Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Art

My art in the year 2014

His grandparent's joy!

Greta and Buster! 
They are  Brussels Griffons! (watercolor)


Sharon and Dan!


 Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus
The Pine Warbler is a small song bird commonly seen in eastern pine forests, and rarely seen away from the pines where they like to nest.  They are very vocal while singing hence the name!  Painted with permission by Richard Goohs!

Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana  
(watercolor) painted with permission by Wildlife Photographer Richard Cronberg!

Sinking in the mire of life!
I have been green for quite a long time!  I'm just so sick about the things I see in this world....  How can a few tyrannize  the millions?   Why should prices rise without a shortage?  All the problems of our current time weigh me down and cause me to sink in the mire of life.  And though the world may weigh me down so far that I sink below the surface, I will cling to my faith in God even when my last breath is over!  And, I'm still looking for my lost marbles!  Maybe one fine day the solutions to this world's problems will all line up, and I will find the answers along with my marbles!

Making Choices!
I was engaged in a very interesting philosophical conversation with a neighbor when a turn of events made me reconsider our relationship.  Now I must decide whether to continue our conversation or quit and eat lunch.  Everything was going well until our differences on political issues charged the air and became quite heated!  Things took a bad turn when he said that I was "larger" because I was "full of hot wind!"  That seemed kind of insulting!  I tried to turn things around by joking that "If I was full of hot air wouldn't I float up into the sky?"  I briefly daydreamed and imagined how great the view would be up in the sky, until he interrupted my reverie by adding, "Even a balloon will sail up into the sky as the hot air leaves it!"  I believe our lengthy conversation is over, and it is now time for my friend to become lunch!

A Case of Mistaken Identity!
I was just minding my own business when suddenly a fist hit me in the eye!  I saw sparks and for some reason had a vision of the future, which I quickly forgot due to the pain!  I heard my tormentor say, "If one black eye isn't enough!  You can go for the other eye!"  And, before I could react, POW!, there went my other eye!  I couldn't see at all then except for the lightning bolts everywhere!  Then, I heard him say, "Oops!  I thought you were someone else!"  Why couldn't it have been a case of mistaken identity where Publisher's Clearing House came to my front door and presented me with a large check which I deposited before anyone knew???  From now on, I think I'll hang out with the guys that don't have fists!

 2014 Annual Birdy Meeting!
It was time once again for the Annual Birdy Meeting!  This time, the organizers thought that sending out a questionnaire on a subject everyone could agree about might help, as previous years had been fraught with difficulties due to the subject matter.  An addendum was added stating that "The Cuban Tody group refused to attend this year's meeting as they were insulted when no one took there nest building suggestion seriously during last year's meeting!" and attendees were asked to "Please do not bring up any controversial subject matter at this year's meeting!"  And so a list of topics was sent out with a write-in space in case someone wanted to suggest a category that wasn't listed.  Subjects included:  "The dangers of human overcrowding, The hidden menace of BB guns, Do pesticides affect the taste of our foods?, Should songbirds be required to teach the non-singing birds how to carry a tune?,  Is it necessary to share nest-sitting duties equally between mates?, Should predator birds be taught to refrain from eating other avian species?, Should the Bird government be accountable for the mismanagement of social assistance funds, and their own inflated pay scale?, Why should birds with little beaks be required to pay more in taxes than the birds with larger beaks?"  The leaders thought they had everything under control until the meeting was called to order.  However, a tumultuous cacophony erupted into an overpowering roar as no one could agree on anything!  The Crow representatives immediately started screaming, "Why are we called a 'Murder of Crows' when the Seagulls are just called 'A Flock of Seagulls?'"  The Gull representatives were yelling back at the Crows that "We are a more peaceful group than the Crows, and that is why!!"  There was so much complaining going on that no could understand any of the conversations.  The organizers quickly folded up their agenda programs and left!  The leader tried to announce that a more simple subject would be chosen for next year's meeting IF AND WHEN it did occur, but no one could hear him!

Learning hard things in our woods!
The master had called us all together to learn how to count.  He said, "It is hard for you to learn how to count as your brains aren't really meant for this!"  The master explained his statement by  telling us about a book he had read which had a character in it named "Ayla" who could count easily to ten,
while others around her couldn't go past one or two.  He then placed one round counter in his hand and said, "Everyone say one!" "One!" said most of us.  "Pencil Sharpener!" said another.  "Okay" he said, "Now this is two counters.  Say two!"  "Two!" most of us said.  "Pencil Sharpener!" said the other guy.  The master started to become perturbed when we couldn't go past the number two and that one guy kept saying "Pencil Sharpener!"  The smartest one in our group who is somewhat of a philosopher asked, "Master!  Isn't it hard to learn to count when there are so many trees in the forest?  We would never be able to count all of them!"  The master put his hand over his eyes, looked down, and said, "Ok!  Just go and count one tree and we'll call it a day!"  "Pencil Sharpener!" said that one guy.

Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
One fine morning I woke up just before sunrise, and tried to live my life-long ambition of being a Rooster!  I crowed my heart out as the glorious sun arose over the hills!!!!  But then, I realized that I wasn't really awake, and had been dreaming!  So, let me start over!  "The sea was angry that day my friends!  Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli!"  No wait!  That's still not it!  Oh my goodness!  I'm a pelican!!!  Well, just let me complain about the cost of fish then!!! And here is an old saying that my cousin told me, "A wonderful bird is the pelican!  His beak can hold more than his bellican!"
(watercolor painted from a photo by David Carter) 

Talking to the Referees after the game... (a true story!)
 No sir!  I didn't like the way you called the basketball game!  I believe it is against the rules for you to ride to our school on our opponent's bus!  I thought that was odd, and when on the opening jump, you called a foul on our jumper, then I knew right then that something wasn't right!  I also believe you set a state record with the 51 fouls you called tonight which allowed our opponents to score 33 points on free throws alone!  I kept the score for our team, and the other team only won because of the extra points they got from the free throws........... So, do you think I have a Bulldog/Soccer Mom look in my eyes?  Well do you?? 

Saying Too Much At The Wrong Time!
Sometimes, people may open their mouths in public and say something that just perturbs and rubs the rest of us in a very irritating way!  This time, a guy badmouthed our little floating Birdie balls which we all adore.  He really insulted them!  Just because he doesn't understand levitation, is no reason to make fun of them!  Why is it that the ones who understand the least, usually say the most?  Unfortunately for Mr. Loudmouth, Larry Longbeak happened to be a little too close, and when Larry turned quickly to see who had insulted the little Birdie balls, he accidently whapped Mr. Loudmouth hard with his beak!  I'm sure Mr. Loudmouth will apologize as soon as the swelling goes down!

Time for a nap!
I have put my little darlings to bed!  Ah!  Those sweet little peepers!  I love hearing those final little chirps as they drift off to sleep and try to fight it until they are too tuckered out to remain awake.  Such a blessing to have the comfort from knowing they are safe, well fed, and at rest.  Now, it is also time for me to get a little nappy time as I am also worn out!

My latest brood!
You try to raise up your kids in the way that you learned!  So far, every one of my broods has been the same until these latest arrivals.  In the past, my babies always flew away as soon as they could.  But this group of hatchlings seems to be destined to join the circus.  They are doing things in totally unexpected ways.  But perhaps my mother saw me in a similar light when I was young,  listening to the Beatles, and letting my hair grow long!  And there is really nothing wrong with joining the circus!

My friend sometimes gives me a headache!
I care a great deal about my friend, but sometimes his shenanigans just give me a headache!
If it wasn't for the good things he usually does, I would have to say, "So long Charlie!"  But for the most part, he is a very worthwhile, dependable friend to me.  I have tried to talk to him about this one particular aspect of our relationship that needs adjustment, but when I do he just laughs that laugh of his, jumps up, lands on the top of my head, and the pain begins again.  If he could just fix that one thing he does that gives me such a pain in my neck, then everything would be hunky dory!    For you see, I really don't like my hair to be messed up!  And, he really likes to do that to me!  And, it will take hours of preening to get my hair back to the way I like it!   But, I'll never allow a little messed up hair to ruin a life-long friendship!

My Birdy Nightmare!
Most people have nightmares far different from mine.   Other people have nightmares about crazy clowns who leap out of closets squeezing rubber chickens and squirting water on them!   My nightmare is having a chicken sit on my stomach and telling a version of the old joke, "Why does the chicken cross the road?"  But in my nightmare the chicken always stops at the punch line and lays an egg.  I know!  I know!  A male chicken laying an egg!  It is indeed horrible, but I do enjoy the egg for breakfast!

The road ahead is becoming more difficult...
I believe I have come to a place where the path ahead is becoming more filled with obstacles than on my journey thus far.  As time goes by in only one direction and covers us with mortal complications, I know I must go on this way and keep moving as I have seen many others that were stopped and became frozen in time or morphed into unrecognizable shapes.   I realize that I must step forward as the future intertwines with my present existence.   There will be an end of my steps when I reach a place where the path ceases for me.  But, for now I will continue on as long as I can!   If I could only become "Unstuck in time" like Billy Pilgrim in Vonnegut's book, "Schlachthof Fünf" or "Slaughterhouse-Five" if you prefer the translation.  I am particular in favor of the German word for butterfly which is schmetterling!  Guten tag!

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Life!
Sometimes some of the pieces to the "Jigsaw of Life" you have just won't fit together.  Or, you may be missing a piece or two.  Perhaps it's like the TV schedules that the network bigwigs foist on us.  TV didn't used to be like this.  We used to have a long series that would stop during the summer and then continue in the fall.   But lately I watched a series where the fourth episode was the season finale....  Don't they know this isn't how it should work, because we, the viewers, will lose interest?  Maybe these guys have lost part of their puzzle and just don't know where to find it.  They may not really understand TV audiences.   There are many such puzzles in life.  Pieces may seem to be missing.  I just want you to know that one fine day all the pieces will fall in place, and it will all make sense!   So, please save all the pieces that you have, as they may come in handy!

Off on a quest to search for spring!
I am off on a quest to find this illusive season called "spring!"  It does seem to be missing this year for some reason.  If I find it, I will bring it back with me so that we can all enjoy some warmer temperatures!  So off I go with the cold wind in my hair!  I hope to see you soon on a warmer day!

The Conflicts of Time!
We have to work on getting along together and occasionally this means stopping what we're doing to help others!  Quite often when I'm working or doing things which I deem necessary and important to me, I will be interrupted by people who insist that I do something for them right then and there!  This can cause me to become perturbed and even mad occasionally, but then I realize that I should put other's needs ahead of my own and stop what I am doing to help them.  Perhaps one day they'll understand that my time is important to me and that they shouldn't interrupt me.   But if they truly believe they have something that needs doing promptly, then I should just smile happily and say, "Sure!  I'll help you!"  After all, won't time continue on so that I can eventually get back to work on my own projects?

                                                                        Hey Fish!
"Hey Fish!" said the gull.
"What is it?" replied the fish.
"Come up here so I can tell you a story!"
"You aren't fooling me," retorted the indignant fish, "because I know you want to eat me."
"Nonsense!" said the gull, "I just want to tell you a story about my trips around the bay,
and anyway, I've become a vegetarian."
"I'm too smart to believe that!" the fish replied.
"No!  Really! I have converted to vegetarianism and I love seaweed now!  I recently heard the most wonderful story about a large fish over on the other side of the bay.  He has been crowned king and is trying to change the way we all think and live!  I went over to listen to him talk and I became converted!"
"I've heard about that guy, and he is trying to persuade all of the local predators to become vegetarians so we can all live in peace!  Did you really listen to his speech?  I'm coming up so that you can tell me more!"
"Thanks!" said the gull.  "Oh!  And by the way thanks for breakfast!"  Chomp!
"There's a sucker born every minute!" is the morale of this story, so please be careful about what you believe!

Changing the problems of the world...
Sometimes muscles alone just aren't enough to change the world.  Force just doesn't seem to create a permanent change for the better.  So how can we lift the problems that weigh upon us and our planet and change things for the better?  What will it take for the world to become one in getting along together?  We are all so different around the earth.  We all have some qualities that are good.  Our cultures are so vastly different and yet so interesting!  Atlas may have shrugged, but after all he did have to carry a heavy burden.  He once asked me to hold up the earth for him while he took a break.  "I'll be right back!" he said, but after a considerable time I started to wonder if he had gone on vacation.  And not being very strong, I had to let the earth fall as I could no longer hold it up.  That certainly made a big mess for everyone!  I was glad when he finally returned and went back to the job for which he was created.  Well, what I am really trying to say is that loving each other and caring about one another is the only way to change the world, and muscles and force just can't get the job done!

Basketball Jones!
I really wanted to play basketball when I was young!  But, I was just a little too short!  I had the "Basketball Jones" very bad, but it was so frustrating for me!  There are sports where height doesn't matter, but basketball favors you if you are taller than everyone else around you.  I can't dunk or palm the ball, and I have strength problems just getting the ball to the goal on a free throw!  I was in the army with a guy who played basketball for the army.  He was my roommate for awhile.  He could "palm" me by picking me up right off the ground with his huge hand on my head!  I always wished that I had been taller, but my genetics kept saying, "No way Jose!"  Maybe I should just take up Tiddlywinks since it doesn't favor tallness!  Plus, there aren't many Tiddlywink players, so maybe I'd have a chance to win!!!

 The American Bison! (in watercolor)
We have two sub-species, the Plains Bison (Bison bison bison) and the Woods Bison (Bison bison athabascae), in the United States.  On rare occasions, a White Bison will be born which is sacred to Native Americans.  The name Buffalo is consider to be a misnomer as it is only distantly related to the true Buffaloes, and I keep getting corrected every time I say "Buffalo!" though I am glad to learn when I have made a mistake so I can get it right the next time!
(painted with the gracious permission of Bill Andrews)

 Walking my pets!
I love all of my pets!  They are like a part of my family to me!  But, I just can't walk them all at once as each has special needs and considerations.  So, they must all patiently wait their turns to go on walks with me.  "Just a walkin' the dog!" is one song I like to sing as I go.  And, if you don't know how to do it, "I'll show you how to walk the dog!"  Learning how to walk the rest might take a little while longer!

 Tee's Farewell!
Tee was asked to come back and show everyone his cap for one last performance!   He politely and regretfully declined, saying, "Gas was too expensive to drive the seventy miles and his retirement funds were horribly small!"  He would have loved to have come back to see all his former students and friends, had the circumstances been different.  He remembered that the previous year, just when he thought his days of donning the cap were over, he had been hauled back in for an extra three days of demonstrations which wore him out.  Hopefully this will be the very last time he will ever have to be seen in public with his cap.  So, let's all bid farewell to Tee and his cap as he takes his final bow!

I am not at all happy about the prices of food, living expenses, or even the cost of going to the movies.   Happy doesn't come close to how I truly feel about fat cats who raise their salaries but refuse to increase the "little people's" pay.  So, my friends and I are trying to look far into the future to see how long this trend will last.  For one day, the time we call the distant future will exist as the present, and then the fat cats who play with us like balls of yarn, will find that it's far too late for them to extract themselves from the hateful webs they wove.

Vacation Time!
Me and my friends were taking a well-deserved vacation!  Except we realized that we had taken a wrong turn due to an incorrect map.  Now, we are lost in a strange land.  This is even worse than the time I went to Florida and it rained the entire week I was there!  So, here we are.  But, where are we?  We took one wrong turn and are now entirely lost!  We are so far off track that we had to post a look-out at a high point to scout for a way out of this mess.  I don't think we will ever find a beach in this desert.   And sand without water lapping over it, just doesn't work!

"Blue Jay"(Cyanocitta cristata)
"Hey everybody!  The party's at my nest!  I've got snacks!  Peanuts for everyone!" 
 Painted in watercolor with the gracious permission of Richard K. Ledward, Jr.

What if we were the people our parents warned us about?
Sometimes it does seem like we once were the people our parents warned us about.  I understand this now because as a parent I am really starting to worry about my children.  When they start dating and their dates looks like I did back when I was young, and I remember what I was like, then I start to fret!  But, eventually they should come around and straighten out like I did!  I just know that they will come to their senses.  Or will they?  I'll never forget the first day of one college class when the professor, who should never have been a teacher, looked right at me and said, "It may be nice to be a barefoot boy with tanned cheeks, but you just don't belong here at THIS UNIVERSITY!"  And, I was wearing shoes!

Caterwauling!  (verb. to make a shrill howling or wailing noise )
Today I went to sing for my former students as I had been invited to do!  This is the ninth year that I have sung for the eighth grade classes.  I always sing Bob Dylan's song "Forever Young" just before the eighth graders graduate because I believe the words are inspiring!  But this year I had retired.  I was glad to be invited back to sing to them!  They had been my very first class of kindergarteners to also have been my art students.  I asked them if they knew the definition of "Caterwauling" as sometimes I sing that way.  Though I may not have caterwauled this time, I did love being there!  I was once told that the demise of the Dodo bird was caused by their caterwauling although I don't know if it's true.

Our Story Teller!
Some people judge others by how tall or short they are, or other aspects of their outward physical condition, and never see inside them!  What is inside a person matters the most!  Sometimes the smallest of creatures can have a very large impact on others.  Perhaps it is because they have had to try harder that they can succeed where others fail.  I know that we all love to hear our little friend tell his tall tales of wonder!  He keeps us entertained for hours with his stories.  He is a valuable friend that we will all take good care of as we don't want to lose him!

Colorado Elk! 
(Painted in watercolor with the gracious permission of William Andrews who took the photo in the Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.)
 "Why yes, I did rub the velvet off of my antlers with this tree!  And no, you may not use my tree!  Go and find your own!  I have created a work of art on this particular canvas!  I call it Expectations of Grandeur!

The World Today!
The world, our planet, our human existence have always essentially been the same.  As Solomon, the world's wisest man once said, "There is nothing new under the sun!"  But we do experience new things and humans create devices never used before.  So some things do change.  But, some things about this world will always be the same.  Time, existence and the cosmos only go in one direction.  Time only moves forward and cannot be altered, although we can adjust various parts of it.  Everyone is moving off in so many different directions that I think I'll just sit here for awhile and contemplate my options.  Those I know have all suggested entirely different paths through life, but I think after carefully considering the end results, that I will take the path less traveled.  Although it's narrow, I know it will lead to what is truly important for my eternity, which is just now starting!  This reminds me of a verse from the poem from "Desiderata" as I will "Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence!"

I am playing music!  Hopefully my strings won't break and I will remember the chords to the songs!

Northern Cardinal  (Cardinalis cardinalis
Painted in watercolor with the gracious permission of photographer Rocky Ledward!

 Can't Blame the Cowbird This Time!
Recently I noticed two babies in this nest that I took for siblings.  But now I don't think that they're closely related.  And I don't think the mean old Cowbird is the culprit this time.  Apparently someone will need to point out this discrepancy to the mom because once again she seems oblivious to the situation!

 American Black Vulture  (Coragyps atratus)
Some say that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" but artists can see beauty even in areas where most would not find it!  To me there is beauty even in the face of this vulture! (painted with the gracious permission of photographer Rock Ledward!)

A Special Prize!
We have just found a "special prize"!  A lost or forgotten egg from the Easter Bunny!   Should we turn it in or eat it?  Perhaps we should just go ahead and share in the new found wealth.  After all we are very hungry!  If we decide to eat it, I do hope that it has been boiled, as we once put an Easter Egg in our basket and it turned out to be raw.  What a mess!  The Easter Bunny surely has forgotten about this particular egg and should have enough left that he won't miss this one.  One friend pointed out that months have passed since Easter, and asked if the egg would still be ok to eat?  I guess we'll soon find out as my hungry friends don't look like they can wait!   

Old Friends!
Old friends from times past still dwell within my memories!  And although it is becoming kind of crowded in here, there is still room for many more!  Alhough it is becoming somewhat "Jammed up and jelly tight"!
 "The Will-O'-the-Wisp!"
We all came out one night to watch the very unusual phenomenon of the Will-O'-the Wisp as it rose out of the swamp!  I must say that watching the Will-O'-the-Wisp was exciting for me!  Quite a phenomenon!  I just wish Buster hadn't lit a match to it!  We all went to visit Buster in the hospital as he recovered!  My grandmother once told me about watching a round ball of lightning come into her house right through the closed screen door and then disappear!  That is also a strange phenomenon that I'd love to see!   But another phenomenon I would never want to observe would be myself spontaneously combusting!

"Meanie Pants"
This bird is a pest!  We call him "Meanie Pants"!  I really don't want to leave my swamp and give him a ride.  I was enjoying the peace and contentment of lying in the mud!  My friends had just come over, and we were enjoying soaking our tired bodies in the healing mud!  I had lit up the grill and was about to cook when he showed up.  He has wings!  Couldn't he just fly where he wants to go?  What a pest to ask for something that he could do himself!  That's why I think he is a "Meanie Pants"!
 The Lion Fish is here!
It's not the Lion Fish's fault that he now lives along our Florida coasts!  He's very sorry that he's causing so many problems and wants you to know that you shouldn't touch him or step on him.  "Though I am now called an 'Invasive species', it is not my fault!" he said.  "Someone brought me here and let me go!"  That is all well and good until you step on him!  The Snakehead fish, Zebra mussels, Asian carps, and other alien species are very grateful to have some of the heat taken off of them!

 Trying to be alone!
I'm trying to be alone by living and hiding from the world in my hidey hole.  The world is a scary place out there, and I'm trying to find a safe place to get away from it all!  People are always yelling at me, or telling me their beliefs which I don't care to hear about.  I had to tell Daisy, "I'm a loner and a loner has to be alone!" even when she kept asking, "Jesse what do you mean by that?"  So, I am hiding away!  Oops!  I think they have found me.....

Dee Cee the squirrel!
Dee Cee is a Washington, DC squirrel that lives just outside the National Gallery of Art!  He is probably influenced a lot by the Calder sculpture that is nearby his tree!  He is seen here carving a nut to look like the Calder sculpture! (Painted in watercolor from a photo taken by me!)

"Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?"  I, myself don't want to be contrary, but there are sniffers who sniff just a little too much and take up all of the aromas coming from our very rare flower garden!  These sniffers just sniff too much!  We don't have a lot of blossoms, and the sniffers with their huge noses have sucked up all of the fragrances!  I know our blossoms have a wonderful aroma, but anything with a nose has come to enjoy these wonderful smells!  Oh well!  What can I do?  Perhaps I should charge admission, but then it is probably best to share what we have with the world for free!

My New Egg!
Everyone came to admire my new egg!  I was very elated and proud of my beautiful egg until one visitor said, "Hello!  I represent a new TV show, 'Cake Boss', and we are looking for a special egg for a new recipe!  Would you be interested in donating your egg for the show?"  That statement perturbed me quite a bit on many levels! 

Slipping the surly bonds of Earth!
I am learning to slip the surly bonds of Earth!  I have loved the poem, "High Flight" by Mr. Magee from my early youth!  So here I go up into the sky to dance the "Skies on laughter-silvered wings!"
Oops!  Not everything that goes up comes down easily....  I'll just need a little more practice!  But, first I'll have to let the swellings go down.  Still, one fine day I will soar into the Heavens, put out my hand, and touch the face of God, if He will let me!

Pay for View
My friends were invited over to watch our favorite college football team's opening game!  Imagine our surprise when, after I had laid out the munchies, served drinks, and turned on my large flat screen TV, we discovered that the game was "Pay for View" only!  Our falling spirits were not lifted up by the promise of watching a different team for free.  The party started to break up as various friends said their goodbyes and quietly left my home.  The rest of us felt so sad that we could barely finish off the refreshments....

Meditating isn't easy!
While trying to work on my inner peace through meditation and prayer, I was interrupted by the loudest cacophony of sounds that I had ever heard!  Why did this extremely large group have to come together in my quiet, peaceful woods?  Was it the annual meeting of "The World's Worst Singers?"  They certainly could have qualified for that group!  They have given a new definition to the term "Caterwauling!"  My inner serenity has been totally shattered!  And, my very painful headache has returned!  My meditation problem today was to try and understand the Zen Coffee Shop that has one large coffee urn with two spigots.   One spigot is priced at fifty cents a cup while the other spigot is priced at $50 a cup.  It is up to the purchaser to decide which cup to buy.  Perhaps you can see my meditation dilemma!

Marguerite de La Rocque (A Tale of Survival)

Marguerite de La Rocque's place and date of birth in France are unknown, but records show that she made a declaration of fealty and homage in 1536 for her lands in Périgord and Languedoc, which are beautiful regions and provinces in France.   She was co-Seigneuress of Pontpoint, with her relative Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval, a nobleman privateer favored by Francis I of France.  In 1541 Roberval was made Lieutenant General of New France , which is now part of modern-day Canada.   The following year Roberval set out for the New World, taking Marguerite, who was still young and unmarried, with him.  Roberval ended up abandoning Marguerite on the "Isle of Demons" near the Saint Paul River in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Seaway, possibly to take over her inheritance because his debts were high.   Marguerite survived by hunting wild animals, and was rescued by Basque fishermen many years later.  She became a celebrity in France after returning when her story was recorded by the Queen of Navarre in her work Heptaméron.

The Mixed-up Crew!
Some were happy.  Some were sleepy.  A few were grumpy!  Some were just plain dopey!  But, since we all exist together on this planet, we must find a way to get along with each other!  It certainly is hard at times to disagree and stop before we get to the point of getting mad at each other.  We must learn how to overcome our differences and work out the problems we encounter!  If only we weren't so bashful at times to speak to each other!  I'll go talk to Doc about understanding the possibilities of overcoming our differences as soon as I quit sneezing!  And may I also mention the rest of the crew - Pokey, Slobbery, Meathead, Frazzled, and Blobbery as I whistle while I work!
The amalgamation of inadequate motions may cause many difficulties!  I found that out when I quit moving one day and became stuck!  I thought "The answer my friend is running with the wind! The Answer is running with the wind!".... that is, until someone threw an old, wet newspaper and hit me right in the face!  It probably wouldn't have hurt as much if I had been looking a different direction, but this one caught me square in the mug!  So now I am faced with the amalgamation of inadequate motions, as I am bent over in pain and can't see anything!  I'm afraid to take a step in any direction, because I don't know what I might step on or in!  I have to find a way to move, knowing that "A body in motion tends to stay in motion!"

Fall Birdy Summit Meeting!
The Bird hierarchy decided to hold an early fall meeting to discuss the next year's annual meeting, as the past few years' meetings had not gone well and the leaders wanted to avoid problems that might arise during next year's meeting.  The penguin faction was asked to sponsor the fall meeting due to the fact that they rarely showed up for the annual meetings.  The penguins asked everyone to meet, however, at the worst possible venue, as they chose a place already scheduled for "The Gathering of Obnoxious People!"  Right off the bat, the penguin leader expressed concerns over the Polar bear massacre of the gentile Gentoo penguins and asked that Polar Bears be exterminated before proceeding.  The Bird president realizing that he had made a mistake in asking the penguins to chair this meeting, sighed, hung his head and explained, "Penguins do not live in the same hemispheres as Polar bears and therefore would never come in contact with this carnivore."  A lot of loud screeching suddenly ensued as the penguin delegation emphatically voiced their beliefs that Polar bears and penguins do exist together, because they had all enjoyed the "Far Side" cartoon by Gary Larson which showed a penguin group sitting on an iceberg along with a large Polar bear wearing a penguin mask, with a caption stating, "And now Edgar's gone..... Something's going on around here!"  The entire Penguin delegation then stomped off in a huff, and the fall meeting broke up...

The Place Where Very Little Makes Sense...
I am in a place where very little makes any sense at all!   It is like when you think that things couldn't possible get any worse and then they do.  "The Peter Principle" is certainly in effect around here!  So many people arguing about so many things in so many different ways!   It's like they don't have ears to hear or hearts to understand what is most important in this world. This old world keeps on turning  always in the same way and yet some of us feel the need to go in a different direction!  It is hard to fight against the goads (or, as Paul put it in the King James Bible, to "kick against the pricks"), and so much easier to go wherever one is pushed, prodded or pulled.   I feel like I'm mired down from all of the negativity that threatens us.  But, being weighted down still won't hold me back from going where I need to go!

Pointing the finger at others!
Today's desk calendar thought is, "When you sneer and point your finger in scorn, three fingers are pointing back at you!"  I can't tell you how many times I've done this myself, or tried to put the blame on someone else only to realize later that I had done the very same thing.  And, usually I realize that it is me that lost an object or misplaced it and not someone else.  In this particular case, the fish tank had been washed out, but the tank had been refilled with water that had not been left to sit until all of the chlorine had dissipated.  I think therefore that it is my fault that the fish died, as I did not give clear instructions on how to take care of the fish water.  So these days when I see the top left off the strawberry jam jar I stop and think, "It might have been done by me instead of someone else!"

They feel the need for speed!
The race is on!  But where are they running to?  Not all of us feel like we have to run so we will just be spectators.  They seem to be going in circles anyway.  Perhaps it doesn't matter who wins but rather their reward comes from the joy and exhilaration of running with the wind!  Ah! We were young once and ran just because it felt good!  Nowadays, just standing around and watching feels pretty good to me!

The overcrowding problem has increased.  There just isn't very much room left, and the supply of Soylent Green is being exhausted!  I already see the tempers starting to flare up!  I'll try to do with less, and if possible, hope to overcome my claustrophobia!  At least we won't have to worry about heat this winter as all of these bodies will keep the temps up!  That's being proactive and thinking positively despite the situation!

Something Old, Something New, Sometimes Makes Me Blue!
It seems that every time I think there is nothing new under the sun, something comes along to change my opinion!  Oh, we have our disbelievers who say, "Everything that is, has already been created!"  Recently, a group came together to discuss the implications that nothing is new as I sat back and saw quite a variety of folks and ideas.  Perhaps they should just take a look at themselves.  But then I think how things have changed over the years.  I certainly didn't know there would be such a thing as the Internet back when I was young!  Or that we would all walk around like Dick Tracy using wrist contraptions to talk to each other.  I know kids born today can't understand how different life was decades ago.  How can the girl who takes my money at the movie theatre possibly understand that when I was young, I could go to a movie for twenty five cents, which got me a seat, a soft drink, and a box of popcorn.  I guess spending a fortune, now, to go to a movie is something new to me, although definitely not in a good way....  Still, I can't wait until we all have flying cars!!!!
The New Baby!
Is there anything cuter than a new baby!  Usually not, unless it's the baby from that one Seinfield episode!   Nowadays my baby has grown up and I hear a lot of complaining about everything.  I guess it's just a stage of life she has to go through.   I would have thought that she would have left this behavior behind in her terrible twos.   I wonder if I was like that when I was young?  Still, I will keep on singing to her the song that goes along with the book, "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch, because no matter what my baby becomes in her life, "I'll love her forever, and I'll like her for always! As long as I'm living, my baby she'll be!"
 Up-close in my personal space!
Have you ever had someone get up so close to your face that you feel your personal space has been invaded?  Someone who steps forward when you step back?  Why do they intrude?  Do they want to smell my breathe?  Is there something up my nose they find interesting?  Do they want to count my nose hairs?  Do they want to see eye-to-eye on some subject?  Do they want to pluck random facial hair?  All I know is that it makes me feel uncomfortable.  Perhaps a squirt gun could avert this behavior.  There's nothing like a quick shot of water to an eye to make them mind their own business!  Can someone explain this phenomenon to me?

A Doggy's Love!
"Yes, he may not be much to look at and his ears are on backwards, but the way he greets me when I come home from a hard day's work just makes everything seem perfect!  Did I fail to mention that he does bite people on the rear end?  Mark knows all about that particular aspect of Doggy's behavior!  Still, he does make the problems of the world fade away every time I come in the front door!  And for that I am truly grateful!  I just hope Mark heals up quickly and doesn't carry a grudge."

Making a Wish!
Let's see?  What should I wish for?  Peace in the world?  Prosperity?  But I can't remember, "After breaking the Wishbone, is it the long or short part that brings the good luck?"  Oh well!  I just wish good luck for all of us anyway!  That way, maybe some of it will at least rub off on me!  I certainly need some good luck to come along!!!

Floating Peacefully on the River of Life!
I am floating so peacefully on the river of life that I have fallen asleep!  Ah!  If only everyday was this serene and stress free!

No Hugging Zone!
There was a lot of yelling and arguing going on around us, and then we realized that there wasn't anyone hugging anywhere nearby.  We had missed the signs that now were so obvious.  We were in a "No Hugging Zone!"  As we were being led off to the "No Hugging Jail," I said, "We'll have to pick a better location for our vacation next year....!"  I just don't understand the "No Hugging Zone" policy as they seem to allow just about everything else!

The Question and the Answer!
"The first question, the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight".  The question is, "Doctor Who?"  The answer can be found just behind this hedge if you really want to know what it is!  But if you want to know an answer to another question, "What is the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", that answer is "42!"  Did you know that an angle of 42 degrees is required for light to make a rainbow?  However, if you truly want to know this answer you must get to Earth before the Volgons destroy it!  Oops!  Too late!  And after ten million years of calculations the Deep Thought computer didn't get finished due to the Volgons!  Now, how did I know the answer was "42" if the Earth was destroyed?  That's a good question isn't it!

The Things that come out of my mind!

Singing, but not in the rain!
I'm singing my heart out even though it isn't raining.  But I've noticed that everyone is ignoring me for some reason.  They're all looking away from me as I open my vocal chords and fill the air with sweet, lilting song!  Perhaps they're so overcome with emotion due to my singing that they just can't express themselves!  I do have a large repertoire and due to the varied types of people standing around when I began to sing, I include music from many different cultures.  I did receive one wonderful comment after singing which made me very happy when one guy said, "Did you know that whales can be heard from over long distances?"  That was very encouraging to me!  I'll probably look for another street corner to perform where there is actual precipitation!  Then, I can truly be "Singing in the rain!"
 Those that make fun of others need to take a good look at themselves!
We are all just standing around and staring at nothing in particular!  Nothing is going on!  So, we are just whiling away the time until something exciting happens.  I'm sure that with any moment the world will have turned and the promise of another adventure will beckon us to a new form of excitement!  We have to do this every now and then when things come to a standstill.  But eventually some strange critters will walk by right in front of us, and that is something worth waiting for!!!  Look!  There they are!  If they only knew how funny they look to us!

 Humming A Happy Song!
I am humming a happy song!  This is a nice form of sharing, as when I or someone else is happy and humming or singing, others will also be influenced by this behavior and spread the joy!  I have been humming along with the sounds the earth makes as it twirls though the universe!  This reminded me of a time when some friends and I were camping out at the Big Sur Campground in California, and we were dancing, singing, and beating on pots and pans around our campfire.  Others came to join us!  However, the campground manager came up, disrupted our joy and told us to "Stop that infernal noise!"  As our new friends walked away, off in the distance I could hear others beating on pots and pans with the same rhythm that we had started!  The joy had spread! So I am asking you to "Spread the Joy!"

A Pearl of Great Value!
We are happily dreaming about the giant pearl we found!  A pearl so valuable that we sold everything we owned to purchase it!  There are after all some things more important than anything else in this world!  And those are the things we should definitely seek! 

Meatball Logic!
The meatballs called for an immediate discussion over some recent vicious rumors.  Some of them had heard a great insult to the meatball group and felt the need to tell everyone about it!  The rumor as heard was, "Everything from the neck up is a meatball!"  There was a lot of yelling and screaming and vengeance was being planned over this  insult to them, and everyone but one guy was glad that the meeting was called.  Then the one guy stood up and said, "I am sorry but you have misquoted this saying!  It was actually from an old TV show and the correct words are 'You are a meathead!  Because everything from the neck up is dead!'"  A brief moment of silence followed as the members consider this revision of their thoughts and then they all leapt up with joy as one member shouted, "Oops!  We were wrong!  Never mind!  Let's all go find a large pot of spaghetti sauce and immerse ourselves in happiness!"

The Last Apple!
We are waiting for the very last apple of the season to fall from this tree!  A beautiful, juicy, delectable apple!  There won't be enough for a pie, but if I am the fastest one, then there will be enough for one wonderful apple turnover!

Our Teller of Tall Tales
We almost always enjoy his stories!  But, our teller of tall tales didn't quite live up to our usual expectations with his recent story.  Quite a few of us thought he had gone too far when he worked into this particular story references to things that we were embarrassed to hear! Perhaps if he wants us to come back to the next story event, he should apologize for making most of us feel uncomfortable.  Perhaps this was "A tale best left unsaid!"  "Psst!"  "What?"  "Oh!  Now I understand!"  Sometimes it takes a reference story to convince us that without naming names, a person can become ashamed and  taught to do better, when he realizes that he has done the very same thing!

Are Refs Blind?
That is a good question.  I have often wondered if blindness is a special requirement they must list on their applications when they apply to be referees.  I recently watched a college football game between the University of Tennessee and the University of Georgia.  The Georgia kick returner waved for a "fair catch", caught the ball, and then started running!  The refs said that was ok despite Tennessee coach Butch Jones's angry tirades over this horrible call!  I was hoping later on that UT would also wave for a fair catch and then run with the ball to see if the refs would be as blind when they were the offenders.  And I wonder if there is a penalty for refs such as being fined or fired for making such terrible calls!  We, the fans of the Big Orange team, are very upset!

The Menagerie of Love
Why do so many different concepts of love divide us?  The world has many different views on this subject.  So what are the roadblocks that separate us from loving each other?  Some obstacles may include:  the way the world has always been, politics, personal differences, experiences, religion, and just plain craziness.  If we could only overcome whatever blocks us from loving and being kind to each other, wouldn't the world be so much better!  We are all so different, but one way we can come together is by being kind to each other!  My grandmother had a wise saying on her wall which said, "The best way to have a friend is to be one!"

In the Navy!

Happy with the Blues!
I'm dancing a happy dance because the blues have made me glad!  Playing the blues and nothing but the blues has put a spring in my step!  You ask, "How can the blues make you happy?"  And I reply, "The blues gets right down to the real nitty gritty about what makes us sad, and from there we can be lifted up and every wrong righted!"  After all, you have to get to the bottom of what is bothering you before you can rise above it!

The Conference on Meditation
We came to what we thought was a Conference on Meditation, but something seemed wrong.  Finally one guy said, "Hey!  We were only supposed to be here one-at-a-time!  After all, how can one hand be clapping if there are so many hands?"  Thunderous applause greeted that statement!

Reflections on Life
Astonishing!  That's what it was!  We'd never seen anything like them!  Me and my friends quickly gathered to look at the strange critters that had somehow shown up in our area.   Then, we realized that we were all looking at our own reflections in a very large mirror...  As we slowly turned and walked away with our heads held down, I realized that we had all learned a valuable lesson about not making fun of others...

Making a Point!
Well, I tried to make a point, but with some people there just isn't anyway to get through to them.  I said what I thought would be constructive criticism about their political views, but instead was told, "You can't win with your views!  So, don't even try!"  I believe that I can clearly see what is right and what is wrong!  But, they also believe that their way is correct.  One of us has to be blind!  I guess we will soon learn which one of us is blind, as that one will fall into a ditch!  I just hope that they realize that they are in the ditch as I try to help them climb out!

"Henry" - Nana's special little boy!

The Race is on!
The race is on and here comes pride down the backstretch, but everyone knows that pride comes before a fall!  We're all in a race for one thing or the other.  In the contest for love, we can float down like a leaf in a stream, ending up wherever the current takes us, or fight our way against a raging current and overcome it if possible.  But look out to sea and think of all the true loves that have been washed away.  Can the human heart ever know the number?  So on we race!  Hopefully all will win!

Our Heads in a Hole!
"Hey Lover!" said Terah Beth, "We have natural gas warming us up!"
In honor of the band "Hey Lover" from Portland, Oregon!  Or, in other words, "Kommen sie hier bitte liebhaber!"

Singing loudly!
I'm opening up my lungs and singing as loudly as I can.  I am tightly wrapped and so are my vocal chords.  I do hope you like my singing, as that will make me feel much better!  What? You don't like my singing?  Well!  I can either become more tightly wound until I go berserk, or I could loosen up a little.  Right now I just don't know which way I'll go!  So, you might want to stand back a little while I try out this intense volume!

Warning up ahead!
This fellow warned us that were going the wrong way and shouldn't go any further!  However, we thought we were right and he was wrong.   Now I know that we were just too stubborn in our beliefs to listen to his advice.  Besides, we thought, we had come this far, what could hurt us if we went just a little bit further?  When we regained consciousness after our fall off the cliff, we finally understood...   I guess the moral of this story is, "Better safe than sorry!"

Buddy's Birthday Present!
All Buddy wanted for his birthday was a top hat!   We didn't understand why he wanted that particular gift, but we all wanted to make him happy and chipped in on this special present for him.  As the hat was put on Buddy, the joy on his face made us understand how special this hat was to him, and that made it all worthwhile!


Why do humans gaze at each other?
Oculesics is the study of eye contact.  Eye contact is very important in human relationships and interactions!  People may follow the gaze of others unconsciously.  In large crowds, people will not look into the eyes of strangers for various psychological reasons.  But here I was with all my friends, when one looked at another, which caused me to look, which caused another to look, until we were all looking from eye to eye!  It finally dawned on me that we were stuck in a "Gazing loop," so I bopped Freddy on the head, which stopped the loop.  However, that made everyone look at me and Freddy, and the "Gazing loop" started up again...

A person that likes to collect eggs may be called an "Oologist!"  However, not everyone wants their eggs collected, especially the ones that lose their eggs when the Cowbird throws their eggs out of their nest and deposits her own!  But wouldn't it be nice if the Oologists could stand by a nest and catch the eggs before they hit the ground as the Cowbird kicks them out! 

Singing loudly for all to hear!
Our singing group heard that "The best way of spreading Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear!"  So, we decided to try out our singing abilities on the TV show "America's got talent!"  If we had only known that singing in key would have greatly helped our chances, we would have taken that musical path.  But we all agreed that singing very loudly was the best way to win.  At least we had a small spot in the blooper segment!

Election Madness!
I became so weary from the constant, daily phone calls from pollsters wanting me to listen to their candidate's platform that I wanted to disconnect my phone.  I was sick of my mailbox being full of political mail.  I was tired of the hourly campaign ads on TV that were so hateful.  I am now in the aftermath of the election madness, and I don't think anything will be improved!  After all, "How can you fix insanity!"

Meatball Paradise!
There was a rumor going around that Meatballs would soon be made into square shapes, and a large group decided it was time to hide out.  They already had a fear of being eaten, but thinking about being made into squares so they couldn't roll off of a table just was too much for them!  They had long ago learned that when someone sneezed they could roll off a table and onto the floor and thus escape out a door.  They have now found a paradise!  They are safe and free to move about in this new location.  All it took was to shape some legs and they were on their own!

Balancing in Life!
Balancing in life can be very difficult if you don't make the correct decisions.  Sometimes we balance between the good and the bad, between the horror and where we want to be, and that can be very stressful.  It is also very difficult due to the precarious nature of existence.  "I'm up on a tightrope" sang Leon Russell, "One side's hate and one is hope!"  Still, as Leon sang we are putting on a show for all to see!  So, balance the best you can and stay up on that tightrope until you are able to land safely on the good side!

Arguing over nothing!
We humans certainly like to argue!  I wish that it wasn't so, but we have so many different beliefs, ideas, and attitudes on this planet which keep us from seeing eye-to-eye.  There are people who try to teach us to love one another, but just like the Hatfields and McCoys, we all too often can't stop the cycles of hate, mistrust, and violence that overtake us.  If we could only stop these cycles and get along with each other, the world would definitely breathe a much needed sign of relief!  But, that is easier said than done, and sometimes we have to start with baby steps.  So if you read this, try to speak to everyone you meet and just say "Hello" to them in a friendly voice.  Though we may get slapped or kicked a few times, I think eventually the thought will spread!

A Very Scary Movie!
My friends and I went to see a scary movie.  Normally we like this genre as it makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up!  But this time we were scared so badly that we, including the rest of the people in the theatre, jumped out of our seats as we were extremely frightened during one spine-chilling scene!  When a movie is so blood-curdling that you feel like you need extra mouths just to scream, then you know it is very nerve-racking experience!  From now on perhaps we should just go see movies that are less unnerving as I don't think I will be able to sleep tonight!

Not everyone likes to cuddle though many people find it very rewarding.  Kittens and puppies will cuddle up to each other and take a nap!  It's a way to show affection for one another.  But not everyone likes a close embrace due to personal differences.  If you huddle and don't become befuddled or fall in a puddle you may find that you like to cuddle!  If you like to nestle and snuggle you may find you like to cuddle!  Perhaps the world just needs more cuddling to get us through our hard times!  I know I do!

Merry Christmas 2014!

The Maestro!
The Maestro tried to teach us music theory and how to play instruments.  But as he said after he threw his baton, "You just aren't directable!"  We were eager to learn music, but I guess we just didn't have the necessary qualifications to play music.  So, the Maestro came up with another plan - "Directing us in the way we needed to go!" or so he said.  He told us about a man named Timothy Leary who had stated, "It is time to go up into outer space as we have gone as far as we can on this planet!"  He then twirled his baton, and off we went in the directions he indicated.  I wondered if he was really trying to get rid of us, but I guess he would know better than us about our abilities and where we should be!

Female Allen's Hummingbird!  (Selasphorus sasin)
Painted in watercolor by the gracious permission of wildlife photographer Richard Cronberg!

Having no clue!
Don't you just hate it when someone asks you a question on a subject you know nothing about!  And it becomes much worse when there are a lot of people milling around, and they all stop and look at you expecting some wise answer.  Everything becomes so quiet that you can hear the crickets chirping.  You try to figure out something to say that will make sense, but nothing comes to mind as time stands still.  Don't you just hate that feeling!

The World Where Nothing Fits!
What is going on in this world?  Very little seems to work correctly!  Even round pegs can't be forced into even larger square holes!  We can't have conversations as even our words are in languages we don't understand.  Is this the way our congress works?   Or was Mark Twain correct when he said, "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

A pat on the head!
Sometimes all we need is just a little pat on the head!  Just a little praise every now and then to show we are appreciated!  A little "That'll do pig!  That'll do!"  "Way to go!"  "Atta boy!"  If we could all just get in a big circle and start patting the head in front of us and keep it going, think how happy we could be!  So, say something nice to someone today!  It may keep on going!

Chloe the Corgi!


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