Category: �’

Great Blue Heron

April 3, 2008 Posted by suefairview

Now we skip twelve years ahead to when we moved from upstate New York to Connecticut. I had by that time acquired water colors and a taste for Hiroshige whose wood block prints I had first seen in the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY.

We bought his book Hiroshige Birds and Flowers and I was very inspired by its 91 color plates. I decided to try and copy them into water color paintings which turned out to be much easier to decide than to do.

This first painting is of a Great Blue Heron fishing. Though Hiroshige never did this painting himself, it is in his style. I did three washes, one at the top for the sky, one at the bottom for the mud and one for the water line. Then I painted the bird and the cattails. I added some small fish for interest and because I am a fish fanatic. I was quite tempted to go at this painting with my India ink and draw all over it as I did with the little fish, but I resisted. Do you think I was correct in this decision and the painting is finished? Click to enlarge.

I’m not quite satisfied with it, but you know, the artist never is satisfied with their work. I think the composition is weak, it looks all pushed over to the right and will never frame well because of that. The heron is floating in the air and not grounded to anything. I could have done better painting his feet. I like how I painted the cattail heads and the washes and the bird’s neck. I would love to hear your comments on this painting.

Grand Cayman – Finale

June 5, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

Sean spent his last day of diving doing two wall dives off of Tortuga Divers’ boat. Both were over 100 feet deep and outside the reef, so I decided not to go. Information: you cannot dive within 24 hours of a flight, so this was actually two days before we were to leave Grand Cayman. My plan was to snorkel in the lagoon at Cayman Kai.

I never tire of the underwater world. This time I saw two banded butterfly fish.

Plus I snapped pictures to remember the lagoon by.

I finally made it out to the reef edge and saw the group of blue tangs that Sean had spoken of.

The next day, we visited the 65 acre Queen Elizabeth Botanic Gardens. The gardens showcased the different environs and endemic plants of the island: mahogany forest, cactus/agave thickets, native palms, grassy meadows, buttonwood swamps, ponds, and epiphytic orchids and bromeliads.

There were spectacular bougainvilleas in all hues in the floral color garden at the entrance plus the famed Cayman Parrot.

There was a pond and although no fish could be seen, and there were water lilies as well as other native plants.

We also saw the endangered blue iguana, native only to Grand Cayman Island. A captive breeding a reintroduction program is run from the garden and while not open to the public, blue iguanas are on display.

All in all the garden was very pleasant to walk around and tidy.

We left Grand Cayman reluctantly and back home our car was buried under a foot of snow and was difficult to find. We were inadequately dressed to dig it out but managed somehow.

Best. Valentines. Day. Vacation. Ever!

Remembering Grand Cayman fondly. Photo: Found the One

Check out Found the One – the photos are hot.

Grand Cayman – Part 6

May 31, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

Sean and I drove to the beach at Coconut Harbour for his second shore dive as part of his course with Tortuga Divers. The beach was a slip of white sand in between a cove of rock with coconut trees. Very picturesque.

Julia was already there with her Aussie boyfriend, Brett, who was also a dive instructor. They were joking around about how some female tourist divers wore pink bikinis and were all flirtatious, and couldn’t be taken seriously as they unloaded all of the gear. I was thinking that I was glad I hadn’t worn mine. Brett’s accent was hot as were his rugged good looks. Julia was just a bit pudgy for my tastes, but cute none the less. Their plan was to swim out to a buoy in 30 feet of water, so I decided that I would try to keep them in sight. Everyone suited up, and the divers entered the water backwards to minimize fin wash.

I entered my usual way, walked in to thigh high water, put my fins on and swam off. The divers were already lost to sight. Where could they get to so fast? So, I paddled off in the direction of the buoy. Again, I saw the shoals of coral and sand as I had at Sunset House. In addition to many fish I had already seen, I saw a stop-light parrot fish in the red phase!

When I got out to the buoy, it was surrounded by interesting corals I had not seen. I free dove down the length of the chain it was moored with to get a closer look at the tube coral, like the ones Sean saw yesterday. I just about made it to the bottom.

Back up on top, I noticed the bubbles from a diver. So, there they were! But this diver was not wearing any gear I recognized. Then he was joined by three of his friends. There were too many divers to be my group. So I swam on ahead.

Then I saw something that scared the shit out of me. It was a huge barracuda. You know, folks tell you that they are harmless and that they won’t bite, but this thing was enormous! But it was on the bottom, guarding its territory; so I felt relatively safe. So I hung out watching it.

Then along came the four divers. The barracuda was on one side of this giant brain coral mound and the divers were unknowingly swimming up towards it on the other side. The barracuda began to flare its gills and gape its mouth open threateningly. The divers just could not see the barracuda from where they were. If they swam over the coral they would be right on top of the barracuda. They would have to swim up a bit to see it over the coral.

I began flailing to get the attention of any of the divers in the group. Finally the lead diver looked up at me and I gestured with my arms and hands a big length and pointed down repeatedly. He got the message and swam directly up and saw the barracuda. He quickly got the attention of the others and gave the thumbs up, let’s surface, signal. They didn’t understand why until they got up high enough to see the barracuda too. They shot lots of pictures of it and we all came out of the water together.

They were honeymooners and this was the story of their trip to Grand Cayman. They had never seen a barracuda and to see such a big one the first time! I had saved them and they all wanted their pictures with me. I also got to take their pictures. Meanwhile, Julia, Brett and Sean had come in. They had seen the barracuda too. Brett said that he did not think the barracuda would attack but he did say that it was bigger than me.

We decided to go for a beer and we all hopped into our Jeep with Sean at the wheel. Sean seemed giddy and backed right into a coconut tree. Julia determined that he had nitrogen narcosis from surfacing too quickly but would be okay after a short time. We all decided that someone else should drive, even though Sean said that he felt fine. The damage wasn’t that bad to the Jeep. Remember that kiddies: Friends don’t let friends drive with nitrogen narcosis.

Grand Cayman – Part 5

May 29, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

During the next few days Sean took his SCUBA classes and pool lessons at Tortuga Divers on the East End of Grand Cayman and I read all three books I brought with me plus a few in the bungalow we stayed in at Cayman Kai. Finally the storm had passed enough that it was okay to go out in the water on the leeward side of the island. We had stayed on the windward side. So, off we drove to Sunset House for Sean’s first open water dive with his instructor, Julie. Sunset House was just 2 miles south of Georgetown, the capital of Grand Cayman on the southwest side of the island.

There was still a stiff breeze driving the waves into white caps on the windward side of the island, but the leeward side was visibly much calmer. This was to be a shore dive. The pier at Sunset House is rock and concrete with a ladder that leads into 80 feet (24.4 meters) of water. Julia helped Sean into his equipment at the pier while she explained the dive. Their plan was to swim down and out to the red buoy and then come back. She explained to me that the red buoy was the cruise boat channel and therefore not safe for snorkeling.

You can actually see the buoys in this photo, but they are really far away.

I snapped pictures of Sean and Julia stepping off the pier and into the water. They swam out a bit and dove out of sight. I was ready to go. I put my fins on, held onto my mask, and followed them in by taking that big step off the pier. Off I went. Right away a school of sergeant major fish swam up to me checking me out. I think they wanted a handout. But alas, I hadn’t brought them anything. Many divers will bring squirting cheese in a can, but I didn’t. They figured that out pretty quickly and swam away.

I searched in vain for sight of Sean or Julia by swimming in the general direction of the buoys. I could see straight down to the bottom. Suddenly, I got this weird fear of falling feeling. Here I was miraculously suspended in this invisible substance, some 80 feet in the air. How was that possible? I regained my bearings quickly and moved on. I noticed that on the bottom, there were bands of white sandy shoals broken by bands of coral. I could see huge fish on the bottom, but they were to far away to identify. I could also look outwards and see that the water was filled with fish in all directions. It really was a living sea.

I lifted my head out of the water and noticed that I had drifted into the cruise ship channel. Shit! There really was quite a current here. So I started swimming like hell to get out of the channel. I saw a dive boat coming and flipped a hot pink fin out of the water so that they would see me as I swam away. I looked back at the pier and Sean and Julia were already out. When I got to the ladder, I took my fins off and handed them up to Sean while he regaled me with stories of what they had seen. They had seen tube coral

A gray angel fish

A sea turtle

A Nassau grouper

The mermaid.

We had a beer with Julie by the dock. Our next shore dive was tomorrow morning from Coconut Harbour’s beach. Stay tuned…

Grand Cayman – Part 4

May 24, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

After dinner that night we heard on the news service that a southeasterly storm was expected to hit the Cayman Island group over the next couple of days. You could drop a pin in the resort and hear it drop. Some peoples’ shorter vacations were ruined. Sean and I just looked at each other. I was kind of excited. I had never seen a real tropical storm. Anyway, Sean had his SCUBA class lessons and pool lessons over the next few days, so only I would miss out my snorkeling. (Sniff.) Our vacation was long enough to weather the storm, so to speak.

We went to bed as usual with the glass window louvers open, only to be awakened later by wind swept water being blown against them. The wave tops were actually being blown against the windows and into our room. That is how close to the water we were. We could hear the water hit our building and the seawall. We closed the window louvers and huddled together in bed. We could hear the wind howling outside.

When we awoke, it was cold, grey and extremely windy still, but not raining. I put on my long hiking pants, long sleeved shirt, socks, sandals, Nike warm up jacket and out we went to breakfast. I felt like I would blow away and leaned into the wind. The wave action was so violent and spectacular in the lagoon that Sean wanted to get a picture so he asked me to pose on a piece of flattened coral by the water’s edge. So I did. As I stood there, a big wave came shot up the side of the coral, whoooosh, and soaked me head to toe. Sean got a picture of that. Whoopie. I had to go back to the room and dry my clothes.

It turned out that Sean was the only student at Tortuga Divers out on the East end of Grand Cayman. Julia, his teacher was from England. So, while he was studying, I wandered around the grounds of the hotel/time share complex and beach. Many interesting things had washed up on the beach. I saw a man o’ war jelly fish. I sure hated to think that I was swimming in the same water as that.

The pier at Tortuga Divers on a calm day

I was really hoping to find a conch shell as I had always wanted one. They sold them all over the island, but they were all faded; I wanted one that was bright pink. Low and behold, I found one. It was huge and faced downwards in the sand so that it would not be bleached by the sun. Also, it had the hole in the top that showed that it had been fished and the animal was gone from inside of it. When I turned it over the color was intensely pink. It was so heavy I put my hand inside of it to carry it back. Sean said it was gorgeous. I keep it in my bathroom today.

One of the other stormy days, we went shopping in Georgetown. Everything was pricey. I spotted a pair of tiny 14 carat gold enameled yellow tang earrings that were US$450. They would not budge on the price. What a rip off. I walked out.

By the way, the Cayman Island money was very pretty. Again, a foreign currency that kills US currency in appearance. I brought home a dollar and a ten dollar bill for my photo album.

Stay tuned for Part 5 – After the storm