Night Hunter

Meet the Night Hunter, a barred owl on the look out for meal. This bird is the latest of my intarsia creations. I began this project in December, 2020, and worked diligently up to March, 2021. Then, I put it to rest to percolate. In September, 2021 I picked it up again to complete the effort. Although I am not pleased with the outcome I decided it was good enough to finish and to share.I tried to incorporate a unique subliminal feature in this piece, i.e. the title is only visible when a light is spotted on it as in the night. During the day one has to put his nose up against the work to see the words. On the display wall, the title appears only after the halogen spotlight turns on. Now, I ponder what my next project will be, I’ll entertain suggestions from the field.

The owl came on the heels of a piece I call Three Roses which was supposed to be a simple relief project after my greatest work to date which is Cecil the Lion. As it turned out, Three Roses was more work and more complex than the lion. Another relief work was Hummer Snack which has been rolling in my mind since 2008, I finally decided to tackle the work in 2020. That was a rollicking year for me as I completed two pieces and started a third. Night Hunter is by far the most complex piece I have endured, coming in at 330 pieces.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a place called the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. They have a couple of huge aviary cages in which they house injured birds of prey no longer able to fend for themselves in nature. One of them was a barred owl that I studied for several minutes. I realized that I had made the pattern life size from a photograph of a bird I had never seen in real life. How lucky can one get?

Three Roses
Cecil

Broken Promise

Back in 2011 I made a promise that I couldn’t keep. My daughter-in-law asked me to make her an intarsia hummingbird. Like always, I dove into the project only to learn that I was not skilled enough to make a hummingbird out of wood. Hummingbirds are tiny. This month I searched the internet for the smallest bird on the planet, only to find out that the Ruby Throat hummingbird is not the smallest. There is a species that is found only in Cuba called the Bee Hummingbird. It is almost half the size of a ruby throated humming bird. Nature just raised the bar on me.

Over the years, I have acquired more skill in Intarsia, and some better equipment too. I decided to give the bird a try. I began by finding the old pattern I had from 2011. The bird on the pattern is huge I thought. Not a realistic hummingbird but one that would be relatively easy to cut. I searched for more patterns only to learn that most intarsia artists make the birds large, almost like I am looking at the bird through a microscope.

I never found a pattern that I liked so I set out to make my own. Google images has pictures galore of humming birds and I found one that was in the correct pose for my piece. I matched the bird against a hibiscus flower which is one of its favorites to feed from. I made a pattern for the flower, a single bloom, and another for the bird, in scale or as close as I could eyeball the true size.

One problem I had with the bird pattern was to get a good photo of the wings. When a humming bird hovers and stands still his wings are beating at 200 strokes per second. Yep you read that right it is 200 hundred strokes per second not minute, they are a blur. For someone like me who is trying to copy the bird in wood that means I have to find some really slo-motion pictures to get an idea of what they look like while beating. I finally decided I can make the wings look like whatever, and no one can challenge me because no one will ever be able to see these wings standing still. That took some pressure off of my mind so I could proceed.

The next challenge was in trying to make something that tiny in two dimensions but looking like it is in three dimensions. I started out that way but changed my mind when I could not see the beauty of the bird in clunky two dimensional wood. I had to make the bird in three dimensions. the next challenge was to determine how to position the bird so it looked real against a flower. When a Hummer hovers up to the flower to suck the nectar out of its stamen he is virtually motionless and not touching the flower in any visible way. I could not see how to put the two forms together in a way that the final product would be believably real. The only way out was to make a flower, and a separate hummingbird and to design a way to make the bird seem like it was hovering in mid-air just microns away from the flower stamen. I won’t divulge my secret, but I made it look real.

When I finally began this work I was coming off a piece titled “Three Roses” which wore me down. The pieces were very tiny and delicate and there were too many of them. I thought the humming bird would be a vacation piece. My initial estimate was two to three weeks. I jumped into the pattern and made it quickly, then selected the woods and began cutting. In about a week I had the flower and the bird cut from the woods. I set it aside for what reason I do not recall, but it sat from May until November, and then I took it up again. And I spent three more weeks finishing the bird and flower.
As in all art work the frame is important in order to showcase the center piece. I decided on a rectangular frame with an elliptical opening for the art. I am an amateur wood worker even after seventy years of practicing. The damn frame almost broke me. The simplest of all cuts became a nightmare, the 45 degree corners. For the life of me I could not get the 45 degree cuts to match when put together. I think I was at 44. 85 degrees and not 45.00 degrees. The end result was a frame that had large openings between sides. I started with an 18 x 14 size frame and before I finished it was down to 17 x 13. I had to continue to trim the pieces until I could get the corners to match perfectly. Since I only make one or to frames a year I will never be able to afford the precision equipment I need to make forty-five degree cuts perfect. The result is in the photos below. I’m still deciding whether my daughter-in-law will get the work.

Enough talking it is time to unveil the masterpiece. “Hummer Breakfast”

Sunsets

There is something about a beautiful sunset that turns me on. Over the years I have been photographing the end of day event trying to get that perfect scene. I want perfect hues of pink and orange with shades of grey blue with plenty of sky and clouds, and a streak of orange light streaming toward me over the water. I came close a couple of times and have the photos hanging in my house. I tried again last night, and it might be the one I have been longing for.

What a beautiful way to end a great July day. The only thing missing was Taps.

As good as I think this photo is I believe there is an even better one in the days ahead.

Wabbit Wars: Attack on Sum and Substance

The cell has been in deep sleep for the past three years. There was not a single thread of visibility during that time, and the gardener wondered what had happened. Had he finally succeeded in destroying them? The question circled through his mind all summer long as he continued to surveil the garden for signs of weird plant damage. Nothing, until this week. The gardener had transplanted some Hosta plants to revise his yearly scheme for the Monet Vision (his garden). He didn’t have a theme for 2020 but since he was about to sell his house and garden to move into a retirement community he thought it best make it a lower maintenance scene.

Instead of planting succulent annual flowers like petunias he would just rearrange the perennials which were over grown. The Wabbits love petunias and leave the perennials alone he thought. “I will kill two birds with one stone”, he said to himself, “lower maintenance and less expense of buying flashy annuals.” There will be less color, but if done properly the design and layout will compensate for the lack of color. Besides, I’ll add some annuals as a little splash of pizzazz.

Time passed after the transplant and the Gardener began to see some strange effects on the smaller Hosta plants. He noticed that they were weak in appearance, and by now they should have begun to flourish. Hmmnn, strange that these usually hardy plants look so feeble here in the new spot. Could it be they are getting too much sun? Another week passes and he sees the foliage on his miniature Hosta’s become even worse. “I may have to replant these he thought.”

What a Sum and Substance Hosta Should Look Like
What a Wabbit Terror Attack Does To A Healthy Sum and Substance

Then, this morning when the gardener raised the window shade overlooking the garden, he saw it. An invasion in progress. The Wabbit sat at the edge of his Sum and Substance with a giant bright green leave bobbing in his mouth as he chewed. Instinctively, the gardener snapped the lock on the sliding glass door to make a loud cracking noise. The Wabbit leaped, took one bound and disappeared. The Terror Cell is alive and exposed he thought.

Let the war begin. What devious means will I use to get him to leave the yard? He thought he had outwitted him by moving a plant they never touch, but to his surprise, the Rabbit decided it was just what he needed to please his palate.

There are two things I can do, thought the gardener. One, I can let the river run again. He had stopped the flow of water from the waterfall for stream-bed maintenance, and forcing the Wabbit to cross a water barrier will make it harder. Second a mesh of poultry-barrier across another entrance to this bed will also make it harder for him to invade.

There is one thing the gardener will not stand for in his yard, i.e terrorism by any intruder, be it an invasive species like thistle or dandelion, or rabbit. Garden terrorism is a costly detriment to the appearance of the Monet Vision, it must be stopped.

to be continued. . . .

Day 70-SIP-Movies

Thank God for streaming. If it weren’t for movies on demand I would have gone nuts during the past seventy days. In fact, I would have gone mad after Peg’s death if it were not for films. It all began when my financial advisor a forty something person asked me if I ever used Amazon Prime, On Demand, or Netflix and I responded huh? He walked me through the steps I would take on my remote and I went to work. It was a new adventure for me since I am not that adventurous anymore, not that I ever was a thrill seeker. However, I must admit that I have done a lot f things many of my friends wouldn’t even think about doing.

I love to keep logs, and always have. I love reviewing my journals and remembering bike rides I took, or projects I worked on. After Peg died people would ask me how I was spending my time. I would answer I watch movies, and read books. “Which movie,” they would respond and even though I could tell you the entire plot and all the characters if you asked me for the title, I couldn’t remember, nor can I remember the names of the actors unless they are from the fifties. So, I began to keep a log of movie titles. Then people would say, “gosh, I never heard of that one, when was it made?” From that point on I began keeping the year a movie was made also. I have seen so many stories that now when I look at the list, I have to strain to remember a single character. When I finally connect with one the story gradually comes back to me.

When I was a kid we got a bonus when the theater offered a double feature. We saw coming attractions, two cartoons, a newsreel, and two full length films for the price of one. Now I watch as much as I can bear in the comfort of my home without commercials.

Since Peg’s departure I have logged 180 films. Now I’m wondering what I did on the days when I didn’t watch a movie. I know I was hooked on Homeland for all eight seasons with thirteen episodes in each that leaves me with 81 days when I didn’t watch a film. I guess I still watch regular tv once in awhile.

Thankfully, the films are all rated. I never watch one that has less than a fifty rating, there is at least one actor that I recognize, and the title is a magnet. None of what I have watched is a stupid comic book hero or an action movie filled with car crashes, and the like. The stories I look for have to be about real people who suffer all the ills of living. I guess one could call that drama. I tend to also like romantic comedy.

Below, I have included the list of my movies. I recommend about forty percent of them as excellent stories and another forty percent as good stories, and about twenty percent as don’t waste your time. Which is which I can not say, I don’t remember them all. Usually, if I can’t remember the story line of a film it is because I thought it a waste of my time. How many of these films have you seen?

Movies:
Love By The Book
Lucky in Love
Mail Order Bride
Abduction
Angry Angel
For Better or for Worse
How To Fall in Love
Love Blossoms
Love by the Book
My Boyfriends Dogs
Site Unseen
Angels In The Endzone
Letters to Juliet
Blue Streak
Cluny Brown 1946
Early Summer 1951
The Bank Job ****
Fun With Dick and Jane
American Gangster
An Affair to Remember*****
The A Team
Intern
In the Line of Fire
The Bridge On the River Kwai*****
Cowboys and Aliens
At War With the Army
Magnum Force
Like Cats and Dogs
The Heist****
Echo
12 Dates to Christmas***
Edge of the Garden
An Old Fashioned Christmas
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving
A Belle for Christmas
A Christmas Too Many
Love the Coopers
Christmas Caper
Pizza My Heart
The Gambler, The Girl and The Gunslinger
Freshman Father
Cancel Christmas
Christmas Cupid
The National Tree
So You Said Yes
Holiday Joy
Smart Cookies
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2*****
A Christmas Story
Goodnight for Justice
Goodnight for Justice the Measure of a Man
Goodnight for Justice Queen
Miracle on Christmas Lake****
The Wizard of Oz
A Christmas Carol
That Music Teacher****
Call Me Klaus
This Christmas
McFarland USA*****
St. Vincent*****
Hannah’s Law
The Family
Snow
Snow 2
The Holiday
Jack and Jill
The Family Man
Focus
The Giver
The Wild Girl
You Can Count on Me
The Next Three Days
Wanderlust
This Is Where I Leave You
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Central Intelligence
The Case for Christmas
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Deliveryman
No Attached
Inside Man
Hostage
Aloha
Blue plane
Beauty and the Beast
Dead Man Down
Never go back
Burnt
Green fingers
Broke Back Mountain
Being Rose
All Saints
The Devil’s Own
Boundaries
An Unfinished Life
Nobody’s Fool
The Time of Their Lives
How Do You Know
Solitary Man
Banger Sisters****
White Boy Rick****
The Missing
Whatever Works
Where the Rivers Flow North
The Wife*****
Last Cab To Darwin*****
Malena
Ruby Gentry
Secrets of the Summer House
The Savages
Midnight in Paris****
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Pride and Prejudice
The Grey
The Bourne Ultimatum*****
In the Line of Fire
Heavens Gate
Loopers
Excalibur
The Bog Lebowski****
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day****
Still Alice
Mud
Australia*****
The Man From Snowy River
Boyz n the Hood
Primary Colors
My Best Friends Wedding
American Made
Bohemian Rhapsody*****
A Star Is Born****
Days of Heaven
Heaven
Marley and Me*****
The Italian Job*****
Midnight Run
Get Out
Thelma and Louise*****
Logan
The Grace of Jake
Web of Dreams
Safe House
Secondhand Lions
Pleasantville
Elena
King and I*****
The House
A Dogs Way Home*****
The Kingdom
A Bag of Marbles*****
Eye In the Sky
The Sugarland Express
Living Out Loud
The Help
Adaptation
House Boat(1958)****
No Way Out(1988)
Blue Jasmine(2013)
Election(1999)
Bad Education(2019)
A Dog’s Journey(2019)*****
The Goldfinch(2019)*****
Invisible Life(2019)
Private Lives of Pippa Lee(2009)****
Tater Tot & Patton(2019)*****
The Orchard(2018)***
Definitely Maybe(2008)
Our Idiot Brother(2011)****
Hotel Artemis(2018)****
Queen of Hearts(1989)*****
The Visitor(2008)
At Eternity’s Gate(2018)*****
Brad’s Status(2017)****
Daisy Winters(2019)****
Cas &Dylan(2015)****
Hide Away(2011)*****

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