Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27 work in progress, etc.

Sorry I've been so bad about blogging lately. No good excuse, just haven't been in the mood for it.

I am working on an order for another scrimshaw bee pendant. The bee itself will be pretty much exactly the same as the first one that I did (well, aside from the fact that since it's done by hand and each piece requires a fresh batch of ink it therefore will of course be somewhat different...). This pendant will be oval instead of rectangular though. I'm really making an effort NOT to look at photos of the first bee pendant I did, since I don't want to get hung up on wondering exactly how I did it and exactly what colors I used. Just want to go for it anew! I've started with the darkest areas.

For other entertainment, here's a carefully arranged photo of a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake that I made. It cracked badly, my cheesecake baking skills need honing. Sometimes I get it just perfect, other times not! Clearly I need more people in my life to come over and eat cheesecake so I can practice more!

I seem to have officially started collecting eggs for hatching. They produced a whopping zero eggs yesterday and a whopping two eggs today, so I guess that's a start. I'll fire up the 'bater mid week and make sure it's running well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Whoops! Kinda forgot to blog there for a bit. Hmm, let's see, what news do I have...

I updated Random Rosecombs. Finally! Yes! For the first time in like 8 years or something. It was outdated and ugly, and now it's bright and shiny and new. I added lots of pics that had only previously been on the blog, and I deleted a ton of stuff. I will endeavor to keep it updated.

It must be the time of year for wanting to unclutter things, I'm going through my room and studio again to see what I can either get rid of or throw away or pack up (um, or sell!). I'm obsessed with plastic storage boxes. Five dollars for the big ones at Big Lots! Oh my! I might even have to go back and buy MORE of them!

I went to a poultry show in Fresno on Saturday (remind me to stop doing this as a day trip, ugggh that's too long of a day!). My birds had their feathery little butts thoroughly kicked by some gorgeous competition, but I had a good time anyway (could have done without the food poisoning though, blarg!). My chickeny friends are good people, they mean a lot to me. :-) So that's it for the season for me, a whopping three shows. Kinda sad that I won't see most people for about a year. I don't know yet if I'll attend any fall shows in 2011. Best not to count on that happening...

The birds are in breeding pens now. I'll be hatching Black, BBRed, and Blue is kind of experimental. If someone urgently wants to raise Brassies/Blue Brassies I can ship eggs from them, but otherwise I'm really not planning to hatch any of them. They were pretty disappointing this last year, there is very little interest in them because they're non-standard colors, so... eh. Anyway, they're barely laying yet but I should be turning on the incubator in about two weeks I guess. Oy vey, it's hard to think about that already. The last couple years I haven't done this til June!

Next up in scrimshaw: another bee!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Toucan Knife

I finished this knife late the night before I left for the FEGA show in Reno, and delivered it back to the William Henry Studio that weekend. I was not able to photograph the knife myself because I never had the assembled knife in hand. I only had parts.

Photo of completed knife courtesy of William Henry Studio:

This is a scan of the scrimshaw, and the color here is more accurate than on the photo of the whole knife:

Interested in purchasing this knife? Contact William Henry Studio.

air compressor update

For anyone wondering what happened to the air compressor with the hole in the tank...

My super amazing wonderful brilliant neighbor took it for the weekend and had a look at it. He determined that the tank is in rather bad shape, probably from having sat with a rather large quantity of water and crap in the tank before I acquired it. The metal was too thin and rusted to have a screw threaded into it (what the company recommended as a patch). So it has a temporary patch but ultimately is going to need a new tank.

I was afraid of that...

These little tiny quiet compressors and their little tiny parts are not cheap!

Monday, February 14, 2011

what I did on Valentines Day

The day began like any other, and it was an uneventful morning of running errands in town. After lunch, I walked out front to get the mail, and I thought I heard hoofbeats at the end of the long driveway. Curious. I walked out there, and there in the distance I could see a tall man in a cowboy hat riding a massive jet black Friesian up the road. Oh my. Be still my beating heart.

He approached, dismounted, and strode confidently toward me. I’ve never believed in love at first sight but this was it. Head over heels, smitten, I’d found my Prince Charming, my Farmboy, my Han Solo, my knight in shining armor. The skies opened and the angels sang. Literally. Bluebirds and robins draped fanciful ribbons in my hair, and chipmunks and bunnies frolicked at my feet. We talked for hours, and learned that we were perfect for each other... He handed me a single red rose, and said he’d be searching for me his whole life.

I practically threw myself into his arms. He asked me to join him for dinner at his ranch and I eagerly accepted. With a few quick words into his cell phone, minutes later his private jet landed in the field next door.

We (and the friesian too) boarded the jet and flew to his castle… in Jackson Hole (“all the barns and chicken coops are heated this time of year,” he said). It was a spread of thousands of acres, endless trails to ride, endless animals to photograph. We dined on steak and garlic bread and mashed potatoes… and cheesecake. Lots of cheesecake. After dinner he gave me a tour of the castle. The bedroom was lavishly decorated, and beautifully adorned in my favorite colors. There was a huge canopy bed with silk sheets. He took me in his big strong manly arms, and….

Olin jumped on my head, and I woke up.

And it was a day like any other. No flowers, no hot dates. I did make a chocolate peppermint angelfood cake though. If you’ve never had a home-made angelfood cake, you are seriously missing out.

riding in cars with roosters

I went up to Eureka, CA over the weekend. That's about 300 miles northwest along the coast. It's really a beautiful drive, which is a large part of the reason I don't mind driving that far for a poultry show! It also happens to be my favorite show. It's fun, relaxing, people seem more at ease there versus other shows. And I have some darn good friends up there. Huge ginormous thank you to Dan, my "host with the most" (lol!) for letting C.S. and I crash at the house! You are awesome. :-) Late nights on the couch discussing all sorts of interesting things, Mexican hot chocolate on the stove in the morning, a comfy bed with flannel sheets, ahhhh. I like these new traditions!

C.S. carpooled with me and brought a bunch of her son's Polish, and I hereby declare that Polish are horrible to ride in the car with, because they NEVER SHUT UP. I think those roosters crowed the whole time. I was about to go crazy by the time we got home. They are much louder than my birds. I decided it's because they can't really see anything with those ridiculous poofs on their heads, so they must just make noise all the time, in case there's a reason, even though they can't see whether there's a reason or not. My word.

The show was great. A couple of head-scratchers about the judging, but that's typical. One of my Black Rosecomb pullets took Reserve Champion Bantam and Best of Class, so I'm very happy about that. The last several year's worth of decreased interest and LATE hatching have taken a toll on the overall quality. I've got my work cut out to get the males back to where they need to be, but I'm stickin' with it, just limiting the number of colors I'll breed and not showing as much anymore. I've got one more show coming up and then I'm done for the season. I set up breeding pens last week, and will be starting to collect eggs soon.

How bout some pics!

Chicken spa! Ha ha.

This is why you shouldn't feed the ducks. It attracts more ducks. There were about a dozen standing around the car by the time I finished my lunch on the drive up on Friday.

Driving along the Avenue of the Giants on the way home on Sunday.

And this isn't even all that big compared to some of the other trees!

The Eel River (I think?)

I felt the need for another scenic detour, so I took Hwy 16 through the Capay Valley (and I saw a Bald Eagle, woo hoo!). This is a charming place called "Cowboy Camp" near the intersection of 16 and 20. I'd love to ride there. I always see it at a bad time of day for taking photos but it's very pretty.

And look, cowboys! Be still my beating heart! ;-)

The drive to the next show won't be nearly as scenic (Fresno).

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

how I spent my birthday

I washed a lot of chickens, and talked more on the phone than I have done in a LONG time, and went out for a very nice dinner. My dear friends, you mean a lot to me. :-) *hugs*

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

um, what IS that?

Facebook is really throwing the online dating ads at me lately. They must be ramping it up before Valentines Day or something. And they like to put ads in front of me for "mature singles" (do they mean older or just not immature?), "romance a millionaire" (yeah, right!), and so forth. Oh yes, and lately there's one for "romantic horseback rides with men who share my passion." Oooookay, right. But what, pray tell, IS this in the photo????

Is that a centaur? With a horse head? What the heck?!?!?

Monday, February 07, 2011

well that sucks!

No, actually, that blows! And I'm being totally literal so don't get all weird about me saying that, I'm not even being crude. ;-)

I finally lugged the air compressor out from behind the engraving bench today. Remember a while back I said I was surprised because the compressor was kicking on even with the airgraver was off? Well, I hadn't been using the airgraver all that much lately except for some parts of the toucans... out of sight, out of mind. Anyway I thought I knew what was wrong, I thought I either needed to put a clamp on one of the hose connections, or else tighten the regulator.

I did both those things, but could still hear just the faintest hissing sound. Was that a slight bit of breeze underneath the air tank perhaps? Ah, so maybe the drainage valve was leaking!

Alas, no, while running my hand under the tank suddenly a tiny chip of paint flew off and all the air came hissing out through a hole that was now the size of a pencil lead. Must have been a pin prick size before. There had been a lot of gunk built up in the tank that I had to drain when I got it, so probably the inside of the tank is all rusted.

I emailed tech support to see about getting a new air tank. In the mean time, no compressed air. Good thing I don't have anything going on that needs it right now.

Anyone want to get me an air tank for my birthday? Heh heh. *sigh*

It's always something.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

pics from my day

Trog came over for a play date with Angus today! Yay!

Angus is pretty funny looking when all his face parts are flapping. ;-)

Gorgeous sunset tonight with a sliver of moon. That's kind of a Cheshire Cat moon...

Reflection on the swimming pool:

Thursday, February 03, 2011

when in Reno...

I think I've been grinning since last Friday, even though I've been back home since Monday evening. I was at the Firearms Engravers Guild of America (FEGA) show in Reno over the weekend, and not to overuse the word which I will surely overuse in this post, but it was AWESOME. This is the fourth time I've been there. I'm not an exhibitor (I've always wanted to, but under current rules have not been able to) but am a member of the guild and enjoy visiting the show, and I spend all year looking forward to seeing everyone. By and large it is a WONDERFUL, kind, helpful, and generous group of people and in the relatively short time that I've been part of the engraving world, many have become close friends, and I'm so honored work with some of the most well-respected gun and knife engravers in the business.

I actually drove this year. I've taken the bus the previous years, and the bus is really very nice, but Donner Pass was clear and the weather was bright and sunny, so I had no concerns about snow or ice or needing chains. It's only about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive, so getting to Reno is no biggie at all. It was a lovely drive, and I rolled into Reno in the mid afternoon on Friday.

And from the moment I walked into the show on Friday afternoon I was busy. This was a fascinating new scenario. In the past there seemed to be a lot of down time for me where I would sit around, go back to my room, go to the Safari Club show (I didn't go this year but am not sad about that), etc. But... to my delight, I spent the entire day every day of the show talking to people. I really felt much more at home this year for some reason. I really can't put my finger on it, but even though I've enjoyed the show every other year too, this year totally rocked. People totally know me! And want to talk to me, and see my scrimshaw! Yeah baby! It made for a busy weekend but holy cow did I have fun, and I made some great connections. It was a real honor to meet some new people who are very well known in the engraving world (this was the 30th anniversary show so it was a big deal) and it's so humbling to know that these folks truly appreciate my work.

Not to be all sappy and stuff, but it was an amazing weekend. I feel so... appreciated? Joy, that's what I've been experiencing! Joy! I'm all smiley and inspired. :-)

Yes, of course I got the required amount of crap because I haven't fallen in love with engraving metal (yet?) but the overwhelmingly positive reaction to my scrimshaw totally overshadows that anyway. :-)

Anyway back to the weekend... so Friday evening I got to meet up with my friend Harriette Allison, who I met at the show in Jackson Hole a few months ago. That was a real treat to visit with her! Thank you Harriette!

Saturday morning was the general business meeting. I didn't love the notion of prying myself out of bed in time for an 8am meeting, but it was interesting to see the inner workings of the guild, and to my complete surprise I was presented with one of the Editor's Choice Awards for the article that Chris Malouf and I wrote about our collaboration on the Cheetah Knife a couple of months ago. (He got an award too for his part). Knock me over with a feather!

And then I talked to people all day Saturday, so much that the people who I hadn't managed to talk to yet would come up to me and say "hey where have you been, I want to talk to you tomorrow!" Wow, popularity is a foreign concept. ;-) Saturday night was the banquet and auction. I hadn't planned on attending that but Rod Cameron surprised me by putting a ticket in my hand and telling me I was going, good thing I'd packed a nice outfit just in case! Good food, super fun group at the table, and it was interesting to watch a bit of the auction. I stayed long enough to see Mike Dubber's S&W .44 Mag (for which I donated a scrimshaw logo) sell, and then slipped out to watch the musically talented folks do some picking and grinning.

Every night I stayed up til some ridiculous hour, and often that was because my awesome roomie and I would talk a blue streak til way after midnight. I stayed with Emily P. from TN again, and of course I have to tease her about her funny "ack-see-int" but she's really pretty darn cool. :-)

Me and Emily P.:

Oh, the Toucan Knife! I finished it late Thursday night and brought it to the show. Lots of people there got a sneak peak, and I was able to deliver it back into the hands of the William Henry company. I don't think I'll show you the finished piece until I receive the photos from W.H. of the assembled knife. It looks great though, if I may say so myself.

Sunday morning was nice, the show opens to members for an hour before the general public comes in, and it was a good quiet time to sit and talk to some folks I hadn't yet had a chance to visit with. And that's what I did ALL day.

Me and Yves Halliburton:

Me with Roger Bleile (on my right) and Leonard Francolini (on my left):

Me and Mike Dubber. He is holding the gun he donated to the auction. I am holding the North Carolina Colt (CCA 2009 Auction gun) on which I scrimmed the grips. Hot damn it was good to finally see the completed gun in person! :-)

Me and Sam Welch, for whom I can't find a web site.

Me and my favorite engraver from New Zealand, Andrew Biggs.

Me and Fred Bowen, for whom I also can't find a website. He sings very funny songs. :-)

Me and Kalyn Hochstrat. We go way back. Her husband Brian used to be my farrier and is the person who got me into scrimshaw! That always makes for a good story!

Me and Sam Alfano, who claims to be my biggest fan. :-)

Me and the infamous Barry Lee Hands.

Me and Chris Malouf, co-authors of the award winning article! :-)

And suddenly it was 5pm and the show was over. My gosh how the weekend flew! I had dinner at the buffet that night with some of the guys (oh yeah, have I mentioned it's mostly guys at these shows? Heh heh... ;-) and then listened to more picking and grinning that night. Those jam sessions are AWESOME. There are some very talented musicians in the group, and to everyone's surprise, Scott Pilkington wheeled in a grand piano from some place, and then some random guy walked past and heard the music and turned out to be some sort of champion fiddle player so he was a great addition. Geesh I love this stuff! :-)

That's Rod Cameron on the mandolin, Sam Alfano playing banjo in the earlier pics, Bill Lister seated at the piano with a guitar, unknown really cool mystery man with the fiddle, Stan whose last name I don't know (red shirt) with another guitar, and one of the Rohner ladies (I didn't catch her name) playing the piano. Goodness knows where the piano came from! There were several different people playing other instruments at other times as well.

After a scant few hours of sleep, I was up early Monday morning to check out before the seminars started.

There were two very good seminars, one about stone-setting and one about fine shading. I went to lunch with some of the guys, and then it was show and tell time for a few hours, where people who hadn't been exhibiting can show work for a while. Everyone sat around and talked, and I hated to leave but by about 3pm I figured I'd best hit the road and try to be back by dinner time. Besides, the later I stayed, the sleepier I would get! I pried myself away and drove home. There had been more snow in the mountains on Sunday and and it was beautiful, but thankfully the sun was shining and the roads were clear.

I'm already looking forward to next year. While nothing is certain at this point, the winds of change are blowing in a very good direction. :-) I miss my friends already and can't wait to see everyone again!

Huge thank you to all the members and officers who bust their butts putting on this show! You are... awesome! :-D It's not just the amazing work that makes this show such a gem, it's the fine group of people and the bonds of friendship between them.

For more photos (I was so busy talking all weekend I didn't photograph anyone's engraving!), check out Rod's slide show and Hora's slide show!