Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blade Show!

Remember a while back I said there were three things I was waiting to find out? Well, good news apparently comes in threes too! First, Sara the mule found a home (she'll be living down the road from me in about a month), and then I got accepted into the show in Jackson Hole (still reeling from shock). And then I got into Blade Show! Atlanta here I come! Holy smokes. Life is about to go nuts. And I'm so excited! It's only two months away, aaaaaaaaack!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cheetah Knife sneak preview!

The Cheetah Knife is done and will be back in the hands of the engraver tomorrow. He'll finish the engraving on the back, and then it'll go off to be professionally photographed. I won't show you the whole knife until I get that photo (trust me, it looks AWESOME) but here's a little peek at how the scrimshaw turned out:

Last you saw, it was B/W:

Some color to spice things up a little:

Ooh la la!:

Monday, March 22, 2010

I've seen worse

I sure as heck won't be posting this on the forums or showing you any closeups, but this is my first line engraving. No dots. (Well, some stippling, but that's different). By the time I got to the feathers I decided to forego details, there's only so much time I wanted to spend on this. But I learned a whole heck of a lot about engraving in the process, made a gazillion mistakes, and know (at least in theory) how not to repeat a few of them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Angus pics

As promised, a few more pics of Angus, in rare moments when he's not flat on the floor:

Seriously, this is how he sleeps a lot of time. That's just weird!

He definitely doesn't know anything about horses.

Have discovered a new weird habit. He barks and chases when large birds fly overhead. There are wild birds all over, he doesn't pay attention to the little ones. I thought this was a fluke the first time I saw it the first evening he was home and he chased a hawk flying overhead. Today he was sitting quietly on the back patio and then he jumped up barking ferociously (scared the bejeebers out of Olin and I) and tore off across the yard after a crow that landed in a tree. What the heck? I'm all for keeping hawks away, but I worry about how he's going to react to ducks.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

the dog

In case you couldn't guess based on the previous posting... there's now a dog here. Let me tell you the story:

After deciding not too long ago that it felt like time to consider a new dog, Mom and I both started looking around at various options. Shelters, Craigslist, newspaper, etc. I pulled up a website for a local rescue group, and pretty much went head over heels for this sad face (this is from the rescue website):

Seriously, that's hard to resist. His name was Hank. And his description sounded very promising. Of course, they tell you on the application that are aren't signing up to adopt a particular dog, because pre-approved adopters get the first chance every time a new list comes out, the one you want might be already gone, etc. But it looked like a good group and I like the idea of the dogs being somewhat screened, so we applied. And yeah, by the time we were approved Hank had already been adopted. I was sad. But it was okay, there were new dogs every week. Made a few calls, none were quite right... no problem.

And then, suddenly, Hank was back! I'd seen it posted on their facebook page! I about leapt out of the chair! I'd so had my heart set on that dog! I immediately contacted the rescue and asked to be put in touch with the foster. He sounded promising, so Mom and I went to look at him Thursday evening.

Hank had been returned because of barking nervously/excitedly when the kids would wrestle, and growling when toys/treats were taken away.

Long story short, Hank is now named Angus, and is here!

He's huge. 90 pounds. 5-ish years old. He's definitely a mix, likely a Rott mix. His tail is docked (hey, it's actually kind of okay! No shin-bruising!). He's all black. He's VERY mellow. He's shown no food or possession aggression at all, and of course this household is pretty calm with no wrestling... He's good with the cats face to face when everyone's calm, but he does chase when they run, and this needs some serious work. He's nonchalant about the birds, but I certainly won't be letting any out around him for a good long time. He's house-trained. In fact he's very well mannered. He doesn't pick stuff up, he barely even is interested in toys. He takes treats very gently. He knows sit and down, and seems to understand "leave it." This boy was obviously somebody's special pup before he ended up stray. His leash training needs some work.

I went into this with the mindset that these rescue and shelter dogs may be kind of like used cars... they all have some issues and need a little work. Indeed that's the case. Though for the most part Angus is doing very well, there are some things that need work.

1) He doesn't come when he's called. I think this has a lot to do with not knowing his name. Don't blame me, he doesn't respond to Hank either. Or anything, I've thrown all sorts of names at him.

2) Related to that, when he gets out he's gone. Let me explain. The entire property is fenced with 5' fences, it's dog-proof. The inner yard area has a 3' fence. So even if he gets out of the yard, he can't leave the property, but the outer part has access to things like mud and horse poop, and I'd rather not have those things come in the house (yeah, he sleeps inside, and is in a lot during the day). He's pretty insecure, and he's most honed in on me instead of Mom, probably because he's spent more time with me. If I leave the yard and go to the barn, Angus has demonstrated that he can pop over that 3' fence no problemo. Yikes. And once he's out, he doesn't respond to me, I just have to catch up to him and grab him. That's a problem.

How do I get him to respond to his name and come when called?
How to I keep him from jumping the fence?

Tonight a guest was leaving the house and stood in the front doorway just a moment too long. Angus bolted out front. Thankfully he made a beeline for the neighbor's house and the grabbed him, knowing we got a new dog and hearing lots of yelling out front. If they hadn't grabbed him, cripes. I don't know how to fix this!

3) The cat situation needs work. Face to face, he's very good. He wants to sniff. Homer will tolerate this and even rub on Angus. Olin hisses and smacks him. I've been telling him "leave it" with the cats, I want him to basically ignore them. I know the cats are part of the problem here, they need to get used to him and not run, that doesn't help. I got so spoiled with Jessie and Nellie for all those years, I trusted them 100% with the birds and cats. Anyway, since Angus and the cats can be very close to each other in the house and be very calm, him relaxed, cats purring, I have to think he's not projecting any sort of "I eat kitties" vibe at them, but just that he goes into play mode when they run. So I'm just trying to be super careful, be aware of the cats' whereabouts before letting Angus out in the yard, etc. I hope they all just chill the heck out.

I tend to try to figure the problems out from the mindset of "how would I train a horse not to do that" but I don't think that necessarily translates into dog training!

I want him to be okay with him staying in the yard while I'm in the barn, not chase the cats (or birds), not bolt out the door, not run off and ignore me (hmm, maybe this is how he ended up stray), come when called, and be good enough on a leash that my mom can safely and comfortably walk him.

I hope I didn't just make him sound like a beast. He's not. Overall he's REALLY good, and I know he'll improve as he settles in and gets used to the place. I mean, he's had 6 homes and at least 3 names in the last month or so, poor guy must be pretty mixed up. But there are some issues that need work, I'm just not sure how to proceed.

Oh, I'll take more pics. He's pretty cute with his droopy face and stumpy tail.

guess what ;-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

today a dream came true

A couple years ago, I found out about a "miniature" art show that takes place at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole. The art is small, not the show! And then I had a chance to visit Jackson Hole, and the museum itself. And I decided that I would submit my scrimshaw to that extremely selective show for the rest of my life until some time in old age I might actually get in.

So I applied the first time, and was rejected.

I applied again the following year, and waited, and waited, and waited...

In November, I received a phone call from the NMWA informing me that I was in the top ten finalists in the jewelry/artisan category (which they felt would be a better fit versus fine art, I'm down with that). I was told I would know by the end of December. Yeah, can you believe I managed to NOT blog about that!? I wanted to wait until I knew for sure...

Well that came and went, and in early January I finally broke down and contacted them, and was told that decisions would be made in late January. Well that came and went.

In early February my submission materials were returned to me in an envelope with no explanation. I took this is a rejection, but never was able to get an answer to my inquiries.

I'd pretty much given up, and planned to reapply this coming summer.

Today I got an email telling me that I've been selected....

OMG!!!!!!!!!! I GOT IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am SHOCKED. Absolutely shocked, overjoyed, thrilled. OMG. I'm just totally overwhelmed by this news.

*I* am going to be showing art in Jackson Hole, WY in September of 2010. This is freakin' awesome!

(And yes, that means I have a lot of work to do and a whole lot of logistics to figure out! And if anyone has friends or family in Jackson Hole who might let me sleep on the floor, please let me know!!!)


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


Do you read the blog comments?

Do you remember the bass-o-matic? This has always been a source of jokes in this family.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring is in the air! It's sale time!

It's warm and sunny and green. The flowers are blooming and the weeds are growing like, well, weeds. The horses are shedding, the chickens are laying. What does this all mean?

Why, it means it's time for a GINORMOUS SPRING CLEANING ART SALE! And yes, I do mean ginormous. For various reasons I have not been doing as many ART shows since I've been focusing on the ENGRAVING. So this means that since I don't have anything showing right now, it's all in the guest room, and it's taking up the whole dang room. Boxes and boxes of art!

So I decided to just mark it down like a crazy person, most everything is 50% off. Yes, I'm totally serious. HALF OFF! Because I'd really rather see it be enjoyed in someone's home than be packed away here. It is, of course, for a limited time only.

See something you want? Jump on it! Contact me!

I kinda had in mind to do PayPal buttons for everything but decided against it because it's too complicated doing the shipping charges that way. Shipping varies immensely. Big framed pieces will be a lot, there's just no way around that. So, if there's something you'd like, please just contact me, all the info is on the website.

I'm happy to set up payment plans, and I do take credit cards.

Go! Shop! Yay!


It was great! :-) I had a lot of fun dancing at Rakkasah on Saturday, as well as looking around at all the pretty sparkly things, and watching other people dance. I know I had a few mis-steps on stage. Oops. Oh well. It was kind of bittersweet though, last performance with the troupe. I'm sad, and yet, it has to be this way. Sigh. I'm definitely not done dancing, just not sure exactly what to do now.

I'll post pics when I get all of them, and when the performance is posted online.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

updates on the dog front

I spent more time poking around the internet than I ought to admit after my last dog blog inquiry, and decided the following things:

1) We seem to be labrador people. I know there are lots of wonderful breeds out there, so that's not a jab at anyone else. Why not go with the tried and true though?
2) I want an adult dog, I'm not up for puppy-training.
3) I feel more comfortable bringing home a dog that has been screened, where someone knows something about it, thus I'd rather work with a rescue in this case versus going straight to the pound. With cats and birds and a baby in the mix, this feels much safer.

So... I found a local Lab rescue organization and totally went head over heels for a dog on their website. He has since been adopted (boo hoo, but it's okay) and there seems to be a steady stream of other potentially perfect dogs. Mom and I sent in an application and have been approved, so now it's just a matter of waiting. Called about a few dogs so far, hope to hear something soon...

There is no hurry, the right one will come along in due time, whether that's in a week or a few months it doesn't matter. :-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

last chance, last dance....

Oh my, I keep forgetting to post this!

I will be dancing at the Rakkasah West Bellydance Festival with the Arabian Jewels troupe.
7:24pm on Saturday March 13th
Richmond Memorial Auditorium
27th & MacDonald Ave; Richmond, CA

This is quite a fun event!

Now, I do have to tell you... this'll be the last time. At least in the foreseeable future. I've made the somewhat difficult decision to stop taking classes and bow out of the troupe. I go on good terms (with almost everyone), and hope the friendships I've made will stay alive. I do plan to visit their performances sometimes, and my teacher will always be dear to me.

I don't know whether I will take classes again somewhere else at some point. Time will tell. I do enjoy the dancing, but can only take so much of certain personality types.

Anyway, gonna give it all I've got on Saturday, my last hurrah. :-)

oh snap

If it ain't one thing it's another one on the way...

And so goes the saga of my car, a 1994 candy apple red Ford Taurus that I've been driving since 1995. My first car... had it since high school. It's gotten to the point where it seems to have one pretty major crisis once a year, and lots of smaller crises in between. It's a money pit. But, well, let's just say I haven't managed to reach the level of fame and fortune where new-car-buying is quite within reach, hence I keep pouring money into the Taurus.

I took it to my mechanic earlier this week because my mileage had dropped. From 350 miles per tank to 250 miles per tank. Um, ouch? Turns out that's among its more minor problems, something about a leaking fuel pressure doodlybobber or something. More urgently, something thingamaginger broke off and the car is in urgent danger of losing it's frabblewonger belt. Or something. Plus there's a problem with the warp drive, or maybe it was the hyperdrive? Flux capacitor? I get my terminology mixed up.

What it all boils down to is that it would cost a crapload of money to fix it. And I kind of don't want to do that. There's a possibility of inheriting a used car from a relative in a couple months. Whether and when that'll pan out I don't really know, but I hate to spend zillions of dollars on my car if I might not have it for long. So, I decided just to get the belt fixed, because my mechanic pretty much told me I shouldn't drive it otherwise, and I would not feel right selling it if it's in that situation. And for the most part I'll probably be driving the little ranch pickup, due to the Taurus' new gas-guzzling tendencies. The little truck pretty much just goes to the feed store every few weeks, maybe it will enjoy a chance to stretch its legs, so to speak. But it's not a permanent solution, it's not mine and, well, it doesn't have air conditioning!

So, yeah. Crap.

Did I mention I'm going to be doing an art sale? Honestly, the art sale ball was already rolling before the car bit the dust!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

too dang much art!

I am making a list and checking it twice. And then I have to do a whole bunch of stuff with my website. It's just about time for a major huge gigantic art sale. I'm running out of room to store stuff (this is very apparent right NOW because I don't have any work showing anywhere, it's just piled in the guest room and it needs to get out of there!). I REALLY want most of it to go away. My loss, your gain. We're talking discounts here, peeps. Serious discounts.

If I jump around with pom poms will you get super excited about this? :-)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

an incredibly happy ending!

Sara the mule is moving to Wilton! She will be about a half a mile away, with a family I have known for 25 years. They are wonderful people who have had horses and mules forever and are active with trail riding and pack trips. On a whim, lacking their email addresses and knowing they don't read this blog, I wrote them a letter and sent a photo of Sara, asking if they had any connections who might be interested, since Sara is dear to her owner and I, and we wanted to make sure she goes to a good home. Well, turns out they were looking. Not looking hard, but of the mindset that if a good one came along then they would be interested. And there was my letter and photo. Fate, I tell you.

They will pick up Sara and bring her home late next month. I don't quite have the right words to tell you how happy this makes me, how relieved I am, how completely thrilled I am that this tiny little bit of the universe dropped perfectly into place like it was meant to be. I wish my friend didn't have to sell Sara in the first place, but I cannot think of a better place for her to be.

I cried some serious tears of joy when I got the news tonight. :-)

thinking about dogs

I've been thinking a lot about dogs lately. As you probably know if you've been reading this for a while, the household has been dogless since mid-December, when Jessie died. Jessie was a Black Labrador who lived to be nearly 15. Her sister Nellie, a Yellow Labrador, had died a year beforehand. I'd had the same dogs for nearly half my life.

Mom and I have been kicking around the idea of getting another dog, but there are a lot of things to consider. I like dogs, when they are well behaved. I'm not wild on being jumped on or otherwise mauled by dogs (Yes, I willingly confess I am more of a cat person, but I do like dogs!). Puppies, though adorable, can be incredibly annoying and destructive. A dog that lives here HAS TO BE good with cats and chickens. That's a very black and white area, it simply cannot have an inclination to chase or kill either of those critters, or it won't stay here. Calm is good.

I don't want to a "buy" a dog. There are so many out there in shelters, I don't see that being a good option for someone who isn't looking for a purebred/show dog/something with papers/something from particular bloodlines or for a particular purpose (all of which are valid reasons to breed dogs, though I'm pretty down on backyard puppy-producers otherwise).

Yet, the idea of bringing an adult or young adult dog into this house, with no knowledge of its background, is pretty daunting. We have had dogs in the past who could not stay because they were much too predatory, and they were sent onward to homes without other pets, where they were a much better fit.

Jessie and Nellie were fabulous with the birds, at least in their older years. Jessie slipped a few times with the ducks when she was young, but I do think it was because she was an actively-used retriever for my duck-hunting brother at the time. We got those dogs when they were little puppies, and I took them right into the coops from the very start so they learned that chickens were not on the menu, and the cats were to be left alone. Probably the best way to ensure that kind of personality again is to start with a puppy. But that makes me go "aaaaack! Noooooo!"

Do I even want another dog? Yes, but there are a lot of things I'm potentially really not looking forward to. Next dog will be allowed in the house, which brings up all sorts of other training issues. The cats are neurotic enough already! Would there have to be baby gates all over the place? I can't take a chance on having a new (unknown, not trusted yet) dog in the studio unless I am there. (Ha ha, this same issue comes up as Mom is starting to babyproof the house for when my niece visits, I say "she can't come in here by herself! I can't babyproof this equipment!")

I dunno. Any advice, all you doggie people out there? I feel like bringing in an unknown adult dog may be a really bad thing (or it could be fine). I don't relish the idea of doing the puppy thing again, but I would if it's the best way to make sure the dog is ideally trained and suited to living with small furry and feathery things. Probably looking for another Lab or Lab mix. Mom will veto anything with Pit Bull in it.

I just want Jessie back. :-( Or Nellie. Or Gio (best dog ever, no offense to the others here). Or Annie. Or Aku. Or Duke.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

impatiently waiting

I'm pretty patient, but lately it feels like I'm waiting on so many things, things that are totally out of my hands. Waiting for good news, waiting for any news, waiting to make alternate plans. Ugh. There are three very major things I'm waiting to find out about. Two are shows and one is something else. I don't want to go into details until I know what's happening, but cross those fingers and toes that all this stuff pans out. Should have answers to everything by the end of the month. Waiting, waiting...

This weekend was sooo busy. I cleaned coops yesterday morning, so the birds are joyfully kicking around on fresh rice hulls now. The first group of sale birds went to their happy new owner over the weekend, and another will ship to New Mexico in the near future.

I did a whole lot of framing this weekend. Yesterday I helped a friend with some framing, and today I spent the day at the local art club's framing workshop that they put on for high school students (in preparation for an upcoming high school art showing). It's a really nice thing that the club does, and I got to spend some time visiting with my former high school art teachers, and that was lots of fun.

I only had a little time to work on my own projects this weekend, so I'll try to get the WIP pics underway tomorrow. Nothing is at a place I want to show it right now.

My car goes to the shop tomorrow morning. My gas mileage has suddenly dropped significantly. Please oh please let this not be an expensive thing...

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Tonight I am thinking about a friend, and about how life is short. My heart goes out to his family. He and his wife made such an impact on my life and career, and brought so many smiles to my face. Dearest Juanito, you will be always missed and always cherished, and I thank you for touching so many lives including my own. Big hugs for eternity.

Friday, March 05, 2010

proof of owls

I decided to take The Beast camera out to the barn this morning when I fed horses. Good decision! I hope to photograph the pair together some time, but this morning only the female was perched up high in the barn. She even allowed me stand below her for a few seconds and snap a few pics before she flew out of the barn and landed in a tree along the creek. I'm not sure what they normally do all day. When I was a kid we had owls in the barn, but that barn was HUGE and soooo much taller than this one, so they would tuck themselves up in the rafters and just sit. It's much closer proximity to human activity in this barn!

I had to go out to the tack room in the semi dark of evening tonight, and she flew out of the nest box! Yay!!!!

birds for sale

BIRDS FOR SALE! I am selling breeding stock BBRed, Brassy Back, and Blue Brassy Back birds. I do not need to keep as many birds as I currently have, since I no longer show very often. These are my absolute best birds. The sale birds will be pulled right out of my breeding pens. These are the birds I NEVER SELL. Except right now. This is what you would call a very rare opportunity. Don't plan on waiting til fall, don't plan on getting any next spring. I'm not ruling that out, but I'm not counting on having anything available. I'm cutting WAY BACK, and will be focusing my own efforts on further perfecting the BBReds.
I will be selling eggs on ebay, hopefully starting in about a week. I want to be certain that the fertility levels are high enough to justify selling them. Stay tuned, I will post that info here when the times comes.

I WILL ship birds, this one time. I haven't done it since the late 1990s. There will NOT be health paperwork. I am not NPIP certified. That wonderful free program you have in other states is an expensive pain in the butt here, so I'm not a member. If your state requires paperwork for shipping, you'll need to make some other plans. I leave that up to you, it's your responsibility to determine whether you can get birds from California.

Go to my website for more information.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I don't know

A few people have asked how things are going with my favorite mule, who needs a new home. The short answer I don't know. There were some leads up in that area, I don't know if any have panned out. I hope so, but I haven't heard. I appreciate all the offers to help spread the word, and if I can get Sara's owner's permission for that, then we'll do that. I mean, my own contact info isn't going to be of much help, though in the mean time please DO contact me if you just happen to be in the market for an awesome, big, sweet, well-trained, gaited mule.

Why don't I take her? Several factors. One of course is the money aspect of taking on another big critter (vet, farrier, feed), but honestly more than that it's space/setup issue. I've had three horses here before, it's a giant pain in the butt. It's well set up for two. Three's a crowd, and a lot of extra work for me. Plus I have some serious doubts that Sara would mesh well with these two mares I have. It's a strained relationship already between the two of them. But, you know if it came down to the wire that I'm a giant soft-hearted pushover who would do a massive sale of insanely deeply discounted art to raise the money for hauling. As much as I love Sara, I sincerely hope it doesn't come down to that. I hope she can find a good home up there in Wyoming. She loves the trails, she belongs up there.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March 3 work in progress

Oh yeah, now we're gettin' somewhere! :-)

In other news, it hailed this afternoon. Earlier in the day it was sunny and pleasant, and then it turned super cold and little balls of ice fell from the sky. I am overwhelmed by the urge to say "What the hail!"

Here's a teaser closeup of the engraving practice that I'm doing. This part is about 3/8 of an inch tall. What might surprise you is the fact that these would not be considered particularly fine small cuts. That's actually deliberate. I set out to work kinda "big" just to get a better feel for handling gravers. Of course, when it comes to engraving, even "big" is pretty small ;-)

Monday, March 01, 2010

March 1 work in progress: Cheetah Knife

I know, I know, it's not at a very attractive stopping point, the inner border line isn't even done but I'm tired. Doing the image transfer for the cheetah took so flippin' long! Borders and transfers make me hold my breath and grit my teeth. It's pretty smooth sailing after that!

I am also putting a lot of time on my metal engraving practice. Fiddling around with practice plates just wasn't working for me, so I'm engraving a key fob and learning SO MUCH in the process. Wow. Creating an actual image, a real project, works sooooo much better for me than scratching randomly at practice plates. It's full of mistakes, I don't care, I am learning so much and improving so much as I go. I'm trying all sorts of different gravers, finding that I like some and hate some. I definitely plan to ink it when I'm done. I know there are plenty of purists out there who don't believe engravings ought to be blackened but I'm afraid I'm not one of them. I figure if I spend that much time on something I'd like to be able to see it from all angles. At least, that's my theory of the moment. My theories are subject to change without notice.

I'll show you what I'm doing when I'm done. With lots of disclaimers about it, and how it's my first non-bulino-dot engraving. Oh yeah, that's the other challenge. I am not allowing myself to use dots. Dots are easy, so I have to use lines instead. :-)