talavera bull



Very Big Snake~Surprise!

courtyard tree roses

Courtyard Garden

I was out pruning roses and planting flowers in the empty pots when I noticed something moving up the wall in the opposite corner of the courtyard.

{in the above photo, she’s on the opposite rack in the corner at bottom left.}

I’m used to snakes surprising me but always keep an eye open for them.

They’re harmless and help keep the ridiculous rodent populations down but still, a gopher snake this big gives me pause! My husband almost ran into the house but he rather dislikes snakes.

He’s also dealt with many more rattlers and they should make one run away!


snake climber

Yes, she’s climbing up the wall.

I couldn’t fit the whole snake into the photo because she’s about 54″ long! I wondered how long she could hang there, bouncing on the wall. The branch in front isn’t holding her up.

She held half her length upright!  I’ll admit it was a little freaky to see!

I am struck by the same oddness when seeing snakes climb trees. There’s something a little sinister about a five foot snake hanging off  a tree branch, hunting for birds’ nests.

snake friends

Resting Gopher Snake, Watching Me


snake on bakers rack

Now where’s she going!



snake descent

Hanging in mid-air…

 Below she and I are having a conversation as she makes her way slowly across the ground.
{Those are my shoes in the photo.}

I was hoping she’d crawl over them but she didn’t feel like posing!


snake passer by


Below is a photo from a couple of years ago of another gopher snake that I found outside on the cement patio. In this photo, she’s right in front of a 5′ door opening so you can get an idea of her length.

She’s a gorgeous big girl!

snake mama

5′ Gopher Snake


sophie beagle

Sophie Beagle

Sophie wasn’t so sure she liked that big snake but she kept a respectful distance and talked to her.

In other words, she whined and barked {incessantly}. She does that often unless she’s eating or chasing balls, Bella, sticks, birds, leaves, the wind ~


blue bird upside down

Is not life a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves? 

~Friedrich Nietzsche




Silence… And Flowers


mourning grandmother

Eventually words will return to me. They always do.

For now I leave you with the image of a weeping grandmother that deeply touched me….

I cannot imagine the losses that have been suffered across the world in recent days.




Were I to lose any of my family in a senseless act of violence?

It is unfathomable….



my rose petal offerings ~

Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.


Claude Renoir, youngest son as child



French Impressionist Painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir ~ Short Film in Studio


Auguste Renoir

One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.
~Auguste Renoir, painter 1841-1919

I discover so many fascinating things from the bloggers I follow in my reader. And from the ones they link to. Blogger “oawritingspoemspaintings” (a new blog to follow!) shared short films of the artists Renoir, Monet and Rodin, live in their studios, that were amazing. I plan to post each of them, beginning with Renoir. He is my favorite artist of the three and I’ve now watched it a dozen times.

French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)  painted despite partial paralysis and cruel rheumatoid arthritis until the end of his life. Painting with his brushes taped to his crippled hand, especially moves me.  To the end of his life, Renoir’s  three sons helped their ill father, who was wheelchair-bound later in life. His children often helped him in his painting, posing for him from the time they were small and later as he grew more disabled, binding his brush to his arthritic hand and with his paints, brushes and palette. Renoir’s wife passed away a few years before his death.

From an NPR interview linked here:

“Renoir had crippling rheumatoid arthritis — at the LACMA exhibit{Los Angeles County Museum of Art}, there’s a flickering black and white film that shows Renoir painting in 1915, despite his afflictions. His hands look like stumps of old trees — you can barely see his fingers because they are so curled in on themselves. Fabric is tied across Renoir’s palms, to protect his skin.

“In the newsreel footage, he clamps a paintbrush between the thumb and fist of his right hand. Renoir leans into the canvas as he paints. He talks while he works. He’s lively, and his eyes are piercing.”

renoir arthritis+painting

Renoir crippled with arthritis, still paints

I am just learning how to paint,” Renoir said in 1913, six years before he died. The French master painted right up to the end of his life. He died in 1919 at age 78.

Renoir is filmed in his studio at home. He is seen painting a canvas. Also present is Renoir’s youngest son Claude, 14, who stands by to arrange the palette and place the brush in his father’s hand. This film was made in 1915 and I only wish I could hear their words.



Renoir family


~Auguste Renoir~


Explaining why he still painted when his hands were twisted with arthritis…
“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
~Pierre Auguste Renoir

tomato hornworm



Blackbirds are Bullies

Blackbirds Rainbow-watercolor

Blackbirds Rainbow

Watercolor and India Ink, 16×18″
{Arches £140 cold-pressed}

I began this watercolor several YEARS ago. I never seemed to finish it but that wasn’t unusual. Lately I’ve gotten it into my head to either finish them or toss them onto the collage pile!

At the same time, I was cursing the half-dozen blackbird PAIRS (That makes 12!) outside, making nests in the pergola grapevines!
Knowing they can have several clutches a season and each clutch can contain up to 8 eggs was horrifying. We{the Farmer} have, so far, removed 6-7 nests, I’m not sure…
They also leave behind baby worms, that grow UP! And OUT!
Like a Tomato Hornworm.

Lovely to drop upon your head as you bask in the shade, no?
You haven’t lived until…

tomato hornworm

tomato hornworm

If the baby birds hatch and survive, which they almost always do, then
the following spring say “Hello!”
The clutch, with mates, will return to lay their eggs.
(Double last year’s count…)
The parent birds will also return to nest.
Eventually your garden can be overrun with stupid black birds. No other birds will hang around. Their mortal enemy, besides The Farmer, seems to be woodpeckers. But they’re always too late!
Why? They’re busy feasting on acorns…

Blackbirds are the bully of the bird world,
chasing all the sweet little songbirds away.
AND the bluebirds too!

bird-black bird on a wire

blackbird on a wire

So here I was, upstairs, watching these ridiculous black birds out the window, flying here, there and everywhere with bits of nest material or suspicious green worms hanging from their beaks.
And looking over my stale half-done paintings.

I think the rest is obvious as to an explanation of the above FINISHED painting.

bad birds linger-quote

bad birds linger

Meyer lemon



Happy 4th!


I WILL be making my famous potato salad BUT the 4th of July is a hassle up here amongst tall, dried grass lining the country road. The grass stands about 5 feet tall and is so dry, it’s like tinder.
We never had any rain in June, nor May for that matter.
We would have a little green grass that’s less likely to burn.

recliner in field

Work break…

So tonight we are on patrol. Well, farmer is on patrol.
He speeds up and down the stretch of road in front of our pastures, trying to keep people off the grass, who’ve ventured up for the 180 degree view of skies flickering with bay area fireworks.
They are blissfully unaware of the fire danger one sparkler can bring!
A frightening thought…

They are told to leave and they’re not always happy about it. They inevitably argue because they don’t get it and it’s dark so they can’t see they’re surrounded by bone-dry grass!
“We’re just watching….”
“It’s a public road!” (It’s not.)
“It’s not marked ‘No tresspassing’!” (It is.)

 He has a plan today if he can get the fertilizing done in the vineyard. His plan is to borrow a loader (a big tractor) from the other old farmer up here. There’s a huge eucalyptus branch that fell during the winter. He wants to drag it to an area most are prone to park along the side of the road.
An automatic deterrence to most looking for a place to park their car on top of tinder dry grass along with eucalyptus leaves all over the ground.
One tossed cigarette is all it takes… or an empty glass beer bottle left out in the field.
In the sun it becomes a magnifying glass shining directly onto grass and it catches fire without anyone knowing until it’s too late.

So at dusk he sits at the bottom of our lane on the 4-wheeler.
I’m usually sitting outside on the deck watching and listening to his motor. I worry just a little that he’ll tangle with someone who wants to pick a fight. It happens, usually with young men, but, since he can look (and be) ferocious, they can make him very angry if they get “threatening”.
He’s been known to kick in a few fenders and such … It’s a small town!
They end up tearing down the hill with him in hot pursuit!
He’s been known to follow some teenagers, who shouldn’t be drinking AND driving, all the way to their house!

Yes, it is funny… Except he’s been up since 4AM, worked all day in the heat and very unlikely to be in a good mood by 10PM. And these people can be obnoxious idiots who want to drink beer and smoke with their friends on our land! They don’t much care if they leave behind a smoldering pile of weeds!

You might wonder about the presence of a sheriff but no matter how often I’ve called, they never show up. Over the years it’s gotten much worse. Nobody expects them to show up if they’ve lived up here for awhile.
Perhaps one of the reasons why ranchers like to keep their guns…

Happy 4th!


memorial day pickup truck


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 752 other followers

%d bloggers like this: