Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Foghorn Event!!

Read the Amazing True Story “NPR at Lucha Libre”

A Thundering Fevered Rollercoaster Ride of a Short Story Combining








Smile with quiet amusement as you read “NPR at Lucha Libre!!!!”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Eeek!! Oh...

Knut was going to take the dog out last night and what do you think was waiting for him?

This giant possum! It was crouched on the second landing of the back stairs. I can’t think what it was looking for since we don’t have garbage or anything out there. Possibly, it just smelled something interesting from the apartments. We did fry bacon last night.

Colin, of course, viewed this an a excellent opportuntity to play, but I wouldn’t back Colin in a fight against a baby chipmunk.

Possums are the only North American marsupial and while they’re totally harmless, they’re just not cute. I take that back. They aren't cute when they're fully grown. As babies they're sort of charming. Every once in a while you find one trapped in your garbage can. You can understand from the photos why no one wears possum fur. They’re distinctly patchy and scabby looking. We saw one at a my parents house a few summers ago that was lacking an eye. It was quite possibly the most malevolent looking creature I’ve ever seen in person. Makes you wonder what a possum and an aye-aye would think if they met eachother. “Ick,” probably. Possums have two defensive techniques: hiss while looking as gross as possible and playing dead. Usually the latter comes right after the former.

I wonder if this is actually our neighborhood possum. A little while ago Knut and I were discussing the way rats move while we were in the car. Rats have this peculiar skittering humped walk. It’s pretty well unmistakable. We turned the corner of our alley and saw a bag blowing across the cement of the alley. “Ha!” Knut laughed. “I thought that was a rat for a second.” The headlights illuminated the bag, which turned out to be an extra large possum.

It can’t be helped. Every time I see a possum crossing the street, I’m convince for a second it’s a Rodent of Unusual Size.

Knut ended up swatting it across the bottom with a broom to get it to go down the stairs. Its instinct is to the stay put, unlike a raccoon or squirrel which will run at any opportunity. I’m afraid it did take a little tumble down a few of the stairs but it was able to get up and run away as soon as it got into the darker parts of the lawn.

Colin attempted to pursue it, but we called off our fierce hunting spaniel. We have a lot of nature in our alley and I would never want to see the possum hurt. In fact, I look forward to seeing him again.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Illustration Friday "Wrinkles"

I do so like this Illustration Friday theme.  I kinda like wrinkles.  They show abundance!  Abundance of skin, life, fabric, etc.  Since wrinkles show abundance, I decided to draw an abundance of wrinkly animals.  We have an elephant, rhino, walrus, basset hound, pug, naked mole rat, and uh.. raisins.
Raisins are pretty much the apex of wrinkly-ness.  Click on the image to view full.
I did learn that most animals are actually pretty wrinkly under their fur.  It gives them more ease of motion.  I'll keep that in mind when I see women wearing ultra tight winter coats.
I especially like the wrinkles that a dog's stomach has when they're curled up into a little ball.  That's the best.  Let botox never come near them!


Saturday was the First Annual Chicago Zombie Pub Crawl! Yeah!

We had been excited about it for weeks, carefully deciding what kind of zombies we wanted to be, fervently hoping there would be more people that just the four of us.

The day of, Knut, Lauren, Eli, and I got together to do our makeup. I don’t think any of us had ever worn zombie make up before, so it was a little challenging.The website for the crawl had some handing tips, including spreading gelatin on your skin and letting it dry for a weird cakey scabby look. I smeared myself liberally and gave Lauren a huge gross head scab. Initially, we were going to wear flat white face paint, but once Eli put it on, we realized it was a little too harsh for today’s modern zombie on the go. I hunted around for my barely used foundation for an age, but never found it. However! I had some super concentration concealer-like stuff meant to go under eye makeup, so I mixed it with the face paint for a slightly more subtle pallor. I dusted my whole eye area with a combination of iridescent green and black eye shadow and used a bit of blue to highlight my skin scabs. A little fake blood and I was ready for BRAAAINSSS…

Knut’s makeup was pretty subtle. He wanted to be a researcher from 28 Days Later, so I applied the face paint very thinly, gave him pale green under eye circles, and lined his eyelashes with red liner. Showtime!

We parked a little farther up Clark Street and hurried towards the meeting spot, pretty nervous. We didn’t see any other zombies. Had they left without us? Was it the wrong date? Were we the only ones who showed up? Then we turned a corner and were nearly crushed by a wave of 50 or so zombies heading for the bar. Excellent.

The PH group who had organized the event gave us our t-shirts, our zombie pins, and helped anyone who needed it with their make up. Got your goodies? On to the bar!

While we were waiting in line to get in, a non-zomb asked to take a picture of us. We put our arms around each other and posed. Then he showed us the photo. I was the only one in it! Huh. Simon’s a small kind of dank bar. Fortunately, zombies like dank as much as they like $2 beer, so we packed ourselves in. This was much to the chagrin of the non-zombs sitting and drinking at 5pm on a Saturday. A little row of hecklers commented about everyone who came in, coming up with exceeding clever nicknames like calling an awesome girl dressed like a 1980s aerobic instructor “Volleyball Zombie.” It strikes me that when you’re in a bar that has rapidly become 95% or more zombie, you are no longer the cool ones. Once inside, we hung around, admired each other’s wounds, and chatted. With the exception of one guy who wanted to talk about soviet experiments involving extreme animal cruelty, it was a lovely bunch. However, zombies are not content conquering only one establishment. On to the next bar!

Charlie’s Ale House is an airy bar and grill and we frankly adored the expressions of their dinner salad consuming patrons and zombies flooded the bar. Our little group leaned onto a group of regular humans at a little table and they fled through the window! Ha! This gave us the perfect vantage point. Here we could grab at passersby moaning “braaaains” from the comfort of a bar stool. We also got to chat with our awesome new zombie friend, Zombie Steve! The zombie party really hit its peak here. First Knut randomly yelled “Braaaaains!!” and the whole bar followed suit. Seven or eight times. A seven foot high Grim Reaper waved and spoke to us. A zombie performed a spectacular robot dance on the sidewalk. Zombies began running out and pressing themselves on stopped cars. Humans took photos of us from the other side of the street. Awesome.

After our tenure at the bar, we shuffled en masse to Hamburger Mary’s attic. The music was an odd choice (Zombie Abba?) but they eventually figured out what we wanted--- Thriller on repeat! Yeah! We danced, we drank beer, and we groaned on sofas, zombie boys nicely let zombie girls use their bathroom. It was probably the best party night I’ve ever had.

My favorite part though, was in the first bar. We were chatting to this charming zombie couple (I didn’t get their names! Darn!) and he was telling us how worried he was that they would be the only two who showed up. I love the thought of 100 people putting on their dead makeup, worrying they’d be all alone and finding at least 100 of their zombified peers ready to toast their lack of health.

If you'd like to see more photos (we've got lots of great ones!) go here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Art En Masse, Mass Art

I have mixed feelings about public art. No, I should be more specific. I enthusiastically endorse some public art and think others are lame.

These photos are ones Knut, Colin, and I took in the Skokie Sculpture Park. This park runs in between a busy street and a canal. I had driven past it hundreds of times, but never walked through it. Knut is partial to the gigantic head, purely because it reminds him of the film The Wicker Man. Note the similarly of poses between Knut and a famous still of Christopher Lee. I have no idea what it is Colin is posing on. It looks like a combination mining drill and underwater mine to me. I’m actually hiding behind it holding up Colin’s rear end. Most of the sculptures are fairly unremarkable, with a few real stand outs. Curiously, the majority are in shades of brown or olive. You’d think since these are seen mostly from the road, they’d prefer bright colors.

When a piece is perfect for a place, the people who live around it embrace it as a friend, and usually give it a nickname. It frequently takes only a short time for this to happen.

You can’t go past the Picasso in Daley Plaza in Chicago without seeing office workers eating their lunch on it or children sliding down the slanted base. Now there are plenty of benches around and kids can play on just about anything in my experience, but they are just drawn to the huge sculpture. Apparently, it was controversial when it was first put up which proves how many critics really don’t have much of a grip on public consciousness.

Similarly, The Bean was instantly embraced. It was only unveiled in 2004, but people love it. They make special trips to walk up to it, touch it, and generally experience it. Once when we were up admiring it, the men who clean it were working on a patch. They cheerfully advised us the best place to stand to see all of its reflective kaleidoscopic charms. There’s a pretty good contrast between The Bean and these huge glass block structure down the block that house animated screens of people’s faces. The faces have become part of the background, except in the hottest part of the summer when they spit water and the path between them is flooded. Then children and childish bloggers rip off their shoes and go for a refreshing skip through the puddles. You can tell The Bean is truly beloved because it has a nickname. It’s actually called “Cloud Gate.” When the artist initially complained about the nickname, I heard an artistic acquaintance say that everyone should have to call it the real name because it belongs to the artist. Possibly I’m of a more Andy Warhol frame of mind, but I feel that when a piece of art is public (indeed, we citizens of Chicago bought the thing and pay to maintain it), its identity becomes intertwined with the city. And if the city feels it should be called The Bean, the identity of the art becomes The Bean. Such a show of public affection is a high compliment.

Fortunately, the artist has learned to stop worrying and love The Bean.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Odd Souvenirs

I’m a big fan of souvenirs. I try to only buy things I really feel I will use (like jewelry! Yeah!), so I don’t mind spending a bit. As a result I have a beautiful leather wallet from Spain, I’m wearing a gorgeous fire opal my brother brought from Australia, etc. I end up with a lot of beautiful things that remind me of adventures I’ve had.

However, some things are too good to pass up.

Behold two of my more unusual souvenirs!

The first is a postcard from Daytona Beach, Florida.

I’ll admit I get a creepy vibe from Daytona. People seemed genuinely surprised to see girls walking around who weren’t wearing thongs. Although in my case, it may have been my glow-in-the-dark complexion. I also don’t really get the point of being able to drive on the beach. Doesn’t that mostly mean you end up with a lot of polluted sand? Is the parking lot really so far away?

I found this beauty on the main drag in a stand outside a drugstore. I bought this in 2001. Keep in mind a few things here:

1. This guy’s awesome 1970s hair, mustache, tan, and teeth. He looks like a Charlie’s Angels guest star. One that could have kissed Farrah and had their hairprayed dos stick together. Mind you, it is Florida, so it’s possible this guy still has that look.

2. The crumbled yellowed look of the card. Look a bit as though it was on someone’s fridge for a few decades.

3. The Daytona pier in the background was apparently demolished quite a while ago.

4. On the back it bears the legend “Printed in West Germany.” Okay, we know this was printed before 1990 at the very least.

I’m kind of impressed at the gall of a shop to sell a postcard so many years out of date. Then again, I bought it so maybe they were on to something. And what does "Relax, it's Florida" mean? Is his making some sort of seductive comment to us? From that expression, I think the answer is "yes." I did make a t-shirt out of this for Knut with the inscription "Greetings from Daytona Beach" on it, but Knut never quite had the nerve to wear it. Not that I blame him :)

This one is a polaroid of me and Knut sitting on an elephant.

Circuses in Norway are different than in the US. When I went to a circus as a kid, it was a high affar in a stadium with professional concessions and everything else. In Norway, they’re tiny. The circus really is held in a circular tent lined with splintery wooden bleachers. You didn’t realize when you bought your ticket or a wad of cotton candy from a young woman in sparkly eye makeup that she was also the trapeze artist. Most of the performers were Eastern European, with only the announcer speaking Norwegian. Everyone else communicates in English. There are a lot of animal acts. The best one involved a teacup poodle on the back of a terrier on the back of a German shepard on the back of a little donkey as it ran around the ring.

The best part was at intermission you could walk around the outside of tent and see the camels, horses, and dogs in their own little areas. We were strolling along when a trainer told us we could have a photo with the elephant for $4. Absolutely!

This particular elephant was the star of the show. It was a sweet elderly animal who was placidly eating hay in its enormous semi sized trailer. Knut got to sit around its neck and I am sitting on its knee. An elephant feels like an old foam rubber sofa upholstering in wrinkly leather. It was clearly adored by all of its handlers.

A few weeks after the show we read a notice in the paper that a handler was seriously injured in this circus by the elephants. He was a Ukranian man who had been crushed when he was caught between the two elephants as they tried to pass eachother in the trailer. Fortunately, it was judged to be a simple accident and no onus was directed towards the animals. Still, it is peculiar to think you’ve sat on an animal that crushed someone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This Must Be Underwater Color

I always loved art class in school. I loved clay, acrylics, pastels, colored pencils, figure drawing, etc, etc, and I was pretty good at most of them. But the most deceptively simple and difficult of all, I believe, is the watercolor.

You’d start out with the lightest possible pencil sketch and eventually end up with a muddy grayish page. “This doesn’t look like The Badlands!” you’d regally remark and toss your crumpled page in the bin.

In Norway, I began watching Cranshaw’s Watercolor Tours, which featured a gnomish English gentleman who toured Europe and the Middle East making enthusiastic comments about hookah smokers and occasionally stopping for a quick watercolor. I learned two things:

  1. You need actual watercolor paper. It absorbs the color and holds it in place. I think my art teachers substituted drawing paper which quickly becomes a soggy wrinkled sheet. On the other hand, it’s probably much much cheaper for Middle School students who probably weren’t going to produce amazing works of art anyhow.
  2. The pencil sketch underneath is vital. It’s how you produce shading. You can do some with the paint itself, but that pencil shading will give you darker, better shadows and forms. I was always instructed to use the paint for all the shading and the sketch was simply a guideline.

Now, like most rules, I feel certain gifted painters can totally disregard them, but one must crawl before one rockets a small dog into space.

I also learned some good tips on combining color and adding washes from Cranshaw. We started watching him because Knut would get so relaxed he’d fall asleep in seconds. He’s as good as a bedtime story, and I mean that as a compliment.

I haven’t done much painting since we moved back to the US (I am so tempted to make this Altoid box watercolor box so I can do guerrilla painting. Genius!), but I did enjoy it in Norway. This painting is of Colin on the shore of the North Sea. I gave it to my dad as a Christmas present. Here's the full version.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Birthday Ba!

Today is Colin’s birthday!

I can’t believe he’s already 4 years old. He still acts like a puppy in pretty much all respects. He still gets overstimulated whenever we go to my parents’ house. He still plays with toys. He’s still overcome with delight whenever we come home. He is the sweetest little doggie.
Both of the dogs we had growing up were rescu
ed basset hounds, so we never knew when they were born. Colin was the very first puppy for me, so I suppose he’ll always be a little bit special.
His gifts include a nice walk (probably to the beach so we can play with the beloved pink ball) and one of these disgusting cakes we make him. This is the one from his first birthday.
I believe it was two layers of toast, a peanut butter filling, and the whole thing was frosted with liver pate. His name was written with icing made from boullion and flour.
He loved it.
He kept an eye on us as he wolfed it down as quickly as possible. He isn’t usually territorial about food, so he clearly adored it.

Happy Birthday, Ba!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Illustration Friday "Primitive"

I am totally willing to admit this quick sketch is probably the silliest thing I've ever drawn.  And that's up against some pretty stiff competition.
This is another entry for Illustration Friday.  This week's theme is "Primitive."  First I started thinking about women who look like Venus figures, then I moved on to cavemen, and wound up with "Primitivism."
I find those art terms to generally be very funny because they're so undescriptive.   Paul Gauguin a was a leading figure in that area and I started to think about where it could (not so) logically go.  The painting is Two Tahitian Women.
Voila!  Hope you enjoy it!  It makes me giggle anyway.  Please view full for maximum silliness.

Snuggly Warm Beauty

My mother and I went to the Quilt Show last weekend. No wait! Don’t click away! It’s actually pretty cool.

This particular show is an international event showcasing the giants of the field. Instead of cozy bedcovers, many of them make extraordinary collages made of fabric. They show a truly amazing grasp of color and form. Examine this rooster. He was the Grand Prize Winner. Everything you see here is sewn. The wood texture is created by using tiny scraps and the suggestion of feathers is the stitching. It is also, coincidently, made by a man.

I always look forward to the Japanese entries. The one with the violins is a beautiful interpretation of a photo quilt. Up at the top little photo printed fabric squares form a ribbon. The flower petals on the violins and the border are all meticulously cut and appliquéd. Photo quilts are often only appealing to those who are featured in them, but this is genuinely fantastic work.

This quilt also inspired my first homicidal reaction of the show. While I was examining it, a grisly little woman comes up, looks at the miniscule appliqué and loudly remarks “Someone has too much time on their hands!”

I hate that!

Every man, woman, and child has exactly 24 hours in their day. Some choose to spend that time playing video games or giving themselves French manicures with white out. Others chose to devote their time to making art. I always resent that comment.

There are plenty of less spectacular entries, of course. We looked at many small single square works. These usually aren’t so great, although they frequently involve some shocking imagery. My mother, a gifted seamstress, commented that examining these was a lot like looking at the 4-H displays at the county fair. Assuming 4-H kids made 8 inch square fabric panels about genocide or abortion.

The best part, of course, is the vendors. I personally spent $70 on Japanese fabric printed with adorable little bunnies. I’m pretending now that I will use it for something. Chances are I’ll just keep it and look at it, like Smaug and his hoard.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's Go Fly a Kite! It's Fun and We Can Afford It!

When Knut and I lived in Norway, money was always very tight. To have a large pizza delivered is about $40. As a result, we had no choice but to make our own fun, or to seek out the cheapest fun available. This resulted in us attending an unusually large amount of potato festivals, bunny jumping competitions, farmer’s fairs, and live stock auctions. We also picked berries, took long mountain walks, played “stick” with our dog, and jumped from rock to rock on the shore. We also learned to kite.

As you can imagine, the beach of the North Sea always has a cold wind. Even on the quietest day inland, the wind at the shore whips your hair and demands you take a sweater. Excellent for kiting. In college I bought a small, but good quality multicolored kite to bring to Norway. This lead us to two interesting experiences:

1. Cows are actually extremely curious. We brought the kite to Haa Gamle Prestegaard (the site of my dead whale story) one pleasant afternoon. There’s a rocky pasture right up against the sea and during the fine months, cows are left there to graze. Knut and I clever avoided the cow pats and got the kite into the air. The cows paid us no attention. Unfortunately, it was one of those days where the wind isn’t very predictable and the kite would be soaring one moment and crashing to the ground the next. Then I noticed something interesting. When the kite crashed and I started winding the string up, the cows would look over. They moved closer as the kite jumped towards me. Eventually, I gave up winding the string and just pulled it to excite the cows. I’d let it lay there dead and they’d walk up to look at it. Then, when they were practically nosing it, I’d pull the string and they’d jump back. I can’t tell you how long we did this.

2. Some people will take the simplest things to “The Extreme.” Sandnes put an announcement in the paper for a family kite day. We went with our little kite and admired bought kites shaped like airplanes and some amazing homemade ones shaped like sharks and squids. Everyone was having a very nice time with their kids flying their kites up and down the sand. Then we noticed a particular guy who was using the canopy thing used to para sail. Mind you, he was standing on the beach like the rest of us, but he made a huge show of tugging this thing back towards earth. Knut and I immediately starting shouting “Kiting… to the EXTREME!!” I took several photos of Knut in dramatic poses attempting wildly to control our little kite.

These pictures are from a little earlier this week. A few years ago I bought a beautiful 1950s Chinese silk kite shaped like a carp from a Chinese bookstore in Evanston (they also sell 1950s propaganda posters). Since I am of the persuasion that toys get upset if you don’t play with them, I always felt bad that it was just being used as a wall decoration. I was worried that flying it would ruin it, though. As an experiment I bought this Chinese kite from Cost Plus. It’s also silk and hand painted (nothing so fine as my vintage carp though). Since it didn’t come with string, I bought a drugstore kite and used that line. We put it into the air.

There is a reason kites are nylon and plastic these days. It was heavy and rather awkward, although once I got it positioned correctly it did fly. It was also a little difficult to get it to climb high enough to really maintain its flight. I did manage it, but at a particularly triumphant moment the cheap string broke and the butterfly soared free—into Lake Michigan. A nice Polish man helped me fish it out with his fishing rod, but it was really dirty and a little misshapen by then. Ah well.

I think I’ll keep the carp as a decoration

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Photoshop Pup

A few years ago Knut had to give a little speech at the end of the year teachers party. He decided to give a humorous speech about our little dog and how he’s changed our lives. I made up a few fake photos and included some real ones to go with his speech

We got Colin as a puppy. We got our pick of the litter and somehow he was just the cutest one. Although his mother took some convincing to let him go.

We really love him. I can’t explain why, but we just feel compelled to spoil him and share all of our food.

As you can see, he has a very sweet nature.

Although sometimes he manages to disappear without a trace.
(note: real photo)

It’s nice owning a breed with real history behind it. There’s a reason they’re called Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Look! He has a King-shaped birthmark.

Knut probably managed something more clever, but that was the gist of things. Weirdly, every time we met Knut’s colleagues, some one looked for the Elvis shaped spot on the dog. And that was one I purposefully made to look fake!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blog Carnival: Bulls!

I am a Taurus and from Chicago and I have been known to talk crap; but I’m going to focus on those noble beasts of Spain.

In August 2005, we spent a week in Spain; which was one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken. Spain wasn’t a spot I had ever particularly planned to visit, but our friend’s parents had a bungalow there where we could stay just minutes from the beach.

We went to bullfights. It’s such an odd experience. There we were: Knut, Simen, Tor Bjorn, and I sitting in the Marbella arena. I was looking fab in a green paisley dress and awesome lavender Panama hat (Buy one!! They are amazing! And if they lose shape, you can iron them!), and a bull was led into the ring. I had this awful realization that that bull was not going to walk out like it walked in. I whispered to Knut “I don’t think I can watch this!”

Then the atmosphere sort of changed.

When the matador is good, he puts the sword directly through the animal’s heart. It dies on its feet. It dies before it hits the ground. It dies fighting. Maybe that’s a better way to go than shoved up a conveyer belt and into a bolt gun. And we saw several bull fighters get gored. It’s really not a one sided fight.

Not a popular view certainly, since most of us prefer to remember Ferdinand the Bull and his love of sitting in the shade. I also won't say it's not barbaric, but there is sort of a primal reaction to it.

In any case, the bull has become a cult figure in Spain, strongly reminiscent of the ancient Mediterranean cultures. You can appreciate what a powerful character the Minotaur would have been, when you see their foaming rampages and the huge gorges slashed in the wood of their pens.

The bull ring in the southern town of Ronda was especially beautiful. This charming stone head graces the entry way to the ring and the steps to the upper level are decorated entirely with bull themes, like the excellent fellow above. Clearly whoever made these items knew all there is to know about bulls! I love the Moorish tile traditions in Spain and was even more delighted to see these Delft like tiles.

The ring also has a nice collection of antique matador costumes, equipment, and beautiful posters. There were even a few taxidermy heads of particularly fine bulls, some of whom were so grand they were given reprieve and spent out their lives grazing and siring more bulls.

They are beautiful and romantic and fearsome. And when they go for the matadors, they go straight for the cojones.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

So Miss Sewing

A little while ago, I tugged Knut’s heart strings when I called him from work and told him I wanted to go home and sew.

I really miss sewing and it’s not something I’ve been able to do much lately. In fact, right now I’m wearing pants that I’ve been meaning to remove the pockets from since I bought them!

For one thing, it’s hard to judge colors correctly under artificial light. Purples can look brown, navy can look black. And when you’re tired you make mistakes. It’s also a more expensive hobby that playing with polymer clay or shrinky dinks! People don’t understand that once you’ve bought all the materials necessary to sew something by hand, it’s often more expensive than buying a Chinese made mass produced item. If you’re a non sewing person, that's why a person might wrinkle their nose when you say “$40! You could make that!”

What I love doing is making these luxurious patchwork lap quilts. I used leftover bits of all the gorgeous materials my mother has used over the years. They contain silks, velvets, satins, high quality polyesters (which can be as fine as silk and more expensive!), wools, brocades, and anything else we have lying around. Some of the fabric is more than 50 years old.

Normally, I sewed the patchwork, added the borders (I like to use nice velveteen for this. It’s sturdy, turns great corners, and feels good), layered the backing and batting, tie it, and then bind the edges.

The particular quilt in the photo is one I made for my mom for Christmas one year. This turned a little different. I chose a beautiful rust panne velvet for the borders and turned the patchwork into a diamond pattern to make it a little more special.


This was a challenge. The velvet was super slippery and the pattern meant I really couldn’t machine sew it easily. Welcome to Baste City. I had to do it all by hand. And when you’re trying to do something like that by laying it out on the floor, naturally a fluffy little dog find it the nicest place to have a little nap. He seems to prefer good quality fabrics.

Ahhh.. memories. One day soon I'll whip out that little machine :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cheerful Vegetables!

I was looking around at all the desert themed items available on Etsy and then on the dieting threads on the forum.

Could there be a correlation? Just in case, I decided to make the Happy Vegetable Charm Bracelet.

A good reminder to try to eat healthily. And they’re smiley!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Illustration Friday "Fail" Paper Collage

This week's Illustration Friday's theme is "Fail."
I immediately thought about stuff like getting bad marks at school, losing races (done that plenty!), letting other people down, etc.
Then my mind started to drift towards worse failure and the cruelty that is Natural Selection. African elephants have hard lives. Many don't survive the yearly trek to the wetter regions. I thought about the strange elephant burial grounds. They are areas where many African elephants who have become too weak or injured limp off to die; frequently where other elephants have died before. The ground is littered with the gigantic bones of these amazing creatures.
Mammoths are, of course, extinct. I suppose extinction is the ultimate failure.
This is a collage of paper bones on dirt. The bones are cut entirely free hand (no tracing or outlines drawn before they're cut) and there's a little trilobite in the corner for interest. Please view full for maximum detail.
Thanks for checking it out and don't forget to look at the other nifty entries!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Presenting Anne Grimdalens

When we lived in Norway, Knut and I lived on Anne Grimdalens gata. “Gata” just means “street.” Streets are frequently named after people using both their first and last names. “Edvard Munch gata” isn’t too hard to remember but try being a tipsy foreigner and asking a cabbie to go to “Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsons gata. Some are even longer than that! Makes you appreciate “Lake St.” and “5th Avenue.”

Anyway, I asked Knut who Anne Grimdalens was since she was worthy of a small street of apartments buildings. He told me she was a sculptor, but he didn’t know more than that. I immediately assumed she did that kind of big meaty socialist sculpture of rough hewn bicep-ridden fishermen that seems to be all over the place in Norway and didn’t pursue it further.

Then Knut and I on a beautiful summer whim decided to drive across the country to Lillehammer to visit Hunderfossen, the Ivo Caprino theme park (in a blog soon to come!).This caused us to drive through the very heart of Norway, through the mountains of Sirdal where the snow never completely melts and the sheep walk casually in from of semis and through the deep forests and treacherous switchbacks of middle Norway. At the tops of one of these forested mountain areas we saw a sign saying “Grimdalen.” We joked a little but further on we saw as “Anne Grimdalens Museum” sign. Woah! Clearly, we had to stop.

I was still expecting the bicep-y fishermen and couldn’t quite believe it when we rounded the path and saw these darling animal sculptures. She had, in fact, lived in the very area we were in and sculpture the animals that she came in contact with. This included wildcats, foxes, wolves, hares, and deer; but her specialty was bears. As you can see from the photos, she sculpted them with great affection in the sort of unknowingly charming positions animals put themselves in.

I still don’t know much about her. Unfortunately we arrived after the museum buildings closed, but I would love to go back. I also haven’t been able to find so much as a postcard of her work, so I’m glad to have these photos. Now I’m quite proud to have lived on her street.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another Triumph of Publishing!

My new (not very) epic poem is up at The Foghorn Magazine, your source for both Amusement and Diversion!
Feel the heat of the summer day!

Experience a roll of quarters in your pocket!

Thirst for the cool stickiness of cherry Slurpees!

Consume yourself with the love of Rampage!

Feel the sweat as you anxiously await the fate of our young heroes!


Read Song of the Suburbs to find out!

(an almost completely true story)

In additional news, Summer Block, editor, webmaster, and hostess with the mostess at The Foghorn informs me that my Whalebone Courtship story received the most hits last month! You can find it in the "Classics" section.

Thank you, everyone, for reading my inane rambling about dead sea mammals! You rock!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

3-2-1 Contact!

I have a big head. Tragically, I can never wear those cardboard top hats at New Years Eve parties (since that is one of the few aspects I like about New Years Eve parties, it is tragic.). My husband has a really small head, but it’s rock hard. I’ve had many a cut lip from him accidentally bringing his head up while I tried to kiss him.

I think Knut is one of the few people who could give someone a Glasgow kiss and feel no ill effects. A Glasgow kiss goes something like this:

“Can your mother sew?”
“Yeah, why?”
“Then have her stitch

(Grab the other fellow’s ears and bang your forehead into the other guy’s head).

In films, this knocks out the other guy, leaving our hero unscathed. However, if you’ve ever played the game where you squish two M&Ms together to see which breaks, there can be unexpected results. Apparently most people knock themselves out or at the least the two guys can share a taxi to get their concussions looked at.

Which leads us to…


How much harder is Knut’s head than mine?

Good thing we had Easter eggs.

With equal force I banged this charming lavender Easter egg against my head and then smashed Knut one with the other side. Once he recovered from the shock, we compared sides.

Katy’s Side

Smooth and mild breakage. Practically a warm embrace. This egg would be able to get up and walk away, if eggs were generally able to do such things.

Knut’s Side

Tiny round DEEP puncture. Resembles a bullet wound. Notorious E.G.G. style. How did the man manage it? It’s not like he’s a unicorn…? Nah.

Now, whose head would you rather get knocked with? I think I’d better keep my Glasgow kisses to the romantic kind.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Daddy's Girl

I have a brother. He used to be 6 feet 7 inches of Rompin’ Stompin’ Rugby Playin’ Law Professing Power.

These days he’s 6 feet 7 inches of Rompin’ Stompin’ Rugby Playin’ Law Professing Daddy Power.

Fortunately, he and his wife are generous enough to share lots of pictures of their beautiful daughter and the adventures their little family takes. I just love the photos of teeny girlish
Rosemary nestling snuggly against his giganto chest in her carrier. She looks so thoroughly delighted with the world and her place in it. It’s good to have a daddy. Very good.

Looking at these photos, I started thinking of other daddys. A certain one sprang to mind.

If you’re not marine biologically inclined, there are certain species of seahorses where the male carries the female’s eggs in a special pouch. When the young hatch he contracts his pouch and the babies swim out into the open sea. As a result of this excellent daddy-ship, seahorse babies have a higher rate of survival compared to fish, where many eggs are eaten before the young hatch.

This design was sketched by me and then colored in Photoshop. The original was put onto a baby t-shirt for Rosemary, but I’m considering adding it to my etsy shop.

Here’s to you, James! And to Excellent Daddys Everywhere!