May 25, 2010

Field trip

The boys took a weekend field trip to one of their all-time favorite places: the nursery. They love to sniff every single plant in the place, watch the tiny toy train running along its track through the plants, and hop up onto the flat stones that line the decorative koi ponds to watch the fish and frogs swimming in and out of the lily pads. They love to take the Zen walk along the paths through the pine trees, where everything is cool and quiet, and then they like to head back to where the action is and bark, loudly and furiously, at all the other dogs who are also spending some quality time shopping for plants with their humans. But the main attraction for the boys is the goats who live at the nursery. Bram especially goes berserk when he rounds the corner to the goats' digs and if you don't keep a tight hand on his leash, will even tear through the tiny gap under the fence and go right in with them (naughty boy!). The goats are equally as interested in the boys too, bending down low to get face to face with them, utterly intrigued by these two odd little creatures. It was too bad the day was so chilly and windy. Had it been warm it would have been perfect. Oh well, at least the boys got to look smashingly adorable in their matching stripey turtleneck sweaters with the pom-pommed butts.

May 21, 2010

Vintage Chihuahua

Here are a couple of photos from a vintage chihuahua book. I'm especially in love with the little freckled one on the far right (bottom photo) with the oh-so kissable pink mouth. One of these days I hope to find my elusive little girl chi, and it will be extra sweet if she were spotty or freckled. And honestly, who doesn't swoon (even just a little) at the sight of a tiny chi in a brightly colored knit sweater??

May 17, 2010

Aging Pets

It's always a bittersweet thing to watch a pet age and with that age, grow slower and weaker. Maia Louise is getting up there in years, having joined our family when Griffin, who is now a junior in college, was just nine years old. While she's no longer the lunatic younger cat who would leap into the fridge and steal something to her liking (see "My Cat has ADHCD" October 21, 2006) or engage in any of the other insane things she used to regularly do like happily swimming in a full bathtub or straddling the banister and sliding down it backwards like a child, stopping only when she bumped her butt against the bottom newel post, she can still bring it in a round of play fighting and hide-and-seek with the dogs. It's just that the duration of these games are substantially shorter than they used to be. Likewise, a romp with some fresh-dried catnip is fairly brief too. She now takes the stairs very slowly and one at a time, sometimes pausing partway up to take a rest on one and she prefers to be picked up and placed on a piece of furniture rather than make the leap herself. There is much grunting and sighing when anything physical is involved, sort of like the sound an arthritic old man might make when forced to bend over to pick something up and I swear if Maia had hands, they'd be holding her lower back and hips when she moves. As much as it sucks, time marches on. I've grown older and much more creaky right along with my cat, but it pains me far more to watch it in her than it does to watch it in me.

May 12, 2010

A Quartet of Edison and Bram Portraits

To be able to keep the fluidity between an artist's hand and eye, they need to draw every single day. Renoir said that it's essential for an artist to never miss a day and he never did, even if all he drew was a simple apple. So I draw every night, usually for three or four hours. For me it's the perfect, almost Zen, way to end my day. What feels like mere minutes is in actuality hours, as I lose myself in whatever it is laid before me. Sometimes I draw simple apples, sometimes self portraits, and sometimes I draw complicated still lifes, working more each night until they're done. I never feel rushed to complete my drawings as seldom does anyone see them. After all, who else looks into my sketchbooks besides me? My favorite thing to draw though, is my boys. And while I can't work from life with them (asking them to hold a pose would obviously be impossible), they do pose beautifully and rather patiently for photos, and that's the next best thing to a live model, which is good enough for me. I have more sketchbooks than I can count filled with all manner of drawings, but I also have sketchbooks dedicated to nothing but portraits I've drawn of my dogs. I think my babies are more than special enough to warrant their own books.

Portrait of Edison Jack Looking Up, graphite on paper, 2009
Study of Edison Jack Looking Over His Shoulder, graphite on paper, 2009
Large Bram in Repose, graphite, red chalk and watercolor pencil on paper, 2010
Small Portrait of Bram Ebenezer, graphite on paper, 2009

May 10, 2010

Two Handsome Little Men

The title says it all. Need I say more?

May 6, 2010

Mating Season

The wild mallards that live seasonally in the wetland behind my house have returned and the mating games have begun. The other evening I heard some very loud quacking in the front yard and when I looked out nearly had a full-blown cardiac event as I mistakenly thought the wild female mallard was my own fat rouen girl, Emily Claire, and I frantically wondered how she had escaped from the barn (gimme a break okay? Her markings look exactly like a female mallard and it was getting dark). After a brief moment where I visualized Emily's horrific death under the tires of a speeding car, I calmed down when I saw that it was not only Miss Mallard out there, but a suitor as well. No, make that two suitors: one happy to have been chosen and one slightly less amused.

David and I spent the next half hour or so watching the three of them parading around the back yard: the chubby female with her proud new boyfriend close by her side and the rather agitated male who had been rejected, though still doing his best to win over the girl. The little female was shrieking at the top her lungs and heavily engaged in that odd little head-bobbing thing that female ducks do to express their dominance in a situation, or what we like to call the "Disco Dominance Dance" because you can set it perfectly to any Bee Gees song from the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, and her mate was chattering away in that raspy little whisper that male ducks have in lieu of a real voice. The odd man out was not about to give up without a fight and that's exactly what happened. Feathers briefly flew and then for the moment he dropped his fight for the mallard girl when he saw our two silver Indian Runner females watching the shenanigans from the safety of the duck run. Clearly, the sight of two long, lean platinum blondes trumped the chubby, mouthy gal before him and he instantly veered off to get a closer look at Francine Edna and Lola Agnes. But alas, with the model slim beauties safely behind hardware cloth, he soon gave up and went back to the fat one with the bad attitude.

In the end, the pair went off to the wetland where they have since made their home and nest, the third male flew off to hopefully find himself a mate elsewhere and David was left feeling very bad for the little boy with no one to love.

Photo courtesy of mike.pointon on flickr.

May 3, 2010

Brammy-Doodle-Doo and the Fireplace

It's been in the 80s (and even dipped into the low 90s) for the last few days, yet less than a week ago it was so cold we had snow in the morning and a fire in the living room fireplace that night. Here's Brammykins warming his tiny hiney before the fire. Oddly, he looks photoshopped into the picture, but trust me he was very much there in the flesh. And the explanation of why there are no photos of Edison enjoying the snuggly warmth of the fire? That would be Bram, being, well, Bram in all his manic glory. Every time Edison would lazily stretch out on the rug before the fire, Bram would rush in and jump up and down on his head, pull his ears or chew on his cheek, thus ruining a very sweet photographic moment in a blur of barely-discernible blue and brown fur. Edison would leave in disgust and when Bram left the room would return and begin to settle in, only to have Bram rush back in and torture him all over again. And again. It's hard to be loved so much by your sibling when all you want is a little peace. Dealing with annoying little brothers can be such a challenge. Poor Edison.
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