Friday, September 29, 2006

More stamps! And Sweet crochetalong!

More stamps! A Charlie, a Jessie, a robot, a dinosaur, a place setting, and a mermaid. I've already used some of the place setting prints for recipe card postcards.

This is take two of the crochetalong sweater. I decided that maybe the fuzziness of the yarn messed up my gauge, so I upped the stitches per inch. It seems to be working. I predict that when I get to the point of joining the collar on this one, it will actually fit over my head!

Tomorrow is the big move, so if I disappear for a few days, it's because we're slow to have internet service set up at the new house. But I will return!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

First things first, that being that the cat is still with us! Or rather, he is with the vet currently, but he is with the vet being alive. He still may not make it, but he's improving. There's at least a little hope. So I'm feeling a little better. We're going over there to visit him tomorrow.

And I cut more stamps! The one on the left is a space pirate, and the one on the left, rather more obviously, is a kitty. They were done on that pink rubber block, rather than linoleum, so the detail isn't as great as it could be, but the rubber works much better with a conventional stamp pad, which is a plus for me right now, what with all the moving chaos. Plus there are no tables left at the old house at this point, so I need to do projects that can be set up on a tv tray.
But yeah! I continue to enjoy the stamping. I'm going to use the prints I made as postcards, and I'm going to make some little greeting cards too. I'm also thinking about trying to sell them. Paintings bring in more money, obviously, but postcards sell better.

I also started my sweater for the crochetalong. Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to start over. I'm not sure where I did calculations wrong, but I'm at the point of joining the neck band together, and it's a bit too small to fit over my head. And my head, she is not that big.
That said, I'm liking the project as a whole. Presuming it works out, I think I'll give the finished product to my mom for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I might have to put the cat to sleep tomorrow. Might edging on to probably. He stopped eating, and the vet thinks it's his liver. He's there over night. I'll hear from them tomorrow morning.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

heart stamp

Finally the wedding invitations are made, and the envelopes are beginning to be addressed. Plus I am decorated each envelope with a handcarved anatomical heart stamp. That I carved myself! It was really fun. I hadn't done any really block carving and printing since high school, and I had forgotten how much fun it is. I see a lot more stamp carving in my future.

In the end, the invitations were printed up at Staples, where we were treated very kindly and given a reasonable price. Unlike fucking Kinko's, which is never getting any of my fucking money fucking ever. It isn't that anything they did was all that awful, and most of their employees were fairly nice. But they've screwed me over so many times, in such a short amount of time, that I really kind of hate them now.

A lot got done today. Beyond the invitations, and a shit load of other errands (bank, post office, picking up prescriptions), we also helped Pete move. Which was actually pretty easy, because Pete had already taken most of his stuff over, and also because the house he's moving into has housed his girlfriend for a good long time, and is already quite furnished. Also, once we got to the house, I was put in charge of comforting the skittish cat. So for me it was a lot of sitting around patting a kitty, and then later drinking out of Charlie's beer.

And now I am home, and drinking red wine. We had lovely homemade cheeseburgers and edamame for dinner, and will shortly be settling in to watch Kill Bill part 1. I'm feeling content. And best of all, our movers are coming next Saturday, so I'm finally closing in on the end of the moving odyssey.

Oh! And I'm officially joining the first official Crochet Me crochet-along! I'm really liking the swatch I worked up. This should be fun.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I just brushed my teeth, and oh my god do I hate the way toothpaste tastes! Yech! I don't remember my old toothpaste tasting this disgusting. Although to be fair, I have always hated toothpaste flavor, in all of it's forms, as far back as I can remember.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ack. There is way, way too much going on right now. We're in the process of moving out into the new house. We're getting wedding invitations ready to mail out. I'm trying to set up a freelance illustration business. And hopefully get my paintings up in galleries. Plus all of the trying to settle myself into being a California citizen that have been very difficult with the two moves in a row thing. And I get to spend all afternoon hanging around the old house so that the landlord can bring some woman over to evaluate the floors.

Yesterday and today both had major episodes of trying to find Kinko's, and then trying to convince them that they did in fact offer a custom greeting card making service, per their website. I actually had one of their employee's today ask me what I meant by greeting card.

"You know," I said, "A picture on the outside, text on the inside."

She insisted that they only did that in quantities of 1000 and for the price of $900. I didn't try to point out that their website lists this service at $30 for a box of 25.

The young men at the desk were more friendly, but insisted that the custom greeting card service one-had to be done by the unpleasant woman in the back, despite what she said, and two-was only available during holiday seasons.

So I went home. And I made up a 8.5x11 invitation in Photoshop. Charlie's going to print it out at work, and I'm going to get it copied on to nice paper tomorrow. Even with the nice envelopes I want to buy, it's still going to be a hell of a lot cheaper than the custom greeting card option. So I'm cool with it. And I think it's going to look pretty cool.

On the art and craft front things are slow, because our household is in such massive upheaval right now. Soon we'll probably be selling or junking the table I've been using as my work surface. And this weekend most of the kitchen appliances are disappearing. Charlie and I will still be living, or at least sleeping at any rate, in the old house until a week from Saturday, but I'll be cooking all of our meals, and possibly working, at the new house. At least it's only for a week.

And I am swatching for the new crochet-a-long on Crochet Me. I'm using TLC Amoré, which isn't the nicest yarn in the world, but it's nice enough. And, more importantly, it's cheap and they had it at the art supply store that I can walk to from my house.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A dinosaur, created entirely by me from my own pattern! I think he turned out fairly well. He seems friendly.

I've also gotten a lot of good ideas today, for the stop-motion felt creature movie, and also for some comics. I'm a little stalled on the painting front, but I think that should shape up once we're through with the move. It's hard for me to paint when everything is so transitional.

I also did the illustration for our wedding invitations today. Note the continuation of the dinosaur theme. I've tweaked it a tiny bit past what's shown here, and I'm really happy with it. We're hoping to take it to the printer tonight.

As promised, a little pig. A little pink pig at that. Still working from the Sewing Tiny Toys book, but I'm starting to understand the geometry involved. This afternoon may involve some sketch towards patterns of my own. I'm thinking particularly of making a series of dinosaurs. I'm into dinosaurs right now.

Smee is three years old today! And ridiculous as ever!

Monday, September 18, 2006

The trip!

So. Our trip. We left Friday night, a little after six pm, initially driving straight into the setting sun, which is fun in Charlie's visor disabled car. But! But! It was fun. We drove and drove, and we listened to the entire second season of the Ricky Gervais podcast, which made us laugh like crazy. We ate homemade riceballs. We chatted. It was a nice drive. Except for the very last part, where getting to the hotel was hilariously confusing and we drove around the same stretches in San Rafael for almost an hour. But even that was okay, because we got there eventually, and we went to sleep. The room was clean and safe, and that's all that was needed.

The next day we got up a bit earlier than we would have chosen, but with good reason. My father and my sister, also in town for the wedding, were driving over to pick us up. First they took us for a wee diner breakfast. Then it was up a twisty, twisty road to Muir Woods, which I hadn't been to in about fifteen years, and which Charlie hadn't been to in ever. If you've never been there, and you get the opportunity, go. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth. It isn't just the massive redwoods towering above you, although those are amazing. It's also the things closer to the ground. The gnarled roots that go everywhere. The thousands of different flowers. The wildlife. We saw a family of four or five deer, close enough to touch. Twenty or thirty people were crowded around taking pictures, pointing, watching, and the deer were unphased. Which is sad, in a way, that they are so accustomed to human intrusion at this point. But for that moment, it was awesome. I stood and watched quietly, and I then I took lots of pictures. They all came out painfully dark, but I'm still happy to have them. It's a reminder of how amazing that was.

After the woods, and after a taco lunch, Charlie and I were returned to our hotel to prepare for the wedding. I was basically ready to go, so I laid on the bed and watched cooking shows while Charlie showered and shaved. Cooking shows are the main reason I wish we had cable. I watch very little tv, but I miss having the food channel from my cable having days in Chicago. I realize it would lead to more time spent in front of the television, but it's so soothing to watch someone else cook.

From there we went to the wedding itself, which was outdoors. It was a wonderful setting, and perfect weather. And the couple getting married are really wonderful people, people I know make each other happy. There were so many people there that I know and love. I don't think I stopped smiling once the entire time.

The next day we slept in, and then took our sweet time getting ready for the day. Once dressed and checked out of the hotel, we drove around until we found somewhere to get coffee. We sat in front of a Starbucks, drink cappucinos that were a little too sweet for me, and just right for Charlie.

After coffee we drove down to Berkeley, and poked around Pegasus Books until my friend Anna arrived to meet us. Anna is my oldest friend, and the sister of the groom to boot. One of my favorite parts of moving to California is that I get to live closer to Anna. (A six or seven hour drive is a bit much, but it totally beats a four or five day one.) We went to Anna's apartment and played with her new kitten Clementine for awhile. I haven't had a kitten in years, and it's always a treat to get to play with one. They're ridiculous in a way that adult cats usually aren't. More work, but really hilarious.

After some quality kitten time, we went and got a really wonderful Thai meal, at a lovely little restaurant who's name entirely escapes me. And then it was back on the road, because by that point it was about 4pm, and we needed to get home.

The ride back was faster, and featured more time in which I could actually take in our surroundings. That said, the best part of the drive home was getting there, and the tremendous welcome we got from the cat and dog. They missed us. I missed them. Even now, Smee right next to me, curled on the bed beside the desk, almost entirely hidden by blankets and books.

And tomorrow, a little tiny pig!

The weekend was stellar! I had so much fun seeing family and friends, and making new friends to boot! And the wedding, the whole reason for going up, was beautiful and happy.

More on it later, I suspect, once I have woken up a bit. (I made the mistake of taking a midday nap, and now my mind is complete mush.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

We're driving up to San Rafeal for a wedding tonight. We should be back Sunday.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Well, I did finish the puppet sketches. Other than that, not a lot ended up being accomplished. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. The greyness just got the best of me.

I did do a few other things. I'm swatching for a sweater for the Zazie II doll, and did a rough sketch of a possible Halloween costume for this year. I'm thinking I could actually do this pretty cheap and easy, with items bought from a thrift store. I think being a monster would be fun.


Ugh. It is so grey this morning. Very gloomy. Very depressing. If this wasn't Southern California in September, I'd swear it was about to rain. Which I would actually like. Rainy days can be very cozy, especially working at home with a cup of tea. Gloomy, grey days without rain are not cozy. They are demotivational. They make me sleepy, in a bad way.

That said, I can't really let the weather get me down. I actually have a lot I need to get done today. Sketches for puppets I'm doing for Charlie's parents. Wedding invitation illustration painting. The painting I started yesterday. Finding the nearest U-Haul. Getting a postcard for the guestbook of the wedding we're going to this weekend. Washing more dishes. Laundry. A million other little things.

What I want to do is curl up in bed with the Ruth Reichl book I have out from the library, and shove my nose into the dog's side and inhale his wonderful doggy smell. And then shove my nose in the cat's side and inhale his wonderful kitty cat smell. And then maybe take a nap.

Oh well. Off to be productive.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This little fellow is Zazie the Second, named for the first Zazie, the cat my fiance had in college. (While Zazie is not with us personally, he is still with us in the sense of being alive. He lives in Wisconsin with one of Charlie's former roommates.)
Like Mortimer before him, Zazie II is an adaption of the bear pattern from "Sewing Tiny Toys". He's a bit more adapted though. I changed the shape of the head, made the body longer and wider, added more shape to the hips, and lengthened the limbs. He didn't turn out quite how I expected, but I like how he turned out anyhow.

This is the painting I'm about to start. It's in honor of subways and els, which I miss. Granted, there is technically a train here, but it's neither convenient to where I live nor is it convenient to where I need to go. The train here is sort of a joke.
But yeah. I was thinking about all the train rides I took in college, how even when it's a giant pain in the ass, it always lulled me.


This is Mortimer the Cat. I made him after dinner last night. He's the same pattern as the bears, just with pointy ears and a tail sewn to his butt.
I'm really enjoying making these. It's really a revelation for me to have toys I made have such posable joints. My roommate Pete, who is a stop-motion animator, has actually suggested we work them up as puppets and make a movie with them. This is a very appealing idea. I'm already full of a million tangents that this could go off to.

More later. I'm off to buy more felt and some other art supplies, and then on a long delayed and much needed trip to the grocery store.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another day waisted waiting on the locksmith. BUT! BUT! Today I finally met at success. Granted, that success came at about seven pm, but we have a key! A key that works on the car! A key that will be copied as soon as possible so that this never happens again.
So yeah. It was another big day of barely leaving the house because I never knew when the locksmith was going to be there. The whole thing made me incredibly antsy. As a result, there was no painting today. I was just to on edge. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get back on schedule.

I did get to spend a lot of time with the boys though, which was nice. That's Smee looking very expectant there (I'm holding a rope toy up above the camera and telling him to sit). And the handsome cat on the (odd-looking but extremely comfortable) chair is Moe. They've been a big help for me here. I get lonely, and they make me feel less alone. And having them here makes Los Angeles feel a lot more like home.

I also got work done today! Like I said, no painting, but I did sew two little jointed bears. They're a little sketchy looking, but I think that gives them charm. They're from a pattern in the Carolyn Vosburg Hall book "Sewing TIny Toys". I'm really liking this book. Besides having a lot of cute patterns in its own right, it also has a lot of clear, practical advice for designing your own patterns. I'm glad that when I have to return the library's copy, I'll be able to borrow my roommate's copy to play with.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Today was all about waiting for the locksmith to come and make new keys for my roommate's car. Tomorrow will also be all about the locksmith. Because my original call at around 8:30 this morning is now not going to be served until 10 am tomorrow. Because I have angered some sort of gods. Car gods. Or lock gods. I don't know.
I did get some good work done today though. I worked on puppet designs for an educational play my future in-laws are doing. And I did the painting above. And then I took a crappy photo of it. Actually, I took several crappy photos of it. This was sadly the best one. Life will be much better when we are moved in to the new house and I have the scanner set up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

No new painting today, as I am 1) having crazy no-reason back pain, and 2) keep falling asleep. But in its steed, I present the bench I painted for the village of Oak Park, IL, last summer. The theme assigned was, I believe, "Seasons", so I created a bench called "In the Future, Robots Will Do Our Yardwork."
I think it turned out rather well. Plus it came with a decent little stipend. I'm hoping I can find some similar opportunities out here. If anyone knows of some good public painting opportunites for Southern California, please let me know.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Me! Back on my trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. I suspect this is in Utah!

Ham fence

The family next door appears to have a new game. It goes as follow- Small child shrieks. Mother shrieks. Small child shrieks. Mother shrieks. And so on. Forever.
These are happy shrieks, and as much as this may be irritating for me as a neighbor, I can't fault them. Because if I was a small child, I can basically guarantee that shrieking would be my favorite game in the whole wide world. Hell, I suspect it's a game I would enjoy playing now, if I thought I could get away with it.

So today's picture is the promised ham-cuddler. She didn't really turn out creepy after all. Disturbing, possibly. But not creepy. But I like her. I like the ham.

I never really liked ham growing up, but I'm finally starting to come around. I'm still not a big fan of big fat slices of ham, especially anything glazed. But little chunks of ham in a savory dish can be nice, and I love the prosciutto. I'm sort of on the ham fence.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Today was madness. Mild madness, really, but I was afraid I wouldn't get the painting in. Luckily I did, but only by pushing one of the things I need to get done until tomorrow. Further dealings with the US postal service will have to wait.

The thing with the postal service is this- they have entered my change of address from Chicago as a family rather than an individual, and as such, I am getting all of my brother's utility bills mailed to me. (My brother moved into my old apartment when I moved out.) As I don't want to spend a life time paying my brother's bills in addition to my own, and I don't want to screw up his credit rating, I need to get this sorted out. I did call today, but after the world's most meandering conversation with what had to be the stupidest woman ever employed, it was determined that I would have to go to the post office in person to get the problem fixed. Which isn't a big deal, as the post office is only a few blocks away, and I need to get new change of address forms for the new move. What is annoying is that what should have been a question answered in thirty seconds took a fifteen minute conversation. Really, I should have asked our friendly and extremely competent mail carrying lady about it, but I didn't want to bother her.

Also today were the excitements of Charlie's car overheating! and him needing me to rescue him! (the rescuing him wasn't a big deal, but we don't need more expenses right now) and grocery shopping! and the dog thinking everything that happens outside, including leaves moving, is very, very threatening!

That said, I'm actually doing well today. Getting back into daily painting is making a very positive impact on me already.

Today's painting is at the top, and the second picture is the sketch on canvas before painting. I like this guy a lot. Originally I was planning to do him creepy, and cuddling a ham, but I decided to have him holding a little orange kitten and looking sad. I think I will save the ham cuddling for someone for whom creepiness wouldn't seem like such a cliché.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New painting!

New painting today! A tiny one, only 4" by 6", but I had a lot of fun with it, and I think it turned out well.
I forget how happy I am when I'm painting, how utterly absorbing it is. It had been awhile, with the preparing to move, and then the moving, and now the preparing to move again. (I have essentially been in a state of moving since at least May. I have been living out of a suitcase for about two months now. It isn't fun, and I'm glad it will be over soon.) Then the movers declined to move my paints from Chicago to L.A., so I am now in the process of replacing over ten years worth of art supplies. Which is why it was so sweet when my darling Charlie took me to the art supply on Sunday and bought me a bag full of paints. I love that boy.