What sharp teeth you have….

Hood

I’ve cheated again and given you a digital drawing instead of a “real” one. This is, however, what’s been occupying most of my time for the past few days … also, I had planned to post a mongoose and bee-eater I’d drawn but I forgot to photograph them. The bee-eater went to a co-worker who of late has been oddly plagued by bees and their kin (I’m not helping by having my office supplies in a mug with bees on it, right next to her desk). The mongoose went to another desk, for someone who was similarly inundated with spiders (I couldn’t think of any analogous dedicated spider-eaters, and mongooses have the added benefit of being non-picky invertebrate-gobblers and great with snakes to boot).

Oh right, I should explain the drawing that’s actually here.

I was basically thinking of variants on “hood” for a cobra drawing, and then I discovered that cobras come in red. Fantastic news as that is in its own right (it’s a lovely color), it was also quite helpful for the “red riding hood” angle. There’s some artistic license going on here, obviously, but the inspiration is the Red Spitting Cobra, Naja pallida. They do not typically live in the woods (or inhabit picnic baskets, or have any way to move a picnic basket while sitting in it), but see previous sentence. To be fair, Little Red Riding Hood didn’t typically live in the woods either, and there are definitely some weird plot holes in that story.

I had the design thought up most of the way before I even found what manner of cobra I was dealing with — knowing that it’s a species that spits at its assailants makes this picture so much better, in my opinion. Regular cobra, you’re looking at a wolf that freaked out and ran because he wasn’t quite charmed to meet a snake in a basket. Spitting cobra? That’s right, Little Red Hood decided to spit in Big Bad’s eye and sent him scrambling. I’m not sure I quite succeeded in telling the wolf’s side of the story with the transition from walking to running prints (I’m rubbish at drawing animal tracks), but showing him running off in the distance seemed — much as Gary Larson fretted with that “Dog Threat Letters” comic — a little redundant since the prints are there.

I overthink these things, I know. But hey — somebody has to. Right? No? Oh well, that’s never stopped me.

You’ll find a god in every golden cloister….

Bangkok

Okay yeah, this was a last-minute one. See, I got distracted by the internet again.

It started out normally enough: I was about a decade overdue to look up the song “One Night in Bangkok,” whose tune I knew but whose words were basically “One night in Bangkok makes la la man la laaa; lalalalalalaaaa” in my memory-banks. Now, I’ve had the internet for a while, and — while lyrics sites have mysteriously not really improved since I was 13 — it’s become pretty much second nature to do a quick web search when I realize I don’t know the words to a song I enjoy or find interesting or just heard once in a Walmart. Somehow, One Night in Bangkok has managed to escape this treatment until now. And now, well … MIND BLOWN.

Not because of the lyrics themselves (which are admittedly funnier than I’d expected), but the string of revelations that followed finding the lyrics. It’s a song about chess! There was a musical about chess! It was called Chess! I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS MUSICAL, even though everyone has heard “Bangkok”! That song was written by ABBA (more or less)! Murray Head is Anthony Head’s big brother! “One Night in Bangkok” counts as rap! I SHOULD KNOW ALL OR AT LEAST SOME OF THESE THINGS!

Anyhow, this led me off on two time-consuming tangents: digging up cast versions of the song because they existed, while wanting to rewatch season 3 of Buffy because Band Candy (among others, but there was a rather amusingly lip-synched live version of Bangkok where Murray’s strutting and hair-mussing — maybe, like the accent, he figures it’s What Americans Do? — reminds me of Ripper’s … well, strutting and hair-mussing, in that episode). Eventually I decided to put the song to rest by drawing it. That’s how we scribbly people deal with these things.

But I’m a scribbly person who draws animals (and has never seen Thailand) so naturally I wound up with … cats. Regionally-appropriate-ish cats, to be sure (an American Shorthair, natch, along with some shadowy Oriental Shorthairs/Longhairs, a poorly-drawn last-minute Korat, a Siamese or two, a Burmese and a Bombay), but yeah. Still cats. The American is wearing a ridiculously oversized chess piece on his collar, but hey, rappers are supposed to have crazy jewelry. Some random blobby pieces of architecture and a tiger version of a scary statue are in the background, and … really that’s about it. Cats seemed appropriate (that is, marginally less inappropriate than the myriad other arbitrary animal species I could have used) due to their general behavior and that punny line about queens (female cats are still called queens, right?).

So … my apologies to Thailand and music, I guess?

Throwback Thu– Sa– oh, who cares

Tail

Not saying or doing much tonight — tomorrow’s the Big Day, library opening after two years moving/renovating/camping out in a cramped former Hastings building in a strip mall. I know that “Oh, what will I WEAR?” is not the kind of dilemma one pictures with relation to hanging out in the youth department wrangling over-excited six-year-olds who work up enough speed to slingshot out of their parents’ orbit (and let’s not mention the possibility/likelihood of vomit on our new carpets), but … well, it’s still kind of like a party. And it’s early autumn in the Midwest of course, so I have to dress for the potential 70-ish degrees during the day, just under 50 degrees as it gets late/overcast, 70-ish degrees again while indoors (but running around this time), possible rain, AND a kind-of party.

I’ll just add my black socks with the lightning bolts on the sides to a regular outfit and call it a day.

As for this picture, this is an older (circa 2010 I think, actually not long before I started working at the library) drawing from one of my periodic “DRAGONS! BUGS! DRAGONBUGS!” spells. I have a spidery-looking one too that I may have to drag out if I continue to not get anything else done. I have four in all, I think (five if you count the loon, but let’s not), and I just rediscovered the digital copies of three of them — in a folder-within-a-folder from when I was even more poorly organized — which was a nice surprise. I’m making fancy digital backgrounds for them so my Drawn @ Random Zazzle store can get a little color; it’s been largely black and white up till now. Of course, the base price for prints (even if I were to leave off my royalty entirely) is insane so I don’t anticipate actually selling any of those. They brighten the place up though.

What I remember most vividly about this drawing is that I messed up the black somewhere and — well, it’s black, there’s not much coming back from a mistake in black pencil when your only other main color is *yellow.* Oh, yellow, I love you and all but you’re just terrible about getting smeared with other colors and then smudging them around later. Well, that time someone sharpened a black eyeliner pencil in my electric sharpener and didn’t clean it up afterward wasn’t really your fault, but you’ve had your moments nonetheless. Let me tell you, remembering about those little blue fuzzy bits on the hindwings really improved my mood, because I was getting royally sick of black and yellow.

And someone just uttered the phrase “anime Rapture movie” to me, and even in context I have no idea what is going on with that. I guess that’s as good a note as any to end on.

He doesn’t bite, and he doesn’t squeal…

Hammie

I was going to whip up a quick 10-minute drawing for tonight, but then I decided to add color and “fur,” and it wound up being more like 40 minutes. Oops. Here’s a little hammie, reminiscent of the ones I had when I was young. Those little guys were endlessly amusing, especially the old doddering ones that seemed especially eccentric. I had one that was allowed to roam free in the room because she always went back into her cage if it was open (and always escaped anyhow otherwise). She managed to get stepped on a couple times (never by me, I’ll note), but really didn’t seem any worse for the wear, living longer than any of her relatives in the end. She also had an amped-up version of the hamster’s love of hoarding — some time after her death, we discovered a huge larder of seeds she’d stashed in a rarely-used dollhouse beneath my dresser. She also once attempted to take a huge, admittedly tasty-looking red button home and hide it in her nest, but I gently dissuaded her.

Somehow I managed to name two of my rodents — I later received three mice somewhat against my will — after Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, despite never having watched more than the tail end of an episode at that time. It was Too Grown Up for me, and I certainly didn’t spend much time thinking about the few character names I did know, and yet I ended up with Buffy the blonde hamster and Willow the shy (though, for what it’s worth, not redhead) mouse. Buffy’s siblings were rather warlike, though I felt Buffy herself was something of a peacekeeper. She did wind up with an alley-cat-style notch in her ear as a mark of her exploits; if she’d been her sister Tawny she’d have had three of them to match Gellar’s piercings, but apparently coincidence will only go so far. (And if you’re wondering, yes, they were just named for their colors — Tawny was yellow-gold like the others, and Buffy was a fairer buff-cream shade.)

This drawing isn’t really based on any of those, though. He’s a sturdier fellow, while the females (aside from the beloved teddy-bear-like Pumpkin) tended to be slight. He looks most like Winnie, a pleasant — if occasionally greasy — male who lived in admirable harmony with his chubby albino brother. I made them a hammock, which they ate, but I think they enjoyed it before (and probably while) they destroyed it.

Hamsters are massively destructive in so many directions; they chew through, shred up, dig under, drag around, and generally just completely eliminate whatever order you’d attempted to create in their tiny habitats to give you some sense of godlike power. They can, I discovered surprisingly soon, chew through both wire mesh and glass if you forget to make that impossible. They are built like smallish pieces of construction equipment and can overturn just about anything they can fit under, given enough time and boredom. If water can get through an opening, it is entirely possible a hamster can. If your fingers can get through, it is highly likely a hamster can. Hamsters will inexplicably chase cat toys. Hamsters will inexplicably chase *cats.* Do not let a hamster actually catch either of these things if you want to keep them.

I miss hamsters. Hamsters are fun.

Horrible, horrible freedom!

Vesper

Apparently all this attention has gone to the yellowjackets’ heads, and they’ve started holding meetings — or possibly very boring parties — out in the open. A huge mass of them was situated right at accidentally-bump-with-your-knee height next to the nest, keeping up a sort of low buzzing mutter but mercifully never really moving much once they landed. A little later the whole lot of them was gone. Not for good, mind you, just out of the public eye.

Now, here’s the thing about me. I don’t like swarms. I think that’s a natural human reaction. Things that tend to swarm are things you tend not to want to encounter swarms of. It’s the reflex Crichton was presumably aiming for with that book about the nanobots (I won’t comment on whether or not he hit the mark there). It’s part of why sci-fi universes love to use nameless insect-like hordes of people or machines for their bad-guy armies and dystopian cautionary tales. It’s definitely why that video of the cute fuzzy blob suddenly resolving itself into about a bazillion little daddly longlegs has such a phenomenally high NOPE NOPE NOPE factor regardless of how you feel about encountering a solitary arachnid. What I’m saying is, I have a Rubbermaid container of roaches next to the head of my bed and I can hear them chewing in the middle of the night and I’m okay with that, I feed them scraps and pick them up with my bare hands, but when it comes to swarms of bugs that KILL THEM ALL switch flips on quite readily.

This isn’t actually about the yellowjackets, though I wasn’t a big fan of that get-together either. This is about the ants that materialized on the not-quite-empty-enough pudding container I set in another container on the floor for just a little too long. My old place got ants sometimes under these conditions — early fall, hard rain — but they came into the living room and never, ever, ever made it into the bedroom. Here, they come in through the bedroom. When it’s getting dark and you can’t quite tell whether that’s just the pattern again or if the carpet’s actually moving…. Needless to say, much shrieking and hand-flailing ensued. Followed by the sudden calm that apparently comes with premeditated killing, as I instantly threw out my hopes of getting to bed early to sleep off my cold, and headed straight to the nearest not-closed store to purchase a new bottle of ant poison at whatever price and quantity was necessary. (For what it’s worth, I did have ant traps in every room, but they’re next to useless in my experience with these guys).

Also, I understand that as a grocery-store cashier you’re supposed to greet all your customers with the same spiel regardless, but when it’s after 10PM on a Friday and a disheveled-looking person is buying ant poison and NOTHING ELSE, a pleasantly bland inquiry about how their day is going seems borderline malicious.

I also had some leftover diatomaceous earth, which is what I sprinkled around the point of ingress when the ants would swarm in the old place, but I have no idea where they’re actually coming in here. From the sorry state of the baseboard and windows, it could pretty much be anywhere. But I dutifully sprinkled it around the most likely edges — feeling a bit (as always) like I was warding off demons or something — then took a moment to be wildly thankful that they lacked either the ability or inclination to climb into the roach bin and start stealing goodies from there, and called it a night. Needless to say, I still have a cold. I also have shamefully little remorse about my mass ant-killing spree.

Anyhow, in the meantime I’ve been working on my less-ominous dragon-wasp, which wound up taking very little time. In part because I didn’t bother doing that good a job and it’s a small picture, but also because my pencils are all cool and organized, and I found myself some good Music For Tedious Coloring-in Jobs. Glowing praise I received for it: “It looks like plastic! Well — what I mean is, it looks like a toy. That’s a good thing!” I’m sure? Anyhow, she’s finished, so on to the next one.

And all heads turned….

QueenBee

I still don’t know where my moth-lady is, for what it’s worth. I also don’t know where 80% of my music CDs are (which is significant since I only tend to rip a few of my favorites, and use the CD itself when I want to listen to the whole album) — I held back Ceremonials, Lost & Gone Forever, and Life in Cartoon Motion so they never went in storage, but everything else is … hopefully not lost and gone forever? But it’s definitely somewhere inconvenient right now, along with the backup disc of my olllld photo files, one of the smaller wastebaskets, the white casserole dish, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I’m beginning to feel slightly cross with my storage unit, as it’s yielded no shortage of broken watches, old stuffed animals, and used code packets for online textbook supplements in the meantime.

I’m also a bit cross with my patio for being so hospitable to yellowjackets, and with yellowjackets for making me very nervous to walk out onto the patio while eating a peach. I’ve had some rather unpleasant past experiences with yellowjackets and peaches, as well. I know the proverbial winter is coming, so I might as well let them be; but I’m still moving in, and having to swing large pieces of furniture in awkward arcs to avoid smashing into the outer fence post/wasp factory and bringing striped yellow wrath down upon my house is getting a bit tiresome.

I will admit that they’re pretty photogenic. The bold warpaint looks nice against the pale wood, and there’s nearly always at least one little face poking out from the knothole, keeping watch. What’s a bit unsettling is that they do actually keep watch, and if my camera lens gets to close they’ll turn their little heads sharply to look at it. That’s when one calls it a day, photography-wise. Doesn’t mean I can’t draw, though, and of course when I draw it always turns to dragons in the end.

This one’s not a wyvern, for once, because it’s based on a wasp — six legs to begin with, and wings to boot. I’m erasing the pencil as I go, more studiously than usual, because that yellow is a royal pain when it comes to picking up any smudge of leftover color underneath. Speaking of royal, the yellowjacket that inspired this drawing looked to me like it might be the queen. That, or she was just a plus-sized lady, but she definitely stood out next to the others, and it looked like she was holding a big wad of wasp-paper like it was super important (which I guess it is when your home is made of paper inside, but … details).

I don’t know what I’ll make the dragon queen’s object into, though it probably won’t be a gob of mush like the yellowjacket’s. Realism has its limits, and we’ve already gone and made a dragon here. Dragons do like their treasure though, so I’ll think of something…

 

Lost my dog; love, Caroline…

Crate

Well, this isn’t a drawing at all. It would be quite impressive if it were, or if I could convince you it were — but somehow I don’t see good odds for that.

As it is, it’s not particularly impressive (or finished, for that matter), but it’s worlds better than having my worldly possessions (or at least the artistic chapter thereof) spread about helter-skelter on a damp carpet. Yes, damp — I may set aside another day to complain about that, but for now suffice to say that it’s damp and it’s totally not my fault.

I picked up (and by “picked up” I mean “found while searching for other things on Craigslist and ultimately went to Des Moines to purchase”) some ancient wooden milk crates that frankly look like tiny treasure chests, and now I’m working on making them respectable. They’re the slightly-irregular cheap kind, as opposed to the strapping young pretty ones that could still potentially crate milk if they really wanted to, so I’ve had to take great care. Well, take great care or shave big chunks of milk crate off here and there — which is to say, there are several big chunks missing from my milk crates now.

I had to snip out some of the wire caging in the middle so various objects (pencils and paper here, seven seasons of Buffy and some music CDs in another) would fit decently, then I had to wrap everything in three-dollar Walmart duct tape so there weren’t hideous rusty sharp bits sticking out all over. Duct-tape-wrapping, by the way, is a skill that takes a few (equally hideous-looking) tries to perfect. The second crate looks worlds better. Except for the fact that it’s returning to the earth as we speak; I swear it wasn’t quite this crumbly when I bought it.

I still need to cannibalize some cardboard from the back of a notepad or something to make proper dividers for the pencils — my shamefully large collection of tiny pencil nubbins (most of which, perhaps not surprisingly, are for the color black) has its own cheap plastic hotel cup to keep it from spilling everywhere, but the others still need a little more structure lest they slip through the grating. I should probably also get something to replace the flattened-out 15-cent paper folder that’s serving as the bottom of the crate, and the ship-in-a-bottle-style disassembled and reassembled granola-bar box that’s making the “floor” of the pencil side higher than the paper side.

WAIT WAIT WAIT THIS MEANS I STILL HAVE GRANOLA BARS. I just dumped them out in a basket so I could use the box.

Time for a midnight snack.

(and no, my name’s not Caroline and I have no dog — but The Milkman by Carol Foskett Cordsen is adorable and you should read it)