Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Weaver of Grass mentioned the effects of bird feeders in her latest post and asked for comments and opinions.  The following is my own story:

Not far from our house is a small park with a pond. The place is an ideal habitat for water birds since it is fed by clean warm runoff from the sewage treatment plant. Even in the coldest weather there is open water. Migrating ducks often stop by to feed and rest.

Several domestic ducks took up residence at the pond a few years ago.

The cross breeding with the wild ducks resulted in some unusual combinations.

We often join the people who take bags of crumbs and crackers to feed the birds. It makes us feel all benevolent and compassionate and the ducks get fat and have more babies. Over time the population living off handouts at the pond has increased dramatically. In addition more farm bird immigrants have arrived.

A few weeks ago we gave three of our grandkids bags of dry cereal and leftover chunks of bread and went to the park to feed the ducks. Big Mistake. Cold weather has cut back on the amount of visitors to the pond.

We were not prepared for a horde of starving ducks and geese.

It was a cross between a rock concert mosh pit and a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds.

The fowls so overwhelmed the children...

that they screamed and ran for cover.

The trauma will probably give them nightmares for the rest of their lives.

I’m thinking some university students could make a study of the situation and write quite a thesis on the effects of well intentioned handouts and the resulting welfare state.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Even when I want to, I can’t do the same thing the same way repeatedly. So I knew when I picked up my Sumi brushes again that what came out of them would never be consistent. Still, I worked myself into a dither trying to reproduce the beautiful, clean designs in my lesson book. The more I tried to relax and focus the less I focused and relaxed.

Then my granddaughters caught me in the middle of my ink and paper mess, elbowed me out of their way and took over.

Splish, splash the brushes and ink flew over the paper.

Page after page of wondrous, free works of art appeared.

When the student is ready the teachers appear.

After a stack of demonstrations on the art of enjoying art, I reclaimed my desk and brushes.

More birdies from my fancy brush.

They came out smiling.

Then I tried bamboo again…

and threw in a couple of butterflies.

The author said she had been painting Sumi-e for over twenty years. I only have nineteen years and ten months to go!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009


An underlying grumpy attitude has followed me around all month. I finally put my finger on the problem while sitting in church on Sunday surrounded by friends and neighbors. These are the people who brought food for my family when I was sick, babysat for free when I was stressed, wave at me in the store, ask how I’m doing and expect an honest answer. Some were singing in the choir the same songs I have internally groaned over when I heard them AGAIN playing on the radio at the office. But at this time and in this place I really enjoyed the music. It was well done, though not polished and professional.

This was a true celebration the birth of that man who told people to be kind. Who, in his short life, taught us to bear each other’s burdens and remember who we are. It wasn’t about shopping or partying or decorating. I know all the stuff going on at the stores provides jobs (mine included) and helps the economy of the world. But I think the forces of darkness enjoy the fact that the reason for observing this man’s life and death have been trodden underfoot and almost lost.

The lack of respect for Jesus is what is really irritating me. I doubt things will improve as long as there is money to be made on Christmas and Easter. I’m just real glad there is caring, and sharing, and kindness anyway. Merry Christmas to all you bloggy people. I so enjoy learning about you and about this world through your posts.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Snow Berries--Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009


I hate to admit it; but I can remember when almost nobody had a TV. In fact I was a teenager before a big black and white television with ONE snowy channel finally found a place in our home. I think most people can remember days before a computer in every house, the internet, and cell phones. I would really miss garbage disposals, dish washers and, one of my favorites of instant gratification: the microwave oven. Now I get impatient when my baked potato takes a whole five minutes to cook.

Of course there are annoying things that have cropped in the past decades like: junk mail (how many trees are sacrificed for this one?!), telemarketers, television commercial blocks so long and so often the end of a movie can last longer than the final minutes of a football game. Call waiting. A personal pet peeve: cheap flip-flops on people with dirty feet, loud car alarms (thank heavens they are going away,) remote control thingies that breed in couch cushions, music piped into public bathrooms…

But some of my favorite gadgets are: caller ID (sorry leave a message, not talking to you), fuzzy socks that don’t wear out or shed, spell check, air conditioning, DIGITAL CAMERAS, and a new one for me, snow cleats.

These are sort of like chains for snow tires except they go on your hiking boots so your feet have a good grip in icy places.

Now in snowy weather I am not confined to the tread mill—a device left over from the torture dungeons of the Middle Ages. Lastly, a new, much loved item: heated automobile seats. Ahhhhh! Recently DH upgraded to a newish Subaru Outback. Now I can sit in cozy comfort with warm buns and back while my Danish Polar Bear is also happy in his cold zone.  What are some of your favorite/not favorite gadgets?

Monday, December 14, 2009



 The Prince

Pas de Deux

Pas de Trois

Final bows

Friday, December 11, 2009


White paper anxiety can stifle even the most skilled writers and artists. The more you think about not choking, the more likely you will. After going through a whole sketch book and making lots of folded paper “magpies”  Finally, I painted something that looked like one of the pictures in my instruction book.

Yeah, still pretty wobbly, but better.

Then I went to U-Tube for help. I found a teacher who said to practice on paper towels and newsprint. Whew. I’ve got plenty of that stuff. But I still couldn’t manage the wedgie stroke that I needed for birds and butterflies. I convinced myself I needed new gear.

I don’t know about you, but when I go into a store that carries supplies for my hobbies I want to buy everything and take it home and arrange it on shelves and stash it in boxes just because it is SO COOL! This reminds me of a painting by James C. Christensen called, “Six Bird Hunters in Full Camouflage.” A copy of it is in his book, A Journey of the Imagination.

Christensen says you may only be able to see five of the six hunters. “The sixth bird hunter is very, very good.”

The tool is only as good as the user. Right. But, maybe, a new brush would make me paint better. You know, like those new shoes that turned your feet to wings.

It came in the mail today.

“The Medium Flow top quality, hand-selected combination brush…handmade by a master calligrapher.”
The brush is a wonder. Or, like Dumbo’s magic feather, it helped me jump off the cliff and fly.

Look! Birdies. The paper is just newsprint. Imagine what I can do if I go to the art supply store and buy rice paper!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Rising Sun--Rising Fog


Two Fogbows and two Self Portraits

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Too tight, too cluttered, too complicated is how my watercolor paintings are looking. In an effort to loosen up and simplify--
I dug out my oriental watercolor brushes and my sumi ink. I know. I know. This kind of art takes a serious investment of effort, time, training and discipline. All of which I have very little or none. But I love the beauty of those fluid lines done so effortlessly.
Here is what I wish I could do. This is a masterpiece by Jean Kigel. With a minimum of effort and a maximum of skill she produces the power of a horse. “Ma dao cheng gong.” “Where there are horses, there is success.”

I would be pleased to just produce a bird and some leaves like this without wobbling. But noOo.

So I Amazoned a book by Yolanda Mayhall,
got an extra supply of that luscious ink and started on the most simple of simples: bamboo.

I have done this all before---badly. I know I am supposed to learn to focus my Chi. Think steady with the mind and fluid with the body so I can “produce a stream of wind at the tip of the brush.” Who am I kidding? My balance is so poor I can’t even stand on one foot in tree position. (Although I like to blame that lack of ability on chubby thighs.)

Still, I try and try to paint those effortless strokes. I hold the brushes vertical with that calligraphy grip. I try to move freely with my whole arm and follow through with that twist that makes the point on the leaves. My efforts end in disaster. I fold the failures into paper cranes. (DH calls them magpies.)
I understand if you make a thousand cranes your wish will come true.

This is gonna take a while. >:P

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Like the taste of Ghirardelli Dark or the feel of an expensive sable---watercolor brush; I knew when I tried blogging that I would be back for more. Here is a place where I can speak for myself just ‘cause I want to.

What I didn’t anticipate was how my little domain would literally open up the world for me. After a year and a half of blogging I am more aware of the planet than in all the time I spent studying geography or environmental science. (Study may be the wrong word. I found those classes mostly tedious and only a means to a passing grade).

From Northern Ontario Canada to Adelaide Australia; from the coast of Scotland to the coast of South Africa I can be in touch with voices that resonate with mine. I know that no matter how very dark the night or how rotten the weather—somewhere the sun is shining and a warm breeze is lifting green leaves.

My disappointment is: I will probably never hear most of these voices with my ears or have an opportunity to look into their eyes. However, last summer my path crossed with a blogger and I found Linda Sue to be as genuine and creative as her words and pictures. The short time we spent together as she shared her world was a high point of a week long getaway. Meeting handsome Mr. Dexter was a bonus.

Later I asked her for a small sample of her skills. She designs and fashions amazing items out of wool. Visit her at All I’ve Ever Wanted to see samples of her work. I asked for one of her colorful pin cushions.

Yesterday I opened a box big enough to hold a free range turkey.

It was not a turkey.

I found, not a pin cushion, but a sofa cushion!

I will let photographs tell the story of her gift.

A couple of Dexter hairs give it personality. Knowing her hands spent hours putting together this piece of art makes it priceless