Archive for July, 2008

The Post – Geese Angels

July 30, 2008

I know a lot of people hate Canada geese. I don’t disagree about the mess. But the geese themselves, they are such gentle gifts from the Universe, at least to me.

Several years ago at Christmas time we were waiting to hear if my husband would still have a job. It was agony, sitting and waiting , wondering what would happen, would we lose our house ….and all you could do was sit…and wait. So many times in those few weeks, I’d go outside in the cold and just stand there looking out toward the pond, praying. Asking for God to bring a quick answer to end the agony, for strength to hold on until He did. And…it was Christmas time.

In answer to my prayers, no, I didn’t get an answer to ‘would we be destitute?’ I got ….Canada geese. Almost as soon as the crisis had started, they had arrived.  Whenever I went outside to pray, to let the cold sift through me and try to quell my fear, the geese would walk up the hill, silent, slow, peaceful, and stand by me. They never made a sound. Never hissed at me or poked at me for food. They just walked up to me, gathered around me, and stood there, keeping vigil in the cold with me. Every time. Though they didn’t solve what we were going through, I felt strangely safe…comforted…protected. I wasn’t alone. So I found myself going out there more, to be with what I called our geese angels.

Just before Christmas we finally got word that my husband’s job was safe and no we wouldn’t be out on the street. I went outside, and this time stood together with my geese angels in silent celebration and prayer. The next day, they were gone. It was as if they had come in answer to my prayer for strength, and they remained, silent guardians until the crisis was over. Then I guess they moved on, no doubt to comfort the next person who needed them.

Today I was working in the garage and had my back to the open doors. I heard a sound behind me and turned. Slowly walking into my garage, step by silent step, almost like slow motion, three geese approached. They were part of the two families on the pond, one family with three kids and one with five.

The rest of the families followed these three, all of them moving into the garage without hesitation or fear.  They looked a little odd standing where you’d expect car parts to be, and they certainly are bigger in appearance in the enclosed space of the garage versus in the wide open back yard. But still, they moved with grace and majesty and serenity. Of course, the “kids” who by now look almost like adults, still made their quiet “gosling peeps,” but those were almost inaudible and something I find a joy to listen to.

I said hi and they stepped forward again, watching me, bobbing their heads. They wanted food. It is the strangest thing to see such large creatures, and so many of them, walk right up to you in your garage, as if geese do that all the time. They stood there and watched me, totally calm. When I told them I’d bring food, they didn’t even jump back as I stood up. They just stepped back a foot or so and waited for me to get the little bucket of corn. Then we strolled to the backyard together, where they waited for me to load the ground feeder.

Their presence today reminded me of that time several years ago. Standing next to me, unafraid, serenely quiet company, I felt loved, protected, graced by the presence of the Universe. I deeply appreciated it.

Like I said, I know people can sometimes dislike geese and I know their mess can be a nuisance. But I really have to say that I love them, and willingly hose down the driveway when they come up to visit, because they give me a gift, a sense of God’s love when they stand there in my garage, watching me with their beautiful dark eyes. So to me, they are Guardian angels.

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The Post – Under the Pier: Creature Features – Naked Gobies

July 27, 2008

The Naked Goby, alias Gobiosoma bosci

Naked Gobies live in the shallow marshes, mud flats and oyster reefs of the bay’s waters. Bottom-dwellers, they resemble small lizards. They are small fish, about 2 1/2 inches long, with large eyes, dark green tops and pale below, and 8-9 vertical bars along the sides. Their pelvic fins are used as suction cups to hold them to rocks and shells. Since they have no scales, they’re called “naked gobies.”

They live in the bay all year, feeding on worms, and amphipods (such as sand fleas), and being eaten by eels, sand shrimp and larger fish. Though there are many gobies living in the bay, they are often not noticed as they are solitary reclusive fish. They will often hide in empty, still-hinged clam and oyster shells, or in human trash, such as cans, bottles, and tires.

(Reference: The Uncommon Guide to Common Life of Narragansett Bay, 1998, Save the Bay)

For this first effort, I did both the oil painting and the pen & ink/watercolor wash drawing, trying to figure out what works best. I still don’t know. The oil painting is richer and I have greater control over nuances and color. The pen and ink allows greater control when sketching details, but less control with color in the watercolor washes.

The other aspect is the following artwork is more “a book scene” – with the fish shown in the context of the scene’s location. Actual glossary entries should be more restricted, showing just a closeup of the creature. So in the future, I’ll probably stick to that. But for now, I introduce, Naked gobies.

The Post – Under the Pier: Creature Features – Introduction

July 27, 2008

As mentioned previously, one strong theme in my book is the sea life of Narragansett Bay, a deep deep love of mine. Many critters are scattered throughout my book and the only dilemma is that people may not know who they are.

In an effort to solve this problem, I am creating a “visual glossary” of the sea life. I will provide some text from one of the sea life reference books to give some background on this fish, and an illustration. I am trying to decide which medium works best to create this illustration – either an oil painting or a pen & ink drawing with watercolor wash. So in the following entries, I may provide one or the other, or both.

Coming up next – installment number 1 of Under the Pier: Creature Features

The Post – Emergency Call for Fiddler Baby Help

July 23, 2008

I just received this message:

“Help I think I have baby Fiddler crab….hundreds. I got two Fiddler crabs from Petsmart for my kids and now there are hundreds of little micro fish (they kinda look like sperm) swimming in the water. Perhaps I should have cleaned the tank more often or do I have babies?”

I think you have babies. Now the question is, what do you want to do? If you don’t want to deal with raising them, then ignore the situation. The babies are tough to raise even when you are trying to succeed. Nature and the adult fiddler crabs will take care of things. The babies, short of a miracle, won’t survive without considerable intervention on your part. Many die off soon after birth, just the way of things. Many will die off due to lack of proper water parameters, food source, and water currents. And….mommy and daddy will no doubt eat a bunch of them. And if you have a water filter running in the tank, many will be sucked through that and caught in the filter lining. So don’t worry. Within a few days, they’ll be gone.

If on the other hand, you want to raise them, please read through my posts on the sidebar page entitled:

And What’s the Deal With All the Fiddler Crab Stuff

You’ll have to work fast – need baby food, tank, clean brackish water, an air bubbler….I frankly think it’s too late to do this at this stage, but if you’re REALLY intent on it, read my posts and go for it! My best to you and your fiddlers, whatever you choose!

The Post – Tadpole Pics

July 21, 2008

I was outside the other day standing at the edge of the pond. I looked down and at first just noted all these black “dots” in the shallows at my feet. Then I noticed the black dots darting around submerged sticks and hovering near floating leaves. The dots were “tadpoles.” I managed to get a few shots and here they are. Enjoy! Soon to come up, the first entry for “Under the Pier – Creature Features.” It will be “Gobies.” I’ll have a short description of them along with pictures of both a pen and ink and an oil painting that I did of them. Up soon!

The Gift

July 15, 2008

“Become the one you dream you can be.”

Unknown….but appropo.

The Post – Vacation Comment

July 15, 2008

I have not dropped off the face of the earth, but have taken a few weeks off. A much needed break to recover health, do a couple jobs, take a break from writing projects to explore some art possibilities, and also, time to consider where to go now with this blog, what things to focus on, etc. A sabbatical of sorts. I have some ideas that I will be sharing soon.

There will be a return to Under the Pier book posts. That needed a break so my editor’s eye could emerge enough to start on book revisions. However I have been at work on Under the Pier, in the art department. I have started some pen and ink drawings of the creatures in the story, to form an artists glossary of characters for the readers. I just did an experiment, doing the same scene with little goby fish on the sea bottom twice, one in oil paints and once in pen & ink with watercolor wash. I like both for different reasons and am now trying to decide which medium to proceed with. I have pics of both pieces that I’ll post the end of this week.

Also, on the “nature friend” front – there are thousands of little tadpoles hatched in the shallow waters of the pond – got pics of those coming too! And the front porch bird house DOES have a resident. Now if I could just get some night vision goggles to sit out all night with and see who is leaving large hoof marks in my gravel….

Anyway, no one is forgotten, just needed a rest and some time to think. 🙂