It’s eerily quiet around our house today. I mean there’s still the usual birdsong and occasional car, but no cocky bird fellow pecking and crowing throughout the day. I must admit I miss Mr. Peckerdoodle a bit, even though we spent days trying to  locate his owner and then when we couldn’t, stalking and trying to catch him. Have you ever tried to catch a rooster that wasn’t roosting and asleep? None of the help that Google had to offer was working.

It’s not like he was unfriendly either. In fact he was frequently to be found with his beak to our front door, anticipating our company or at least our bird seed.

Finally though, yesterday morning the Hav-a-heart trap worked!


And you bird lovers, do not despair! Our gardener picked him up and took him to the ranch where he will not only be well treated but will have an instant harem of eight hens awaiting him. Bye bye birdie.


Holiday Stories

Both our sons were home for the holidays, lapsing into eating and lounging and occasional computers games. I lapsed into holiday mode of buying groceries, cooking and cleaning up. That and taking a moment here and there to sit and sketch. . .

But first there was the Messiah Sing-along. . .


which presented the challenge of standing up and sitting down repeatedly as the audience rose to join in the chorus. Each time some part of my sketch stuff clattered to the floor as I stood!


When Ben occupied the kitchen counter and Andrew the front room I moved around to capture this thoroughly mesmerizing game they were sharing (in low light!)


Andrew got stranded here for a couple extra days due to the storm so we asked him to capture the errant rooster that has been driving us crazy with its day-long crowing and pooping on the front step. Here’s how it’s going, as seen from the front window.


This is a story of cat love. Our country abode has attracted many cats, birds, and rodents and more over the years. The water fountain and bird bath are a favorite neighborhood stop. Our beloved cat of 15 years, named Phil by my boys when they were little, showed up as a hungry abandoned teenager and hung around crying all day until we embraced him as ours. Many years later we noticed this gorgeous black angora cat following Phil around all day, and we realized he was here to stay. Sylvester is his name for obvious reasons (white bib and markings). And now years later Phil and Syl have become an old gay couple with side by side food bowls outside under the sycamore tree.

sylvesteracrylic and fabric collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Since we have paintings of all our pets over the years, going back even to the gecko drawings that Ben did when he was in preschool, the bunny, and definitely Phil; I decided it was time to include Sylvester in the pantheon. I did it in the style similar to the portrait I’d done of Phil a few years ago – fabric collage and acrylic paint with a helping of whimsy. It was clear that a portrait of Sylvester must include his beloved Phil.

philcollagePortrait of Phil

Today Phil is standing by in the drizzle of rain watching as Andrew, my son who is still visiting, is using all his wiles to try to capture our latest uninvited guest – a handsome and surprisingly smart and elusive young rooster, who is tearing up our garden and loudly proclaiming his virility with day-long cock-a-doodle-dooing and leaving his poo patties on the walkway. So far the errant rooster has won and I’m readying my sketchbook to at least derive some artistic satisfaction from this epic battle of the wits.


Moving on a bit

The fire contemplation persists, though not on purpose. This lady rises up on her own, appearing during a string of bad hair days, determined to use that which she has at hand to have her say.


acrylic and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Lady of flames has moved on to egg laying, using ashes to adorn her hair, and pieces of bark and branches in her hat. And from this unlikely combo sprouts a bloom and a brand new egg.  How amused she is by this hat-become-nest. A new fashion. Combined with a bit of feather and frill it suits her healing spirit. And all the while a heart shaped coal burns softly in her throat, reminding her of the flame from which she so recently arose.

The fire engine red of the trucks and the fire itself has become the firey red of autumn foliage, vineyards in richer warm hues than any palette could produce. I no longer have hens, but I know that they lay fewer eggs when the days grow short. Then each egg becomes a special gift.

Perhaps an egg would heal my hair problem?

Howl-O-Ween and Day of the Dead

The Plaza in Healdsburg, CA was a busy costumed place last weekend with canine Halloween fashions on Saturday and Day of the Dead celebrations on Sunday. Couldn’t resist showing up to sketch at both events.


The Howl-o-ween Dog Parade was a benefit for the Sonoma Humane Society charity veterinary services for fire victims. It was less a parade and more a costume judging contest with lots of ribboned and tutu-ed and hatted dogs in costumes. Also kids and families milling around – in constant motion of course. I got frustrated enough trying to find a subject to sketch and finally just put pen to paper to catch whatever I could!

howlathon3At home later I had fun doing some quick sketches from my pics. Poor Doggie Parton. Her wig and hat kept smooshing her ears and slipping off her head, and  I imagine that tutu was a bit scratchy too.


And the Unicorn pooch was clearly feeling a bit burdened by his white swaddling and extra set of ears. But hey! the event raised money for their less fortunate canine counterparts who lost their homes in the fire, so they were doing their part.


The Howl-0-Ween event was over quickly and we stopped at Martin Ray Winery on the way back and sketched chickens. Not only does Martin Ray have fabulous wines and wine tasting room but exquisite gardens and even free range chickens that come right up to you begging for a treat. Trick or treat! The sign on the bar reads, “We don’t coop. Watch for poop!”

We had no seed treats for the cluckers, but it did seem like they might have an interest in painting with us. Those beaks got quite close to the wet paint. Be assured though, that the sketch in the following picture is the work of Becky, not our hen hosts.


On Sunday two streets were closed off around the Healdsburg Plaza for a day of celebrating the Dia de los Muertos. diadelosmuertos2

These days every business, every store front, every organization, and every event is an opportunity to thank the First Responders who confronted the firestorm head on, saving lives and properties, even as so many were lost. So on this day of remembrance, a whole block was given over to the firemen and their life saving equipment.


The theme was “An Event of the Heart”. I had to blink to remind myself that I was in Healdsburg and not in the heart of Mexico! Music, dancing, altars honoring the dead and food. Colorful, spicy, and loud. A family affair for all ages, welcoming us gringos as well. A lovely lady was feeding the incense offering to the ancestors.

Winged creatures


monoprint, tissue transparency, acrylic and ink on 10 X 11″ paper

From the heart of a tree in the dark of night

Vibration of winged breath and penetrating gaze

Rising of timber crossing a wingspan

Appearing, then disappearing with a piercing call

Wildness breaking through the night air

Nothing left but the moonlit hairs on my arms

Barn owls.  My favorite with their strange flat faces and golden glow. I traced this one from a calendar picture onto some light and textured oriental paper, then collaged it over a monoprint as a transparency (the Monday Muse Group lesson), and kept painting.

I’ve heard owls at night and sighted from a distance, or in benevolent captivity at the Bird Rescue Center, but they live in greatest wildness in the yearning of my psyche.

. . .which is why it has been so thrilling to watch the Eagle Cam in Washington that is snooping round the clock on The President and First Lady with their fluff-ball baby chicks in the nest. Do give them a visit if you haven’t already. And here is my sketch done while I was voyeuring.


Mom and Pop tag team it, so I’m not sure which one this was. He/she set to ripping apart the collosal dead fish and eating and sharing with the open beaks. There are three chicks now.  I missed the birth (crack).  Darn!

One Rooster, Two Pictures

pen and w/c sketch

It’s always fun to see the sketch alongside the photo of the subject. You get to see what I had time to include (while standing and being jostled in the narrow aisles) and what got left out.

Today I had a wonderful tutorial with my friend Suzanne Edminster on how to go from the art to blog posting, all on the iPhone!  Wonders never cease.  Now I’m really armed for travel sketching!  Thank you Suzanne.