Monday, July 30, 2007

July 30 work in progress

Finally I got to do some art again! Friday I was doing horse show prep all day and then the weekend of course was nuts. Good to be back at the drawing table today.

8x9 inches
graphite and charcoal on velour
not for sale

not yet titled
12x16 inches
will be acrylic on canvas
price on completion

Shylah is now over at JJ's house for a week or so to get accustomed to seeing traffic. It's weird to go outside and not see her out there! Gwen neighed for a while but now seems content alone. I'll go over there to visit and ride, but not every day.

twenty years

I nearly forgot to mention that as of yesterday it has been TWENTY years since I got my first pair of fancy chickens (Spangled Old English Game Bantams) and became officially addicted to the poultry fancy. Twenty years really makes me sound like an old timer, yikes!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Battle of the Barns

Geez, I can't believe it was just yesterday! That was the first time I have shown a horse (it was just a playday, but the most group-oriented thing I ever did before this was trail riding). It was Shylah's first experience with all sorts of new things.

W brought her horse over Friday afternoon, so Mischief and Shylah spent a day and night together in the corral and were getting along pretty well by morning (which is good, because we had to pack three horses into an undivided three horse slant trailer that day). We left here at 6, picked up another teammate along the way, and arrived shortly after 8am. I've known W for years but this was the first time I ever met the other ladies on the team. Good group! :-) I was a late add to the team, substituting for someone who had a conflict that day.

Anyway, Shylah was pretty unconcerned. It was this kind of mad rush to get tacked up and get dressed and get ready for the opening parade at 9am. I ran out of time to braid her mane (just as well) forgot to put the red ribbon (symbol of a horse that kicks) in her tail, etc. I was nervous as heck. She was fine. I was imagining everything she might spook at (rigs, horses, flags, flappy costumes, loudspeakers, crowds in bleachers, dogs, music, barrels and poles, you name it). She didn't spook at anything. She gave the white barrels a funny look just once but that was it (my practice barrels are black and red). She was calm and steady all day. Early on she did not appreciate being left alone tied to the trailer, and at one point someone came up and said "your horse is freaking out!" She had one rein on the ground (new hoof marks in it now, great) and was probably doing her stupid pull-back-really-hard thing... her one really bad habit. By the end she didn't care. So even just spending most of a day tied to a trailer was probably good for her.

I was in only three classes (out of ten). This being my first show and her first show I wanted to take it easy since I didn't know how she would behave. Plus it really is mostly a speed competition with the lowest group time winning, and with that bouncy funky canter I had zero interest in doing more than a trot. That was fine, but my victory lap must have looked pretty stupid. The rest of the team did a victory canter around the arena. I did a victory trot in a little circle in the middle. Oh well. Maybe people thought she was just some weird gaited horse with no canter. ;-)

The outfit really was awful. The theme was "Las Vegas" and we were the "Money Honeys." Apparently the dresses came from a lingerie shop. Yup, I can see that... I did some last minute alterations and sewed on green straps because I was concerned about having a major malfunction. I had a shirt on underneath, but still. It was really unflattering, I have no delusions about how I look in this. Trust me, I know, it's bad, these pics are a tad embarrassing... We DO have pants on!!! We were asked about that several times. Yes indeed, all team members are wearing breeches or tights (yet another reminder of why I ride Western!) with fishnet stockings over the top. Some of the ladies with the flesh colored tights really looked naked. Those skirts didn't even cover everything... Even though I knew I had pants on it was impossible not to be incredibly self conscious about "my butt's hanging out!" Next year I think they should let me pick the outfit.

Oh, and fishnet tights on a slick seat saddle = NO GRIP WHATSOEVER. Criminy. Good thing I didn't go fast, I would have slid right off my horse! I probably won't make a habit out of riding in fishnets.

So over all it went really well. If you read the previous post then you already know we won. We won the whole show (because we had the fastest group time and very few penalties) and we also won the costume competition (we were in costume ALL day, omg it was good to take that thing off and get into jeans!). I'm super impressed with how Shylah did, she was cute, everyone liked her (except when she chomped a girl's straw hat, oops!)

Now I know you want pics.

The Bay Area Equestrian Network Team, aka The Money Honeys.. left to right: Noelle, me, Wendy, Leesha, Alena

Trotting around barrels in a trot-only class... (Shylah is about 14.2, in case you are wondering. Tallest person on the smallest horse...) :-)

Shylah tied in "camp"

She was very concerned about getting close enough to W and Mischief to hand off the baton.

Well it's a cute pic of Shylah anyway..

Shylah eating the Grand Champion ribbon.

Except when I was competing, I was the designated photographer...

Noelle and Cadet:

Wendy and Mischief:

Alena and Cindy:

Leesha and Sans:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We won!

Shylah was great! Our team won not only the costume contest, but also the whole show! Woo hoo! Pics another day, there are a LOT to dig though.

I haven't been home long, I'm exhausted, and I don't smell too great. ZZzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, July 27, 2007

wish us luck!

Well, cross your fingers, tomorrow is my and Shylah's first "show" (playday). We are in three classes. The outfit is horrendous, I'm mortified. I'll try to get some pics..

If you are in the bay area come visit us tomorrow 9-? at the Martinez Horsemen Association Equestrian Park. (, sorry too lazy to link it).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 25 work in progress

The color is different than yesterday because I didn't do any color correction on it today. The last scan will be the only good one! So, I haven't done a graphite piece for quite some time, and I must say this is a rather pleasant break from color. This is the first time I've used velour paper (it's like velvet!) and it's pretty neato! It forces the drawing to be very soft, which is totally what I wanted. I use charcoal in the darkest areas because it's a little hard to get the graphite dark enough on this surface without worrying about scraping the fuzz off! This might be my new favorite paper for graphite. :-) It might even work for certain colored pencil things but I'd have to play around with it, I'm not sure I can get the color saturated enough without ruining the paper, and it would not work for tight precise drawings...(oh wait, that's all I do!) :-0 So this is all in 5B pencil and soft charcoal. 5B pencil is VERY soft and would make big dark lines and any other surface but it's been perfect for even the most delicate things here. Cool! Hard pencils would probably be a disaster on this paper.

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh! My! Gosh!

Proud Heritage has won an Award of Excellence in the California State Fair fine art show!!!!!! That's huge news!

(if you're wondering what the awards mean, in the entire show of ~200 accepted art pieces, out of ~1800something entries, the TOP award is Best in Show, there is only one of those. Next down is the Juror's award, six of those. Then the Award of Excellence, no more than 30, then the Award of Merit, up to 130, and then nothing, but even nothing is fantabulous, just getting in there is awesome!)

Wheee! Happy dance! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! ;-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24 work in progress

Well, you'll get to see this one from the way way early stages, since this is as far as I got on it today. The outlines show up more than normal for two reasons: 1) different paper 2) dark subject. I first sketched this out on cheap paper until I was satisfied with the composition, and then used the lightbox to trace that sketch onto the expensive paper. It's just basic outlines and contours right now.

"Jessie" (black labrador)
8x9 inches
(will be) graphite and charcoal on velour paper (Oooo!)
not for sale
These WIP scans won't be good, it doesn't fit well on the scanner

Jessie is one of our family dogs. I did Nellie's portrait years ago and have always meant to do one of Jessie. She's really getting old and creaky and lately I just have this feeling that it's time to do this... It was hard to pick a photo on which to base this. There were two I really liked. In the other she looked very serious and somber, which she often does, but I decided I wanted to portray the happy "let's go hunt rats!" expression. She is, after all, my good hunting buddy!

In other news, the horses FINALLY got their feet trimmed this afternoon, a month late. So the geldings will go home soon, and Shylah will also go to JJ's house for a while to get used to seeing all the traffic along the highway. That should help with her road-desensitization! And it's not far away so I can go over and ride in the big fields and trails there, how fun! In about a month Shylah is going way north to spend 30 days with JC for some fine tuning training, more trail experience, and just kind of well rounding her experiences more. I think it'll be good for her to spend some time with a human other than me, and around horses other than Gwen and the occasional geldings. I am already super excited about spending a week up there in the fall trail riding. :-)

I am looking into getting into another art medium, a really entirely different thing. I'm not going to elaborate just yet, I need to do loads of practice with this new thing and possibly shell out some big bucks for new equipment, which is painful, but I'm optimistic. It has the potential to be a great deal more profitable than what I'm doing now, and that's enormously tempting (one can only "hang in there" so long before one goes broke!). It also has the potential to be something that I'm REALLY going to like, which is exciting. So.. keep an eye out, time will tell....

Monday, July 23, 2007


It's true, you never forget your first horse. Hard to believe it's been eight years today since she died. Thunder and I had some amazing adventures together. :-)

Funny thing, I look at this photo now and I'm mortified that I was galloping with no helmet and no saddle... I used to just cinch the saddle pad on and ride around on that! Whatever happened to the me that used to be a brave rider?? Maybe I whacked my head one too many times!

July 23 work in progress

All done!

"Red Tailed Game"
8x10 inches
colored pencil, graphite, ink
on white stonehenge paper
$485, unframed, not including tax or shipping

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Draft Horse Classic! Upcoming shows!

Woo hooo!!!!! Got the good news I was hoping for in the mail today. My booth is accepted into Draft Horse Classic, yay!!! :-) This will be my sixth year.

So, some upcoming show dates, get your calendars out, I know you want to come see me....

Museum of the Chicken 1st Annual Art Show, Fair Oaks, CA (more info)
August 15-September 29, 2007
opening reception Saturday August 18th, 6-9pm
Second Saturday reception September 8th, 6-9pm

Fair Oaks Chicken Festival, Fair Oaks, CA (more info)
September 15, 2007
10am-5pm (that's when I will be there)

Draft Horse Classic, Grass Valley, CA (more info)
September 20-23, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

July 20 work in progress

If you can't tell yet it'll be really obvious next time! ;-) Lol, this is fun!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 18 work in progress

Edit, YES it's a chicken, a game rooster, no mystery there... it's the color that'll be interesting...

It's another mystery bird! Feel free to guess when you think you know it. (this should be pretty easy to guess when done).

bird itself ~6.5x7 inches
colored pencil, graphite, ink
on white Stonehenge paper

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

painting, art show, blah blah

I got word that all three artworks (Levade, Aragorn at One Year, and Barnyard Gem) were accepted into Draft Horse Classic! Woo hoo! I did not get word about the booth, and that's freaking me out. Usually that all comes in one package, so I'm concerned. But I didn't get my booth photos and application back, which leads me to believe that may have been mailed separately. I'm going to fret and worry until I receive word one way or another though.

I made plum/peach jam today. It's quite good! Not very plummy really, but just a nice "fruity" taste. If blindfolded I am not sure I'd know what it is, other than I like it. Made 12 jars so there's a lot of extra if anyone's interested...

This is a reasonably good photo of the Sumatra painting. This one was really tough to photograph because of the metallic background. I normally shoot the photos indoors with a tripod but I had to do this outside. All the extra furniture is in here right now because the living room is getting painted so there wasn't enough room to set up the tripod!

"Birchen Sumatra"
30x40 inches
acrylic and ink on canvas
will be for sale at upcoming art show

And last but not least, a new pic of Shylah that I took today so my horse-show teammates could see her. She's not cinched up, if anyone notices that and was going to give me a hard time about it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

pictures today

I found this praying mantis a couple nights ago stuck inside a plastic bin out back, it couldn't crawl up the sides and wasn't looking too good. I took it out and put it in a plant under the kitchen window. The following evening I sat down on lawn chair out back and I guess it must have been on the chair because guess what crawled across my leg (gack!). I moved it to the herb planter and it's been there ever since, looking fat and sassy. Here it is in the chives.

And now for some updated chicken photos (I got rid of 62 birds on Sunday, yay!)

I noticed another short-legged pullet. She's not as severe as the one I already photographed. I went ahead and held onto both just to see what happens. There actually seems to be a lot of variation in leg length, particularly of the shanks. Of cousre it's hard to tell for certain because the age range in that pen is 5 weeks, and in a young bird that makes a huge difference.

This is the less-severe short bird.

The original short bird. Oh, guess what, they're full sisters! (crappy pic, she's turning away from the camera)

Original shorty next to a normal pullet. The normal pullet may be a couple weeks older but the difference shouldn't be that much!

Brothers, really, honest to goodness.

Future champion? Black Breasted Red Rosecomb..

One of two Duckwing cockerels. Both are white-legged. Neither has a spike on the comb (these little buggers peck each others spikes off when they are young, I hate that!). This one looks just like his daddy, more of a "dirty silver" color.

Whereas this one is more golden. I suspect this will be the one I keep. One or the other, it's down to just too (I culled the other two cockerels, one was blue-legged but had a TERRIBLE comb. There is a blue-legged Birchen but my pic did not turn out.

Lousy pic, but the one remaining Duckwing pullet.

One of two single comb BBRed pullets. At least one and maybe both (I'd have to check) are sisters to the Duckwings, so not purebred Rosecomb, so the earlobes might not be white enough. But gosh darn they both have good color!

Single comb BBRed pair.

Is there a silver version of Brassy Back??

Friday, July 13, 2007

and I didn't even die!

I'm way too tired to photograph the painting tonight. It's not done. Close though.. it should work, I'll probably just wait to photograph it when it's done.

Today was Shylah's first "road ride." And I didn't even die! Over all, she was quite good. We got a later start than anticipated and W ended up riding JJ's horse Blue Top (who is *still* here because my farrier has dropped off the face of the earth, this is totally unlike him and I'm actually getting quite worried, and I can't get hold of him, ack! Long story) instead of riding her own horse over. Anyway, BT was good on the road but neighed a lot and wanted to hurry home. Both had minor spooky moments, the worst of which was probably an irrigation valve bubbling water into a field, and they had to walk through the water. She was good with cars until the very end, and there was a point at which she was shying away from something (?) in a ditch full of blackberries and cattails, and at that point a car approached from the front, so I was trying to get her out of the middle of the road (drivers are sort of touchy about a horse backing toward them as they drive behind) and she was trying to get away from the ditch. So after that cars approaching from the front would sent her backing into the road again. Not good. Needs work. I think in time she'll be great, but right now it's just a whole lot of new stuff all at once. I got off and walked a few times when she seemed to be nearing sensory overload (sheep, cows, donkey, water, dogs, horses running, people working, lions and tigers and bears...) Over all, I am pleased. It was a fairly short ride. It was hot. It was lunch time. It was a nice route though and we can certainly head out on a longer ride.

I checked the neighbor's plum tree today. Goodness! She wasn't kidding when she said they were over-run. Plum jam? Plum.. anything? Plum crisp tonight (sliced into a pie pan with flour/brown sugar/cinnamon/butter topping). Yum!

My artwork ("Proud Heritage") goes to State Fair tomorrow. A month early! Weird. Judging will happen next week, I should know the results in about two weeks I think. From now til Sept 7th it's completely out of my hands as far as sales go. That's a long time!

sad setback

I had two Golden Duckwing pullets, one with blue legs (ideal) and one with white legs. Two nights ago, the blue-legged one vanished from inside the coop. I can only surmise it was a rat, the endless horrible rat problem. Last night Jessie (dog) and I went rat hunting and she killed a large female that was in a burrow inside the coop. I imagine that's where my poor little bird ended up.

I used to think anyone who had a rat problem must be really awful but oh my gosh it's just been endless here, and it's not a skanky awful setup. I try to keep the coops reasonably clean. I think it's just an explosion in the rat population, for every one that gets killed another comes up from the creek.

This will be a setback to the Golden Duckwing program. The two best cockerels are also white-legged. The now-ONLY pullet is white legged. There is a dark-legged Birchen cockerel, I guess that's an option. I am just so sad and mad about losing that bird, and others earlier this season, and so many last season, it sickens me, I'm doing all I can but I can't keep them out of the coop, they fit through anything.

It gets really frustrating sometimes. *sigh*

I'll bet in the last 12 months we have killed 40-50 rats.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

summertime fruit

Somehow making that jam and whatnot made me feel very domestic. Weird. No more so than baking giant batches of cookies I guess. I am still hoping to snag more apricots from the neighbors but their tree that is blazing orange right now has fruit that tastes bad, not sweet at all. I don't know why, it's been wonderful in the past (a couple years ago I made about 35 cups of pureed apricots from that tree and there were soooooo many left over). Their other tree, which doesn't usually produce anything, has a few good ones so far, I'm hoping for more since our tree was a disappointment (hi neighbors, if you are reading this!)

I need to get out and pick blackberries some morning. The spring was so dry I think it'll be an awful year for those, probably lucky to get one pie out of it.

The plums are starting to be ripe, and my other neighbor invited me to pick whatever I want from their tree, she says it's more than she can use and they are falling on the ground. Hmm!

The nectarines wil be ready soon, they are heavenly, and the peaches will be a few weeks behind them.

The local strawberry stand has a zillion strawberries...

And I like to make stuff...

So here's my question:

** Would anyone BUY home-made goodies from me? Unfortunately baked stuff won't travel too well, but would anyone buy jam or syrup in any of the following flavors: plum, strawberry, peach/nectarine, apricot (if I get enough)? ** Probably ~$5 for a half pint jar, plus shipping. I'm totally game for making more if there's a market for it, but I've been forbidden from making more otherwise. ;-) It would be very limited numbers of most stuff.

July 12 work in progress

The painting does not have that weird highlight area on top, don't put too much faith in these night pics... It's coming along. I think if I can finish the painting tomorrow and do all the ink work on Saturday then all is well. Still need to paint the neck and do all the shadowing/striping of all the white areas, and then of course all the ink work (my favorite part, yay!) I can make final adjustments on Sunday and photograph it and get it in on Monday. Hmm, what else to enter!

Oh, everyone keeps asking, this is what I'm talking about: Fair Oaks Chicken Festival Sadly the website does not mention the art show (hmpf!)

Tomorrow is the first road ride with Shylah. Who's more nervous, me or her? (Me!!) I took her for a walk this evening. Went down another nearby road and saw lots of horses in fields next to the road (um, I think Shylah is in heat!), barking dogs, more cars, scary drain pipes going under driveways, etc. She was decent, but again I was glad to be on the ground. A lady stopped and asked me if Shylah is part Friesian. Tee hee! (no, purebred Canadian Horse). It's rare enough to see someone out riding on the roads these days but I sure do get some funny looks for taking a horse on a walk. Heck, people here don't even walk their dogs, dogs walk themselves in big backyards and pastures.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11 work in progress

These late night pics are really bad, but you get the idea..

Blarg! I can paint a dog in a day, why is this taking forever?? (ha ha, then again I think how long this would take in colored pencil and this seems like a whirlwind!) I think it's because I paint one feather-group at a time, whereas a mammals don't usually have blocks of color like birds do. I think it's going to turn out well. Oh, it's a Birchen Sumatra, by the way.. they are typically Black or Blue but in my world chickens come in all sorts of neato colors. :-)

I took Shylah out for a walk on the road today. She was the Cookie Express Pony. I put two dozen cookies in the saddle bags and walked her down to make the delivery to the hay guys. She was wide eyed the whole time but not too spooky, just looking around taking it all in. Still, I was glad to be on the ground rather than in the saddle. The biggest spook was at a boulder in someone's landscaping (I guess after last summer's bear up north on a trail ride she thinks all large round dark objects might be bears!) Cars were no problem, though she flinched the first time one zoomed past from behind. Friday will be her first road-ride (though I might cheat a bit and hand-walk her a while on the road). W.T. and I will ride out to the defunct railroad tracks and ride there. I guess I figure it doesn't matter much whether I'm in the saddle or on the ground, it's all about getting her out and exposing her to new situations.

The decision of what to do for the Second Saturday at the pet boutique as been solved through a mutual agreement to pull the work out of the store tomorrow morning. Nothing sold, and nothing will. Feedback was that people don't want to pay more than $175, and there is no way in heck I can price work that low. It's funny though, people spend a fortune on doggie sweaters and stuff! It's okay. On one hand it sucks, I thought that would be a pretty successful venture, but at the same time, nothing lost and I've learned that's not a market to pursue. Not sure if another location would make a difference, I suspect not. I may have to actually apply to a gallery at some point, but darn that 50% pay cut really bites. Bleh, don't want to think about it tonight.

awww, cute!

The barn swallows outside the front door finally sucessfully raised a brood, after the first ones were killed by the freakishly aggressive male house sparrow (who I have not succeeded in trapping, but did distroy his nest). I took this two days ago, they fledged yesterday. I love barn swallows! They are one of my favorite bird species.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10 work in progress

I didn't actually end up with much art time today.

Crappy pic taken late at night, this has a loooong way to go (must finish this week!!!!)

I spent the morning sorting birds, then had to box up several dozen eggs for shipping. I rode this evening after dinner. Today was fantastic weather. Didn't go over 82, overcast, sprinkled (!) this evening, loved it! Shylah has suddenly learned how to neck rein. This isn't really something I've made much of an effort to work on, only recently starting putting the off-side rein across her neck while doing direct-reining. She's super responsive to leg cues, and it's like all of a sudden it must have clicked, because tonight I was walking her around on a loose rein getting her to turn this way and that with neck rein and leg cues only. Awesome. Granted, some people probably have their two year olds doing this already, but I'm proud of my four year old! :-) I keep hoping one day her canter will magically be wonderful, but it's not. It's weird. I really have to make an extreme effort to sit way back in the saddle, because I have this tendency to think "oh dread, I have to canter now, it's going to be awful" and then I get all scrunched up in the saddle and then it really IS awful! I'd really rather trot!

She is doing this weird thing now of putting her head down (way down, to the ground if she could, but I don't let her do it) when she trots..or canters. Not when she walks. I don't understand if this has something to do with the bit (same as always, nothing has changed) or if this is just one of those dumb things she is going to go through. Maybe I'll try a ride in the halter and see what she does. The other dumb thing she's doing lately is being all weird about going on the asphault driveway. She's always been funny about crossing from one surface to another (grass to gravel, road to field, she worries about cracks in the sidewalk, etc) but she's been out a gazillion and a half times and suddenly she's getting all freaked out about it. I think I'll start hand-walking her out on the road, gotta get her used to cars, and I may even be doing a road ride on Friday..

Anyway, let's see, what else. Late tonight I baked a double recipe of chocolate peanut butter cookies. I did not have to stack my own hay this year... (yay!) Part of the payment (besides moolah) was I offered to make the guys any dessert they wanted. It's always wise to take me up on this offer. ;-) So cookies it is! I'll deliver them tomorrow, maybe even stick them in saddle bags and walk Shylah down there, it's a half mile down the road.

Okay, that's it. It's late.

weird chicken genetic thing

This will probably only interest the chicken people...

I spent the morning sorting birds in preparation for auction this week. That took a few hours. Looks like I'll have around 60 to get rid of (if anyone wants pet birds and can pick them up soon, by all means let me know!) There is this one pullet I noticed a while back that has extremely short legs. She just looks... too close to the ground! I've seen this before in my birds, not often, but a few birds over the years. I can't remember what color variety it's happened in before though. The current bird is a black pullet from the cuckoo breeding pen. It's like all her limbs are short, but her body size is fairly normal. So it's not just that she's a small bird.. hard to explain. I took some photographs with a same-age normal pullet for comparison (short bird on the left):

Her wings are also short but I didn't have enough hands to photograph them.

Her head is different, more round, and her eyes are funny, like there's extra skin around them. Her beak is short and thick.

Normal bird:

Short bird:


I forgot to post this yesterday. It's a really crappy photo but the Aseel drawing is framed and ready to go to State Fair. I wanted something eye-catching, this hits the spot. Bold, yet classy. It'll go in on Saturday. Why they want everything a month early this year, I do not know. Usually art goes in about a week beforehand. Whatever, it's all good.

"Proud Heritage" (Spangled Aseel)
original colored pencil and graphite drawing
framed size ~21x23 inches

Monday, July 09, 2007

July 9 work in progress

acrylic and (eventually) ink on canvas
30x40 inches

So the continuing saga of the strapless bright purple dress... I set forth on the 85 mile round trip this morning. The sales lady was the same lady as last time, and she was genuinely mortified that the information had been lost. I tried on the sample again and confirmed the size. I almost brought my camera so I could photograph myself, but the sample dress is sort of a mocha color, which looks pretty hideous on me. I have not actually seen myself in the bright purple... Pics will have to happen later.

I was at the point of placing the order when there seemed to be some confusion about the accompanying little jacket (let's face it, I'm a bit of a redneck, getting dressed up means a shirt that buttons up, really getting dressed up means a skirt, I've never worn a strapless anything, so the only way I can pull this off is to not be parading around feeling more than a little exposed. No, nothing will fall out, it's rather, um, fitted!) Anyway, turns out the jacket is not available in that color. So not only did they not tell the bride that the first time she went in and told them that I would be wanting it, they also failed to mention it to me when I was there a few weeks ago and ordered the darn thing. Plus losing the size info, that's just bad. Nothing else went with bright purple, so the only open (other than skipping it) was to buy fabric and make one. So I went ahead and just ordered fabric dyed to match, and I'll get pattern (already found one I like way better than the one in the store anyway) and it'll all be fine. But what a pain! I asked for a discount and they said they couldn't do that, but did offer to ship it to me for free so I agreed to that. Sheesh. It'll arrive in late August, so there shouldn't any more to complain about until then, at least not in that department! ;-)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Wait a minute, how did it get to be Sunday night?! Ack! I didn't do a single bit of art this weekend, just flat out did not have time. Which wouldn't be a crisis except Chicken Festival art entries are due (received!) the 16th, so if I'm going to submit the Sumatra painting, I need to get crackin. Hm, what else to enter.. of course anything I submit won't be available in my booth, so I need to consider this quite carefully. I can always hand-deliver the entries, that wouldn't kill me. I mean, if I don't finish til the end of the week I'll just drive out on Monday, it's only 45 minutes away.. I would like to go trail riding on the 13th though, which would wipe out that day..

I made a batch of apricot jam today. Yummy! It made 12 half-pint jars, which I had to go buy in town this morning. It hasn't solidified yet but I am trying not to panic, since Mom said it sometimes takes a few days with apricots. If not, I guess I'll just call it another batch of syrup. ;-) Can you believe that a jam recipe calls for 5 cups of apricots and 8 cups of sugar? EIGHT CUPS! That's a lot of sugar. Anyway, this was the first time I've made jam, so yay for me!

So next Saturday is Second Saturday, which is the big art hooha in Sacramento, which means I am probably supposed to do something at the pet boutique, and here it is a week beforehand and all I can think is "oh crap! What do I do?" Seriously, I need help. I've had paintings hanging there since April. All original work, so yeah, it ain't cheap. Nothing has sold. People have taken brochures but there has been no follow-through (yet?). There has been zero publicity, other than me waving my arms around on the blog, but then it's really not my main focus so I haven't dedicated much (any) time to it. I thought the work would just sell from time to time, or that I'd get some referrals. So... I could head out there Saturday and set up a table and bring the portfolio and just try to keep it pretty low-key. There is no room in the store, I'd have to sit outside.

Whaddya think? Should I do this? The other option of course is to do nothing and just let the work hang, it doesn't hurt me to leave it there (other than it would be nice if it sold, but I haven't sold it over the website, so I really can't complain, it's not as though I'm missing some opportunity.) Gah, I dunno. Maybe I just need to be there that evening and pimp out the portfolio a bit. I'd have to take off early though, gotta take birds to auction Sunday morning, which means leaving at 6am. I recently spotted some info for an auction just a few miles away, I need to give them a call. I missed it today, didn't realize it was today. Ooops. If their prices are decent that would sure beat the almost hour drive to Roseville.

Oh, and speaking of nearly-hour drives to Roseville...grrrrrr....

I am the maid of honor in a friend's wedding, which takes place in October. Several weeks ago we went to the big gigantic bridal shop in Roseville (not gonna name names..) and got fitted for the bridesmaid dresses. The lady wrote down all the info, nobody mentioned anything about needing to pay at that time, so off we went. Friday they called me and asked if I had "the card with the dress size info." Um no, they never gave me one. Turns out, the paperwork with all the info has mysteriously disappeared, and oh by the way we need to pay in person before the orders get placed. What!? I'm reasonably sure I remember the dress size, but as long as I have to drive all the way back up there to pay, I may as well try it on again because that would really suck to be wrong. This REALLY pisses me off though that they lost the info, like this is something for which a discount ought to be given, but asking for one is not a readily available part of my personality. I called today and made an appointment for tomorrow morning, and the lady on the phone was just relentlessly perky even though I explained WHY I needed to drive up there again and do this. So...nearly two hours of driving to zip myself into that strapless (bright purple!) dress and say "yup, this one" and hand over a check. Ridiculous. I want to bill them for my time. And they don't even open til 11 so it's not like I can get this over with early and be back by lunch time. Grrrrrrr.

Okay, enough ranting for the day.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

horses and apricots

Oh yeah, 7-7-7. Did anything lucky happen in your world today?

A while back I agreed (more or less, depending on whether I can pull off "the secret outfit") to take part in a horse show/playday in late July with my friend W.T. (who owns Sampson, the horse I used to board, remember him?) The original plan for today I think had been to take the horses to the arena and practice the routines. Somewhere along the way I guess that all fell through and the rest of the team couldn't be there, as I found out a few days ago, but whatever, it worked out fine. W and her daughter rode over here today and we set up some barrels in the pasture and went through some of the routines for a few hours. I have a better sense of which ones Shylah can potentially compete in, and a MUCH better idea of what I need to work on (going around barrels!). Plus it was just a fun time out there with the horses, and I will be able to practice on my own now and try to really get Shylah ready for a couple of classes. I am somewhat concerned about Shylah being a bit spooky that day, what with so many new things (I've never done anything like this, my horses have always mostly been homebodies, so this is a good thing!). But I am more concerned about her kicking (horses, not people) because she learned all her manners from Gwen, and that's a bad thing. Ugh. She was decent with W's horse, but did a lot of ears-back tail swishing. Ugh. I really need to post a new pic of Shylah, she's gorgeous! I need to take a new photo..

So by early afternoon the horse activity was done, and I moved onto the next big thing of the day... harvesting the apricots. It was a HUGE disappointment this year. The tree went nuts and produced a gazillion of them, but once again (every year!) they got brown rot even though Mom sprayed the tree 6 times for it, so less than 1/4 of the crop was salvageable. That is.. tragic. Most went straight from the tree to the yuck bucket to the trash, and about half of the "potentially good" ones that I bought in and washed went to the trash when I sliced them open. Anything I ended up using was normal looking, I tossed all gross ones. *sigh*

I still have a lot of containers of leftover puree (coffee cake and cookie filling) in the freezer from two years ago, so I wanted to try something new, and made apricot syrup. The recipe was all screwed up but I sorta fudged it and it turned out good. It was a way small recipe though for some reason, I don't get it. Said it would fill eight 8-oz jars but it only filled two 16-oz jars (that was all I had, big jars). Oh well. I went ahead and put all the rest through the food processor, figuring they'd be bruised by morning. There is enough for a batch of jam, assuming I don't mess that up. I am tempted to raid the neighbor's tree before they get home, but Mom nabbed one today and said they are shriveled up because the tree needs water. Hmm, maybe I'll check it out in the morning. I had these delusions of making jars and jars of jam and syrup and selling them but it doesn't look like there will be enough. Dang it!

Anyway, I didn't sleep well last night so between that and getting up early and being out in the sun much of the day, I've had it. Zzzzz.

Friday, July 06, 2007

July 6 work in progress

I have *finally* restarted this one! I sketched this out a few months ago and wasn't happy with it so I re-gessoed it and am just now starting the re-do. Much improved, methinks.

acrylic and (eventually) ink on canvas
30x40 inches
will be for sale, price to be determined

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Feather illustration

"Dark Cornish Feather (female)"
feather itself is 2.75 x 4.5 inches
colored pencil, graphite, acrylic
on white Stonehenge paper
sold, commission

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

catching up (LOTS of photos!)

I started writing this yesterday, but now that it's not yesterday I have to redo my intro paragraph. It was 108 degrees here yesterday and will be worse today. I've said it before but I can't emphasize enough how much I hate summer. HATE it. I just feel like I'm going to croak the second I walk outside. Even in the morning when it's still in the 70s or 80s (IF it cools down that much!) it already feels hot, just knowing it's going to get soooo much hotter. Yuck!

Okay, anyway. So there just wasn't anything interesting to write about early last week. I left Friday morning around 10am and hit the road toward Humboldt County for a poultry show. This is the "off season" for showing, so it's really more of a social gathering with a few birds thrown in to justify getting together. I took 4 birds, which was all I could find with a relatively full set of feathers (they lose and regrow all the feathers this time of year).

It's a pretty drive, and though 6 hours long I do enjoy it. As I've said before I rather like driving alone, it's peaceful, and I can sing along to the radio except in the looooong stretches of mountain driving where there is no reception (nope, no CD player, no tape player, no iPod, I'm so primative!).

I try not to photograph the exact same stuff every time but there are some repeats... Here we go...

Highway 20, leaving the flat brown valley and heading into the mountains toward Clear Lake:

The view from a vista point on Highway 20:

My car! Some day this will be one of those photos I look back and say "yes, that's my first car, it was a good one, most of the time...." I know it looks like I'm parked on top of that post but I'm not!!

Clear Lake! It seemed more blue-green than I remember, but maybe I remembered wrong. It's huge, this is just one small part of it.

It's always interesting to see the land change from flat to rolling hills to mountains, and from brown to green. Oak to manzanita to redwood.

I arrived in Eureka around 4:30ish, checked in at the hotel, and headed over to the fairgrounds to get the birds settled in. It was small show as always, maybe 75 birds, but that's a lot better than it has been in the past. Winter time is the big show. All my friends had plans that evening so I ended up with a quiet evening on my own, drooling over Brendan Fraser in that mummy movie. *drool*

Saturday was a long day, but in a good way. Got the birds tidied up in the morning and then walked to the back of the fairgrounds to visit all the stabled horses, and cats. Two of my favorite critters in one location! There are loads of gorgeous horses boarded there, and a lot of tame feral cats. There are two Friesians, a mare and filly. To the best of my knowledge the filly is the same age as Shylah, so I love to see her twice a year and see how she has changed. She's huge, as big as her mother now. I'm sure they are friendly with everyone but I like to think they remember me, since the moment I round the corner they are looking at me with their heads up and ears pricked, that "hi!" horse posture. ;-)

The Friesian mare:

Mare on left, filly on right:

Adorable Fjord!

Lots of cats, many of them friendly. This one was adorable!

And then there was the doe and fawn. I have never seen a newborn fawn in the wild before! OMG soooooo cute! I kid you not when I say it was barely bigger than a cat. What kind of deer are these, anyone know? They're fairly small.

So after ogling the animals for while I went back to the poultry building and schmoozed with the poultry people (I need pics of me with my friends, I really do have friends!). There was a great BBQ lunch. One of my black Rosecomb pullets got Reserve Champion Bantam. Yay! Small show but I can still say yay. ;-)

I had talked to my fellow-poultry-artist friend A.R. (who won Best in Show) about going out to the beach after the show, since every year I really want to go see some of the local scenery (it's really the only show where this is possible, since normally I have to head right home afterwards, and it's cool enough there the birds can hang out in my car... big crate with food and water). So later on that afternoon, armed with directions, I headed up to her house. She listed some interesting landmarks that I would find at the base of the neighbor's driveway, so I would know I'm heading in the right direction. Yes indeed, I would call this an odd neighbor...

So off we went to the beach! She stopped at this wood bin along the way. This is funny to me, I mean sure you'll find heaps of stuff marked "free" around here but a bin dedicated to wood? That's so...organized! "Allison gets free wood" I told her I would put that on my blog and embarrass her. ;-)

Her dashboard decor made me laugh:

So first we went to Luffenholtz Beach (Point? Can't quite remember what it was called). We walked out on this high skinny strip of land (rock?) that overlooked the ocean. REALLY pretty, but I'd hate to slip off the edge! Pics from there:

She wanted to go to Moonstone Beach next but there was a wedding or something going on and it was so crowded there was no place to park. So we went north to Trinidad, and went to two different beaches but I don't know the name of either one. On one side, in a cove area, lots of fishing boats:

And lots of dead fish on the beach, ewww (A.C.'s dog Hobie checking out a fish):

Then we went out onto a pier. I saw several seals but they weren't exactly cooperating with my photographic ventures. Just as I would get it focused they would dive under. So no seal pics. But here's a gull instead, not that that's a great consolation:

Hobie was not too sure about walking on the pier:

And then we went over to the other side of this outcropping of land, to another beach. This one was very very pretty, the kind of place I would have loved to just sit and watch the waves (except it was getting to be dinner time and I was really hungry, so we just walked a while and then headed back). Pretty pics from here:

What fun! And sooo pretty, it's like a different world up there (and it sure makes it hard to want to come back home to 108 degrees, flat, and brown). This is exactly what I'd been wanting to do there for years, and I'm really glad we went out and toured around. :-) After leaving the beaches, A mentioned she knew of a place with a few Friesian stallions, if I wanted to go see those. Well heck yeah! So off we went, up up up a hill into a fairytale land of green grass, flowers, redwoods, and fog. It's just unreal to me to see places like that, especially this time of year!
And there they were:

Oh. My. Gosh. WOW. These guys know how gorgeous they are, no doubt. Stunning. They are so regal, I was just totally enthralled.

I wish I could have taken more photos but it was getting dark and everything was coming out blurry, and using the flash would have killed the fantasy fairyland mood. Besides, there's a limited amount of time you can keep a horse interested.

We headed back to A's house so I could get my car, and then she followed me back down to where I was staying in Eureka. Grabbed some dinner, then hung out with friends R.J. and W.L. for a while and talked about chickens and art and a little bit of everything else. That was pretty close to being a perfect day. :-)

It was all I could do to pry myself out of bed the next morning. I headed up to A's house again so I could pick up some birds she was selling to someone near here (they were just hitching a ride home with me), and ended up staying for delicious breakfast. What a gorgeous place, I am envious of all the green and flowers!

So here's two California girls... two poultry artists, and nevermind that her roosters could kick my rooster's butt. ;-)

I left around 11:30 and headed east on 299. I'd wanted to try out Hwy 36 this year (Fortuna to Red Bluff) after reading about it on someone's blog, but with recent car troubles (and being REALLY tired) I decided it was best not to chance it. Maybe next year! Anyway 299 is treacherous enough! ;-)

It's very curvy, with lots of tall trees:

Vista point.. this is where my door handle broke. *sigh* it still works, I can still get out of the car, but the inside door handle is now kinda loose. It concerns me, but not enough to get it fixed. I guess if it falls off I'll have to do something about it.

I don't remember seeing this burned area last time I drove through here (which would have been a year ago...)

So it was only a 3.5 hour drive on Sunday, because I didn't go home. I went to the Redding area and stayed with J.C. and D.C. overnight. Always a fun visit there, and I got to see the foals again, so cute! I was rather zombie-ish all day though.

I arrived back home mid day Monday, had a crazy couple days cleaning house and property, and lately have just been trying to avoid going outside. That's about it! Oh I'll post some art stuff later.