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Blue Jay: Part 2/2 [Apr. 22nd, 2016|08:57 pm]
Auuugh, so then today I saw that blue jay. It had made its way to the front yard over the last two days, and it was laying low by the corner of the neighbor's garden. I brought Baxter inside before he noticed it, and it disappeared soon after. For a while.

Apparently it did not disappear enough, because later in the afternoon, Baxter noticed it near the same spot and trotted over. He gave it a little poke, but the bird had no fight left in it by that point. I sat with it for a while, seriously considering whether to attempt to put it out of its misery. I mean, we have a garage full of things that an unskilled person could use to quickly kill a bird. I bet. In the end, I chickened out and brought Baxter inside again.

About an hour later, I checked and it was dead.

You guyyyys, I feel responsible.

(I've never actually had a "follow-up" to any of the animals brought into the house before, shame this one was a bummer.)
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Baxter's Continuing Expoits [Apr. 20th, 2016|09:57 pm]
We came back this evening to a few feathers scattered on the rug, which is always suspicious, but our cat is a free spirit, and as long as he doesn't leave too much of a mess, what he devours is his business.

But of course it wasn't just feathers, otherwise why would I be writing about it, right?

At like 9pm, I hear the dreaded fluttering noise that means a live bird is in the corner of the living room behind the shelves. So I close Baxter in the bedroom,* grab a bowl and a file folder, and crack my knuckles, wondering what we've got this time.

Turns out it was a blue jay! Which, I don't know if you've ever seen a blue jay up close, but they're big. And this one wasn't able to fly, but it was still feisty and had an alarmingly sharp-looking beak. I'd just mentioned a week or two before that I didn't think Baxter would ever nab a blue jay.

Nate looked at me as I went back to the kitchen, and I explained, "I'm gonna need a bigger bowl."

He nodded and went back to playing Skyrim.

I always feel weird when I put a wounded animal back out in the yard. Like, maybe if you're a lizard you can camouflage and have a slow metabolism and pull through. But if you're a big grumpy blue jay who can't fly, what are your odds of making it until your wing heals? Heck, what are the odds of making it through the night? Probably not great. But let's be honest, I'm not going to call the wildlife rescue people for every bird and lizard that the cat brings in. And I don't have the guts to euthanize a blue jay—a small fish, yes, but not a squirming wild bird. Which, so, like, do I have any business eating chicken then? If I can't mercy-kill a songbird? I think the difference has something to do with wild versus domestic, and I don't feel comfortable making that call with a random wild animal. But maybe that's just me making excuses because I don't want to do nature's dirty work or...

Nate patiently listened to me talk about this for a few minutes. Then I remembered that I should probably let Baxter back out of the bedroom. He was sad as usual that I had taken away his new toy. I told him it was for his own good, a blue jay could probably mess him up if he wasn't careful. I also told him I was impressed, but never bring one of those in the house again.

*- He's now so familiar with this routine that he doesn't protest, he just immediately goes under the bed to sulk when I set him down.
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I'm not sure what the bear is pointing at. [Apr. 16th, 2016|08:24 pm]

Go inside you guys, it looks cold.
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Thought of the Day: Words [Apr. 16th, 2016|10:22 am]
I get "straw men" and "hollow men" mixed up surprisingly often. This leads me to have moments where I think T.S. Eliot wrote a poem about questionable arguing techniques.
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Small Victories: Bagels [Apr. 13th, 2016|01:36 pm]
Due to the food/smell aversions, which are still in full swing, my diet has dwindled to a depressingly small pile of things. A big portion of this pile is made up of bagels and cream cheese, and while the regular bagels from the supermarket have gotten me through this rough patch and I will be forever grateful to them, I'd been hankering for a chewier, crustier bagel. And unfortunately, Austin is not known for its bagel shops.

So I'm looking through a bread/baking cookbook I'd been given,* and I'm like, "Wait. Bagels are a thing you could make. Technically. Right?"

There's a recipe for bagels there! And yeah, it's... involved. And takes multiple days, thanks to all the long rising times. But I couldn't resist.


If you like chewy, crusty bagels and can't get any near you that aren't a total ripoff, I HIGHLY SUGGEST trying to make your own. I didn't even have one of the ingredients ("barley malt syrup" eluded me, and I didn't have the motivation to go to multiple stores hunting for it, so I just subbed in sugar), not to mention my bagel-shaping technique could... use some work. But they turned out great. They are enjoyable to eat, and I feel like a happy dog with a chew toy.

Apparently homemade cream cheese requires ordering special bacterial cultures, so I don't know if I'm up for that yet.

*- I've made a weird habit of researching complicated bread recipes, none of which I could stomach at this point, but which I study "just in case I want to try them once I feel better." Nate smiled at me and said that it's one of the sadder things he's witnessed.
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Grouchy frog [Apr. 6th, 2016|08:38 pm]

Who's a grouchy frog? You're a grouchy frog! Grouchy grumpy lumpy frog.
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Call-Bots [Apr. 4th, 2016|05:31 pm]
I don't know if anybody else has gotten calls from this "new generation" of automated calling bots, but they're really interesting. I've encountered them three times in the last few months, and it goes like this:

They ask for someone else's name, and when you say it's the wrong number, they act all flustered and say "Oh! Sorry about that! Well you know, maybe you can help me..." and then they go on a spiel for some supposed charity thing. And they sound really realistic, given that people can sound a little wooden anyway when they have to read off of scripts for calls. They give different responses based on what you say. The first one had me on the phone for like two minutes (I am way too polite) before I realized it wasn't a real person. They finally gave it away when he repeated a sentence he'd said a while ago with the exact same inflections.

The second time I picked out one of these, I grinned and said, "You're not real!"

"I assure you," he replied, "There is a real person on the other end of this-"


Part of me wants to see what happens if they ask for someone else's name and I answer, "Yep, what's up?" I want to see if the spiel updates or not. But unfortunately, if you pick up a call and someone asks if "Renee" is there, there's always that chance that it's actually a wrong number. And I guess that would be awkward, though not the end of the world.

"Yeah, this is Renee!"
"Oh hey Renee! I was just wondering if you wanted to go see a movie on-"
"Uh, actually I'm not Renee."
"I wanted to do an experiment in case you were a very specific type of robot."
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GodzillaBunny [Mar. 30th, 2016|04:44 pm]

Imagine I drew this on Sunday, okay?

So like, does he... throw giant eggs at the buildings? Or does he hide them in phone booths and alleys and top-floor offices? And are the eggs like, the size of bicycles?
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Holiday-Appropriate [Mar. 26th, 2016|10:08 am]
I had a dream last night that I was trying to bake a cake inside of an egg. It almost seemed like something that would work, so for fun I just googled, "can you bake a cake inside of an egg?"

Guess what? You can!

I am absolutely not doing this anytime soon, but hey. Fun to know it's possible.
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Q. Where's Annie been? [Mar. 24th, 2016|09:23 pm]
A. Annie's been sprawled on the couch making unhappy noises for the past couple weeks. There's a good reason though!

Iiiittt's pregnancy! If you want to read more about that, I'll give the details over on the parenting blog.

Still pretty early for going public (not even 8 weeks yet), but hey. Consider this a disclaimer that I will continue to be utterly useless as an artist, parent, and overall human being for the next couple weeks.
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Elegator [Mar. 5th, 2016|08:44 am]

Still not as dangerous as a hippo!™
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Kitchenings: "Thinking Things Through" Edition [Feb. 27th, 2016|10:12 am]
In the last couple weeks, I've tried a few new food-projects that were mostly successes, except for one shared flaw:

1.) I heard that you could make your own yogurt pretty easily, and Ben and I have been enjoying a "yogurt renaissance" lately, so I thought this would be a fun idea. The good news was, it worked! The bad news was that I followed the recipe without considering that I was going to end up with a gallon of yogurt at the end of it. I also failed to consider that we were leaving on a trip in four days. We made a valiant effort to get through as much as possible, and then tried an experiment called "How does yogurt freeze?" The answer is "not very well." When it thaws, it's more like whey with tiny flecks floating in it. Which barely works for smoothies, and not a whole lot else.

2.) I found a five-pound bag of Pink Lady apples for really cheap at Trader Joe's, and I was totally pumped until I ate one and realized that the apples were dry and sour and not enjoyable to eat. So yesterday I'm like, "What can I do with five pounds of shitty apples? I could make a pie, but screw pie crust, and screw going out to the store for pie crust right now, so let's try making apple butter." It also worked! This stuff is decadent, it's amazing.* Except again, I failed to think ahead to the fact that I was going to end up with over a pint of apple butter that the recipe says to "use within 5 days." Unlike yogurt, you don't exactly eat apple butter a whole cup at a time, because your head would explode and your teeth would all fall out.

I'm thinking I can use it to bake other things that I'll actually eat (apple butter snickerdoodles are apparently a thing? WHAAT?). Which, I mean, works. Though it's a little sad that I spent all that time and enthusiasm yesterday making apple butter, only to remember afterwards that I don't actually eat things like apple butter very often. Whenever we buy jam, it goes bad before we get through it.

Oh well, it's the journey.

*-The sweetness of this stuff is intense, and I only used less than a third of a cup of brown sugar. There were recipes out there that called for the same amount of apples and, I shit you not, four cups of sugar. Come on, America. Just... whaat?
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Hay guys i'm a ladybug lol [Feb. 20th, 2016|10:55 pm]

Unrelated, we're visiting friends in St Louis, and we went to the zoo today, and

1.) The sea lions come up to their glass and are very interested in the visitors. AND, we figured out that if you hold one of the zoo maps up to the glass, they'll follow it with their noses. And you can get them to go in circles and do goofy flip tricks. Ben LOVED this, and I think his enthusiasm alarmed some of the other kids. He does one heck of a happy-yell.

2.) Then we walked over to the orangutans, and a big male comes up to the glass and sits right next to us. You don't appreciate how HUGE those guys are until you're staring at a hand the size and texture of a catcher's mit, and your brain isn't sure what to do with it, because you've only seen something like that up close as a special effect. Ben wasn't nearly as interested in this guy and preferred to jump on and off the curb for a while.

3.) Right next to these orangutans were the chimps, who would also come up and sit against the glass. Trained movie chimps are usually young, and I'd never seen a chimp that close, so I don't think I realized how big and intimidating they can get until an alpha male saunters up and sits down a few inches from you. Then it becomes very apparent that this animal is bigger, way heavier, WAAAYYY stronger than I am, and he could probably pluck my head right off my spine without even trying.

These bulky, scary giants sit there calmly, picking their noses, and every once and a while they'll give you a look that says, "What a pity you're not as enlightened I am."
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The Lizard Situation [Feb. 13th, 2016|03:54 pm]
Okay, so like, I would say put a bell on the cat, but I don't think the lizards have good enough reflexes for that to work. Some people would say that we should keep the cat indoors, but a.) that genie was let out of the bottle a long time ago, and b.) we are nowhere near rigorous enough for that.

But the lizards, you guys.

I've been removing a lizard from the house almost every day for the past week. I was about to vacuum the office, and there was another big honker* under the desk. It seemed okay, so we did the bowl-with-a-folder-slipped-under-it schtick, and I carried it outside, doing my usual profuse apology, which the lizard accepted stoically.

Then I vacuumed. And I felt something weird brush the back of my arm a couple times. Almost like a leaf was stuck to the back of my shirt, or okay who am I kidding, you probably know where this is going.

I did make a very conscious decision to walk slowly over to the bathroom, check the mirror, and not panic, no matter what I saw.


Yeah there was another lizard who had been clinging to my back for I don't know how long.

(deep breath...)"Hey Nate!"


"Wanna see something unexpected?"

Nate was nice enough to then follow me into the backyard with a spatula and gently dislodge the hanger-on.

Maybe I'll come up with something witty to say about this later on, but WHAT? How does this happen? How long had it been there? How did a lizard climb onto my back without me noticing?? These are mysteries, but I'm still going to blame Baxter.

*- I don't know what's big or small for Texas Spiny Lizards, but the guys we get tend to be about 4 inches long before the tail.
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The archer of the party [Feb. 9th, 2016|08:48 pm]

I'd probably need to redo this if I actually wanted it to match the previous picture. This is why I will never ever be an art director, folks.

(Now I kinda want to add Toad and Mario to this. Sorcerer and paladin, maybe? We'll see how differently they turn out!)
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Sister Rosetta Tharpe [Feb. 8th, 2016|08:55 pm]

Rosetta Tharpe was making the rounds on facebook today, and she sounds pretty awesome. She was the inspiration for a lot of early rock'n'roll, and she cuts quite a figure in that coat rockin' out on her electric guitar.

(The video in the link is great, though she doesn't really get going until about one minute in.)
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Wom-bat [Feb. 7th, 2016|02:32 pm]

Don't be fooled, they're vicious.
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This is how you party when you're me. [Feb. 5th, 2016|07:19 pm]

Aww yeeeah guess who's havin' a beer and playing X-Com 2 tonight?
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Gross Animal Things [Feb. 2nd, 2016|05:00 pm]
1.) Baxter barfed up half a lizard onto the kitchen floor. The "middle" half, I guess. Probably a smallish Texas Spiny. We saw that he had barfed up something, but I thought it might be a hairball.

Then I looked closer, and there was no hair, but there were scales. And then I saw that the barf had legs.

(He's fine now, I guess the spines or claws just didn't agree with him.)

2.) I saw my first Texas armadillo! Technically, it was what used to be an armadillo. Technically, most of what used to be an armadillo. Definitely an armadillo though. They're distinctive.

Fortunately, I don't have any other dead animal stories to share with you today! But with the things our furry little murder machine occasionally brings into the living room, I could make one hell of a Witch's Brew. You need lizard tails? Eye of newt? Snake blood? Girlfriend I can hook you UP.
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Gonna Bust Some Shell [Jan. 27th, 2016|09:03 pm]
its on

I realize that's kind of a big part of Mario characters, is that they don't use weapons, but we can pretend.

(trying out some stuff with limiting color palettes in certain ways)
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Discovery of the Day [Jan. 24th, 2016|05:35 pm]
I've been making green tea wayyyy too strong these last like, ten years. I always wanted to like it, but couldn't quite get into it. Then today I accidentally made it "too weak," and turns out it tastes much better that way!

There was some weird thing going on where I decided that I had to let tea steep forever and make it super strong to get my "money's worth" out of the tea leaves or something. I don't know. It doesn't make sense.
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The toddler did not get his cold tolerance from me. [Jan. 22nd, 2016|04:45 pm]

"If we go outside, you have to put your clothes back on; I don't want the mailman to think we're abusing you."

The funny thing is, it was 55°F today, so I can't tell if I'm the crazy one, or he is.
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Six Little Ducks That I Once Knew [Jan. 19th, 2016|10:23 pm]

We continue to listen to a lot of kids' music. This song about ducks is not nearly as depressing as the previous one.

Did you know there's a kind of duck called the "bufflehead?" Unfortunately it is not featured here.
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Depressing Children's Songs [Jan. 16th, 2016|03:14 pm]
Ben's old enough now that he appreciates "kid music." We usually have some sort of music streaming in the living room, so our station based on Raffi has been getting a lot of airtime these days. It's nice, because we can tailor this to have more tolerable stuff (various Disney songs, anything acoustic/understated) and less ear-clawing-awful stuff (I don't even know, and I never want to).

But I've noticed that not everything on a kid's music station is necessarily happy. In fact, some of the songs are downright depressing, and I wouldn't have realized it when I was little.

1.) Puff the Magic Dragon: I loved me some Peter Paul & Mary when I was a little kid, and for some reason I remembered a happy ending to this song? But uh, I guess not. It's really sad. "The kid grew up, and now his imaginary dragon friend is miserable and scared and doomed to sit in his cave forever because he can't die. THE END."

2.) Five Little Ducks: Five little ducks go out one day, over the hills and far away. And at the end of each day, when the mother calls them back, there is one duckling missing. Slowly her brood dwindles down to nothing. At the end of the song, they all come back, but you know that in real life, those ducklings are toast. I remember jogging around the lake over the course of a summer and being bummed at the dismal survival rate of ducklings. Also, why does Mother Duck keep sending them out to die day after day??

3.) The Changing Garden of Mr. Bell: Oh man. This is a Raffi song, so you don't see it coming, because you're all "Baby Beluga!" and "Bananaphone!" And then there's a song about an old man who's obsessed with his garden. We talk about how lovely gardens are and how hard he works, and then one day the kid who brings him his paper notices a photo of the man when he was younger, with a lady and a baby. The kid asks who those people are, and the old man just kinda pauses and says, "...isn't the garden beautiful? It's always changing." RAFFI. MAN. Why you gotta drop that on me? He never spells it out either, so I have to imagine that one's a bonus for the parents who can infer what has happened to this man—"Have fun getting old!"
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Pink Turtle [Jan. 13th, 2016|04:12 pm]

Was there ever a girl ninja turtle?
(Edit! A cursory google search reveals the answer to be "Uh, yeah, technically. Sort of. We don't really like to talk about it." And it was after my time anyway.)

When I played ninja turtles as a kid, and we decided who was going to be who, I remember having to insist on not being April just because I was a girl.*

Maybe somebody could make April cool (or already has? I haven't kept up). But as a kid who was watching the old cartoon, April was lame. It would have been fun to have a turtle.

I don't know any women Renaissance artists though, so who knows what she'd call herself.

*- This was when playing with other kids. When my sister and I played, it was well established that she was Leonardo and I was Raphael.
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