May 2007

Bobcat Sighting #2!

I got up this morning and was pulling my clothes on when I happened to look out the window and saw a bobcat strolling casually by.  The other side of the street rises up an embankment to a fence, and on the other side of the fence, the bobcat sauntered past, accompanied by the shrieking of a number of very freaked out California towhees. No question of ID this time, picture perfect silhouette, white and black stubby tail flashing in the sun.

I did, of course, what any guest would do in this situation–I lunged out of my room, fuzzy socks skidding madly on the hardwod floor, pants held up with one hand, yelling “Bobcatbobcatbobcat!”

Ah. Appears that my host’s new girlfriend spent the night. This would be awkward, except that my CCH, mark of a decent human being, immediately yelled “WHERE!?” and leapt to his feet, and tore out of the front door in response to my pointing and gibbering. The fact that I was standing on the street holding my pants up manually and wearing bright teal underwear didn’t have a patch on the bathrobe he was wearing, so that worked out well enough.

Alas, the bobcat had already wandered off, but at least I tried.

Said girlfriend–who’s really very cool–said, in disbelief, “Bobcats? Here? What, am I in a zoo?”

My host scoffed. “These are LA bobcats.”

“They all have Blackberries and take meetings,”  I added.

“Now you have to paint that,” said my host, thereby proving, I suppose, that no matter what coast you’re on, some things never, ever change.

A buck in full velvet just strolled through the back yard, browsing on the shrubs. He was unbothered by us standing on the porch talking loudly about taxidermy.  He was one of those with funky asymetrical antlers, and looked to be a thirteen pointer.  It was pretty cool.

So I’m spending a quiet evening in tonight–the combination of chocolate cheesecake, hairpin turns, and time of month all ganged up to make me think that maybe laying on the couch and watching a movie would be a nice way to spend the evening.  So I flip through my host’s extensive video library, and discover “The Secret of NIMH.”

“God, I’m such a furry,” I muttered, but I hit Play anyway, because dude, it’s been a good eighteen years since I watched it.

Be warned. I am about to speak blasphemy.

And you know, it’s a cute enough flick, that old school Don Bluth stuff, but damnit, I think it’s time for a remake of the book. And really use the book this time, because as charming as “Secret of NIMH” is, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was a much superior book. They turned what was a surprisingly elegant work on the power of science and brains and ingenuity–even rat ingenuity!–into all that quasi-mystic mumbo-jumbo that didn’t need to be there. That was just lazy filmmaking. The rats triumphed because they were smart and logical, not because they had magic amulets of dubious origin, damnit.

Of course, they’d probably insist on doing it in 3-D, and I don’t know how I’d feel about that. Still.

Although if they wimped out and didn’t kill Justin at the end, I’d probably be okay with that.

Work proceeds apace. Took a break to doodle some birds. I need to paint more birds. Of course, my scanner’s on the other side of North America at the moment.

Been trying to figure what I want out of life. This is heavy stuff to contemplate, but not as much as you’d think, because I’m already pretty much doing what I want to do career-wise, and I think “figuring out what you want to DO” is the hardest part of that equation.

So other than that, what do I want?

I think I’d like to live in a house–preferably an adobe, pueblo-style, although I’d settle for stucco and terracotta. It doesn’t have to be very big. Two bedrooms would be fine. I want a small, but packed garden. I want to live in the Southwest–CA would work, but I couldn’t hope to afford a house there, so the Southwest is the best guess. I want a patio or a courtyard draped with bouganvillea vines and I want to sit out there in the morning with a cup of tea and watch hummingbirds.  I want to live in a city–not a huge one, neccesarily, but I’ve lived in small towns and out in the sticks and it’s not nearly as fun as it seems. I wouldn’t mind coyotes in the yard, but I want to be someplace where I can get to a bookstore. I’m happy to go walking in parks, and drive out to the wilderness occasionally.

I want to travel when I want to, and see lots of birds. I want my art in galleries fetching reasonably absurd prices and my prints cheap and available to anybody who wants ’em.  I want to write a couple of books that people enjoy reading, and a couple of graphic novels, at least one of which gets turned into a really bad movie so that I can roll my eyes, drain my drink, and say “They butchered it! The monsters! My vision, violated! …oh well, at least the check cleared.”  I want to be comfortable, and free to dabble in anything that catches my fancy, the way I do now. I want to blog and keep people interested.

I don’t know what I want in terms of relationships, and I don’t think now’s a good time for me to make any plans in that regard. Maybe I’ll get married again. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have a string of lovers and eventually give up to devote myself full time to raising pygmy platypi in tubs in my garden. I don’t know what I’ll decide there, but I trust my future self on this one–she’ll figure out what makes her happy. I leave it in her hopefully capable hands.

I don’t expect to achieve all of this any time soon–if I make it by forty, I’ll feel like I’m doing a good job! Still, ten years is a long time. Ten years ago I was graduating from college, and I’d never sold a painting, and didn’t own a car. So I think that’ s doable–and if anything changes between now and then, that’s okay, too.

Well, here we are. May 28th. I have finally crossed that dark threshold.

I’m thirty today.

One of the first thing you learn about birthdays as a kid is how you don’t feel any different the next day. The difference between May 27th and May 28th is only a day, not a full year. (Actually, since I was born on a naval base in Yokosuka, Japan, at around three in the afternoon, my birthday’s either already over or tomorrow or something like that. I’m never entirely clear on that one.)

So I don’t feel any different today.

I’m more than ready for 29 to be over, though. If you’d asked me a year ago where I’d be on my birthday, I really wouldn’t have guessed I’d be seperated, most of a continent away, sitting on an immense porch looking at the Hollywood sign and planning a move that crosses the whole of the continental US. (I could probably have guessed “blogging.” That’s as far as I think I’d go.) Still, the best laid plans… 29–at least the back half of 29–was arguably the worst year of my adult life, definitely in the running for the all-time championship, and I am more than glad to see it recede in the tail-lights forever.

They say life begins at thirty. (My mother says hers began at 39, my stepfather notes that 30 was forty years ago, and all he can remember is that he had a much higher tolerance for alcohol back then.)

I have no particular plans for today, but we’ll see what the future holds!

It can only get better from here.

So t’other day at Huntington Gardens, I was in their gift shop–briefly, it was a zoo–and saw an interesting art book of the work of someone named Joseph Cornell. Not having suitcase space, I didn’t get the book, but once I got back to my faithful laptop, I looked him up.

Joseph Cornell’s weird little boxes

Some of these appeal to me. Part of it’s the birds, I imagine, but something else, too.  And again, some of ’em leave me cold. I don’t know. Some assemblage, like collage, works for me, and others I’m left going “And you cut up a perfectly nice book of Audobon reproductions for this?”

I think I’m interested in this stuff at the moment because…well, I’m not sure why. It’s sort of an outgrowth of the little shrines I’ve been working on, weird little collages that aren’t quite 3-D but are headed that way. (Obviously the least lucrative path for an artist to pursue who makes most of her livelihood selling prints and doesn’t own a good camera! That might have something to do with it. The muse is nothing if not perverse…) 

At the same time, it ties in with an idea in the back of my head about photocollage comics, something I’ve been wanting to try ever since looking at a collection of McKean’s Sandman covers.

Oh, well, someday when I have the time…or don’t have the time, but have access to my computer!

Let us speak for a moment, my friends, about ravens.

I have, in the course of my life, probably seen ravens before. But since I’ve been birdwatching, I’ve been living in a section of the US pretty light on the raven population, and so, I hadn’t ever counted one, or paid particular attention to one.

After all, they were just big crows, right? Quite large crows, crows with beards, crows on steroids possibly, but still basically just a big crow.


Having now seen ravens, I can safely say that if it’s a crow, it’s an epic crow.  An end-boss crow. A crow that one might expect to see rampaging through downtown Tokyo, smashing buildings under its scaly feet while thousands of tiny people run in all directions, occasionally looking over their shoulders to scream “Crowjira!” and faint.

Ravens are bloody HUGE. Poe must have had enormous windows and the bust of Pallas above his chamber door must have been in heroic sculptural proportion. Those things could eat small children, and they look like they’re thinking about it.

My new rule of thumb for corvid identification: “If you’re wondering if it’s a crow, it is. If it’s a raven, you’re wondering if it’s an airplane.” (This joins other rules of thumb such as “any raptor is a red-tailed hawk until proven otherwise,” and “do not bother with the small brown sparrows unless they are sitting right in front of you and you have time to get out the Sibley and look back and forth for ten minutes.”)

God help me…

I succumb at last to my agent’s suggestions. It’s all about marketing, she says. It’s all about networking, she says. Oh, come on, she says.

And she’s right, of course. When my basic business model is tied to people knowing I exist, I can’t not do it. It’s time. I dragged my feet on LJ for years, and look how great that’s worked out!

So I did it.


I’m on myspace.

I feel dirty.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention from drag-queen bingo t’other night (and which must be memorialized!)

The bathrooms.

The lady’s room had a disco ball in it, and they were playing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” on infinite loop.

I wanted to stand on the toilet, applaud, and yell “Now THIS is what a drag queen bingo hall bathroom should be like!”

Huntington Gardens was awesome!

Leaving aside that they’re amazingly gorgeous gardens, the birds were cool! I didn’t see the parakeets, but I saw something equally cool–a Red Whiskered Bulbul. They’re an import from Asia that’s established a breeding population in a very few places in Southern CA, one of which is Huntington. (They’re a neat bird, sort of like a blue jay wearing harlequin paint.) This is actually the first bird that I got to ID that was so local that it didn’t have the little “range” map in the Sibley guide.  (Sibley guides contain a little map of the US, with colors marking the distribution of birds. Some birds, however, have no range map–birds that get blow over occasionally from Siberia, for example, or feral parakeets that only live in Miami, or whatever. My first obscure bird! I am proud.)

Okay, I’m pretty sure we can’t exceed Wikipedia’s bandwidth…

Also saw a lot of black pheobes, what I think was a Nutall’s woodpecker, (like a downy woodpecker with a busier back–held itself different from a downy, but don’t ask me to articulate how…*grin*) and more hummingbirds of all descriptions than you could shake a stick at.

I am sunburnt and have a blister the size of a fifty cent piece, but I regret nothing!

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