Greedy By Nature

Bird nest watercolors

Bird nest watercolors, Public Domain Photo

One night as I sat watching a nature documentary about some ugly species of bird (from God knows where), I grasped an interesting insight into animal nature. Between the expected images of birds diligently working to provide for themselves and their families, they suddenly cut to footage of a few immoral, yet cunning birds sneaking around, stealing materials from the nests the other birds had spent all day building.

A few small twigs, bits of dried brush, even the edge of a candy bar wrapper – all stolen and used to build their own homes by the sweat of their neighbors’ backs. Soon, these crafty avians sat by their new shelters smugly satisfied to have saved themselves a lot of hard work.

As the clueless working class birds continued to run to and fro, never suspecting the treason occurring every time they turned their back, I suddenly realized that greed isn’t exclusively a human vice…and that some birds can be real jerks.

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Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.

Video: Some New Fun Naive Collage Artworks & PO Box Info!

Hi everyone! I wanted to share the below video featuring some of my newest artworks and cute character collages. Recently I’ve really gotten into combining my passion for cute, child-like cartoons and characters with my desire to create unique naive outsider art. As mentioned in the video, I also have a PO Box now where fans can send me their art, letters, or anything else they might want featured in a future YouTube video! If you see any art you like or would like to see other artworks I have for sale, make sure to check out my Ebay store: http://www.ebay.com/usr/shojobeatgirl1982.

Dear Einstein, A Letter to a Beloved Lost Pet

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Dear Einstein,

I’ve been dreading this for years. I knew when I chose to have so many cats that I would someday likely have to make a decision about whether to artificially extend one of your lives or try to save you from enduring unnecessary pain. Even so, when the decision had to be made, it was no easier, even though I had said for years that I would rather have to put one of you down than to see you suffer needlessly. This is the first time I have had such power over the life or death of a loved one and I hope it will be the last, although I know it probably won’t.

To be honest, you have been kind of a pain in the butt for most of your life. As a kitten you were a holy terror who had amazing powers of destruction. As an adult, you were a grumpy, angry cat who would often give a warning bite when petted the wrong way (pretty much anywhere but around the head). You were fun to tease because your reaction would be over the top within seconds. All I had to do was walk within a couple feet of you and you would start growling in annoyance. You were definitely the alpha male in this house and constantly reminded us of that fact. You reminded everyone of a regal lion, both in dignity and in your attitude of entitlement.

As we sat in the veterinary emergency room, making a decision about your fate, one of the vet techs came in and told us what a sweetheart you were. We laughed and said “she really doesn’t know you well, does she?” The fact that anyone would think that, told us how very sick you were. To be seen as cooperative and mellow just wasn’t in your nature. As I looked into your sad, blank face with tears running down my own cheeks, I knew I had to let you go. If we fought to keep you alive, you would have been miserable. I know you would have hated the long hospitalization, frequent medical procedures and forced medication.

Even had we went ahead with the treatment, the vet was blunt about the fact that you had six months at most to live and even that was highly unlikely. He told us the cost of treatment in dollars and that was certainly something that would have been a struggle for us, but the true cost to us was the misery we knew we would have to put you through just to keep you with us a bit longer. In good conscience, I couldn’t do that to you, because regardless of how mean and grumpy you could be, I love you with all my heart.

I admire your straightforward, take-no-crap attitude and the fact that you were never afraid to be yourself and stare any enemy down. I admire your intelligence…Einstein was definitely a fitting name for you. I loved the precious moments when you would be uncharacteristically loving and sweet (mostly when you were sucking up or asking for something). I think of you every time I open the door and you aren’t there trying to sneak out. It is these things, these precious memories that I will carry with me now that you are gone. I love you and miss you. Goodbye, my sweet Steiner.

Those magical little moments that make life worthwhile

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For the last few days, my husband and I have been out of town, attempting to squeeze in a little vacation before summer ends. We didn’t go too far away from home, just enough to see some new sights and break up the monotony of our normal routine. While away, I bought a new book entitled “My One Line A Day”. The book is similar to a journal or diary but is set up a little differently. Each day for the next three years, I am supposed to write one line about my day in the appointed spaces in the book, leaving an interesting record to keep and reflect on after the three years are over. Honestly, I’m not sure if I will remember to write every single day, but I figured since I only had to write one line every day, that I could hopefully handle that.

I am currently on my third day writing in the book and I have noticed something interesting. First of all, it can be hard to sum up an entire day in one or two sentences! For this reason, I have decided to focus on the “highlight” or “happiest” thing I remember from each day. Interestingly, I have found that the highlights I remember are not the big things. What made me happiest the last few days wasn’t the tourist attractions, the big events or acquiring new “stuff”. Instead, I wrote about spotting a snapping turtle in a tiny runoff from a nearby creek and feeding sparrows bits of my bagel at an outdoor café. I haven’t written my line for today yet, but again I think it will probably be one of the smaller things, such as seeing my cats again after being away for several days or the delicious decadence of enjoying a chocolate covered strawberry.

I am definitely interested to see how this little project keeps going over time. It is amazing when you truly pause to think about what made you happiest on a particular day. I would encourage everyone to try something similar and see what you come up with. You may be surprised to find out what brings you the most joy and what doesn’t seem to matter that much at all by the end of the day. If you want to get one of these books for yourself to chronicle your next three years, you may be able to pick one up at your local bookstore or you can order one from Amazon or another online retailer.

Art, pop, garbage and meditation – the stuff that is my life!

Just a quick update about some stuff that has been going on in my life!

1) I have sold several artworks recently and am thrilled about it! It seems like more and more people are connecting with my art and that makes me so happy.

2) I have made a huge leap towards better health habits by almost entirely cutting pop out of my diet. I have been wanting to make the change for a while, but was pretty much addicted to Coca Cola. Finally, I just decided to go cold turkey and have felt quite a bit better physically. I do think it has helped my CFS and Fibromyalgia flare-ups quite a bit. Definitely something I would recommend to others who suffer from similar problems.

3) Call me the garbage lady 🙂 Recently I have really been making an effort to make the world and especially natural areas better by simply taking the time to occasionally pick up trash and litter that others have left behind. I know this may sound odd, but I actually LIKE picking up trash. Why? Because it makes me feel like I am making a difference. Not only is it a chance to help keep beautiful places beautiful, but to take care of all living things by removing things that could cause them harm. For instance, while at the riverside the other day, I found an intact glass Christmas ornament…no clue why it was there, but the thought that I could possibly save an animal or even a human from stepping on it and hurting themselves, really made me feel good.

4) I have started a daily mediation time and actually stuck to it for at least a couple weeks now and I can really feel the difference mentally, emotionally and physically. It doesn’t magically make all my problems disappear, but it makes me feel so good that the problems don’t seem like as big of a deal. My favorite kinds of meditation? Probably chakra healing and compassion/lovingkindess meditation.

Well, I know it isn’t the most exciting post in the world, but that is the stuff that is my life and right now, I feel that it is a pretty good life. As always, thank you to all of my family, friends, supporters and fans out there. I appreciate you all more than you know.

“Mountain Goats are Kids like You!” Book Review

It’s rare that I review children’s non-fiction, but “Mountain Goats are Kids like You!” is one non-fiction picture book that reads as easily as fiction. The book was written by Rena Jones and uses her professional-quality photos as illustrations. The pictures are absolutely beautiful, which is really no surprise considering that they were all taken within the boundaries of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana.

I must admit that while reading this book, I learned things that I didn’t know about mountain goats! What I like best about the book though is that the author manages to teach important facts about these animals by involving the reader personally. The entire book is interactive, inviting its readers to answer questions and study the photos for various clues.

As the title would suggest, the bulk of the book helps children better understand mountain goats by comparing the similarities between growing up as a goat and growing up as a human. This approach allows children to put themselves in the place of these beautiful animals and imagine what it would really be like to grow up as a ‘kid’ in the wild.

This book would be a great addition to any family or educational library, but I would especially recommend this book for children between the ages of 4 and 8. If your child loves animals, this is a must-read, but even if your children normally stick to fiction, you might be pleasantly surprised by their reaction to this little gem of a book.

To order a copy of “Mountain Goats are Kids like You!” or to find out more about its author, Rena Jones, please visit the author’s website.