Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Bird Count, the morning after

It's that time of year again: temps below 0 F, snow on the ground, bitter wind..... Must be time to go birding!

Sometimes I think the mental condition that drives the citizenry of Pamplona to run before angry cattle must be the same as that which drives birders. Why else would otherwise reasonable people be out standing in snow-covered fields before dawn in sub-zero temperatures to count ducks and sparrows? Worse yet, there's a considerable subpopulation which does this for many, many days in a row in late December and early January, and they travel far and wide to do so.

Yes, indeed, it's Christmas Bird Count season, and Salida is not immune to the phenomenon. Five years ago I was duped by a hardcore birder chum into hosting a count circle here. "If you compile it, I'll come," he said, implying the presence of a certain level of expertise and experience to get the job done.

Said chum has never ONCE shown his sorry behind here for the event. You can imagine what sort of holiday cheer I send HIS way. (Yes, Woody, this means you.)

Still, we have a grand and dedicated group of local birders and a few equally dedicated out-of-town stringers who routinely DO turn up to tromp around the area and tick juncos until their heads spin. This year's Salida count was yesterday (I always aim for ours on the winter solstice).. with snow on the ground and a -1 F start temperature. Despite a slow start, we managed to record 75 distinct species, a goodly number of interesting subspecies, hybrids, and anomalies AND a record-breaking flock of Bohemian Waxwings.

We don't see BOWAs (for those of you hip to the Bird Banding Lab species codes) here every year. They're avian gypsies, typically found farther north, but once in a while we have a winter graced by BOWA spectacle. This is one of those years! They've been turning up in many parts of the state, but as far as I have heard, yesterday we hosted the largest single flock yet discovered: almost 2000 birds in one place. All total we found over 3000 of the handsome beasties within our count circle. On Friday I looked out my front window to find 1100 of them working the crabapple trees in my yard and across the street. Friend, expert birder, and accomplished photographer Tony Leukering was here for the CBC, and he took the great shots enhancing this page. You can see more of Tony's fine photos on his Flickr site.

A week from today I'm off to spend January in my new satellite studio in that most delightful of winter destinations: Cleveland, Ohio. So. The next few days will be chock-a-block with trying to get organized for the egress. Just in case I miss you in all the hubbub, let me offer warmest wishes for your winter holidays and your heart's desire(s!) in 2008. Expect news from the north after the first of the year!

Happy Birthday, Brush and Baren!

Hey! Look! Brush and Baren is one year old today! I would have baked myself a cake, except that I don't particularly like cake.
However, I am more than happy to break the piñata and share the sweets with everyone who has made my corner of the blogosphere an engaging and inspiring place. Special thanks and an affectionate ink smudge to Willy, Debby, Snail and Susan, who continually raise the blogging bar and to Alyson, whose fault it all is in the first place. Thanks also to all of you who read, comment, lurk, and send emails around the back way. I appreciate you all!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Ponderosa pine linocut, still untitled. 5 colors, reduction, 12 x 18 inches. Not a great photo... wet print propped up against the sofa and snapped. But, oh... Happy day!

If you missed the process, you can catch up here and here and here. And here. And here.

I'm gonna go take a nap now. I'm tired!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

End Game

Spent the morning fulfilling my civic responsibility (got called for jury duty, but in the end was not selected... I admit a sigh of relief). Am now engaged in serious printmakerly responsibilities: the carving of the final color for the ponderosa linocut.

At this stage the plate is fairly stained with the remnants of previous color pulls and it gets difficult to see what I'm doing. Out comes the Sharpie! (The pen, not the bird.) As I carve, I run the pen across the high spots so I can see where I've been. This doesn't work for earlier stages because the pen is permanent and obscures details, but here at the end I apply it with gleeful abandon. Aiming to finish the carve tonight or tomorrow... printing on the weekend! Whee!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Café = Community

If ever you come to Salida, make sure you stop in at the Salida Café. (Also known locally as "Bongo's," just in case you're asking directions.) Good food, good drinks, good people.... and a community atmosphere unlike anything I've known anywhere else. Granted, I half live there, but STILL....

A couple of weeks ago Sam (one of the owners) handed a tiny chunk of wood across the counter to me, asking me to embellish it as part of a little sculpture project. I wasn't able to be at Monday's assembly party, so I stopped in today for lunch and a look.

What a fun piece they've put together... it's the café logo, each piece of the puzzle a little contribution by kids and adults who live here in town. Can you find my tiny pinecone? (Hint: Clicking on the image will open a larger version in a new window so you can look a little more carefully.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's not easy making green

Argh. I knew it would kick my behind, this green. Not sure I'm entirely happy with it even now, but I'm fairly confident that once the last color (black) is on, it will all come together. Usually that's the way it works... but one never knows. But here you have it, pondo-lino stage 4.

Still don't seem to have resolved the comment problem, despite resetting the parameters for comments. I've heard that other Blogger-based blogs are having the same issue... film at 11:00.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I didn't do it!

It's been brought to my attention today that suddenly Blogger isn't allowing comments from outside Goggle or Blogger accounts. I don't know why! I've got the thing set up to "allow anyone," honest.

Hopefully it's just a temporary Blogger hiccup, but if'n you're having trouble posting comments, you can always try the "anonymous" option. It will let you use a name or not. (sigh) Technology, eh?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

And now for something completely different...

Sam, Bill, and Clark... the good folks over at the Salida Café... have a nifty project underway. They're creating a wooden wall sculpture.. a sort of "puzzle" of pieces crafted by café regulars. I don't think any of us know what the final shape will be when the puzzle is assembled. (But I've seen a couple of very-oddly shaped chunks.)

The piece given to me for embellishment is tiny! A roughly triangular bit... at its apex it is only 2" high! So this afternoon I've been pleasantly out of my comfort zone, applying acrylics to wood using a darn small brush. I have no idea if the pine cone will even be upright in the finished sculpture.

Pieces are due Monday, assembly is scheduled for the end of next week. Photos to follow!

Linocut in Progress: The Finish and the Rescue

 In the first post about the process of this linocut I mentioned that I was distracted and unfocused during the time I worked on it... whic...