Category Archives: ๐Ÿ“š Books And Reading ๐Ÿ“š

Motherโ€™s Day Weekend In Sebastian ๐ŸŒˆ ๐Ÿงธ

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. First of all I want to apologize for the inactivity –I am finally home again, and I am feeling better. Just very tired.

Though commissions are still a tad delayed, I was able to finish the warm-ups, and will be posting them shortly. I also got progress underway on three more pieces. I really appreciate everyoneโ€™s patience.

We had a nice time with family. My mom in law has a new fish. It is called a Plecostomus or simply Pleco. Itโ€™s the type of fish that suctions onto the glass with its mouth a lot of the time. Heโ€™s really cute and I love him. Heโ€™s big, too. I got a couple of photos of him just lounging.

One of the kids at my mom in lawโ€™s school made these play-doh snails when she told him I liked snails. Didnโ€™t he do an amazing job? I love them!

I brought my new bear, Beanie, on this trip, and cuddled him to sleep…

In the morning, Beanie and I had breakfast together.

My mom in lawโ€™s fluffy cat Spaz came to me for cuddles. Heโ€™s such a softie!

After breakfast we left for Renningers Flea and Farmers Market. Beanie looked out the window all the way.

At Renningers I bought some books, a handbag, a huge snail magnet and a couple of mousepads –one for me and one for my sis in law. Here’s my haul:

Afterwards we had dinner at Makoto’s and then played cards in the evening. I tried to sneak in drawing whenever I could, so I didn’t play cards all the time, but it was nice spending time with family even when I was working.

Grandma didn’t spend much time with us while we were playing. She fell asleep on the couch. I think she fell asleep praying… it was really cute.

Before bed we played a few rounds of Trivia Murder Party and I won once.

Now I’m going to post some art, finish unpacking and then get more art done. I hope you enjoyed your Mother’s day weekend!

The Weekend’s Treasures โœจ๐Ÿฆ•๐Ÿš‚

Good morning everyone! I’m still doing lots of things… even more laundry, still unpacking, very busy… I did say I would make an additional post to share my new treasures and souvenirs, so here we go! In no particular order…

These are the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway goodies we snagged. Three battery operated engines! Diesel, Percy and Thomas. Very happy with these finds!

Then, as you can see, we got a few “destinations”. A water tower, a search light, a quarry mine tunnel and a winter fuel station!

The store had a lovely friendly attendant who surprised me with a cute little doodle of Thomas when we went to the register to pay! ๐Ÿฅฐ

Here are some goodies from The Sound Exchange in Tampa Bay. We found a brand new record of the music from Tales From The Crypt (which we are currently binging!) a Laserdisc featuring How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who, and another of the Dead Poets Society.

Something else they had at the Sound Exchange was old books and magazines. I decided to take this one, from 1966, partly because it had some pages about dinosaurs.

It’s an interesting little magazine, with lovely illustrations. It was one hundred percent brand new, as it must have looked the day it was made.

Continuing the dinosaur topic, we visited Mojo Books & Records across the street from our hotel. This is actually a place we visited on our second anniversary trip. We loved it then and now! I decided to look for more dinosaur books, because why not. I found a few:

They are all beautiful, but my favorite is the first one (The New Dinosaurs). The biggest book, The Prehistoric World Of The Dinosaur, had a child’s drawing inside:

I almost discarded it, and perhaps eventually I will, but Christopher pointed out that some kid loved dinosaurs and this book so much, that he carefully drew them and placed the drawing inside. Thinking that, it felt wrong to remove it.

And now, let me share the best part, which is my haul(s) from Dinosaur World! One haul wasn’t enough… Christopher took me back on Saturday. He really indulged me all weekend long. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’•

First off there are these tiny, tiny books! About the size of my hand. Little stories about dinosaurs.

I got a visor and a tie-dye shirt! ๐ŸŒˆโœจ

I found a wonderful foam dino in the same general vein as Mojito and Fuit Gummy, but a completely different color and pose. I think he will make a great friend for them! I’m calling him Churrasco.

I also got this medal which I will hang from my cork memory board:

And a few more odds and ends; a patch (also for my cork board, at least for now) a pencil case and a rubber bracelet:

They had so many beautiful statues… it was really very hard to pick what to buy. I ended up getting this little guy:

And this beautiful… beautiful, massive gal… The jewel of everything I got this weekend. I adore her. I could go on, but I’ll leave you to look at the photos:

And that’s it! There are a few things that stayed in my mind as “wish I’d gotten that” but I had to stop somewhere. ๐Ÿ˜… One was a foam triceratops that I didn’t buy at the store where we got the Thomas stuff. I looked for it online, and all I could find is that it’s by a brand called Best Choice and is out of stock everywhere. Another was a raptor lamp at the Dinosaur World, and a lenticular print, also from there… but I’m sure if I’d gotten these things, there would be something else I regretted leaving behind. So it’s alright. ๐Ÿ˜

I do wish Christopher had found more things he liked, but he didn’t really. We both had a good time, though.

Anyway that’s all for my trip, I have to go grocery shopping now. Hope your week is off to a great start!

An Outing ๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿ›’

Yesterday I went shopping for groceries and visited a few stores for fun. I went to the Salvation Army, which was as gross as ever, and to Party City. Oh, and to Goodwill. I did find a few goodies.

At Party City I got a cup and some napkins and paper plates. Unfortunately it’s all the new 3D style. The hand-drawn art of the “generation” prior to this one is hard to find now, all they had left is a pack of thank you cards. ๐Ÿ˜ž

In the mail when I got home was a little packet I’d been expecting, with a couple of signs and the thing I actually cared about, a little Fat Controller of my very own.

At Goodwill I found two books. One was a very interesting books about unicorns and their history in different cultures:

The other one was a Rugrats book about Christmas which is kinda weird since Tommy’s family is Jewish and this is told from Tommy’s POV:

The art was cute though:

At the Salvation Army (did I mention this place was gross? matches their politics I guess) I found a giant checkers set, brand new in its wrapping, for $6.99. I’d been wanting one forever, so I got it.

The little Big Bird keychain was from Party City.

Here’s an after-lunch treat I had while playing Cafรฉ Enchantรฉ. I’m finally on Ignis’ route. The main story took FOREVER!

That’s all for this post!

Hello, New Day ๐ŸŒž

Good morning, everyone! Yesterday I had one of my last Christmas related packages (gift card stuff.) One of the items is a little keyboard I’ll be using for my Photoshop shortcuts, then it’s Cafรฉ Enchantรฉ, and the final volume of Bears Of The Ice.

I also got the latest English volume of Beastars and OH MY GOD, I had that thing read in like 20 minutes, finally we know who the killer is, but that wasn’t what excited me most about it. Anyway I won’t divulge more because then I have to add my spoiler tag and I just don’t feel like it.

The little keyboard is pretty cute, and it’s mechanical. It was just $14.99.

Besides art and chores, I’m going to spend a good chunk of the day continuing to move posts from Instagram to here (I’ve already downloaded all the photos and I’m just getting the text now.) There’s been multiple attempts at “hacking” into my account by some pretty sad excuse for a human being. ๐Ÿ™ƒ So I’m trying to get that content off so I can finally delete the account. I hate that it still exists at all.

Just in case I’ve beefed up the security in all my accounts. Two step authentication and all that.

That’s all for now, it’s time to get on with my day!

My Love-Hate Relationship With Kathryn Lasky’s Books ๐Ÿฆ‰๐Ÿด๐Ÿบ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“š

Recently, I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading. I’ve been trying to kickstart my brain back into reading for the better part of this year (the newspaper subscription did help a lot with that, as did removing so much of my Internet access.)

I’ve looking for some new “fluff” animal books to read –fluff meaning, not exactly great writing, but animals are always entertaining and the covers are so pretty… you know which category I mean, anything directed at the Erin Hunter crowd. I am part of this crowd, even though I could never get into Warriors. I got sucked in with the Seekers series though.

But this post isn’t about the author(s) Erin Hunter, it’s about Kathryn Lasky.

Years ago, I came across the first three books in the Guardians Of Ga’Hoole series right before the movie came out. I was enchanted –by the cover, the characters, the story. When I did see the movie later on, I had the distinct feeling that the movie was an excellent adaptation of a great story, but that as a movie, it was kind of terrible, even though I loved it. I can’t explain it very well other than to say it felt like it would please the book fans but not be a good movie for anyone else.

But there was so much Ga’Hoole universe to explore (I haven’t managed to read the whole series yet) that even when I guessed correctly that there would be no more movies, it didn’t matter.

Sometime after that, Wolves Of The Beyond came out (or I discovered it then.) Was I ever thrilled! More ways to go into this world, this time from the perspective of wolves. The covers were gorgeous, and for once there were inside illustrations, which were so beautiful too!

And then… then I read them.

The characters and setting are compelling. This, in addition to the beauty of the books themselves, is what made the experience of reading them all the more infuriating. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember the specific scenes that bothered me, but I do remember the issue at hand (and the desire to throw the books against the wall multiple times.) And the issue was this:

Ok, as an example. Think of The Lion King. Outside of humorous scenes which I don’t count for these purposes, sometimes, the anthropomorphizing goes a little farther, such as when, after their father-son conversation, Mufasa gives Simba a gentle noogie –a very “human” motion with his paw, but masterfully mingled with very realistic animal-like frolicking in the grass. It’s a little touch that breaks the overall realism of the characters, and there are many like this, but they aren’t so bad that you can’t suspend your disbelief a little further for those few seconds.

But suppose during the scene of “everything the light touches”, Mufasa had stood on two legs and pointed at everything with his paw, before resuming his realistic quadruped demeanor, or if he came out of Pride Rock with an actual crown on his head. You’d be like what the actual f**k, right? The universe set some rules and then broke them. Why?!

In Guardians Of Ga’Hoole, there were many things that the owls could do that necessitated a good suspension of disbelief, but it was handled so well, and at the core, they always felt like animals being animals, just in a more fantastical setting. I could believe it. But in Wolves of The Beyond, the animals act very animal-like, until they don’t. And when the author doesn’t respect the universe they seemingly put into place, this drives me freaking nuts, especially if everything else about a story is wonderful.

I was unable to read past volume two, and was determined to give the books away. I hated them so much, that I momentarily contemplated throwing them in the trash (the horror!) but, in the end, I couldn’t do either. The books were well received by Lasky’s fans. I kept feeling it was on me to get past this and suspend my disbelief further from the start, but it’s hard because when you start to re-read, they act so feral, that you forget they’re going to up and get all anthro on you at times.

So, I haven’t touched them again for a while. And then, just the other week, Amazon threw this at me:

You know me and bears. And then I see that name –my heart sinks. After Wolves of The Beyond, her horse series came out. I was hopeful for it, thinking that maybe Wolves was a fluke. But as I recall, I might have read two pages on the Amazon preview and I don’t remember the reason, but I do remember wanting to punch my screen. So I didn’t buy them.

But bears are a little too much for me to resist, much like squirrels, so I bought the first one and, well… the issue of suddenly weird anthro stuff is still there. This time I was prepared, and I hated it but got past it (so far). I’m almost done with Quest Of The Cubs. I’m hoping I can enjoy the rest of the series, as I already have book two in my library, waiting for me.

It’s really odd to both love and hate parts of a writer’s work to this degree. But it’s entirely possible that this is a “me” issue rather than an issue with Lasky’s writing. After all, I can’t stand the pretentious tone I feel courses through Watership Down, as celebrated as it is, and it’s definitely a good book (or so I keep hearing.) Every few years I try again to see if I like it. But so far I don’t (I haven’t given up.)

I really want to enjoy Lasky’s work. I loved Ga’Hoole so much. So I am trying again. But it’s definitely a love-hate relationship.

Nobody’s Boy (Sans Famille) ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿถ

Recently I’ve been reading Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot. It’s a novel I’ve wanted to read for 20+ years but could never get my hands on a hard copy. Finally a print-on-demand version popped up on Amazon!

I’ve been enjoying it so much. It is deeply sad at times, very touching. I’m sure it’s going to be a permanent fixture in my little library.

A Little Coffee And A Little Reading โ˜•๐Ÿ“š

Finally I’m able to read Nobody’s Boy after finding a reprint of the original by Scholar Select. It’s not a great quality reprint… but it’s serviceable enough. The book doesn’t disappoint so far –I’ll post my thoughts on it properly when I finish it.

Also made myself a hot coffee using a Starbucks Christmas blend, but man… I really don’t like hot coffee very much. Unless it’s a Peppermint Mocha at an actual Starbucks.

โœจ Lotsa Goodies โœจ

Okay I just finished a commission and it’s not too late so I think I can complete this post before bed!

We went to a game store on Saturday. Christopher allowed me to pick one cheap “kiddy” game for our date nights. I already have (and love) Kingdomino so I could not resist Dragomino by the same makers because… BABY DRAGONS. And, this time they had Takenoko, which I’d only seen the expansions for before. So we got that also:

Before visiting the game store, I spent a long time in a thrift shop since there was a social-distancing related wait to go into the game store anyway –and BOY did I score in there! Everything was half off, from already stupidly cheap prices. I spent less than $8.00 in everything.

I got some colorful furry-ish socks for myself, and several baby caps for my bears:

Also, even though I am no longer part of any organized religion, I still have both a soft spot and a great interest in anything religious that is geared towards children. This book was free (nice copy from 1964) so I took it.

It’s not as interesting as most “childhood indoctrination” books, which I now seek, but rather a sweet little collection of stories about Jesus, beautifully illustrated.

For such an old book, it is in beautiful condition.

At the Vero Beach Book Store, I got two “Gummy Bear” clip-ons, three lovely bookmarks (lenticular bookmarks are my favorite) and a book I’ve long wanted to read, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain:

But here… now here is the best find. This was actually from the thrift shop, but I wanted to leave it for last.

This utter beauty, brand new in sealed bag and still protected with foam, was $7.99, but 50% off that price. It’s small, just right for my dear little bears. I couldn’t believe how utterly beautiful it was for the price, the condition, just. All of it. I was happier about this than anything else I got this weekend.

Already Dijon took possession of it, at least for now. Doesn’t she look adorable sitting on it? ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•โœจ๐Ÿ’•โœจ

Other than these outings, I did get a lot of commission work during our stay and even worked on some gift art for my friend. Overall it was a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to working on the current chapter of Meganeea again tomorrow and perhaps even illustrating it during the week.

I will be having Hoppi dropped off tomorrow for my refund. Still awaiting Cabbage Rose (whose name will be Mignon) whom I know I will love, and a cheaper bear that tugged at my heart strings nonetheless. He will be named Barley. I’ve made necklaces for both already.

Now I have to decide which bear I’ll sleep with tonight… maybe Mudpie? ๐Ÿค”

๐ŸŒˆโœจ A Lovely Day โœจ ๐ŸŒˆ

Today was such a lovely day! ๐Ÿงธ๐Ÿ’• Sugar Lump has his own little face mask to stay safe. We all wore ours, and used sanitizer constantly, but this is so-called โ€œGodโ€™s Countryโ€, and a lot of people just refused to wear them. ๐Ÿ™„ So, the stores that cared, were understandably hard-assed about it: limited people in stores, and masks required despite no mandates in the area. We appreciated this.

We did see a bar that actually prohibited masks. The people outside of it would kinda point and laugh at mask-wearers who passed them. It boggles me mind that people can be so self centered, and care so little for others, but, thatโ€™s how it was. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

Anyway…

Among other fun places, we went to Vero Beach Book Store. It was a DREAM!! My mom in law says itโ€™s been there since the 60s. There were even scribbles by famous authors on the walls (illustrators of childrenโ€™s books) even one of Llama Llama! But I didnโ€™t get a picture.

The entire top floor was dedicated to childrenโ€™s books and toys, I donโ€™t think Iโ€™ve ever seen so many Jelly Cats in one place (interestingly, this helped me determine that while I enjoy looking at them, I just donโ€™t really like Jelly Cats a lot for some reasonโ€ฆ I canโ€™t bond with them unless they have a certain look in their eyes, such as my little squirrel, Circo, or my worm, Ramen Noodle. In general little โ€œdotโ€ eyes donโ€™t appeal much to me.)

Anyway, getting to see the store was wonderful, I did buy a few things Iโ€™ll talk about tomorrow. Not just there but at other really cool places we visited.

But now itโ€™s time to sleep. Iโ€™ve decided I wonโ€™t be buying a โ€œsleeping-withโ€ plushie. Iโ€™ll try to get over my fear of ruining my Charlie Bears by just sleeping with one of them each night and being gentle. So last night I slept with Sugar Lump and I think he was happy. ๐Ÿ’•๐ŸŒ™

Iโ€™ve been reading Cubby in Wonderland, which is really boring, and more of a… commercial for Yellowstone Park? But Iโ€™m trying to get through it since itโ€™s a just a short little book.

Anyway thatโ€™s all Iโ€™ve got to share for now. I should have lots more to share later Sunday or on Monday. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend!

Another State Of The Squelf ๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ๐Ÿฟ๏ธ

Greetings! Well, I’ve certainly not been terribly activeโ€ฆ Art has been slow, and I’ve barely popped up on chats or comments. I figured it was time for an update.

So here’s what’s kept me occupied and/or the state of things:

๐ŸŒˆ My Sites/Books:

The most important factor in my lack of activity. Wix is not always great, and very expensive, and I really like this WP blog. So I tried to move to WordPress.org, then simply upgrading my WordPress.com (where this blog was started) when the transfer of this blog to WP.org became much more bug ridden than I hoped (and I knowโ€ฆ I knowโ€ฆ one shouldn’t pay for WP.com, it’s a ripoff. Don’t give me a hard time, I had my reasons, I also had true expert assistance during the process, and the best they could do could not accomplish things as neatly as I wanted.)

Even when I upgraded my WP.com, the things I wanted to do would still have involved probably a full month of difficult manual work transferring my Wix galleries. I just kept running into issues and things didn’t really look like I wanted.

In the end, I downgraded WP.com to just “no ads” (mainly an issue on mobile) and stayed on Wix but that, too, necessitated work.

You see, unless you’re using dynamic pages, databases, etc, Wix has a 100 page limit. I had a lot of pages. Each of my book sections had its own splash page, a page per chapter, a page per character, an About page, a FAQ, a Chapter Index. For both of these, I significantly consolidated pages using anchors, so now, each book has a single page for characters, a single page for all chapters + index, and the about page is the splash page. Additionally, I had to change the font across many pages, as this, too, was giving errors, though only on mobile. All of this took hours and hours of work.

Why was I concerned about the page limit now? I hear you, I do, I haven’t posted a new chapter in a long while. But we knew, from the start, that I would reach a point in my book where there was a large space between chapters that I would need to fill, and try as I might I could not rush it. A lot of writing has been happening in the sidelines, I’m getting very close to when I’ll need to publish again, and doing it on a site that was constantly warning me of how close I am to the 100 page limit was distressing, so anyway, I fixed that.

I’ve also done adjustments to my Trello: the amount of columns has been significantly reduced. Now there is the Welcome column, the Label Guide, Waiting List, one column for ALL commissions in progress, one column for ANY free art, gifts included, one for Trades and Collaborations, and finally, one for personal art.

In addition, I added a “Book List” to this blog (similar to my anime list, only of books I’m reading) and greatly expanded my blog’s FAQ, as well as added anchor navigation to it. A countdown to the next significant event has also been added to the right sidebar (currently, for commission openings.)

I’ve also created a few new banners for my blog. Most of the year, you will see three variations of my older banner, which will show randomly (and, I will probably add more) with Ricky Parky making different faces. However, for fall/autumn there will be a specific banner (currently displayed) and a Halloween one for all of October. There will also be a Christmas banner from Black Friday to New Year’s. I plan to make Easter/Spring and July 4th banners eventually too.

This is mostly for my own amusement since… no one visits my blog as much as I do. Lol.

๐ŸŒˆ Commissions:

With some delays still, they are being fervently worked on. I currently have a complex YCH for Kiba, a 4 page, 3 character comic for Snow, and the commission for Island, in different degrees of progress (all between 60%-80% completion.)

๐ŸŒˆ Other Life Stuff:

Hmm, okay, what else… I’m awaiting two bunnies, a Charlie Bears one, and a Steiff one.

Stock photo of “Cabbage Rose” by Charlie Bears.

The Charlie Bear bunny I’m waiting for, is Cabbage Rose. I LOVE her name, but as usual I’ll pick one of my own. She will be my first jointed Charlie Bear bunny. Her ears are poseable!

I’m not sure if I will keep the Steiff bunny. I wanted a special plushie for sleeping with, that was soft. So it needs to be cute but not so cute that I worry about ruining it.

Being Steiff, it is overpriced, on par with some of my cheaper Charlie Bears, but being soft, non-jointed, and rather average looking. What I really wanted was the 45cm version of him, but it was a too costly for just a few extra inches, so I went with the 35cm one.

Stock photo of Hoppi by Steiff.

It sounds like it will fit the bill of what I am after, but if it is too cheap-looking, back it will go. It’s coming today, so we will see what we see. If it’s exceedingly adorable but too small, then I’ll send him back and consider the bigger one down the road.

(And if you saw me mentioning purchasing a Steiff bear on Discord, I actually canceled that order in favor of Hoppi here.)

I don’t have names for either bunny yet, which is a bit unusual for me. Hoppi is the bunny’s stock name.

I’m also waiting for more bear sweaters, and a new book, “Firstborn” by Tor Seidler. I’m really looking forward it. I’ve been reading lots, recently having finished “Toby Tyler; Or, Ten Weeks With A Circus” by James Otis, a very touching little book, if obviously dated.

Last night was date night, and as a rare treat we went out to eat. It had been a few months since Christopher and I last went out to eat as a date. It was really nice.

We went to Nami Sushi, and I had the Buddah Tofu and a Thai iced tea. We played LOTS of Tetris on the Switch, before and after dinner. It was a lovely evening.

Tomorrow morning we’re off for Sebastian to visit Christopher’s mom. I’m really looking forward to it. Provided my new Steiff bunny is satisfactory, I expect I’ll bring him along. ๐Ÿฐ

I don’t currently have any more news to share. Snail updates will be in their own post. I wish you all the loveliest of weekends!