Hi, I'm Victoria. If you're already a friend, whether by following, adding me to your list of blogs on your sidebar, or commenting, I'm very grateful for your friendship! If you're a new friend, welcome to my blog! I'm a painter (mostly portraits) and a photographer, both rather solitary occupations. Blogging gives me another outlet for my creativity and, more importantly, lets me connect with people from all over the world. I'm constantly inspired, uplifted and amazed every day by fellow bloggers.
I love animals and nature, so I feel very blessed to live where I do, high up in a beautiful mountain forest in California. When I'm not taking care of my family (human and four footed ones), or painting in my studio, or out hiking around these mountains taking photos, I love to read, bake, watch favorite movies, garden, teach my grandchildren and nieces about the forest and the animals that live in it, tell them stories about faeries and teach them about our heritage: Native American and Northern Italian on my side, Canadian, English and Irish on their grandfather/uncle's side. If they're interested, I love to teach them how to draw, paint and take photographs.
Thanks for visiting! To see the list of other party participants, click here. Vicki, thank you so much for hosting and organizing this party!
"All things are contained within all other things, and everything in the universe shares a living soul." Felicity Hayes-McCoy, from her book "The House on an Irish Hillside"
This is a portion of the trunk of a huge Western Red Cedar tree that crashed to earth in a violent windstorm many years ago. My husband trimmed it up; we used some of it for firewood, but the largest portion we left to nurture the earth it lays on, the forest around it and the little creatures who dwell here. Insects nest in it, Ladybugs winter safely underneath it, birds and chipmunks eat some of the insects who dwell in it, chipmunks and squirrels cache their stores of seeds and nuts in the holes woodpeckers have made while getting the insects, and a tired woman hiking back to her cottage frequently rests upon it, talks to it, and is nurtured by its enduring beauty, its enduring soul.
(Please be sure to left click on the photo to enlarge it; the colors and patterns in the trunk just don't show up very well in small format).
I was trying to get a photo of a blue jay in the tree yesterday when I noticed the beautiful sparkles showing up in the viewfinder. I always get distracted by sparkly things, even though these sparkles mean I probably need to clean my camera lens. My great-great grand-niece, Sabrina, who was visiting me today, saw this photo and said, "Who needs another picture of a blue jay? I'll take sparkles over feathers any day!" While I can't agree with her completely, I do have to admit that I love sparkles, too.
This isn't what any place in my garden looks like right now (I took this photo in June of '07), and I'd be ashamed to show you what my poor garden does look like right now! But...the weather has been so strangely (horribly) nice that while I was outside puttering around today I found myself thinking, "Hmmm...maybe later today I should check the garden center and see what they have in stock." Then I caught myself and realized they would have nothing in stock in January!
We've had a couple of little earthquakes in the past week, the nearest centered about 30 miles away. There is a fire burning to the west of us in the Glendora foothills. It poses no threat to these mountains at all. However, a fire that's burned over 1,900 acres and destroyed several homes is unheard of in Southern California in January. In a normal January in California, there might be flooding in some areas...never wild fires.
I was watering the trees that my hoses will reach today because the Governor has declared a State of Emergency due to our on-going drought (several years now), rapidly shrinking reservoirs, and only two feet of snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which is where Southern California gets most of its water. Normally at this time of year the snow pack is twenty-five feet deep, in a good rain/snow year it's not unusual for it to be fifty feet deep. So I was watering the trees while I can, because I'm pretty sure the next step the Governor takes will be to implement mandatory water rationing.
What keeps going through my mind is that old expression/curse: May you live in interesting times.
It was so windy here today, I don't know how this poor duck kept his equilibrium. He's a Redhead Duck (Aythya americana), and they're winter visitors here. (Left click on the photo to see him better). I tried to get a photo of a female, but they kept diving underwater. There are ducks underwater all around him; I think that and the horrible Santa Ana winds worked together to make a very interesting water pattern. I'm always intrigued by the water patterns I see when I've uploaded my photos. I don't really see them when I'm taking the photo because the water is shifting so fast...and, if I look at it too long I get dizzy and fall in! Not a bad thing to do in the summer (well, a little embarrassing), but you definitely don't want to fall in any lake up here during the winter. Right now, the water temperature of Lake Arrowhead is 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrrrr!
That's what I titled this little painting I finished today. Since the weather won't oblige, I thought I'd just paint some snow! It's 5"x8", done in alkyds on canvas. I only used three colors: Lamp Black, Titanium White and a touch of Dioxazine Purple.
I found myself wishing as I was painting this that I was the sort of person who doesn't pay attention to the seasons. When the weather doesn't behave as it should, I feel disoriented and out of sorts. Our rain/snow didn't materialize, and today was sunny with a high of 50 degrees. Way too warm for January, although our night time lows are where they should be, down in the low 20's. Meanwhile, my poor friend who lives in Kentucky is so tired of rain, snow and cold she's ready to hop on a plane and come out for a visit!
I caught our poor Snow Faery in a photo while on my early morning walk through the woods. I was putting out nuts and seeds for the birds, mice and other little creatures that live in this forest when I saw one lone snowflake drift down and melt as soon as it hit the ground. I looked up, startled, because the sun was shining brightly in a cloudless sky, and that's when I saw her. I whipped up my camera and quickly clicked, but there was no need to hurry; she was too sad to move quickly. She waved her wand quite a few times, but only a few snowflakes appeared and those melted before they reached the ground. I thought I heard a forlorn whisper from her as she faded away: "I'm trying my best, it's just too warm...it's just too warm."
I heard on the news tonight that 2013 was the driest year on record for California. The second driest year? 2012. The weather guy is saying we might get some rain and snow on Thursday. I sure hope he's right.
The birds really like the sunny days. Probably not the nights, because the lows are in the low to mid-twenties. Now that I think about it, maybe they don't like the huge temperature swings from day to night any better than I do. A low of 21 last night and a high today of nearly 60 today is just crazy! But, if we didn't have to worry about deadly forest fires and running out of water, I have to admit that this weather is pretty nice. My heart goes out to all the animals and people who are being impacted by the enormous storm in the mid-west and the north-east, and they're all in my prayers.
And some other Wildings, big and little, who kindly share their forest with me:
Miss Sunni, a Grey Squirrel
"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Mountain Lion
A Black Bear
A Young Steller's Jay
Common to high altitude forests all over the west
The photos and text on these pages, unless otherwise indicated, are my sole property. They may not be reproduced in any manner for private or commercial use without my consent.
Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. ~~ Albert Einstein
June Is Adopt a Cat Month
But, there are always strays who need a loving home - so don't shop, ADOPT! Click the photo for helpful tips on adopting.
If they breathe, they live. If they live, they feel. If they feel, they love. If they love, they are aware. If they are aware, they have a soul. ~ Williams
I love cats because I enjoy my home and, little by little, they become its visible soul. Jean Cocteau
Courage, dear heart ~ C.S. Lewis
I think we are bound to, and by, Nature. We may want to deny this connection and try to believe we control the external world, but every time there's a snowstorm or drought we know our fate is tied to the world around us. ~~ Alice Hoffman
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers.
Charles W. Eliot
A person who collects or is fond of books. Also, a person who immediately feels safe, happy, even euphoric, when holding a favorite book.
Where there is tea there is hope - Pinero
Care for a cuppa?
Boulder Bay, Big Bear Lake
Click to visit Big Bear
Lake Gregory, Crestline
Click to visit Crestline
Click to visit Lake Arrowhead
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. ~ John Muir, from "The California Mountains"
A Favorite Quote
"I don't want life to imitate art; I want life to BE art." Carrie Fisher
I live in a little cottage with my furry "children" in a beautiful mountain forest where we enjoy daily visits from the little wild creatures. I love animals (you probably guessed), books, photography, tall trees, clear lakes, rain, snow, tea, the moon, and creating all kinds of art.