May 2005

Today I’m taking a sick day.

I HATE taking sick days. The difference between a job you hate and a job you love is the difference between “Hmm, I feel a sneeze coming on…better call in!” and “SICK? I CAN BE SICK WHEN I’M DEAD!” Since I love my job dearly, a whole day wasted lying around whimpering when I could be drawing Nurk at the Gate of Fish or something is just galling.

However, I had some kind of allergy attack yesterday, which I largely ignored because I was hammering away on the demon rat painting, and then once I pulled out of my painting fugue, I turned out to be out of Allegra, so there was no chance of halting it. My nostrils are dry and sore, and my skull aches, which is fairly standard. I could probably work through that. I USUALLY work through that. This time, however, I acquired an absolutely dire sore throat to go with it, the back of my throat feels like a sponge that’s been scraped raw and then run over by a truck, and that’s a deal breaker.

While I’m fairly sure it’s allergies, ever since James’s Lyme disease (which he is recovering nicely from, and the yogurt* is clearing up most of the side-effects of antibiotics) I’m suffering the mild hypochrondria of someone who just witnessed a Weird Disease, and neurotically wondering if I have what James calls Rocky Nile Spotted Hanta Testicular Virus. (My attempts to point out that I lacked at least one vital component needed for this ailment was foiled when James claimed that it would cause me to grow a pair, which would then fall off, or possibly explode.) But hopefully it’s just the usual.

Meanwhile, back to bed!

*My father suggested that a much more fun way to replace yeasts and bacterias is with beer. James quite liked this idea.

These giant demon animals crack me up. I dunno what it is. Maybe it’s just the idea.

I wonder what follows bunny and mouse. Naturally “GIANT DEVIL-MARMOTS OF THE WEST!” flashes across my brain, but there’s something so utterly good natured-looking about marmots, I dunno if I could make them look even marginally evil.

On the other hand, if one sees its shadow, does it means six more weeks of damnation?

I Dub Thee…

The rat was out on the feeder again this morning. James stood at the sliding door and eyed him.

“He’s big. Man. What’s his name?”

“I haven’t named him,” I admitted. (I did not attempt to explain my peculiar chain of logic here, which was that A) there was only one rat, and thus “the rat” was a perfectly good identifier, and B) rats, unlike squirrels and birds and whatnot, are dignified, self-contained individuals, on par with a dog or cat in the brain department, and one gets a vague sense that they may already have their own names, and C) despite pet rats, a father who raised rats, and a general fondness for rats, I am still unable to shake my nagging conditioning that says wild rats are vermin and should not thus be assigned monikers.)

James, however, having no such qualms, said “He looks like a Wilbur.”


“Totally a Wilbur. Look at those ears. That’s a Wilbur.”

Unable to fault this logic, I agreed that he did, indeed, have Wilbur-esque ears, and thus the rat joined the ranks of the named fauna behind the house. Hello, Wilbur!

As of 12:01, I am officially 28 years old!

I wouldn’t even mention it, but this is the only time in my life I’ll have my 28th birthday on the 28th, so I can’t let that one go by.

This week has been a parade of relatives calling to wish me happy birthday and getting the vague “Oh…right…birthday…” that characterizes most birthdays after 21. However, the sheer weight of people reminding me has actually cemented it in my brain. I am twenty-eight. Woo!

Your twenties are sort of like driving across Montana. It just keeps going, and going, and the distant mountains of your thirties are far off on the horizon, and they never seem to get any closer. And then eventually you glance up from the roadmap, and dude! They’re RIGHT THERE! There’s snow! And maybe bears! And–OH, GOD, IS THAT NORTH DAKOTA?!


Really, I’m not that worried. I have the best job in the world, a fabulous husband, and I don’t live in a constant state of fiscal anxiety. I would have been happy to achieve that by forty, frankly. So twenty-eight finds me congenial and mellow and ready for another year. Life is good.

Another Gearworld painting! This one took a long time, and probably will not prove terribly popular, since people generally like a figure somewhere in the painting to relate to. However, it’s what wanted to be painting, and when Gearworld allows me to paint it, I have learned not to argue. Ever.

Another Weird Noise

There’s a strange noise I keep hearing out back, and have for the past month or so.

It’s a kind of metallic meow. It falls somewhere between the creak of unoiled playground equipment and a cat. It goes “KreeeeOW!” then stops. A few minutes later, there will come another “KreeeOW!” noise. It happens maybe two or three times a day, but it is not as common as the constant yammer of the other birds.

The nagging bit is that it’s familiar. I’m almost sure it’s a sound I’ve heard in movies and TV shows, generally when they pan across a swamp or a lake or something, a haunting, somewhat sinister noise, a “You’re in the wilderness now, boy!” noise, the North American equivalent of the laughing kookaburra, meant to denote a certain space. But it’s appearing in the middle of a suburb, in a chunk of wooded space less than a hunded yards from a road in any direction.

And yet, despite this nagging familiarity, I have no idea what it is.

It is not a loon. I realize they play loon noises on a lot of lake scenes, but I know what a loon sounds like, and believe me, if there were loons behind my house, I would be calling people. Loons make…um…I dunno how to write the loon noise. It’s that kind of haunting baritone uluation. Anyway, it’s not this. This is a loud, metallic “rEEeeeOW!” ish sort of noise.

Again, as with the thing that went “HnAAgh,” (which turned out to be a bullfrog, which I always thought went “Riibbit”) I could look this up easily on-line if I had any idea where to start. But I do not know if it is fish or fowl (okay, it’s probably not a fish) or frog or bug. (I doubt it’s a bug. It’d be a helluva bug.) Frog or bird seems likely, but for all I know, it’s the mating call of the Carolinian Banded Sasquatch. Without some narrowing of the field, I will be lost.

Anybody got any suggestions of where to start?

Edit: I don’t think it’s a mimic…I mean, I’m sure it’d be mimickable, but they’d need a helluva range. This goes from quite high to very deep, and while I’ve heard mockingbirds mimic a number of things, they’d need to plug into an amplifier to pull this off. (I can’t rule it out, of course.) Definitely not a blue jay or a grackle–they make squeaky rusty noises, but this is a prolonged, booming metallic scrape. The closest calls so far have been the red-tailed hawk (too thin, not deep enough) and the peacock (awfully similiar, but over a broader range, and longer.) If you crossed the two, it’d be pretty close, but I doubt interspecies luv has gone that far…

Hmmmm. Maybe it’s a weird peacock. In the suburbs. Who only calls once or twice a day…

A fledgling bluebird, elegant in grey and speckled black, with blue wings, is sitting out on the railing, demanding to be fed. Its parents hop down, shove suet in its gaping beak, hop away. Once they’ve gone off, the fledgling happily eats the suet on its own, but as soon as they return, it’s back to “FEED ME! FEED ME!”

Kids these days. I tell ya.

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