Krill in the Morning

I was browsing books yesterday and posts on art blogs and forums and looked up a couple of books on drawing and painting animals. Well, it’s not the drawing so much as the application of colour and texture. There is really no way better than working it out yourself, but there seemed to be some helpful lessons in three books I saw so I put in for inter-library loans for them.

My library is pretty good about obtaining things for me so I remain hopeful, it’s something to look forward to. It’s also a good way of having a look at a book before buying it or not. Of course, I am not allowed to buy a book as we all know, so until my birthday comes up in a few months I shall browse via the library.

© Estate of Charley Harper


This chap looks a bit toothsome. Actually, while scooping for fish, he realizes that The Spouse has forbidden him from going to the fish store, so he got Charley to draw pretend krill in his mouth. Is that “krill” or “kill” you are thinking Mr. Puffin?

Down Mr. Puffin, don’t take it personally.

You have to be a good fellow and…um….swallow your resentment. Enjoy those delicious pretend krill and sit on a rock in the sun.

Do puffins growl? I heard a funny noise like a growl.



Unhinge Your Anhinga Wingspan

Daily Draw March 10th, 2013

This is usually the date when the robins return here. I haven’t seen any yet or my favourite red-wing blackbirds, another harbinger of Spring. In the meantime I am sewing and embroidering to keep my sanity until I can get outside.



Another bird I knew nothing about. This bird (Anhinga anhinga), is found in the warmer climate of the southern United States, Cuba, Trinidad, Mexico, and in South America, but there are several species around the world in India, Africa, and Australia too. The Tupi people, an indigenous group from Brazil, had a myth where a demonic and malevolent forest spirit or devil bird featured called anhinga. Thus their language comes down to us in the name attached to this bird. They also gave us the words, tapioca, jaguar, and jacaranda among others. Imagine.

Anhinga are part of the Darter family and are sometimes called snakebirds because their long necks can move out ahead of them in trees and water, sometimes twisted like the body of a snake they are so long, so that you might think it was a snake if you didn’t see the rest of the body. They are called water turkeys too which is self-explanatory given their colouring and size; they are very large at 30 or more inches with a wingspan of 40 and more inches.

They look remarkably like cormorants but their tails and bills are different as you can see in this comparison.


Very beautiful, and you can see how Charley Harper has captured the essence of the bird in his marvelous illustration.

My husband is taking the drain apart again in the kitchen and making a second attempt to get it right. We have a call into our contractor and he will come by next week to talk about renovations in this kitchen. The more we do now, the easier it will be to sell and escape after retirement. Twenty-six years of repairs and attendant dramas have simply worn us out.

I did manage to do a small laundry last night with the washing machine. I did a small one in case anything went wrong, but the new sump pump worked fine and the pipes in the lawn seem to be draining fine. We are experiencing a thaw here, which might have helped, but I really think the old pump had died. My husband found plastic bits in the hole when he replaced it and things had broken off at the footing and in the check valve, which keeps the water from surging back into the house. I am still crossing my fingers that the new pump and valve on the pipe will rectify the problem.

We darters have things to do and places to go.



Vireo I Say Unto You

Daily Draw May 4th, 2012

by Charley Harper


We probably have these little birds flitting about our garden and woods, but they are more often heard than seen. It sings all day, on and on, and I’m sure having heard some sound clips online that I have mistaken them for sparrows. I must listen more carefully.

They make small cup-like nests in the fork of tree branches, and the Brown-Headed Cowbirds often put their eggs in vireo nests. I can’t imagine a voracious cowbird baby in the tiny nest of these birds but apparently they don’t damage the population of vireos.

I love that Charley Harper has captured these birds and their nest so accurately even with less detail.

I’m off to chitter-chatter throughout the day and to listen more carefully. This is the perennial dichotomy of communication.


Indigo Structure

Daily Draw December 19th, 2011


The Latin name for this bird is Passerina cyanea, but only the male is this intense blue colour. We are supposed to get them in Southern Ontario here in the summer but I have never seen one. I once saw a bright blue bird at a nesting box on our property that I think was an Eastern Bluebird, I’m pretty sure it had the brown chest, whereas a bunting has a blue chest.

They like dense old shrubbery or open woodland which we have a lot of around here, so they are probably about somewhere. The male is blue in the summer but brown in other seasons like the female. He puts on his indigo courting coat in the summer.

According to various colour meanings online, indigo is about intuition, solitude, an inward feeling and awareness. Organization and structure is important, perhaps ritual which reminds me that we put our small Christmas tree and decorations up yesterday for the first time in years. The continuity of that pleased me.

I also think because the bird is in its nest in the card image, that it is a day to stay close to home and chirp contentedly, perhaps incubating a creative project with a dedicated attitude toward structural building of such a project.

Eeeek, the Winged Line in the Long Grass

Daily Draw November 3rd, 2011

I got a bit involved doing some posts on my other blog about books. Nothing can rev me up like a book I find. The satisfaction of finishing one good book and the anticipation of another, makes me want to get out of bed.

Today I am using for the first time my postcard book featuring Birds by Charley Harper. I love this man’s illustration style, which reminds me of the stripped down abstracts of the late fifties and early sixties. There is something about paring an object down to its lines that appeals to me, it’s like writing a précis, so satisfying in its complete simplicity.



Owls do hunt mice, but isn’t it those eyes that are the grabber in this illustration? I get the sense of sighting and grabbing opportunity today, much like hunting down a good book.