Saturday, November 27, 2010

Linoleum - Not Just For Floors

I had initially thought that I'd do a water color painting for the one holiday card that I'm sure to send (thanks again to Susie at Useless Beauty Designs for hosting the swap!) but I made the mistake of telling people that I'd be making this card for my swap partner.

And now other people want one.  People that like to think that I care about them and think that a small little something in the mail would be such a lovely way of expressing that, don't you think, and really if you're already making one....


The thing is, despite my whining, I would very much like to be the with-it, have my stuff together sort of adult who can manage to send out a few holiday cards.  After all, these people are my friends and I really do like them, and enjoy making things for them.  It really shouldn't be such a burden.  And yet every year I put it off again and again until I realize that it's January and hey, maybe I should make a resolution of it.  Not that I ever keep the rest of them.*

This year I'm determined.  I will make holiday cards, I will send them out before the end of December and I will be a with-it, have my stuff together sort of adult.  In this one aspect, at least.

But I'm certainly not doing an individual painting on each of them, because if being an adult means giving up on being completely lazy then I want no part of it.

Having prints done would be the obvious solution, but that's one more step between making the cards and sending the cards which ups the chances that I'll be sitting here January 3rd, look over and see the painting and then hit my head repeatedly on the table for once again being a failure.  As this would likely cause brain damage and I really don't need that I've opted to go the linoleum print route.  Print making in the comfort of my stretch pants!  I really couldn't ask for anything better.

Of course, I haven't done linoleum carving in about ten years but really.  It's like riding a bike, I'm sure.**

Firstly, the image.  For this one, I chose a simple armadillo motif and copied him (a wee bit smaller) onto a piece of paper.  Through the magic of technology you can of course re-size your chosen image (if you're not winging it) as you see fit but again with the lazy, so I didn't.


I feel I should point out that he is rather tiny and not for the cards so much as an attempt to remember how the hell this works.

Onward.  I've gone over my pencil lines to make sure they're nice and dark so that they'll transfer.  Image goes onto the linoleum block and with a good rub there should now be an armadillo on the block.  Now, I've never been able to have a nice clean transfer though I hear some people can manage it.  But even if it comes out like this:

A little less armadillo-y.

Never fear.  Filling in the gaps is quick work.

Much better.

And now the carving.  I usually do the big bits, then come in with my smallest blade to do the detail work. Also, slowly and gently, cutting away a little bit at a time because like with a lot of things taking away is easier than adding.  Since I want the background white here, I spent an extra bit of time with the largest blade cutting away the block until the background was well below the central image.

Not pictured: the fit I had when I nicked his ear.

Note to self: dots are way harder than you remembered.  Should probably avoid those in the future.

And now I give it a test run.  Ink up the brayer (thinner is better, here.  Gloopy brayers are no one's friend) and give it a roll onto the carving.  I've never been good at placing the paper down on the block, so I cheat and put the block onto the paper and flip it over.  This has ended badly before, but it didn't this time so I think I'll continue with my bad habits.

This time around, since Mr. Armadillo is about an inch and a half square and I was using a spare bit of rice paper for extra absorbency I was able to get away with just using my thumb to rub the paper onto the block.  Sometimes this will work, most of the time it won't.  There's a fancy tool for this called a baren, but I usually use the bottom of a glass.  Fancy tools are for sissies!  Or possibly professionals. 

Lift up the paper to check it out:

Two!  Two armadillos, ahahaha.

Some of the detail work was lost (spots!  Damn you for being difficult) and I missed a few ridges on the back ground.  So, the stamp gets rinsed off, and I get back to carving.

Round two:

Spots, why you gotta hate?

He could be better, but for a first run I think I'm satisfied.  I've learned my lesson about spots and I think when I'm working on a larger scale it'll be a little easier.  At the very least I'll worry less about slipping with the cutter and taking a gouge of finger instead of linoleum.  Of course now that I've said that....

*  'Become coy sex kitten' has been on the top of my resolution list for about 7 years now.  Mater, don't make that face, it really means cut back on the excessive flailing and not talk at length about Doctor Who at fancy grown-up parties.  Possibly learn ballroom dance and brush my hair on a regular basis.

**  I've never managed to learn how to ride a bike, all attempts have ended in tragedy and bodily harm.  So, I rather hope it's not anything like that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Science, A Word Please.

I love living in the future, don't get me wrong.  But not gonna lie, there have been some disappointments.  I mean, jet packs aren't widely available nor are flying cars.  I may be able to have a Roomba to vacuum for me, but I'd rather have Rosie from the Jetsons.  This is only marginally assuaged by being able to carry the internet in my pocket and rarely getting lost because the car knows where it's going (for the most part) now.

But I think I've come up with a way for Science to make it up to me that I'm not currently writing this from Moon Base 37.

Penny and Bianca, two of our fosters, are in the full swing of the 3 AM crazies.  Every night.  Every night they entertain themselves by thundering around the bedroom and are really making way too much noise given their actual mass.  I compared them to tiny elephants.  And then it struck me: tiny elephants!

I want a tiny elephant. If we can make goats that produce spider silk in their milk and if I could manage to make glow in the dark bacteria in my 'Biology for Non-Science Majors' course when I was 19 surely we can get on making exotic pocket pets.

I rather imagine it would go something like this:

Walks are very important for your elephant's health.

Once you start thinking about tiny exotic animals your mind will reel at the possibilities.  Can you imagine having a whale small enough to keep in a fish tank?  Sign me up for that, please.

You can already buy brine shrimp at the pet store.

When telling Pater of my cunning plan he said that he'd rather have saber tooth house cats.  I can see the appeal, and it would probably be more feasible than my dream tiny elephant.

Tuxedo markings - the classiest cat coloring.

So just a heads up, Science.  You're on notice.  Start making my dreams come true.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Heh, filled.

I was once having a conversation with a good friend about our respective cases of ennui.  Unfortunately, another person was a part of this conversation.  I know that sounds awful but the meaning of that statement will become clear, I promise.

So, we're riffing off of each other, adding various activities to the list of things for which we can simply find no inspiration.

Painting (her)
Drawing (me.  I've always been absolutely crap at painting.)
School work (her.  As you can see this conversation took place a few years ago.)
Making supposedly clever comics about my life (me.  I was never a very good student.)
Writing (her)

Yes, writing!  I agreed.  I so enjoy the physical act of writing- I'm not so much an author as I am a graphomaniac.  I couldn't care less what it is that I'm actually writing on the page, there is a profound joy in putting a well-balanced pen to well-made paper for me.  She didn't agree with this notion, being an actual Proper Writer, she didn't care if she was using a ten cent Bic on a napkin, but we could both commiserate on the drying up of the well of inspiration in regards to a mutual hobby.  Even if we came at it from very different viewpoints.

It was at this point that the third party made a rather lovely statement about not waiting for inspiration, about seeking new experiences to defeat this languishing boredom that was more than boredom.  Unfortunately, he ended his point with the statement, "If you're not fulfilled now then you just need to go out and get filled."

Personality tidbit:  I have the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy.  It's one of those things I was hoping I'd grow out of, but I think at this point it's safe to say that if I haven't by now I won't.  So, of course, the only thing I took away from the conversation was, 'heeeee, need to get filled.  That could possibly be referring to sex and that titillates me.  Heeeee, titillate.'

The point of this story is to talk about NaNoWriMo.  I've been participating in NaNo for seven years now with varied success, if you measure it by the usual metric of writing 50,000 words.  And I have to admit, I feel a bit like an impostor.  Because I still throw my hat into the novel in a month ring for two reasons: 1) the physical act of writing is so satisfying 2) my local group is comprised of lovely people and I enjoy seeing them.  The majority of people I know who participate are actual Proper Writers that have a story to tell.  I have long since let go of the delusion that I am a Proper Writer.

If I were saying this in front of my parents Pater would interject at this point to say that I'm a very good writer (despite not reading any of my fiction since I was about twelve) and Mater would say, 'I think your blog is funny.'  Bless.

NaNo's been a bit different for me this year (as much of it as there's been.)  I'm returning to a world I established in a previous NaNo novel.  I would call it a sequel, but I think I ought to finish the first one before I go saying it's a series.  And while I've struggled in years past to come up with something to fill the page, this year is like coming home.  I've been able to produce more words (not readable words, mind you, refer to the part where I said I was a pretty crap author.) than ever in the amount of time that I've had.  Writing this story is like coming home.  I already know who everyone is and what it is they're meant to be doing.  It's a bit like fanfic.  Yeah, I said it.

I wish that someone who made it a habit of writing stories that spanned multiple novels had told me how fun this is.  Of course, maybe Proper Writers don't think that continuing the story they have to tell is at all easy.  I don't know.  But I hope the momentum keeps up.  At this rate I may actually have a completed story by the end of the month as opposed to hitting my word count and saying 'well, fuck off then,' to the plot that had been sustaining me through thirty glorious days of writing*.  Maybe then I might have a work of fiction that, with a serious amount of editing, might be called decent.  It's been a while.  Since I was, oh, about twelve.

So this post isn't all ramblings about the ~creative process~ have a picture of the notebook I've been using this month.  I think it's super cute, even if they are Royal typewriters.  My Underwood would be so offended if it were, you know, sentient and capable of caring.

Color capture fail!

 While I'm at it, I cannot recommend the Lamy Al-Star enough, even if you aren't a fountain pen enthusiast.  It's all right if you aren't, I may not understand but I've come to realize that not getting giddy every time a new pen catalog comes in the mail is the normal state of being.  I bought one a few years ago to use as an everyday knockabout pen that I could keep in my purse without worrying about it being damaged and I haven't been disappointed.  It's an easy and reliable writer, though the medium nib can be a bit wet with some inks.  Currently using the fine nib with Private Reserves' Chocolat and it's delightful.  A combination I come back to again and again.

Right.  I'd better get back to the so-called novel.  I want to hit 18k before heading to bed.

*It feels strange saying this because November is generally a month of endless whining.  My story isn't going anywhere.  My characters are stupid and I want them to die, but then I won't hit my word count.  I say I don't care about the plot, but maybe if I cared a little less I wouldn't be plagued with writers' block nearly as often.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Klingons and Kittens.

I'll actually brush my hair on the day.
 Finally finished the costume.  I seriously think it was cursed.  I present the evidence bullet point style (never mind that the so called evidence is really just me not being very good at this sewing business):
  • Massive failure at reading directions had me not placing a piece on the center fold that really needed to be there.
  • Of course the fabric shop had only just enough yardage of the original material for the pattern, so emergency trip back to pick out a new one fabric and buy plenty.
  • Actually get to turn on sewing machine go to start and I manage to epically botch up first bust dart.  Stitching refuses to be picked out.  Try for a while, Mater tries for a while then informs me that she's only succeeded in making a hole.
  • Mater entirely takes it over at this point and when I came back the next evening she presents me with a mostly constructed dress.
  • That, despite my measurements firmly placing me in a size 14, is decidedly sack-like.
  • Mater takes it in an ungodly amount.

At that point, while I know more things went wrong-ish someone who actually knew what they were doing was now totally in control.  Which is why I have a costume at all.  I went and bought a huge red t-shirt with the idea that if I couldn't get it together and make the dress I could do a little t-shirt surgery and have a (ridiculously short) back up costume. 

I think when Mater saw what I had in mind she decided that she had to do everything in her power to save my dignity.

She insists that she was enjoying herself and that it really was no problem that, despite how gung ho I was about making the dress myself, she was in fact doing it for me.  No one was exactly shocked that once again Mater came to my rescue when my ineptitude got the better of me but this time I honestly did try.

Here's what I managed to do all by myself:

Oh yeah.
 Yes, I successfully cut out a bit of felt and glued on some glitter.  It's like I'm some sort of wizard, I know.

And now the question is, what shoes do I wear?  I have two options: flat leather boots courtesy of Kate, or traditional go-go boots inherited from a drag queen after her last performance of Proud Mary.  I think the flats look better, but they've not got a lot of traction and what if I have to run away from unfriendly aliens?  Or, more accurately, disgruntled comic shop staff trying to get me to stop drooling on the Absolute Sandman display case.

Oh did I not mention?  The party I'm going to, it's at my local comic shop.  And is a midnight write-in for NaNoWriMo.


At any rate, shoes.  Option one:

After years of wearing heels flats feel unnatural.
Option two:


And now, kittens.  This is Charlie, the tiniest, loudest, most pathetic of kittens.  I kind of love him, even if he won't shut up ever.  And is in the middle of the gross kitten phase, where he makes an absolute mess of himself eating but doesn't know how to bathe himself yet.

Food-y Face!
He's really needy, so we see this a lot.  He's seriously undersized for his age so he sort of has this little big head thing going on and his face is all ears and eyes.  I think he's the best.

In other kitten news, Penny and Bianca are still hanging around.  Really hope they get adopted soon, because the older they get the less interest they'll have.  Which is sad because they are some of the sweetest, most loving kittens we've had.

Snuggling at the adoption event.
I mean, look at them.  How could someone not want to take one of these ladies home?  Bah.  I'm surprised they're still with us, their brother went the same week he was up for adoption.  Hopefully the adoption event tomorrow will go better than they have been.  Why does no one love kittens this month?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Zoo Madness

I've been meaning to post this entry for ages, but have been awfully lazy about getting the photos off of my phone.  So, close your eyes for a moment, pretend it's Monday and that I was clever enough to bring a real camera so that the following photographs don't, in the academic sense of the word, blow.

Sunday, Pater, my sister, my niece and I went down to San Antonio to meet up with my cousin and his family at the San Antonio Zoo. 

Oh, zoos.  I have a lot of opinions.  On the one hand, conservation and breeding programs are lovely and I would be a strange sort of person if I were to look at, say, a tiger and tell him that just because we as humans insisted on hunting him and destroying his habitat to the point of extinction doesn't mean that we should be doing anything about it.  Buck up, imaginary tiger, you had a good run.  Please don't rip my face off.

On the other hand, oh lord, what a truly terrible existence.  While improvements have been made in regards to how animals are kept in zoos (at least in the States - I refuse to think of the zoo I went to in Japan ever again because I am a giant softie and it makes me sniffle) they're still incredibly depressing places.  Here, let Rilke make my point (as translated by Stephen Mitchell):

The Panther

               In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars, and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly—.  An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Enough of my very important feelings.  Let's jump straight to the bit where you get to scroll past a million crap photos. 
Sea Horses!
Canoodling Sea Horses!
He's torn his wing, poor guy.

Napping Lemurs!
Cranky Jaguar!
 While the jaguar was cranky, he was nothing compared to the leopard.  Shortly before we got there, the keepers had pulled him out of his enclosure and we could here him rather loudly protesting whatever it was they were doing to him.  Not a happy kitty.

Hippo Butts!  Hee!
Is it a log?
Very much not a log.  Well done, camouflage!
Probably because they are so very clever, the effects of zoo madness are very easy to see in elephants.  We were camped out by the elephants while having lunch and this ladyphant spent her time pointedly ignoring all the 'distractions' that were in her enclosure to stand, facing that corner and shift from foot to foot.  There may have been a half-hearted dust bath.

She did manage to rouse herself when one of the keepers came in with a hose.  I would like to say she cavorted in the water.  She did not.  Poor elephant.

Black Rhino!
There were two keepers attempting to lure the black rhinos into smaller pens.  As you can see, the rhino may have a reputation as being incredibly stupid, but he is not stupid enough to not give the side eye to someone holding a frighteningly huge syringe.

And thus concludes the trip to the zoo.  While it was wonderful to see the interest and joy in the kids and I'm glad they got the chance to ogle some fascinating creatures it was still all in all rather depressing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting WIPed*

I have a tendency to obsessively throw myself into a new interest- living, eating and breathing whatever has currently caught my attention.  Sometimes the interest lasts (like pen and ink drawing, knitting, politics and activism, baking) but usually I'm quickly bored and forget that I was so desperate to learn everything I could and spend all of my time with whatever it was that intrigued me.  Like scrap booking, bead loom bracelets, watercolor, Russian, swing dancing, linoleum print making, embroidery, nearly every thing I studied in college, college in general, now that I think of it.... All of these were abandoned, and I have the half finished projects to prove it.

I mention this because I think my histamine response is the same way.  While the ragweed pollen is still in the air, my allergies seem to have petered out.  After the initial punch in the face, my immune system has decided it's bored now and is letting me live my life like a normal person again.  So, hurrah.

As a result my brain seems to have come back (not being totally zonked out on Benadryl probably helps) and I have an attention span again.  Which means I've actually been able to do something more productive with my time than watching Law and Order reruns and folding Kleenex into decorative shapes before stuffing it up my nose.

I've spent the last couple of evenings at my parents' to use Mater's sewing machine and have her hand hold me through my first ever pattern.  It was initially supposed to be for the epic Halloween costume of nerdiness, but after cutting out the pattern pieces Mater announced that it's construction would look stupid in the fabric we picked out.  We decided to give it a test run just in case, and rather than use plain muslin we raided her stash and picked out something that had enough yardage.  Which is how I came to be making the most hilarious dress ever.

Actual pattern pieces!  Also, I hate pinning.
Pinning can go right to hell if you ask me.  I understand the necessity, but my fingers definitely spent a good amount of time being quite hurty.  Maybe if I was a little less useless at doing it I wouldn't hate it so much, but here we are.  Also, ow.

Here's the half finished dress:

I'm holding the dress up, not doing the chicken dance, promise.
I know, the '80s have thrown up all over me.  It's awesome.  And it's vintage, which proves that I can't hop on board with the current resurgence of '80s fashion even if I wanted to because I was there the first time.  I'm just a little sad that I don't think I can ever really wear this because it is so outside my comfort zone even though the dress itself would be quite flattering.  But happily, we found another heap of fabric in Mater's stash that is within my comfort zone, so I'll be returning to this pattern and making a dress that I'll wear more than once.

Since Halloween is fast approaching the '80s dress of fluorescence is being put on hold so that I can actually have something to wear.  Went and bought a new pattern today and rather than actually work on it I ate my weight in pizza, watched Univision's coverage of the Chilean miners' rescue and played with my niece.  After several hours at my parents' I have this to show for myself:

I am a paper cutting champion.
I've also been working on a sweater for myself.

It's very pink.  I may dye it.  Because color freaks me right out.
Even though I have a veritable heap of things to be done for holiday gifts.  Progress is slow because of both the kittens refusing to not try and kill my wiggling needles and yarn and surprise moth damage necessitating me splicing every other row or so.

Yes, moths.  The majority of my yarn stash is in zipped plastic bags, so I'm not terribly concerned, but I have a large box of wool that was given to me by a friend that is unprotected.  The yarn I'm currently using came from that box, so I just know that there's an even larger tragedy lurking in it's depths.

I have a hard time being too concerned about not finishing knits for other people because, if I continue with my usual habit, I'll think it's too boring to look at in a few days and leave it abandoned for at least a few months.  Wait, this sounds familiar....

*Title courtesy of the Boyfriend.  Because, hee.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Today's been another errand-y day but rather than being the usual 'being a grown up is boring,' it was full of unexpected excitement.

Somehow we ended up entirely out of cat food.  This is situation that Fat Bill will not stand.  I woke up before the Boyfriend so I was the one subjected to her whining about it for a few hours and pawing at me every time I sat down.  So, it was no surprise that when he got up I demanded we go to the pet supply store now.  No, now.  Because Fat Bill's persistent annoyance skills are an art form.  It'd be impressive if it weren't so, well, annoying.

While on the way was the first thrill.  I present a dramatic reenactment:

Boyfriend:  *normal everyday conversation.*
Me:  *normal reply*
Boyfriend:  *normal conversation cont-*
Boyfriend:  Seriously, what is wrong with you?

One of the small farms still holding out against the encroaching strip malls had two adorable llamas, just lazing about being all llama-y and I love them.  Seriously, I'm not ruling out the possibility of going back , knocking on the door and asking if I can just hang out with their llamas.  You know, order a pizza, play a little XBOX and then have them kick and spit at me because despite being the best things ever most llamas are kind of assholes.

The rest of the way to the pet store was spent begging the Boyfriend to stop on the way back so I could take pictures of them because yay! llamas.  We did in fact stop on the way back but since I only had my cellphone camera with no zoom function I'm afraid we'll have to make do with these.  I've helpfully labeled them.

I would have actually gotten out of the truck and attempted to get better ones, but two neighbors were chatting at the mail box across the road from us and while I was willing to be that crazy lady taking cellphone pictures from her car, I was not going to be that crazy lady taking cellphone pictures while cajoling the llamas to come closer at the fence.  At least, not in front of witnesses. 

My lobbying for a couple of alpaca for the backyard is going to be stepped up after today, let me tell you.  And I'll have none of the logical reasons why two llamas on a farm are acceptable but two alpaca in my suburban backyard are not.  

While at the pet supply store, after Fat Bill's victuals were safely in the cart, the Boyfriend and I went to pick up some algae eaters for our tank.  We sort of lost our way as fish keepers and our fifty-five gallon tank  has one hell of an algae problem.  It's less a fish tank now than it is a glowing, green and sort of fuzzy installation piece.  There are still fish in there, we can just never really see them unless they come right up to the glass.

But the happy news is that we trying very hard to stop being useless fish owners.  Hence the algae eaters.  Five Otocinclus and a Red Tailed Shark in total.  Fingers crossed they do their job.  We'll continue repopulating the tank as water conditions improve.

But buying algae eaters while useful (and I think the red tails are just too cute) was not what thrilled me.  No, what thrilled me was Bart.

While talking to the fish guy he asked if we had a smaller tank.  Because he had this little Jack Dempsey that was currently living a hard life in the live plant tank, being beaten up by the other inhabitants.  He lures him out and he is just the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen.  Absolutely tiny, but already showing the bright turquoise and emerald green spots and stripes and he has a flash of red along his dorsal fin. 

I was done for.  Beautiful markings + sad story =  we have a new little buddy who has a twenty gallon tank all to himself.  He can grow up to ten inches and will be a territorial bruiser who likes to dig holes into the substrate and eat smaller tank mates but I think it's totally worth it.  We'll have several years until we have to worry about getting him larger digs than what's currently available.

Bart safe in his new home.
Unfortunately, his iridescence is really hard to capture.  And no, we don't use boulders as substrate, that's normal aquarium gravel.  It's just that Bart's about the size of my thumbnail.  The fish guy was really fond of him and made us promise to give him updates whenever we're in there.  Here's hoping we can manage to be good aquarists again and Bart does well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Think I Have the Plague

Possibly leprosy.  At this point, I don't even know anymore.

It's been a vicious cycle of allergies - sinusitis - allergies.  Not to put to fine a point on it, my world is full of snot.  I've spent far too long wandering around feeling as though my head were three sizes too big and twenty pounds too heavy and looking like this:

I may be dying.  Get back to you on that one  
 No, I don't know why stuffing tissues up my nose seems like an acceptable way of dealing with post-nasal nastiness.  I'm just as confused by my brain as you are.

As a result I haven't really done anything in remotely art-y or craft-y.  Which, to be honest, is driving me a little bonkers.  Just don't have the attention for it at the moment but I very much want to.  Gift giving is going to sneak up on me again this year and it'll be another awkward mess of placeholder presents.

Also, I have no idea how contagious the ringworm is and I don't want to say Merry Christmas by giving someone a skin fungus.  Yes, it's still kicking about the house, it keeps bouncing from cat to cat to Boyfriend.  I may just give up and burn the whole place down, it seems like it's the only way to be sure.  At least the kittens haven't caught it again, which is a small comfort but I sort of hate their smug, non-itchy faces right now.

While art and craft aren't currently in the cards for me, make up has been.  There's an argument to be made about upholding the kyriarchy in regards to how much I love performing femininity but, frankly, I'm easily sidetracked by all the pretty colors.  Besides, my eyes are about the largest canvas I can deal with right now and did I mention there's glitter?  I love glitter.

Urban Decay's latest eyeshadow palette hit stores and I had to have it.  And then there was a sale on NYX cosmetics, and another eyeshadow palette magically fell into my hands as well.  One of these days I'll say no to the instant gratification of premade make up and save up to invest in my own pigments and binders and a proper set up for making cosmetics, but today is not that day. 

The only thing that could possibly be better than putting on eyeshadow is making my own and then putting it on.  I'm a simple lady, I have simple dreams.

I'm, like, everything that's wrong with society right now.

But hey!  Cool box, right?  It's got little lights!
I've already mentioned that when I get a new toy I have to have a go with it straight from the box.  This was no different.  But what you should also know is that my personal make up aesthetic* is less 'enhanced natural beauty' but more 'drag queen.'  Or possibly a five year old that discovered mom's make up for the first time, but as Mater doesn't share my love for putting all things bright and sparkly on one's face** I'm making a guess that's probably informed by too much television watching.

Thus I've been toodling around the house looking a bit like this:

My drag name would be Snotia de Ragsi.
And now I'm already bored with what's on my face and will probably go take it off and try something new.  Rocking the pjs and the night club eyeshadow, that's me.

*I want the record to show that I tried really hard to come up with a less douche-y sounding way of saying that and have failed.  So, not a douche, just a bad writer.

**But not in my wardrobe.  I know I'm endlessly confusing to you, Mater, I'm sorry.  Someday I'll rock salmon pink and lime green as hard as you do, promise.  Yes, readers who are not my mom, she is that awesome.

Friday, September 10, 2010

To Boldy Go

I've decided to fulfill a life long dream.  But before I can tell you what it is I have to make a confession that will startle few people: I'm a giant nerd.  No, really.  I'm co-hermitating with an engineer and yet I routinely out-geek him.  As long as it doesn't involve physics (unless normal force is referred to as 'gremlin force', then I might be able to get somewhere) I am a trivia knowing, comic book reading, fandom bouncing dork queen who talks in internet memes.

My idea of a good party is when no one looks at me funny when I start ranting about the way Star Wars follows the archetypal hero's journey as laid out by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and how the prequels fell flat because Lucas moved away from the monomyth after I've had a few glasses of wine.

I should probably try to get out more.

But back to that life long dream thing.  Since it's become obvious that I probably won't live to see the formation of the United Federation of Planets let alone get to join Starfleet the next best thing is Halloween.

7 year old resa is crushed.  CRUSHED 

And so, this year will see my debut as the original series' Lt. Uhura.  YES.  I am determined.  Even if the Boyfriend is now nervous that someone we know will find out about this since I'm letting the internet know that not only am I a Trekkie but I'm that sort of Trekkie.  Thanks for the support, jackass.*

It seems that this costume is going to take a certain amount of determination.  Because while I could go buy a licensed  Star Trek uniform that seems silly.  It would be expensive, made out of awful material and I'd like a little more fabric between my butt and the world.  I want to be just like Uhura in a lot of ways, but having to wear matching underpants because they would inevitably be shown is too much.

So, I've been on a quest.  To find a long sleeved a-line dress pattern.  That had the right sort of silhouette.  And could be made out of a lightweight material because Texas = Mercury.  And would be within my still beginner sewing abilities.  It's been harder than I expected.  I found a few candidates, though they may not meet the 'within my abilities' stipulation.  I foresee several evenings of Mater patiently pushing me out of the way and recommending I go watch TV with Pater after having to see me flap about because 'this is hard and I'm awful and I'm going to ruin it forever and then kill myself in a tragic sewing machine accident because wharrgarrbl.'  Sometimes I don't know how she puts up with me.

I also went and got a new hair cut.  I told my stylist that I've been on a mod kick lately, which is true, but didn't tell her that Star Trek's what's kicked off the renewed interest.

Silly photos are silly.

It's not straight up mod, I decided that since it'd be a pretty drastic change from my usual 'it looks kinda good even if it is sticking up' cut and I needed to ease into it if I were to be expected to style it.  By which I mean brush it.  Ever.  And hey, I've got actual bangs for the first time ever.  Wheeee.

*He wants to point out since I'm airing our business that he's a funny jackass, not a mean jackass.  I tend to agree.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'll be in my fort.

Hyperbole and a Half had one of the best descriptions of what she calls the Sneaky Hate Spiral.  I suggest you read that now if you haven't, I'll wait.

If you decided to come back and not ditch me in favor of power slamming the archives of Hyperbole and a Half (which I would totally not blame you for doing) let's proceed with the day.

Of all the ways to be rudely awakened I've experienced, I had a new one today that I have no desire to ever relive.  Ever.  EVER.

I feel a hair on my face.  Attempt to brush off.  Attempt unsuccessful.  Have two horrible realizations at once: 1) my hair is no longer long enough to touch my mouth and 2) oh god it moved on its own.

Sit up.  Brush 'hair' off as it tries to make its way into my nose.  Identify what has been masquerading as hair.

I have no explanation for the French thing.

Then I set the bed on fire.  I may have also convinced myself that I now have spider eggs in my sinus cavity and spent the rest of the day compulsively blowing my nose.

Despite knowing for a couple of weeks that we'd need signs for the adoption event happening tomorrow I continued my life long habit of being the queen of procrastination.  I made the graphics last night, but didn't bother to get up to measure the foam core board on which the printed posters would be pasted.

And thus I learned the more basic corollary to 'measure twice, cut once':

The Boyfriend wants the rescue to have a plug.

The kittens' sleep in a crate and it was past due for it to be cleaned out.  While cleaning the litter box I unsurprisingly dropped the bag of litter that weights approximately eight and a half million pounds, reaffirming my hatred of clay litter when it blew up in my face.  Now I had another reason for compulsive nose blowing.

 As a hermit* I rarely leave the house.  As a possible vampire it's even more rare for me to do so during the day.  But there were kitten related errands that had to be done so out we went.  Straight onto the surface of the sun.  But then I remembered that August in Texas is just like that.  If I could punch Texas in its non-existent face I would.

We got the posters printed and turns out the scaled up logo image I used (because I was too lazy to make a bigger one) looked like a pixellated mess.  Despite looking fine in GIMP.  So, I guess we're adopting out 8-bit Super Mario kittens.

After finishing up with the poster related stuff we had some time to kill before the kittens' new ringworm meds were ready at the pharmacy.  And the book store was right next door.  And books are the secret to a happy resa.

After picking up what was probably too big a stack already, I decided that I needed something light and fluffy that wouldn't ask me to think.

Then had the following conversation with the Boyfriend:
Me:  I need brain candy.
Him:  I just picked up some Dick Francis.
Me:  No.
Him:  You could read the latest Sue Grafton.
Me:  No.
Him:  There's a new Janet Evanovich out.
And now I'm stubbornly not sleeping even though I have to be up relatively early.  And I need to put on some more fungus cream because I too have the ringworm.  Pater has taken to calling me his 'scabrous daughter,' so at least someone's getting a kick out of it.

* The Boyfriend and I have decided that when someone asks what our relationship is we're going to say co-hermitants.  Because I still don't want to get married, but we've been dating for quite a while now.  But that's a story for another day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Moral Compass Is Slightly Skewed

I have this hat:


You've seen it before, but I like to show it off whenever I get the chance because it's pretty awesome.  But it's problematic.  I feel awful for buying it, because at the price I paid I know some poor Bolivian was royally screwed in the transaction.  Since I can't find fair trade chullos they're just going to have to come off the list of hand crafts I'll buy.  I'm not the best at not playing into an economic system that routinely hoses it's workers, but I make an effort.  I don't expect a cookie for trying to meet the basic standards of human decency, I'm telling you this to come to a point.

I'm really getting into making hats.  And I want to make chullos.  I'm a little put off by the cultural appropriation involved, but not enough that I will deny myself the chance to do colorwork alpaca motifs.  I could try and rationalize it by saying that I have Peruvian friends or it's an homage to Andean culture but really I'm just kind of an asshole.

I've bought yarn and I've been charting out common motifs found on chullos and playing around with the construction of the hat itself.  All is going well.  And then I get my KnitPicks catalog in the mail yesterday.  What should be on the back cover but this:

Wow, awful scan.  Sorry about that.

First impulse:  Something I'm doing is cool!  Yay!  Second:  I've done a hell of a lot of work when all I had to do was buy this handy kit.  Third:  Oh, this isn't cool.  Wait, then what makes what I'm doing okay?

My moral conflict is reaching the tipping point.  This hat may be more of a bad idea than I initially thought.  Maybe it's time to put down the needles and get a backstrap loom.  That way whenever the urge to make a culture specific garment strikes, I can do the crafts of my people.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Illustration Friday - Star Gazing

Star Gazing

Playing around with watercolors again.  We'll see if the fascination lasts a little longer this time so that I have a chance to see some actual improvement before I go off mucking about with something else.  Did this while at the adoption event for the kittens so my travel watercolor set actually did some traveling.  Good times.

Speaking of kittens, I blame them entirely for me being inblognito.  It's been a tough season so far, adoptions are way down and the mortality and morbidity rate is way up.  As a result, creative (and cleaning) pursuits have been put on the back burner while things are getting sorted. We lost two of our fosters and the ability to muster up the energy for art or craft related pursuits is nearly impossible when you're feeling like a awful kitten killer.  The remaining three seem to be bouncing back and are doing reasonably well though.

Except for the epic case of ringworm.

Oh, ringworm.  How much do I hate you?  So much I can't find adequate words to express it.  The bathing.  The desperate hope that our own cats don't catch it.  The thanking every deity I can think of that I'm seemingly immune.  Our plans for replacing the manky downstairs carpet with wood flooring suddenly being moved up.  Because steam cleaning?  Is a pain.

Here's hoping things continue to improve.  Because at this point the universe is just being mean.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Illustration Friday - Caged

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down the narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
and he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for he caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on the dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

-Maya Angelou

Note to self: when mucking about with digital art it really is worth the trouble to find your mouse.  My touchpad finger's all hurty now.