Thursday, September 15, 2011

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

Our new home comes complete with complimentary Richardson's ground squirrels.
We named this one "Hawkbait", but our ground squirrel-watching was short lived.
They are now already in their burrows for hibernation.

It was 33F this morning when we got up; frost on the car windshields. It's only September 15th!!!! Our new home will take a little getting used to.

We've moved 1,600 feet up in elevation and 30,000 people down in population from our previous home and we're noticing the differences. I haven't tried baking any cakes yet to see if 4,800 feet above sea level is enough to affect them but during our first week here we certainly noticed the change in altitude on our daily walks. Even the slightest incline made us feel like we had been couch potatoes all summer. (Hardly the case, or I would've been blogging before this!)

So Paul is now officially a professor and loving it. We're living on campus in a nice little apartment and I'm enjoying this grace period for a few weeks and the opportunity to "nest" before I really start stressing out over finding a job. As I've been unpacking the mountains of boxes (mostly books - whoever says books are becoming a thing of the past needs to come to our home!), I've been doing a lot of reflecting as we enter this new phase of our lives and thinking about those times when I was the most artistically productive and I think I need more balance in my life again; a more active, people-oriented day job to even out the solitary and sedentary aspects of making art. Having spent the last four and a half years working full-time as a graphic designer, I'm also thinking that unless it is a dream job position (like doing graphics/exhibits for a museum) I should steer clear of any creative type jobs so that I can reserve my creative energy for my own art endeavors. We'll see how it goes.

As I said, it was a very busy summer with the move but I've been sketching and taking photos when I can. I'm eager to get back to it on a more regular basis. My studio area in the new apartment is mostly set up now (you know that was my first priority!), although I haven't unearthed all of my art supplies yet. We paid a visit to Ikea in Portland, Oregon over the summer and I finally got an Alex rolling storage cart (in black) - an item that I see in so many artists' studios and have wanted for years. I also got two of their basic desk combination packages (I chose plain white tops with black legs) and created a U-shaped workspace in my studio. It turned out to be a very efficient use of small space as I now have room for computer work, art work, and sewing with just a turn of my chair. The only thing I didn't have room for was something counter-height for cutting mats or other stand-up projects, but I can just go use the kitchen counters for that when needed. I love my new studio space!

I've begun a campus birding list, of course. Here's what we've got so far:

Black-billed magpie
Brewer's blackbird
Mountain chickadee
Black-capped chickadee
American crow
White-breasted nuthatch
European starling
Rock dove (sounds so much better than "pigeon", doesn't it?)
Mallard duck

Considering I've had my head inside boxes ever since we got here, I'd say that's a pretty good start!

I'd like to put up a bird feeder by our apartment but there are very few trees on campus. I'm concerned that the birds I attract would just be sitting ducks for the local hawks without any available cover to give them a sporting chance but I doubt we'd be allowed to plant a tree or shrubs by our apartment. In the winter it regularly gets -10 or -20 F here so shrubs in containers probably wouldn't survive. Would a small pile of dead tree limbs on the ground near the feeder be enough cover? Does anyone know of a better creative (and inexpensive) solution?

This horse seems to have no trouble attracting birds, but a horse doesn't fit into our budget.


Elva Paulson said...

Welcome back! ... I love the birds going for a ride.

Ken Januski said...

Hey Gabrielle,

So nice to see you back, both here and commenting elsewhere. Sorry I didn't run into you at Tinicum in Philadelphia. We're heading there tomorrow for the Cradle of Birding festival.

And it's been nice to read about your summer, your move, your husband's professorship. It sounds like you have it pretty well under control and maybe will have the time you enjoy your new circumstances. I hope so anyway!

I wish I had a solution for your birds. A few branches is the best thing I can think of. Often an old Christmas tree, or just any old conifer, works fairly well. But it might be considered too unsightly. I'm not sure what our neighbors think about our collection.!

Gabrielle said...

Hi Elva and Ken,

Thanks for stopping by. It is nice to be back. In a future post, I'll probably talk about my adventures this summer being in the limbo of moving, but suffice to say it is nice to have all my computer files and a reliable internet connection again!