Tag Archives: animals

getting to know you

An old internet friend commissioned me to do a double portrait of his sweet dogs, who have sadly passed on. Rooney, a chocolate lab and Magic, a black lab were my subjects. I’d never met the dogs, so only had pictures and my friend’s description of what the boys were like.

It is a funny thing but as I draw, I feel like I’m actually getting to know who or what ever I’m drawing (yes, if I draw a rock, I start to feel I know the rock) and it was the same with these two. Rooney seems such a hopeful, serious sort and Magic goofy and playful. Both seemed open and loving and most of all, loved.

So, here’s Rooney & Magic, approximately 16×20 in graphite. It was great getting to know you.

Rooney & Magic

Rooney & Magic, 16×20, graphite.


research

Quick preliminary sketch to get to know this bird.  What a complicated beak!

flamingo


new fun photography stuff

Just got some new software that works with Lightroom. It’s called ON1 and it’s proving to be rather fun to play with. Just a couple quick little shots of Loki with some ON1 enhancements, presets, and borders.

loki-bw-antique

Loki, b&w “antique” preset, border.

loki-tintype-2376-Edit

Loki, old tintype border.

loki resting

Loki, b&w “antique” preset, border with slight opacity adjustment.

I’ve just started playing with the software so I have a lot to learn yet. It’s fairly easy to figure out and is highly customizable, so you aren’t stuck with a fixed set of anything.

fun stuff


Loki and her ball

Loki has a favorite ball. It’s a red ball that flashes light when it is moved, jostled, or nudged. My cousin, Donna gave her this ball many years ago — at least 8 or so. We’re all amazed that the flashy thing inside still works.

Loki doesn’t really like playing fetch. She has her own way of playing ball. She gets the ball of choice, runs up to the human she has decided needs her attention, and growls menacingly. This is her invitation to the human to try and get the ball. As you go to take it from her, the pitch and volume of her growl grows and she does her best imitation of an attack monster-dog defending her young. If you back off or try to ignore her, she will continue to close in, eventually nudging your hand or dropping the ball in your lap while continuing to growl with gusto, as if to say, “stupid human, you are supposed to grasp the ball with your hand and pull on it while it’s in my mouth. Hasn’t anyone taught you how to play?”

Sometimes she will go to a spot in the room or out on the deck with the ball or other toy in her mouth, sit facing the humans with the hope that they will notice she wants to play. If they fail to notice after a certain amount of time (say, a few minutes), she will drop the ball with a sigh and stare at you with the saddest look I’ve ever seen on the face of a most well-loved dog.

So, I sculpted Loki waiting with her ball. She’s done in red, outdoor sculpture clay with a pigmented wax patina. It doesn’t do her justice.

Image

I’ve entered her in a juried art show and I really hope she gets in. I also hope to get up some better photos of the piece to put up on Flickr and my website. But for now, here’s Loki, waiting to play.

Another view plus a detail of the head below.
Waiting to Play

lokiball-9


of dogs and parrots

Sometimes my animals are just too cute for words.

When the weather is nice, Loki will go out on the deck, choose one of her balls, and then sit there, ball in mouth, waiting for one of us to notice that she’d like to play. She will wait for quite some time, as she has the patience of a saint.
Loki waits patiently

Milo likes to hang out at the front window, watching the neighbors.

Milo at the window

The two seem to like each other. One day, Milo was perched on his cage door, eating a snow pea. Loki likes to sit under him and wait for crumbs. This time, Loki reached up and gently took the pea from Milo’s beak. Milo didn’t seem to mind as nary a feather was ruffled. He just went inside and got another pea. That’s one picture I regret not getting.

I can hardly believe that Loki is 9 years old and Milo is 24.


a furry path in my future

Today I met with a lovely woman who runs a wildlife rehab facility out of her home, specializing in rabies-vector mammals. I’ve been looking to find a way to work with animals, going over the different possibilities including zoos, vet clinics and animal shelters. After researching and pondering what would be best for my situation and interests, I’ve decided that wildlife rehab would be the most satisfying for me.

I do want to include other animals at some point and there are a couple places that work with raptors and other birds that aren’t too far away and I think after I get my feet wet, so to speak, I may expand to do a day or two at one of these facilities as well. But for now, I think I will learn a lot and be very happy helping out our local raccoons, foxes, possums, skunks and other furry critters.

So, in a few weeks I get my pre-exposure rabies vaccines (series of 3) which will be just in time for baby season!


animals animals animals

So this week we had Leo and Buddha staying over. They both arrived on Friday afternoon. It was kinda interesting watching how the three dogs got along. Buddha is a gorgeous, high-energy pit bull who is all about “the love.” Leo is a very small beagle who’s coloring is on the red side, with moderate ticking on his white areas. He’s a feisty little guy who just doesn’t seem to know he’s pint-sized. And of course, Loki, our pit bull/beagle mix is right in the middle size-wise, but full of disdain when it comes to these raucous male interlopers.

I must say, all three dogs got along way better than I imagined they would. There was minimal posturing among the boys. Turns out, Leo is a bit of an instigator, hoping to get the larger Buddha in trouble so he could win a better position (closer to the people/food). When dogs vie for place, I tend to send all bickering parties far away. No winners in this house.

The very funniest “bout” was the first night. We brought all their beds into the bedroom with us. Leo ran and claimed Buddha’s bed and Buddha tried to claim Leo’s. Watching Buddha try to make himself small enough to get into Leo’s bed was quite amusing. Buddha’s head is bigger than Leo’s whole bed. It was even funnier watching Brni try to get them in the right beds. Loki, of course, claimed our bed, which is her domain (she gets the middle).

Leo went home last night and now I’ve added my neighbor’s cats to the list of animals I’m taking care of. The cats, thankfully, get to stay home so all I have to do is go feed and water them twice a day. Buddha will be with us for the next week or so.

I wonder if I should start an animal-sitting business?

My Loki

Leo

Buddha


of dogs and deer

Late this morning, a couple deer came into the yard to inspect the bamboo removal. Loki went down into the yard to inspect the deer, when things turned decidedly weird and luckily I had my camera to record some of it.

loki watching the deer

I really expected the deer to take off. Her fawn was quite far back, but she was watching the interchange intently. This deer is definitely showing interest in Loki, which is totally unexpected.

coming closer

Suddenly, she starts up the hill straight for Loki!

she's on her way up!

Loki freaked out, pawed and dug the ground like a bull ready to charge, and the deer and her fawn took off.

I so wish I had a fast lens! As it was, my camera was set to 400 ISO by mistake, so the pictures aren’t nearly as good as they could have been. If you want to see them all (just a few more really), go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/thereallinda/sets/72157621624024061/


hurry up and wait

Ever since I can remember, I’ve identified with animals. Animals were a constant. I watched them, drew them and when I grew a bit, I read about them, but always I dreamed about them. My first lesson in death was of an animal, by my own hand, before I was old enough to go to school.

When I “grew up” I lost my connection with animals. I traded my nature-heart for the worldly reality of reason, logic, sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. I traded magic for the aloof of cool.

I find this sad and I’ve had quite enough of reason and cool. I am sad that I lost my way for 30 odd years. With the death of my mother 17 years ago, my body rebelled. I entered the world of fluctuating hormones too soon. My body could no longer obey the pull of the moon. I shorted out. But still I didn’t see all the cut cables and exposed wires that used to be my connection with the world as I knew it. My breasts grew tender and swollen, as they did when I entered puberty. My libido drove my wild at the most inappropriate times, but still, I didn’t pay attention to the real world. I just carried on carrying on, trying to work within the artificial boundaries of reason.

and then a funny thing happened…

I started looking into the world of plants. I thought I was learning about the medicinal properties of herbs, but I found I was looking for more. I found out that plants are as magical as animals. I found out about energy, faeries, quantum physics and string theory. I found my way back to animals through weeds and trees and roots and the heartbeat of drums. I found out that flowers fondle our feelings and the poisonous poke is my guide back home. I made a drum and started turning furniture into art.

and then my back broke…

My back stopped my walks in the woods. My back took away my ability to stand, sit, study and sleep. I looked to my plants, but they couldn’t help. I looked to my animals — I dreamed for them, but try as they might, they couldn’t help. So I placed a needle in my spine and filled the too narrow space with cortisone. I felt like a failure. I felt like a failure.

But I can walk again…so I must readjust and loosen my grip on perspective.

Magic comes in many forms and magic doesn’t play by anybodies rules. She comes with animals, plants, rocks, stars, a baby’s breath or a dying sigh — even from a hypodermic needle full of steroids.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I’m sad. I’m restless. I’m tired of waiting for my life to begin again and I’m worried I have no time left and I’m wasting it all.

I just want to get back to the animals. I am Crow, Wolf, Horse and Lizard. Elk leads me and Heron preens while Praying Mantis reminds me to pay attention. Horse gallops the length of my spine and Hyena rips it to shreds. Wolf bites Elk’s ass and gets kicked for his trouble while Crow laughs at all of them without a lick of reverence. Turkey Vulture just sits and waits for dessert.

I really need to get my ass in gear and lighten up. I’m missing all the fun.


tiny moments

sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you get to work on time.

as i was walking to the library from the parking lot, i saw a tiny olive green bird lying on the sidewalk. this is the third or fourth little thing that i’ve found dead on the walkway after smacking into the large windows on the side of the building. always the same spot…always the same species of bird. typically, i pick the poor things up and find a place of repose for them under groundcover or tucked into the ivy.

so i bent down to inspect this little one and found he was still with us! i scooped him up to inspect him and found nothing broken. he was just stunned and covered in fine webbing. i gently removed the webbing as best i could and kept him cupped in my had for warmth and reiki. he gradually perked up and after about 15 minutes, he stopped panting with open beak and took a look at me. he stared at me for quite some time (must have been a very long stare in bird-time). i bent down, placing my hand on the ground. he waited a minute or so then hopped off and flew up into the oak tree.

i found a picture of a similar bird…a black throated green warbler.

so, no matter what else happens today, i feel that i’ve accomplished much.


a small escape

was sitting outside on the bottom step from the deck, drinking my morning coffee. loki was scratching at the drain pipe next to the side of the house seriously hunting something. she then decided to check things out in the grotto (the space under the porch).
as i was sipping my coffee, i caught peripheral sight of a little chipmunk skulking past me. he had just exited the drain pipe. i guess he figured now was his chance to get away from the dog, sneak past the bigger animal (me) and high-tail it to the remains of the bamboo.

i’m happy to report his escape plan was successful.


woody woodpecker lives

amazing news…there have been multiple sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker in arkansas. the ivory-billed woodpecker, largest of it’s species, has been thought to be extinct for
decades.
dunno about the rest of the world, but i’m excited! here’s a good link: http://www.worldwildlife.org/news/woodpecker.cfm
another good link is http://www.nature.org/ivorybill/

one for nature!


loki

just thought you all should know, my dog bites her nails.

she also gets annoyed when furniture or paintings are moved. when i had to rearrange stuff to mitigate the black hole brni made in our wall, fucking up the feng shui, i inadvertently left a nail exposed in our bedroom wall (yes, that’s right…buying the damned tv made it necessary to rearrange two rooms). anyway, loki was thoroughly offended by the bare nail in the wall, growling and barking until we were forced to pull it from her sight.

we discovered her sense of the aesthetic early on. shortly after i brought loki home from the shelter, we enrolled her in puppy school. it was a wonderful experience for loki and for us, and i highly recommend it to all potential puppy parents. this particular evening, class was being held in an old barn of sorts. there were large windows on two sides, one of which looked out onto a field where cows were grazing. as we were standing in place for the next lesson, loki started barking at the window quite insistently. she wouldn’t stop no matter what i did. i looked out the window and said, “i think she’s barking at the cows.” the teacher said, “no, she’s barking at the rug someone put on the window ledge. she doesn’t like it there.”

what?

someone had taken their little throw rug which they were using as a puppy mat and put it on the window ledge. why would loki even notice such a thing let alone dislike the placement? i mean, she’s a dog. dogs don’t do design.

the owner of the throw rug removed it and placed it on the floor. loki stopped barking, turned from the window, now ready for the next lesson.


lying down with dogs

Dreamt of Loki last night…a very complicated, convoluted, just plain bizarre dream. Loki had about 2 dozen puppies. They were very, very tiny, about 3 or 4 inches in length with Loki’s coloring and markings. I was looking out over the back yard which was much more massive and glorious than my yard. Everything got rather dark and the sky looked to be brewing a storm. I began to panic with the realization that I needed to get the pups inside quickly. I dashed outside and began gathering them up in my arms, then running back to the house through the basement door. Everywhere I looked, I saw another pup curled up in the grass. It was so dark, I could barely see them and was in terror of missing one or more.

Finally, I was certain I had them all. They were all over the basement, getting into nooks and crannies, under steps, tucked in corners. I needed to get them into a crate or cage, but Loki’s old crate was still at Brni’s brother’s place and the large crate we used for Precious when she was too old and infirm to deal with the high shelves in her ig cage was just too large. I went upstairs and was surprised to see that Brni had gathered the pups up and put them in a crate that I’d never seen before.

Then I realized that we had no puppy food for them and they’d not eaten for 24 hours! In this dreamtime, puppies could not survive more than 24 hours without food, so I dashed off to Braxton’s to buy food for them. I thought I’d just run to the store, but then realized that driving would be quicker and I could run other errands on the way back. I don’t remember ever really getting to the store and buying the food, but at some point, I was back at the house and the pups were ok.

(This is an old theme that has pervaded my dreams for many years. In the midst of the dream, I find I’ve neglected something very important. I am usually riddled with guilt at my irresponsible behavior, which I tend to carry with me into waking time.)

There was a woman sitting in our living room who was there to adopt one of the pups. She was talking about how she was against kissing animals or holding them in any way. I wanted this vile woman out of the house and pulled Brni aside to tell him that she would never get one of our puppies and to just get her name and address and tell her we’d let her know. I told Brni to start a list, but he wanted to write her name and address down on a little slip of paper. I told him no, I wanted a list of names on one piece of paper instead of a bunch of little slips of paper. This apparently was a problem for him and I was getting rather angry at being contradicted in front of others. I don’t remember how this ended…

At some point, I found myself outside again…or this could have been earlier in the dream…it’s hard to track the order of events. But, there were many people all milling about the yard, going in and out of the house. Loki jumped up on a chair and began to pee very hard. The pee streamed through the slats in the chair to the ground, where it created a small puddle. I was shocked and said, “Loki, what are you doing?” Loki answered me,”Fishing.” Loki jumped down and ate a small, curled up grub which floated up from the middle of the puddle of pee. Then Loki jumped on the bench (we had a bench!) and proceeded to do the same thing. I pointed this out to Brni and said, “Listen. Loki, what are you doing?” She said, “Hunting,” and from the puddle of pee floated an earth worm.

We were astounded by her brilliance but a little grossed out by her method.


put your ear to the ground

Typing with people about tsunamis, pharmaceutical companies and gov’t regulations on herbal preparations (badbadbad), and just why do we “hear” stuff…ringing in ears, buzzing, low-level babble (as if over radio waves), slams, creeks, pops, pings, people calling our names. Is it all just electro/chemical brain burps, or is there something else going on?

In this conversation, some of the women talked about experiencing tinnitus, migraines, heightened irritability, etc. just before there was some sort of storm, natural disaster, or before someone they knew died. Some have always been aware of these associations and others are now beginning to chronicle them, giving them more credence than convention and society normally allow.

The premise here is that animals are clued into what’s happening to the earth much more so than we. Animals hear/feel/sense what is happening around them, but we don’t. Animals are AWARE and we simply are not. It makes no sense that we are the only animals lacking the ability to tap into the natural world, so it seems our lack of awareness is more a matter of conditioning. We are conditioned from birth to ignore all things in nature. Our culture and history most of the world over has set us apart from the rest of creation. We are the chosen. We are the ones with god’s ear and we have been given dominion over the earth and all the creatures. In actuality, we have excluded ourselves so thoroughly from the rest of nature that we no longer understand her. As a species, we no longer have the ability that a worm does to interact meaningfully with our environment. We have become ridiculous in the eyes of Gaia.

But maybe it’s not as grim as it seems. The tsunami was a great wake-up call to many that there is something terribly wrong with how we interact with Mother Earth. The animals of the area made it to higher ground, so very few of them died. They felt the quake and the wave and knew to get their asses out of there. *We* have this ability, and we can (and should) reclaim it. The problem is, if we do that, we will have to reassess how we interact with the natural world. We will have to stand back and leave the trees where they grow. We will have to stop poisoning and raping the planet. We will have to stop blasting and drilling in our mountains and coastal shorelines (one possible contributing factor for the magnificent earthquake that resulted in the tsunami is the ongoing “sound bombing” by oil companies looking for off-shore deposits near Tasmania. http://www.independent-media.tv/item.cfm?fmedia_id=10211&fcategory_desc=Under%20Reported ). We will have to learn to be quiet and listen.

I’m not hopeful that people the world over will pay attention, but I am pleased to find so many women are pausing and listening to the rich stillness all around them.


brni’s heroic feets

brni’s bro, lennie, had a birthday party yesterday for sarah. it was a nice mix of people, young and old, and dogs. though loki was the smallest of the three, her speed, agility and general fearlessness put her firmly in the alpha position. until the stray entered the mix.

all three dogs had followed sarah over to the front of the house. sarah was either trying to herd her niece in through the front door or away from it…i never got that part clear in my head. anyway, the dogs had all gathered in a rather tight pack when the stray came up to them. meanwhile, brni had followed the dogs to make sure they didn’t end up in the street.

somehow, the toddler found herself in the middle of the now very tense group of snarling dogs. brni said, “i’m going to pick you up now” and the baby said, “ok.” he had just gotten her out of the line of pricked ears and bared teeth when he realized loki was trapped. the stray managed to flip her over on her back and was trying to get to her throat. brni started kicking the dog while still holding the toddler above the fray. a feat of feets, one might say. the dog took off after the third kick.

loki was bit in the face. we washed her off with soap and water, treated her with antibacterial ointment and figured everything was ok since she didn’t seem to be feeling any pain.

the next morning we saw that she her eye was red and swollen…a dog version of a black eye.

o….and the cur gave her fleas.
😦


thunder moon

after days and nights of heavy rains, a clear but muggy night to honor the thunder moon. loki celebrated by ripping apart a rather soggy spider plant that was wedged next to the banana plants. she came in happy and thickly covered with swampy black dirt.
the ensuing bath with baby shampoo was not quite the reaction she was going for, though she did seem to enjoy the warm dryer.


precious

so precious died on sunday.

my grandmother was psychotically fearful of snakes. if she saw a snake on television, her legs would draw up off the floor as if the snake could easily leave the set and come slithering towards her feet. i, on the other hand, would get excited at the prospect of handling reptiles and have pictures to prove it. this fear is apparently not genetically determined.

a friend of our’s acquired precious when she was a palm-sized iguana. our friend is a hoarder of both live and inanimate things. she collects all manner of beings, keeping them caged in close quarters, caring for them enough to keep them alive for the most part. when her situation was such that her unnamed, 3 year old iguana was no longer welcome, she asked us to take her. brni and i recognized her and named her and built her a beautiful 3 level, wood and wire house that dominated our living room.

precious had a hard life that took a toll on her physically. she was determined though, and recovered from metabolic bone disease as a baby. shortly after we took her in, she required surgery to remove a large and bumpy bladder stone. but with proper diet and lots of tender loving attention (must only love lizards in one direction…loving them in the wrong direction can give quite a nasty scale-burn), precious thrived.

we took precious on trips where she caused quite a lot of interest on the interstate highways while hanging out in her cushy digs in the rear window of the car. when brni and i got married, we took precious to the keys on our honeymoon.

she hadn’t been doing so well this last year or so. getting old i suppose. no one knows exactly what the normal lifespan is for giant green iguanas. they are usually so mistreated through ignorance or insensitivity, that they just don’t live very long as pets. the longest living pet iguana died at 29 years. 19 years longer than my precious.

she was moving slowly and stiffly like an old arthritic man. she wasn’t eating with gusto and seemed to have trouble swallowing. i tried to force feed her, but she just couldn’t get the stuff down and was exhausted after just a few mouthfuls. so i gave up and just tried to coax her with bits of banana and ruby red lettuce, but she just didn’t have the strength to bother with food anymore. she kept getting thinner and stiffer and sadder and grumpier. when we touched her, she closed her eyes and suffered our attentions ’til we stopped.

so we were on a death watch on sunday. we tried to make her comfortable. cleaned her bedding and got her nice and close to her heat lamp. and watched her. brni put some greens by her lips, but that was just gesture.

we wrapped her in a green towel and found a place down in the gully in our backyard. brni dug a long trench in the rain and we laid her down and covered her with the clay and rocks that make up this place.

so, precious died on sunday. we were very blessed to have spent these last 7 years with her. i miss her something fierce.


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