Thursday, February 28, 2019



Lost by the side of the road
A pair of flightless gloves
The color of bluejay wings.

Each new pot hole
Waits like a hungry bird
To pierce a tire.

On my way to work
I crossed three watersheds
Marveling how water
always seeks its own level.

Trees take on new angles a possibility.
It’s a race against gravity.
And we know gravity always wins.

The bright green promise of grass
Beguiles the eye with false allegations of spring
while herons wade along the clement shores
of new lagoons.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I made a new art blog

I made a new blog, Maureen Hurley Art, to showcase some of my most recent art. Two new blogs in as many months, not counting another blog I made in December. A friend wants me to create an Etsy account and begin selling my work. So this is a stopgap. I may backfill with earlier art at another time. My artwork is lost in this massive blog. I’ve  managed to post most work when it was created, but when I post the older work, I’ll be lucky to get the year correct. Work is posted by month and by medium. As the river crests, during the record-breaking Pineapple Express storm that threatens to rival the 1986 Valentine’s flood, I am surrounded by floodwater. Massive slides, multiple road closures, the only way out is through art. So below is today’s offering, a pastel of  the Nicasio Reservoir from the spillway side.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Two pastels, Nicasio oak & rock

Chalk pastel. I usually work wet, so this is a learning curve.

Oil pastel, same place, same day, different mediums.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Channeling the clouds on Elephant Mountain

This morning the mountain was completely enveloped in fog. It was a transcendental experience watching the lake emerge from the flat planes of the pewter mist, and the myriad possibilities of fog and light emerge and recombine minute by minute. I never grow tired of watching it. Why did I never find the time to seek out and observe such beauty? It fair takes my breath away. It seems I am channeling the master cloud painters Frangonard, Watteau and Turner—with the clouds posing like that.

Black/Elephant Mountain is made of Franciscan strata and pillow lava, volcanic extrusions from under the sea—a child of the San Andreas Fault. Meanwhile, down the valley, in the distance, I could hear the call of a flock of Canada geese on the move, and a cow bawling for her errant calf. The cacophany of wild geese grew nearer—They were accompanying a lone bicyclist, blithely unaware that the wild geese gods were overhead protecting him on that empty stretch of road. The redtail hawks are flying low, zoning in on the chickens that are digging for worms in the pasture. A flash of red against the green grass, and the intense yellow of mustard. Somewhere, just out of sight, the bald eagle is circling. Leaping bass make concentric coinage on the surface of the lake. Grebes bob on the ripples, tree swallows crochet the air. I may be living somewhat feral existence well out of my comfort zone, but I am doubly blessed when it comes to a matter of light and fog on a lake at dawn.

The bicyclist and his entourage of wild geese.
They followed him all the way around the lake.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A bird and a half a day. Cats and bird deaths—an inflated fact?

Photographer friend Jerry Downs posted a lovely photo of an orange spotted housecat sitting on a car hood enjoying a rare bit of sunshine in an otherwise bleak and rainy week. And of course someone had to go and spoil it all by stating how every outdoor cat was responsible for 500+ songbird deaths in North America. (To the tune of  3.6 million birds a day, or 1.3billion birds a year). A bird and a half a day per cat? Do the math. Who comes up with this stuff?

To wit, I replied—The cat bird kill thing is somewhat inflated....that would be something like a bird and a half per day per cat. I don’t think so. Besides, not all free roaming house cats kill birds. In fact, most pet cats are clumsy lummoxes. Easy targets like mice run in front of their noses and they hardly know what to do with them. They’re not the ferocious hunters they’re cracked up to be. Besides the males (he’s orange, therefore, has an 80% chance of being male) rarely, if ever, hunt.

But when it comes to birds, people’s free range pet moggies are unfairly bearing the brunt—convenient scapegoats for bird deaths. Instead look to climate change, bird habitat loss, exposure to chemicals, fertilizers, insecticides, and collisions with man-made objects—from cell towers airplane engines to to cars to windows. A billion birds a year die from colliding with windows. Human impact is the real threat" to songbirds.

We’ve also systematically killed off most of the wild birds’ natural predators—from kestrels and hawks to bobcats to coyotes and wolves— which was never factored in on the annual estimated bird population death counts. That said, I’m not for vast colonies of feral cats. They don’t belong here. They should be eradicated. But when someone’s pet moggie sitting outside on a car hood enjoying a spot of sunshine, being held responsible by proxy for massive bird deaths, is a bit over the top. Talk about killjoy.