Monday, October 15, 2012

November is Coming

It's getting to be that time of year again... Some people get depressed when the weather changes and the days grow shorter... I tend to find myself in the opposite predicament.  Suddenly, I am Absolutely Certain that I will succeed at everything I try, that I am an amazing artist and writer, and that I should Do Something About It.


Let's just overload our schedule, shall we?

First, it's NaNoWriMo time again... that is, National Novel Writing Month in November.

Last year I won.  I wrote 54-odd thousand words in 30 days.  I made promises to my imaginary friends (my fellow bloggers) to allow a select few to read and edit the thing.

And then I quietly never mentioned it again and hoped no one would ask.

It was...

Not good.

But I did it.  I wrote a novel!  In a month!

This year I am planning.  I have a plot (I KNOW, right? A plot?).   I have characters I already love, and a few that I hate.  And one that terrifies me.

I have a setting... where it's cold and dark and airless.  Where the world ended, but everyone tried to pretend it didn't.

I am terribly, terribly excited about it.

I am going to write another novel!  This November! And this one should be something I can share with others! 

Draw a picture every day?  That sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

I know!  I'll do it in November!  Because I won't have enough to do!



So... I'll be posting my progress, pictures, and the eventual collapse of my psyche.

Sounds fun, right?

Oh, and here's an octopus.

Because octopuses (yes, that is the correct plural) are cool.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let's go Camping in the Scary Woods

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Commune with nature. 

Smell the flowers and... treesap and stuff like that...

Just us and the great outdoors... no TV or internet, no phone... no escape.. just some good companions and the Big Scary Woods.

"Us," was my parents, Boyfriend, and me.  Oh, and the dog, Bonnie. Who had never in her 12 years of life been camping before.

What could possibly go wrong?

We went to one of my favorite places to ski in the winter time.  It's an old logging road turned wilderness area called Sawmill (because people around here are very creative with naming things).

Since it isn't exactly a trail so much as an overgrown road with random turnoffs that lead nowhere, disappearing directions, and inconclusive maps, it's a fine  for skiing... It's wide (so you run into fewer trees), doesn't have much of a slope, and you can follow your tracks home should you get turned around.

In the summertime, Sawmill looks like a road in places, and sometimes looks like a field, and sometimes looks like you're just plain lost. On the plus side, there are rarely any people out there other than the random serial killer hunter, which is kind of the point.  We would be miles and miles from help from the distractions of the modern world.

We hiked in for an overnight trip, and only a mile or two, so the packs were relatively light. I had room to strap my second best ukulele to my pack so I could annoy the moose entertain myself during the long, and probably a little bit boring evening after we stopped (queue ominous music).

Yes, we're skeletons.  What of it?

And we put a bright pink flag on Bonnie Dog so that no hunters would mistake her for a bear.

It was a beautiful late summer day.

Bonnie romped around the underbrush on either side of the road, chasing squirrels and pretending to be a great hunter.  She seems to enjoy chasing squirrels, and the squirrels seem to enjoy teasing her back. 

After walking for about an hour, we came to a beautiful meadow.

The air was crisp at 10,000 feet, but no where near cold.  It was surprisingly lush and beautiful.

(A word of warning... For those of you who do not like violence, you may want to look away, now.  Shit's gonna get real.)

(For realsies.)


I can't possibly know the whole story, but I can extrapolate a little bit of the story that happened before we arrived....

Molly Meadowmouse was the... Verna Vole... Polly Packrat was the most beautiful rodent in the whole meadow.  She had long, silky silver fur, perfectly shaped rat fingernails, and the most mesmerizing brown eyes you've ever seen on a packrat.

She regularly had visitors from all over the woods to look at her splendidness, and had a list of suitors from the Rawah Wilderness to the Roosevelt National Forest.

A picture of Polly outside of her little tree hollow home shortly before... the incident.

One bright September day, Polly was sunning herself on a branch near the tree hollow where she lived.

"What shall I do today?" she said to herself.

The tree hollow house was stuffed to the brim with her winter stores, and there was little more that Polly could do to prepare.

"I think," she said, "I shall go down to the meadow and smell the last of the summer flowers and have a picnic."

So Polly packed her cheeks with some snacks for later, consisting of a few seeds, a late ripening strawberry, and some dandylion greens, and headed out.

She hopped down from her branch and skipped into the clearing. There was a flat area a few feet away that seemed like an ideal place to have her picnic lunch.  It was near a tree stump.

As she climbed the stump, a giant black and tan creature emerged from the brush.

"Why, hello!" said Polly.  She was not in the least bit afraid as she looked at the creature.  She assumed that this animal, like so many others, was here to admire her amazing beauty.

She was, of course, wrong.

She had time to let out one small, surprised squeak before the black and tan creature snapped her pretty neck.

"Bonnie!  NO!" shouted my mom.

"Drop it!" said Dad.

Bonnie is a good dog, and did as she was told, dropping the soft little body on the grass.

We all stood around, staring at the little dead thing, and reminding Bonnie to stay away seven or eight times.  She really wanted to go back for more.

"Maybe it's just stunned," said Boyfriend.

"Um," I said.

Probably not.

I briefly considered taking a photo of the creature because I always take pictures of dead things, but decided it had been through enough.  We followed my parents and the killer, Bonnie.

Not long after the incident, we found a reasonable place to camp.  There were protected areas in the trees, but open rocky areas where we could have a fire in relative safety with little danger of burning down the state.

This is a different meadow than the one where Polly died.  It's like, at least 500 yards away.

We spent a little extra time setting up the tents because we kept changing our minds as to where they should be.  By the time we had them put together, the light was beginning to dim.

Bonnie looked at each one of us, and whined.  It was as if she were trying to say, "Hey guys, this was a pretty good day, but isn't it time to go home now?"

Our tents are much more state of the art than pictured.  Much nicer.
What?  Maybe I am a gear snob.
Instead of going home, we gathered some branches and started a small camp fire while cooking dinner.  Bonnie was slightly less than impressed, and kept trying to crawl under low lying tree branches and shrubs.  She stared at us dubiously while we ate.

We celebrated our CaveMan like ability to create fire out of wet branches.  And a lighter.  What, did you think we were rubbing sticks together or something?  Are you insane?

I suppose that maybe Bonnie sensed what was coming.

Because we were camping.


So obviously it had to rain for the first time all summer.

And lightning.

And thunder.

No, there's still a coal over there.  I don't want to burn the whole state down...

Bonnie wasn't the only one worried.

We scrambled into our tents after stomping out the fire.

I played the ukulele, softly in the tent.  It was too early to bed, and I probably wouldn't attract bears.

The storm didn't last long, and we all bedded down to sleep.

Bonnie was in the large vestibule of my parents' tent, worn out and passed out. Fires and storms are stressful for pups.

The night grew calm.

All was quiet as the moon peeked out from behind the clouds.

But wait... something disturbs the night...

What is it?

Something searching... searching for the dog who killed her...

It could only be... Polly the Packrat, come forth from the grave to exact revenge!

Four hours dead and the ravages of the storm were not kind to that vain and beautiful little packrat.

Someone would have to pay for this...

...Or not.

Polly had time to let out a surprised, ghostly squeak before she was eaten by Bonnie for the second time that day.

And Bonnie went back to sleep with only a slightly upset stomach.


As we hiked out the next day, we passed through the meadow.  There was no sign of Polly's body.  Probably some other animal came by in the night and ate her.


Polly Packrat is survived by her 40 children, 637 grandchildren, and 1,198 great grand children.  She was 2 years old.