Category Archives: Sculptures

Sculptures at PsiKeep

The Mother of All Dragons: The Valley Fire Part II

Note: Today I am finally forced to sit down and post the second part of the Valley Fire saga. Last night I traded several San Clemente kids for three Soay sheep and shipped off the last group of does born this year to other breeders on the East coast. In the hassle of loading the kids and unloading the sheep I got between two bucks vying for the same doe. Nothing good can come of that. I was able to get out with only  a large bruise on my shin so I am laid up for a day.

Three Soay sheep on their first day at PsiKeep
Three Soay sheep on their first day at PsiKeep

Refugees from the Valley Fire: September 13 – 15

We rescued the animals, my neighbor Brenda’s  goats and chickens, and my herd of San Clemente does and kids. I had to leave four of the bucks behind because there was not enough room in the trailer.

Just as we got back to the farm a friend of the Schmitz’s came by. He was distressed because the Highway Patrol would not let him into the fire zone to rescue his horse. He had tried every story from needing diabetic medication to his mother’s cat was trapped inside the house. Nothing was working. I told him I had success with the Highway Patrol and that I wanted to check on the goats I had to leave behind. I offered to go with him and talk with the deputies at the blockade.

The blockade at the intersection of Hwy 53 and 29.

The blockade at the intersection of Hwy 53 and 29

The intersection of Hwy 53 and 29 outside of Lower Lake was blockaded going to south to Middletown and west to Kelseyville. On the corner there was a crowd of desperate people trying to talk their way into the fire area to rescue their animals or just get back to their homes. It was a crazy scene. People were pleading or arguing with the deputy in charge. I walked up to her and said  “I have a truck and I need to get back in to hitch up the horse trailer and get my horse out. Can you help me?” She told me to hold on while she walked off to talk with the other deputies. After a few minutes she told me I could through. I turned to the crowd and said if anyone needs to get into Hidden Valley, to come with me. One man came with me and we walked back to the truck. Here we were strangers brought together by a common goal to rescue our animals.

At PsiKeep the house looked haunted. It even smelled different. Of course it smelled of smoke and ash which hung in the air. But it also smelled of something else, desolation. After all, I had pulled out, left everything behind, walked away. In turn the house was rejecting me. Or maybe it was the scent of curious neighbors wandering through my place.

I set out food and water for the bucks I had to leave behind. Our next stop was inside Hidden Valley where we rescued two white bull dogs. We dropped down to Hwy 29 and drove north to Hofacker Lane  to get the horse. We could see why Hwy 29 was closed. All along the highway firemen were setting back fires on the west side of the road in attempt to keep the fire from jumping the highway. There were several places where the fire had jumped but it looked like the firemen had been able to put it out even though it had run up the slopes to the top of the ridge on the east side.

The fire had not reached Eric’s place. He hitched up the horse trailer and his wife was able to catch the horse and we headed home back through the smoke. When we got back to Corky’s farm I discovered that while the horse trailer had double wheels on each side, the tire on one of the wheels on the right side was missing. If that horse had shifted his weight or we had turned too fast the rim of the exposed wheel would had hit the pavement sending up a blast of sparks.

September 14, 2015 An escort into the fire zone

The next day my neighbor Brenda was able to get back into Lake County. She had been on the south end of Middletown when the fire rolled through and was forced to evacuate out Hwy 29 to into Napa.

I do not know if it was frustration or adrenaline from fleeing the fire but we felt we had to do something useful and keep moving. For two days we were able to talk our way into the fire zone. We brought gasoline and supplies to those neighbors who decided to stay and fight the fire if it swept down into Jerusalem Grade. Some people just did not want to leave because they were afraid they would not be allowed back in. Others had people hiked back in. I told them that the story about needing to rescue their horse story seemed to work.

“I’m not gonna lie I need to water my ganja said one neighbor.

By September 15 my story of needing to get into the fire area to rescue livestock was getting thin or perhaps there were too many lootings in Hidden Valley. Regardless, Cal Fire and the CHP closed the road to everyone. They set up an escort system where you had to sign up to receive a number. When your number came up you were escorted into the fire zone and allowed on your property for 15 minutes. Our number was 422 (It is an ominous number according to Brenda who was an ex-cop. It is a threat of murder in the California Penal Code Section 422). At the end of day one they were on number 75 so it looked like we had a long wait. What was even more annoying was that you had to be at the Lower Lake High School gym to wait your number and if your number was called and you were not there you forfeited your turn to be escorted.

Inside the gym at Lower Lake High School where we signed up to be escorted into the fire zone.

Inside the gym at Lower Lake High School where we signed up to be escorted into the fire zone.

It had rained that night and some of us thought that the rain would be putting out the fire. But by morning the Valley Fire had grown by 2,000 more acres. We took the chance and came back to the gym the next afternoon. Lucky for us they were on 385 so we decide to forget the tanks of gasoline and water we were going to bring into Jerusalem Grade and waited our turn in the gymnasium. We found two more people who lived out at the Grade and doubled up so that there were four of us in Brenda’s truck to be escorted.

Sure enough when our number was called and we showed our ID’s through several check stations we were escorted back into the fire zone.

Highway Patrol officer escorting us back into the fire zone

Highway Patrol officer escorting us back into the fire zone

I had made of list of things I wanted to check and get but when we arrived at PsiKeep I was shocked how unfamiliar the place had become. In my last moments here I had walked out the door tearing away everything behind me knowing I may never see this home again. That last step out across the threshold was both terrifying and liberating. In an evacuation once the animals are safe everything was just memories and the things I took with me to hold on to those memories. The things in the back of the car that I took become a burden as I shuffled through those things looking for some clean underwear.

I had tried to be so organized with my list for my 15 minutes of grace but I was stunned how haunted the house had become. I ran downstairs and outside and was shocked to see that someone had thrown four bales of hay into the pen with the goats. All I could think of was a hundred bucks lying out in the rain. Then I realized it was not my hay. I had bought alfalfa and this was orchard grass in the pen. Someone must have come out here to feed and water the goats. Foolish me. I forgot that when I signed up to be escorted I had also signed up to have someone come out and feed the goats which I had to leave behind. Now I felt guilty but I had five minutes to feed the cat, grab my rain hat, a jacket and my pajamas before I had to get back into the truck.

September 18, 2015 Journey to Berryessa

In the scramble at the south of Middletown Brenda had ended up with the medications for a man named Blue, who was one of the evacuees. After several days of trying to get the Red Cross to get the medications out to where he was staying at a place called R Ranch, we decided to make the journey ourselves.

We packed a chain saw, oil, gasoline, water and a tow chain in the back of the pickup. We set off down Morgan Valley Road, the back way to Lake Berryessa, because it would take 4 hours off of the driving time. Maybe it was overkill but we were traveling through the area burnt from the Rocky Fire and we did not want to have to double back if a tree had fallen across the road.

Nothing to the east and nothing to the west. Nothing left that is not burned away.

Burned area along Morgan Valley road from the Rocky fir

Burned area along Morgan Valley road from the Rocky Fire

Charred manzanita

Charred manzanita

Charred landscape from the Rocky Fire
There is a beauty in the mauve and gray and burnt umber colorations of this  desolate and charred landscape.

The back road to Lake Berryessa

The road to Lake Berryessa

Lake Berrryessa

Lake Berrryessa

Our first view of the lake. How far the edge of the lake has retreated due to  the drought.

We arrived at R Ranch with the medications for Blue. If you had to evacuate this was the place to be. R. Ranch is time-share vacation site with cabins, swimming pool, horseback riding and a lodge, which supplied meals for the guests. The main room was filled with donations of clothing, pet supplies and shoes. I was finally able to get another pair of shoes to wear instead of the red bowling shoes I had been wearing when I evacuated.

We snacked on some fruit and energy bars at the lodge and set out on the long drive back to Lower Lake.

Tired dog in the back seat of the truck.

Tired dog in the back seat of the truck.

Doldrums while the hills are burning

I spent almost 10 days at the Schmitz’ farm. During that time I had little knowledge of what was happening with the fire. I had no Internet access and the news was sketchy at best. It was reported that four people had died in this fire and at one point a fifth mortality was reported in a shoot out in Hidden Valley but that proved to be untrue.

In desperation to find out what was happening Brenda and I drove to a meeting at Kelseyville High School on September 17.

Meeting at Kelseyville High School

Meeting at Kelseyville High School

The cafeteria was filled with evacuees who were staying at the high school, which had been converted to an evacuation center. The journey was a disappointment. We learned nothing new about the fire. But I did manage to snag out of the trash a current copy of the fire map.

What was disturbing was that an area of the fire, which was still uncontained, was progressing slowly up the other side of the ridge behind my place. When it was finally contained it was only a half mile from PsiKeep.

Lake County fire map

Fire map

During this time Brenda and I made ourselves useful by helping around the farm.

Canning in Corky's outdoor kitchen

Canning in Corky’s outdoor kitchen

Sharon Schmitz in the kitchen preparing the spices for the tomato juice

Sharon Schmitz in the kitchen preparing the spices for the tomato juice

Bottling tomato juice in the outdoor kitchen

Bottling tomato juice in the outdoor kitchen

Capping the bottles of tomato juice

Capping the bottles of tomato juice

Corky and a neighbor butchering a deer for winter.

Corky and a neighbor butchering a deer for winter.

We also made forays into the fire area to bring supplies to the neighbors. The road was still closed but we shuttled supplies across the barricade.

Shuttling supplies across the road barricade

Shuttling supplies across the road barricade.

At last the Highway patrol opened the road and we were able to return home. But what awaited us was the unbelievable extent of this disaster.

To Be Continued:

Lake County’s Mushroom Wedding Arch at PsiKeep

Mushroom Wedding Arch completed

 image of Mushroom Wedding Arch, front view

Mushroom Wedding Arch, front view

The sculpture was completed on December 24, 2014 but I finally took down the tarps the day before yesterday so I could photograph it. The weather report was forecasting strong winds and I wanted to get the tarps down  before the front moved in.

This was a long project. It took five years from conception

Early sketch of the idea for the arch

Early sketch of the idea for the arch

to completion.

The armature was constructed out of 1/2 inch steel pipe. In the summer of 2013 I decided to modify the armature and insert a parallel pipe construction, which was connected with unions in order to give more strength to the structure.

Most of that time was spent trying to figure out how I was going to sculpt the underside of the arch. I did not want to be lying on my back on a scaffold eight feet in the air trying to apply wet cement above my face.

My solution was to sculpt and cement the top section of the arch separate from the two upright pillars and then convince some very good friends to help install the completed top section back on top of the two pillars.

The summer of 2014 was spent carving the pillars and then shaving down the carving to allow for a 1/2 inch of cement to be applied on top of the Styrofoam.

image of both pillars carved in Styrofoam

Both pillars carved in Styrofoam. The top section is wrapped in a trap and out of view.

I began applying the first coat of cement sometime during mid summer of 2014. The next stage was to sculpt the gills on the mushrooms. It was a good day was when I sculpted the gills on six mushrooms. There were a lot of summer days like this out in the heat under the shade of the tarps with NPR screaming on the radio.  God I made a lot of mushrooms on this piece. Ahh!

Lorna Sue Sides came by in August and helped out by sculpting the gills on some of the mushrooms.

image of Lorna Sides Sculpting gills on the mushroom.

Lorna Sides Sculpting gills on a mushroom.

and yours truly grimacing under pressure.

image of Artist sculpting the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Artist sculpting the Mushroom Wedding Arch

The construction around the arch still needs to be cleared away. The Wedding Arch needs a larger footing, which will be incorporated into the steps and the wall below the arch sometime next summer.

After all this time of blood and sweat and tears it is finally done. It still needs a christening. After that it belongs to Lake County, to PsiKeep and to all the people who may or may not walk beneath the arch to wed.

Below are details of the arch. Best regards to all.

image of left buttress detail

Left buttress detail

image of detail o f upper portion of left pillar

Detail of upper portion of left pillar

Test reads: Through this portal thou shall be wed to thee. And if thy vows unduly fail. Pass beneath this arch to break the spell.

Inscription on the top section of the arch

image of detail on pillar  just below top section of the arch

Detail on pillar just below top section of the arch

image of detail of underside of arch

Detail of underside of arch

image of Detail of left side of upper portion of the arch

Detail of left side of upper portion of the arch

image of back side of the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Back side of the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Quick Update on the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Just a few words on the construction of the Mushroom Wedding Arch.

Almost all the gills have been sculpted. So I brought in  a few leaves for contrast and focus.

 

View of Mushroom Wedding Arch under construction

View of work table and  Mushroom Wedding Arch under construction

I applied the  first layer of green cement. Next I will apply a coat of the background color to detail  the edge of each leaf so that terms of the cement structure there will be no separation between the leaves and the background.

Sculpted leaves on the Mushroom Wedding Arch under construction

Leaves sculpted on the Mushroom Wedding Arch under construction

Interesting that the leaves are the same color as the leaves of the wild tobacco plant on the right side next to the arch.

leaves

Mushroom Arch Construction Update

With the mild weather and prolonged and withered autumn, construction on the Mushroom Wedding Arch has continued.

This portion of the work should be called: “Gilling  the Mushrooms”. Days have been spent sculpting the gills of  the mushrooms in cement. I have gotten pretty good at throwing that trowel with a slice of cement at exactly the right place to create the next gill. But  I  must have been crazy carving all these mushrooms on this arch. Just when I think the process of detailing in the gills is over,  I find another mushroom I need to work on.

Inside view of left pillar and buttress

Inside view of left pillar and buttress

If I ever get done carving these gills, the next  stage is detailing the caps of the mushrooms.

Well, back to work. Might get this arch done before winter.

leaves

First Coat of Cement on the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Yeah!

The first coat of cement applied to the uprights of the Mushroom Wedding Arch was completed today.

I used a brown coloring  for the first coat of cement so that if there is any chipping it will blend in rather than reveal the white cement underneath.  Any cables you see in the images are there for temporary support until the footing has been revised.

 

Left upright and  upper portion of the buttress  covered  in cement

Left upright and upper portion of the buttress covered with the first layer of cement

Right upright and buttress

Right upright and buttress

Detail of the upper portion of the right upright

Detail of the upper portion of the right upright

Just when I want to collapse  on my laurels, I know that the real work is just beginning. The next stage is to detail the mushrooms by sculpting the cement to create the gills and cones using different colors and textures. This portion will have to be done slowly and the expected time of completion will not be until next year.

Mushroom Wedding Arch Ready to Cement

Continued from:   More on the Drought

San Clemente Goat Bellowing

I woke up this morning to the sound of a one of the goats cutting a scream through my dreams.

At first I thought it was the doe with the three new kids, who must have squeezed through a hole in the fence. I jumped into my clothes and ran out only to find the whole herd was loose with the exception of a single doe, who could not figure out how to escape through the hole in the chain-link gate. Standing alone and cut off from the herd  she was  letting everyone know how  frustrated she was. I spent the dawn repairing the gate and coaxing the herd back into the paddock with a can of grain.

By that time the sun had come up and it was time to complete the carving on the Mushroom Wedding Arch in time for Lammas.

 

Carving the Uprights of the Mushroom Wedding Arch

The carved left and right panels for each upright were temporarily removed so that the foam, when applied, would not drip down on the detailed carved work.

The keystone or transition between the completed top section of the arch and the upright

Backside of the right keystone or transition between the completed top section of the arch and the upright

The keystones, the transition between the top section and the uprights were glued in place. The orange foam is just a different foam that was available.  It is actually a section of a discarded floating dock.

And, of course, the same complaining goat was  standing in the background.

Full view of the left upright and foam for the keystone glued in place. Notice the carved  panels have been removed.

Front view of the left upright and foam for the keystone glued in place. Notice the carved panels have been removed.

Next the carved left and right panels were permanently attached to each upright. Each keystone was carved to blend in with the top portion of the arch which was cemented last summer. The top portion of the arch is  wrapped under the blue tarp to protect it until the arch is completed.

Backside of the right upright with the keystone glued in place and the carving  roughed out.

Backside of the right upright with the keystone glued in place and the carving roughed out.

The last part of the carving process was the editing process where the total work was shaved down to allow for the ¼ to ½ inch of cement which would be applied later.

The more I shaved away the better it looked so I just kept whittling down. At last the bell rang in that far distance space within my head that announced that the work was done.

Front side of the Mushroom Wedding Arch caved in Styrofoam

Back side of the completed Mushroom Wedding Arch caved in Styrofoam

NOTE:  I will be Announcing the date and time of the Cement Party and Potluck shortly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More on the Drought

Disturbing signs of life and death in this small portion of paradise.

Remember that lush photo of the elderberry tree with flower and immature fruit.

Elderberry

Elderberry blooming and berries setting

By mid July the tree is dying and the fruit hangs uneaten and  withered on the branch.

image of dying elderberry with health manzanita in the foreground

Elderberry and healthy Manzanita tree in foreground

Elderberry fruit withered and uneaten.

Elderberry fruit withered and uneaten.

Deer

On July 5th I took a photo of one of the fawns born this year. Notice the swelling on the side of its cheek.

image of swelling on left cheek of fawn

A fawn with swelling on left cheek.

Another view of the fawn with the swelling on the left cheek.

Another view of the fawn. Note the swelling just behind the left eye.

 

Mother doe with fawn with swelling on left cheek.

Mother doe with fawn with swelling on left cheek.

On July 16 I sighted the fawn again. He/she still had the swollen area on the left cheek. I observed the mother doe licking him prodigiously. They were with another older doe and wandered off into the brush before I could photograph them.

Each afternoon and early evening I see more and more deer coming down for the water behind the chicken coop. They are also coming to glean the remaining food for the three free range hens that have survived the fox and the coyotes.  In previous years there was enough forage so that the deer  did not come around until sometime in September.

Another mother doe with  fawn and yearling

Another mother doe with fawn and yearling.

The  Water Table and the Orchard

The level of the underground water table seeping down the slope has greatly decreased. The orchard, which relies on that water, is drying out.  This summer the trees on the edge of the underground flow have needed to be irrigated more frequently.  I almost lost a Santa Rosa plum and several persimmon trees before I realized what was happening.

Persimmon tree wilting from low water table.

Persimmon tree wilting from low water table.

 San Clemente Goats

Last winter, one night in the barn, Jonas, one of the two breeding bucks broke his tether.  This resulted in three more doelings born July 9. They will be available in late September. For more information on these little girls check out PsiKeep ranch.

Three San Clemente doe kids born July 9

Three San Clemente doe kids born July 9

Sculptures at PsiKeep

Cleaning out the shop. I had this one free-standing mushroom sitting in the shop for several years. There was just something stodgy about it so I never set it out or took it to a show. Luck for it. The other mushrooms were stolen at the Mendocino Art Center for the Arts several years ago. This summer I decided to redesign it.

The image below shows the revision in Styrofoam before I covered it in cement.

Mushroom redesigned with Stryofoam before the cement was applied.

Mushroom redesigned with Styrofoam before the cement was applied.

The carving of the left and right uprights and buttresses for the Mushroom Wedding Arch is proceeding in spite of the heat and lack of vehicles to get supplies. They are almost completed.

Left upright in carved Styrofoam

Left upright in carved Styrofoam

The next job will be to create a more stable footing by digging out between the uprights and connecting the armature before pouring the footing in cement.

View of outside studio and drawings for the uprights.

View of outside studio and the original drawings for the uprights.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Griffins and Mandelbrot for the Header Image

Apollo pulls the sun across the heavens with a chariot drawn by griffins.
The griffin is a composite of an eagle and a lion.
It represents the unity of strength and wisdom
Both are needed in this time of change.

I must be the last person to have seen Fractals the Colors of Infinity narrated by Arthur C. Clark in 1994 but it came around again via Brasscheck TV and I got a chance to watch it online on the eve of the Solstice. Yes this is what I have been creating for years, little/big, worlds within worlds. I have been sewing that idea a stitch at a time. The Mandelbrot coat is coming. Look for it around the time of the winter solstice.

hand stitched coat

Mandelbrot coat for Santa. Project in development.

The sister website: psikeep.com is up and running

Check out the link for information on the San Clemente goats at PsiKeep Ranch and more detailed information on the PsiKeep Center for the Arts.

The Raven Family

The raven pair has raised a single raven. It is enormous. The three are everywhere calling to each other. The forest is filled with the sound of raven.

raven

Raven calling to its young

The Mushroom Wedding Arch

Work is beginning on the upright sections of the Mushroom Wedding Arch. The left and right inner and outer panels have been carved and now need to be integrated with the front and backsides of the uprights.

Mushroom Wedding Arch under construction

Mushroom Wedding Arch under construction

 

upright carved in Styrofoam

Portion of the back side of the right upright

 

A Fox has moved on to PsiKeep

For last two evenings a gray fox has been spotted in the orchard. For several months something has been slowly decimating the chicken population at PsiKeep. Eight new black Australorp chicks were purchased and are being raised in the chicken coop.

young chicks

A new batch of chicks

This morning a fresh fox scat was found on top of the lid of the trash can near the coop, as if signaling that the fox has staked out his territory. Aside from the obvious insult I did not notice any hair or feathers in it.

One good outcome of the presence of the fox is that it seems to have chased off whatever creature has been raiding the apricots at night. Each morning numerous half-ripe apricots have been found lying on the ground beneath the trees. The fruit is chewed open with the pits are missing. Whatever has been knocking the fruit down from the trees is more interested in the seeds! Huh? But the last two nights the apricots have been undisturbed. The fox is on the prowl.

Year End Review and Vision of Things to Come in 2014

It has been slightly more than a year since the logo for PsiKeep Venture and the blog was launched. It is time to clarify the mission statement  and to update several of the categories.

Mission Statement

The mission of this blog is to find people who are interested in both following and participating in the adventure of constructing the PsiKeep Center for the Arts with all the trials and tribulations of building an art center in the wilderness from brush clearance to sculpture garden; from art classes to gift shop.

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Art Center

Currently classes are taught in the main studio. Plans for the buildings to house the workshops and classrooms will be online. Also look for the site plan for the general layout of the future buildings and gardens on the property. Both of these documents should be online sometime this year.

Also the sister website psikeep.com will be online shortly. 

Sculpture Projects

Last year the top section of the Mushroom Wedding Arch was installed. The completion of the Mushroom Wedding Arch will hopefully happen by this summer. 

The next sculpture project is the revision of the Dragon Head Entrance.

The Dragon Head was constructed in 2010.

Image of Dragon Head sculpture under construction in the snow

Dragon Head sculpture under construction in the snow

The dragon was  in the 2010 Lake County Eco-Arts Sculpture show.

Image of the Dragon Head sculpture at the EcoArts 2010 Sculpture Walk

The Dragon Head was displayed as the Tree Dragon in the 2010 Eco Arts Sculpture walk in Middletown, California.

Today the Dragon Head sits in the driveway looking very mush like a tarped motorboat.

Image of tarpped Dragon Head sculpture

Dragon Head stored under a tarp

The sculpture had been skinned with paper mache. The paper mache needs to be stripped away. The wiring for the lights in the eyes and the walk-thru needs to be installed and the sculpture needs to be prepped in order to be permanently coated with cement and ceramic tiles. This summer volunteers are welcome to help with the construction and installation. Contact lorenwolf@gmail.com

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San Clemente Island Goats

The Center is located on a nine-acre goat ranch in Lake County California. PsiKeep ranch breeds and raises San Clemente Island goats. Last year this bog was launched with the lines “This morning I buried to kids”. This year’s kidding season went a lot easier. As of this posting all the kids that were born have survived and are healthy.

Image of mother doe and kids

Time for a snack and a yawn

San Clemente Island goats are a rare breed of feral goat. They once inhabited the Channel Islands off the coast of California. They were probably introduced to the Islands by Spanish ranchers who eventually abandoned them. The goats survived on their own for about three hundred years until the Navy began using them as target practice in the 1970’s. A rescue mission was set up to save the goats and the goats on PsiKeep ranch are from a long line of descendants of the goats taken from that rescue mission.  Today there are approximately 650 San Clemente goats in the world. Twenty-two of them are on PsiKeep ranch.

This year’s kidding season began in December.  Twelve kids are currently available for sale. People who are interested in owning and raising heritage goats should contact lorenwolf@gmail.com  at PsiKeep Ranch.

Image of a San Clemente adult buck close up

Jonas, one of the two breeding bucks at PsiKeep

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Wildlife at PsiKeep

Image of the ravens pair at PsiKeepThe pair of ravens who have claimed PsiKeep as part of their territory are busy refurbishing their nest in the Ponderosa pine tree next to the main house. The pair is working most of the day flying in with twigs and pieces of material to line the nest. There is a lot of commotion, re-establishing the boundaries of their territory and driving off last year’s offspring. Every few minutes a shadow passes overhead as one of the ravens fly past.

Image of the shadow of a raven  flying overhead

As I stepped outside for a break in writing this post they were high in the sky dive bombing a red-tailed hawk.

You might enjoy reviewing the raven diaries from last year and look for more on the ravens in the weeks ahead.

I have not seen any sign of Scruff, the orphan deer with the mange. If he survived he is probably much larger by now. Most of the deer come by at night. Right now this is plenty of water for them and the grasses and bushes are leaving out providing them with fresh vegetation.  

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Care-taking the Land

The first sign of spring at PsiKeep comes with the blooming of the Red Bud and the unveiling of the Euphorbias, which have been draped in nursery cloth to protect them during the winter.

Image of euphorbia draped in nursery cloth

Euphorbia wrapped in nursery cloth to protect from frost.

Last year a number of trees came down. Several trees had to be cut down due to beetle-bark damage or just plain old age.  Since PsiKeep is nestled in the forest, falling trees are a big issue. Luckily the property sits in a bowl against the hillside where the ground water tends to converge. But dry days lie ahead with the prolonged drought in California. Hopefully the spring at the bottom of the hill can be dug out and reconnected to the water tanks. 

Looks like lots of work ahead for this year. Hope to hear from you all. Comments are always welcome.

Best regards.

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Installing the Top Section of the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Continued from Moving Forward with the Mushroom Wedding Arch
at http://wp.me/p3akRr-ht

image of top section of the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Top section of the Mushroom Wedding Arch

Two days of last-minute preparation left me exhausted before we even began this venture.

On Saturday November 24, I was still setting the eyes in the goat’s head and cleaning grout off of the solar disk. On Sunday morning I was up at dawn clearing the pathway in the shop so we could carry the section out the door.

Would this day be razor blades or champagne?

We started out with three volunteers, Lorna Sides, Tim Williams, Dante de Amicis and myself. We quickly discovered that the plan was not going to work. There just was not enough manpower to lift the section into place. Just as we were looking at option two, which was to move the section on to an outside table and tarp it for the winter, two more volunteers arrived, Terri Larsen of and her husband Peter Shifman.  We thought with this many people we might have a chance. It was back to “plan A”. This consisted of carrying the section out of the shop, across the yard, up the steps to the uprights and lifting it into place.

image of the installation crew inside the shop

Installation crew inside the shop

image of crew carrying the top section

Carrying the top section to the uprights

When we discovered that we could not physically  lift the section into place without some sort of aid, we moved the old well shed tower between the steps and lifted the section onto the top of the tower before making the final lift on to the uprights.

image of crew with well shed tower

Crew with the tower from the well shed

Surprisingly the last step went easy. For months I worried about lining up the four unions, which were the connection between the uprights and the top section of the arch. I decided to complete the top section first and attach it into place before cementing the uprights so that I could adjust the exposed armature to fit the two together. In the end there was only one connection that needed a little easing. We used a crowbar to line up the union threads between the two structures and screwed them together with a pipe wrench.

Image of crew lifting the top section into place

Crew lifting the section from the top of the well shed tower to the top of the uprights

Image of top section of the arch secured to the uprights

Top section of the arch secured into place.

Today the goddess gave us a reason for champagne and Lorna presented a surprise birthday cake for me. Ah! 70 years inside this body,which I always thought was a mistake but in spite of that it has served me well.

image of lighting the birthday cake candles

Lighting the candles of the birthday cake

Later we had a Thanksgiving feast inside the house.

Images of the crew feasting in celebration

Feasting in celebration

The next steps in constructing the Mushroom Wedding Arch will be to cement in the steps for the footing, reinforce the side panels to eliminate the side-swaying, laminate the carved Styrofoam side panels to the uprights, and cement the uprights. This will probably be accomplished in the spring or early summer of next year. Until then I need to secure this top-heavy sculpture from getting knocked over in a windstorm.

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