Friday, February 29, 2008


Today I did something that has been on my mind for a long time. I resigned from all of the duties I held in the Pacific Poultry Breeders Association. I had been an active member of that club since the mid 90s, a member of the board, manager of the website, organizer of the vendors, and more.

But the stupid political crap that has happened in recent years, particularly in the last year, soured my taste for this club and ultimately I felt I had to leave it or I was setting myself up for a massive burnout with the entire hobby.

Additionally, with the engraving show in Reno held on the same weekend, I will no longer be attending the PPBA show anyway.

It wasn't an easy thing, but I am glad I did it. I feel liberated.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

random updates

The last few days have been nuts. But since people ask, here are some updates:

car: broken water pump, so the coolant went everywhere and made the belt slip, which is why I lost the steering. It's fixed. On the road again... I heart Wilton Garage!

microscope: new head/pod arrived today. I've barely had to chance to do more than unpack it and put it in stand but it looks fine!!! Woo hoo happy dance!!! HUGE improvement over the last one (internal optics were dirty, too risky/complex to clean). I need to get that all set up tomorrow. I still need to get some of those rubber eyecups, and maybe some day a headrest but I'm not sure any commercially available headrest will fit this scope. Duct tape and baling twine? ;-)

chickens: Eddie the 12 year old rooster still lives in the kitchen. I was starting to think of putting him outside again full-time but he's looking worse the last few days.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

insult to injury

Okay, as if the car thing wasn't bad enough... Do bad things come in threes? I'm braced for the third.

At 5:30am I woke up and thought "something isn't right here." Why did my feet feel wet?

Because my waterbed sprung a leak! Apparently a really big one! Great! Just what I needed! CRAP! It's a huge mess! AAAAAAACK! :-(

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

broke down

This is not going to go down as one of my best evenings, but it could have been worse. I will say right from the start I am thankful for two things:

1) I didn't make it to the freeway
2) I wasn't in costume

I was supposed to be down in Lodi at 5:30 for dance rehearsal. For no particular reason I'd decided to wear jeans and change when I got there, instead of just going in costume like usual. I left at 5, and was about two miles from home when suddenly my battery light went on, I could hardly steer the car at all, and it smelled funny.

Um, not good.

I pulled off the road, popped the hood and saw smoke, called Mom so she could call the garage, called AAA, and waited a half hour for a tow truck. It's amazing to me that nobody stops when someone is pulled off obviously having car trouble. Not that I'd expect a random person to stop, but of the cop and two sheriffs that passed by at different times clearly not on their way to an emergency, you'd think someone might want to check that I was okay.

But I digress. There's nothing like sitting alone for a half hour in the fading evening light in a dead cold car thinking I've somehow reached the end of the road and that this somehow just means "DOOM." The health of that car is directly in line with my mood, so I'm feeling pretty bleak tonight. Feel free to send me some virtual hugs, I need it. Money works too. Ha.

So I got towed to the Wilton Garage and thankfully managed to hold it together enough not to just completely start bawling in the waiting room.

And now I'm home, crossing my fingers and toes in hopes that I can afford to fix whatever has gone wrong this time.


Monday, February 25, 2008

turkey pics

Some pics I took Friday morning.. There were 46 turkeys in the pasture and all the way up to the barn. Rascals. I chased them away with bird-b-gone (better known as my camera).

These are about 20 feet up.

"Can I play with them?"

"Why did they all leave me?"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

last show of the season

This weekend was the last poultry show of the season for me. There are a couple more a little later in the year but my birds aren't really in show shape and I don't have any super great ones anyway so I'm calling it quits for the season. I left Friday afternoon for Fresno, about 2.5 hours south. It's a pretty boring drive, but at least it's not all that far. It was cold and rainy almost all weekend. The birds did well, better than the last two shows. I took Best of Breed with a BBRed cockerel and Reserve of Breed with a Black pullet. They did not win any class awards, but considering their feather condition at this point none of them would have deserved that anyway. So I'm pleased with how it went, and some of my friends did very well this weekend and I'm happy for them too.

Normally shows last all weekend, with championship judging Sunday morning. This was a one-day show though, and I needed to pinch pennies so I drove home Saturday night. That's not my most favorite thing. It was late, dark, rainy, and I was really tired. I normally will stay til Sunday anyway, it's much nicer that way. I did at least get to go out to dinner beforehand with DW, CS, and AS though, and that was fun. :-)

So just to set some of you silly people straight, NO I am NOT getting out of chickens. I did cut back over the last few months and sold half the flock, I'm down to 40 of them. It's nice (but I'd be okay with even fewer). As much as I love the birds and the shows and perhaps most of all "my chicken people" I have to admit I'm kinda relieved to see the season end. This is hard for me to admit and put in writing (but I want to be able to look back on this some day) but I think I am just ever so slightly starting to burn out. I think that started several years ago during the Newcastle quarantine thing, and it definitely increased in the last year for reasons I'm not going to get into (let's just say politics). So yes I'm cutting back, but I think I need to do that so that I don't actually end up burning out. I don't want that, so I need to preserve a little sanity. Thinking about the National in October brings a glimmer of enthusiasm, as does wanting to raise some nice youngsters and beat certain people, but it's just not the same anymore. That's hard for me. I will hatch chicks, but not many. Maybe 100. Probably less. I do plan to sell eggs. If anyone's itching to get birds from me I'd really encourage you to just buy eggs. I am not shipping birds, I cull like crazy, and I hardly every sell the birds that everyone wants anyway. Don't worry, let me just take it easy with the chicken stuff for a while, and hopefully I'll come back with some showstoppers and be ready to rock and roll. I will not make it to the Eureka show this summer (schedule conflict) and I'm sad about that, I do enjoy going up there. Not sure yet about State Fair, so my next show will be in October.

At the moment, I have other fish to fry...

I have not been able to do horse stuff in the last week, it's been raining and the world has turned to mud and puddles again. Should be a decent week though so hopefully it'll dry out some, I'd really like to get back out there and put Shylah to work.

The microscope should arrive on Thursday. I'm going nuts waiting for it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

howling at the moon

Just kidding. It is *really* pretty out tonight though, the clouds are totally amazing.

I am making great progress on the horse portrait (drawing) but my attempts to photograph it simply don't work. They are pale horses on dark gray matboard and the pics are horrible, so I'm not going to even attempt the "work in progress" thing. I'll scan it when it's done. I started a sketch for a dog portrait this afternoon.

Third time needs to be a charm with the microscope. Cross your fingers. I know I haven't gotten into the gory details here but a new part is on the way. Cross your toes too, I need all the luck I can get.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

not much

There's not much going and I don't have much to say but I know a few people start asking where I am if I go more than about three days without a blog entry. Sooo.....

I found this while cleaning the studio area and I don't think I've posted it before. I drew this several years ago as a reference piece for B.H. to use on one of his first engravings (go to the engraving site, gun section, if you want to see it). It's 5x6 inches, graphite on Rives BFK, and for sale. Nothing special but if you hadn't seen it before, now you have!

I ordered some silver and gold jewelry pendants, they arrived today. I don't have proper gravers or anything pneumatic but I'm going to tinker a little with engraving on metal, using just the same scrim technique and tool.

Did you see the eclipse tonight!? So cool.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

ramblings and ponderings

The weekend flew!

I got my new table on Friday. "Sturdy" is an understatement. It's fabulous, but oh wow it's big. That's okay, it fits, and there's room on the table top for me to get some sort of little storage bin/organizer for the inks, ivory, tools, jewelry stuff, etc. The scope is still undergoing some work, so I don't yet have a functional scrim setup here. Soon, I hope! Keep them fingers and toes crossed. I spent a lot of Saturday working on organizing everything that came out of the various shelves in here when I moved everything around. Throwing away a lot, organizing a lot, and I really want to get rid of some art. I'm strongly considering some deep discounts just to MOVE stuff out of here. Space and money would both come in handy right about now.

Saturday evening JC was here, and J&L also. We had my fake birthday dinner, and cheesecake. :-) JC was here to pick up a filly a few miles from here this morning, so she brought her horse "Rocket" along. He neighed a lot last night. Someone didn't sleep well. Other people were totally oblivious. I unfortunately was the one who didn't sleep well, but I compensated with a nap this morning.

Getting the filly was all kinds of exciting. It went quickly, but my gosh I can't imagine why she wasn't halterbroke and leadable and for that matter weaned beforehand! Poor little horse had a rough day. JC, I hope she settles in quickly!

I rode Shylah yesterday. I hadn't ridden for quite some time and oh wow am I feeling sore today. :-/ She was great though, hasn't forgotten a thing. I was hoping her canter would have miraculously gotten better over the winter but no such luck. I still hate it. But she has a great trot, and I love her anyway. :-) I took her out in the field out front where all the ruts are from the stuck-vehicle incident and she decided some were so deep they had to be jumped. What a dork. She could just step over, but whatever.

I pounded in a few posts this afternoon to put up a little fence around a tree Mom planted recently, and then let the horses back out onto the far pasture, which they have been off for a few months. They seemed pleased. It was a warm sunny day and the grass was dry so I flopped out on the ground and listened to the horses grazing just a few feet away. What a great sound.

Do you ever think about fate? Like how does your life end up taking the path that it takes? It boggles my mind to think about that stuff, which is what I was doing while flopped in the pasture today. Actually it's been on my mind a lot lately, because people keep saying stuff like "well if it wasn't for [such and such] then blah blah blah" and I totally agree. Like scrimshaw, how did I fall into this. How far does that trace back, the chain of events and people? (way back, but I won't bore you with the details). It's crazy to think about that stuff, if I hadn't known so and so or been in some place or whatever it may be. I can totally lose myself going down those mental roads.

Those of you who know me in person, do you think I'm the same in person as I am in writing? If you only knew me on email or read my blog and then you ran into me some place would you be surprised? (Aside from the fact that I write more than I talk). ;-) Actually this happens sometimes, people I don't know at poultry shows or art shows come up and tell me they read my blog!

I gotta go to bed, my brain is full, as is tomorrow's schedule.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

bleh, Valentine's Day

I'm a little less Bah Humbug than normal, so... Happy Valentine's Day to everyone who reads this. :-) Well, okay, and Bah Humbug too! Hmpf!

If you don't have a hot date, I hope you at least have some hot chocolate... that's my plan!

To my funny Valentine, it really is the thought that counts sometimes. Thank you! ;-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

horsing around

Seems like a lot of people had "one of those days" today. Luckily mine was fine. But a lot of other people's stars must have been aligned funny or something. First thing I noticed this morning was that my neighbors' motorhome and cargo trailer were out in the middle of their field. Strange place to leave it, I thought. Then they called and asked if I know anyone with a tractor. Ahh, oops! Overshot the turnaround circle and got stuck deep in the mud last night.

I spent the morning sewing, and finished my outfit, which looks flippin awesome. I am going to have some pics taken tomorrow but I'm not sure I'll post them or not, might make you all wait til mid March! Bwahaha.

Anyway, after lunch it was 70 degrees and the roundpen looked pretty dry so I knocked the big chunks of mud off Shylah and set out to do some groundwork. She was great. Peppy but out of shape, but she was right on the mark and very responsive. It's been a while... The ground was still a little slick though, she slipped around a bit so I had to be kinda careful what I asked of her.

I worked on drawing for a little while, but every time I looked up I could see my neighbors trying to dig out the motorhome and I felt bad so I went to see if I could help. My contribution was coming with a phone number for someone who did have a tractor, and of course moral support. ;-) So over the course of the afternoon I saw a lot of different vehicles get stuck in the mud, some of them more than once. Luckily some people down the street have a monstrously enormous tractor that got everything out. It was nerve-wracking to watch. The field is full of really deep ruts now.

Don't underestimate what looks like solid ground this time of year!

I am making chocolate peanut butter fudge cheesecake this weekend for my not-birthday dinner. Mmmm. :-)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Black Labrador Dog Scrimshaw

This scrim piece was done with the intention of answering the question "can you scrim like you draw?" I think the answer is yes. I'm quite happy with this. It's 2x2 inches, black and white scrimshaw. The surface is Corian. It will be for sale.

This is how much I actually see while working on it at 10X magnification.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

birthday chicken show!

And so ends another exhausting but fun weekend.

I left Friday morning for Eureka, which is a little over 300 miles north along the coast. It's a gorgeous drive, and the weather this weekend was perfect. This is one of my favorite poultry shows, it just seems so... mellow!

It took me 5.5 hours to get there, which is really good time. Traffic was very light, and since I was driving the Mom-mobile that sped things up to, it's easy to drive too fast in the minivan, whereas if you try that in my car if feels like it might fall apart (because really, let's face it, it might!). Plus, there was no way I could fit 26 birds in my car.

Anyway, got all cooped in and schmoozed a bit and then headed over to the "Banana Hut" (Hawaiian BBQ) for dinner. Coconut shrimp, mmmmm. Since a few of my buddies pointed out that it was my birthday (on Saturday, technicalities!) I was given a green flower lei. "Everyone gets lei'd on their birthday" as the guy at the cash register said. ;-)

I stayed with my friend A.R. and enjoyed getting to spend some time sitting around talking to her and seeing the art that she's working on at the moment.

Saturday is the day the birds get judged. It was... different. I wasn't too impressed with how that went, and I know I'm not the only one. Oh well, sometimes you just have to scratch your head and say "oh well." I spent the day talking to friends, and of course went and visited with the horses (especially the Friesians!) at the back of the fairgrounds.

Oh yeah, and Saturday was my birthday! I'm officially stopping at this age. No more, I'm staying right here! Nobody sang at the banquet this year, I was kinda bummed, but also kinda relieved (that happened a few years ago). Dinner was nice, I so enjoy the group of people that I spend time with at shows.

This morning was the raffle, and I was thrilled to win a nice cage that *everyone* wanted. It was a nice way to end the weekend, and compensated for the strange judging, sort of... Oh yeah and I sold all 13 of the birds I had for sale, which was awesome, and way more than paid for the weekend. Woot!

One more show to go this season. Gack, I don't even want to think about chicks yet! I would love to hatch about 30 chicks...and have them all be excellent. Ain't no way!

For your viewing pleasure and vicarious traveling, some photos:

A cute squirrely-thing that I was watching while stopped for lunch. (taken through the windshield)

I don't recall ever seeing snow on this drive before. The road conditions were fine, it was way up on the hills, but still...

I didn't take many bird pics but I thought this one of a sleeping sebright was neato:

One of the prettiest views on the trip, this is about a mile or so north of the Avenue of the Giants (heading south).

I still say everyone needs to see a redwood forest some time in their life. They are pretty awesome. And I know that's a really lovely bird poop on the window.

Just to try to convey the size... this wasn't even one of the really super huge ones.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Okay, every year people say "you should have said something sooner!" So here I am saying something sooner.

My birthday is tomorrow!!!


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 6 work in progress

I'm antsy to get my own setup but hate to not be working on a piece I'm almost done with so I went back next door today and scrimmed there for a while.

This is how far I had gotten before I took it to Reno. (I forgot to scan it before I left that weekend). This isn't a very good scan, I didn't realize it was so washed out.

Probably two more pretty full days of work still to go into that piece before it's done. I'll post some extreme closeups when I finish.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Have you ever had one of those times when you just can't stop laughing? I don't get that too often, but oh geez sometimes! Last night in dance class one of those moments. Now mind you on Mondays I'm kinda like one of the assistants, since it's the beginner class. So I'm supposed to be composed...I usually am. But last night "A" wasn't able to do the arm movements because of a shoulder boo boo, but she was moving just her hands, and it looked funny. So I turned around and said "tyrannosaurus does bellydancing!" I was thinking of this clip.

And she busted up laughing, and I busted up laughing, and neither of us could STOP LAUGHING. It was a "you had to be there" moment but there I was trying to help lead the class in a very sensuous and serious dance and tears were streaming out my eyes and I was practically doubled over laughing. I just couldn't stop, it was totally ridiculous. :-)

And then tonight I'd made a new batch of iced tea and I threw in a new flavor from a new set a friend had given me for Christmas. Mom said "mm, this is good, what kind is this?" (It's called Berry Blossom White I think). So I said, "um, it's some kind of berry... white..." And immediately I'm thinking "da daa na naaa, we really got it together baby" Ack, busting up laughing again, "Not Barry White!" Oh yeah, had to be there.

What's with me? I'm not usually that much of a dork.

So anyway, I washed 17 chickens today. Whee! I think there 9 more tomorrow and/or Thurs but I keep losing track.

My microscope is with my neighbor now, so he can take a look at it and help me figure out what's wrong. Not sure how long that will take...but I'm still waiting on the desk anyway. Hopefully no more than a week to go! I'll take a pic of the studio when it's all set up. I should be back to doing scrim tomorrow, I gotta finish that dog!

And in closing today, a bit of cuteness. :-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

sixteen years!

Goodness, I almost forgot to post this! It was 16 years ago today that I got my very first trio of Rosecombs (I'd already had the Old English for 5 years by that point). Time flies.

It's raining like crazy, it's just a big swamp outside. There was a short break in the rain on Friday so I went out and re-dug the drainage ditches that go out to the creek. They were pretty overgrown, and it doesn't help that the wild blackberries are taking over the universe, but I got them pretty well cleared out and that has really been helping drain the corrals. Of course it's still pretty gross out there but I can't do much about it. The wind is quite loud tonight.

I started working on re-arranging this room yesterday. So far so good. There's this hugely ugly set of shelves I have where I store prints and paper, and I had to move that right next to the front door and put the flat files on top of it. A real eyesore, but... it fits. Otherwise I would have had to put it right in the middle of the room. After hours going from store to store (ugh, too many people to deal with!) I finally found a nice area rug to put in the corner here. It'll look better than the plastic dropcloth I've been using under the easel, and I think it'll just sort of make that corner look like it's own space. I'm eager for my new drafting table to arrive, and my neighbor said he would help me with the scope tomorrow evening.

I whipped up a little culinary delight this evening: chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Simple but so good! I have to take them to a party tomorrow, I'll be sure to leave a few home though. ;-)

Thank goodness I'm not trying to get to Reno THIS weekend. Ugh. Conditions in the Sierras are horrible!