Monday, September 29, 2014

The Sea Monster takes shape

The last 2 weeks I've begun sculpting my Sea Monster  for the Grand Avenue Festival in November.  As you can see here I started with some balloons on the base.


I began building the head in paper mache and building the first part of the body.


Then I added details with paper compote.

Once that dried (it only took 3 days), I sealed it with green paint, and will wrap it in plastic and set it aside while I work on the midsection (which I have only just begun).  My goal is to have all three pieces of the monster sculpted and painted before we move to our new location in a few weeks. Then I'll do the finishing at our new place.

In the meantime graphic designer, Ishmael Dueñas, has been doing some incredible work on the poster design for the festival that I illustrated.

I think it looks amazing!

   This year's monsoon season has been pretty intense here in Phoenix.  After the big storm 2 days ago traffic lights are down all around the city and so are a huge number of trees.  This one is right next to our place.


It's pretty impressive since it took down the bushes planted at the base.  

    Anyway this week is all about getting ready for our move, and our trip over fall break-We're going to Mexico! ¡Hasta Luega!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Visiting Kartchner Caverns

For Mike's birthday this past weekend we booked a tour through Kartchner Caverns near Tucson, (we also ate cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, but I've spared you the photos-awesome cheesecake however).

 
by the entrance
Mike and the girls posed at the sign in the direct sun.  Not the greatest photo as it was SO sunny I couldn't see at all what I was doing.
This is a better photo of Mike and Chloe out of the sun.

Here's me and Chloe and Naomi.


I should mention that even though we spent quite a lot for the tour the website said if we don't show up an hour early we forfeit our spots.  Even the airlines don't do that!!  So we had time to photograph each other quite a bit.

The ticket
Our laminated pass for the Rotunda Throne tour.

Since we were so early we grabbed some lunch in the Bat Cave Cafe.


They had some interesting items like prickly pear cactus lemonade, and jalapeno raspberry jam, both of which Phoebe is sampling here!


After the cafe we killed some time in the "Discovery Center". 

They had some rocks on display.

And apparently bones from a giant sloth were discovered inside these caverns.

Mike took a moment to play with the lights on the bat display.


Chloe posed by the map of the caves.

Finally it was time to head to the tram and leave for the caves.

We headed up the mountain to the cave entrance.

Chloe on the tram.


The view on the ride was quite pretty.  


  Finally we were at the mouth of the cave and headed inside.  This is the part they blasted out, but behind the vault like steel door at the entrance.  There's a lot of rules in the cave because they say it's still "living and growing".  In fact there's so many rules it would be tedious to go over them all here, but one of them is no cameras, so this is not my photo.   Anyway, the tour guides are pretty jaded and are quick to yell if you break a rule, so tread carefully.


This is inside the "real" cave on the walkway.



   This is a photo of the mud (the cracked area on the bottom).  This mud goes very deep and the 2 men who discovered the cave are the ones who made the tracks you see there.  They trudged through that mud (thigh deep), knocking over little stalactites called soda straws so they could get into another room of the cave behind that rock.

Some stalagmites.

Our final stop on the tour was this little theater where we watched the light show.

   The light show was in the Rotunda room around this huge column formation called "Kubla Kahn"
 It was a pretty impressive room, though I guess the best room is called the "Big Room", but that's closed this time of year due to sleeping bats. All in all a pretty good tour, though our tour guide had a tendency to go into scientific detail about things like carbonic acid, but would casually refer to formations like "the fried egg" without showing us one and expect us to know what she was talking about.  Sometimes I felt a little lost.

   For the first time ever Chloe found her name on something in the gift shop and was super excited for 30 seconds before she realized while the label said "Chloe" the actual necklace said "Amy". Oh well, she'll have to muddle on with her life without a Chloe necklace.

   In other news I've been busy with my Sea Monster for the Grand Ave festival, but I'll save that for next time... Cheers!








Thursday, September 18, 2014

Phoenix underwater and a renewal ceremony


Phoenix has been surprisingly moist lately.  For those of us that have managed not to submarine our cars, it's a welcome change from life inside a pizza oven.

photo by Stephanie Hackney

In other news my friend Stacey Aargon renewed her vows aboard a viking ship recently.

photo by Stephanie Hackney

She wielded the viking shield I handcrafted for her last summer for her ceremony.

photo by Stephanie Hackney

I have to say this ceremony looks like it was a blast!

The best news is that our wait is over.   We've been approved for our new place!!  The bad news is when they finally got the keys from the old tenants a lot of fixing needs to be done, so we'll have to move in about 2 and a half weeks later than we thought, but, hey, at least we'll have new floors!!



Friday, September 12, 2014

The waiting game, and, hey I have a new book!!


Yesterday after my kid's doctor appointments I sat in stop and go traffic at rush hour on 24th St..  As I sat there I noticed a man slowly trudging past on the sidewalk carrying a massive wooden cross.  On the cross beam was written "JESUSGODLOVESUSALL" in crooked letters.  When I watched him pass me and work his way up the street I realized something about myself.  I get really pissed off when men bearing 8 foot crosses are making better time than me!

The doctor's appointments were, well, tedious. The kids got their vaccinations and a lot of time was spent waiting in an exam room with no windows or magazines.  Talking to my neighbor this morning (who is a very outspoken, older Jewish woman), I think I hit a nerve when I mentioned waiting at the doctor's office.  She began to rant about how once she's brought to the exam room, she now stands in the open door and asks everyone that passes when it's her turn!  I can't stop laughing when I think of her doing this.☺

The good news is that this came in the mail 2 days ago....

I GOT MY BOOKS!!! YAY!!!
Still waiting for news on the apartment....Gotta love waiting.


PS. This is my new book on Amazon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Renting in Arizona

The time has come for us to start the moving process (again).  The condo we've been staying in is going up for sale and we've decided not to be here as potential buyers wander through.

This week we've started looking at apartments and townhouses around the city and have learned that renting in Arizona is pretty different than what we've experienced out of state.  First of all, just to look at an apartment they hold your drivers license in a drawer in the office. I'm sure there's a very logical reason, like so they know who you are in case you decide to break out a can of spray paint during the walk through.

We've also learned that the advertised cost is about $20 less than the rental price they quote you when you call.  Then if you discuss signing a lease they will tell you the "real" cost, which includes Arizona state tax.  It all means that you should look for an apartment listing that's about $100 less than you can actually afford.


Anyway we did find a very nice place downtown that is right near Chloe's school.  Now we're just holding our breath as we wait for our application to be approved (or not)..... Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Head Games and Head Colds

As September begins here in Phoenix so do the delusions.  One afternoon you'll traipse across your withering (or fake turf) yard in the 100º + heat and just out of the  corner of your eye you'll see it.  A tiny brown leaf falling from a tree.  Instantly in your desperation, your heat addled brain will conclude that it's fall! Our long suffering existence, like ants under a magnifying glass, is finally over!
(source)

You run to the grocery store, across the simmering parking lot, and buy every pumpkin item you see, cheerfully browsing the newly displayed Halloween items as if trick or treaters will be storming your front steps at any moment.  Surely tomorrow the cool winds will come! Right?


This is a character design sheet from my latest children's book "The Hiccup Monster".  I've been busy finishing up final pages and layouts all week for it.  This one is actually written by me as well and will be out before the end of the year!

In other news Mike starts teaching his classes again this coming week.  He's contracted to teach four different courses this semester at The Academy of Art University of San Francisco (online), it should be a pretty good schedule. 

I've been sick the last few days, just a head cold, but since we've moved to the desert I get sick so rarely that I become the BIGGEST. BABY. EVER.  That extends to all of us really.  The virus started with Chloe, then Naomi, then me, and now both Mike and Phoebe are starting to feel run down.  At least once it's over we know we won't get sick again for another year.  When we lived in New York we'd spend an entire winter cycling through one cold after another.  It was miserable.  

Anyway, I hope everyone had a Happy Labor Day! Until next time...

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut

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