Saturday, November 21, 2015

Day 372 in California

Today marks 372 days that I can say I've lived in California. Let's dive in, shall we?
The scenery is beautiful in California. The people have attitude problems. There is the reality that is Los Angeles, in all it's dirty, grimy, interesting glory; and there is the perceived reality of fame and fortune, that is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of Los Angeles. I think my bigger problem with California is the city of Los Angeles- not with the state itself.

I love San Diego. But I don't live there. I've been told I would love Northern California, but that's a day of driving to get to, so I haven't been yet.

There are definitely days, living in Los Angeles, that I dream of getting in my car and heading directly east as quickly as possible to clear that state line. But those days have grown few and far between. I don't see myself staying in California, let's put it that way. But there is a calmness and a laziness that I feel in this state that hasn't left me screaming to get away. California just feels like a vacationing destination, not a permanent living destination. It's possible to live in California, don't get me wrong; it's just not my cup of tea. I'm not a winter sport enthusiast or a lover of the beach and laying out in the sun. Hell, the ends of my hair have already started to bleach out and I spend next to no time outside. I used to do a Valley-girl impression, that's, sadly, an actual accent here (not necessarily in the Valley, but more toward Malibu).

I don't enjoy how people honk their horns if you start to slow down at a yellow light; or when you don't pull into the intersection on a red light; or if you actually come to a complete stop at any intersection that indicates you should stop. I also don't enjoy the lack of parking lots and instead the absolute need for everyone to know how to parallel park (believe me when I say, if I have to parallel park to go somewhere, I skip it- whatever it was, it wasn't that important).

I do enjoy the fresh produce here. You'd be surprised (anyone who doesn't live in California) how amazing fresh lettuce tastes. I do enjoy that once the sun sets, you need a sweater. I love that people are terrified of rain here, so much so that some people leave their work places early to beat the possible .05" of rain that may or may not fall. I enjoy that there are acts of nature out here that I haven't seen anywhere else I have lived (I don't like the damage that can be caused from them, but it's interesting to see new things)- like the landslide that is currently taking place in Santa Clarita: Read and watch the news about it here. (Side note...Channel 5 news in the early AM, weekdays, actually has a Dallas, TX fan favorite anchor- Megan Henderson- I missed her when she left, but I'm glad I can watch her deliver the news in CA.)

It's a mixed bag of feelings for the most part, but overall I don't see this being my forever home. Sure I'll add it to my vacation destination list (San Diego, not so much LA), but I'm not going to put any roots down here. I'm thankful for the opportunity we've had to be out here, to see it for myself, but I'll be happy when I can return "home".

Saturday, November 07, 2015

That time I lived in a haunted house...

This would have probably been more appropriate on Halloween, and I considered posting it then, but I got distracted by a large bowl of candy.

I feel like I need to set this up for you, in order to fully appreciate the insanity of it all.

I was raised on a the country...fairly close to Indian burial grounds. I've seen weird, unexplainable things in my life. But I was raised in a way that made me question everything- to try to figure out what it, logically, could have been that I saw or heard. I'm sure, had I been raised any other way, I would have tall tales to tell that would be unbelievable to all believers. Honestly, I do have tales that I won't tell because I know the looks I would get, and the whispers of "she's crazy!", that I don't need to hear, I already feel crazy. So if you've ever actually heard one of my "stories", it's because I trust you enough, that I think you know me well enough, to know if I'm truly crazy or not.

In fact, I've only told a handful of people what I'm about to share here, because I know I would be called crazy...I'm only sharing it now, because I feel like I need to.

Gonzo and I, once rented a house in Dallas, TX (I won't say specifically where), that was a house we actually considered buying. We lived there for a good 3 years. We had a great landlord, who actually grew up in that house. It was well loved, and well taken care of. Our first day, we found a praying mantis hanging out on our mailbox- which we took as a sign of good luck.

I'm not unlike other people, in the sense that, once it gets dark outside, everything tends to take on a whole new sinister look. If I hear a pop, or creak- it instantly means the boogie man is going to murder me if I fall back asleep. Dark=scary. I think most people, never truly grow out of that. But on the day that I learned we weren't alone in our rented house, it was completely light outside. In fact, I think I had come home early from work, so it was like 4 in the afternoon.  Bright summer, Texas sun, streaming in all the windows.

I had been watching TV and saw something out of the corner of my eye, in the kitchen. Which, isn't uncommon for most people, to "think" that they saw something move, out of the corner of their eye. It happens. Generally, when you look directly at the spot that contained something that possibly moved, you don't see an older woman with white hair and a pink shirt smiling back at you- unless you are at grandma's house. Fortunately for me, both of my grandma's are gone, and I was in my own home. I saw her for a grand total of two full seconds and she was gone, like she evaporated into thin air.

Of course, I called my mom- the keeper of a calm head- when I could have possibly seen something that I shouldn't see. My heart was racing, but I had stayed, firmly planted in the chair I had been sitting in when I saw her (Gonzo would later call her "Mary", which I really don't think she liked). My mom ran thru all of the possibilities of "light reflecting off of a dish or glass on the counter"; "possible gas leak in the house"; "Carbon monoxide poisoning"; "burglar"; You name it, she suggested it. After saying "no" to all of the suggestions, she actually agreed that maybe, just maybe, I had seen a ghost. She also told me that she wasn't sure she would ever visit me again, for as long as we lived there.

I felt calm. Truly calm, other than having been startled by the grandmotherly figure who decided to let me know that the kitchen belonged to her. It wasn't like the movies, where people run screaming from the possessed house; or become possessed themselves. It was kind of like having a new roommate move in. A quiet, rarely seen, roommate who doesn't eat your food.

Shortly after that incident, I began to notice that one of the two doors that led out of the house, would be unlocked in the morning. I kept letting Gonzo know that he had forgot to lock the doors before bed and needed to be more careful, we weren't exactly in a nice neighborhood. It wasn't until one specific night, when Gonzo made me watch him lock the door, so we would both see and know that we weren't acting crazy, that we realized our ghost was being mischievous. I watched him lock the deadbolt and the lock on the door knob in the kitchen- we walked thru the living room and I watched him lock both the locks on the front door. We went to bed that night and on my way to work the next morning, when I reached the kitchen door- the locks were unlocked. I had laughed to myself for having been so hard on Gonzo about not remembering to lock the doors, here it was the kitchen ghost, the whole time.

Now would be a good time to let you know that hind-sight is truly 20-20.

We had discovered a pretty bad smell in the house after a hard rain. It really smelled like something had died. We had narrowed our search to the kitchen, but it smelled like it was coming from under the floor. The only way to get under the house was the crawl space, which had an entrance in one of the hallway closets- on the other side of the house from the kitchen.

We drug everything we were storing in that closet, out into the hallway, so Gonzo could open the trap door and get under the house. I was busy knitting or watching TV, I don't honestly remember, but that was a "man-duty" so I was letting Gonzo take care of it.

"Uh, baby, can you come here for a minute?" I heard from the hall closet.

Assuming he needed me to hold the flashlight I eagerly walked the few feet to where the door was, "Sure what's up?" I asked, looking down at Gonzo, who was waist deep in the crawl space.

"I need you to look at something and tell me what you think it is."

Immediately I rolled my eyes, assuming he was going to have me identify the dead animal carcass that was stinking up the house. "Ok."

"Don't freak out," he said as he shinned the light into the crawl space in the opposite direction of the kitchen, "lean down and look." The hesitation and calmness of his voice, made the hairs on my neck and arms stand up, and I took a step back.

I leaned down for a split second before jerking straight up, "What is that!?!?!" I freaked out and leaned back down again, my eyes following the beam of light, "Get out of there! Get out of the crawl space! Oh my God, what is that???" I tugged on Gonzo's arm begging him to get out of the crawl space.

There was a large, black, trash bag, in the crawl space. Full of...something.

Seeing it, immediately reminded me of when we had done the walk thru on the house before signing the lease.

"You have access to 100% of the house, except for the attic- I use that for storage; and the crawl space under the house. If you have to get under the house, call me- I don't want anyone to end up with a broken leg or any kind of injury from jumping down there. Also one section of the cabinets in the garage is off limits, I have maintenance things in there for the other properties I own." The landlord had told me as we walked from room to room making sure everything looked good for move in. Gonzo had been off looking at one of the restrooms, missing the warning.

"What is that?" Gonzo had asked, brushing the cobwebs from his pant legs as he closed the crawl space.

"Dead body; millions of dollars from a bank heist; a voodoo curse; dead llama; dead body." I rattled off.

"Dead llama?" He questioned with a smirk on his face.

"It's a thing in other countries, for fertility or good luck, or something. Someone brings a dead llama fetus and buries it under ground or something. It's a thing, look it up!" I was frantic.

"Ok, but it's not buried, it's just under the house."

"I don't freaking know! Didn't the landlord used to live here? He grew up here, right? He probably knows. Call him!"

"It's a trash bag, it's probably raked leaves or something."

"Who puts raked leaves in a bag, under the house? That's a freaking dead body. The landlord pulled a "Psycho" on his freaking mom, that's her body, that's the ghost in the kitchen. Shit." Shivers ran down my body as I remembered the walk thru with the landlord, "Shit! We weren't supposed to open that! He specifically said for us not to go in the crawl space!"

Gonzo, ever the skeptic replied, "He didn't kill his mom, that's not a dead body. I'll go look, it's probably just some of the landlord's crap he's been storing."

"NO! Are you crazy?!?! Have you never seen a horror movie? Don't. We weren't supposed to be down there anyway. We can call him, and ask if he can come figure out what the smell is...if he needs to get in the crawl space he can go and then we can "accidentally" see the large black bag under the house and ask him about it."

Of course, the landlord was never called. Between my dad and Gonzo's dad they were able to figure out that it was stagnant water in a pipe that was on the roof. We both pretended to ignore that there was anything under the house. Making sure to put all of our heavy belonging on top of the crawl space door on the off chance that something wanted to open it.

The whole incident was forgotten for a little while, at least for me. Until one night when Gonzo was working late.

Again, dark=scary, so I had all of the lights on in the house when I went to bed. I shut the light off in the bedroom and laid on my side so I could see the light streaming in under the door, until my eyes closed and I drifted off to sleep.

I didn't even realize that I had heard something until I was sitting straight up in bed. Actually I'm not sure that's right. I woke up to me sitting straight up in bed, my heart pounding, my eyes staring at the door to the hallway. Gonzo wasn't home, but every sense in my body was telling me that I had just heard something in the hallway.

"HEY!" A deep voice screamed into my left ear, causing me to flinch and jerk the covers up as I scrambled to my feet beside the bed.

The thudding of my heart was deafening as I stood there, staring at Gonzo's side of the bed, wondering what-in-the-hell I had just heard. I lifted my hand to my throbbing ear, instantly feeling a sting as my finger pads caressed the soft curves of my ear. I ran to the restroom, turning the light on immediately.

Looking in the mirror, I saw a red line under my left eye that went across my cheek- back to my ear and across my ear. I shook my head, rapidly, trying to wake myself up. Looking back in the mirror, I realized I was awake. Upon closer inspection, the mark on my face and ear, looked like a burn mark. It certainly felt like a burn. I spent the rest of the night on the couch in the living room until Gonzo came home. By morning the puffiness of the line was gone, but it was still sore to the touch, hot, and red.

I could detail all of the other things that happened, but they get wildly unbelievable. From something grabbing my leg as I walked between the couch and the coffee table, to a ream of paper being thrown across the room. The long and the short of it, is I believe there were 2 spirits that haunted that house. The woman in the kitchen, who I only saw one other time, as if she was going to check on something in the oven; and the thing in the hallway which seemed to control the bedrooms, always keeping me on my toes.

The funny thing, Gonzo and I loved that house. We still talk about it, even joke about "Mary". What's even more strange, especially with the whole "hind-sight" thing...It took us moving out of the house, for Gonzo and I to admit to each other that the first night that we stayed in the house (in the room that would end up being the guest bedroom after that very first night), we both woke up frequently staring into the hallway, thinking we had heard something like foot steps, neither admitting it to the other until we no longer lived there.

When we moved into our new place in California, the house, not the dreaded apartment, we had a group of praying mantis that hung out near the light by the kitchen door. A sign of good luck.

The last few weeks, the kitchen door has been unlocked when I get home from work, but that's a coincidence, right?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mermaid socks

I began knitting myself a pair of socks sometime in April. Typically it doesn't take me this long to knit a pair...but I had several projects that superseded these. After all, this was a pair of socks for myself, and projects for myself get put off if something else comes up. The photos don't do the color justice (they are sitting on a black mat if that gives you an idea as to how off the color is on my camera right now...soon I will have a new one so hopefully the picture quality gets better...).

The yarn color is "Mermaid Lagoon". I believe the brand is Phydeaux (I hope it was, I've lost the paper that went with it...but I'm kind of obsessed with Phydeaux at the moment so I wouldn't be surprised if it is)...I found it at a really great yarn store in Burbank called Unwind one of my first weeks in CA. Sadly I have not been back to the yarn store since about a week after the LA Yarn Crawl...and according to the newsletter, I believe they are closing or may have already closed. Which is unfortunate, but the last time I was in the store, there wasn't much of a yarn selection. It looked like they were becoming more focused on sewing, which is great, just not something I'm interested in most of the time.
I don't remember the knitting pattern I used (something I found online...but have misplaced the link). The socks ended up being short top socks, based on the simple fact, that the stitch pattern was making my fingers cramp. Normally I would have carried the pattern down the top of the foot, but it's an odd pattern and I didn't have it in me to figure out the exact mechanics of the slipping of a stitch at the beginning and the end...I was paranoid if I continued it down the top of the foot it would end up twirling down the foot instead of staying on top (The pattern is meant for something flat like a scarf...not a knitted in the round type of pattern- I had to improvise) at the ankle it just goes to a stockinette stitch down to the toe, which worked up quickly.  
Yes, I do knit my socks 2-at-a-time...if I didn't, the second sock would never get made, or it would look completely different than the first. If I can find the pattern I used, I'll update this post and link you to it. The book I use for most of my socks knitting is this one. But I'm sure you can find something online or on Ravelry if you wanted to learn how to knit socks 2-at-a-time. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

DQ Baby

Once upon a time there was a contest. In a galaxy not so far away...but my memory, it's not so good. So I don't remember the contest, what it was for, who set it up, if it ever really existed or not....(kidding, I remember the winner, just not the contest)

Anyway, my friend Daniel from college won the contest, and finally (this could have been over 7 years ago for all I remember) decided to cash in on the drawing he was owed.
This is his niece, who I've dubbed "DQ Baby". As soon as I saw the photo, I knew it was right up my alley.

The expression on her face is hilarious- those eyes! How awesome is she?

On a side note, for those of you visiting my blog who have not eaten at a DQ in Texas, you don't know what you are missing...unfortunately for me, I do. Dairy Queen, outside of the state of Texas, is a sad beast. They all still have blizzards, but they are severely lacking in all of the other fantastic menu items that make going to DQ a meal. I miss the Chicken Strip basket with fries and Texas Toast...dipping sauce, gravy. Yeah, completely not healthy- but freakin' delicious. My face would look something like "DQ Baby" if I ever get back to a Texas DQ.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Wisconsin meet California

A fun thing happened this past week, my friend Jess came to visit!!! Her first time in California; First time on the West Coast; and first time seeing the Pacific Ocean.

She brought alcohol...from Wisconsin...because there's no comparison in any other state. The alcohol from Wisconsin is amazing!

I believe there are a total of 8 wines from 3 different Wisconsin wineries; 2 bottles of brandy; one bottle of apple brandy; one bottle of absinthe and a bottle of horchatta (from 2 different distilleries in Wisconsin). It was like Christmas! A very inebriated Christmas!

Shockingly we only managed to open one of these bottles in the week that she was was the absinthe, which proceeded to burn a hole in my esophagus...I guess 180 proof will do that (Don't worry, there was plenty of other alcohol consumed).

I won't recount in detail everything that we did, but some of the highlights included seeing a real life bum fight in the middle of an entrance ramp to the 101 on the first full day of her visit; TMZ Tour; Wax Museum; Temecula wine country; Pacific Ocean; Malibu; Exploding Kittens (the card game, nothing malicious); drinking and getting to hang out with one of the best friends this gal could ask for. It was a great time.
Some of the wax figures, at Madame Tussauds Hollywood, looked fairly believable while most did not. It was a little disappointing. I'm not sure it was worth the price of admission. But I think we were still in a fairly jolly mood from the TMZ Tour to make up for it. (Seriously, if you are in Hollywood and haven't gone on the TMZ Tour, just's hilarious.)

We each downed a tropical drink while enjoying the Pacific Ocean view from Duke's in Malibu. Very little talking this day, I think we were both just too enamored with the ocean to communicate.

The very last day of her visit involved eating at a Shakey's Pizza for lunch (Wisconsin should not have let these leave the state...SO GOOD!)
It also included one of the best experiences I have had in California. One of my co-workers gave us tickets to the Zac Brown Band on Friday...At the Hollywood Bowl. Doesn't get much more touristy.
While I learned that the people of Los Angeles are all out of their minds (which I already suspected), I also learned that Zac Brown Band puts on a pretty spectacular concert. The fact that they played Bohemian Rhapsody might have been my favorite...that and Chicken Fried (of course).

The only thing that really topped the alcohol from Wisconsin might have been the size of the beers at the venue:
Exhibit A:
That's basically a 32 oz. beer...and no I wasn't drinking a Heinie...Dos Equis....but was it worth $16? I haven't decided.

Anyway, I had a blast, and I hope Jess had an equally good time (We can just forget about the Malibu wineries that sucked and remember the awesome time in Temecula).

(Photo Credit: Jess...the one on the left)
I can't wait for her to come back to visit...or for me to go back to Wisconsin...

Moral of this post...Wisconsin still has the best alcohol. Plan your trip accordingly...
Wollersheim Winery:
Fawn Creek Winery:
Spurgeon Vineyard:
Wollersheim Distillery:
Minhas Distillery: 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wise words will not come easily

I haven't been in the mood to do anything recently. I call it the "calm before winter"... yeah...ok...maybe I don't, that sounds really lame.

There are a grand total of 5 drawings I need to get done...or more like, I need to get started on at least 3 of them, and finish the two that are nearly completed!

I have a barely started painting that's been in the works for over 3 weeks now...a pair of socks I've been knitting on since April or was it March (but I've already turned the heel so I'm half way there!)?

I just received my Yarnbox (if you aren't aware of what that is, and you love yarn or knitting or crochet, then please go here. You can curse me later), so of course that makes me want to immediately start knitting something and ignore the socks...but I'm determined to have will power...I will finish my socks first!!!!

Speaking of mail order boxes (is that what they are calling them?), I'm currently into two: Lootcrate and of course, the already mentioned, Yarnbox. There's a zillion others that my facebook newsfeed tries to remind me of every day...but I'm limiting myself to these two guilty pleasures...for now.

Lootcrate feeds my inner child, with vinyl toys I can decorate my desk with, without going into debt surfing Kidrobot's website (I'm not even going to link that's trouble- I had an almost addiction to vinyl toys a few years back...circa 2007 it looks like- I stopped cold turkey and haven't been back in years...but every time I smell a freshly opened box containing a piece of vinyl I have to inhale deeply...). There's sometimes a comic book or some trinket from a card game or tv's good times...I'm over here, as I type this, admiring my golden Buddha....yeah maybe I should stop there in case people haven't opened theirs yet. If you like Pokemon you are in for a BIG treat this month (I'm not into Pokemon but I was pretty ecstatic about it.)

Yarnbox, I'm fairly new to it...meaning this month is my first box. I received two lovely lovely lovely skeins of the most perfect color yarn they could have sent. No joke, I don't even know if that's a lucky coincidence or if they are mind readers...seriously perfect for me (Teresa Ruch Designs- hand dyed yarn...that's all I'll say). Not to mention 3 knitting patterns and a simple crochet stitch pattern. I'd post pictures, but I really don't want to spoil it for anyone else.

I like the whole mystery behind these mail order boxes. You don't know what you are going to get...but if you are even slightly interested, each box you receive is like opening a fantastic present.

If I find a decent art/drawing mail order box, we're all in trouble.  

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Knitted Pie?

I haven't been posting!!! I know! I'd say it was laziness, but that's not it. 
I've been doing some baking...I've made 2 pies in two weeks along with some other sweets. Lemon Meringue is apparently my pie.
In other news, I finished that sweater I think I've mentioned a time or two...
It's being blocked here, and shocker, it doesn't fit me. Well, it sort of fits me, but isn't flattering at all, so I won't be wearing it any time soon. Back to knitting socks, I go.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wallpaper creator, anyone?

Recently I found out about a website that is so astonishing (to me, anyway), that I couldn't not share it with you.

Do you like patterns? Do you like repeating patterns? Do you like Kaleidoscopes? Then you just might like this program.
The program is called Repper Pro. (Click the link to visit the site where you can purchase it- yeah it's one of those that you have to pay for...but it will be money well spent, as time will slip by you as you create more and more images...not to mention it's less than $100)

Basically you just load an image (I used a drawing I had done of Neil Young from back in High School for the image above and below), and move the little square indicator in the program around to see what kaleidoscopic images appear.
I'm pretty excited to have some new backgrounds for my computer, and maybe even a few pages I can color when I get bored.

You guys should check it out. If for no other reason, than to just play around with their free demo on the site. You might get hooked.
(The above is done from a color photo I snagged off the internet) The possibilities are endless!

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Earl's Girl"

Getting back into the swing of things with portraits.

One of my new co-workers allowed me the pleasure of drawing his daughter for him.

2B and 4B pencil on 8 1/2" x 11" white 60lb paper.

I left a bit of a boarder on it so if he wants to matt and frame it, he can.

I have my niece's portrait to complete as well as a new request from one of my contest winners way back when. So far back, that I don't even remember which contest it was from...

Hope everyone is enjoying the end of the summer!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Adult Coloring Books

I am probably posting this well into the recent fad of Adult Coloring Books. But I thought it was worth sharing anyway.

Way back in 1994 my mom purchased the above book, "Roger Burrows Images 3: The Ultimate Coloring Experience". I'm fairly sure she bought it for herself...but some how I have managed to own it for over 20 years now (I'm just going to be in the corner barfing for a moment while I process how old that makes me now...)- There are literally only 5 pages in this book that I have managed to add color to in that time.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to find it again- in one of the boxes that I was unpacking (yes, still's a slow process over here). So I decided to scan the 6 main patterns that repeat and send them to my parents to see if they remembered the book. While they didn't say anything about remembering it, I could picture my mom's face: Pursed lips, slightly turned up on the corners in an all-knowing grin as she narrowed her eyes in my general direction, saying "So that's where my book went, uh-huh."

Anyway, I actually chuckled to myself when I found it again (...gulp...20 years later...still gagging)- particularly since the Adult Coloring Book phase has sprung up recently. Not to detract from the amazing images in the current incarnations of adult coloring books- but to find out that my mom was ahead of the curve on this fad made me smile to myself (although, was she ahead of the curve? Or is the fad just repeating again?).

I've been doing some coloring since I found the book maybe one day (hopefully not another 20 years from now) all the pages will have color.

To my mom- thank you for letting me "borrow" the book for so long. Nothing like loaning a book to someone who never gives it back, right?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Goings ons...

I've been a job sense- not so much in an art sense.

As I mentioned a few Friday's ago, in this post, "I need a little mind numbing pain found in the monotony of a desk job, in order to find the pleasure in my creativity". While I'm not to the point that I feel comfortable enough with what I'm doing to let my mind wander for very long, I do have moments through out the day that do get the creative energy going.

I'm just going to put it out there, instead of hiding...I'm working as a temp loan processor at a Brokerage firm. For those that may not know (probably don't care either), I was a loan processor ten years ago, right out of college. The experience wasn't the best and I never would have imagined that I would be doing it again, but the place is good; the people are extremely nice and helpful, and the day goes by so quickly that I feel amazed when five o'clock hits.

The best part about the job is the view...I wish I had a picture to show you. Imagine a view from a second story window that has a one story building in front of it, only a few trees separate the parking lots...Then sprawling from one edge of the window frame to the other (across the entire wall of windows) is the mountains. Occasionally those mountains showcase amazingly puffy white clouds hovering just above the tops and growing enormously throughout the day (They are part of The Angeles National Forest...Mt. Gleason; Mt. Lukens, etc).

That's my view.

At least it has been for the last 2 1/2 weeks.

We'll see if it becomes a permanent gig or not. I'm just enjoying learning how this whole loan processing thing goes again (it's amazing what a brain can retain and forget in ten years). It's definitely getting me prepared for the day that I buy a house...learning what to do and what not to do and what's normally required in order for a loan to fund...all that fun stuff.

Fingers crossed I carve out a little time from reading and sleeping to work on the drawing of my niece, this weekend.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I'm pretty ashamed that it has taken me so long to complete this drawing. I believe I've moved three times since I was asked to draw it...I don't even live in the same state as I did when it was given to me. I swear that doesn't normally happen. And even though this is for someone who is like family, that's no excuse.

This is actually a drawing of Gonzo's grandma. His aunt asked me to draw it, which I was more than happy to complete...but with moves, the file I was keeping it in so it wouldn't get bent, was misplaced. I didn't find it until I unpacked a box a week ago, and immediately finished the hair (which I'm still not sure I'm very happy with- but the photo I was working from made it look like a dark black helmet instead of actual hair...I wasn't comfortable making it as dark as the photo had it)- the rest of the drawing has been done for close to a year now, if not over a year.

Anyway. I still have a long over do drawing of my niece to complete for my mom, but I'm kind of sort of working a normal full time schedule lately, so I haven't found the time. As soon as that's done I'll post it up. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

More ranting, less art-ing

We've officially spent one whole week in our new place. It's gloriously quiet. I think I might be in love with it.

The week was spent barely unpacking anything. The spare room has so many boxes in it, it's not even funny (but that does mean I get to park my car in the garage!). There's still a bunch of clothes that are packed in suit cases that haven't been unpacked from the move. I entertained a guest briefly on Tuesday; got my car registered in the state of CA on Friday and set up an interview with a temp agency.

That's right, folks-I'm looking for a J.O.B.

Not that I haven't enjoyed my "early retirement" (as my former co-workers called it), but I miss a steady stream of cash flow, and mingling with other people on a regular basis (even if they will end up driving me crazy, eventually). It's really the cash flow...I need to pay down some debt that I have incurred over the last few months, and no offense to the talented artists who have figured it out, but my stuff isn't paying the bills. 

I'll still be knitting and drawing in between "assignments" for the temp agency, but I've just got to get a better schedule going for myself to make this whole CA thing work.

As for the car registration experience here in good-ole CA? Well it wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. I didn't go to the DMV. There is a DMV Vehicle Registration Experts on Laurel Canyon Blvd. in LA that does registrations, title transfers, etc. They don't do CA driver's licenses, but anything pertaining to your car they do, and they walk you through EVERYTHING, so you get the most bang for your buck. Best customer service experience I've had, anywhere, since I've been in CA. I got my license plates and registrations before I left the building and my car is now California ready...which means I'll probably be getting honked at a whole lot more (why is everyone so up-tight when they drive here? I thought it was supposed to be a relaxing, go with the flow, type of place?). Total time spent at the DMV Vehicle Registration Experts? I got there around 11:45am (after driving around for 15 minutes looking for parking...street parking, don't park at the Post Office), there were two guys ahead of me. Waited about 10 minutes (if that) before I was speaking with John-the registration expert. Since he had to do a VIN inspection on my car it took a whopping 3 minutes extra, but I was out of there before 12:30pm. Even with an appointment at the DMV it would have taken close to an hour and a half to two hours, from what I've heard.

No fun pictures this time, guys...sorry!

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Move

I've been a little busy the last few weeks. Gonzo and I finally moved out of the bad apartment situation and into a house rental a few miles to the north.

It was a painful process, to say the least. For those that don't know, or for the curious- I have degenerative disk disease, which basically means I have arthritis in my spine-which was diagnosed about 6 years ago and it has only gotten worse, pain wise, over time. Am I 75? No I'm 33, I've been having back problems since I was 26. So for me to physically move anything is next to impossible if it weighs more than 10lbs. Well, that's not entirely true. I can move things that weigh more than 10lbs, I just can't bend over to pick them up. So this move involved Gonzo lifting items to place in my hands while I remained in a standing position.

I gained several bruises, and yeah, my back is in some pain- but Gonzo and myself managed to move all our furniture and personal belongings to our new place, in 3 days. Sure, most of our belongings are stored in a garage for the moment, but by the end of this week most of them should be put up in the house.

The important part is we are out of the worst apartment I have ever lived in. Since 2001 I have moved 10 times. There was only one apartment that I lived in that I was in a hurry to move out of, and it was for no other reason than it was section 8 housing and I really wanted to move to a really cute place closer to where I worked. In all of the places I lived in Dallas, TX- I never experienced the kind of crap that went on at the place in Glendale, CA.

I could go into detail, but I already posted a Yelp review with a 1 star rating, because I couldn't leave a zero star review. Just be cautious if you ever want to live in Glendale, CA. Pay attention to all reviews you can find about places or landlords, don't ever think "Oh, it can't be as bad as they say", because, quite frankly, it can be-and it can be worse than what is stated.

The cactus photo at the top of this post is a plant that is at the house we are renting. It's so peaceful and awesome here! Maybe soon, I'll have some cactus drawings or paintings up here. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


Friday's aren't nearly as exciting as they used to be. When I was in school it was almost my favorite day of the week (Saturday was truly the best day of the week when in school, let's be honest); then once I started working at a movie theater in Dallas it became the most hilarious and joyful day of the week if I worked a shift...the theater alternated between playing Rocky Horror Picture Show and 3D Porn staring John Holmes. With Rocky Horror, it was fun to see all of the people show up in costume (it was not fun helping to clean up the theater afterwards); and with the 3D Porn it was hilarious to see the many ways people tried to hide their shame when they had to get their 3D glasses from me (also, not fun or hilarious to help clean the theater). Once I joined the desk job task force, Friday's either became the day that nothing was accomplished or the day that we scrambled around like mad, attempting to get everything done before we sprinted to our cars and pretended we didn't hear phones ringing on the way out of the office. Hell, even when I was at Moroch they did a First Friday's drinking afternoon on the first Friday of every month (but those of us in billing usually had to pass on drinking to finish up month end billing).

Friday's when you don't have a job, feel like any other day. Which, to be quite honest, is getting pretty boring. I've always said that if I didn't have a job, I would make use of my time by working on art, or knitting or writing. I have done a little bit of all of that. Probably more knitting than the other two. But for some reason, my creativity seemed to die when the last job ended.

...I kind of feel like my whole life has been a lie. That the "I'll be more creative if I don't have a job or have to go to school" mentality was so far off. I think the sheer boredom of not having to do repetitive bullshit, day in and day out, for some manager who doesn't give a crap that you aren't being able to express yourself the way you want during work hours; the sheer boredom of not being tasked with some of the dumbest shit you have ever seen in your life; the sheer boredom of dealing with people you would rather throat punch than listen to for another second, but fear jail time so you keep your hands to's the sheer boredom of not having to deal with the shit end of life that makes me uninterested in being creative.

That sucks.

I need a little mind numbing pain found in the monotony of a desk job, in order to find the pleasure in my creativity? That completely sucks. To realize that at the age of 33, sucks even worse.

Don't get me wrong, if I could find a job working with creative types, that would totally stoke the creative fire that is dying inside's just, in a town like LA...getting your foot in at these places unless you are a complete badass from the get-go is like being Jon Snow and not getting killed at the end of season 5 of Game of Thrones (spoiler alert...heh)-it's just not going to happen.

That's the end of my really long rant on how I used to like Fridays...and then it, some how, spiraled out of control and into the depths of why I don't post more art here. My bad, guys.

Happy Friday? 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Completed and blocked Clairmore

Remember the Clairmore post I did a little bit ago? Well it's been blocked.
I'm still new at blocking knitted items, so this one didn't turn out as pretty as it should have (sorry Jess!), but I couldn't leave it unblocked because then you wouldn't have been able to see the lace design.

I'm wearing it here to demonstrate how it should look when worn, not entirely sure how to feel about it. It's soft and would probably be great at blocking the cold winter winds of Wisconsin, but probably not something she will use as an accessory in every day life...but I could be wrong.
Anyway. I've got a blue one knitted for my mom, I just need to block it, I'm going to review a few more blocking techniques before I do that though- to make sure I'm doing it right.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Art

While attempting to learn my surroundings, I came upon an art store in Glendale, CA. It's called Swain's. Hopefully the locals will forgive me if this is a place that is common knowledge. I'm used to the typical Hobby Lobby's, Michael's, Joann's and even the Dick Blick's of the area. So to find a new place that I can shuffle through isles at, was exciting.

Since I've been having a bit of an artists-block recently I treated myself to a new sketchbook. A new Strathmore 5.5 x 8.5 in sketchbook with Toned Gray pages. Hopefully I'll get a lot of use out of it.

Since I went with toned gray pages, I also picked up a set of Woodless Colour Pencils (note the spelling of color...these are manufactured in Czech Republic). Yes I do own a ton of Prisma Color Colored Pencils, however I have developed an allergy to them...not sure if it's the wood or the lead itself, so I tried these. No allergic reaction.
While my creativity is trying to come to the surface I decided to do a zentangle to loosen up. It didn't look right in black and white so I took out the new colored pencils to see what would happen.
Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

I've still got a realistic pencil portrait drawing to work on; I want to work on my digital painting skills some more and I've got plenty of knitting items to work on (I'll probably post progress on my friend Jess's fully blocked Cowl/Shawlette soon).

We're still attempting to locate a different living situation as this apartment has worn through my last nerve, so I'm sure there will be a bit of non-activity here soon...once we get something and start moving. Until then, though, I hope to get off my lazy butt and post more.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Clairmore- in the works

As I've mentioned, numerous times, I went to the LA Yarn Crawl this year...Not only did I acquire some amazing yarn, but I also received several free patterns, just for stopping in at the yarn shops. 

One such pattern, which I obtained on The Yarnover Truck, is called the Clairmore. It's described as a cowl and a shawlette. If you have a account you can find the pattern here. The fun thing about this pattern is it uses just one skein of Anzula Cricket (250 yards), which is some of the best yarn I have knit with (for various reasons, but the yarn is so soft it makes it hard to put down).

It's a fairly easy pattern and works up pretty quickly.  This one definitely requires blocking once finished, as the lace pattern doesn't really show up (see photo above for pre-blocking image). This particular one is for my friend Jessica- a hand-knit birthday present; and I will post a follow up once it's finished blocking (I use the wet-blocking method as opposed to the steaming method so it takes a few days to dry in it's "new" form). I'm working on a second Clairmore Cowl/Shawlette as we speak which will probably go to my mom, if she wants it.  Otherwise it'll be up for grabs.

Apologies for not posting more, recently. We (Gonzo and myself) are attempting to find a new place to move to and that has taken me on some crazy journey's to some very interesting areas in Los Angeles county. Hasn't left me with a whole lot of time to blog.

Take care!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby's Sweater

I just finished sewing the buttons on this knitted sweater for my niece.  It took me a little longer than I had anticipated, as I vanished to parts unknown for two weeks and only took along socks to knit instead of a nearly completed sweater.
Originally I picked this sweater for the awesome cable that runs along both sides of the front.  I love cables...they take forever (sometimes), but I love knitting them.  The pattern I used was from the book "Baby Basics to knit for new moms"...which, no- I'm not a mom- but I'm not sure my sister-in-law will be picking up knitting needles anytime soon and the pattern was too cute not to make.  
I found the cute little white buttons while I was visiting parts a Hobby Lobby...yes, parts unknown have Hobby Lobby's. 

The yarns are ones that I picked up during the Yarn Crawl The pinkish-purple yarn (Stripes on the front and sleeve color) was a yarn that was in the basket I won at The Altered Stitch; the speckled yarn is from Ancient Arts Yarns called Unwind Hello 1 Speckled and is from their Hello Kitty line of yarn colors- that I picked up at Unwind.  I figured my barely over 2 month old niece could use a sweater that has a little Hello Kitty inspiration in it, right?

Since I know how kids are with knits I am anticipating my niece's hatred for me for sending her an itchy sweater to wear...One day she'll understand it was made with love. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Post Vacation

I kind of left the blog for a few weeks.  That's not an indication of what is to come for the remainder of the year, but that is telling of the fact that I went out of town...back home, if you will...and didn't feel like connecting.

It was a fantastic two weeks of de-stressing and reconnecting.

I've only lived in CA for 6 months.  To say it's been an easy adjustment would be a lie- contrary to some of the posts on here, day to day life isn't easy.  I know I've mentioned my frustration with the apartment that we live in, previously- It hasn't gotten any better.  To appease me, Gonzo sent me to visit my parents.

For two weeks I enjoyed the quiet solitude of my parents home.  We visited; laughed; napped; ate; crafted and just enjoyed some time together.  Unfortunately the napping was brought on because I showed up sick and then my parents got whatever I had...all was exacerbated by the awesome allergies of North Texas- so I was exhausted pretty much the whole time.

But it was quiet.  The only sound was the meowing of their cat when it wanted attention; the bugs that hit the windows at night, and the thunder of the storms that seemed to be hanging around nearly the entire time I was there.  It was fantastic!    

I have pictures, but they are mostly food from homemade meals or restaurants that we went to.  Some pictures of the flooding that was happening around Dallas on my last day in town.  But I won't be posting them.  It was a nice time back home and I'd like to save those memories for myself.

I can't say that I'm entirely excited to be back in California.  But I'll try to make the most of it.   


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Price is Right

Spoiler Alert!!!
Let me start off by stating the obvious for those of you that know me: No, my name was not called to play a game or win prizes and money.

But I was in the audience with Gonzo's mom, Dolores, and sister Rena.

They visited us in February and Gonzo's mom wanted to go- honestly who wouldn't?  Well to be honest, leading up to it, I wasn't that interested in going.  It was more of a "I don't have a job and nothing better to do, why not?" kind of moment for me.
But I'm going to tell you why you should want to be on The Price is Right.

If you are in LA, it almost seems like a normal thing that people do.  If not attending an episode of The Price is Right, then it's attending one of the many other shows that shoots on a regular basis in town.  But The Price is Right was almost magical.  I'm so glad I went.  I'm so glad Gonzo's mom got the tickets and invited me to go. 

Yes, I'm sure you've all heard, or read about the cattle call lines that you have to wait in for hours on end, which yes, it's true.  But few people talk about the comradarie that takes place in line.  It's basically 3 1/2 hours of waiting in lines and you begin to pick out people you would like to see get their name called to run up and take a stab at the price of some random prize.

This guy was hilarious when it was interview time and even had a poem for Drew Carey.  I really hoped that he would be called, but he wasn't.  

I did not want my name to be called.  The entire time I was in line, I didn't want my name to be called.  It wasn't until we were in the studio that I then wanted my name to be called.

Here I am cheering in the hopes that maybe just maybe they'll see how eager I was, now that I was in the studio (behind the person with the blue sleeves).
And again, super excited that someone was getting their named called...still not mine. 

The studio is so bright!  If you've seen the show, you have some idea- but in person it's so much brighter.  The stage is much smaller than I thought it would be.  The crowd, much smaller than it looks on TV.  It's all much, much louder in person than on TV.  So loud in fact, you can't really hear the names being called, you have to rely on watching the cue card guy to hold up the card with the name that's being announced.  The cheering from the crowd is so loud that I missed the descriptions of several items that were on the episode so it was hard to know what we were cheering for.

Drew Carey is actually hilarious during commercial breaks.  It was like we were getting a free comedy show while we just happened to be audience members for a TV show.  It was fantastic! He interacts with the audience and genuinely seems like he wants to know everyone.  He's a class act, that Drew!
He actually suggested a restaurant that he frequents, to some people who were there from out of town and we ended up going afterwards and conversing with one of the waiters about Drew and how awesome he is.  He's actually really great at suggesting things to do around town for people who are new to the area, which was fantastic for us.

George Gray, the announcer also interacts with the audience and banters with Drew, both while filming the episode and during commercial breaks.  Just another added bonus.

The taping is so quick- basically done in an hour (just like the show) that you will be sad when it's time to leave.  But you will be excited for who ever won their showcase.

You might even attempt to congratulate their loved ones on the way out.

Side note about this particular episode: The two people in the showcase were named Amber and David.  Gonzo's real first name is David, so it was like some alternate version of ourselves were on the stage.  It was a good inside joke.  

David won his showcase on this Earth Day episode, but I was rooting for Amber.  Amber Stoner was her name and the jokes that were cut out of the broadcast were hilarious.  I was actually pretty disappointed in seeing the episode that aired as it wasn't nearly as comical as the taping had been (another good reason to go to a taping).  

The right Amber was selected for this show.  She was really enthusiastic and properly jumped on Drew Carey several times. 

I'm in this shot cheering like a crazy person for Amber Stoner when she guessed the right amount and got to go on stage.

Yes the whole process basically takes the entire day.  The likelihood that you will actually have your name called is slim.  Even if you win something the taxes are so ridiculous you will probably leave empty handed anyway, but to witness the whole thing is so much fun. 

I purchased a shirt while I was waiting in line, before the taping (the store is closed after the taping)- I've worn it several times since then, and each time, when in public, I have at least 2 people ask if I won anything.  That's the funny thing about this town.  They know that if you have a shirt, you must have gone to a taping, it's not just one of those random shirts you can buy at a Wal-Mart.  Now I can actually tell people that I did not win anything...what a relief!

Here's Dolores (dead center with the pink shirt and Navy blue sweater) waving slowly so the camera would get a shot of her when one of the contestants was called. 

Here's Rena, showing the appropriate amount of enthusiasm when nothing exciting was actually happening.  (Her dark hair blends into the guy's shirt behind her)

So, moral of this post- if you're in LA and you have a least a day to do nothing, go online to get tickets to The Price is Right and wait in some lines- meet some fun people you might not normally associate with, and enjoy the taping.  You won't be sorry!              

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Angeles National Forest

A few weeks back Gonzo and I had managed to leave our noisy apartment for the solitude of nature. 
And by nature, I really mean "driving thru nature".  Quite frankly that's because of my crazy fear of wildlife in this state.  Mountain Lions and Bears, oh my!

Anyway, that's a totally unrelated topic.  I just wanted to share some of the gorgeous pictures that Gonzo took while we were driving thru the Angeles National Forest.

Can you believe this view is only a few short miles away from LA?  Ok, well this particular view is quite a few miles into the Angeles National Forest...but even as you are driving into the Forest itself there are some pretty spectacular views:
It truly feels as if you are no where close to any sort of city life.  The traffic is minimal, unless it's a Sunday morning and you are driving toward Newcomb's Ranch.  Then it might be a little congested with motorcycles or sports cars doing meet ups, but for the most part you'll probably only see a handful of vehicles.

Make sure you take a jacket as the further up the elevation you go the colder it gets.  I believe on this particular day I was in a skirt and t-shirt...and flip flops (I honestly didn't know where we were going and it was 80 something in LA).  We went all the way up to 7200 feet I believe, and I was pretty chilly as night started to fall.

The views are amazing and there's plenty of turn-outs so you can stop and take photos (but limited cell phone service, so make sure you check your vehicle to make sure it can survive the trip and not leave you stranded).
(no that's not a spaceship, just lens flares)
There's, I believe, 80 or so miles of road to drive down.  There's several ski slopes along the way that you can stop at if they are open.  I think we only went roughly 50 miles in, as we got a late start and the sun was setting before we even made it back to civilization.
But as you head out, particularly at dusk or dark, you can see the sprawling city of LA on your way out and breathe one last sigh of relief at the lack of people surrounding you, before you get back in your car and get caught up in the craziness of it all. 

If you are ever in the LA area and need a break from the traffic, or the people, journey to the Angeles National Forest for a bit, and forget about your worries...unless of course you encounter a mountain lion or a bear...then you should worry. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

What's going on?

Aside from showing new friends around the LA area over the weekend, and hitting up Unwind in Burbank twice this weekend there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot going on in my neck of the woods.

I have to ship out the Baby Kai drawing I posted last week.  I'm still knitting the sweater for my niece, which will hopefully have a large majority of progress on it this week.  The yarn I purchased at Unwind this weekend will go toward making a sweater for myself from the free knitting pattern I received during the Yarn there's that.  I have a drawing of my niece to do for my mom that will hopefully be done either later this week or next.

I'm also working on a secret project.

It honestly probably shouldn't be secret, but I'm super self conscious about it, so it will remain under wraps for a bit longer.  Hopefully I'll be able to spill some of the beans by next month.  We shall see.

So what's going on in your neck of the woods?  Did you all have a great weekend? 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Baby Kai

I have some friends that have an adorable baby that has posing down!
Normally I don't post progress shots of my drawings, for various self conscious reasons.  But I have always enjoyed the look of partially completed drawings- as if faces or hands are floating in white space- or that they are only connected by a random line that would normally be a shirt or hat. I actually prefer less detail of the random line than what I have here...but whatever.

Most of my clients are looking for a completed drawing and that's what I provide- but occasionally I like to take photos of partially completed drawings to have something to look back on and wish that I hadn't completed.

That's not true.  I do like completing the drawings.  I like drawing the shading on clothing and finding shadows that maybe weren't clear in the photos I'm drawing from.  But there's something about the partially completed drawings that I really enjoy.  Maybe I'll do family portraits for myself- of people in my family... the drawings will be partially completed and then I can hang them in my office or living room for conversation pieces.  Time will tell.

Here is the finished product.

It's on 8 1/2" x 11" 20lb. printer paper.  I used HB, B, 2B and 4B graphite pencils.  Planning took several days to get all the kinks worked out on the perspective- but actually drawing the details and shading took roughly 5 hours.

Cute baby!  I have another baby drawing that I'll be working on in a the next few weeks, so stay tuned!