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RIP Big Right Toenail. [Aug. 25th, 2019|08:37 am]
You had a good run of what, thirtysomething years?

(If you're squeamish about losing toenails, maybe skip this one.)

* * *

I forget if I wrote about it, but over the last Christmas visit, Nate and I did a mountain hike near his parents' place. I mentioned I wanted to go to the peak, and the rest of his family kinda gave us that... look. That "Suit yourself, but you're insane" look. His brothers agreed to hike with us halfway, but when I tried to convince them to keep going after that, they told us that ehhhh, they'd done the whole hike once. They didn't need to do it again.

And ok, so yeah. It was a rough hike. The kind where you're flagging and you're sure that it has to get easier after this particularly steep gully, but actually no, there are half a dozen more just like it before the scenery changes back to regular mountain. The kind where you're thinking that now would be the perfect time for a spirit vision or something because this is some bullshit.

But we made it to the top, and this is not even the relevant part of the story, I just wanted to brag about it.

The relevant part is that we came back down, and we were hurrying because we didn't realize how long a nine-mile mountain hike was going to take us, and we wanted to get back to relieve the grandparents of their babysitting duties before dinner.

I did not pack my heavy-duty hiking boots for a family Christmas trip, and my beat-up sneakers, God bless 'em, were not completely up to the task. So my toes were slamming against the inside of my shoe for however-many-steps-it-takes to go four and a half miles down a mountain. I noticed some bruises under the big toe the next day and eagerly showed Nate because a.) I know he hates that sort of thing but I'm married to him so I can do it and it's funny, and b.) I felt vindicated about all the complaining I had done the previous evening.

After that, I guess the poor nail never quite recovered, but it took eight months for it to fall off completely. This was helped along a few times by the fact that I have a two-year-old who is often messing around under my feet, and in the elevator at Trader Joe's yesterday, she kicked my toes and that. Was. It.

I thought my toe was going to look super horrible afterwards, but you don't really notice anything weird unless you're staring at it, since toenails are skin-colored anyway.

I'm hoping that its successor comes in without any issues. We'll see, in what will probably be another eight-month period.

(PS- Apparently this sort of thing happens to runners a lot? And they're all super blasé about it. Cue my look of, "Suit yourself, but you're insane.")
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The Heat Plateau [Aug. 17th, 2019|08:57 pm]
It's that time of year where I stop checking what the weather is going to be tomorrow, because I know, the answer is "a hundred," and it's going to be "a hundred" for the foreseeable future.

Having the park no longer on the agenda for the kids makes things tricky. I guess there are pools? But those require way more prep and way more supervision on my part, since neither kid can swim.

I went out and ran a few miles in the afternoon last week, partially because I was stir-crazy and partially just to like... see what would happen. Turns out you get real sweaty and have to walk near the end, but that's about it. (Don't worry, I'm not nearly athletic enough to run distances that would put me in heat exhaustion territory.)

I will say though, I feel more equipped to dealing with being outside in the heat than being outside in the cold. I've got the summer strategy down: ice water, sundress, shade, fan, and melting into the nearest deck chair. It works. I'm not as good at being cold, I break down and want to go inside way more quickly.

The kids are weird, they don't seem to notice temperature at either end as much as Nate and I do.
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True Story [Aug. 14th, 2019|11:56 am]
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Thought of the Day [Aug. 11th, 2019|08:30 pm]
You ever have those times where you must have been more dehydrated than you realized, because you go to drink a glass of water and you legit surprise yourself with how fast you drink the whole thing?
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Viruses [Jul. 29th, 2019|12:34 pm]
The joke is that parenting is a job where you don't get sick days, and I forget how true that is until I actually, you know, get sick.

I don't know whether this was a particularly nasty strain, or the sleep deprivation from being up in the night with Ben the week before exacerbated things, or maybe I'm just getting old... but the latest cold I caught from him knocked. Me. Out.

But even when you're curled up under a blanket staring morosely out at the world because standing up sounds almost unthinkable, your two-year-old will swagger in, literally fling the blanket off of you, and yell, "MOMMY GET UP."







And then she crawls on you and jumps up and down on your torso. The weekend was long. And rough. Nate did what he could to field the kids, but Eleanor especially is on to that game, and knows to demand Mommy specifically, doubling down when Nate gently suggests doing something else.

Today is a bit better. I can move around without the aaaching, but my throat and lymph nodes are still raging out.

Actual official medical diagram.

I always get the virus after one of the kids does (because it always comes from one of them), and I always end up with this guilty feeling of, "Oh geez, if THIS is how Ben was feeling all last week, I should have given him all the freaking ice cream and iPad he wanted, because this SUCKS."

PS- We've been trying to teach the kids to share more, and they've gotten better at it, to the point I caught them sharing their used tissues the other week, and had to backpedal and mention that SOME things maybe we shouldn't share.

This is why when people mention "safeguards" to keep colds from spreading through families, I want to be like, "My kids are sharing snotty tissues and I saw a random child at the burger place licking the stair rail one time. They laugh in the face your hand sanitizer."
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Wasp Identification [Jul. 26th, 2019|09:16 am]
There are two big wasp species around here, the "Cicada Killer" and the "Tarantula Hawk." And even though they're both intimidating-looking, one is just kinda whatever, and the other has one of the most painful stings in the entire world.

I was having trouble remembering which was which, but when you think about it, which is easier to prey on—a cicada or a tarantula?

Cicada: dopey, clumsy, not built for survival past a few weeks
Tarantula: large, competent predator, has fangs and stuff

It's like if there were two big monsters called the "manatee-eater" and the "tiger-eater" and you had to guess which one was more dangerous.
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Sunflower Seeds [Jul. 25th, 2019|04:16 pm]
I'd been looking to harvest the sunflower seeds off of Ben's sunflowers for a long time. I watched them eagerly and kept googling "when to harvest sunflower seeds." It just looked like it would be so fun to brush all those seeds off the flower. Maybe salt-soak and roast them. So cool. Such harvest goddess.


Turns out, sunflower seeds are a pain in the butt to work with. 40% of them don't even have seeds inside the shells. They float aggressively, which makes them hard to soak, and then they stick to your hands like crazy. Then shelling them, oh my god. I guess they have machinery that does this at large scales because otherwise hulled sunflower seeds would be as expensive per ounce as saffron.

We only had the three sunflowers, which covered about two baking sheets. And I started shelling these things, because I got it into my head that I wanted to make bread with sunflower seeds in it. Later that night, my thumbnails were starting to really hurt and I had barely made a dent in the pile and I realized what I had gotten myself into.

I kept going, grimly, because despite my non-confrontational nature, I've learned that I am actually a very proud and stubborn person.* I'd shell sunflower seeds after the kids were in bed, waiting for water to boil, or while on the phone. One of the most valuable things I've learned as an adult is that no matter how daunting a list of tasks looks, you can get through it one step at a time.** And sure enough, a few days later, the seed pile was conquered.

There was maybe... a bit under a cup of final product.

Probably like two dollar's worth if I had bought it from the store.

I made the seed bread though. It's good. It was SO not worth it, but it's good.

I have a newfound appreciation for squirrels and birds and anyone who has to go through that much effort for that small of an edible reward... which was probably most people? for most of human history?? Wow.

*-Ask Nate, who will watch me carry way too many groceries way too far on foot, or try to mow the lawn when it's way too hot out. He'll ask if I need help, and he'll receive the haughtiest glare I can manage and a "Nahh, I've got this."

**-Speaking of which, I'm almost all the way through a Wildermyth weapon redesign that involved drawing, exporting, and implementing over two hundred separate weapons. I've currently got 6 or 7 left to go.
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(no subject) [Jul. 3rd, 2019|12:47 pm]
Man, I keep seeing trailers for New CG Lion King and I have such complicated feelings. Lion King was my liiiiffee from like 3rd through 6th grade. Maybe more.

There's this thing in 2D animation where you have to design a character. You have to take them down to their essential lines, because you're going to be drawing them 50 million times. But you don't have that in 3D, at least not the kind of hyperrealistic 3D they're doing for Lion King. You can't play too hard with the proportions or the color schemes, because the whole point is that you're trying to realistically render something.

And they're basically there, I think. Which, man, congrats. You've got my brain buying the talking lion without any hiccups. That's impressive. But what you end up with, visually, is a Discovery Channel special where the lions are actually talking.

I dunno, maybe that's not fair of me. I'll probably still take Ben to see it eventually, because I'm a sucker.
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Simpler Times [Jun. 18th, 2019|05:00 pm]
Remember back when you could be a virtuous environmentalist by Not-Littering? Just by throwing your trash in a freaking trash can? And then you were like, a model citizen?

Then it was recycling. If you recycled, you were pretty awesome. But if you were making trash, that was bad.

But now recycling is apparently kind of pointless, and the new bar is, "Don't consume things. Especially plastic things, plastic things are the worrrst." Sometimes I pout and long for the days when I could feel like a good person just for putting my trash in the trash can. But I dunno, dolphins are dying and polar bears are dying and bees are dying and we're all gonna die and whatever.

(Plus, this shift happened as I acquired small children. If you have ever had small children in 2019, you might nod your head when I try and fail to express how much trash comes and goes though our lives now. Especially plastic trash.)
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Overheard [Jun. 17th, 2019|10:53 am]
Sometimes when you're out in public, you'll hear a line of someone else's conversation out of context, and the line is:

"...But you live in the suburbs! How big of a snake was it?"

And you don't hear any more of the conversation, but man, you wonder where it went from there.
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Photographic Evidence that sometimes the garden works. [Jun. 4th, 2019|10:21 am]

"Other people's gardens" has to be right up there with "other people's dreams" and "other people's D&D characters" on the list of Things That Are Not Very Interesting. But this is mostly for me.

Ben got it in his head earlier this year that he wanted to plant sunflowers, so we got him a pack of seeds and put them in the ground together. I was skeptical about them, but we ended up getting three to sprout. When they were small, he would say, "I want to watch my sunflowers grow." And he'd walk out to the garden, squat by a seedling, and stare at it intently for a while.

He still likes to come out and admire them, and he beamed with pride the day the flowers finally opened. It's been great to watch him keep an interest in them this whole time.

The tomatoes have done alright—I'm attributing it to the fact that we bought decent soil, a tomato-specific fertilizer, and rigged up an actual irrigation system which AGGH I forgot to turn off again last night, hang on a second.



Ugh. It's alright, the beds drain really well, and Nate always reminds me that water is cheap.

Anyway, tomatoes have had their best year so far. That giant obscene blob of a plant over on the left is all one tomato plant who wins by a mile for "most foliage" but is taking its sweet time with producing any fruit. The others have been respectable, and even the ones that are inevitably succumbing to blights or wilts get an A for effort this year.

Basils were... not a failure per se, more just a disappointment this year. But that's on me for getting Weird Basils and not Regular Basils, I think. I learned my lesson and harvested the whole plants to make pesto before they died completely. Patting myself on the back for that one, at least.

You might also notice the squash vines. I didn't plant any squash, but apparently some of the squash seeds that made it into the compost in the last year had other plans. So I'm about to have like ten surprise butternut squashes and I guess I'll figure out what to do with them. The compost bin itself (the wooden thing over on the right) also became a home for what I guess is another squash-type plant... maybe seeds from our Halloween pumpkin? It hasn't made anything but giant leaves and some flowers, so I'm not sure. I let it go because I'm lazy, and eh, once summer gets into full swing it'll probably die off (since it's not on the irrigation system) and put whatever nutrients it sucked up back into the compost. Shrug.

Right now the whole thing is a lovely hot mess, and I'm happy to be out there for a little bit of time each day, inspecting and harvesting tomatoes, hunting and slaughtering the stupid leaf-footed stink bugs that are back again this year, and of course, doing the thing where you imagine that you're four inches tall and then the garden is this crazy massive jungle thing.

Everybody does that, right?
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Thought of the Day [May. 27th, 2019|11:34 am]
Geez, you search the internet for a 50lb bag of rolled oats one time, and now facebook is so excited to help and keeps showing you ads for this.

(As it so happens, I am in the market for a 50lb bag of rolled oats, facebook. But the shipping costs on them are murder.)
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Summoning Rituals [May. 8th, 2019|11:51 am]

Infernal rituals are probably such a bureaucratic pain, that explains why the cultists and warlocks are always so particular about their spells.

"These bloodstones need to be placed perfectly. They're sticklers for this sort of thing. If you mess up the breed of goat or light the wrong number of candles, they'll kick the whole thing back to you!"

"Please allow four to six weeks for the processing of your curse."

"Sir, this is Invocation. You're going to want to talk to the Necromancy department. I can give you the instructions for their ritual."
"I've tried the ritual three times, they haven't picked up. Can't you just—"
"I'm sorry sir, that's not my department."
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Spay and Neuter Your Pets, People. [May. 4th, 2019|08:46 pm]
Hey, did you know people actually leave literal cardboard boxes of kittens on other people's doorsteps? Even when said kittens are like a week old, the size of hamsters, and clearly not weaned yet?

So, our morning didn't turn out like we expected it to.

We were on our way out to get a present for a friend's kid's birthday party (which was in 3 hours, never let it be said that I've outgrown my procrastination). And as we went out to the car, there was a cardboard box on the front walkway. I went through the following stages as I checked it out.

1. Oh cool, a package.
2. Why's the lid off?
3. What? Why would someone put a box at our door with three dead gerbils on a paper towel?
4. Holy crap, those aren't gerbils. And they aren't dead.

It might come as a shock to you, but we don't keep feline milk around the house. So I call the first place I can think of, which is Baxter's vet. They tell us to call a place called the Austin Animal Center. I call them, they don't pick up and their voicemail is full. Google around, consider the Austin Humane Society, but they don't open for another hour and also don't answer the phone.

The kids are meanwhile giggling about the "mice" in the box, I'm alternately dialing angrily and snapping at them to not even think about touching the mice.

Call the vet again, vet-phone-lady checks with co-workers and tells us to just take them directly to Austin Animal Center, don't worry about calling.

The place is maybe 25 minutes away. And of course the kids want to come along. So sure, let's make a family trip out of it, the birthday present can wait. I held the box of kittens while Nate drove, noticing how much their paws actually do look like gerbils' at this age, worrying about the one whose breathing seemed shallower than the others', wondering how long it had been since they ate, and growing more furious with whoever left them at our door. Did they know the mother was dead or tried to eat the kittens or something, and that's why they did it? Was it just that we looked responsible? Did they think our cat was the dad, because one of the kittens was gray (Baxter is quite neutered, thankyouverymuch)? If they just didn't know what to do or couldn't deal with the kittens for some reason, why not just ring the doorbell and ask for help? We would have helped. But leaving the literal cardboard box... If we hadn't had the party that day and hadn't needed to shop for it, who knows how long it would have been before we came out the front door? Then my kids could have discovered a box of dead kittens, which would have been fantastic on so many levels.

Vet-phone-lady was right, the Animal Center took the kittens right away. It was a little depressing—in the few minutes we sat in their front room, another 4 or so abandoned kittens were brought in, though none were as tiny as ours. I asked the person at the desk how many kittens they get in a day.

"In the spring and summer? A lot," she answered.

Another lady took the box, mentioned that the kittens seemed a bit cold and she was going to get them warmed up, and whisked them away into the back. All three were still alive when we handed them off, so I guess we did what we could. I felt a little bad turning it into someone else's problem, but Nate mentioned that that's what the place is there for. And the alternative of letting them die in our kitchen wasn't something I wanted to do either.

We made a donation to the Center before we left, because boy are those people probably overwhelmed, then got back in the car, and that was that. Nate and I tossed back and forth various versions of, "Can you believe people?" We went straight to the toy store to get the present, and then straight to the birthday party after that, only a little bit late.

It was weird to have something that urgent pop up and take over our life for a couple hours, and then have it disappear again just as quickly. I have no idea if any of the kittens will make it, whether that means making it to adulthood or making it to a home or what (I was just hearing about kittens who grow up without their mothers not learning to clean themselves and needing to be bathed regularly, aww). But I dunno, sometimes I wonder what the first part of Baxter's life story was. Or Chloe's. Maybe somebody will wonder the same thing about one of those kittens one day. And even though they'll never know the whole story either, I like the idea that it's written down somewhere.
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Black Hole [Apr. 13th, 2019|01:50 pm]
So, I can't be the only person who saw the black hole,


and thought what would be really fun is if they panned over a bit more, and it was actually this:


And then it blinked.
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Mornings [Apr. 12th, 2019|09:19 am]

Working from home can be such a trap, especially the mornings where Nate takes Eleanor to preschool instead of me. Those mornings I'm like, "But the assets are going to get drawn and the bugs are going to get fixed, and I certainly don't need to change out of my pajamas for those things to happen."

But Civilized Brain and its hype-man, Coffee, have to jump up and down and go, "Annie! Just take like 15 minutes and make yourself feel 500% more human! Just do it! You'll feel so much better!"

And so I do. And then I do. And then we do the whole inertia/hype-dance over again the next morning.
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PossumSketch [Mar. 26th, 2019|07:13 pm]

Possum has a brilliant new idea for trash bin design that he'd love to share with you.
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Circular Thrixl [Mar. 21st, 2019|12:20 pm]

Another doodle based on Wildermyth enemy.
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Hoarse [Mar. 10th, 2019|07:02 pm]
When I was younger, losing my voice was actually kinda fun. It was dramatic, didn't hurt much, and everybody was so sympathetic all day.

Now that I'm an adult, especially an adult with kids, losing my voice is just a pain in the butt. The toddler wants me to sing Happy Birthday over and over to every family member and fictional character that she knows, and I don't know how many more rounds I have in me. I can't get the six-year-old to listen to me because hey, Mom's whispering, so whatever it is, it can't be that important. We were going to try to record a play session for the game, but Annie sounds like an old screen door that's maybe possessed by a demon, so that's not happening 'til next week at the earliest.

And I know I'm dragging out the laryngitis with every forceful croak at somebody to put that down, give that back to her, your basketball's on the porch, okay fine here's another graham cracker. But just not talking for a day isn't an option.
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Acting out those toddler social skills. [Mar. 4th, 2019|09:21 am]
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Wildermyth Beta Launch! [Mar. 1st, 2019|01:06 pm]
Heyyy, if you want to get the game that's been getting all of my Art Love instead of this blog, it's available now!

Get it here, on itch.io!
(itch.io is a platform for games, like Steam, but more geared towards indie games. They're cool)



It's a tactical strategy/RPG game (lead a group of heroes fighting monsters on a grid), but more than that, it's our attempt to get really deep with the character customization and storytelling.

We're in Beta right now, which means that we'll be improving the balance, adding content, and bug-fixing for the foreseeable future.

It also means that you can get Wildermyth at a discount, and once you've bought the beta, you own the whole game and will get all updates & new versions from here on out.
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Thanks, Photoshop, I got this. [Feb. 22nd, 2019|09:50 am]

What do you think the last year of my life has consisted of, Photoshop? Remember when we decided to make a bank of character heads with dozens of head shapes, faces, hairstyles, expressions, tattoos, hair-color dependent animal head replacements and aging/wrinkle layers?

Remember Layer 1,612? We made that one recently. We named it "Flame tattoo forehead F outline." Or something.

It's a little late to warn me about large documents that take a long time. We're in too deep now. We're riding this party-bus all the way to hell.
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Thought of the Day: Language [Feb. 13th, 2019|08:53 am]
Thesaurus.com won't give me synonyms for "clusterfuck" and come on, what is even the point, then?
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That's How This Works, Right? [Feb. 7th, 2019|11:31 am]
Me: Wait, so... I hear people talk about nervous breakdowns. What constitutes a "nervous breakdown," anyway?

(Looking up definition)

Me: Oh, huh. Well, I've never had one of those.

Me: Clearly I am not working hard enough. :(
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Thought of the Day [Feb. 2nd, 2019|08:51 am]
Today I learned that chipotlé peppers are just ripened and dried jalapeños. How did I go so many years without knowing this? I feel lied to even though nobody ever actually lied to me.
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