Friday, June 29, 2007

EDM 125 - Chipping Sparrows

These little Chipping sparrows frequently come to nest in the big spruce tree in the back yard. They are quite small, and quite noisy. Chipping refers to the sound they make which is not very melodious. They perch on the very tips of the long branches and loudly taunt the cat for being too slow and fat to catch them. They are native to this province, but they are usually only around in the summer. They have bright rufous caps that often stick up like little cowlicks. My bird book* says they prefer to build their nests using black horsehair if they can get it, but any hair will do. I've not found their nest yet, although they usually nest at eye level in the fork of a coniferous tree. Best of all, they love to eat "adult and larval invertebrates" which includes mosquitos. I love to draw birds so I really enjoyed this challenge. And sparrows are so cheerful and resourceful that they are one of my favorites. This was done with Pigma pen and watercolors in the Aquabee sketchbook.
* Birds of Alberta by Chris Fisher and John Acorn

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

EDM Challenge Yellow

Have you every had one of those periods where you're just not happy with anything you do? You just can't seem to get onto the paper what you see in your head? I was quite happy with these little goslings and their olive yellow colors, but I just couldn't get the background right. And I'm not quite sure how to get that fuzzy glow around the goslings. But the deal was, if I do the challenge, I post the challenge.

For the last seven or eight years, a pair of Canada geese has come to the outside courtyard of the college where I work, and nest in one of the large concrete planters. It's a good spot because it juts out over the lower courtyard, and can't be reached by curious bystanders. Once the goslings are hatched, the proud parents march them through the courtyard, down the steps, and out to the pond in the back. We are all quite protective of these geese, but unfortunately this year, one of them was killed probably by a coyote. Later I noticed that there were three geese near the pond. I like to think that one of their offspring have found their true love and come back to the family nest to carry on the tradition.

Here in Calgary, the Bow river does not always freeze over, and so we have lots of geese and ducks that winter over and never leave. They become quite a nuisance in the parks and especially on the golf courses. One course took the unique step of hiring a beagle named Daisy to go out on the course and scare away the geese. Can't you just see Daisy's resume - "Will bark at birds for kibble and tummy rubs". But it did seem to work, without harm to either geese or dog.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What's Blooming this Week

We have had a lot of rain for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday the sun began to shine in earnest, and the garden has just exploded with growth. This is a grid of what's blooming today. All of these plants are volunteers in the garden. I didn't plant them this year and when I did plant them in a previous year, I didn't plant them where they are now growing. They have self-seeded and found themselves the perfect spot. The Columbines grow wild here in Alberta and this red and yellow one is called Aquilegia Canadensis. The little blue and pink forget-me-nots are so sweet and have seeded themselves all over the back yard in both flower beds. Their Botanical name is Myosotis which means "mouse-ered" after their rounded fuzzy leaves. We ate a lot of the chives on new, little, red potatoes - a true taste of spring. We also had a record breaking crop of dandylions this year. It seems the city was a bit slow in spraying and that has raised a big kerfuffle over it. Dandylions are certainly something that raises the ire in people. All of these plants are native to Alberta and I enjoy having them take their rightful place in my garden.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bells of Mexico

These are two pottery bells from Mexico. My beloved godmother and aunt, who was an intrepid traveller, brought these home from one of her many trips to Mexico. The yellow one now belongs to my mother. The end part that hangs down is made of metal (copper, maybe). It hangs in the doorway of my parents' den I noticed every day this past week as I was visiting my mom. The white bell is the one given to me. It's hanging part is made of unglazed pottery. This bell has the center part cut out, as are the doorway and some of the windows in the mission. I think it reminds me less of Mexico and more of the Pueblo dwellers of the American southwest. My aunt has been an inspiration for me as far as travelling goes. She says the best parts of the journey are often the unexpected, out-of-the-way things that you see while on your way to the tourist attractions. As I think of my three trips to Mexico, I know that she is right.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bloom where you are planted

These are some of the violas that have voluntarily come up in my garden. I never plant violas, but I do plant pansies in containers on the deck. Late in the summer, when they become leggy and listless, I let them go to seed. The next year it is a pleasant surprise to see what will come up where and in what form. I like pansies, I think they are cheerful and opportunistic. They are the real embodiment of the phrase "Bloom where you are planted". They seem to find the spot where they will thrive. Some of them have come up in places where pansies never were. Perhaps they migrated on the breeze, or hitched a ride with the sparrows. They are always welcome in my garden and we plant the tomatos and other things around them. Like the sparrows, violas are cheerful and adaptable, and remind me do my best with what I've got and to be grateful for my life each and every day.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

EDM 121 - Coins

This was an interesting challenge. I hope to see coins from many different countries. Here in Canada we have a lot of coins, as we have a $1 coin and a $2 coin. The $1 was introduced first and has a Canadian Loon on it, thus it was called (coined) the Loonie. A little while later the $2 coin was introduced with a polar bear on it, and it was dubbed the Twoonie. What else could it possibly be called?

My first memory of money was when I was in the Grade 1. Our teacher had adopted a child through the Christian Children's Foundation for our class (anyone remember Lotta Hichmanova, that scary Russian spokeswoman for the Foundation?). Every Friday, I would go to school with a precious nickle clutched in my hand to give to our adopted child. Her name was Luz Marina and she lived in Columbia. Sometimes we would get a letter from her, and we would write back. We would also gather together basic household items to send to her at Christmas. So my first memory of money is of how much more it could buy for Luz Marina in Columbia than it could buy us here in Canada, but also of how much less she had. No medicines, no clean water, no school books, no new dresses to go to school in. It was a big lesson for six year olds. But I learned it well, mostly because I was so afraid of Lotta Hichmanova coming for me if I didn't.