The Art Life: Not Just Art

Alexander A Really Great Cat

I have the good fortune to work at home doing something I love. It also means “visitors” every day. Our two rough collies and three cats wander in and out, sometimes just to say “hi” or to hang out. The last few days Alexander has come in, sprawling across my desk in front of my iMac to get his tummy skritched and combed out. He was a slightly scruffy little shelter kitten who we got when he was about three months old. He’s grown into a phlegmatic 8 year old, 16 pound furball.

(And wouldn’t you know it, as I was proofing this post in he came. Pause for tummy combing….)


(Ok, I’m back.)

Being at home also means that if I, say, spot a juvenile great blue heron down at our pond I can grab my camera and get some photos.


After work tasks include watering the vegetable garden and picking what’s ready. We got a very late start this year, but Humboldt County’s warmest weather is in September/October so we’ll get at least some goodies in the freezer like peas for winter solstice dinner.


We picked our first real harvest a few days ago. Shallots, a yellow zucchini, Hurst Green Shaft peas (got the seed in England and haven’t found an American source for this awesome variety), Blue Lake green beans, and French haricot verts. Potatoes will be ready in another month or so. We’ve also planted regular green zucchini and summer squash, both of which will start to be ready for harvesting soon. I also, because I had them, threw some brussels sprout seeds from 2012 into the ground just to see if any would germinate. Thought I might get two or three. Well….I’ve now got a clump of over a dozen that are too close together. My plan is to carefully transplant them into a row once the rains come and the weather is cooler.

I think we’re going to dig a small root cellar on the north side of the garage since there are five varieties of garlic on the way, plus some heritage onions. The peas and beans will be, respectively, shelled and cut up for the freezer, where they will join the three gallon-size ziploc bags of blueberries our bushes produced this year. Did I mention that I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” right now?  :0).

In the meantime, last night I rummaged around for dinner wanting to use the zucchini while it was fresh and some mushrooms before they were goners. And came up with this…

squash dish

I set water to boiling for the shell pasta and then sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil and butter. I added the zucchini and let it cook for a bit, then added some finely sliced leeks. It’s seasoned with a bit of salt, basil, parsley and oregano. When the pasta was done I dumped it into the vegies and stirred everything together. Dinner was served in our Portmeirion “Borders” pattern china that we got at the factory seconds shop in England  twenty years ago.

As for art, as you saw last week, I’ve got some new small horse paintings under way. I also started this one, getting the brush drawing done. You can still see the pencil marks from where I projected the preliminary drawing for transfer and then made some corrections. But darn, I kinda like the way it looks now, so I might just call it done and keep it around. We’ll see.


Juried Show Deadlines Coming Up! So Here Are Some Pictures Of Our Cats…

Eowyn (2)Eowyn is the senior of our three cats at age 12. She’s mellowed over the years, but could probably have killed a Nazgul in her time. Her nicknames have included My Mean Widdle Cat and Mistress Mayhem. We found each other at the local humane society when she was about four months old, having been picked up as a stray on the street. (I was facing the full-length mirror behind where I sit in front of my easel, so that’s how I ended up in the shot.)

MichikoMichiko means “precious” in Japanese. She’s a tamed feral about age ten. We got her from the county shelter, where she was part of a feral litter that had been brought in. It’s been a long road for her to become a house cat and learn to trust. Her behavior was strictly patterned for many years. Recently, and we think it’s because of the calming energy our collie, Hailey, has added to the mix, Michiko has finally started to relax and even have little crazy fits, dashing around the house and batting at a catnip mouse. She’s so pretty I didn’t really care if she ever became a lap cat or wanted to be petted. Just having her around and giving her a safe home was enough. As it happens she sits on my lap and likes pets and skritches now.

Alex (1)This is Alexander A Really Great Cat. He was born at the county shelter and fostered in a home with other cats. He’s the first one we’ve had who actually has social cat skillz. He was a scruffy little thing who needed a bath immediately, which he took without a blink. He’s five now and has grown into this quite handsome guy who weighs around 16 pounds. He goes limp when picked up so our vet figured out that he is part ragdoll. He also has the long body. He’s a big lug of a cuddle bunny who has also killed black rats with a single bite to the spine….

And a BONUS! Here’s our two year old tricolor collie girl, Hailey, looking pretty down by the pond. She watches over everything that goes on on the property, including the kittys, who all trust and like her.

Hailey by pond