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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Linda Blondheim Art Studio Newsletter May28,2009

8x10 inches
oil on panel

Linda Blondheim Art Studio
Landscapes of the South
Studio: 386.462.5726

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Florida's Prairies

People don't realize that Florida is full of prairies. They are all over Florida, especially in the interior. Lots of people know about Paynes Prairie. All of us who live in Alachua County are proud of our vast prairie with its interesting history. I have painted hundreds of paintings there over the years and I hope to for many more years to come. I like to paint there in the winter a lot, when the bugs are away. I always see deer and other small indigenous animals. I have been lucky to see both the wild ponies and the bison who live on the prairie, not to mention the hundreds of alligators, and water snakes I see each year.

There is a favorite spot for me inside the Paynes Prairie State Park where I love to paint time and again. Many of the paintings I do are from that location. It is on the way into the park after you go through the ranger hut. There is a large field of palms and old oaks there and it is just beautiful with the tall grasses. You will often see me there on the side of the road in fall and winter.

I had a great experience once on the bridge over the lake in the park. I was painting by myself up on the bridge. I heard someone coming up the walk and thought to myself, I will just finish this stroke of paint before I stop to say hello. I heard them stop and wait. I turned around to greet them and realized I was staring a full grown deer in the face. We both jumped and she was off into the woods in a flash. It was sooo cool!!

Then there was the morning when I arrived at the Observation Tower to be greeted by a mammoth bison just a few feet away. That was a thrill for me, never having seen one so close. I never realized how large they are.

I have painted at the prairie and in the park for many years and the best time is around 4PM to dark, especially in the winter months. The color is indescribable there.

There are lots of activities out at the prairie and our wonderful Florida naturalist Lars Andersen does guided tours as well as the rangers from the park. There are also campfires in the winter.

At one time there was a wonderful music program on NPR called Across the Prairie. it may still be on. It was on Sunday, I remember that.

There are other prairies in this area as well though far less famous and more remote. A few of my favorites are Tuscawilla, Prairie, Barr Hammock, Kanapaha Prairie, and several small ones on private lands. Florida prairies are unique and beautiful and I like to paint them as often as I possibly can. If you haven't been out to Paynes Prairie, the vast Kissimmee Prairie or the ones in South Florida, you will be amazed at how beautiful and fascinating they can be. They are truly one of the great resources in Florida and should be respected and loved by all.

From :

Prairies in Florida?

Hear "prairies" and we
immediately think of the vast,
grassy, treeless plains stretching
from the forested East to the Rocky Mountains.
You may be surprised to learn that 300,000 acres
of Florida's interior was once prairie. Imagine a
vast plain covered with grasses, wildflowers, and
saw palmetto, with a scattering of cabbage palms.
An old Florida "cracker" described the land as "so flat
you could see a horse galloping across the prairie a mile
Florida dry prairie is
unique. There's no other
place on earth that has
the same combination of
plants and animals.
Caracaras soar overhead
while grasshopper
sparrows and indigo
snakes hide in bluestem
and wiregrass. Botanists
are astounded to find over 40 plant species per square
meter in healthy Florida prairie. To appreciate this special
ecosystem, look into it, not just at it.
Before human intervention, the prairie thrived as
lightning fires and seasonal flooding controlled the ever
invading woody plants and trees. As the old

Where, Oh Where Have the Prairies
Early Florida travelers didn't find much use for
this "wasteland." In the 1840s a surveyor wrote
that the land was so worthless it was a waste
of taxpayers' money for him to bother
surveying it. With few trees to clear, cattlemen
and farmers soon discovered ways to increase
a prairie's commercial value:
Ditches were dug to control annual summer
Ranchers planted non-native grasses, as they could
graze ten times the amount of cattle on the same
Pine trees, citrus groves and vegetable crops
replaced wiregrass and palmetto.
As natural fires were extinguished, trees and
shrubs grew to replace grasses and herbs.
As we continue to "plow under and pave over" to
accommodate our increasing population, prairie land is
lost forever.
Florida cracker would say, "Anyone that
has lived out here around the prairie knows
it's the fire that gives life to the prairie.
Without it, there's not much hope for the

Why Bother to Save the Prairies?
A prairie is truly living earth-storing fresh water,
capturing the sun's energy and converting carbon dioxide
to oxygen. Grasses are twice as effective as trees in
performing these vital functions. An underground jungle
of mites, earthworms and nematodes break down wastes,
recycle nutrients and build soil fertility.
If we lose the prairie, we not only lose the plant and
animal life it supports, but we lose its natural functions.
The Florida prairie is home to caracaras, burrowing owls,
sandhill cranes, and many animals that depend on prairie
for their existence. The tiny, endangered Florida
grasshopper sparrow exists nowhere else on earth.
The most important reasons for preserving prairies
have no price tags. by Lars Andersen

Life with Dogs

Henry (AKA Studio Dog) is my best friend. We are joined at the hip. If I get up to go to the coffee machine he will instantly wake from a sound sleep to follow me and throw himself back down on the floor, back to sleep instantly. My relationship with Henry has taken a long time to develop. He is now 14 months old. I bought him at 10 weeks old. It had been a very long time since I had a puppy. My old dog Anchor died a few weeks before I got Henry. He was a splendid old Schnauzer I had rescued many moons ago. Anchor came to me as a complete, older dog. He was fully crate trained and house trained and had no desire to chew on furniture, shoes or anything other than his meals each day. He was a good soul and slept most of the time, kicking up his heels for about 15 minutes a day. I swore I would not get another dog after Anchor died. It was too painful. That lasted about 3 weeks. I was so very lonely without him. I have had a dog for most of my life and it didn't seem right without one.

Henry arrived and the world turned upside down. He was a very creative and high maintenance puppy. I have endless stories about his adventures for the first few months, including the time he ate part of a bag of fertilizer, chewed up a battery, which ate half of his tongue hide off, and numerous other disasters. He is still high maintenance but getting better. For some reason Frenchies are slow to learn the normal things other dogs learn quickly. They are very smart, but quite stubborn. He is just now becoming reliable about potty training, and will still eat anything he can get to. He is becoming a good dog, little by little. His saving grace is that he is so darned cute and fun that you have to laugh at the antics he pulls. He makes me laugh all day long.

I have learned some tricks along the way too. I keep a spray bottle of water around to spray in his face if he barks too much or jumps up on furniture he is not supposed to be on. I use hot sauce on the edge of the trash can, the furniture I want to protect. Shaking hot sauce onto anything you don't want him to eat works really great. One sniff of it and he is no longer interested. I keep his leash on a lot of the time to keep him with me. If he disappears for long, I know he is into something he shouldn't be. I have found using a clicker to be excellent as a training tool. Always click to reward good behavior and teach your dog hand signals. It works!!!

I have learned some things about good nutrition too for dogs. A lot of the commercial brands of dog foods you find in grocery stores and pet stores are not good for them. This was the biggest shock for me. Some of the major brands are full of cereal and little protein. Dogs need a good diet because they are physically active, or should be. Many dogs are over fed by kind hearted owners but the owners don't realize they are slowly killing their dogs. Henry walks on my treadmill for 20 minutes each day. I gradually increase the speed until he is trotting midway into the time and then gradually decrease the speed so that he cools down at the end walking slowly. Henry eats "Blue" brand dog food. I get it at Pet Smart, though it is probably available at other pet shops too. It aint cheap, but it is excellent in quality. It has human grade protein and the antioxidant additives to help prevent cancer. That brand also has dog cookies.

I also buy beef marrow bones at the grocery store for him to use as chew toys. He loves them and will work on them for weeks and weeks. These keep his teeth nice and clean. When the marrow is gone, I fill them with carrots, rice, or peanut butter as a snack; much cheaper than any chew sticks at the pet store. If you fill the bones with rice and freeze them, the dog will love licking and working on them for quite a while. He also loves the disgusting pig ears. I don't give him raw hide. I read that it was not good for their digestion and Henry swallows it.

Henry has several condos,(Crates). His sleeping crate is nice and roomy with a thick pad for a bed. I use a sheepskin pad on top, so that the bed stays clean and I can throw the sheepskin pad in the washer. He always sleeps in his crate, where he is safe and cannot harm himself or anything else. I am a big believer in using crates for dogs. If I am away from the house, he stays in the crate.

I am going to get him a nice crate house for the yard. It's really nifty. It is a 10x10 ft Iron house with a tarp top for shade and a swinging door. It will be very nice for him to stay in if I am gone for a few hours. He will be protected from other animals and have shade. I can lock the door so no one can take him. I expect he will love it. He likes to be outside for part of the day.

The other condo is the back of my car. It has a hatch back and a small comfy space behind the back seat. I got him a nice thick rug, a spill proof water bowl and some toys, so he is all set to be car dog. I don't take him with me much in the summer unless it is raining, because the car is too hot for me to leave him in, but the rest of the year, he goes almost everywhere with me. Dogs love to ride in cars and fortunately, he does not get car sick. He will go all day long, anywhere I want to go.

Henry has adapted quite well to my plein air painting habit. We go all around the county to paint together. His favorite location is Fair Oaks Farm in Evinston. We ride around the farm in a golf cart and he pretends to be on safari. While I paint, he snoozes in the cart or eats sticks. He also loves to run beside the cart. The boys on the farm like to play with him so he feels a sense of entitlement to be there until the head farm dog bares her teeth and puts him in his place. She is not ready to share just yet.

Everyone has an opinion on the best pet, but I am a long time dog person and that won't change. Dogs actually think we are smart and wonderful. I'm not going to argue with them ;>)

Upcoming Events
I'm happy to share that the Evinston Paint out will be back in April of 2010. The tentative dates are April 2-10. Everyone missed that paint ot so much this year. The proceeds will be shared with the Land Trust, The Wood Swink PO, and a new art school for children at Windmill Gallery in McIntosh, all very worthy projects. Save the dates on your calendar.

Linda's Annual Hot Dog Picnic will be at Melrose Bay Gallery this summer on Saturday July 11th, also serving as the opening for my exhibition
North Florida Muse at the gallery. Please plan to come, enjoy a hot dog and lemonade and see my paintings. I'll be there all day so stop in on your way to the lakes.

I'll also have an exhibition at Vam York Theatre in July for their production of Chicago.

How About a Recipe?
Oven Fried Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts or 6 of either
1 ziplock bag filled with 2 cups flour and 2 T each, salt,pepper,thyme,paprika,dried onion flakes
one sheet pan sprayed with Pam thoroughly,dusted with flour and sprayed again.

Oven preheated to 400 degrees.

Place chicken in seasoned flour bag and roll around until coated. Shake of extra and place on sheet pan. Spray tops of chicken with a coating of Pam. Bake until crispy and brown. Yummy and low fat.

Cook's Tip:

Cooks like me who frequently have visitors learn to keep certain products in the fridge and pantry all the time. it is simple to put together a tray of snacks in a hurry. Here are some of the items I always have:

Pickled veges in jars
soft tortillas
cold pack spreadible cheddar cheese
block cheese
canned chicken
canned pineapple tidbits
sour cream
country Dijon Mustard
hard salami
taco seasoning mix
Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix
Cream Cheese
Good Crackers
Kettle Chips
fresh fruit
canned pinto or black beans

With the above I can make some pretty fancy stuff in a hurry.

Linda's Easy Layaway Plan

I don't know what happened to layaway. I've always liked the idea. Back in the day, that's how everyone bought stuff. I guess the credit card and instant gratification have replaced layaway for most businesses, but not for mine. I offer layaway to all of my patrons as an option and it's a good one. I charge no additional fees or interest for my layaway program. Unlike charging to your credit card and paying huge interest fees, you can pay me 25% down and take 12-18 months to pay off a painting if you like with no interest at all and no storage fees. You choose the options whether monthly or quarterly payments. I will hold the painting for you and deliver it after the final payment.

Not sure which painting you want? You can also pre-order and pay for a painting in advance or in payments, waiting for the right painting that speaks to you. When you see it, it's already paid for. It's the easy way to own a fine painting with no hassle or extra expense.
To arrange a layaway plan for your favorite painting email me at Type Lawaway in the subject line.

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