New Name, Who Dis?

After much ado, the paperwork has been submitted and accepted, and as of roughly noon yesterday, May 24, Tricksters Road Studio is now a Really Real Thing! As mentioned previously, I’ll be moving everything over to the new site in the coming weeks, getting my Ko-Fi and Patreon pages, etc. updated accordingly, and…..

Setting up my own actual shop on my own actual site.

Finally.

So yeah, that’s that. It’s probably going to take a little bit, since I have to do everything manually, but I’m am SO EXCITED to finally be able to get this all set up official-like. Sorry about the chaos, but well, there’s a reason the studio is named what it is. 😀

Seriously, I am ecstatic. This has been something I’ve been trying to make work for so long, and y’all are a huge factor in my finally being able to get here. I genuinely couldn’t pull this off without the support you’ve all given me over the years, and I so very much appreciate it.

Let’s Just Focus On The Flying Toads, Shall We?

It started off as a normal, if deeply irritating, dream of dealing with petty middle-school grade Drama, and ended with me hysterically shaking my limp body, begging it to let me back in and wake up, and then being awake while I woke up, hyperventilating and needing to actually poke myself to make sure I was Really Awake This Time, FFS.

I think I’m just going to work on remembering the bit with the gorgeous flock of grey and burgundy tree toads taking flight, even if I’m somewhat vexed that I wasn’t able to get my phone out in time to take a photo of them…

Today was a Weird Day.

Still thinking I might need to paint the toads, though. They really were gorgeous.

An Assortment Of Inks

I started working on a new Smol Monster/Watcher painting this week, and came to the point in the process where I have to start thinking about whether I’m going to use watercolor pencils or paint, whether I’m going to outline in black or brown ink, or something else. I decided that I wanted to do a nice sepia outline, but realized that many of the details on this piece are particularly small and I don’t have a Micron pen in size 005 (extremely fine point). So, off to the craft store I hied myself to see if I could find one, or if I would have to order one.

I, um, came back with rather more than a single pen.

Oops.

In my defense, the india ink and dip pens were *right there* and I’ve wanted to use them again for a while, and my old ink was drying out and well, then I needed cleaning solution, and something to use for an inkwell until I can get a real one, and then I needed storage for all of this, and….

I can’t be trusted around art supplies.

After dinner, I decided to do a quick test to consider the pros and cons and y’all, I find myself being somewhat perturbed. You see, I actually like the dip pen and india ink better. The problem with this is that the major con to this is the fact that there’s a reason we use contained pens these days, and that reason is that dip pens are a lot of work. You can’t just pop the cap off and on and walk away. There’s multiple parts to set up and then clean up, and you have to clean up, or you screw up your tools.

It’s so much nicer looking, though, for this piece. It wants more…rustic…looking lines, and the Micron wants to do clean, uniform ones. The particular shade of brown is a richer, nuttier shade that compliments the piece so much more.

*sigh*

Looks like I’m just gonna have to suck up the extra time and work involved, because dammit, I really like character and charm that the dip pen is going to add to this piece.

To Name A Thing Is To Give It Shape And Form

*drafts post*

*things explode*

*deletes and redrafts post*

*things explode again*

*grumbles, deletes posts, and redrafts it again*

*things explode. again.*

sounds of hysterical cackling

Quick, Melissa! Write a quick summary and get it posted before things explode again!

The Reader’s Digest Condensed version: It’s been nearly a year since Dad died and everything went to hell and required a restructure of well, close to half of my life. Also, some of my health issues have gotten worse, requiring some life changes to what I can and can’t do. What does this mean? This means that I’ve reached a point where I’m going to make a few minor adjustments, and one big change.

The big change is that the name and associated web address stuff is going to be changing. Why is that? Well, for a variety of reasons, really. I’m giving up on ever doing formal travel blogging (like I’d originally been planning to back when I settled on this name back in 2019), and that was originally what the name was associated with. Between ongoing pandemic, general life, and some medical reasons, it’s just not something I can pursue anymore and, to be totally honest, given everything in the last few years, it’s not something I even *want* to pursue anymore. I could try and keep wrangling it as is, but the reality is that it’s developed a lot of excess baggage for me, and it’s messing with my head.

Also, because I’m formally shifting focus to general writing (may not be travel blogging anymore, but I’m sure gonna keep writing apocryphal folklore and other little story bits), mixed media and digital art, and other random little artish projects, I’m also working on getting an official business license and registration! Which means, I need to actually name, well, my official business.

I’ve been poking at it for months now (okay, honestly, I’ve been trying on studio names like they were ballgowns for years), and nothing’s really been Just Right. They’ve been okay, but not…

Right.

Until recently, when I woke up in the middle of the night and just *knew*. I tried it out, wrote it on things, talked about it to the cat, and generally just quietly lived with it for a bit, just to make sure. Still pretty damned sure that it’s Right.

Still got some logistic issues to sort out, but in the next few months I’m going to be hitting the Reset Button and rebranding over to the new name and address (to be announced once I’ve got the paperwork in order for it). So yeah.

Wheeeee….

For Sale: Free Range Izbushka Eggs

It’s mid-October, late in the afternoon.  The day is warm and the sky is that piercing blue that only exists for a few brief weeks, contrasting beautifully against the red and orange leaves of the trees.  You pull into a small rest area to stretch your legs after several hours of driving, and to maybe get something to eat from the little attached diner.  The parking lot is pretty quiet, and it’s a nice day, so you decide to stop and eat at one of the picnic tables off to the side.  As you sit down, a flash of color catches your attention.

At a nearby table, a woman is sitting beside a plain brown woven basket filled with what looks to be brightly colored eggs, like the kind you see in the spring.  Beside the basket is a handwritten note stating that they are for sale.  There seems to be more writing, but you can’t quite make it out from where you sit.

The woman notices you looking, smiles pleasantly, and gestures that you are welcome to take a look.  You point at your food, and she nods.  After you finish eating and dispose of your trash in a nearby waste bin, you give in to your curiosity and approach her table.

FOR SALE

Izbushka Eggs – $6 each

Free Range

Guaranteed to be mostly helpful.

 Not knowing what to make of this, you ask her what an Izbushka egg is.

She smiles and begins to tell you about hand-raised chicken-legged huts.  You blink nervously, trying to decide if you’re dealing with a Halloween prank, a local artist, or someone with some sort of mental health issues.  As surreptitiously as you can, you glance toward the rest area employees who are leaning against the side of the building on their break, and see that they don’t appear concerned at all, so you’re pretty sure that she’s probably fine.  Artist, most likely, then.  You relax somewhat and turn your attention back to her, as she tells you about her flock of rare breed izbushka (barely the size of a child’s dollhouse!), and how this particular breed is known especially for their gentle natures, brightly colored eggs, and high rate of beneficial laying, as opposed to most of the larger breeds, who are prone to being more aggressive and liable to lay harmful eggs.  Unfortunately, they do have a higher chance of laying neutral eggs, so you’re as likely to get a small roll of stickers or cute pencil erasers as you are magic rings or the like.

She asks if you’re interested in buying one or two and, after a moment’s hesitation, you decide “why not?”.  A little whimsy is good for the soul, and it’ll make a good story when you get home.  Besides, you’re pretty sure the rest area employees would have stepped in by now if she was any kind of threat or whatever.  You pull out your wallet, hand her some money, and select an egg from the basket.  Definitely feels like plastic, though it does have a somewhat odd texture that you can’t quite place.

You thank the woman, wish her a good day, and continue on down the road.

Later that night, tucked up in your hotel room, you pull the egg out of your bag.  You smile and open it, curious to see what you’ll find.

Inside the pale shell, surrounded by vaguely iridescent fluff of some kind (you think it feels like some kind of unspun fiber, like raw silk maybe, but you aren’t sure), is a small, gold-colored ring.  Must be a “magic” ring, you think, and chuckle at the silliness of it all.  You go to sleep, pleased with your day’s little side adventure.

It takes you some time to notice it, but whenever you have the ring with you you have strangely good luck finding parking spaces.  Always in the most convenient locations no matter how busy or crowded a parking area is.  You think of the strange woman at the rest stop and wonder.  You shrug, and tell yourself it’s just a coincidence – after all, magic rings and chicken-legged huts that lay eggs aren’t really real – but you also never leave home without the ring and you never have to struggle to find parking again.

(If you liked what you just read, please feel free to toss a few coins at your mostly friendly resident word-witch!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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Two Steps Forward, One Back? Ish?

The good news!  I made a whole Foxentree illustration digitally, and it looks awesome!

The “bad” news!  I didn’t do it CMYK format, but in RGB, which is great for monitors but not for Redbubble’s upload guidelines, so now I have to decide if the minor loss of color accuracy will be a problem for me or not.

Sigh.

On the other hand…

FOXENTREE!!!!

Sponsor-A-Monster?

Auntie Yaga’s Home For Wayward Monsters

Sponsor-A-Monster?

Yaga turned on the tv and flopped backwards onto the reclining chair with a groan.  She’d been staring at bank and budget spreadsheets for hours, and desperately needed to turn her brain off for a bit.

She’d bought the old farmhouse at auction for practically pennies.  It had been empty for a couple of years after the previous owner passed away, and had needed a fair amount of repairs to make it livable again.  It had taken months to fix all of the things that had fallen to entropy and reclaim it from the spiders, even with Glatis and a couple of other Lurks helping, but eventually it had been turned into a habitable place again.  Unfortunately she’d spent the majority of her savings doing so, and recouping from it was taking longer than she’d hoped, no matter how frugal she was. Due to her rather unique circumstances it was almost impossible to hold down a “normal” job (monsters were not very good at understanding that they couldn’t just show up whenever they wanted), and after the Broom Closet Incident, it had become clear that she had to figure out a non-traditional path of acquiring a paycheck.  Sadly, freelance gigs for a folklorist who specialized in childhood monster lore and whose availability was erratic at best were hard to come by and didn’t pay as well as one might wish, which brought her to her nearly empty bank account.  She had to find a way to bring in more money on a reliable basis, or else she and the crew would be living in a camper.  Again.

A commercial, overflowing with images of tragic puppies and kittens came onto the tv screen, accompanied by a woman singing mournfully about salvation and angels, begging for people to rescue these poor, pitiful animals.

“Hah!  Easy for you.  Your strays are cute and cuddly and unlikely to give someone screaming nightmares or attempt to eat your houseguests!” she grumbled at the television.

“To be fair, that only happened the one time, and it was an honest mistake,” said a soft, hollow-sounding voice from the dark hallway.

“It was twice, and last I heard, great-aunt Cecilia is still in therapy for it,” she replied.

Glatis chuckled, a low, guttural sound that would have been deeply unnerving if it wasn’t so familiar, as he came into the room.  His shadow-black form made no sound as he crossed the ancient floorboards, despite being more than 6 feet tall, with claws that would intimidate a bear.  Glatis was a Lurk and had been her dearest friend since elementary school, following a rather unorthodox deal she had offered him regarding her status as a menu option.  He was also the reason she lived amicably with a houseful of Humanity’s childhood nightmares.

“Why are you snarking at the television?” he asked as he settled himself on the couch nearby.

Yaga groaned and dropped her head against the back of the chair.

“I need to figure out how to reliably come up with several hundred more dollars a month, and fast,” she replied.  “It’s a lot more expensive to run a house and several acres of land then the camper was.  At this rate, I’m going to have to hold a bake sale to keep the electricity on.”

“What is a bake sale, and would it help?” came a soft whisper from the shadows behind her.  One of the other Lurks, who called herself Marsalette, was tucked in the corner.  She’d joined them only a few months before, and was still learning about the human world.

“It’s where humans bake cookies and things and sell them for far less than the amount of work they put in, to fund charity things.  Sadly, it wouldn’t really, amusing as it would be to watch you lot try to be tragically adorable at the humans to convince them to buy lemon squares”, Yaga replied.  “You can come out and sit with us, you know.  It’s okay.”

“I know.  I’m comfortable here, though.  This house has nice shadows.”

Yaga shrugged amiably.  The three sat in comfortable silence for a while, watching the tv.  The pet adoption commercial played again in the rotation.  Glatis tapped a claw slowly on the wooden end table his arm rested on, thinking.

“There might be something to that idea,” he said, after a moment.

Yaga burst out laughing.  “You can’t be serious!  Leaving aside the fact that you lot aren’t exactly cute and fluffy by human standards, a number of you are legitimately some of our main predators!  There’s no way that I could talk people into giving me money to let you around their children.”

Glatis grinned broadly, the blue light from tv glittering on wickedly sharp teeth.  “I didn’t eat you when you were small.”
“Only because you couldn’t catch me,” she replied, sticking her tongue at him.  “So, what is this idea of yours?”

“While actual adoption wouldn’t work, aren’t there human organizations that offer symbolic adoptions and sponsorship programs in exchange for things like certificates, tote bags, and that sort of thing for wild animals?”

Yaga chewed on her thumbnail, thinking.  There were some major differences and practical concerns she could think of right off the bat. 

“There are, but doing something like that would require exposing the fact that you lot are, in fact, real and not just figments of overactive juvenile imaginations.  I don’t know that any of us are really up for that, do you?”

“Humans have a remarkable ability to ignore anything that doesn’t fit with their assumptions of how the world really is.  Most would assume you were simply creating some kind of interactive artwork and look no further. “

“Good point.”

She looked back at the tv, but wasn’t really paying attention to it anymore, still considering the idea.  Oddly enough, it did have merit, and Glatis was right that humans don’t like to acknowledge that the world is vastly weirder than they insist it should be.  A number of crowdsourcing and support options had sprung up online in recent years, and if she started small she could probably manage to come up with a cute design to put on tote bags and maybe stickers.  Maybe a monthly newsletter with stories about the general goings-on around the farmhouse?  She wondered if she could convince them to make little ornaments or something that could be periodically auctioned off?  She should get a notebook and start making a list of ideas….

She paused in her musing and looked over to see Glatis watching her curiously.
“It might not be a bake sale, but if we can pull this off,  we may be able to save the house  and not have to crowd back into the camper again, after all.  What do you all think about the name ‘Auntie Yaga’s Home for Wayward Monsters’…?”

(If you liked what you just read, please feel free to toss a few coins at your mostly friendly resident word-witch! Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com )

Clay Tablets and Silk Ribbons: A Returning

Way back, in what would turn out to be the last days of the Before Times, I had made Some Decisions about how I wanted to make my living in this world. The Universe laughed and pretty much all of those decisions got stuck on a shelf to collect dust, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, I made them and I did not forget about them. They’ve still been there, waiting for the day when the plague subsided and things returned to normal, and I could get back on track.

Annoyingly, the plague hasn’t really subsided, and it looks like my fellow humans have decided that we should all go back and live in the Dark Ages, plagues and all, because gods know we can’t have nice things, but I suppose the good thing about having spent a lifetime studying medieval history is that I guess I have a decent concept of how to navigate the kind of world that my ancestors tried so damned hard to make sure I didn’t have to live in. Things are apparently about as “normal” as they’re going to get, and anyway, I can’t put my life on hold any more, and thus some things have been taken down off the shelf and put back on the table.

Like, no really, on the actual table. I spent the day digging through boxes that never got unpacked after the studio move last June locating tools and wire, silk ribbons and beads, etc. There’s a tray of clay disks curing on a shelf that should be ready for sanding and painting by Monday.

It’s nice to be working on tangible things again.

Screaming From Winter’s Heart

There are people that like winter. I don’t understand them, but I will cheerfully give them all of mine if they will trade it me their autumn, that I may have eternal October. This seems like a perfectly reasonable solution to me, and I need the Universe to get on board with this plan.

SAD is in full swing and, with the mountain of shit that the last year has thrown at me, is going as well as one might expect. So very glad that I decided to lay out the money for the Nintendo Switch, as a medical expense, because as I anticipated, Animal Crossing is basically holding my sanity together. Tragically, it doesn’t do crap to help override the executive dysfunction problems, but at least I’m not standing in the middle of the swamp screaming for eternity, so I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

Courtesy the latest N/F/T debacles, I had to change my online store host *again*. While Big Cartel isn’t openly pro-N/F/T, they not only “have no stance” (I asked them) which is a problem, given the rampant art theft involved, too many of their management team and whatnot are very definitely pro, and thus I shut down my account. Which is sad, because otherwise they’re a decent organization, but yeah, that one’s still a dealbreaker for me.

On the upside, Ko-fi has a basic Shop feature now, so until I can afford to permanently upgrade and maintain this hellsite to install WooCommerce, that’s where I’ll be putting things up for sale when I have them. I’ve got a couple of other pieces to relist over there, as well, and if I can get out of my own way long enough, will have some other items soonish.

Winter can’t last forever and, though the reason why sucks, I no longer have to be home by 7 o’clock every night and can do longer trips now, which means that once the weather warms up, there’s a lot of things I’ve been putting off for years that I can take off the shelf and put back on the table again. Might even start looking at getting myself a small camper one of these days…

World’s Shittiest PSA

It’s looking like my Stripey old man cat, Torin, is in his last days. Possibly hours, to be honest. I’m hand-feeding food a single kibble at a time and doing what I’ve done the entirety of his life, and that is the best I can to make his life as comfortable as I can. for as long as I can. Me? I’m….

not okay but doing my best to pretend that I’m not staring into the void of a world without my Stripey Love and no longer having an idea of how to function in a world where I don’t go to sleep with him hogging the bed or refusing to let me finish sitting down before he climbs into my lap, or waking up to his nose in my eye because he’s clearly never been fed in the history of ever, or following me around like an ever-present tabby shadow, or a hundred other pieces of daily life for the last nearly 18 years.

The worst part of sharing our lives with others is saying the final good-byes, knowing that we will have to face a world that they are no longer in.