Tuesday, September 29, 2009

to Kansas and back, a recap

I've been struggling to go through the photos and find the time to write, but if I don't just sit down and do this it probably won't happen all by itself!

In the interest of simplicity, because I am posting these pics on an engraving forum, all photos are HERE:
GRS Grand Masters weekend 2009
Taking pics of people is not my specialty, being rather shy about that, so who and what I ended up photographing is really sort of random. I didn't take all that many pics. Bad me.

Several months ago I received an invitation to the Grand Masters weekend at GRS (engraving tool maker and engraving class center) in Emporia, Kansas. I debated some. The trip wasn't cheap, plus it meant missing being present at the Draft Horse Classic show. But I decided that going to Kansas made a lot of sense, as it would give me a chance to do some networking with other people in the business, hopefully meet new people, get some pointers, etc. It did all that. Plus it was fun.

My friend Rod C drove down here from Mendocino on Thursday afternoon. You may recall I was up there last fall to purchase some engraving equipment. We had the same flight out of Sacramento early on Friday morning. I got three hours of sleep Thursday night, which is most definitely NOT enough. We left the house at 3:30am. Ewwww. The flights were uneventful, and completely full. I dozed a bit on the first leg of the flight, which I suppose was a good thing but I really felt crappy by the time we landed in Denver. I'd been remarkably perky a few hours before! I loaded up on tea and a bagel in Denver and then it was off to Kansas City on another full flight.

It was bright and sunny and pleasant weather in Kansas City. This was the first time I'd ever rented a car. They claimed not to have anything in the class of car I rented that had nifty features like air conditioning and power locks (really? ALL those cars in the lot and not a single compact that isn't totally manual? I think not, but whatever) so they put me in a Chevy HHR. Meh. I wouldn't buy one. The windows are weird and small and the view is pretty reduced, but it drove okay. Did you know you are apparently supposed to bring your auto insurance card when you rent a car? I sure didn't know that, so I was driving "without proof of insurance" all weekend, and the rental lady seemed a little uptight about that. Oh well.

Somehow I expected Kansas to be flat and treeless, but it was really quite lovely. Slightly rolling, very green, lots of trees, cute farms, and lots of corn fields. Seeing as how I was driving without proof of insurance I decided to try to be as upstanding of a citizen as possible, so I refrained from taking photos while driving. Rod took a few on my camera. Gradually, over the 2-hour drive to Emporia, the clouds rolled in and the sky went dark, and it started to rain just as I pulled into the driveway of the hotel. Good timing!

I had arranged to share a room with Amy A, who I had never met before. She was there when I arrived (I almost just said "cooped in") and we hit it off quite well. After relaxing a bit and freshening up, it was over to the GRS center for the BBQ that evening. What a cool place. I would have loved to look around at all the various tools in the warehouse. Everything was pushed aside and made a big open space in the middle where they had set up tables and chairs. There were something like 120 people there that night, I think that's what I was told. I saw a lot of familiar faces, people I have met in Reno the last two years, and met some in person for the first time who I have talked to on the online forums. Everyone was so welcoming, it's hard not to instantly feel at home with that crowd. The food was great, the people were friendly, and after dinner a few of the guys brought out guitars and played a little music. By the time it ended (11pm I think) was running on fumes. I actually slept well in a hotel, whaddya know.

But by golly it was hard to get up at 8am, because that's really 6am to me, and I had barely gotten any sleep the last couple of nights and beside that I am sooooo not a morning person. From about 9 to noon it was kinda like show and tell over at GRS. Some people brought portfolios, some brought sample work, some had work in progress. There were tables set up to put things out for viewing, and it was a time to see what everyone else is doing and talk about our work, and my oh my there was some bling to ogle.

They kicked us out from noon til 2, so I jumped in the car with Brian P, Roger B, and Amy A, and we went to some place called Blue Stem, at least I think that's what it was called. It's a feed store/tool store/western wear store/hunting store/etc kinda all rolled into one. Must be a real novelty for them city folk. I quickly determined there was nothing I needed to go home with (but was MORTIFIED to see the so-called "scrimshaw knives" in the case that was nothing more than poorly printed images laminated onto plastic knife handles. Oh gag me. Scrimshaw? Please people. I'll show you scrimshaw. Anyway, I spent the majority of the time chatting with Roger, who I had just met that day. Then it was off somewhere for lunch. We arrived right as most everyone else was leaving. It's all good. Yummy chicken quesadillas!

Then it was back over to GRS until 5pm for more show and tell and chit chat. It's fun to sit around and talk to people and get to know new people, and of course I greatly enjoy hearing what people have to say about my work.

People who work in this field, who do art and scrim and engraving, we are so isolated. I mean, it's great to have the online forums (that's not sarcastic, it really is great) but it's a whole nothing thing to meet people in person, and at least for me, I NEED that. I need that inspiration of seeing and handling other people's work, and sitting down and having a talk in person about how to make it in this business, etc. I thrive on that. I feel refueled, inspired, and more confident. I got some ideas on how to set up my work bench so that I can engrave metal (I haven't been doing that because the current setup, though comfy for scrim, is awful for metalworking) and was told again and again that I would be a natural for engraving metal. We talked about pricing, that's always a hard subject. I harp and harp on people in the fine art world to raise prices, it kills me to see people working too cheap. And yet that is exactly what I am doing with scrimshaw. I don't even make half of what I need to make in order to survive, because I know what some other people charge for scrim and it's insanely cheap and I've been too chicken to set my prices at something that actually works for ME. Well screw that. I'm good at what I do, and I deserve not to be broke all the time. I cannot get ahead at my current pricing. So it's going up. When I'm approached at something like this and told repeatedly "You are really good, you need to raise your prices A LOT because you are too good to be working so cheap", that kinda tells me I really need to do it!


Then there were two hours to unwind and have a snack and change into the fancy clothes, and then it was off to the reception in town. It was held at a recently-restored 1920s era theater, which was gorgeous! I fit right in with my new nice clothes (yay!) and enjoyed the company of everyone else. There were talks by local art-related people, and then an award was presented to Kim P, who had the original idea to start the Grand Master program years ago. Well deserved, and such a nice lady.

That evening some of the guys did a little more guitar pickin' downstairs at the hotel. That's fun, I enjoy listening to them. I have to say though that I did miss the hoedown at Draft Horse Classic, it's much livelier (DHC has drums, and microphones, and dancing, woo hoo!). The engravers are a more subdued bunch. I was so tired, but I figure these things don't come along every day and I ought to be awake for as much of it as I can. However, by 12:30am, Brian P's homemade wine had done me in and I floated upstairs and went to bed.

I crawled out of bed at 7:20 (5:20, eww!) in the morning on Sunday. We all had to be over there a little early, because the group photo was promptly at 9am. As you can see, I am not exactly in the average demographic of the group. I like that. ;-)

I think next we all signed aprons. They put out about a zillion aprons, everyone signs one, and everyone takes one home (that's been signed by everyone). It's pretty cool, and quite the collector's item. I think we all wanted shorter names by the end of that! Then it was time for an informal meeting, where next year's Grand Master instructors were announced, and people talked about the classes and whatnot. Hmmm, then I think people just milled around and talked more, but I have to say it's all kinda running together for me. I went out to lunch with a bunch of people, came back for just a few minutes and then hugged everyone goodbye and hit the road. It was kinda hard to leave, I'll miss everyone! It's a long stretch of me-time until I see them again. But I feel like I know what I need to do, even if it's not something I can do immediately (alas, I have to sink another pile of money into my car for repairs, THAT puts a damper on my mood!).

As I told someone over the weekend, I always come back from these things thinking "This is exactly what I want to do with my life and I love these people." It's true. I am so glad that I went, I needed that. I can't wait to see my engraving friends again!


I was pleased to discover upon my return that I was won First Place at Draft Horse Classic with "The Lookouts." (Scrimshaw). YESSS!!!! Okay, I need to add an awards page to the scrimshaw site. Soon...


It's been insane trying to catch up now that I'm home. I've been exhausted. I think I'm getting sick. Mom's off work, and my grandpa is visiting... I would very much like to seal myself off inside this room but that's not possible.

Olin is walking on three legs, he has something in the pad of one front foot and is going to see the vet tomorrow morning. My poor boy, he breaks my heart!

Anyway that's about it, it's bed time for me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm back!

I'm back from the Grand Masters engraving weekend in Emporia, Kansas. I had a GREAT time and am so glad I went! I'll try to post a full report and photos soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23 work in progress

Well, they didn't quite end up at the same stage today, oh well! Late. Tired. Bed.

cover girl, again!

Oh wow! I got my copy of The Rampant Colt magazine in the mail today. I knew about this already, but actually seeing my scrimshaw on the cover is pretty freaking awesome. The Colt Collector's Association meet is next weekend, I'll be curious to find out how it goes. The incredibly fantastic engraving is done by Mike Dubber.

Woo hoo! :-)

(it is ONE gun, fyi, pictured twice on the cover)

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21 work in progress, etc.

I keep thinking these turkeys are taking about twice as long as they should, but then I realize that kinda makes sense, because if I'm working on two, then yes each one will take about twice as long individually. Me so smart. :-) I know someone is probably dying to point out that I've forgotten their beards, so let me just assure you I have not forgotten. I'll get there.

I finally ordered some new business cards. They won't have a chicken on them. Gasp! Yes, it seemed like time, besides I really wanted to emphasize the scrimshaw. So I'm trying out one of those online places where you upload your design and they mail the items. We shall see.

Conveniently I get to do a little comparison with another online printing place, because last month I won a drawing for 250 free custom printed postcards. I've been working on my design (to advertise scrim) but really would like to include one of these turkey grips if I can finish up by next Monday. Hmmm.... I'm really pushing to get these done but there are only so many dots a person can make in a day before it's bed time again.

I have applied again for the miniature show in Jackson Hole. They hardly take any new people each year, but it's worth a try. It may take a lifetime but I'm determined to be in that show (okay, and I really really really want to go back to Jackson Hole!). I'll know by March.

Reminder to me: print portfolio pics.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a lovely evening

I was awakened earlier than I had planned (which was already early) to the sound of a Cooper's hawk going after the broody hen in the garden. She's fine. The chicks are fine. Arrrrg.

I crawled back into bed and didn't sleep for the next half hour because Homer the cat chooses uncomfortable (for me) places to plunk his bulky self down on me, and also likes to knead, a lot.

We'd gotten a somewhat frantic call last night from a family friend asking for some help setting up for a wedding today, so Mom and I went over there this morning to set tables and whatnot. It was a beautiful thing, this little army of people who have known each other for 20+ years gathering together early on a Saturday morning to lend a hand to someone who came up short on time to do all they had planned. I love that about people who have known each other for ages, and grown up together.

I unfortunately had to duck out after a little over an hour because I needed to drive up to Grass Valley (and then home again, hours and a half each way) to drop off the two art pieces that will be showing at the Draft Horse Classic show. It does seem VERY weird not to be prepping for having a booth there. It was kind of a wistful feeling looking around the building there today, like I wish I could be there but I think going to Kansas for the engraving thing is absolutely the no-brainer right thing to do.

I sat in the parking lot and ate cold pizza in my car, then it was back on the highway headed for home, with a stop along the way to get new jeans but they didn't have my size in the color I wanted, so I'll have to go somewhere else, blah blah blah. Got home with enough time to vegetate for a few minutes before I had to decide what to wear and get dressed.

The wedding was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, as I knew it would be because this family sure knows how to throw a party. I have known the groom since...first grade? Second grade? A long time. And I spent a lot of time with that family at their house as a kid, working on 4-H projects. Poultry shows, high school, football games. We all go way back. There were a whole lot of people there, most of whom I didn't know. It was a lovely evening, I'm happy for the couple but dang it I didn't catch the bouquet. I really wanted to, but it flew effortlessly into the arms of the groom's sister, who was standing right next to me. Alas, foiled again. ;-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17 work in progress

There is actually more done than what you can see, it's just not inked.

Have I ever mentioned how incredibly slow and tedious this is? :-) If not, wow this is so slow and tedious. A person would have to be sort of crazy to enjoy it... ha!

oh yes I did

You knew this was going to happen. Resistance was futile. I had to make this pillowcase. Sweet dreams to me! ;-)

Mom does not approve.... heh heh.

(I've had the farm animal comforter since I was about 9 years old...)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

cover girl

I keep forgetting to mention that I am a cover girl. Yeah, seriously. Bet you never thought THAT would happen. Check this out:

Don't feel bad if you're not sure which one is me. I'll put on some bright pink arrows for your convenience (I'm sorta behind someone in one of the pics anyway):

Get those autographs while you can.... ;-)

How's my thumb? Eh, it's okay. If it was a horse I'd call it "serviceably sound." I'm just not sure it's ever going to be normal. No problem straightening it, but it still hurts to try to bend it all the way. My left hand spends hours and hours gripping whatever I'm scrimming, so it's getting lots of use. I never wear the splint anymore. It looks even wonkier than it used to. There has been a bump on the left side of the last joint since I was 11, but now it's much bigger. People actually notice it now. ("Oh wow, you have a bump on your thumb.") Maybe it's just that people are looking at my thumb more now that the entire world knows I stupidly mashed it with a hammer not too long ago. Oh well, makes me special I guess.

Despite getting lots done today I am not posting WIP pics because I have not inked most of what I was working on. So it won't look a whole lot different in a photograph anyway.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 15 work in progress

Okay, I need to do work in progress pics. It inspires me to work quickly, and I need to work quickly. These are a set of almost-but-not-quite matching Colt .45 SAA grips with wild turkeys on them.

stuff and things

Yesterday I babysat the cutest child in the universe (my niece). She was perfect, and so darned adorable I had to take about a billion pics. But I'll just show you one. We had to do the girly thing and smoosh our heads together for a photo. I don't usually have to flop out on the floor for that, but whatever it takes.

This morning was hay delivery day. :-)

On another note, there was an ad on my facebook page today for "elite mature singles" dating, that showed a, uh, distinguished older gentleman. Wait a minute here... Why did they decide that that's my demographic?? I don't think I fall into the "mature" category just yet. There's another one titled "get yourself a man!" or something like that. Makes me think of Jessica Rabbit.

Check out this egg I found in one of the coops today. Yes, it's really an egg! Sometimes the chicken oviduct does some pretty whacky things. That's the weirdest one I've seen.

I also found a tree frog in one of the chicken feeders. That seemed like a very dry and dusty place to be, so I dunked it in some water before I took this photo. Pardon the schmootz (schmutz?) on it's face...

Imagine this scene this evening. I'm sitting at the microscope dutifully working. Outside, a shriek.

Mom: "Katherine!!! Come look at this snake!"

Katherine runs outside, imagining a python or 6 foot rattler on the back porch.

Katherine, with delight: "Ooooh! A king snake!"

I don't see a lot of king snakes around. It was little, just over a foot long. I picked it up and had a good look. Aggressive little thing! I always wear gloves for that!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

wait, the weekend's over?

Okay wow, that went quickly.

I can't even remember what I did on Friday, it seems like a hundred years ago. Oh! Yeah, I cleaned the barn in the morning. I had to clear all the random crap out of the center breezeway and get all the skanky old bits of hay up off the ground and stack the remaining old bales outside. All of this is preparation for new hay, which will be delivered soon. This'll be the third year that someone else will be stacking hay for me. I don't miss doing it. Besides it's much more entertaining this way... ;-)

Anyway, after I finished that it was scrimshaw for the rest of the day. I finished one of the images I'm working on. There are three more to go in the set. Two of these are very personalized. Two are not. I am thinking I can probably get away with showing the two that are not.

Friday night I watched "12" (2007) which is a Russian remake of 12 Angry Men. I have not seen the original. I wasn't sure I'd like it but found it fascinating to see the characters and plot develop and unfold. I had NO idea what the ending would be.

Saturday I had to go pick up my art from the State Fair. I wish someone would have bought it. But that would have been pretty surprising!

On Saturday afternoon I met up with CS (who I haven't seen since I worked at the San Joaquin county fair months ago) and we headed off to a bellydance festival. Now, in the interest of keywords and people searching things, I don't really want to say specifically where I went (because I don't want this to be an official review that people would find if they searched online) but let's just say it was about two hours southwest of here in the Silicon Valley. I'd heard of it, our troupe danced there years ago (before I was part of it) and CS had been there years ago. I think we both expected something pretty big and glitzy like Rakkasah. Well, it was a letdown in that regard. Very small, not much seating, not a lot of vendors, and not a lot of impressive stuff. It took maybe 20 minutes to see everything, and as we sat there eating baklava and drinking chai, the question came up "how do we kill the next 5 hours before the evening finale performance?" We did not anticipate that we would be unable to entertain ourselves right there at the festival. I don't even think festival is the right word.

So we found someone who lived in the area and got some really uncertain directions to a movie theater. Except the directions didn't work, so we drove all over the place and eventually ended up in an entirely different city but still did not find a theater. Could we kill time shopping? Thrift stores, chocolate shop, adult shop...eh no.

You may be wondering why we didn't just drive back home. Well, it's a 4 hour round trip, and we really wanted to see the evening performance. Had to make it worth our while. Eventually we stopped at a hotel and CS went in and got directions and movie listings! And off we went again.

We saw the movie "9" (what is it with me and movies that are only numbers this weekend). It was the only one that fit into the time frame we had, and I wanted to see it anyway so that works out! Again, I was fascinated. The animation was amazing. The story was strange and interesting... but I don't feel like I really understood it. I had read a review in the paper that said there comes a point in the movie where you "get it" and realize what it's all about. Clearly it's a metaphor, right? I just don't know what it symbolizes. I can take it as just a story and be quite entertained, but I am bothered by feeling like I missed the big picture somehow.

Anyway, then it was back over to the bellydance thing for dinner (curry chicken and rice, yum!) and by some miracle we actually managed to score some seats to watch the hour-and-a-half finale. It was... loosely structured, but entertaining. I do enjoy seeing dancing in an atmosphere other than class sometimes. Different styles, different people, different outfits. There were some amazing dancers, and some I could have shown a thing or two. It ended up being a very fun day, and I sure enjoyed catching up with CS, but we were both disappointed by the festival and felt it wasn't really worth the admission price. I certainly don't plan to go there again.

I hit the sheets at 2am, wow was I tired!

This morning after I pried myself out of bed I did something really shocking. Brace yourself, are you ready for this?

I washed my car.


But wait, there's more!

AND I cleaned the inside. Are you shocked? Me too. It was getting pretty bad though, especially after it got dusty at the fair and then rained on yesterday. Yeah, rained on! It kinda feels like fall. I LOVE IT! I think it's going to get hot again though. Booo.

This afternoon I went to see my friend Amber. Her baby is 6 weeks old and I had not seen her yet. What a cutie! :-) I enjoyed my visit, always good to catch up with friends.

And somehow here it is late Sunday night. Wow. Even without doing the Draft Horse Classic show this year, the month feels as busy as always. Now I'm thinking I have so much to do before I leave for Kansas.

At least I have something to wear. :-)

Obviously nobody let me talk today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

so stinkin busy

I have guilt issues if I don't blog often enough. I don't feel anything very interesting is going on right now though.

1) Scrimshaw is going very well. I need to duct tape myself to the chair tomorrow and work ALL DAY because I've been gone too much and have too many things coming up.

2) Can you believe that I made it all the way until today in my life without changing a baby's diaper? Boy am I glad I don't have to do that on a regular basis. I also got barfed on. But my niece is still the cutest baby on the entire planet.

3) I danced at the Farmer's Market in Lodi this evening. It was HOT, so hot. Good show though, and an enthusiastic crowd. I am taking some time off from dance classes for the next 6 weeks. I need a break, and I need more time for other things. Plus the hour round trip drive kinda gets to me, as do particular personality issues within the troupe. Oh, ha ha, funny story, I was all dressed and jingly in my coins and bells tonight when I went out to feed the horses. Gwen snorted and ran from me! Ha, what a dork. Shylah ran too, because Gwen did, and then got the "oh it's just you" expression and walked over. Gwen didn't appreciate the jingling.

4) Went shopping again, got another cute outfit. Oh yeah baby, I am good to go for all sorts of things now.

5) Soooo tired.

6) ZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, September 07, 2009

sew I was thinking...

Did you know that September is National Sewing Month? Indeed, according to the big signs at the fabric shop that I saw today, that's the truth. Fitting.

On a whim I decided to sew a baby blanket for a friend today (well, for her baby, technically). I had a hunch there might be good sales on fabric, and I was right! Score. I figured this would be "really easy" to do. Oh my. Actually, it isn't that difficult (a flannel chenille blanket) but it's a serious pain in the butt because it involves sooooooooo much sewing, and sooooooooo much cutting. And then I ran out of thread when I was about 2/3 done with the astronomical amount of sewing I had to do. Blarg! It would be an hour trip to go into town for more, so I'll do it tomorrow. I have to go to the feed store, and I figure as long as I'm there I may as well drive all the way into town, it's sort of like combining trips. Sort of. Anyway, I hope the end result will be adorable. And oh wow, I can't sew straight. I hope my wavy lines look whimsical rather than messy! So far I vastly prefer the rag quilt process (I made one, but I can't show you for a few more months...) ;-)

Anyway, I think I'm in the process of becoming nuts about quilting. It all started a few months ago when I needed a particular fabric scrap out of the fabric drawer, and had to rummage all the way to the bottom of the drawer, and I got totally annoyed, emptied it out, sorted it by color/print/fabric type, and organized it into bags. I still can't believe I did that. "What are you going to do with all that?" my mom said. I replied, "I'm going to make a quilt." She laughed. I made one (a rag quilt). She was amazed. And it's kinda snowballed from there. I ogled the pretty quilts at the fair. One of my fellow bloggers is taking a quilting class and I'm sort of drooling with anticipation to see what she makes, and sorta wish I would have thought to take a class at the same time (you know, like safety in numbers or something). I decided to buy a book. It cost as much as one class session would cost. I want to learn more about it in the secrecy of my own space, where nobody has to watch me mess things up. Maybe then I'd take a class. Except it's another expense (I don't need more expenses) and it's another drain on my time (that's also problematic). Hmmm.

But I also don't believe until waiting until retirement to do interesting things. And I totally want to make a huge awesome quilt.

See, I have this little fantasy. It's evening, I'm back from a sunset trail ride with a view of jagged mountains in the distance, maybe I've just eaten cheesecake, maybe I'm watching Star Wars, and I'm snuggled under my beautiful hand-made quilt with my hunky cowboy lovemuffin as the chilly evening breeze blows across the prairie.... And then the whole thing screeches to a halt, because I'm obviously missing quite a few of the essential ingredients to that fantasy.

But I could make the quilt. And eat cheesecake. And watch Star Wars.

Oh speaking of such things, there were TWO count them two bolts of hunky-half-naked-cowboy fabric at the store today. They are mocking me. They call to me, they beckon me, they challenge me to figure out how to make *something* out of them. Hmmm.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


I was out in the pasture late this morning working on the fence, when out of the corner of my eye I saw two birds moving FAST through the sky. A white pigeon, dodging and diving... and some sort of raptor, tapered wings swept back, diving downward....

OMG. I dropped everything. I have never seen a falcon stoop before in real life, and it was freaking awesome. What I saw must have been the tail end of it. The pigeon flew into some trees, then out again over the neighbor's field (not next door, a few properties away), then ducked into trees again and the falcon rose back into the air.

And immediately I was doubting everything I saw. Must be something else. Really, a falcon? Bird nerd red alert! I went through the checklist in my head. Body shape, check. Size, check. Behavior, check check check!!! And definitely NOT any of the other raptors around here. It was so far off, and I could barely get a sense of markings or coloration. I assumed it was a Prairie Falcon, simply based on having seen one of them before (not here, but near here). But it was so far away, and so high up... It looked fairly uniformly colored underneath, fairly dark. Not the dark axillaries and otherwise fairly pale body you'd see on a Prairie Falcon.

Hmmm. I came in and looked up some photos, and I think I can say that with some certainty that it was NOT a Prairie Falcon, but was indeed a Peregrine Falcon. Wow. That's awesome.

And obviously I need to carry my 7 pounds of big camera with my everywhere, all the time. ;-)

Fence update:
2856 feet to be hot wired
1976 feet currently hot (that's two pastures totally done!)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

a pretty fair day

I like this weather! :-) It's nice!

Yesterday I was up super early and headed off for a day at the State Fair. It's a terrible time of year to be showing birds, they are all molting and look completely awful, but oh well. I took two hens anyway. Judging happened today. I did not go back in today so I'm not sure how it went but I can pretty well assure you that I didn't win anything.

I have been showing at State Fair for twenty years. I only missed one year (the year of no-poultry-shows due to the Newcastle outbreak) but I visited that year anyway, and may have had art or baked goods or something in the fair (I can't remember). It's a lot different than it used to be when I was showing as a kid. I remember we were always there on opening day, and my brother J and I would go to the main gate at opening time on opening day just to see all the fairgoers come in, and that was like SO exciting. We used to show beef cattle and chickens, so I would hoof it back and forth between buildings a zillion times a day, and be there for four solid days, all day every day, showing animals or watching horse shows for hours on end. It all seems very distant now, and the fair seems increasingly focused on the carnival and the commercial exhibits and less focused on livestock. For livestock, State Fair is a pretty big deal. For most people with poultry it's not part of the show circuit at all. It's a place full of nostalgia, remembering when people used to be able to play in the fountain, when people didn't have gang wars at night, when I used to wear the 4-H whites, when I worked on the task force in the junior show. I know it sounds cheesy, but it was another world back then.

In keeping with tradition of the last 12 years though I spent much of the day with my friend W (aka Fowlman!) and had lots of fun catching up on life. New traditions are cinnamon rolls, bad taxidermy, and horse racing. The bad taxidermy thing started probably almost 12 years ago, when there were a few junior exhibitors who did appallingly bad waterfowl taxidermy and showed it at the fair. Of course these things stand out to poultry snobs like us. So over the years this has turned into a challenge of "find the bad taxidermy at the fair." It's been harder to find in recent years since those kids shopped showing, but can usually be spotted somewhere obscure like a moth-eaten coyote in a conservation booth. This year it was an ancient looking snow goose in a county exhibit. I'm sure the nearly-empty building wondered about my gleeful outburst of "omg, bad taxidermy!" Mission accomplished. Excellent way to start the morning.

That was shortly before getting kicked out of the counties building. It didn't officially open for another hour and the police woman didn't seem to appreciate people wandering around who weren't working there (hey, the doors were all open!) I was absolutely salivating for a cinnamon roll by that point though so I wheedled and she said okay but you need to leave after you get your cinnamon roll. Fine by me! It was much nicer to eat outside in the flower garden anyway.

It was a nice day, not too hot, not too crowded. W had to take off in the early afternoon though. I toodled around for a bit on my own but State Fair is sort of a depressing solo adventure with nobody else to look at stuff with, so I only held out a few more hours before I hit the road and headed home. I did not manage to complete my trifecta of fair food (cinnamon roll, corndog, frosty). Only got to the first two. Oh well. Given another day I would have gotten shaved ice and a funnel cake too. Probably a good thing I stayed home today. ;-)

I took a lot of photos. I'll just go through them in the order I took them.

There was a Friesian out in the arena in the morning (it was about 8am, two hours before the fair opened). This was his reaction to a runaway pig:

We watched a bit of the 4-H horse showmanship in the morning before the fair opened. It's kinda boring to watch, but kinda cool to see teeny kids handling horses very well. Better than a lot of adults, I'm sure....

If you haven't seen the sculpture of San Francisco made entirely of toothpicks, you're missing out. It rocks. It boggles my mind:

I found some interesting clothing there too, like this dress. It looks... um, yeah.

I think this one is more my style though:

Art imitates life? Or is that the other way around?

A collection of cat whiskers. Oooookay. There was a whole building of "wild, weird, whacky" stuff.

Them's some big horns:

Piglets!!! Awww!

Anyone want some salad?

Sheep aren't usually my thing, but these are CUTE!!!!!! Does anyone know what these are???

I had to watch horse racing on my own this year, which isn't as fun, but on the bright side nobody got to witness me complete losing my winner-picking mojo. Dang. For for the last few years I've always found that I really *should have* bet on the races, because my pick would pretty consistently win. I can't explain it. I don't pay attention to the numbers, I don't read the board, I just watch them when they walk out and the one that my first instinct says is the best usually is the best!

Well... didn't work this year, and thank goodness I didn't bet! I chalk it up to breed difference. In the past I've always watched Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses. The two races I saw yesterday were Arabians. In the first race, my first pick came in last. My second pick was second to last. Wow, okay. Second race, last by a loooong shot. Wow, okay. I guess I can't pick 'em after all! Definitely don't ever ask me about Arabians! :-)

My favorite horse... not even in the frame here!

So there you have it, my day at the fair. It was a fun day, but so very different than it used to be. I was home by 5 (and asleep on the floor by 5:30, oops).

Today was busy. I worked on the fence this morning, and then on scrimshaw for the most of the rest of the day.

Fence update (I have not worked on it for a while)
2856 feet to be hot wired
insulators up on all 2856 feet
1112 feet currently hot
432 feet of wire put up today (not much, I should have done more)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

new winner!

Okeedokey folkies, I gave the original free art contest winner TEN DAYS to respond and that person did not do so. I have removed the original "winner" post, because I am picking someone new.

The new winner has TEN DAYS to email me to claim the prize. kplumer1 @ earthlink.net (remove spaces). Not reading blog = losing out on winning! Sort of a "winner must be present to win" kind of thing.

I will resubmit all names to the random generator... okay, off I go to do that now...

Here ya go!

Ellie wins the rooster! I need to hear from you by 10pm on September 13th!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

pics pics and more pics

I've taken a bunch of random pics here and there around the place, but I keep forgetting to actually post them. So I'll do that today.

If the person who won my chicken art 9 days ago fails to contact me in the next almost-24-hours I am going to pick a new winner. I think 10 days is sufficient for someone to check back in here. So, if you entered to win, DO check back after 10pm tomorrow, mkay?

Today I took a bunch of artwork to Franklin Ranch Pet Hospital, where it will be hanging for 3 months. I like that place, and the people are so nice. They remembered me from last time. :-)

I also washed chickens today, a whopping two of them. State Fair here I come! (Well, soon anyway).

Okay, pics in no order:

I framed "American Bison" and sent it off to a scrimshaw show in Rhode Island. Wish it luck!

The young chickens:

The cutest cat in the world:

When the sun's comin' up I got cakes on the griddle. Okay, so for me it's usually somewhat after sunrise and I only make them on special occasions:

The young chickens roosting up against the chicken wire at night:

Pretty Shylah (who not only loves tomatoes, but also bananas, with the peel on them!):

Prelude to wrestling:

The sunset tonight. Darn my hot wire thingies that go over the gates kinda impede the view: