Of Unicorns, and the Treachery of Bullfrogs.

A story for a dark winter’s night…

A long time ago, just yesterday…when I was just a wee little river nymph of maybe 10 or so, we lived in a little town (barely more than a village, really) in an old white house with black shutters, where my mother grew roses and lilies in the yard.  Behind the house, across a small road, there was a swamp where, I was convinced, a unicorn was known to visit…

Now, my mother tried to convince me that there was no such thing as unicorns, not really, but let’s be honest; when you’re the daughter of a witch and a river some things are just not to be believed.  A unicorn visited the swamp and that was that. I just needed to wait long enough and I would see it.

I would go out into the swamp in the early morning before the mists were burned off by the sun, and in the evening as the last rays of daylight sank into the shadows, day after day, week after week, month after month, but still there was no sign  Yet my stubborn self persisted.

One day, after months of nothing but failure (though a developing appreciation for the sunrise and sunset) , I decided to try something different.  I went up the road to where a feral apple tree grew and I picked the best apples I could find, reasoning that unicorns were distantly related to horses and horses love apples so unicorns probably did too, but were likely more interested in wild apples instead of the boring ones from the market.  I stashed the apples where my mother wouldn’t find them (she didn’t approve of my habit of eating them, because they were probably full of worms and she didn’t believe that I could tell which ones had worms and which ones were fine, and besides, you can just cut the wormy bits off and the rest of the apple was fine and well, it was just easier to hide them) and went on about my day, secretly planning.

That night, when I went to bed, I pretended to fall asleep and, when I was certain that it was late enough for everyone else to be asleep, I quietly crept out of bed and, taking my stash of feral apples, snuck out of the house and out into the swamp.

It was a full moon that night, or near enough, and so I didn’t really need to carry a light to find my way through the small patch of woods and to the edges of the swamp.  It was so bright and beautiful, and it looked nothing like I was used to it looking, and it was wonderful. I knew from all of my research that unicorns were drawn to singing and so I sang little songs to the water and the frogs and the summer night’s wind and watched the light play on the water while I sat on a small rock that was the perfect size and shape to sit comfortably on for hours.

The mosquitoes were, to be honest, more than a little annoying, but I was determined to ignore them.

I admit, I got a little bored after a while, and noticed that there were an awful lot of frogs around the water’s edge…green frogs, wood frogs,  pickerel frogs, tiny little peepers, and of course, great croaking bullfrogs. I fed them some of the mosquitoes that were trying to eat me, because the circle of life is a beautiful thing and in the swamp sometimes it’s eat or be eaten, and I had Opinions about being on the menu.  Besides, it never hurts to have friends in watery places.

Then, after a small age, I heard a faint splash in the distance.  I stopped singing to listen, in case I was mistaken, but then it came again.  This was it. I knew it. As the sound drew closer, the frogs and crickets grew quiet, and so did I.  There was a Feeling in the air, like something magical approached. I was as still and quiet as a mouse, and as I watched, I saw a faint glow shimmering through the grasses and water-logged trees.  It was here! The unicorn! Any moment it would step through the grass into view and I would see it in it’s pale, moonlit glory, and I would offer it one of my carefully chosen apples and it would accept my offering and eat it and I would be the first river nymph in generations to befriend a unicorn and…

*CROOOOAAK CROOOOAAK CROOOAAK*

There was a frantic splashing and the sound of hoofbeats running into the distance.  Angrily, I looked down at the edge of the water at the base of my rock and there I met the flat, bored gaze of the one who had chosen that, of all moments, to decide to announce TO A UNICORN that this bit of swamp was his.

A big, fat, bullfrog.  Unrepentant and shameless.  I HAD JUST FED HIM MOSQUITOES AND HE HAD BETRAYED ME.  I glared at him, and he just looked at me, unblinking. I wished owls on him.  I wished herons and turtles and weasels on him. He was unmoved by my wrath, treacherous thing that he was.  I threw an apple at him but he dodged and stared at me from a little further down the shore.

I knew that there was no chance of the unicorn returning again that night, and besides, it was getting early and I knew that the longer I stayed, the more likely it was that I would be caught and get in trouble for wandering off into the night.  Leaving the remaining apples for anyone else that might come by, I crept out of the swamp and snuck back into my bed before my absence was noticed.

I tried a few more times, but never again did I hear the unicorn nor see the gentle glow of it’s horn, as it made its way through the swamp.

 

To this day, I still blame that frog for scaring it away.

 

Never trust bullfrogs.  They will always betray you, no matter how many mosquitoes you give them.

The Oracle of Roads

“apantomancy. Noun. divination by chance meetings with any objects that present themself, most commonly animals, but can also be numbers, objects, weather, etc.”

For most of my life, I’ve had a fascination with divination, chance, symbols, superstitions, and other things of that nature.  My mother got into astrology when I was little (it was the 80s…it was sort of A Thing) and I grew up around mediums and tarot readers and all that.  As a result, my interests on those lines were fostered from an early age, tempered by the fact that my father is a complete skeptic who believes in nothing he can’t see for himself.

Over the years, I learned a bit of everything on that front, and a whole lot about how divination and oracles work, at the fundamental levels, and have slowly built my own system of sorts.  Because I’m me, there’s a whole lot of road and travel-related parts to it.  Flipped coins at crossroads, the position of the crows and hawks, the patterns of windblown leaves and snow on pavement, the roll of dice to answer a question, that sort of thing.  Many times, I’ve considered formalizing it somehow into something that doesn’t require being out on the roads (because sometimes one needs some insight and can’t go out driving around until the answer appears), but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.

Until now, that is.  I’m finally working on creating the Oracle of Roads as a tangible thing.  It’s a bit complicated because, while much of it can translate to a card-based format, like The Waitress or The Frustrated Hawk, some things, like The Sentinel Crow, or The Statue, usually involve variables that don’t simplify and translate as easily.  With The Sentinel Crow, for example, generally things like whether the bird is on the ground, in a tree, or on a light-pole, as well as what direction it’s facing, are all factored in, so how to translate something like that is tricky and would probably work better as something like a round disc or thrown object.

Alternatively (she mused aloud), I could start by writing down all the variations and offering readings based on them while I get the larger logistics of format and spreads sorted out….

Things to ponder, I guess.

Life With Cats

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As folks who follow me on Twitter know, my old tabby cat, Torin, ended up at the emergency vet in the middle of the night about two weeks ago, and since then my life has basically been on hold while we try and get him back to health again (current working theory is that Grandpa has most likely developed a case of IBS in his old age and is having a bad flare-up).  Since the initial medication we were trying required me to be giving him something every few hours, I’ve been more or less stuck, and with the kitten being a pain in the rear end, I couldn’t even really work on much else.  At risk of TMI, incontinent cat plus rambunctious kitten who insists that litter box time is play time, means I’ve been having to babysit Oisin extra carefully to give Torin a few minutes of peace to do his business and cleaning up some really gross messes when the kitten got away from me and I couldn’t stop him in time.

Not ideal for being able to do any kind of creative work, especially since neither cat is currently allowed in the work room until this is resolved.

Sadly, that initial medication didn’t really do much, so we had to move on to the next step, which is not a great one for an elderly cat with a congenital heart murmur: prednisolone.  Thankfully this is just a once a day topical application, wait two hours (to keep Oisin from licking it off of him, since social grooming has become a daily occurrence that we don’t want to discourage), wipe off any excess gel, and then I’m free to go on about my day.

Happily, this means that, barring additional issues, with a few adjustments to the household scheduling, that’s easy enough to manage.  (Everyone hope that this works and is just for this month and that he’s back on track afterward.)

Of course, now that I have the ability to leave the house for more than a couple of hours again, it’s supposed to be abysmal weather for the next few days, because spite.

Crossroads, Clerics, and Roadside Lore.

At long last, I am free of the World’s Most Annoying Plague (there’s a head cold going around that’s basically all sinus drainage all the time) and am back on my bullshit again.

Last weekend, while still down with said plague, I had a day where I was feeling well enough to start getting a bit stir-crazy from being stuck inside for days and, even though it was supposed to snow, I decided to go out anyway.  The road was calling and I needed to answer it.

Normally, a spontaneous drive mostly involves me pacing around the house for a couple of hours before realizing that I’m super restless and should probably grab a bottle of water, some snacks, and my keys and go for a drive.  This day was different.  There was a sense of, I don’t know, Fate or something behind the restlessness.  As if the Road was telling me that there was something I needed to see out there, and it would not be denied.  This was not to be a typical drive, but was one that I should approach as the routewitch that I am.  This required preparation and everything I brought with me was important, and as such it was important that each item be chosen with care, down to the drink that I brought with me.

As I stood before my tea selection, I considered the feeling that I was getting from the Road, and narrowed down to two options….blackberry-sage, or a chai blend from a company that no longer exists, called Crossroads.  I couldn’t figure out which was more appropriate, and so I consulted the dice.  The dice said that the Crossroads were the key, and so that was what I filled a travel mug with (it’s a chai made with lapsang and darjeeling, so it has a harsh, smoky finish…perfect for the message I was getting.), and went out on the Road.

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There is a flat, steely kind of light to the world before a snowstorm, and a silence as loud as a warning. As the snow begins to fall, the powder skitters and slides across the pavement, ghostly as mist and shadow.  It is an eerie beauty.

As I drove and the snow fell and the light faded, I began to wonder why the Road had called me out onto the roadways, and if I had misunderstood what it had told me, but the pull remained strong, a whispered “wait and see” sighing through my soul.  I drove on, through the woods and the farmland and the towns slowly being blanketed in white, while the other travellers faded off the roadways to curl up by warm fires.

Then, just at the edge of a small town, at a place where two roads crossed, I saw them; a small band of Juniper Monks, gathered along the edge of the road.

No one knows for sure who, or even what, the Juniper Monks are. Often mistaken for burlap-wrapped evergreens (hence their name), they are rarely seen, and then only under specific conditions.  They appear in severe weather, generally snowstorms, but they have also been reported during heavy rains, as well.  Why they gather during these times is not known, and speculation ranges from harbinger to messenger to things more sinister in nature.  Most, however, believe that they are a kind of roadside guardian, appearing to warn travellers of dangers and protect them from harm.  Some carry talismans in their vehicles, tucked into glove compartments or hung from mirrors, to invoke their protection when venturing out in bad weather. Most go their whole lives without ever seeing them, and it is considered great fortune to encounter a band of them.  To be honest, I had believed that they were a myth, myself; a figment of the imagination, brought on by the dim light and swirling snow playing tricks on one’s eyes, but now, having seen them for myself, I can’t deny their existence.

Having seen the Monks, the Road signalled that I had seen what I had been called to see, and that it was time to go home.  I came to a roundabout, and returned back the way I had home, though the Monks were gone by the time I drove past the intersection again.

I’m thinking about acquiring a talisman to carry in the truck with me, as I often find myself out in inclement weather.  If I’m able to locate some, I’ll try to get some for others who may also wish to invoke the protection of the Juniper Monks for their own travels, as well.

 

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A Thousand Small Lights Can Illuminate The Darkness.

The truck is once again safe and road legal, if still in need of other repairs.  Whoo-hoo!  *does happy dance*  I’ve been trying to make sure I get out for a drive every day, even if it’s just to run errands, and get myself back in shape and my truck and I reacquainted with one another.

It’s good to be back out on the road again.  The weather was unsettled and mercurial from an incoming cold front the other day, and there were several snow squalls blowing through the region.  As one of them, a particularly fierce one, enveloped the truck in a wall of wind and snow, hiding the world in swirling white, I had the amusing realization that the tension in my shoulders had just released and I was utterly relaxed.  Yes, in a whiteout, I was completely at peace.

There is a kind of serenity that descends in the narrowing of the world when driving in severe weather.  You have no choice but to focus on navigating and steering the vehicle you are in control of, and nothing else.  Your whole being coalesces around the machine that is an extension of your own body, feeling the surface beneath your wheels, the shifting, blinding white that obscures the world and reduces your vision to almost nothing, and so you have to listen to the road’s voice to tell you how find a safe path out of danger.  There is no room for anything else, and that is strangely freeing.

As a reward for trusting the road, I beheld the glory of the afternoon sun over a snow-dusted field, and it was worth it.

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It occurred to me, as I was watching the squall devour the sun and the world, that I often see things while driving that I would love to be able to get photos of, but driving and taking pictures isn’t exactly the safest or smartest combination of things.  I got to wondering if there was a way to manage it, and I think I might have found a way.

My phone charger/holder is mounted on the windshield, and is one of the fancy multi-articulated ones, meaning that I can adjust it to whatever angle my little heart desires.  So, on today’s drive, I tested it to see if I could position it so that all I had to do was tap the screen and get a shot of the road, and it worked pretty well.

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Yeah,  that’ll work well enough.

Also, I accidentally ended up in Rhode Island on today’s drive.  I wasn’t expecting to cross a state line, but I apparently found a different route to get there from home.

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I was a little disturbed by the fact that it was pretty deserted, to be honest.

The main issue now is that, while it’s about as complicated to work as changing the radio station, it does require me to take my eyes off the road a little longer than I care to, to make sure I hit the right button on the screen, which…not great.  Fine on totally open roads, like here, or while stopped, but…  So now I’m researching Bluetooth or other solutions for telling the phone to operate the camera, which will let me keep my eyes on the road, my hands on the wheel, and not get me in legal trouble (distracted driver laws are A Thing around my region…we won’t mention the fact that I rarely have two hands on the wheel at any given time, and no one cares if I take a swig of coffee, but gods forbid you think about a cell phone…I have Opinions about the scope of those class of laws, even as I accept that I have to follow them).  So far, it’s looking like mounting a Bluetooth remote on the steering wheel is a viable option.  I’ll be able to situate the phone where I want it to be aimed before I get on the road, and then just click a button when I want to, without ever taking my hands or eyes off the road.

In art news, I finished another small painting that I’ll be listing for sale shortly.  I’m not going to lie, it was a hard piece to do.  The news these last few days has been more grim than usual and it’s difficult to paint whimsical things when everything in the world is screaming and fire.  It’s hard to remember that this is the time when I need to be creating more whimsy, to counter the screams and remind people that there is still light and good things in the world, and that it is important.

Thus, a smol, sad monster who knows they are not very big and they can’t do anything  Important to make the world stop being terrible, but it can light a candle and hope, oh so very much, that it can add just a little more light to hold the darkness at bay.

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It is a wee little monster, only on 4 x 4 paper, but it’s doing it’s best and that is all I, or anyone, can ask of it.

Of Fish, Frozen Frustrations, and Further Adventures In Figuring Things Out.

According to the Terry Pratchett Twitter feed, 2020 is the Year of the Condescending Carp, and I think this is the Universe informing me that it is important that I paint more fish.  I mean, my fish are pretty opinionated, so it seems like a logical conclusion to me.  MY TIME HAS COME!

*ahem*

This week’s project has been working behind the scenes to get myself organized, sort out a work schedule to balance painting time, writing time, and traveling time, and prep for kicking into gear by Monday.  One of the things that I’m working on (and why it’s taking some extra time) is getting a bullet journal set up.

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This should prove interesting.  I’ve never attempted to do one before, so there’s definitely a learning curve.  Still, the fact that it’s somewhere between a chaotic day planner and record keeping system that is built to organize it’s own chaos into a useful configuration seems to be something that might actually work for me, for once.  Gods know, I need to do something.  Most regular daily planners just don’t seem to work with my brain (and don’t have enough space for me to include a proper to-do list, require me to carry around too many things, and honestly, most are just plain boring to look at), but trying to use a journal to keep track of things results in not being able to find anything when I need it.

Bullet journals are designed to correct for all of that, so that seems like it could maybe be a win, once I get the thing set up and ready to go.  Plus, I get to draw in it and make it pretty!  No, I was absolutely not up until 2 AM falling down the bullet journal rabbit hole on Pinterest, nor did I start a board for ideas, either…

One of the big things dealt with today was my truck.  Not only was it overdue for an inspection (and therefore not actually road-legal), it’s been having brake problems for months.  This has been a major factor in why I haven’t really been traveling much.  I didn’t want to be out driving through a steep pass or in traffic on the ‘Pike and have my brakes give out, because that would be Bad.

Turns out they wouldn’t give out, but they were in the process of locking up, because calipers.  Again.

Frozen calipers are the recurring bane of my existence.  Every couple of years, I’m having to deal with the same stupid issue, no matter what vehicle I have, and it’s enough to make me scream.  Calipers aren’t cheap, and it’s frustrating to have to keep coming up with around $1,000 again (this time around, Himself is paying, and I hate that I can’t take care of it myself).  I finally asked whether this is just exceptionally bad luck or if this is an operator problem, and the answer is well, sort of both.  See, vehicles are meant to move.  Like, every day.  Letting them sit for even a few days causes problems.  One of those problems is, in fact, rusting in the calipers, which eventually leads to them freezing up.  Since I regularly go in cycles of heavy travel followed by weeks of not going anywhere, this is probably why this is a constant problem.  It then gets compounded by not wanting to drive with bad brakes, which speeds up the process.

Looks like I’m just going to have to travel more!  Oh, darn…whatever shall I do?

To that end, I’m working on making a list of places to check out and explore.  This is slightly complicated by the fact that it’s winter in New England, but I’m sure there’s plenty of places for me to investigate that are indoors.  This also means that I’m working on overhauling my funding and income plans, because even local travel isn’t cheap and the truck still needs several more repairs (it’s got at least 2 leaks that are going to need fixing soon, as well as a new battery) before it’s going to be fully up and running smoothly again.

A note for my Patreon patrons that I am going to be changing the names and info in the perk tiers within the next couple of days.  If there are perks you’d like to see offered, I would love to have your input for this!

And now, after all that, I am informed that Oisin has never been petted ever, which is a tragedy (and a total lie) and I should stop doing the thing that is not actually petting him.  Off to obey my furry overlords!

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Thus The Wheel Turns And Time Begins Again (plus, bonus mushroom soup recipe).

I have now, officially, re-written this post five times.  Or rather, I have wrote 3 different posts yesterday while making mushroom soup, scrapped them 4 times, and am now working on another one, because there’s so many things to say and it’s hard to pick what direction to go in sometimes.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and this wretched year is almost done.  I mean, it had good points.  I figured out roughly what I want to do with my life.  I got the sweetest asshole of a black kitten. I accepted that I don’t actually want to be a Fine Art painter, but that I do love painting silly little things and while I might be a landed person now, I’m a routewitch at heart and I need to be out exploring and that’s a thing I’m allowed to be.  It also had far more death in it than any year should have, and I’m so tired of burying people.  It had far too much horror and despair in the overarching national and world arenas, and just…blarg.

It’s been a long century, this last year, and I’m glad that I chose the word “Play” for my word to focus on for it.  It was a Very Needful Thing to remember to engage with, just to stay reasonably sane and functional.

Some people make resolutions or goal lists for the year, I pick a couple of words as focal points to work with.  Last January, I only picked one.  I knew it was going to be a rough year to start with (we knew my step-mother was dying at the beginning of the year, and we knew that it was going to cause a lot of sweeping changes in the family…I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect there to be as much as there was, so that was a thing), and so I wanted to keep it as simple a thing as I could.

This year, I’m choosing three words:

Wonder.

Focus.

Build.

The world is not going to become a magically better place when the clock ticks over tomorrow, and so I will need to cultivate and maintain a sense of wonder to carry me through. My curiosity and inquisitiveness will be something that will stand me in good stead for what I plan to do, as it is always a good thing to start a question with “I wonder…”

I will need to take what I learn and find, and focus on what I can do with it.  Instead of being scattered and drifting through, I will need to hone in and bring things further into focus and clarity.

With this, I will work to build the framework onto the foundations that I have found, and shape it into the life I want.  I will build more networks and strengthen those I already have.

I will spend time contemplating what these words mean, and how they apply to the situations I find myself in, as each can have multiple ways of being interpreted.

That’s the idea, anyway.  I look forward to seeing where this all goes, as I look forward to having y’all along for company on this ride.

And now, as a reward for slogging through all that… have a copy of my mushroom soup recipe.

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. butter

1 small, or 1/2 medium onion, chopped fine

8 oz. package baby bella/crimini mushrooms, chopped fine

2 cups unsalted chicken broth

2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped (dried can be substituted, if you don’t have fresh)

Pepper, to your taste

Cooking sherry

Directions:

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and getting a translucent (maybe 10 minutes or so).  Add chopped mushrooms, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add chicken broth, parsley, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour.  Remove from heat and add cooking sherry to taste (I usually use about 2 or 3 tablespoons).  Using a stick (aka immersion) blender, puree to desired consistency.  I like to leave some chunks of mushrooms for texture, but ymmv. Enjoy!

This soup is one of my favorite things to have on cold, grey days, along with a  nice bit of peasant bread.

The Problem With Poppets

“Once there was, and once there was not…”

That is how the old stories start, isn’t it?  Once there was, and once there was not a village far, far away,  just over that ridge there, that bordered a forest as old as time and older than sin, and in that forest was a little house the color of brick and old blood in which there lived a witch…

What?  Yes, dear, I know that’s a run-on sentence.  It’s an old woman’s right to ramble.  Hush, now,  and let your old Baba think.  Where was I?  Oh, right…

…in which there lived a witch…

As witches go, the villagers didn’t *think* she was a bad one, but they weren’t sure, and one can really never be too careful when dealing with uncertainties like that, can we?  After all, her house looked more or less normal, and she hadn’t actually eaten anyone, that they were aware of, and her cats seemed nice, as did the odd man who lived with her, but her garden had a tendency to grow things with berries that looked too much like eyes looking back at you, and fruits that were just a little too strangely colored to be quite right, and then there were the poppets….There was a rhyme about them, though no one knew where it came from.

“Poppet of bramble, branch, and twine

Face like moonlight, and voice of chime…”

Damn, I can’t remember the rest of it.  Something about flattering them and asking them not to steal things that were yours, like your name, or your shadow or something like that.  Don’t get old, kids, your memory gets to being fuzzy and you forget things at the most inopportune times…

The poppets were odd little things.  They should have been much more disturbing then they were, but they had a certain whimsical charm to them I’m told.  Well, at least as long as the sun was out and you knew there were other folks around.  I wouldn’t swear that they were as charming when the sun went down, and I don’t want to find out for sure.  Like the rhyme goes, they were odd little figures, human-like, cobbled together of sticks and bits of brambles and leaves, held together with fine twine, with heads of bleached linen and faces that were drawn onto the fabric.  The witch had placed them around the property, gathered in little groups in the trees and on the fences and you would swear they were watching you when walked by, whispering and chattering among themselves, with voices that sounded like those tiny little wind-chimes you see at the flower shops.  No one ever saw them move, but they were rarely where you saw them last, even if only a few moments had passed.

Some things it’s just best not to think about…

Some folks swore they heard the poppets chiming in the village in the middle of the night, but everyone knows that once the sun goes down, you’d best be indoors and you never look out the windows.  There are things out there in the dark that don’t need to be met, and it’s best to just  let some things be.

What was that, my dear?  Ah, yes.  So it is.  I’m sorry, my children, but I’m told that it’s time for your old Baba to take her old bones to bed.  It’s getting late, and you should run along home before the sun goes down.  Remember to close the curtains, and if you hear the chimes, it’s probably just those little metal chimes from the flower shop blowing around in the breeze…

*  *  *  *  *  *

No, I have absolutely not been staring at the tangled vines outside the window, and thinking how much they looked like little people sometimes and wondering if I could remember how to make little dolls from sticks and string like I did when I was a kid.  Why do you ask?

New Toy Appreciation Post! Also, Susan.

So, I want to say that I appreciate y’all for helping support my hare-brained idea and existence.  It means a lot to me.  One of the things I wanted to share is one of the things that you helped me get, and that is a new piece of hardboard.

What is hardboard and what’s the big deal with it?  It’s basically a piece of mdf (medium-density fibreboard that is sturdy and water-resistant due to the wax and resins that go into forming it), but it’s in sizes and thicknesses that are appropriate for use in making art.  It’s also that thing that you’ll see in a lot of artists’ studios on easels or propped against a wall that have pieces of paper taped to them, and usually are smeared with ages of old paint and gesso and look like a paint pallet exploded at them.  It basically gives you a hard surface to work on that protects the other surfaces you’re working on, or if you’re using an easel, which are not generally  designed for sheets of watercolor or mixed media paper to be used on them.

For somewhere around 10 years now, I’ve been using an 11×14 frameable card.

It works well enough, but it’s not ideal.  For the easel, I’ve been trying to make do with the back of a large sketchbook, and that is so very much not a great surface to work with.  Worse than the cardstock, to be honest, which is why I haven’t used the easel much in years. Really, I needed hardboard.

You wonderful folks and your patronage helped me get a 18×24 piece from Blicks, and it arrived the other day, and *gods* it’s so nice to work with appropriate materials again.  Especially ones that don’t have fold ridges running down the middle of them.

I have to admit, I’m a little confused by working on a clean surface again, after so long with the paint-and-ink smeared cardstock.  I mean, I’m sure that’ll get messy soon enough, but it’s still a bit odd.

I’ve been so happy about getting to work on a good surface that I’ve got a mixed media experiment started *and* a new misfit monster done!

This is Susan.  Susan is a good example of why I shouldn’t think about monsters and flowers at the same time, or maybe she’s a great example of why I *should* do just that.  Either way, I was thinking about monsters and then I started thinking about flowers, and black-eyed susans in particular, and well…paint happened.  She is very friendly, even if she does have a lot of eyes.

She’s done on 4″ x 4″ watercolor paper, with watercolor paint, Coliro pearlcolor paint, and ink.

Now, however, it is past 2 am, and I should probably think about going to bed and getting some sleep.  Sweet dreamings, all!

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Breathing Room.

Thanksgiving is past, and with it comes a few days of breathing room for me.  A lot of October and November is filled with the wrapping up of LARP season until next spring, Halloween, birthdays, and Thanksgiving prep (and recovery), which leaves not a lot of time for anything else.  It’s a whirlwind season of Do All The Things.  Not gonna lie, this year has been extra hard, as family mortality has continued to be a recurring issue.  I lost the last of my aunts a couple of weeks ago, making it the fifth death in the family in just over a year.  I’m okay, strangely, but it is *hard* to keep walking when you just want to sit down in the path and just…not for a while.  I’m mostly tired.

I’m trying to use it as a motivator to live my life on my own terms, because we all come with an expiration date, and I really don’t want to get to mine and have nothing to look back on except a life dictated by others.  I’m terrified of that happening, and so, I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So, what am I up to?  Trying to get writing again, like really back in practice on a daily basis, instead of haphazard moments grabbed when I can.  Art (such as I can, because kitten and wet paint do not make a great combination).  Considering overhauling my perk offerings and thinking about what I can offer that people might find interesting, balanced against my allergic reaction to paywalls and my physical ability to produce things.  Raising a particularly rambunctious and stubborn kitten.  Trying to find a side job to cover bills while I work on my own income streams.  That sort of thing.

Oisin has been Very Helpful with my writing, and by helpful, I mean holy cats he has Opinions on not having my undivided attention.  I swear, the furry wretch has an internal sensor that lets him know when I’ve got the potential for hitting a writing groove, and decides that Now Is The Time On Sprockets When We Bounce Off The Walls (and windows and furniture and our brother’s head).  This morning I got a whole three sentences before Kitty Parkour began!  At least he’s cute…

The very image of YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO ME HOW DARE?!? (His big brother was trying to climb into my lap.  Oisin was dealing with some jealousy issues about the whole thing.)

One thing that did occur to me is that somewhere along the line, I forgot that slow art is A Thing, not just “how fast can I make X”, but just… take a week or two to paint a proper Foxentree.  That prints are not required, but that I can just make art to be sold as it is, original and one of a kind, and that that is okay.  I mean, I definitely want to do prints someday, and will photograph all of my work accordingly, but if there’s a delay in when prints vs. originals happen, that’s FINE. It is not necessary to do Everything RIGHT NOW.  I can slow the heck down and just do what I do, in the time it takes me to do it, and I don’t need to mass produce everything last week.

Surprisingly, once that dawned on me that that’s where my brain had gone, I was able to get back to the Foxentree I started a couple of months ago and get working on it again.

Capitalism is a trip, y’all.
Other than that, well, Winter in New England has formally arrived.  I don’t care what the calendar says, my yard is buried under 14 inches of snow.  I call that Winter.  Time for buttoning in for a bit, drinking endless cups of tea, and working on stories and crafts to pass the time until the spring, while trying not to lose what’s left of my mind in the dark and the cold and the dealing with having to wear shoes all the time.

The view out my work room window is really pretty, though.

What are your winter projects?

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