11 March 2018

Winter Retreat

One sketch and a bunch of photos from my recent work retreat. About 35 folks headed up to the Granlibakken resort near the west side of Lake Tahoe. The weather was amenable - not too cold, yet still, there was snow.  I hiked trails, read books and was social at breakfast. The drive was long. I listened to The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick.  I had a good time, but am glad to be home.

More photos below.

26 February 2018

You already know what to do.

I cut odd phrases out of magazines. I have boxes of them on my desk, more stuffed inside my laptop case beneath the keyboard. I use them both for collage and for writing prompts. Have time to write but nothing springs to mind? Grab a clipping and begin to write. 

You already know what to do.
Take your right hand, move it widdershins until the humming stops. Close your eyes, count down from ten in Swahili. Or Polish maybe. After the violent flash, it will be safe to open your eyes again. Don’t breath too deeply. The peppery smoke will make you cough. Carefully, step towards the staircase. If the light at the top is yellow, knock on the newel post in Morse code. You know the pattern. It has been drilled into your head for just such an occasion. A blue light would have been better. Green would’ve been worse. That has only happened once. You hope it never happens again. You and everyone else involved.
The yellow light makes your complexion unpleasant. Minor imperfections double in size, reflecting your face back to you. Those really are pimples, aren’t they? Shit. Time to lay off the peanut butter again. What will you eat for lunch now? It is not like you make any money doing this. To have to skip meals on top of all this mess will push you to your very limit. It won’t be the first time.
Halfway up the flight of stairs, the light blinks off. The darkness is thick enough to feel. You wrap it around your shoulders like a cloak and keep going. You’ve gotten this far and it seems ridiculous to give up due to lack of light. Reach into the pocket of the cloak for the key to the door at the top of the stairs. Eat one of the licorice whips you find there instead. Eat a second. Hope the door is unlocked this time. Show no surprise when there is no door at all. Step onto the landing. Turn thrice clockwise.
Raise the window around the corner on the left. The tabby cat who enters will be annoyed that you forgot to bring dried shrimp for it to eat. Do not offer it a licorice whip. You will only make it angry. Do not pet it. It is your superior here. Pets are for underlings. Follow the cat through the forest edge to the clearing where the mushrooms congress. The cat will vanish when you blink. Dance when the daisies approach to ask you. Eat nothing they offer. You don’t know where it has been.
Your next guide will come from the west, holding an unlit candle. Offer him the last licorice whip. It will be longer than the others. Hold tight to the end, otherwise, the balloon will rise without you. Don’t speak no matter how many questions the clouds ask.
They will only laugh at your answers.
No one wants that.
It starts slowly, felt, more than heard. As the vibrations increase the paralysis will set in. You will not be able to walk further. Inhale deeply and hold that breath before your diaphragm ceases to flex. Your left arm freezes up to the shoulder, the water rising threateningly. Do not panic.
You already know what to do.

10 February 2018

The two faces of spring.

It may not be spring where you are. February in NorthAmerica usually isn't thought of as spring. Here in the Bay Area, we have had many lovely days of 70' degree weather, which will probably lead to drought later on. Meanwhile, the jonquils are popping up in my yard, gifts from a former self. If you are like me and deal with depression, planting flower bulbs in the fall can help when the darkness descends to spite the weather. 

31 December 2017

2017 Book list

I read. A lot. This year I hit a personal goal of an average of four books a week. I had wanted to draw way more book reviews. However, the one above is the only one I finished. Ah well, tomorrow is another year.

  1. Forest of Memory - Mary Robinette Kowal. A great novella from one of my penpals.
  2. Once Broken Faith - Seannan McGuire. 10th in a great series.
  3. The Spaceship Next Door - Gene Doucette.
  4. True Story #3 Muzzled - Gabriela Denise Frank. Chilling.
  5. The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood. Creepy dystopia goes wrong.
  6. Tides, Surges and Mean Sea-Level - David Pugh. Yay, tidal research!
  7. The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida. Excellent book written by an autistic individual explaining life from inside their head. Highly recommend.

19 November 2017

Looking back at Inktober

Friends added me into their Inktober challenge this year. I did a variation on it. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Inktober is organized with prompts for drawing and some basic rules (try this link). I decided that it fit my life better to just draw something in ink every day. I would take a photo of the one drawing I did in my sketchbook, or the best of the lot if I did more than one, maybe adjust the lighting (since I am pretty crappy at taking photos), and post them in a shared album so that my friends could view them. This also allowed us to make comments. 

These are a few of my favorites. The rest can be seen here. Overall I found it fun. I was pretty burnt out by the 27th. I don't think I've drawn all that much since then. I prefer my usual sketchbook approach. I aim for one drawing a week. When weeks are stressful - work, kids, house repairs - I draw less. I don't berate myself when this happens. I continue to carry my sketchbook everywhere. I remind myself to slow down and look. Eventually the lighting or a series of shapes grabs me, and then I grab a pen.

01 January 2017

Annual book post

I like to read. A lot. This year's list is different in a couple of ways. First, inspired by my good friend, Elaine, this year there is a short description of each one to help you decide if you want to read it as well. This means that the list is longer than usual - or maybe it just seems so. Secondly, I have introduced illustrated book reviews. There are less of these than I had hoped, but only because I seriously injured my drawing arm and lost 3-4 months of potential productivity. Anywho, the whole series of illustrated book reviews can be found here. I hope to have more in 2017. Enjoy!

  1. Bats of the Republic - Zachary Thomas Dodson. An illuminated novel, the drawings being one of the main reasons I bought the book. Odd, surreal. Honesty, I thought there would be more about bats in it.
  2. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B - Teresa Toten. Good at capturing confusing emotions and working some of them out. Two pages were ripped from the volume I read. The book made sense anyway.
  3. The Golden Age of Death - Amber Benson. #5 in a series
  4. The Edge of Lost - Kristina McMorris. Through loss of family, immigrating, assimilating and adventure, an Irish boy is constantly reinventing himself. The tie-in to SF Bay is what made me pick it up.

09 November 2016

my every-four-years election results post

I have been doing this for some time now, mapping the election results in my sketchbook. See previous images here.

The view at about 7:15pm PST

This is what it looked like when I headed to bed. Electoral votes stand at 209 - Democratic; 238 - Repblican.

And this is where we are this morning. Vermont, Michigan and Arizona still not called one way or the other.

Regardless of how I feel about the outcome, I still find it cool to illustrate the results as they come in. Look for the next installment in 2020!

27 August 2016

Embracing the zombie

This will be the view of my writing and drawing arm for some time. I fell and broke my radius in several places. I'm talented that way. I am also very visual, so here are some x-rays to explain the damage.

18 August 2016

Book Reviews on Toast

Introducing Book Reviews on Toast!!! As many of you know, I read a lot. I have wanted to review many books I have devoured, but couldn't find the right balance of teasers/descriptions to entice without giving away the whole plot. For me this is essential, as the joy of reading is in discovering how the pieces fit together.
This is the first in a series of book reviews I am doing. You can find the whole series here on tumblr, or here.

17 August 2016

Some recent sketches and things

Not a sketch, but some photos I took of the garden bounty turned into salsa. :)
Also a photo. These are cukes I grew inside my own mailbox - I needed someplace to put them while I dealt with the dog.