Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Missing Month

It's February 23.  In less than a week, it will officially be March.  I'm still waiting for my February.

The weather around here has been wavering between March and April for the past few weeks.  I've seen butterflies and bugs and blooming flowers.  I've woken to birdsong and sunlight.  I went for a walk where I didn't even need my heavy jacket.  Sometime in late January, we jumped clear past the rest of winter and wound up in spring.

February was also robbed by a nasty bug.  I don't know if it's a cold, a flu, or a curse from the sinus gnomes.  Whatever it is, this thing has torn through the whole family, and roughly a month after the first twinges in head and ear signaled its arrival, it still doesn't want to let go.  I even missed a day of work from this - and I do not call out of work if I am even remotely capable of bipedal locomotion.

I had plans for February.  I was going to make significant headway on story revisions.  I was going to update my book review website. (I have several reviews backed up on my book review blog, waiting to be archived.) I wanted to get more drums painted up and investigate alternative outlet sources.  I thought I'd start the long-overdue reorganization of my room.  Instead, the only major accomplishment of the past fortnight has been finally sleeping through the night without once considering taking a power drill to my sinuses and ear to relieve the horrific pressure.

Of all the months of the year, February's always been something of a runt.  It can't even muster 30 days, and it only gets 29 every four years.  Sure, it has a few holidays, but it's usually a nondescript, gray little stretch of time.  Most of us hardly notice it as it slips past, riding the tail end of winter.  But it's still a month, and to find so much of it gone is depressing.

Four days left... wonder if I can find my missing month before then...

UPDATE - Well, it's February 28, the last day of the month, and I can finally say I've accomplished something.

Brightdreamer Books has been updated.  I now officially have more than 650 book reviews posted on the site.

Okay, so we can't all accomplish big things, all right?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Picking Up the Beat

It's been well over a year since I sold a drum ornament.  I'd pretty much given up hope on them, and was rooting about uselessly in my brain for something else to try.  Then, a few weeks ago, the phoenix drum sold.  The person who bought it also asked for another drum: a snow leopard.  They even provided a reference picture.

It wasn't a great time to do a commission.  Various bugs were attacking various relatives.  I'd just seen Avatar, which derails one's artistic vision the way reading the perfect novel derails one's writing vision: in a thousand thousand years of finger-bleeding, eye-tearing practice, I don't think I could ever come up with a world as varied and beautiful as Pandora.  And it had been a year since I picked up a brush, let alone tried to paint with one.  But a commission was a commission, and I'd be lying if I said I couldn't use the money.

It took me two or three days to unearth my drum-making supplies, and another day to figure out what I still had and what I needed to replace. I was annoyed and disturbed about how much I'd forgotten about making drum ornaments, and how much I had to relearn on the fly.  Long story short, I got the thing done and delivered one day under my stated two-week deadline. (Whether or not it's been picked up yet, I haven't heard, but I'm happy knowing that I can still hit a deadline, even from such a flat-footed start.)  While I was at it, I decided to dust off the cobwebs - figuratively and literally - and do up a couple more drums.  I did a second snow leopard, this time from my own reference photo (because there was some initial miscommunication on the color of drum the client wanted, and I wanted my tail covered in any eventuality), and a special drum in honor of the upcoming Year of the Tiger.

I just finished the last one today, and plan to drop the two new drums off tomorrow.  I also plan to raise my prices by a few bucks... especially for the danged tiger.

For pictures, follow the links...

Snow Leopard (Commission): Front Back Close-up

Snow Leopard (Other): Front Back Close-Up

Year of the Tiger: Front Back Close-Up

I wish I could say I was 100% happy with them.  I wish I could say that, in a year of working on art and filling sketchbooks, I'd improved.  I wish I could say that the drums flew from my workbench on golden wings, with nary a frustration or misstep or hair-pulling scream of agony.  I wish I could say all that, and more, but I can't.

What I can say is that, while stringing and painting and gluing and beading, I learned something.  As aggravating as the process could be, I missed it.  I missed making physical objects with my art.  I missed making things with my hands.  I missed seeing an end result, rather than page after page after page of sketches.

I suppose this means that, in between filling more sketchbooks and editing my story and searching for extra income, I'll have to squeeze in making stuff at my workbench again.

Dang it.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Not the Best Way to Spend a Sunday

Today - or yesterday, I suppose, by now - as usual, we went over to visit Grandpa for lunch.  He seemed unusually tuned out, even for his recent baseline.  He was too tired to eat lunch.  He was too tired to stand up, and too tired to walk.  He was too tired to answer if he was feeling tired.

We ended up taking him to the local ER to be looked over.

Sitting in ER waiting rooms is never fun.  People come and go.  Snatches of other people's lives drift about, while yours sits in limbo waiting for news that never seems to come.  There's always a fish tank, though this ER's tank was about the least impressive saltwater tank I've seen in a medical facility.  There's always a TV, tuned to a station you would never watch in a million years at home but which keeps drawing your eye nevertheless as the hours crawl past.  A line of vending machines beckons with suspiciously unhealthy fare, and even books and playing cards.  I wound up buying a word search, not just to have something to do but because I was fascinated by the idea that I could buy a book from a vending machine. (Why don't we have something like this at work?  It could revolutionize the library business!  Or maybe not...)

We wandered down the hall, past pictures of rich people who enjoy having their photographs taken and nature images placed where few people will be able to properly appreciate them.  A small gift shop - closed at this hour - sold expensive handbags and jewelry in addition to junk candies, stuffed toys, and other generic cheering-up treats.  I had to wonder at the kind of person who, lingering in a hospital, thinks to buy a designer handbag and gold necklace.

It was hours before we got word back.  Grandpa's problems seemed to stem from bad dehydration.  In all likelihood, he's been ill and hasn't been willing or able to tell anyone. (Grandpa has been losing his words over the past few years; the synaptic connections between thought and speech just don't seem to work properly anymore, and as hard as it is to get any member of this family to speak about anything important, it's been exponentially harder to get him to engage in conversations longer than a half minute in duration.) The CAT scan ruled out a stroke - which we'd feared, given his sudden drop in activity level and inability to walk properly, not to mention waking up from his day-long doze in a state of evident agony yet being unable to recall pain when asked about it immediately after the fact - and all other tests were apparently normal.

So, despite the fact that Grandpa cannot reliably get out of his own chair anymore, the hospital sent him home for the night.  My uncle will likely be staying with him tonight and tomorrow.  After that... well, I think this proves that his days of living alone are over.  We've all known it was coming, if he lasted this long, but it's still a bit of a kick in the gut to actually see it dawning.

All in all, not the best way to spend a Sunday.