Monday, July 30, 2012

Anniversary, Downton Abbey, and Nude Cards

Caleb made a remarkable recovery from his ear/throat pain of last night and this morning. Half an hour with his ear on the heating pad and he was right as rain. He should lose a tooth tomorrow too.

We had a nice dinner at Azteca to celebrate our 18th anniversary. Jill automatically starts greeting people in Spanish. Normally the waitress will start speaking English after the first round. This time she started a full conversation with a twinkle in her eye knowing that Jill had run her limit. Jill finally had to laugh and admit she was in over her head. The rest of the night the waitress spoke English to Caleb and me but everything she said to Jill was in Spanish first and English second. It was adorable and Jill was a great sport about it.

After Jill went to bed I dived into the Downton Abbey DVDs I got from Netflix. They have been back ordered for months and I got the last 2 at the same time. I'm very happy.

I am hosting 2 artist trading card swaps. The Teen Titans swap is very small. The Artistic Nudes swap is very large. I've been getting cards from all over the world this week and most of them are fantastic.

Card of the Day: The Engineer

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Limping the Wolf Path

The swelling and most of the visible bruising on my foot is gone. That is a great thing. I can put a shoe on again. The downsides (aren't there always?) are that shoes are extremely painful and the lack of swelling has ended the dull constant ache and increased the sharp sudden ones from the bone. I'm still sitting most of the day which is driving me nuts. In spite of that I think I may be on my feet too much. I'm going to use the pedometer to gauge if I'm walking more than I think I am.

July has been a fairly relaxing month for Cub Scouts. We've had a few events but everything has been low key. The leaders need time to recharge after all. I sewed my new Wolf Den Leader patch on my uniform. Now I'm writing up the detailed meeting plans for September. Wolves are more fun than Tigers because the boys are older and can do cooler things. The first month is going to be packed with tons of stuff.

I also am teaching knotcraft at the Cub Scout Day Camp. I am supposed to teach most of the common Scouting knots (overhand, square, sheet bend, bowline, etc.) but for the Tigers I get to teach them how to sew on a button and the Wolves get to learn to tie a necktie in addition to other knots. Their requirements are based on their den handbooks. I'm also planning to have a different rope magic trick to perform each day and perhaps have a tug-of-war rope and/or jump ropes handy for when we need that break halfway.

Art Card of the Day: My new self portrait. My family thinks it might as well be a mirror it looks so much like me. :-p

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scouting Frustration

I am not gay. My son is 7 so I have no idea if he is gay. But if either of us were we would be kicked out of Cub Scouts (I'm his Wolf Den Leader). Boy Scouts of America is the largest youth organization in the world and the courts have agreed they are allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The BSA confirmed today that gays are not allowed. Their main reasoning seems to be that they don't want to expose kids to sexual issues. I can respect that reasoning but I think it is not entirely truthful.

I believe that BSA is afraid of past and future scandals involving child abuse in the organization. If they permit gay people as leaders it will look like an endorsement of man/boy love somehow and people will rise up against them. I think they are right to fear child abuse within the BSA. We have to take annual training and many layers of safeguards have been put in to avoid it. But if a den or troop leader says they are gay that doesn't make them any more likely to abuse children than if they say they are straight. If I were a pedophile and a Scout leader I would try to appear as straight as possible to prevent anyone finding out.

A better policy in my opinion would be to not discriminate based on sexual orientation, make the youth protection policy as strong as it possibly can be, and outlaw sexual discussion instead. If they are concerned about kids learning about sex because of the orientation of the leader, they must also consider heterosexuals who (I am pretty sure) have just as much sex as gay people. Should they then not allow divorced people? I'm sure some of them are divorced because of sexual infidelity after all. If leaders agreed not to talk about sex that would solve the problem...unless the goal is that Scouts are being kept from even KNOWING any gay people.

If I were bisexual, would I be banned from Scouts? I could say I'm not gay and be honest about it. (I don't honestly know the extent of their policy.)

And don't even get me started on their policy on Atheists.

I allow my child to be in Cub Scouts. Our Pack's policy is more akin to don't ask, don't tell as far as religion and sexuality go. They are happy for whatever help they can get. I allow him to be part of it because it is an excellent organization in most other respects. Caleb gets so much out of it. Someday their policy will change and I would love it if he were part of it when it did. Perhaps he will even help to change it.

Art Card of the Day

Mighty Hunter - Make It Or Break It

Mighty Hunter

My 11 year old cat Sunfire is a fat orange tabby who is able to be contained in the backyard because he is too big to jump onto the fence. Last week he caught his first bird and presented it to me in our living room. Today he dropped a rat in the exact same spot for Caleb. These are the only animals larger than a tiny tree frog that either of our cats have brought to us. I think that in his senior years Sunfire has decided to cross that "big game hunter" dream off his bucket list. :D

Make It Or Break It

I watched the ABC series "Make It Or Break It" on Netflix this week. It is the story of several elite women gymnasts as they struggle to get to the Olympics. There were a few things that bothered me but overall I really enjoyed the series.

What I liked:
A Christian character was portrayed who was not a stereotype but was genuine but also weak. Too often the Christian is played for a laugh or is the antagonist somehow. I like that she struggled with her faith and how it affected her relationships.

The actual gymnastics were fun to watch. Whoever they got as the body doubles were great.

I liked that when a character had a problem it carried through the entire series and was not wrapped up in an episode or two. One of the gymnasts breaks her back and that affected everything she did right and the choices she made right up until the end.

One of the actresses got pregnant and they wrote it into the show. They dealt with the issue of abortion in a way that I haven't seen since "Rhoda" way back in the 70s. It was frank and honest and the struggle between terminating the pregnancy or the dream of Olympic gold was well played out.

What I did not like:
One of the gymnasts is the bad girl of the group. I don't mind that but until the 3rd season every word that came out of her mouth was designed to hurt someone or play an angle or get her way. She was played so much to stereotype that there was nothing to love about her. Unfortunately she was best friends with two of the other lead characters and I found myself wondering why they didn't kick her to the curb years ago. No one would ever want to be friends with her.

That girl did something that humiliated her best friend and got their beloved coach fired. The story was played up over the course of most of the series. When it is finally revealed that she was responsible the humiliated girl forgives her on the spot. That wasn't at all realistic to me. This may have been because the last season was cut to only 8 episodes and the plot needed quick resolution.

The shortened season was the other thing I didn't like. It was rushed as the girls attempt to qualify for the Olympics. New characters were introduced and most of the parents cut from the show but there was little time to explore the new characters. One of the new gymnasts was very interesting and while they did a good job on her story given the time they had I think a full season would have been better for her story. The series ends with the revelation of who made the Olympic team and who didn't. We never learn how they do. That may be a good ending or not depending on your point-of-view.

Lego Help Needed

For the last few days I have been building a Lego community of sorts. It has a central lawn that is 2 x 2 feet. Along one edge is a house. Another edge has 2 houses and the third has a larger community center building. The final side is bordered by a large lake. Every house has its own parking spot. The yard is designed to be communal for all the residents.

There is a large grill, a fire pit, a treehouse, a half court basketball court, a sandbox, a dock, a lily pond with frogs, a flower garden, a small island perfect for diving into the lake, a large picnic table, a set of lawn chairs and table, a few trees, surfboards (on a lake?) and a remote control toy car. The community center has a rooftop garden, a picnic table, and an area for the rock band I'm going to eventually build.

Any ideas on what else to add? If this were your commune, what would you want?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Settlers, Tickets, China and Russia visit

Today was pretty awesome. My sister-in-law Jill visited. She teaches in China since there are few jobs for teachers here in the states. We get to see her about twice a year and always play Settlers of Catan. She is a shark at that game and continued her winning streak today. We also played the Lego Ninjago board game which was a lot of fun. We downed about 70 strawberries from the garden and had a real good talk. I miss her a lot and wish she could move back home.

After sister-in-law Jill left, Caleb, wife Jill and I played Ticket to Ride for the first time. Caleb played with his cards face up so we could help him but he picked up the rules way faster than we thought he would. This game was extremely fun and we are going to make it a regular part of our game rotation.

Unfortunately I hurt my foot a bit more today. Caleb accidentally kicked the broken toe. It was entirely my fault. I had braced my foot under his chair while we were playing Settlers and he swung his foot back and got me. A couple of hours later I was going into the kitchen and turned my foot, dropping a lot of weight on that side of my foot. A few new bruises have risen and the pain is about as bad as day 2.

The Lego commune is coming along pretty nicely. Today I added a very cool treehouse, a campfire, and a tree shaded area for people to sit in lawn chairs.

The Galaxy Scouts book is crawling along. I wanted to hand write the dialogue and it is proving to be very time consuming.

I'm not sure why but half my views this week have come from Russia. If you are from Russia, leave a comment. :D

Card of the Day: Typewriter

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Healing Creativity Time

I am in the enviable position of having my son visiting his grandparents in Anacortes for 4 days and me not being in a well enough condition to have to mow the lawn while he is gone. My foot remains a sore subject. Ba dum dum.


Before he left Caleb and I began working on a grand new Lego project. We are building a sort of commune. I was inspired by a friend's Facebook post a couple of days ago. There is a large field with three small houses and one long utility building for everyone to share. It is bordered on one side by a lake. There will be room for a small farm, a half basketball court, a fire pit, a tree house, and a large communal lawn for the kids to play. On the street will be a fruit/vegetable stand. I don't have a Lego goat or chickens so I may have to abstract those. It isn't big enough for a cow or horse or polar bear to be comfortable.


So during my time without Caleb I am going to do as little walking and standing as possible. I will use the time to heal and be creative. I will draw like crazy to progress on "Galaxy Scouts." I will build Legos and watch DVDs. The only job I'm forcing myself to do is the laundry because it is driving me nuts having so much of it.


I have 24 DVDs in my queue. 12 of them have short to very long waits. Has Netflix run out of videos?

Drawing of the Day: TIE fighter

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever

I have a garden. I find it relaxing and fresh treats at the table are always welcome. Right now the carrots are starting to poke their greens up (after 3 attempts to grow) and the peas are growing nicely. The cauliflower and spinach are coming along well and lettuce I didn't plant has come in, possibly from a previous year.

I've been growing strawberries for 5 years in a 4 foot square garden box on the north side of the house. As the years have passed trees have cut out the sunlight there and what were once prosperous bushes were all but useless last year. I started a new box last year on the south side of the house with some transplants some friends gave me. We didn't get a lot of fruit from them, which was expected since they were transplanted just before they were due to flower. This spring I moved the northern strawberry plants into the new box and into 4 square feet of the box full of leaf vegetables. The size was amazing. The old plants were 1/3 the size of the transplants and I feared they might not survive at all. Fast forward a couple of months and the northern plants have doubled in size and we have started to come in strawberries.

Our garden now has 20 square feet of strawberry plants. Today we pulled 90 strawberries and added them to the 120 we had picked already. Probably 50 more have been eaten by bugs and birds. We are probably about 1/2 way through the harvest. So far on average the garden has produced 210 edible strawberries or about 10 1/2 per square foot.

Next spring I am going to invite the Cub Scouts to take over my garden boxes, planting what they want, weeding, watering, and harvesting for their own families with us taking as share as well. Every year we have some that grow great and many that don't. I would love to have a full garden with everything growing in huge numbers.

The garden currently has 4 boxes and two deeper planters (for the carrots)totaling 66 square feet. Next year the plan is to try and double that.

Book Update
I finished writing the script of the comic today. The title is "The Galaxy Scouts and the Night of the BazOOmabOOs." It is an adventure comic for kids and will be 64 pages. The main character designs are finalized. I need to do some character sheets for the BazOOmabOOs and an alien and then I can get to drawing the comic.

Card of the Day - Bachelor Buttons

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life Drawing and Lessons in Pain

I decided today that I really need to get into a life drawing class at some point. I have reached a plateau in drawing and while they are a lot of fun the size of the art cards is limiting me. I need to move from small to large. The problem is that classes run from $25 an hour and up in this area. I can go a certain distance by people watching but I don't self teach particularly well. I also tend to insulate myself from outside critique, which is generally not useful.

It was suggested by a friend that I could host drawing sessions at my house, charge $10 per person to pay for a model (or seek volunteers) and go from there. I'm not sure if I have the connections to set that up. I would need several artists to make it worth while and contacts with willing models. It would end up being like a writing group as far as education. I'll have to mull it over. If you are an artist in the Mill Creek area who would be interested in something like that let me know.

I felt really good when I woke up this morning. My foot is sore but I didn't need the cane most of the day. I got some work done. I played games with my son. I watched part of a Harry Potter movie.

But somehow all the little things that didn't bother me glommed together into one big ache in the toe. I'm barely walking at this point. The ice is helping. The pain killers I can take in another hour will help even more. I need to learn the lesson that pain is the body's way to telling you to take it easy.

Card of the Day: Moaning Myrtle

Sunday, July 8, 2012

the Sun and the Nudes and the Drawings

Today was all about relaxing. I kept my foot rested and iced. The swelling has gone down and the purple has come out. A fair trade I believe.

I spent about half an hour napping in the sun in just a pair of shorts and a sleeping mask. Too bad the shorts are mandatory in our society. Our neighbor sunbathes nude. I discovered this when I tried to return a tool without calling first last month. He was cool with it. His yard is completely enclosed in trees so he has a reasonable expectation of privacy. I don't. If I had my druthers I would probably just wear shoes and socks most of the time anyway. Clothes are annoying.

I've been doing more and more nude art lately. I've been drawing people since I was in 4th grade but always in a comic book or cartoon style. I've been trying to get more realistic poses and proportions. So far I've drawn 3 males and 4 females. These have all been from photo references from stock websites or from my imagination. I would love to be in a class with live models. I would probably have to draw in something larger than a baseball card for those though.

Once I finish the Galaxy Scouts comic book I'm going to put my mind to some larger life drawing projects just to improve my skill.

In order to keep the blog family friendly I'll point you toward my gallery.

Card of the Day

A Wager

I tend to get more done when I have something at stake. My friend Nate has been working on a novel for a long time and is trying to wrap up the editing so we agreed on a date in August as the final date. As an incentive he agreed to a most horrible punishment should he fail to meet the date.

He will have to watch a Bob Sagat comedy special. True punishment indeed.

But then I thought that wasn't fair. I have been wanting to draw a 64 page comic book for years now. I decided to take the same bet. I've been drawing on and off all month but I haven't been able to find the character design I'm really interested in. Then it hit me! Back when I worked at KB Toys I bought a bunch of Bendos figures and they are perfect as a starting place for my design. There was a lot of tweaking but the initial sketches are promising.

I've admit I've been procrastinating actually writing the thing. I know what I want. It will be only slightly more mature than Captain Underpants.

This morning I was wasting some time doing manual labor. I had to disassemble the Cub Scout Pack's Independence Day parade float. Everything was going swimmingly until a sheet of plywood slipped out of my hand and landed corner first on my big toe. Yup. Broken. I'm off my feet for the foreseeable future. But I wrote the first 1/4 of the book throughout the day. So maybe the fates perspired against me once again.

Here is my art card of the day. I'm going to try to put out one piece a day. They have been created over several years. Cheers.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


All the ducks are in a row now. Nice little ducks. I closed my dreamhost account because I simply wasn't using it. I renewed my url for 3 years using some of the credit I got for closing the other account. After about 2 days it points to this new blog.

So what will I use it for? It is an all purpose blog that I will mirror on Facebook. I will show off new art cards as I finish them. I will probably share some Cub Scout ideas and other things I pick up from around the web. To celebrate the new blog, here are some artist trading cards I've completed recently. To see my entire collection, including the artistic nudes which I can't post here due to TOS please visit