Bowling for Puppies

Day two of Puppy Kindergarten, and I swear it was just like bowling for puppies- and our dog was the ball.  ::sigh::  After the first few minutes of interaction they divide the class into two groups: high-energy and -low, with the idea that by doing so the lower-energy pups won't be overwhelmed.  What that actually means is that on one side we have Isis and Bernese puppy (ie, big enough to stay standing during the enthusiastic greetings of Isis), and then on the other side are all the other puppies.  She's exuberant, our pig.  It makes me feel like a terrible dog mom because my puppy is so completely unaware of the fact that she's just Way Too Much for most of the other puppies.

At least she calms down after the first ten minutes or so, and quits bouncing so much.  (She really is a Tigger of a dog- doesn't quite get that not everyone is as thrilled by bouncing as she is... but we're working on that...)

Also?  Man our dog is gassy.  Possibly we could use her for some biological warfare...

(sound effects pretty true-to-life)
Furthermore, my life is now the sort of life that involves cleaning freeze-dried-liver out of my backpack.  Yep.


Bone Pain

I'm sore all the time these days.  Oh, it's for a good reason- getting stronger requires the tearing of muscles, after all, and tearing, generally, is a Painful Thing.  But I can't help but think I'd be slightly less sore if I was getting my full allotment of sleep.  Which I am not.  Because of (you guessed it) the puppy.

But girl, she'll be a dog soon, and then this up-to-let-her-out-at-four-in-the-morning nonsense will be behind us, and I can once again indulge in a full eight hours of fully restorative sleep.


This is the week I've finally managed to actually implement "going to the rock gym twice a week" policy- well, that is to say, I went today, which is Tuesday, and normally my Climbing Day is Thursday.  So I guess it would be more accurate to say I've laid the foundation for going twice this week.

I go to the gym alone, and avail myself of the auto-belay.  Sometimes I manage to sucker in a fellow solo-climber and then we have a belay partner and can get a break from the same damn routes (although my new thing is to climb an easy-ish route up, and then climb it back down.  Woo, endurance!).  Today was half-and-half.  I climbed alone for a while, then tried to strike up a belay partner, but he demurred (and after listening to him talk for about ten minutes I wasn't exactly disappointed).  So I climbed a bit more, then found another girl and chatted her up- and she was game.  And a better climber than me, too, which I always enjoy belaying for, because I learn things while watching them.

Normally I have a full week to recover from one climbing session to the next, and feel fresh as a daisy.  Today, however, I'd had five days- and, as you may remember, had learned to climb a rope just three days prior.  Gentle Readers, I felt it.  My arms essentially quit on me after an hour.  I was maybe four feet from the top of a route, but it was an overhang and I literally could not pull myself up any higher.  I was super grateful that I had a real human belaying for me at that point... I don't mind the free-fall that is consciously releasing myself to the auto-belay, but to just plain fall is exceptionally unpleasant.

Anyway my forearms ache now, deep down in the bones.

But I can't say that I really mind.

Here is a vampire that has nothing to do with anything, and whom I am  now thinking looks disturbingly like one of my ex boyfriends...


Mercy Me

Mercy again, but full body this time.  As of a few chapters into the fifth book, her arm tattoos have yet to be described, so I just sort of improvised.  And then I was just going to do flat gold-on-red, but ended up experimenting a little.  And now it is way past bed time.  Oh so very past.

The theory is that she's laying back on a wolf, but that would have required a background, which as you know I tend to eschew... it's a weakness...


Marshmallow, Caramel, Cinnamon, Chocolate, Espresso (and Other Shades of Lovely)

The more I looked at the picture of Betty I put up the other day, the more it bugged me.  Her skin tone just didn't look... right to me.  It seemed too grayish, or maybe too greenish.  I'm not sure- maybe it's just because of the other colors I used in the image, but it got me to thinking that I really needed to make my own personal skin tone chart, just for quick reference.

See, skin tone has been on my brain quite a bit, lately, primarily because I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to make Pippa white.  Or, at least, not the glow-in-the-dark-Celtic-white my characters tend to be (see faces #2 and 3) (#1 is an albino).  Now, it is perfectly understandable that my characters are generally that pale- I'm that pale, especially after a PNW winter, so it's natural that my brain thinks of  "my" skin color as "default".  But... it's not default: I'm pretty solidly in the minority of skin tones.  There are approximately one bajillion other shades of pink and brown out there, and I'd like to write characters that take advantage of that, just as I write characters that have hair color other than blonde (the natural shade beneath all this dye).  This, of course, is a Dangerous Thing... it's a sad but true fact that authors can Get Into Trouble by writing outside their race, which I think is a damn shame, but then I'm a white girl so I might not get to have an opinion on that.  Anyway, in regards to Pippa I decided to take a baby step and make her father an African American (her mother being, for all intents and purposes, Celtic-style fae), which makes her a lovely cafe au lait baby, but more importantly carries with it the "mix-blood-who-truly-belongs-to-no-culture" theme which was already in the story- and so you see it wasn't entirely an arbitrary "I need to add some color up in here!" decision.  The next step is figuring out her hair, and as such  I've been spending a lot of time browsing through Women-of-Color Hair Blogs (and it's fascinating).  I'll let you know what I eventually decide... (it will keep the ginger-cast, tho': that's proof of fae heritage, in her world).


Today I Learned to Climb a Rope

And I have the typing-pain to prove it.  Poor, raw Jenny O hands...


20 Back Extensions
20 Mountain Climbers
15 Walking Lunges
10 Hollow Rocks


2 min/station, x2
Rope Climb
Push Ups
Sit Ups (with medicine ball)
Box Jumps (I got my wish!  Yay?)

First of all, I've never climbed a rope in my life.  Nope, not even during middle school PE (maybe I was absent that day- I don't know).  So I was both excited and intimidated by the idea of climbing a rope.  Aubrey showed me two methods- one of which I could not seem to get.  What I did immediately understand, however, was that wearing shorts was going to make it extra interesting for me- at which point Aubrey literally gave me the pants off her backside.  Pretty awesome, right?  I mean sure, she was wearing shorts underneath, but still.  (Also she is about 6 inches shorter than me, so they made for some sexy high-water action.)  So I was set for that.  Then she had me try the box jumps, which (as I mentioned) I wasn't entirely certain I could do.  I decided to try it first on the medium box, and then if I did that without killing myself give the large box a whirl.  The medium box was a piece of cake, so I took a deep breath and shocked the hell out of myself by executing a perfectly respectable jump up onto the large box (which was about 2' high, I think).  Who knew?

So there I was, full of confidence, ready to start my WOD.

They DO say first time's the charm...

Aubrey said "Go!" and I flew right the hell up that rope- it was almost easy, and I allowed myself a moment of amazed smugness (yes, that is possible- I know because I experienced it) before lowering myself back down, hand-over-hand.  And then I grabbed the rope and prepared to ascend again... and didn't.  Nor did I, on any of my subsequent tries, manage to get past the halfway mark.  Damn it.  And because Aubrey's pants were so short on me, I did to get a bit of a rope burn, but at least it was just on the ankle and nowhere else (well, my hands, but that hardly counts).

As for the box-jumps, I actually did a lot better than I'd thought I'd be able to do.  I figured I might manage ten before having to switch to the smaller box- but I did more like 23, and kept it on the large box the whole time.  I had to really push to get over twenty on the last round, an effort which made me want to fall down and vomit when Aubrey yelled, "Time!", but I did neither, so hey- go me.


She's All Wet

Tired tired tired.  Have a sketch of a kelpie:

Not as nice as the eyes might lead you to believe


Ugliness is in the Eye of the Beholder

Last was the first night of puppy kindergarten for Isis.  We were afraid she'd be the biggest dog there, and sort of just bowl all the other puppies over, but as it turned out there were at least two other her size and energy level.  One of them I feel pretty confident is a Bernese Mountain Dog, and actually younger than Isis.  Once she got over her initial "OMG OTHER PEOPLE AND DOGS AND PEEEEEOPLE!" spaz, she did quite well.

It was interesting to see the variety of people and their dogs- and, moreover, to see what different people had named their different dogs.  I don't know... I'm one of those people who doesn't really believe in giving animals people names, so it was hard for me not to snicker at things like "Frank".  But all of the puppies were stupidly cute, and the end of class involved passing the puppies around from person to person (it's a socializing thing) and my heart just about melted from all the adorability.  I mean really.

Which brings us to this:

Yes, we've been watching Ugly Betty.  It's a great show and I love it.
After kindergarten we went to visit my Katie, so that she and her man and of course Trout could meet Isis.  I wasn't totally sure  how that was going to work out- poor Trout is a middle-aged dog who has certainly earned a quiet evening of non-harassment if he wants one, but he actually perked up and got playful with Isis- even reprimanded her when she had it coming, which I was very grateful for (she needs more animals not willing to put up with her puppy guff).  The most hilarious part of the evening was when Nathan was trying to get Isis to sit with a treat: Trout (like the good boy he is) sat and waited, and when Isis finally got around to sitting, Trout reached over with paw and smacked her down like, "Move it, kid- that treat's for me!"


Show Me Mercy

In addition to finally reading American Vampire, I also decided the time had come for me to give the Mercy Thompson books (Patricia Briggs) a try (what can I say- I'm on a paranormal kick).  I really like them so far, and you know what that means- character doodles!

That's a coyote.  Honest.

I'm blowing through them pretty quickly, but fortunately she's a prolific writer, and has more than one series.  I really admire authors that can consistently turn out good work on a schedule.  Don't get me wrong- it's impressive as hell to be able to write The Great American (1000 Page) Novel, but it takes a different skill set, I think, to be able to write Something Fun But Different year after year.  And as much as it would be awesome to be in the former category of Gods Touched, I think it's more likely that I have a shot at the latter, so long as I'm willing to settle down and work.


God Bless America...

...and her monsters.

Back to ballpoint- huzzay!

Yep, I've finally gotten around to reading American Vampire, and I'm enjoying it most thoroughly (even got Nathan to read 'em).  Nice to see vampires as monsters again- I do get a bit tired of the whole, "Oh woe is me, I want to drink people," shtick.  Especially in the universes where drinking doesn't have to lead to death.  But then again, I'm a flesh-eater, myself, sooo... Even more than that, however, I'm enjoying the creative evolutionary twist.  Mad props to people who make what's old, new again.


Wait, Pencils?

Yeah, I know, I know- you weren't totally sure I even knew how to use pencils.  But I do.  And here's proof, in the form of a concept sketch of Pippa and two other Major Characters.

Generally speaking, I don't like working with pencils because I don't like how messy they are: hence I do 98% of my sketching in ballpoint pen (and 1.99% in brush pen).  But I thought I was going to turn this into a Real Piece, so I started in pencil so I could mess with composition and proportions and the like.  I don't think it will go past this point, but I do like the sketch well enough, and so all's not lost.


Blood Will Tell

I'm getting that urge again- that Writing Urge.  Never mind the fact that I still haven't edited/rewritten the Sleeping Beauty story: the time has come to start work on the Next One.  My brain is churning with the stuff, and as such you get a doodle of the main character.  She's had a rough time of it- and it's going to get worse.

And this is after some time to heal.

Poor Pippa.  To tell you the truth, I don't know that she's going to get a classically happy ending.  At least, I haven't been able to think one up for her, yet.  But time (and multiple drafts) will tell.


Balls to the Wall, Ladies

It's Saturday, and you know what that means- Crossfit!  Woo!

Nathan stayed home to nurse Isis (turns out she has a parasite- super fun.  But hey, better than the worst-case-scenarios I'd been building in my head, which tended to involve perforated intestines and the like...) so I headed over for some personalized torture on my own.

The warmup was, again, more of what I'd personally consider a workout in and of itself (it involved something called Knees-to-Elbows), but I also noticed that I had an easier time with it than last week, so I suppose that eventually the warmup will just feel like a warmup to me.  I definitely look forward to that day.

For the WoD we did something a little different.  "Box of Doom" was scrawled on the board, and I would be lying if I didn't cop to a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I had visions of an hour spent doing box-jumps (and I'm not even sure I could do one!) (although after watching that video I really want to) but no- it was nothing so worst-case-scenario-ish as that.  Instead, Aubrey brought out a heart-decorated box and had each of us (there were three ladies) pull out a "valentine" with a workout written on it- then she wrote all three on the board, and that became our WoD.  So it could have been really, really evil, but instead it turned out to be just semi-evil:

 10 Push Ups
10 Hollow Rocks
100 Double-Unders
50 Wall-Balls

Me being me, however, meant that I had to modify the workout down to my level: sit-ups instead of hollow rocks (core isn't strong enough to keep my lower back to the floor yet), and 400 normal jump rope.  And I must say- remember the other day when I said in regards to jumping rope (and I quote) "that was fun and honestly I could have done it all day"?  Yeah well I lied.  In truth of fact I can do about 75 before I decide that there are approximately one million things I'd rather be doing all day.  And of course the more tired I got, the clumsier I got, and the more time I had to spend untangling myself.  But I got through it, and then moved on to wall-ball.
Why, medicine ball?  Whhhhhyyyyy?

I was able to do about seven consecutive reps before Things began to Protest, and from there the number just got fewer and fewer, and more than once I just sat forlornly on the "don't fall ball" and clutched the medicine ball to my chest, trying to reason with it into going back down to its original 25lbs.  Somewhere around rep 30 my quads informed me that they hated me, and fully planned on quitting at a later point in the day.  They made good on that threat about five minutes after I got home, leaving me stranded at the top of some stairs, unable to get down.


RennFairest of Them All

I stayed home from work today because Isis was very sick, and needed full attention until we could get in at the vet.  Giving her full attention actually came down, primarily, to me laying on the couch with her sleeping on top of me for warmth- and while yes, puppies do sleep for most of the day, she spent the entire day either sleeping or begrudgingly be taken outside to potty.  She was not a frisky pup, and I felt bad for her.

Anyway, one is somewhat limited as to what one can get accomplished when a 23lb dog is sleeping on top of one, and thus I watched more hours of television than I necessarily care to remember.  One of the things I watched (thank you, Netflix) was a documentary on the Medici, which in its turn inspired some Renaissance-style-sketching.  Those women has some seriously enviable hairstyles.

Apparently I need servants specifically to dress my hair.  Also to clean my house, yesplease.


Twins and Things

 Some friends of mine are having twins, and, as you know, I am in the habit of giving a certain kind of gift when people have babies.  Twins meant doing some sort of matchy-matchy thing (inevitable, really), but since I am not a matchy-matchy person, myself, I had to stretch my brain a bit- and then it hit me:

I ran the idea past Nathan, and it made him laugh so I knew I had a winner.  Here's how they turned out:

And thus I give you gender-neutral, twin-appropriate, non-gag-inducing baby shower gifts.  Truly, I am a frickin' genius.  (Or, rather, Seuss is, and I'm just a frickin' genius at appropriation...)