Sunday, October 25, 2009

Out Enjoying the Weather

After a very rainy week and before more wintry weather arrives tomorrow, we wanted to get out and soak up the sun and fill our lungs with fresh air while we could. Turns out a lot of other creatures had the same idea.

A flock of about 7 wild turkeys were grazing in someone's yard.

We spotted this spruce grouse up in the mountains. Sorry about the quality of the picture. They move quickly and this was the best shot I got. Check out his gorgeous red eye combs!

We watched as two gray jays made their way from tree to tree down a forest service dirt road. I wasn't able to get a picture today but I took this photo last year in the same general area so just maybe it is the same bird! (Er, yeah sure.)

Around our place the box elder bugs are congregating.

A couple of them always manage to get inside the apartment. Madeleine has learned that they don't taste very good so she leaves them for me to escort back outside. I think they are beautiful.

Thanks everybody for putting up with my whining about my cold last post. I was being a total wimp. I feel much better now!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Painting 36 - Exuberant Toucan

This toucan - which still remains unidentified - is everything I'm not right now. He's colorful (unless you count my red nose), he's smiling, he's exuberant. Well, maybe "exuberant" is taking this a bit too far, but he's certainly got more energy than me. After nearly two years of sniffle-free days, I have at last succumbed to the common cold. Not only am I reduced to a lot of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I'm also downright grumpy. Okay, so I'm not really sick sick, but a cold is really annoying. Not so bad that you can stay home from work, but certainly bad enough to make you miserable at work. How could my immune system have let me down? What about all of those anti-oxidants I ingest; rooibos tea, leafy greens and dark chocolate? My serious attempts at 8 hours of sleep a night? Dragging myself out of bed after said 8 hours to exercise? But hey, I suppose while I'm sitting here keeping the facial tissue industry in business I can take comfort in the fact that, according to Star Trek, they still won't have found a cure for the common cold by the 23rd century.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Painting 34 - Monsieur Puglsey

I know I haven't posted any paintings lately. But I am still managing to squeeze in some painting time in between life. I am also taking Laure Ferlita's Imaginary Trip to Paris this Fall to try to improve my non-nature watercolor sketching. This little guy is the first natural history subject I've done in the class, so thought I'd share it here. We're each working in a hand-made watercolor journal for the "trip", so with keeping a travel journal in mind, I've left room on the left of the page to write my entry.

This was a tricky piece for me to do. We had a cute photo of this dog to work from, but I wanted to add some details that set the scene - in my mind the dog was standing under a its owner's chair at a Parisian cafe, patiently waiting for a treat, but to do that I had to work from my imagination and try to guess how the light would fall on the chair legs and how the dog would realistically look standing under a chair that wasn't really there. I also wanted this to be a loose watercolor sketch, with pencil lines showing and all, but I got so caught up in the details around his eye!

Meanwhile, I'm hunkered down, craving hot soup and other cold-weather comfort foods, waiting for this cold snap to break. The snow is pretty though.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Happy Birthday!

This month is Madeleine's birth month. She is 8 years old, making her a little older than us in cat years. Possibly why she gives us those looks "Oh, you youngsters!".

Not only is this her birth month to celebrate, but she just went to see her specialty vet today and her meds will stay the same and she won't need to go back for another year. Good news! Madeleine has kitty cardiomyopathy, meaning one of her heart ventricles is enlarged and doesn't pump blood very efficiently. It was diagnosed 2 years ago and our regular vet prepared us for the worse, giving her 6 months to a year before she started showing signs of heart failure and a fast downhill from there. We were referred to a specialty vet who put her on Atenolol (a human heart medication - go figure) and she has stabilized and has been doing very well ever since. We know eventually it will catch up with her, but for now we're thrilled she's holding steady and giving us a few more years of purring and head-butts.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Look What the Wind Brought

There's a wind advisory for our area today and tomorrow with gusts of 35 - 45 mph. I know this isn't even close to hurricane force winds, but this evening the wind was so strong that it knocked out our power for a couple of hours. We live in a basement apartment so when the power goes out, it's dark, especially on a cloudy evening. With nothing better to do, I stood at our door and watched the wind blowing branches and garbage cans around the neighborhood. So it is amazing that with all that movement all around, my eyes caught sight of two little birds hopping about the relative shelter of our garden across the yard. And they weren't the usual house sparrows, either. Cursing the fact that my binoculars were in the car, I grabbed my camera instead and zoomed in, through the dusty glass in the door and all the yard debris. This is the best shot I got. I believe this is an adult (right) and immature (left) white-crowned sparrow. (You more experienced birders out there let me know if I misidentified these, please!) Not a lifer for me but a first for our yard/neighborhood and certainly an unexpected treat.

Speaking of birds, Heather of the Hills jogged my memory by thinking that the first photo of the tropical birds in my last post was a trogon and sure enough, it is a white-tailed trogon. And Maree from Art & Creativity said that the second photo was a Bali mynah. She's got a lovely watercolor of one over on her blog, as well as some good natural history information on this highly endangered bird. Thank you ladies!!! I still have not tracked down what kind of toucan that is, though. Sadly and surprisingly the Woodland Park Zoo's website does not have a complete list of all of their species.

As I've been trying to write this post, the power has gone out yet again, so now that it is back on I am going to post this before it goes out a third time. At least this time when it went out, I had found new batteries for the flashlight!

S***, I realized I made a boo-boo. It was Eve who mentioned the trogon!!! I'm so sorry, Eve! I had lit candles during the power outage and it must've been the lead in the candle wicks affecting me. A million apologies!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Seattle Zoo

I've had a hankering to do some tropical bird drawings lately, probably inspired by the beautiful artwork at Drawing the Motmot. Since I am sadly not going to be heading to any tropical rain forests anytime soon, I decided that a trip to the zoo was imperative when we planned our quick visit to Seattle. I knew I wouldn't have time to sketch, but at least I could get some photo references. I could kick myself for not taking better notes, but we were on a tight schedule with a ferry to catch and I was kind of snapping photos on the run. Anybody know exactly what these birds are?

I didn't realize there were so many species of toucans. This one really posed for me.

I was not on a mammal mission but I couldn't resist this picture. He/she just looks soooo relaxed. That's the life!