Category Archives: Volunteering

A Few Birds on a Brief Visit, 01-24-19

Around 9:00 am I headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve to meet with their volunteer coordinator, Rachel. They needed someone to help out at the preserve. I’d gotten my Certified California Naturalist certificate through Effie Yeaw, so I thought that by volunteering there, I’d have the opportunity to give them back a little something.

I got to the preserve a little bit before my appointment time, so I walked around for a while and took some photos.

CLICK HERE to see them.

The Butterfly was a Surprise, 10-09-18

DAY 4 OF MY VACATION.  I got up around 6:30 this morning and headed over to the Effie Yeaw Nature Preserve again for my walk. It was 53º when I got to the river, and the temperature got up to 84º by the late afternoon.

There were a lot of deer near the front gate area, on the hillside beside the nature center: a doe with a fawn, a few more does, and a pair of young bucks. The buck pestered the doe with the fawn, but she was having none of it. The boys sparred a little, too. Further on along the trail I found the bog bucks, sitting in their favorite grassy spot, and came along another female with a single fawn on the Meadow Trail.

At another part of the trail, I could hear a Wild Turkey giving off an alarm call. The turkeys do that frequently, but usually get over whatever is startling them and stop making noise within a few seconds. This turkey’s call was persistent. After a few minutes, when it didn’t stop, I hurried over to where the sound was coming from to see if I could tell what the bird’s issue was.  I found the turkey that was hollering and took some video of it.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos.

Then I looked around – and found what the turkey was upset about. On the opposite side of the trail from the bird was a large (and gorgeous) coyote. It came out from behind a tall pile of twigs and branches, walked past me and down the trail. I bet that coyote had been stalking the turkey from a distance, and the turkey could see it and was warning other turkeys of the coyote’s presence. This was near the same area where, on two occasions, I’d found evidence of turkeys being taken down and eaten by coyotes.

A little further down that part of the trail, I found a wake of Turkey Vultures sitting in a dead tree. There was also one vulture that was off by itself in another tree, half-raising its wings to warm its joints in the early morning sunlight.

Once again, I came across a lot of the squirrels, most of them eating or stashing nuts and acorns for later. One California Ground Squirrel let me get pretty close to its burrow where it was stuffing its cheek pouches with acorns it found on the ground and burying them near the entrance to its burrow. I got both photos and a little video snippet of that guy.

One really odd thing I saw today was a butterfly. It’s late in the season for any of those guys, but beyond that, this butterfly looked something like a Painted Lady, but it was missing the spots on the hind wings – and there was a thin line of blue iridescence at the point where the hind wings met. I looked up all of the butterflies in the Vanessa genus, including the Admirals, and I can’t find one with the markings on the butterfly I saw today. So, I’m not sure the species identification.

I walked for about 3 hours and then headed home.

Working on Piñatas: The “Any Bird”

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes. What you see here is the “Any Bird” sample piece.  The “Any Bird” piñata form is a very generic one, and it allows participants in the workshop to decorate it to make it look like any kind of native, nonnative, or imaginary bird they want. I based this sample on the male Western Bluebird.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

The bluebird’s feathers are made of tissue paper and created using two different techniques: flat scale feathers and “fringe edge” feathers. The eyes are surrounded by an eyelid made by twisting two different colors of tissue paper together.  The wings and tail are made of poster board and covered with varying layers of tissue.  Te bird’s bowtie is made of construction paper and turquoise glitter.

Like all of the piñatas I create, the Any Bird doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies inside of it.  Instead, the head of the bird  can be removed in order to fill its body up and empty it out again.

If you would like me to do a workshop for your nonprofit, business or group, please contact me at thechubbywoman@gmail.com

Working on Piñatas: “Evergreen Santa”

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes.  What you see in this post is my “Evergreen Santa” sample piece.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

Santa’s boots and pants were done in a flat-application technique where the tissue paper is glued flat onto the piñata form in strips.  That technique allows for quick coverage of an area, and can be layered to give it less translucency if required.

The jacket and faux fur was done in the layering technique I use for most of my own piñatas. I tried several different kinds of evergreen plant leaves and needles, and although it’s kind of a cliche, I settle on using holly leaves. That choice also allowed me to give the Santa holly leaf buttons and cufflinks which I liked.

The hair and beard were made of regular 20# white copy paper.  I chose that paper and weight because it’s relatively easy to curl (running the paper strips along the edge of the blade of a pair of scissors, like curling ribbon) and it’s light enough to cut somewhat intricate patterns.  All of the curls were glued into place first, and then the cutout layers of the beard and mustache were added last.

Final touches included a stocking cap made of tissue paper, and accents of “icicle” glitter and a sprig of mistletoe (made of cardboard, tissue paper, and faux pearls.)

Like all of the piñatas I create, the Evergreen Santa doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies inside of it.  Instead, the hat on the top of the piñata can be removed to fill it up and empty it out.

If you would like me to do a workshop for your nonprofit, business or group, please contact me at thechubbywoman@gmail.com

Working on Piñatas: Nature’s Egg

In the summer of 2018 I’ll be teaching several adults-only workshops on making and decorating tabletop piñatas.  The first four classes are called “Monumental Piñatas” events (because they’re based on creatures and plants found in the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument), and the last two classes art called “Art/Nature Fusion” events. All of the classes are two-day workshops (on two consecutive Saturdays) during which I teach participants how to build their own piñatas “from the balloons up”, and then teach them how to decorate them. One workshop encourages participants to come with their own idea for a piñata, and the other one focuses on an “Evergreen Santa” piñata.

I’m volunteering my time for these workshops, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support Tuleyome’s Certified California Naturalist program.

Before the classes start, however, I needed to create the sample piñatas to use for advertising purposes.  This one is the “Nature’s Egg”.

This “egg” form is covered using a variety of techniques, and displays some of my favorite plants and critters: an oak tree, California Poppies, a water feature with a rock that has a tiny Pond Turtle sitting on it, Pipevine, Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars, eggs and butterflies, wildflowers (Baby Blue Eyes, Tidy Tips, Hawksbeard, and wild onions),  some Turkey Vultures, a little bit of jelly fungus and lichen.

Like all of the piñatas I create, the Nature’s Egg doesn’t need to be smashed to get to the goodies inside of it.  Instead, a cap on the top of the piñata  can be removed to fill it up and empty it out.  The sample was finished in early October… and there’s what it looks like.

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Just about everything about the piñata is made of recyclable, biodegradable materials. The form is made of recycled newsprint paper, flour, salt and water and is built up around balloons (which are popped and properly disposed of once the form dries).  The exterior is decorated with tissue paper, light poster board, art paper, construction paper, and water-soluble glue.

If you would like me to do a workshop for your nonprofit, business or group, please contact me at thechubbywoman@gmail.com.