Countin’ those ties on the railroad tracks….


Well, I can’t promise more than a doodle next week, since I’ll be unpacking my worldly possessions into a new building. Naturally, art supplies are going to be pretty high on the list of things to keep handy (right up there with books and food), but things *do* have a way of going awry when you’d much rather they didn’t.

This is an aardvark who also appears to be a miner of some sort. He was drawn with the same pencil, sketch book, and eraser I used to draw my November critters (including his forerunner of sorts, Scooter the pseudo-aardvark from Four Legs Good ). The reason for the latter is simple: Those were the art supplies sitting next to my monitor. My monitor is on the floor. My computer is on the floor. My keyboard is on the floor. I am on the floor. Welcome to the final stages of the Small Move (the Big Move being the title reserved for my workplace’s move out of, then back into, its first-old-then-renovated library quarters, which is taking place around the same time as my personal change of address).

The reason for the former — which I assume you’ve forgotten after that whole paragraph, so rather than making you go back and re-read it I’ll just remind you that it’s the aardvark-miner part — is still fairly simple, but a bit less reasonable. Basically, I needed to have something I could just turn out little sketches of in a semi-reliable fashion when I got tired of what I was really working on. Since my huge unabridged dictionary is literally the ONLY book that has been spared in these last phases of the move, it seemed like a good place to start. I decided to take the first mammal (“animal” was my first choice, but I needed a way to politely dismiss various inconveniently tiny and ambiguous living beings that might otherwise count) I found for each letter, discover something about that animal that I *did not know before,* and draw a picture based on that new piece of knowledge.

I … really didn’t know how that would wind up going. Would I end up drawing the actual animals, or something based on them? Cartoony or realistic? I decided to just get on with it and look up aardvarks, since everyone knows (though I did still check the dictionary, hoping beyond hope) that’s the first mammal you’re going to get for A. I feel like there was probably a Hawaiian bird or two before that, but rules are rules….

But what interesting fact could I actually find about aardvarks? I knew the name meant “earth-pig,” knew various things about the crazy tongues, suspected they were edible … but I’d never really looked at the scientific name. That’s some crazy stuff right there. Orycteropus? Is that like some kind of nightmarish land-octopus? I could’ve stopped right there, but knowing that “-pus” means foot, I couldn’t help doing some digging (heh, heh) to see what the rest meant. Dictionary said it meant some variation of “burrowing foot,” via a Greek word that meant “miner.” A miner-aardvark sounded cooler than an aardvarktopus (or at least a lot less terrifying), so here we are. They’re omnivorous, so I like to think there’s a nice hearty termite-and-potato pasty in that lunchbox.


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