June : Rocky Pictures (Part Two)

Welcome to part two! Tired of dog paintings yet? I hope not!

The first is another of the beloved Rocky, done in watercolor and graphite, as a card for a dear teacher who also has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The second is the imposter in this line-up—a watermelon-loving hedgehog, for my hedgehog-adoring brother. It occupies a place, in fact, in his stuffed-to-the-gills hedgehog shrine which, believe it or not, includes everything down to hedgehog luggage tags, socks, and a painting done by a hedgehog complete with pieces of bedding and poo. Done in watercolor and graphite as well. 

Have you ever tried painting animals? It’s actually really easy, and there are a lot of simple, quick classes available on the internet. I am an extreme amateur myself and you can see I’ve done it, which leaves you with no excuse….

~Phlox 

June : Rocky Pictures(Part One)

In case the reader has not noticed from my allusions to E. B. White and his wonderful dog writing, I not only love dogs, but I (thank goodness!) own one.

Although retaining a somewhat puppy-like appearance (he’s not very into his dog food—veggies and meat are his favorites—he hasn’t porked up too much in middle age) he has matured into a significant couch potato, and serves a wonderful artistic muse.

Painting has, thanks to motherly cultivation, long been a side-outlet for my slightly manic restless energy, and Rocky (my dog) is a lovely model! Below is a sample of some of the works Sir Rocket Peanut has obligingly exhibited his luxurious locks for.

The first in gauche, the frame cardboard.

Second in water-color with ink pen. Stay tuned for the rest later this month!

 

Are you a dog-lover? Into cats instead? Or are you, like a dear friend of mine, one of those rare and mysterious beings who hates all animals despite a select and seemingly random few?

~Phlox

May : E. B. White (Part Two)

If you haven’t read the first part of this post, it can be found here.

In addition to the little piece of E. B. White-inspired writing I popped you earlier this month, I have some string instrument-inspired drawings (sort of keeping with the theme, I think?). Done in: gauche, pencil, and occasionally a sort of dark ink brush-pen.

I have, in fact, played with all these instruments before (yes, even the double bass)–I guess I get around. 😉

Need to pick up a copy of E. B. White? Understandable! If you want it for keeps and can’t bear to return it to the library, here’s another affiliate-linked option:

~Phlox

 

May : E. B. White (Part One)

As an unabashed dog-lover, I have been reading E. B. White’s On Dogs, compiled by his granddaughter (consisting of anything he ever wrote about dogs), and giggling quite a bit. I never appreciated this side of the great author before, thinking of Charlotte’s Web, which, although great in its own way, I don’t remember having all the dry humor and cleverness of his writings for adults.

Inspired by this and trying my best to channel that dry funniness of his I admire, I wrote up this little thing, which may require some explanation for those not intimately familiar with the relations within the strings orchestra. I myself am a violist—not a very good one, but I love it, and I hope that counts for something. Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead is a good example of the realities of the orchestra and the opinions some sections hold concerning the others. His statement about the violas is poignant and true. I do not have the exact words, but the basic gist is: that the violas play all the boring parts to accompany the violins, that they stay afterwards to pick up chairs, that they mourn their fate.

While hesitant to volunteer any information about the first or third charge, I will say that Snicket was quite right with the second one. It is very, very true.

Anyway, here is my E. B. White-inspired writing:

Appeal

It has come to the attention of the violas, through diligent observation, that they are, in many cases, grossly under-appreciated and represented. They are, first of all, curious to know the reason for the alarmingly high number of violins in the orchestra compared to the viola section. They have speculated amongst themselves and decided that this unfortunate fact is likely due to the public’s perception of the viola. Many less-informed citizens of this country know only of the violin, not its more pleasant cousin. This is clearly a serious issue of discrimination. When the less-informed, or perhaps more ambitious, American parent enrolls their child in an instrument, the violin has, in our culture, become the norm. It holds a double-threat—not only is it the most accepted “first instrument” in our society, it is also the path of the most ambitious and show-offy string-players. The violas find this deeply concerning (and would also like to inform the public that violas find their sound lovely enough not to have to show of with ridiculous pieces). They protest strongly to this strings status quo, and are drawing up more documents to help educate the public, as this has obviously been seriously neglected by a former and apparently apathetic generation of violas. They trust that, one day, violas can rule the world.

Signed, officially

The Violet Alliance, with ardent hopes to leave our children a world in a more agreeable register. 

~The basses will be writing their own appeal shortly, one they have mobilized sufficient numbers to do so.~

There have been readers under the false impression that “Violet Alliance” is a typo for “Viola Alliance”–I just want to put a word in that it is intentional: viola means “violet” in Latin, I liked it better than the dryer “Viola Alliance”.

What writing makes you laugh the most?

~Phlox

April : Glad Rags (Part Two)

If you missed the first part of this post, it can be found here.

Alright! We will move backwards in time here with our glad rags, from the Regency to Medieval time-period.

The second dress was made with Simplicity pattern 1773, dress “c”. As one can quickly see upon comparing my picture to theirs, I did not do the ribbon trim. The dress is unlined, out of red linen, with eighteen black buttons, nine going up each wrist, and an invisible zipper in the back. It has princess seams, which I like very much, but I am less of a fan of the deep square neck—the shoulders don’t like to stay up.

Unlike with the first dress you saw earlier this month, there were no attempts (aside from the buttons on the sleeves) for historical accuracy in construction. This one is definitely more costume-grade.

Overall they are both very good patterns, but the search for the perfect dress continues. Don’t tell, but I’ve been working on drafting patterns…

~Phlox

April : Glad Rags (Part One)

glad rags— clothes for a special occasion; one’s best clothes.”

I certainly draw more dresses (or, as I like to call them, “glad rags”) than I make, but I do, when not terribly encumbered with schoolwork and/or writing, enjoy sewing.

I am on a sort of a long-term personal search for the perfect dress, and each one I make I think will be “the one”.

Of course they aren’t.

However, I have turned out some things I feel rather good about. The first dress was my first major sewing project as an inexperienced novice—I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It took, what, a year? Something like that. I used to watch the fabulous Jane Austen adaptations, and this dress is in the Regency style. It is lined with white batiste, with a lavender cotton on the outside, and has three black flower-shaped buttons with rhinestones in the center to close the back. It is all appropriate to the period, minus the machine-stitching! It has, in fact, been remade by myself (what you see is its current state), as on my first attempt I gathered the waist too much at the bust and messed the thing up, having no idea what I did wrong. A few years of experience later, I retackled it—I made a new bodice from scraps (it used to have a higher neck and long sleeves) using the pattern pieces for the “a” dress in the pattern packet, having first made the “b”.

For those curious, it was with the Simplicity pattern 4055.

What dress do you think I should make next? Have you made something you particularly like?

~Phlox

March : Les Miserables (Part Two)

“There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philosophy there must be action;” ~Victor Hugo

If you haven’t read the first part of this month’s post, find it here.

So, more Les Miz! Not only did Hugo’s great masterpiece impel me to get out the sketchbook, but it also inspired a little writing.

I was thinking of the scene at the end of the musical, (which reduced me to sobs), where Fantine comes for Jean Valjean as he dies. This piece is inspired by that.

That is a nasty cough, she said. She said, and she smelled like rosemary around her lips (bitter), beeswax around the tips of her fingers.

And that was unimaginable, the beeswax.

The shift was lace, it was so lace, it made him think about something small and chocolate he’d tasted once. So lace.

We will throw you to the dogs.

They are not real.

They are not real?

They were walking together, pale toes upon boards that crept up along the walls.

“What color is it?” he whispered. He walked going back and forth, stiff legs like masts from narrow hips, a bone-cage.

“It is gray.”

“Are you sure?”

“You are only color-blind, you are sometimes right.”

The sunlight or the song-light came up through the spaces beneath their feet and there was no lichen because the place, for all its grayness, was very clean.

“Since I last saw you, my mind has fallen into disrepair.”

“It has?”

“I have become better.” The words skated from his dry lips, his dry mouth. “I feel like I’m turning into a lizard.”

“You’re not.”

The whispers were warm yet there was no heart in that place, no air, no breath. They were not cold.

“You have entropied since I last saw you.” She was gazing quietly ahead as she spoke, he was looking down, at his raisin-edged toes.

“If I were to lay down on this bridge and sleep, what would happen to me? What would happen to you? Would I wake up?”

If there is an Otherworld, (it was written in the sand, sand cold sharp and wet), an Otherworld in all the inside peaks of roofs and dirt and behind the eyes, then what use is today? Then what use are the back and forths and checklists? Then what use are the shirts and the pants and the errands?

He gazed quietly down, translucently white toe-pads feeling, caressing the frozen grains, caught in the cracks of his softness.

“That looks like it was drawn with a finger.”

“That is not the point.” she whispered. It was a land of whispers—perhaps that was the answer.

“I know that is not the point.” His eyes were closed around the wrinkles. “Do not make me tell you the point.”

Haven’t read Les Miz? Haven’t watched it? Haven’t listened to it? Have no fear! Behold, more affiliate links!

~Phlox

March : Les Miserables (Part One)

“Love partakes of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is a divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire which is within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can limit and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burn even in the marrow of our bones, and we see it radiate even to the depths of the sky.”

~Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

 

Les Miserables might be the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.

 

The musical edition of the classic is truly incredible (in my opinion) and deeply moving; I have not yet finished the book and one can’t speak with complete authority until the end, but I can say that where the musical ascended the book soars. Unlike many wonderful books, that are rather escapist and make a person never want to leave, Les Miz, no matter how wonderful it is in the reading, makes one want to go live afterward. It’s pretty amazing, not to mention the deep wells of thought and wisdom it is clear that Victor Hugo is drawing on.

But I digress.

It is enough to say that this great work, in all its forms, has made a deep imprint on me, and like most things that have, I must of course draw up clothes for everybody.

 

Stay tuned for some writing in part two!

 

What is the best book you have ever read? You all know already what my answer is.

~Phlox

February : Biology (Part Two)

Here we are, at the end of February with part two of my biological offshoots.

New around here? Find the first part of this post here.

Behold, the promised protists:

They are done in watercolor over graphite, and are labeled for the reader’s convenience.

And more poetry! Here is the tail-end of it:

The Immortal

The man was not very tall and equally thin, he had a head protruding rather forward from his neck. He did not have very much hair to speak of and he usually had a sort of fruity smell about him. It said vanilla-almond on the label. He moved about his business rather like a protist—not the kind that whiz and never stand still. If one were to peer through the ocular of a microscope and watch a more slow-moving creature of that kingdom, oozing along by its insides, one would get the general idea.

The man seemed to take the world as if it were never to end. As if there was always enough time. An ocular on a microscope is not the same thing as an optical illusion, although the words are similar.

The man seemed to take the world as if there would always be enough time. If you said he didn’t know what was coming for him I’d call you a fool.

Oculus is Latin for eye and an ocular is just that. You can see the creature moving but nothing else.

Tintagel

Silver bells.

She sang it to air.

Always to the air, and she wore a crayon-tulip garden for a skirt

the wind promised her

that when she died it would be

The first

to touch her.

I want to curl up with you

Like myosin does with itself

We would never break

Not even when we did.

 

What is your favorite Protist? Mine might be the Paramecium—I like how it twists like a corkscrew to move.

~Phlox

February : Biology (Part One)

Before the Snottor drops his monthly pearl on you, I thought I’d sneak in another little project.

The Story: I recently took Biology from a truly fabulous teacher. To be perfectly honest, I was really expecting the worst from it, but was thankfully quite pleasantly surprised.

Like most things I love, words sprang forth inspired by what I was learning (thus the poems, which I hope can be forgiven). I also was quite fascinated by the Microscopy week in lab—our main object of observation were individuals from the kingdom Protista (thus the painting). However, you will not get to meet them yet. That is for part two.

Here are the poems:

Yeast Cells

The window was a circle unto where time had stopped.

It was a world without breath and yet she breathed while she gazed, down, down.

Have you ever seen a gray so perfect and I know you haven’t, grayer than eyes or the sky can ever be.

More perfect than air, than breathing, than going in and out.

Too much for anything than its own stillness.

Stillness.

The angels are silent. Breaking off in kisses so slow. Buds of starlight, moonlight.

She could only look for a moment.

Homeostasis

We are cells, we are alive it is what we do.

But why? Why do you do it? Why do you want so ever-so-desperately to be alive?

We are cells, we are alive, it is what we do.

What happens when you die?

We are alive.

But what happens? Would it not be comforting to know?

We are busy.

I heard there are fungi that are alive to eat the dead and turn them into new life.

Eat? We don’t want to be eaten.

I only heard it, perhaps it isn’t true.

New life? We are alive now and this is what we want.

But why do you want it so much? Why do you breathe?

Corps of Discovery

How does the water hold you up, Lewis and Clark?

How do bonds drawn with a broken line hold?

Is it magic?

Are you magic?

I can’t tell you what the real Lewis and Clark would have said. It was only Amy.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her those intrepid explorers went as much by land as by sea.

Their two pairs of skinny little-kid legs were in the pool over the side of floaties crammed with precious gear in plastic yellows, reds, blues.

It’s not our pool, of course. We don’t have that kind of money.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her Merriweather wasn’t a girl’s name either.

Why not Sacagawea? You could be her?

Clark raised his eyebrows at me.

Clark shoots himself in the end, I think. Like Hemingway. Hemingway liked the sea.

How do bonds drawn with broken lines hold you up?

Sacagawea is on a golden coin, I said. Lewis and Clark never got that.

What use have I for gold?

I have no use for gold.

It was so poetic that I had to let her off. It was getting dark and Lewis and Clark were making a soggy, submerged dinner by a broken plastic fire that wouldn’t light.

The lights in the pool cast shadows through the water and the bonds drawn with a broken line clung about their legs.

I don’t ever put my limbs in the water. I don’t ever let the dotted lines clasp around me.

They flipped over and I think it was on purpose.

His Protégé

Life should be all laid out, like chemistry (of course it isn’t).

Tamlin had a valence

Of seven, which made things very

straight-forward—yes, match—no

match—yes—aha, that apple

with a valence of exactly one

will solve this perfectly.

He didn’t mind dogs or fish because of their full electron shells.

He walked on the other side of the street from old ladies and men with beards.

It is a very hard thing not to

Be able to be Mendeleev. It is a very hard thing that those things can only be found out for the first time once.

Tamlin did a lot of sudoku. It had almost as favorable a

Subatomic particle count as the apple—but he didn’t want to be another

Steve Jobs, of course not. Cancer

And Tamlin were on opposite sides of

The table. Newton was

better, although he didn’t think he

Reacted well with head injuries either.

There was a girl at his

School who changed her name to

Xenon. Aha. Of course. The

Element that doesn’t react to anything else.

Tamlin understood. Of course he did.

The girl had either caught on to

His secret to organizing life

Or was just really smart.

Tamlin walked backwards counting

The ionically bonded,

Black-and-white checkered

Floor tiles. His hair was red as iron and

His glasses-frames silver as mercury.

 

Have you ever dreaded something that turned out to be not so bad?

~Phlox