Archive for June, 2009

Of Sisters and Pies…

Monday, June 29th, 2009

carrieMy sister Carrie from Albuquerque was in town for several days, so I didn’t blog while she was here.

Out of all the possible things we could have done together, we chose the best activities:  daily walks in nature, preparing and eating meals together (did I ever tell you that one of Carrie’s passions is preparing food that is fantastic!), hobnobbing with my parrots (Sam was instantly charmed because she kept sneaking him banana pieces), haunting the local thrift stores, helping me take all the parrots to the vet for trims,  spending time with our father and stepmother, watching the movie “UP,” chatting about the past, the present, and the future, and watching the deer traipse by.

About food, there is also the matter of dessert – a most necessary aspect to life!

And here is the result of Carrie’s first afternoon of visiting:  Voila!  A scrumptiously lovely mixed berry pie.  Oh, yum!

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About those deer, the mother of the twin fawns spent some time, waiting for apples.  She was not disappointed.  Perhaps she sensed an easy touch with a charmed newcomer.

The local Calico cat decided to bat her eyes for the camera also, and so we had quite the group being photographed one morning.

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Carrie and I had a lovely,  relaxed time – unbelievably, only the second time we’ve spent a small vacation with just the two of us.  Usually visits include other members of the family – which of course, are wonderful.  But sometimes sisters need to connect with just each other.  The last time we did this was over 11 years ago when I was recovering from chemotherapy, and I traveled to Albuquerque in a hairless (and nearly brainless!)  state.

Soon it will be Carrie’s turn to be churned up by the medical profession, with her necessary upcoming jaw surgery in August.

It was a calm before the storm visit, and we’re both grateful for the opportunity to grow closer.

Sneaky Shots

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

feeder-shotI don’t know why, but the other day I ended up taking sneaky shots of the wildlife around my house.   This little fellow at the feeder didn’t see me till after I took a photo.

And this doe was unaware of me till I moved after the shot was taken.  (She wasn’t fussed as she’s used to me.  She knows that if she waits long enough, I’ll soften and toss her an apple…)

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And finally, I snuck up on this squirrel who had been trying to raid my bird feeder.

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If I’m around, I usually half-heartedly shoo them away, as they can  put a serious dent into my black sunflower stores (and it’s no longer cheap).  99.9% of the time, this tactic is totally ineffectual.  But after taking this photo, I opened the door and surprised him (also very unusual).  This  fellow seemed grumpier and older than most, and he must have been seriously bummed that I caught him unawares.  He gave me a servere chittering tongue-lashing and huffed away above the tree canopy,  never to return.  Another first!

Alpha Wolf and His Mate

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

alpha-wolf-his-mateHere’s my latest painting Alpha Wolf and His Mate.  I have a deep love and respect for wolves, so I really like to paint them.  This is Spirit again and his mate.  Spirit died last year, but his mate lives on at Wildlife Images.  I painted with mostly gouache this time.

My painting output has slowed lately as I’m working feverishly to get a bunch of paintings framed for a local gallery that will show some of my art beginning July 1.  And along with framing comes:  getting a second portfolio ready, making title cards and miscellaneous paperwork,  etc.  So I’ve been fitting tasks in on the weekends and evenings and soon I’ll be done.

I want to be clear of these preparations so that I’ll be totally free when my  sister Carrie comes from Albuquerque to visit for a few days.   I’m very excited about her visit.  It’ll probably be her last “vacation” before she has her big surgery in August.

On another front,  I’m happy to report that the fawn that got caught in the fence recently is fine and dandy and kicking its heels.  Whew!

Spiders Will Weave Webs

Friday, June 19th, 2009

spider-webI happened to walk along the creek recently at just the right time and found many spider webs along the trail.  Normally I don’t see them easily.

But this time the morning sun was at such an angle that no matter how much the spiders might have wanted to be hidden, they weren’t that morning.

Some webs are very simply; others are quite complex.  This one has a sort of tentlike structure.

The one I show below in a video is shaped like a dome, and the spider in residence was at the top, waiting for breakfast.

I made a video of it, because the breeze moved it enough to make it sparkle in the sun, as if it were made out of diamonds.  It was quite beautiful!

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Yes, We Have Twins – and Nearly Lost One

Monday, June 15th, 2009

fawns1If  you look carefully, you will see both fawns hunkered down in the grass.  This was about 6 am and they were waiting for their mother to feed them.  The owners of the empty lot mowed it early this year, so there isn’t as much cover for the fawns as there usually is.  And normally the doe places the fawns in separate areas to wait for her, in order to minimize losing both at once through predation.

Even waiting fawns have to stretch now and then, so here goes:

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As I watched, a neighboring doe came through the grass and discovered the fawns.  They were not hers.  I found it fascinating to watch the fawns’ reaction.  If it had been their own mother, they would have bounced up and run straight for her milk bag.  This time:  nothing.  They didn’t move until the doe actually bent down to sniff at them:

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And so the intruder stepped carefully over them and moved on.

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And so I went about my day,  to work, grocery shopped, and then had my supper around 6 pm.  I looked out my window and saw the real mother reuniting with her fawns, except one of them seemed stuck at the wire fence.  I looked closer and realized that the fawn wasn’t moving at all and I thought the worst.  He/she was obviously trapped, but was it still alive?

I ran out with my heart in my throat, shaking from an adrenalin rush.  Thank goodness, the fawn was still alive and I don’t think it had been there long.  But what a tangle!  In a 4 x 9-inch rectangle it had tried to force its way through, the hind legs were in and out of several adjacent  squares of wire and I had to gently manipulate the fawn’s body and legs.  It was so scared that it had stiffened – but thankfully that terror made it quiet.  If it had struggled, it would have made things much worse.  I’m sure it took only a few seconds for me to puzzle it out, but it seemed like forever.  Once the fawn felt its hind legs where they belonged, it sprang out, a bit shakily, and ran for cover.  Mother and sibling followed.  I hope all is well.

God, how I hate fences!  This has been deer country for centuries, and we humans have usurped their migratory routes by taking over their foraging areas.  They do the best they can, changing wild habits, adjusting to our lawns and flowerbeds – and our town makes special efforts to respect them.  Still, when humans and wildlife mix, the wildlife always suffers.  But for today, I can be thankful the little fawn survived another day.

Fawn’s Arrival!

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

deermom2This morning, as I was eating breakfast, I saw a flash of brown and white shooting past the window, and I knew that the doe had had her fawn(s).  Sure enough, after enough whirring around my house, he made a pit stop and got refreshed for his next round of exploration.

deermom3I’ve never seen a newborn do so much independent running and exploring – this little guy/girl is going to be a handful!    You can see the fawn here in action (pardon my cockatiels’ comments in the background):

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After this play session, it seems that that mother doe was pretty tired.  She plopped down in front of my front door and rested, gearing herself up for the next go-round.  Normally seasoned mothers, like this one, has twins.  I haven’t seen a second fawn yet. Stay tuned!

Happy 150th, Oregon!

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

biplainesIn February this year, Oregon celebrated its statehood, which began 150 years ago.   Festivities are taking place throughout the state at various times, and my town was no exception.  Parades are the ticket here, and we had a grand one!  To kick off the day’s fun, two old biplanes soared loudly above us.  This shot is far away, but they actually flew directly overhead and it gave me goosebumps to see and hear them.

This honor guard began the parade on the ground (the blue flag is the flag of Oregon).

honor-guard

Much of the flavor of this morning’s parade reflected our pioneering efforts to reach the West.  I was happily astounded to see this amazing oxen team, which came to the parade (from Utah, actually).  These were humongous beasts and stood higher than me.  But for all their size, they were as gentle as lambs and very calm.

oxen-teamHere you will see them in action as they pull the restored covered wagon, actually used about 100 years or more ago.  The oxen, however, were only 12 years old.

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There were horses of all sizes – from draft to miniature, as well as the odd mule.   I had a field day taking photos of the animals – so beautifully groomed and ready to show off, especially this beautiful high-spirited Arabian who was antsy to keep moving, to show off his delicate steps and his arched tail.

arabian

Here he is in action:

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There were wonderful Belgian draft horses pulling carts and wagons, with their owners dressed in period costumes.  There were even several men dressed in Civil War costumes – both Union and Confederate.

But I have to admit:  Once the animals began being replaced by Model Ts and John Deere tractors in the parade, that’s when I lost interest.  I sure had fun, though.  It was a grand day, and I hope the animals got some enjoyment out of it too.

Happy birthday, Oregon!

Apples to the Ladies! Boys Will Have to Wait…

Friday, June 12th, 2009

deer11This doe is heavily laden and about to burst.  Fawns are on their way.  But in the meantime, she has to feed those growing fawns-to-be.  I tossed out an apple that was a bit old, and there she was.  And her two sons from last year and the year before were hanging around too.  But!  The lady in the pregnant condition was not about to share:

deer21Here is her 2 yr-old very interested in the proceedings.

deer3Her yearling son thought he’d appeal to her maternal side…

deer4Nothing going!  Not even a share of part of the apple.

deer5Ah, well.  You win some, you lose some.  Maybe better luck tomorrow….

Boys Will Have Fun

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

My two male cockatiels, Chipper and Charlie, are inseparable and love to play together.

Chipper loves books and boxes and chews on both (he gets his own books, as described in this previous post).   He  loves to play nest and hide-and-seek in the boxes I provide. (Don’t try this with female parrots, though, or they will likely start laying eggs – not something to be encouraged because of possible egg-binding mortality.)  Chipper has taught Charlie the same box game, and they take turns chewing the cardboard inside the box, singing, or knocking their beaks against the box.

In this clip, you hear Chipper inside his box, while Charlie hovers around, waiting to join in the fun.  Chipper is tapping the box with his beak and imitating a “come here” whistle and being very coy, which proves irresistible to Charlie.  They will spend an entire afternoon (with naps in between) playing the box game, very happily.  In fact, Chipper gets upset and screeches at me if I forget to open Charlie’s door so that he can come play.  I have just has much fun watching them as they do playing!

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Blackberries in the Making

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

blackberyblosson1First come the blackberry blossoms.

Then the bees come.

blackberrybeeAnd then….wait till August!