Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Snowstorm

A winter storm kicked into gear yesterday afternoon. All schools in the area were closed today due to the hazardous driving conditions. And to think, it's only November 18!

Mom took a few photos in the backyard during a lull in the heavy snow. It's a winter wonderland out there!
Note the leaves on the low branch of the oak tree.
Lots of trees around here still have autumn leaves.
Summer, the family dog, wishing it was still summer
It's getting deep! 
This decorative pagoda has a hat that looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy's.
I played Horse Isle 2 for a while this morning. Two wild horses were hanging out on Harbor Isle. Xanadu and I also found a $100k pot of gold and a $6k pirate treasure! Talk about hitting the jackpot!

The horses were pretty much opposite in color: one very dark and the other very light. :) The first was a seal brown Canadian Horse stallion:

And the second was a light gray Holsteiner mare:

What a fitting horse to find during the first snowstorm of the season! Her +69 stats trump those of that Russian Heavy Draft mare that Felicity found on Saturday, so it looks like we have a new frontrunner to be the horse we keep this month. Sorry, Russian Heavy Draft!

Felicity took over playing after I was done. She and Zoom searched all of the vast White Isle for horses. I think she really likes the new breed. =) The only wild horses she found were standing pretty close to each other. Take a look!

The one on the left was a 5/6 +53 red chestnut Finnhorse mare - 17 hands tall! The one on the right was a 4/6 +36 dun Norwegian Fjord mare - only 13.1 hands tall. We decided not to keep either, since what we really could use are more stallions.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's going to be a long winter

The first snow of the season blanketed our area in the early morning hours on Wednesday. More came Thursday and Friday, and more is on the way for this coming week. I am less than thrilled. 

The newest horse breed to be introduced to Horse Isle 2 couldn't be more appropriate for winter's early arrival: the Norwegian Coldblood Trotter. Norway now has three horse breeds represented on HI2: the Dole, the Norwegian Fjord, and the NCT.

Sadly, no Norwegian horses have joined our herd so far. It's not surprising, as many horse breeds as there are on HI2. We're bound to find a nice 5/6 or 6/6 horse of one of these breeds eventually. I wonder which of the 3 breeds it will be?

Here's an example of each breed taken from HI2's BBB:
Dole
"Dole" is also a fruit and veggie company, and consequently this breed will forever be linked to fruit cups in my mind. If I ever get one of these horses, I will probably name it something fruity, like Peachy or Maraschino.

Norwegian Fjord
I especially love the Fjord stallions on HI2 because I think their 2-toned manes look awesome cropped. It might be better if we found a mare, though. Arion (my Thessalian stallion) might be really jealous if another horse showed up rocking an even more impressive mohawk than his.

Norwegian Coldblood Trotter
I hadn't ever even heard of the NCT until it was introduced as a HI2 breed. Such a shame - what cool horses! I really like how the artist? artists? have depicted it. It's fun that - on this game anyway - they come in sabino and splash white in addition to solid colors. 

Since both Fjords and NCTs can only be found on snowy terrain, I decided to head to a snowy isle this morning and see if I might get lucky. Rally and I didn't find any wild horses, unfortunately, but we did get to summon one horse with our flute.


No Norwegian horse this time, but she is quite nice all the same:



If she was a less common color or was a stallion, I would really be tempted to keep her. Her markings are adorable, and you don't see a personality like that every day. Her stats even add up to +33, which is Mom's favorite number. Hmm, I think I'll keep her around until the end of November. If no impressively high stated horses materialize by then, she may make it into the herd yet. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

A quick flashback on this week's weather:

Sunday, October 26: High 59°F, partly cloudy

Monday, October 27: High 75°F, AM clouds / PM Sun

Tuesday, October 28: High 71°F, AM rain

Wednesday, October 29: High 49°F, AM rain

Thursday, October 30: High 50°F, cloudy

Friday, October 31: High 42°F (quickly fell into the 30's), rain/snow mix, high winds

Clearly, the weather opted for trick over treat this year.

Bummer for all the kids. Our house saw a record low of trick-or-treaters, which means we're stuck with loads of extra candy. What a hardship. ;)


My sisters and I attended the annual Halloween party with the other dolls in the basement. Bethany went as a princess, Julie went as a cowgirl, Lily went as a ballerina, and I went as a pig farmer. Yeah... I sort-of threw my costume together at the last minute. Good thing the piglets are cute.

I braved the cold long enough to take two shots of this year's jack-o-lanterns. Our aunt carved the howling wolf, Mom carved the cross-eyed face, and Grandma carved the star and moon face. Well done, all!



I will conclude this post with screenshots of the HI2 horse we fluted today: a black stallion! How appropriate!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Clingy Indeed

So... the flute brought Lily and Onyx this Sicilian mare back on the 18th. It was the 53rd time Pepsi used the flute, for the record.
Mmm, minty fresh!
As you can see, her avatar is a pleasing cinnamon shade with dapples. She's cute in her profile too, despite her mismatched socks and lack of a facial marking.
Miss Sicilian's stats add up to +81. Not bad at all! If she was a stallion, we'd have kept her without a second thought. Thanks to those two 6/6 Don mares, we're already two stallions short of having an equal number of both genders.

If it was up to Lily, the mare would already have been surrendered to the HA. I do see where she's coming from. We already have a surplus of mares, this mare is a common color, and it's not like we are at all lacking in skittish, lazy horses. XD

The rest of us have felt more torn. After all, we have no Sicilians in our herd yet, and she is the highest stat Sicilian we have ever caught. Hence, she's been hanging around since the 18th while we tried to decide. This afternoon, I let myself get all sentimental and imagined how it might shatter her already fragile psyche to surrender or sell her now that she's had time to settle into life with us.

What did I do next? I sealed the deal by naming her. No turning back now - she is ours. Her namesake is an active volcano on a small island off the coast of Sicily: Stromboli. Stromboli also happens to be one of my favorite Italian foods. ;^)




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ArtPrize 2014: Public Vote Results

Warning: the following is a ridiculously long post. If you'd rather just look at the photos rather than read all of my comments, I won't be offended. XD You can click on any photo to view it larger in a slide show format. I also have a slide show of my personal favorite entries at the very bottom.

* * *

The winners of this year's ArtPrize were revealed last Friday night. I was not especially surprised by any of the public vote winners. None of pieces Mom voted for won anything, which is quite disappointing.

Because of the new 4-category system implemented this year, the "Top Ten" of previous years has gone by the wayside. This also means that the prizes determined by the popular vote only go to the 4 category winners rather than to 10 could-be-anything winners. All runners-up got diddly squat, and that seems rather sad. I think that at least 2nd and 3rd in each category should win something for their success, but nobody's asking me...

2-D category:

Winner: $20,000 
Outcry by Gretchyn Lauer

This is a 5' x 4' oil painting. Here is the artist's statement:
"I've always loved art because of its transcendence. Just like a good book, a good piece of art can transport you into another world, story, and soul. My hope with this painting is that when you are transported into her soul, you will be greatly burdened by what you find - a beautiful girl with hopes and dreams sold into sex-trafficking at 14 and impregnated by one of her clients at a young age. For her, nightmares were her reality. I want her outcry for help to become our outcry for love, prevention, and healing."
This painting looked like a photograph even up close. I think it was beautifully done, and it sure does get an emotional response out of its viewers. I had hoped something more uplifting would win, but I had a feeling that the story behind this one would give it an edge over the other 4 contenders. I was right.

2nd place:
Into the Autumn Woods by Sandra Bryant

This 18' x 7.5' glass mosaic mural of a Midwestern fall scene is breathtaking, and I wish I could've seen it in person like Mom did. White-tailed deer, birds, a rabbit, and other creatures are included in remarkable detail. 

3rd place:
Autumn's Passage by Frits Hoendervanger

Another big, so-carefully-painted-it-could-be-a-photograph oil painting made the top 5. This artist won 3rd place and $50,000 with a similar painting (a spring forest scene) on the same stretch of wall back in 2012. Funny how that worked out.

4th place:
Gabriella by Armin Mersmann

It surprised Mom that this pencil drawing of a young woman with curly hair made it into the top 5. There were other bigger, more involved pencil drawings in the competition, and generally the public tends to think that the bigger a piece, the better. Part of the reason for its success is probably that people were impressed that it took upwards of 900 hours to complete. The final result, while lovely and very skillfully done, didn't do much for me. I guess because Gabriella is so perfect and looks like she knows it. XD

5th place:
Perspective by Mark Middleton












I absolutely love this acrylic painting: a mother and baby rhino reflected in the eye of a zebra. As with Gabriella, I was surprised this painting made it into the top 5 at all. It is 5' by 4', but somehow it didn't seem nearly that large up high on that big wall. It's a shame this one didn't win, as the South African artist said the money would've gone towards anti-rhino-poaching efforts.

I'd have ranked the top 5 2-D pieces like this:
1st: Into the Autumn Woods
2nd: Perspective
3rd: Autumn's Passage
4th: Outcry
5th: Gabriella

3-D category:

Winner: $20,000
Reciprocity by Marc Sijan

Reciprocity is a life-size resin and oil paint sculpture. The first time I glanced at a photo of it, I thought the figure on the guy's back was a woman. It's actually supposed to be the younger man's father. Oops. I assume it is supposed to symbolize that eventually parents get old and need the support of their children rather than the other way around. Aside from the obvious wigs, the figures are so lifelike that Mom was a bit creeped out when she saw them in person. What I want to know is why the father has his pants rolled up and bare feet. I guess so the artist could show off how realistically he can sculpt and paint old legs and feet. ;^)

2nd place:
Engulfed in Glass by Jilly Barnes

This 18' x 5'4" piece contains 236 pieces of layered glass. It depicts West Michigan's shoreline through the 4 seasons: an icy moonlit winter night, a calm spring morning, a beautiful summer sunset, and a dramatic fall storm. It does look better in person than pictures according to Mom, but she still wasn't especially taken with it. I can't say it's my favorite either even though I love the idea of it. I think it looks a bit messy - I guess I prefer smaller pieces of glass to these big blocky chunks. 

3rd place:
Art In Motion by Dominic Pangborn

Each of the 7 panels within this 10' x 5' x 3' "art on aluminum" piece is a Michigan scene. It doesn't look like much in a flat picture, but in person it creates a really cool optical illusion. Not only does it look 3-D, but it seems to move to follow you as you walk by it. 

4th place:
Poseidon's Paradise

The fish and anemone sculpture pictured above is only one of 20 amazing wooden sea life sculptures included in this entry. No paints or varnishes were used, which makes their shiny smoothness and contrasting colors even more remarkable. They were all displayed on tables in a tent, and visitors were allowed to touch many of them "gently" as they walked by. =) I think this was my favorite of all of the entries this year.

5th place:
The Pond by the Kroeze Krew
2,000+ wooden sculptures of raindrops, ripples, and splashes were meticulously pieced together to form this snapshot of a pond in a rainstorm. The raindrops are suspended by clear thread from the framework. I would've loved to see this in person. It looks amazing! 

I'd have ranked the top 5 3-D pieces like this:
1st: Poseidon's Paradise
2nd: The Pond
3rd: Art In Motion
4th: Reciprocity
5th: Engulfed in Glass


Time-Based category:

Winner: $20,000
Your Move? by Robert Shangle



How can this be time-based? you may ask. Isn't it just an oil painting? That's sure what it looks like in photographs. In reality, this man set up a 3D backdrop, table, chair, and chessboard to look like they were painted. Then, he made himself look like he'd just stepped out of an oil painting - it took hours to do so every time, apparently. He would insert himself into the painting as the chess master and sit there very still, occasionally moving ever so slowly to consider a move or to sit back up straight to gaze at the audience. It's a very unique idea, I'll give him that, but it is also borderline creepy in my mind. XD

2nd place:
Color Out the Darkness by Carol Roeda

This semicircle contained 25 10-foot columns made out of cardboard, tar paper, wood, metal, and paint.  On the outside of the curve, the pillars are black and intimidating, but when you walk closer and make your way around it, you see that each pillar is covered with quotes in white paint. Each quote has something to do with light overcoming darkness.  The inside of the semicircle, as you can see in the photo, is a rainbow of color, symbolizing light and hope. 

3rd place:
Urban Tumbleweed by Nathan Lareau

Meet Rhythm Rover, a wood and steel creation. As you can imagine, when it is placed on an incline, it rolls - sort of like a tumbleweed, but also sort of jerkily like a many-legged creature. I found myself imagining it had a mind of its own. It contains a digital audio recorder so that as it roves around on various terrain, it captures different rhythms. Visitors could look at a stationary Rhythm Rover and also watch a video clip of it in action: rolling down sidewalks, roads, bridges, a forest, and finally coming to rest in a peaceful expanse of green grass.

4th place:
Peralux by NewD Media

This entry was housed in a dark room. Visitors could sit or stand in the middle of the room and watch the light show unfold around them while a dramatic soundtrack played in the background. Here's the official explanation of it from ArtPrize.org: "PERALUX is a sensory experience for young and old that shatters the limits of the 2D rectangular screens (be they silver, glass, or plasma) that have held moving images captive for a century. Visitors are invited on an immersive journey of light as animation escapes the frame to interact with the real world of solid shapes and architecture."

5th place:
Always Nowhere by Liz Roberts











Why "Always Nowhere?" Because when driving in a car, you are always on your way from one destination to another. The windows of this sedan have been replaced with screens that show video footage of the open road  and surrounding landscape whipping by. This underscores how the experience of driving is sort of like watching a movie: "we are together but alone, sitting still but moving, passive but active," writes the artist. What inspired this? The artist covered that too: "Having had a near-fatal crash, I find the tension between the interior appearance of serene safety and the exterior potentiality of mechanical destruction fascinating."


I'd have ranked the top 5 time-based pieces like this:

1st: Urban Tumbleweed

2nd: Your Move?
3rd: Always Nowhere
4th: Peralux
5th: Color Out the Darkness

Installation Category:

Grand Prize Winner and Installation Winner: $200,000 (Also won an additional $100,000 for tying for the Jury's Grand Prize)
Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha

Intersections is the first entry ever to win both the public and juried vote. The 6.5' x 6.5' x 6.5' wooden box had geometric patterns laser cut into it that are reminiscent of those in Islamic mosques. The box was suspended from the ceiling of a classy but blank-walled room in the Grand Rapids Art Museum and had a light source placed inside. The resulting shadows projected around the room were quite something. I can easily see why it did so well - it was installed in the perfect place to look its best and to get seen by the maximum number of people. 

2nd place:
A Series of Handmade
Japanese Paper Cut Sculptures
by Solo + Kojima















The eagle above was crafted out of a single piece of black paper. It was one of three animals in the entry, the other two being a swimming polar bear (white paper) and a standing leopard (black paper). I think it's a shame that these creations were installed in a building with such busy landscapes around them. If they had had a nice blank-walled corner to be, they would've looked more impressive.

3rd place:
Despite Similarities to Reality,
This is a Work of Fiction

by Ryan Spencer Reed

This installation consisted of 61 images taken by the artist of the war in Afghanistan. They are set up in 4 volumes: Preparation for War, Dissonance, Soldier's Eye View, and Drone's Eye View. The presentation room layout was such that the exits were not in plain sight. The intention: to make the viewer more engulfed in the work and more uncomfortable. The image above, showing US soldiers in transit to Bagram Air Field on a C-17, was one of the most powerful.

4th place:
Grand River Fish Petroglyph
by Kevin Sudeith

The artist transported 5 Michigan field stone boulders to the banks of the Grand River. There, he carved and painted 20 fish species (life size, all species that can be found in the river) into the boulders. These petroglyphs will remain where they are permanently. I hope that the fish are durable enough to make it through Michigan winters... and that nobody tries to deface them.

5th place:
Breathe by Dave MacKenzie









This wall of plants is about 150' long and 22' tall at its peak. It contains almost 3,500 annual, perennial, and tropical plants. The white flowers spelling out "Breathe O2" symbolize air, the green above and below represent fields and forests, and the yellow in the corner symbolizes the sun, which fuels the process of photosynthesis. The north and west surfaces (not pictured) feature Michigan tree leaf shapes made out of plants. Lights have also been installed so that "Breathe" and the outlines of the leaf shapes glow at night. The artist intended to convey that living plants have an important place in our world - even in the urban environments we have created. They refresh us with their beauty, remind us of our connection to nature, and provide us with the oxygen we breathe.


I'd have ranked the top 5 installations like this:
1st: A Series of Handmade Japanese Paper Cut Sculptures
2nd: Grand River Fish Petroglyph
3rd: Intersections
4th: Despite Similarities to Reality, This is a Work of Fiction
5th: Breathe

Whew, I feel like my fingers are about to fall off now. So much clicking and typing! But before I go, here is a little slideshow of my favorite ArtPrize entries from this year. They will all be getting titles, but I've run out of time to do it today. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Is Our Flute Magic?

It was my turn to use Poseidon's flute on Sunday afternoon, which summoned to us our 40th fluted horse. One look at the wild horse that appeared, and I was pretty sure it was a Don. We've found quite a few of them in this particular color, golden chestnut, since it's the most common color for the breed. Sure enough, down below it informed me that, "Thanks to Poseidon, your horse call caught a Don's attention." Xenon wasn't about to let her escape, as you can see.


A few seconds later, and we were the proud capturers of the first 6/6 horse our flute has ever lured for us. Another mare, naturally.

This mare is doubly special because, as you may recall from that earlier post about Windy, a very memorable dream horse of Mom's was a golden chestnut Don. It's a bit eerie, really, that a golden chestnut Don would be the first fine horse our flute gave us. Eerie but appropriate. =)



Our Don isn't an exact replica of mom's "Wendy," but she does have striking similarities: 3 white feet, a metallic coat, and a wispy mane. 


Our first ride
I considered selling Windy (my black Don mare) and instituting the new Don in her place with her name, but that seemed rather harsh. Poor Windy can't help her coat color, and her stats and personality trump this new mare's. So, both mares will stay, and Lily has claimed the new mare. (Interesting side note: like our two Warlander mares Yetta and Hazel, these Dons are an exact match in height and weight.)

Since "Wendy" doesn't make it through HI2's filter and "Windy" is taken, Lily's a bit stumped on what to name her. I suggested "Eerie." Julie suggested "Wispy." Bethany suggested "Anya." None of these struck Lily immediately, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see what she decides.

These two skittish mares are already becoming fast friends. <3