Dodging Oz

As some of you are probably aware, Alabama got hit by some pretty serious tornado action this afternoon- especially downtown Birmingham, where we used to live.  There was about half an hour there where Nathan and I were waiting a bit pins-and-needle-ishly to hear from our family- and I, being the person who handles stress the way that I do, told everyone to go ahead and let me know if they got swept off to Oz, because we'd send out a rescue party with flying monkeys and everything.

Last we heard everyone was fine, which means that I am now allowed to let myself feel sick and freaked out.  I like to save this sort of thing for after the crisis, you understand- once there's actually time to indulge in weakness.  But for the past few hours while I was busy being "Meh, I'm sure everything's fine," I channeled my energies into this:

Guess who discovered how frickin' easy it is to create a pattern?

It actually sprang from this doodle in my sketchbook:

Is my underdrawing showing?

which I did while Nathan and I were watching  Scrubs after dinner.  I'd originally planned to do some rewriting, but my brain was not in the right zone.  But hey- if you can't be disciplined one way, be disciplined in another, right?  Right.

Speaking of which, I'm about to cut waaaay back on the refined sugar.  Just as soon as we finish off the last of the cupcakes...


This Is the Sound of a Contented Back

First of all, this:

No decoration up in the studio yet- weird to work surrounded by stark walls...

When I got home from work today, I found that the the Easter Husband had delivered unto me this wonderful (cat-hair-free) chair.  Happy happy happy.

To make certain the chair would live up to it's pleathey promises, I sat down and churned out another digital doodle (working with flat colors, this time):

And the back is feeling fine...


I Need a New Chair

I am bitter, gentle readers.  Bitter, bitter, bitter.

Why so bitter, you might ask?  Because when we moved I was strong-armed into giving up My Chair.  My wonderful office chair that just so happened to be more cat fur than chair- but still!  I loved that chair!  And tonight, gentle readers, I miss it more than ever.  Because tonight I finally got all the technical aspects of my studio set up (computer, netbook, scanner, cintiq, full-spectrum lamp), which means I sat down to start re-acquainting myself with the arcane process of producing art digitally- and I've just spent the past two hours sitting on a broken down old stool (the stool that came with my child-sized drafting table, I might add) and my back is making itself known.

So I'm thinking "new chair" goes to the top of our apartment-need-list.  Screw towel racks, anyway...

But here- enjoy the fruits of my pained laboring:

Alianne of Pirate's Swoop, on the event of her first encounter with Kyprioth

Now that I'm looking at it on a smaller scale, I'm realizing I could/should have gone way more spectacular with the broken nose/black eye.  Ah well...  everything is a process...


Procrastination- Not Just for Homework Anymore!

Rewrites are a wonderful thing, because they give you a chance to go in and flesh out characters that only got a passing glance in the rough draft- and to invent entirely new characters as needed.:

And then, as a way to procrastinate, you take the time to doodle these fourth and fifth tier characters...

Speaking of procrastination, all the non-carpeted floors in my house now smell like peppermint.  Why?  Because I scrubbed them all down with diluted peppermint extract in the hopes that it will keep the frigging ants away.  I have no idea where the little bastards are coming from, but I will figure out a way to kill them all (hopefully without poisoning the cats...)  Once upon a time I'd have been more lackadaisical about it, but that was before I was married to a man for whom ants can quite literally equal death.  So if you guys have any ant-slaughtering advice, feel free to chime in...

(Side note- this experience is making me hate carpet even more, because for all I know there are thousands of the little suckers marching back and forth beneath the gently wafting fronds of shag, and I would never know...)

Today's other adventures included hiking in Forest Park (short but sweet), hanging the guitars in the studio (plus a few other pieces of art), and selling a distortion peddle (ie, transforming it into a new photography equipment).  All in all, a pretty good day- and I still have another day off to go.


Other People's Kids (That Don't Suck)

Once upon a time, Nathan and I got married- and when we did we hired some truly fabulous wedding photographers: Sam and Cory Ferguson.  The best part of this arrangement (aside from our excellent wedding photos, of course) was that we actually became friends with them.  We're far apart now, but I still keep up with their blog- and as I was catching up on everything I missed during the move I came across an utterly charming photo of their daughter in footie pajamas and fairy wings (and a tutu, because that's what goes best with said ensemble).  I liked it so much that I had to doodle it:

Is she, or is she not just the perfect little girl in this?


The Street Where I Might Live

One of the very best things about our new place (and it was something we made a concentrated effort to find) is its relative proximity to a lot of very convenient things, including my office.  As such I often take advantage of nice weather (like the weather we're having right now) to walk home from work rather than having Nathan pick me up.  Today I got even crazier and headed over to the library (only a half mile past my office) to pick up a few books before heading home.

Normally I walk home via a main drag, but since I added in the side trip I ended up taking more of a side street home, primarily because I didn't feel like dealing with any heavy traffic.  Thus I found myself in a neighborhood that can only be described as charming- and charmed I was.  I kept smiling at the houses, the creative gardens, the cats and chickens doing their cat and chicken things.  I thought to myself, Yeah, I could live on this street.  I could see myself coming home to that house, or that one- and I could see my kids riding their bike to school.

(You know, my hypothetical kids.)

So that was quite pleasant, as was coming home to a grilled cheese sandwich and leftover stew.  And now I  have something pleasant for you- a quick sketch I did this afternoon (you can guess where, given the lined paper) of what I think Diana Villiers might look like:

As a young widow, around her first meeting with Jack and Stephen


StarHugger (or, "A Post in Which Words Like 'Wonderful', 'Awesome', and 'Excellent' Are Used Entirely Too Often")

Man, this day just keeps getting more and more excellent.  Let's review, shall we?

Got up early.  Now, this is a tricky one- it can go either way on the Awesome factor.  If you don't want to be awake, and have to go do things you don't want to do, it can be awesomely bad.  But if your day is slotted to be awesomely good, then you want that Awesome to start as soon as possible.  And it did.

Put stuff for beef-beer-n-barley stew in the crockpot.  Sure, it wasn't fun at the time, but here I am, eleven hours later, appreciating the hell out of that decision.

Went to church early.  Again, this is another one that might have some (okay, most) of you going, "And the awesome part of this is...?"  Well, the awesome part was that we went early because Nathan was running through songs with the other Music People, because he's now part of that.  Which makes me very happy.  And what did I do while they were practicing? I...

Added about 600 words to the novel.  Words that were sorely needed to transform a single paragraph of "tell" into a page of "show".  That's what I've been up to lately, by the way- rewrites.  It's the first time I've ever done it on such a long project, and it's been... interesting.  Strictly speaking I don't have all my feedback from my beta readers yet, but it got to the point where I couldn't not write on it any longer.  I take that as an exceptionally favorable sign.

Spent five hours with My People.  Yep, Nathan drove me down to Portland and dropped me off at the Oregon Convention Center so that I could dork out with the rest of the comic geeks at Stumptown.  And I had such an excellent time.  So many wonderfully sweet and friendly and talented people, all jammed into one friendly little convention!  Happiness definitely achieved.  My first mission was to hunt down Mike Russell for Tavish (who could not attend) and get a few books.  Mike was just excellently kind, and I teased him about appealing to what I called "the Tavish Demographic" (ie, burly men with beards and cargo pants.)  (And niceness.) because there were two dudes (fans) standing there at the table that could have been the blonde and redheaded versions of Tavish, and it made me laugh.

From there I went and got another book for him (by DF Walker, who was also charming in spite of the fact that I don't think he was feeling well), took a brief moment to be midly fan-girlish toward Erika Moen (she likes my tattoos and I like hers) (and her, in general- she's kind of awesome), and then it was time for the first panel I wanted to attend-

Scott Allie: Comics Writing Workshop.  The best part of this talk was definitely the fact that everything he had to say, I already knew.  In fact I found it surprising that other people didn't instinctively understand things like pacing.  So that was definitely reassuring to me.  I slipped out a little early so that I could get over to the Oni Press table in time to catch my favorite current artist/writer duo:

Joelle Jones and Jamie S Rich They are both wonderfully sweet people, which I knew already (I'd met Jamie before at a Stumptown years ago) but which is always nice to have reaffirmed.  Plus, you know...  they signed my old copy of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and my freshly purchased copy of Spell Checkers.

After that I had an hour to wander before the next panel, so I went looking for art to buy.  This was a big and exciting thing for me, since this is the first time I've gone to a convention with cash set aside specifically to buy things that might catch my eye.  Nathan had expressed an interest in me bringing home something "for the apartment", so I was especially careful to try and find things I thought would appeal to the both of us- and in the process spoke with some very nice people, indeed, including Jonathan Case, who asked me what kinds of comics I like to read.

"Comics with good art that are well-written," I replied.

"Well have I got a book for you!"  he said, and filled me in on Dear Creature, which does, in fact, sound intriguing- and then he whipped out a sketch for me that fulfilled my other requirement.  It's not coming out until October, but you can bet I'll be looking for it.  I bought a very nice print from him that plays well to a certain inside joke between Nathan and myself regarding cephalopods.

I then purchased a lovely little print of Gavorting Mice (we'll just pretend they're rats) from Terri Nelson, who appreciated both my earrings and my "My Mom Rocks" shirt.  I also got a print from Jen Wang (whom I just now realize I recognize from her work in Flight) and another from a fellow named Ed Kwong- who was not actually present but some of his associates were.  The print was one I got thinking it was 100% to Nathan's taste.  And I was totally right.

Finally four o'clock rolled around, and I scooted into the next talk that had caught my interest,

Four Secrets to Succeed in Publishing. It was given by Katie Lane and George Rohac, and it basically came down to, "Read your contract, don't be afraid to be assertive, and if you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all." which are things my mother had taught me since I was old enough to...  well, since always.  Still, it's always pleasant to have one's common sense backed up by the been-there, done-that professionals.

Ask a Freelancer.  This was probably my most favoritest panel of the day, made up of the afore-mentioned Erika Moen, Dylan Meconis, and Steve Lieber, all of Periscope Studio which, come to think of it, seems to be home to a lot of artists that I like.  Hrm....  Anyway, they also addressed things that I was already familiar with (but only recently, due to having been reading a lot of books on freelancing/running your own business) but they were so entertaining that I just enjoyed it as an experience in and of itself.  Also, I learned an important thing:

So there's that.

And then the day was over, so I went outside to sit and wait for Nathan to come pick me up.  I was flipping through my swag when a car pulled up, and I looked up and who should I see through the window?

My old friend Craig!  So unexpected and awesomely awesome!  I finally got to meet his lady, which made me very happy indeed, and promises were made to go surfing once they get back in the country.  So that was just the perfect, perfect cherry on top of my wonderful ice cream sundae of a Sunday.


Making the Best of It

My plan for the evening was to head into Portland with my Katie and live it up at Drink and Draw Like a Lady.  As such, I spent last night doing a bunch of little drawings called "Jenny O Loves Joss W" with the intention of being able to trade them at the event.  Here, have a peak:

Now the bad news- with about an hour to go at work I started to feel ill... and by the time I got home it was to the point where being vertical was pretty much not a thing I could do without vomiting.  Sooo...  I stayed home.  I'm still home, not feeling as bad as I was earlier in the evening, but still not exactly awesome.  Anyway I decided that, lest my drawings go to waste (especially since I skipped swing dancing with a dear friend last night to do them), I will offer them up in trade to anyone who might want them.  Dr. Horrible, Wash, River, and Inara are already spoken for, but if you see one you want, speak up.

(PS see, I told you I'd eventually post some drawings...)


Kink's Not Dead (and Other Rambling Brain Dumps)

So it turns out that Kink's woes are nothing more serious than a LUTI, which is a great relief all around.  I know he's ten and all, but I'm just so not ready to deal with his mortality yet.  Nor, I think, is Nathan ready to deal with me having to deal with it.  And so I've been cheerfully squirting (I kid you not) banana-flavored amoxicillin down the cat's throat twice a day and paying way more attention to his litter habits than I might prefer.

I spent a chunk of time working in "the studio" today (AKA "David's Room", because that's where we've put all the stuff we hauled up for him) getting it to the point where you can see the floor.  It's not really "done", per se, but then again neither is anywhere else in the apartment.  The painting continues (Nate's actually adding a second coat of "whisper yellow" to a living-room wall as I type), and I'm thinking we may make an effort to get up some art in the hallway this week.  Lofty goals, I know...  anyway it's almost to the point where I wouldn't be desperately ashamed to have people over, so maybe I'll put together a little dinner party for next month...  we shall see.

I get the feeling I will be spending a great many weekends over the next few months "tweaking".  As I mentioned to Nathan today, I've never in my life put so much effort into my dwelling.  ("Yeah, but it really needs it," he replied, narrowing his eyes at the hideous expanse of "cool khaki".)  And it's true that I no longer cringe when I look around from my perch on the couch, so that's something- not having to cringe while in your own home, I mean.

Nathan's man-date went well: each proved to the other that he doesn't suck with a guitar, and it's looking like Nathan may start playing regularly during service.  Which, I suppose, is how one tumbles into a church (you must understand it's my first adult experience with it.)  I'm really glad- I wanted very much to find a community for Nathan outside "my friends", and this is definitely a good way to do that.  Of course, I'm also a little nervous- I kind of  feel like I'm there under false pretenses, not being Christian and all.  I can't help but feel like I'm walking around in a giant Lie of Omission by not blurting it out to everyone I meet:

"Hello perfectly nice Christian person I'm shaking hands with!  My husband is one of Your Kind and is currently playing up there on the stage.   But although I am blending quite well I am not actually Your Kind!  I am a filthy, filthy heathen!  Coffee?"

On the one hand I feel like it doesn't really matter- I'm not there as an Angry Atheist or anything; I'm there as a wife supporting her husband in something very important to him (and something he has made it clear is in no way mandatory for me).  I'm interested in theology, and in gaining a better understanding of my husband's religion, so a church seems like a pretty practical way to further my knowledge of both.  But on the other hand... it does kind of feel like a big deal to be sitting around in my imitation sheep's clothing without letting them know that my teeth are actually quite pointed- regardless of whether or not I plan on using said teeth.  Religion is a very casual thing for many of my friends, but not so much, I think, for these people- and it somehow seems wrong to not correct any false impressions they might have.

Of course, I also think that maybe I can do my part as "non-jerk-non-Christian".  You know, just be me and have people like me for me and then when they find out I'm not Christian they have a nice little example of how not all secular people are hateful... much as several of my friends did their part as "non-jerk-Christians" for me back in the day.  Yeah, it really wasn't all that long ago that I was still being shocked that self-described Christians could actually be kind, loving people...

(...let's face it- the world could use more instances of "non-jerks", regardless of theological affiliation- or lack thereof...)


Starting Grounds

So we went to church this morning at a place we're considering making "our place", and somehow or another I ended up behind their bar (::cough cough Mama Fishie cough::) facing down a semi-automatic espresso machine (none of that super-automatic SBC business) the likes of which I had not been faced with since college.

It was really quite shocking how it all came back to me.  Ask me how much I remember from, say, my art history classes and I'll give you an embarrassingly short answer.  But apparently once one learns how to adjust a grind and/or tamp to compensate for short shot, one never forgets.  I actually ended up giving a mini-lecture on the subject of what a proper shot looks like.  And then another one on foam.  Lord help the very nice young woman I had cornered... the Teacher in me, it seems she has a hard time keeping quiet...  so anyway it's possible that I may take up a little volunteer barista-ing in my spare time, which suits me fine, because I always did love being a barista- just not so much trying to live on the wages it provided.  And I do so love the craft involved in turning out a truly lovely specialty beverage...  ::happy sigh::

While I was re-acquainting myself with the joys of portafilters, Nathan was busy making friends with a music ministry guy, and they have a man-date to play guitar together tomorrow night, a situation I find Entirely Pleasing.  It brings me great joy when my husband indulges in his music, and I'm hoping having someone to play with (pun only semi-intended) will encourage him in it.  It did not hurt matters that later on we went to Beacock Music and he played with an eight-string baritone that had a gorgeous, gorgeous sound.  The sales guy let us use his office so we could hear it without a bunch of Stairway to Heaven going on around us (you know exactly what I'm talking about!), so we took advantage of the privacy to sing a little... and it worked quite well with both of our vocal ranges.  I dearly wish I could just outright buy it as a gift for Nathan, but alas- it comes with a price-tag that says we must scrimp and save if we want to go beyond just staring at it longingly...

In less thrilling news, I'm a little concerned about Kink.  I noticed today that he doesn't seem to be able to urinate (yes, I know you totally come on here to read about my cat's litter-box habits), a state which Teh Interwebz declares An Emergency.  But given that he's been acting totally normal, and that he doesn't have any hardness in his abdomen (or any reluctance to me touching it) I've decided that while it may be time for a visit to the vet, it's not such an emergency that it cannot wait until morning.  So in the morning we'll take him in (heck, we may just take both of them in- they were due for their shots back in March, anyway) and see what's what.


Year Two

Today is my two-year anniversary- that's cotton, for you traditionalists- and I have to say we celebrated in style.  Last night I suggested going out to eat in celebration, and as I was further suggesting that Nathan might get online and see if there were any restaurants he might like to try I had a brain flash-

"Marrakesh!" I blurted.


"We're going to Marrakesh," I said, trying not to let myself be overwhelmed with delighted memory.  How could I have forgotten Marrakesh, home of my beloved Moroccan Soul Food?  Nathan, always down to try new things (especially when it comes to food), agreed readily, and it was a date.

After work I got all sexied up (in a dress conveniently without waistline) and we headed into town, found parking, and entered the restaurant.  I got the fun of watching my 6' husband fold himself down onto a floor cushion (he gallantly let me have the couch, since I was wearing a miniskirt), and couldn't help but feel smugly superior over the girl whose date refused to do the same.  Our waiter came over, poured water over our hands, and the five-course meal began.

First up was harira, a lentil soup not quite so good as that of Makarios, in my opinion, but still damn fine (and for those who actively enjoy tomato in their soup, it might be better).  It was followed by a cooling salad that seemed to be composed primarily of cucumber, tomato, and cilantro, with a large helping of what we think may have been spiced ground chickpeas (although we could be wrong) in the center.  After that was an appetizer called B'stilla Royale, which in theory is something that Nathan should hate: phyllo pastry stuffed with ground chicken and scrambled egg, and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon.  Yes, in theory it makes his gag reflex kick in, but in practice- oh my.  He kept saying, "I'm waiting for this to gross me out, but it's just too good!"  I, on the other hand, was too busy stuffing my face to comment.  Although I was, perhaps, a little disappointed that he liked it, since it meant I didn't get the whole thing to myself...  talk about a perfect blend of savory and sweet...

After that we had a bit of a wait for our main courses, so we sipped our Moroccan beverages (Casa Beer for Nathan, and a red wine whose name escapes me for me) until at last they brought out the Couscous Marrakesh (couscous with vegetables and lamb) and Breka Vegetarian (phyllo stuffed with potato and herbs- basically like a samosa- served with a sort of vegetable stew).  Cue further noises-of-joy, although both of us had to leave our dishes half-uneaten (thank you, to-go boxes).  Once that was cleared away, the waiter poured orange-blossom-water over our hands, then served us a warm, delicate mint tea (poured from "up top" ie, four feet above the glass) and our desserts: a not-too-sweet pudding topped with shaved coconut and almond.  It was the perfect, light-weight ending to such an elaborate meal.

We rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and I suggested swinging by Powell's, where we each bought the other a book: a sort of anniversary-bonus-gift, since our real gift to one another was to go in together and buy grownup towels.  Bath sheets, to be more accurate, because Nathan was longing for a towel large enough to get lost in.  They're due to arrive sometime next week, so expect further squeaks-of-glee to follow.

So yeah- two years down, and I must say I still think it was the best decision I ever made.

                                                  (...although what's up with this picture?                                                   It didn't look this weird and grainy on the camera...)  


Grown Up Adventures

It’s been a Full and Eventful weekend.

Yesterday Nathan and I did the drive north to see Oma and Opa (my maternal grandparents), and spent a surprisingly pleasant day with them.  I say “surprisingly” not because I was expecting it to be bad, exactly, but because I was expecting (based on ten years of adult experience) to hear something negative about a) my weight, b) my hair, c) my clothes, d) some combination of the above, plus also my nails.  But I did not hear any of those things- instead I was told I was looking slim and fit, asked if my hair was extensions (because it was so long and pretty) heard that my necklace was, “Not her taste, but fine,” and perhaps most shocking of all, the chipped (albeit sheer) polish on my nails passed without comment.

Man, I should have gotten married years ago.

The long and short of it is that I was treated as an adult (and made privy to certain stories I never would have guessed at) and although it was unnerving at first I swiftly accustomed myself to it.  I look forward to spending many long years in this new, privileged status…  Opa, of course, treated me exactly like he always has, and took great delight in giving books to Nathan (he- Opa, that is- is not allowed to buy new books until he gets rid of old ones.  He told Nathan that he- Nathan- was helping the economy by accepting those books.)

As we were driving away, Nathan looked at me with a grin and said, “Actually, I really like your grandmother,” to which I replied, “Of course you do!  She’s old me!”  And it’s so true.  I mean, I already knew that, and had even accepted it, but as I hadn’t seen them in two years I hadn’t really thought about it for a while.  And being around them for eight hours really reminded me just how much like her I am.  I think I’m especially sensitive to it now that I have a much better understanding of my own… quirks, shall we call them?  Anyway to see them in her helps me have more compassion for the both of us...

 We’d already decided that we wanted to do a hike today, so last night I decided we should do Beacon Rock.  It’s a really short trail (about three miles up and back) but steep enough to make you feel like you got a work-out, and with a cool view from the top.  I wanted to ease us into our new, hiking-the-PNW lifestyle, and it seemed to me just the hike for that purpose.  Not to mention the fact that, once upon a time, I’d used that hike as a sort of “First Date Test” for guys.  If they couldn’t keep up with me on Beacon (while holding a conversation), I knew they weren’t going to be a good fit.

We got there and I was reminded of the downside to having a regular work-week: having to share the great outdoors with every other yahoo that also has the weekend off.  ::sigh::  But it was okay, and actually I spent much of the hike being delighted by the antics of small children, and feeling the Baby Fever rise up in my breast.

After the hike we decided to head over to Ikea and pick up a few things for the house, and then on to Home Depot to get paint for the kitchen (the first coat of which is currently drying).  Let me tell you, gentle readers- about five minutes in Ikea not only cooled the Baby Fever, it replaced it with a burning desire to murder all children, and their stupid, stupid parents to boot (nieces and nephews obviously excepted).  I don’t know what it is that gives me such tolerance for children outside, yet little-to-none for them within enclosed spaces.

Anyway we got our few things (without murdering anyone), then got the paint from Home Depot, and headed home to make dinner and begin our Home Improvement project.  Dinner was caramelized onions with blue cheese and pasta, and a German salad, and as much as I dislike certain things about our apartment I must say that I really am awfully fond of our kitchen.  Both of us were able to work in there, without bumping into one another- heaven!  And having a dishwasher made cleaning-as-we-went much easier, not to mention putting Nathan in a much jollier mood than end-of-mealtime used to leave him (since he’s in charge of dishes).

Once we’d finished dinner (with a side of Scrubs- we’re on season three) we started taping up the kitchen- and then began to paint.  With the first stroke I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach- the horrible khaki color of the walls was turning our zesty new “Orange Peel” into a sort of sickly green-orange.  The shadowy corners were particularly unattractive- but we kept at it, telling ourselves that Coat Two will turn it into the juicy room I’d envisioned.

(Oh please, oh please…)