This one is a bit tough for me. What makes me feel strong? As in, spiritually? Emotionally? Physically?
I don’t feel particularly strong spiritually or emotionally. I’m kind of a wimp in those areas. But then I remembered the other day, how I physically conquered an obstacle. And boy, did it make me feel strong and empowered.
Out here in Arizona, there is this terrible thistle thing. I don’t know what it’s called, but it smells like a corpse and it grows about three feet tall and … infinite … wide. I’ve found mats of them that were six or eight feet across. If they keep getting water, they keep spreading. Their roots go down about two feet, and they’re just about impossible to get rid of.
We have a concrete slab in our back yard for parking a trailer on. The kids use it for riding bikes and playing games, kind of an impromptu patio. Anyway, one of those terrible thistle things had taken root under the edge of the concrete slab and had spread to about three feet wide. The only way I’ve successfully killed one of these things was when I poured an entire container of ice cream salt brine on it right before a rain, and the salt soaked into the ground. Nothing else touches these. I have not yet tried Round Up because I hate the smell.
Anyway, it had rained and softened the ground a bit, so I decided that that plant had to go. I got my shovel and clippers and a T-post. First I hacked the plant to the ground, then I went after it with my shovel. Once I had excavated a few feet of soil, I started levering the roots out of the ground with the T-post. The plant came out in sections, like it had just grown copies of itself to construct the root mat. I tore out pieces of it for a solid hour. Fortunately it hadn’t grown as deep under the concrete as I’d feared, and I tore out the last section of roots with a triumphant laugh.
So there you go. Pulling weeds makes me feel strong. Really big, invasive, horrible weeds that smell like a dead animal. Just one more step on the road to reclaiming our yard from the wilderness. I swear, nobody has touched this yard in 30 years.
Today’s prompt asks, “What’s next on your reading list?”
I’ve been reading books aloud to the kids to start off the year. I know we should be reading deep, pithy educational stuff. So we started off with Howl’s Moving Castle, because that’s educational, right? It’s about a girl cursed to be an old woman, and she goes to the wicked Wizard Howl for help. Turns out Howl isn’t so wicked, and needs her help to break the spell that he’s under. The book is a hilarious readaloud, with chapter titles like, “In Which Howl Expresses His Feelings With Green Slime”.
Naturally, we had to read the sequel, Castle in the Air. This is a take on the Arabian Nights, where a humble carpet merchant buys a magic carpet and falls in love with the Sultan’s daughter, only to see her kidnapped by a djinn. Then he has to go on an adventure to rescue her, aided by a grouchy genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a black cat whose only power is to make herself huge. It has nothing to do with Howl until the 3/4ths mark, where it suddenly has everything to do with Howl.
Well, we finished that one, and I asked the kids what they wanted to hear next. They voted for Witch Week, also by Diana Wynne Jones, but it’s in the Chrestomanci series. In a world where witches are burned for being witches, a strict boarding school takes in witch-orphans. The story starts when a teacher gets a note saying, “Someone in class 6B is a witch.” And the shenanigans that ensue have had us laughing and laughing.
I never noticed how funny these books were until I read them aloud. Jones has a very dry sense of humor that only comes through when you’re trying to voice the crazy things these characters are saying or doing. Harry Potter is funnier when read aloud, too.
What will we read next? Probably more Diana Wynne Jones. I want to buy A Tale of Time City and surprise them with it, because they’ve never read that one.
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I recently saw one of these mysterious canines as it ran across the road in front of my car in broad daylight. I had to go back and find this post I made about them in 2015 when I did a ton of research on them. Here’s what I saw:
He was a smallish dog, probably not more than 40 pounds. He was in the median, and dashed across the road so close that I had to slow down or hit him. He had a huge, boxy head, like a pit bull, and at first I thought he was somebody’s pet that had gotten out. But he was too small for a pit bull, and his color was blue merle, like an Australian shepherd. And he had very short hair. Actually, I think in my drawing here, I still drew the head too small. He was weird looking. And I was way out in the Tucson Mountain Park with no houses around.
I went back and looked at this old blog post, and the Texas Blue Dogs are very close to what I saw. Except with an even bigger, pit bull kind of head. That’s all I can think to compare it to.
The animals below look much closer to a coyote-dog hybrid than the dog I saw. I’m still not sure what he was, but I do know that I don’t want it getting into the yard with any chickens.
Mention the word “chupacabra” anywhere online, and you get two reactions:
The wide-eyed nod of the believer, and
The frothing, spluttering, teeth-gnashing of researchers and scientists.
I’ve heard about the strange, bald dog people have seen running around killing livestock, and how it seems to prefer drinking the blood of its victims. I personally don’t see anything too weird about this–there’s stories of sheep-killing dogs that only kill to drink the blood (see the novel Bob, son of Battle, for example). Heck, foxes will butcher an entire coop full of chickens just for the fun and flavor.
So here’s the results of my research.
The first place I ended up was the family in Texas who trapped a weird hairless animal that was eating corn. But if you look at its little hands, and the remnants of silvery hairs all over it, it’s totally a sick little raccoon. And it doesn’t have the jughead that the bigger dog chupacabras do. This theory is talked about here:
Another clue about the animal’s origins can be found in where it was discovered: in a tree. This is a typical place to find a raccoon, but unlikely for a dog or coyote. Furthermore, in a video of the animal, the Ratcliffe chupacabra picks up food with its paws to eat. This behavior is also typical of raccoons. The mysterious critter is currently being fed a diet of corn and cat food, but if the creature truly is a chupacabra, that theory can be easily tested: Put it in a pen with a goat or chicken, and see if it attacks them and sucks out its blood.
The reason that the Ratcliffe chupacabra has been called a chupacabra is not that the mysterious animal’s characteristics match those of the legendary vampire — because they don’t — but instead because those who found it didn’t know what else to call it.
However, quickly it became clear that the animal was not a dog when a genetic marker identified it as a coyote. Forstner notes, “We got the sequences back, uniquely within coyote there’s an area of the D-loop, which is the area of mitochondrial DNA… it gives us data on things that are closely related… Uniquely in coyotes there’s a deletion of several bases in one section, and another deletion in another area of an additional seven-base block. Turns out that the sequences that came back had those two unique deletions, and did not match any dogs or wolf. It came back with 97 percent confidence that it was Canis latrans, which is the coyote.”
Canion was not happy with the results, so she commissioned a second DNA test at a genetics lab st the University of California at Davis. Essentially, the new test confirmed the findings from the University of Texas.
However, with a slight twist: Canion’s animal turned out to be a hybrid.
A comment on the article pointed me to the Mexican breed Xolo. Otherwise known as the Mexican Hairless dog. And what do you know:
They look suspiciously like the dead animals above, don’t they?
So, probably, what we’re seeing is a strain of hybrid coyote/Mexican hairless dogs, running around killing things the way coyotes do–except they look so weird, nobody knows what they are. And boy, do the experts get MAD when you call them chupacabras. But if they fit the description … why not?
Today’s prompt is, “What is your favorite quote, and why?”
I have plenty, but the first one that comes to mind is, “Let the excellence of your work be your protest.”
I can’t remember the guy’s name anymore, but he was the mentor of music artist Michael Card. Apparently, when he was starting out, Michael Card was disappointed with the relative low standards set by his peers in the music industry. His mentor then told him that quote. Be so excellent that your work outshines theirs, and you make your point without speaking a word.
I was writing fanfiction at the time, and, well … even hearing the word ‘fanfiction’ tells you all you need to know, right? Not only is there zero bar to entry, most of it is smut. I wanted to write action and adventure and explore the characters and world building deeper than the video games themselves did. (It was Sonic the Hedgehog stuff.) But when I looked around at what was being written for Sonic fanfic, it was pretty disappointing stuff.
So I took this quote to heart, decided that the excellence of my work would be my protest, and I set to work learning how to write. I produced a body of work that I’m still proud of, and I still have people years later telling me how much they loved those fanfics. I later did the same with Destiny fanfics, and then with my books. I may not be the best writer in the world, but doggone, I can be passionate. I’ve been amused to see how many people fell in love with my characters, afterward admitting that they didn’t like those kinds of characters until they read mine.
So that’s my favorite quote and where it came from. Hopefully it inspires you in your work, too. 🙂
So I only just found out about Bloganuary, a month-long event hosted by WordPress to blog every day. There’s prompts and everything! I might wind up doing these into Feb. I love blogging, I just need an excuse.
Today’s prompt is, “What’s your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?”
And I be like
This, hands down, is my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. She was so excited about my phone!
For favorite artworks, I think this one is still one of my favorites:
I’ll be here tomorrow with another Bloganuary post! (Seriously, guys, it’s a terrible name, you can’t even pronounce it. Should have been Blanuary!) 😀
Been working on a commission to start the year, and it’s been nice to be back in the saddle again. I’ve been studying a bunch of different art techniques, and I’ve been quite happy with the results.
This is the cover art for Power Burn (title under consideration) by H.L. Burke. It’s part of a series, so look her up for the others. I had a lot of fun painting this one, and I think it’ll be a great cover once it gets the text on it.
I did this artwork as an entry into deviantart’s Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker contest. Competition was stiff, but it was fun to participate. I haven’t actually done a lot of art for FFXIV, despite enjoying the heck out of it. Certain plot points in the Heavensward expansion made me ugly cry. I played World of Warcraft for years and never got kicked in the feels the way FFXIV does.
Anyway, I’ve been over here writing fairytales in space. I just finished a little novella that is Beauty and the Beast in space, and I’m currently working on Cinderella in space. I have no idea who will want to read this nonsense, but I’m currently in love with my alien spaceships. Hoping to do Snow White in space and make it a little trilogy. 😀
My goals were to publish Mercurion in the early part of the year, and to buy a house. Mercurion wound up needing a rewrite that took most of the year, and it got launched in the fall. And we bought a house! We absolutely had to move in June when our rent was up, and everything worked out perfectly. God’s hand was totally in it all. We live in the country now, and after 15 years in apartments, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. Here’s one of my posts about the wildflowers out here in the desert.
My goals for 2022 are pretty loose. I want to get our overgrown property whipped into shape, I want to get the kids playing outside more, and I want to write the last After Atlantis book.
After Atlantis has been building to a huge war between the supers and the Exiled Atlanteans, who want to come home and plan to drive everyone out of the islands. I had a lot of scattered ideas of books that could take place during the war, then it dawned on me that I could do all of them in one book. And what an awesome book it would be. My husband is over here hyping about it, and I’m like, dude, I just barely started planning it. 😀
I want to get back to doing a weekly art post on my blog, here. I kind of forgot about updating it, between my deviantart, my other deviantart, my tumblr, my other tumblr, and my instagram, where I’m the most active. Poor blog.
Anyway, that is my very short New Years resolution post. I want to write 1 book and work out in the yard. And … that’s pretty much it. But man, if you could see the ragged state of this property, you’d agree that it’s going to take a whole year.