Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Sure Happens Fast Anymore!

I was astounded to see how much my Lily of the Valley had grown in only five days!

Compare this shot with the one I took and posted here last Thursday! Wow, if you are not alert, you could miss it all! That's why I love my pocket camera. Just like drawing, it really makes you look at things.

The tulips didn't last long after a couple of 80 degree days.

Just discovered this - FYI - Although it has been used for medicinal purposes, the flowers, fruit, and leaves of the Lily of the Valley plant are highly poisonous. If someone you know has eaten any parts, call 911.  (If the plant is touched or handled, hands should be washed before doing anything else. - Good to know.)

The Butterfly Bushes in the background are filling out fast.

Wanted to show you my other giant wind sock from Dorrie and Dave that I just put up today. I was taking a picture of it from my kitchen window, when

Hey wait! What's that? Look who came to check things out!

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a rare visitor to our yard. Like the hummingbirds, they migrate to the tropics in the fall. This handsome guy stayed for quite a while and ate seeds from Jerry's plate feeder.

Look at the massive jaws and top raised bump (or nose) on his beak. He reminds me of a parrot. Notice the red feathers peaking out from under his wing! I saw them when he flew away, but missed the shot.

My Audubon Bird Book says the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is one of the most conspicuous birds before the foliage comes out in May. Keep your eyes peeled folks! From the back it just looks like a black bird with white spots.  

Perhaps they are around here all summer and I just don't see them at our feeders, when their diet probably consists primarily of bugs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cover Art For The New Plains Review

A couple of copies of  the Spring '11, "New Plains Review" arrived in my mailbox today. The New Plains Review is a literary journal published each semester by the English Department of The University of Central Oklahoma. My artwork was chosen and downloaded through iStock for the current issue. I am truly honored to have my Spirit Art represent this prestigious collection of poems and short stories. Many many thanks to the New Plains Review Staff for contacting me, sending copies and a hand written thank-you note, giving me credit and allowing me to submit a profile photo and biography. With over two years as a stock contributor and more than 1,200 image downloads, this is only the second stock client who has contacted me and provided me with an in-use sample. Because it is so rare, it really means a lot to me. See here how the image was used. Although there is some color difference in my snap shot here, the colors and quality of the image came through perfectly on the cover. The original watercolor of "Woman With Hawk Spirit" is available for sale. Contact me for more information.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Yard and Mini Wildlife Preserve

Yesterday was a beautiful April day. The sun shone warm and the wind blew cold. With pocket camera in hand, I took inventory of Spring's progress.

I hung my giant hummingbird wind sock. A most appreciated and enjoyable gift that I received last year from friends, Dorrie and Dave.

Jerry keeps the wild bird feeders coming and filled. He's been making these flat plate feeders that the Cardinals and other finches just adore.

He purchased this Thistle feeder last week. It looks like an alien and took the birds a few days to get used to. It holds ten pounds of seed and even came with spare socks! We figure it will accommodate about 30 Goldfinches at a time.

My Lily Of The Valley have sprung up over night after our 80 degree day here on Wednesday! Oh, don't you just love how they smell?

The Butterfly Bushes are starting to grow like weeds.

Jerry brought me a couple of hanging Begonia so I now have some color at my studio entrance.

The hens and chicks that my mom and I transplanted last summer look strong and healthy! I moved them under the eave of the house in mid winter as they were looking really peaked.

A late blooming tulip amongst the LOV.

The Daffodils and other early perennials in the South facing front yard are past peak.

My beds need weeding and mulching. The Pampas Grass is starting to get new stalks.

Today the first female hummers have arrived! I am so pleased to see that they look plump and healthy. Perhaps almost ready to start laying eggs!

I hope you enjoyed this early spring stroll around my yard here at The Sandarosa. It's not Birds And Blooms material, but it is our little slice of heaven and we love it here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Hummingbird for Every Home!

I have not heard any reports from my friends of hummingbird sightings, although they should be coming in any day now! I saw my first a week ago. I've got several here now, so that means I probably have six or eight individuals so far. The rule of thumb is that however many you can see at one time, multiply the number times four and that's the approximate number of birds you have. Like I mentioned on FB, they are more interested in setting up their territory and catching bugs than in drinking sugar water right now.

Oh, hummingbird, most magical and mysterious creature! Last year with so many here (well over 100), for the first time in my many years of hummer watching, I got a real taste of what I call the "flocking nature" of the hummingbirds. One group would zoom in, hang out for twenty minutes or so, then they were off. Shortly thereafter another totally different group would come in, rest, drink up and catch a few snacks before taking off again like a flock of blackbirds. The flocking behavior became very evident late in the season when all the birds were getting ready to head back south for the winter. I am excited to imagine what mysteries and discoveries might present themselves this year!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Viking Cooking School At Harrah's Resort

Last night I did something completely different! Meet our new friend, Chef Amanda.

My riding buddy, Betsy and I took a three hour cooking class at The Viking Cooking School at Harrah's Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

Betsy is always so much fun to be with, needless to say, WE HAD A BLAST!!

There were fifteen in the class and we cooked four different courses.

We were grouped into teams of four cooks each. We were team #1 and only had three. Betsy and I REALLY lucked out when accomplished chef, Davyd joined up with us.

We ended up being Davyd's sous chefs which we throughly enjoyed. (The sous chef is the head chef's assistant, and he/she does all the 'dirty work' for the chef, however, in the Viking kitchen, there was absolutely no dirty work since everything was pre-portioned and ready for each station.) And no clean up what so ever!!

Davyd was very diplomatic and made sure Betsy and I got plenty of turns to contribute.

We learned the proper way to chop with a big sharp knife. (I have no idea who the guy in the background giving the peace sign is.) The school is all glass enclosed and people often stop and watch, as we had done many times in the past.

We didn't take much notice of the spectators. Our husbands said they came by and stood there for a while, but we were having such a good time and laughing so much we never saw them.

Did I mention that I only had a piece of pizza to eat all day? Boy was my mouth watering!

The evening went by so fast, that before we knew it, it was time for us to enjoy the fruits of our labors. What a wonderful time and a delicious gourmet meal we all enjoyed!

Our charming instructor, Chef Amanda, served us graciously, entertained us and taught us well. Betsy and I are already talking about making this a regular thing. Since they have a wide variety of class offerings and menus that are always changing, I'm sure we'll be back in class again real soon!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Hummingbirds Are Here ! !

Now license this image here.
O.M.G. - I JUST SAW MY FIRST HUMMINGBIRD!! A tall handsome male was just seen taking a long drink at the feeder. Once again friends, I am in Hummer Heaven!!

This image available for license.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Hummingbirds Are Coming!

I awoke last night from a vivid dream. The hummingbirds just kept coming to me. At first just one, then another, and another, and another. Where were the feeders? They were buzzing all around my house and all around the shepherd's hooks where I hang the feeders. Little dark flashes of green with a splash of bright red kept streaking past my immediate and peripheral vision. They were flying back and forth in front of my windows. They were hitting the glass with their bodies and making loud squeaking noises with their tails like they do when they are courting the ladies. I know they have been spotted in our area by the Hummingbirds.net Migration Map, so I took the dream seriously and got my first feeder up this afternoon.

It looks kinda lonely, but in a month, the whole yard will be alive. Look at the Butterfly Bushes now, just starting to bud in the background here. I cut them back about a month ago.

If anyone would like more information on attracting, caring for and feeding hummingbirds, go to my Squidoo Lens; Five Steps To Happy Hummers. Don't delay! Now is the time to get your Hummingbird Haven set up!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Body Clipping By SnapDragon Stables

My 31 year TB/Paint, Rudy, is one of those horses that looks like a Shetland Pony even after wearing a heavy blanket all winter long. Each year, his coat gets longer and thicker and it takes forever to shed out, despite his daily medication for Cushing's Disease. The past few years, he suffered with near heat stroke during those heat waves we experienced here on the East Coast. Two weeks ago, I decided to Google "body clipping in Southern NJ". Boy, we really lucked out when SnapDragon Stables came up in the search! Their prices are very reasonable, they are experienced horse owners and are only a few miles from my place!
Here's a photo of my good friend Betsy (his 2nd rider) and Rudy a month ago. He looks like a big fuzzy bear. Look at those stumpy legs!

The 16H Shetland, before the makeover.

Ginger and Lauren went right to work uncovering the horse beneath the hair.

OMG - His legs still have a shape! It was like getting a brand new horse.

The time goes quickly as the transformation continues.

If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I'd swear it was a different animal!!

Here's a photo of the horse I used to know! Just look at that big bucket of hair he was hiding under!

We've had some wintery weather since the clipping, but rest assured, he is kept warm. He's got three blankets on in this photo.

I was so happy with the great job the girls did, the next day they came back and I got Rita body clipped too. Not nearly as dramatic, but will save me a lot of work.

Lauren and Ginger, thank you for a GREAT job and for a shed-free, allergy and maintenance reduced riding season!!! We all give you a stellar recommendation!

Here's a photo of Betsy and Rudy last week with the new spring/summer look.

Happy Happy Shed-Free Spring!!