I’m continuing to have fun with my weekly Inktober52 pen and ink drawings. We’re over halfway there now and so far I haven’t missed a week. What I’ve ended up doing is taking whatever the “Prompt” word for the week is and filtering it through using an animal of some kind. The current one, a sythesis of three species of tarsiers (a very small primate-like mammal), has gotten quite a satisfactory reaction, including a query from the Esterbrook Company Instagram account.
Otherwise, I’ve been finally getting around to delayed studio reorganizing, preparing some new offerings in my Etsy shop (stay tuned!) and working in the garden. We’ve only been going out to get groceries, pet and house stuff and haircuts. Definitely stayed home over the 4th of July. After a hiatus during which we had no covid-19 cases or just 1-2 a day the number has increased to up to 9 a day, often 4-5. Our public health officer says it’s because of locals traveling out of the area to places where the virus is prevalent and then bringing it back. Not sure what they can do about that. Mask compliance in our community is essentially 100% but we still will order sushi delivery and won’t be going to restaurants or brewpubs any time soon. But I do have a bodywork appointment next week so we’ll see how that goes.
In the meantime, this juvenile peregrine falcon circled around near a large sitka spruce on July 2 screeching his/her head off. I posted a couple of photos on my Facebook page and, as I hoped, within a few minutes a couple of serious “bird people” showed up, gave me a positive ID and said that it was young enough that it was still around its parents, so that meant a nest was somewhere not far away. We’ve been here fifteen years and this was a first!
The vegetable garden is taking off and I’ll post some photos of it next time. For now here’s a collie “lurking” in the grass, actually just “our” Peregrin being silly and posing for me.
There were four cases yesterday all connected to a single contact. No new cases yesterday. The total is now 98. Sadly, there was a third death, a 97 year old resident of the care home where there’s been a cluster of cases. “Advanced” Stage 2 reopening has started. The really good news is that lots of local business, around 850, have gotten their certifications and have reopened or soon will. Restaurants can now offer dine-in service and churches can reopen with limited capacity. Masks and social distancing still required. We’re doing fine, in our usual routines. We chat with the neighbors who we encounter on walks and they’re ok also.
There’s supposed to be a corker of a storm rolling in tonight, complete with thunderstorms, which is unusual here on the coast. Going to spend most of the day getting the vegetable garden planted and tidied up. From 4-6pm I’ll be sketching from the Draw Breath Facebook group livestream. It’s a public group so anyone can watch or join. Here’s a couple of pages of three minute sketches from the last couple sessions. These were done directly using a fountain pen.
Here’s another of my Inktober52 pieces. The prompt was “Bubbles”:
And here are a some of the roses currently blooming-
Like so many gardeners we are in a constant struggle with gophers. But not everyone has a collie to help find them. Peregrin can clearly hear them when they’re moving around underground and will immediately start digging. Which provides me with great photo ops like this…
We had a spike COVID-19 in cases over the past week or so, sixteen new ones since the 12th for a total of 88 as of today. Also two deaths, the first ones. There’s a serious outbreak at a local care home, both patients and staff, which is very unfortunate but at least can be isolated. Most of the others are connected to known cases or are “travel-aquired” but no details. Most of the rest are connected to known cases, plus some community transmission.
I went to our local coop for groceries yesterday. All the right things are being done. Masks required. Number of people allowed in store is controlled. People either kept moving or observed social distancing, except for the woman at the meat counter that walked up right between myself and a man who were the right distance apart. I said “Excuse me, this is less than 6′.” She got bit huffy but did move. Otherwise, it was all fine. Employees are taking care of getting products out of the bulk bins. Six feet of spacing at the check-out counter. Plexiglass between cashiers and customers.
Going into the Memorial Day weekend and we’ll be working in the yard ands garden and maybe going for a drive to a place where we and the collies can safely walk. It’s supposed to get quite warm next week, at least “warm” for us, into the mid-high 60s.
In art news, I’ve found a new, fun thing to do! It showed up in Feedly, which is what I use for a news feed. I follow a bunch of art blogs and sites that way. One called Apple-Pine described how she does small quick “location” sketches using a site called Mapcrunch, which can show endless random images from all over the world. Today’s effort is at the top of the post. Above this paragraph is the first one, a road in Russia. Below is the second one. A scene from Holland. Here’s the link to her pageabout it.
All it takes is some paper and pencils, pens or something for color…watercolors, felt tip pens whatever you want.
It’s been quite windy yesterday and today, so not much done in the garden. However, we did have this lovely visitor a couple of days ago…a black-crowned night heron.
And there are LOTS of tadpoles in the “frog pond” a small separate shallow pond off the main, big pond.
Finally for now, I’ve never been a big bearded iris fan, but I think that’s going to change. I always like the bicolor ones as a kid and decided to get ‘Sunset Sky’ and ‘Mother Earth. I plan to do sketches and watercolors of both of them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Sheltering in place continues with no drama other than Peregrin, one of our rough collies, getting skunked right in the face a few evenings ago, so his temporary nickname is Stinky. I got the deskunker on him right away but here’s still a whiff of it up if we get close.
This afternoon I’ll start making a few masks for us to wear when we go out. Did a lot of research and dug through my fabrics for tight-weave cottons. We’ve got coffee filters and some old vacuum cleaner bags for filtration. The local grocery stores seem to be doing their part to keep carts and conveyers sanitized. We’ve also got almost an entire box of disposable gloves that my husband bought for his airplane modeling. There will be a trip to the store tomorrow.
We had one last corker of a wintry storm come through over the past couple of days with good, heavy rain. Nippy this morning, but yesterday afternoon really felt like spring has sprung. Which means plenty of exercise in the garden coming up. Daffodils are almost done. Roses are leafing out nicely. Apple trees have flower buds on them. Tulips are in full bloom.
Here’s an update on the international online art event I’m participating in called Inktober52. The original event called for doing a pen and ink drawing a day for the month of….October. This time it’s one a week for the whole year. So far I’ve had no problem doing my weekly piece. My intention had been to post them in one month batches here on the blog, but that kinda got lost in all the pandemic news and prep. Things have settled down into a routine now, so in this post I’ll get caught up. You can see the first batchhere. And I posted a few last timehere. The one at the top is the latest, just done yesterday and posted on Instagram and elsewhere this morning. If you want to follow me on Instagram I’m here. There’s a board for them on Pinterest here.
We’re in Day 10 now of sheltering in place and will probably be doing this at least until the end of April. We’re fine. It’s been raining and that’s good. I’ve gotten some early gardening in between storms, like finishing up the apple tree pruning. I thought I’d share photos of our garden as we go along, along with my art. We have a fully-fenced acre in a great rural residential neighborhood. We’ll be “staycationing” this year except for day trips around our area once it’s safe.
I was never a fan of grape hyacinth until I saw this tricolor variety in the top photo and now I have lots of them planted in the beds outside my studio door. Seeing them makes me smile every day.
We have four apple trees: Ashmead’s Kernel and Cox’s Orange Pippin, both famous English dessert apples, a Granny Smith and Newtown Pippin, both green which is what my husband prefers. On the espalier to the right there is grafting to be done to make it multi-variety again, but it produced a nice batch of Gravensteins last fall. In the background on the right below the power pole is our blueberry patch of about three dozen plants. I got them all pruned up as they started to bloom. They produce between five and six gallon bags of berries every year. Blueberries can happily grow in pots and are nice for casual “grazing”. They need acid soil and are generally low maintenance. Maybe consider adding one to your “family” this year!
This started as one sedate, as the British would say, bog standard pink-flowered variety that I can’t remember the name of and which, after some years, merrily started to self-seed into this nice big clump. It really is just about the first plant to bloom in late winter even here in our mild coastal climate.
This is the west end of what I call the Potting Palace since it’s 34′ long and divided into three sections. This is the greenhouse end, where we grow tomatoes and I keep seedlings growing on in pots. In the bed and blooming right now are three English wallflowers I grew from seed and some ‘Kingsblood’ tulips. The lilies are starting to emerge. There will be a clematis planted at the base of the trellis pretty soon.
I planted about ten of these lovely members of the daffodil family many years ago. They kind of got lost under a parahebe shrub that finally died and was removed. And, wow, in the meantime did they increase! Once they’re done I’ll dig them up and spread them around the garden front and back.
Finally, we don’t live in prime tulip territory and some fade away after a year or two or three. I love parrot tulips, including ‘Estelle Rjinfeld’, which bloomed for two years in this spot then vanished, for their over the top colors and shapes. I’m trying a new one this year ‘Rococo’. They came right up and are blooming well.
It’s been an *interesting* six days. We both felt somewhat stressed with the adjustment to the new reality, but are otherwise safe and ok. We’re doing some of what we need to and some of what we want to, including just kicking back. The spa is getting used most evenings if it’s not raining.
The weather has been quite cold with rain on and off, but I’ve made progress in the garden. Finished the first round of planting out plants in pots, finished pruning the apple trees and the blueberries, also a ‘Hot Lips’ salvia that had over grown an agapanthus (Lily of the Nile). Coming up is rose pruning, vegetable garden prep and the weeding of a couple of borders.
We’ve not gone anywhere since our trip to the Arcata coop before the official Shelter in Place Order was issued, so yesterday morning we drove into Eureka and went to Costco to stock up on a few things. We wore disposable gloves in the store, which wasn’t busy at all until we were on our way out. They seemed to have everything in stock. We got ibuprophen, three flats of peaches, three flats of my favorite Kirkland sparkling water (morale purchase), the one bag of dog kibble each customer was allowed, two bags of doggy duck jerky treats, one bottle of olive oil and one package of prawns. At the checkout line they’d put white tape on the floor to keep people properly spread out and even then the employee keeping an eye on things had to ask someone to move back. We finished up, loaded it all in the car, pulled our gloves off inside out and put them in a baggie.
Then it was off to have some fun at a big informal open space on Humboldt Bay, which is where the photos above and below were taken. Our two rough collies, as seen in the header image, Peregrin on the left and Hailey on the right, had their usual good time running around and sniffing.
After this refreshing break we went back to McKinleyville for a quick stop at Eureka Natural Foods. They’d put some sensible policies in place and, as one went in, there was an employee making sure that customers got a sanitized cart but, as you read will below it’s still a bit of a work in progress. OTOH, it’s barely been a week, so no complaints from me.
The store (which is often referred to as ENF) was also not busy so social distancing was easy. I had our own clean veg bags for the bulk buys of whole wheat flour (we have a breadmaker and know how to use it) and peanuts. Distance courtesy is clearly and quickly becoming the norm. Except for the few people like “That Guy” when I was checking out. Here’s the account I wrote for a Facebook post after we got home: “Then on to ENF in McK. Definitely room for improvement. No signage with their quite good policies, no enforcement of their checkout line policy. Big, well-dressed dude got in line behind me as I was checking out, barely 4′ away. I asked him to step back. His response was to push the mini-cart into me, lean forward and flip me off with some smart-ass talk. Clerk did nothing. In one of those, ‘darn it I wish I’d done “x” moments back home, I now wish I’d flipped him a peace sign and smiled.”
When we got home we put on another set of gloves and unloaded everything except perishables either onto the luggage rack on the back of David’s Jensen Healey or on the big recycle bin on the breezeway. Then those gloves went into the same baggie. It’s getting quite cold at night, low 40s predicting 37F tonight so everything should be ok by tomorrow for sure since the virus is estimated to only live 24 hours on cardboard and 2-3 days on plastic. But we need to reorganize the food storage shelves in the garage anyway and will do that over the weekend.
I made this tofu-veggy stirfry last night: Peanut oil, cashew bits, chopped onion and garlic, sliced brown mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, and pineapple, seasoned with a bit of salt, cayenne and finally Vietnamese coriander from the herb border. Garnished at the table with Thai chili paste. Washed down with Eureka Natural Food’s “house beer”.
Finally, I am also actually getting work done. I’ve recently uploaded three new coloring pages to myFox Studio Etsy shop, along with three original pen and in drawings of corvids and my first tutorial! It’s an introduction to sketching for beginners, perfect for anyone who is now home a lot, maybe most of the time, and is interested in learning to sketch but didn’t know where to begin. Art is for everyone and sketching is fun!
That’s it for now. Next post will have some spring garden photos! I hope you, your family and friends are well and safe.
Yesterday was “officially” Day 1 of sheltering in place, but first we needed to stock up on some groceries. We drove the fifteen minutes to our local food coop first thing in the morning. One thing we didn’t need was TP since we have an unopened pack of it from Costco on a shelf in the garage, about 40 rolls worth. We’d also just gotten an order of our favorite almond butter. But we were low on vegies. I thought it would make sense to buy decent quantities of our favorites, cut them up, bag them and store them in the extra freezer and that will be Task 1 this weekend. I used a food guide from the CNN website for reminders and ideas. You can find it here. We bought broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and asparagus (very good price on the latter). Also some more canned mackerel to go with the canned sardines. And lasagna ingredients, something I haven’t made in years. Their stock was low for some things and the rice bins were empty, but that was only because the distributor had been delayed. The national food distribution chain is apparently working just fine at this point.
We have five 5gal. ziploc bags of our own blueberries in the freezer and plenty of meat since we bought half a local lamb last fall and keep two whole chickens in the freezer. Our earthquake prep is paying off for the current situation. Speaking of which we got shaken a bit a couple of times in the last few days, a 5.2 and a 5.6.
What was interesting at the coop is some new policies. One sign in a window said that the store, which opens at 6am seven days a week, will be open to seniors only from 7-8am every day, which is very good. Also, no personal paper, plastic or cloth bags allowed in the store. We had to use their paper bags or boxes. I had no idea why they were doing this. I posed the question on a *rational* Facebook thread and someone suggested that the virus could survive on fabric for five days. I’ve just researched it and, in a case of no news is good news, no one seems to be even testing for soft surfaces at this point. Here’s an article from Mirror in England which addresses that. The closest comparison is cardboard, on which it may last up to 24 hours. But it’s an airborne contagion so infection from simply touching a surface is somewhat limited. Still, handwashing is critical and also keeping surfaces wiped down and clean (current info. as per what I know today, subject to change).
In other news concerning our neighborhood…we’re near the end of a dead end private road in a rural residential area. There is a road association that everyone contributes $100 a year to, as per the official notification on a buyer’s title report. This goes for, well, road upkeep. When we moved into our place in 2005, communication was awkward for announcing the yearly meeting, much less anything else that might come up, so my husband, an IT professional, set up a private email list with all the road association members on it. It’s been used for all kinds of things like planning multi-family yard sales to party invitations, queries about people who haven’t been seen on the street before, when one neighbor’s chickens are laying again and, in the last three days, two neighbors offering to make store runs for everyone in the higher age/risk category, which includes us. Which is wonderful! There are still no confirmed cases in the county but to know that if necessary we have back up for groceries really brings peace of mind.
I find that I’m rejiggering my work plan for the year. There are juried shows that I planned to enter in which the accepted work is shipped to the venue, sometimes a museum. Well, all the museums are closing and the whole situation is unsettled, so I may enter a few online shows and otherwise catch up on tasks like a half dozen videos I’ve been meaning to make from some of my Mongolia trips. I’ve also got a number of sketching and drawing tutorials in progress which I’ll be selling through my Etsy shop. New coloring pages coming around the first of next month, also dip pen nib sets for pen and ink drawing. Stay tuned!