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Memorial Day

I recently discovered owl pellets. These are regurgitated stomach contents in which you can find the remains of the little creatures eaten by owls.

I ordered the pellets on Etsy. They come wrapped in aluminum foil; you take them apart carefully (the pellets are made of hair) and find these treasures inside. Of course I had to incorporate them into an art piece.

Today I think of my father, a World War Two veteran and a member of the greatest generation. He told us stories of the war until the day he died and I’m glad he provided an oral history of that time period.

Have a good week. Nina

Willow Ptarmigan (Draw a Bird Day)

by season—winter
white, summer
feathers, snowshoe feet, hidden
in thickets, burrows

I first saw a photo of the willow ptarmigan in winter, when it is completely white and fades into the snowy landscape of its subarctic home. Upon further investigation, I was surprised to find that it molts its feathers twice a year, to match the summer browning of its environment. It looks like a completely different bird.

Above is a male in the between-state. The red above the eye becomes prominent on the male during breeding season. Willow ptarmigans are monogamous and pair off while raising their families, but are very social in winter when they form flocks as large as 2000 birds. They are ground dwellers, building their nests in tree thickets and sheltering in snow burrows during the winter months. Their thick plumage and large heavily feathered feet with sharp elongated claws help them navigate and survive the cold, snow, and ice.

Members of the grouse family, willow ptarmigans are native to the subarctic tundra, heather moors, and thicket forests of Canada, the United States, Scandinavia, Mongolia, Russia, Ireland, and the UK. Willows are a favorite component of their diet of bugs, twigs, leaves, seeds, and berries. They are not endangered, but their habitat is threatened by the rising temperatures of the arctic region.

The willow ptarmigan is the state bird of Alaska.

The Green Door (Thursday Doors)

It’s not black and white.  But is it whimsical, or serious?  Is that a lock? Is there a key?  Magic words?  Please?  Somehow that doesn’t seem like enough

I want to form those intersecting lines into a map.  Surely it was drawn deliberately, that triangular pattern.  The power of threes.  Animal vegetable mineral?  Past present future?  Mind body spirit?

What do the strange messages graffitied on the surface of the glass mean?  Can anyone enlighten me?  The numbers lack clarity–nebulous, impossible to calculate. 

And what is that hum that seems to be taking over my mind?

lost continents lost
languages—are they portals?
Where is my third eye?

Thursday Doors holds a writing challenge in May. Doors from the last year’s posts are submitted, and we are invited to write a story, poem, or hybrid of some sort based on one of the photos. For my first one, I’ve chosen Manja’s mysterious green door, above.

I also used some of the Oracle 2 words from this week’s Random Word Generator list.

And here’s a bonus collage appropriately called “The Power of Three”. Perhaps that’s what is on the other side of the Green Door.

Dan Antion is the host of Thursday Doors.

Weekend Work and May is here

An old building in Paterson, NJ. Here’s the photo that inspired me to paint it:

Another one done on recycled cardboard. Started out as one thing, then I cut it in half and mounted it on another piece of cardboard. It’s a good surface to work on.

Rain, rain and more rain but today is sunny and bright. Have a good week! Nina

affinities 2 and 3


let time decide–
the far stars
listen as if wings
would harvest belief, receive
music, singing the sea
that dreams within

begin each part
between always
and the single beat
of a heart

outside of what
can be seen—here–
and now–
take my open hand–
release your fear


let time forget
the thoughts of planets

listen to wind
opening round to receive
the gift of sky rivers
dreaming inside your heart

let each song wend
its way between always
and the present, arriving

take my hand,
you have been found

For the W3 Prompt this week, David asked us to write a poem heavy on consonance, assonance, or both. As it turned out, I had done an exercise (suggested by Gregory Orr) where I took a poem I had written and rewrote it in 8 different ways. Number two, the first poem above, emphasized similar vowel sounds, and number three, the second poem, emphasized similar consonants.

You can see the original poem, from the Oracle, here.

Out of all the 9 versions, I still like the first one best. One thing I realized is that a lot of these poetic devices occur naturally when you write–that’s what makes them sound “right”. But it’s best not to rely too heavily on one thing.

I’ve been absent here because I’ve been doing NaPoWriMo on Kblog. But May begins next week, so I’ll be back. Dan has lots of interesting doors waiting for poems on Thursday Doors. And Draw a Bird Day is just around the corner…

Friday catch up

My friend sent me this picture of her Nina corner. I love that my art is out in the world. I’ve given a lot of art away lately and it feels good.

I’ve started recycling cardboard boxes into painting surfaces. This wasn’t the finished version but it’s my friend searching for shark teeth. The finished one had shark teeth scattered around and I suggested we glue real ones on (he might).

One of the many Neil found as well as other cool stuff. He did the mounting on copper wire.

In other news my rocks are for sale in my friend’s boutique. They look very cute but none have sold (yet). I also did some Easter egg type rocks which I will post below:

I was messing around trying to do a picture of my parents. This is on cardboard too. It’s pretty horrible but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Thank you! Nina

Northern Flicker (Draw a Bird Day)

Opening its wings, flicker flashes its feathers in colorful flight.

The Northern Flicker, a member of the woodpecker family, is found throughout North and Central America, and also in Cuba and the Cayman Islands, in almost any habitat that contains both trees and open ground for foraging. The main part of its diet consists of insects, of which ants are the primary component. It also eats seeds, nuts, fruits and berries. Flickers use formic acid from ants to assist in preening, which aids in getting rid of parasites, a process known as “anting”.

One of the few woodpeckers to migrate, flickers show the most color when in flight–red-shafted in the west and yellow-shafted in the east. Hybrids are common in overlapping ranges. They nest in tree cavities of dead wood. Like all woodpeckers, they use drumming on trees or metal objects to declare and defend territory, and as a means of communication. The flicker is the state bird of Alabama, where it is known as the yellowhammer.

Although not endangered, populations have declined since the 1960s.

I hear flickers frequently, both from my apartment windows and in the park, but I haven’t been able to spot one for a long time.

I’ve written an American Sentence for Aishwarya’s W3 prompt to write one with the theme of beauty.

Chestnut -Collared Longspur (Draw a Bird Day)

boundless blue, rimmed by
far horizons–an ocean
of windswept grass—wings
rise above the waves,
singing in constellations
of sky-feathered light

My choka envisions the American prairie as it once was–a diverse grassland ecosystem ideally suited to its variable climate, supporting hundreds of species, including migratory ones like monarchs. Less than one percent of the original prairie remains, its deep rooted grasses and wildflowers–as many as 200 different species per acre–replaced by suburban lawns and huge farms that grow only a few different crops, crops that lack the ability to replenish the soil and protect against drought. You only need to read about the Dust Bowl to see the results of destroying the native ecology.

Species that have mostly disappeared from the American prairie include bison, foxes, ferrets, elk, wolves, pumas, grizzly bears, beavers, prairie dogs, numerous insects, and all kinds of birds–prairie birds have suffered greater population losses than any bird group in North America.

The chestnut-collared longspur, like many prairie birds, eats seeds from native plants, and walks or runs along the ground to flush and capture insects to eat as well. It particularly like grasshoppers. Its name comes from the extra-long hind claws which help to navigate the uneven ground. Longspurs spend the summer in the northern prairies of the United States and Canada, and winter in southwest grasslands in the US and Mexico.

March 5, 2023

This is the first painting on paper I’ve done in quite a while. I have been pretty committed to rocks. They’ve made for some nice gifts and to be honest I just love doing them.

If you want to get the perfect rocks, Capcouriers on Etsy’s are great. (Kerfe found them, I’ve reordered several times). Painted in straight black gouache gives a very nice surface. The gouache colors stand out well. Then I spray with a high end gloss spray.

More art on a rock.

Best wishes to all and I apologize for my sporadic posting. I will try harder! Nina

March 2023 (Mad as a March Hare)

Time sinks into quicksand,
manipulated and migrated
by determined legislation–
spring ahead—reset your clocks!

Manipulated and migrated,
Sun surveys Earth with amusement
and continues to keep its own hours.

The determined legislation
impels no change to Sun’s path,
the space it occupies, or how it is viewed.

Spring ahead—reset your clocks!
(The birds will not forget to tell you
when it’s time to rise and shine.)

The Wombwell Rainbow has been posting a weekly poetic form challenge which I always mean to do. This week Paul is asking for poetry that uses idioms. Although it’s the autumn time change that really irritates me, as I dislike the day ending at 3pm, I noted on my March calendar that we will lose an hour of sleep when we “spring ahead” this month. I used the trimeric form which was from a challenge weeks ago, but as you know, I like repetitive forms.

I also used words from the Random Word List.

I did do my usual monthly grid, but using one of the Year of the Rabbits seemed more appropriate to both the month and the poem. And somehow a bird always fits.