Friday, January 13, 2017

See Beautiful: With A Pencil

I'm always amazed by how drawing with a simple pencil opens my eyes to beauty. 

Here are two photos I took last year of Oona, the female rhinoceros hornbill at the Virginia Zoo. She's a remarkable bird and has a quieter, more sedate personality than her mate.

It was only when I started to draw her portrait that I noticed in real detail how beautiful she is:

  • the sheen of her soft feathers,
  • the brilliant orange-red inside her beak
  • her long eyelashes (modified feathers)
  • her rosy eye shadow
  • the delicate way the tips of her beak meet


 Ryobi is far more energetic, curious, and playful than Oona. I've spent hours watching these two, and I'm probably anthropomorphizing, but Ryobi seem to annoy Oona with his antics. He often wants to perch beside her, but she'll fly across the aviary as if to say, "I need some space, mister!"

 Ryobi makes good use of the toys provided in the aviary.
Ryobi's charm is one of the most beautiful things about him:
  • his alert gaze at visitors,
  • the brilliant ruby color of his eyes,
  • his magnificent plumage in flight,
  • his interest in his world - toys, food, Oona, passers-by
  • the way he holds his beak in a smile

I don't get these drawings right all the time, of course! I haven't done justice to Ryobi's casque and will have to go back and enlarge it. 
I'm hoping to put some of the beauty of these birds into an oil painting once the drawings are finished.
Rhinoceros hornbills live in Asian tropical forests along with moon bears and orangutans. Until their forest habitat is safe from burning for palm oil plantations, we risk losing these beautiful birds. For now though, there is hope as more people become aware of the threat and take action. That's beautiful too.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Trip To The Arctic

If you ever wanted to visit the Arctic, now's the chance you've waited for. Bundle up and walk out your front door (after you shovel the porch), because this weekend the Arctic has traveled to us.

Toby loves the cold. He get impatient waiting for us to get our four layers of clothes on.

You gotta be kidding. It's 15 degrees and you want me to put my butt on the snow?

 Who cares whether your warm stuff matches when you only need it three days a year?

Yes, my Christmas lights are still up. Don't judge!
If you are enjoying a trip to the Arctic too, bundle up, keep warm, and if you MUST drive, be safe on those icy roads.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Snuffling Wellness Soft WellBites From

It's been awhile, hasn't it? I hope your holidays were wonderful and that 2017 is off to a sparkly start for you all. We had a nice Christmas...
 Except that 2/3 of the family was sick on the Big Day,  the part that includes the grandkids leaving soon after the turkey dinner instead of staying two more days as planned, and a refrigerator full of leftovers since sick people don't eat like you thought they would. And Ted and I got sick mid-week, so spending his week off mostly reading and watching TV and coughing our heads off and NOT drinking champagne (!) and going to bed early on New Year's Eve, like Old Folks, which is a sensitive subject since we both have birthdays during the holiday season. Then both of my eyes got infected. Ho ho ho indeed.
Never mind. My eye are better, fever gone, and Toby's ready to start 2017 off with a treat review and showing off what Santa brought - sent Wellness Soft Wellbites in the chicken and venison flavor to review. I chose them because for each blogger who reviewed Wellness brand treats, the company donated 2 meals to animal shelters. Is it cheating that I've used Wellbites often for training Toby? Remember, Toby has been to lots of classes - obedience (three times), CGC, therapy dog, agility, and rally. These  rewards are ideal - soft and breakable.

Wellbites squares are grain-free, come in several flavors (smells?), are made in the USA, and contain carrots, apples, blueberries, and flaxseed for vitamins. And I noticed that carries a puppy version too, in case the holidays brought you a new family member.

The scoring helps finicky owners cut each square into smaller pieces that are soft and perfect for training treats.

I can't be bothered. I just tear 'em up any old which way.

Now what better way to demonstrate Toby's opinion than to pull out The Snufflemat! Santa Claus brought one each for Vela*, Trudy**, and Toby. (Incidentally, making these gave the Elf some intense free physical therapy on her bionic arm :)

I don't even have to do tricks...

Now that's jolly!
New tricks to learn, or just treats, click over to to choose a flavor of Wellness Wellbites for your furry pal. They ship fast, offer autoship (with a discount for your first order), and shipping on orders over $49 is free. Customer service is great too.  You can't find a better online source for pet supplies than

I know there's another one here somewhere! sent a me a free bag of Wellness Soft Wellbites in return for an honest review. Terra Toby only recommends products and companies that may be useful to other pet parents. 

*Vela belongs to daughter Amber and her husband Billy.

**Trudy belongs to daughter Lauren and her husband John.

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