Artist: Roxanna E. Bauer

"Rebel Raptors" & prey




A Bird's Eye View (May 2016) - Part 1

She named me Victorious. Pretty bold and presumptuous of her but I felt I had to live up to the name and earn the same acknowledgments and ribbons as Freyja, Stribog and Heathcliff. I knew it would be a bit tough even when first my eyes were set... I was a rugged piece of wood, with a knot on my left cheek and resistant grain on my head. Not to mention that I had been cut in two and reattached at the "hip". Even with all these factors and more, She and He still named me Victorious. When I was first "awakened", I did feel pretty handsome, a little bit aggressive, apparently just having caught a slug for lunch... A nice juicy one that I want to eat all for myself, so I also felt alert. And she felt pretty sure of me too. Off I went to Montreal's Salon Chasse et Peche to compete against the experts' creations in the birds of prey category.

__"Oh, another male kestrel, hmm... he doesn't look right though, something in his face. But these owls, I feel they're going to give me trouble. Two great-looking barn owls... But what are they looking at? And that short-eared owl. Wow. Very piercing, although he looks almost cartoon-like... It all depends on the judge's subjectivity I guess, but I feel quite confident that I should be leaving here with at least a yellow Third place ribbon. After all, Freyja & Stribog competed in Intermediate and Heathcliff in miniature songbirds, albeit Expert, my standards can't be too high...

"Well now that you mention it, my primaries do feel a little "stretched the wrong way", I know it's possible, what are you talking about? I can move like this, but... I guess I wouldn't really maintain this position for long... FINE. My knee?!... Where's my knee?! Well, I guess it's somewhere up in my feathers, no? ... I have no knee?! ... And what about my long toe!!!? I'm just made that way! Hey... Judge! You got a long nose!!!"

Nothin'. As I suspected, the owls came out on top and even the weird-face kestrel got 3rd instead of me. Those judges could be so anal about my misconceived anomalies but not this guy's face. Whatever, well done Mr. Kestrel. I bet you don't have a bright kid's nose-oil rubbed on YOUR beak though! So there! I guess She didn't take it that hard, She seemed determined to do something about it, but not right away. It seemed like They still admired me... but now, every time She looked at me, Her eyes drifted to my "misplaced" primaries. I heard Her tell it so many times, how Her reference pictures had them '├ęcarter' but She didn't realize that the following feather groups up would have to be the same angle for a "comfortable" sitting position. So I stayed that way for about two months while She thought over how to adjust the imperfections. Some of Their party-nights, They spoke about me, the first of the conceived 'REBel Raptors. Freyja, Stribog, Sierra and Valentino would be adopted into the title of course. And I felt the love and confidence They had in me and in Her.

When She finally took me into the shop, She was ambitious and concentrated. She even fixed up my nostrils and mouth-line, things that no one had mentioned to Her as being imperfect. She gave me a knee, and more feathers for it to sink into. And She attacked the primaries. She re-did the painting, She seemed to be having trouble with Her airbrush but got it working well enough and She pulled my feathers in everywhere too. She spent a lot of time with me that week. And soon I was to be entered in the next competition in Ottawa, May 16th.

A Bird's Eye View - Part 2

I'm not perfect. But I am Victorious. I am the first that She made from a block of wood, brought to a band-saw. She used the Master's instructional video to carve but ambitiously changed some content; opening the tail; shifting the balance in the feet; and turning the head, created factors She hadn't dealt with before. Floyd Scholz, Louis St-Cyr and other pioneers of the animation evolution would have easily known what to do, or would they? It would take a lot of reflection and movement-analysis to figure it all out, I imagine. (Floyd would even try to place Himself in the position he would want his bird to decipher balancing techniques.) She dove into the endeavor, difficulties weighing, but imagination and creation superceding.

So again, we enter a competition, this one; "Poetry on wood" hosted by the Outaouais Carvers. These levels don't include expert and then Master's. Above Intermediate, it's the Open level. So here we were, She was competing against her teacher, Bob Comeau's Goshawk, as well as Fuentes'. Yvan Dufour was there too, "One of these had to be his..."

"What's the piece called?", the woman at the registration table asks.

"It's an American Kestrel", She says, "... Oh, the name of the 'piece'? "Victorious." She said it so boldly and assuredly, I felt I had to win something. At the table, there was Gerry's Goshawk, dead prey rigid beside him. A lot of gossip goes around in the carving world, I've noticed, and I hear it from all sides: each individual carver, their justifications, their criticisms; the Judges, founded on their own individual education and subjectivity.

So here, we learn that Gerry's Goshawk didn't win anything in Ocean City and everyone suggested he take off the prey, it was "mal-placer".

Again I'm placed next to another male kestrel, who seemed altogether misproportioned in the feet and quite rough altogether. Here comes Bob's Goshawk. Great work. But for some reason, She was not at all intimidated by it, maybe because She's been around his pieces and his style so often, that She overlooks his intricacies.

And again, ... Owls. I saw it in Her face, these owls would set us back. She analyzed each competitor's positions, eyes, balance and She concluded, again, that we should be leaving with at least an honourable mention, if not a yellow. ... I guess it can be hard for the judges. When it comes down to it, each piece I'm competing against has an immeasurable amount of time, dedication and love poured into it, so in putting one on top of the other, they have to become hard-asses, focusing on the tiny details and trusting their own opinions for lack of a better way to weigh us against one another. When They came back, I saw Her from afar, excitement, nervousness, masked in a cool calm glow. He followed Her with the same twinkling in his eyes. He is as sure of Her as She is of Herself. He believes in Her and they believe in me. And I saw Their hearts and hopes drop when They finally reached my table and I sat there, naked. Her eyes searched around me for a ribbon, but it was not awarded.

She composed Herself and acknowledged the winning birds of prey. Another short-eared Owl took 1st place. Patrick Chaumard was the name on it. Bob's Goshawk got 2nd, and the little Owl, Yvan Dufour's, got 3rd. Gerry's Goshawk got the mention... Not to mention that he made that one with Floyd. I felt I had failed, even though, it was never up to me. Her disappointment, at that moment, in Herself more so than in me as Her creation, was heavy. But even so, when She looked at me, it was still admirably, proud, but now questionning.

On the other side of the table, I saw him approach Her specifically, him and another lady who commended Her on Her "piece". She was attentive as he acknowledged and described the movement, animation aspect as a very challenging accomplishment. She humbled Herself, thanked him very much for the recognition, and when he turned away, she asked the woman his name, "Patrick Chaumard." Patrick Chaumard, reputed competitior, had said that She had succeeded in conveying "Life" among other carvings in static positions, even his very own 1st prize-winning Short-eared Owl.

With that comment, I felt the glow and determination restore within Her and I felt, finally, that I had lived up to my name.   _Victorious.

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