Rockets, Butterflies and Turkeys

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Dame's Rocket

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Dame’s Rocket

I’ve been watching a meadow full of purple wildflowers. I’ve visited several times over the last few days to take pictures and paint. I did a plein air morning study, that I’ve posted on my art blog. It turns out that the beautiful voilet stalks are Dame’s Rocket, which is considered an invasive species.
A field with large patches of Dame's Rocket

A field with large patches of Dame’s Rocket


I went back again in the afternoon, and I was surprised how many butterflies and bees were out. The first picture in the post is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus). There were also orange-banded Red Admiral (vanessa atalanta) butterflies.
Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on Dame’s Rocket


Then, on the way home, a wild turkey crossed the road. Couldn’t find it in the butterfly book.
Wild turkey

Wild turkey crossing the road.

Ornamental Bush Studies

April 21 at 9am. Morning sun.

April 21 at 1 pm. Overcast.

April 23 at 6:30 pm. Evening sun.

Assignment was three paintings of the same object, using brush.

Flowering Crabapple Tree Studies

Image Study 1. 9am April 14. Morning sunlight, no clouds.

Image Study 2. 7pm April 14. Overcast.

Image Study 3. 6pm April 17. Declining sunlight, mixed clouds. (Started sunny, finished cloudy).

Painting instructor wanted three 60 minutes 6×8 studies of the same subject at different times / days. All knife work.

Family Togetherness in the Modern Age

Serious family chat over Google chat


Our family is spread all over the country: Utah, Minnesota, Ohio, and Virginia. But, we can still get together virtually. Google chat is what we use. Silliness abounds. These are some clips from the last chat. Everyone trying to make each other laugh and out-do the others in silliness.

Ringing Bells for Kettle Drive

Cragun Family ringing Bells for Salvation Army Kettle Drive

Cragun Family ringing Bells for Salvation Army Kettle Drive


One of our family’s Christmas traditions is to go ring bells for the Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Drive. Salvation Army does a good work, and it’s easy to support their effort.

Of course, we try to have a little fun with it. We perform a little Christmas music using sawn pipes struck with kitchen utensils — sort a poor man’s bell choir. It’s a challenge, and a little disjointed, but you can usually recognize the tune. This year, the table knives were accidentally left at home, so we made do with car repair tools. (See the screwdrivers and pliers?)

In the photo left to right: Amoray & Nathan, Christian, Leanne, Eric, Catherine. (I’m taking the picture.) Each year Eric dons his Elf costume, which usually gets some smiles.

Bow Tie Mania

Each cragun man wearing a bow tie.

Each cragun man wearing a bow tie.


How’s this for peer pressure? Each the boys decided they would wear a bow tie for Christmas church. “C’mon Dad! You can wear one, too!” I’d never worn one before. But I agreed. Nathan said, It’s easy! Really? It took 45 minutes following instructions and several attempts for me to learn to tie it right.

The funny part is, at church, there was a teenager who had been given a bow tie from a girl for Christmas, and as I walked by, the mother said, Brother Cragun knows how, go ask him! I’d practiced enough I was able to tie his bow tie.

Post script: 8 Jan 2011. I wore the bow tie again today. This time I tied it in 3 minutes. So I think I’ve got a new life skill.

Clowning Around

Brian the Clown

Brian the Clown


Our youth organization planned a carnival for children with special needs. It was a chance to serve children and families and understand better in the process. I was asked to be a clown and make balloon animals.

I pulled an old costume and face paints out of a trunk in the basement, decided on a makeup scheme, and borrowed a wig. I found YouTube videos on how to make balloon animals, and practiced up.

Unfortunately, when I took off the makeup, some of it wouldn’t come off. I checked the water-soluble markers I used to put on the makeup, and discovered that one of them was actually permanent!? I took quite a bit of scrubbing with bleach to get the lines off!

Some lines didn't want to come off.

Some lines didn't want to come off. They were accidently permanent marker.