Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Rohner Hammer, finished

I thought I had explained about the history of this piece but maybe I didn't.  John Rohner is one of the most well-respected men in the world of hand engraving.  For several decades, he has been asking engravers to put their work onto hammer heads for his collection.  It is a tremendous honor to be asked to contribute to the hammer collection.  I'm not sure there are any other ivory hammers in the collection, I think this may be the first one.  He left the design up to me, but asked that I somehow include a grizzly bear.  He was given the name of "Golden Grizzly Bear" by a Sioux medicine man some years ago.

If you don't know what scrimshaw is, it's a type of hand-engraving.  These images are not painted onto the surface, but instead they are engraved into it.  This is done entirely with microscopic dots engraved into the ivory.  Ink fills the dots to give the image its color.  It's an incredibly time-consuming process.  This entire piece is two inches long, and one inch in diameter.  It is made of pre-ban elephant ivory, and is a replica of an engraving hammer (obviously one would not normally hammer anything with something made of ivory!)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

a lot on my mind

I'm down in Wilton right now, spending a couple days down here.  I had some things I wanted to do for myself (process peaches and plums, check chickens, start packing chicken stuff) and I also came down to give my mom a hand with a few of her projects.  So I've gotten a ton of stuff done but still have a very full schedule tomorrow.

I can't remember if I already wrote about this, but I had released the peafowl about a week and a half ago.  They seemed ready, and Nara had healed up extremely well from her broken leg.  They came and went for a few days, and then they went... and haven't been back... for almost a week.  It's easy, and unpleasant, to think that something may have caught them, and yes it's possible and yes I knew the risks, but since I knew they were fine for several days, and I would see them foraging far from the house, I think the more likely scenario is they have wandered off and found some place they like better.  Peafowl are notorious for this.  My peafowl-experienced friends have also told me it's not unusual for them to immediately disappear for a week or even two, exploring as far as they can, before they return home and stick around.  I sincerely hope that's what they are up to.  They are such totally cool birds, it makes me sad to think they might not come back, so keep your fingers crossed that they're just out on walkabout for a while.  Or, if they decided to live down by the creek where it's shadier and cooler, I wouldn't blame them, and then at least I could walk down there and visit them.

I brought Olin with me when I drove down here, I didn't want to leave him alone in the loft for that many days.  He does not like being alone, so I thought he'd be happier coming back here.  He does seem rather happy, he promptly went outside and I hadn't seen him until finally he came in this evening!  Mom said she saw him twice between then and now though.  I jokingly said to her that we may end up with shared custody of him, and if he doesn't show up when I'm ready to leave, that may well be true... he'll end up staying down here for a while.  And truth is I still wonder if leaving him here would be better for him anyway.  I know he's not happy being indoors all the time, and he definitely drives me crazy with all that meowing.  I know that's a hard transition and I know it would take time, obviously more than a month.  I don't know, sigh.  If he stays here gets to be outside and around Homer (Mom's cat), but he doesn't have a person he likes all that much.  If I keep him with me, he stays indoors, but I've always been "his person" he's so affectionate with me.  He is SO dear to me, I don't want to leave him behind, but I don't know how much time it will take for him to be happy up there, or if he ever would.  I guess with the peafowl gone, putting him out in their old aviary sometimes is an option.  I just don't want to let him loose, he wanders like crazy, and there are way too many predators.  Could I really only see my little boy a few times a year for the rest of his life though?  I don't like this idea...

As you remember, my horse Shylah moved up to Oak Run with me, but my old mare Gwen stayed here in Wilton.  Gwen is not doing well.  Age is definitely catching up to her, and she has the looks of some pretty serious heart trouble.  I think I'm seeing the beginning of the end.  It won't happen right now, I'm not ready to say "it's time" but I'm saying it's time to figure out the options, because I think it will be time pretty soon.  I HATE this.

Dang, this is really not the cheeriest blog post is it.  There are good things this weekend too!  I've had a good time visiting family and friends!  Yeah, okay, I'll just go to bed before this gets even more depressing.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August 10 work in progress: Rohner hammer

The thing about  making plans... they totally change.  ;-)  I originally envisioned this being fairly straightforward and simple: a bear on the front face, and some type of small adornment on the side.  You know what though, it didn't feel right.  If ever a piece just begged for full-coverage awesomeness, this is it.  So it's ended up a whole lot more complicated than I planned!  Looking pretty snazzy though, I love how this is turning out.  Still need to finish the other side, and then put the bear on it.  It'll rock your socks.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

predators galore!

It's been interesting lately.  I knew there are rattlesnakes here but I hadn't seen one yet.  I hear coyotes at night pretty often.

About two weeks ago I was out for my evening walk hike when I saw a squirrel acting kind of funny. I'd read about how squirrels act around rattlesnakes, so I strained my eyes a little harder and saw that there was a rather large rattlesnake coiled up, partially down a squirrel hole. Closer examination, after going back to the house to inquire what to do about it (nothing, it was far enough from the house) showed that it was actually eating a squirrel! Yup, a rattlesnake with half a squirrel hanging out of its mouth. Groovy. I only had my phone with me, so here's a crappy photo:

On Thursday afternoon last week, coming back from running some errands with Jen, we were driving up the driveway when a smallish critter darted across the road in front of her truck. It was a young gray fox! Amazingly it stood still next to the road long enough for me to whip out my trusty phone and take this actually halfway decent photo. Cute little thing, I've never seen one before, but I hope it stays down the hill and doesn't come up to pester the poultry.

Last night, I went out for my walk hike again. Remember that rattlesnake? Well, it's not a threat anymore... As I rounded the bend I was completely shocked to see two bobcats playing tug-of-war with the rattlesnake... It was one of those "OMG, WTF" moments and it took a few seconds to realize what I was looking at. I scrambled to take a pic on my phone, which turned out crappy, so I quietly backed up and sprinted back to get my big camera (yes, me sprinting, it shocks me too).

Here's the phone pic, pretty bad:

By the time I got back down there, I didn't see any sign of the cats, and snake was not exactly feeling well. I'll spare you the bloody pic of the snake. As I walked toward the snake, this bobcat popped up from behind a rock in front of me and ran off. I managed to get only this one half-way decent photo. The others were too blurry, it was fairly dark at that point. So, wow. On one hand, wildlife yay! On the other hand, it seems like we are seeing a lot of predators lately, and that's worrisome for the poultry, cats, etc. Don't get me wrong, I know that wildlife was here first, and I have a great deal of respect for the wild critters (though I could really do without the squirrels and snakes, and wasps, and really enormous spiders), but it's a real wakeup call to make the coops everything-proof.  For those of you who think I should let Olin outside, this is one of the reasons I'm not going to do that!

a couple days in Oregon

I just spent a couple days up in Oregon.  I wouldn't call it spontaneous, but it wasn't planned very far in advance.  Living up here in Shasta county now, I'm a mere 3 hours and 15 minutes away from my grandparents, and had been wanting to go up for a visit, and then found out my aunt would be up there too this week, so off I went!  I'm really really glad I went up there, it was wonderful to spend some time with everyone.

They have a beautiful place that sits right along the Rogue River, and one of my favorite things to do when I'm there is sit out on a stump right at the water's edge and watch the river flow past.  It's completely mesmerizing to me, so endless!  Kind of boggles my mind that it just keeps going.

I'm always hoping to see the resident Bald Eagle while I'm there, but so far I never have.  I always take my big camera though just in case, and I did see an Osprey and a lot of Canada Geese.

I'm back in Oak Run now, and it's stupid hot.  My cat Olin was SOOOO happy to see me when I got back.  He's still driving me crazy being so loud at night, please oh please let this just be a phase!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Olin update, and the other inhabitant

You know how I said that Olin was being incredibly well behaved and sleeping most of the night?  Ha ha, um, that changed.  A few days after I wrote that, the dreaded "meowing all night" began.  OMG.  It really made me question my decision to move him up here, and really made me think I'd be taking him back down to my mom's house next time I went down there... and leaving him there.

But he's gotten a little better.  I think this is simply a very hard transition for an outdoor kitty to move permanently indoors.  In the grand scheme of things he's actually doing very well, and if he continues to settle down, that would be super.  I am determined to make it work for him to be here, I even went so far as to buy him a cat tree, which he darn well better use because those things are crazy expensive.  He always wants to climb my furniture, so I thought perhaps he'd like his own.  So far he only sits there if I put him on it...  And catnip does not affect him, how boring!  So I'd say at least 90% of the time I'm thrilled to bits that he's here, and he seems happy and content and sweet, and for less than 10% of the time he drives me insane and I'd like to toss him out the window.  That's a good start, right?  Cross your fingers that in another few weeks he's doing even better.  He's my little punkin, I want him to be here.  :-)

I have decided that when I do go back to Wilton if it's going to be for at least a few days I will probably take him with me (not to leave there, but just to visit).  He might enjoy the visit, and he's an easy cat to have in the car anyway.  Probably better than leaving him alone up here.  I am leaving him alone for two nights very soon when I go up to Oregon to visit relatives.  I hope that goes okay...

I haven't introduced you to the other inhabitant of this little space (and I'm reminded that I still need to take pics of the whole place now that it's done).  This is Phil:

Phil is a heart-leaf philodendron that my oldest brother gave me for Christmas 26 years ago.  I don't know what the average heart-leaf philodendron life span is, but that seems pretty old.  I don't have a green thumb at all, gardening is not my thing, I accidentally killed the adorable cactus that one of my best friends gave me (over-watered, oops!) but I seem to do okay with Phil.  Phil used to be very very lush, with huge leaves.  Now Phil is like one of those old men with a bad comb-over (not that there's a good comb-over).  I just try to arrange the remaining foliage in the most aesthetically pleasing manner, but there simply isn't much of it left to go around.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

August 1 work in progress: Rohner hammer

I thought I'd better show you how things are going.  I know I said I was going to start on the hammer face, but after kicking around a bunch of ideas I decided what to do with the other parts, so I decided to save the face (which will be the grizzly bear, the most fun and delicate image on the piece) for last.  I decided that some geometric patterns would look really classy and wouldn't make the piece excessively "busy" (like putting several grizzly images on it might have done).  It also gives it a bit of a Native American look (I hope, anyway) which ties into why Mr. Rohner asked me to put a grizzly on it in the first place.

Geometric stuff kinda makes my brain shrivel up, it's like doing math.  ;-)  I was planning to have this portion be just black and white but now I'm kinda thinking those "white" triangles might need to be in color.  Of course that means more time but hey, gotta do what I gotta do!

Anyhow, stay tuned, more to come...  I think I'll do the sides now (between my thumb and finger) and then decide about color.