Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sugar Mouse in Exile October 26, 2010


Sugar Mouse in Exile Oct 26, 2010, 9:57am
Sugar Mouse, the kittens' father, still exiled, looking through the door from the porch. The morning after the kittens broke out.

Why is Sugar Mouse in exile?

Because Mama Cat Patches won't let him be near her kittens!

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Kittens on bench Dec. 7, 2010

Spot and Lassie
Photo from Dec. 7 2010. Written Mar. 15, 2011.First published Jan 24, 2014.

That is Spot in the front, the friendliest kitten, and her sister Lassie (I think, Lassie and Grey Mouse are very similar) behind her.

Spot could have been named after the grey spot on her nose, but actually she has a tan spotted spot on her stomach.

(The names? Well, once I had decided the little kitten was Rex, Spot and Lassie became irresistible.)

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Kittens in box Dec. 2, 2010

Lassie, Grey Mouse, and Spot in box
Photo from Dec. 2 2010. First published Jan. 21, 2014.

This cute photo is a little misleading - the kittens were in this box in the cupboard with the door closed. I had just opened the door and discovered where my missing kittens were.

To get here, they had to jump (or be carried?) into the shelf visible above this cupboard, that I had taken the drawer out of, and jump down off the side of it into the bottom cupboard.

Why had they, or their Mama, done this? Well, at the beginning of the week, I had chased their father into the cold out on the porch again for a night so he would go into the carrier and I could catch him to be fixed. Then he was isolated in the bathroom for a few days.

So apparently this was scary, because everybody was hiding.


Disclosure - I did Photoshop some printing off the box, which distracted from the image.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kittens in chair November 26, 2010

Grey Mouse and Rex in chair
Photo from Nov. 26, 2010. Written Mar. 15 2011. (First published Jan 10, 2014)

Rex is on the right, and his sister Grey Mouse is behind on the left.

Grey Mouse is the cool gray colored kitten, her sister, the other light tabby, has a buff underside and undertone to her gray.

(A kitten named Grey Mouse? Well, partly because of her father Sugar Mouse. And partly because she has the most receding-chin, under-bite, rodent-profile face of them all.)

PS My equal opportunity spelling of the word grey/gray? Early exposure to British English has left me totally confused as to which is the American spelling. I can keep straight words like color/colour, but not the greys. The kitten's name seems to have turned out British - not unreasonable, since a sugar mouse is (was?) a British thing.

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Saturday, September 07, 2013

Happy Kitten Day Sept. 7

Little Kitten who will be Rex, October 2010
I can't resist posting this cute picture, from when the kittens were little, now, even though it's not October yet. Written October 8, 2011. First published Friday, May 31, 2013. Moved to Sept. 7, 2013.

I was thinking that Kitten Day (the day the kittens were born), was Oct.7, but when I checked my calendar, they were born in September. But before getting up on the morning of Oct.7, I kept telling Rex "Happy Kitten Day" - and he kept purring, kneading my neck, and putting his nose on my face.

This picture was taken when I was feeding the Little Kitten supplemental kitten formula, when he was just a few weeks old, and not getting enough to eat. After eating his tablespoon or 2 of formula out of a teaspoon, he would climb up on my shoulder and go to sleep.

After a couple of weeks, when he was almost this small, I named him Rex.

King of my heart.

Every day is Happy Kitten Day here.

Sat. Sept. 7, 2013 This morning Rexie had small puffs of spiderwebs decorating both his/her eyebrows. It looked very cute. We had some Happy Kitten Day purring and cuddling.

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Friday, August 09, 2013

Bats in the bedroom again… August 8, 2013

Brown bat in bedroom June 26, 2006, 2am close-up. He was about to fly out the window when I flashed in his face. Whoa!

Two nights in a row, Aug. 4th and 5th. First time in several years. Cheesecake and I used to have our bailout protocol all figured out for when there was one circling the bedroom. (Screens are tighter now, usually.)

The first night it was very late, maybe 3:30 or 4 am. I was waked up by the *kittens* bouncing all over me and the bed, chasing it. By the bedside flashlight it looked like a small bat.
Small bat in bedroom, June 26, 2006, 2 am approx

So I grabbed the Spot *kitten*, who was closest, locked her up, then caught the others one at a time, and once they were all locked up, closed the bedroom door to wait for it to settle out.

Once all was quiet, I went back in with the flashlight. Didn't see it. (They usually settle clinging to a screen.) So I opened a window wide and left. By that time it was almost showing some light in the sky. Went to sleep for the rest of the night in a chair.

I had hoped that it had gotten out, but kept the kittens and Buddy locked inside all day, and not in the bedroom. Because in the past I have thought that a bat had gotten away, but as soon as I let the cats out, they found it. (Once  a very small one had crawled under the cat-house on the porch. They were trying to fish it out. Once there was a bat clinging to the shingle siding outside the bedroom. Several times one was still in the bedroom. Once in the torchiere lamp. It couldn't get out. After I had gone back to bed, I heard it skritching. Had to tip it out the window as soon as it was slightly light.)

So the next night, the bat appeared early, maybe 9:30 or 10:00pm. I was still reading, the light was still on, but luckily cats still locked up. It looked like a larger bat this time.
Medium-size black bat in bedroom, June 26, 2006, approx 2am Notice the same calendar is in this picture.

Leave, close door, wait for it to settle, go in and open window, and TURN OUT THE LIGHT. (Very important, otherwise there will be lots of bats in the bedroom, following bugs! See previous post about bats.)
http://wrwcolors.blogspot.com/2006/10/bats-in-bedroom.html

This time, it was so much earlier, I just read in the chair for an hour or two, then went back to bed. Good chance it had escaped, and seems to have done so.

Think I've found where it/they got in — screen pulled loose from frame, and I had left the window open too far so they could easily get in.
I'm sure that this time it wasn't this guy - you can see (there's that calendar again) how much larger he was, and brown not black.

These pictures, from June 26, 2006, when I stood out on the porch roof and took pictures, the time I cleverly opened the window from the outside, thus leaving the light on, show, I think, three different species of bat.

I like my bats a lot. Haven't seen a mosquito for a month. But I prefer them outside, not in the bedroom.

Haven't heard them for a couple of years now. My extra-high-frequency hearing might be gone.  (Never heard them in the bedroom; apparently it's the social calls, not echo-location, which are in human hearing range, sort-of.) 

** The kittens are all grown up, though small, cats. But they still act like kittens. And they're my kittens, especially Rexie. (He thinks so too...)

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mom's Applesauce Cake 12/10/2011

batik furoshiki from Japan
No, this isn't applesauce cake. This is a gorgeous hand-painted batik furoshiki she bought the year we were in Japan. I've always loved it, from long before I ever tried to do any batik.

Her applesauce cake recipe was in her old hand-written cook book, with notes for instance on how she cooked the turkey each year when I was a kid. She knew right where it was on a shelf when I asked her, and I made the cake the first week I was there, when she could still enjoy it.

The unfamiliar ingredient in this recipe is cornstarch. What is cornstarch doing in a cake recipe? Well, I think it is like putting it in apple pie; the cake can have lots of applesauce in it, and be moist, without falling apart. This recipe is from long before things like carrot cake and zucchini bread.

In fact, her cookbook says her mother got the recipe from Mom's godmother Mrs Dorsey Ridge.


Mom's Applesauce Cake      ( from Mrs. Dorsey Ridge, approx 1920)

Put in large bowl, then sift together:

2 cup flour
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 Tablespoons powdered chocolate (or cocoa is ok)
1 T cornstarch
(pinch iodized sea salt?)  (Her recipe did not call for any, but it seemed a little bland last time.)

Add and mix in:

1 c nuts  (she used walnuts) optional
1 c raisins

Add and stir in:

1 1/2 - 2 c sweetened applesauce  (1 1/2 may be more like she made, she said.)
1/3 c oil or melted butter  (Or I substitute yogurt sometimes.)

Turn into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour
until toothpick comes out clean.
Maybe cover with aluminum foil at the end, if it is getting too dark before the inside is done.

When I was a kid, she kept a canister of 6 times the dry ingredients mixed up. Then she could quickly take 3 cups of that mix to make a loaf.

Great toasted with butter for breakfast.


After Thanksgiving, when she was in the hospital bed, and had stopped eating solid food, I was heating in the microwave a piece of this cake I had made for my brothers' visit, and I heard her call loudly from the bedroom "Cut the bread! Cut the bread!"  I took a piece in there, and broke off a small corner to put in her mouth - and she smiled... so beatifically.


Dec 11, 2011
Just got the oven fixed, after more than a year when I couldn't bake. And the first thing I made, to take to the last day of class, was this applesauce cake. She always used to make it during the holidays, for my sister's and brothers' birthdays. 

Yesterday it was 2 years since she died. Just since the end of summer am I starting to get things done again.


July 13, 2013
I just made applesauce cake again last night. It's funny, I follow the recipe, but it isn't the same as her dense, dark cake. I even put in walnuts this time, like she did. Maybe it's the type of chocolate/cocoa. (I have Guittard, I think she had Hershey's in her cupboard.) And maybe she used her home-made applesauce. . .

The cake keeps well and stays moist.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Full moon puzzle

full moon mandala photo, @15 sec. July 22, 2013 1am
The full moon was clear and bright in a black sky. The exposure was 15 seconds, f6.3, with a tripod.

Apparently that was enough time for the close bright moon to light up the surrounding sky.

I don't know why the photo has a star shape, with hexagonal patches of light, and a greenish sky color, but I like it.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

This doesn't look like a heat wave . . . July 4th, 2013 noon

July 4th, 2013 noon - over 100 degrees today
But it was.

With the clouds and extra moisture, it was hot and muggy, and didn't cool off as well at night. And around 100 degrees F all week!

At least the possible thunderstorms didn't happen and cause fires.

This week, July 18, it's about to heat up again, after a week of low 80s. 100 degrees by Saturday.

Amazing how cool 80 degrees feels in the summer. And how hot it is in the spring.

And at the end of that week, walking up the hill, I met a neighbor who said how cool 90 degrees felt!

Of the 2 tall trees on the left, the right one was the redtails' home tree. You can just see that steep crotch, near the top. You see how far away it really is.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The hummingbird and the hawk July 3, 2012 about 1:30pm

And while I was out there watching them, I saw lots of other life in the canopy in a way I had never noticed before...

Some of the things I saw were hummingbirds, rising straight up in the air, maybe 60 feet or more, then dropping straight down, and near the ground, swooping off to the side. Then again (or another one, maybe). Repeated several times. Friends said it was a mating display.

I've lived here over 30 years, and never saw that before.

In this photo, the hummingbird is nearing the top of its rise. It is about 30 feet from me (horizontally).

The tree is about 100 feet away. The large crotch is the location of the redtails' nest. The nest is over 100 feet off the ground, maybe 60 feet above eye-level on the balcony, with the slope of the hill. It's probably one of the redtail chicks in the branches, flying by that date, but still often in the home tree.

Hummingbird and Redtail hawk,  July 3, 2012
The relative sizes are very distorted by the different distances. They look close to each other, but are not.

I was not out on the balcony as much this year, and have not seen the hummingbirds' display.

July 23, 2013 The swallows have apparently left for the mountains already. I was on campus on the 18th, and noticed they weren't  there. I had hoped to catch them gathering, as I did once before, but I've missed it for this year. Maybe they left early because it's been so hot.

I don't know, because I missed it.

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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Now that I've posted a sun halo, I guess I should show a sundog

picture from fall 2011
This picture is of a sundog, related to the halo. Often they come in pairs; this one was single. Called sundogs because they follow the sun around. There can be one on each side of it, at 22 degrees.

Since I learned that they exist, I've been seeing them 3 or 4 times a year. Before that, I never saw them, even during the years I worked outdoors, until the end when I knew about them.

This is the best one I've seen.

Update: for best sky pics, especially without a polarizing filter, try lowering your exposure by a stop or even 2 stops. Or, of course, do that afterwards in Photoshop by adjusting the exposure setting.

Aligned hexagonal ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. This one shows the prism-effect of spectral colors too.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Redtail chick flying July 2, 2012

 young redtail photo July 2, 2012
After the redtail chicks had begun to fly, they were still nearby. And the parents would fly over to see if anyone was in home tree, to deliver a prey item. And often there would be a chick in hot pursuit of mama and lunch.

The v-shaped crotch of the tree showing at lower right of photo, was the nest site. It's about 30 feet down from the top of a Ponderosa pine tree. Somewhere over 100 feet off the ground. Only about 100 feet away and 60 feet up from my balcony, because of the slope of the hill.

I miss "my" redtails, which didn't come back this year. But they're around; I just saw one circling over the old nursery down the hill yesterday morning.

I'm trying to use this year to finish sorting last year's photos. At a thousand pics a day average, for a month, it's no surprise that's not done yet. I'm finding some unexpected images.

And while I was out there watching them, I saw lots of other life in the canopy in a way I had never noticed before...

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

After the rain

Just after the rain stopped, June 25, 2013, 5:30pm
Rain?! After the rain? No kidding?

Yep. It rained solidly for about 2 days. Not a hard rain, but a steady soaking. Something about a large Arctic low moving the jet-stream, and oceanic tropical moisture. It was a warm storm, just down to the 60s F.

Actually, it often does rain in June here, but not every year. It is more surprising this year because of the warm dry spring we had.

This picture is looking out over the top of the grocery store, between tall trees, from the bus bench across the street, about an hour after the rain stopped on Tuesday. There are houses all around, and under those trees too — but what a lovely view. And the clouds sitting on the tops of the hills.

Today, Wednesday, it was a lovely walk to campus. The air yesterday and today was very soft-feeling, with all the moisture, and warm.

By next Tuesday, the temperature is supposed to be back up to 101 degrees F.

I decided years ago that if it ever didn't look like this here, I wouldn't want to live here anymore.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Halo around sun, June 18, 2013

Picture of sun halo, June 18, 2013
And I got a picture.

Unfortunately, too large to fit in the camera's field-of-view.

Ice crystals in the high atmosphere. . .

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

It wasn't supposed to get to 100 degrees F the first week in June

June 8, 2013 sunset
But this year it did.*


Two years ago, the kittens and I were enjoying fires in the woodstove the first week of June. 

*Not here at this house among tall trees, on the brow of a hill, where it only got to the mid-90s. But in the neighboring town it did. Record-breaking heat for the whole of Northern California.

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Serendipity

Self-portrait photo, April 28, 2013

This picture happened by accident. In the Corel Painter class I was taking this semester, I needed a photo to base a computer-painted self-portrait on. I was probably going to use one taken by a friend in a class last year, but as insurance I went out on the balcony on a sunny afternoon to try to take some side-lit shadowed pictures.

I am very un-photogenic. And I was in front of the camera, not behind it, so I couldn't see what I was getting. The sun was in my eyes. The kittens came by to see what was going on, and got bored and went away. I took lots of pictures, which meant that I had to go through hundreds of desperately ugly pictures to find a few not-so bad ones.

But this one had kind of a nice smile...

I didn't know that the corners of my mouth turned down when I smiled - way beyond my ability to draw.

But I didn't see until I had enlarged it onscreen —  a reflection in my glasses. No wonder I was smiling. Lassie the kitten is reflected there. She was sitting on the railing in the sun. 

The kittens are my darlings, even grown up.


This is minimally photoshopped, in terms of making myself look better, the usual use of Photoshop. I turned down the red sunburn color some. And I photoshopped out the tape holding my glasses together. My usual style of eliminating distractions without materially changing the effect.

In other ways, there is significant photoshopping:
  • To make more interesting shadows, I duplicated layers, then set the top one to multiply at a lower opacity.  
  • I substituted a virtual batik background for the porch shingles. 
  • I made my shirt aqua instead of blue.
I think all that makes a better image.

But that reflection in the glasses — I couldn't have planned that.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

The first sighting

First redtail at sunset May 22, 2012
 Suddenly, last year, 2012, on May 22, there were redtails sitting on top of the tall pine trees in front of the house. Two of them. These pictures were taken at about 7:30 the first evening, while the last light was on the treetops. They were both up there at the same time, though not in the same camera view.

Always before, when I heard them occasionally up on top of the trees, they had been on the ones right over the house, which I can't see the top of.
Second redtail at sunset May 22, 2012
The second one seems a little darker than the first.

The next day or so, as I walked down the hill, once there were 3 adult redtails circling, soaring, riding the thermal.

Between the 22nd and the 28th, I saw them several times sitting up there on the tall trees.

May 31, 2013 This year, although I've seen and heard them at the other end of the trail to campus, they don't seem to be coming back to here. I hope they didn't try to go to the neighbors' place, that once cut down trees in nesting season, and the redtails that were here then vanished. There weren't redtails nearby here for years. Just yesterday that neighbor started some new construction project.

I am going to miss seeing 'my' redtails, but maybe I can get last year's photos sorted at last.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beat it Buster, your flashmob didn't show

Redtail Hawk Screams at Jay, June 2012
Last year at this time, there were redtails sitting on top of the tall pines in front of the house and down the hill a little, about a hundred feet away.

This is the top of an over 100 ft pine tree. They are sitting on this year's growth candles. The larger needles in the foreground are the mature size.

This scrub-jay has been buzzing the redtail hawk for some time, over and over, with rests between flights. This rest he is a little closer to the hawk than usual...

All the time he has been trying to call his mob. Nobody showed.

It’s hard to be a mob all by yourself.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

It wasn't supposed to snow this month… (5/17/11)

Broken oak
This oak tree lost its main upright top in the previous unseasonal storm, when the leaves were still on the trees, in November. The little bit of snow in this picture highlights the break and the giant branch on the ground. The branch that would have someday sheltered the house from late-afternoon, late-summer sun...

It snowed more than this though.

photo from May 15, 2011
Or I guess I could call this post "Iris squashed each spring". 

But not every spring...

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Friday, May 17, 2013

It wasn't supposed to snow this month. . . . Friday the 13th at work? (from May15 2011)

Photo May 15, 2011
It hasn't yet this year, but that year it did.

It was Sunday morning, May 15th, that it snowed. This picture is from Monday morning, with patches of snow still, including this South side balcony, and the irises down below it.

But it never pays to count ones irises (before they're hatched). I didn't have a chance to make it to the quilt show either. Or to Empire Mine park to see the irises....

I have a superstition about that, honestly come by. Grandpa used to say "God willing and the creek don't rise."

For many years I have caught the bus to the nearby grocery store, and had 20 minutes to run in, get groceries, and back out to the bus stop before it comes back. (Although with the cutbacks in bus services the last several years, I now have a 15 minute walk uphill with the groceries, instead of  a level walk past 2 houses and down the driveway.)

And I usually say "With luck, I'll catch you on your way back" to let the driver know to look for me. But every time I have said instead "I'll catch you on your way back" I have missed the bus. Every time!


So I try not to assume anything will work out, just hope.

Here's the clouds from Friday the 13th, 2 days before the snow. They mean a storm is on the way in about 2 days, I think.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pollen Season

Large pollen cones on Ponderosa pine May 3, 2011
Pollen season seems to be over for the year. There were a bunch of small pollen cones in the driveway, only half an inch long, unlike the complex pattern on the roof last year of fallen 2 inch pollen cones, and these even larger ones from 2 years ago. Like everything else here, they vary a lot from year to year.

Light rain again today, after several warm days after the last rains.


Several years ago, on an early warm night, I had opened the doors onto the partially screened porch downstairs, and a few screenless windows, to let a bat out, (which after swooping through hall and computer room, had headed down the stairs).

And when I went back downstairs with a flashlight, after hearing a bang, I heard a skittering and a scrabbling out on that porch. And the loose screen across the doorway was down. Critters had been in the house!

In the morning, footprints in the thick layer of pine pollen on the porch.  Five toes, so not cats (or dogs). Raccoons. A couple of sizes. Not really clear back foot prints.

But something funny. Among the footprints were some large poofy-puffy, roundish-ovalish marks. Tail prints!

I already knew that muddy prints on the car were different than the ones in soft dirt shown in the animal-tracks books. Tracks in the layer of loose pollen dust are different still.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summertime, and the living is easy

New sailboat, summer 1969
Summertime, and the living is easy......and the cotton is high.

It's easy to guess that the person who wrote those lyrics had never picked cotton.

Neither have I, but my first job was as summer field labor in an experimental barley field. That was in the pre-sunscreen era, and it took only one day for me to figure out that someone as pale-skinned as I needed long sleeves and a hat.
(Why  it took me that long I don't know, I always burned badly.) And summertime work out in a hot sunny field is not easy at all.



The year I was a freshman in college, the woman who graduated as  the valedictorian that year had earned her way through college picking fruit in the Wenatchee Valley. I was very impressed.


The little sailboat is from a few years later. That's me, and our dad behind the mast, and a brother. And one year an article had been published about PABA (para-amino-benzoic acid). So Dad mixed up some in alcohol, and my sister and I tried it while sailing across the lake. We were amazed that we didn't sunburn at all.

And around here, the living is not so easy in summertime.

True it's not between 42 degrees F and 52 on the main floor (I used a refrigerator thermometer to check that, since the thermometer on the non-functional thermostat only goes down to 52.) Sometimes 52 degrees is a lot colder than other times…

And not between 50 and 60 degrees on the top floor. The higher temperatures are after several sunny days, or when there's been a fire in the woodstove.

And I'm not wading through a foot of snow to carry firewood from the garage to the house and upstairs after several days of the power being out, like a couple of years ago. (Normally I try to carry firewood up between storms.)

Yes, it only takes 5 minutes to dress in one layer of clothes, but more baths/showers and more laundry.

But the main thing is that it takes half an hour to go around morning and evening closing/opening curtains and/or windows, and turning on and off fans and sprinklers. And when it's hot, it's hot.

When the living is really easy here is right now, spring and fall, in the weeks when the temperature is fine and the windows can be left open to screens all day and all night. Between rain or snow storms. Before the weather gets too hot. With fresh spring vegetables or fall harvest at the grower's market.

Except it's pollen season now, or just finished. Drifts of yellow everywhere. Can't leave the windows open to let that blow in. Can't leave them open again until I've cleaned and vacuumed window-sills, porches, low roofs. Then I will be able to see if it's really over. The recent rains might have finished it, but the pollen cones haven't fallen off the pines yet.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It looks so peaceful here on campus this morning May 14, 2013

Koi pond, morning May 14, 2013 8:30 am
But a mountain lion was seen here early this morning, and they have closed the trails. Including the one I walked to school yesterday morning.

I have heard that the half-grown ones disperse looking for new territories, and at night, following greenbelts and wooded areas and watercourses, all of which are here, they can get a long way into populated areas before dawn. Surprising everyone.

I can just imagine a mountain lion sitting on that big rock. . . 


Update May 20, 2013: 

The paper said it was a large mountain lion.

The bus driver said he hadn't seen the usual several groups of early-morning deer for 2 weeks.

But I heard that someone on campus early that morning had seen a larger herd of deer running down the hill very fast — much faster than usual. "As fast as they could go."

No kidding.

I'd love to see a mountain lion in the wild, but not quite that close.

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rain on the roses

Wild roses April-May 2012
Not in this picture, which was taken last year. (I turned it in for the Digital Photography class. There's a tiny spider…) But the last few days have been some of the very few "precipitation events" we have had this year since the beginning of January. At least it helped to contain several early fires.

This week the air has been very soft and moist, with full clouds and intermittent rain. Warmish down in the valley, coolish here in the foothills. And rain on these naturalized old-fashioned roses, which bloom earlier than the modern types, the end of April usually, I think, and part of May.*

This year it did snow and close down campus one day. And it took the prof an hour to get out of the parking lot! I had walked home by then. It's only a 50-minute walk.

That's compared to a couple of years ago, when we lost several Thursdays of classes to snow, and the kittens and I were enjoying fires in the wood-stove in the first week of June.
Raindrops on dogwood May 7, 2013
 The regular dogwoods, the eastern one, had already finished blooming for quite some time before these started. I think these little trees may be fairly new - I don't remember seeing them blooming before.

 *I don't know what variety the roses are. They get no water and reliably bloom each year. Don't seem susceptible to powdery mildew, like the similar naturalized one up the hill by the house, that has climbed a small tree and taken it over.

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Looking In October 25, 2010

Sugar Mouse out on porch, Oct. 25, 2010 9am
What is he looking at?

The kittens have escaped! They knocked over their kitten gate.
(shown in The Kitten Gate http://wrwcolors.blogspot.com/2011/04/kitten-gate.html)

I came down into this dining room, next to their pantry, and 3 kittens were exploring this room. As I looked for Little Kitten (Rex), one by one they started exploring through the glass door into the living room on the wall to the right. Spot was climbing the pile of firewood, and had to be grabbed before she started an avalanche.

And still no Rex.

Finally, I went into the living room, which was the room I fed him in. And in the chair all the way across the room, by the window, was the blanket we usually curled up in.

And in the blanket...

That little kitten, half the size of the others, had gone twice as far, to where he knew was a warm comfortable blanket, and climbed up the blanket into the chair!

And wriggled in under the blanket, making himself a warm nest.

Rex in blanket Oct 25, 2010 10am
That's my Rex-kitten.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Mischief of Kittens 2013-2feb20

Photo taken Nov 1, 2010

Collective nouns. Traditionally there were many in English, mostly neglected or forgotten now. You may have heard of a murder of crows. Or, of course, a herd of cattle, a flock of sheep (or geese), a covey of quail.

The traditional collective noun for cats was clowder - a clowder of cats. Which happens to translate to clutter. And a clutter of cats is very appropriate as they lie around everywhere… in the bookcases, on the books… On top of my head!**

Although, going for walks with a bunch of cats, I always thought a covey of cats was appropriate for the way they eddied around my feet.

But for kittens, awake, lively kittens, boxing, or chasing each other or a bug, or busily randomizing the contents of my bedroom, (dumping over sorted boxes of papers and making a fort!) I do think a mischief of kittens is very right. (These names may not be original to me, I might have read them somewhere.)

And for innocent sweet sleeping kittens, certainly a clowder of kittens might work.

But for them all in a pile together, or next to my sides, or under my chin - a cuddle of kittens…
photo taken 2011


**Rex who still thinks he's a kitten, my kitten, insisted on sleeping on top of my head last night! (Update 2/21 — the last 2 nights.) He usually sleeps on my shoulder, leaning against the side of my face. Or under the covers next to me. But last night Buddy was with us inside for the first time, so the door to the room with the woodstove could be open. And Rex did not like Buddy's being on the bed (judging from the growling).

I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. And part sitting up against the pillows. And Rex went up on top of my head, next to the pillow, and slept there for a long time. I think it might have been a sort of King of the Castle thing, but mostly "Mine - grrr".

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Fraidy-cat Rexie

This is Rex's hiding place. 

All one summer, his first summer, he was afraid of the floor. He would walk very warily, looking everywhere for things that might be coming after him, or jump and run quickly across the dangerous crossings…

His sisters were locked up separately. And it took me a while to realize, but it was fan season. And any little bit of paper or dust bunny might jump out and chase him!

As soon as the fans were out of the windows he started calming down. And when his sisters were out with him, they weren't scared, just rambunctious.

And then he went into heat, and had other things to think of.

And the sisters could be with him all the time, since he was a she after all. So he pretty much got over it, and last summer wasn't much afraid of the floor at all.

But for awhile there, I was dust-mopping the bedroom and hall floors every day.

I usually came and went by the interior stairs, not the door out to the upstairs porch.

But once I came in that way, and found him up here hiding behind the closet door to the left. I think it was the first time he had been up on top of this eye-level bookcase.

There might have been a scary doorbell, and I might have been wearing large clumpy shoes.

Usually the closet door is not open, and this is not very hidden.

But it is still his hiding place.


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why I think of myself as a designer, not an artist - written July 15, 2011

 




Midnight Garden virtual batik - my fabric design at Spoonflower
Because one design inspiration gets used many times, in many forms, rather than being a one-of-a-kind artistic piece.

For instance, I did a stylized cat drawing in the '70s as letter paper. Then in the '80s, it became a silver pierced cat pin for my mother, then I did one for myself. Then later a smaller version to have cast, for my sister. Then in about 2002 I drew around it to make a fabric-type design to use in a color-theory class exercise. Just recently I finally scanned that and did a vector drawing, and a couple of different fabric designs at Spoonflower to go with the black-and-white fabric in a previous post. And this week, colored it as a virtual batik as one of several fabrics in a skirt design.

In the fabric above, the flowers are from a batik stamp I bought. It went through a couple of fabric-design versions. Then, for a limited palette contest a few months ago, I did this virtual-batik look with this new repeat. (Not these colors.)

I liked it, but wasn't quite happy with it. Now I know why. The flowers were lonely, They needed butterflies.

(That is, variations in scale, texture, and color. The butterflies, by their orientation, also add an effect of movement to the design.)

The butterflies were inspired by a butterfly picture outline, but I redesigned all the interior lines. I drew them in Photoshop to go with my fabric collection done from antique Japanese fabric stamps. The fine detail goes with the finely carved details in the stamps.

I did this fabric design with butterflies added for another limited-palette contest (although I left out the hot pink and orange and chartreuse). This contest was for butterfly designs. I intended to use several different butterfly drawings, but once I added this one, it was perfect.

And it just got 11th place in the contest!  My record. Lots of other people liked it too.

To see it as fabric, click the link in the title. It should be available for sale soon; I'm ordering a swatch. (2013 - now available.)

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Remembering Pandora

This is Pandora, through the window, out on the roof, a couple of years ago. On a windy day. In early spring.

If you look closely at the background, the wavery distortion in the flowering plum behind her is from the old float glass of the window, which has a water-type pattern.

Pandora was about 20 this last year. She showed up as a kitten hanging around the garage, about 2 years after I got Cheesecake and Fussy. Someone might have left her there... Carl, my housemate then, saw her. And it didn't take more than half an hour to coax her over to be picked up.

She liked Cheesecake, and followed him around. Perhaps because of the way Carl petted her, she liked to be petted more vigorously than other cats. And she liked guys. She always wanted a lot of attention if one came here.

After I had taken her to the vet for shots, we went by work to let them see her. And someone said, "She's such an elegant cat. She should have a name like Arabella or Isadora."

At my next small sewing group meeting, she spent the entire evening digging things out of everyone's sewing baskets. And Amy said "She should be Pandora!"

She was another in my list of cat names as self-fulfilling disasters. She liked to eat in the pantry, facing out, protected by the door. She learned to open all the cupboard doors - then she would go in and hang out in there. She learned to open the pull-down-snap-up door on a linen closet shelf with towels, and she would hop up into it before it snapped shut behind her.

She liked to be brushed. (And needed to be combed and clipped in shedding season.) She was one of the cats who invented  cat felting, with Cheesecake. They came and went through a hole in the screen of the balcony door, and their fur caught on the screen. Then, coming and going, they felted it into the screen! That was after I had taken fiber arts, so I noticed.

She never quite got the point of Buddy's greeting rituals, but was happy to sleep with the other cats or on the bed. If I was on my side, she'd sleep on my hip.

She squeezed under the wood stove, on the brick hearth, so I had to block it off when there was a fire in it.

20 years. I miss her.

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

A lovely bit of spring garden

I took this photo a couple of years ago in Nevada City. Must have been about this time of year, since the creeping phlox are sheets of color around town now, and some smaller tulips are blooming.

I wonder how I'd extend the season? Something vigorous, to compete with the creeping phlox, although it helps that it wants to grow over the edge, towards the main light. Re-blooming daylilies for summer, I think. Peach and wine colors... Or since this is in town, maybe no deer, (the tulips wouldn't be there if there were deer.)  Madonna lilies for late spring/early summer. A smaller-scale ornamental grass? Catmint?

What a charming visual gift to the passerby!

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Friday, April 05, 2013

Remembering Tigrr (Musketeer) written June 15, 2011 8pm

Tiger (Musketeer) on my jacket - afternoon Dec 10 2009
This is Tiger in Mom's house, after I had come back from a long picture-taking session down at the beach, and a walk.

When she took him from me (1996), I had named him Musketeer, because of his gorgeous Puss-in-Boots coloring. (And he was an exhibit in my list of cat-names-as-self-fulfilling-disasters, since as he grew older he started beating up on everyone.)

I had picked him up (literally) at the feral cat feeding station, behind where I worked, after he'd been there a couple of weeks. Clearly he wasn't wild. Mom had driven down here; I offered him, but she had turned him down. And I was glad, because I was quite fond of him.

But on the day she was leaving, after I had left for work, he jumped up into her arms - and she just took him. Didn't even leave me a note. Took my cat carrier too, although I eventually, years later, got it back.

She sent a couple of pictures of him - all ruffled after the 2-day drive, and calmed down later. And a note written from his point of view.

When I got up to her place in fall 2009, her favorite cat had had to be put down, and Tiger was coming out and sitting on laps and being friendly. He spent a lot of time on her lap at the table, and then on the bed with her. She said "Tiger is trying to help". She also said, looking at her array of pills on the table"I don't know whether I'm supposed to take these pills, or give them to the cat"... Then he started losing weight, and his eyes became totally dilated, but he apparently could still see.

The vets up there and down here did not figure out what was wrong with him, but it may have been a version of the FIP that probably killed Sugar Mouse. It has been amazing that he lasted so long, as skinny as he was. He was eating a can or more of cat food a day, or when he stopped eating that sometimes, baby food.

This week was supposed to be a trip again to Camano, but it got put off. Good thing, because I needed to be here.

Once he stopped being able to walk around, and stopped eating for the last time, I locked the others out on the balcony, put a clean t-shirt on his reflective warm pad on the kitchen floor near the heater, and tried to spend as much time in the chair nearby as I could. School over for the spring, and unemployed. I slept in the chair mostly - and came to really hate that chair. (When I'm tired I get very crabby, and that thing would easily go into an uncomfortable position, but only with great difficulty into a comfortable one - and then it wouldn't stay there.)

He was mostly asleep, but the first several days, he would wake up every couple of hours, and could drink some water put into his mouth with a syringe. Then he slept for over a day, but did wake up one final time and take a little water, the morning of the day he died.

Over all it lasted about 6 days. I wasn't there when he died, but away for a couple of hours.

We should all be so lucky, going quietly and peacefully, in our own home, not thirsty, and with company nearby.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Tiger & Pandora

Tiger (Musketeer) and Pandora in chair (with Bob pillow) - taken Dec 30, 2010
Usually I have been good about posting these. This time not.

Pandora died last summer, July 17, 2012. Although she had been going downhill, and I was trying to get her to eat canned food, at the end it only was 2 days or so. I put her in the tub, with a warm pad, to have the water drip available, since she wasn't able to hold her head up to drink out of the dish. And one morning, I put her in the room with this chair, and after her sunny spot went away, she crawled across the room. So I put her out on the balcony to get a little more sun. Buddy came over and said hello/goodby. He misses his friend. She was 20, I think.

Tiger (Tigrr, Musketeer) died at the beginning of the previous summer, June 14, 2011. It was hard to believe he could last so long, a year and a half of so unbelievably skinny - and eating a can or 2 of cat food a day. Then at the end (luckily a trip I was supposed to take was rescheduled), after he stopped being able to move around, I put him on the warm pad on the kitchen floor, near this chair in the next room. For the first 4 days or so, he woke up every couple of hours, and took a little water from a syringe in his mouth. Then he was out for 1½ or 2 days, and then on his last day, woke up again and took a little water.

I spent 6 days in this chair, to be near him, but he died while I was away. I hate this chair.

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Friday, June 08, 2012

A new version of the camouflaged cat in tall grass, from June 2012

watercolor and fabric design from early summer 2012
The grass is taller than ever this year (2012)  - I'm not weed-eating until the redtail chicks have flown.

I did this design in watercolor class, with misket as the silkpaint-style resist. It uses only 2 colors of paint, viridian green and a brown.

Then I put the photo or scan into Photoshop and made it repeat. That takes a very long time.

One thing I like about the misket, is it does what it wants to sometimes. Here I was using up an older bottle. That large root was a large blob that just came out, and I drew it out into the organic shape with a toothpick.

That collaboration with a tool with it's own agenda leads to a very spontaneous style. 

For me drawing on the computer is like that, very different from my pen and ink style. (Biological illustration with a crow-quill dip pen and India ink. Fine stippling. My nose 3 inches from the paper. Hours.)

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Little Kitten Oct. 2010

published 12/26/2011

This was taken when the kittens were 5 weeks old. The big sisters were starting to eat kitten chow, and Little Kitten had lost a lot of ground - you can see he was much smaller than they were. He started getting supplemental feedings of kitten formula.

They haven't been named yet, but the little kitten became Rex. The vet said he was male.

And, inevitably, when I had named Rex, 2 kittens became Spot (in front, eating) and Lassie (beside her). And the 3rd sister, I named Grey Mouse - because of what the vet calls an underbite, but I call a rodent-like profile, that they have like their father.

This was only the first time in his first 4 months of life that little Rex had a life-threatening problem.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Iris blue each spring....

This photo taken June 3, 2009. (really?)

I took photos of this same iris yesterday, May 8, 2011. It's been a warm week; the apple trees and daffodils are done blooming, hawthornes (that dreadful weed) have started. This weekend it's been cool. This iris and one more on the South side (palest lavender-white, both shorter earlier varieties, are in bloom. Along with, around town, the deep red-violet shorter, antique, early-blooming one.

Taller types, and the ones on the other side of the house have not started yet.

The title is from a haiku.

Reminded of things Japanese by a visit yesterday to Kodo Arts, an ephemeral seller of Japanese antiques. Gorgeous furniture. I found a couple of little fabric stamps - probably destined to inspire virtual batiks.

Once, that haiku was the cause of my being locked into the college library just before Christmas vacation!

I had it only in translation - I wanted the original in Japanese. I was reading Tale of Gengi (translated).

So, searching for the Japanese original of the haiku, I was in a back aisle on the top floor of the college library in my home town, in the Japanese written in Japanese section. Since I don't read the language, this was not simple.

I had been there for a couple of hours, sitting on the floor. (Ah, youth.) I guess I had been pretty quiet....

But they didn't make an announcement, or even dim the lights, when they closed early and left. It was still daylight.

I came out of the stacks to find myself alone and locked in. The day before vacation.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The denouement was anticlimactic - there was a phone; I called Security.


Oh, the haiku? Slightly altered translation:

Dead my old fine hopes
And dust my dreaming . . . but still
Iris blue each spring. 

Shushiri 

(Shushiki? His name appears both ways.  
I can't find the haiku book my Dad gave me, when I was in high school, before we went to Japan.)


see haiku -  public domain file, trans. Peter Beilenson 1955,  from http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/jh/jh02.htm

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Right in front of her eyes

And right in front of our eyes, this very large bird, rising from the pond with a medium size koi.

That peaceful-seeming pond, with the koi that come over to see if people will feed them - the great blue heron fishes there too.
 Heading home with the prey.


Couldn't resist: 

Placid koi approach
Looking for food. . . . from the sky
Osprey or heron. 

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Looking for fish?

Pictures taken on April 26, 2011.

Where was this? Out in the woods somewhere, near a lake? No, right on campus, over the koi pond. After class last Tuesday, this large bird (osprey, I think) was circling over the campus hill for some time. Coming lower, rising again, sometimes backwinging to stay in the same place for a moment.

And then the dive, and a splash.

Well, it seemed like a long time, but by the times on the photos, the whole thing lasted barely 5 minutes.

12/28/2011 I made a fabric of these photos, with a clouds background. I still need to make a small change, but it should become available for sale soon. I will do another version soon; I've been taking sky pictures for years - should have a good one with scattered lovely clouds that I can use for an alternate background.
http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/750650

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