Tuesday, October 26, 2010

a-MAZE-ingly CORNy!

Wasn't that clever? Ha ha.

Alora (and her mini sidekick), Cherie, and I went to the ginormous (45 acre) corn maze out in Dixon at Cool Patch Pumpkins today. I'd been wanting to go for years, and even had it sorta planned out last year when a big wind storm flattened the whole thing. Well, it was a bright sunny day today and the three (and a half) of us were able to spare a little time, so we went! Yay!

That thing is immense! It was a lot of fun, I'm glad we went. I made the following observations today:

1) I don't know how anyone would go in there and just "wing it" and get through. We followed the map, made a few wrong turns, but got through in very good time.
2) If I took my finger off the exact location on the map, I was utterly lost. I have zero sense of north-south orientation.
3) It must be easier when it first opens and when people haven't trampled "shortcuts" that look like paths.
4) It's not fun being behind big groups of people. Glad we went on a fairly uncrowded day.
5) Being out there at night would probably scare the bejeebers out of me.

Planning our attack:

A fork in the road, which looks like all the other forks in the road:


Atop one of the "bridges" that are the landmarks in the maze:

"Wait, should we have turned back there?"

"I have no idea where we are! Someone else take over!"

"Hmmm, I think it's that way."

Monday, October 25, 2010

finished the chicken drawing!

"Leading Them Home"
(Columbian Wyandotte hen, mixed variety chicks)
colored pencil and graphite on warm white Stonehenge paper
© 2010
8 x 11 inches

Did I already say that the iMac is back? The iMac is back. I spent most of the rainy weekend doing website work, which is TEDIOUS to the max. But I'm happy with what I'm doing, it'll look swell if I ever manage to finish.

I think we got about 1.75 inches of rain over the weekend, which is pretty impressive. Thus begins mud season! I had to wade out through the corral on Sunday and shovel out the drainage ditches that go to the creek. They were blocked with sodden masses of of grass and blackberry vines. Amazing how much it helps drainage when the ditches are clear! ;-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

it's so late it's morning!

It's raining. Quarter of an inch so far! The leaves have been falling. The horses are fuzzy. The mornings sometimes have that crispy minty-eucalyptus smell that happens after it rains (love that!). I've been wearing flannel! I have a very serious apple pie craving, so I think I'll bake one next weekend. In the mean time I made a pumpkin cheesecake, and it's fan-damn-tastic. (Okay, really, why am I still single? Isn't the ability to bake cheesecake on anybody's list of requirements?)

I love fall.

It's Saturday night, but really it's now Sunday morning.

Mom and Jan and I went to the CASH Tribute concert at the Sutter Creek Theatre tonight. I enjoyed the heck out of it, really enjoyed Jim Garner's singing and the band was great, and it was a kick to see Johnny Cash music performed live. I could have died of happiness when they played Ghost Riders in the Sky, love love love that song! There was much grinning and toe-tapping in my world tonight. :-)

And I have to give a big shout out to the Sutter Creek Theatre itself. That place is pretty darn cool, and the owners are super nice people. Going to a concert in a small theater where tickets cost about $20, and you can actually see the performers (the theater holds just over 200) is soooo much better than some overpriced concert where you pay an arm and a leg and get nose bleed seats. You know what, those big time people often don't sound all that great live anyway. I am an increasingly avid fan of these small concerts featuring lesser known performers who can do a real knockout live performance for a small audience, it's SUCH an enjoyable experience. I go to a few concerts per year there now, and there were a few more I would have loved to see but was out of town. Besides, support the arts! :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

another pic of the pumpkin

Thanks Jan for this really cool picture of the pumpkin I carved/engraved at the Harvest Festival!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

stuff and things

I finished that chicken drawing I've been working on. But I probably won't be posting it for about a week because as I said my graphics capabilities are pretty limited right now on this laptop. The iMac is on its way to the bay area today to have its guts replaced. By guts I mean the logic board and power supply. Fun, eh? Cripes. I love computers until they break and then I HATE THEM. Anyway it should be back in about a week. I hate shipping it, but it was cheaper/easier than spending half my day and half a tank of gas driving there and back... twice. Here's hoping they do a good job, it's a company I haven't used before.

I REALLY want to work on my website! Hear that chomping sound? That's me chomping at the bit.

The weather is so fabulous right now. We had some rain this weekend and it's just gorgeous. Something about this time of year brings back a lot of memories of riding my first horse on the ranch where I grew up.

I dreamed I was moving to Wyoming. This seems to be a weekly dream.

I've got a bunch of projects I'm just starting to work on. Think graphite, think western, think BIG. Well, that's one of them anyway. ;-) Some itty bitty scrimshaw too!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

high school memories

I was reminded the other day as I was driving into Elk Grove that Friday was homecoming. Wow, that's a blast from the past. High school. Homecoming. Football games, dances, homework, lunch with friends, being a nerd....

I am still friends with the vast majority of my high school friends. I guess I can credit social networking for some of that, but many of my high school friends are people I have known since elementary school, and I guess when you've been friends that long you stick together. Or you're stuck with each other, take your pick. ;-) I'm even still in touch with a handful of teachers. Thank you Facebook for that, but I stayed in touch with a few anyway. I have to say I've had a lot of really great teachers in my life, people I'm really grateful to still know in some way.

Would you believe I hated school? I really did, and I was a straight-A student. It seemed like it was endless homework and social angst. And the homework was stuff that seemed pointless, things I'd never need to know (and no, I mostly haven't needed to know). Everyone told me I'd love college. I didn't believe that when I was in high school. But you know what, I did love college. Because I could take the classes I wanted, focus on what I wanted, and for the most part skip all the other crap except for those pesky general ed requirements.

I was kind of a nerd in high school. I say "kind of" because I wasn't part of the official "nerd" group. There was a group. Did they know that's who they were? I suppose so. There were lots of groups, and everyone had their own little spot. The cowboys in the corner (I'm told there are no more cowboys, that is tragic), the jocks and cool girls over there, band and drama people around the corner, were the skaters there with them too? And my little group of friends, well, we went where we could. We were the normal people, I would say, the ones without a clear cut identity that would have relegated us to some part of the quad. We staked out a little patch of land at lunch time. It was next to the cowboys. I didn't hang with the cowboys because my friends didn't, but I knew many of them. I could venture into their territory unscathed. And then winter came and it started raining and my little band of not-quite-nerds didn't know where to go. We had no territory in the cafeteria, those tables had all been claimed. We sat in front of the gym for a while, under cover, but it was cold. Eventually, and I don't remember how it happened, we all relocated into Ms. L's classroom. Bless her for that, I don't know if she knows how much that meant. That became "home" and I know it wasn't just for my immediate friends, there were other little groups that ate lunch in there too, and we kept going back even after we were no longer in that grade level.

You know the only thing I miss about high school... getting to see my friends on a regular basis. It's harder now, we have lives and work and obligations and an increasingly large number of my friends have babies. But back then we were just a bunch of smart and somewhat socially awkward kids who had known each other for years and we spent our lunch talking about... what we did we talk about? I don't even know. Boys, I guess.

I really didn't get involved in school until my senior year. I'm not sure why. Too busy? Too shy? I went to all the football games my senior year, though that's largely because I had a massively huge and futile crush on one of the football players, and I had this notion that if I went to all the games he'd be so moved by my dedication and devotion that surely he'd want to take me to prom. Surely. Well, he didn't, even though I asked him. I did go to prom, actually that was my first date. I went with a friend who I had known since I was 6 years old, and that's pretty special, I'm kinda glad it all worked out that way. I wish we kept in touch better. I wonder if he still reads this?

I got involved with homecoming my senior year. I helped out with the float. I still remember going to this huge warehouse in the evenings and wadding tissue paper into "flowers" and taping that through the chicken wire frame. It felt good to be involved. I rode on the spirit truck in the parade, wearing my senior t-shirt and waving at everyone on the sidewalk. I even played powderpuff football my senior year. Of course I absolutely suck at sports and can't throw/catch/kick to save my life, so it's not like I was a star or probably even spent much time on the field but I was IN it. I had the jersey, the braids, did we do face paint? I remember getting interviewed by the principal for some award my senior year and she asked what was the most rewarding thing I'd done and I said play powderpuff, and she looked incredulous and said I was the third person who'd said that, and I was like "well yeah, because we've been these nose-to-the-book nerds the last four years, it's the first time any of us have DONE anything." Well, I didn't really say that. I was probably shaking in my shoes, and said something about how it was the first time I'd gotten involved, and I wondered why I hadn't done that sooner.

The high school I went to was the only one in town back then, at least until my sophomore (junior?) year. Now there are at least five I think. Times have changed, the people have changed, the school has grown. But the football games and the stupid crushes and teenage drama and the endless stupid homework and the marching band (geez I love the sound of a marching band) and proms and the homecoming parade is all still there. And even though there are a few things that make me a little nostalgic for those days, I'm glad I'm not living that part of my life anymore. I wouldn't mind getting dolled up for prom again though, I'd just have to find a date! ;-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October 14 work in progress

Sorry, really punchy picture tonight because I'm pretty limited with my editing capabilities right now (and late night photos always need editing!). The computer has decided that since I was about to spend a tremendous amount of time on it, completely redoing my website, that this would be a great time to have major problems. It keeps turning itself off, won't stay on more than a few minutes. Gonna have to get that fixed. *sigh* It seems like the same problem as a few years ago.

So I'm on the laptop until then, with limited photo editing software and no way to do the website.

If it ain't one thing it's another.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13 work in progress

Did I ever tell you that most art pieces go through an "ugly stage." Yeah, seriously, it's like the gawky teenage stage. Doesn't worry me, it'll pass. ;-)

"Leading Them Home"
8x11 inches
colored pencil and graphite on warm white Stonehenge paper

So I've been pondering making a few minor changes to my website, little cosmetic things, a few tweaks here and there. Well, I've actually now decided to completely redo it. Big changes on the horizon! It's going to take me a long time to do it, but I want to get it done ASAP for some publicity-related reasons. Stay tuned.

Ah, and I think I'll have a "holiday sale" as well, since there is a lot of older work that I just want to get the heck out of here. That kind of makes me wish I had an art show coming up soon, but I don't.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Angus' play date

Angus loooooves his [almost] daily 2.5 mile walks. But sometimes he wants to do something even more fun than trudge up and down the road, so he gives me that big droopy-eyed labrador look (with the eyebrows, you know that dog look) and says "pleeeeease will you invite my best friend Trog over to play?" So I do, and Trog eagerly says yes because he thinks Angus is pretty fun too. And Trog brings his humans, and that's fun for me, so it's a win-win situation.

And then Angus is soooooo tired for the rest of the day. Not that making him tired takes much effort, but Trog is like the Energizer Bunny on crack especially when he hasn't been out for a while, so it works out well for both of them!

These silly boys have had lots of play dates, but I finally thought to take some photos today!

For the one of you reading this to whom this info is relevant, Trog was one of Richard's puppies that you saw at the meeting.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11 work in progress

Colored pencil for a change! And you thought I'd forgotten how. ;-) The colors will look much nicer when this is scanned, versus these crappy late-night photos I take.

"Leading Them Home"
8x11 inches
colored pencil and graphite on warm white Stonehenge paper

This is the third piece for this particular person (a client and a good friend!). Every year he commissions me to draw an image for his Christmas cards, always with a chicken. This piece does have a VERY "spring" feel to it and the scenery will be deliberately extremely idyllic. It all has meaning. :-)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I won, I won!!!

I didn't win by much, but I won the pumpkin carving contest! Thank you to my friends who went out there and voted. :-) Do you think I can put this on my resume?

If you want to see pics of all the entrants (23 of them) Jan has pics on her blog.

Here's mine! Looks different than yesterday because the carved parts dried out.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

pick my pumpkin!

Hey local people, head on out to the Harvest Fair at the Davis Ranch in Sloughhouse tomorrow between 9 and 5 (you know, the corn stand) and pick my pumpkin! That sounds weird... What I mean is vote for the pumpkin that I devoted 4.5 hours to carving today! It's "people's choice" voting, so choose mine! I want to win! :-D

Since they're getting judged in daylight, I didn't want to do the jack-o-lantern thing, so I engraved (psh, carved? Eh, it's more engraved I guess!) a dragon on a funny pale squat pumpkin. I picked one of the unusual kinds because of the interesting contrast with the inner color, the smooth skin (so much easier to "engrave"!) and well, because it's different than a big orange pumpkin.

Oooh my fingers hurt! That's a lot different than the kind of work I normally spend my day doing!

Thanks Jan for the pics of me!

4.5 hours of sitting on the hay bale later...

Look at all the chips!

Yeah, it's kinda weird, but cool!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

a blog about the chickens

Q: Hey Katherine, how come you never blog about chickens anymore?
A: Sorry, I just don't think of it. But I'll write about them tonight, okay?

Yes, I still have chickens, and just as much as for the last several years I think about this fact and ponder what the heck I'm doing. I sold off a lot of the breeding flock last spring. Half? A third? I don't even remember. A lot of darn good birds. I've only heard from one person who bought them, so I sincerely hope the rest are all actually raising something.

Anyway, that left me with about 25 adult breeding stock birds, which is a pretty okay number to deal with. It's as few as I can have without either 1) getting rid of entire color varieties, which I thought about, or 2) selling out completely, which I also thought about but it made me super sad.

I hatched somewhere around 75 babies, maybe more? I've already taken probably half of these to auction, and many more will go in the next few months. Since I sold eggs in the spring time, I didn't hatch til June/July. Therefore I have NOTHING to show this fall, not that this comes as a surprise to me. So I will not be showing this fall. I know that show season here in CA starts this month... next weekend I think? I won't be there. And that doesn't bother me one bit. A few years ago it did, but now it's so far down the list of things to do with my life that it's all but entirely off my radar. I don't even know where the various National meets are being held anymore. Not a clue. And when's the Standard coming out? Heck if I know, last I heard it was "very soon" but I'm not holding my breath.

What changed things for me? The year off from shows during the END outbreak started the ball rolling. Political crap in what used to be "my" club exposed some things I didn't like and didn't want to be a part of. Other things took priority, as it should be. I found life outside of chicken shows. :-D

That said, I will attend somewhere between one and three shows in early 2011.

The birds are happy, well cared for, well fed, I'm just not exactly doing much with them. Here's a pic I took tonight. See, way too young to show! But one of my favorite ways to spend some time in the evening is still sitting out in the chicken coop with a handful of grain, "picking out my champions."

My focus, what little of it is left, is on the BBReds. There are actually four (gasp, wow!) pullets with decent color this year, we'll see how type turns out. That's a project I'd like to keep dabbling with if circumstances allow, but as time marches on I'm increasingly wanting to stretch my own wings and see where the breeze blows me, and I've realized that if I had to, I could let the chicken thing go if the right hands were there to receive them. I think that's why I'm still holding on, because I hate to see my 20+ years of hard work slip away, but I DO still want to perfect the BBReds. But I know that the chickens will not hold me back if the chance comes along to go do something wild, live in a cave in Borneo or something (actually that doesn't appeal to me). I imagine there are enough people out there who have been following my color genetics work that someone would step up and carry it on. Actually, it might create something of a feeding frenzy if I had birds to sell anyway. ;-) Anyway, until that day comes along, yes I still have some birds, and sure I'll keep showing a little bit. :-)

So there you have it. A blog about the chickens. Still a part of life. Just not the part that life revolves around anymore.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

the end of an era

I sold my 1994 Ford Taurus today, my shiny candy apple red companion for driving all over the state in the last 15 years. It was strange to watch someone else drive it away. I had a nice "thank you for the good times" chat with it on the way to the Park & Sell lot, and yes of course I gave it a hug when nobody was looking.

I am seriously the most sappy mushy person on earth, I know...

Here's a photo to remember the good times. Here we were stopped at "Cowboy Camp" on the way back from Mendocino two years ago. (No, I didn't find any cowboys there):

Thus officially begins the Age of Avalon. May we have as many years together. I think the Avalon and I have officially bonded now after the ~2000 mile drive to Wyoming and back.