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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Raptor Rapture

A glorious Sunday. Perfect weather. Good friends. New experiences.


That’s what I enjoyed last weekend as we journeyed to the mid-Michigan countryside to spot raptors – the hawks, eagles, and owls that live in our woods, wetlands and even at times, in the city.


Rick had purchased a day of raptor viewing at the Ebersole auction and we finally managed to find a day when we – and our guide and generous donor, Dave – could schedule the jaunt.



Dave


Rick and our friends Mark and Jan and I met Dave at a car park and together we ventured off to find the raptors, whose nests Dave had previously scouted.


First stop, Great Horned Owls. Their nest was far from the road, and even with the scope it was difficult to see the babies, though Jan says she saw their tufted heads. The nearby windmill on the barn was handsome, though!



Then we had great fortune finding nests of red tailed hawks. We were able to catch these beautiful and massive birds sitting on their nests. No photos of those, but they were splendid!


After a picnic, we went on to enjoy watching harrier hawks dance around, and caught a glimpse of kestrels, herons and wood ducks, as well as an osprey nest at the top of a cell phone tower!



Happy raptor-watchers!


Raptor nests are huge and generally made of sticks, though at times they’ll use whatever materials are available. Dave has a bumper sticker that says “I brake for stick nests” and we can see why! He’s always on the lookout, though I think we picked the last possible weekend before the trees fully pop to do our excursion.



He said he had one last surprise for us and to follow him. We did, and he parked on the exit ramp of a busy expressway. We climbed the embankment on the opposite side of the highway and looking through the scope...


...we were fortunate to spot a part-albino red-tailed hawk.

Her mate brought in dinner, as she circled around and then we watched through the scope as she fed her two babies in the nest.

The pix of the albino are by Mark and Dave. The rest are mine (I’m better with people pix!) It was really a remarkable and rare event.

I feel so fortunate to have experienced this. It was truly a gift. Thanks, Rick for the experience and Dave for spending gas at $3.65/gallon and an afternoon taking us about!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Coming This Week!

Coming to The Marmelade Gypsy this week -- as soon as I can take a breath -- will be...

Recap of WKAR's wheelchair awareness event last Saturday!

Highlights from the PACE (PR) awards and hall of fame induction (hall of fame was a colleague, not me!)

Our adventures viewing raptors on a wildlife excursion Sunday! (The bird photo is by my buddy Mark!)


The good, bad and ugly creations I made during my comp day (and my laptop doesn't facilitate easy blogging -- it's dial-up -- which is why I didn't blog then!

The six-word memoir I was tagged for by Dawn way too long ago!

And, a recipe -- since I haven't posted one in eons!

I will NOT engage you with tales of my impending crown. I see the dentist today.

Mostly, I need a break. I'm sorely missing all of your blogs and hope you don't leave me in the dust as I haven't been visiting for about five or six days. I'm dying to check in on the Sedona gathering that Pam Aries and Lisa OceanDreamer attended (three cheers on your interview in Artful Blogging, Lisa!); catch up on my art pals -- all the Beths, Karla's Cottage, Shelley and Rosemary, among MANY others at the right; find out what's going on with Tara at Paris Parfait; add to my increasing pile of "to read" books from Becca at Bookstack, and more!
(Now I left people out. I'm sorry. I'm typing too fast!)

Meanwhile, today is a great day to click on some of my links -- those mentioned above, as well as the others! They're all over there on the right!

I leave you with two lovely views of Michigan State University in the spring.








Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Drinking Wine on a Sunday Afternoon

I earlier mentioned our wine tasting on Sunday. This time we focused on the Rhone wines, which include wines from the Loire Valley and the city of Avignon. The region is in Southern France, but north of Provence.
We tasted six wines: One white (only three percent of French wines are white), one Rose (only six percent of French wines are Rose) and four reds. (I learn from our teacher!)

Pretty much everyone voted Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2005 (above, center) as our favorite. It was certainly the best value – the bottle was only $10 and we collectively enjoyed it much more than some of the more expensive options.

Dick, our wine guide, told us 2005 was an excellent year for this particular wine. Barb said it offered a “complex buzz.” (This was only our third sampling, so none of us were too buzzed at the time!) It’s a Syrah-driven wine and was divine.

We were less pleased with the Domaine De Fontenille 2005 Cotes du Luderon, which received reviews that included “It smells like green manure, Ick.” Clayton said it smelled like morning in a funeral home (meaning like lilies, but then determined it was more like a “stinky dead amaryllis.”

It's the one in the center, below, and we did agree it had the prettiest label... I'm sure you've discovered this by buying wines with fun, funky labels... you can't tell a wine by the label!

I was also fond of the Domaine du Val es Rois Valreas 2004, Cotes Du Rhone Villages. It was very dry and would be terrific with red pasta sauces or beef dishes. It was very dark and was a surprising $15 per bottle.

We started with a fresh St. Joseph 2004 white wine. It was quite crisp and fresh tasting and would be good with light pastas, fish or seafood.

We also liked the dry Perrin Cotes Du Rhone Reserve Rose 2006. I’m not traditionally a big Rose fan, but this was a lovely color (although when I smelled it, my description was like fresh, clean laundry. But not like Bounce.) It would be very good with grilled pork with peaches.

Each time I do this, I discover new favorites and learn a good deal about the wine from our knowledgable wine guide, Dick. This time Cheryl offered a bit of the artistic history of the region as well.

The only disappointing part of the day was having to leave before dinner. (Barb's chicken was smelling awfully good!) And her table was lovely.
We did, however, get to take home the pretty flowers, which lived in the drink cup holders of the car while we were at "Avenue Q."

A sunny, breezy April afternoon, around 70 degrees or maybe more, sitting on the porch. Not a bad way to spend the day!

Fifty Hours in My Weekend World!

Here is my wonderful weekend in pictures… details on some of this later!

Friday:

Stopped by MSU’s Arts Marathon – 48 hours of non-stop arts activities on MSU’s campus, including music performances, visual art theatre, poetry, dance… you name it…





Then, off to Babes in Arms, an MSU theatre production.


It was a glorious production that could go bigger if they wanted… unbelievable tap numbers… excellent voices… Rodgers and Hart songs… unbelievable (director podcast at the link above)/

Saturday

Dollar-store finds! (The glass and clear plastic jars are for buttons, ribbon; reader-glasses, Styrofoam plates for making stamps and to use as palates and mini-shakers for metallic powders (I’ll have to cover some of the holes!)


The tap workshop with the cast of “Babes in Arms!” Kate, Jan and I learn steps from the show! No, we’re not ready to fill in as understudies, but we do want to contact the teacher, a sophomore, and see if she’ll give lessons this summer. It was more fun than anything! (Remember, we’re the three who did the tap-dancing movie marathon in the winter… is there a theme?)


After dinner (the first cook-out of the season!) a good scrabble game. Is this a tight board or what?


Sunday

Hooray! The city is turning “Jeanie Green” and I love it. (I’m also having allergy issues!)


Our wine tasting group met – I’ll do more on this later with some of our favorites. The theme was the Rhone and all were French wines, mostly reds, but one white and one Rose.




We had to leave before dinner, but hostess Barb gave us our party favors. Aren’t these beautiful? You could use dollar-store salt and peppers for these, too!
Then off to “Avenue Q” – a wildly delightful, quasi-raunchy but ever so fun musical. Anything with Muppet-like puppets is my kind of show! Sort of “Sesame Street” grows up!



Interesting note – Both shows we saw had this plot: Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy gets wooed away from girl by hard-bitten, sleazy showgirl. Boy realizes sleazy showgirl isn’t for him. Boy gets original girl back. Sleazy showgirl reforms into good girl who moves on to a new career.

The difference? Babes in Arms has “My Funny Valentine,” “Blue Moon,” “Johnny One Note,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again” and “With a Song in My Heart.” Avenue Q has “It Sucks to be Me,” “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English,” “You’re a Little Bit Racist (I’m a Little Bit, Too)” and other songs that aren’t so tame but very, very funny.

It’s true – there are only a few plots in the world. They just mix them up a bit!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Artiscape, three and PTV Pick of the Week

First up, the last cool thing about Artiscape – the House of Cards. All my ATC buddies – this is for you!

This massive, multipaneled display features both individual and series ATCs, mounted in plastic sleeves. It’s an incredible collection.

I’m showing a few of my favorites, in no particular order. We weren’t allowed to detach the cards from the sleeves, so I can’t tell you who these artists are – if you are one, let me know and I’ll credit you. Meanwhile, just know that this amazing body of work represents many individuals’ artistic talents. It was worth seeing!





Public TV Pick of the Week

Sitting on my desk is a DVD of “My Boy Jack,” airing Sunday, April 20, on “Masterpiece” (previously “Masterpiece Theatre”) – it’s at 9 p.m. here in Michigan. I’m dying to preview it and haven’t had time, but I’m giving it my “pick of the week” because it just sounds so darned good!
Think “Harry Potter Goes to War.” World War I, that is. Daniel Radcliffe, everyone’s favorite boy magician, plays a more worldly character in this adaptation of David Haig’s play about Rudyard Kipling and his son, Jack, who enlists for “The Great War” and ends up missing.

Haig (from “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) wrote the drama, based on his play, and plays Kipling. Kim Cattrall (Samantha of “Sex in the City”) plays Kipling’s wife, Carrie. Radcliffe is Kipling’s son, a young man obsessed with serving his country and escaping from the shadow of his famous father.
Underage and hopelessly myopic at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Jack desperately wants to join the fight, which is unfolding with unspeakable horror in France — although this awful truth has not yet sunk in with the patriotic 17-year-old.

In the press release Haig said “It is impossible to overemphasize [Kipling’s] status in 1914. He was the voice of the empire, he had the ear of the king and the prime minister, and was as globally popular (and, incidentally, as wealthy) as J. K. Rowling is today.”

A hard-line proponent of the war, Kipling passed on this same sense of unquestioned duty to his son. As events unfold, Jack twice fails his induction eye exam, and Kipling ultimately uses his friendship with a celebrated field marshal to get the boy an officer’s commission in the Irish Guards, an infantry unit destined for the front lines. Kipling even gives permission for Jack to go into combat before he’s 18.

But then Jack is part of the infamous Battle of Loos in the fall of 1915, which costs more than 20,000 British lives. A few days later, a telegram arrives at the Kipling estate. Jack is missing, presumed injured.

Kipling never recovered his childlike delight in storytelling. The author of The Jungle Book and Kim turned to more somber works such as this poem, written shortly after Jack’s disappearance, which begins:

Have you news of my boy Jack?
Not this tide.
When d’you think that he’ll come back?
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Artiscape, continued!

Well, after such a grand first day at Artiscape, could day two be better? Possibly! It was pretty amazing!

My class was transparent collage with Jacqueline Sullivan. I’ve always enjoyed her work (in fact, when I got home, I picked up a VERY old Somerset and there was a great article about her with fabulous illustrations! Serendipity? I think not!).

I’d taken an card/invitation class from her years ago in Ann Arbor and seen her at Artiscape two years ago when she was part of a demo group. This class was different – two hours in the morning, three in the afternoon.


We spent the morning painting tissue paper and using some different textures (coffee grounds, sawdust) and powders.


We also made sheets of paper using twine between two sheets of tissue, "glued" with the paint (which had the gloss medium mixed in that served as a glue. First, the twine was put on a paper and covered with another sheet...


Then painted...


and done!


We would use these in the afternoon for the collage we would make, and we all made plenty of extra ones for future use! Here are a few of mine...




We also prepped the focal point image we brought with us – I brought a photo of mom as a child. In the afternoon we began the collage -- Jacqueline walked through it step by step, first layering the tissues we made, then adding the image and collaging around that. We worked on a 12” square canvas. She showed us how to layer the papers, which became very transparent and gave a great depth when overlayed.


We also added embellishments and texture using modeling/moulding paste. (She's doing the demo for that, above.) Here is my piece "before" painting the moulding paste (which is white)...


And after a raw umber wash -- the finished product -- with its creator...


And alone, up close.

My work is far from perfect -- I have to work on my air bubble technique under the photo for one thing -- but I love what I did and I know mom would too.
I am just dying to have time to spread out all my stuff and start another while it is still fresh. I also want to make more “backgrounds” from my papers to use in cards and other projects as the base.

It was a most remarkable class and she was a generous, helpful and delightful instructor, with fabulous "take-home" things, including an illustrated book with detailed instructions. If you have the chance to take a class with Jacqueline, do so. You won’t regret it. (She also has a DVD. I believe it is available on her website.)

Other moments of fun…

Silent Auction wins! All silent auction pieces had a Casablanca theme and most used the movie (which was fine with me, because it’s a favorite!). I was high bidder on these items…I’m listing the name of the artist, but if you know them, will you please send me their email or blog name so I can thank them? It wasn’t included and we didn’t get a participant sheet at the show.)

A Casablanca paper bag book by Devan Cretella, Youngstown, Ohio.
A gorgeous box with a removeable tray (small and just perfect for earrings!) with a matching four-panel screen. By Gail Haverdille, Cleveland.

A wonderful tin carrying case/”stuff divider” (great for supplies, road trips, the desk) by Brenda Tassava of Indianapolis.
Next post will focus on on the House of Cards display that was featured!

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