Saturday, October 5, 2013

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Dead Fish

This story ends with a bath, and a face that looks like this: 
Alasse, at "Bath Time" (prints available here)

My dog loves the lake. She loves the lake a lot. Well, let me rephrase that. She doesn’t love the lake so much, but she really loves balls. And when we go to the lake, I throw the ball for her. So she now associates the lake with balls, and therefore, she loves the lake.

 The lake we go to, well it’s not the nicest of lakes, but it’s only twenty minutes away. And after a hard day of work, that’s about all I want to do. And Alasse isn’t the type to appreciate crystal clear water anyway. She only has eyes for balls.

 It is, however, that time in the season where the lake is low. Very low. We drove out about a half a mile on the dried up lake bed before we came to the waters edge- or at least fifty feet from it. For fifty feet around the dwindling lake water there lies a strip of mud. Now, a girl like me isn’t bothered much by mud, so off we went. I had however, miscalculated the depth of the mud. Up to my ankles to be exact. Alasse was in heaven.

 As the damage to my shoes was already done, I figured that we might as well go for it. I waded out slowly, squelch squelch squelching, while Alasse happily slid around me in circles, eyes never leaving the ball end of the chuck-it. Ten feet from the water I called it good and let loose. Alasse leapt into the water and paddled out as fast as she could.

 Thirty minutes later, when my shoulder was beginning to develop a twinge, I called it a day. It was then, staring down at my mud covered pooch, that I remembered the hour I had spent that morning cleaning out my car. I studied the terrain, determined to find a way to get Alasse at least reasonably clean before letting her back into the car. There was also the matter of myself. I stared down at the giant lumps of mud that now covered my previously white tennis shoes.


 I studied the terrain, determined. There was a slight hill a ways down the shore, that was rocky, and looked to be the best I could hope for. So we slipped, skidded, and squelched down the shore, took a wade, and exited via the rocky slope. I was elated. Things were looking up. Dog was reasonably clean. I was reasonably clean. Car saved!

 We set off across the lake bed for my car, now quite a ways off. The ground was cracked, like a desert. Alasse was spinning in circles around me, eyes on the chuck-it, and I was gloating on my cleverness. Then we ran into trouble. What I had failed to notice, was that the trickling stream of water that I had so easily jumped over at the shore had carved a six-foot ravine in the earth. Too wide to jump over, and the side and bottom were muddy, dissuading me from climbing down. I thought about all my hard work to keep the dog mud free.

 We kept walking, farther away from the car now, only to find that the canyon only grew in depth. And then Alasse jumped down and rolled around in the mud. At this point, I said “fuck-it” and climbed down with her and up to the other side. We were on the right side now, but it was for naught. I had a muddy dog, muddy feet, and a clean car.

Alasse of course, was having a grand time. She had finally given up on the hope of me throwing the ball again, and had run out ahead of me. She stopped suddenly and started to roll. I had seen some geese earlier. Probably goose poop. Alasse loves to roll in bird excrement.

 “Oye, cut it out!”

 Alasse ignored me.

 “Alasse! Leave it”

 Still no change in her frantic, rolling behavior. As I neared, I could see that she was definitely rolling on something much larger than a splat of goose shit. I soon discovered that it was a dead fish. One big smelly dead fish and a dirty dog, having the time of her life.

It just had to be a big dead fish. Thanks universe.

 But if I know one thing in this life, it’s that hope is never lost. I covered the seats with the towels that I fortunately keep in the trunk, and found a plastic bag to put my shoes in. I set the dog in the front seat and let her know just what would happen if she moved an inch. I settled for dust over dead fish and rolled down the windows. Alasse, still having a grand time, leaned out, tongue lolling.

 When we pulled up to the apartment, I cringed as I thought about my clean floors and carpet. I looked over at Alasse, staring up at me with love from mud-crusted fur. I sighed, and almost smiled. It was then that I remembered the two hours I had spent the day before cleaning the bathroom. The lost minutes lovingly scrubbing the tub with comet, cleaning between the tiles, and scrubbing the floor.

I put on my determined face. Alasse looked at me worriedly.

 I carried her to the tub, plopped her in and started the shower. She immediately leapt out of the tub. Mid flight, she shook, flinging mud everywhere. Everywhere. At this point I may have muttered a few profane things. And when I say muttered, I mean to say that I might have woken the neighbors. (did I mention I live next door to a graveyard?)

 Two shampoos later the dog was clean and sentenced to bed. Out came the comet and the sponges, and I cleaned.

 When the bathroom was finally clean I sat down on the couch, exhausted and hungry. Alasse slunk from her bed and laid her head on my lap. Then it was her head and her shoulder, then her back, and finally, there was a whole god damn dog in my lap.

“What are you doing?”

 “What are you doing now?”

 “What about now?”

 I sighed. Time for another walk.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

R Squared

Rachel. Not me Rachel, the other Rachel. 

                I am not the only Rachel. I’ve met maybe thirty, or forty, maybe more. I grew up with one. We were born in the same valley. Her father laughed at my father when he got his Rachel first. We grew up together, Rachel and Rachel. Our farms met at the west pasture, and we would go there to play. There was a trough there. We would wade through the mud in our gumboots and go snail fishing.

                We’re both blonde. When we were little, we both grew our hair out to our butts. She had blue eyes, mine were brown. Our families both moved out of the valley, both estranged. We both lived primarily with our mothers. Our mothers both re-married within a year of each other. Neither of us liked our step-fathers.

                We went through school together, all the same classes from first grade on. Teachers were always worried about getting us confused. On the first day, when they called roll, it would always be “Oh no, two Rachels…” They always seemed to think it would be a huge problem, two Rachels. But it never was. When someone called out “Rachel” we knew who they meant. We always knew. I’m not sure if people said it differently, or maybe it was body language or something, but we always knew.

                The other students kept trying to give us nick names. Tom and Jerry, Thing One and Thing Two. Nothing ever stuck. We were just Rachel and Rachel. And it wasn’t just the classes. We were both on the swim team in high school. With our long blonde hair and matching team suits, we looked even more alike.

                We aren’t alike though, not really. She’s assertive, I’m shy. She’s going to business school, to be a sports agent or a rep for a company that sells million dollar machinery. She would be really good at either. I went to school to be a writer so I can work from home and talk to no one. But I still talk to her. She calls me. It’s never the other way around. We talk about our plans, and the house we will buy together someday. She tells me there’s a little farm, in a little valley in Hawaii with our name on it. Rachel. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

In The Beginning, There Were Bantys

Now, you've all heard a lot about Alasse. You've heard a lot. 


But, before Alasse found me, I had two Banty hens. Banty hens, or more formally, Bantam Chickens, are a small variety of chicken. But Banty hens are not your ordinary poultry bird. I have raised a lot of chickens: Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas, but Banty hens are by far my favorite. Very noble birds, Bantys. They came from somewhere in Indonesia and have been domesticated for over 4,000 years. Marco Polo even said something favorable about them once.

Then there are the eggs. Some people don’t consider Bantys to be good layers because their eggs are so small. But while the Rhode Island Reds may have given me four large eggs a week, and the Araucanas did have really cool blue eggs, I was always happiest when I found a little Banty egg waiting for me in the coop.

The Banty is a handsome chicken. My Red Sussex Bantys were a dark, reddish brown, with a spattering of black feathers around the neck and in the tail. Very slim, very sleek. And while the Sussux Banty may not be as fancy as the Sebright, my girls were stunners. They loved to show off, spending a good part of the day preening and getting all their feathers in order.

But eggs and looks aside, Banty hens have more personality than any other chicken. This is why they were my favorite. My two hens would follow me anywhere. Sometimes I would carry them around in a little basket. They didn’t mind.

They slept in the coop with the others. And every morning it was my job to let them out for the day. Besides the Rooster, all the chickens were very tame. Some were older than I was at the time, but the younger ones had hatched in a cardboard box in my room. I repeatedly got in trouble for putting them all in my bed. My mother would be furious whenever she found me lying on the bed, letting them hop all over me, their peep-peep-peeping drowning out my giggles.

Then, when they were old enough, it was out to the coop. All the chickens were friendly, they would even come when called. But while the others strutted out on a pecking mission, the two little Bantys would spend the day with me. They trailed behind me or hopped into my basket for a free ride.

They were my first models. They would stand on the table, very still, and I would draw them. I would go through stacks and stacks of printer paper, sketching them again and again, day after day. I never got tired of drawing them. They never got tired of posing for me.

But most of all, I never lacked for inspiration, never wanted for something to draw. I had my Bantys, and you can never have too many paintings of the people you love. 


Original paintings and prints available here.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Eden Loves To Pee

My Name Is Eden And I  Love To Pee

Alasse has a friend named Eden who loves to pee. When we go on walks together, Eden pees on everything she can. Take a few steps, take a pee, a few more steps, let’s pee again! This drives Alasse nuts.

This drives Alasse nuts because Alasse has to pee on all other dog pee. If another dog pees, she has to pee on it, immediately. She sniffs out the past pees with vigor and excitement, but nothing compares to peeing on fresh pee. When she sees Eden squatting down, it’s on. She off, and she’s gonna pee on that pee no matter what.

So, as Eden is happily peeing on everything, a few drops here, a few drops there, Alasse is frantically trying to pee on all of Eden’s Pees. Now, both dogs are quickly running out of available urine. But when it runs out? No need to panic! They’ll just squat and pretend! Because if you can’t actually mark your territory, at least pretend and fool your friends!  

Stop Peeing!!!
Prints and original artwork available here

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brief Interviews With Mangled Victims

Alasse, Cleo’s current roommate

I love her.
She hits me and I like it.
It’s a game, I know it is. I just have to figure it out and then we’ll be best friends and she will love me forever.
Frank, Cleo's Former Roommate 
Lived with her for over a year. Over a year! Tried to pay her visits, but no one got near her room without an invitation. I'd stop by just to say hi and she'd chase me off. Rude.

John, Cleo's Former House Guest

It was 2AM, so I was on the toilet. What I didn’t know was that she was in her box taking a dump. And then she just flew out and went straight for the ankles.
Ricky, Cleo's Former Roommate
Satan. Satan.
Oh man. But there was this one time I got Anthony so good. I didn’t tell him we called her Satan. Just told him to go and say hi to Rachel’s cat. So he got up in her bed and that fucking cat just launched herself at him, all hissing and shit. Never seen a grown ass man jump horizontally across a room like that before.

Monty, Cleo's Current Roommate
She lies on my terrarium all the time. She likes the heat, just like me. Doesn’t even say thanks for utilizing my lamp. Just basks and leaves. Not a word. I do like to watch her hit the dog though. Good times.
Lyra, Cleo's Current Roommate

Oh, I gave her the benefit of the doubt for a while. They told me she was snooty, to good for the likes of us. But I tried to introduce myself, more than once actually. She ran away. She actually ran away when I tried to- Is that cream cheese? I think you have some cheese on your face, I can clean that up for you…

Cathy, Cleo's Current Roommate 

Never cared too much for her. She doesn’t care for me. I don’t like the way she treats Alasse. That dog is mine to taunt.

Prints and original illustrations available here

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Things My Mother Told Me


2.       Date and dump. Date and dump. Date and dump.

3.       If it’s edible, you can steam it. Broccoli? Steam it. Potato? Steam it. Bratwurst? Steam it.

4.       Dogs are important.

5.       It’s just money.

6.       Ice cream day is every day.

7.       When things go to shit, say “Hmmm, that’s interesting.”

8.       It’s just stuff, it’s just a thing.

9.       If you’re having too much fun, get a hotel and stay there.

10.   Let the horse know you’re behind him. Run your hand across his butt when you walk behind him. That way he’ll know you’re there.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Revenge of the Rats

Alasse loves rats. She loves them. And yes, I know what you are thinking, but when I say she loves them, I do not mean that she loves to eat them. I mean she loves them loves them. They’re her friends.
The rats, Cathy and Lyra, they like Alasse too. But they are also aware of just how much Alasse loves them, so they play with that a little.

First, the taunting.
Alasse and Cathy have a special little bond. It’s Cathy that does most of the taunting. Come get me, she says through the bars. And Alasse is always asking Cathy to play, and while Cathy pretends to consider, she only wrestles with rats her own size. But Alasse will sit in front of their cage and keep asking. She can watch the rats for hours. It’s like T.V. for dogs.
Now, when the rats are out and about, Alasse gets even more excited. She’ll put her head up to the table or couch, and they will come up and check her out. They like to groom her, shine up her nose, check out her eyeballs. And if they are feeling really adventurous, they’ll hop right on. Whenever this happens, Alasse immediately goes cross eyed, trying to keep the rat on her head in sight. Then they’re off, running down her back and she has no idea what’s going on.

Where’d they go?
For a minute or too, Alasse won’t be too sure about being a living jungle gym. The rats may choose to bail and take sanctuary on my easel, or perhaps the filing cabinet. But if they hang on, Alasse will adjust, and accept that she’s just going to have to act as transportation. And Alasse is very good about her role in their fun. She’ll give them a ride around the apartment, or just stand and crane her neck back so she can watch them groom themselves, or her butt.
The best part about these rat adventures is that they get even with Alasse for me. You see, Alasse has a superpower. She is able to get her tongue all the way down my ear without fail, every time. She has excellent aim. I’m pretty sure she licks my brain. This makes me squirm. It makes me squirm just thinking about it. So I am always very pleased when the rats do the same exact thing to her. It’s usually Lyra. Lyra is good at that.   

What is that?

Prints and original paintings available here

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cats and Dogs

This is my cat. Her name is Cleo.

As much as I love her, most of the time she really isn't very nice. There are moments of course. Moments when she jumps up into my lap and purrs. Moments when she curls up on my pillow at night and cuddles. But these moments inevitably end with her biting me. Sometimes she slaps me. And no matter how much I try to kid myself, I still end up having to warn house guests not to touch the cat.

But sometimes even the warnings aren't enough. There have been a few recorded incidents where she attacked someone in the bathroom in the middle of the night. But we won’t get into that. Today I want to talk about Cleo’s relationship with Alasse. Now, despite her feline heritage, Cleo is the top dog in our little family.

In most instances she simply ignores Alasse. She walks by her as if she wasn’t even there. And all Alasse wants to do is play. She begs, every day. Please, please play with me. If she does this begging from a safe distance, Cleo will simply walk on by.  But more often than not, her attempts to engage Cleo in some friendly tussling result in her getting just a little too close. This is the point when Cleo smacks her. Right across the nose.

This smacking does not phase Alasse one bit. Sometimes Cleo smacks her three, four times. Alasse just sits there, begging. Please, please won’t you play with me. But recently, the dynamics have changed. One day, after Cleo had been smacking her for some time, Alasse had a realization.

This is the game.

She sat up and held up her paw in the air, just like she does when she gives me a high five. Cleo did not reciprocate, nor did she approve of this new development. Instead, she hissed. This was a response that greatly puzzled Alasse, who was now not so sure about things. Maybe this wasn't the game. It was then that Alasse had another realization. Maybe this is the game. Alasse swung her paw down in a slow arc, a swipe that Cleo avoided easily. 

Cleo was not amused.

She hissed, and ran into the closet. 

I don’t get it.

Original illustrations and prints available here

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Walk In The Rain

Take me out. Take me out. Take me out.

This is how it starts.

Alasse keeps me in check. She always lets me know when she wants to go out. Sometimes I get tricked. Sometimes she doesn't actually have to pee, she just wants to get out. I’ll take a moment to add that despite what she might say behind my back, she’s out for at least two hours a day, usually three. And an hour of that is always off leash on a hiking trail where she can run around and do whatever she wants, as long as she stays in sight. And while we’re on the subject of what she says behind my back, I really do feed her, I swear.

But back to the walk. Alasse lets me know when she wants to go out, and we go out. Normally, despite previous training to wait for me to go through the door first, she rushes out ahead of me. However, if it’s raining, which is a frequent occurrence here in Oregon, she stops short at the door and looks back at me, pleading.

Please, Please, Please don’t make me go out there.

I’ll shut the door and help her into her coat. Alasse likes her coat. She doesn’t have a ton of hair, and hardly any on her belly, so she gets cold easily.  So she loves her coat. It’s pink. My mom even had her name embroidered on it. Alasse. When I pull her coat out of the closet, she gets so excited. She jumps up and tries to stick her head in before I’m even ready. I have to ask her to settle down and stay still so I can help her into it.

But even with the coat on, she still wavers at the door. I’ll open up my umbrella as we step out, and she’ll huddle next to me. But pretty soon, the excitement of the walk overcomes her discomfort and she’ll leave the shelter of the umbrella and start sniffing around and doing her dog stuff.

On these days she’ll stay on the sidewalk as much as she can, she doesn’t like getting her feet on the wet grass. And mud? Forget about it.

And then there are the puddles. Alasse will avoid puddles at all costs. We usually walk on the local bike path. There is this one part of the path where a puddle always forms. Now, if it has only been raining for a day, this puddle will be relatively small. Alasse will jump over it with ease, never stepping in it. However, if it has been raining for multiple days, or if it has been an especially heavy rain, the puddle will be quite a bit larger.

When the puddle is large, Alasse starts to run. She runs, she leaps, and most of the time she clears the puddle. But sometimes, inevitably, her back paw lands in the cold, dark water of the puddle. She’ll kick back her foot, trying to shake the water off. If she gets wet enough, from the splash, she might shake.

The weird thing about the puddles is that she’ll go into a lake or a pond just fine. She’s not crazy about swimming, but if there’s a ball involved, it’s no problem. But puddles, for some reason, puddles wig her out.

She’s better than she used to be, about rain that is. When I first got her, when she was just a little puppy, she absolutely would not go outside if it was raining. And she definitely wouldn’t go pee. To get her outside, I had to follow her around, holding the umbrella over her while she sniffed around, leaving myself exposed to the elements. Which was all okay, because she was so cute, she could get away with anything.

She still gets away with anything.

Original illustrations and prints available here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Home Is Where The Turkey Poop Is

The Ranch (and Alasse)

        Every few months, Alasse and I go visit my Mother on the ranch. The ranch is home to a great many critters. There are sheep, cattle, and horses. Ridgewood also sports a herd of white deer, bought by the Howards (who originally owned the ranch) from the Hearst family, who got them from Europe. Then there is your standard northern California wildlife. Squirrels, mountain lions, coyotes, bear, turkeys, chipmunks, oh, and lots of raccoons.

When I lived at the ranch, I was forever doing battle with raccoons. Alasse loved them of course; she wanted to play. She loved them even though they washed their food in her water bowl. That’s just the kind of person she is.

They got in through the cat door. All the time. I don’t know if you have ever seen what a raccoon can do to a case of Top Ramen, but it isn’t pretty. A lot of the time the raccoons scheduled a raid while we were asleep, or not there, but sometimes they lingered too long. When this happened they usually hid behind the washer and dryer. To get them out, I would put on a pair of rubber boots and shoo them out with a broom. This was difficult because  raccoons are very cute.

I remember once, a pair of juveniles had gotten in through the cat flap and made a huge mess. Dog food was everywhere. The two coons went straight behind the washer. They poked their heads out, one on top of another and I just couldn’t be mad anymore. Alasse of course, was never mad to begin with. She stuck her head through the cat flap so she could watch me. Alasse never gets mad. Ever. Sometimes I try to follow suit. I sit down beside her, cock my head, and say “Hmmmm, that’s interesting.”  Alasse takes this as the cue to start licking my face.

Now, while Alasse would have loved to play with the raccoons, her all time favorite ranch animal is the turkey. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Big fat bird with great big plumage. Think again. These are wild turkeys. They kind of look like big brown bowling pins with feet. And while I’m sure Alasse would love to play with these birds, unfortunately she is more interested in their poop. Turkey poop, as far as I’m concerned, is the smelliest excrement on the planet. And Alasse just loves to roll in it. There’s no stopping her.

The ranch is crawling with these suckers. They are all over the place, shitting everywhere. Alasse is constantly on the look-out.

Now Alasse is pretty well behaved. She’ll heel off leash no problem- unless there is turkey poop. Then there’s no getting to her. By that time, the only thing on her mind is “must roll in it, must roll in it…”

However, though this experience is by no means pleasant, not all hope is lost in situations like this. There is one thing, and one thing only that will rid a dog of the odor of turkey poop. Victoria’s Secret So Sexy Shampoo. And don’t forget the conditioner.

And after the bath, Alasse will not be satisfied until she has been blow dried. She loves the blow dryer almost as much as she loves turkey poop. Almost. Even if she’s not wet, she stands in the bathroom while I’m drying my hair and waits her turn. She gives this little exasperated sigh when she’s bored, or not getting what she wants. She does this when she wants me to blow dry her. 


Monday, March 18, 2013

Emerald City Jewelry

Today's featured Artist's are Emily and Moise from Emerald City Custom Jewelry.  You can play with the design, or just choose your own custom colors! I love this idea- especially because I always want jewelry with complementary colors, which is so hard to find!!!

How did you get started making jewelry?

 I had always had an interest in jewelry making in addition to fine art. I had a tendency to doubt my ability to learn jewelry making so I didn't really start making jewelry in earnest until about 2 years ago. I quickly realized I had a natural talent for it and was very eager to learn as much as I could. Before I knew it I was making new pieces daily. Once I get a hold of a new craft I love, I go into hyper-drive until I learn it perfectly. My husband Moise and I decided to start a fully personalized jewelry service because we are both fans of any product you can customize.

Who or what is your inspiration?
I am definitely inspired by painting, drawing, and mixed media art. I have a preference for big, bold, abstract art that is very colorful. I approach jewelry making very much from a color and composition standpoint since painting is my first love. I like natural gemstones because they just have a different energy about them. I like making pieces that are unique and interesting but that anyone can wear. I am not a fashionista so it's important my pieces are very wearable. My passion for entrepreneurship definitely comes from my grandfather who started his own printing business in Missouri in 1966. My uncle and cousin still run the business. My grandfather was a hobby photographer in addition to a printer so I probably get some of my artistic flair from him.

What is your favorite part of your creating process?
I like actually making the piece - I don't necessarily have a plan in place before I start making a piece of jewelry. I edit and add along the way which is really fun. I like trying something out and then standing back and thinking "I don't know if that color works, let me try something else" - finding the perfect fit of beads and accents is really exciting.

Do you have any special routines?
I'll admit I tend to work on jewelry while indulging in my reality TV habit. I take producing quality jewelry very seriously, but it's also very fun and relaxing for me - else I wouldn't do it!

 Tell us about your pets!
I'm an animal lover, maybe a bit obsessed with animal rescue. My husband and I own 2 rabbits - Miranda and Martie. We also have a cat, Nina and a guinea pig named Murphy. Lastly, we have a gorgeous beta fishy named Polly. All our pets are rescues with the exception of our fish Polly - unless you consider we probably "rescued" her from the pet store.

Do you have any social media links?
On Twitter, I am EmilyMakesArt and Moise is Motoons

Anything else that you want to share?
Moise and I both have a true passion for custom work. I've always enjoyed making items specifically to a customer's needs. I don't seem to have the ego-attachment to a certain design or vision like some artists (though having such an attachment is certainly not a bad thing) so I'm truly happy creating whatever the customer wants. If I can make it happen, I will! I'm inspired by Moise's passion for customer service, it's his natural inclination to help people.

Are there any coupon codes or promotions you have going on?
Until April 2nd, if you like our Facebook page AND get a friend to like our page, you both will get a free pair of earrings mailed directly to you. Visit our FB page for more details!