Saturday

Porcupine.... Skull, Quills, Bones


North American Porcupine... Rodentia... Erenthizontidae... Erethizon dorsatum...

Front-on view of Porcupine skull... showing its bright orange gnawing teeth...

...they prefer tree bark and needles, but during different seasons eats leaves, grass, berries, seeds, nuts and flowers... when I imagine a porcupine with a flower hanging out of its mouth, it makes me feel sentimental towards them... prickly untouchable critter nibbling on a delicate flower...




Bottom jaw as seen from above...

This is probably one of the most intact skulls in my collection... especially since it has all its teeth...



Top skull upper jaw as seen from beneath...

Their habitat is widespread throughout wooded areas of North America... they do not hibernate and are active all year... their habit of eating the bark on trees, which eventually kills the trees, is not looked on too fondly and for this they are considered pests... but we must realize they are just part of the ecosystem...



...size of this skull... 4" front to back... 3" top to bottom... 2½" wide...

Large male porcupines can grow to about 30" long... head to tip of tail... and weigh 12 lb. ... females are slightly smaller...



Their teeth are amazing... I slid one out to show the length of them... they are almost 3" long and slide far inside the skull... top and bottom teeth are the same size...



I am imagining rabbit's skulls and teeth are the same.. possibly all rodents teeth are, as they are continually growing... and need constantly honed...




Top of skull... from above... beautiful lines and texture...

Porcupines have a detrimental love of salt... leading them to roadsides and to death...

this love of salt has also lured them to chew the handles off garden tools, canoe paddles, axe handles and saddles... just for a taste of that salty sweat we leave behind... they are only doing what comes naturally...



Slow moving... short sighted... sleeps most of the day...second largest North American rodent, next to beavers... long sharp claws to climb trees..

Porcupines are excellent swimmers due to their hollow quills giving them buoyancy... Quills cover their tail, back, sides, neck and top of head... they are approx. 3 " long...




When fully grown, a Porcupine may have as many as 30,000 quills... plenty to go around and leave a few behind when needed.... The quills are covered with many tiny backward facing barbs at the ends... ... he does not throw or shoot his quills as is commonly thought..

When the Porcupine is threatened, he turns his back... stamps his little feet... and raises and shakes his lightly fixed quills as a warning... just a matter of self-defense.... No, there are no Attack Porcupines...... there are mostly, curious would-be predators, who sniff around them, get just a bit too close and stick their noses where they don't belong.... The only true predators of the porcupine are the Fisher and Humans... The fisher grabs it by the nose, flips it on its back and attacks its unprotected chest and belly...




Our dogs have had a few unfortunate interactions with these creatures.. ending up with quills in their noses... lots of yelping...

...we even got quills stuck into us when we were moving our firewood around... a porcupine had taken up residence in the woodshed for a while and unknowingly left his calling cards after he was gone... they really stick in! ...now we know what the dogs or any other inquisitive creature feels like, when they come in contact with them...

...painful and difficult to remove... but if not removed, they have the ability to continue working their way into the victim... ... better not to let this happen... we have found it easiest to pull out the quills with pliers... first cover the dogs eyes so they don't see the pliers coming and grab the quill or quills close to the dog's skin...




When we discovered the skull in the forest, there were quite a few skeletal bones remaining with it... so we gathered them up too...




I cut the small hollow leg bones into bead size lengths with a jewelers saw ... they were easily threaded (here combined with black glass) to make a rather delicate primitive bracelet... I like the soft hue of the bone... on the ends are closures I created from brass...

...just a note.. bone has a rather unpleasant odor when sawn or drilled... any type of bone dust should not be breathed...




The male porcupine is a solitary animal for most of the year... in late fall he uses his sharp hearing and keen sense of smell to find a partner... after mating the female drives the male away... interesting, hummm... a single offspring is born 7 months later... can walk at once... climb in a week... and are quite playful... they take 4 years to become fully grown...

... maligned and misunderstood... Really not such a bad creature... they just like to chew...

...oh and remember ... Handle with care!!



...porcupine and quill drawings... ink and wash... from my sketchbook...

Friday

Sketchbook Cat Scratching



Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where have you been?



















I am a lover of Cats....

....but these are the only ones I have right now.......... I guess you could call them my Paper Cats...



.... done with crow quill dip pen and India Ink... sketched on Jan. 22/09

Monday

We Needed A Table



Bits and pieces.....
nuts and bolts......
odds and ends.....

steel destined for the scrap heap...

till we scrounged it....

drilled... welded...
cut with a torch...
irregular... nothing perfect...

legs three... triangular...

it started taking shape...

raw and rough.... very heavy...
rust encouraged... oiled occasionally
somewhat polished with patina remaining...



Eventually it turned into a piece of amusing functional sculpture

We call it... The Bird's Foot Table.


and it delights us...

....as a matter of fact... it has almost become a member of the family...


























































This is one of three steel tables we created years ago, to take with us when we attend Art/Craft shows.. the rest of the time it hangs around the house...

.

Tuesday

When Life Hands You....... Vinegar



......Make Pickled Eggs!!


Everybody loves them here......


Hard boil 2 dozen lovely eggs... brown or white... makes no matter...

I usually bring them to a boil... continue cooking for 5 minutes... turn off heat... cover with lid... let sit in the hot water for 20 more minutes... drain... then pour cold water over them a few times to cool them down... they can also be placed in the refrigerator overnight and prepared the next day...

... then as careful as possible, peel off the shells...




In a pot, bring to boil,

3 cups vinegar
1 cup water
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp. salt
4-6 cloves garlic... the more the better
¼ tsp. celery seed
6-10 peppercorns
6-10 whole cloves

... the two Apple Pies have nothing to do with this recipe... I was just in a cooking mood that day...



Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes... while this is happening... place a dozen prepared eggs into each clean sterilized 1 lt./qt. jar... I use recycled pickle jars... Pour the liquid, spices and garlic over the eggs ... seal the jar... cool... and set in refrigerator...

To acquire flavour, let the eggs stand several hours or overnight...they don't last long at our house...

.........and a suggestion from Guillaume at Vraie Fiction... that these tasty morsels would be delightful with a nice cold Beer on the side!!! ........ I agree!!!




A pale and watery sketch I was tempted to put on paper while thinking of eggs... I used various shades of indigo watercolor... about a 4" x 6".... somewhat floating..


Eggs are one of the most common foods ... so common we almost take them for granted....
How many ways can you think of that we use them? almost limitless...


...a thought......... how many times do we use eggs and ever give a thought that they are a true treasure... given to us by a chicken... Yes, a lowly chicken... a dweller of the hen-house... a scratcher of the dirt... a creature that rarely gets her just admiration... she lays an egg... an "Object of Perfection"... we take it, eat it, never thinking of her ... she lays another... we take it and eat it too... without chickens, no eggs... if you get a chance to learn more about these special precious birds, you will then value these girls as much I do, maybe you already do... ordinary old chickens, some may say... they are never ordinary... they are amazing!! ... and Beautiful!!

...maybe a read and a scroll through one man's journey of knowing and caring for chickens, Don's... "A View from the Green Barn" will prove how much character, personality and intelligence they have .... and really how much dependency we have, on these wonderful creatures... for their EGGS!





"Oh, who that ever lived and loved...
can look upon an egg unmoved?"
.by Clarence Day






Friday

Ready or Not




TIME... has brought a New Year...

... once a White Tailed Deer walked..





seconds... minutes... hours... days... weeks... months...

... once the Oak grew green...




...stretching... reaching...

... once an Acorn fell ...




Father Time neglects no one...

Once a sugar cane root delved deep...





...cycles... infinitesimal...

...... once a Maple stood tall....



***



Francis Bacon (Lord Verulam), 1561-1626, English Essayist, Philosopher... wrote:

"....Philosophers should diligently inquire into the powers and energy of custom, imitation, emulation, company, friendships, praise, reproof, exhortation, laws, books, studies, etc.;
for these are the things that reign in men's morals; by these agents the mind is formed and subdued.
Out of monuments, names, words, proverbs, traditions, private records and evidences, fragments of stories, passages of books, and the like, we do save and recover somewhat from the deluge of TIME...."



....Onward we march.......

Gwen Buchanan at Desideratum Art and Jewelry Studio, New Brunswick, Canada