In a true tale of how the right kind of trash can become a treasure, Betty Younger has turned several abandoned pieces of metal into a 5-by-5-foot sculpture of a great horned owl.
And she's given it to CALM, where it will be dedicated on Tuesday.
"I bought these three huge pieces of pipe in a junkyard," she explained. "One (became) the Jesus sculpture I did on commission for the Rescue Mission; the other two were for the owl."
From the moment she first looked at the other two pipes, what she saw in her mind's eye was the image of an owl's head.
"Two of these pipes were hinged together and they almost looked like the eyes of an owl -- you know, as you move it (seems) as if the owl's eyes are moving," Younger said. "That's what I saw, anyway."
After learning that CALM is the home of 24 great horned owls, she decided that's where the finished piece belonged.
The zoo, in its role as a wildlife rehabilitation center, received the baby birds, called owlets, about two years ago after they were knocked out of their nests by high winds.
"I wanted to do (the sculpture) to honor CALM and the children of Kern County," Younger said.
Now, after months of welding and painting in her home studio, the artist has completed the piece. And it's quite impressive, especially its penetrating eyes -- black orbs that stand out even more, circled as they are by bright yellow rings and divided by a prominent hooked nose.
While not an exact replica of an owl's head, it is much more representational than other public art sculptures Younger has done, such as the modernistic spherical shapes that can be seen in downtown Bakersfield outside the Bank of America building.
At CALM, the sculpted bird towers over a part of the zoo that until now has been occupied only by a metal dinosaur and a ramp leading to the starting point of the zoo's small train, said Steve Sanders, chief of staff at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
"We put it (the owl) in the children's railroad area so they can see it as they go by, riding the train," Sanders said. "The area is kind of barren right now but the (plan) calls for developing it over time, and we'll have more animal exhibits there."
One of the new exhibits, he said, will be a breeding herd of bighorn sheep, which are expected to arrive during the summer months.
Younger and her husband, attorney Milt Younger, paid for the transportation and installation of the 1,200-pound sculpture. Now standing on a concrete base studded with rounded stones, it rises about eight feet above the ground.
Meanwhile, a "Name the Owl" contest will be held in conjunction with the dedication and CALM's Spring Fling week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday through April 7.
"We'll ask the kids to suggest a name and write it on a piece of paper," Sanders said. "And then we'll let Betty choose the winner."
Bluegrass band in Tehachapi
Fiddlers Crossing in Tehachapi will feature singer and recording artist Susie Glaze and the HiLonesome Band on Saturday evening.
"A native Tennessean, Susie grew up in the shadow of the Grand Ole Opry, learning the craft of country and bluegrass by regular immersion in the music of Flatt & Scruggs, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and others," said Debby Hand, owner of the coffee house.
Glaze also appeared on Broadway in the original production of the musical "Big River." She later moved to Southern California and joined the Eight Hand String Band, a bluegrass group.
In 1999, Hand said, the singer was the winner of the Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival for Traditional Singing held annually in Agoura Hills.
In 2003, she and her husband, mandolin player Steve Rankin, formed the HiLonesome Band. The group also features songwriter Rob Carlson on guitar and dobro, Fred Sanders on bas, and Mark Indictor on fiddle.
During February the band toured Northern California, where, as Glaze wrote in her blog:
"We shared some awesome shows with Houston Jones, Joe Craven and the Kathy Kallick band." The band also traveled to Memphis for the Folk Alliance International Conference.
Music for young children
A new business designed to help parents encourage the musical ability of their children, especially very young ones, will offer its first classes starting on Monday.
Called the Music Together Center, it offers a research-based early childhood program that's been in existence since 1987 and is headquartered in Princeton, N.J.
Local residents Pyper and Eric Von Normann are the owners. Pyper, director of the center, said the curriculum is taught in 10-week cycles.
"Music Together believes that every child is born musical," she said.
"And if it's fostered, there's a better chance they'll do even more with it later on."
The first class is in a mixed-age format, she said. It's open to parents or caregivers of children -- infants up to 5 years of age -- who will participate and interact with the youngsters in lessons involving music, rhythm and movement. Instruments used by both adults and children in the classes include triangles, sticks, bells and drums.
The center occupies rented space on the lower floor of a two-story yellow house at 17th and F streets. The Von Normanns, who have a 14-month-old daughter, spent the past two months painting and refurbishing the area.
"We've put down a large multicolor rug so the seating is comfortable, and we have a nursing area for moms," Pyper said. "We've made it very family friendly."
Regarding her personal background in music, the director said she took piano lessons for 10 years and also played the flute. Upon becoming a Music Together licensee, she had "three days of intensive training" in Santa Cruz.