Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Prolific Artist

 photo gogh.png

I was watching Doctor Who the other day, and I was reminded of one of my favorite episodes from Matt Smith's seasons. It's titled "Vincent and the Doctor."

The ending of that episode still pulls at my heartstrings. I tried finding a clip of it on YouTube, but there isn't one. I did manage to find a fan-made video for it though.

If you haven't already seen it, you might still be able to catch this episode on Netflix's Instant Watch. (I haven't had Netflix for over a year now, but hopefully it's still available). The ending with the museum really was beautifully done, and the actor that portrayed Van Gogh was brilliant I thought. I enjoyed him a lot.

This was a BEAUTIFUL episode, not to mention a fantastic introductory episode for anyone wanting to get a friend or family member interested in the Doctor Who series.

After watching Vincent and the Doctor once, I did some research about him online and discovered that today is the anniversary of Van Gogh's death.


 photo july2912_zps7d73cd5b.jpg

"Look at the sky. It's not dark and black and without character. The black is, in fact deep blue. And over there: lighter blue and blowing through the blues and blackness the winds swirling through the air and then shining, burning, bursting through the stars!"

- Vincent and the Doctor


 photo paintings.png art photo art.gif

 photo vg1_zps76838008.jpg



 photo vg2_zpsa640373e.jpg



 photo vg3_zpsd3339f80.jpg



 photo vg4_zps37b9ee20.jpg



 photo vg5_zps7e17d85c.jpg



 photo vg6_zpsfe4ea018.jpg



 photo vg7_zpsae572845.jpg



 photo vgquotes2_zps0442d3cd.png

- “One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.”

- “Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you're put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”

- “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

- “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

- “I don't know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.”

- “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

- “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.”

- “At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”

- "How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?"

- “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”

- “The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right.”

- “Love is eternal -- the aspect may change, but not the essence. There is the same difference in a person before and after he is in love as there is in an unlighted lamp and one that is burning. The lamp was there and was a good lamp, but now it is shedding light too, and that is its real function. And love makes one calmer about many things, and that way, one is more fit for one's work.”

- "The way to know life is to love many things."

- “Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”

- “Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.”

- “If you don’t have a dog--at least one--there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”

- "How difficult it is to be simple."

- “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”

- “It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.”

- “Someday death will take us to another star.”

- “What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”

- "One can speak poetry just by arranging colors well."

- “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? If you hear a voice within saying ‘You are not a painter’ then by all means paint – and that voice will be silenced.”

- “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

- “I wish they would take me as I am.”

- “Dear brother,

I feel what Pa and Ma instinctively think about me (I don’t say reasonably).

There’s a similar reluctance about taking me into the house as there would be about having a large, shaggy dog in the house. He’ll come into the room with wet paws — and then, he’s so shaggy. He’ll get in everyone’s way. And he barks so loudly.

In short — it’s a dirty animal.

Very well — but the animal has a human history and, although it’s a dog, a human soul, and one with finer feelings at that, able to feel what people think about him, which an ordinary dog can’t do.

And I, admitting that I am a sort of dog, accept them as they are."

- “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can't do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can't' once and for all.”

- “I think that I still have it in my heart someday to paint a bookshop with the front yellow and pink in the evening...like a light in the midst of the darkness.”

- “I feel such a creative force in me: I am convinced that there will be a time when, let us say, I will make something good every day , on a regular basis... I am doing my very best to make every effort because I am longing so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things mean painstaking work, disappointment, and perseverance.”

- “If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.”

- “So often, a visit to a bookshop has cheered me, and reminded me that there are good things in the world.”

- “What preys on my mind is simply this one question: what am I good for, could I not be of service or use in some way?”

- “Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map.

Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?

Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. We cannot get to a star while we are alive any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion. Just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means.

To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.”


Monday, July 28, 2014

First Baby Cottontails!

 photo babybunnies2_zpsb6a56c20.png
As predicted, it turns out that Diana Cottontail is a Mommy! When I went outside yesterday morning to water the hydrangea, I saw the first of the babies in the garden bed.

Words can't describe how cute they are!

 photo 902_600_zps5de33986.jpg

 photo 010_600_zpsb8350f71.jpg

 photo 008_600baby_zps9055f62c.jpg

They're a lot smaller in person than they look in these photos. They look to be only a few weeks old, which means were they in a Beatrix Potter book I've no idea which one would be wearing trousers versus a dress. Photobucket

Since we don't yet know, we've temporarily named them "Toodles" and "Snuggles."

We suspect they were born in that same flower bed, under the dahlia's. (Hence their constant presence there, as well as that snake the other day). If one turns out to be a girl, "Dahlia" will be her new name.

 photo 008_600_zps09678c5e.jpg

 photo 006_600_zpsfb41d686.jpg

 photo 004_600_zps8cf6e1c9.jpg

 photo 904_600t_zps5d25a5c2.jpg


Here's the prince of our Hummingbird Trio.

 photo 010_590_zps82469563.jpg

And some deer on the neighbor's property yesterday.

Sorry it's so shaky, but there wasn't time to get out the tripod and the zoom feature on this camera is a joke.

And it looks like the deer returned again to eat our rose trees. There were three of them around here before dawn today.

We've been trying all these different methods of deterring them, but so far none of them are working. I guess it's back to tossing sheets over the trees again.


Texas Spiny Lizard

Believe it or not, it's also just a baby. I've never seen a baby one before. It, too, looks a lot larger in the photo. It's really the size of my thumb.

 photo 008_508_zps234da334.jpg


Is it just me, or does it look like this grasshopper is playing on an amusement park ride?

 photo 006_600_zps929cd6a0.jpg


The bunnies are always hanging around the house these days.

If they're not there, they're cooling off all day at the side of the house in a little spot of shade. (Which is where Diana and her little brood hang out during the day. The last time I looked, the heat index reached 100 degrees... plus humidity of course).

At night there's always a rabbit sleeping in our backyard. I guess the fencing makes it feel more secure.

 photo 021_600_zpse6497b3a.jpg


Froggy goes a huntin'

When I first saw this little guy I was afraid it was another snake peeping out at me.  photo emo50_zps7994e881.gif

 photo 019_600_zpsc38ca63d.jpg

The snakes around here are making me  photo para.gif, and now I'm worried for our little baby rabbits safety from the snakes.

Not to mention that my dog, Abby, isn't afraid of them. The other morning she walked up to one and sniffed it! (She's afraid of walking on hardwood floors and tile, but is fearless over snakes. Go figure). Thank goodness it was a grass snake.


 photo ttfn_yellow_zps48e0d46f.png

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Tale of Diana the Brave

 photo bb_zps12c4e7b7.jpg

It seems that scary adventures aren't only confined inside the pages of the darker fairy tales. They're lying in wait for us in our very own gardens!

Allow me to explain...

It was just another Saturday afternoon, but the gardens... (well, what's left of them thanks to the grasshoppers)... needed watering. I slid on my muddy rubber boots... (because not wearing them out here is tantamount to losing brain cells. It's Texas, and it's summer, and there are copperheads out there. And ugly, tall boots? Well, they're like the Master Card. You don't leave home without them)... and like a soldier dodging bullets (only in my case it's grasshoppers) I head towards the water hose.

At which point I hear something screaming behind me. Initially, I thought it was a mouse. I'd never seen a mouse this close to the house, but I knew they've been known to take up residence in the barn before. It sounded like the noise came from either the roof of the house or the garden behind me. I start to ignore it, but just can't. I retreat a few steps and try locating the source of the sound. I see nothing out of the ordinary, so I start towards the water hose again.

Only to be greeted by a rabbit at my feet. She seemed to be in a hurry.

Her beady little eyes looked up at me, and for the space of a few seconds we just stared at one other. (I swear she was ticked off at my presence. She had that look). Not wanting to frighten her, I tried infusing my voice with a sprinkling of 'Disney Princess-ish' charm. (Hey, it exists. I've been to Disney World 11 times and counting).

magicalkingdoms.com Ticker
Free Disney Tickers

Just when I thought Diana was trusting that I wasn't one of those horrible humans that liked to put rabbits into pies... (That's her name by the way. Diana, like Anne Shirley's best friend in Anne of Green Gables).... my slow-as-molasses footstep she didn't trust. She started to bolt on me like The Flash.

By this point I nix the 'I'm-a-Disney-Princess-that-loves-woodland-creatures-persona' and set it to her straight. I put my hand up in the air and say, "No, no, no, no, no. It's okay."

Would you believe she actually froze and listened, as if she understood me? (She must be one of those rare English speaking rabbit scholars you'd read about in a children's storybook).

 photo bunny-teacher_zps6d540ee6.jpg

From that point on she trusted me. The thought came to me that perhaps it was a baby bunny that I was hearing, and she was racing around the house to get to the bunny.

I step away, giving her a wide berth to the garden where I heard those screams. As I do so, she hops on over there and pauses on the porch beside the garden. I take my chances and slowly walk to the porch, too, only still keeping some distance between us.

She doesn't leave, and I go inside to tell everyone that something's going on out there and I don't know what. I tell them it must be a baby rabbit calling to Diana, and we should probably stay inside until they're reunited.

So we look out the kitchen windows to the garden bed. We see Diana, but no other rabbit. And then the truth came out. The creepy, horrible, 'scary-as-a-Kardashian-marathon' truth.

Diana was hunting A SNAKE!

And she refused to leave. Absolutely refused. We were petrified out of our minds of seeing her get bit, so my mother takes the screen off the window to try to push Diana away.

She refused to budge.

So I get out the broom....

She refused to budge.

Mom gets her girly pink BB gun and shoots it far afield to frighten her....

She refused to budge.

My father, as happy as a frog at a princess convention, gets out his Father's Day present. (Which happens to be a shotgun. I'm not a fan of guns, but when it's Father's Day you can't really say no).

Now, this gun of his isn't like Ralph Parker's Red Ryder in A Christmas Story. It's the kind Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies would own. My mother and I, possessing working brain cells and common sense, tell my father over and over again that he is NOT going to shoot that snake with a gun. That snake was right under the window, which is where my mother and I were both standing on the other side while we kept trying to shoo the bunny away from harm.

Naturally, my father poo-pooed our instructions. Our lives weren't important when there was a snake to be shot. The math inside his pointed head went something like this:

First snake shooting > Wife and Daughter's Lives

So about 5 seconds after he lied to us, saying he won't shoot it, he shoots at it. He shot that gun literally inches away from us... and misses.

Misses both targets, snake and family.

And all this time Diana the Rabbit still didn't budge. She, too, was intent on hunting down that snake. No puny shotgun fired just a few feet away was going to deter her from her hunt. She saw that snake first, and as we all know a snake to a rabbit is a mortal enemy.

I could only guess what was swirling around in that furry little head of hers. To (sort of) quote Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, she was probably thinking something like: "Hello, my name is Diana the Cottontail. You kill innocent rabbits. Prepare to die."

By this point, Mr. Dumb Ass (aka my own father) is about to be served. My mother is I-R-A-T-E. She pokes her head out the window and points her pink BBgun on his sorry, plaid-pajama's-wearing self, announcing "I'm going to shoot you you son of a Biatch!" (Okay, she didn't really pronounce it like that. I'd just like to keep this blog Disney-rated if I can). The scene in our front garden was starting to look like a "My Name is Earl" episode. If we had more neighbor's, I'm sure we could have made a killing selling tickets.

So my father, whose brain was apparently comprised by a sackful of ferrets at the time, didn't seem to care about his welfare. All he knew was that he had a snake to hunt. Watching his obsession towards that snake was like watching a pound of catnip being presented to a cat.

My mother finally manages to usher the rabbit away from the commotion and to relative safety. Diana concedes Round 1 and just enjoys a light snack.

 photo 004_600_zps9e749ad7.jpg
(Larger Pic)

 photo 008_600_zps73b7c10e.jpg

The snake manages to hide underneath the water barrel for about half an hour. When it starts to pop out, Diana rushes back to the scene only to be shooed away by us.

I don't think the hunter in her appreciated that one bit. She was fearlessly determined to win Round 2. Can't you see it? Look at her eyes. She was a huntress on a mission!

 photo 006_600_zpsf2528985.jpg

 photo cottontail_zpsdc6f0e8a.png

Eventually, Father Do-Do-Head triumphed because he got to shoot his snake.

For the record, I'm petrified of snakes. I don't share Diana's fearlessness towards them, but if they're not poisonous I'd sooner just let them be.

Which is HARD for me to say because I've had three close encounters with them before and they've traumatized me. I'm just not a card carrying member of the snakes fan club.

That evening I had visions - waking and sleeping - of snakes, so when I had to let little Abby outside early the next morning I was petrified. Simply opening that back door was an act of bravery on my part!

After I saw that the coast was clear (I hoped), I somehow managed - and with my boots on (literally and metaphorically) - to step outside. I was encountered with this:

There was no denying that it was a rather peaceful scene. You just can't go wrong with watching the cattle grazing so early in the morning, while listening to the crows and other songbirds singing all around. (We really do have a lot of different species of birds around here. It's like living inside a fairytale).

I wanted to sit in our gazebo and just soak it all in, but as I said... I'm not as fearless as our resident rabbit. Instead of enjoying the beautiful side of nature, instead I opted for hiding safely indoors whilst sipping an iced mocha and watching Doctor Who reruns.

I'll leave those badges of bravery to the rabbits. They seem to prefer it that way anyway.

Especially our Diana, seeing how ever since that day she's been stalking that same garden bed for her snakes return.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hummingbirds and Cottontails

 photo pr_zps8ef75467.jpg

I miss having a real garden! I guess the netting we have around the vegetable garden is a joke because the rabbit eat the okra and the deer pull the tomatoes off the vine, spit them out, drop them on the ground, and then walk away.

Bambi and Company also attacked our rose tree again. This time they only got to one of them. Ever since then we've been tossing sheets over the rose trees at night to protect them.

And the grasshoppers... oh, those grasshoppers... they're still destroying everything. Fortunately - and I sincerely hope this is true - they say that the level of chaos we've been seeing with the grasshoppers happens every few years.

Hopefully that means not every summer will be like this. (Although I have my doubts since even before we built this house the grasshoppers have been over the top). At least they haven't carried the house away to Wonderland yet.

And now to good news....

After a week of customer service hell - (don't ask) - we finally have a new dryer. (I use the word "dryer" loosely, as it isn't fulfilling it's destiny very well). This means no more spiders and grasshoppers clinging to the laundry that had to be dried outdoors.

Also, the other night we finally received some desperately needed rain. It was so nice not to have to water the garden (what's left of it) for a change.

I only wish more of the wet stuff was on the way because we still need it.


 photo 033_600_zps3b39c04f.jpg

 photo 012_600_zpsae2a0f91.jpg

The bunnies in our garden after another really hot/humid day. See how that one poor rabbit is cooling off? (I read online that erratic breathing is how they cool their bodies down, sort of like an internal AC if-you-will).

FYI: I hope these videos will load, because they're not loading for me on YouTube.

 photo 030_600_zps27ad34cf.jpg

We have 3 regular hummingbird visitors now. They drink - and fight - from literally sunup to sundown.

 photo 027_600_zps41daf9b7.jpg

 photo 037_600_zps6f13cd8d.jpg

This was the best video I could get of the Super Moon the other night. The bugs and grasshoppers were trying to eat me alive at the time and the camera refused to focus clearly.

 photo 028_600_zps5a335bfc.jpg

 photo 010_600_zps48b4efde.jpg


 photo ttfn_zps37edc331.png