I have been trying to find out what else I can do with my graphics software and, as I like wood carvings and engravings, I am playing around a bit with that. I thought I would start with a simple “wood burning” or engraving of a grizzly bear cub in a tree on a piece of wood. Not too bad for a first attempt; even a bit of shadows and highlights around the edges.
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I am currently in northern Israel and have been too busy to post any new work for some time. However, I was able to work on one project:
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This is a label from Singing Jackal Amber Ale brewed by mythical Nimrod Brewery in Israel. The label features a the Golden Jackal (Canis aureus). Hebrew text above the jackal reads “Amber Ale.” Additional Hebrew text below the jackal reads “Tan Shirah” (Singing Jackal), “Bira Tsafonit” (Northern Beer) to indicate it was brewed in the Galilee or the Golan Heights, and “Mivshelet Nimrod” (Nimrod Brewery).
The jackal, closely resembling and filling much the same ecological niche as the North American Coyote, is the most common predator in Israel. It is often found near inhabited areas, where it feeds on fruit, vegetables, offal, and carrion. It also preys on small animals. The eerie howling, or singing, of jackals often fills the night air. Occasionally, I will see one or two lurking at the edge of heavy vegetation.
Jackal numbers in Israel have increased greatly in recent years. This is due in part to careless disposal of food waste and animal carcasses. Jackals will sometimes work together as do wolves to attack farm animals and wildlife such as gazelle in the Golan Heights and the Galilee. And rabies is an ongoing concern.
As is often the case the image is available on many items at one of my Zazzle stores. Search for “jackal”.
Northern Idaho and surrounding areas of Washington and Montana are blessed with a great variety of both flora and fauna. The southern edge of the boreal forest, the Rocky Mountains and inter-montane habitat types blend into one another into. Many species of migratory birds pass through the Idaho panhandle following Pacific flyway routes. Canada Geese, often called Honkers, are one of the most common. Large flocks settle on the lakes and rivers.
Some Canada Geese are also year-round residents in the Sandpoint-Lake Pend Oreille area. The image below depicts some of them on Sand Creek just a short distance upriver from Sandpoint.
While we do not seem to have suffered from a loss of birds that has plagued many part of North America I have noticed an increasing number of dead geese, and fish, in recent years while in my kayak. Whether that somehow results from the appearance of Eurasian Milfoil in out waterways, chemicals used to combat the infestation, construction and habitat degradation near the water, or some other factor, I do not know, but I worry about environmental degradation in this are as the population grows.
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The reference to “combat fishing” in the Cyanotic Salmon Bar & Grill posting from August got me to thinking that there should be an award for those who have survived the experience. So, using the U.S. Army Combat Infantryman Badge, awarded to soldiers who have been in active ground combat, as a guide I have devised the Alaska Combat Fisherman Badge.
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You can see the similarity between the two. The dark blue color of Alaska’s flag replaces the light blue of the military award and I have substituted conifer branches for the elliptical oak wreath. A Sockeye Salmon, in spawning red coloration, on a dark blue background, over a conifer branch wreath. The fish is a male Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the red color it assumes for spawning.
I also worked up a green and black, embroidered “subdued” version as you would see on combat clothing.
Honor the soldiers who have fought for our freedom.
Always remember that salmon runs are threatened in many places by mining, pollution, dams and other problems. Managed properly, salmon can feed humans for millions of years; long after dams have collapsed, long after mines have been depleted. Do what you can to help preserve them and never, never, never buy farmed salmon.
As usual, these images, and a couple of variations, are available on many items at my Zazzle store.
In the north the term “breakup” refers to melting of the ice in lakes and , especially, rivers. When breakup occurs masses of ice begin melting and moving; spring soon follows,
I recently picked up a few tips that will allow me to become better at the mechanics of using 3D software to make art. Those tips are incorporated into this image; a mountain lake in spring. Sunlight reflects off trees in the distance in a more natural way that I was able to achieve previously. And I think I was able to render a fairly good approximation of ice as it appears on a lake in spring when it melts most days and then refreezes at night. And the partially-melted snow on the hills also looks natural.
I added a Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) in the foreground as they are one of the most beautiful and interesting birds in the upper left hand corner of North America. We call them screeches as that is what they do.
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I put my kayak, the Cyanotic Salmon (it’s blue; it “swims” up rivers), in the water as often as possible. In my opinion Cyanotic Salmon would be a great name for a tavern or rock band. Lo and behold, I found a family-oriented, though non-existent, Cyanotic Salmon Bar & Grill in Kenai, Alaska.
Sockeyes assume the familiar red coloration before spawning. They are commonly called red salmon and are sometimes referred to as bluebacks, as they have a bluish tint while living in the ocean, which fits with the blue-toned fish below. There are landlocked populations of Sockeye, known as Kokanee, in the western parts of the United States and Canada.
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You may have noticed the line about combat fishing rest and relaxation. Salmon fishing is extremely popular in Alaska, too popular. Thousands of anglers, almost shoulder to shoulder, line both banks of the salmon streams, each trying to catch a big fish while trying to keep his line from tangling with those of everyone else. Tempers can flare.
This is what combat fishing looks like:
And, lastly, this is my little blue boat, the original Cyanotic Salmon:
Here is a rendering of a tree-covered, rocky island off the coast of British Columbia which I saw while aboard a ferry from Alaska. I have dubbed it Salish Island though it most likely has some other name.
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The word “salish” is used by linguists to refer to several related languages of the indigenous residents of the US Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The term “Salish Sea” refers to an area consisting of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, of which the island in this image is a part, are located in the Salish Sea.
A faux propaganda image featuring a rural scene from the early post-war Soviet Union. Depicts a GAZ M-20 Pobeda automobile, in front of a dacha (rural summer house). Across the upper part of the image is an “M20” hood ornament, Cyrillic (Russian) text reading “ГАЗ” (GAZ) and a side ornament found on the vehicles featuring stylized Cyrillic text reading “Победа” (Pobeda). The image has been “aged” to suggest that it dates from the early post-war period.
Internal Soviet propaganda often tried to inform the people how good life was in the USSR. A dacha and a car to get there signified the good life. City dwellers dreamed of having a small plot of land outside the city to flee to on summer weekends, away from the heat and dirt of the city.
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The Pobeda, was the first automobile manufactured for the public after the end of World War. The M20 was produced 1946 to 1958. GAZ (ГАЗ is a Russian acronym for Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod – Gorsky Automobile Factory) Pobeda (Победа) is the Russian word for victory. The name was chosen because the car was first tested in 1943 when an Allied victory in World War II began to appear likely.The Pobeda was manufactured under license in Poland and a few were assembled in North Korea. The Pobeda was the first post-war Soviet-made automobile and the first Soviet vehicle to have turn signals, two electric wipers, an electric heater, and a built-in AM radio. The car came to be a symbol of postwar Soviet life and is today a popular collector’s item. A total of 235,997 Pobedas were produced. A number of M20s have been extensively customized in recent years. There are even a few “muscle car” versions on the road.
The word “dacha” originated in the 17th century from the verb “davat’” (to give), in reference to plots of land distributed by the Tsar. At the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of Peter the Great dachas became popular as summer holiday retreats. The nobility used their dachas for social and cultural gatherings, including masquerade balls and fireworks displays.
By the end of the 19th century, a house in the country was one of the necessary possessions of the rich as well as the middle class. Russian poets and playwrights (including Alexander Pushkin and Anton Chekhov) mentioned dachas in their works. Summer homes in beautifully adorned areas became a “place-to-be” for many Russian artists. Many types of goods were specially manufactured for dacha use – from lady’s accessories such as fans and hat to furniture items and even toilets.
After the 1917 Russian Revolution some dachas became “holiday homes” for workers.
Dachas became very popular after the end of World War. For some it was not just a weekend getaway. A dacha with a small plot of land let people save their tiny incomes. Here they could plant their own vegetables. They stored potatoes in cellars, pickled cucumbers and made jams out of apples and pears in order to have some food reserves to last through the cold Russian winter. Some people grew fruits and vegetables not only for their own consumption, but to sell as well.
In many areas the plots of land for dachas were limited to 0.06 hectares (about .15 acres). A plot of that size was too small for most people to live on permanently; authorities needed to keep workers in the big cities and were not interested in the restoration of private farming on a wider scale. The concession of the “zero point zero six of a hectare” was necessary because the country could not provide its people with enough food. As a result many dacha settlements sprang up with small houses standing right next to each another.
There were legal size restrictions for dacha houses. They had to have not more than 25 m² (269 square feet) of living area and be only one storey tall. That’s why they usually had a Mansard roof with a small second storey room, which was considered by authorities as just a big garret or attic, not a second storey. Dachas built since the dissolution of the Soviet Union tend to be rather larger.
A typical plot of land was surrounded by berry trees and shrubs. There was a small house (in many cases – with no conveniences at all) and a hut for storing garden tools. Around the house there were rows of plants and vegetables. In the areas around Moscow potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers were the main crops. However, the owners’ fantasies about what to plant knew no boundaries. A row of strawberries became “a must” for many (strawberries usually ripen faster than everything else). In the south beans and even melons were grown, while in Siberia many dacha lovers liked to plant sakura (Japanese cherries). At the beginning of the 1960s the number of fruit trees that could be planted was heavily regulated by the rules of the dacha settlement. The aim of this measure was to make the area visually pleasing. Later all these quotas were lifted. The same was true for the size of the plot – if you wanted a bigger plot you could simply buy your neighbor’s land or find another plot somewhere else.
In the 1980s, due to the shortage of goods in stores, farming at dachas became a massive phenomenon. For some it was more necessity then pleasure, as modern farming tools were not readily available. But others took their dacha trials as a hobby. They took pride in inventing something unique for their flowers and vegetables, such as greenhouses or unique water-spraying devices. Still others tried to think of ways to fertilize the ground not just with manure, but other additives. Many unnecessary items from city apartments could easily be turned into useful gadgets for the dacha. For example, if you had too many empty cola bottles you could cut them in half and use the bottom part to protect young plants from cold spring nights.
The harvest was a special pride for many people – some sold their produce, while others gave it away to their neighbors and friends. It was common to share the seeds of rare plants with others. Real fans think about their dacha all year long. In winter they plant tomato, cucumber, pepper and eggplant seeds in small pots that they keep on the window sills of their apartments – and at the beginning of May they re-plant them at their dachas.
Many dacha lovers chose to live on their plots of land. They built good houses with all the necessary facilities, including heating and electrical systems. Having a banya (a small bath house) at your dacha is not a luxury any more. At the beginning of 1990s some Russian “nouveau riches” made “fortresses” out of their dachas. A few even bred exotic animals – like iguanas and crocodiles.
It is said that the dacha is a way of “returning to paradise lost” – a source of temporary harmony away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.