Friday, June 28, 2013

One Letter

Brazenly stolen from a Facebook status one of my brothers posted awhile back. And really a bit too small...but I wanted the whole envelope.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Dolichovespula maculata fg01

Around here, they call them white faced hornets. Sounds pretty innocuous, no? Doesn't that name make them sound like delightful minstrel show or pantomime characters? All jolly and comical and innocent.

Or not.

I've had to deal with a steady plague of the things ever since I moved to my current home. I hate them with a burning passion hitherto reserved for things like spiders hiding under the sheets in my bed. I, to put it mildly, loathe them. Fortunately I'm not terribly allergic to hornets or bees, but nevertheless, hearing a nearby buzz is enough to make me freeze, skin crawling, blood roaring in my ears.

And it's as if they can sense my fear and are drawn to it. Last year they ended up practically IN THE HOUSE. There's a little tip-out portion to my house (an added on section where the washer and dryer go) with its own roof. Last year hornets found a way into into the space between the ceiling of that section and the roof and built themselves a giant hornet castle. They didn't make it into the house proper, but I could hear them buzzing as though they were just in the next room, and making chewing sounds, and tufts of the papery stuff of the GIANT NEST UP THERE poked out of the ceiling. I couldn't get to them well enough to do anything about them with my little wasp spray cans. Plus, they were very, very angry if anyone approached their front door, which happened to be just above my front door. It was...horrifying, actually.

Luckily my landlady has a friend who works with bees and who is also equipped to deal with nasty hornets. He took care of them once and for all and did a bunch of sealing things up. But oh man...there were a few weeks there where every evening as they all settled in for the night, I sat there listening with my heart in my throat, imagining them breaking through, imagining being swarmed by the things--in the house where I couldn't get away from them. Talk about your worst nightmare...

This year, they took up residence in the shed. They do this every year to some extent, but I guess last year more of them congregated in the hornet castle (and most of my fears centered around it), so the shed wasn't (or didn't seem) such a big deal. I sprayed a few nests and was done. This year was another matter. There were nests EVERYWHERE in there. It was a whole wasp metropolis. There were small bungalows by the door, a Grande Hornet Hotel under the eaves, clusters of hornet condos deep in the dim corners of the shed. And the more there were, the more I was afraid to tackle them.

This weekend, after much psyching myself up, I finally took 'em on. I waited until dusk, when they were mostly all in the nests and inactive, and then I busted in there, spray can blazing, holding a flashlight above the can as if I was some sort of anti-hornet SWAT unit. I went absolutely ballistic on the nasty critters, as only a fear-crazed woman can do.

The next day, when the foam had cleared and I waltzed in blithely to have a look around, I nearly walked right into an ambush. There were still more nests I'd not seen the day before, complete with glistening, buzzing, cranky hornets. *shudder*

So I bided my time until dusk and then repeated the commando routine. And when I poked my head in the next day, the place looked like a hornet ghost town. Mwuahahahah! I win.

For now.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Just Plain Silly

I have no explanation or excuse for this.


(Don't mind the false starts and extra lines that wouldn't erase...)

The knowledge that I mostly doodled it while listening to rather dark Rachmaninoff adds a certain je ne se quois.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Are You Good Enough?

Rose 1
A rose I drew awhile back, and almost immediately hid from public
 view, because it's...shoddy. But you know? Shoddy is OK.

This post by Stephanie of Rhodia Drive really struck a chord with me:
Art Making is Accessible to Everyone

I am afraid to mess up. More than that: I am afraid of being found inadequate. In many ways, I've always felt like this. While my brothers happily doodled away as kids, I would set the bar impossibly high, and give up in frustration when I couldn't reach it.

To some extent, I've gotten past this in writing and music--especially music. Yes, I do have moments of frustration. I wish I'd started younger. I wish I was more consistent. I wish certain aspects came to me more intuitively. But I enjoy music within my own limitations, with full knowledge that I'm never going to reach stratospheric greatness.

Writing can be a little more challenging. There are times when I wonder why I work at it at all, because I will never be able to write in the ways some of my favorite authors write. I don't have Vernor Vinge's scientific mind, therefore "I can't write." I don't have Ralph McInerny's grasp of theology and knowledge of academia, therefore "I can't write." I've never suffered extreme poverty or pain, I've not traveled to exotic places, I've not done x, therefore "I can't write."

Getting beyond that, to find my own voice, to accept my own style...this is difficult. But, at least on an intellectual level, I know "all God's creatures got a place in the choir." I'm not, for example, Gene Wolfe. But neither is David McCullough. Neither is Elizabeth Berg or Terry Pratchett, or Jasper Fforde, or Elizabeth Moon, or a multitude of other authors (or casual bloggers) I've enjoyed. Some writers create extravagant and scientifically perfect worlds. Some expose, through meticulous research, a particular period in history. Some simply make you laugh. Some help you to see plain old folks just a little more clearly. Somewhere in that spectrum, there may just be room for me. It may not always be the room I'd prefer at given moments, but...there's room.

Art--as in visual art--has been more challenging still. And I think it may well be key to overcoming what is really a false sort of pride: this fear not even of complete failure, but merely inadequacy. Because it's OK to create art for fun. It's OK to create art imperfectly. It's OK to create art with no larger purpose than simply creating art: for the joy and childlike wonder of exploring artistic expression.

I like this quote from the post on Rhodia Drive. "...they learn to be OK with the quality of their expressions and do it anyway. This was my path. I wanted to make art and so I did."

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Faster Than the Speed of Write

Rocket pencil

I was rushing out the door to ride to work this morning when I remembered I'd meant to grab another Musgrave Test Scoring 100 pencil. The one at work was down to not much more than a nubbin. I'd already buckled my pannier closed, so I tucked the pencil in with my [messily bundled] jacket under the elastic net on the top of the rack and let it ride in the open air.

Looks kinda like a little silver rocket back there, doesn't it? Maybe if I added a few more, they'd make me faster.

(I can dream.)

Musgrave Test Scoring 100 Stubby
And the old guy it replaces, just stubbin' in the sun...