January 2005

Digger Announcement

For months they asked me. No, years. Definitely years. Not frequently, perhaps, but every now and then, the question would come up. “When…?” “Can we get a…?” and each time, I said “Well, not yet, but hopefully at some point…” So it is with great pleasure (and no amount of mild disbelief, because whodathunk something I doodled while watching Steve Irwin get his calf bitten by an irritable marsupial would come so far?) I can finally give a better answer.

So, uh…there’s a dead tree version of Digger in the works.

Sofawolf Press, who put out “It Made Sense At The Time” is going to be publishing the Digger collection, vol 1. It will contain the first two chapters, plus a four or five page little mini-story exclusive to the volume which I’m working on at the moment. Sofawolf did a fabulous job on the art book, and are generally just wonderful guys, so I’m excited to have ’em do the Digger compendium.

The mighty and pussiant comic gods willing, it will debut at Anthrocon, be available at San Diego Comic Con, and you’ll be able to order it on-line as well.

So hey, how cool izzat?

Was feeling pretty dragged out, so I went back to bed for an hour–I don’t do that very often, actually, but working at home does have SOME advantages. Had a bizarre dream. I was visiting a women’s prison with my friend Kathy. I’ve never actually visited a women’s prison, so it probably doesn’t resemble that combination of low-income housing and middle school, with a riot room, machine shop, and shared restrooms. Or then again, perhaps it does. I dunno.

If there are cats in women’s prisons, they probably don’t wear molded rubber body armor with a vaguely samurai motif. Also, I can’t imagine they have a trapping work-study program, so there is no explanation for why I was leaving and someone handed me a stack of otter faces. (Like…skins. Only just the faces, with the eyeholes. It was like a stack of those little domino masks, only made out of half-cured pelt. And those must’ve been some HUGE otters…

The other odd bit, as I left, wandering down a gravel road which appeared to be somewhere in the Southwest, was that I kept finding these little animal fetishes in the gravel. And I was talking to them, too. There was a gray one of a snake’s head, and then a lot of vertebrae, and a snakes tail a little way away, and I was saying “Snake…buddy…what’s happened to you? What are you doing out here?” and so forth. It was a little odd.

That’ll teach me to go back to bed for an hour…

Da Sticki Code

My computer monitor is littered with Sticky Notes.

No. Not the inferior physical kind with the glue that falls off eventually and doesn’t support copy & paste. The digital kind. My desktop is an ancient breeding ground of virtual sticky notes. They contain phone numbers (often obsolete), addresses (often in other states), passwords, book recommendations, lists of names of people who want prints, To-Do Lists (again, usually out of date), notes on how much money I’ve made, by month, for several years, copies of neat quotes or IM conversations containing some bit of data that was vital six months ago, and random snippets of somewhat baffling content.
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It seems to have iced up last night. Well, a little. Not nearly as bad as it was supposed to be. The news made it sound like the icestorm was not only going to coat everything in six inches of glazed death, it would come in, eat our food, brutalize our pets, and made rude gestures at our women.*

However, mostly it just seems soggy with a few little icy bits. If you look out the back, the trees get paler and paler in the distance, each twig among the high branches carefully outlined in ice against the white sky, which is a lovely and enchanting effect that one is rarely free to enjoy without the pipes bursting and the car mortared to the driveway, so I’m enjoying it.

In answer to people asking me about WoW, I am but a lowly 15th level noob of a paladin, playing with James, an only marginally less lowly 15th level noob of a hunter, and his succession of strange pets. I do mining and blacksmithing. And cooking. And occasionally fishing. (Grackle, on Bloodhoof, if anyone is looking. Although I warn you now, my witty repartee tends to suffer when I’m whomping…)

*James wishes to add “Sodomize my toes” to this. I don’t argue with a man making me an omelet.

Q & A with the Superego

Gee, Ursula, what did you do today?

I don’t want to talk about it.

Did you make brilliant art to thrill the heart, or at least weird art to baffle the mind?


Well, then, did you make art for money to pay the rent and foil the creditors?

I can’t say I did, no.

Did you work on that One Thing? You know, the one that involves all that editing that you’re supposed to be doing for that thing that we won’t discuess? You know? The Thing?


Did you work on Digger so that your loyal fans whom you really don’t deserve can read all about their favorite wombat? You know, Digger, which could always use a bigger backlog?


Did you–

I played World of Warcraft from dawn until dusk, okay!?! I accomplished nothing! And I regret nothing!

Well. All right, then.

Ursula: “Hey, James…I had this dream, I was having dinner with these people, and FDR was there!”

James: “Did he talk about the New Deal?”

Ursula: “…no…he was funny, though.”

James: “Churchhill must have been there.”

Ursula (losing the narrative thread completely): “Uh…uh…so there was this room…it was cold, and the windows were broken out, and there were giant robots outside in the streets!”

James: “Like performance art?”

Ursula: “No, like subjugating humanity. Good try, though.”

James: “Well, you know, performance art, humanity, whatever…”

Random Reflections on Birding

Just saw a White Throated Sparrow! Saw it for a minute, grunted–the head stripes meant it was something I could probably find in the bird book, but I knew I was probably missing some vital indicator that would tell me which of a dozen nearly identical stripey-noggined sparrows it would be. And yup, I was right. White crowned? White throated? I hadn’t thought to see if it had little yellow patches on the stripe next to the beak. I sighed, put the book down, was turning away from the window, and the bird landed on the railing again, with clear (albeit scruffy) yellowy patches. Cheered.

I’m a pretty crappy birder, granted that the vast majority of things I see are the ones outside my window, and don’t even ask me about the calls, but there’s still a certain exultation in seeing a new bird for the first time. I can see why people muck about with binoculars and Land Rovers and whatnot. I do not actually own binoculars, but I can sense the appeal. Since I began keeping a lifelist, (a whole 81 birds!) I’m simultaneously heartened by the numbers of new bird species I’ve seen and miffed at myself for not taking an interest years ago, when I was living in other areas. Since I’ve been as scrupulously honest as I can, and only noting down the birds from memory that I am 100% certain of identification on–mostly “Canadian Goose” and “American Crow” and “Bald Eagle” and that sort of thing, where I can’t possibly be mistaken, there aren’t many. I know there’s a whole slew of birds that I must have seen in my years moving hither and yon across the bloody country that I just didn’t pay any attention to.

On the other hand, I suppose there’s something to be said for observing a single area in the relatively exhaustive detail that I’ve come to observe the patch of green behind my house. At this moment, there’s a hermit thrush on the feeder, a brown-headed nuthatch opposite it, and the white-throated sparrow is back sitting on the rail. It took months before I saw any of these birds for the first time, and now I see them all the time. (I don’t doubt I’ll start seeing the white-throated sparrow every time I turn around.) And the numbers have changed, too–last winter, around this time, it was all cardinals and white breasted nuthatches and Carolina chickadees, and I don’t think I ever even saw a bluebird. New things keep showing up, and then I wonder if they were always there and I just missed them, or what.

Keeps me amused, anyway.

Here’s one for the birders…

Unidentified bird on the deck. Had the distinctive eye with the ring like a thrush, was shaped pretty much like a thrush, would generally have called it a thrush…but the breast was pale, no spots at all. The back and head were a pale grey-buff color, about the hermit thrush shade, maybe a hair lighter, shading into white underbelly. It looked almost exactly like a hermit thrush, which we get around here, but a little paler and with no breast spots at all. No stripes or bars or license plate or other distinctive markings at all that I could see (I didn’t see it in flight, just hopping along the deck for a moment.) Can’t find anything in my bird book to match it, and I’ve about given up on e-nature.

Anybody got any guesses?

Rabbit Hole

I woke up this morning to the wonderfully squishy feeling of stepping in something.

There’s a minute when this happens where you stare straight ahead, eyes fixed on the middle distance, and know that in a second, you’re going to have to look down. Until you look down, it could be anything. Cat puke, cat poo, disembowled small mammal–the options are many. It’s like Schrodinger’s Cat Leavings. Until you actually, with infinite dread, lift your foot and turn on the light and gaze upon whatever is wedged between your toes, it could be anything. Quantum theory* would probably indicate that until you do so, it’s actually EVERYTHING, as God plays something much more disgusting than dice with the universe, and until the act of observation collapses reality back into a single state, you’re actually standing in a disturbing organic gumbo which might include everything from bits of platypus to Nessie.

I finally looked down, and it was the back half of a moose.

This was almost a relief. We’ve had moose in the walls for days, and you would not believe the amounts of crap a bull moose can leave in the silverware drawer at night. Normally they stay outside, of course, but it’s been cold enough lately that they’re coming in for anything they can find, and if you accidentally leave a cookie on the counter, or a 50lb bag of oats on coffee table, you’ll get up in the morning to find nibble marks and occasionally hoofprints around it. And sometimes at night you can hear them in the walls. The clip-clop of little moosey hooves is bad enough, but you get a couple of ’em bugling, and you might as well go stay at a motel.

We tried traps. But the cat is too stupid for standard moosetraps–I’m afraid she’d get caught–and the glue traps were just tragic. There’s nothing like pulling out the fridge and seeing a dejected ton of moose huddled in the corner, looking at you with enormous brown eyes, each hoof glued solidly down to the floor. You peel the poor thing off and everybody cries and…well, it’s too hard on the emotional state. Which leaves the live traps, and now, evidentally, the cat.

“Good cat!” I told her, tipping the moose butt into the trash. “What a good little hunter you are!”

The cat, presumably still digesting the front half of the moose, laid on her back and made a noise vaugely like “Mehhhhrrf….”

She’s a good cat. Not a smart cat, but it’s not every nine pound Siamese that can take down an adult moose, when you think about it.

*Which I don’t understand, which is why I’m mangling it. I’m an artist, Jim, not a quantum theoretician.

(For those wondering what friggin’ planet I’m on, an explanation of the Rabbit Hole thing is at http://www.livejournal.com/users/crisper/26562.html )

Poor Stumpy!

Rabbit-hole entries to commence later, but for now, a sad note–I woke up, and saw Gimpy on the feeder. I almost didn’t recognize him because you could now call him “Stumpy”–his tail’s about a third the length of a regular squirrel tail, and significantly shorter than it was yesterday. There are bloody claw marks in his bad leg, too (although not too much blood, he’s cleaned it very neatly and they’re small holes.)

I am not fast enough to catch a three-legged squirrel. It would appear that something else isn’t quite fast enough either, but fast enough to come pretty close. I wonder if this is going to continue until his entire hind end has become truncated, or if something’ll finally get lucky and snag him.

Poor Gimpy. He can eat all of my camellia he wants.

UPDATE: Hold the phone! That’s not Gimpy!

Or if it is, Gimpy has an astonishing gift for instantaneous tail regeneration, as he’s currently hanging off the feeder stuffing his face, and his tail is the proper length. So obviously what has happened is that a second squirrel (who will henceforth be known as Stumpy) has run afoul of some beast in the exact same manner as Gimpy–it got him by the left hind quarter and yanked, dislocating the leg and clawing it up a bit, except that Stumpy also lost the majority of his tail.

I still don’t know if I am just living in some kind of ward for defective and hard luck squirrels, or if this would happen if one took the time to watch any small population of animals for a year, or what.

Well, I feel obscurely relieved. Good luck, Stumpy! If Gimpy can make it, so can you!

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