Critter of the Month: Camptosaurus

Meet Copper & Daisy. These gentle giants are always happy to meet new friends.  They love being part of the group.

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Daisy opened her beak and let her tongue hang lose in a gaping yawn that stretched all the way down her spine. She shook her head, and her scaly skin rippled as she shook the yawn down to the tip of her long, rigid tail.

Satisfied with her shake down, she lowered her head and nosed the conifer needles and knotted roots along the ground. She shuffled the foliage to one side with her hands- scraping at the dirt with the claw that was her thumb, grasping twigs with two strong middle fingers, brushing needles and dried ferns into a pile with the stubby and clawless end digits…She patted the patch of ground one last time, and eased her body down front end first, like a cow. She sighed and, after taking one last look to make sure her herd-mates were shuffling nearby, closed her eyes, neck arched comfortably over her shoulders.

A deep, short, croaking noise by her head made Daisy open her yellow eyes, and she stared at the disturbance.

He was standing over her, his deep red throat bloated and vibrating with each croak. In his beaked lips he held a conifer branch, the tender kind with soft, scaly needles all along the branch, and he brushed this down Daisy’s neck and flank. Daisy just closed her eyes. She didn’t want anything to do with this nonsense, but Copper softened his croak to a coo, dropped the branch at her feet, and tapped his beaked nose against her dappled green side.

Daisy tossed her head and grunted a quiet warning, and Copper backed away with his head low. He looked sideways at her, silent, and Daisy arched her neck and closed her eyes. She heard shuffling, heavy steps, and she allowed her mind to wander as she relaxed into her patch of dirt and ferns. The sun felt warm and soothing on her green, pebbly scales, and she breathed in the tang of sap and spice of crushed cycad fruit.

Shuffling steps moved closer. Thud, thud, thud…and the rustling of dried needles and ferns. A warm weight settled beside her, dry and pebbly as she, and she opened one eye. Copper lay next to her, his back against her brown belly, and his three-toed feet stretched out like a giant bird laying on its side. If he noticed she was looking at him he didn’t show it, because he kept his eyes closed and yellow neck arched like he was sleeping.

Daisy draped her head across Copper’s shoulders and shifted her weight against him, closing her eyes as his rhythmic breathing mingled with the ever-present shuffling of feet in the undergrowth.

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In case you’re wondering what Copper’s “love song” sounds like… 😀

 

 

Making progress…

I’ve been delightfully busy this month!

Baby Girl is sitting up, taste-testing food, and crawling down the hallways now, so she’s a little bundle of excitement around here. A solid night’s sleep is still pretty rare, but nap times are a little more predictable, and even if she’s awake she is easily entertained. So some days she “helps” me with my artwork. 😀

Here are a few things she’s been offering her raspberry critique on…

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So now that this “quick” project is done and in my redbubble shop, here are a few things I’ve learned…

  • Never underestimate a particular art form because it looks “simple”.
  • “Fast and easy” art, like patterns or simple designs for t-shirts, are much more complex than you’d think. Nothing is “fast and easy” if it’s the first time you’ve ever done it.
  • Time taken for a “fast and easy” side project is mostly procrastination and time taken away from the larger project. However…
  • “small” projects can provide some mental space and rest from a much larger project

 

Working on Dippy’s updated image also taught me a few things. Especially…

  • Don’t procrastinate, just start!
  • Sometimes we struggle on something we thought should be simple, and that’s ok. Sometimes we just need to see it from a different angle.
  • Don’t waste time making a reference model perfect, or even 80% accurate. Good enough is good enough. 🙂

Now that I’ve finished this little ammonite pattern and a few critter updates, I am ready to jump back into the picture book again with fresh energy. 😀 Dippy’s reference model taught me that a reference model doesn’t need to look good to do what you need it to, so I will apply that lesson to finishing Steggy’s habitat. 😀

Hopefully I can make some real progress there over the next month! In the meantime, I hope you like Copper and Daisy’s quiet little adventure. 🙂

 

Coming Sept 1st…

This little dino is a bit shy, but she’ll come out of the bushes for a sweet hug and a small treat. 🙂

Share your guess in the comments! She’s one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

Critter of the Month: Camarasaurus

Meet Bella. She’s big, she’s loud, and she’s really happy to see you! She’s happy to see anyone really, except Alfred, but can you blame her? There’s about a-bazillion years of conflict going on there…

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There she is! She is the most accommodating of Pete’s very large camarasaurus herd- voted least likely to accidentally trample the equipment. They can be an excitable bunch, and don’t always pay attention to what they’re bumping into. Continue reading

Critter of the Month: Ceratosaurus

Meet Bowser. Those horns may look intimidating, and his toothy grin can be downright fearsome.  But you know what they say about books and their covers… 😉

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Crouched in the dappled shade of a gnarled cedar tree, Bowser inhaled a long, slow breath.

The bitter tang of oily sap that bubbled from a gash in the tree’s trunk.

The dusty heat from sun-baked rocks and chalky, clay-hardened soil.

The earthy spice of charcoal and wood smoke…and a sweetness so tantalizing he could almost taste it as the scent filled his sinuses. Continue reading

Critter of the Month: Rhamphorynchus

Meet Ron. He’s the flying ace.  He’ll swoop from the sky, dive into the water, and swim anywhere for a shiny fish. 🙂

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Gravel crunched under rubber as Pete pulled in to a stop a short way from the lake. With a turn of his wrist he shut off the ignition and tossed the keys on the console between the two front seats. He grabbed his hat and shoved it on his head as he shrugged open the door, and his heavy boots crunched on the gravel road.

It was a clear afternoon with a sky so deep a blue it looked almost painted, and Pete whistled a little tune as he shut the door, opened the passenger door, and reached into the back seat.

“You awake yet?” he asked, straining a little as he dragged out a large pet carrier. It lurched to the side with a squeal and a jingle, and Pete held it steady to keep it from ramming into the front seat.

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Critter of the Month: Plesiosaurus

Meet Nessie.  This curious undersea critter is always looking for an opportunity to nab a treat.  You’ll never see her coming!  Her favorite game is hide-&-seek. 🙂

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Alluminum and plastic hinges creaked as Pete shifted in the canvas lounge chair, his long, sinuous legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. His skin was warm in the sun, and the late morning rays looked red under his closed eyelids. A cool, salty breeze whispered through the swaying rustle of palm leaves. He sighed, his handlebar mustache curled in a smile under the broad-brimmed straw hat that shielded his face from the sun’s strongest rays.

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Critter of the Week: Pliosaurus

Meet Tigger. This big guy is always ready to flash a big, toothy smile, especially at mealtime.

 

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Ripples on the water. Pete sat in a canoe, the warm, plastic seat pressing into his thigh the paddle’s handle smooth in his hands. He shifted his feet around the cooler in the bottom of the canoe, and leaned forward slightly to push the water back with the flat paddle. The sides of the boat rolled from side to side a little, and drops of water fell in his lap when he raised the paddle to slice through the water on the other side. Funny how solid and syrupy water feels, when it’s pushing back.

 

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Critter of the Week: Stegosaurus

Meet Steggy.  She might not have very much of a brain, but she makes up for that with the softness of her heart.  There’s not a whole lot that’ll surprise her (thanks to Pete’s training), and she’ll let just about anybody clamber on her back. 🙂

 

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I say “just about” anybody, because there was that one time some kids wanted her to be their fortress in a water balloon battle.   Continue reading

A Stegosaurus Morning

Steggy lifted her head and listened. Familiar voices. Voices that meant food. She gurgled a low rumble deep in her scaly, armored throat, and watched the blurry distance she knew was the barn door.

The muffled voices came closer, and she grunted. A low, gumphing sound that made the rounded scales on her thick neck blow in and out like a bellows. The voices answered back, friendly, and then came the scraping of the barn door sliding on its track.

Cold, bitter wind blew in through the door, and Steggy snorted in protest. But the cold didn’t go away. With grunts of effort, the voices pushed at the barn door, and it squeaked as it slid open wider. A gust of wind hit Steggy in the face like tiny needles, and she shook her head to get the sting out of her eyes. The triangular plates of bone and horn that ran along the back of her neck rattled.

“It’s cold, isn’t it big girl?” One of the voices, soft and soothing. But he wasn’t close enough yet. She could smell the bag of feed and hear the high squeak of a wheelbarrow, but she could only see a fuzzy tan and blue blob where he stood. She heard the barn door slide closed, and she gurgled as the bitter wind was cut off. The second set of footsteps shuffled off to one side, and she heard the scraping of the muck rake on the soiled floor.

With surprising speed for an animal her size, Steggy rose up first on her shorter front legs, then on her much longer back legs. Her small head held low to be level with the smell of feed, she ambled forward on feet surprisingly small for her large size. The large, horn plates along her back leaned gently from side to side as she moved.

“It’s your turn today Steggy,” the first voice said, and Steggy skipped a little step at the sound of it- raising her body up on her hind legs and tossing her head. She could see him now. A thin man with silver, parted hair and handlebar mustache, his eyes crinkled in a smile.

“I know it’s a bit cold outside,” the man was saying. “But they’re waiting for you. Some food will warm you up.” He kept the wheelbarrow between himself and the large dinosaur as he wheeled it to a large trough by the wall. Steggy didn’t wait. She stuck her small head in the feed pile and munched while the man took a pitchfork and started filling the trough.

Before long, the trough held more feed than the wheelbarrow, so that looked a lot more appetizing. Steggy’s spiked tail slowly waved back and forth as she ate. She nipped at the long, dried stalks with her beak, shook her head to separate a mouthful, and then pushed it to the back of her long, narrow mouth with her tongue to grind down with her flat back teeth. She didn’t bother chewing very much unless she came across something woody.

While she ate, the silver-haired man brushed her thick, scaly hide with a round, bristled brush. Steggy closed her eyes.

This was what she loved most. The smell and taste of food, the soft scraping and shf, shf, of the muck rake, the soft bristles of the round brush against her thick scales…Just another familiar day in the life of a stegosaurus.

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It’s crazy cold out here! Steggy takes a little while to eat, so I’m afraid this week’s COTW is going to be a little late.

I’m working on a special update this time, and with all the holiday time with family and extra baby appointments, I haven’t been able to make as much progress as I would like. I have a good start on it though, and today I have more time than usual to get things done, so I should be able to put up Steggy’s COTW post tomorrow.

Should.

So keep your fingers crossed! I’ll do everything I can to help Pete get Steggy out of the barn. Even with a nice warm bellyful of fermenting food, she’s not going to like stepping out into the cold!