Archive for April, 2012

U is for Urchin

April 24th, 2012 4 comments

The last wild creature we discovered on our January Hawaiian vacation was the Helmet Urchin. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at when we saw these creatures, that looked like giant nail heads on rock in the coastal rock formations on the beach in Kona. Are those animals? Or some sort of extinct animal’s exoskeletons? They also looked a little like giant black gumdrops. Until I got closer. They are an exquisite dark purple surrounded with tiny little chicklet feet. They are one of the toughest of urchins, in that it takes one heck of a wave to wash them away, while other species of urchins are already long gone. Its Hawaiian name is “kaupali” which translates to mean “cliff hanging.”

Categories: nature, travel journal Tags:


April 23rd, 2012 4 comments

Oh Turtles, all kids love them, in my childhood I got to visit land turtles as big as me; but I was too old to ride them. (You can no longer ride turtles at the Turtleback Zoo) in Essex County, New Jersey. Later, when I was a little bit older, I had a pet turtle, about the size of a silver dollar. Unfortunately my pet cat thought it was cute and kept removing it from its little terrarium. Finally one day I found the poor thing dead behind the sofa cushions after a long disappearance.
Italian families keep turtles as pets because they believe they bring good fortune.. They usually live on the front porch, with limited access to the kitchen.

I had the great pleasure to go to Hawaii this January with my dear husband, where I swam and snorkled and waded in the beautiful blue waters off the west coast of the big island.
While snorkling I saw all kinds of beautiful fish swimming in the coral reefs. I also swam by a large dark thing, and later discovered that it was a Green Sea turtle. During our last two days in Hawaii, we decided to wade in the tide pools across the street from our rented condo. To our great surprise and delight, huge turtles were there, fishing and cruising. The smaller ones were the size of a TV tray. I hear they can get to kitchen table size, but I never saw any that big. They were so unconcerned that I was able to get up close to them, close enough to observe all the detail you see here in my painting.
This painting is for sale, it’s 8.5 x 11.5″ hand painted watercolors, it’s a bargain at $150.00.

Categories: nature Tags:

S is for Summer Avenue

April 21st, 2012 6 comments

As part of a project for the Brooklyn Art Library, the Art House Co-op challenged 500 people to write a letter to their old home. I had many old homes to choose from, but this is the one I chose. The reference for the painting was a google street view!

Dear 565A Summer Avenue

You are the house of my dreams. For 50 years I have dreamed of your rooms, your halls and your stairs. Where once I played and read and watched television (when the president was shot and then Lee Harvey Oswald..) still lodges in my brain.

You were the far side of a duplex. The fair side in my opinion. Your front porch was probably screened in once, but even without a screen, it was a wonderful place to play. Your outside wall was so close to the house next door, that we had a window that let in almost no light- no one liked that room much, so we stored curious things in it.

And only me and my cats could get between you and the house next door, because the space was so narrow. My secret was the secret entrance to the back yard – your yard, which was the only disappointment I had with you, it’s too small. I did try to grow a Pussy willow there, but my stepfather mowed it down.

I was a city kid, and soon after I left you, I escaped the city. I quested for mountains, country roads, and wide open spaces. But then, after less than 10 years, I came back to the city; albeit a much younger one, on the left coast, and; just as when I was living in your attic, I can hear and smell my neighbors, it is a fact of life, now I like my neighbors better, and we share with them the fruits of my back yard, figs, plums, cherries.

I checked you out on google maps, even though you are in the heart of Newark, NJ, you are still in a healthy neighborhood, but now you are painted brown instead of the grey I remember. Maybe now there are less children running up and down the streets, or effortlessly rollerskating on the blue slates in front of you, in fact, they took the slates out and now all the sidewalks are boring cement.

I loved the circular windows and the built in desks in my attic bedroom. I loved how I could climb right out on the roof from the attic hallway. That was another secret place. You had other secrets too; in some attic space was found ancient notebooks, belonging to a child – filled with slashes and circles, page after page. Who stored those notebooks there, and the shutters? The tiny mezuzah holders on the walls, and even the gas lamp fixtures were still in your walls, and the push buttons to turn the lights on and off.

Now I live somewhere that shutters do not exist, gas lamps are for camping, and pushbuttons are on the remote control for the television. But you are still with me. I dream about you in various stages of repair, I dream about you with new fascinating hidden rooms, I think, did I know that room was there?

I long to drive through Newark, NJ again, so this time I can stop, knock on your door and request a tour. I am sure the new owner would think I was nuts. Can they speak English? How many languages have been spoken between your walls anyway?

Dear 565A Summer Avenue, I lived in a lot of houses as a child, but you are the only one which actually resides in my brain. I hope someone plants flowers in your yard, I see the Rhododendron is gone, you deserve another.

Categories: biographical, historic, writing Tags:

Rusty Spotted Cat – the smallest cat species in the world!

April 20th, 2012 3 comments

We’ve seen Sand Cats, Andean Cats, Kodkod, and the Blackfooted cat. But this little cat who weighs in at just over 2 pounds fully grown is the smallest of the small.
Native to India and Sri Lanka, where they are seriously threatened by humanity, this little cat is barely holding on. They are opportunist and nocturnal and will eat just about anything they can catch including domestic fowl, and unfortunately the humans in the vicinity consider them good to eat as well. They spend much of their time in trees.
The Rusty Spotted Cat is extremely playful, and anecdotal evidence points to them being friendly enough to be pets. I’ve not seen proof of this though. There are Rusty Spotted cats in some zoos, including one in Berlin and one in Sri Lanka.

This little painting 6″ x 4″ is for sale for $50.00 to buy it send an email All proceeds from the sale of this painting will go to a wild cat sanctuary and conservation program.

Categories: cats, wildcat Tags:

Quoll – AKA Tiger Cat

April 19th, 2012 3 comments

The Quoll is really not a cat at all, it’s a small marsupial carnivore, big ones weigh 8 pounds. With a shiny pink nose and random white spots, it looks cuddly, but it is not. It is an endangered animal which is now found only in Tasmania and small parts of eastern Australia. It eats mostly insects and other invertebrates, but also includes rats and mice as part of its diet. It is a nocturnal solitary hunter. Fortunately for the Quoll, awareness of its plight is growing down under, and there are societies dedicated to its preservation. Quoll Bites is one of them, full of stories about Quolls found in all sorts of places, complete with photos.

Categories: animals, portrait Tags: