Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gutter Fantasy

Today I finished a shameless bit of gutter fantasy art. A Moon Sage! She has +20 avoiding classroom prep.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The 11th Hour

Time goes both ways, forward and back. For some reason moving forward comes naturally but moving backward is difficult. Certainly, some memory of backward movement is built into all of us but most never pay attention to it. Someone might, on occasion, recall lost images from their childhood, experience a strong sense of deja vu, or have a sudden moment of inspiration strike from seemingly nowhere. If they were to follow these streams of thought to their source they might find a way back through time. But few do. And those who do seldom find their way back.

Joe did. He was 8, almost 9, when it happened. The week prior to his experience he had found his hamster, Orpheus, had passed on. Joe dumped his super hero action figures from their shoe box, wrapped the stiff little rodent body in tissues, and placed it inside. He set the lid on the box and scrawled a sweet, misspelled eulogy on top. Joe retreated to the sanctuary of his comic book collection just as he had done when his dad and then Nana had died. After several hours of seeing beloved heroes run the gamut of death, life, and resurrection, Joe felt a bit better and set his alarm for school the next morning. He always set it an hour later since this particular clock only had 11 numbers on it. His Nana had given it to him shortly after his dad's death claiming the clock was good luck. It had never brought him anything but bleary eyes.

He blinked bleary eyes the next morning as the alarm rang. He looked at the clock. It showed 5:00 (6:00 in real time) and had Orpheus sniffing happily from behind. Joe blinked and lay back down. He was asleep still. This was a nice dream but he dreaded having to wake up from it. He sat up again with a start. The obligatory missing pieces of reality that accompanied all dreams were nowhere to be seen. He pinched himself. It didn't hurt much but he was awake. And Orpheus was back.

That night, Joe put some blue bottles next to the strange alarm clock. The next morning he was awakened by buzzing in the window. He repeated his experiment over the next few days with an assortment of dead bugs which awoke right on cue the next day. After almost a week of this, he tried his experiment on a large, decayed robin from the street. The next morning he had to open his window and chase it out for all the racket it was causing. The experiments worked and Joe knew exactly what to do with the clock.

The next day was Saturday but his plan was pushed back by his weekly downtown date with mom. It was already dusk when he returned home. Running to his room, he snatched the alarm clock, threw on a heavier jacket, and scratched Orpheus' back, barely noting the little hamster's peaked look. In a few minutes Joe was climbing off his bike in front of his dad and Nana's graves. Joe set the alarm for the next morning and placed it on dad's grave.

In that moment the world shimmered almost imperceptibly and Joe felt a sudden shiver run down his spine. He picked up the clock and another shiver took him. The world shimmered again and the feeling was gone.

He stood in front of the grave for several minutes gripping the clock and then, slowly, placed it in his pocket and rode back home. When he got back home he found Orpheus's cage upset and the little hamster battered and dead on the floor. The resurrected flies and insects were hammering the window recklessly and soon they too dropped lifeless to the floor.

Joe never wound the clock again. And he never felt the same shimmer and chill that he had experienced that day in the graveyard. It's for good reason that moving forward in time comes naturally. Time moves both ways, forward and back. But the past should remain where it is.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Book Cover

Here is another book cover. Spies, pesky kids, red scare. More later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Merdad

Crawdads make poor granters of wishes. Emily Steen, who was quite content with her life, discovered this while digging for gooey ducks one fall afternoon. Her favorite spot for digging was along Chimicum Creek, especially on clear mornings. Emily would finish her chores, watch the last of the infomercials while eating cold cereal, and then dive into her galoshes. By 5:00 AM she was completely oblivious to anything non-gooey duck. Except for the morning she helped the crawdad.

He was a most peculiar crustacean, bearded, bespectacled, and bearing a beret. And he was huge. He was obviously stuck in a shallow mud hole next to the creek. At first Emily thought a spawning salmon was trapped in the muddy hole. Her next inclination was that a lobster had been dressed up and forgotten in this slough. Though she was unsure of what the creature was or who had dressed him up this way, she lifted him and tossed him into the stream. As she turned to trudge up to her favorite digging hole, she heard a gravely voice ask "how may I reward the lady to whom I owe a life debt? Shall it be riches, fame, or happiness"? Shocked, Emily whirled to stare into the sincere face, if crawdads can look sincere, of the large crawdad. He twitched one large claw as if to reinforce his question. Emily gaped and then, caught up in the queerness of the moment, replied "Why, riches, I suppose".

The next morning galumphed up Chimicum Creek and settled around Emily's house with a clap of thunder and 2 inches of rain. Rather than battling the elements Emily armed herself with a thick book and a thicker blanket with which to spend the morning on the front porch. As she stepped out, she blinked in surprise at what lay in her yard. There seemed to be one of everything. Piles of bottle caps, old bike frames, fishing line, beer bottles, old shoes, and especially bits of styrofoam. Before she had time to wonder, a small voice at her feet said, "The Chief Merdad returns the sum of his accumulated offerings from humans as a sign of his gratitude for delivering him from a unmentionable and inescapable demise. Please, accept these riches". The harbinger, a crawdad the size of an almond bowed and scuttled off into the grass. Emily's dad made her pick it all up and haul it to the trash.

The next morning was brilliantly sunny and Emily tromped right outside in her galoshes. She stopped dead in her tracks when she stepped onto the porch. The yard was filled with what seemed to be one of every animal. From foxes to fruit flies, from beavers to bombardier beetles, the front yard had become a frantic, fragrant mass of fauna. Again, a small voice addressed her from the ground. "The Chief Merdad offers his most sincere apologies for displeasing his rescuer and offers the perpetual adoration of all his subjects henceforth. Please, accept this new found fame". Emily stood and stared. Then, without a word, she walked down to the stream and pretended that the only thing in existence was gooey duck hunting. The menagerie followed. All that morning they crowded around her, jabbering and genuflecting until she felt her last shred of sanity give way. She faced her would be subjects and shouted, "Take me to the Merdad, right now"! The animals shied away but with obvious intent moved up the stream toward a nearby pond. As Emily followed, the animals began to file away into two ranks, forming a tidy path right down to a dock that reached out into the pond. There, at the end stood the Merdad. With no hesitation, Emily walked down the dock. And lifted the large creature so that she could look it in the eyes. Looking abashed, if crawdads can look abashed, it asked "Might I offer you lifelong happiness"?

"Yes, you can", Emily replied.

The Merdad straightened up and seemed pleased. Emily pulled back and hurled the writhing arthropod into the pond. She smiled, now quite happy, and faced the timid ranks of creatures. For one awkward moment no one moved or made a sound and then Emily threw up her hands and shouted "BLAAAAAAAGGH, Go AWAY"!. And they did. And never came back.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Painting Rocks

Something really clicked for me this week as I painted rocks. In the past when I wanted to paint thousands of them, particularly in river beds, I had tried several techniques. I might have been seen dotting drops of paint, creating individually shaded rocks (groan), laying down a wash of the general rocky color through blurred eyes, etc. This week I tried edging the cracks and the dark holes of the river bed. Though it was a bit tedious, I found it was much quicker and more accurate than anything else I'd tried. Given some more time I want to add some shading and assorted color. Maybe I will paint those same rocks next Sabbath. Art makes mundane marvelous.

By the by, that lead weight of color at the bottom of the picture is the shadow of a bridge.