Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pay It Forward 2013 # 3: Emma Watson

So my third pay it forward for 2013 is for my friend Andrew.  He's a very laid back graphic designer.  Kind of bohemian.  And my original idea was going to be a very hippie combination of tie-dye, ukuleles and his dogs.  Fortunately for all of us, he happened to post a status on facebook last week asking about how one goes about dating a celebrity.  After many a delightfully entertaining series of suggestions from his friends, it was revealed that he has a bit of a celebrity crush on Ms. Emma Watson.

The part of this piece that took the absolute longest was finding the original source to give credit for the photograph I used to work from.  This picture is -everywhere-.  And it took going to Ms. Watson's page directly to find my source.  All of this to say, the amazing original photograph that inspired this piece is the work of photographer Andrea Carter-Bowman.

Until he works his way through all those suggestions, this piece is as close as I can get to introducing him to Ms. Watson (;

"Emma Watson"  9" x 12" acrylic and prisma color on acrylic paper.

Prints available here.


A friend of mine has a fantastic term for the sleepless, tossing turning, nightmare nights of the full moon:  Moonwracked.  For me, most full moons are.  Last night was no exception.

Last night I dreamed that I was stuck in a major city that I presumed to be New Jersey. It was life and death end of the world, and I was currently traveling with four strangers I had met as we all tried to survive. 

In the grand scale of survival tools, our choice was shovels. We used them to dig, to move things from one location to another (ergo shoveling), to carry things, as a weapon, and as a way to keep zombies at bay. But the zombies were a secondary fear. The real danger was the Trollusk. 

He was enormous and he was fast. He had come from Europe or Africa...some where over seas. He moved in silent, creepy, disjointed jerks striking at lighting speed and the zombie hordes were the remains of his meals reanimating. 

One of the guys in our group didn't particularly like me and was an escaped convict. We happened to be scaling one of the tall buildings after fighting off the latest round of zombies. Three of our members were already up top. I was almost there and he was last behind me on the ladder when the gun he insisted on carrying in his pocket went off and shot him in the gut. Before he could fall off the building, I wrapped my arm around the ladder and snatched him close. 

He insisted on passing all three of his shovels up for our group. As I was pulling him up and we reached the top, there was a brief moment when I thought, just for spite, that he might pull me and throw me off the building. I told him not to and we had a quick whispered conversation where he told me I was annoying enough he'd briefly thought about it, but living humans were getting scarce and it'd be better if I'd let him go instead.

 Suddenly, we saw the Trollusk. On another lower part of the roof, the other lady in our group was by herself, pacing, crying, in shock. She'd just lost her brother to the zombies. She was looking off to the left, thoroughly consumed by her grief haze. But the Trollusk had just scaled the building on the right and was coming up fast on her...and she didn't notice. 

The guy I was with started making a lot of noise. He was trying to get the Trollusk's attention and then intended to throw himself from the building to get it to follow him and try to buy us time to escape. But I grabbed his arm, hushed him and pulled his gun from his waist band, stalked towards the lower end of the building questioning if it would even work, then shot the Trollusk in the back of the head. 

It feel down dead. I looked at its largely human face and quickly placed coins on its eyes and a sheet soaked in holy water over its body, but still I had not moved fast enough. The Trollusk's spirit snatched me to be witness bearer of its life and suddenly I was in a large grassy savanna, running at incredible speeds through the tall grass. 

I was both hunter and hunted. I ran so fast I practically flew and it was exhilarating. It was eight tracks before I realized that there was a subtle difference. I realized I was running a loop over and over on repeat, but I was running the grass flat and starting to create a ten foot wide path in some spots and only a single person wide in others. 

Still repeating. Still repeating. I began to listen. I could hear the crunch of the grass . The sounds of eating. These filled me with fear. This is what hunted me. I could smell deer. This filled me with hunger. This is what I hunted. 

Repeating. Repeating. And now I see there's a dead deer in a portion of this loop that I keep jumping over. 

Repeating. Repeating. Always running but looking for details. The sound of what hunts me getting louder. Getting closer. Always running, always repeating. More grass down, I'm easier to see, leap the dead deer, don't stop running. 

Repeating, repeating but this time when I pass, the decaying deer picks its head up. Repeating, repeating, this time, it bleats in fear. Repeating, repeating, jump over the reanimating deer. Repeating, repeating, run _around_ the reanimated deer as it brings itself to a jerking lumbering stand and bellows in rage. 

Repeating, repeating. Can't stop running. Can't change course. Not by enough. Through the wide gap, over the hill, down past the shrubs, and starting the curve that will take me back to the deer as the sounds of the Hunter consuming grow unbearably loud.  I know for certain the hunter and hunted are one and the same and the residual sickness left within meals past means those meals awaken with my own hunger, and what has been eaten waits to eat. 

Repeating, repeating, duck under the last bush, prepare to jump or dodge or die, the sound of eating unbearably loud, the fear making me jump, and suddenly 

I'm awake in my bed, having actually jumped and startled myself awake, my heart pumping like I'd actually been running, wide awake and thankful to have found away to escape the zombie deer that waited for me in the tall grass.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nikademus, the Dragon Lute Player

So last night, I didn't sleep worth a darn.   It was 2 am before my oldest son's cough finally settled down.  But then the cat kept pouncing me...she wanted snuggles and petting and I wanted sleep.  (It was clearly a lose-lose battle.)  And then, on a mere 2 and a half hours of sleep, I bolted wide awake and attempted to sleep (unsuccessfully) for the next hour and a half before my alarm clock announced my pretending to sleep was over and it was time to start my day...can I just sum this up as, "Hello, Full Moon!"?  So all of that to say, last night, I dreamed but it isn't anything I could write about.  It was disjointed blotches of color and the impression of organic shapes.  That was it.

So here I am thinking, ah well, no dream to write about today.

And then when I got home this evening, I see that I received a surprise package in the mail from my father.  He sent me copies of two charcoal drawings I did my senior year of high school.

They're the front and back of Nikademus, the dragon lute player...that I dreamed.  People often ask me about remembering my dreams and the thing is, if I can remember my dream, I can (so far anyway) always remember my dream.  Looking at him, I remembered this dream clearly.  It helps that at the time, it was one of the most vivid dreams I'd ever had.

It was spring of 1995, and I dreamed that I was at a medieval castle on faire day.  The streets were tight and cobbled and full of people.  Some of them celebrating, dancing, laughing, talking, vending.  None of them nobles.  All of them common.  When you think of a wench, you've pictured every young woman here.

Looking up, flags and banners fluttered in a muted rainbow hue of colors, contrasting sharply with the laundry lines strung between the building with clothing flapping as merrily as the flags.  Children laughed and ran, playing in the street.  I could hear a fountain bubbling, but did not see one.  I was there, but I was just watching.  It was kind of like going to a Renn faire in mundane clothes.  Merely a tourist passing through, trying to see everything.

The apples in the cart beside me looked so delicious, I picked one up to inspect it.  And suddenly I was being chased by guards for stealing.  I clutched the apple and ran, upturning a vendor with caged chickens, their squabbles and squawks behind me the only clue that they were slowing down the guards.  I was concentrating on where I was going and did not spare a glance to look.

I dodged down side streets through rickety bamboo lattice work and could hear dogs behind some of the pens baying while pigs contained in others squealed.  I was afraid they would tell the guards exactly where I was-- but I realized they always made that much noise and were probably good cover of themselves.

And suddenly I was in a different part of the castle, scaling over short towers, some no taller than 2 feet off the ground, with people everywhere.  I was in the entertainment section.  Jugglers.  Chalk artists.  Bubbles-- It reminded me of being a child in Heidelberg and I followed the sound of lovely music.  When I found the source, I stopped completely-- frozen in a mix of fear and fascination.

There were three musicians playing.  A frame drummer, a lute player and a flute player-- and all of them were strange alien looking dragons.  The flute player had breasts and a softer curve to her body or I would never have been able to distinguish their genders.  No one else noticed or considered them out of place.  And people passing by would toss coins into their lute case, as they would do for any musician who played as well.

As I stood there listening and watching, a haze, a flicker out of the corner of my eye, indicated that what I saw and what really were were not necessarily one and the same, and with this realization, reality peeled from the scene before me like a ripple across water.

I realized that here, I was the one that should attract attention, as I was the only 'person' there.  But they were all friendly and inviting in a way the real people had not been.  The pen was full of pigs alright, but they were pigs with wings, which suddenly explained why a pig pen would need to be closed on top.  And many of the patrons leaving coins had bits and details that announced they were not fully human, or perhaps just wearing a human costume.  A tail here.  A bit of feathers there.  A sharp claw instead of a hand.  Gills.  It varied.  And they accepted me for my oddities as a full human as they accepted each other.

And still around all of these strange and interesting sights, the music wove hypnotically around them.  The players were really quite good.  I went to give them my apple, as it was all that I had to give,  when it was time for me to wake up.

This dream was so vivid in my mind that day, I couldn't shake it.  So when we were given assignments in art class to experiment in charcoal creating the front and backside of a thing-- I knew I had to bring a part of my dream into the waking world with me.

And I so I created Nikademus.

"Nikademus, the dragon lute player".  charcoal on charcoal paper.  Interested in having him for your very own? Prints and other merchandise available here.

I wanted to capture the feeling of friendliness I remembered from my dream and so he is smiling and waving in welcome-- inviting me to return.  So far, I never have, save in memory.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Me and My Fido

Last night I dreamed that I was the cool 1950s teen-aged daughter of a 1920s mobster and a 1970s hippie. They were not represented by my real parents at all.  He was the quintessential mobster and she the ideal of a hippie, as stereotypically as you can envision them.

We had just moved to the beach and I was rocking my huge red poppy fascinator with my cute 1950s bikini. My dad was wearing pin stripe swimming trunks from his era. My mom was wearing flowers in her hair, a bikini top and bell bottoms, meditating and solidifying the outside edges of her above ground containerless aquarium. 

It was awesome. It was about knee high and she'd made it two "layers" that followed the contours of the concrete it was hovering over. The inner layer was fresh water, and had a couple of giant grouper patrolling it. The outer edge was salt water and had a shark and two mini half gators that could walk through the 'wall' of the water out to land. Their snouts were half as long as a normal gator, as were their tails, and their bodies, because they only had front legs. 

My dad was showing me how to catch and hold their mouths so you could pet them like dogs and the one I was holding/ petting was cooing like a dog enjoying a good scritching. All the while my mother was psychically cleaning her aquariums and holding them in stasis. 

Suddenly, 1970s thugs showed up in their gas guzzling ugly brown chase cars, wearing open neck butterfly collar t-shirts and really big shades, with trunks full of guns and bullets blazing. Mom mediated herself intangible so bullets would pass right through harmlessly. Dad whipped a Tommy gun out of the back pocket of his swim suit and they had a serious bout of gun fire, while I dodged into the azaleas my mother had already made bullet proof (as a precaution being knowingly married to a mobster). 

When they left, they stole our pool net that my mom used to gently lift her fish out of her hovering dual aquarium. There was nothing special about it except that it was entirely eco friendly and had been hand made by local Guatemalan children when we'd lived there and had extreme sentimental value to my mom and could not be easily replaced.  So I went after them and snuck into the house they were using as base of operations. 

All I wanted to do was get my mom's fish net, so I snuck past them and grabbed it, but the dozen of them caught me in the act, so I bludgeoned them with the tall bookcase it had been on, just knocking them unconscious. It dropped all their weapons into a jumble on the floor. All the bullet clips were knocked out of the guns. 

As I picked their trophy (my mom's fish net) back up, they started to come to, so I punched them all. It took care of all except the leader, who was a giant beast of a man with a thick jaw and tight curls, who sat up and grabbed a hand gun. While he was trying to quickly grab the right clip for it, I grabbed a semi automatic from the pile and loaded my chamber faster. 

I rapidly shot him in the head four times before he pulled off a single round that should have killed me...But I realized I'd learned my mother's safety intangibility and it had phased harmlessly through me. He was dying but he wasn't dead yet as he swore and pulled out a rocket launcher. As I fled the building, he was laughing maniacally that he might be dying, but I would have to run from him and would die in little bits any way. 

I faked a run to the right and when he pulled the trigger, I caught the rocket and flung it back to him, then dove into the neighbor's pool with my mother's net. The get away house exploded with all the thugs inside while I swam harmlessly and safely, way under the surface of the water and escaped the blowback of the explosion. 

In retrospect, I realize that the direction of houses was staggered.  One house would face the street (in this case, the thugs), but on each side was the back yard of the neighbors with the front of their house on the backyard side of the thugs' house.  The entire row of them were like this.

When I came up to the surface, the neighbors had all just come out  from their mansions to see what all the fuss was and we decided to have a pool party.  After much laughter and swimming and watching of the police as they cleaned up thug bits and having a good time with hundreds of my new neighbor friends, drinking juice out of coconuts with cute little paper umbrellas, I climbed out of the water and took my mother's net back home. 

I leaned down to pet one of our half gators who'd excitedly come to greet me (I was considering naming it Fido) when I suddenly woke up in the dark. I rolled over and reached out to my husband because I thought his sitting up quickly must have woken me, and it looked like he was just sitting there, startled out of a nightmare or by heartburn-- but it turned out to just be shadows. He was actually sound asleep and laying beside me, and it was the dog dreaming and scritching the carpet that had woken me.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Signs and Portends

Last night I dreamed that we were going for a walk in the woods when my husband I both had a sudden vision where we were instructed to continue walking.  We would find a cottage in the woods run on solar power.  And when the comet fell from the sky striking the long dead tree, it would start the furnace for a forge we were to keep until the fire went cold.  But we would not be allowed to let the fire go cold of our own or we would die.  There were a couple of other conditions:  we had to leave our lives and identities behind, my husband had to till the land, I would have to raise and teach our boys, we must always be faithful to each other, and we would have to be inside before full dark.  It all depended on whether or not the comet fell.

We came to from our instant vision, both standing but dazed while our boys, one two and the other five, ran around in circles around us laughing carefree.  We looked at each other, not saying a word, certain we'd had the same vision and continued our walk in the woods.  When suddenly, we came across the cottage.  The boys wanted to go explore it, so much as I would rather not, we did.  There was a sign on the front that said, "Enter and be welcome."  At the encouraging of our kids, we did.  It was nice enough.  Refrigerator run by the solar power.  Minimal electricity.  A fire place.  We went back to the truck and got groceries and put celery, carrots, broccoli and other fresh vegetables in the fridge.  It was our way of paying back having entered.

As we left the cottage, suddenly, a comet rocketed out of the sky, striking the enormous long dead tree on the hill beside us with a giant fire ball.  My honey and I exchanged glances and knew we were trapped or dead.  Damn.  No good grocery trip goes unpunished.

And so we made sure the fire kept burning, using it to forge tools and nails and other needed bits.  No idea where all the metal came from, nor the knowledge of forging, but there it was.  Ditto for the farming.  But we were good at it.  As winter approached, my husband's only objection was that he didn't have time to go get his leather coat, but I had five of my coats in the truck, so he took to layering two of them at a time.

Years passed successfully, and if that ain't a sign of a miracle, I'm not sure what is.  The fridge was never empty, the crops flourished, there was always enough wood, there was no was quiet, but we were happy enough considering we were already basically dead to the world, or at least everyone in -our- worlds that had mattered.

Then one afternoon, three years on, in this enforced semi-eco friendly monotony, I took my oldest, now 8 with me on a trip into town to get groceries.  At the grocery store, my truck stopped running and a kind, attractive, young gentleman offered to give us a ride.  We accepted and he kept trying to flirt with me, but I did not flirt back as I didn't want my husband to drop dead at home.  We gave no details.  He said he just needed to make a quick stop at his Aunt's job.

And then he stopped at what looked like a cross between an enormous aquarium and a swimming pool.  We all went inside and his Aunt took an immediate like and interest in my boy and I.  We watched as she changed the water, turning over brilliantly colored corals and sponges and reintroduced the water critters to this enormous tank.  As we looked from the outside, I thought I saw a merboy.  She said I wasn't far off, but it was actually a type of fish, not a human cross breed.  Then she provided us with swimsuits that fit perfectly and we went swimming.

Neither of us had any difficulty swimming and we could breathe and talk under water.  I came up, sitting on the edge with my feet in the water and he stayed down there, charming the other merchildren.  I looked down at him, happy to see him happy, and he looked up at me, smiled and wave.

She told me they had really taken a shine to him and that he was great at story telling and suddenly I feared that he might remember and start to tell them about us from before, and such a lapse would lead to our immediately smiting.  So I gathered him up and we quickly changed into our own clothes.  Her nephew had long left, but I suddenly recognized our old neighborhood and thought-- hey!  Maybe our car is still there!

So my boy and I walked around and there it was-- our house; Our life we had been forced to walk away from because of a fireball in the sky.  As I approached, you could tell the house, hell, the entire neighborhood, was long abandoned.  But our door was ajar and there was movement within.

Cautiously, we approached and it was my husband, looking for his leather coat.  While my youngest son sat on the couch with his old nabi.  Everything had been left exactly as it had been the day we vanished.  As he snagged his coat, I glanced out the window and realized the sun was starting to set.  We would need to rush if we were going to make it back to the cottage before dark.

And in that moment, I looked at him and he looked at me, and we unanimously and without any words decided we would no longer live in fear of 'what if''.  "What if the vision was real?"  "What if not obeying these rules and living a life we want to would kill us?" "What if we stop tending the fire?" ..."What if we didn't go back before dark?"

We decided we wouldn't go back.  And we stood there holding hands in the middle of our abandoned living room, our children playing with legos long lost and laughing, while we watched the setting of the sun, waiting...waiting to see if it would be our last....waiting to see if it would be our first...just waiting.  But together.

As it touched the horizon and the last rays of daylight faded, my alarm clock went off and I woke up.

I won't ever really know, but I like to think maybe it worked out as my dream self getting to return to my life, maybe a little smarter about not following signs and portends...even if they do come with predicted fire balls.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lawyering Ain't No Fairytale

Last night I dreamed that I worked at a fairy tale law firm. I was starting with my first case and was working with a group of four other people.  My job was research.  We had just gone to meet our client but they had a social engagement so we would reschedule for tomorrow.  

I wasn't sure I wanted to accept the case yet. I would need to feel the client out. I could tell guilt from innocence and would not help a guilty person cheat the law system. So my team and I teleported to the hotel we were staying in. 

That was one of the interesting and dangerous things about working fairy tales. You could, by a thought, teleport between worlds. The land between was golden mountains and verdant forests, though you were typically only in them a moment and the ability to walk them was based solely on your belief that you could. If you should ever stop believing while passing through, you would become trapped there and it would dissolve into nightmare around you. 

So any way, on my team, the lead lawyer was a mild villain with a high sexual angst streak. He was interested in seeing his secondary lawyer, a lovely harpy in a pin stripe suit, and his secretary, a female centaur, in a mix up. Fortunately, neither of them were interested. 

I was an intern researcher. The other two were normal people like me, a man and a woman, both in research. I was nursing a Shirley temple while we sat at the bar. The man was on his fifth jack and coke on an empty stomach and I was just thinking he might need to call it quits when our boss, and the owner of the firm (a large man who could have been Ursulla's twin brother), appeared in the bar seat beside me and outright said the same thing. 

My drunken associate, without looking up, challenged his right to say so, and when the boss announced himself, the researcher fell out of his seat and immediately vanished, hiding in the in between. My boss introduced himself and let me know we were having an office party/ meet and greet at the firm and suggested I attend. Then he vanished, as did the rest of my team and most of the attendants of the hotel. 

I finished my Shirley temple first, then walked the golden mountain of between enjoying the silence and sunlight. When I arrived, it was like Disney animated pandemonium. The entire office was size wise comparative to Wolfram & Hart. And unless I'd missed my mark, had broken out into an enormous game of tag. 

There were the obvious match ups- the wolf being chased by the three pigs, Rapunzel was repelling from the fifth floor by her hair, though I couldn't tell by quick glance if she was pursuer our pursuee, mermaids were drowning sailors...though again, quick glance, so maybe they were just dunking them and the pandemonium led me to very fast but incorrect conclusions. 

My harpy co-worker happened to stop for a quick breath as she was running from the lawyer who was intent on following through with his earlier suggestion, when I asked her how one would go about getting out of in between if they ever got stuck there. 

She got a terrified look on her face like she's never considered the possibility and suddenly I was between and the golden mountain turned into a giant boat eating version of my boss (Remember?Spitting image of Ursela...well, now he was the spring image of the giant Ursella) and he was laughing like he planned to eat me. But I wasn't afraid. I was just watching to see what would happen because I was curious. And I realized I wasn't afraid because I recognized that between is what we make of it. We have absolute control over it. 

As I had this thought, the nightmare aspects wore away like turpentined oil paint on a fresh canvas, revealing my golden mountain beneath. And I decided lawyering was not for me. So I curled up to take a nap on my mountain, deciding that when I awoke, I would choose my own path, thank you.

(I will have to take a picture of it once the sun is up because the scanner did -really- weird things to the colors.)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pay It Forward 2013 #2

In keeping with my 2014 plan of making at least two piece of art each week and as part of my 2013 Pay It Forward project, I decided to complete my second pay it forward piece today.

My second piece is for my friend Ashlee, who is a serious fan of hedgehogs, so for her, I made this piece:

Psychedelic Hedgehog 9"x 12". Pen and ink and prisma color on parchment.

Prints and other merchandise available at

Pay It Forward 2013

Since 2010, I've participated in the creative pay it forward.  You've probably seen them in your friend's statuses on facebook, but if not, it looks something like this:  "I will make something handmade for the first five people who respond to this, but I decide what it is and I'll send it in a year. The catch is that you have to post it in your status and make something for the first five people who respond to yours. It doesn't have to be art-- it can food or whatever, but you have to make it for that person."

You're probably thinking, "But Janin...It's 2014..."  Yes, yes.  I know.  But I've always added the caveat that I have until the beginning of February of the next year so for me, I'm right on time (;

For 2013, my youngest sister was one of the first responders.

So I decided to draw her a family portrait:

I'll get it out in the mail to her tomorrow.  I hope she likes it!

Armored House Cats and Water Tigers

Last night, I dreamed that we moved to the desert. We had an incredible single story concrete circular home built. It was kind of like a cave with all interconnecting rooms and an inner courtyard at the center that could be passed through to enter any of them.

I dreamed that we were showing our house to my in laws who had come to visit. You could push a button on the couch and it would serve up a goblet of the water of life. We served one to grandmother and it came up icy cold. She only took a sip. She didn't like it. And in my dream, she passed away. She should have drunk more, but she no longer found pleasure in the things of life. 

Then a very young Father Time came to visit, perhaps in his late teens to early twenties. We were going to serve him up some water of life, but it came up hot and my husband realized it was meant for him, so he drank it. Suddenly we were host to a Hawaiian goddess who called my boys and I her own and Father Time took her through a quick tour of our house. 

My cat was climbing and playing through out the room and when she finally settled beside me, I reached down to pet her but her hide was hard like leather, not her soft soft fur and when I glanced at her, for a moment, I thought she might be dead. There was a cut out in her side with her dried intestines clearly visible and ants and beetles walking around with in her cavity, but I realized that although her insides were visible they were also covered in this protective leather armor and I could see her heart beating.  I gently reached in to shoe the bugs along, but this woke up my kitty and she leaned over, lucked to clean herself and ate all the bugs.

Just then, the goddess and Father Time came back around to the living room talking about how they loved the construction of our home (and I realized that although I intellectually understood the layout, I had not actually been through the rest of the house). I thanked them for their visit and they vanished. They were both very busy entities, but they thanked us for hosting them. 

I went to my bedroom to change my clothes and realized my bra was from a company called chocolate quake. I noticed and wanted to remember this because it was the most comfortable bra I've ever worn and I wanted to get more of them. 

Then we went to visit my sister who lived on the top floor of a concrete condo here in the desert. They had been away for several months and had just gotten home themselves and she was in the middle of re-installing her water tiger. It had been stored in stasis at the vet under water for almost eleven months and was being reintroduced to its home pool.  

It rolled out of the automatic mechanical tank, barely making a splash. There were three long wires that hung over and slightly in the pool that the tiger would climb and walk like a tight rope bridge when it was time to eat. They fed it dog food and suddenly it gave birth to four water tiger kittens and my sister was trying to talk me into taking one because they were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I said we already has a playful armored-dillo cat at home. Then my real cat woke me up with fierce purring and insistence on being pet. I have to admit, I much prefer her soft, furry, intact reality.

Aardvarks, Anteaters, Armadillos and Ants

So I woke up from a crazy dream and started documenting it.  It happens that while I was doing so, my honey came to bed.  He doesn't care for the sound of the keyboard on my phone as I'm typing.  He knew what I was doing, so he leaned over, lay his head on my shoulder and said, "Last night I dreamed I was an aardvark."  At the time, I ignored him and kept typing, as I wanted to capture my dream.  For the last couple of days, they've been flitting away, so I wanted to record the first one I could remember for 2014.

When I finished, I turned off my phone and lay down.  Then I giggled.  He asked me why and I said, "Last night I dreamed I was an aardvark."  He laughed and I continued, "I kept being harassed by this bright pink cat."  And he laughed again and we started an aardvark discussion.  He said, "Or anteater.  They're basically the same thing."  And I asked that aardvarks ate ants?  He said they did and reiterated they were the same thing.  I told him I thought anteaters had long hair and aardvarks were armored like armadillos and he said they weren't.  And then we were discussing where the two different critters lived.  It was at that point that he told me to look it up, because now, we were both curious.

...If you'd told me when I went to bed that I'd be looking up aardvarks and anteaters at 4 am in the morning, I'd have laughed, politely called you a liar and gone to bed...clearly, I would also owe you an apology.

The first thing I learned was that he was right-- they DO eat ants.  The difference being an anteater has a tongue twice as long and the aardvark has a tongue half as long but with sticky spit.  And it turns out that armadillos -also- eat ants.  And all three enjoy devouring termites.  That these three critters are of a group of 22 that enjoy this particular bug delicacy.  We also learned that anteaters get to be a much bigger critter.

Then we looked at images.  I was right that anteaters have long hair, but wrong that the aardvark doesn't-- it is just much shorter.  Armadillo is still armored though.  And as we looked at the pictures, we decided that the aardvark looks a bit like a pig and a bit like a kangaroo.  I was right that the anteater lives in South America and he was right that the aardvarks lives in Africa.  Armadillos weren't even a question because their natural habitat appears to be feet up on the side of the road all summer long, right?

And as I turned my phone off for the second time this morning and rolled over to go back to sleep, I suddenly thought, and therefore said, "Hey!  Armadillos also eat ants!"  To which my now sleepy husband hmmed and mumbled a yes.  And I said, "Then they'd be welcome in our yard.  Especially if they eat fireants."

And then I remembered my favorite armadillo story:

I didn't see my first live armadillo until I was 16. Up to that point, if you'd asked me the native habitat of an armadillo, I'd have been inclined to tell you, "Upside down, stiff, on the side of the road." Now, the one I saw, I only saw the back end of... but that's really at the tail end of this story, so let me start from the beginning:

So I was 16, and it's the first time we lived in Alabama. And it was my turn to give my little sister a bath. While she and I were in the bathroom taking care of that, my parents were having an adventure of their own.

My mother had gone into the backyard to put something away, but she couldn't see what she was doing, so she called to my Dad to turn the back porch light on. As soon as he did-- my mother realized she was within touching distance of an armadillo! And that sucker CHARGED! So my mother turned around, yelled (Okay, she was -almost- screaming), and fled-- right past my father and into the carport to go around the house. Well, my Dad, figuring he could help, grabbed a shovel and followed right behind that armadillo. Now, that right there might have been the end of that armadillo...except that my father's belt failed and his pants began slipping off him.

This is the part where I finished dressing my sister, and headed to the front door to see what all the commotion was, as my mother was still yelling -- just in time to see my father, his pants around his ankles, a shovel over his head with both hands, yell to my mother, "Kathy, jump to the right and get out of the way!" Then I watched my mother jump to the right as a speeding armadillo fled past as fast as those little legs could go-- and my father threw the shovel after it-- WAY missing it. Then watching, as my parents laughd, as my dad retrieved his pants, my mother retrieved the shovel...and that armadillo just KEPT on running.

To this day, when I think about 'possum on the half shell', THIS is the first image in my mind.

And as these three critters made such an impression this first weekend in 2014, I decided they could be my first art pieces of the year (:

"Earth Pig". 9" x 12". acrylic and ink on watercolor paper. Aardvark. 

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"Possum on the Half Shell". 10" x 10". Pen and Ink. Armadillo.

Prints and other merchandise available for purchase at
The anteater took a bit more time as I was experimenting with it as well.

"Anteater"  9" x 12" Acrylic and ink on acrylic paper.

Prints and other merchandise available for purchase at 

If you'd like more information on them, check out the aardvark, the anteater, and the armadillo.