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Seahound [Nov. 26th, 2014|09:14 am]

I had a dream last night that we were visiting some rich celebrity in his "Treehouse of Curiosities," and he had this weird amphibious dog.

"Oh," I thought, "A Seahound! How cool! I need to get a photo of this guy, I bet our friends with greyhounds would love to see this!" But the dog wouldn't sit still, it just kinda wagged its tentacles and splashed around on the floor (which was about a foot deep with water) and I don't know if I ever got a good picture.
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Go East, Young Man (Woman, Child, and Cat) - Part I [Nov. 25th, 2014|06:46 pm]
We made it to "Base Camp," that is to say, Nate's parents' place about an hour outside of LA, where we'll be staying for the week/Thanksgiving before starting the drive to Austin. We've got a little more clean-up work to do at the house before dropping off the keys and driving into the sunset, middle fingers in the air.

Naw, just kidding. It's been a very nice house. But it's also always nice to be done with a place after the whirlwind of packing, hauling, clearing out and wiping down. It's no longer your home at that point, it's just this empty building that periodically devours chunks of your security deposit.

The rest of the packing was more of a job than we anticipated, and even with the help of our good friends, it took us a day longer to actually clear out the house than we had planned. Luckily, we're not on a strict timeline; which is good because what we thought would just take Monday morning to accomplish actually took until 6pm. At which point, the shipping container was packed as tightly as we could get it, the house was mostly empty, and the car was packed. Now the real fun could start. By "the real fun," I mean getting the cat in the car. And driving with the cat in the car.

Because here's the thing, before we even start here—I have it on good authority that Baxter has ridden free in a car before and did okay. Also, I tried to get him into his carrier and he was having none of that. So I picked him up, walked over to the car, yelled at Nate to open and close various doors because we're having a change of plans, sat down with Baxter in the front passenger seat, shut the door, and hoped.

He hated the car just about as much as you would expect, but not too much more than that. There were no full-on kitty freakouts, but he meowed and cried and crawled around a bit and did this upsetting little stress-pant I've never seen him do before. But he didn't hurt anybody, and Nate was able to drive just fine.

(I wouldn't try this if I was the only person in the car, but having two people up front to potentially do cat control made me feel better.)

Benjamin was the only one among us who thought that having the cat in the car was the GREATEST THING EVER, and at one point, they were making very similar OOOH-EEE-OHHW noises for very opposite reasons.

Nate's parents have a Golden Retriever, so we were a little worried about whether the dog smell would make Baxter even more upset, but I think he was just glad to be on solid ground again. Our whole little family set up shop in a spare bedroom, and Baxter's stayed in there since. He's got his food, water, bed, and a portable litter box that I fashioned out of a "cupcake carrier" (thanks, Rite-Aid, bet you didn't think this was going to be filled with cat poop!) and he is perfectly happy to hang out and purr when we come in and pet him. The dog has definitely smelled him and seemed interested, but otherwise she's been admirably Not Obnoxious and cares a lot more about the fact that Benjamin currently has a handful of Goldfish crackers.

So for now, surrounded by family, we rest for a few days, pig out on turkey, and gather our strength for the journey to come.

*-As we closed that shipping container, I turned to Nate and told him he was a freaking hero for fitting everything in there. He told me I was a hero for packing the boxes, but he just says that because he's nice. Because seriously. That shipping container. Packed, in all senses of the word.
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Bare Walls [Nov. 22nd, 2014|04:11 pm]
We're getting down to just the essentials in the house. We've had the shipping container out front for about a week and a half now, and have been slowly loading it up. They charge by the month for that thing, so we figured we'd use the extra time to pack efficiently and leisurely.

The "leisurely" part has been questionable, since moving always makes me walk around in a low-grade but constant state of panic for at least a week or two. But the "efficiently" part has turned out to be kind of a big deal since at first, I was pacing around the inside of it, gnawing my own face off and furrowing my brow really hard because there was NO WAY IN HELL all of our furniture and belongings and crap were going to fit in that rectangle.

(An aside: moving is a funny time because you swing hourly between hating all of your possessions and getting super sentimental about them. The same knick-knack can be "useless crap" and "speccialllll" at the same time and when you're moving it, both of those emotions are intensified and it can be very confusing.)

Anyway: no way in hell. But leave it to Nate, who instead of panicking, tends to take the problem-solving approach to obstacles (imagine that!), to do some serious 3D spatial thinking and head up the packing initiative. He's done an amazing job, and I've been so so grateful that I don't have to think about it that much beyond carrying out the order of "fit everything inside of everything else as much as you can." I'm pretty good at that part. I feel like we've packed a huge amount of stuff, and yet the container isn't even half full. It's looking more and more like we're going to pull off this part of the move.

We did get rid of a few things. We sold our patio furniture to a neighbor (really easy) and got rid of the futon through Freecycle (surprisingly not easy, but it's done, so all's well that ends well). We're tossing our Ikea bed frame since it's been pretty broken for the whole last year and both attempts to fix it failed. But everything else will probably make the cut.

We're at the stage now where things like the couch, bed, and kitchen table are still around, but most other things are packed, so all those times I wondered what our living room would look like if we were Minimalists? This is it. It's kinda meh, honestly. One small lamp is still hanging around, because I like the light it gives off and right now that lamp is the little orchestra on my personal Titanic and I'm hanging on to it as long as I can. We'll have some friends come over tomorrow to help pack the big furniture + evvverything else, and then maybe we'll sleep on the floor that night since we've got an inspection/walkthrough on Monday. Then it's off to Nate's parents' place for Thanksgiving week, and from there we head East.

Benjamin couldn't care less about all the furniture moving and disappearing. Baxter on the other hand, hates it. He's become a lot more skittish and sulky over the last few days. OHHHH KITTY BUDDY. If only you knew what was in store for you over the next few weeks.

ETA: Oh, for those who were wondering, the Aquarium Store guy was very nice and seemed delighted to take our fish, which makes me optimistic that he didn't immediately flush them down the toilet or whatever after I walked out. I didn't even cry!
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"It's Me, Your Fairy Cowmother" [Nov. 14th, 2014|09:08 pm]

I'm not even drunk, what is this Fairy Cowmother doing here.

(Random palette.)
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One of the Sad Parts of Moving [Nov. 12th, 2014|02:23 pm]
Our aquarium has done pretty well over the past year. We must have reached some kind of ecological equilibrium, because everybody mostly just hangs out and doesn't die. Mostly. The numbers have slowly dwindled to 3 mollies (two of the second-generation and the original Dad left), a couple tetras, one cory catfish, the pleco, and Pierre, our Long-Lived Loach Extraordinaire. We held off replacing any of them because we knew a move would be coming up at the end of the year one way or another.

And here's the thing—it's totally not worth it to try and transport small fish halfway across the country. They've got a not-great chance of making it, and it'd be a huge hassle come moving day to worry about them.

So I'm taking them back to the aquarium store this afternoon... the idea is that they'll be with all their fishy friends again and maybe find another good home. I worry a little bit, because the two tetras aren't in peak shape, and Carl the old molly has what I can only describe as a big tumor on his side, though it doesn't seem to bother him. I'm afraid they won't take those fish, and then I'm not sure what I'll do. Ask them if they have ways to humanely... y'know, ask them if they can take care of it. I don't want to bust out the hammer again. That was no fun.

I'm gonna miss that quirky loach especially. When you have animals, even just fish, you enter into a kind of contract with them. You provide for their needs, and they live as well as they can. That loach held up his end of the bargain better than any other fish we've ever had, and I feel like I'm letting him down in a way, even though I know that's silly and it's a fish and it doesn't care.

I think I'm only going to cry a little tiny bit.
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"It's too late, he's developed a taste for Cheerios." [Nov. 11th, 2014|09:02 am]
What is it with our house and possums? Saturday night we had some people over, and a couple of them noticed a baby possum out on the porch. Of course, we all flock to the screen door going "Where?! Where?!" and it runs away. This wouldn't be too notable, but the little guy kept coming back and running away again, at least three times. We figured it smelled the delicious tacos we were eating.

Then Sunday night. We leave the sliding door to the porch cracked open so that Baxter can come and go as he pleases without having to come get us every ten minutes and cry plaintively. And suddenly, Nate yells, "Possum! There he goes!"

The little bastard walked right into our living room, while we were sitting in it, and trotted behind my desk.

As I mentioned, this possum is practically still a baby, he's barely six inches long. So while it's still jarring and annoying to have to shoo wild animals out from under your desk, we're still squarely in the realm of "Awwwwww" and not "Aaaaaaahhhhh."

The unassembled boxes made very convenient sheets of cardboard for herding him and blocking off ways we didn't want him to go (namely, the washing machine). He was cooperative, and once he got the idea, he scuttled back out the door and into the night.

Cut to yesterday night. We're hanging out in the living room, and AGAIN, suddenly this little critter strolls in like he owns the place. This time he heads under the couch, and it's trickier to get him out, but we added a broom to our arsenal, and that did the trick.

The best part? Baxter was sitting on the couch the entire time. He watched the possum go under and watched it come back out again, and didn't bat an eye. For a cat that constantly brings us dead birds, he sure didn't have his hunting hat on yesterday night. When I told him how useless he was, he just gave me this very earnest expression of "You guys look like you have this under control."

So we'll see what happens tonight. I guess we'll have to get better about closing the screen door all the way. I mean, unless we want another pet to road-trip with come the end of the month.
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Thought of the Day [Nov. 7th, 2014|01:27 pm]
You'd think that every time I put in my earbud headphones, I'd have a 50% chance of getting the Left and Right sides correct. In reality, I swear my success rate is WAY lower.
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The Cosmic Meow [Nov. 4th, 2014|07:40 pm]

Another rando-color-palette.
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Spiky Grumbly Guy [Nov. 3rd, 2014|10:22 pm]

So this guy was a randomly-selected color palette too.

He's grouchy because all three members of the family were utterly wiped out this weekend by the "let's all barf and then curl up on the couch with runny noses" bug.

Which would be like what, a flu or something? Google was weirdly unhelpful with this. What do you call it when you get nausea + vomiting followed by what basically feels like a cold for a day or two? We all got it in the same order, that's the weird part.
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Hoopydoop dress [Oct. 31st, 2014|10:30 pm]

I didn't even have a costume this year, much less a cool one with bright colors.

* * *

So I kinda want to try something where I get a random "color palette" from one of those color-palette-generating websites, and then I have to make a picture with it. That was what I ended up doing here.

If I were an arrrt blogger, I'd do it "every day for a month," but eff that I don't have time for that. I'll try it every once and a while though.
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Scruffytrunk [Oct. 30th, 2014|09:46 am]
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Sing it, bunny [Oct. 28th, 2014|09:14 pm]

Good job having such distinctive ears, bunnies. Otherwise, people would just confuse you with woodchucks and prairie dogs all the time and nobody would remember your name or think you were particularly adorable.

It's like squirrels and their tails. You KNOW those tails were the work of some savvy evolutionary marketing consultant.
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You guys are moving again? Didn't you like, just move? And then just move again before that?... [Oct. 19th, 2014|04:49 pm]
So while LA has treated me very well the last seven years (whaaaat?), with me working remote and Nate working on independent projects, we realized that there's not really a lot except for our friends keeping us in this city and hemorrhaging* rent money with each passing month. I mean, if we could FIND a house to rent with a yard that was a reasonable price, we'd be golden, but after months of peeking around every so often, I don't think that exists in LA.

And so it's off to somewhere else. Probably Austin, TX, as the plan stands now. We've got family out there, and there's lots of games/tech industry (including the place where I actually work, ha). The climate's warm, the culture's pretty liberal/quirky. We've liked it the times we've visited. All of those put together made Austin edge out other cities.

It's going to be hard to leave our "people," but it's the best move for us at this point.

So now, we get to play the "how are we going to get two adults plus their household full of crap plus their toddler and their cat 1500 miles across the desert and into a new living space which has yet to be determined" game.

We haven't had Spring Cleaning the past few years. We have almost-yearly Moving Cleaning instead. Where I go, "Nate, we don't use all these things can I get rid of them," and he goes, "No," and I go, "Think I can donate this old hairspray to a Women's Shelter?" and he just smiles at me patiently and tells me that he trusts me to figure it out and THEN I lie awake at 6am because it occurs to me that no one in their right mind is going to rent us a house two time zones away sight unseen (no matter HOW much I assure them we're very nice folks), so how on earth to people DO this kind of thing?

The fun part is that we have to use up all the almost-empty booze bottles above the pantry, which means rum-strawberry smoothies at 4pm.

*- Whoa, that's a tricky one to spell. I used to have a hard time thinking of "spelling words" for myself in fourth grade, and then throughout my life, whenever I've come across a word I have trouble with, I think, "why the heck wasn't THAT one of my words?..." Perfect candidates have included "license," "curriculum," and now "hemorrhage." Though the teacher may have been a little concerned about that one.
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Upstanding Citizens [Oct. 16th, 2014|07:54 pm]

Nate's been working on another baby app, and these are some of the little people who will probably be featured in it at some point.

I especially like the way that lady's little paisley cardigan came out for some reason.
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Allow Me a Quick Curmudgeon Moment [Oct. 15th, 2014|11:04 am]
When we moved into this rental house, I remember them asking in the application to "list any instruments you own/play." I am assuming this is because they didn't want to rent to say, drummers? Or people who would be playing loud music? This struck me as a bit restrictive for a single family dwelling, but it is a very cute little neighborhood, and maybe they just like it quiet. It's cool. We're quiet people. We can hang.

But here's the thing. You have the following factors at play:

1.) This is Los Angeles, which means that even though the lawns are teeny-tiny, nobody takes care of their own lawns. It doesn't matter if you have thirty square feet of grass total, you hire a lawn company to do the mowing. I know it's dumb, don't ask me why, it's the culture of the place.

2.) Our neighborhood in particular, as mentioned above, is Cute with a capital C. That means everybody has well-manicured grass, trees (the luxury! Seriously.), and lots of landscaping. It also means that the layout of the streets produce lots of tiny offshoot cul-de-sacs, one of which we inhabit the corner of.

3.) The various troops of Lawn Guys have a lot to do in one day, and you bet they're going to be as quick as they can. (And they are, it's impressive. They're like tornados that blaze in and blaze out, except everything is less messy afterward.) Rakes are for amateurs, give them a TurboMaster Leaf-Blower 5000.

What this means is that on weekdays, morning afternoon and evening, at any point there is good chance of a leaf-blower, weed-whacker, or lawnmower going within a hundred feet of us.

This is the part where you get to go, "Waahhh waaahh, I'm Annie and I work from home in a nice neighborhood, waaahhh," and I'll totally give you that. I'm probably due for a karmic meteor or lightning strike any day now. I'm just saying, they were concerned with what instruments we owned? Psshhh.
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A Word to the Wise [Oct. 13th, 2014|02:33 pm]
I was poking around reading articles that pertained to Columbus Day, and OH MY GOD NEVER EVER EVER Google image "smallpox" holy shit I don't even know what I was thinking.
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Dry [Oct. 13th, 2014|08:35 am]
Every once and a while I see pictures of rainy days on the internet. And I get this funny feeling, like a distant memory. "Oh yeah, rain is this thing that happens in other places."

It rained (actually rained) in LA what, once this year? And it was while we were on vacation, so we weren't here for it.

I love sunny days, don't get me wrong. We're stupid-spoiled here, and we pay out the nose for it (though not for much longer- more on that later). But even though the ocean breezes keep the air moist, and we still have plenty of water to drink and use, there's a dryness that doesn't go away with a glass of water or a shower. It gets deep into your bones, and you don't notice it most of the time, but then you see a picture of a rainy street, and it whimpers.

I wonder if people who grew up in & enjoy desert climates don't get that same uneasiness. I bet they feel claustrophobic and weird in wet forests instead.
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Grouchy Deinotherium [Oct. 8th, 2014|08:40 am]

I dunno, this guy just always looks like he'd be a bad-tempered bruiser.
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Squawk-a-doodle-doo [Oct. 7th, 2014|09:49 pm]
basilisk yellow

Basilisk pays no attention to your teasings about its wimpy little winglets.
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Derpy Platybelodon [Oct. 6th, 2014|10:51 pm]

By far the best of the "pre-elephants."
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Confidence [Oct. 3rd, 2014|10:00 pm]
I love when products make ridiculously exaggerated claims with a straight face.

On the back of a box of hot chocolate mix packets:
"It's the original American tradition!"
You know, America! Land of the free! Purple Mountains' Majesty! Streets paved with gold! Reduced-Calorie Hot Chocolate Packets!

On the back of a bag of prunes:
"America's Superfruit!"
They're letting everybody in the superfood club these days.

At the top of an obscure recipe website:
"The originators of quick and easy cooking!"
...You guys, we'd been doing all wrong this whole time.
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The Education Continues [Oct. 2nd, 2014|12:14 pm]

Another one this morning, Baxter? Why thank you.

You see, I'm trying to teach Benjamin about the chaotic cruelty of the world by denying him Daddy's power tools and limiting his intake of Goldfish crackers.

But you and this bird are driving home the point better than I ever could.
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Having a cat can be educational. [Oct. 1st, 2014|08:35 am]
Baxter treats birds like Pokemon in his "Gotta Catch 'Em All" mentality. I don't know how he does it, but every time he gets one, it manages to be a different species.

I always thought I was observant when it came to the birds outside, but today I was introduced to the Yellow-Breasted Chat, a gorgeous bird which I didn't even know existed, because somebody brought one into Benjamin's room at 7 o'clock this morning.
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Zoo and Fair sketches [Oct. 1st, 2014|08:29 am]
We made trips to both the Zoo and the LA County Fair over the last month or two, and while I brought my sketchbook on both outings, the time spent Drawing Animals ended up being minimal, due to time also being spent Wrangling Toddler and Having Fun and stuff like that.

Here are a few sketches though, mostly various hoofed animals for some reason:






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Also Neapolitan Mastiffs [Sep. 29th, 2014|09:33 am]

What's up with Mastiffs and being totally crazy looking? I swear I didn't even exaggerate the droopiness of this thing's snout all that much.
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