Cute Alert-Kitten Update

The kittens I’m fostering have gained ground faster than we expected. Merlin has doubled his weight in two weeks, from one pound to two. The shelter staffer who asked me to do the foster came over today and weighed all three. Their coats are now soft and fluffy and their energy level is normal (which is to say, they are total maniacs for hours, then completely crashed out).

I wanted to see how fast I could bring them along and it looks like a combination of three things turned the trick: a big helping of wet food every day in addition to free-feeding kibble; room in a covered pen to run crazy, climb and otherwise get lots of exercise and being handled, snuggled and petted at least twice a day.

Here they are as of today:



and Merlin

If you live in Humboldt County and are interested in any of these guys, go to my contact page on my website and email me. They are now about 8 weeks old and ready to go to great forever homes!

Art and Kittens, How Can I Lose?


I have spent most of my professional life for the last ten years trying to gain some competence in the craft of oil painting. Although some artists proudly describe themselves as “self-taught”, I’m not one of them except in the sense that, in the end, we all have to figure out for ourselves what marks to make on the canvas (or other support) and how and with what to make them in order to express our vision. I’ve found that good instruction is a great timesaver, so I’ve tried to learn from those who have gone before me, either as a student in art school or workshops or by gathering a small collection of “how to do it” or “how I do it” books to learn from past and present masters. It’s those books that I plan to “draw” on in order to share some of what I have found useful, valuable and thought-provoking over the years.

So, we will begin with a quote from Robert Henri’s (pronounced Hen-rye) The Art Spirit:

“Technique must be solid, positive, but elastic, must not fall into formula, must adapt itself to the idea. And for each new idea there must be new invention special to the expression of that idea and no other. And the idea must be valuable, worth the effort of expression, must come from the artist’s understanding of life and be a thing he greatly desires to say.”

(Note: many of these quotes date from a time when women were barely tolerated in the fine arts, so the male pronoun dominates; however, that does not invalidate the content)


These three came into the shelter on June 4 and weren’t in very good shape, either health-wise or willingness to be handled by people. In fact, they started out labeled “feral and fearful”. Shelter staff was able to get them to the point where they could be picked up and petted. I brought them home a week ago on the 17th and will have them until they weigh 2 pounds plus a few ounces, which is the minimum for neutering. They were at around 1 pound, 3 oz,, their coats were dry and I could feel their rib cages since they had no fat. I could feel the vertebrae on the littlest one, who was visibly weaker than his two sisters.

It is one week later and they are much improved, thanks to room to play and high-octane wet food everyday. Coats are soft and tummies filling out. They come running, demanding to be petted now and like tummy rubs. They also have names (fosters get to name their charges); Raven, Kestrel and Merlin. So, here they are at age seven weeks or so:

Raven, whose name suggested the bird theme:

Kestrel, who has vocal opinions about almost everything:

And Merlin, quieter so far, but he was the weakest of the three when he arrived

On the Road again and Calf Update

It looks like all’s well that ends well this time. He is one lucky little calf.


Times-Standard 03/29/2008, Page A08
 Norman's owner comes forward

 Donna Tam


  The story of Norman the calf is on its way to a happy ending.
   Norman's owner came forward yesterday and was more than happy to
sign the calf over to the county, ensuring the calf 's eligibility
to be adopted, said Animal Control Officer Jim Norton.
   The little male dairy calf changed his fate when he got out of the
back of truck on its way to the auction, and was found on Highway 101
on Wednesday.
   "Usually when they have a dayold  bull calf, they ship him off to
meat factory,  said Norton, who
 has experience raising cattle. Male calves are not valuable to dairy
ranchers unless the rancher needs a replacement for a bull, because
they don't produce milk, Norton said.
   Since the owner's trailer was broken, Norman was being
transported  in a vehicle that wasn't set up for transporting
   " It happens,  Norton said. " That doesn't always work, some
things like to jump.
   Norton said livestock officers will be visiting potential homes
this week to make sure Norman's new owners have the resources

The story continues on the back page, but this is the gist of it.

I’ll be driving down to San Francisco tomorrow for the Grand National Rodeo and Horse Show. I was invited to participate in the art show and shipped five paintings of Mongolian horse subjects down to the Cow Palace last week. Looking forward to seeing the show, meeting some of the other artists and carrying my conservati0n message to a new audience. I’m looking forward to American horse people’s reaction to images of Mongolian horses, both wild and domestic. I’ll also do some sketching at the zoo and hook up with nature art colleague, Andrew Denman for that on Saturday morning. Then Andrew will be my guest for the big opening reception and award ceremony at the art show. We can then wander around and check out the scene. There are supposed to be Tennessee Walking Horses, which I’ve never see live before.