Friday, 21 December 2012

Regarding Musicals

We watched The Sound of Music a few nights ago. I hadn't seen it for something like five years, and even then the sound went out about twenty minutes in and I had to fill in the rest with dialogue and songs of my own invention (more on that later, perhaps - or a re-enactment to follow). Anyway, there were some things I noticed upon rewatching the film as a Fully-Functioning Aware Person.

-Everyone has a personality
-Rolfe is really, really awful (I never liked him but this time I fully grasped the magnitude of his unpleasantness)
-We should go to Austria and sing in the mountains
-WALTZES EVERYWHERE which is wonderful because I am an absolute sucker for waltzes

All in all it was really amazing. I want to learn ALL THE WORDS and sing along to everything next time.

Also: CHRISTMAS. I am very excited for it. We are planning all manner of festive activities and foods, and it will be great fun. Also, since we always open our presents on the night of Christmas Eve, we'll be driving to see our family on Christmas Day which will be amazing because the roads will be super-empty (we hope)! I'm sure we'll get loads of good stories out of the drive. . .

Monday, 3 December 2012

Regarding Tiny Adventures

I happen to be currently stationed in what I am convinced is The Parade Capital of the World. Easter? Parade. October? Parade. Winter is coming? Parade. We've just been recognised officially as the Parade Capital of the World? Parade, and make it a bloody good one, because that funny little town three miles west of here is sort of catching up on us, and this is too good a title to let go.

Last Saturday, as it was the first in December, was the date of the December Celebration Parade or something. My library had a vehicle and trailer-full-of-decorations in the parade, so I was excited to see that, and my brother was doing a baked goods fundraiser for his boy SCOUT troop, so we were going to be downtown anyway.

Regarding the library decorations: This is fantastic. On Thursday I came into work and walked round to the back room to write in my hours. But I thought for a moment that I'd taken a wrong turn, because I seemed to have ended up somewhere in the Arctic Circle (North Pole Christmas Headquarters, to be precise). There were wrapped boxes piled for miles* against one wall and they looked very, very festive. I was pleased. (I think they might have looked even better against the wall than they did when they were actually on the vehicle!)

Regarding the baked goods fundraiser: crowded, busy, jam-packed full of people. We were trying to fit a lot of sugar-crazed people into a very small Historic Building, so there was a bit of a mad rush for a while. Luckily, we were able to slip off partway through and walk to the coffee-shop, where we got some steamy peppermint mochas.

After that we went back to the Historic Building to pick up a friend who wanted to come with us on the next part of our adventure. Along the way we popped into a small Historic Chapel and listened to a quartet playing a Christmas song. It was rather good, we agreed, as we dematerialised from the building and went to collect Coming-Along Friend.

The next part of our adventure consisted of going to see THE INSIDE OF A VICTORIAN HOME, WHICH WAS DECORATED IN ALL ITS SPLENDOUR FOR CHRISTMAS. But there will be more on that later. During the walk there, my dad (who had not previously obtained coffee) went into the town's other coffee-shop to get a drink for himself. Noticing the lovely piano that was just SITTING THERE IN THE COFFEE-SHOP, I immediately sat down at it and started in on Karl Jenkins' Palladio.

I realise, as I write this, that that must have been my first public performance, but I thought nothing of it at the time. It was not at all uncomfortable sitting there in that strange new coffee-shop playing that strange new piano which I'd never touched before. It went fairly well, except for the part where I suddenly forgot which keys were which and found it difficult to continue the song. (I think our own house-piano has keys which are about a centimetre wider than most, which apparently matters in a ridiculously large way when one is trying to know where everything is.) On the way out I was complimented by a random stranger, which might have made me happier than it should have done.

When we got to the AMAZING VICTORIAN HOME, there was a huge dog in the driveway. It was about the size of a small bear, I think. Upon further inquiry I learned that it was a Leonberger - I'd read about them and seen pictures but until then I hadn't known how absolutely massive they were. That was brilliant.**

The inside of the house was spectacular. It had lots and lots of very small rooms, including a wee little kitchen (with authentic Victorian electric refrigerator), a wee little sitting-room (with authentic Victorian flatscreen telly), and spectacular bathroom (with authentic Victorian almost-clawfoot bathtub, for real). There is a turret room in this house, but you are not allowed to visit it (presumably because nobody would ever leave the turret room once they got in).

After skipping giddily past the Best Garage Ever? (a barn with huge sliding doors which would have comfortably housed an entire armada of Minis) and down the gentle but still exciting hill, we were directly across the street from the new antiques shop in town, which I absolutely must visit as soon as they are open next (Tuesday, argh). We did look in the windows, though: ooh. Wonderful beautiful things. I cannot wait to look through it properly.

*Not actually miles.
**His name was Bentley.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Regarding Excitement

* I have just learned about Narritivia. It is Sir Terry Pratchett's recently-created film company! They'll be the ones behind the upcoming Good Omens (!!! ! ! !) as well as thirteen episodes (so far) of a series ('The Watch') about Ankh-Morpork's police force.

* Neil Gaiman is writing another Doctor Who episode. YAYYYYYYYYYY

* I keep coming up with really good opening lines for books and nothing to do with them. I think I might just write a book that includes a lot of references to fictional books and then I can use the opening lines.

 * IT IS ALMOST CHRISTMAS. We've been thinking about decorating the house rather earlier than is socially acceptable. (It's only the inside of the house, anyway, so it's not like anyone will care.)

* I've just discovered that an independent bookstore near us is having their Annual Sale starting next Wednesday! THIS IS VERY EXCITING.

 * Kedgeree.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Regarding Long-Awaited Arrivals

Art by Wayne McLoughlin
I've been stalking the new Warriors cover for weeks and it's finally been revealed! I wish I could see the creative process for Wayne McLoughlin's covers - and some of the roughs for positioning and alternate covers that didn't make the cut. In fact, he should do an entire art book. That would be magnificent.

The book will be out on the fifth of March - that's nearly half a year away, but at least I have a book-and-a-bit to tide me over until then (plus four more Special Thick Books).

And I must speculate on the promise encapsulated by that reddish-orange dot - a written scene? Or an illustrated scene? Either would be most welcome.

In other news, I have recently looked out the glass door to see a leggy black cat helping itself to some cheddar crisps from the boards of the deck. We didn't exactly have cats in mind when we placed the crisps out for various wildlife, but okay. That works too.

French onion soup makes a wonderful gravy for colcannon. Heart.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Regarding Pumpkin Filling

Today is a cooking day.

My mother has chosen a wonderful way to express this: she is making little sweet rice-flour-cakes stuffed with pumpkin filling.

Well, she's trying to.

After realising that Just Pumpkin Paste was far too thin for our nefarious industrious purposes, we set about trying to find ways to make it thicker. Cornflour, we decided, was too boring - and thus was born a magnificent scouring of fridge, pantry, and cupboards as we frantically lazily searched for anything which would improve the taste and texture of our pumpkin paste.

Here are a few of the things we rejected. Some of them are lies.

-Peanut butter
-Sweetened condensed milk (I was bitterly disappointed when they shot this one down)
-Another form of pumpkin custard that I'd made a few days ago
-An entire stalk of Cabbages on a Stick
-Sweetened condensed milk again
-Chocolate truffles and cream (which we would have done if we hadn't been out of cream)
-The Immortal Yam-Creature (which may be explained in the future)

Eventually, sugar was added. Then Mummy, inspired by the pumpkin custard suggestion, decided to add some cream cheese. She did this by pulling the remaining half-box (left over from the custard) out of the fridge and tossing it into the bowl of pumpkin paste. Not quite satisfied with the visual effect, she scooped a bit of paste out of the bowl and set it on top of the white brick.

'Beautiful,' we pronounced. Kristebel took pictures (with a desk lamp for lighting).

Then we began to stir the contents of the bowl. This attempt was met with moderate success until the two ingredients stopped blending and sat next to each other in small, unappetising clumps. Kristebel took more pictures of this while I pointed out that the food-processor was amazing at blending creamy things like this, and we got that out and used it instead. We began tossing in ingredients to thicken and sweeten the mixture (Mummy and I had the same reaction after licking the traces from the sugar-pumpkin bowl, and this was a mixture of grimacing, blinking, and teeth-licking).

Another excerpt from the Hunt for Thickeners:

Mummy's muffled voice from inside the cupboard: 'Marshmallow fluff!'
Brief pause.
'I can't open it!'
Another pause.
'Have we got any more marshmallow fluff?'

I managed to get the jar open and we scooped most of that in. (In retrospect, we were basically creating George's Marvellous Medicine all over again except that none of us is called George and we were making pumpkin filling rather than any actual cure for anything but hunger and curiosity.)

In the end, we'd cobbled together a mixture of

pumpkin paste,
cream cheese,
three sorts of sugar,
two permutations of marshmallows,
two eggs,
melted chocolate,
and a glorious sense of bliss fuelled by a determination to be victorious in the face of adversity and thin pumpkin paste (sometimes these things are one and the same).

As I write this, the filling-creature is in the oven. The rice-flour-cakes have been finished and stuffed with smooshed red-beans*. As you may have guessed from the previous information, none of the pumpkin mixture actually ended up in the rice-creatures. We are planning to eat it as a custard.


*This choice of filling prompted us to invent a new game show ('Potato or Giant Bean?') based on Mummy's honest queries during the handling of red-bean paste.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Regarding October

* It is the best month.

* It is coming soon!

* I have now had a Pumpkin Spice Latte! HEART.

* For something like half an hour I've been wondering about the strange chemical smell which comes in waves and is terrifying (not really) and confusing (really). Just now it has turned out to be a lemon, which managed to stay yellow and nice-looking for (approximately) four hundred years before going off a day later. It has become all brown and strange-looking and smells like nothing should. Seriously - the next time you have a lemon, save the peel and put it in your fruit basket until it turns all brown and horrid and then sniff it for an experience unlike anything you could ever have imagined. You will thank me.

* TEA! We ordered some Davidson's Earl Grey a few days ago and it arrived today. IT IS AMAZING.

* Mum has harvested one of the bushes of jewelweed growing rampant in the garden. She means to chop it up and boil it and freeze it in ice-cubes for use in case of poison ivy (which is also growing rampant in the garden). Simple, yes? Not for my multitude of siblings (who are very clever but still remain confused by some things occasionally):
 -Brother was outraged that Mum had uprooted ALL THE JEWELWEED, until I informed him that it was ONLY ONE OF THE JEWELWEED, at which point he switched to being outraged that she had uprooted AN ENTIRE BUSH OF THE JEWELWEED.
-Smallest sister was absolutely flabbergasted that Mum might possibly want to chop AND boil AND freeze jewelweed, and besides, she thought it was strange that there was just a jewelweed lying there.
-Slighly larger sister was at first frightened (I think) and then confused as to why Mum might possibly want to chop AND boil AND freeze the stuff if she wasn't going to put it in glasses and drink it.
Love my siblings. They are very funny.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Regarding Pasta

Today we made cheesy sauce and brown rice pasta for supper. It was tasty - and exciting. The packet claimed that a variety of eighteen different pasta shapes were contained within, but we managed to find even more than that. Here are a select few of our discoveries:

-Penguin with rocket-propelled grenade launcher
-Fancy hat
-Throwing star
-Hermes' shoe
-Brass knuckles
-Beef heart
-Cassette tape
-Eucalyptus tree
-Bone with a bit of sinew
-Alien skull with attached vertebrae
-Giraffe riding on a unicycle
-LEGO arm
-Wolf standing on the bonnet of a vintage car and howling at the moon
-Human arm
-Rooster with arms
-Rabbit hiding behind a very small hill
-Boot for the Little People
-Camel being frightened by a smallish rock

Friday, 14 September 2012

Regarding Some More Things

Increasingly vague titles: a sure sign of an excellent blog.

* I painted Prague the other night. Well, not all of it. Just a bit. A fictional bit, really. But it's quite a good bit. Pictures to follow (the paper won't fit in my scanner so I'll have to take it to the library and scan it there).

* More reading news: I've chewed my way through to Warriors #4.5 (The Forgotten Warrior). This is the penultimate book of the currently published array! Of course, I've got three (soon four) Super Editions to work my way through - as well as a narrow companion book and a half - so that should keep me busy until March, when 'Dawn of the Clans: The Sun Trail' comes out! I hope the cover art is released soon (but not too soon - the waiting makes it sweeter).

* The Educational Endeavours are going well. I'm doing some really brilliant maths entirely involving triangles, and this week's topic was extraordinarily thrilling (Prove the Validity of the Triangular Ratio Statement Utilising Only Your Wits and the Inherent Validity of Equivalent Statements, or something like that). It makes my head feel all smug and pleasant inside.

* Lucy (aliases include Oosy, Lucy-beast, and Cactus Cat or just Cactus) is settling in well, and she's discovered that she really loves paper sacks. I was holding one today and she was Curious About It, so I placed it on the ground and she immediately went inside and began punching the insides of it. Trillian/Puff/Bee was watching intently, flattening her ears and going all sideways over the edges of her chair, so that's a good thing - she's been the most frightened of Lucy and it's good to see her being not-so-worried.

* Autumn is settling in! Soon the world will be a riot of colours. I haven't had a Pumpkin Spice Latte yet, though. This must be remedied.

*  AVENGERS IS COMING OUT ON DVD SOON. We've re-watched all the related films in preparation, and it will be amazing.

* Our hibiscus bush/tree-creature is monstrously tall. I'm quite convinced it's grown several feet over the past few months.

* The London Philharmonic Orchestra's rendition of Korobeiniki (more commonly known as The Tetris Theme) is absolutely stunning. I do not use this word lightly. Go listen to that and also their Angry Birds theme. I wish it were easier to find more songs in the Korobeiniki style - Mummy says klezmer and I think 1920s - but maybe some will turn up.

 * I just looked up J C Amberlyn on a whim and she's got a new book coming out! This one - her third - will be published on 20 November and looks much more promising than her sadly lacking Second Book. Third Book is about drawing cats, dogs, and other pets - perfect for me because I've been wanting to get into an amazing cat-drawing spree! Amberlyn's first book, Drawing Wildlife, is utterly spectacular; it's probably the one drawing book I'd choose if I were offered such a difficult choice. (Her second book, unfortunately, buys into the manga trend and makes me sad because it does nothing to illustrate the magnificent high points of her artistic abilities.)

* We're nearly halfway through September.

* Edit because it's just that amazing: YES. YES. YESSSSS. Terryl Whitlatch has a new book coming out too - 'Principles of Creature Design: From the Actual to the Amazing'. Look for it on the fifteenth of March!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Regarding Little Things

There are a lot of things in life that I really enjoy. Some of them are enormous (like the United Kingdom and the Animalia Kingdom and all the custard in the world) and some of them are tiny (like small meadows, small frogs, and the smallest bowl of custard ever). But I love all of them.

Here are some of the little things that I have to report.

* Our newest cat, Lucy, loves yoghurt. She loves anything made out of milk. When we've finished with our yoghurt-cups, we hand them over to her and she licks them clean. Once she's got all around the edges as far down as her tongue can go, she puts her paw into the stuff at the bottom and then licks it off. Many times.

* Recently we went to a beautiful botanical garden and saw many plants and bees. We also saw a lovely little stream full of small fishies! We noticed that one fish had a tiny yellow flower in his mouth. Apparently the rest of the fish noticed this as well - they were chasing after him trying to take it for themselves! We dropped in a leaf to see what would happen - they didn't want it. But when we found more yellow flowers and dropped those in, they pounced on them!

* The cover art for 'Wolves of the Beyond' Six (Star Wolf) has been revealed, and it's lovely. I need to read Five so I'll be ready for the series finale!

* I'm now on Warriors #4.1 (The Fourth Apprentice). It's really good!

* I recently discovered a website which offers free patterns for very interesting bits of clothing! It's perfect timing as I've been wanting to make some things to wear.

* We have a craft show scheduled for Sunday. Craft shows are always fun. Perhaps I'll even get a blog post out of this one!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Regarding Spoons (the finely crafted ones)

Quote of the day from Kristebel: 'How did you know about my segmented goat?'

Today I realised that our little stirring-spoons are very nicely made. My comments on them went something like this:

'This spoon is finely crafted.'

A moment's pause.

'I'm going to pretend that wasn't a Thor moment and move on with my life.'

I am now inspecting the spoon more closely.

'. . .Look! It's so perfectly balanced and things. It's like a sword only you can stir your tea with it without getting hurt.'

It's the little things in life that make it so full of little things.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Regarding Nothing In Particular

It is beginning to get cooler again. This is an excellent development. I'm looking forward to the mornings when I'll get to put on SOCKS just to walk about the house. AND SNOW.

Oh, here's a thing: Mummy has begun blogging again! Go check out her posts for amazing pictures of things that are growing in our garden. Also flowers.

I have actually made some things.

Eurasian Bullfinch. (Plus damask [not included]!)

FIVE OF THEM. I'm currently plotting my next avian endeavours (Lady Amherst's Pheasants, anyone?) and rummaging through our collection of papers for suitably beautiful sheets and colours.

Also, I may sew a skirt. We've discovered this fabric which is completely the most amazing and it is brown with adorable patterns of spiky trees and things. It looks like IKEA as a fabric. I want to make a skirt out of it and add some pink ruffles or something.

Aaaaaand OH! Things have been coming together with my bookworld recently and it's been really exciting. I love finding out that sometimes the things you've had written down for ages can all be connected in totally unexpected ways.

In other news. . .

*Regarding Pinterest: of course. But instead of making me less productive, it's actually inspiring me to do great things (mostly). I still need an endless supply of fabric, though.
*The ever-amazing Lauren Child has begun writing a new series featuring Ruby Redfort (of Clarice Bean fame) and I've scored the first book from the library. I've only read the first chapter so far but it looks good already. Ms Child is very good at loading innocent-looking sentences with lots more information than is obvious at first sight (examples to be posted later).
*An addendum to the title should read '(Or Maybe Lots Of Things)'.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Regarding That Man In The Parking-Lot (Part I)

  It was dark.
  Iulius Caesar Stravinsky sweated noisily as he swerved to avoid a marauding shrubbery and veered into the serpentine curve of a parking-lot entrance, swishing into the lot with the noise of tires on rainy cement. This was peculiar - partly because the parking-lot was paved with asphalt, not cement, and partly because Iulius Caesar Stravinsky had been killed three hours earlier.
  But neither of these conditions was the reason for his distress. Stravinsky was sweating because he had sped past the town furniture store at seventy miles an hour and the proprietor and his family had spotted him anyway.
  Stravinsky could not do long division. He had no idea how one might go about finding hypotenuses (nor was he certain what they were exactly) and he'd never been able to make sense of a periodic table. But if there was one thing he knew, it was that he was being followed, and if there was another thing he knew, it was that the people who were following him would like very much to kill him.
  This was the reason that he was now sitting in a very dark car in the shadow of three enormous paper-recycling bins, holding his breath for abnormally extended periods of time and wondering whether he should risk trying to use his mobile phone.
  He had no idea how long he'd been waiting when the Jeep's headlights lit up the world around him.


  Sjburgsteon Pootisson had waited for exactly three minutes and nineteen seconds before turning into the library parking-lot. He had done this mainly to avoid letting Stravinsky escape with a sort of Crazy Ivan manoeuvre, but also to add a sense of tension to the story.
  It worked. As he hurtled toward the parked car, Pootisson saw Stravinsky tense, somehow becoming even stiller than he had been. In the seconds before their cars collided, Pootisson smiled, thinking of the reward money he was about to collect for the second time.
  Time seemed to slow as the impact shuddered through both vehicles, and though neither Pootisson nor Stravinsky was aware of the other's thought processes, they both found themselves being vaguely disappointed that the noises of the crash did not seem to be amusingly slowed, but in fact remained jarringly real.


  Stravinsky exited through the windshield of the car and performed a spectacular double roll down its bonnet, landing on his feet but falling over almost immediately. Before long, however, he was up again and running for the field ahead. He heard a car door slam and assumed (correctly) that it was Pootisson's; without looking back, he sped up, narrowly avoiding a few inconveniently placed rabbit holes.
  It took him a while to realise that the noises around him were gunshots. Once he'd registered that, he smirked a bit, wondering if Pootisson was just a poor shot or if the weaving trick he'd been taught really did work.
  Unfortunately, it soon turned out to be the latter. As soon as Stravinsky's running pattern straightened out (on account of more shrubbery, of course), something hit him in the leg and he was on the ground before he knew what had happened. He could hear Pootisson behind him now, gaining rapidly (which was unsurprising but still annoying) and making the horrible noise he tried to pass off as a laugh.
  No human being should be capable of making that noise, Stravinsky thought absently. Then something connected with his head and the world became very quiet.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Regarding My Goals for July

It is getting very, very warm. I suppose this is the sort of thing which is to be expected as one is immersed in The Hot Hot Summer. All the same, it's vaguely alarming. Especially since we haven't had any rain to speak of.

Anyway, I've decided to stay inside as much as possible and work on my creative endeavours. Here, then, are some of my goals for the coming month:

* I want to become magnificent at drawing cats. I must research their shapes and then put my amazing knowledge to use.
* I want to be able to write excellent improvised songs. Thanks to some quick lessons from a friend, I am now prepared for this.
* I want to start writing the book that has been baking in my head for several months/years/increments of time in various forms and permutations.
* I want to develop a recipe for Scrambled Custard.
* I want to write more letters. Soviet Russia letters, to be precise.
* I want to finish the poems that have been floating around in my notebook for months.
* I want to start new poems.
* I want to finish old drawings and start new ones.
* I want to learn to identify fifty more British birds.
* I want to hunt down every damask-patterned delightful thing in the land and hide it in my room.
* I want to learn new things to play on the pianoforte.
* I want to make a beautiful book of wonderful things.
* I want to discover new fantastic things of whose existence I was totally unaware.
* I want to learn more things.

I shall print this list with added checkmarks, and then I shall keep it in full sight of myself and remember to do the things on it.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Regarding the Heat

It is hot out.

I shouldn't be complaining yet; it'll get warmer in a few weeks, I'm sure. But I don't want to set foot outside right now for fear of the sun. It tries to kill me, you see. It wants to burn the heart out of me. And after discovering this disturbing facet of the sun's personality, I have decided to stay inside as much as possible. At least we haven't got a glass roof.

That's enough of complaining, though; on to the good stuff. I'm sure that as the summer continues we will manage to wrestle one of our tables out onto the deck, and then we will be able to have breakfast picnics every morning. Cucumber sandwiches will be nice, I think.

I have learned to make beautiful bows from paper:

I used this tutorial, which was linked to by the always-fantastic Jen Yates of Cake Wrecks and Epbot fame. They're fairly easy once you get past the fiddliness of turning squares inside out and things like that. I want to make more! I found that thinner paper works better than thicker paper because of all the folding you've got to do - it bunches up on itself and gets very thick indeed. I think I was meant to cut the tails into double-pointed ones, but obviously they can go either way.

One of my newest obsessions is the Art Nouveau style. I've been poring over books and pictures and trying to absorb its details and characteristics. Once I've got it all down I'll probably be drawing a lot of things in that style. Probably even things like blenders and irons and sewing-machines.

More good things to come!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Regarding Road Trips

We recently came home from a week-long holiday at the sea-side. The holiday was wonderful; the drive back may have been just as fun.

The first hour or so was fairly uneventful. We drove straight along one road until we came to the grocery store. Then things started getting interesting. While our parents ran into the store to get juice and things for the drive, my siblings and I watched the various creepy hobo-like people in the parking lot. When our parents came back with juice, we were ready to go. (More than ready. I don't like hobos.)

Juice-bags were passed around, and Kristebel, having consumed a mild amount of her 'Strawberry Kiwi' squeezings, pronounced the contents to taste like vinegar. ('Apple cider, to be precise', she adds, looking over my shoulder.) Mum turned around from her perch in the front passenger's seat and explained loudly:


just as a man was making his exit from a car next to us. I'm fairly certain he heard us (our windows were open) and we will probably haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.

After we'd laughed about that, we got back on the road and drove. Soon it was Pudding Hour, and we ate pudding.

There was a lot more driving after that, but nothing really memorable happened, apparently, as none of us can recall specific incidents.

But when we were a few hours from home, things started being more interesting. A car pulled up sort-of-next to us, falling behind, then pulling ahead, and falling behind again. There were two men in the front seats, and they had Serious Faces and at least one of them was wearing sunglasses. The following is a speculative recreation of their conversation:

Sunglasses Man: HEY GUIDO. Are we there yet?

Guido: Not yet.


Sunglasses Man: HEY GUIDO. Did you eat that last falafel?

Guido: No. You're holding it.

Sunglasses Man: Ah. Right.

(Both laugh.)

Guido: (wiping tears from his eyes) I can't see the road. Ha ha ha. . .

Sunglasses Man: Just keep driving, Guido.

(They swerve to avoid a flaming tyre.)

They fell behind us for a while after that, and suddenly Mum noticed a car next to us with an enormous opaque trailer behind it. She jumped to the obvious conclusion: this was a man smuggling thousands of contraband harmonicas. After we'd passed the car and laughed at the hapless driver (he didn't look the harmonica-smuggling type), Mum pointed out that it was a good thing the trailer had no windows.

'Imagine,' she wheezed between bursts of helpless laughter, 'the sound it would make!'

It took me a long time to fully get this, but I laughed anyway because I thought she was referring to the sound that would result from a crash.

Around this time, Guido and Sunglasses Man caught up with us again. But this time they had a HUMAN BODY IN THE BACK SEAT OF THEIR CAR.

'OH!' I shouted, flailing and pointing. After I had described the situation, the people around me pointed out that it was not the body of a blond-headed child, as I had previously thought, but in fact that of a rather old woman. We watched with interest.

Sunglasses Man: HEY GUIDO. Where we gonna dump this body?

Guido: I don't know. We're gonna keep driving and then we'll get to a river or something, eh? Or a bridge! Heh heh. . .

(More laughter.)


Sunglasses Man: Don't look now, Guido - but I think those people know what we're up to.

Guido: (nervous eyes)

At this point we may or may not be staring at Guido and Sunglasses Man through the two pairs of binoculars I brought along for birding. (Okay, fine. We are definitely staring at them.)

Unfortunately, we stopped at a rest stop soon after this and Guido and Sunglasses Man managed to get away. But Harmonica Man parked very near us, and shortly thereafter I realised exactly what Mum had meant by 'the horrible harmonica sound'. This rendered me nearly incapable of breath, and the next few moments did nothing to help me.

Not long after we parked, Skandar Keynes' identical cousin or something came out of the rest stop. I pointed him out to the rest of the car's occupants and noted that he was probably In On It with Guido and Sunglasses Man. This called for special observation, of course, and I was still holding my binoculars, so I kept an eye on him. Unfortunately, this sort of activity is somewhat less subtle when one is in a parked car a few metres from one's target. Kandar Skeynes happened to look up while I was Secretly Staring, and a few seconds after he made eye (lens?) contact, I realised that he had probably noticed the binoculars.

'Oops,' I giggled. 'I think he's probably noticed the binoculars.'

Luckily, he did not try to approach the car and attack us. Unluckily, I didn't think to pull down my glasses and give him The MI5 Look complete with Knowing Eyebrows.

Also, Sunglasses Man looked more or less exactly like this:


But he had a nose.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Regarding Creativity

I have recently been inspired to Create Things. This isn't an unusual occurrence, but I'll try to give it an unusual follow-up by actually DOING SOMETHING about it. Having been sucked completely into the world of Warriors, I'm planning to make a lot of little cats of polymer clay and paint them to resemble the cast of aforementioned series. Imagine four tiny Clans romping about your desk! This thought and others like it propel me to great heights of ambition, and the only thing standing in my way is EYES.

I've been trying to research options for eyes: my best bet seems to be little taxidermy eyes, but do they come in sizes that tiny? Perhaps I can make eyes from clay and glaze them. I'll experiment with that. (Most of the things I make from clay happen not to have any eyes - oops.)

Blogger have updated their look yet again - but this time I actually like the changes they've made. Everything looks very clean and efficient, and once you've got the buttons figured out it's no problem to do just what you want in a few clicks. I like the new fonts, too: they're elegant and streamlined and unapologetically fine.

I have just chosen some yarn for my (first) crochet project! It is to be a lovely capelet - the pattern can be found for free here. Don't forget to print the errata, too - they can be found in a link just below the pattern download link.

Most of you will probably know by now that I rather enjoy practising songs on the pianoforte, and some of my sort-of-recent favourites include two of Chopin's pieces: 'Prelude (Op. 28, No. 4)' and 'Prelude in C Minor (Op. 28, No. 20)'. His music is wonderfully powerful and sombre, but one of the best bits is that he was apparently not afraid to use BIG CHORDS. This is lovely because it allows me to put my large hands to very good use.

This is probably a fairly abrupt ending to the post. Oh well.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Regarding Vegetarianism

I have become a non-gluten-eating vegetarian person.

In other news,

-I am nearly finished with the second series of Warriors. I'm also working on 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand, which has been extremely enjoyable. I have just created some peanut-butter-chocolate-shortbready biscuits, and they are quite lovely.
-There's not much else going on. We're currently having a warm snap in the weather; I'm hoping for one snowfall (three feet?) and then I'll be fine with whatever the weather throws at us. Well, I'll be fine with spring. I love when it rains, but it's even better without the guilt of wishing it would snow just once instead.
-Oh! Today I worked on matrices in maths. They were wonderful. I'm nearly halfway through my chemistry course, and that's being brilliant as well (I'm working on electron configurations and orbit shapes).
-Back to reading: my goal is to finish eleven books (plus the remainder of the one I'm reading now) before the third of April, when the newest one will be out.
-My mum is working on a lovely Harry Potter-inspired shadowbox. Ask her for pictures when she's done!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Regarding Inspiration

To begin, we shall make two assumptions: firstly, that I am good at having ideas; and secondly, that I am good at carrying out. The problem is the bit in between those two things.

As it is a New Year, I have decided (in the manner which people usually do) that I am going to start doing that small bit in the middle and actually become productive. After analysing the amounts of time which I spend doing things each day, I have come to the conclusion that there is actually plenty of time to do almost everything I want. Expect to see some results soon.

But while you wait for that, look at THESE THINGS instead. Here are some special people and things. What is so special about them? They are influences which have burrowed into my mind and stayed there, filling me with new things to wonder at, and making me realise what I could be doing instead of sitting here and blogging lying on the sofa and having a staring contest with the ceilings (which, by the way, I always win).


D. M. Cornish - The author of three books (so far) and over thirty notebooks (which I would love to go through entirely on a rainy afternoon), Mr Cornish never fails to pull something awe-inspiring out of nowhere. Plus, he did an ENTIRE POST in response to one of my comments once, and that totally made my day. (Okay, I can't deny it - I'm still coasting on that buzz.)
Dorothy Hearst - Wolf fiction. Need I say more? Promise of the Wolves and Secrets of the Wolves are her only books so far, but there's a third on the way. These books leave little to be desired (some delicious pencil illustrations would be quite welcome!) and it's great to see that the market hasn't got tired of wolves just yet. (I have plans of my own, you see.)
Erin Hunter - Well, she's actually several people, but they're all awesome. I'm working on getting through the Warriors series (at the rate of two books a week, I'll be well-prepared and ready once the final book of the latest arc comes out) and am awaiting the first book of the second Seekers series. The cast of characters for the former series is almost Dickensian in size, and is handled (with a few minor gender-bending exceptions!) quite smoothly.
Kathryn Lasky - I love the Ga'Hoole series to bits (OWLS!) and the companion series (WOLVES!) is fantastic. She's written much more than that, but I shall never outgrow my love of animal fiction, and these two series remain firm favourites.
Valve - One of my favourite companies on this planet (and that's saying a lot). They're the authors of the incredible videogames 'Portal' and 'Team Fortress 2', and their sense of humour matches that of my family so perfectly that I laugh out loud at 98.12% (or more) of what they do, even if it's a minor blog post or a description of an in-game item. Character design: they're doing it right.
Weta Workshop - The Lord of the Rings film series is probably what they're best known for, but this design and prop studio have credits all over the the film world. They've done some collaborations with Valve through their 'Dr Grordbort' division (ray guns and mounted alien bugs, anyone?) and are quite responsible for the glorious-looking Tintin film, which appears as though it will do many justices to the wonderful books on which it has been based.
Jen Yates - Cake and crafts? I'm in. EPBOT has plenty of geeky references mixed with jaw-dropping DIY plans for incredible things. I couldn't begin to list all the things I've found through this blog. (Plus she's a fellow Sherlockian. Win-win-win!)

Many of the artists I admire do not have website galleries to do them justice, but here are their names:

JC Amberlyn - The author of two books. One of them is fantastic - if I had to pick one art instruction book to bring on a Desert Island Holiday, it would probably be Drawing Wildlife. Every one of the animals in her drawings glows with life, and it's not at all hard to give them stories in your mind while flipping through the book. The style is one I hope to achieve - almost pure realism with a touch of stylised liveliness.
Richard Cowdrey - Responsible for the covers of Kathryn Lasky's 'Ga'Hoole' and 'Wolves of the Beyond' series.
Wayne McLoughlin - Cover artist for Erin Hunter's 'Warriors' and 'Seekers' series. I wish he would do an instructional book or something - I like to stare at the jackets of our books and wonder at the pictures.
Terryl Whitlatch - Unfortunately, she seems not to be present on the wonderful world of the Internet (although she seems to be a contributor to the art academy blog to which I've linked), but that shouldn't stop you from hunting down her work. She's done creature designs for loads of animated films (and STAR WARS!) and has a seemingly flawless grasp of anatomy. I admire her for drawing real birds even when it doesn't matter to most other people, like in the background of some pages for her incredible collaboration 'The Katurran Odyssey' (which was the first book of a proposed series, but unfortunately stands alone so far) - oystercatchers in the distance, and loads of other birds which I recognised but cannot recall, as I do not have the book in my possession!

This is by no means a complete list of my inspiration sources - I'm always finding new things to stare at. But it's a start, and everything has to start somewhere. . .