Archive for October, 2008

Lazy Days of Fall

Friday, October 31st, 2008

This morning when I looked out my bedroom window, I saw this doe taking a nap in the fall leaves. You can see how a leaf fell on her head while she was snoozing.

It was that kind of day. After a light rain last night and this morning, there was intermittent clouds and warm sun. I felt like curling up in the leaves for a snooze too!

Sunrise Over the Straits

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

When I was in the San Francisco Bay area last month, I woke early one morning to witness a beautiful sunrise over the Carquinez Straits.

To be honest, I am not an early riser by nature. But the night was a restless one, made quite irritating by an invasion of mosquitoes. So I was up and itching by sunrise.


But what a lovely reward for my night of bites!

A Walk through Fall

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Sunday morning I had a great walk and admired everything as the sun rose over the nearby hills. The colors are so lovely, making a brightness for all of us to appreciate and enjoy before the darkness of winter sets in, the sleeping time for green growing things.

It is also a time for intense foraging, and these wild turkeys got closer to me than usual. I’m sorry the shot is a bit blurred, but you get the idea. If you look closely, you can even see the sunlight shining through the bright red of the turkey wattle on the bird in the foreground.

As I walked further along and left the turkeys behind, I could hear them calling to one another – the closest sound I could describe as being geese with bad head colds.

This blacktail did not expect to see me so early in the morning. He bounded away in a stotting gait. I love to see this type of running, which the dictionary describes as “a springing gait of certain bovids, as gazelles and antelopes, used especially when running in alarm from a predator.” Truly, it is a springing gait when all four feet are off the ground at one time. I don’t see it often because the deer have to be really surprised before they stott around here. And I wasn’t even pursuing it!

Cockatiel Study

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

I had fun making this little study of Chipper looking at me slightly askance.

He liked it. He likes just about any photo or painting of himself. Admires any and all greatly, as a matter of fact.

Chipper has no self-esteem problems…

A Day in the Life…

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

First thing this morning, Charlie flew over to the window to see what was happening outside. Chipper, not to be outdone or left behind, begged me to take him there with his book.

Chipper had his wings clipped a couple of weeks ago. Unlike Charlie, who is a model of pretty good behavior, Chipper becomes quite aggressive and hormonal if he flies. He seems to be obsessively compelled to find a perfect nesting site if he is able to fly. I always forget this when I let him grow out his flight feathers. Then I’m rudely reminded of Chipper’s ancient velociraptor origins…. So, while flying is terrific good exercise, it doesn’t work for Chipper in this household. (Believe me, he’s a lot happier when he’s not flying!)

Once settled on the sill, Chipper gets a higher perspective on things.


Pippin, who always likes to explore small nooks and crannies and is a proficient shredder of paper, rope, cardboard, cotton, night covers, etc., also loves to check out new items for shredding possibilities.

Last but not least, Sam is begging to be taken to the play tree (he can fly there himself, but he wants me to go there with him). Since it’s occupied by two cockatiels who are sitting on the tree in the sun trying to dry out, he can’t go. So he tries to impress me by quivering his wings like a baby and put on the charm. This time it does not work. Sorry, Sam!

But as I write this post, he has claimed the tree
and is sitting with one foot curled up, eyes nearly closed, after a satisfying supper of steamed veggies and some pomegranate seeds. Yum!

And now the sun is setting and time for this post to end. Have a good weekend!

Spirit Wolf

Friday, October 24th, 2008

This wolf’s name is Spirit. I call this painting I recently finished Spirit Wolf at Play, which you can also find on my website. When I visited Wildlife Images awhile ago, he was brought out of his enclosure for us to see, and the fellow immediately proceeded to nose around in the Vinca bed and get entangled in the vines.

I loved seeing this playful side of the wolf. Wolves are so often portrayed as noble and savage, but not everyone sees that they play and are goofy like any other canine.

Sadly, Spirit is no more. Apparently he died after surgery not long ago. He is sorely missed by his keeper, his admirers – and there were many – and of course his female wolf pack that was left behind.

This painting was a departure from the watercolor I normally use. I used primarily artists’ quality gouache. Gouache is most often used by illustrators – it dries fast and lends sharp, clean edges for good quality reproduction. But with the best quality gouache paint (lightfast pure pigments), one can achieve results that are similar to oils. Unfortunately, I cannot use oils – even the watersoluble types – as there are too many chemicals in the oils that cause me headaches. So gouache was the next medium I wanted to try, as I’ve missed the depth one can achieve with oils.
Unlike watercolors that dictate painting from light to dark and reserving the white paper underneath for the lightest areas of the work, gouache can be painted dark to light like oils. I had great fun experimenting and seeing new possibilities.

I will continue to paint with watercolors, but you will see more gouache paintings from time to time.

Fall’s Kapow!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I say “kapow” because driving or walking down any street now becomes a fantastic experience in changing colors, like a light show.

And seen individually, these leaves are marvels in themselves. Seeing the sunlight backlighting a fall leaf shows all the intricate veining and the splotches of color infiltrating the dying leaf. Perfect for watercolor renditions!

There are loads of berries forming, too, which will fuel the birds in the cold winter days to come.

The variety and intensity of the colors are amazing, and I have to keep my focus when I’m driving.

I only wish that the fall colors could last longer than they do – but then, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much as we do, I suppose.

I hope that wherever you are, you are experiencing a little or a lot of these fall wonders.

Cockatiel Shenanigans

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Chipper has definite ideas of what he likes and wants to do. Boxes, and finding dark holes and possible nesting sites is high on his list – so long as his book is part of the equation! If Chipper were a female, I would discourage such behavior, as females lay eggs, and the possibility of often fatal egg-binding is all too real. However, he derives such pleasure from doing his self-appointed “job,” that my avian vet said that it’s perfectly all right to allow him this natural part of his birdie behavior.

You see Chipper in the background with Charlie looking on, seeing what he’s up to. Chipper is leaning against his beloved Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, a new copy which I bought last week as his old one fell apart.

I wouldn’t advise allowing your birds to hide under a quilt on a chair – or anywhere else that humans frequent – because the possibility of forgetting the bird is there is high. However, no one else uses this chair but me, and I wasn’t going to forget!

So Chipper had his fun, and when it was all over, he looked quite satisfied. Ready for bed!

Foraging is Hard Work!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

This is Sam peeking through one of the openings of my artist easel. The play tree is right behind it in the sunlight coming through one of the living room windows.

When I paint, Sam – and the rest of my avian tribe – seem to sigh with satisfaction. Why? Because I’m home, I’m stationary, and all is certain. There is no coming and going, I work steadily and quietly, and they can play and snooze with the assurance that all is as it should be.

Of course, waiting till I’m done can be hours and a guy can work up an appetite. So Sam “forages” for his pellets, which are wrapped in paper like hard candy. I stuff these wrapped pellets all over the tree and inside toys in his his cage so that he has a chance to do “captive foraging” – the closest we humans can get to providing a more normal environment for parrots to search and find their food. (It also decreases boredom, which can cause feather-plucking and other extreme behaviors. Follow this link to “Captive Foraging DVD” for more information.)

Since I’ve been doing this – and also getting him to fly for the first time in his life – he has become much more lively, confident, inquisitive, and happy. Foraging also encourages a parrot to eat when he/she is hungry, rather than eating all the time because it’s there. As my vet tells me constantly, “There is no free lunch!”

But while non-free lunches can be fun, they can also become tiring after awhile. And so…a snooze is in order.

The Changing Season

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I haven’t posted very regularly lately. This past month has proven to be a sort of “Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad” month (with a nod to Alexander). Actually, it’s not that it’s been that terrible. I’m not at all unhappy. It’s just that a string of changes began taking place after the death of my aunt last month, and I’ve been grieving over losses ever since: of my aunt, of course, but that’s now a chapter put to rest.

But family connections that I thought were strong have suffered some battering over some simple misunderstandings. Then there was the loss of Jasmine, and the grief I feel over her absence; and the grief I feel that her keepers feel. Two days ago, I watched in horror as one of the fawns staggered to her knees, go into convulsions, and die – literally on my front doorstep. (She must have been hit in the head by a car, as her head was grossly swollen.) Thoughts about the future bring many question marks, too.

Anyway, I’ve been pondering many things and blogging hasn’t felt like a priority.

But life goes on, and fall is here in all its beauty. When I went out this morning the moon was still in the sky, and I watched it slowly disappear behind fast-forming clouds that produced rain later on.

After the rain, the sun shone warmly and lit my studio area, where I finished a painting while Sam snoozed next to me with his head under his wing.

Life is good, but it is always changing like the seasons, and that’s good too. I guess… !