animal

Posted by Ellen

Some people think it's been way too long since the last cute puppy picture, so . . . here's Stella, looking up at us from Michele Manno's lap. Clearly, the leopard-print fabric doesn't fool her for a minute.
 

Posted by Ellen

This is an ibex, photographed by Ruggero Barsacchi on safari in . . . Italy.

I guess I didn't know my ibex from my keister. To me, this guy looks like African big game, maybe an antelope sort of creature that might even give a lion a hard time. Nope. You're looking at lo stambecco, the mountain goat of the Italian Alps.

Ibexes are not really big enough to take on lions, but at 100 kilograms or more, with horns up to a meter in length, a full-grown male ibex can do a number on a wolf. Prized medicinally--almost all its body parts and also its excrement were said to cure whatever ails you--by the early nineteenth century it had been hunted almost to extinction. Ibex herds are now protected and have grown dramatically; the species is no longer considered particularly endangered.

Posted by Ellen

Wait. I mean . . . wapiti.

Posted by Ellen

"The Storybook Wolf," by Spanish photographer Josi Luis Rodriguez, won National Geographic's 2009 prize for wildlife photography. To get the shot, Rodriguez rigged up a motion sensor that tripped the shutter of his camera, which used an infrared sensor for night vision.

I know this wolf. He eats grandmothers and little pigs and little Russian boys, and I'm sure he's very hungry now.

Posted by Ellen

There's an urban legend about a deer more spectacular than any other, a deer that's pure white, maybe even albino. It is glimpsed from time to time, usually at dusk or dawn or even after dark. It's shy and quick, won't stick around for the camera.

For a hunter to shoot such a deer, a white ghost of a deer, would make the whole forest cry. It would bring a whole lifetime of bad luck to the hunter who felled it. Unless it was actually a good luck charm. Or a trophy like no other--a trophy deer above all others.

One problem with the white deer, urban-legend-wise, is that there's widespread disagreement concerning what it might signify, if it signifies anything. The story is messy, if there is a story to it. But that's okay, urban-legend-wise, because the white deer is real--an estimated 1 deer out of 30,000 is albino, completely white with pink eyes.

Their coloration leaves them especially vulnerable to human hunters and other predators. Do they know that? Is that why they are so shy? Perhaps not, but their light-sensitive eyes may make them avoid daylight even more than other deer.

Nonetheless, Janet Goldwater sort of got a photo of an albino deer that had been eating apples from her tree in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. "This photo was taken (in a rush obviously!) through the window of my house," she writes. "My opportunity to take a photo came at dusk, hence the slow shutter speed."

Here, the albino deer looks almost like a unicorn, which seems appropriate enough. If you want clearer pictures, you can find them on the tubes.  But this shot seems to pretty much sum up the whole white-deer thing: whatever is out there is hard to see, impossible to pin down, fleeing fast , but definitely, positively, really something.

Posted by Ellen

Several of you asked to see more work by our Romanian Northern Irish West Texas friend Avram Dimitrescu. He calls this acrylic painting "Longhorn and Mountains."

For many more images, see Avram's blog and his portfolio website. He doesn't just paint chickens and cows, though I might be satisfied if he did; he's also got  paintings and drawings of landscapes, buildings, vehicles, food, and the digging arm of an excavating machine.
 

Posted by Ellen

It's springtime in New Zealand,  time for the Stein sheep to get themselves sheared. Here, Moe is already nekkid, while Curly waits her turn. A., the family shepherdess, says she is "contemplating"  learning to spin the wool.

Posted by Ellen

Yesterday, Tanja Baker noticed this arachnid, named her Thekla, watched her eat three bugs, and got her to pose for a picture.

Thekla is about an inch long from toe to toe. "Too bad I have to work," Tanja says, "and cannot watch this all day." Thekla's name is from the spider in a German children's story, "Maya the Bee."

Posted by Ellen

Avram Dimitrscu's father was a musician in a Romanian concert band, behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s, the band toured western Europe, including the Channel Islands, where Avram's mother, a native of Belfast, Northern Island, was working at a resort hotel. They fell in love, and when it came time for the band to return to Romania, she helped him hide and eventually defect.. Avram was born on the Isle of Jersey and raised in Belfast. His parents ran a catering business until the 1990s, when travel to Romania became possible. Then they bought a truck and began operating a charity, collecting donations of food, clothing, and everything else, and driving all the way across Europe every month or so to deliver the contributions to Romanians in need.

Avram grew up during the troubles in Northern Ireland, in a Catholic part of town, and enrolled as an art student at the University of Belfast. He worked at a McDonald's near campus during the school year but spent his summers abroad, in Maine, where he worked as a camp counselor at a boys' camp. It was there that he met fellow-counselor John Stein. Avram and John traveled together, and Avram spent time in Alabama with all the Steins--always with his sketchbook in hand. Eventually, he married an American woman and moved to the town of Alpine, in the Big Bend area of extreme west Texas. He paints, illustrates, teaches art, runs the Dimitrescu Gallery, and surely still keeps his sketchbook close at hand.

This is his "Tiny Chicken #8."

Posted by Ellen

Joe Stein is admiring dinner. It should be tasty, thanks to Joe's buddy Joe Fair, who went catfishing the other night in the Black Warrior River near Moundville, Alabama.. According to one of the Joes, it took an hour to reel in the big guy.