Monday, January 28, 2008

Not for the queasy. . .

My father-in-law sent me this link - perhaps to warn me about the dangers of birding?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Arizona in winter - awwwwhhhhhh - that's better

I had a long weekend with no class on Monday because of the Martin Luther King holiday and so I decided to go out to Arizona to visit my good friends, Paul and Judy Fennell. The Collectors of Wood Art forum was taking place in Scottsdale, where Paul and Judy live, so it seemed like a great opportunity to multi-task. It didn't hurt that the temperature out there was in the 60's with sunshine while we were having snow and temps in the teens.

Paul and Judy live in an area where the landscaping is all native vegetation and there's a nature reserve adjacent to the community. I took my spotting scope and binocular along with me to take advantage of the birding opportunities the neighborhood had to offer. I surely wasn't disappointed, adding 12 birds to my life list. woohoo!

Here's the ecosystem I had the pleasure to explore for a couple of mornings and afternoons. I love the Sonoran desert biome - there are so many interesting cacti to see, including these giant saguaros.

This was one of the first new birds I saw - a curved-bill thrasher. Their yellow-orange eyes are the most striking feature of this species.

I've seen roadrunners before, but not since I started keeping a list. So, I was happy to add this one to my tally.

While I was photographing it, I heard something that drew my eye. . .

No - say it isn't so . . . I don't think its name was Wile E. Coyote, but it seemed awfully funny to me to be seeing these two critters in such close proximity to one another. How cliche!

This is a Phainopepla. I had fun figuring this one out - from a distance, at first glance, it looked like a jay of some sort. It's actually a relative of the waxwings. These birds spread mistletoe seed around.

Oh boy - try figuring out what bird you are seeing when all you get is an AHV (birders will know what I mean).

Whew! It turned around and I was able to identify it as a black-throated sparrow.

This is an Anna's hummingbird. When it was doing a display flight the red crown and throat are quite flashy.

Another new bird for me was this verdin. I kept thinking this was a warbler, but the face and head markings didn't match any of those. I ended up flipping pages in Sibley's until I found a match.

After a relaxing morning of birding, Paul and I went to the gallery exhibits for the Collectors of Wood Art forum. We stopped first at Cervini-Haas gallery where I met a very nice lady who told me that she reads my blog. How cool is that??? (Some of y'all can leave comments from time-to-time so I know who's checking in. . . please!)

The next stop was to see what del Mano was up to. They came over from Los Angeles and brought a nice selection of work from many of the artists they represent.

This is Paul with Jan Peters (L) and Kirsten (R).

I didn't check to see who made the wall piece, but the work on the right is from my good friend, Art Liestman. The work on the left is by Marc Ricourt.

Ray Leier told me that there was an Andi Wolfe from Michigan who had visited the gallery earlier in the day. She happened to come to the gallery while I was there, so here's a picture of Andi Wolfe squared (I'm on the right).

Here are three of my pieces (the ginkgo leaf carving, the maple leaf bowl in front, and an abstract piece, front right).

David Nittmann's work.

Some carved work - I'm not familiar with the artist who made these.

Bill Moore, Joel Urrety, Jacques Vesery and some more work I can't see well enough to identify.

On Sunday morning, Paul and Judy took me to see an exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum - Masterpiece Replayed: Monet, Matisse and More. It was an amazing exhibit. It opened at 10 am on Sunday morning and we had tickets for that time slot, so we were amongst the first people to see the exhibit.

Here are Paul and Judy standing in front of an interesting building that is near the art museum.

Here's a closer look at Paul and Judy. We all enjoyed the exhibit. It was neat to see the masterpiece paintings along with the studio reproductions hanging side-by-side.

The museum provided digital players that had audio and video information to help one understand the exhibit more thoroughly. I really appreciated that a lot.

After lunch we stopped in at Robbie's house to surprise him with a visit and to get a nice cup of coffee from his stock of amazing coffee beans. Robbie showed us what he was working on in the shop, and then I bugged him for some photography assistance. He's a very talented photographer and he gave me some good pointers, which I tried that very afternoon with excellent results. Thanks, Robbie!

Ooops - another AHV, but this one is easy to identify.

Another life bird for me is the Cactus Wren - Arizona's state bird.

Cholla cactus - you have to watch where you're walking to avoid the spines. Ask me sometime about my previous experience with this cactus genus.

Two different types of cholla, side-by-side.

Another one - the Gilded Flicker. It's very similar to our Northern Flicker except it doesn't have red on the nape of the neck, the head is brown and the face is gray.

I saw quite a few of these birds, and they were all very cooperative for the camera.

There were three in this shrub and I really enjoyed watching them.

I don't think I've ever seen a Northern Flicker stay so calm and still, so I wonder if that's another difference between the Gilded and Northern species.

There were a lot of rabbits out there, too. Emma, my miniature dachshund, would have loved this reserve.

Another life bird - the Gila Woodpecker.

A cactus wren doing its cactus thing.

The weekend was warm and sunny, the nights were clear and cool, and I really found the weekend to be a refreshing break. The highlight of Sunday night was sitting out on the veranda with a fire in the fireplace, sipping wine, and then hearing the great horned owls. Better yet - we saw three of them nearby (one on the roof of Paul and Judy's house), and they put on quite a display for the next hour. Thanks, Paul and Judy - I had a wonderful weekend.

My new birds for the weekend were: Lesser Goldfinch, Curved-Bill Thrasher, Roadrunner, Gambel Quail, Verdin, Anna's hummingbird, Great Horned Owl, Phainopepla, Cactus Wren, Gila Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, and Black-throated sparrow.

Friday, January 11, 2008


This is a piece I completed in September, 2007, but I never posted the pics. The title is "Remembrance" in honor the the ginkgo tree that it came from. Check out the back cover of the next issue of The American Woodturner for the complete story.

This was a very challenging project on several fronts.

1. Ginkgo isn't a very nice wood for turning.
2. It's not all that great for carving, either.
3. Navigating in 3D on this layout was mind-boggling.
4. I've managed to lose my free time for woodturning and finding time to do this kind of work is harder and harder lately.

The piece is about 9 inches in diameter. The glass stand was made by Adam Kaser. The photography is by Jerry Anthony.

This is the starting form - not much to look at, but the potential was there, that's for sure. I wanted to have a lot of options for how I placed the leaves.

Three rims going in different directions, plus extra thick walls. It takes a lot of planning and initial shaping before starting the design layout.

You can see how thick I left the wall to give me a lot of room to add movement in the carved leaf.

Add hours and hours of detailed carving and it all turns out ok. I hope the piece sells. It's currently at del Mano gallery, but should be coming home very soon.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Resolutions? Probably not - I'm not good at keeping them. However, if I were to make some resolutions, here's a potential list:

1. More shop time
2. Eat less
3. Exercise more
4. Practice music every day
5. Travel less
6. Clean my shop more often

The list could go on and on. That's why I'll not make any resolutions - it's too depressing to recognize my shortcomings.

Happy New Year to those of you who are good at making resolutions, and to the rest of you - you're in good company!