By the way, even if you’re not a regular reader of “Digger,” today the Oracular Slug makes his (her? Aren’t slugs hermaphrodites anyway?) comic debut! Don’t miss it! (In fact, the next coupla weeks are kinda cool, and slug-heavy, so they’re worth reading, if I do say so myself. And the daily update is always free, you only need to subscribe if you want the archives.)

http://www.graphicsmash.com/series.php?name=digger&view=

Today I went to the farmer’s market. And they had plants.

Because it’s spring.

I think I scared my friend Kathy, since I was gibbering and giggling, which is generally not standard behavior, and dancing giddily from plant to plant. Spring makes me high. Especially REAL spring. Minnesota doesn’t have real spring. I mean, you can get plants there, and it’s exciting, but it’s not like when I was a kid in Oregon, and you can plant rocks and they’ll grow. I had a serious gardening high, which took me waaaay back. And now I have this gigantic sunny deck and only a few forlorn (though lovely) little pansies and some random herbs (including Corsican mint and lemon balm, which I grow only because my mother grew it–I have no earthly use for them, but the smell just takes me back to childhood gardening) and 5-for-a-buck dianthus currently filling up maybe a percent of it. I couldn’t get over it all–zinnias! Bleeding heart! Marigolds! Jasmine! I’ve never lived in a climate where I could grow jasmine and have it like me! Azaleas! Hydrangeas! Verbena and lantana and phlox and pinks and fifty zillion kinds of sage!

However, I was good, and restrained myself–mostly–and mainly bought some inexpensive shrubs that will fit in pots and grow large and last more than the summer and, gardening gods willing, gradually fill in a bit of the deck so that it is not a vast plain of weathered boards and those damn caltrops that are ironically known as “sweet gum balls.” And a coupla ground covers to fill in under said shrubs. We’ll see if I can actually get a butterfly bush to grow–Mom tried to grow ’em from seed a number of times, and…well, they were learning experiences. (We learned that she couldn’t grow ’em from seed, mostly.) Supposed to be a good plant for the region, though, and for five bucks, I’m willing to give it a shot. This is the Ursula method of gardening–“It’s hardy? It’s cheap? Okay, I’ll try it.” Then I lose the tag, and forget the name, and thus the joy of discovery is always new. A terrible memory and a sense of wonder can be a great combination.

And damnit–in other gardening news–I planted some climbing nasturium seeds in a pot. You cannot transplant them, so I was careful to pick a very large pot. I had a seed left over, so I shoved it idily into a pot with my freesia bulbs. And wouldn’t you know it, not a damn one came up, EXCEPT the one shoved in with the freesia? Which cannot be transplanted, because they hate that. Oh, well.

I wish I could grow foxglove in pots, but I think it’s a little too…giant.

‘Cos I’m a Meme Sheep!

Grab the nearest book.

Open the book to page 23.

Find the fifth sentence.

Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions

Both the Olmec and the Classic Maya lived in a tropical lowland, which, apart from some medicine-yielding plants, had few natural resources.

From “Pre-Columbian Art” by Esther Pasztory.

My initial painting idea for the capybara chasing Skull Owl is not really working. It’s too busy, and top-heavy with detailed bits, and I was hoping I could balance it out with color, even though I should know bettr than to use color as a crutch. And that wasn’t working very well–I tried about ten different styles and none of them worked for me. What I really want is watercolor–real, physical watercolor, because my processor laughs at the notion of using Painter watercolors at the size I’d need–which will involve a lot of hoop jumping if I go at it the way I’m thinking of doing, since I don’t want to just transfer it to paper the usual way, which will lose all my nice megascribble linework, which, unfortunately, cannot be duplicated in physical media. (My thought is to finally get Kinko’s to laser print me something on watercolor paper–I’ve been promising to do so for quite awhile, and the person I promised has been VERY patient–and if I can get a good print of the elaborate linework, I can try watercoloring over that and see if that gets the effect I’m after.)

I may, however, yet salvage it digitally–I started fooling around with an almost Arthur Rackham style, with the very dark sepias and muted, grungy creams, and that started to have promise. However, by that point I’d spent five or six hours hunched over it, and James looked in my face, said “Hon…your eyes are really bloodshot. I think you’re done.” And then I realized that my right arm ached from overuse and I stumbled into the bathroom to see that yup, my eyeballs looked as if they had road rash.

I will not give up hope, however–if the Rackham style doesn’t work out, I’ll try a different scene, which p’raps won’t be plagued by the inherent compositional flaws.

For now, however, the next installment of Digger needs to be painted. Slugs ahoy!

The sight of a Carolina wren hopping around the trees in front with a bit of bark in its beak, presumably prepatory to nest building, fills me with a deep and utterly irrational joy.

I see ’em every day. You’d think I’d get used to it. But I still hop around like an idiot when I see a male cardinal in the bushes because it’s bright red and even though I live at what appears to be the crossroads for a mighty cardinal nation, it’s still exciting. Because it’s red!

Possibly there’s a genetic hardwiring at work here.

This uncomplicated joy is in particularly amusing contrast to the following highly technological, geeky, and rather esoteric joy of coming into the house from admiring the happy little wrens, and finding James laughing incredulously at something called “Beatallica” which involved an unholy melding of the Beatles and Metallica. The combo of “Enter Sandman” and “Taxman” was particularly brilliant and nearly made me spray Coke out of my nose. I don’t know how they’re making the lyrics work, because they do not even remotely scan to the space involved, and my attempts to duplicate fail miserably. But it was still damn funny.

Worked hard yesterday, got a lot done by quitting time.

Then…it started to call me. The Happy Capybara. My fingers twitched. I fought the urges. I have time for another project like I have time to take up professional ice-skating. I shouldn’t even start. I shouldn’t even do concept sketches. Even if the Happy Little Capybara Visits Xibalba would be funny and cute and allow me to draw freaky Mayan stuff, even if I AM ahead on my beloved Digger, I don’t have time and if I start things and don’t finish them or put them on hold or whatever, people send me e-mail and ask where the next one is and then I feel guilty for letting down the viewership and then I curl into fetal position and…and…

And then I went and did it anyway.
http://yerf.com/vernursu/happycapybara.jpg

The viewership seems to have voted for “Stanley” as the name of the stuffed sloth. I know he gets kidnapped by Skull Owl, but that’s as far as the brain has gone yet…

Holy crap! An illustration I did is up for an Ursa Major award!

Yes, I’m REALLY slow on the uptake, but I saw that the “Best in Show” anthology was up for the best-other-anthro-literary-work and thought THAT was what that e-mail meant…but no! There’s an actual ‘Best Anthromorphic Published Illustration” category, and the cover got nominated!

Holy mackerel. I had no idea.

http://www.flayrah.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1830

I mean, it’s not a Hugo or anything, but still! That’s wild! And unexpected! And wild! And…err…neat!

In my continuing small-originals-for-auction trend (expect it to last for most of the month) I wound up back in the land of Cute again. http://yerf.com/vernursu/rabbitcrow.jpg

It’s times like this I think “Hmm, maybe I SHOULD try to do a children’s book,” although I don’t know anything about marketing them, or whether the world is really ready for “The Fuzzy Little Wombat Visits Xilbalba” or whatever demented thing it’d morph into. (Xilbalba is the Mayan hell, as laid down in the Popul Vuh, which has some of the coolest imagery ever. It could only be improved with the addition of wombats, but then, really what isn’t?)

“And then Fuzzy Little Wombat met the demon Scab-Stripper, Defiler of Virgins and Drinker of the Blood of the Innocent. “Hi!” said Fuzzy Little Wombat. “Will you be my friend?”

This novel tactic confused Scab-Stripper utterly and he had to retire back to his cave and have a blood-of-the-innocent julep to pull himself together.

Disappointed, Fuzzy Little Wombat continued down the road paved with skulls and obsidian knives in hopes that he could find someone to be his friend.”

See, that’s what’d happen immediately, so it’s just not a good idea….

Also, the first round of auctions close tomorrow, and the bunny is up for auction, so check out http://www.furbid.ws/cgi-bin/auction.pl?alluser&Ursulav if interested!

Update: At Makovette’s excellent suggestion, I’ve put up a Dutch Auction for the Cute Print Set. You save $20 if you order the set rather than individual prints, so it’s a heckuva deal. I’ve never tried a dutch auction before, so this’ll be an exciting learning experience…
http://www.furbid.ws/cgi-bin/auction.pl?print_genfur&1081546431

Saw Hellboy.

Don’t know the comic at all, but it was a very good movie–I enjoyed it more than “Spiderman,” and definitely a lot more than “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” to rank it for comic adaptations. Good flick. Made me want to read the comic, anyhow. Not bad at all.

And the Lovecraftian tentacled horrors didn’t make me immediately groan and roll my eyes, and hell, I groaned and rolled my eyes READING Lovecraft (particularly midway through “Call of Cthulhu,” although it’s really not H.P.’s fault–nobody could’ve done justice to the build up) so that was good. They looked like freaky tentacled horrors. I was not struck down to madness, left gibbering the names of subway stations and screaming “Tekili-li!” mind you, but that’s a pretty tough effect to pull off in any event, and I can hardly fault them for their failure to provide a cosmic horror sufficient to unbalance the audience.

After that, spent a pleasant evening playing Magic with friends. Geektacular joy, all around! FEAR MY TRAGIC POET OF DOOOOOM!

Ahem.