Monday, December 24, 2012

Clear and cool....great flying weather for reindeer...

Merry Christmas, friends and family!

Today I am happy to be working, it means that I have a job to come to.  I am grateful to work for such a generous company, and to have met so many wonderful, warm people, and to feel needed. I am grateful to be able to say I feel strong, I have excellent energy, and that I am able to live the lifestyle that I have chosen.

My Christmas prayers are for my family, young and old, my work friends, and for dear  friends that are struggling with health issues.

Be strong.  Be healthy.  I love you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Across the canyon....

This morning I had a VERY hard time driving to work.  I needed to be painting.  I felt it with every drop of blood in my body. The air was crystal clear, icy cold, and the trees were shimmering with sparkling droplets. This view across the canyon toward Shake Ridge Road shows the low clouds hugging the valleys. This just begs to be painted....

A sad note for today, Blacqui went to cat heaven. She was nearly eighteen years old, and had been Rick's constant companion. She had been doing fine until just this week when she took a sudden downturn. We will miss her...

...FiddleSong Farm will be extra quiet tonight...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pink Ladies

OK, I know I bragged about my Pink Lady apples last year. But I LOVE them! They are the tastiest apples that I grow. So far. I did plant a Honey Crisp tree, so next year Pink Lady may have some competition. To go out into my garden and pick a deliciously crisp, juicy, sweet, icy cold apple fresh off the tree, is the most satisfying thing. 

I planted it. I grew it. I picked it. I ate it.

I sound like the Little Red Hen....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Big buck...

This morning on my way to work, I encountered this beautiful buck in my favorite meadow in Volcano. When I rolled to a stop and set my brake, he lifted his head, and just watched me. I carefully rolled down my window, trying not to stare. I raised my camera and adjusted the focus as quickly as I could and captured his image. He didn't move a muscle, although it was obvious that he disapproved.  Body language is a funny thing isn't it? 

There is a storm coming tonight, my elbow feels it.  I may get snow this time.  I can't wait...

I love the snow!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sutter Creek weekend...

Sutter Creek is hopping this weekend, friends! It is their official opening to the Christmas Season. Sutter Creek is a special place to visit during this time of year. The local merchants are very creative, and work hard to make sure everyone has a wonderful experience. People dressed in Victorian costumes, music ~everyone wears smiles.

I will be manning the Sutter Creek Gallery on Sunday from 10 to 5 and I can't wait!  I love busy days. I stopped by the Gallery today. There were some boy scouts selling mistletoe.  I bought THREE bags. A girl can never be too prepared. 

It was a beautiful sunny day~ crisp and smoky~just the way I like it. On my way home today, I decided to take the scenic route from Sutter Creek. I drove up Shake Ridge and cut over on Hale Road. It was inspirational. The leaves are coming down, and the damp forest smells sweetly of pine and cedar. There is a creek in the bottom of the canyon that I splash across, pausing to roll down my windows to listen to the music in the water. It is very quiet there, and the light is soft and misty.

...all is well, friends

Thursday, December 6, 2012



This cow and calf live with their herd on Ostrom Road.  I happened upon them one Sunday afternoon while eating my lunch.  I had bought a slice of pizza at Pokerville Market and had pulled over to enjoy the sunshine near these cows. They were as interested in my pizza as I was!  I enjoyed their presence so much, that I snapped a few reference photos of the different individuals just for fun.  I didn't know there was a painting in this until I was admiring my shots on the computer. How surprised and excited I was that my camera caught these beautiful shadow patterns on their coats!
In this painting I experimented with my composition some by placing the tree directly in the center of the painting and "anchoring" the cow and her nursing calf to it. It's funny how little real black there was on this cow's coat, it was mostly reflective blues and reds. Lots of pen and ink and Prismacolor pencil in this painting.  The original hangs in Sutter Creek Gallery, giclee prints are available.

It was misty and cool today. There is a Japanese maple at work that has the most gorgeous crimson leaves.  (In the summer I plucked several of it's seedlings from its shadow.  They grow in small pots until they are large enough to plant in my garden.) Each day, when I pass it by, I choose one of the leaves to enjoy in my office cubicle. I have quite a collection of leaves right now.  I can't seem to resist the impulse to rescue fallen leaves. Their beautiful shapes help me get through the day.  As I walk through the casino, I am often seen carrying a leaf, now.  I am sure that nobody sees this as unusual behavior....

I am enthralled by Nature....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mossy Walnuts

Today, I worked at Sutter Creek Gallery. 

I love to be there to greet people and see what they are interested in. It is fun to know that everyone who comes in likes something different! Thank you to Mark and Dee for their purchase :) 

The rain today was amazing. There is nothing quite like a good storm to clear the air and wash things clean. I am enthralled by the power of Mother Nature. The energy of a big storm lifts my spirits, helps me think through problems, and put things in perspective. It's like sitting at the edge of the ocean. If you pay attention, the answers are there. It is a spiritual awakening....

My angels are singing, friends....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hale road maples

Hale Road in autumn...

The oaks and maples have been the boldest, brightest fall colors that I have seen in ten years. Incredibly rich, powerful golds. The hills show brilliant patches mingled with pines. 

My conversation with myself: "Quinacridone gold with just a hint of alizarin",  I think out loud. "Maybe a little cadmium orange, not too much, or you will muddy the hue." "Too muddy and the light won't bounce the way you need it to. Now, add a few horses, and some mist for atmosphere."  Hmmmm, sounds like my next painting....

Today, the rains began. The little riparian creeks began collecting their pure, fresh wild water.  The pines began sipping, their roots plumping. The mosses on the trunks began greening. The oaks and maples released their jewel toned leaves to fall.

I am so grateful for today.  It made my heart sing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


"Running in Heaven"
watercolor and prismacolor pencil

Ariel loved to run for the sheer joy of it.  This little painting is about 11" x 14" and is painted in a very high register to show him enjoying a sunlit pasture. He was a sweet and gentle gelding....pure Arabian.  His coat glistened with coppery highlights.

...MMMMmmmm, I can still remember how he smells :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Elephant tales...

Nancy Filippi, Managing Director of the Oakland Zoo identified my elephant. His name is Osh ;) How COOOOOOL is that??

Many thanks Nancy!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August paintings....

This is a portrait of an African elephant who lives at the Oakland Zoo.  I loved the interesting skin textures, and the way the light plays off the trunk and ears. I added the contrasting color of the bright green foliage~ it really help to make the greys of the elephant's skin more interesting.

I recently learned of the PAWS organization, a performing animal sanctuary that is very near us. They rescue neglected or abused animals. I have asked if I could photograph their mountain lion. I would love to paint her! I hope they will consider it, it may turn out to be a mutually beneficial relationship.

My next painting is a beautiful finch on a butterfly bush, so far it is going well!  Tomorrow, I will be at Sutter Creek Gallery for the day.

Here is Whimsy waiting to be milked. (I see that she needs her hooves trimmed again :)  We are doing well with our daily milking ritual. I am getting plenty of delicious creamy milk, and I am making fresh cheese weekly in my kitchen. I am still learning, but I am enjoying the process AND eating the results!

...fresh chevre at FiddleSong Farm....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Madison Riley!

Happy Birthday Madi!  We love you!
YES!  Best of Division~
Amador County Fair

What a fun time we had at the fair!  I was so excited to see the art show, I had entered five paintings and they all earned a ribbon. I won a first place for "Fiddletown~Chinese General Store"(also Best of Div), a second for "Morning Meadow" a third and two honorable mentions. I don't know who was more excited~ me or Rick!

All the Sutter Creek Gallery artists who entered the show did extremely well :) It was a good feeling to be able to recognize the artists by their style, and see that there were several local artists hanging there that I still haven't met.

Of course we walked around and looked at all the exhibits, ate a $6.50 corndog, visited the livestock, saw happy piggies, and generally enjoyed the evening.

I took lots of photos with my new Nikon Coolpix camera (which performed admirably). 

I even visited the ponies at the pony ride, which has always been my all-time favorite attraction.

...Amador County has the best fair ever....

Sunday, July 22, 2012


FiddleSong Kate

I am delighted to say that I have found a DELICIOUS simple recipe to make goat's milk cheese!  It is fresh and creamy, has just the right texture and a wonderful flavor! I am so excited, I just have to share :) Taste test in HR on Monday! I'm calling it "Whimsy Cheese".

....YUM, yum YUM YUM!! Fresh cheese at FiddleSong Farm....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Goodbye kiddos, have a good life...

"FiddleSong Farm Stuck in Reverse"

This weekend one of my friends from work bought all three kids. MAN is it quiet around here. I miss them, but it was easier than I thought it would be. I realized that the hardest thing for me about selling kids is breaking up the families. I'm not worried that they won't be cared for, goats are tough! I worry about their poor little broken hearts.

We may have an unauthorized pregnancy in the barn. Rick was working on the barn one day and Fiddler (our buck) opened a gate and got in with two yearling does. Last week I noticed that one of those does, FiddleSong Kate, looks a little more......substantial. No udder yet, but this is Zip's daughter. She could be sneaky like her mother.  Wouldn't it be nice if  Kate gave us a doeling that looks like Zip?

GOAT milk?  Oh, YES please!! I believe I have solved our milking problem.  Both my does hate being milked by hand, but they LOVE my super duper hand-powered goat milking machine! I can milk Whimsy in three minutes flat. Both her and Honey are giving a generous pint per milking. That is a half gallon per day!! What do I do with all that fresh creamy milk? I make cheese :)

If you haven't had icy cold fresh goat's milk, I encourage you to try some.  There is a creamy delicious difference!

Fresh Honey milk at FiddleSong Farm....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

We love summer....

We spent a wonderful summer weekend with our oldest granddaughter Madison. Mom Rachel drove her up on Saturday morning. We spent long hours surrounded by nibbling goats, cheeping chicks and ecstatic dogs. The garden was extremely well watered, and there were earthworms harvested for the chicks. We gathered ripe strawberries and raspberries for our dessert. Grandpa Rick crafted a cedar bird house from scrap wood, and Madi painted it with bright acrylic colors, a rainbow and sparkling stars on its roof. Sunday morning we made Hawaiian toast for breakfast, there was more watering, Grandma pulled Madi in the wagon and we went for a long nature walk. Then it was time for the drive home. Madison is a serious foodie already at age ten. She helped me choose fruit at the fruit stand, and we chatted about how to make veggies tastier so Grandpa will like them more.
It was so much exhausting fun! We already have a list of want to do’s for our next sleep-over.

Summer is fun at FiddleSong Farm....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A new painting....

It is always exciting to have something new to frame. This watercolor is about 18"x 22" with sepia ink and lots of Prismacolor pencil work. These dramatically back~lit walnuts are just showing their new spring buds.  There is something magical about this Volcano meadow.  I drive by it twice a day, and I am fascinated by the shapes of the trees and the lush grasses.  I find myself returning to it again and again for subject matter for my paintings.
This one will be one of my entries in the Amador County Fair in July this year. You may view it in person at the Sutter Creek Gallery, until then...

...giclee prints are available :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Small successes...

I just read Jenna's blog.  She has been milking her doe, Bonita for one month.  I am proud of her, and remember commenting on one of her blog posts last year that she should add goat's milk to her farm :)  GOOD for her!!

Tonight, I was out in the garden after settling my goat friends for the night.  I was looking at all the healthy weeds that have exploded in growth and thinking "OMG.  HOW am I going to get all these under control?" I have SO much to do and I am anxious to plant my green beans, and I have to clear another area for two more potato boxes. I have been weeding a little every evening after work while it is cool, and I am making slow progress. My onions are doing very well.  I have seedlings started in the greenhouse, and they all look healthy. My herbs are starting to grow, and my celery is growing taller. I have peas to eat, and spinach ready and I harvested a romaine lettuce yesterday. All is well.

My friend Alison told me that she is going to grow some veggies in her yard in Sutter Creek.  Deja said that Andy is clearing their space, getting ready to plant. Rachel is talking about planting some things in pots at her new place. Dawnia is getting ready for her tomatoes. My Mom and Dad still grow pots of tomatoes in their tiny manicured yard.

I remember planting a tiny veggie garden in a corner of our Oakley home in the '80's, and how satisfying that small effort was. My advice is GO FOR IT!  Even if you plant one wine barrel with a tomato and some basil, or a shady pot of lettuce seeds~small successes are still successes!

....Hmmmm, I wonder where the tomatoes should go this year?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Got GOAT cookies?

Whimsy LOVES her cookies :)

As I go along from day to day, I learn little tricks that help me in some small way.  I had to teach myself how to milk.  THEN I had to learn that each doe has her own style.  Then I had to learn that some goats are actually quite insulted when you are milking them.  Bella is a good example of this.  Bella is one of my Rosasharn does.  Her mother is Mariposa, one of their loveliest and most accomplished does. Bella freshened the first time with an udder to die for! It was large and perfectly formed. The first time I put her on the milk stand, I thought she was going to have a heart attack! The look of shock on her face alone should have warned me this was not going to be easy.
She kicked, scratched, did flips, laid down, yelled, kicked, scratched, knocked the bucket over the name it, she tried it. Off the stand she was perfectly mannered, easy to handle.  On the stand it was something like trying to milk a mountain lion. I read everything I could.  I WAS PATIENT.  I was kind, and reassuring.  I was persistent.  I had a regular schedule.  I tried playing music.  Different KINDS of music.  I tried singing :/ I tried massages.  I tried treats. Soon, I was bruised and bleeding from scratches, my patience at an end. Exhausted, I unclipped her and went and got Hummingbird, who, although not very trusting of people, was a perfect angel on the milkstand.

Now I have Honey, who is Bella's daughter.  Honey is not as easy as she could be, but with a few adjustments here and there, and a few well timed goat cookies, we manage to accomplish what we set out to do.  I have learned to use an "underbelly bucket" to keep her from laying down.  Now she is pretty steady on the stand.  Her doeling Bond is a "one sided sucker" so I only milk Honey's right side. Honey milk is creamy and delicious!

....I am more patient than a goat is stubborn...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mossy walnuts

"Mossy Walnuts" 15" x 22"

I wish I had a more efficient way to photograph my own paintings. I do have photographer friends who are willing to help, but the logistics are hard for me. This painting was finished on my vacation, in between kiddings :)  This photo gives some good detail but does not give justice to the true color.  I used a LOT of prismacolor pencil in this, which makes it more challenging to photograph. It's companion painting is almost finished too:) I may not be able to let go of this one.

Goat update:
All does and kids seem to be doing fine! I had a wicked cold/flu last week which prevented the disbudding adventure I had planned. So, although our intentions were good, the kids from this year will have horns :/

All is well at FiddleSong Farm....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

...the bad with the good...

Buck ~ FiddleSong Pilgrim

Buck ~ FiddleSong Stuck in Reverse

So after our traumatic delivery with Honey, I expected Whimsy's kidding to be a walk in the park. OMG. BOTH of these bucklings came out backwards! I had to pull so hard on Pilgrim that I was sure all his little bones were broken. Then, if that wasn't hard enough, here comes Stuck in Reverse.  He was trying to come out tail first!! Now, Whimsy is my smallest doe who had no trouble delivering her first batch of kids. But this time I literally had to reach inside her poor little rear entry area, push that big kid back inside, find the legs and pull them up and out.  THEN my trusty side kick Rick, who I would not be able to survive without, had to pull that big kid out the rest of the way. The kids are both fine and Whimsy is doing fine, too.

That was Monday. 

Saturday, I was hearing my doe Zipporah crying out in the back hill area. I thought she sounded like she was in season. So I went out there to check on her, and guess what?  SHE is pregnant!  Huh?  Friday, she didn't have anything in her udder. She showed NO signs of pregancy at all.  And actually I was disappointed about that because she has extra nice kids. So I look her over and decide, well the timing is right on if she did take when I bred her. So I brought her in and gave her a nice clean area inside the barn, just in case. She seemed to be going along fine, and I was trying to stay away as long as possible.  (She tries to sneak her kids out without anyone knowing.) OK, I decide, Zip has freshened three times, this should be easy.  WRONG AGAIN.  Zip labored all night without success and died this morning. As hard as I tried, I could not help her. I am so sad.

...sometimes life on a farm is very hard....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Welcome little one...

Meet "FiddleSong Bond"

Little Bond was born early Friday morning, April 6. Here is her mother Honey's story:

Honey was on the for sale list last summer. 
I had a few calls, but nobody was interested in a doe with horns. Honey is a bully, which means she is a doe with more goat status than the others~high on the "butting order." AND she has some wicked sharp horns. In her defense, she never offered to butt me or Rick, just the other goats. I didn't want her. When Honey came into season in the fall, I had my buck Fiddler breed her, thinking maybe I could sell her as a bred doe, or as a fresh doe after kidding. But I was really busy, and didn't get around to listing her for sale again.
As Honey's kidding date grew nearer, she started developing a nice udder. I thought she should kid around April 15th, so imagine how surprised I was when Rick rushed in early Friday saying "You have babies in the barn!"  AHHHH! 
Little Bond was the first kid born and the largest. She was wet, but looked alert, so I turned my attention to Honey.  Honey must have worked a long time to have her first kid, because her second kid, a buckling, was born dead. I HATE to lose a kid! Honey started pushing again, and I watched as she delivered a little brown doe.  The poor little thing was barely alive, and although I rubbed her and worked to get her going, I think she had breathed fluid. She never gained any strength and died in about an hour.

The hardest lesson to learn on the farm: sometimes little ones aren't supposed to live.
Mother Nature chooses. 

I was so sad. I was feeling like a total failure. Why was I doing this? Maybe I would not breed any more does. Maybe I would sell them all except a couple of favorites.
 Then the unexpected happened. As I sat in the fresh, clean straw, rubbing the tiny doeling Bond dry, Honey stood near me, her sharp horns six inches from my face. She talked to and licked her baby, and gazed up into my eyes as if to say,
"Isn't she just gorgeous, Ma?" 

Honey turns out to be an exceptional doe. She is an attentive and loving mother, she is trusting and easy to handle.  She stands like a statue when milked.  I couldn't ask for more.

"Honey milk" at FiddleSong Farm....all is well :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sandhill Cranes

I heard them first ~their joyous voices drifting down. Looking up, I saw their sunlit wings.  Lines and lines of winged messengers flying north. Spring is coming....

I am hanging in the Suter Creek Gallery now.  I am spending every Sunday there until we get another co-op artist who is willing to share working time.  I love it!

All is well....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New art phase....

Meet "J.J."

He is the "stinkin' cute" grandson of a very dear friend. 

He is an 8" x 10" watercolor with pen and ink and Prismacolor pencils.

This is the beginning of a new phase in my art career~ the selling phase.

I have avoided this in the past. 
I have sold things when provoked, or begged to, or if someone HAD to have something. I sold paintings in shows. I traded a painting for a car once. (THAT was a good trade!) I have given away a TON of paintings and sketches for birthdays, Christmas, thank you's. But I never have really worked at selling my work.  I know how.  I worked retail for twenty years. I have lots of great ideas, but until now, I didn't really need to, or hadn't gotten around to it, or didn't have time, or .......didn't really need to.  Oh yeah, all the excuses. I had even convinced myself that I was simply "building inventory." :)

Driving to work the other day, I was giving myself a stern lecture.  "What is the point of painting if you don't share it? What is the purpose?? Is it just a waste of your time? If that is the case, then you might as well pack up all those supplies and throw them out in the garage." 

Cue the crickets.

"But I am an Artist," my inner self responded, "it's what I do." My heart was beating hard and fast. "Oh great," I thought, "now I am going to have a panic attack." But it wasn't a panic attack. It felt like a welling up of warmth inside. It was my angels singing. (Yes, I do have angels :) I was having one of those rare moments when I realized that I was feeling a change inside myself.  Switching gears, changing a habit, changing my mind. I realized that I need to sell my paintings.  They are too important to live under my bed where no one can enjoy them!

The next evening I received a call from my Mom.  Mom has always been most supportive and encouraging. "I was reading the Buy N' Sell today and I saw an ad you might be interested in," she said in an excited voice. " 'WANTED local artists' it says, 'the Sutter Creek Art Gallery is under new ownership and opening a Co-op.'" OMG. She gave me the number for the lady to call.

I wrote it down. 
I called.

The lady's name is Laura and we had a nice chat.  She was looking forward to seeing some of my work.  "Well, would you like to view my online gallery?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, "and we will give you a call later in the week."  Thursday morning there was an excited call on my voice mail. "We LOVED your work!" she said.

Tomorrow, I will be meeting them in Sutter Creek at the gallery to show them some of my paintings in person and discuss how I would like to be involved.

I'll let you know how that goes....