Stalking my heart’s desire (warning, this post has gone to the birds)

I found an opportunity today to drive way across town, and end up with a couple hours free in the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I haven’t visited since this last time.

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Oh what luck! This is such a wonderful place, where one can get this close to the birds. Close enough to count the drops on the drake’s back! :D

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And the animals are so tame that one doesn’t need a super telephoto lens.

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A marshland/delta/ocean view location, ideal for all sorts of wildlife.

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Like beautiful wood ducks.

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And American wigeon.

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And pintails. Er…excuse me?

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Ah, there you are. :D

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And, of course, the ubiquitous Canada geese.

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Who are a bit neurotic and bitchy right now, hissing up a storm.

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This is about the safest distance…unless you have bird seed in your pocket. It may be mating and egg time, but everyone is friendly for the bird seed!

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And the sanctuary provides loads of nest boxes in all kinds of habitats,

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So whether birds like trees, or marsh, or even for the do-it-yourselfers, there’s a nest, or materials for a nest really close at hand.

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And many are already being occupied, like this one in the middle of a pond has been claimed by a pair of purple house martins.

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I climbed up the three story tower to have a good look around.

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It’s 360% from up here!

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And up close and personal down there.

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But the real reason I came, the real object of my heart’s desire, are those magical sandhill cranes.

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A few are resident here. Last year they raised a couple chicks, but sadly the chicks disappeared and never grew to maturity.

The object of my heart

I’m hoping for a better outcome this year.

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Bye for now.

:D OK, now I’m just writing silly lines to justify sticking one more picture into this post. But if only you know how many pictures I want to post and stop myself, you’d be impressed! :D

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Hello from Sunday night

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I’m feeling particularly happy this evening and I think it’s got to do with three things.

Thing one: Lilacs!!!

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Unfortunately, these are not mine. They are in a local park and so I can only bury my face in them but not walk away with armfuls.

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In my next life, you know, that organic farm of mine, I’m having absolute hedges of lilacs. White, deep purple and even the lilac ones. Single, double, every variety available.

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Thing two: Beverly the seal!
Oh my goodness! I just bought this signed beauty for an absolute minuscule fraction of the expected two or three grand that an original, signed Inuit soapstone carving should cost.

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Bev, (named after the kind lady who saved it for me at the end of a huge flea market), joins wrestling bears, beluga whale, Jade bear, Nunavut bear, bird, owl, and the iron water dragons, under my stained glass lamp, (which I made years ago), on the dresser in my bedroom, where I can look at them every day. It’s a very private little collections and I can’t believe how lucky I am to own these amazing, original works of art.

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And thing three: my art on ephemera
Loving the cowboy songs and the birds are coming freely and easily these days. There’s so much satisfaction in the work for me.

This is the newest one, an Eastern kingbird mother and young. The Western kingbird is up on FB and Instagram, but i couldn’t get my act together this evening to post a image of him, so just pop over to one of those if you’d like to see the Western beauty. Hopefully kingbird prints in the shop tomorrow.

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Hope your weekend was lovely and restful and you’re all ready for a fabulous week ahead. :D

Macaroons and the sweetest friend

Today I picked up Chloe just after she taught a particularly colourful art class to some 5-9yr olds (occupational hazard she said)…
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…and we headed to Williams-Sonoma to visit our friend Claire who was selling her gorgeous sweets there.
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She offered us some chocolate raspberry macaroons….
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…and we really only made one mistake…we tried them!
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Oh lord, have you ever eaten anything so delicious in your whole life? Naturally we bought a box, and, after running a bunch of errands…
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…found ourselves at home, at four-o-clock tea time, with a beautiful box of chocolate raspberry and pink lemonade macaroons.
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Chloe just asked if she could have the last lemon one! Oh so yummy. Thank you so much Claire.
If you should like to get to know our sweet friend, and you really should, not only because she’s lovely, but also because she shares recipes!!!
Claire’s website is here: Livia Sweets
Instagram: Clairlivia
Facebook: Livia Sweets
And the yummiest Pinterest: Claire Lassam

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Oh, and one last afterthought, I used Claire’s recipe for olive oil banana bread way back here with the promise of the moistest banana bread ever, and have never used another recipe. It’s that good!
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Drawing Challenge: Grass

Because little things are practice for big things, I decided to roll around in the grass at the house next door, (which is about to be torn down), and count the clouds! To me, little things and baby steps are key. They are a form of reassurance.

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Art: watercolours, inks, watercolour pencils on (shock) Arches white paper! :D

Come visit this lovely spring grassy group: Becca, Tammie, Renee, Marian, Ariane, Carole, Renilde, Viola, Nadine,  Eric, EmilyPatrice, Renee, and Melodye.

Announcing a new Drawing Challenge: Grass

I’d like to call a new Drawing Challenge: Grass

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How about it? Is it fresh and spring where you are or still under a foot of snow? Is it blue and musical, or greener on the other side of the fence? Full of weeds like mine, (actually, just misunderstood flowers), or a pristine, evenly cut carpet? Do you play golf, croquette, polo, Badminton or tennis on it? Do you love it stacked into hay stacks or do you love to lie in it chewing the ends of the stocks and counting the clouds?

So go roll around in some grassy ideas and we’ll wash the grass stains off later!

Let me know you’re in and I’ll link everyone in Friday April 10th and we’ll all have a visit over the weekend. :D

Supper at mom’s house

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flowers

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getting ready

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house

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waiting

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C and I drove across town to my mom’s beautiful house, to give her a hand hosting an Easter supper for ten friends.

Mom planned a traditional Czech supper of roast ducks with dumplings and poached pears, I love traditional food from my homeland.

I also love mom’s eclectic house full of wonderful collections gathered by her and my late father over years and years of world travel, including such anachronistic things as a life-sized carved Komodo dragon, a 17C dining room suite imported from a pub in England, 18C tapestries, French quilts, Waterford crystal, old Limoges china, an original Turner, and a large collection of my aunt Vera’s beautiful paintings.

We love mom’s friends, but when a bunch of doctors get together, parts of the conversation invariably turns to statistics, body parts and medical terms we don’t understand. But they’re all generous at explaining…in great detail! :D

But we did have a terrific time and drove home quite late, under the full moon. :D

A night out with my children

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restaurant 1

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restaurant 2

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These days, with everybody so busy in all corners of the world, it’s such a rare treat that I have the chance to get together with my three all at the same time. And now that my three have multiplied to nine! It’s even rarer to have them together.

But this evening all the stars aligned and I had a chance to have dinner with four of the nine. :D

We all came together downtown. I came from an afternoon with my mother and some lovely visiting British friends and picked up Chloe and Kerstin at the downtown seabus terminal. That’s Kers picking me up on taking photos while driving and I’m like “what?”. :D

Jonathan made reservations at the Italian Kitchen, a lovely Italian restaurant, and he and his beautiful girl Chantal met us there for a late supper.

At one point, Jonathan stumped the bartender with a Campari Americano order. Then he explained how to make it. (Jon’s got years of bartending experience)

The restaurant was busy and bustling but also friendly and intimate. The food was fantastic, and Susan, who served us, was lovely and friendly and very accommodating.

We had the most wonderful time, and, by the time we left and said goodbye to Jon and Chantal, it was almost midnight. Not quite closing the bars down, but close enough for me. :D

Announcing a new drawing challenge: The Key

Hi everybody,

I’d like to call a new drawing challenge: THE KEY

I was looking thru some old work the other day, and came across a book I wrote and illustrated which I called “The Uncomplicated Life of Joan Wood”

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This is a collaged book of drawings, ephemera, poetry and music (which one imagines would play in the background of each segment of Joan’s life.)

Joan Wood

But the key to this book are 9 letters, which I found in a box of letters at a flea market. There is one letter written by a nine yr old Joan from holidays at the sea to her aunt and uncle. The rest of the letters are written to Joan, by a headmaster of a school, by Joan’s friends, by suitors, and by a fiance. Slowly, using these letters as the key, I reconstructed Joan’s remarkable and somewhat heartbreaking life, and, as the letters stopped, I made up the rest.

It’s a slow book…that is…you have to read it slowly and methodically. Pull each letter from the envelope, read the content, read the poetry, look at the images, imagine the songs playing in the background, take it page by page. It’s the key to a good, lazy Sunday morning in bed.

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Tell us. Do you have a key? Is there something key to your art? Did you…like me…spend an hour searching for your keys (cabin) only to find them right in the place you decided to keep years ago so you wouldn’t search for them every time (yeah, what are we like?)

Say yes, and unlock a lovely bit of art, writing, photography…anything for us. :D

As usual, my post will come up on Friday, I’ll link everyone in, and we’ll go have a visit over the weekend. :D

Pollinators, Tammie’s drawing challenge

I was really excited when I got Tammie’s email saying she’s called a drawing challenge. And, how perfect for spring! :D Thank you so much sweetie, I love the DCs.

It’s been a while since I mucked about with my oils, and, since the tulips are blooming in the garden, I decided to paint one.

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But the tulips blooming right now are early, single hybrids, and my favourite, and the most fun to paint, are parrot tulips…you know, the ones with the frilly, multicoloured petals which twist and turn in impossible ways. And, since my parrots are still in tight bud, I got out my photos of last year’s garden parrots and used those as reference.

Painting with oils, at least the way I do it, takes a couple/three/four days per painting, (there’s sort of a fine line of drying time that you get to know when you paint with oils for a while), because the oils end up being too wet and slippery after the first layer, and need a day or two to dry a little so a second layer blends in without taking off the first layer or blending everything into mud.

So I chose a canvas, and painted a first layer of oils on Tuesday.

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And then Wednesday, my painting was still too wet and so I painted a second canvas…oh yes!

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Yesterday and today I overpainted a second layer, blended it into both the paintings and refined them to where I like them.

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And there we are, two parrot tulips in full open glory, spreading out their stamens and black pollen, inviting all the pollinators in. (They look rather tarty up there with Frida, don’t they? Like wild girls in flamenco skirts…the big flirts)

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Come fly over to Tammie’s for some more lovely pollen action. :D

As the sun sets on our holiday…

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…and I have to say goodbye to Puerta Vallarta, I will take another Mexican late March holiday and keep it safe in my heart. We have been spoiled to the max with the warmest ocean, the yummiest foods, the sweetest piña coladas and C’s new discovery: Miami Vice: 1/2 strawberry daiquiri, 1/2 piña colada! :D

We’ve enjoyed our fellow holidayers and had some lovely conversations with what we hope will turn out to be new friends.

We’ve shopped till we dropped and bought a little something for everyone.

I’ve drawn in my travel sketchbook, made beaded bracelets, walked all over the little, hilly streets and peeked into the courtyards. I’ve loved seeing a golden tan and freckles develop across my child’s nose, and dragged her into the ocean laughing and screaming with joy. (Evidence in her latest video up soon…I’ll link as soon as it’s ready.)

Here it is!

Goodbye Mexico and thank you once again for the frigatebirds and pelicans, the bougainvillea and plumeria, for the salty ocean, the fresh sea air, the warm days and the fragrant humid nights. X