Sheltering in Place, Part 10

Draw Breath Facebook group drawing from May 4, the anniversary of the debut of the original Star Wars movie (May the 4th be with you!). The model wore a variety of Star Wars-themed outfits. iPad Pro, Autodesk Sketchbook, pen and brush tools

It’s been thirteen days since the last post! That went fast. The good news is that the county went to Stage 2 on Friday the 8th. This meant some “non-essential” businesses are being allowed to reopen if they can offer curbside pickup. Masks are now required in public along with continuing social distancing, but many outdoor activities are now encouraged. Since then our run of almost no cases since early April ended on the 9th. Two cases that day, four the next (including two in an assisted-living facility and three yesterday. All appear to be community transmission.

Peregrin and Hailey on the levee

This past Sunday we had good weather (it’s been raining quite a bit) and drove up to the Redwood Creek levee at Orick. We like it for walks because the collies can be off-leash, we can see all around us, there’s almost never been anyone else there and the gravel walkway ends at the mouth of the creek so we’re right near the ocean. It’s about a three mile round trip.

Peregrin or Mr. P or The P

Our collie boy, Peregrin, turned four on the 6th. Hailey’s father is one of his grandfathers. They’re both from Romany Collies up near Portland.

The pond is looking good, nice and full (pics next time). The yellow flag iris (not invasive in California) I introduced years ago on the west side of the pond has now moved to the east side (more sun?) and is happily blooming away. I’ll do some life studies, maybe a watercolor, on Friday if we do get the predicted break in the rain.

Yellow flag iris

As I mentioned above, it’s been raining for the last few days, which is great for the garden. During one of the breaks, the dogs started whining and circling around a tree behind a cinder block compost bin. I peered and peered up into the tree and then ran for my camera. When I got back I found myself looking into the eyes of a opossum! I took a bunch of photos then I and the collies went back into the house to give the opossum a chance to safely come down and move on. But I hope he/she stays around. We don’t have ticks here near the coast, which they are famous for eating, but help with snail and slug control would be greatly appreciated.

American opossom, our country’s only native marsupial

We’ve since taken the suet feeder down for the year since it attracts a family of crows who are welcome but not right next to the house. But last Thursday “our” black-headed grosbeak family showed up for the summer! And not just the male and female but what look like a male and a female juvenile, possibly babies from last year?

Black-headed grosbeak male

Not very many bees or butterflies yet. And we haven’t had many of the latter for a number of years. The bees are either bumblebees or another native species of honeybee or European honeybees, which means someone not too far away has hives.

But this big butterfly showed up for a short time three days ago. It’s a swallowtail but not sure what species since it’s so much lighter in color than the tiger swallowtail. It also looked a little beat-up around the edges.

Finally, here’s my latest entry (at the bottom) in the Inktober52 pen and ink drawing event. I really had fun with this one although I was not enthusiastic at first because I’d done the same praying mantis a month or so ago for the prompt “Green”. But I’ve just gotten a selection of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay inks and, although I have a couple of greens I decided the heck with it and used teal, red-violet and yellow instead.

Inktober52- Prompt: “Praying Mantis” Esterbrook 62 crowquill nib on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

You can see the rest of the drawings I’ve been doing since the first week in January, including the “gree” mantis on my Instagram page here.

“Flipped” Out and Got a Flip UltraHD

I’ve gone back and forth over whether to add some way of shooting video on the upcoming trip to Mongolia. I looked at “real” camcorders and finally decided that another $600 and hauling a third thing that is bigger than a Nikon just wasn’t in the cards. But I was very skeptical of the little Flip camcorders. Many times it’s better to skip something rather than settle for the minimum and then just be frustrated.

But I’ve watched a couple of people use them and saw how compact and light they are. Hummm. I went to Amazon over the weekend and poked around. The second generation of Flips are out and the price was too good to pass up, so, for $129 I got a Flip UltraHD and I have to say, I’m really impressed. Here’s my first ever video that I shot last night, all nine seconds of it:

Visit the AFC site here

I’ve already learned one thing and that is to let the subject go all the way out of the frame before stopping the shot.

This Flip will shoot 120 minutes of video and has 8gb of built in memory. It has a flip-out USB port that plugs into your computer. I also got the rechargeable battery pack and the padded case. The case was returned today. It was a $15 rip-off. Cheesy and no way to even get the camera in it since it was effectively sewn shut.

I have no idea what kind of wildlife footage I’ll get since there’s really no zoom to speak of, but for the national Nadaam events, especially the horse-racing, and domestic animals like the horses and camels, it will be interesting to have images of moving animals to work from when I get home instead of only stills. It’ll all be a big experiment and a fun one.

Dog Day Friday

Niki, our collie
Niki, our collie


1. I just finished balancing my checkbooks. Ugh. But life has gotten better since I’ve started using Quicken. I highly recommend it to anyone who battles the balancing of the checkbook every month and sometimes loses. Since I have three accounts (plus the credit card)- business, personal and  “not-my-money” (for stashing sales tax, etc.), I have found an infinite number of ways to procrastinate. I was one of those math-challenged girls who was passed along in school. Even today, the mention of those “word problems” will start my stomach churning.

My husband has been a trooper through the years bailing me out and getting things balanced when they’re so tangled up I’m ready to scream. But supposedly, at least most of the time, I am an Adult, who really ought to be able to deal with this, right? Well, once I finally forced myself to sit down with him and Just Do It, and now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, it really is nifty and easy.

(Why is math such a problem for me? It took years, but I finally figured it out. It turns out that I always did great in subjects where I could literally “see it”, as in create a visual image. So, English, history, biology, no problemo. Math? Couldn’t process the information visually, so I was sunk. Same problem with inorganic chemistry. Knowing that now, it’s how I memorize numbers. I really do see the actual numbers in my mind’s eye. The anxiety with regard to the word problems came from my attempts to “make pictures” and run them like a little movie and when I couldn’t, the stress took over. )

So, yo, artists who want to make a living- you’ve got to get a handle on the money part somehow. Quicken is how. The reconciliation part is like MAGIC.

2. Sometimes I take photos that just holler “PAINT ME!” Usually it’s wild animals, but not always. We were at a state park when I spotted this chocolate lab laying by the lake. I loved his expression and the light on his coat, so I thought I’d see what I could do.

Where's the Ball?
Where's the Ball? oil on canvas board 12"x9"

And, I just finished this one yesterday. I love working the structure of animals that don’t have long fur. I shot this Jack Russell terrier at a riding stable in southern California.

What's Next?
What's Next? oil on canvas board 12"x9"

As you can see, I had fun with the background color. There will probably be more of that in the future. Prices available on request.


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs


Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”.

Groucho Marx

Drawings from live animals and new painting

From the stats it looks like the post of my pet sketches was one of my most popular so far, so here’s more. These are done the way I usually work, with a fine tip gel pen. They’re done fast. Under five minutes, sometimes under two.

Niki, our tri-color rough collie

From the San Francisco Zoo. He really did hold still long enough for this head study.

These were ultra-quick, a minute or less, but I caught the gesture. Also San Francisco Zoo.

And, looking through my old sketchbooks, I came across the studies I did at Julie Chapman’s workshop in 2005. These are of Daisy, the badger, who alas, is no longer with us. Notice that I didn’t worry about eyes. I was trying to capture “badgerness”.

If you decide to try this, and I hope you do, keep in mind that every animal is an individual and look for what makes them them. If you like what I do, I think that’s a big part of it.

I’ll end with the bobcat painting, now called “Stepping Lightly”. I’m thinking of punching up the highlights on grass and maybe futzing (that’s the technical term, of course) with the logs some more, but that’s about it.


This one’s easy. Start to become aware of how you use energy. You can save money and help slow down climate change by using less and using it more wisely. Just little stuff to start- turn lights off when you leave a room, don’t leave the tv on if no one is watching, turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees or up, depending on the temperature where you are.

Now, you must know that this kind of thing, while necessary and desirable, is the “low hanging fruit”. It requires simple changes of habit, not real sacrifice. If you’re already doing the above and are ready and able to take the next steps, consider updating your older appliances to new, energy-efficient models. Change your incandescent light bulbs to compact flourescents or LEDs.

For more information and actions you can take, check out and

What ideas would you like to pass on to me and my readers? We’re all in this together, after all.

Friday Features


Last night my husband and I were sitting in our spa at dusk and what should we see ambling along the edge of one of the flower borders but a mom skunk with one baby. Niki the collie, who got thoroughly skunked a month or so ago, immediately went to the other side of the spa and gazed with great interest toward the pond. Good dog.

The skunks went right onto the patio and then under the engawa (Japanese style veranda), at which point we called it a night.


Same as last week, except one of the first hummingbirds, an Allen’s I think, found the verbascum and lavender, which are starting to bloom. There was an article in the news today here about the songbird die-off. Pretty depressing. The only local bird named that we have seen here is the Rufous Hummingbird. Time to plant more hummingbird friendly plants.


You think you know your pets, but sometimes………..

Niki and Eowyn, en flagrante something or other. Got another one that I’m going to upload to If you haven’t been there and you have a sense of the ridiculous, highly recommended.


Two Views on Art:

Artists can color the sky red because they know it’s blue. Those of us who aren’t artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we’re stupid.

Jules Pfeiffer, famous artist

Anyone who sees and paints the sky green and pastures blue ought to be sterilized.

Adolf Hitler, failed artist