November 30, 2005

Hoot Owl

The Hoot Owl is currently on display at the "Natural History of the Undescribed Birds" show at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia. Thirteen birds from the show have been selected for a monthly wall calendar featured at the Scratch House Cafe Press shop, with the Hoot Owl gracing the back-to-school month of August. Other birds featured in the calendar include the Tifted Tuttlebird (the thirteenth bird, on the cover), the Thanksgiving Turkey (in November), and several others (some that have been pictured on this site, and some that have not).

The Scratch House Cafe Press shop also has the Hoot Owl on several T-shirts (kids & adults), fridge magnets, and a cool wall clock.

November 28, 2005

Scratch House Stuff

Just in time to ease the burden of your holiday shopping, the Scratch House has established a shop at Cafe Press, featuring T-shirts, calendars, cards, stickers, buttons, mugs, magnets, bags, hats, pillows, postage, posters, clocks, and more. Original artwork of birds, hearts, and landscapes by Joe Kelley adorn numerous attractive, unique items that your loved ones are sure to cherish for years to come.

The cute "Winking Heart" above can be found on a button, a T-shirt, and a journal cover.

Cafe Press is offering free shipping on holiday orders over $50 through December 6th, so be sure to get your shopping done early! While you're there, check out Suzy Nees' Cafe shop too. Support local art this holiday seaon!

November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2005

The Natural History of the Undescribed Birds

Joe Kelley's bird blocks will be on display at the Walker Fine Arts Center at the Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia from November 21st through December 16th. The "Natural History of the Undescribed Birds" show consists of hundreds of unique imaginary bird portraits on wood blocks ranging in size from 2 to 8 inches square.

There will be a gallery talk with Joe on December 1st from 3 to 5pm ~ all are welcome to attend.

Directions to the Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville
Campus Map

Note: The college will be closed November 24th and 25th for Thanksgiving holiday.

November 16, 2005

More BirdBlocks

November 14, 2005


November 10, 2005

Snake Chase

A True Story, by Mary P.

In the summer of 2003 I had some time off of work and decided to take a trip across the country in my truck, camping out, visiting the National Parks, exploring backroads and generally following my whims until I was called back home. On the third day of my trip I was driving through Kansas and decided to stop for the night at Wilson Lake, a beautiful little spot in the middle of nowhere. I was lucky enough to find a campsite right on the edge of the lake, perfectly secluded and all to myself. After a long day on the road I was eager to get settled for the night and get in some good fiddling before going to bed. I climbed down onto the rocks near the water, pulled out my fiddle and bow and started playing as the sun sank down near the horizon. As usual, I had my eyes closed to concentrate on my music and was fairly oblivious to the world around me. I believe I was playing Train on the Island, in a low mellow cross-G tuning, when I suddenly heard a loud hiss and opened my eyes to see a GREAT BIG SNAKE SLITHERING BY RIGHT OVER THE TIPS OF MY SHOES. I don’t remember jumping, but I somehow managed to launch myself into the air and landed about five feet away, clutching my fiddle and looking back on the rock that was my chair. The snake had climbed up onto that rock and had reared back so that all I could see was a big wide open maw aimed right at me. I decided not to stick around and ran up the rocks to the safety of my vehicle. I have no idea what kind of snake it was, though it was the longest and fattest snake I’d ever seen outside of a zoo. A little too close and personal for my taste, and he didn’t seem too keen on my fiddling either.

Snake Culture

Snakes have made their mark in many different cultures throughout history.

Christians associate snakes with man's fall from grace, claiming that the serpent tempted Eve to disobey God's order to forgo the forbidden fruit and caused her and Adam to be banished from the Garden of Eden. Irish Catholics honor St. Patrick for ridding Ireland of troublesome snakes. In Appalachia, some Christians handle poisonous snakes to test their faith in God's ability to protect them.

Not all cultures associate snakes with evil. The Aztecs of Central America worshipped the snake Quetzalcoatl as the "Master of Life." Some African cultures revere rock pythons as sacred, while aborigines in Australia attribute the creation of life to a giant rainbow serpent. In China, the snake is considered lucky and a sign of good fortune. Catawba Indians in the U.S. used the blacksnake as a symbol to denote powerful warriors. Nagas in India are believed to be powerful half-snake half-human beings. A Greek myth claims that medicine was discovered by observing one snake use herbs to bring another back to life; this myth is likely the source of the 'caduceus,' the symbol of two snakes wrapped around a staff, which is used in modern medicine.

November 09, 2005

Snake Myths

There are many interesting myths about snakes and their behavior. Snakes are not able to charm or hypnotize their prey, though some animals may become paralyzed with fear and unable to move in their presence. They do not suckle milk from cows or goats, swallow their young in times of danger to regurgitate them later, or emit poisonous breath. There is also no such thing as a hoop snake that is able to bite its tail and roll down hills.

November 08, 2005

Snake Bite

Each year around 5,000 people are bitten by poisonous snakes, yet only ~100 bites result in fatalities. This is less than the number of people who are struck by lightning or die from food poisoning.

If you aren't sure of your snake identification, there are some general differences between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes to look for. Poisonous snakes have a triangular head (non-poisonous snakes have rounded heads), no neck, a thicker tail and body, a pit or heat gland between the eyes, vertical eye pupils (non-poisonous snakes have a rounded eye pupil), poison glands, and hinged fangs. However, if any snake is close enough for the fangs to be easily visible, we suggest that you just run.

November 07, 2005

Virginia Snakes

Virginia Timber Rattler

There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world. The U.S. is home to 224 different snakes. Virginia has 30 species and 38 subspecies of snakes. Three of these snakes are poisonous: copperheads and cottonmouths (Agkistrodon species, sometimes called moccasins), and rattlesnakes (Crotalus species).

Illustration from "Facts, Fancies, and Folklore about Snakes" by Hubert J. Davis, illustrated by Joseph E. Kelley. Pocahontas Press, Inc., Blacksburg, VA. 1995. ISBN 0-936015-59-4.

November 05, 2005

Green Googly