Sunday, May 31, 2009

These aren't bears

A friend emailed me, telling me that she had seen a bear. I told her that all I had seen were some deer and domestic cats. To which she replied, "Did the cats have on little aprons?"

Um, yeah. See:

Google, what's up with Blogger?

Seriously, I am getting sick of Blogger randomly refusing to recognize or set cookies. Every few months, it's a fight. And I'm not geeky enough to remember exactly what steps I took to work around it previously. Did I just wait and things improved? Completely re-install my browser? Cast chicken entrails into a brazier and read the portents? Be sure to allow cookies to be set is the "helpful" advice. Yeah?

How come every other site I use has no trouble with setting cookies? Yahoo can manage this, but not Google? Live Journal? Facebook? Yeah, they can all set cookies, even if my enthusiasm for Facebook rivals my loathing for family get-togethers and school reunions, and Yahoo pretends every two weeks to not know who I am as part of its "security". What up, Google? (I've also been having trouble with Google's search acting all kindsa weird. Again, what up? Why are suddenly re-using open tabs instead of opening in new ones? This is not how I have things set.)

So. If you use a different blog host, and are happy as you can be with it, let me know. I'm once again pondering moving this puppy to a different kennel. One with easy customization and image uploading, and that will be easy to transfer to. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


The final four of my holiday sketches! I know you were hardly able to contain your excitement. Truthfully, the sketches look better in real life than in the scans, but they aren't shabby in the scans, either. And this time, I remembered to use thumbnails instead of large pictures, so the page should load faster.

After observing the heron on the dunes, I went down to the visitors' center. It hadn't opened yet, so I shared the vista with a couple from Kansas. He was using a powered wheelchair to get up the multi-level ramp to the look-out. Seeing nothing strike my immediate fancy, I headed toward the center's ramp to the beach. They had a similar idea, and got there first. The ramp goes to the beach, but not to the water. This worked out nicely for artistic purposes, as the gentleman left his chair on the paved platform and, with the help of his wife, limped out to one of the benches to better view the Gulf waters. This sketch shows the chair, with footprints leading away. A dune hides the destination.

(I've read that there is such a thing as a portable walkway/ramp now, and that it is used at some beaches. The US National Seashores need to invest in some. Yes, they have beach chairs free for the use, but it takes a strong person to push them and most people who use wheelchairs do not have strong people to push them. They have their spouses, their moms, their children, who are just regular strong or even on the weak side. As someone who has often had to push a person both heavier and taller than myself on tricky terrain, I plead on behalf of all the pushers, please get the walkway/ramps.)

It was getting close to 8:30 when I finished the wheelchair sketch. I chatted with the couple, and then opened my cane/seat so that I could sit watching the beach as it came alive with color and people. This beach scene shows a handful of intrepid bathers wading into the still cool waters stretching into the horizon.

Remember that heron sitting at the top of the dunes? When I went back to the beach, it (or possibly another heron. I don't know one gray heron from another) had moved near the water.

First, it was standing in the partial shade of a picnic table canopy. The canopies are just slats, and at so early in the morning, the canopies threw stripes on the sands. I was able to get closer this time, sitting at the next table over while looking at the black-striped heron. The black on gray was fun, and I decided to leave the picture in the graytones I first rendered it.

After about ten minutes, the heron broke free of his prison garb in order to hunt along the water's edge. Gulls and plovers fluttered out of his immediate reach, so he struck a watchful pose, waiting for some smaller critter to forget caution. I also left this one black and white.

Thanks for taking the time to look at my sketches. It was a great experience, the first of what I hope will be many day trips just for the sake of sketching.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back and Up

I'm back and rested from my seashore shenannigans. I camped overnight at Padre Island National Seashore, enjoying good weather and more peace and quiet than I usually get from my neighbors at home--even if the dingleberries in the next campsite over did keep honking their horn around 11 pm. At least they stopped by midnight. This was the very first time in my 50 years of life that I went somewhere completely by myself for vacation. I travelled maybe too light, but it was OK, since it meant less to deal with both at the destination and coming home. I was very glad, again, for having bought an easy-to-pitch tent. Not even the evening beach winds could keep me from being able to set it up by myself. However, next time, if it is for just one night, I will probably just sleep in my car and if it is for more than one night, I will bring a lounger, because I can't even pretend to sleep flat on my back for more than an hour.

I trundled out to the water's edge the night I arrived. No one else was out there at all. Once I turned off my lantern, there was no artificial light. I figured I would get to see the moonlight and stars reflect off the sea foam. What I did not expect was to see the shoreline flash softly in blue and purple. I bent to examine the source, turning my lantern back on. It was the nasty seaweed that litters the beach! By day, it is quite ugly. But at night, the plankton that live in it biolumenesce up a storm! All these years I have gone to the beach, and I had never seen this. If you go, make sure to go to the shoreline when there is no one else there with lights or fires so you can see for yourself. Other beaches may have other colors, depending on the plankton. It's really wonderful.

One of my main reasons for going down was to get myself into regular sketching again after, lo, these many years. I took a small sketch book and some pencils and charcoal, and spent the morning after camping drawing whatever interested me.

Earlier today, I finally broke out my pastels to add some color to the drawings and have managed to scan in the first three of them. Let's see how they turned out, shall we?

This first one was done at daybreak. When I got down to the beach, the sun was just coming up. By the time I got the rough proportions of beach, sea, and sky pencilled in, the sun was off to my left, high enough in the sky that I couldn't see anything but blinding white light on that side, but not high enough to bring out color. For the most part, the colors of sand, water, and sky were indistinguishable. But still, there was plenty of light for the plovers and pipers to find their prey in the tide. The color I've added in is actually more than what you would have seen with the naked eye, but it's pretty close.

By the time I finished with that, the sun had risen enough to bring out the yellows and roses along the beach. This small shell was left in a tiny crevice made by the receding tide. I thought the shadows and colors around it were interesting, even if I didn't quite capture what I saw.

When I went back to the camp site, I looked over the dunes and saw this magnificent gray heron observing the hustle and bustle of the campers. He was quite large, maybe three feet tall standing at the crest of the dune. I should probably have drawn him with his neck extended, but this is the pose he settled into, so I went with it. I didn't want to get too close for fear of spooking him, but the only time he showed any sign of perhaps flying away was when a karakara swooped in nearby. But a three foot tall heron is a match for a karakara, so they quickly ignored each other. The heron would move, later, as I'll show you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Off to the beach

I'll be less active online than usual, what with me daring to leave this laptop at home as I take myself on my very first solo holiday. I'll let you know if I have any exciting adventures.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May disability blog carnival

If you didn't know before, you know now to head on over to Same Difference for the list of links. Set aside a chunk of time, because they are all good reading.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Pass along

Ooh, I have a pass-along award! This is the sort where someone tells you they like your blog, and then you pass the honor on to more people. It's a good way of learning about other blogs, as well as of letting folks know you think highly of them. One Sick Mother gave me this one, a Premio Dardos award:

The Prémio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

Now, who to pick, who to pick. So many good choices, and only ten spots to fill. Trying not to duplicate OSM, here's the list:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hooray for the Evil Side

I suppose I should talk about myself and how I am doing and blah blah. But doing that will only get me wound up into a rant, and not a fun one, so if I'm going to rant, lets rant about something far more important:  Those damnable Autobots.

If you are a Transformers fan, or inescapably linked to someone who is, you have no doubt seen the recent episode, "Rise of the Predacons." When I viewed this episode with my housemate, I summed up the Autobots as a bunch of able-ists. When, later, my daughter also viewed the episode, her reaction also was "bunch of able-ists!"

Now, for those of you who have somehow managed to miss out on this touchstone of geek pop culture, in the Transformers universe, there are two sides which have been at war for hundreds of years. One is the Autobots, which in the current incarnation have a firm base on Earth and control of their home planet of Cybertron. They are the self-proclaimed good guys, led on Earth by Optimus Prime and on Cybertron by Sentinel Prime. Playing the part of the villains are the Decepticons, led by Megatron. The Autobots are supposedly on the side of freedom and life, while the Decepticons are into power for the sake of power.

So, if you were a permanently disabled Transformer, which side would you want to be on? I'm telling you, there's only one side that will have you for you, and that is the Decepticons.

Look at "Rise of the Predacons." In it, Elita One is revealed not to be dead, but instead to have been somehow combined with a spider to become Blackarachnia. As Autobots, including the two aformentioned Primes, discover that she is alive but now different, they each declare their revulsion and pity. Oh, sure, Optimus is all about wanting to cure her while Sentinel is speed-dialing Dr. Kevorkian, but the upshot is that neither one of them can envision a Transformer society in which somerobot who is part organic can be accepted and thrive. It's kill or cure, million dollar babycakes.

Meanwhile, what is the leader of the eeeeeeeevil Decepticons doing? He's on a road trip through space with his disloyal henchbot, Starscream. Megatron does not need to be palling around with Starscream, and if he were to get fed up with Starscream's constant jibes and machinations, he could always easily get away from him. Why? Because, at this point, Starscream has nothing left of himself but his head. And yet, this annoying, trash-talking head is still seen as a valuable contributing member of the Decepticons, worth being toted around everywhere. Sure, he's not fully respected, but that's not really different than when he had a body. And when the Decepticons come across Blackarachnia? Yeah, they call her a "techno-organic freak." But they will also offer her a job, a vital role in their organization, seeing her as valuable for her skills and knowledge. The one thing they don't do is throw her a pity-party. 

So, here I am, feeling lately particularly vulnerable in this current economic climate as my body discovers new ways to give out on me. Which side would I prefer my own employers to emulate? Freedom-loving Autobots with their fetish for the normal or scheming Decepticons who don't care how you do it as long as it gets done?

All hail Megatron!

So, um, happy belated Blogging Against (Dis)able-ism Day

My housemate vlogged about this after we discussed it. Let's see if I can successfully embed the video!