Monday, October 31, 2005


Another rough idea, appropriate for the holidays.

(Click here for info on Cthulhu and here for an "Cthulhu for President" page.)

Belated idea#2 - "Remote"

Belated idea#1 - "Lost"

I joined the Illustration Friday list a few weeks ago and have been meaning to post my ideas. This one and the next are just some roughs I did of past prompts to get the juices flowing.

I didn't do such a great job on the letters here, so I used fonts to make them more legible. Click on it to get a better view.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Special Report

While I was out by the studio today, I startled something in the grass. It got Mishy's attention but neither of us got a look at it.

I wonder how it would be reported, if cats had their own newspaper?

Headline: Something Tasty This Way Comes
Byline: Tabby Volestalker, contributing reporter to the Feline Times

Something tasty is apparently lurking in the woods outside a local barn but as of yet, no feline has been able to get a glimpse of it. Apparently, before today, the only clues that there was something edible in these woods was an occasional rustling sound on the ground, as if the tidbit were looking for food itself. That changed when the first clue as to what the tidbit may be was gathered: a loud but short, piping squeak.

"It sounded somewhat like a mouse," said Mishy, a black and white resident of the property where the possible appetizer was heard. "A large...tasty...absolutely sumptuous mouse...uh, ahem. I never saw it though. It disappeared before I got close to it at all."

"Of course, I didn't believe it at first," said another feline in residence who refused to give his name. "We've all heard stories of the tidbit in the leaves that was more delicious than could be imagined but those are just stories told to kittens. Myths - like the place all cats go where food is everywhere, we can mate all we want and humans are our playthings. Now I just don't know what to think."

Experts who have examined the case so far have determined that the tasty tidbit was definitely not a mouse. "Judging by the amount of noise the tidbit made, according to Ms. Mishy's report, it was quite a bit larger than an ordinary mouse. It could have been a ground squirrel or a chipmunk. Of course, we won't know for sure until we have more evidence."

Keep reading the Feline Times for the latest news on the discovery of this possibly tasty new morsel.

What is art?

When I was in printmaking class last semester, I had a zinc plate that I had put in ammonia. We used an acrylic ground to protect what we didn't want the acid to touch. Ammonia removed that ground. Well, I forgot about it and the plate stayed in there for three days.

When it was finally discovered, it was very subtly etched (ammonia is also an acid, albeit much weaker than the one we normally used for etching.) When I ran a print of the plate, just to see what it would look like, it reminded me of an old daguerreotype of a rainstorm on an open field. I half jokingly said that it needed to be the silhouette of a cow or two.

The response I got from my instructor was a laugh as well as, "Oh god, no! Don't do that!" For some reason, the very idea of artwork involving something as lowly as a cow seemed to be horrifying.

Perhaps it is a matter of background. I come from a long line of farmers, on both sides of the family. I find myself contemplating ideas to acknowledge that heritage. That heritage includes cows. Horses. Land.

So...just what is art? Who decides? Does it really matter?

Nah. I'm going to do it anyway.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Letter to Toby, part II

Dear Toby:

I don't know how you learned to do it but would you please stop using the "intercom" function on the phone to get my attention? I'm getting your food out as quickly as I can and the constant "beepbeepbeep beepbeepbeep" is driving me insane.

Thank you.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Now we know...

Channel 5 ran a story tonight about the months October through December being the prime time for white tail deer to breed here in Tennessee. In the story, they warned drivers should be more careful in watching for the deer on the roads because the season makes them, as Mark Bellinger put it, "a little wacky."

Now, how can such crack reporting not put a person as ease?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Tonight, a new altar was set up in the barn/studio. Because I like to keep some things to myself, I won't say the names of the gods. Although...if you want some fun and/or homework, it won't be hard to figure out who they are. Here's a picture I took of it a few days ago (eee - the flowers don't look so great in the photo. They're marigolds, to honor the ancestral dead in the coming Samhain, not to mention that both deities have their Underworld aspects. Fitting, considering the studio literally sits on the edge of an old cemetery.)

I didn't use salt or incense in the ritual as the usual symbols of earth and air. For earth, I physically touched the altar with my hand and I blew on it for air. I held a red candle (red for creativity, passion) beneath it for Fire and daubed water on it that I saved from hurricane Katrina.

Here are the words I used:
By the earth that is my flesh, I cleanse and bless you.
By the earth that is my flesh, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By the air that is my breath, I cleanse and bless you.
By the air that is my breath, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By fire, I cleanse and bless you.
By fire, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By water, I cleanse and bless you.
By water, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By earth, air, fire and water, I call you consecrated in the name of _________.
So mote it be.

I could tell right away that it "took." The very air felt different. Peaceful, yet filled with as the Sioux used to say, "big medicine." I was in the presence of something much greater than me.

Ach, I know this entry is rather dry and documentary. I'm sorry. The whole thing is still rather fresh and I don't have the words to adequately describe the experience yet - if ever.

Goodnight y'all.

A letter to Toby

Dear Toby:

You've been here, on this Earth, for a year and a half. I think you know by now that I love you. I know you are growing up and you want to be the Big Man About the House. I also know you are going to do things I do not approve of - like fighting.

But Toby, if you're going to get into fights, at least let the other cat get within paw distance before you start screaming like you're dying a horrible death. It's a little embarrassing to come to your rescue, only to see The Murderer standing at least two feet away from you.

You need to learn to stand up for yourself. Fight back. At the very least, try to get within punching distance. After all, it's hard to be the Big Man when the other cats are laughing at you.


Hello again Blogger...

Bye-bye "track ball elbow."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Still waitin' for that tractor...

Today, I realized the real reason why I had been in such a funk this week. It was the two year anniversary of my grandmother's death. She died on October 9, 2003 and was buried on the 11th.

Why, you ask, did it take so long for me to realize this? Good question. It's taken me all this time to process the whole mess of our relationship. The mess of her funeral is a whole other topic in itself.

I know the woman loved me, in her own way. She did help me out when I really needed it. She and my grandfather paid my college tuition all those years ago. She and my grandfather were also two of the few who stood up for me when the Heir Apparent to Hell (otherwise known as the second woman my dad married) went around the bend and well, she thought she could pick a fight with a thirteen year old kid and beat her domain out of me. My dad stood by the Heir Apparent.

My grandmother was also waiting for me at the front door when I got home from the hospital the night before she died. She had been in a coma for two days - I think she simply willed herself out and her body didn't catch on to the idea until the next morning. My mother and I could feel her presence for about two weeks afterward (in fact, she almost drove my mother to insanity. She said my grandmother was a constant presence, 24 hours a day, until my mother cleared up a bit of unfinished business between them.)

Still, in all the years I was around her, I always felt as if I was kept at arm's length, like an infrequent acquaintance. I always felt that it was because I refused to kowtow to her. She wanted everyone to think that she was the Matriarch of a wonderful family who thought everything revolved around her. All I wanted was a grandmother.

To be fair, I don't think my grandmother knew exactly how to relate to me. I wasn't interested in "high society," such as it was in that small town. I didn't much care what other folks thought of me either, as long as I treated them fairly and vice versa. In other words, I didn't put up a front.

She also always wanted me to be interested in talking about dishes, quilting and other "woman's stuff" but I was more interested in what was going on outside the house. Was Trixie's hooves still spreading all over the farm or had she gotten proper shoes? What kind of fish was the pond stocked with now? Was help needed with the hay?

I guess you can say our entire relationship could be summed up in a single conversation we had a year or two before she died. I had been out in the fields all morning, helping my dad bale the hay and we had come in for lunch. We were all sitting at the kitchen table when she told me in a great, expansive voice, "Some day when I'm gone, you will get all my dishes." The only thing I knew to say was, "But I'll still get the tractor, right?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

To quote Dr. Sam Beckett...

Ooooohhhhhh boy.

(Heh. Shall we play "Who is that?")

Along with all the funkiness over these last few days, there has been something else going on that has me a bit...upskittled, as they used to say here in the South.

Last week, I started getting these...thoughts...for lack of a better word, that I needed a key. Not just any key but an old fashioned skeleton key. Why I needed this key, I had no idea but I needed it. It wasn't an urgent thing, just a little voice every now and then saying, "You need this key."


I didn't think anything about it until the latest post from Jeffery ( came over the Wildways list. It was called "Seeking Direction and Turning Keys." The kicker was Saturday, when we went to Bright's and I found a bunch of old keys - most of which were skeleton keys of various sizes. This was a new addition to this particular booth and I had never seen any other old keys in the entire place before. I looked through them and found a small one that 'felt' perfect. It was only a dollar.

It was when I paid for that key and had it in my hand that I felt something I hadn't happened in a long time. Tingles went up my back and I felt almost lightheaded. Evidently this key represents something big. Something magickal.

I just wish I knew what. Until I do, I guess I'll just carry it in my pocket.


So much for blogging more often. Bleh.

I'm in some kind of a funk today. Actually, I think I've been in it for a few. I've gotten off one sketch of an old key I found at an Antique Mall in Franklin KY but that's it. I tried to do a painting using last week's theme on Illustration Friday but it just came off looking like something a four year old would do - and not in a good way. I also tried to do a quick sketch of Spook sleeping nearby but it just turned to mud.

This has not been helpful. I've been doubting my own self lately. Again. There is probably a simple reason for it: not putting enough planning into the prelim stages; not seeing the subject as it really is and projecting how I want it to be instead, etc, etc, etc.

It doesn't help that I don't have much of a support system right now. It seems that my dad is the only one who is willing to champion my cause. Only thing about that is that I don't see him that often. I don't talk to my mother about it at all, especially after something she said last week. Apparently, I don't do anything when I'm home. Apparently, I just sit in this house, staring at the walls or watching TV because she said, "You just go down to the barn to get away from the house, don't you?"

"No. I go down there to work." (Thinking that I can't be an artist and sell my work if I don't put in the work to produce it or make it better.)

"So you go down there to get away from the house and the house to get from the barn?"

"No. I go down there to work," which earned me a look that said that she knew perfectly well what I did here but she wasn't going to disillusion me of it.

I don't know. Maybe I missed something but I don't think so. I just wish for, who am I kidding? I'm just going to have to buck up and muddle through.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Finally Finished

I finished a couple of paintings (finally!! I thought I would working on the junebug until long after I was dead) and forgot to post them the other day.

Well, I don't think the junebug came out exactly like I had in mind, which probably doesn't matter much anyway since I really only had a vague idea of how it should go. I usually like to plan out my ideas a little better and try to work out the bugs (pun intended) beforehand. This one was different. I said to myself, "I WANT TO PAINT!!! I'll work out the comp as I go..."

I'm not entirely sure it was successful. I've taken the disc out and put it back. I've had that middle set of legs in at least six different positions. Even now, I look at it and say, "I could add something to the top of the painting to finish out that circle and I'm not entirely sure I like those back legs like that. Could I have had some rays streaming out from the disc? What about that (*)#@@$@! middle set of legs?!"

I'm going to let it rest for a while and look at it with fresh eyes - that'll be the true test.

I worked on this piece over a day or two when I needed a break from the junebug. It's the view out the door of the barn/studio and it's another one of those where I just wanted to paint it without too much thought going into it. Landscapes are not one of my strongpoints (although it could be argued that if one judged by the examples I've put into this blog, painting isn't one of them either) and I wanted to see what would come out of it if I just let go and let the brush do what it wanted.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ghost Whisperer

Okay, I admit it. I checked out that new show on CBS - Ghostwhisperer. I had my doubts about it and I still do, especially after seeing that James Van Pragh is involved with it.

Now, I have my own thoughts about the existence of ghosts. I do not think it is as sugarcoated as Van Pragh, John Edward or Sylvia Browne would like us to think. From what I understand, they would like us to think that when we die, a magical transformation occurs and we become these shining, happy people having a grand ol' time and without a care. In other words, we drop everything that makes us...well, us and we're supposed to be blissfully happy with finding what's left of ourselves in the gardens of the gods.

What's the point of that scenario?

"What's the point?" is what asked myself about this show. Ooo, she sees dead people. Ooo, they see her. Awww, she fixes a problem with their family. Ooo, they go to the light.

Part of the problem is the title: Ghostwhisperer. Now, thanks to having a somewhat crooked mind as well as having read Monty Roberts' The Man Who Listens to Horses: The Story of a Real Life Horse Whisperer, I kept expecting to see those ghosts getting worked around a round pen and "joining up" with the trainer - just like Monty said they would.

Samara's Home

I don't know where she's been but Samara has evidently been on one heck of a journey. Two days ago, she disappeared after the neighbors' dogs decided to check out the possibilities on this side of the property line.

One of the visiting dogs is a beagle. I have a soft spot for beagles and this one knows it. When he's by himself, he can play the "sweet, harmless pup" card to the hilt but when he has his buddy with him...look out. The other two dogs belong to the neighbor on the other side of the cemetery. They know I mean business when I walk out the door.

Anyway, back to Samara. She came back sometime this afternoon and was waiting on the porch for me to open the door. She was half wet from coming through all the weeds and grass, as well as looking like she's lost some weight already. I've never heard her meow so pitifully - I thought she may have been grazed by a car, wherever she's been. (I had another cat, Artemis, to be grazed by a car years ago and she was never quite right mentally afterwards.) I put out some food, just in case, and gave her head a rub.

Evidently, the rub is what Samara needed the most. She let me to know "more please" and I was more than happy to oblige her. Those awful meows stopped. I didn't see any obvious wounds or damage, other than the results of two days away from home and Samara crawled into a nearby box and literally passed out. The poor girl was exhausted.

So for now, I'm going to keep an eye on her and let her rest. I'm just happy the Sea of Felinity is complete again.

Performance anxiety

I know this is my blog.

I also know that I can write whatever the hell I damn well please in my blog.

The problem is that I seem to have caught a good case of performance anxiety. I've noticed the visitor counter going up. I've read the comments that have been left after some of my posts. Now the thought running through my head when I start to write something is, "Bloody hell! Now I've got to write something good! I've got to be topical! I've got to write something with meaning! Ah hell - now I've got to be bloody interesting!!!"

Well, you know what? I'm not going to be good. I'm not going to be topical. I probably - more than likely - won't write much of anything with meaning. If we're lucky, I'll get the thought that I can be a good author out of my system and just be me. I'll leave it up to other folks to decide if my little strange life is interesting.

What I am going to do is try to post more often.

Now, with that said, we are returning to regular programming. Carry on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Update on the Barrel

After our crazy experiences at the Barrel the other day, I decided the best thing to do would be to fill out the complaint form on their website. To their credit, they responded yesterday. They said they have alerted the district manager to the problem and they are giving me a gold card so the next time I come in, the bill for my meal is on them.


Still, I may wait a few weeks to take them up on the offer. I think I'll let Teacher forget what I look like first.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Email Legalese

In an email from the website:

Miscellaneous Jargon

Please do not respond to this note, as I will never receive it. All replies to this mailing list go directly to Hell and will be read by pointy eared devils that delight in making fun of your bad grammar. Instead just send a note to .

If by chance someone put you on my mailing list as a cruel joke, or if you have been instructed by a piece of bread bearing the semblance of the Christ to stay away from me, just go to and hit Unsubscribe. We will remove you from the list immediately … well maybe not immediately, depends what’s on TV that night. How about some time relatively soon thereafter, with the condition nothing really good is airing that night?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hunted and Hounded at the Cracker Barrel

There seems to be a new work ethic at Cracker Barrel and it's called "Let's Irritate the Hell Out of Them Until They Buy Something." My mother and I went to the Franklin KY restaurant last Monday as an early Birthday celebration for her and it was Chicken and Dressing day. Before we got in line for a table, we were going to do some browsing in the store but we never made it further than the candle table to the right of the door as you go in. There was a nice lady standing there who began to talk about the candles and before we knew it, she had opened each and every scent the candles came in so we could smell them. We didn't think much about it at the time because we were hungry and went to get into line before the special of the day ran out.

Our trouble began when we left the restaurant and back into the store. We couldn't just look and browse. Everywhere we went, there were multiple employees to tell us about the stuff. We'd walk away from one area to get away from one, only to be "found" by another employee. As I looked at the Halloween items, which took no more than two or three minutes, no less than three different employees came by to tell me about the clearance sale. One lady had to tell us all about the DVD's in stock while we were merely standing next to the rack, looking at something else. Still another lady had to tell me all about the cat and dog items. Both my mom and I had most of the candy pointed out to us, brand by brand, and how good it was. We did manage to find a few items (some of the few of which were not pointed out to us but we found anyway) and we gratefully escaped the store after we paid our bill.

Thursday, my mom and I decided to try again, this time going to the Gallatin TN store. We again ordered the special of the day and attempted to browse afterward. If anything, the employees in this store were more enthusiastic. Again, everywhere we went, the employees had to tell us about the items. One lady, who I swear must have been a retired school teacher - right down to the slightly disapproving tone she used when I didn't buy something - cornered me in the toy section when she saw me looking at a toy opossum and some Dreampets. She pointed out the price of the opossum and remarked that it wasn't badly priced then she went through all the containers of Dreampets so she could show me all the varieties they came in and read the clearance sign to me (as if I couldn't read the three inch high letters myself.) I made the comment that I would think about buying one and she said, "Surely you could buy one since they are on sale!" This same woman later noticed me looking at some baskets that were stacked underneath the candy table and had to tell me all about that, including getting one of her own so she could point out the price. At this point, both my mother and I were ready to leave. We didn't buy anything this day except our lunch, although I saw a few things that piqued my interest. I tell you, it was even more of a relief to get away from this store than it had been on Monday.

So what's next for Cracker Barrel? Automatic locks on the doors requiring proof of purchase, other than a meal, to get out of the damn place?

A long, cold winter?

It was dusk when I walked outside and I felt it. I don't know exactly what "it" is, except that it is that indefinable something that says, "Summer's over. Fall's here."

It is a truly indefinable thing here in Tennessee. The leaves aren't turning yet. The tomatoes are still producing like crazy. The only clue to the changing of the seasons are the temperature swings in the past week or so: upper '80's one day and barely in the '70's the next. Yet it feels as if everything is preparing to gear down for the year.

I'm wondering if it will be a hard winter this year. I'm not one of those folks who go around looking for wooly worms to see how they're colored (black: hard winter, brown: light) or count the number of fogs in August see how many snows we'll get but still, I've noticed some things. The cats' coats seem to be coming in thicker than usual and tonight there were the geese.

Every year, the Canadian geese that summer here start flying to their winter grounds. Usually, there are several little groups that fly over - little v's of five or so geese. As I stood outside at dusk, I watched four waves of at least twenty geese flew right over my head and two more groups flew off in a different direction. Like I said, it makes me wonder.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The New Kid

This is the new kid.

He wants people to think he is a big, tough, tomcat among tomcats.

It's hard to make that impression when you're sitting in a neon pink lounge chair.