Friday, January 15, 2021

Is it Spring or Winter?

 We are still waiting for winter to arrive with its wet, cold, sleety, slushy weather.  Instead, we have only had a bit more than 8” of rain this season (from last Oct 1st forward).  Typically, we have over 20” by now.  I worry about having an adequate snow pack in the Sierras; I worry about our well slowing or, worse, drying up; and I worry about fires next summer.  Other than that, the weather is glorious and begs me to be outside in the garden.

My Christmas gift from Brett was a new tool shed.  

The dogs had destroyed the cute, but flimsy, one we had purchased at a local nursery.  The dogs were after ground squirrels that were nesting under the tool shed and they ripped off the sides and the flooring in their pursuit.  Now I have a big, beautiful tool shed with a brick floor, shelves and peg board. 

 I definitely came out ahead on that one.

Brett has also been wanting to expand my garden by moving one of the fences down to the stream.  I will be able to fit some more planters in the new area and all the fruit trees will now be inside deer fencing.  Not that deer come onto the ranch very often with three dogs patrolling.  

Yes, three dogs.  Last November we added another Aussie to the mix.  Acorn is three months old now and enjoying ranch life.  

Sage is teaching him about his duties — barking at deer, chasing squirrels, digging for gophers and supervising us humans.  Kersey will be eleven this summer.  She watches from the front porch and only joins the others for meals (she’s a lab, she never misses a meal) and squirrels.  Sage is my constant companion in the garden.  Acorn tends to hang out with Brett — when he and Sage aren’t racing around.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Learning to Paint

 One of the things I’m doing during COVID/heat waves/wildfire-smoky days is learning how to paint.  And, of course, I fell in love with watercolor which is one of the most difficult mediums.  Figures.  Fortunately, there are a ton of great tutorials on YouTube and that is how I got started.  I discovered that within watercolor, there sub-categories of painting: loose or realistic, landscapes or botanicals or animals.  I want to learn them all.  I seem to do best at botanicals and my landscapes look like kindergarten.  

I enrolled in a couple online schools about a month ago.  One of them is focused on botanicals and the other on realistic animals.  When my dad was visiting last month, he made the observation that I paint from photographs and not from real life.  That got me to thinking.  I’m painting from photos along with tutorials helping me “see” the important shapes and shadows.  So, is that really painting?  I think so.

Remember when you were learning to write the letters of the alphabet?  First, the teacher showed you how to hold the pencil which felt super awkward.  Then she wrote letters on the board and you copied them onto your paper — that had lines for capitals and lower case.  But it was still hard at first.  How far down do you go for the tail on a “g” —and a capital “S” — man that was hard.  I thought a capital “W” was hard, too, which was a problem because my last name started with that letter.  

Gradually, we learned to print our letters and then to write in cursive.  We copied our teachers until we could do it solo.  Painting is the same.  I’m tracing the outline of a picture and then watching a video of the instructor as she explains what she is seeing, the appropriate brush strokes, and how to mix colors.  

I’m getting better — I fast-forward through about half of the video now.  I’m learning to trust my eye.  I’m getting some muscle memory around how to hold a brush and how much paint to load and how to blend one color into another without hard lines.  

Maybe I’m delusional, but I consider what I’m doing “real” painting.  Not great painting, and not original painting, but real just the same.