A fledgling finch became my charge (for a little less than one day) yesterday afternoon. It left the nest at the exact same moment I took the dogs out for their afternoon potty run. Alarmed by how vulnerable it was against how clueless Haeley can be when it comes to personal space, I immediately took the dogs inside and moved the bird to a safer place (via a large cardboard box and leather gloves -- to minimize human exposure). When the finch parents didn't approach the box, I smacked myself with a "well duh" and returned the fledgling to the open ground, in a bit safer location of our raised garden bed. But night was falling and there was now no sight of the flinch parents. So Dawn and I decided to offer the hungry little bird mashed up mealworms and water (it took both).
Worried about the negative impacts of reduced food/water, we didn't want to risk leaving it outside. I put together a quick grass nest (again wearing the leather gloves) and we returned the bird to the box with the nest and a shallow dish filled with water. I honestly didn't want to interfere further, but (to my utter surprise) the bird hopped from a tall weed onto my finger and it refused to let go of me. We think it was sleepy (per bird sleep cycles) and in need of warmth. I tried a few times to dislodge it, but the bird held on. I didn't want to hurt it, so we decided it would do little harm to put the bird in the box and take it inside for the night. As added bonuses -- there would be no risk of predators and the bird would be warm.
After a quiet night, our fledgling finch adventure has a happy ending. We took it back out to the raised garden bed at first light -- as soon as I heard the first bird calls and chirps of the morning. We offered it a little more water and mealworms, which it took. Then we heard the calls of its flinch parents! Dawn and I retreated quickly inside. The parents seemed quite happy their baby was alive! They fed it (another amazing thing to watch) and encouraged it to fly from the garden to a low branch of one of our cherry trees. Dawn and I both saw this "first flight" and was it ever magical and awesome!! (I'm so glad I got to share it with Dawn!) I kept an eye out for it today, watching the parents return ever so often to feed and encourage it. And this afternoon, it flew off, into the next chapter of its life.
(FUN FACT: house finches can live up to 11 years! Pretty cool!)
That this experience parallels parts of my first Ick and Bot story is not lost on me. I sit here wondering if the universe is acting on my behalf. Perhaps, the universe is simply telling me that it approves of my story and that I should keep on with it. I honestly don't know. If nothing else, this experience has connected me more deeply to Bot, who takes on the responsibility of caring for and returning his own find to its rightful place/owner.
Regardless, thank you "universe" or "Mother Nature" or "my lucky stars" or whatever for giving me this experience. It was remarkable and humbling and I will carry the memory of it for the rest of my days. I wish that little bird a long, fulfilling life!
I was bummed to hear about James Garner's passing this past week. Though I know little about his personal life and motivations, I enjoyed watching his often witty portrayals on screen. I know he will be missed and my thoughts are with his family, loved ones, friends, and fans.
And I like it. A lot. I know storyboarding is a great tool, but I hadn't used it for a while and I find it perfectly suited to helping me work out Ick and Bot's story flow. Because they are small and designed to be quick outputs, there's limited impact if something doesn't work. ((Two thumbs up in my book!!))
I have Lynn Chapman to thank for this tool suggestion/reminder. She's got some great videos on her process, which I've cranked right on through. Plus, she seems quite a lovely person, to boot! :)
These past couple weeks, I've been having quite a lot of fun drawing some of the minor characters. For example, here's one of Bot's nightmares. He'll get refined when I draw out the final version, but he's probably pretty close. Hope y'all enjoy!!
EDIT: another find I should mention, who also employs storyboarding and demonstrates her rather awesome technique, is Kathleen Kemly.
Reading - Capers Jones Applied Software Measurement (rereading sections for work-work)
I've hemmed and hawed over what to post this week, as I do more research on efficient workflows and self-publishing options. My greatest challenge is finding a balance between work-work, home responsibilities, and creating. While I haven't found a good solutions to the balance problem, I continue to crawl along a path that I hope turns out to be more or less "forward." (Yes. It really does feel a bit like learning to crawl all over again.) My only saving grace the belief that whatever I do eventually put "out there" will be decent (at least, in my eyes) because I won't stop until it is.
This week, I've stumbled on some really great ideas, which I'm putting straight to work. I've gotten a ton of inspiration, but I'm also finding the sheer number of illustrators "out there" a bit daunting. But... this Ick and Bot project is not something I can stuff or stop doing just because I'm a little nervous. So I must ignore the trepidation in my heart and forge on. If nothing else, I'm learning a lot and the alternative is definitely the "worse" of two evils.
Plus, Ick and Bot are awesome and adorable!! I can't wait to share their adventure with the world.
Here's a preliminary sketch of a singing monster character I may use for Ick and Bot. (This is right out of my sketchbook, folks -- the stuff in the upper right-hand corner is part of another character.) Enjoy!!
Reading - Random House's Your Favorite Seuss (a bit of fun research)
Soundtrack - "Stardust" Soundtrack
Writing/Illustrating Time - averaging about 30 minutes per day
Creative Outputs - 3rd Draft of Ick and Bot edit complete; pg 7 panel complete pg 8-9 spread well underway; template for thumbnail storyboards complete; ~15 thumbnails
Today marks the return of Ick and Bot to the forefront of my creative output and I'm super glad! I truly love these characters and need to get this one out for so many reasons. As many of you know, I'm writing this one for a good cause, in honor of Tony and Jay. I hope to give a large portion of the proceeds to a cancer research or support charity (yet to be named).
This week, I shifted my illustrating workflow a bit. I'd been feeling agitated by the lack of progress on the project. Some deep thought cycles on it revealed that I'd pulled back from the project because of growing frustrated by the quality of my output. This needed to be addressed and FAST!
Upon deeper reflection, I found (for me) using Illustrator for everything except shading and highlighting to be too restrictive. Ick and Bot's panels felt too machined and sanitized and they were taking WAY TOO LONG to complete. They lacked the wild rawness you can get from painting or drawing by hand. This wasn't representative of me or my style and, as a result, I became disconnected from the project.
I'd seen a few artist on YouTube use Photoshop as their primary canvas with great results. So, I decided to shift things and give Photoshop a go. And you know what! It worked!! While I'm still hoofing up the learning-curve slope, I'm MUCH happier with the results. And (even better) I can still utilize Illustrator for those elements that don't render as well freehand (it's a simple copy and paste to pull them over to PS -- awesome-sauce!).
Moral of the story -- if the tools aren't supporting your creative output, don't be afraid to experiment and find tools that do. Sometimes a small shift will unlock everything!
Reading - still working on King's Skeleton Crew short stories
Today marks Jay Lake's 50th birthday. I'm wearing my Hawiiaan shirt, in celebration of his life. Like many within Jay's tribe, I miss him. That cancer dampened his “voice” to the extent it did, sucks. And yet, I believe it also strengthened and broadened his voice. I take comfort knowing Jay's voice will be heard for generations to come and that his legacies (both writing and contributions to cancer research) will continue to impact our world positively. I’ve said it a number of times…. the man was a treasure. He remains a writer’s writer and storyteller. He is remembered as a supportive and thoughtful friend. If you have not yet had the pleasure, I recommend you read his short stories and/or novels.
Thought I'd dust off my ole' blog to share some recent thoughts and finds. First up? It looks like James Gurney is up to something cool, yet again. (BIG GRIN) He's a guy I'd love to have a cup'a joe with. What a creative force.
Dawn and I went adventuring over the past weekend and ended up at Steigerwald Lake. It was great fun and we saw a lot of birds and crossed paths with a whole slew of nice folks happy to show us newbs the good spots.
Took some time out with some dear friends last August'2011 in north Portland. We had a blast looking at all the booths and watching the glass blowers create their work. These artists are truly fun to watch. And watching the glass evolve into something cool is somewhat magical. Amazing!!
I've been away for a long while. Has it really been almost a whole, entire year?! Life has been keeping me far too busy, but I'm renewing my focus on my blog for the coming year. I realize that I don't need to do much. Keeping in touch is more important than anything else.
And so.... I'd like to jump back in with introductions.
THIS is Miss Piggy!
She's super sweet!
And a real go-getter!
She's not faster than a speeding locomotive. (But she thinks she is.)
She can't leap a tall building in a single bound. (She'll tell you it might take her two.)
Today is the anniversary of my Mickey's departure. I can't believe it's been five years!! Wow! Naturally, I miss her a lot and have been reminiscing about her life. I wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge her passing and how much her life enriched my own. I'm SO thankful we found her at Scamps and that she became a member of my family!
Too say she was one in a million-bazzillion is an understatement. She was the perfect companion. Gentle. Smart. Always aware of and courteous to others, both furry and human. And she was uncannily sensitive to emotion and mood. She was downright wonderful.
Those that say dogs don't have a sense of humor are wrong. Those that say dogs don't remember a lot of things are wrong. Those that say dogs aren't smart are wrong. Mickey was all of these things and so much more.
I count myself truly blessed for having had such a friend. Our time together wasn't as long as I'd hoped, but it was packed with so many great and happy moments that I look back on with joy.
Thank you, Hobie, for being you! I miss you!
Mickey (Hobie-dog) : October 5, 1997 - April 8, 2006
I caught myself today. Caught my mind whirling -- thinking and strategizing about how I'm going to squeeze all the things I "have" to do to achieve my simplification goal (which include decluttering and building a tiny house) into my available time, which is already bulging at the seams with my normal workload and other commitments.
The first thing I noticed was how tired I was feeling. My mind raced and I gulped the air in short gasps. I thought to myself, "Now, just wait a darned moment. Isn't this simplification stuff supposed to be kinda like yoga? Isn't the very act of simplifying supposed to bring instant peace of mind, physical relaxation, and well being?"
I stuck to the yoga theme and continued. "Since its hurting my brain and causing more stress, should I stop stretching for it? But, if I just up and stop moving toward my simplification goal, how can I ever hope to achieve it? How will my life change or evolve for the better? How will anything get done?"
Whoa! Let's just slow down a little bit. Shall we?
I am actually really glad I'm aware enough of myself to recognize when I'm feeling overwhelmed or overloaded. I'm not afraid to stop and take a hard look at myself. I'd like to think that most of us are born with this ability and I'm not quite sure when I stopped listening, but there was a long period during my twenties and early thirties where I charged ahead, like a crazed bull in a funhouse full of mirrors, consciously ignoring how I was feeling. (Thankfully, I managed to re-institute the "mind myself" policy a few years back.)
Anyway... I sat in my truck for a few minutes, breathing deeply and letting my mind relax. This freed up some thinking space and I pondered where I was and why I was feeling overtaxed.
Turns out, I've been piling my new "toward the simpler life" tasks right on top of my existing workload, but I haven't removed anything from the pile that no longer applies. Whhhaaaat?
I know. It doesn't make any sense, does it?
Well, here's the thing... I have a few upcoming commitments that I won't break. Yes. You heard me. I WON'T break (conscious choice). AND, since I'm super jazzed about simplifying, I just jumped right in with both feet.
NEWS FLASH, Kat!! I'm supposed to be "sim-plee-fying," not "com-plee-cating!"
Sigh.... even though I've started down the simplification path, I'm clearly not living it. I've been trying to cram 10 cubic yards of tasks into a 2 cubic yards of time. It's not physically possible.
The lesson I learned here? I've been decluttering my space, but I haven't been decluttering my time. There are only 24 hours in a day. I won't get a magical allocation of an extra 2 to 4 hours just because I've given myself more to do. It doesn't work that way. Within those precious 24 hours, I still have to work, I still have to eat and sleep, I still have to make time for family and friends, and I still have to take care of my furry kids.
So, do I have a point here, or what? (grin) Why yes! Yes, I do.
The point is, I don't have to wait until the finish line to change. I don't have to wait until I've arrived at "the simpler life" to start "simplifying my life." I've already started decluttering my physical space, but I can also work on decluttering my schedule. And if I start right now, it'll be an extra-good primer for me because I'm trying to navigate getting from point A to point B.
I can start by saying "no, thank you" to the asks that just don't match my vision of the life I want to live. I can prioritize and learn to be okay with letting less important things fall off the bottom of the list. I can embrace "good enough." I can postpone or not do a few things so I can sit in silence with a cup of tea or read that fantasy novel I've been wanting (for ages) to read. I can strive to live the life I dream of living right now.
Take away: I am going to pull back and give myself some space to be a human "being" instead of a human "doing" way too much!
Happy Wednesday, everybuggy!!
P.S. I finished the master bathroom. I had three bottles of moutwash, a few bottles of hair conditioner, a couple tubes of toothpaste, etc. This was yet another exercise in simple organization leading to the exposure of a bunch of redundant items. Well... at least I won't have to go to the store for some of these things for a while!! Better yet... at least I have a clear list of what bathroom supplies I have now!!
I'm spending part of my birthday researching tiny house design. I know. I know. I can tell you are all shocked! Stunned! Checking to see if the sky is falling!
I surfed on over to Apartment Therapy (I love this site for the design and DIY ideas!). I came upon the word "upcycler." What a great word! Such a positive spin on recycling!
This "upcycler" find is being used in concert with one of the many great rebuilder stores. As I'm leaning toward a steampunk/victorian design with my tiny house, I plan to visit a couple local rebuilder haunts for architectural pieces. I'm a BIG supporter of NOT reinventing the wheel when there is no need and for "upcycling" existing pieces. (Did you see what I did there? I've already incorporated this wonderful term into my vocab.) What a great way to keep the spirits of the men and women who created these works of art alive! I can't wait to see what I find!
Progress made since the last post:
I did not finish my office, but I did start on my master bathroom. I found a lot of out-of-date prescriptions and vitamins! Nearly all of them, in fact. Sheesh! That's crazy!
(Note to self: don't buy any more vitamins. Stick with Flintstones and veggies.)
Too, I didn't realize how many lipsticks I'd acquired over the years! Wowzers! I don't even wear lipstick, except for VERY special occasions (translation: once every couple'a years)!! Man oh man!!! I can't imagine what it must be like for people who actually do wear makeup on a regular basis!
One thing that made me happy was that I didn't seem to have any problem getting rid of the things I don't use. I had an electric toothbrush and one of those water-pick things. I don't think I ever used the water pick and I maybe used the electric toothbrush for a week before I realized that a simple toothbrush does a much better job for me. (That is not to say electric toothbrushes are worse or better than simple toothbrushes. This is a simple matter of personal preference.) I also had an electric razor that seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but I hardly use it. I actually do like it, but my simple razor does an equally good job without needing a charge, so....
Honestly? I think I'm just a "keep it simple" kind of gal. A simple toothbrush and razor works and they don't take up a ton of room, either. A "win-win" in my book. Heh heh.
Tonight, I hope to finish the bathroom. I have one more drawer, which has a bunch of allergy and flu types of meds (probably also expired) and the space under my sink. I've already completely freed up half of the space in my bathroom! Pretty cool!!