Sunday, March 30, 2008

weekend, horses, and other random things

I always feel like I'm trying to catch up on things but that I might never actually get caught up.

It was another busy weekend. Aren't they all?

Jessie the dog is doing better. She hadn't been wanting to eat, but was coaxed with cooked eggs and canned dog food, so she's got her appetite back and is better in that regard. I really don't know how much longer she will be around, but she's hanging in there and perhaps most importantly she seems so darn happy! :-)

Eddie the rooster is living the good life. I still don't have a coop for him (til next weekend, when I take all the rest of the extra birds to auction) so he's still camping out in the kitchen at night and roaming the yard during the day. He will soon be living outside though, full time, in a chicken coop, again. Strangely I'm going to miss having him around, and the silly little routine where he shows up on the back door step in the evening. He is not a friendly bird though. He's not mean, not at all, but he really wants nothing to do with people. He's never been easy to catch, does not like being picked up or petted. He could easily fit the "crotchety old man" category.

I rode a bunch this weekend, including a lot of cantering today which wasn't any fun at all, although she does get smoother when she's going really fast, so I had her out in the "arena pasture" moving about as swiftly as she goes, and that was briefly good. I need to go out to Sloughhouse and ride Dusty so I can get my "canter fix." :-)

Here's a pic of Shylah and Gwen that I took last week:

So who does this remind you of?

No, it's not Shylah! Today I went to an open house at a local (~15 minutes away) Canadian Horse ranch. They have the only Canadian stud standing CA. I'd been in touch with them via email before and talked about visiting but it was just one of those things that never panned out, so I went there today. What a kick to see a bunch of horses that look like mine!

I have to say I am REALLY impressed with the stallion (pictured above here). Like, WOW. He's 15.3 hands and seems enormous, gorgeous, friendly, so calm. Hmmm, liking him a lot I am... I entered a raffle to win a free breeding but sadly my name was not picked. Anyway I don't have any intention of having another horse around any time soon. But I like him...

I have not put the scrim on ebay yet. I am debating now I need some sort of display stand or if maybe I ought to even frame it. I mean, how does one display something so small? A lot of them do have little display stands. Hmmm.

I baked a nectarine pie yesterday. And I watched "Waitress" on Friday. That's a really good movie (it has a lot of pies in it, if you're wondering what that has to do with me baking). Baking makes me happy. I just need people to indulge who are willing to be guinea pigs for new recipes. I really like indulging people (me included) with desserts. One of the best compliments I ever got, said through a mouthful of chocolate chip coconut oatmeal peanut butter cookie was "whoever you someday marry is going to be a very happy man... and probably very fat."

Well, that's all I've got. Time to hit the hay.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Scrimshaw done!

Woo hoo! I'm really really happy with this piece, but holy smokes it took a lot longer than I figured with all the detail and all that dark area. Definitely going to be in the upper end of the price range! :-0

Nude #2
scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory (piano key)
7/8" by 1.5"
for sale, price to be determined, will go on ebay once the ink is dry

In other news, what's with all the things needing fixing lately?! Yeesh, I already said I'm not mechanically inclined but today I had to mess around with the incubator wiring... again. You may recall this happened two years ago, it just stopped producing heat. So I re-stripped and re-connected some wires and that seemed to do the trick. Happened last year, jiggled it around, all better... I plugged it in yesterday and it heated right up but when I checked it today it was room temperature. ARG!!!! I checked all the wiring and the connections still looked clean but I went ahead and removed the old wafer thermostat (since I don't even use it as backup anymore, there's not even a wafer in it) and cut those wires and just connected them together. So, something I did evidently worked, because when I plugged it in it worked again. I'd like to think it was the old thermostat shorting out or something. I have no idea, but that makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about. :-)

It's been raining tonight. That's good, it's way too dry out there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 27 work in progress

I hate to stop for the night at this point, but I'm tired! I should finish tomorrow if all goes as planned.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 26 work in progress

Didn't get as far as I'd hoped today, but as soon as I finish her hair it'll be much easier (these dark areas take SOOOO long).

Things are well in the microscope department now, whew! I made a slight adjustment on the clean scope, and I also got a new light yesterday which is incredibly helpful at getting enough reflection to see what I'm doing. It's the weird snaky-looking thing that's going over the boom arm. Got it at IKEA. Neat-o! I'm thinking if I'm still infatuated with it in a few months maybe I ought to buy another one just for backup.

I am very worried about our dog Jessie, I think her days are coming to an end. :-(

March 25 work in progress

I couldn't post this last night because I couldn't upload the photo... So, here it is now. Expect another one tonight.

I am REALLY happy with how this is turning out!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24 work in progress

vintage nude
scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory piano key
7/8" x 1-1/2"
for sale, price to be determined

Sunday, March 23, 2008


This was a pretty fun weekend!

My friends CS, AC, and TC all came over and brought their puppies. This was handy place to meet for a "puppy play date" (they are a month apart, about 4 and 5 months old, so cute!) The puppies played the WHOLE time. CS and TC also brought their drums and we all sat out in the yard and they worked on some rhythms that could be used for dancing. I attempted to join in on the zills but as we all know my musical skills are pretty much non-existent.

I went riding after they left. I just focused on roundpen/arena stuff. I was curious to see if Shylah's canter would improve if she wasn't wearing a saddle. So I just put the bareback pad on her. It was interesting. Didn't help her canter at all, it's still crazy bouncy (and of course it didn't help that I'm trying to stick on there thinking "oh crap this is going to be bouncy"). Oh well. I'm relieved it's not the saddle (either one of mine) causing problems, and I know I can't entirely blame it on my big butt, since everyone who's ridden her has vouched that is it a strange canter, even my fly-weight teenage neighbor (the first person who ever cantered her).

I must say though that her trot is just exquisite. I could trot around all day, and it's lovely in a bareback pad. She is so sensitive to leg cues, it's just fantastic. It was easier to cue those bareback, so I was pretty pleased that I was able to get her to do all sorts of turns and zig-zags and circles with only leg cues, no rein whatsoever.. at least for a little while til her brain went elsewhere.

It was a warm day so both horses got their first baths of the season. Shampoo and everything! They are so sweaty and gross and the hair is just falling out like crazy. They practically beg for back rubs and belly rubs.

Saturday evening I baked a carrot cake (yum!) and got everything all vacuumed and ready for the brunch today, and worked on scrimshaw.

We had a nice little crowd over today for brunch, and that was fun. :-)

I started collecting eggs for hatching today (eep!), spent a bunch of time with the horses, and put in several hours this evening on the latest scrimshaw piece... another nude.

So about these nude scrims, I'd kinda debated whether to post up pics like usual, or just post links, not wanting to offend anyone. Well, I concluded that I'm going to post pics as usual, and I really can't imagine anyone being offended anyway. It's art, and I'm VERY picky about what sort of reference material I use, because I really want to keep things classy. So I'm not going to censor anything. We're all naked under our clothes anyway. ;-)

So this started out with just a faint outline.

And then this is all I got done tonight (which took quite a while, despite not looking like much. I figured I'd get her dark colored shirt over with first, since expanses of dark area are quite tedious! If you're totally confused by the image, it'll be a lot more obvious as I get farther along!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Time flies. I feel really busy lately but I also feel like I'm not getting much done. I've had a mild case of the "art blahs" in the last week but I think it's pretty much over with. It happens, sometimes I just have zero ambition, which is not good. But I've been focusing on other things like paperwork and housework. And other distractions. ;-)

I'm not all that happy with how the bear pendant is turning out, so I'm not going to post pics til it's done. I tried a different technique and it doesn't thrill me. Good to know though, so I don't repeat it on the larger piece. It'll still be cute, just not entirely what I had in mind. I sold the nude scrim on ebay today, which is super exciting. Needless to say, there will be more! I'm not sure if it's the scrimshaw or the subject matter that makes it sellable, or perhaps the combination thereof. Whatever. More scrimshaw nakedness coming up!

I've still been experiencing microscope woes. I tried really hard to convince myself that I just needed to get used to the new one, but the fact of the matter is after using it for a couple weeks it gets more and more difficult for me to sit there for long periods of time without feeling like my eyeballs are going all wonky. I think the alignment is just ever so slightly off. Ugh. So I decided to go ahead and open up the original one (with the yellow-tinged optics) and see what I could do. I'm NOT mechanically inclined but I figured "may as well" since my other option was selling it for parts and if I totally ruined it, well, so be it. Once I figured out how to open it, it wasn't that hard to do. And oh my gosh were those lenses and mirrors dirty! Like you know how that grime kinda builds up on the inside of a car window after a long time? Same type of thing. I cleaned all the ones I could pretty easily reach (I did not disassemble the zoom mechanism, that seemed like asking for trouble, though I'm still tempted to try). Anyway, it's a billion times clearer of an image but still not as clean as the new one (probably because there were two sides of lenses I could not reach). I completely screwed up the alignment when I put it back together though. Bah! It was about midnight by that point.

So this morning I took it apart again and figured out exactly HOW it all works and which parts I need to adjust (the mirrors!) and then I fiddled around with it and got aligned perfectly. Woo hoo! So now I have a still-a-little-dirty scope with good alignment, and a really clean scope that's slightly off. Hmm. I'm now tempted to open the new one and fiddle with the mirrors in that one. Though I must say, dealing with all those bits and pieces is really not something I'm all that fond of doing! What to do what to do... Totally disassemble the dirty one and thoroughly clean it? Attempt to re-align the new clean one? All of the above?

In other news... I just realized it's spring. Cripes. It's springing all over. It's been really warm here, almost too warm. I need to ride more before summertime gets here. Ugh, summer, already dreading it. The horses are shedding handfuls of hair.

Looks like there's another dance performance the last weekend in April but I'm not sure on the date or time yet. That'll be in Stockton. More info as I get it...

In the mean time, two pics from Rakkasah, courtesy of CS. I will get more this weekend too. Yay! Again, if you know who "A" is please do not put her name in the comments, she prefers to stay anonymous. Actually she would now like to be referred to as "A+" haha.

pretty red pants!

oh yeah...

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Whee! What a weekend! :-) It was kind of a blur... but in a good way.

*note* I will add more photos as I get them from people, I don't have much right now.

"A" and I left town late Saturday morning and drove to Vallejo for the Rakkasah festival. It was in a new location this year, with two full stages and two buildings. It was nice that it seemed a little more spread out, more room to walk around, but there needed to be a lot more seating! We spent a couple hours looking around at everything and buying a few things (I got a super cute t-shirt emblazoned with the word "bellydancer" and you'd better believe I'll wear it in public, and also a tie-front top for costume) and then we watched a bunch of performances. There are a lot of different styles of dance, and it was neat to see everyone's interpretation and costumes. There's also quite a range of talents, and that I must say is something of an ego boost, being rather much a "newbie" myself.

It is also refreshing, if not downright empowering, to see women (and men! not many men though) of ALL shapes and sizes dancing. Kinda makes me feel pretty. :-) Though mainstream culture seems to worship the ultra-thin, it isn't so in bellydance, where curves are actually a good thing!

Anyway, we took off a little after 4 to start getting ready, which takes a LONG time (hair, makeup, complicated outfit, flowers, etc). Met up with the troupe in the hotel lobby at 6:30 and headed back to the fairgrounds. This was the first time they had seen the outfits I designed/sewed, so that was pretty neat, I got a lot of compliments on those and I must say we really looked fabulous.

We hung out backstage for a while, and time flew, and we were all standing there gabbing thinking we had a while yet to go when suddenly they announced us and our intro music started and we all said something along the lines of "oh crap!" and ran to the stairs and onto the stage. It was a chaotic start, but no biggie. The performance was 15 minutes long, consisting of 6 dances (well, technically an intro, 4 dances, a finale). I was in 4 of them. Nobody was in all of them. It was a blur. What seemed to take so long in practice absolutely flew, and there really was no time to think about what was next or anything. I did pretty good, I think, I mean at least as far as not forgetting stuff. I missed one beat of one step. I probably did not smile the whole time, in fact I know I didn't. Hopefully I didn't look awful though. I'm just not a very smiley person but I tried. :-) I was nervous but not really all that bad, and nothing like that solo I did in January where I was shaking like a leaf.

I'm glad a few people were there who knew me. My mom was there, and A's parents and husband, and CS, AS, and JG. And to my complete amazement so were JJ and CM! I was doing this move with both arms outstretched, looking at the audience thinking "gee I wish JJ could be here--OMG there she is in the front row!" I know I looked shocked and did a little wave and immediately realized that would show on the video, oops! Tee hee.

For those of you who missed it, there will be more. I don't know any upcoming dates at this point but I'll be sure to pass them along.

Most of the ladies from the troupe got together in the hotel late that night for pizza, and that was fun, I really enjoy getting to know everyone better. I slept poorly but amazingly woke up at 8, go figure. On the way home A asked me if I'd ever been to Ikea, and since I hadn't... we went. Wow, that place is totally overewhelming. Very neat stuff though. I found a perfect light for the microscope (I'm having trouble getting enough reflection) but they were out of stock. Bugger. I'll check back later, as they are not available on line. Then I played "Rock Band" with A and T for a while, and the official verdict I think is that even in "easy" mode I pretty much suck and have no musical skills. This should not come as a shock... ;-)

Headed home, napped, fed critters, dinner, movie, blogging, need to go to bed...

I can't wait for the next performance!


There's me on the left, not smiling...

It took me a while to figure out what I'm doing in this pic, because it's an odd position for my arms, but then I realized this is when I'm doing what we call the "wave step" in one dance.

Sorry this is sideways, but here's a video!!! Thanks JJ. :-) I'm on the left. You'll have to lean left to watch this, I couldn't figure out how to rotate it. Grr, I can't get the video to upload, so if you can open .AVI movies here's the link:
me dancing!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 13 work in progress

Well, tonight was the last class before Rakkasah. I think we'll be okay. I'm not nervous yet but I will be on Saturday! I'm really excited though. I was there as a spectator last year and never in a million years did I think I would actually be in it in such a short time. Whee! Please come visit! Saturday, 8pm, East Stage at the fairgrounds in Vallejo!

I spent the entire morning sorting chickens and finally got the breeding pens set up...only about three weeks later than normal. It actually didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would, I guess that happens with half as many birds! And I found even more to get rid of, so I'm going to be down to a flock of 35, which is pretty amazing. I may still wait a while to hatch chicks, I just don't feel like dealing with them at the moment, but I ought to at least be able to sell eggs within a couple weeks. Of course, keep in mind there will be a LOT less for sale this year, with less than half the flock I had last year at this time.

I did a sketch for a new scrim pendant last night and started working on the actual scrim today. This will be in color, though it's not a very colorful image. It's also sort of a practice piece for what I'm going to do on that piece of micarta I showed a few postings ago, because I want to try out some techniques and colors. Why yes, that is a birch tree. ;-) (sorry, inside joke). Anyway, the main subject isn't on there yet but you can sorta see the outline. I'm working on a drawing to use as reference for the micarta piece but I'm still undecided about the background so it's slow going.

"Dozer" dog portrait drawing done


"Dozer" (miniature bull terrier)
colored pencil and graphite on gray stonehenge paper
5x7 inches

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Whew, sorry! Sometimes things get crazy and I don't manage to blog for a while...

You are coming to visit me on Saturday, right? Hint hint, elbow, nudge....

I missed a day on the WIP but here it is as of tonight. His head is pretty much done, his body is not, and there will be a hint of background. Hmm, that scan came out a little punchy, there is more definition in the eyes and elsewhere.

colored pencil and graphite on gray Stonehenge paper
5x7 inches
sold, commission

So guess who has made a 180 and is doing fabulously well. Eddie! Eddie celebrates his 12th birthday in the next month or so. I should throw him a party, after all it is from him that all of my BBReds are descended. He's still staying in the house at night, at this point because I haven't figure out where else to put him (I really didn't expect him to last all winter...) and besides I've kinda gotten to enjoy having him in the house! But he spends his days outdoors.

Here he is out in the yard.

And this is how he lets me know he's ready to come inside for the evening...

I just realized when I was prepping these photos that it was 8 years ago today that I bought my horse Gwen. Wow. Time really does fly.

This is not just the photo angle, but within the last couple months Shylah's butt is suddenly taller than Gwen's butt. I did not expect that to happen. I wish her front end would catch up. Shylah is shorter at the shoulders, and Gwen is taller at the shoulders. So I guess maybe between the two they average out to a normal horse. Lol.

Let's see, what else... Oh! My dear readers, I seek your input. Cell phones. I need one. Technically I do have one, but it lives in the car and would cost a fortune to actually use (for things other than, you know, calling AAA to get my car towed, and other such emergencies). But it's time to be more reachable, businesswise and otherwise. I'd like to be able to put my contact info out to potential customers without giving out the home number, since that's not guaranteed to get me on the phone. It's the money thing that has kept me from getting one so far, so I need to keep it as cheap as possible. Got a plan you like? A company that doesn't nickle and dime you to death? Please give me input.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

March 6 work in progress

I think it's a little creepy looking right now with the lack of eyeballs.... :-) None of this is finished, if you're wondering. Probably at least 4 more layers to go in the white areas, and hmmm, 4 more in the brown areas, plus eyes and nose and background.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

March 5 work in progress

Only a bazillion more layers of color to go! :-)

I actually didn't get to spend all that much time on the drawing today, except tonight for a while. But it was a super busy day. I don't always appear busy. I know sitting at the computer doesn't necessarily look busy, but considering I can't really go out here and take my own reference pics for things like mountain goats, it does require some pretty extensive research on line! I cranked out a pile of thumbnail sketches that will fit the micarta slab scrim, or any sort of knife project I might do down the road some time. That was good! Now to pick one, hmmm. I'm not posting those here, not til I have something in progress.

And then I made a whole bunch of jewelry for "the outfit" for Rakkasah.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

art stuff

I think I have a lot to say tonight, let's see if I can remember it all.

First off, I have art hanging at two local businesses if you would like to ogle it in person. Check it out at Farmers Insurance in Elk Grove, and at the Starbucks at the Elk Grove Auto Mall.

I've been attending practice/rehearsal for Rakkasah several times a week lately and it's kicking my butt, not to mention consuming a lot of evenings (which is okay, it's not like I have a life, I just should be putting in more art hours). But... the big day is March 15th and we have a lot of work to do (reminder in case you've forgotten what I'm talking about, I will be dancing at the Rakkasah West bellydance festival at 8pm on March 15th on the East Stage at the fairgrounds in Vallejo). More info at Woo wee it's a lot of work!

I finished the horse drawing yesterday. It's a somewhat different piece for me, being on dark paper. That presented some serious challenges, as did the lighting of the horses. But I'm quite pleased with it. :-)

"Aragorn and Zena" (or "Zena and Aragorn" I'm kinda undecided. Aragorn is on the right, Zena on the left. Input? JC any preference?)
10x22 inches
colored pencil, graphite, white charcoal
on dark gray mat board
sold (commission)

I started a new drawing. Here are two "WIP" images from today, but the first one scanned too light. Or maybe the second one's too dark. Oh wow I'm tired.

"Dozer" (miniature bull terrier)
5x7 inches
colored pencil and graphite on gray stonehenge paper
sold (commission)

Thinking about scrimshaw... I am going to be submitting work to a miniature art show (as in, little art, not little show) and want to make a real knockout scrim piece for it. Next up on my sample materials to try is this slab of paper micarta. It's 1.5 x 4.75 inches. I could try cutting it smaller but I kinda hate to do that, not knowing the best way to cut this stuff and figuring I'd just screw it up anyway. And besides that I think it could make for a pretty dramatic image if I can figure out WHAT. Must be wildlife or western in theme. I think I'll go through all my photos (not tonight!) and see if anything sparks my imagination. Anyway this is it. If something comes to mind by all means throw ideas at me, but please don't be offended if I don't use your idea. :-)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

studio 3.0

Finally! Everything is good to go, the newest arrangement of the studio is finished with the exception of I need to get a lamp for the microscope table, and I'll be replacing the microscope light with a "white" light.

This is a 6' x 10' corner of a room, with a bay window that adds a little extra space. I just push the chair around depending on whether I want to use the drawing table, the scope, or the easel. It's cozy but it totally works.

And here's the night view, a time I put in a lot of hours!