The first flower of Spring!!

The first flower of Spring!!, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

When I go on my morning walks, I've been hearing a bird call I'm unfamiliar with. I would look and look, but couldn't find it. It is coming from the old tree in front of the brown house down the street that sold last autumn. That tree has been home to a pair of wood ducks (yes, wood ducks right in town!) as well as a menagerie of other wild animals.

Today I found out the the calls were from a pair of red-headed woodpeckers! They are building a nest in the high branches of that tree! If you go to the link, you can her a recording of their song. I never heard any of the tapping, just the song which is why I was confused.

There is a downy woodpecker in the neighborhood at the other end of the block. It drives me crazy because it chooses to tap on the metal TV antennas. Silly little bird. You would think that if it never found food in those antennas it would stop. Maybe it just likes making a racket.

There has been a rash of tree cutting in last six months or so. The bee tree that was also home to a family of raccoons was cut down last autumn. The old trees on the corner of Sixth and Davy were cut down last summer. This past Friday the tall old firs that were our neighbors to the back and butted up to our backyard - they were at least 60 years old - were cut town.

The baby screech owls would come in the evenings to roost on the fir branches and hoot softly to me as I went to sleep. It was a thoroughfare for squirrels and there were many bird's nests. The rich acidic soil provided a home to beautiful ferns. No more. All gone in one day. I wonder how much it confuses the animals or if they just adapt and move on without much thought.

The first flower in my yard popped up yesterday! The first flower is officially a yellow crocus. The color is just amazing. When I woke up it was 19 degrees (F) (-7.22C), but in a matter of half an hour it was already 27! (-2.77C) . That is a pretty big jump.

I got a commission piece to work on over the weekend, so printmaking was put off yet again. I need to win the lottery so I can do that full-time. Always dreaming!


Year of the Rabbit Mini

Year of the Rabbit Mini
Year of the Rabbit Mini, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

I'll be using the woodblock above during my demonstration and lecture April 5th at Northern Illinois University's Holmes Student Center's Gallery Lounge. It is on the second floor of the Holmes Student Center. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.(although a flier from Kishwaukee College lists the time at 5:30 p.m., so I'll have to verify the time.)

I plan on having one block for each stage so people can gain a better understanding of the process within a limited amount of time. I'm so nervous about speaking in public. I channel that nervous energy into preparation so that by the time the demonstration begins, I know I've done everything possible to prepare and that what will be will be.

I've started training for the 5K and have two training sessions under my belt. I can't even tell you how proud I am of myself. This really seems doable! I keep saying that, but this program, C25K, takes it at a pace even I can do. I'm excited and hope that being more fit overall will help with my tiredness. Paul and Jake were gone over the weekend and I slept for 14 hours?!! How is that even possible? I'm also hoping that it will trim me up a bit. I've been feeling like a heffalump. lol. Running may even lower my cholesterol and triglycerides since I stopped taking the medicine anyway.

I mentioned that Paul and Jake were away for the weekend. They went out to Ohio for a "Boys Only" road trip to visit some of Jake's online friends. Jake had the best time and while he was visiting with his friends, Paul walked through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and shot some amazing photos of waterfalls carved out of slate. He also went to the Rock n Roll Museum and an air museum. It was pretty cold. He said he might like to go back in the summer. He mentioned that the people were very friendly and that he liked the waffle machine at the hotel for guest's continental breakfasts. The roads were awful. He got a Sion from Enterprise and it died just as he drove into our town. He didn't like the Sion at all. It was and Army green box. ick.

Usually I am the one to leave on a trip. It was different being home. It was a real eye-opener and I now appreciate them more.

When I'm away from home, I get to do what I want when I want. I get to take my time and not worry about messing up someone else's plans. I'm not talking about elaborate things. I just mean that I can take a long shower and dry my hair and actually curl my hair and put on make up without feeling as though I'm being rushed. Things like that. I've always told myself that if I could I would eat the things I like, go off and do what I want, etc. My theory was that because Paul and Jake didn't like to eat the things I like or do the things I want to, they were holding me back from enjoying myself, living a healthy lifestyle, etc. Selfish, I know.

But with the boys gone, and me having the chance to proof this theory, I failed miserably. Why make food when there is no one to make it for? Popcorn for lunch... that's fast and will fill me up. Why go somewhere when there is no one to enjoy it with? I'll just sit on the couch with my dog and the curtains closed.

It was different when I was the one going away. Staying home without them is no fun. It was a good lesson for me to have learned. I'm also glad that Paul was able to get out of town for awhile to see new things.


Change is good

With the change from Winter to Spring comes the uncertainty of a new routine. There are periods of my life where things run smoothly and all is right with the world. Then something happens - internally or through external factors - that creates an imbalance.

The change of season is one of those times. During this interval I feel as if I am being challenged to try things I haven't done before and to do things I wouldn't have imagined a few years earlier. When I succeed, there is a brief period when things hum along smoothly. I feel worthwhile and my life has meaning. Then there is an awareness that I need to challenge myself again in order to stretch and grow. That still, small voice has remained over the years telling me, "Do it now. There isn't much time."

Right now, I am at an awkward stage. I'm keeping up with my responsibilities, but something is not quite right, I'm not inspired, I'm not in the moment. I'm searching.

I believe this is a healthy state of mind. Who wants to remain stagnant and do the same things over and over until the mind becomes numb? Not me! I want to live life to the fullest. I love to try new things!

This Saturday, I'll start the "C25K" a.k.a. Couch to 5K. I'm excited! The program consists of 9 weeks of training. Your fitness level changes from that of a couch potato to a runner by taking small steps: 3 days a week of training at only 20 minutes per session. I'll be doing it with the DeKalb Area Outdoor & Social Activities Meetup Group. So, with luck, at the end of May, 2011, I'll be running in a 5K race! Can you believe it?

Last Autumn, I went on a canoe trip down the Fox River with this same group. Now that warmer weather is returning, I'm hoping to do a lot more with them: camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, you know... fun stuff!

This activity is Febreeze for my life! lol.


Women's Works 2011

Women's Works 2011, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

I just came back from the Women's Works reception and am pretty jazzed up - not only from being on a visual high after viewing room after room of art but also from the Red Bull I had earlier.

The piece shown above was my favorite! It is by eunyoung Suh of DeKalb, IL and is entitled, "The Beauty III" made in porcelain.

This piece represents fertility to me because of shape of the vase. The lotus flower carved into the base symbolizes femininity, the celadon green intimates life. She holds a flower over her heart. The hairstyle is of Korean origin and is of the type worn by a married woman. (Eo'yeo Meori).

Women's Works 2011Women's Works 2011

I enjoy the contrast of the glazed base with an application gradient towards the simple line drawing to the matte black at the top. This is a fully thought out piece which shows technical excellence. ♥ If I were judge, this would be the winner.

There were so many interesting mediums and techniques to take in.


Women's Works Show 2011

Fiber Art

Women's Works 2011

Mixed Media

Women's Works 2011


Women's Works 2011

Also, sculpture, printmaking, photography, collage, encaustic, and more!

Women's Works 2011

Right as we entered the door of the gallery, the judge was presenting awards. What I really liked about her is that she gave a thorough explanation as to why the pieces were deemed award winners. It was really wonderful to hear her reasoning. It was also very valuable information for me to hear and pertained to entering future shows.

Nights like this feel pretty good. I'm blessed to be able to be part of the show and to be able to continue my art adventure.


Injured Crow

Crow, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

As I walked outside this morning to go to work, I spotted a crow on the ground huddled against the electric pole. It was odd, so I grabbed my camera to take a photo and saw the poor thing had a dislocated shoulder and broken wing.

The closer I got, the more nervous it became. It hopped to the other side of the street. So, I went inside and grabbed a towel and a sturdy box. I herded it into a corner, threw the towel over it and gently placed it in the box.

My intention was to take it to Wild Tails, a humane wildlife rehabilitation center, but when I arrived, I found out that they are only open during 'baby season" which is May - June. They offered to call Oaken Acres, another wildlife rehabilitation center, to see if they would accept it.

I was already a half hour late to work. I hadn't called in plus I couldn't find my phone this morning (I later found it in my coat pocket, but that is another story.) I didn't really have time to drive to another facility, So TAILS was kind enough to take the bird just until a person from Oaken Acres could come to pick it up.

I just couldn't let the thing be eaten by Bob, the neighborhood stray cat. I knew I had frightened and stressed the bird, but I knew it would be safe inside that box. I couldn't stand the thought of it being ripped to shreds if I left it there alone. When I placed it inside the container, I saw its eyes.


Normally I think of crows as loud, aggressive scavengers; but in this bird's eyes I saw a gentleness. It had allowed me to capture it without any struggle. Had it given up or did it know of my altruistic intentions? As I stared at it, it blinked one eye, then the other. It didn't seem frightened anymore. We trusted one another.

On the drive over to TAILS it started tapping loudly on the sides of the box. I figure if it felt good enough to do that, it just might make it. I said to it, "You better not get out of that box Mr. Crow! You just be quiet now!" The bird settled down once again.

I sincerely hope that it made it through the day and that it is safe. Even if it didn't, at the very least it would have passed away quietly without fear.

After all, a life is a life, no matter how small.