Thursday, August 31, 2006

Draft Horse Classic

I got the printed invitations today. There aren't a lot so expect email invitations...

Woo wee I have a lot of work to do before then!

Remember, you can click on the images to see the full-size version so that you can read it! :-)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

blah blah

Well, the horse situation is certainly not without some drama. Last night I put Shylah in with Dusty, hoping they'd buddy up. He walked straight up to her hind end (she doesn't tend to appreciate other horses doing that!) so she kicked him in the chest. Nice. By morning he was giving her a very wide berth and she took every opportunity to put her ears back and throw dirty looks at him. What is wrong with my horses? Unfortunately, I think Shylah learned her social skills from Auntie Gwen. *sigh* Shylah does mellow out over time though, and I think will potentially be nicer.

Gwen, although she's not out for blood QUITE as much as she was with Patrick, has definitely gone into her weird defensive mode again. Ugh!!! I really had thought she might not do that. Dusty does not act the slightest bit "studdish" whereas Patrick did. So, though not to quite the same extent, she keeps herself between them and repeatedly chases him off, ears pinned back, teeth bared, fangs dripping blood... ok maybe not that last part.

So the bad horse in this situation is my own. Great. I want this to work out with Dusty, I want to be able to work with him and return a fully-rideable well-mannered horse to J.J. But that's going to be tough, it's a bit like being in a war zone out there. There are certainly alternatives. There are three pastures and three corrals, so there are numerous ways to separate three horses, but the point is I don't want to have to do that. For one thing it's a pain, I'll end up using more hay that way, somebody will miss the social aspect of life, etc. It's tempting to try it for a while though. But I still think when I let loose whatever horse is penned up, it's just going to go back to how it is now. Darn that Gwen! Why must she be so weird about this. I really don't understand why she's so cranky now and she really wasn't like that with Sampson. Hopefully everyone will chill out a bit by next week, because I really want to make this work..

Dusty's first lessons will definitely be getting him OUT of my personal space. I've had very little interaction with him so far, just letting the horses do their thing for now. But he's definitely a bit lacking in boundaries. No offense J... I'm sure you knew this already! :-)

I'm seriously tempted to cut his mane off. It's anywhere from about 1-12 inches long, in about 47 different segments that point different directions (either rubbed off or chewed off, most of it's really short). I get very distracted by how a horse's mane looks!


I never said anything more about the Blue Silkies. They turned out fine, but I wouldn't do the watercolor thing again, it wasn't worth the hassle. So now I'm drawing... MORE Blue Silkies (Bearded, the first pair was Non Bearded). That's cruel and unusual punishment.

I think when I can move on to non-Standard artwork, I'll start posting pics of work in progress on here... might be neat for people to see how it looks along the way (I'm not as bothered by that as I used to be).

I guess it's time to start advertising again, gotta get some stuff going for after December. Ugh, advertising sucks. I'll see what I can conjure up that won't cost me an arm and a leg!

I miss my camera.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Three again...

And just when you thought I was permanently back to two horses. Ha!

This morning J.J.'s horse "Dusty" moved in. He's a 9 or 10 year old Champagne Tennessee Walking Horse gelding (geez, time flies, I was thinking he was only about 7!). He was trained as a 3 year old but hasn't had anything done since then, so he's here for a little refresher course.

This still strikes me as odd, I don't consider myself a horse trainer. But I did okay with Shylah. Of course she's still a work in progress! :-)

Anyway, he's on a trial period of a week or so now, to make sure the three of them will get along and not kill each other. If that works out, he'll be here for... I don't know how long. That's up to J! :-) A couple months, I would imagine.

He's very pretty, I wish I could take a photo. Gwen and Shylah both do the squeal-strike-kick thing when they meet a new horse (they are across a fence from him for a little while) but his response is to rear up. Wow, wasn't expecting that! He caught Gwen on the cheek with a front hoof. She's fine, but it obviously surprised her.

So he'll get a couple days to get used to the routine around here, and then I'll put the boy to work. He's going to get a lot of groundwork before I start riding.

Monday, August 28, 2006

about the chickens

I said I would write about the chickens, so here it is. I sorted through ALL the remaining youngsters yesterday and made some interesting discoveries.

I have fewer good birds than I thought I did. I was thinking "gosh I have a LOT of Blacks" but actually a large percentage of those were black birds from the Cuckoo cross... and I won't be keeping those. Well, maybe one, just for kicks, we'll see.

I thought I had a pretty good number of nice colored BBRed pullets. I do, but I discovered that 4 of them are 1/4 Dominique, from the Crele breeding pens. Hmm. Nicely colored birds! I'll see how they turn out, they may end up too big or with small ear lobes. If they are typey though I would put them with a BBRed male and see what happens, but I certainly would not sell them as a BBRed Rosecomb.

The best colored Cuckoo male IS in fact the single comb bird, but he's probably not going to have good type. The best type male is fairly washed out, with a lot of solid black in his tail coverts. The best colored rose comb male has red ear lobes. It's not fair! The females are all dark, but I'll see how they feather out as adults.

The Creles are going bye bye. Didn't end up with any males worth keeping. There is one half way decent female but she's enormous. It's not worth the time and effort, it wasn't the right way to start that color. This is not failure, this is knowing when to stop! :-)

I will have VERY few show birds for sale.

Camera update

Well, there won't be any photo blogging for a while... :-( Waaahhhh!!! I'm going to guess it'll be about two weeks. I mailed it off to Nikon this morning. The good news is the fix will be free, if the problem is what Nikon thinks it is (a failed electronic component known to affect a small percentage of these cameras). But, that'll take up to 5 business days, plus shipping time.

I miss it already! Prepare yourself for boring blogging...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

um, that's not good

The day started okay. I got up late, spent a couple hours sorting chickens (I'll talk about that later), worked on the Blue Silkies (flattening now), pretty much a normal sort of day.

I didn't have time to ride after dinner but wanted to work the horses so I figured I'd just do some groundwork, and I wanted to work both of them. I haltered Gwen first, and after doing various yielding and backing in the roundpen I figured I'd lunge the old gal. She used to be a real turd about this and try to get away from me, but she hadn't done anything like that for quite some time now. Til today. It's human nature I guess to try to hold onto the rope. In reality it's not a big deal if a horse gets away..she's in a roundpen, she can't go more than 30 feet away from me, the idea is you don't want the horse to GET AWAY WITH SOMETHING. And I guess that's what my hand was thinking as she tucked her head around by her shoulder on the other side of her body and bolted away from me. It was just a split second for the brain said LET GO but it was long enough for searing pain and the worst rope burn I've ever had.

I'm pretty sure I let loose a string of foul words and called that horse every name the book as I chased her fat butt around the round pen. If she wants to run away from me she'd better RUN as fast as she can or she's gonna get it. A minute or so of my tirade and she was breathing hard, trailing my once-white cotton lunge line out behind her. I left her standing on the far side of the round pen and walked back to the barn to grab some gloves. That mare was in for it...

With gloves on, I calmly took hold of the lunge line again and asked her to move out at a nice jog. And what did she do? Tried to tuck her head around the other side and make a beeline away from me! That b@#$%! I dug my heels in and jerked the line back as hard as I could, and she swung around to a stop. I dared to her to do it again, but she minded my cues from then on out, and she got a harder workout than I had originally intended. Grrrrrr. I love Gwen but sometimes she really pisses me off. I did end things on a good note though, did some more backing up and simple stuff, she was nice and calm.

And then I had to work Shylah too, though my hand hurt so bad I could barely close it around the rope. Thankfully she was quite the little darling tonight and gave me no trouble at all. So she got to go out for a little walk, since she's a nice horsey. She got to graze in the orchard, and eat some windfall peaches (I pitted them, of course!)

*sigh* Horses...

So then, I was going to take a photograph of my hand, because it looks really gross (oh, and this is my right hand by the way, and I'm right handed, and I'm supposed to be drawing!!! Hmm, maybe by morning I can do that...) So I picked up my camera and turned it on, and all I see on the viewfinder is lines and blurry shapes and strange colors. Hmmm. Turned it off, put in the other battery, reloaded the memory card, turned it on, same thing. That's right, my camera isn't working. HOLY CRAP MY CAMERA ISN'T WORKING. That's like telling you my arms fell off. That's not good. I am lost without my camera. I am queasy, nauseous, I'm not going to handle this well if my camera is dead or needs an expensive operation. I love my camera. This is what it looks like to take a photograph right now (this is the lamp in the other room, yeah, you knew that, didn't you?)

I emailed tech support, they said I'll have an answer within 24 hours. Please please please let this be something simple.

I'll blog about chickens later. Maybe tomorrow. Bleh. My hand is still hugely painful. And my head hurts.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

a wee little horsie

Did for this an "animal art challenge" on the pet portrait forum.

untitled foal
2.5 x 3.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite on gray Stonehenge paper

(yay, something else to take to Draft Horse Classic!)

I went to see the Escher exhibit today at the Crocker in downtown Sacramento. WOW. I've been a big Escher fan pretty much forever, and that multiplied greatly when I took printmaking in college and understood how the images were created. It was pretty amazing to see the originals. The show runs through Sept 3 I think, so not much time left if you want to see it!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thinking out loud

Wrote this late last night but couldn't upload it.

The Blue Silkie drawing experiment might be working. I did do a watercolor base coat. Unfortunately that warped the bejeebers out of the paper. I went ahead and did all the colored pencil work (just doing one bird at a time right now, better than potentially ruining both). And then I did one of those "don't try this at home" things, and spritzed the whole paper with water until it was completely limp (spraying water on my art is not something I like to do, it scares me) and it's now in the "flattening rack" (blotter paper with a stack of books on top). I'll know in the morning if it's going to be okay. If not, redo... and skip the watercolor (it helped keep the paper color from showing through the fluff). I think it'll be okay.

Is anyone else having email problems lately? I don't know if something's up with my server, or if something's up with the net in general, but things I send are sometimes not getting through, and things people send me are sometimes not getting through. There's no failure notice, the addresses are valid, the spam filter isn't catching them, they simply don't show up. Anybody know what's up with this? It's not happening a lot, but enough to make me wonder what's going on.

Now that the days are getting shorter (waaahhh!) I'm not able to ride in the evenings unless I manage to eat dinner really early, so I'll have to switch riding to mornings. So I've been spending more time out with the birds, in search of future champions, or looking at them and thinking "geez, these are awful." Equal parts of both, I guess! I hatched waaayyy too many birds, and they are showing the signs of having been overcrowded. Arg! Bad me! So many of what I hatched were odd-colors and not-showable. I've culled out a lot but still have a way to go, and I need to sort through last year's breeding stock and get rid of those that don't meet my standards or did not produce good offspring (or were low fertility, etc.) I urgently need to move cockerels into the conditioning coop, but it's still full with the older males. Must get rid of birds!

In fact that's sort of my general thought lately, I need to cut back. I should not have started work on a bunch of new colors, I think that was a mistake. I don't have room to work with that many birds and be able to keep them in any sort of decent condition. I will have some good birds for sale coming up, but it's going to be very few, and I don't know if I want to mess with shipping (I'm not even sure I CAN ship birds anymore, it's been about 6 years since I've tried).

I'm pleased with the BBRed females this year, there are a few out there with significantly improved stippling, and they are definitely keepers. The Brassies and Blue Brassies need work. For a few years they were my best of the "colored" birds and I just kinda let them do their thing and didn't put much thought into it. It shows. Far too many had green legs, the females are getting way too dark-chested, etc. I got rid of the Blue Brassy cock, as he was definitely a producer of green legs (since all the splash offspring were green-legged, and the black Brassy male cannot produce a splash offspring). If I'm pretty strict with color I'm going to cull out almost every single bird I hatched, but that's what it takes. I have a really typey "sport" Brassy male (purebred Black) who I may use in the breeding pen. He's extremely dark, but I like his type and I like how dark-legged he is, I think that might help the green leg issue.

The Cuckoos... well, we'll see. I kept one F1 female. There are five F2 75% Rosecomb males and four F2 50% Rosecomb males to choose from. None are great, to put it mildly (in other words, they all suck). The F2 pullets are very dark, but one might be useable. I'll pick one or two cockerels (the best colored one may in fact be a 50% RC single comb male, hmm).

The youngest Silver cockerel looks like he may end up pretty decent (for an F1 bird!) so I'll be breeding him to the two Blue Silver pullets and their Birchen sister. Then again, should I just breed the F1s to Black Rosecombs next season? Hmm, I did not expect anything but black or birchen in F1, so I dunno... Might get too dark if I go back to Black RC in F2.

The Creles...oh the Creles. I know certain of you want me to persist with them, but I gotta say it's really not looking likely. The one remaining cockerel has virtually no white in his ear lobes. The birds are monstrously huge. None of them have any barring in the wings or tail. I think trying to work with body size/type AND really poor color is just going to end up being a disaster. I think the smart way to do this would be to wait until the Cuckoos are decent, and then breed BBRed to Cuckoo. (Or perhaps to breed BBRed RCs to really tiny Cuckoo OE). I'll give them a little more time but I don't think I'm going to stick with this color. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I think this was not the right way to start it and it puts me on a very long road to getting it right. They are pretty, I will admit that. Just really really huge!

Anyway, the main focus, as always, is on the BBReds and Blacks. I keep the Brassies and Blue Brassies because I adore them. I have at many times thought about selling that whole flock but the truth is I'm not sure I would trust anybody with them. They are not Standard, and I'm not ambitious enough to Standardize them. It's hard to find people who are willing to raise them and really work with them, stick with it, and raise enough of them over the years to make it happen. So, they are my pretty birdies, a genetic line I won't make the mistake of getting rid of. The Silvers and Cuckoos now are "let's see what'll happen" projects, and will be small-scale for a while....probably looking at several more years before they are even showable, if ever.

And that's pretty much my thoughts for the evening.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Oh to be a kitty!

(and now the whole world knows I didn't make my bed, oh well!)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Game Fowl #5

I was a little ahead of schedule today, so....

"Game Fowl #5"
2.5 by 3.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite on gray Stonehenge paper
for sale

Why am I making these instead of working on other commissions? Because I can't get into anything that takes more than a few hours, since the time windows I'm dealing with are pretty short. It's too complicated to try to work on another large project. These are quickies, and the only person who gets to have input on them is me (what a relief!). :-)

I am still trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to get these things onto an auction site... error with registration, long story, very frustrating, hopefully will be resolved at some point. Bleh.

I am starting work on Blue Silkies tomorrow. Aaaaack, I am still trying to figure out exactly how to create that fuzzy look. Might need to bust out the watercolors in order to put down a "base coat" of slate gray so I don't get the tan paper showing through. I need to do more experimenting....

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bones and Boulders and Bears, Oh My!

I've just returned from an incredible week... one of the best I've ever had. :-) You people on dial-up are going to hate me though, this is going to have a lot of pics!!!

Shylah and I left on the 12th (J.C. picked us up, since Shylah doesn't fit in my car! haha) and spent the week at the home of J.C. and D.C. near Redding, California (about 200 miles north, in the mountains). We'd been planning this trail ride adventure for quite some time as a way to introduce Shylah to some trail experience.

The first full day up there was Sunday, but we didn't do any riding that day. It happened to be J's annual co-worker party, and since I happened to be there that weekend, they happened to invite me too! So there were 12 women out on a patio boat on Lake Shasta. We parked the boat in a cove, and spent the rest of the day floating around on the lake on pool-loungers, eating far too much food, getting sunburned in awkward places (despite sunscreen!) and I got to hear a lot of... interesting stories, shall we say, about their work. It was actually a lot of fun, though I got along with some people better than others... It's an interesting crowd. ;-) I had promised not to take photos of people (me included!) since we were out there in swimsuits, but this is a view off the back of the boat as we left the dock.

And just to put some poultry in here, some domestic ducks were out there begging for food by the boat launch:

So Monday was the first day we went trail riding. I did a fair amount of arena and round pen work first, since Shylah seemed to be a bit "fresh." She did fine though. She had one big spooky moment right after leaving the arena and heading out onto the trail. There are some very large boulders right there, and she was pretty sure those might be out to get her. She was totally handleable though. I got off and led her up to them, and once she was able to sniff them and understand what they were, she was fine. She jumped a bit a couple more times along the ride, but just because things startled her.

Tuesday and Wednesday we did shorter rides, since J had to work those days. So we stayed on their property, and just rode around "the top of the mountain." Their property connects to several hundred more acres, so we also had access to that land for longer rides. It was nice to be able to mix it up a bit and take different ride routes.

After J left for work on Wednesday I went out walking on their property and took my camera along. It's a big place but I was more or less in sight of the house anywhere I went that day.

So these are some views of the relatively flat part of the property where I went walking. The first pic is Mt. Shasta. It's gorgeous up there, I am just in awe of the scenery.

If you hadn't noticed... there are a lot of rocks there. It's absurd how many rocks there are (I think Shylah thought so too, as she was tripping over them!). Some small, some big, some enormous.

And there are also a lot of bones here and there. Mostly cow bones (there is a large herd of range cattle that grazes on the land for part of the year) but also the occasional non-cow...

This is a cow pelvis, which I think would make a downright freakishly scary mask:

So even though I was on "vacation" I could not afford to take a week off of illustration work, so I took the job with me and more or less took over their kitchen and turned the table into a makeshift studio (oh, and I baked brownies too!) It was a challenge trying to do art somewhere other than my normal studio location, but it worked out and I did finish the pair of drawings that I set out to finish.

They have a kitten living with them right now, and he's a pretty cute little booger. As kittens are, he was either adorably asleep, or running around terrorizing things.... and that included me! I think I may have spoiled him a bit (hee hee!) So while I was in there drawing all day, he got to spend a lot of time hanging out with me. I was sitting in one chair with my feet propped up on the chair across the way, and he thought this made a great obstacle course to climb around on. I couldn't resist taking pics, you know I like cats. He doesn't have a name yet, so I just called him Poopy, since he seemed prone to having accidents on the floor....

Thursday was the longest ride, since there weren't any time constraints. We went out onto the adjoining property for a long and very hilly ride, and I took my camera along that day.

Me and Shylah:

Scenes from the ride... It was so beautiful. I know they must get used to it, but being out there away from civilization, up on the mountain where you can see for miles and miles and miles... it's awesome. It felt right being out there with Shylah, like "so this is what horses are supposed to do." She really did very well, but I know by Friday she tired and probably quite sore (if I had to walk up and down all those hills I would be too!).

For most of the rides, Shylah was the follower. J was riding "Lina," a 3 year old Andalusian she had been training for the last three months. Lina is a bigger horse with a longer stride, and Shylah just walks kinda slow anyway, so she would drop back pretty far and J would have to stop and wait for us all the time. So we got to see a lot of the backside of Lina.

There's this cool watering hole out there on the trail, a trough that stays full from a natural spring. Neat-o. We stopped the horses there..which is where I took these pics (not that you can see the trough, but no matter, we were stopped here):

Somehow I ended up in the lead at that point, and we discovered that it worked out quite well. Shylah was a fairly confident leader, though it took her a minute to get used to hearing Lina behind her. The difference in alertness when a horse goes from follower to leader is amazing. The follower is more relaxed, the leader is much more alert. Lina was forced to slow down and stay behind Shylah, and it was nice. J and I could actually talk instead of shout at each other across the gap! Shortly after leaving the watering trough though, with Shylah as the new leader, she seemed excessively alert, no longer focusing on me, and I even commented to J that Shylah seemed really hyper-alert for some reason. We stopped and did some circling/flexing exercises, got the horses refocused on us, and continued onward, not thinking much about it other than Shylah hadn't been in lead position before, or maybe there was a coyote out there (I'd seen one the day before).

When we reached the gate at the far end of the trail, we dismounted and gave the horses (and our knees and butts) a break for a few minutes, and decided to head back, since we'd been out an hour and a half (and therefore it would end up being a 3 hour ride, which is pretty good, not sure of the mileage...the 3 hour ride I did on the bike trail was 6 miles, so perhaps similar).

On the way back, just after the place where our horses had been very alert, I was riding out in front when all of a sudden J said "Oh sh**, stop! Bear!" It took me a second to process this... OMG, a bear! I stopped and dismounted, and with my jaw hanging down I watched an adult black bear saunter down the hill, crossing in front of us. The horses watched intently, but to their credit did not try to bolt. My camera was back in the bag at that point, and I spent too long gawking to get a really good shot. By the time I got the camera out and on and focused the bear was nearly behind the hill, but you see that black blob in the middle of the pic below? That's the bear. I'm not good at estimating distance, but it was less than 100 feet away. It didn't look at us or stop, it just kept walking. As soon as it was out of sight, then the horses got upset and wanted to get out there in a hurry. We stayed on the ground and walked them out of the area until they were more calm.

So here I'd been joking all along about seeing a bear, but I didn't think I really would!!!

We rode the same trail on Friday, and as soon as we went through the gate onto the adjoining property the horses got a little freaked out again and didn't want to go. Shylah wouldn't move at all, but Lina was a little more willing, though she wasn't totally cool with it either. We ended up just hand-walking them out there a little way to convince them it was okay, and then rode out to the watering hole again. Shylah was noticeably checking out every large boulder and log now, gotta be REALLY sure those aren't bears. And that's totally understandable. We can look at those and easily distinguish that it's a rock, but I can see how a dark colored round boulder would look an awful lot like the rounded back of a bear! Interestingly, Shylah wouldn't drink from the trough that day, whereas she'd been all over it the other days. Maybe it was bear-flavored. By the end of Friday's ride, she was really dragging and obviously tired. Those hills are tough! She's going to get some time off now..

I think she had fun up there though, she seemed pretty positive and willing. I had a blast, I loved being out there riding the trails every day. We're probably going to turn this into an annual thing, and I can't wait for the next one. J and D, thank you for putting up with me all week! :-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

an early abstract

Didn't get much art done today (long story), but I did bake a blackberry cheesecake...

Lacking any exciting news, and too tired to rant, I give you my earliest non-figurative artwork that I still have. It's not dated, but I'm sure I did this when I was three years old. It's watercolor on pink tissue paper. For some reason we had a bunch of pink tissue paper (gift wrap?) and I LOVED to paint on it. I can't do this kind of stuff anymore, I wouldn't know where to start.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pictures Today

I see a nectarine/plum pie in the future:

These are the mosquito fish. Cute little dudes. (Yes, my hand is under water):

The girls are so preppy-looking with their plaid sheets!:

The better of the two Silver Duckwing cockerels:

One of the Blue Silver pullets. I still don't know how this color happened but they sure are pretty!:

More pullets..crooked camera:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Game Fowl #4

Had extra time today, hence the mini drawings. Despite the color this is NOT a Cornish, she's an Aseel/Asil.

"Game Fowl #4"
2.5 by 3.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite on tan Rising Stonehenge paper
for sale

I need to get a new keyboard, this one is driving me crazy. It didn't used to be this bad!

Game Fowl #3

"Game Fowl #3"
2.5 by 3.5 inches
colored pencil and graphite on tan Rising Stonehenge paper
for sale

Monday, August 07, 2006

late night chicken art

I just finished the White Naked Neck drawings. (Gosh, and it's not 12:30!) That's the last of the pure-white birds, which is a relief. The rest are all more colorful, which makes them a bit more interesting, and also keeps me from having to go gung-ho on making a background. It's amazing how many colors go into making white.. I seem to do things differently every time but these have, let's see... 7 layers of color in the darkest shadow areas (sorry, can't post pics). Up close and personal you'd think they'd be way too dark, but step back and it just looks white! Weird.

So I start another pair tomorrow... Red Naked Necks I guess. (hmm, I think all these words are going to lead to some interesting search results at some point...)

Today was actually kinda fun, I knew I was on schedule so I went out and picked blackberries, where I was assisted by sisters E and L, and they came over and I taught them to make Blackberry Kuchen. It was great, I didn't have to do anything! I snagged a few pieces for dessert and send them home with the rest.

Shylah was a brat tonight. I guess we all have our bratty days.

Sleepy time.

Website Update

I updated the art site, the mini game fowl drawings are up, and the commission info is posted. I'll be putting the game fowl stuff on an auction site soon, but I'd like to get a few more drawn first as time permits. Let's rock and roll.

Deadline day today, lots to do. I'll write more later if I finish early enough.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

thinking ahead, artwork, what to do, etc.

Without going back and reading all the stuff I've written, I don't know what I've posted here and what I've just told people, so I'll just write whatever comes to mind and if you heard it before, well...tough. ;-)

I don't know what's happened lately but it's like somebody flipped a switch, and suddenly this is working. I'm getting things done, I'm meeting the deadlines, I'm really cranking stuff out in a hurry without any compromise in quality (I refuse to compromise quality!). I don't know that changed, but something did, and I feel like I'm on the edge of something big. I feel like I can really do this.

The Standard work will be done by the time I leave for Indiana in November. (I was thinking I'd throw a party when I finished, but my friends are so scattered I think I'll just call the Indiana show my party!! Of course I'll need another party when it gets printed too!) A project that spanned two years, so much of it down-time, not always my fault! Why, if I can work this fast now, did I not get it done sooner? I don't know the answer to that, other than to say for a long time I simply couldn't do it, it was like I was putting up resistance against my own progress. I know how strange that must sound. I wish I understood what changed, and I hope whatever it is stays this way!

So now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and an actual end in sight, it's time to start thinking ahead..what then? I definitely want to go back to taking commissions, and the price list will be up within a matter of days. Prices have changed, a lot. I know now what my time is worth, and the days of peanuts and short-selling are over. I have other projects in mind too, non-commissioned work I plan to make to sell, and ideally to really try to get out into galleries and be seen by more people.

Maybe the stars all shifted around. Something's happening, I can feel it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

first trail ride!

If you don't like reading about the horse stuff, skip this one!

Today was the big ride, Shylah's first trail ride. I went with W and K, riding Missy and Shailah. How totally weird is it that there where two "Shylahs"?! The other one, a big black TB, is spelled different, but it was confusing so we just called them Big Shailah and Little Shylah... mine of course being the little one, at only about 14.2 hands.

We got out to the American River Parkway near Cal Expo and were saddled and up shortly before 11. The horse trail, for some places, is a dirt trail, but in other places (either because it's overgrown or because of construction) it shares the bike trail. So this was heavy duty bike exposure, which was a little overwhelming. Shylah was fairly concerned about them at first, and we did have a few incidents of ending up sideways across the trail with cyclists skidding to a stop on either side. I apologized profusely and nobody seemed too terribly irritated, but I'm sure they were miffed. By the end she was relatively okay with bikes, though she seemed to want to watch them all, whereas the other horses paid no attention, having done this before. She was definitely better with bikes approaching from the front versus coming up from behind. Note to cyclists, if you are approaching a horse from behind, SAY SOMETHING. Your stealth-bikes are very silent, and my fruitcake horse may be daydreaming about carrots and not know you are there until you are right on top of her. All you gotta do is yell out "bike! On your left!" and the horse will know you are there be much less inclined to end up half way across the path having a heart attack. Everybody starts with training wheels... even a perfect trail horse starts somewhere, and the first ride might not be perfect.

She's really not a spooky horse though, and it was pretty easy to handle the things that did scare her. There were some logs that might have been bears, and a couple of dogs that could have been lions. She got quite a workout. We went 6 miles, some dirt, some paved, some up hill, some down hill (hill? What's a hill? We don't have those here!) and also out in the water, which she went into without any hesitation. She liked the water, it was fun to play with. We stopped there and tied the horses to trees and ate a picnic lunch and watched the kayakers go by (hmm, would have been odd to run into one of them while out in the water!). Something bad was going on across the river though, because right then an ambulance and fire trucks arrived, and there was a very low flying helicopter overhead. I was concerned she would freak out about the helicopter but she was too busy grazing.

She was kind of embarrasingly slower than the other horses, and I felt bad that they kept having to stop and wait. I didn't want to rush her when she was being relaxed and leisurely though, and it's hardly her fault that her legs are only like half the length of those big tall horses! ;-) She was noticeably tired by the end and really moving slowly. That's her longest ride, and the longest I've done since many years ago. So overall I think she really did well, considering her age and level of green-ness, I think she did a lot better than other horses at that level would do. She would need a lot more rides to convince her that the bikes are really okay, but it all just takes time. I'd like to be able to ride on the roads here, but I'm not sure how to approach that.. cars are big and scary and if I end up in the middle of the road they can't stop fast like the cyclists can! W and K were really impressed with her, and I had a lot of fun (though I think I'm going to be pretty sore tomorrow). She's a good kid, and I'm looking forward to the week of trail adventures up north! Probably not going to run into a lot of bikes up there. Bears, perhaps...

Anyway, wish I had pics but nobody brought a camera and it would have been hard anyway, I had two hands on the reins at all times!

I have to get up in 5 hours to take 59 birds to auction, so I'd better hit the hay. Stupid spell check isn't working, I'll proof read as best I can...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Interesting Things

For any new readers, here's how this feature works.. I own two web domains, and I am able to access stats that tell me what keywords people put into search engines that brought them to either of my domains. Mostly these things make sense, most people going to the rosecomb site are in search of chicken coops, and the biggest draw to the art site is horse drawings. So it helps me figure out how to set up my site and where I need to get the right words on there. But there are also some mighty strange things that get put into search engines. Sometimes I can't for the life of me figure out how it ended up with my website as a result, but more often they are just so funny I have to share them. So without further ado.. Well, July was kind of boring.

"bouffant parrots infected" I thought bouffant meant sort of puffy?
"chicken lady day" There really should be, international Chicken Lady Day, in celebration of chicken ladies everywhere. Actually, "chicken lady" comes up a lot in the searches, I wonder why... is there something I'm not aware of? Hmm.
"fetish clinic training" Seriously, they have clinics??
"the chicken lady blog" I wonder if this really meant mine!!
"how to foil a sculpture" As in, aw shucks, foiled again? How bout a dramatic foil?

the way that cats sleep

They are just so darn cute!

Olin likes to sleep in this little basket that's up on top of a 6-foot tall filing cabinet. There's a shorter set of drawers behind it, so it's not like he jumps 6 feet up, but it always cracks me up to see him up there.

I stood on tiptoes and put the camera as high as I could to get this shot!

Why yes, he IS smiling!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

good to go!

Well, I think Shylah is as ready for Saturday's trail ride as she's going to get, and I think she's going to be fine. Last night was her first ride off the property. I had F.M. ride Gwen out there too, since Gwen's pretty reliable and Shylah will follow her anywhere. It went well, she's very curious and wants to get a good look at things (brush piles, for sale sign, etc) but she's really not particularly spooky, and if she does she'll go a few steps and then want to see what startled her.

Tonight I introduced her to my bike, since we are sure to see some on Saturday. After the initial snorting she just stood there half asleep while I rode in circles around her. So that should be no problem! I figured I'd better make sure she's ok with saddle bags too, so I dug my old saddlebags out of the tack room and filled them with clanky things like bits and hoof picks so they'd be sure to rattle around and be annoying. Did she care? Of course not, no big deal! :-) I took her out alone tonight, off the property. She was a little hesitant to leave the driveway, and it didn't help that Gwen was calling to her, but once I got her past the gate she did well, and even in that very short time seemed to gain confidence. So we're good to go. I think I'll take tomorrow off from riding.

Oh, and Patrick the cribbing thoroughbred left yesterday. There's a lot I could say about that situation, but I won't.

That's all the news for today, so on that note I think I'll stay up as late as I can and draw some Naked Necks (that's a breed of chicken, for any non-chicken people...)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

PPBA website

The Pacific Poultry Breeders Association now has a website.

the wee hours

I just finished the Large Red Pyle Old English. Another pair done in 6 days, this is astounding (pats self on back). I foresee a nap in my future tomorrow, as well as the start of another pair of drawings, though at this point I'm not quite sure which ones. I'll sleep on it. :-)

I had a fantastic ride on Shylah tonight. She wasn't as bad about the bit. I rode in the pasture/arena rather than the round pen today, and I think that makes a huge difference. I am not crazy about riding in the round pen. I feel like I'm going to get scraped off on the edge, so I know I tense up with whatever foot is against the rail, and perhaps Shylah picks up on that. She carries herself much nicer in the arena (it's about an acre rectangle), she doesn't put her head up so high, and she's a lot more relaxed (me too!). So.. I think we'll stick with that. Tonight was the first time I intentionally cantered her. E has done this many times (while I was on groundwork duty). I gotta say I think I will be sticking with walking and trotting, as she has a fairly horrible canter. I wonder if this may be because of her uneven height. I'll continue to ask for it, maybe it will improve, and certainly she just needs to canter as a matter of training, but it's not going to be my chosen speed!

*YAWN* Gotta get up soon, off to bed.