May 13, 2014


It’s that pedal on a piano (I think it’s generally the right one) that suppresses the string mutes and allows the notes to carry until it is released. In sheet music, I’ve heard friends and teachers call it the “bird’s eye” because of its peculiar symbolic representation: the top half of a circle (just the circumference line, not solid) hovering over a dot about where the circle’s focus would be. In church, it’s a vote of confidence and support to someone in a position of authority or with specific responsibilities (like me: chorister, housing coordinator, and activities committee chair of our women’s organization, the Relief Society Relief Society President—see, it’s been so long since my last post that I got a new calling!). In battle, to sustain damage is to acquire it (surely there’s a better verb than acquire; that sounds like someone going out and finding odd furniture on street corners and taking it home… not that I’ve ever done that, of course). In my particular case, sustain refers to my desire to keep this blog afloat as well as my need to do likewise with my burgeoning freelance business. At present, I have two clients, and I might have a third (for proofreading, of all things, which I do love to do but hadn’t thought to advertise)!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to for one client, Allevia Health:

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I’ve made several vector ads for Allevia (referencing photos), and that little device? It’s also a vector I made so that I could scale it however I wanted without pixelation (and so it would blend in with the rest of the image).

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Okay, so this is back in February, when it snowed a ton! I jogged from my parents’ house to Walnut, to Kings, and thence up the hill toward Chip Ross Park, but I turned around not too far in—my gaiters worked excellently in keeping the snow next to my ankles, and my shoes were getting heavy with water, and it took a while to jog safely on the snow/slush/ice… Very fun! I highly recommend snow jogging if you can… just make sure you have longer socks (mine were ankle high, which did not help the whole snow-ankle situation).

Speaking of snow, I went skiing at HooDoo Ski Area all of THREE TIMES this ENTIRE SEASON. Snow, where are you? Oh; that’s right—you came to my tiny town to mire us in white fluffies and make transportation and life in general difficult, since we have no snow plow fleet like other cities that actually get snow have. Plus lots of people don’t know how to drive safely in the snow.  Snow, why couldn’t you stick to the mountains, where I can ski on you?! Curse you, global warming! And yes, I know that the temperature rises very slowly (degrees over centuries) and it’s more a matter of erratic weather than literally warmer climates overall, but one thing I’ve read is that global warming produces cooler summers—I’m ok with that, mostly—and warmer winters—NOT ok with that!


I love taking pictures of clouds, and I particularly loved how this one almost looks like a right-side up landscape if you look at the bottom 100-odd pixels (about 1.75″ on my screen), but then you get the ripples, and the pavement, and it reveals the illusion. I considered cropping this lower, but I think the asphalt is kind of cool with the streaks of oil going rainbow colors like some weird northern lights or something 🙂


And I also love taking panoramas with my phone! The sky was even prettier than this (I wish phones—and digital cameras—had better color gamuts for the pinks and oranges; mine always seem to go kind of yellow-tinted, and lose the roseate glow, which is sad).


I found this in my work’s dropbox; it’s an excel ?program? ?macro? something that my boss made for some class, and I amused myself for a bit painting by selecting cells. You can click on individual cells, which are about 2 pixels tall, or you can grab more at a time, but only in rectangular areas, so you end up making circles by drawing large boxes, then smaller, then smaller, and layering colors in different orders (I think the apple was dark, mid, light, highlight, but it’s been long enough I can’t remember… a danger of delaying a blog post this long!)

Post Script: I’m working on my novel from last year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month; I finished 6,000-ish words from the finish line, alas!) more consistently! I’ve alternated plotting rough scenes on paper (somehow, I think better in writing and in art with a pencil than with a keyboard or mouse or tablet) and typing them up into fully-fleshed prose (and I write prose better on the computer because I can edit it quicker and more neatly—no crossing out, no arrows, no eraser marks, etc). Comment if you want to read it (and maybe give feedback)!

March 13, 2014


What begins with “stick”? stick with it? sticktuitiveness? stick-in-the-mud? sticky? stickler for [something other than punctuality]? Well, ideally, my resolve to blog twice a month for the next twelve months will “stick” around long enough to “stick” itself to my brain/habits/subconscious and make me get on the “stick” ASAP! Sick of picking up sticks? Mêmes ici, mon chèr… same here, dahling… So, instead of picking sticks up, I’m going to fling them in a heap on the page and let you scroll through them. Oh, and by “sticks,” I mean “images,” at least in this instance. But I won’t stick at fobbing off other lame euphemisms on y’all… nor terrible puns, neither. The irony, of course, is that I wrote the above text in February, and may have started it in January, and it is now… March. BUT I do have pictures!

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So, do you remember these red boots? The left is sanded, spray-painted, and sprayed with “plasti-dip.” The right is unsanded and painted with acrylic and mod podge. It did not hold up well (and has gotten progressively more floral and less scarlet as the months progress). Alas!  The airplanes are modeled on the ones my uncle makes, but smaller 🙂 I’m trying to make a design that works to hold itself together so I don’t need to use wire ties to make the tiny ones behave. I tried that, but it’s really cumbersome. The smallest plane (mini-1) is less than an inch long, and no, I have no idea what possessed me to make it that small for a first model. I think it shrank in the making… things were off-kilter, so I re-bent other things, which made yet other things longer or shorter… and what with one thing and another, the plane was shrunk.


The house we stayed at in Black Butte (between Hoodoo ski area and and Sisters, Oregon) had bicycles, so mum and I went on a bike ride! SUUUUUPER gorgeous weather! There were some steep parts, though, both up and down (I stayed on my bike, but mum got off and walked for a few). No helmets, though! Granted, there’s almost zero traffic, so it’s not that big of a deal, but I kind of felt bad biking past younger kids who do legally have to wear helmets (at least on roads) and ought to see adults wear them when they bike around. Oh, well; that’s for their parents to deal with. I am not, nor shall I be, the helmet gestapo.

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Maman and I hiked towards Three-Fingered Jack (I say towards because I doubt we even reached the foothills of the mountain, for all we spent several hours trekking through snow and logs! Her phone is “lifeproof,” which clearly makes it immune to the depredations of mini-orange peel and snow. I did not drop my phone (in its dollar tree case). Oops. Luckily, my desk is made of wood…


So if I were more knowledgeable, I would tell you what all of these mountains/hills/buttes are…


…but let’s face it: I am sadly ignorant of the local (and not-so-local) landmarks. There are some presidents, and one of them might be Black Butte, or Flat Top, or one of the Three Sisters… I think there’s a Washington or a Jefferson or an Adams… you know, one of those presidents? Oh, and probably Hoodoo. Lol.

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So, for anyone who has wondered, the answer is: yes, I am still working on my novel! I’ve been doodling ideas for covers, and doing more elaborate sketches, and once I make one that’s not utterly cringe-enducing, I will post it here. Promise. The two lovely ladies are my inspiration for Faye and Daisy, although the reason why I cast Faye (from the present) as Louise Brooks, a famous actress from the 20s and 30s, escapes me at the moment. Daisy as Clara Bow… it just seemed right, somehow. Sweetness and sass, with some sort of elevated and ethereal sadness, at times. Hugh Jackman is… Hugh Jackman. Also my model for Jim Gatz, Jay Gatsby, and Jay Gatsby, Jr because who wouldn’t love to draw Hugh Jackman over and over and over again?! I can’t decide how he will look with Clara’s eyes, though…

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New table, new house! Pros: no mold, mildew, damp, or ant problems; about 10-15º F warmer overall, as far as I can tell (my room is 60º instead of 48º or 52º); lighter and airier (more windows—that open!!—white walls and ceilings); larger oven (my cookie sheets fit in long-ways). Cons: smaller kitchen (half the size, I think) with fewer cupboards (we have homeless—ahem, transient—tupperware in boxes) and smaller/poorly-organized fridge and freezer (seriously, no shelves in the freezer? well, one, but really?); we can’t paint anything (the saddest face!); one bathroom (and yet only twice have I needed/wanted the shower or toilet when it was occupied); smaller space in general (but it’s forcing me to box up stuff I don’t actually need with me, yay!).

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I looked out of the car to see Ellie taking pictures of the sunset. I looked again to see that she had climbed on top of the van (actually very normal in my family) to take pictures of the (admittedly gorgeous) sunset. I wandered over to discover that maman had also climbed part of the way up the van to take her own pictures, and that papa was standing in the street, also taking pictures. I’m sure the sunset was particularly pink because the sun was blushing from all that attention!


Yup. Excellent vantage point.

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So at Hoodoo’s Winter Carnival, around 8:30 or 9 PM a group of skiiers skies down Blue Valley, a big, wide, not-too-steep-but-still-sloping run in plain view of the lodges, holding road flares which, I learned, are duct-taped to old ski poles. This is very good because, as I also learned, road flares drip glowing, burning gobs of… whatever under-water-burning chemical that forms them, which will happily melt through your skis, clothing, or skin if given the chance! Yikes! I mentioned on the ride up that I had wanted to participate several years but didn’t know how it worked, and one of my parents—I kind of think maman, but I’m not sure—said that there’s a sign-up sheet open to the competent-on-skis public. Huzzah! I didn’t actually sign the list, but papa, who skied for National Ski Patrol back in the 90s (whoa… that makes me feel old, which probably makes those of you who actually are old laugh hysterically and choke on your dentures… er… no? no dentures? sorry; my bad) and has scheduled patrol shifts for them ever since he left active patrol (too many weekends gone from family, alas), has ways and means beyond those of us mere mortals. The upside to this is that we get several free lift tickets each ski season! And, as it turns out, we can jump on the torch-bearing bandwagon at the last minute! Well, it was more like a half hour, since we rode up the chairlift while it was still running, then they closed the lift, then Patrol had to make sure everyone was off of the mountain, and other staff were laying out little sticks of dynamite—yes, DYNAMITE!—on a loooooong fuse/cord that burned A MILE A SECOND (that’s, ummm, 3,600 MPH! holy crow!), and more Patrol folks reviewed how and when to light the flares, how to ski with them (in a long, snaky line, not too quickly, evenly spaced), how to line up at the bottom of the run (go to the opposite side of the person in front of you), and how to salute and snuff the flares (hold them OUT, not UP, so it doesn’t drip on you and burn you, then stab it point down into the snow and rub it in so it’s DEAD! D-E-D DEAD!). Then we had fireworks, and one big slightly rolling BOOM of DYNAMITE!!! Just think: I saw high-powered explosives tootling on past behind me like a little train (actually, they looked really cute, which isn’t necessarily what I would have expected from incendiary materials, but who knows?), maybe twenty feet away! Little sausages on a string! But very dangerous, if you try to cook them…

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Buddy loves enclosed spaces. He would also jump onto this grid tower before it had its backing, and the whole thing would sway ominously, so I took it apart and put backs on both pieces. Now, if it falls apart, at least it will have to work harder and maybe lose a few pounds. Seriously, have you carried a bag of those? HEAVY! I have three fake-cloth shopping bags of them, and they weigh a LOT.  And yes, that is my cloth guitar case. He likes that, too. Indie is not sure what’s going on, lol, but that’s on par for him. Henry Jones, Jr is a bit of a space cadet, but we love him so!


Buddy will do anything to get on the internet. Actually, it’s probably just that the old house was so cold, he wanted to be cosy warm, and the warmest thing around was the modem. How sad is that?! Needless, I hope, to say, he has abandoned the modem for higher targets: namely, the lid of our trash can, turned upside-down, covered with a cloth jewelry organizing roll Lindsay found somewhere in her room while packing. Way to upgrade, Buddy. But look at those eyes! Sooooooo handsome! ❤

Oh, and I have a new client, now! I will post pics of my art if my bosses say it’s ok. Todd (dual UA bossman/CEO) pretty much said “sure; it’s free advertising for us” when I asked him if I could post art I did for Underwater Audio—drawings of cute cartoon waterproof iPod Shuffles and so forth. Since I anchor the links I post to useful search terms, I boost the site’s ranking in Google and other search engines. So, if you wondered why I specifically said “waterproof iPod Shuffle” for that link, now you know!

December 4, 2013



I’ve been pretty quiet on this front since…

…the 25th of October.


BUT: I have a good reason!

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month! For the thirty days of November, participants try to write 50,000 words—that’s about fifty single-spaced pages total—at a rate of 1,667 words per day! I wrote and wrote and wrote, and on day 11, my computer (2008 MacBook Pro) crashed/died/went into a coma. I knew about where I’d left off, so I was able to keep writing, but that was massively irritating. After over a week of drama with the Mac Store, I received all my files, a beautiful paperweight the exact size and shape of my laptop, and, following my response to the automatic feedback email, a $50 in-store credit for my extremely helpful feedback, which, by the way, was entirely without rancor, sarcasm, or rudeness of any kind, merely saturated with polite disappointment.

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During that dark time, I bit the bullet I’ve been eyeing for over a year and purchased the new Mac Mini (but not, alas, the one that is due to come out soon, as I could not bear to keep using my 2006 MacBook Pro, which hates the internet, printers, large files, the left side of its screen, its hinge, its trackpad, and life in general (I’m typing extremely quietly in case it’s listening… it’s my only laptop au moment and I’d just as soon not have a matching set of paperweights and nothing but a desktop on which to work). My Mini (visible to the right of the monitor in all its brushed aluminum glory) is extraordinarily gorgeous, incredibly tiny (well, I suppose that goes without saying), possessed of an über-boss screen (full HD 1920×1080 pixels of IPS angle-impervious-color amazingness)… and utterly vulnerable to power outages—of which, I might add, we have already had several in the recent past. I was writing that night, and, luckily, also saving every few sentences, so the nearly instantaneous hiccup in the current only killed a paragraph or so, and I cloned it from memory without issue… I think…

Long story short, it’s December (hope that didn’t surprise anyone), and my novel is at 43,389 words, which is to say, 6,611 words short of the prize… and yet, I’m not disappointed in the least.

Why, you ask?

Perspective! The last time I tried NaNo, it was 2005, I was a junior in high school, and I decided that doing my homework was more important than writing my deathless prose (which, at any rate, wasn’t terribly lively due to a decided lack of plot). So last time, I think I maybe hit 2000 words… maybe. Increasing my word count by a factor of over twenty is, to my mind, more than sufficient cause for celebration, and all that remains is to finish that darn thing lovely novel mine 🙂

…which will take probably another 30K words, or more… but I’ve promised a friend that I will finish it in order to entice her to read it and give me useful commentary (ideally with a minimum of scathe), so I shall plow on.

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Other news… I cleaned my room (sorry, James Bond)! And I made a little Christmas tree display by my extended jewelry area… yeah, I probably don’t need any for Christmas, lol!

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I made thank-you cards for the lovely birthday cards I received (and I need to make another!) and a card for our landlord 🙂


…and here’s a thank-you doodle for some fab nail polish… which has been summarily relegated to the bin of LA Colors/Dollar Tree nail polish. The horror!


Flipping through an old sketchbook while cleaning my room, I came across this portrait from nearly four years ago! I’ve cut my hair, but I haven’t quit drawing portraits at ridiculous-o’clock in the morning. In fact, there’s one somewhere hanging about that I should snap a pic of… later. Me and my nocturnal fits of inspiration…

Go figure.

October 25, 2013


That is to say, “quick!”  THis is a quick post; I will post a longer one later (prob tmw); just want to share something for all you swimmers out there:

Free Mix Monster with Shuffle purchase at Underwater Audio!

My work (main source, anyway), is having a scarily sweet giveaway! Get a FREE Mix Monster soft case when you buy a 100% waterproof iPod shuffle from  Underwater Audio!  They are absolutely ADORABLE, so if you’ve considered bringing music or audiobooks to your swim workouts (which I would do if I swam for exercise regularly), jump on this offer!

Talk to you later—I need to finish my Hallowe’en costume for a party about an HOUR from now, and eat dinner, too!


October 8, 2013


de nouvelles choses! Lots of new things!

FML WordPress won’t upload images! DX I will try to get these visible :/

Edit: I can’t upload directly from the post, but I CAN through the media browser! Huzzah! Drinks all around! Well, not for the computer, or for me, so… for the cats? Not sure that’s a sound idea, although I have no doubt it would be highly amusing. The roomies, whose cats these are,  might not approve XD

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New collages! You saw the one I did for maman: very basic, since it was a model for her 3rd grade class.  Of course, I decided to make mine more complicated XD  I make a scene, then add words (as in the first two images; see below for the words). Or I make words, then craft a scene upon which to apply them (the third image).


SHORT STORY: Teaching the most significant cybernetic cart total control of the radio introduces them all to luxury, the last son of the time, memory and circumstance of the whole earth.  In a quarter-century cataclysm, the fast rabbit, master of self experiment, does it again. THE END*


RAMBLING MONOLOGUE ON ART AND DISCOVERY: Sometimes, after a whirlwind, some fall in love with bold moves, treasures, craving an easy technique. No great explorer wants to be guided. The way to true art springs naturally, reaching beyond who you are, skimming above favorite views, solutions, and ideas, learning how to grow.  So much uncovering creates inspiring opportunities over and over. The grand experiment comes alive, freeing carefree flights. Don’t stop heading beyond the best kept secrets of roads that seem endless. Whether you view this unforgettable spot as oasis or wilderness, explore the twisting trails and discover the hundreds of whimsical details. Find sweet, vanished jewels of superb, restless design. Travel openly and with a wide focus. Act hoping for the best future, sharing another glimpse of the last beautiful, important, special, good thing bigger than the earth.

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Baby cowboy boots! So a friend from work is having a baby boy, and I wanted to make something cosy and warm for winter… but the only knitted bootie patterns I have are Mary Janes and other feminine designs, so I went online… and found these adorable toddler-sized cowboy boots!  I’ve modified the pattern somewhat (made the toe piece longer, combined the sides to eliminate that seam, taken off all the straps and such), and I’m super happy with the result (fleece).  Maybe I’ll make some for my roomie’s niece 😀 But first, I need to make another bootie (I only made one as a test)!

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Grown-up cowboy boots! I found these at the Ark, an excellent local resale shop where you can find many things, including, this time, a kneeling chair (I sit in it as I type), and… cowboy boot galoshes!  I kind of hate(d) the floral print… :/  I showed them to a friend, who said, “that’s my favorite! You’re going to paint over them?!”  My reply? “They’re not me, darling! Do you look at me and see pansies?” (By the way, in case you weren’t sure… that was a rhetorical question. You know, the kind where I stare at you and wait for confirmation of my opinion, no matter what you actually think?)  So the galoshes, which are very waterproof (I tested them by walking through a 2″ deep puddle) are fated to be floral no more!  I’ve sanded all of one and taped off everything but the trim, and now I’m deciding how I want to paint them and what color(s)!  My initial dilemma was between turquoise and scarlet… but now I’m considering black, with white and red accents. Must find a picture I like to base the design off of!

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Edit from the future of this post: I’ve gone with a solid red for the base! Oddly enough, when I flex the rubber hard enough, little hairline cracks appear with a faint cracking sound, showing the underside through, but these disappear when I let the rubber go, and I’ve tried scraping at the paint with my nail to no effect, so I have hopes that they will survive. Ideally, given lacquer or sealant of some sort, they will stay somewhat intact!

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I’m still figuring out my inspiration… but it’s getting wet, and I may just go with red for now and then modify them later! ;P

*Please note: I typed the rabbit story staring avidly at the poem (taped high up on my wall) the entire time, did not touch the backspace key, and misspelled 9 words out of 46. That’s… hmm… 80%, so a low “B” in keyboard science. Huzzah!  The errors: Theaching vbernetic inroucvhces lucury curcumstance wuatrerpcentur ravvit experment coes

September 26, 2013


So I had this brilliant idea, right? I would start a post draft and leave it running in the background of my browser, so that whenever I got an idea I could just plonk it in.  Thing is, I had that idea weeks ago… and “today” (September 10th), I started a draft.  Yay for procrastination.  Probably the reason I’ve been putting it off is that nothing much has happened… although this can be considered a good thing in many respects. For one thing, I have seen all of 2 ants in the couple weeks since the ant man came and fortified the house (he said we might see ants drop from the ceiling and wander in dazed circles on the floor, but we have so far avoided this no doubt amusing but definitely highly annoying spectacle).  For another, I have not had to flee to my parents house, which has air conditioning, in order to sleep at night.  Please note that I knock on the wooden top of my desk after typing each of these events, or lack thereof, as I have no desire to see them occur. Ever. And, in my defense, WordPress refused to upload ANY images until last night, and I didn’t want to post all words and no play :/  Probably I should just post the words and then update them with play or make new play posts, so at least something gets up!

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Cute decal at a bus stop! (Beats those commercials before movies where some celebrity high-schooler tells other kids not to text and drive, when I really think that the celeb’s target audience is… middleschoolers… who can’t drive for another 2-5 years!)  On a box in Lithia Park: “This box has tigers! No open!” I didn’t try to open it (no fear!)

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Poolside sketch and the view… you will notice some interesting perspective changes (and also probably that maman is no longer there!). Freehand (no pre-pencilling) sketch with Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (I love that thing!).

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Watercolor sketch of the lovely view across from the hotel… to the right of the poolside view, actually: I didn’t even have to move from my chair! Sakura Micron Archival Ink pen, probably 0.1mm or so… OR Copic Multiliner SP 0.35, but it looks thinner… OR a mix of those plus another Micron 0.005mm or 0.2mm… I really don’t know, but it’s NOT a brush pen!

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Hotel room sketches! The left is on Ellie’s “Boogie board,” which reminds me of nothing so much as those pads they made when I was younger, with a sheet of fluorescent plastic over a white-board-like surface, that you drew on with a little plastic stylus to make glowing lines in the plastic where it met the backing.  This one is electronic, but the principle is the same (draw a brighter line on a darker surface).  Ellie’s in the bed in the left drawing, mum on the right. Another Micron pen drawing 🙂 or Copic 😉

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More sketches! Hot car, ne? The challenge is drawing bright things instead of dark (very unintuitive to me, even though I think I did a bit of odd-color drawing in college: white chalk and black charcoal on neutral grey paper or something equally confusing and complicated, lol!) Plus, the tablet acts as a pen, so no erasing—once you draw a line, it stays there! I think I restarted this car once. The drawing, that is, not the car itself. Alas, I didn’t even think to check if there were keys in it!

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Found this car while walking one morning with papa… mmmm so fantastic!!! ❤  :DDDDDDD

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This is the rest of the Ashland imagery 🙂

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I decorated my mum’s reading journal! The 3rd grade class she’s subbing in is/was making them, and she thought I might like to take the task off her hands… which turned out to be spot on, as usual 🙂  She provided me with the photos and memorabilia and chose paper from some of hers that I’d pulled out, then I laid things out and got executive approval to glue them down in whatever places she decided on (often we agreed, but she had some things she wanted to change, mainly spacing things out a bit more).  The above images show the layouts before gluing but after executive approval

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I am making some of these myself, as soon as I finish… other projects… <_<     >_> *shifty eyes* BUT mine will be (er… are?) more collage than mounting/spacing, as that is how I roll!

More posts soon… cross my fingers and hope not to die!

August 22, 2013


So I’m waaaaaaay behind on this blog!  Ever since it heated up in the lovely heart of the valley where I live, I don’t want to sit in front of my computer any longer than possible!  I work there all day, and I’m just… done… when I clock out.

That being said, I’ve been thinking about what I want to post for a while, and I do have lots of pictures to show you!  FYI: the title of this post, vac, is a Britishism, short for vacation. Usage: “I’m going to Paree for the vac next summer!” “Not bloody likely! You haint got two brass shillings ter rub t’gether!” “Cor, a gel can dream, cawn’t she?” “Gaaarn! You? In Paree? I sez it once, an’ I’ll say it agin—not bloody likely!” Although it’s unlikely two such would work at a job that offered any vacation at all! Before you ask, My Fair Lady was one of the two plays I saw in Ashland this year! Hence the low-class cant.

[No picture exists as yet; my bad!]

We got an über-Leo award the judges call the “Family Leo,” awarded to us for our kinetic spirit and for completing the entire course without assistance!  It’s a one-time thing, so we’ll need to talk the whole situation over again next time we race (probably 2015).


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I’ve been working on some illustrations for work, as well as more staged product photos 🙂  This project is currently on hold in favor of the more pressing needs of the new website!  These are for showing the different uses people can put the waterproof iPod shuffle that Underwater Audio sells!

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I also recently took employee photos for official badges. The above sketches were inspiration for people who didn’t immediately know what to do when they picked up an iPod to “interact with in some way”, as I put it. “Official badges”, in my book, turned into the following sequence: go to OfficeMax and buy some printable badges, then format the images yourself, print them at Kinko’s/FedEx on executive stock, free of charge since it’s only 2 sheets, cut them out yourself, and put them in the holders.  They turned out quite well 🙂  I will do more (one for each employee!!), but that will require another session (or several) of photographs.  The last sketch is not inspiration, merely a doodle when I was bored… 😀

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I went with my family to the port of Crescent City, California, where it was (typically for the Oregon coast) foggy and chill.  We had fun regardless!  Mum and I went on a short run our first morning there (or maybe the second?).  FYI: That VW did not look like a VW from behind, so it was a big surprise when mum and I walked past and realized the make!  The item I’m holding is a holder for knitting  markers, and I really want to make one! (Maybe from an old onesie earring?)  The restaurant whose marquee you see is excellent, and conveniently situated right next to the Best Western we always stay in (dad, Ellie, and I hopped the fence several times to get over there, but I never hopped it back, seeing as there were no convenient things to step on for height on the far side). Amazing garlic bread!

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Mum, dad, and I visited a fascinating historical museum, which included a HUGE lighthouse reflector and fabulous native basketry and apparel, and which forbid photographs. Mum took a few anyway (but only of REALLY cool things!), but I have no idea if she’ll post them anywhere!  The two waste bins were outside it, and I loved the art on them.  Check out the adorable painted tire planters!  This car we actually found on the way down (parked at a Dairy Queen we stopped at for desperately needed sustenance), and the sign, for those who can’t read the faint letters, says “ADULT NOVELTIES SOLD HERE” on letter-sized paper taped to the window. And yes, that is a child’s pink dress in the next window, and, yes, it is the same shop, apparently family apparel with other… apparel and accessories? We didn’t go in, as it was closed, but I’m curious to see how the dichotomy displayed itself.

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All four of us spent some time walking the Trees of Mystery trail and riding its sky gondolas. Mom and I ended up hiking down, as we were pretty dizzy from the stop-start ride up, so different from the smooth transit of the ride when we came down with Ellie in non-tourist season.  Turns out they followed us down the steep, intermittently rope-railed trail for “advanced hikers” who should “check with the attendant” before attempting it!  Really, it wasn’t that difficult… I went most of the way down carrying three walking sticks (mum and I brought one each, and we picked up some others had left behind), but I was glad to hand them all off to Dad when they caught (up with) us by surprise 🙂  Turns out walking sticks are like ski poles for me: in a word, superfluous. I never end up using them, but at least with ski poles I learned the lesson simply ages ago.  Clearly I should hike more?

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Dad, Ellie, and I again visited the aquarium, Ocean World, where you can pet sharks, stick your tongue into a sea anemone, hold a sea urchin, applaud talented seals and sea lions (their names are Cora, Skully, Marina, and… heaven help me, I’ve forgotten not only the fourth name but also which is which kind of animal!) and be eaten by a shark (that last one is all special effects).  I bought an adorable little pendant (round sterling silver with a lowercase “e” stamped into it), and regret not buying a wooden-faced pocket knife 😦 Ahh, well… maybe next time!

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Ellie and I attempted to hunt antiques, with dad acting as chauffeur, but, alas, only one out of the five places we tried to go to was open! It was the last one we tried, and I was so enthralled that I decided to stay longer than them and walk home.  Mum came over later (dropped off), got some lovely presents for friends, and walked back with me (only 2 or so miles, some along fast roads).  I got some excellent jewelry, a pair of knitting needles, and a tin rabbit-shaped cookie cutter for $19.

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I’ve been crafting (playing) with Shrinky Dinks lately, and have made some fun projects. The fox ring (inspired by one on Etsy by SOMETHiNGMONUMENTAL), alas, is no more… he snapped as I put my hand in my pocket the second day of wearing him, and I have yet to make a modified version (probably less spread out, or locked together for support somehow). I heat all  such projects with a heat gun (if I had a toaster oven, I might use it, but heating an entire oven to bake one scrap of plastic seems rather excessive), but you could probably use a hair dryer if it got hot enough.

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I went to Ashland, OR with my family to see my dad’s family!  Dang, that town is hot… The first night, we ate at my gramma’s new digs (much brighter than her old ones, and bigger!) and went for a walk in the sultry darkness (the dark picture contains 2 stags… I promise!) Saturday (first morning), we walked around Lithia Park some, checked out their Farmers Market (dilly beans not nearly as good as my mother’s, but adorable Oregon-shaped cutting boards I coveted intensely), and I wandered around an art/craft fair, chatting with vendors about art but not buying anything, of which fact I was very proud! I loved the display one woman had so much that I asked her if I could take a picture of it! I intend to make one like it, although mine might not rotate and do cool kinetic things…

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We went out to dinner (Wiley’s World, where I took the above series of photos because my mother notoriously blinks during photos and apparently finds the results of keeping her eyes open hysterical; also El Casa del Pueblo) and breakfast (Brothers), and availed “ourselves” of the pool. Note the spurious quotation marks. As the pool was chlorinated, and as my last encounter with said chlorine left me itching madly enough to prompt my mum to drive me to the store to find anti-itch pills… I declined to use that particular entertainment.  I did sit out on the pool deck and sketch!

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I got to see “The Taming of the Shrew” with my uncle, and then we all went to see “My Fair Lady” late one evening (8-11pm!).  “Shrew” was a wildly funny and surprisingly touching modernized production of the original Shakespeare script, set on a boardwalk in New Jersey in the 50s.  “Lady” was a fascinatingly overt staging of the musical, where the actors stayed on stage the entire time as they put on and changed costumes, moved set pieces, and performed all those tasks usually hidden by lowered curtains or darkened lights.  No photos in the theatre, of course, but I’ve included a few shots pulled from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s official site.

We switched internet providers, but the new service turns out to be incredibly slow (I didn’t have the patience to watch my gmail inbox’s progress bar inch across even halfway before turning off my computer, calling in an upgrade, and coming to my parents house to do work at the speed of real life).  The funny thing is, I spent the better part of Thursday on the new wireless (after getting said wireless configured, which was itself a pain), and it was fine!  Methinks they sneakily ran us higher for that first day, then pulled the plug afterwards (while I was gone on vac and disinclined to wrangle with the internet).  It will be back up to our Comcast level (3mbps) from the current snail’s trail (1.5mbps), and I only hope that the speed increase makes all the difference.

I would add more photos to Ashland, but I keep getting an upload error, so I guess I’ll stop here for now!

July 26, 2013


the Graand Kinetic Challenge at the 25th Annual da Vinci Days Festival! It’s an epic event, and, naturally, deserves an equally epic post!

NOTE: last post was my eleventy-first!  I was eleventy-one that day! Now I am eleventy-two… which doesn’t have as cool a ring to it.

NOTE 2: It looks like Dropbox misled me re what photos it had uploaded; I can’t find tons of videos from Saturday and Sunday, and I’m VERY mad! 😡

NOTE 3: Huzzah, I have them from downloading my phone to my computer! Drinks for everyone!


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Left: Top Kop (you can’t see his excellent striped tights, but I assure you, they are there!) brandishing my “Kinetic Cycle-ogy Scientist’s Kit” bribe; Right: Way of the dinosaurs!

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Left, Center: Ellie with LED hula hoop; Right: Poco, Friday’s big entertainment

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The view from the little camera on the back of the new car.  That bike was literally hanging out of the trunk, and did not seem safe!

Pageantry (the song) went well: we checked with the sound booth crew, and I was able to queue up the song on my phone and plug a jack directly into it, so we had back-up for our kinetic version of the Beach Boys’ “Little Honda” (I may post lyrics if motivated)!  We stayed around for the music, enjoying a fusion of country and rock by “Poco,” and while I’m not generally a fan of country music (read, I actively dislike country and will leave a room to get away from a particularly objectionable song, even if it means abandoning friends in a social situation), I really liked this group!  Also on my “like” list: a glowing LED hula hoop, valued at $300, whose owner let us (especially Ellie) play with it for quite a while. Ice cream in a waffle cone? Check! Vijay’s Little Indian Cuisine? Check! Back injury? Avoided—so far…



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Left: Ellie on her barnacle trailer (it may or may not be intact at this point); Right: Way of the Dinosaurs before the sand

I had the brilliant idea that we should ride in the parade in three-wheel mode, thus allowing us to go as slow as we want, and eliminating the need to swerve back and forth to keep balance and speed.  During the parade the seat on Ellie’s barnacle trailer broke (the big safety pins bent out of shape and came out), so we were going to get thread and a needle to fix it.  Note: the barnacle trailer is meant to hold a barnacle, or a person who contributes no effort in making the sculpture go and is instead a dead weight worth half an hour off your race time.  Dad went off for thread… and at 1:55 or so, the racers lined up at the start across from their sculptures.  Dad was NOT there!  I’m not sure how it happened, but the starter delayed enough so that he was able to pedal madly back to the sculpture on my uncle Brian’s bike, stash it, dash over to the opposite curb, take his helmet from me, and get ready!

We raced over to the sculpture and jumped aboard, but as we pedaled out of the parking lot, the right wheel of Ellie’s trailer bent over (it did this after our water test at HP a week or so before the race; I told dad to rig it up with some iron rebar for strength, but it turns out he did not do this).  We ditched the trailer, and Ellie took over as co-pilot so she could stay with dad and the sculpture.  I ran back to the valet bike parking, and spent an incredibly frustrating few minutes trying to tell the valet which bike was mine (BACK, NO—TOO FAR! FORWARD… RIGHT… NO! TURN AROUND! BACK… CAN I PLEASE COME GET IT MYSELF? I’M A RACER AND MY SCULPTURE IS GETTING AWAY! THANK YOU!). Uy veh. I pedaled like mad for a few minutes, then realized that I would never catch our sculpture on the road, and continued at a more sensible pace that didn’t have me gasping and wincing as my lungs and throat burned.

I got to the sand only minutes after our sculpture.  We were the second sculpture to arrive, despite the craziness of our departure!  Dad asked if we could wait to go up the sand until later so that we could watch other sculptures go up.  About 40 minutes after the first sculpture ascended the sand, dad and mum got on the sculpture and took on the dune! They plugged right up the sand (dad paused at the top for some victory fist pumps, and mum wailed at the turn from the up slope to the down slope, which are at right angles to each other).  We got down the sand without any problems, and Ellie resumed her role as co-pilot, with me, mum, uncle Brian, and cousin Emma as outriders.  We LOVE the new route, which avoids many of the trafficked streets the previous racecourse followed and crossed.  Back at da Vinci Days, we crossed the finish a full EIGHT minutes ahead of the next sculpture (I clocked it).  This after waiting 40 minutes to go up the sand! How? We’re lickety-split on the road, of course: I think we’re the only sculpture with a two-wheel mode that can go as fast as a regular tandem bicycle (with my dad and sis pedaling, that’s pretty fast!).

I decided to take a leaf out of Ellie’s book and got a henna tattoo the Kinetic Chicken on my right calf.  Last time I did henna, I taped a protective covering over it that first night—and it peeled off my skin!  The rectangular marks from the tape lasted far longer than the actual henna design!  I determined I would NOT do that this time; I was careful of it, and scraped it off before bed so I didn’t wake up in a nest of dried out henna bits.  Big band swing sensation Big Bad Voodoo Daddy headlined on Saturday, and dad, Ellie and I stayed through the whole thing… away from the stage in the sculpture night parking area, so dad could fix the trailer wheel and I could sew the seat back together. I rather like listening at this distance, since the sound isn’t ear-poundingly loud!

We snuck into the labyrinth in the childrens’ area to scare dad, but eventually a staff member of some sort found us and firmly escorted us back outside… where I realized I’d lost my phone! I snuck back into the labyrinth, where Ellie helped me search—to no avail—and then, miraculously, I heard the ringtone as I checked where I’d rolled under the fence to sneak inside. I guess this is a message that I shouldn’t sneak into places I’m not supposed to be? Of course not!  It’s a message that I should keep my stuff in zippered pockets!

As a side note: Way of the Dinosaurs (a three-wheeled, probably seven-foot sculpture piloted by a great guy from Eugene) broke a wheel strut on the sand dune; he “went to the shop” (I hope it was a local one!) and welded the piece back into service!  Dad suggested to him that, if the mud looked like it might take out his sculpture, he make the T-Rex shake its head and refuse to set foot in the stuff.  The dino could not only nod and shake its head, but it could also wave its arms, which were attached to the pedals! Fantastic machine!



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Left: We made it!!! Center: So did “Team Goddess Goes Racing” and [Right] the “Vitruvian Racer,” although I can’t find any of my videos of the latter!

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Excellent crowd at the Mud Bog! I’m standing on a rock to get my vantage (it wasn’t a level rock, either!), which is tiring, fyi. Note the man about a third of the way in from the left with a raven on his hat (prosthetic, of course; a real one wouldn’t hold still long enough, and might poo on your head).

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Left: Way of the Dinosaurs, after its pilot debarked from his mount; Right: my flat fish! Isn’t he adorable? I’m naming him Walter.

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Crowd watching the Flying Karamazov Brothers (juggling-comedy troupe)

We were far and away the fastest sculpture through the mud!  Mud time limit was 15 minutes; some sculptures didn’t make it in time, some didn’t make it at all and had to be pulled out on a rope, some made it in time (I don’t know what the average time was, but I would say upwards of 6 minutes or so). Doctor Pedal and Mister Ride rode through in TWO minutes! At least 2 sculptures got pulled, but some made it through, among them Goddess Jenn-O’s “Team Goddess Goes Racing” and Peter’s giant rolling wheel “Vitruvian Racer”.  Peter’s sculpture was awesome to watch!  He was on the outside of the wheel, and he would climb up it as if it were a ladder, then lean back to pull it down with him, and climb up again!  Think of a giant reverse hamster wheel, where the rodent is on the outside and his efforts actually move the wheel; or think of someone walking on a barrel, but instead of the top, the surface contacted is the side.

Among the spectacular failures to navigate the mud was “Way of the Dinosaurs” (it was a spectacular machine in general). Dino rolled up to the mud and shook its head. Tried to go forward, made no progress… and the pilot flung himself from his seat (high in the air) and landed face down in the mud! Then he got under his sculpture, lifted it by the front wheels (a pit crew member grabbed the tail at first but later let it go) and CARRIED his sculpture all the way through the mud! Needless to say, there was much rejoicing!

We were able to see the Dinosaur attempt the water entry: it rode in, deeper and deeper, looking pretty wobbly, then—a flash of déjà vu—the pilot AGAIN jettisoned himself from his vehicle, although his fall into the river was considerably shorter than the previous one into the mud. We went in right after that, and pedaled along down the Willamette. I would like to note that I asked dad to make me some sort of fender between my seat and the rear wheel, so that my butt wouldn’t get utterly soaked, but this did not occur. I showed father, much to his chagrin, that there was nothing between my rear and the rear wheel’s continual stream of river water. Ellie later informed me that I should keep wearing my lab coat, as my shorts were see-through. Joy.

We’re not terribly fast on the water, and slower when we tow the barnacle trailer, but we did pretty well!  We had a great exit: we had to pedal like mad to make sure we didn’t miss the route out of the water, but, with a lot of leaning to the uphill side, and a very low gear, we made it out of the river and back onto reasonably solid ground.  As we started out, I kept a watchful eye on Ellie’s trailer, and when the wheel started to veer and wobble, I called a halt. She switched me as pilot, I switched mum for her bike and rode after the sculpture, and mum walked back (not that far, thankfully, as it was rather hot).

At the festival once more, I changed into dry clothes I had left in the van.  I should note, nevertheless, that I searched for some time for the spare key, fruitlessly, then climbed the van to see if I could break in through the roof window (no dice, also very hot roof!), then checked for the key again—and found it, farther forward than I had expected!  I checked out the science exhibits (did you know that there’s a lot of iron in Oregon sand? The dark grains are often iron, and you’re most likely to find it in areas with heavy tidal activity, as the moving water sweeps away the lighter grains of glass sand and leaves the heavier metal). I must try this next time I go to the beach, and bring a hard-drive magnet or something with similar power.

Awards: we earned “Best Use of Last Year’s Theme” (I expressed our gratitude for being rewarded for screwing up, although in our defense, the official site hadn’t been updated, so we couldn’t have known that we were in error) and “2nd Place Engineering” (as dad said, “if you screw up long enough, you eventually learn something”).  “Way of the Dinosaur” raked in the prizes (to wit: 3rd Place Artistry, Fan’s Favorite, Racers’ Favorite, Poobah’s Choice, Volunteers’ Choice, Golden Wrench Award)—deservingly so—and we all hope to see him here next year! (As a matter of fact, he HAS to come to pass along whatever Golden Wrench trophy he makes for next year, so yay!) Goddess Jenn-O’s “Team Goddess Goes Racing” earned Graand Champion along with a Leo, to our delight!  We were only somewhat surprised that “Hell on Wheels” beat us for Best Song: while our song itself, IMHO, was superior, their presentation and pageantry during their song was absolutely hysterical!

We did NOT earn a Leo (the award for completing the entire course without outside help, i.e. pushing/pulling), to all of our disappointment.  Mum and I searched through the rules Sunday morning in response to a comment from a fellow racer that we were “ditching the Leo” by switching pilots, but we found no such rule.  We should have received a ticket from the Offishuls that afternoon (really, Saturday afternoon, as Ellie raced the road and mum pedaled the Sand), but we did not, so we didn’t know about our error until it was too late! 😦  Frankly, if we can’t appeal the rule, we will NEVER Leo because we all want to participate: Ellie likes to do the Road, mum likes to do the Sand and Mud, and I like to do the River. We don’t switch to get a fresh pilot in the seat, we do it to have fun, and we’re crossing our fingers that the Kinetic Judges will understand.

Also, the Leo awards were really neat this year—engraved hard drive disk medallions, shiny and gorgeous—and I really want one!

A note on the title: “vincit” is Latin for “conquer” or “vanquish,” and regardless of our medal status, we CONQUERED the 2013 race!  I still don’t know what our overall time was, but I’m betting it’s faster than 3:09, which was what “Vitruvian Racer” clocked in for… I hope dad can find out!

July 5, 2013


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We had a barbecue at my house for Independence Day, followed by experiments with glow sticks.  Did you know that inside that translucent plastic tube is a very thin glass tube with the chemical inside of it, and that when you bend the glow stick, you’re actually breaking the glass and releasing the chemical?  I only know this because I found little glass shards and bulb ends (like the ends of twinkly lights) floating in the bowl in the sink where the mostly-emptied plastic tubes went.  Alas, our plan to make glowing bubbles failed: not because we couldn’t get the glow stuff out, but because the fluid membrane of the bubble is SO thin that color—or glow—does not readily show up. Le sigh.

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Other news: I went on an excellent bike ride and managed to meander into the Farmers Market (fun!!!)  I saw several street musicians, but the one pictured above takes the cake!  His little dog was literally jumping up and licking his chin as he sang, and then it laid down on the guitar and chilled, when I had my video going.  Typical animal filming experience!

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Bread from my second ever 5-K, courtesy of Great Harvest, a bakery on the riverfront that gives away a free slice of bread (butter optional) to anyone who wants one (not two, is my impression, but I’ve never tried to push my luck).  Isn’t the cutwork on the top gorgeous?!  I will have to try that next time I make bread (I’ve  made pizza dough into pizza, into breadsticks, and into sweet caramel rolls, but never have I actually made bread, per se.  Nor am I likely to make it before autumn, unless we get some cold weather!

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Here’s my half (painting; all of the underlying line art is mine as well) of our sculpture floats, minus the black line, which is oil-based sharpie.

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I couldn’t find a legitimate paint pen (they were all fabric paint or sharpie of some ilk, very frustrating).  I went over it with Mod Podge before dad varnished the completed floats, just in case it decided to streak!  Both are now finished, but do I have a picture for you? No :/  Why? Because I don’t carry my phone with me everywhere, that’s why! Almost everywhere, but not everywhere.  Anyway, you will see plenty of pictures in—YIKES!!!—two weeks, when we race in the Graand Kinetic Challenge at da Vinci Days, Corvallis’s epic science, music, and art festival! Excuse me while I hyperventilate into a paper bag. TWO WEEKS!!! So glad my part of preparation is over: costumes and bribes are ready!

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My work (I’m in the business of making waterproof iPod shuffles) asked for a little comic of sorts to post on our Facebook page, and these are what I came up with.  I like the contrast of the tiny faceless shuffle and the larger iPod/iTouch/iPhone with a screen for emoticons, and I may do more of these on my own time, but work never asked for a final version. Le sigh again :/

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I think I talked (wrote?) about growing my hair out, but it got to the point where I was putting it up, taking it down after an hour or so when my head started to ache, and generally feeling dominated by the hair.  I realized how silly this power struggle was (Emily v. Sun, round 27: FIGHT! gee, wonder who’ll win…) and decided to pick my battles.  Short hair means I don’t have to put it up to keep my neck cool (and give myself a hairdo headache).  I still stick my head under the faucet and mist myself as if I were an air plant, but I’m ok with that.  I’m also ok with the fact that my hair will NEVER look like it does in the above photo EVER again.  I love the straight look, but it takes way too long to do, and, in summer, the heat of the straightener is murder!

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Buddy would like to know what is more interesting than him; Indie would like me to hold still, please, for the next couple of hours.  The brothers are so adorable!  I was trying to come up with a clever pun on the Brothers Grimm, but slim, trim, and prim don’t really fit these two!

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