Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Post #999.5

Off to Kansas City for the holiday. If there's time I'll blog from Brent's Macbook, but if not... well, I'll see you next month. (My home is being guarded by ferocious ninja cats and a chronically twisted fish.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Post #999

And for my next trick...

Calvin and the Bear
Digital illustration on Wacom Intuous.

This is for Calvin Robert Green, who is due in January. May he never, ever be afraid of bears.

I'll celebrate blog post number 1,000 soon. Will there be cake? You bet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pull Yourself Together

Some Assembly Required

Memory Lane

After a quiet family party the weekend before, Halloween was sort of subdued this year. Morgan and Kelly spent their last October week in Casper with the WWQ & PCA, and I didn't even go to City Hall to terrorize children with the Oogie Boogie costume. Late in the evening Bear and I took a walk downtown, and as we passed Kate's on Main Street a drunken, smoking Sue hailed us to admire her costume, which was thrilling. Sue is tall with short blonde hair, so imagine her in a grayish or pale green belted sheath and cropped jacket, with torn stockings and patent crocodile shoes and bloody scratches on her cheeks. She had crows Velcroed to her arms and shoulders and one bobbed menacingly from its perch on her head, anchored by a headband. Tippi Hedren in The Birds.

Kate's hosted several Barack Obamas and the Wendy's girl (who had a goatee) and Denny's wife Stacey was in chaps that must have been used because Bear sniffed her shins relentlessly. Bud was not costumed but was thoroughly saturated. We visited about the plant and what it's like without him (I had to mumble and slur a bit myself right there, because it's really not all that different) and he promised to come up for coffee sometime the next week, which he did on Monday morning when Jeff and I were alone. He stayed about ten awkward minutes and bolted without even taking the box of his belongings we've collected from his office.

After leaving Kate's, Bear and I walked through a misty rain into the courtyard at the County complex where the new campanile is, and it was obligingly playing a lovely and haunting rendition of Moonlight Sonata. We passed a few trick-or-treaters, including a princess-ballerina-angel-monster and several incarnations of Indiana Jones. We went home and were forced to hand some of Kelly's hunting snacks out to the pair of chubby, apparently uncostumed boys who ambushed us as soon as the door closed. They must have been watching the house.

It seemed to me to be the mildest Halloween in recent memory when one considers the weather. November has so far been bearable, with cold rain or light snows that don't stay and nights just dipping under freezing. The surface of the lagoons wrinkles like crepe but by noon they're satin again. The automatic solar-powered gate that was installed in August began malfunctioning in September, so we're back to opening and closing the old one, and in the morning if my fingertips are the least bit damp and ungloved the skin freezes to the metal.

How there's any moisture in the air to frost my windshield I don't know; it's so dry. My hair is frizzy and stringy and splitting and my face is flaky and red and raw, and I miss San Diego and the constant soft mist of moisture in the air this time of year. It used to bead up on my trombone bell and sparkle in the stadium lights at football games or our latenight field show rehearsals or the holiday parades on Harbor Drive or Coronado. (I wound red ribbon around my slide after Thanksgiving and left it on until after New Year's.) People who complain that temperate places "have no seasons" either aren't very observant or don't appreciate subtlety.

I have a project in the works that makes my heart race and a whole winter of captivity in which to make it happen. I keep browsing jobs but we all know there's not that much out there, and I'm still being selective. So it goes. Sigh.

M and I spent the weekend at Mom's going through a few containers of our childhood toys, most of which we hadn't seen in 17 years. There was a lot of exclaiming and even more hilarity. Mom kept everything, partly because I made her and partly because she always seemed to wind up having to pack everything herself and she probably didn't have time to go through everything the way she would have liked. So we still have all of our Barbie Dolls and My Little Ponies and Legos, and there are other pink plastic things you'd recognize, including my favorites, the CareBears, and the collectible resin or plastic or rubber figurines that came in fast food kids' meals, mostly Disney.

There were other things, however, and we had to squint into the cloudy memories to see why certain things were so enthralling and important to us. A tiny pair of plastic dentures, not more than half an inch wide. A red rubber "Faucet Queen" with a switch to change from stream to spray. A small plastic baby bottle charm we stuffed with cotton to make it look full of milk. A little blue Post-It notebook on which one of Dad's cabbies had drawn a flip-book scene of a man running, jumping, and diving into a tub of water.

We found a few of Mom and Uncle Jerry's toys, a small rubber hammer and rolling pin, blocks and a plastic steer with weighted, hinged flat feet and a ring in his nose and he walked when you pulled a string tied in the ring. We found a lot of hardware I probably filched from the garage and things people had given or made for us. We found things we had separate memories of and things that called up the same moment in time for each of us. I remembered the set of nesting Tupperware buckets we used at Bear Lake but M didn't remember them at all. We both remembered the Barbie stage set I played with on the train all the way home from California one Christmas. I couldn't believe the quantities of plastic. Everything was smaller than I remembered. I found a crocheted chain tied into a circle that was probably the first thing I ever crocheted, probably on Grandma Onita's slipcovered couch in the apartment behind the Kemmerer Hotel, which came down a few years ago. It was built in 1910.

I worked Veterans Day alone (which suited me just fine) and it seems odd that there are only two days left in my workweek. Too bad I can't spend those alone, too. I get so much done and I never seem to be angry.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Puck Vs. Wildlife

Deer should have to have insurance and carry a license and registration, too. These native ungulates are the most distracted, reckless drivers on the road. One of them was racing through Kemmerer Friday night and got way too intimately acquainted with Puck's right front fender, and then proceeded to speed off into the underbrush, where he paused to look back (wondering what the heck just happened, probably) and then took off again. Hit and run, reeking musk and wreaking havoc. Rest assured that guy spent the weekend sore, though, if it didn't break his shoulder blade or a few ribs and cause him more than sore. Puck 1, deer 0. Honestly, though, one minute I'm mad at the stupid beast but the next I hope it either killed him quickly or didn't do any serious damage. I picked all his fur out of the headlight and thought I'd never get that smell off my fingers. We drove on to Mom's.

I would like the record to show that I did not cry. I just kept thinking how much worse it could have been and that Morgan and I were not hurt and I'm insured. My deductible for this kind of collision -- which falls under the same category as a rock through the windshield -- is only $250, even though the estimate I got tonight was $2,300 (the bumper and right headlight are cracked, too). Yeesh. But I'm pleased with the way Puck handled the impact; he felt solid and strong, and his materials are sturdier than I thought. He'll be going in for cosmetic surgery in December and hopefully he'll be good as new by the time our 1-year anniversary rolls around.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I just... what? No. It's finally gotten to the point where I have to ask the shoe designers of the world, namely Steve Madden, whose heeled, spiked, and wedged works of seasonal art ordinarily cause me to salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs, one question: are you on crack? Shopping for shoes this season is a nightmare, but boots are especially horrific:

Timberland, WTH? (Censored for family.) Is this some kind of joke? Are people actually buying these for $165?

Somebody bled all the style right out of these $79 frumpy knit abominations by Rebels.

I have no words. 80%20 is a brand I'm not familiar with, and even though I found them on the Victoria's Secret website, I have a theory: this was some ambitious FIDM student's fall project, which she cranked out the night before it was due while drunk and then left too close to the radiator when she crawled away to sleep it off in her studio apartment in Pomona. She got an 'A' for taking such a bold risk but the coordinating sketches accidentally fell out of her teacher's bag outside a warehouse in downtown L.A. -- FIDM is, after all, on Grand Avenue -- and some poor sucker thought it was the new hot thing and rushed them to his manager, who unwittingly put them into production. I couldn't stand most of the Fashion Design majors in college (I was a Visual Communications major) and now I know why. YOUR CLOTHES, SPECIFICALLY SHOES, SUCK THIS FALL. Because of the carbon released when these boots were manufactured, their designer should spend the rest of his or her life hoeing on an organic turnip farm. I, um, don't like them. Buy them, for $186, if you want to pretend you've been standing in lava. (OK, so I had some words.)

These are not army issue. This is Skecher's idea of fashionable women's footwear. (They're on sale on the website for $15. I'm just sayin'.)

If I have to I'm going to start making my own.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sketch o' the Day

The Día de los Muertos Sock Monkey.
I heart my Wacom.

I Voted

I did not hesitate. I didn't think of Dad and all the years of Fox News when I filled in the black circle; I didn't think about anything. I just did what I went to the polls to do.

Wyoming's three electoral votes went to John McCain, but mine went to Barack Obama. It's pretty certain that McCain and Sarah Palin would have pushed legislation that would have, in the short term at least, favored the economy and culture of my beloved state. But I don't just want what's best for the people in my state right now. I want what's best for the world, tomorrow and beyond. And I think that's Obama.

Political science is not an exact science, and the people who believe they know exactly what will happen are wrong. I want to see. I want to believe in something. I want all the nations of the world to see that my country is still worthy of respect, is still the same progressive and brilliant culture that made it Great. Maybe two years down the road I'll regret it, but I can't know that now. All I know is that from the first moment I heard her speak and saw her gesture, saw her interact with her family and the constituency she assumed like a plastic pageant crown, I had no respect for Sarah Palin, and I couldn't imagine her governing me. I don't know her, but if she can't find a way to communicate to me that she is genuine and ethical and more intelligent than I am (which she never managed), I don't want her making decisions about my freedom.

I can see both sides; I agree with certain staple philosophies of both parties. A lot of the things I hear on Fox News I still nod my head at, but I'm beginning to see that with the way the world is changing, the way it has changed, the things I once believed are no longer always true. I want abortion to be a personal choice, even though it wouldn't be my choice. I want people of any sexual orientation to be able to marry whoever they want; I can't imagine someone telling me that if I married the person I loved, it wouldn't be recognized by the courts or my employer. I don't have the right to tell anyone else how to live if they are not harming me or the people I love. Marriage is a manmade institution; we developed it, so we can evolve it.

A few weeks ago I read the entire Constitution of the United States of America (it's surprisingly succinct), and I began to understand something. This government was an experiment, a grand experiment. It was constructed by people who were passionate about an idea, people who had vision. The problem is that vision didn't extend into the 21st century. Those poor, idealistic men didn't see the Internet coming. They didn't see tasers or accident attorneys with their frivolous lawsuits. They didn't see Hoover Dam or Pork Barrel spending or Omnibus bills. They assumed that the people who governed would be ethical, progressive, not You-Scratch-My-Back-I'll-Scratch-Yours tycoons whose constituencies -- the wealthy ones, in particular -- would become more important to them than the health of the nation as a whole.

The founding fathers crafted the constitution to be elastic, however, because they understood one concept: things change. Progress doesn't necessarily mean building more dams and pumping aquifers dry to irrigate more land and creating a bigger army and blowing the bad guys to kingdom come. Progress in government means continually searching for the best way to provide the best life for the people you are governing. That means research and cooperation, diplomacy and understanding. There are some things that cannot be resolved to everyone's satisfaction; that's why the laws in the constitution can be repealed, why they're voted on. If the people who are governing us cannot find a way to progress, we have to replace them.

I know people who believe the world is spinning out of control. I don't think it is. People thought the same thing a hundred years ago, a thousand. Why are we so vain that we believe we are as advanced as people will ever be? There's nothing wrong with planning for the worst. But you can't believe the worst. Wrap your head around this one: there will not always be a United States of America. Nations are not permanent. The only way to expand the lifetime of this one is progress. Change.

Obama gets a chance to try.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mad Cats and Hot Chix

Photo: jillhanna

Aaaaaah! Ahahahaha! I do not put my cats in clothes, but I was surfing (oh GO if you haven't already, you'll love it. Just search whatever handmade thing you love -- quilts, hats, jewelry -- and gorge yourself on the creativity of people) recently and came across an article debating whether cats are more fashionable than dogs, which is a ridiculous thing to argue because neither animal should wear clothes but it was this paragraph that got me: "Nothing is more heartwarming than a glowering, seething and outraged kitty in a cute handmade sweater. Here are some of my favorite Etsy items to best humiliate your adorable wittle snoogums this winter (and keep your pet warm and toasty, too)." And there was a link to a lot of handmade sweaters for cats but none were as adorably P.O.d as this guy, and if you'd like to buy his hoodie for your cat go here, and go armed with $30.

In other pet news, Oreo (a.k.a. The Kitten) is living large with my cousins Cara and Garrick, tormenting Twinkie and eating the leaves off the green bean plant. She loves him:

And in yet more pet news, when Angie, who is Garrick's sister, couldn't have a kitten, she got the next best thing:

I know, right? He may be a snake, but she loves him.

In non-pet news, I drove the Recently Winterized Puck to Ogden today just to Get Out of Town and spent $250 stocking up on yarn for Christmas presents, Elizabeth Arden face cream (winter's coming), and a Roxy hoodie that nearly made me swoon when I saw it at Ross, but I recovered quickly and snatched it from the rolling rack bound for I Know Not Where, because that hoodie was destined to come home with me. I'd rather spend $30 on a hoodie for me than a hand-knit sweater for Kitty, who would not appreciate it nearly as much, and I can't buy clothes for Big Cat because he's plus-sized and I don't want him to become sensitive about it. Although he does look dashing in his little bowtie for the thirty seconds he can stand to leave it on.

And I decided today that no matter how much I love Target and their little trays of deli sushi, they are no Trader Joe's, and why don't those people realize they could make a killing in the Salt Lake Valley even without sales of Two Buck Chuck? Seriously, even The Cheesecake Factory is still dangerously jammed to the gills daily after a year in Salt Lake, long after the novelty wore off at most other locations. The Salt Lake Valley Loves Chain Stores and Buying in Bulk, and I'm beginning to think I love Salt Lake. They have a longer growing season than Evanston.

Sometimes I hem things with staples.