Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Rain Monster Descends from the Seattle Sky

  I love handwritten letters! Emails are nice, but there is something extra exciting about opening a real mail box to find a beautiful letter waiting there for me to read. Just as fun as receiving letters is writing letters. It feels more special to hand write one's thoughts to a certain person.
   Recently, I got an especially amazing and exciting package in the mail from my pen pal, friend, and (future) sister in law, Jessie. Jessie made me my very own set of Rain Monster greeting cards!!! She made them based on a character from my illustrations, the rain monster.  It was so exciting to open the package to discover my very own greeting cards. This is one of the most creative and thoughtful gifts anyone has given me.

   Jessie is amazing at block printing. She has a real eye for the medium and creates beautiful cards. I have received lots of lovely block print cards from Jessie. They are my favorites! Here are some of the Jessie-creations I have received in my mail box.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Fairchild Sisters Dance in the Woods, Much to Mouse Mother's Indignation

Here is an illustration I recently finished. I used acrylic, tea and gouache.

  The Fairchild sisters live in a log cabin in the woods. They spend their days doing hard work- chopping wood, tending to their garden, and taking care of their animals. Being a woods person is not an easy life. But it is the life the Fairchild sisters love. Their favorite part of the day, though, is when the hard work is over. Every day around sunset, the Fairchild sisters descend into the woods to dance. Dancing wildly and merrily is their favorite way to decompress. They dance to the beat of the woodpeckers beak and the melody of the blue birds in the trees. They sway like the windblown branches. They embrace the joy of wild abandonment.
   The mouse mother, however, is not impressed. She finds these three dancing fools absurd! Her children cannot sleep with the frantic pitter-patter of human feet tapping on their roof. She wished her children sweet dreams, and the next thing she knows, they are subjected to the ridiculous booms and bangs of clumsy humans jostling above them. The mouse mother considered writing the sisters an angry letter, laying out in great detail how their inconsiderate dancing distresses her children. But just as she brought out her pen, there was another huge thump upon her roof. "That's it!" The mouse mother hollered, "It is time to bring out the broom!"

Monday, January 19, 2015

Counting Cats and Books

Here are some pictures I took the other day after work.

  Today, I walked past a tow truck lot. One of the employees was walking through the lot with a cute little tabby cat by his side. I think he was the company cat! If your car gets impounded, the cute tabby probably helps make people feel less upset about their car situation. I think this scene got cats in my mind because later in the day, I became curious about how many cats exist in the world right now. When I typed my query into Google, they responded with "Did you mean how many cars exist in the world right now?" Umm, no, of course not Google!" Obviously it is more interesting to imagine the amount of cats in the world right now rather than the amount of cars. According to one of those websites where you go to get random questions answered by strangers with no credentials, there are 2 million cats. This seemed a little low in my estimate and thus my curiosity was not satiated by answer number one. Another one of those answer sites say that there are 600 million cats in the world. This seems more believable. 600 million cats!
  Since I was wondering 'how-many' questions, another one popped into my head: how many books exist in the world? According to a Google algorithm, there are almost 130 million! This is both wonderful and depressing. I will never get to all those books. I will miss out on so much!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Wonderful Aquarium!

   I got an awesome, two part present from David for my birthday (which was several months ago on National Cat Day.) Part one: An awesome river otter pin. Part Two: A membership to the Seattle Aquarium! I love this present. Now I can go to the aquarium whenever I want without having to pay the entrance fee. And I like to be as nerdy as possible, so I try to remember to wear my otter pin while wandering the aquarium. One of these days, I'll be looking at the otters when one will catch a glimpse of my pin. He will give me a knowing glance and a nod, and I will be in! Finally, I will be a true member of the Secret Otter Society. 

   The aquarium is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places. I like popping in after work if I want to sit in the dome room and watch the fish or if I want to visit the sea mammals. If you are feeling down or depressed, I recommend watching sea otters for a couple of minutes and your spirits will easily be lifted by these playful rascals. I wish I had some otter pictures to share, but they move about so much that it makes it difficult to take a non-blurry shot. Besides the sea mammals, my favorite part of the aquarium is the underwater dome. It is the most peaceful spot in the entire aquarium.

This fish is huge! I have named him Sam but I am undecided if it is short for Samuel or Sampson. Any thoughts?

  This little fellow is a cuttlefish. Isn't he both strange and adorable? I love his large, sad eye. He looks like a cartoon of an alien's pet rather than a true animal of Earth.

This puffer fish is not so good at playing hide-n-seek. We can see you behind that thin stick of coral, silly puffer fish!

I love jellyfish! I wish there were more at the Seattle Aquarium. They are so lovely and ethereal looking. I bet the first human to see a jellyfish was amazed that such creatures actually exist.

The sea horse is such a cute and strange creature.

The bottom of the sea is full of interesting things from sea anemones to scuttling shrimps to fuzzy crabs.

Whose this speckled fellow? He is just relaxing in his purple world.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gray Bird Desert

  Here is a sketch I did of a gray bird desert. A long time ago, the gray bird was thousands of miles long. On top of gray bird were spiky succulents, snakes and howling coyotes. But the water came, and the gray bird desert shrunk and shrunk until it was only large enough to carry one, single cactus.

   One day, while the gray bird swam in the stormy sea, the cactus on her back began to glow. In the dark, it shone brightly and cheerfully. From every reach of the world, the moths came. They gathered around the beautiful, green light. They circled around the cactus, to protect it and to celebrate it. Now the moths and the gray bird travel together. They float and bob on the sea. They tell each other stories. They laugh at sailors surprised faces. The moths flap their paper wings, the bird chirps sea bird shanties, and the cactus slowly grows.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Shimmering, Shining Green Lake

  I have another set of summer photos to share. These ones are from Green Lake. I went there one late afternoon in August with David and Jessie. We had a Thai food picnic, then we walked around the lake. I remember that we saw an all white dog with big ears that stuck up and were pale pink on the inside. He looked like a bunny rabbit dog! We saw another dog that had his leash in his mouth. He was giving himself a walk! How sophisticated and self sufficient!

   There are many animals that live in Green Lake. Ducks float upon it, fish swim underneath it's watery surface, and turtles can often be spotted lounging on logs poking up from between the lily pads. But, maybe innocuous animals are not the only creatures that call Green Lake home. I heard a rumor a long time ago that someone released their pet alligator in Green Lake. It is sad for this alligator, first to be kept in captivity at all, then to be released in a murky city lake. He probably felt lonely being the only alligator in the little lake. No one wanted him there either. I'm sure anytime a swimmer brushed their foot against a rough lake rock, their heart thumped, thinking perhaps they were feeling the scaly back of the alleged alligator.
  There is an island in the middle of Green Lake. Originally, it was called Swan Island because some ambitious park planner wanted swans to live around Green Lake. But the plan failed and the ducks came instead of the swans. Now the island is called Duck Island. Maybe the alligator went to live on duck island. I imagine him lounging in the brush, enjoying the few bits of sun rays that burst through the clouds here and there. Maybe he has befriended the ducks or the salamanders, or maybe he is content in his solitude, or maybe he doesn't exist at all and there never was an alligator in Green Lake.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things (Plants and Books)

   I love a house that has lots of plants. Here are a couple of the plants in my house.

 Succulents have some of the coolest common names. The one below is called 'Flapjack Succulent.' The big, round leaves are reminiscent of a pale green flapjack. Although, the name flapjack, is a colloquialism not used in Seattle. I think it is more of a Southern (United States) term. We call them pancakes! So I should really be calling this a Pancake Succulent.

    This one is called Panda Paw. There is another variety of the Panda Paw succulent that is smaller and stouter and really does look like a cute little bear paw. But this one is so soft, just the way you would imagine a panda paw would feel if a gentlemanly panda came up to you and proffered his paw to shake in greeting.

  This one is called Gollum Jade. I don't know why though. Maybe because the succulent tendrils look like the deformed and reaching fingers of Gollum as he tries to grab the ring away from Frodo.

  I finished reading a really interesting book recently called "Annihilation" by Jeff VanderMeer. It is a story about a group of four women with different specialties exploring a dangerous and mysterious uninhabited land called Area X. The main character, a biologist, tells the story of the mysterious land and the disturbing things she and her fellow explorers encounter. The land has proven to be disastrous to previous teams of explorers in various ways. Perfectly sane people have gone in to the area only to preform ghastly acts such as murder or suicide. Others have mysteriously returned to civilization with something essential missing from their being. The biologist and her three team mates must explore the land and try to figure out the strange power of Area X.

  This novel was great! It was a mystery story mixed with a sci-fi story mixed with a Gothic horror. It was an extremely eerie novel where the mysteries slowly unfolded in a delightful and unsettling way. The tone of the novel was both subdued and suspenseful. Annihilation is a novel that is full of questions that are slowly revealed only to create more questions. The abundance of questions were not frustrating, they just made me want to flip the pages quicker. This book was also creepy and frightening but in a slow-reveal way rather than a flashy way, which I like! I already have a hold at my library for the second book, 'Authority,' which I very much look forward to reading!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Study of Tree Shadows and Strange Musicians

  After work the other day I came across some beautiful tree shadows. Luckily, I had my camera on me. A well prepared person should always have a camera on them. One never knows what she will encounter in a day. If more people lived by this philosophy, maybe there would already be convincing photographic evidence that Bigfoot exists.

   There was a man I saw recently banging on random objects on the sidewalk with a stick. He hit the stick against a garbage can and it boomed with a low reverberation. He hit it against the side of a building and it thunked. He hit it against the pole I was leaning against and it chimed. When I first saw him, he reminded me of someone from the medieval days using a divining rod to find water. But then I wondered if he was searching for a certain sound, or if he was trying to make a melody using only the street and a stick.
   He was a bearded man with slumped shoulders and brown eyes that he thought of as hazel. I know he thought of them as hazel because he told me that he and I had matching hazel eyes. My eyes are not hazel either, or brown, they are blue. But maybe this man is colorblind and the whole world is varying shades of hazel to him.
   But that is not how the conversations started. The conversation started with him asking me if I like narwhals. I am enthusiastic about all animals, including narwhals. I was waiting for the bus and usually I do not want to talk to strangers while I wait. I prefer to listen to music, look at my phone, daydream or read. But how often is one asked to sing the praises of narwhals? It is hard to resist a conversation with a fellow narwhal enthusiast. So I said yes, I like narwhals. Later in the conversation he said something really poetic involving narwhals. It was a strangely warm and windy night, the type of weather that is a relief after the back and forth between extremely cold temperatures and rainstorms we'd been having. He said that days like that feel like being a narwhal swimming in a cold sea and then finally breaking the surface of the water to breath in balmy midnight air. That's not a direct quote, but it was something like that.
   My bus was late, so this bearded, brown eyed stick-musician-of-the-street had a while to talk to me, although, mostly he talked at me. He talked about Robin Williams and a conspiracy theory he had about his death, he talked about his feelings about war, he talked about Harry Houdini and how he was no ordinary man. Sometimes, bus stop conversations with strangers can be awkward, but this guy was so enthusiastic and jovially opinionated about so many topics that it was interesting talking to him. Bus stop man also claimed to be psychic and made various predictions to when a bus would arrive. I wasn't timing him, so I don't know how accurate  his predictions were. He suggested to me that I should be a teacher. I don't know if this was one of his psychic predictions, or just a general suggestion.
   My bus finally arrived and before I got on it, the talkative man said that he loves moms and daughters and that I should tell my mom that I met a really cool guy today.