a bunch of rain overnight, then it was sunny this morning, then it poured, and then there was a rainbow shortly before the sun went down. I'd say the pot of gold was probably in that tree... guess I should have walked over there! ;-)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

third time's a charm?

I tried to write this late last night. I was using a different computer, since I was house-sitting, and when I went to spell check the posting, it actually ate it. Well, it was more complicated than that, the spell check is a pop-up window, and the browser blocked it, so I tried to accept it, but then the whole page loaded again, and... gah! My writing, gone! All gone!

Oh well, it's not like I had anything useful to say anyway. :-)

So then I was going to write it earlier today but blogger was being a wee bit moody... as in not working. So here I am now.

I *finally* finished cleaning chicken coops yesterday, and got all the breeding pens set up with the exception of a few of the best birds, who will stay separated til after the show in Monterey, so that they don't inflict harm on each other in the mean time. Chickens are brutal little buggers. I will give them a week to "get acquainted," so to speak, and then will start collecting eggs. It's a late start, but I don't ever tend to have much ready for the fall shows anyway. So there should be chicks out in about a month. Whee! (oh my, I'm so not ready for that!)

The next show is also the last show of the season, which I'm hugely sad about. :-( Somehow the show season seemed shorter this year, I'm not ready for it to end!

I watched "Cinderella Man" tonight. That is a very gripping movie. Oh my gosh I have a hard time watching fight scenes though! Ugh..