Wonkey Weaving Gourd Baskets

I’ve taken three Gourd Art classes from a talented artist,  Margaret Sullivan of Rio Verde, Arizona.  In two of the classes we used very large gourds that we stained with leather dyes before we launched into the time consuming technique called ‘Wonkey Weaving’. The bare bones of the weaving is done with reeds soaked in water to make them pliable. The wonkey meant you were supposed to leave lots of odd shaped gaps to fill in later with wool or other pliable materials.

My first gourd had not become very ‘wonkey’ at all by the end of the class. I took it home and completed the rest of the weaving and added purchased feathers and beads.

At the second class, I achieved wonkey.

In the third class, we made a Totem Pole  from small gourds. We stained the gourds, etched them with a dremel, then decorated them with feathers, beads and paint.

Back in Canada, I could add feathers that I had collected from the grounds around our house. (In Alberta, it is legal to pick up feathers off the ground. It is not legal to do that in the United States, according to the American Migratory Bird Treaty Act.)

American Migratory Bird Treaty Act Reform – There is movement towards decriminalizing accidental bird killings. Federal Judge Edith H. Jones observed that the MBTA prohibits all acts or omissions that “directly” kill birds, but she also said that where these bird deaths are “foreseeable,” as is the case for all owners of big windows, communication towers, wind turbines, solar energy farms, cars, cats, and even church steeples, it seems unreasonable that these people or businesses should continue to be found guilty of violating the MBTA.

There are so many criminal and regulatory laws and regulations that no one can count them. It is estimated that the average citizen breaks 3 laws a day without even knowing it! Can you think what any of them might be!?

The Robin Welcome Wagon

Two years ago, a pair of American Robins built a nest on top of the electric meter box near our front door. (See this post: The Endless Quest for Food.) Yesterday, a pair of robins were checking out the same location, but almost immediately afterward, a magpie landed on the meter. This seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the robins. They haven’t returned.

The Car Guy and I remembered, though, that the previous robins had a great deal of difficulty building a nest on the narrow, smooth surface of the box. It seemed to us that it might be a good idea to mount a platform on top of the box that would make it easier for the robins to anchor their nest.

This is what The Car Guy came up with. Just to make it very clear to the magpie that this was for the robins, The Car Guy added the name of the intended occupants.

A wall, an electrical meter box, the robin platform – do you see anything else in this photo? I didn’t until I finished editing it and uploaded it. I’m kind of in the photo too! Can you see me?

Update: The robins started building a nest this morning!

Your Blog – What Do Your Visitors See?

I give my blog a make-over now and then. (WordPress.com has so many themes to try). When I test drive a new one, I ask a few friends to let me know what their browser thinks of the change. Does my blog load fairly fast on their computer, phone or other device? Can they read the blog easily? Does anything seem to be ‘broken’?

Why does speed matter?

My frog connection – photo dimensions are 302px by 219 px. The size is 23.9 KB

We might live in a fast paced world, but our internet connections vary from rabbit to turtle. I sometimes have a frog connection – fast leaps alternating with “really, you’ve stopped completely!?” pauses. A fast website loads completely in my browser while my frog is leaping. I can read the site while my frog has stopped to admire the scenery. A slow website doesn’t load completely during the leaps. I often get tired of waiting and abandon the site.

Apparently search engines also use load speed as one of the factors in search ranking. You can test the speed of your site with a free tool called Pingdom Website Speed Test. The test will tell you how fast your site is. If you scroll down their page, you will be able to see exactly what is slowing your site down.

If you click the Home button on my menu above, you can check my new landing page. According to Pingdom my Performance Grade is 90 and it loads faster than 83% of sites tested from New York City.

How does your Home Page compare?

One way to speed up your site – reduce the size of your images

Your theme choice dictates the size your images will display. Resize your images to match your theme – your images will then be the best the theme can offer AND the fastest to deliver to your readers.

The original of this frog photo was 2756 px by 1991 px with a size of 2.82 MB. The content width for this theme (default post) is, however, only 640 px.  (I’ve been using a maximum image size of 700 px for quite a few years).

This frog photo is 702 px by 508 px. It is 72.5 KB in size.
This frog photo is 902 px by 652 px. It is 107 KB in size.

As you can see, the frog photo on the bottom is of no better quality than the photo above it, but it takes up more space in your WordPress account. If I had uploaded the full size photo, it would have taken a lot longer to load, and would not have looked appreciably better than the smaller size photos.

Is your font choice working for or against you?

Speaking of size, is your font large enough to be read easily? What about colour? Dark text on a light background is easy to read. Light text on a dark background is harder to read. Check your site on a computer, a tablet and a phone. How readable is it?

If you a Frog Lover

The frog in the photo is a Northern Leopard Frog. They are no longer common in Alberta, though we often used to see them at the cabin. This frog photo has yielded a large number of interesting renditions, which you can see at Almost Artistic – Northern Leopard Frog.