Posts Tagged ‘life’

Hi there, my long-time-not-seen blog people!

I honestly didn’t intend to take a slightly-more-than-a-year-long break from this here old blog, but then in the middle of March last year, this happened:


Well hello there!

My life, and that of the family, got considerably more complicated. Worth it, oh yes, but even less easy and simple than it had been before. Here is Mr Baby Dude today, for contrast:


It is now, slowly, gradually, painfully, becoming possible to have a life that involves more than Keep the Tiny Human Alive, and I am dipping my toes back into writing and arting and gardening and all the delightful activities that keep me slightly less insane. The revision of Steel Butterfly is once more stumbling along, and I have art projects that have been back-burnered for way too long being front-burnered once again. So who knows? I may even start updating here once in awhile, too.


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I didn’t mean to be public and open with my miscarriage. Public and open are not things I do very well, or willingly, or at all if I can help it–look, I’m from Kansas. We are experts at bottling things up and Not Talking About The Important Stuff, and a lifetime’s worth of habits are hard to break.

Here’s how it happened:

The Mr and I were delighted to be expecting again. (Shades of delighted: finding myself pregnant brought me all kinds of complicated feelings, worries, concerns. But largely delighted.) The Viking Prince had just turned five, I’m not getting any younger, and it was/is definitely time to start adding to the family, if we were going to do it. So, delighted.

So, the second we had confirmation, we told everybody.

These days of course that means call the family, then put the news on social media. And our friends were also delighted.

The Viking Prince? Also delighted; after all, he’d been talking about the little sister he wanted for nearly a year. (“I’ll dress up as Ant-Man, and my little sister can be Cassie.” “What if she wants to be Ant-Man too?” “…Well, I guess I could let her do that.”) He joined in the name brainstorming with a aplomb, and contributed the nickname Spiderling to the not-even-yet-a-bump in my belly, so that we could dispense with the clunky “your little brother or sister.” (He insisted sister, with typical stubbornness, and I lost track of how many times one of us grown-up types uttered variations on, “We have no way of knowing right now. It could be a boy.”)

So, universal delight. I started on the mental list of Stuff To Do To Get Ready–an extensive list, that any minute I was sure to put on paper and start ploughing through. My mom came for a visit: coincidence, but the timing worked out perfectly. I was perhaps five weeks pregnant. (more…)

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A (tiny) river runs through it

A (tiny) river runs through it

We’ve had so much rain hereabouts that Broken Glass Park (so nicknamed because the folks who drive through it like to chuck their empties out the window as they pass, so the little tree-lined gulch next to the road is strewn with shattered beer bottles) is green and actually flowing with water. Our house is green and flowing with water likewise; evidently when it was built back in the 70’s nobody bothered their heads about what would happen if it rained continuously for weeks at a time.

So I’ve been a bit distracted.


Howsomever, as they say, I’ve got some tabs open that I need to close, and I thought I’d share their contents with you, my faithful reader(s).


First, this excellent Supernatural parody video, which I cannot stop watching.


Then, Brad Bird talking about Tomorrowland and why he turned down the Star Wars gig.  (I’m glad he did, me, because it leaves him free for making that Incredibles sequel.  Because seriously, animation needs Brad Bird.)


Finally, if you went to an Art Institutes school (like I did), you might be eligible for student loan forgiveness.  Me, I am stuck with Sallie Mae–excuse me, Navient–for the long haul, as all my loans are private.  But it’s worth a look-see.


Now for me it’s back to contractor-calling and ditch-digging … oh, and trying to, you know, maintain a life in the interstices of “homg my house is full of water.”  Stay dry, guys!

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The other day the Viking Prince informed me that he wants to be an artist like Mommy.  Now, of course this is terribly flattering, and the Mother part of me is proud as heck, but the Artist part is appalled.  (Or is it the other way around?  Mother, who wants Viking Prince to be safe and warm and fed and happy, is appalled, but Artist, who understands the call of these things, is proud?  Anyway.)  Art, as a hobby, is probably a lot of fun.  Art, as a job, is … well, it’s a job.

But business too

But business too

I bring this up because, what with one thing and another (i.e., life) my records got very much behind, and I have spent the last couple of hours struggling to bring them up to date.  “Records!” you scoff.  “What do records have to do with ART?”  And I reply, “Alas, the job of the freelance artist is not just to make pretty pictures that people enjoy (and enjoy enough to buy).  You must also communicate with clients, keep records of income and expense, pay taxes … in short, you must also run a business.”

This goes for writers, too, of course, and for a good rundown of what to expect as a self-employed creative person, head over to Patricia Wrede’s blog and look at the entries tagged “business.” She has been publishing novels for thirty-odd years now, and she’s a practical and apparently organized person who gives excellent advice.

“But look,” you object, “I got into art to get away from spreadsheets and all that boring stuff. Why should I bother about it?”

“Hey,” I respond, “you sound a lot like me!”

The thing is, life happens, and communications come at you from a bajillionty different directions at once, and when life is happening it’s hard (impossible!) to remember what you promised whom and when–and that’s why building good record-keeping habits from the start is a smart idea. So you don’t have to spend hours and hours much better spent making art catching up on your records.

If only I had reminded myself of these truths, oh … six months ago?

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Winter Weather

So Dallas got hit with winter this week. Now, those of you from more … how shall I put this? More varied or robust climes might garner some amusement at what we here in the Dallas area call “winter,” where iced-over bridges or a couple of inches of snow literally shut the city down. (In our defense, the Metroplex–which sounds like something from which you would want to escape in a dystopian sci fi novel–has a lot of bridges, and it takes you at least twenty minutes to drive anywhere when conditions are clear. So if the roads are packed with people who, in the words of a friend, “Have to Google ‘how to drive in icy conditions’,” fuggeddaboudit.) We’ve had a mild winter up till now, because Winter in this area is a slacker who is content to hang out in a t-shirt and board shorts most of the time, and just now looked at his calendar and noticed, “Oh, holy crap, dude, February’s almost over! Better give ’em some winter!”

Snowpocalypse 2015!

Snowpocalypse 2015!

That same friend who made the Google remark also noted, over some delicious hot cocoa, that no matter where you live or what you are supposed to be doing, there’s something about February that makes us humans want to curl up inside (with a cup of hot cocoa!) and do low-key, not-get-much-work-done sorts of activities. Knit. Stare at the fire. Mend things. Oh, our modern world wants us to get out there and get stuff done, but the weather and our natures resist it.

I wonder if it is some essential quality of February, or of us–or both? At least in the Christian world, February means Lent, and Lent means waiting for Easter, waiting for the Resurrection, just as in the natural world it means the tail end of Winter, which means waiting for Spring. I wonder if this time of year is just naturally a fallow time, a waiting time, and trying to resist the waiting-ness of it is a fruitless (ha! literally, because it is winter) proposition, if maybe it’s on purpose that now is a quiet time, a dig in deep and rest time, and if so, what does that mean in a practical way for our lives?

For myself, I know that the requirements of modern life and the requirements of inner life seem all too often to be in conflict–and does it look that way because it is, Polemarchus? I have more or less unplugged myself from online interactions this Lent, and now with the snow outside my window I want only to finish my novel (only one and a half chapters to go!*), snuggle with my loved ones, and wait for spring.

*For certain values of “one and a half”. And “only,” for that matter, at my usual rate of slow.**

**And after I finished typing this post, I realized I had hit one of those “need to slow down and figure out what’s next” points in the story, which usually means letting it sit for a day or thirty.  So I guess now really is one of those fallow times.

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Happycrow blogged about his “spare time” list, and that got me thinking about what I would like to do in that elusive thing called “spare time.”

Ha. Ha. Ha.

My goal for the new year was to be done done done with sketchcards so I could focus on other things: like moving into comic book pencilling, finish my novel (and start on the next one!), actually get paid a living wage for the work I do … you know, crazy stuff like that.  SPELLCASTERS was going to be my last set, for realsies.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Because I am weak willed and have trouble saying no (and some of the things I wasn’t saying “no” to are really cool gigs), now I’m looking at June before I am done done done.  Late June.

Here's what's on my desk right now.  That's not counting all the stuff that's drawn but not yet inked or colored.  Oy vey!

Here’s what’s on my desk right now. That’s not counting all the stuff that’s drawn but not yet inked or colored. Oy vey!

But what would I be doing, if I weren’t breaking my heart, mind, soul and body over a drawing table in the wee hours of the night (because daytime is kid time)?

  • Finish Steel Butterfly
  • Redo the bathroom
  • Brush up on my animation skills
  • Get my concealed carry license
  • Learn basic car care, so that I can do the maintenance on my Dad’s car myself
  • Gardening!  Lots and lots of gardening.  I am thinking: roses everywhere!  (Sidenote: the house down the street just took out all their rosebushes.  What were they thinking?!)
  • Get in shape
  • Work on personal art
  • Learn how to make bread
  • Learn to play the mandolin

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.  Some of this stuff is just me dreaming, but some of it is going to happen.  Just.  You know.  Not till after June.

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Hail and Farewell

So today I want to talk about death.


Well, no I don’t.  Not really.  Because it sucks.  But I also do, because it’s one of those inescapable realities that sucks whether you talk about it or not, but if you don’t talk about it eventually, it kind of sucks more.

My Mister shook me awake early yesterday morning, crying, “Odin’s dead.”

We got Odin as a kitten, one of a litter born underneath a friend’s house, perhaps six months after the Kiddo was born.*  From the start, he was the sweetest cat; we called him “the saint of kitties,” because he loved to play with the Kiddo, sharing in the same mischief (like the time they conspired to pull every single tissue out of the tissue box and then create a tissue snowstorm all over the bathroom), playing together, snuggling together, never biting or becoming impatient with the Kiddo’s undeveloped motor skills.  And the Kiddo mutually never hurt or harassed Odin, but played and petted and loved him.

He had a weak heart.  The vet told us the last time we took him in for a checkup, and warned us that his life expectancy would be shorter than other cats, but that if we fed him right and played with him and loved him like we ought, he should still live for many years.

I supposed I’d expected many many years, not just two.  The Mister heard Odin making weird sounds in another room; Odin coughed and gasped, and then he fell down and lay still.  Mr L shook him and petted him–kitty CPR?–and Odin started back up, but only for a moment.

I left Mr L in the bedroom to talk to the Kiddo, and went out to the living room.  In books and movies they say or imply that a dead person looks basically the same as a sleeping person–and of course in the movies you can’t help that the “corpse” looks like a live person, because it is a live person, just lying very very still.  But Odin was unmistakably dead, not just still but inert, no longer a living thing but just a thing: a body.  I petted his fur.  He was cold.  His jaws were parted, and his eyes were staring.  And that thing they do in the movies, where they pass their hand over the dead one’s eyes, and when they take their hand away the eyes are closed?  That doesn’t work either, at least not on cats.

What do I do? I thought.  Visions of grabbing a shovel and digging a hole in the backyard–right now! flashed through my mind.  No, so many reasons why that won’t work.  We had some plastic drop cloths handy.  I picked up the limp little body–you think you understand what that means, but you don’t, not really, because even a sleeping or unconscious person’s (or kitty’s) muscles are working, offering help or resistance.  Odin was slack and unresisting, an awkward little mass.  I wrapped him in the plastic and then put his little body in a box.  I tried to do it tenderly.

Some memories are treasures, even when the creating of them was unpleasant.  I will treasure always the memory of the birth of my son–even the part where I was walking around the neighborhood in labor, pausing every sixty seconds or so to lean on my Mister as I was racked with agony.  (Three people stopped to ask if I was okay, if I needed help, if I needed a hospital.  It was actually pretty funny.)

Other memories are wounds.  We carry them with us, scars in the map of our consciousness, as real as the scars on our bodies: here’s where I fell up the stairs when I was little, here are the marks of pregnancy, here is the death of my cat.

About nine months ago, my Dad died.  The death of a pet isn’t in the same league as the death of a parent, but it’s in the same category–the wound is in the same place, as it were.  A widening of the wound, deepening it, enlarging it.  Death–small-d deaths, the deaths of individuals–remind us of the cruelty, the wrongness of Death–big-D Death, which is a blight on the beauty of creation.

What I mean is this: Death is wrong.  It shouldn’t happen.  It shouldn’t be able to happen.  The world was made for life, not death; for love, not sorrow.  Death cuts us off for a time from joy and makes us unable to see beauty–or if we can see it, it hurts rather than consoles, reminding us of our lost ones, rubbing salt and lemon juice and boric acid into the wound.  My dad’s death was like the sun going out, leaving my heart in darkness.  Odin’s is more like a candle: I have many other lights to brighten me, but my heart is still darker.

I believe that there is hope, though sometimes the face of hope is hard to see.  I believe that Death is not the end, and that we shall see our loved ones again: “a new heaven and a new earth,” where the redeemed will live in peace forever.  Last night an image entered my mind: a long-tailed, friendly-faced tabby cat, trotting up to a solid, white-bearded man in a flannel shirt.  The cat bumped his face into the man’s work-roughened hand, and the man smiled and began to scratch the cat’s ears, and they both were happy.

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