September 2005

James was checking through the mail and discovered a card from his stepfather’s parents. Baffled, we opened it to see why they’d sent us a card.

It was an anniversary card.

We blinked stupidly at each other. I said “Our anniversary’s…err…hey, wait a minute, it’s today!”



Yeah, we’re romantics all right…

Tuber towers, awaaaaaay!

In my effort to overcome my deeply rooted (ha!) hatred of the digital airbrush, I went a little nuts with the pastel and the mist. It’s cheesy as hell, and yet…I feel sort of liberated anyway.

I am a small and petty person.

I got a comment t’other day on a painting from somebody who didn’t like it. And that’s fine, so far as it goes–I’d make myself insane in short order if I needed everybody to like every painting I’ve ever done, and they left a concise analysis of why it didn’t work for them, so it was far from a drive-by “u suk!” sort of thing. This is in no way intended to criticize them–it was a perfectly valid reaction, and not every painting works for every person.

But they said, at the end, that they thought I’d gotten over my phallic rock phase by now.


If there is a single phrase in the English language guaranteed to make my fingers burn with the desire to paint giant stone penises RIGHT THIS MINUTE, that would be it. I had just come back with a load of gessoboard, since my local art place is having a sale, and only the fact that I was under the gun for Digger kept me from prepping the entire load with monolithic rock wang. Today, I am still burning with said desire. (A friend tried to talk me out of this by pointing out that this would be a great deal of trouble to go to merely out of spite, but was unable to counter the logic that at the end of the day, I would have both spite AND a painting of a stone penis! It’s win-win!)

I am a bad person, I realize. And my muse is as perverse as they come–nothing stops my desire to paint something like the phrase “You should paint X!” which is part of why, as people may have noticed, it’s a running gag around here these days. Reverse psychology works beautifully on me, as long as I can’t see it coming. (If I can, then of course it doesn’t.) A sense of obligation kills me. (Many of you have realized this, and believe me, I appreciate your indulgence in dealing with my lunacy, although I’m really not as fragile as all that. Usually.) This is why I’ve been moving away from commissions lately, and just doing art in hopes people will buy whatever weird vision I’m havin’ that day.

Like giant stone penises, damnit.


Damn, I was right!

Baldy is hangin’ about the feeder again, his warble now bloody and deflated. Evidentally in the three or four hours since my post, doubtless accompanied by the strains of “Born Free,” Baldy’s botfly emerged from Casa de Baldy and into the wide world. (I wonder if I’ve ever seen an adult? They must be quite large, granted the mass of the warbles.)

Unfortunately for poor Baldy, the shrinkage of his parasite has only served to reveal yet another hole, although whether it is the breathing hole of a juvenile or merely the remnant of yet another former occupant, he’ll have to get closer for me to tell.

My apologies, by the way, to those previously unaware of botflies who trustingly googled. I’m sorry. That’s a hard thing to spring on the unsuspecting, I know.

Baldy’s botfly has got to be ready to emerge any time now. It’s a monsterous warble, the whole end of the fly protruding like a gigantic blackhead, except that if you ever find a blackhead with a protruding segmented carapace, run, don’t walk, to the parasitologist.*

I confess, after two summers of bot-watching, I kinda wanna see one of these suckers pop. Sure, I’d be off my feed for a week afterwards–hell, even just studying Baldy’s warble through the binoculars makes my skin itch with savage psychosomatic sympathy (try saying that five times fast!) but it’s like a demented nature show. You have to stick around until David Attenborough tells you that the cycle of life is again complete.

*Naturally everybody has their family parasitologist on speed dial, right?

Hmm. I am, once again, thinking of getting an airbrush, since there are all these things I’d like to do with real media that I am increasingly aware Will Not Happen unless I get one. (I may wind up hating the things, but I’d at least like the option to hate it in person.)

I will go lay out a hundred and fifty bucks for a bottom of the barrel airbrush and compressor if I must, but it occurs to me, before I do, that I have lots of readers who are also prone to my tendency of picking up random art supplies and using them long enough to realize that they hate them.

So! Just on the off chance, anybody got a working airbrush they aren’t using? I’d be happy to trade art, or do part art, part cash, or whatever.


It was weird–I’ve been working on a painting all day, of tuber houses, and I’m totally stoked, I love these tuber houses, I’m thrilled by them, I’m workin’ all day, and suddenly, with an almost mechanical mental click, my brain said “We’re done with this painting for today.”

“But it’s only four!” I protested to my brain.

“Yeah. Doesn’t matter. We’re done. If you continue, we will make you hate this painting, and then it’ll NEVER get done.”

I’m baffled. It’s not a bad painting. I was quite excited about it. I’m delighted by all these tuber-house notions. I had ideas for a whole slew of paintings. But suddenly, I was Done. I just hope it’ll be okay again tomorrow, and that this painting is not permanently halted, as sometimes happens.

My brain is a jerk.

Edit: James points out that I will also need an air compressor, so again, if anybody has such a beast used and would be willing to trade art…

I am struck occasionally, usually while snuggling the cat, with our faith in domestication.

The cat is a small, ferocious predator, twelve pounds of…well, flab and fur, frankly, in Athena’s case, but what muscle there is is strong all out of proportion to her size. I have watched three 150+ primates try and fail to subdue a ten pound cat, and consider it not at all unusual. The cat is as flexible as a snake and as strong as an ox. She has quite dainty looking teeth and claws, but there’s nothing dainty about their ability to flay flesh from bone.

If the cat and I were in a duel to the death, I would almost certainly win. I am 15+ times larger than she is, after all, and while my teeth and claws are pathetic, I have prehensile hands capable of doing terrible things. But if I had to go in naked, as the cat does, (and assuming the cat was aware that she was going to have to kill me, and not taking a nap in the corner) I can pretty much guarantee it would be a Pyhrric victory. I’d look like I’d gone ten rounds with a wolverine. I would need stitches. A lot of stitches. Possibly a glass eye. And antibiotics by the truckload. It’d be a mess, and there would even be a chance of an upset if the cat managed to go face-hugger on me.

And yet, despite the knowledge of the shocking amount of damage my small predator could inflict, it never occurs to me to worry. I pick the cat up and she tucks her head under my chin and purrs, canine teeth centimeters from my jugular, and despite the fact that I am carrying a ruthless carnivore in a position where she could, with great ease, remove me from the gene pool, I am thoroughly content with the world. Even knowing full well that cats are not even a truly domesticated animal, that Athena’s kin might best be described as “consistently tamed,” my greatest concern is that my black tank top is now coated in white cat hairs.

We have such faith in the process of domestication, despite the sheer unnaturalness of what’s happening. Small predators do not curl up on the chests of large primates and purr in the wild. And yet, every now and again, generally when my small predator is purring on the chest of this particular primate, I think How strange, how strange… that we’re doing this, and even stranger, that we both take it completely for granted, and find nothing unusual in such a completely unlikely alliance.

As promised, the Digger cover that turned into a landscape of its own accord…

It’s for the best, really, since the figure it would have shown would have given away too much of the plot.

Edit: And Websnark said nice things about Digger, and that people who liked “Girl Genius” would probably enjoy it. It’s a good day for Digger all around!

The air is so humid today that the world looks like a basic tutorial in atmospheric perspective. The other side of the street is unsaturated, the end of the block is washed out, and if you get some place with a straight line of visibility for a mile, the world turns white and airbrushed around the edges. If I was doing it, there’d be a little more blue, but instead this is a dense, fibrous white, like tightly packed bread mold. Summer has evidentally been left out on the counter too long, and it’s time to throw it away before the whole bag starts to turn weird colors. Time to go pick up a loaf of fall, maybe with cinnamon. But no raisins. Not a fan of raisins.

(Having been kidnapped and beaten severely by her wayward metaphor, Ursula eventually escapes and crawls back to the keyboard to finish the post.)

The line-up of rodent tragedies has increased. We now have “Baldy,” who has a botfly on his left shoulder, and surrounding it, a bald swath that tapers into patches and furrows across his back and belly and down his side. I’m not sure if it’s just the side-effect of the botfly, or if there’s something else going on. Possibly Baldy did not have a grandmotherly squirrel (with small, round glasses, one assumes, and perhaps a shawl) to slap his paw away and say “If you don’t stop picking at it, it won’t get better!” and has simply been scratching at it until his hair falls out. We’ll see if he re-furs when the botfly goes away, or if we’ll just have a bald squirrel tearing around the place.

  • Archives

  • I write & illustrate books, garden, take photos, and blather about myriad things. I have very strong feelings about potatoes.

    Latest Release

    Now Available