Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Just a Bug

Yesterday, the bugs started their week of standardized achievement testing - that yearly endeavor that seeks to place all the children in the world snugly under a bell-shaped curve, so they can't wriggle away.  This is the first year that we've home schooled full-time, and I'm interested to see where they fall along that curve this year, as opposed to previous years.

When I picked them up from school, we stopped in at the grocery to pick up something for dinner.  They voted for tacos, and Doodlebug said he'd do the whole thing - shopping AND cooking.  I pushed the buggy, while the boys wracked their brains to remember what all we need when we make tacos.  We didn't make a list - they just worked it out, ticking the items off on their fingers. 

I don't think they forgot one thing.  I had to help direct them to the place in the store you go to get tortillas or ground beef, but they handled everything else, including swiping everything across the UPC code reader at the U-Scan register.

I did have to pay, although Doodle swiped the card and entered my PIN, which he's memorized having seen me use it.

Remind me to change that number.

They carried the groceries to the car, and then into the house when we got here and put them away.


Doodlebug cooks the meat Junebug and the beans

They were the best tacos I've ever eaten.

I wonder if this will be on the test?

Monday, March 30, 2009


This is happening in DC even as we speak...


I took this picture about a week and a half ago on the Potomac River, across from the FDR Memorial.  It was the only one blooming in the area - at least 10 days too early.  Bloom watch forecasts the peak bloom period to be between April 1 and April 4.

You want to know the funny part?

I'm in Knoxville.

The boys are required by the school under which we homeschool to take the SAT every year, and this is their week.  (Have I ever mentioned my feelings about standardized, normalized, institutionalized testing?)


We're heading back up on April 4, and by golly, we'll be heading straight for the Tidal Basin.  The luggage can stay in the freaking car. 

Are you kidding me?

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Part E - Let Me Explain... - is too much - lemme sum up...

When it comes down to it, there's no one place that can truly win out over another.  This experience of living in an urban environment is wonderful, educational, eye-opening, and culturally enriching.  It exposes all of us to experiences we wouldn't be able to recreate in our small city, or even with short visits to large cities.  The immersion of our family into a completely different living dynamic is an amazing experience.


Here in the 'burbs we have things that the city can't hold a candle to.  We have friendships that have been grown over the course of our children's lives and that we would be lost without.  We have our own plot of land, small as it is, and the joy of growing and building and renovating it.  We have a lake to fish in and catch frogs in and to fall in and get muddied up in.


We have long summer days and temperate winters.  We have a national treasure in our backyard.  We have a cul-de-sac full of boys and the best neighbors you could ask for.


We're closer to our family in Alabama here.

Linda left a comment a while back, "Don't get too comfy."  And I have to say that there's really very little danger in that.  I'm a bit of a hermit at heart.  All those people pressing in on me will start to wear thin, and I'll long for my space in the sticks - my backyard deck where no one can see me.

But I'm going to embrace the urban while it lasts, and seek out every little nuance I can.

And now...back to your regularly scheduled program...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Part D - What Shall We Do Today?


This one is a no-brainer, really.  As far as things to do and places to go, our urban home wins hands down.  Why, I think we could spend a year doing nothing but exploring the nooks and crannies of the Smithsonian Institution museums and never get bored.  That doesn't even take into consideration the monuments and memorials, the National Arboretum and the National Cathedral.

Since moving to DC on January 1 we have been to the following places (at least the ones that I can think of right at this minute):

  • Smithsonian Air and Space
  • Smithsonian Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
  • Smithsonian Castle
  • The Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden
  • The Old Post Office
  • The National Gallery of Art, East Building
  • The National Gallery Sculpture Garden
  • The National Archives
  • The Washington Monument
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The Vietnam Memorial
  • The Korean War Memorial
  • The WWII Memorial
  • The Jefferson Memorial
  • The FDR Memorial
  • The Capital Building Visitor Center
  • The White House

We would have done more already, except that the weather has been bitterly cold and we have the blood of our southern forbears.  There is no lack of things to do. 


For free.

Wait, let me say that again, because at heart I'm a cheapskate.  FOR FREE. 

There are things to that cost money, but we haven't exhausted the free ones yet, although we have a trip to Mount Vernon on the short list.

Now, let me say that there are plenty of things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee and the surrounding areas.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of our very favorite places to go and it only costs a bit of gas money to enjoy it.  They have great education programs and gorgeous scenery.

View from Clingman's Dome

Knoxville also has an art museum, which used to cost a few dollars to get into, but now is free.  It's just very small.  Good quality.  They've had some really wonderful shows, but it's an hour or two at the most, parking can be difficult and once you've been, you really don't need to go again for 6 or 8 months.

There are a few others - the McClung comes to mind - but we've found it challenging to find quality family activities that don't cost an arm and a leg.  There's a couple of great aquariums within an easy drive of our house, but for our family to go for one day would cost about $75.  The local zoo - a good one - is $12 per person.  In contrast, the Smithsonian National Zoo is free. 

You just can't beat free.

Tomorrow - Lemme sum up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Part C: It's People.

Finch with cherry

Okay.  This is not people.  It's a house finch.  But I hate a post without a picture, so there you have it.

Now...on with our tale...

Okay - let's crunch some numbers, shall we?

Knox County, Tennessee has 423,874 residents, in a space of 508 square miles.  That's approximately 752 people per square mile.

Arlington County, Virginia has 204,568 people packed into 24 square miles.  That comes up to 7, 268.7 people per square mile.  That is 10 times more people per square mile, folks.  Or, as Dr. SmartyPants likes to say - it's one order of magnitude greater.

Washington, DC has 588,292 residents, squeezed into 61 square miles, making 9,378 people per square mile.  And those are just the residents.  That doesn't count the tourists or the commuters.

And there are LOTS of tourists and commuters.

What does that do to people? 

Well, as far as I can tell, it makes them really cranky.  Let me just give you a bona fide example, scientifically culled from the vast research I've been doing, also known as "shopping."

Last spring, I went to a local large craft store here in Tennessee to purchase a couple of things - not an unusual occurrence for me.  I placed the items on the counter and the checkout lady smiled and said, "Hi!  Did you find everything you needed?  Oh my goodness, you have such blue eyes - wow!  My, you have some handsome boys with you today.  I can tell that little one takes after his mama, doesn't he?  I'll be the older one looks like his dad.  Are you home schoolers?  I just wondered because most kids that age are in school today.  I wish I had home schooled my children, but I had to work because my good-for-nothing ex-husband didn't do nothing but drink all day.  He's dead, now.  You tell these boys to get you a nice gift card for this store for Mothers Day, okay?  We just had them come in.  Can you believe they've never had a gift card program here before?  That's just crazy.  Every store ought to sell gift cards.  People love to get gift cards, don't you?  I know I do.  Oh, that'll be $10.32.  Debit?  Press that little button right there.  Now enter your PIN.  Select okay.  Do you need any cash back?  Here's your bag.  Ya'll have a fantastic day, now.  I hear it's supposed to rain this weekend, but I hope it doesn't.  Those spring flowers look so pretty and you know how all the petals start to drop off when we get one of those heavy rains..."

I never had to say one word.  This is not a terribly unusual experience.  People are generally very friendly.  They talk to you in the grocery.  They talk to you in the line at the post office.  They talk to you at the McDonald's.  And I mean the customers at the next table, not just the cashiers.

Compare that to my recent foray into the same large craft store franchise - this time located in Falls Church, Virginia, just west of Arlington.  All I needed was a button, so I ran in to the store and grabbed a card with two buttons on it, which cost a dollar or so.  I walked up to the cash register where the meanest cashier in the world was standing.  I handed her the button and she looked at it like, "Really?  One button card?  This is not even worth my time."  She scanned the UPC code, and the tossed the card back to me.  It skittered across the counter, where I caught it just before it plunged to the floor.    So far, not one word has been spoken by her.  I'm sure I said, at minimum, a hearty southern "hello."

She punches a couple of buttons, turns to me and says, "One dollar and fourteen cents.  ONE DOLLAR AND FOURTEEN CENTS."  I'm not sure if she thought I was stupid or just deaf, or if she was announcing her indignation to the entire store.  I gave her $1.15, and the fact that she had to give me back a penny was almost more than she could take.  She threw my penny at me and it hit me between the eyes.

Okay.  I made that part up.  But the rest is true.

THIS is not a terribly unusual experience, either.  People are generally just cranky here.  They don't smile when they greet you in stores, they don't talk to you in line at the library.  As a matter of fact, we recently were at the library, and the librarian spoke to me and I had a heart attack and died right there.

Then I revived myself and spoke to her, too. 

My librarian in Knoxville and I are on a first-name basis, thank you very much.

Southern really is a beautiful thing.  I wonder if we need to remind the folks in Virginia that technically - they're in the South?

Tomorrow...what shall we do today?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Part B - Getting Around Town

I'm going to start this post by asserting that I love to drive.  I really do.  Always have - always will.  I like cars.  I like to drive them far too fast, except when the boys are with me. 

Then I feel guilty for speeding.

Anyway.  Some of you may recall that Dr. SmartyPants bought me a convertible Mustang for my 40th birthday.  I love love love my car.  It's pretty.  It's fast.  It's topless.

But not in a sleazy way - more National Geographic than Playboy.

In any case - this is my sweet ride...

Happy Birthday to Me

Now then.  I also have to confess that I HATE driving in traffic.  People get in my way.   They don't understand how and when to use turn signals.  They drive 5 miles under the speed limit.  It's very very VERY very irritating.  Yes.  I know that makes me a jerk.  I don't honk, though - does that count for anything?

In suburbia, there really is no other choice but to drive.  If we want to go to the library, the nearest one is 6 miles away, on back roads with no sidewalks and no shoulder.  There is no public transportation where I live.  They never thought the cows in the pasture would require it.  The nearest grocery store is about 4 miles - same scenario as the library.  If I want a Grande Americano from the multitude of Starbucks in my town - 6 miles.  I realize this is not a hardship.  My parents have to drive something closer to 20 miles for an Americano.

Here's where the urban lifestyle wins out, hand over fist.

From my townhouse, if I want to go to the library (not just a little branch library, but the main, Central Library) we walk out our door and are there within two blocks worth of walking.  Starbucks?  Two blocks.  Grocery store?  Across the street.  Dry cleaner?  Across the street.  You head out, no stress - no one cuts you off in traffic - no turn signals needed.  Mall?  6 blocks.  Restaurants?  Take your pick and walk to one. 

No searching for a parking place, no paying for a lot, no validation needed.  Two feet, comfortable shoes and off you go.

Anything else outside of my 6 block radius can be handled by one wonderful little tool.


That goes with this rather large one...

Orange Line

For a couple of bucks, round trip, I can be in the heart of DC in about 15 minutes.  No fighting traffic, no worrying about where to park, no vehicle emissions.  Just a two block walk to the station and a 15 minute ride to the city.

Where we can walk to our hearts' content.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Part A - Housing

In 2006, we moved into our house in the 'burbs.  We picked the lot, situated in what was once a very fine cow pasture, because of its flat terrain, spacious yard and placement in a cul-de-sac.  It's a cookie-cutter kind of house - we were able to pick from a handful of blueprints and front elevations, then arrange a few things inside to our liking, and of the three houses that we've owned since we got married 10 years ago, it is our favorite.  It is larger than our first, smaller than our second, cozier and warmer than either one.

We live in an area where housing prices are reasonable, so you get a lot of house for the money, really. 


That's ours, there on the left.  We have a lovely, north-facing front porch with rocking chairs,  a couple of decks out back and a two car garage.

Our urban house in the DC area is quite different.  It's a townhouse, built in the 30s, but nicely renovated and in excellent condition.  It sits on a quiet residential street with no through traffic.  It is around 1000 square feet, which makes it about 1600 square feet smaller than our suburban house.  If we were to buy something like this, it would cost more than double what we paid for ours.

Arlington house

It doesn't feel small, though.  It has good light, open spaces and a gorgeous kitchen.  There's a small but nice fenced backyard with a beautiful, two-level, slate patio and it's currently filled to the brim with daffodils and other spring bulbs.

Coincidentally, the front of this house also faces north.

One of the first things that I've noticed in living in these two very different houses is that we need far less than we think we do.  We are not cramped in 1000 square feet.  There are very few things that I feel like we are missing by living in a small home.  I love that we have fewer "things" there.  I am a decorating minimalist at heart, I think, and living in a small space helps me realize that I often fill spaces just to fill spaces.  It usually feels like clutter and makes me anxious, and I need to carry that realization right back to the suburbs and purge, purge, purge.

Another thing I've noticed is that one TV in the house is plenty.  What?  I know.  Sacrilege.  But honestly - in Tennessee, normally, we have three.  Living Room, Family Room, Master Bedroom. 

Televisions make you stupid.  I'm not even kidding.  Read.

Tomorrow...getting around town...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Day Late

World Poetry Day was yesterday.  I have a love/hate relationship with poetry, based mainly on the completely stupid process of breaking down poems that I learned in college.  I'm sorry if you happen to like dissecting artwork and attempting to decipher deeper, hidden meanings.  I've always loved reading poetry and enjoying it for the emotion it elicits immediately.

I'm the same way about viewing paintings and other visual media.

So, in honor of World Poetry Day, and in honor of poets everywhere who don't appreciate having their poems carved up and served lukewarm to literature students, I give you...

Introduction to Poetry, by Billy Collins

Please click over and read it.  I didn't want to reprint it without Mr. Collins' permission.

I'll be back tomorrow with the first installment of my urban/suburban life comparison, and maybe a birdie or two.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Have No Title For This Post


It was a long day of driving. 

For Dr. SmartyPants. 

I rode, slept, read, computed.  It was a long day of nonsense and foolishness and scenery flashing by.  Somehow, though, I am exhausted.


This bird reminds me of my Master's thesis. 

I do not have a Masters in Ornithology.

I have a Master of Science in Structural Geology.  Part of my project involved contour mapping coal layers in Alabama.    This seagull's wings remind me of many long nights with my maps and light table up in the graduate student cubicles in the geology department at The University of Alabama.  It's funny - my favorite part of geology was always the drawing.

Still is.

Friday, March 20, 2009




It doesn't even matter that it's 45 degrees out right now.  It's SPRING, peeps!

We're heading south tomorrow in the hopes that spring has arrived there, weather-wise.  Okay, that's not really why we're heading south, but maybe it will work out anyway.  The Smarty has some work to do, so we're going to go with him and see some friends.  We'd planned to be there the next week anyway, so we'll just stay an extra long time.

It's strange to me to think of not being here for a while.  I've really grown quite fond of our little townhouse and this urban neighborhood.  I've been thinking of writing some blog posts comparing and contrasting the two lifestyles.  Maybe this longish trip will give me the opportunity and the photos to do that.  It's very different, living here and living there, and very difficult for me to favor one over the other.  It almost feels like I'm being unfaithful to my suburban life if I like it better here. 

But right now?  I like it better here

A lot of the reason for that is simple.  It's new.  It's different.  I like change and stepping out to do new and different things.  It's very energetic and active here - unlike the laid back pace of the suburban cul-de-sac on which we usually live.  Is anyone else interested in this?  Maybe I'll just compose blog posts to myself to help me process the differences.


IMG_0001 (2)

And, I just have to share this - A little Junebuggy paper collage with crayon.  He says it's a white-headed crow in a corn field.  Thus, the barn and scarecrow. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Little Chickadees

My Little Chickadee

I just can't tell you how much fun this little fella was to draw.  I could have hatched and cross-hatched all day long.  Somehow, I managed to cut his little tail off while I was scanning it, but I assure you he's just fine in the sketchbook itself.

I appreciate all your comments on my paper birds.  I'm going to be looking for some frames this weekend, and once I get them framed up and hanging, I'll photograph them as a group.  I've got plans for a few more, so I'll wait till I have them all done before I take a group shot.


Yesterday was one of those wonderful days where everything about the weather was exactly perfect.  We'd had a weekend and a Monday and Tuesday that were wet and dreary, but the stars aligned and brought us 68 degrees and clear skies yesterday.  The boys and I walked to the library and picked up some new books, then headed to the park to enjoy the sunshine.  Junebug scored a goal on the basketball court - his first ever on a full-sized hoop.  Much rejoicing was had by all three of us.  There's nothing sweeter than watching brothers celebrate each other's victories and encourage each other through trials.  It's enough to melt this girl's heart, I'll tell ya.

On Tuesday, I took the boys to the eye doctor for their annual check ups.  Doodle has perfect vision, but would LOVE glasses.  Juney got the raw end of the eyeball genes (that would be the ones from me) and suffers a bit of nearsightedness.  He's had glasses for a while, but it is always a struggle to get him to wear them and lately, even when he has them on, he squints.  He'll be getting new glasses now - twice as strong as the last pair, and he has to wear them pretty much constantly.

As he was picking out new frames, it was so sweet to watch him show them to me, then to Doodle to get his opinion.  He finally picked the ones that Doodle deemed "cool."  Even the eyeglass technician lady was moved by it. 


I'd like to bottle it up and pour it in my coffee.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Say What?

Blue Bird's call

I tried  a little different technique with this birdie.  Instead of cutting out individual puzzle pieces of paper and fitting them together, I layered pieces one on top of another.  So, that means that I cut out the entire bird shape from the tan underbody of the bird, then added the pink on top (although I cut around the beak and left the tan layer underneath showing through), then the branch, the blue for the upper body and the pink for the feet.  It's kind of cool, because the birdie is in relief against the background.

I also found a pattern in the paper that looked a bit like an eye, and cut out around it and added it on top.  I don't know if I like that or not, but paper cement is permanent, so it's a-staying.

At some point, I'm going to have to get a photo of all of these hanging together.  They look really nice as a group.

A continually growing group...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya

Eastern Bluebird

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Irish friends.  Of course, that includes everyone, right?  Everyone's got a bit of Irish in them, especially on St. Patrick's Day.  We're all wearing our green here and our thought bubbles are in the shape of shamrocks.

We're thinking of heading to the Kennedy Center this evening for a performance of Irish Dancing on the Millennium Stage.  Every day, at 6 pm, there's a free performance, and tonight's is in honor of the holiday.  There's a link that you can click to watch it live, if you are so inclined.  Look for us in the audience!  I'm hoping that the Smarty can leave work in time to join us.  You can't get much more Irish than dancing a jig at the Kennedy Center, can you?

The bluebird up there doesn't have a thought bubble, like the others in the series.  He was a little shy, and somehow adding "chiti WEEW wewidoo" to a thought bubble comprised of cut-out-magazine letters didn't hold much appeal.  So.  He got a wash of gouache, instead.

I think he'll look gorgeous in a cut paper collage, don't you?  I know just the blue paper to use...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crow. Redux.

Crow Redux 2

This is probably more fun than a grown woman ought to be having with patterned papers and an Exacto knife, but, well, there you have it.  Another crow.  This time in cut paper collage and gouache.  The actual bird and bubble don't come quite so close to the edges of the paper, by the way, but the paper is 9 x 12 and my scanner is 8 1/2 x 11. 

I heart pretty paper.

And I heart all of you people, internet.  I love how much you love the Spirograph.  And I'm intensely jealous of those of you who not only had one as a child, but whose parents SAVED it and you STILL have it.  And I fully expect to see hypotrochoid doodles from each and every one of you.  And I shouldn't start all my sentences with "and." 

Speaking of cool 70s toys, Melinda is doing a mini-retrospective on them over at Lunar Epilogues.  You should check them out and see what kind of memories they spark.  As an added bonus, you can read some cool poetry and prose.    And hang out with one of my favorite people in the universe.  Who doesn't begin all of her sentences with "and."  I kid you not.

Happy Monday, peeps.

Friday, March 13, 2009



While we were at the National Gallery of Art this week,  I spied a little prize that I just had to have.  It is called a Hypotrochoid Art Set, but if you grew up in the 70s, you probably would have called it a Spirograph.  I cannot even begin to describe to you how much I wanted a Spirograph.  I longed for one.  Of course, knowing me, I probably never told anyone how much I wanted one, so of course, I never got one, although I had friends who had them and they let me play occasionally.

So, anyway.  I bought a couple of the Hypotrochoid Art Sets, one for each of the boys. 


Okay, perhaps one's for them and one's for me.  That's neither here nor there.  I had to test them, to make sure they worked.   What kind of irresponsible parent do you take me for?

And omigosh.  they are so much fun.  It's like twirling around in a big princess skirt, except with pens on paper.

Now, if only I had my scepter of gold and a sparkly tiara...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everything's Comin' up Crocuses

Crocus WC

The crocuses are making appearances, little purple packages filled with sunshine and hope.  Every time I walk by a clump of them, I have to stop, and point, and ooh and ahh, as if I've never seen them before.  Am I such a pessimist that by the time the crocuses push up out of the soil I've given up all hope of seeing the spring again? 

It would seem that I am.

But with these perennials come shoots of longing and expectation, as I move aside the darkness that covers me, turn my face to the sun and let my soul leap up in anticipation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Prophesy, Robin

Rockin' Robin

We stepped outside our front door a couple of days ago to see the ultimate harbinger of spring sitting on our walkway.  Oh yes, my friend, do prophesy that season of hope.  We need it around here. 


Today was coldish, but easy to bear, given the warmth that had spread through my bones over the weekend and into Monday.  Monday afternoon, I sat outside on the patio - the final Harry Potter in progress, a cold Diet Coke in hand, sunglasses perched on my nose, bare feet soaking in the sunshine.   Junebug joined me with his comic books while Doodlebug finished up an assignment.  When he joined us, they sat on the top step of the patio and played Set, enjoying the sun as much as I did.

We went to the National Gallery of Art today, and spent most of our time there in the East Building, viewing works by Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and Alexander Calder.  My favorites were the Calder mobiles.  There's an entire room devoted to them, not to mention the giant one flying over the open space of the IM Pei building.  I was very interested in the Matisse cut-outs and was amazed to discover how big they are.  "La Negresse," a cutout inspired by Josephine Baker,  is probably 10 feet tall, and "Woman with Amphora and Pomegranates," is at least 6 feet tall.

Up in the tower were works by Philip Guston, with whom I was completely unfamiliar.  As we walked around the exhibit, Doodlebug looked up at me and said, "Well.  These are not impressive."  Actually, I had to agree with him.  Not my faves.

Of course, I don't have an entire tower room at the National Gallery of Art devoted to my paintings, either, so what do I know?

I know this - Calder makes me want to do more mobiles.  Big, gigantic, soaring wonders of creativity.

Hmmm...birds, mobiles...I'm starting to detect a theme.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Cut it Out

Purdy paper

I'm still enjoying playing with my feathered friends, especially as I've been listening to them chirping outside our OPEN windows, on what have been very spring-like days since Friday.  (I wore my flip-flops yesterday for the first time this year!)

I used my cardinal drawing to make a template and cut the paper pieces needed for this birdie, then used a little gouache to add some shading, words and a branch for him to perch upon.  I may have a few more paper ones before the week is out. 

Let's just see if the warm temperatures continue to inspire me.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Are You Taunting Me?


Another little birdie for the season.  This one is known, in Alabama at least, as a "Yellowhammer."  It is actually a Yellow-shafted Flicker, and is the state bird of Alabama.  It is also part of a cheer used by the student body at The University of Alabama.  A cheer that, while I was an undergrad there, was "banned" from usage at football games.  That meant that the band was not sanctioned to play the opening notes, which just  encouraged the students to just yell the cheer that much louder.  It is no longer banned. 

It's a taunting, rude cheer, and everyone who goes to Alabama football games and cheers for the Crimson Tide holds it dear to their hearts.   It's also a cheer that gets better as the consumption of bourbon and coke increases.  Bourbon is banned at Alabama football games, too. 


I drew this yella-hammah, whilst sitting on the couch, curled up with the Smarty.  He'd been off in California, consorting with other doctors of the smarty pants variety, for a few days.  I really wasn't pleased with the thought bubble.  I didn't want to sit there and cut out all the letters for "R-A-M-M-E-R-J-A-M-M-E-R" so I decided to draw them in, but I like the collage look of the previous two birds much better.


So this morning, I scanned it into Illustrator and played again.  Funny how stark it looks away from that warm Moleskine paper tone, isn't it?

We're supposed to have near 70 degree weather this weekend.  Will it last?

Or is it taunting me?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Cardinal Sin of Cardinals


Vanity, of course.  (Or hubris, or pride - call it what you want.)  Have you listened to the one outside YOUR window?  Always talking about how pretty he is?  Purdypurdypurdy.  Yeah.  We get it.  You're pretty.  Now be quiet so I can go back to sleep.

This is less of a blind contour, and more of an extremely near-sighted contour drawing.  At some points, I didn't look at my sketchbook at all, while in others, I followed my pen more carefully.  I am enjoying these birdies, and have a few more planned for my evenings.  I was playing around with the crow in Adobe Illustrator yesterday and added a few random color bits.  THAT is fun.


Last night, as I was filling in the thought bubble on the cardinal drawing with little spiral snail-like shapes, I found myself entering a completely Zen state.  What is it about carefree drawing - that is, drawing for no other reason than you feel like it - that is so relaxing? 

I don't know either. 

But it is. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

As the Crow Flies

To Crow

More blind contour with additions.  I did this one sitting up in bed last night, after looking through a guide to North American Birds, then added the thought bubble today.

Yes.   I lead an exciting life.

Today was a lovely day.  The sun was shining, the temperature, although cold, was warmer than the last few days.  The boys and I walked to the library after school was done,  then walked to the corner store to buy candy bars for them, and next door to my friendly neighborhood Starbucks.  Even in the cold air, the sun was warming and helped to lift my spirits.  Monday and Tuesday were days of frustration and discouragement, and I needed so badly to get out of the house and just enjoy being.

C'mon, can do it.

(pretty please?)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Quit yer Beachin.

March BC 2

Another blindish contour drawing.  Longing for warmer days.  We booked a house in the Outer Banks for a week in July, and I couldn't be more ready for July to get here than I am at this moment.  My feet are freezing, my nose is cold and I just want to go sit on a sunny patch of sand and watch the waves roll in.


Anyhow - I was going to draw tonight, but so far haven't managed it thanks to my cousin, Martha.  She's a second cousin, and technically I've never met her, but I connected with her on Facebook and it turns out that she's into genealogy and she hooked me up with some interesting information on my Drummond ancestry.  Oh yeah.  Gang warily, my friends.  Gang warily.  (That's the Drummond motto, which apparently means "Go Carefully," and serves as both caution to the clan and to those that wish to do them harm.  Drummonds are evidently quite mean.) 

My mama's a Drummond.

Uhm.  She's nice.  Ahem.

Carrying on.  The first of our particular line of Drummonds to set foot onto these hallowed shores was none other than Governor William Drummond, who aligned himself with Nathaniel Bacon in 1676 in what came to be known as "Bacon's Rebellion," an attempt to break free of the colonial government.  Seems he was 100 years too early, and Governor William Drummond also became the first of our line to be hanged in these United States, in 1677.

I believe he's also the only known Drummond whose death can be directly traced back to Bacon.

Monday, March 02, 2009

All Hyped Up on Melinda

This title has nothing to do with the post.  Well.  Except for this part that I'm about to tell you.  Okay - ignore that first sentence. 

So.  On Saturday night, my phone rang at about 9 pm and YAY, it was Melinda.  We don't talk as much as we would like (dang families) and we certainly don't see each other nearly enough (dang 1200 miles), so when we finally connect on the phone, it's a marathon phone call.

At 1 am, as we were finally hanging up, she told me to go to bed and I laughed and said, I'm all hyped up on Melinda, right now - I'll never get to sleep.  She thought that was funny in a weird way, and dared me to make that the title of my next blog post.

And there you have it.

Moving on...

I've been so excited that the end of February was coming - that March was just around the corner - that next weekend, Daylight Savings Time would go into effect and lift the darkness. 

And because Winter mocks me and despises me, I present to you...

Eight inches, people.

Gate SnowyJ SnowyD

It was one of those particularly dry snows, and so as hard as they tried, they just couldn't make much of a snowman. Somehow, they managed this snow-lamb, though.


The snow did mean that I had plenty of time to play around with some blind contour drawings, part of my plan to just draw in March.  I started with a portrait of Valri - a buddy from Wet Canvas.  Of course, this looks nothing like her.  My plan is to do one a day and post them.  And yes, I realize today is March 2 and so I'm already behind, although technically I've drawn 2, I'm just behind on posting them, okay? 


March BC 1