Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Family Members... new painting subjects

For a couple of years, John and I have talked about raising chickens, but that's all it was... talk.  We felt like we needed to do more studying to get a better grasp of what to do and how to properly care for whatever kinds of chickens we decided on.  We needed to create an outdoor space where there could be plenty of free range movement and safety from predators and weather.  So we talked about it, set it aside, talked about it some more, set it aside again. 

But yesterday, John came home from a trip into town, and he carried in a box that held four small grayish-black chicks.  Trust me, folks, it was a surprise. Two of the dogs, like me, followed him onto the porch to check out the new family members.  While John brought in the rest of the chicken goodies needed, I sat down and read through a rather detailed pamphlet about chicken care, long enough to find out some needed information about temperature, lighting, bedding, and feed and water.  We fixed them a little home inside a 15 gallon bucket (more space than they've had before in their young lives), with wood chips for bedding, a wire top, and lighting to keep them warm. And this we placed inside our utility closet, safe from drafts, the cat, and the dogs... but really, it's only Cooper, our youngest pup, who is interested in the goings-on inside that bucket.  After everything was situated and settled, I took photos, of course.

These little chicks are three-week-old sex-linked hybrid pullets, meaning, we've been told, that these are baby hens and no rooster is needed in the mix to produce eggs.  When they're about six months old, they should start egg production.  In the meantime, we've got our work cut out for us.  A coop must be built, fencing must be put in, and a safe haven created.  In the process, we'll get to know these cuties enough to name them.  They are already responding a little to my voice, and I am getting rather attached. We'll do our best by them, you can bet on that.  Here's to new relationships and a new journey!  And here's to a chance at portrait paintings of our new family members!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Safe and Sound

The storms rolled in very early Saturday morning, waking me at 4:00 am with rain plastering the windows and the wind whipping through the trees surrounding our little home.  We arose around 5:45 and turned on the tv news, watching all the latest on storm tracking.  We'd had plans to leave for the day and travel towards the central part of the state for a knifemakers guild meeting, but it didn't take a brilliant mind to know that the best thing was to simply stay put.  Throughout the morning, rain came hard, then changed to soft drizzle, then stopped completely and then started all over again... all the while the wind sang a mighty song and the clouds flew across the sky.  We knew that the worst of it was to come in the early afternoon, and it did... but for us, the worst of it was nowhere near what had been predicted and we sighed with relief when we didn't lose power nor trees nor even many tree limbs.  And then, around 3:00 or so, the sun, with all her brilliance, came out against a clear blue sky and created a scene of glistening calm over our piece of the world.  But just a couple hours to the east of us, in the central part of the state (near where we'd planned to travel) and parts a little further east, folks were living in a nightmare, hard hit with tornadoes and much, much damage and loss of life. It's been rather frightening and quite sad to see those photos and hear the stories on tv and on the internet.  It will be a long while before some of these people have any semblance of a normal life again, not to mention inner peace, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

The way we see things depends, of course, on our outlook and beliefs about life. I feel grateful and blessed in so many ways, and I believe storms, whether internal or external, can bring us blessings if we are open to them.  A storm like this one, with its strength and enormity and endurance, makes me pause in awe and consider the ways of nature, how things work together to create what will become. 

On Sunday, as I enjoyed a good book... The Other by David Guterson, author of Snow Falling On Cedars... in the sun on our deck, I saw the first hummingbird of the season.  I quickly cleaned out the feeder and filled it, and oh the antics and songs I have heard and enjoyed since.  I believe the winds of our powerful weekend storm brought the hummingbirds, these marvelous creatures who are at once fearless and exuberant.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Color All Around

Bright blue sky, yellow green leaves, grass green, 
creamy white dogwood blossoms,
purple-pink redbuds, yellow kerria... 
so many colors surrounding us and it's all so joyful!
Here's a shot of one of many dogwoods from this morning.

New works full of color:

The Journey, 11 x 14 oil on canvas

After the Rain, 8 x 10 watercolor

Garden Song, 4 x 6 watercolor

Spirit Rising, 4 x 6 watercolor

Male Grosbeak in Spring, 8 x 10 watercolor

Song Sparrow, 4 x 6 watercolor

Joyful, 6 x 10 watercolor

Three cheers for springtime and all its many colors!  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New for April

Can you believe it?  April is here!  Warm weather will soon stay around for good!  And I'm so ready for it.

But before I go any further, let me announce the winner of my Springtime Giveaway... Monica!  Congrats to her.  Her new watercolor is on its way.  Thanks to all those who entered... and stay tuned.  There will be more giveaways as the year rolls along.

I've been busy lately with lots of music.  Our band has a gig this evening, another at the end of the month, and also on Mother's Day weekend.  And I've got a solo gig in mid-May too.  But I've been working on new paintings, and I've even added a new section to the Etsy shop... photography.  Here's what I've been up to in the visual arts arena.

Oriole Dreams of Sunlit Trees....


Shy Summer Grosbeak...

Afternoon Shadows... a fine art photograph... quiet mystery.

 The Journey... a fine art photograph ... soul travels

Okra Blossom... a fine art photograph... a true beauty from our 2010 veggie garden

Sharing the Garden... a fine art photograph... a surprise in my summer flower garden in 2010

There will be more photos to come, and of course more paintings.  Until then, enjoy the month of April, love the one you're with, and share a smile with a stranger.