Monday, May 31, 2010

Tasty meat

I started a new drawing book last week. Here's my first portrait, inspired by a photograph:

"That's Sergei!" my dad exclaimed when I showed him the photograph.

"I remember him," my sister Natasha said. "He's the man who smells like--"

"Meat." Oksana finished for her. "I don't think he washed very often."

"Yes, but he smelled good," Natasha said, clearly sensitive to the absent Sergei's feelings. "He smelled like tasty meat."

Gag me with a spoon. Can you think of a better title for this portrait than Tasty Meat Man? I wish I could.

June is almost, almost here. I want to return to portraits this coming month. I started this blog as a way of chronicling my weekly drawings, but slowly I got caught up in other wonderful things. (Sandwich-making, cake-baking, flower-picking, and bird-watching--to name a few.) I'm going to try to stick to drawings for a while.

Since I just started a new drawing book, tomorrow (or the next day) I'll show you my old book in review. Pages I didn't manage to post here as well as drawings from before I began blogging.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


It looks like chocolate cake.

Swoop your finger through the frosting, and it'll taste like chocolate cake.

But it's strawberry cake in disguise.

Three uniquely disastrous times I've tried to make strawberry cake. It's the only layered treat that gives me trouble every time. It refuses to taste delicious. It loves to fall apart. When I cry in defeat, it laughs in triumph.

One attempt was beautifully pink but very dense. Another time the frosting was oddly runny and the strawberries on top slid off. Mostly recently the inside was perfect, but the frosting was so thick and lumpy that it broke off and took pieces of cake with it.

Two cakes ago, I nearly cried and gave up. But then I rallied my spirits and told myself: You can do it. Fourth time's the charm. Or perhaps it's the fifth time that's the charm.

It was the fourth time, reader.

(I made it for one of my coworkers who found a job he likes more. We celebrated his departure at work today. I didn't want to overshadow his achievement, so I did not mention my own. But now that I've mentioned it here, I feel great. Extra great.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend peonies

What I like about peonies:

They grow in profusion this time of year, so there are always lots to pick. You can stick the tip of your nose inside them and there's still plenty of room for taking deep, exploratory sniffs. It is as quiet a museum inside a peony bloom. The petals are cool and soft and rustle silently. Some flowers are delicate and ethereal. Others are blowsy and vulgar. But when you group them together in one jar, they belong together.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


How is your weekend, dearest reader?

I've been relaxing with an orange and a mystery novel after a long day of work. Later this evening I'm going to my book club meeting bearing an honest-to-goodness box of Turkish Delight.

Remember when the Snow Queen seduced Edmund into her sleigh with a box of Turkish Delight? 

Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious.

I think she seduced me, too.

P.S. Bon voyage, dearest Owl.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A river walk

The last time I took my camera to the river it looked like this:

All of the snow and most of the ice had melted and it was gorgeously flooded.

Today the river is several feet lower. It's verdant and full of wildlife. I saw several geese on urgent missions and lots of small birds wheeling and diving for insects. I also came across this bird on the far bank:

A Great Blue Heron! Can you see it? I think if you click on the image it'll be easier.

I watched it wade cautiously at the water's edge for a long time. Its neck straightened, then curved into an s-shape. Its long breast feathers shifted in the wind. It stared at the river intently but nothing happened. I was literally on the edge of my toes and so close to the water I was almost in it.

See here. One inch closer and I'd be in the river.

After a long wait the heron changed its mind and flew to better hunting grounds farther downstream. I followed it, but my camera ran out of batteries just when things were getting interesting. A small family of ducks interrupted the heron's concentration! And it caught a fish!

I'm glad my camera battery died, because I always forget to really look at what I'm seeing when I'm focusing on it through my lens.

I took notes today. And I found these fossils:

I visit this river a lot, but I'd like to find new places to explore.

Where do you go when you want to see a bit of nature? I'm interested.

Note: I removed the image of the heron flying. It had to go.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Find your package of noodles.

Take what you want from it. Don't hesitate.

Render it edible with boiling water. Then eat it.

You are on a mission, and your mission is noodles.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


This one's called I'm Feeling Cross.

Because I am a little. I have a headache brewing.

In keeping with today's color scheme:

I took this picture at the Garfield Park Conservatory last weekend. The koi live in a pond in the Fern Room and are under constant observation by visitors. I snapped a few shots, but the mouth of the pond was so crowded that we didn't get to linger.

I loved the soft sound of trickling water and the warm, loamy smell in that room. I imagine it is cool and dark and quiet below the surface of the pond. We sat on a bench and just listened and breathed for a while. It was so peaceful. Then we returned to the Palm House, where I made a discovery.

I saw a Boojum Tree.

Did you know that a Boojum is the most dangerous kind of Snark there is, and that the sight of one will make you disappear?

"It's a Boojum!" I cried in unconscious imitation of the Baker in Lewis Carroll's poem. Luckily, the Baker's fate did not befall me, for the tree was not an actual Boojum.

Thank goodness.

(If you don't know much about Snarks, The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits will enlighten you. Here it is, if you're interested. One of my favorite poems.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Yesterday I returned from a nice, long weekend visit with my favorite person. We live in different cities and are fond of airplanes.

He is the x to my o.

My Friday started with what was supposed to be an early morning flight. Fueled by two hours of sleep and a banana, I drove to the airport in the dark and blearily found my way to my gate. Prior to my arrival, I'd decided coffee would not be a good idea.

What I wanted was rest--not the jittery effects of a tidal wave of caffeine on an empty stomach.

At first it seemed that all would be well. Every time I happened to sit down, my eyes drifted closed. But sleep was fitful. My mind kept returning to the same terrible dream: my family and I were contestants in a competition for circus performers. Our trapeze act was a failure. Surely we would lose the contest. I kept jolting awake.

By 6 a.m. I was on the plane and in my seat. Next to me was a woman with a chewing gum addiction. I closed my eyes. The nauseating smell of her chemically-flavored fruit gum filled the air between us. At 6:10 the pilot announced that rain in Chicago would delay our departure by half an hour.

I began A Farewell to Arms and tried to watch the sun rise a little.

Those hours are lost to me. I don't remember the entire first chapter, and I was much too tired to appreciate the sunrise. Soon after I took this picture I drew my legs up onto my seat, wrapped my arms around them, rested my head on my knees, and fell into a bubble-gum scented slumber. Two hours later the plane took off.

My body was a bundle of aches when I woke up and managed to untwist myself. I was nervy and trembling with hunger. I felt even more fatigued. Usually I like to watch the clouds from my window and try to guess what city is below when I'm flying. This time, I made a pillow for myself with my jacket and drooled on it. Next time I'll opt for the sleep-deprived headache. Or else I'll teleport.

And I'll certainly never visit the circus again.

The plane was lashed by wind and rain, but landed safely after an hour. One interminable train ride, a short but wearying walk, and three flights of stairs later, I fell into an hours-long afternoon nap in the home of my companion. I didn't dream of anything.

When I woke up I was still tired, but I didn't mind anymore. For there was someone to make me feel better.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Outdoor Ode

I have a question for you.

What is all this juice and all this joy?

That's what Gerard Manley Hopkins wondered about spring. I wonder too. The weather is so absurdly fine it can't be real. In the name of all that is decent--what is all this juice and all this joy?

I don't know, but I think this little frog may.

I've been working on a title for this drawing:

I think I might call it I Don't Much Care for the Outdoors.

What do you think?

I hope the weather is fine where you are! Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Clear sailing

Afternoon, friends. Today is wonderfully breezy and eye-squintingly bright.

Naturally I had to take my boat for a sail.

How was your weekend?

Mine was shrouded in rainclouds and thunder. Other than one great rainy run, I stayed indoors with books and sandwiches and tea. I sank into the kind of reading I haven't done for a while: an hours-long absorption in the sentences and paragraphs of other people's thoughts. Reading makes my mind come alive with thoughts of my own, so I wrote a good deal, too.

Thanks, rain.

I forgot to mention: I captured something in the wild today. It likes to eat coins, of all things.