rik-rat corn pile

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TUFTED TITMOUSE...worst bird name EVER!

1. backyard birdMy nerd book came in the mail yesterday, its a Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Its a pretty fuckin cool book, I like Peterson's field guides because they're illustrated and show the field marks on each creature well. What's a field mark? Easy, on a robin it would be its red breast...on a bald eagle it would be its white head and tail, not to mention its overall massiveness. Field marks are just little things to notice so you can identify a species with some accuracy. But with certain birds, especially song birds, the field marks are harder to notice.

In my book there are five varieties of titmice (laughing in my head). The field mark they all share is a tiny crest on their tiny little head. And big, dark eyes. However, they're all a wee bit different from one another. Most titmice live out west. In Iowa we have the Tufted Titmouse (still laughing in my head). Whenever I see one of these little guys in my lawn I'm kind of surprised by them, they're funny. This is how they're described in the book.

(this describes the field marks) A small, grey, mouse colored bird with a tufted crest. Forehead and underparts pale, sides rusty. Their song is a whisled "peter peter peter peter (laughing in head) or Here Here Here." Their sound is similar to a chickadee but more nasaly, wheezy and complaing.

Nasaly, wheezy, and complaining? If I was a titmouse I'd be offended. I know I make fun of the word titmouse a lot but when it comes down to it, what a great title for a tiny, discreet, bird. Titmice.

pretty bird.

These birds are common, I see them all the time. But when they lined up on that branch as the snow was lightly falling they became less ordinary. I liked this moment.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

going native.

I started off my day by taking a deer from the side of the road. He wasn't alive, obviously, He's been hidden under a lot snow this winter and it was my first chance to aquire him. I placed him into my trunk and drove home. Eventually I'm going to put his skeleton back together, scientist style, but I think some coyotes chewed his ribs off so he only be a partial specimen. I'll buy those dermestid Beatles to clean him up. But, moving on...
I put the spike on top of the shed where it quickly became a disgusting snack for the Porch Cat. Then I burned all the cardboard I had in the house, I added some wood, and had a nice fire.
I swear, I'm not crazy. But it sounds crazy. God, I'm crazy. But this is what I do when left to my own devices. That was my Sunday. oh yeah, and I drew some pictures.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

fun with bird seed.

1. I was having some fun with bird seed. My idea was to have the word HI covered in birds. Don't they look confused? "Hi?" Birds don't speak English. And besides, they never saturated the letters with their hungry bird bodies. So, the plan failed. 2. And don't they look confused? After weeks of sitting by the window and on my back porch. After feeding them and taking glamor shots of them...these birds will never trust me. Next week I'm going to write a short sentence. These birds will be trained, pavlov style, by the end of winter

Monday, February 22, 2010

This is an old photo (1 yr aprox). I had just finished hanging my m.f.a show. I was so happy I jumped 20 feet high. Got another show lined up at the White Rabbit in Iowa City this May. I almost jumped this high when I found out. Check out the place at http://www.whiterabbitgallery.com/about.php

Friday, February 19, 2010

Redheaded woodpeckers, the jerk of the woodpecker family.

1. An impressive bird with his hackles up.
2. A dumpy bird looking dumpy.

Like I've said before, every Sunday is my bird watching day. I pour wild bird seed on the lawn and let my nerdish tendencies take over. I get out my field guides, my camera, sit by the window and try to get an inventory of all the species in my backyard. I've noticed that a certain breed of woodpecker is WAY more aggressive then any other bird out there...its even more aggressive then the blue jays. Here's the scoop:

Last Sunday, I had a bouquet of birds pecking about: blue jays, cardinals, house sparrows, titmice (?), juncos, chickadees. It was awesome. Awesome until two black and white birds came flying out of nowhere to dive bomb and peck-attack all the birds who were quietly enjoying their seeds. One of the aggressive birds had a BRIGHT red head, a black body top, and white underparts (his posturing was impressive). The other bird looked dumpy. I've recently found out the dumpy looking bird was a juvenile woodpecker, he'll become more red in time. But yeah, it was a strait up bird attack.
Once the two woodpeckers got their fill of ill-gotten seed they left and the other birds came back. However, this guerrilla style attack happened three more times in four hours. These lil' guys are guerrilla warriors but maybe I'm anthropomorphizing them...hell, I know I am.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

wapiti on 34.

These are the elk I see on 34 W. They are not wild elk because wild elk don't exist in Iowa anymore, they are farm elk. I looked at their website and this place they uses the elk's shed antlers to make chandeliers, chairs, lamps, and, hopefully, sweet knife handles. They also sell meat, I'd suggest an elk roast, very tasty but kinda dry if you're a bad cook like i am.
There's a secret in Ottumwa that this farm owns one serious bull elk...an elk with a rack so huge that it has its own special barn and the owners never let anyone see the big ol' wapiti (wapiti being another name for elk). I think they do this for publicity but who the fuck cares? Its nice to hear urban legends about giant elk that may or may not exist.
Yesterday, I finally had the chance to photograph them. Its been so grey and cold that the elk have not been coming to pasture. Yesterday was sunny and bright and all the bulls wanted to get some sun and play. I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped shots for ten minutes. These ones are nice because you can see how even the tiny elk have fabulous antler genetics. So many points on those tiny antlers. Makes me wonder if they have some red deer introduced into their bloodline. Who knows, this farm is known for keeping secrets.
"careful, its rutting season" -coach mcguirk, home movies

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Home for Ann Flowers.

"Dwell Here"
Searching for a home, attempting to find security in an insecure environment. Shrouded faces, anonymity, lovers, ex-lovers, cupcakes, and a sad ghost with a balloon. For all of those who have felt too hard or too much, this art will make sense. It speaks to our ability to obsess. Flower's work is, literally, dripping with ambivalence about the future, dripping with sweetness (the reoccurring cupcake we see below), and is dripping with color. But there's some hope in those houses. Its not all scary in her world.
Because I have known and loved Ann for so long I can say that her work is getting a "wow" out of me. Unconventional shapes, a new push of values, subtle collage, and a(n) (ironically) confidant hand (for someone who works with such awkward subject matter). During my Studio visit with Ann I was able to see the artistic growth that came from her recent personal growth. She is a true reminder that to make "good" art you have to live it, you gotta really understand your subject matter. Because if you don't get what you're doing it'll come off as forced and poorly informed. Ann understands love, hate, confusion, anxiety, humor, and craft...you can see it in her work.
And to honor the place where Ann has earned a lot of street cred, a portrait of the her in front of a graphite drawing of a lady riding DeKalb corn (and I think there's some barbed wire in there, god bless DeKalb). Ann has FLOWERED in a corn field and she better fucking keep me up to date about when her show/party is happening.
Check her out at http://abeautifulparty.blogspot.com/. From there check out her flickr site and etsy site. She's a badass.

why I love Ottumwa.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

red bellied woodpecker.

what a pretty red hat on this red-bellied woodpecker. I haven't gotten a good look at it's belly but from what I can tell it's not very red. Yet another good example of a poorly named bird (titmouse being the worst). I would have called this guy a dotty-backed red-cap woodpecker. That would have been a much better name.
Woodpeckers are harder to photograph then my other backyard birds. Whenever this guy sees me he'll fly to the back of a tree and cling to its trunk. What an asshole. There's also a red-headed woodpecker that likes to torture me by flying to the other side of the yard whenever I grab the ol' camera. Once again, what an asshole.

Monday, February 15, 2010

the dinosaurs in my backyard.

I've got some smart turkeys in the backyard. I saw them, scratching around, through my back window while I was eating soup. I had to run to my camera. I spilled my soup.


1. They haven't noticed me, yet.
2. Ten seconds later, they have TOTALLY noticed me.
3. I didn't get a third picture because they had already ran away, looking very much like dinosaurs as they ran.

Iowa, its legal here.

Gay Marriage. Its legal in Iowa. I love this state.
*what a beautiful day, though. Blue skies, white snow, a historic house, and two buddies.

Friday, February 12, 2010

obese highway dog.

I saw an obese dog trotting along the 34 East median at 5:30pm yesterday. The dog was so enormously fat I was able to see him from far away. I decelerated from 80 to 60 because I didn't want to kill another animal with my car.

What did I observe about this dog from my car?

1. He was an obese black lab.
2. He looked oily, so he probably smelled.
3. He was a smart dog and appeared to be super-aware of all the cars passing him.
4. He was wearing a collar.
5. He was a happy dog at that particular moment and was wagging his tail.
6. He had a big, brown thing hanging out of his mouth.

When I passed the dog I saw that the stick hanging out of his mouth was a deer leg. Old guy had been chowing down on frozen venison and wanted to bring some home. It was pretty funny. He probably does stuff like that all the time, no wonder he's obese. Kibble at home, carcass on the road.

I've been seeing stuff like this for the past six months, domestic dogs leading a feral double life. It has inspired a series of paintings called "cadaver dogs." Domestic creatures can become feral pretty dang fast. Each painting features a domestic dog paired with an abstract tangle of the creatures they were consuming when I saw them. The paintings are becoming more narrative and I should have one posted by Monday.

Bon appetit.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a strange little leucistic cardinal.

See that neat looking bird with the grey and white body in the middle of the photograph? This bird is a rare find. It's a cardinal with a pigment deficency called leucism. Being leucistic? That means this guy's pigment has failed to develop properly. Leucism has left him patchy and abnormally colored...unlike his red brother cardinals. Leucistic animals are not to be confused with albino animals. Albinos are missing all their pigment, even in their eyes. A leucistic animal can be all white, patchy, or piebald but still have pigmented eyes. Our leucistic cardinal visits every Sunday after I dump out a bag of wild bird seed on the lawn. I've done some reading up on pigment variation in animals and am very proud to say that I have officially seen and documented a rare creature. If you want to see a real crazy cardinal google "xanthrochroism, cardinal." Enjoy the photos.
sitting on a stick!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

possum city.

I live in Possum City. Possums live under our porch, in our dilapidated chicken coop, in the garage, in our backyard, and ALL over forested acres. Tracks everywhere. My favorite part about possums is that they aren't very fast and they're clumsy as hell. If you happened upon one trundling across a field you could easily walk up to the marsupial and catch it. I don't know what you'd do with it after...raise it like a cat, eat it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

possum got snapped.

I snapped a shot of the elusive possum that lives under our back porch.

(I'm pretty sure this is the same guy I caught cuddling Porch Cat)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

porch cat blood face.

Porch cat's muzzle is covered in blood. I wonder what she murdered this time? Also, an update on her feline pregnancy status. That one time I thought she was pregnant, she wasn't. She was full of little animal skeletons. Neat!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

my morning walk through DeKalb

DeKalb photos: 1. my old house 2. mallards 3. the kishwaukee river

1. See the top right window on that house? That used to be my window. I kept my degus by that window. Of course the rodents DESTROYED the blinds by chewing and peeing on them. As a result, my landlord took ALL of my deposit (UNFAIR). Once I looked out of that window and saw a drunk girl rolling around my lawn. Another time I looked out that window and saw the Locust street drunk dry heaving into a bush. Come to think of it, on the weekends, all I ever saw through that window were drunk college students. Good stuff. Good times.
2. I am a bird papazzatzi: Birds hate getting their photo taken and, as you can see from the photo, these water fowl hated me because they don't like being blogged about. These mallards are trying to get very far away from me. But I blogged about them anyways. Take that, ducks.
3. THE MIGHTY KISHWAUKEE RIVER: It flooded our town real bad a few years back. I saw a bunch of fat kids swimming in the river run off and all I could think about...staff infections and pink eye. It was an unreal flood. Oh yeah, and once there was an alligator in the Kishwaukee River (it was caught by a fisherman in the area shown on the right side of the photo).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


sorry, pal. I'll miss you and I'll miss your toes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

sights from the drive to illinois.

1. A barn near(ish) Muscatine, Iowa. This shack is on 61E and is in all of the "weird iowa" books.

2. Hog House. Gotta love the logo. It is on 92E.

3. This church's top fell off! Its on 34E.

It was a good ride, I allowed myself to stop and photograph anything that ignited my curiosity. I collected old paint chips from the graffiti shack and will send them to whoever requests one, they look pretty cool (years of paint build up on aged wood). I also saw several dead coyotes, a sharp shinned hawks, two bald eagles, and a mama deer with triplets casually cross a highway.