C. S. Lewis

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Water Horse

When I set out to draw something in particular these days, I end up browsing Pinterest for reference pictures, and end up working off of one or two. I never used to work from pictures, but I'm finding it really helps me improve. Learn how to draw new things, new angles. Also, searching for Mustangs is a lot of fun. There are some great pictures out there, and I'm starting to recognize the iconic stallions of the various herds around the west (just search for Picasso the Mustang--or Cloud, for an even more famous name--and if you want wild horses in water, search for the Salt River Wild Horses of Arizona.)

So, here is the progression of the water horse, from pencil to ink to t-shirt. This was draw taking inspiration from one of the Salt River Wild Horses, (you can find some of my inspiration on this Pinterest board)

 Add water:

Add eyes:

Scan, clean up, and add to Redbubble.


Monday, February 8, 2016

22-Hold Your Breath

One of the swimmer girls volunteered to go first.  A brown haired girl who looked a year or two younger than me, and who I didn’t recognize from the circus. At the mouth of the tunnel I explained, “A little way into the tunnel we will lose access to air. You must take a deep breath and hold it. Do not panic, do not struggle. Keep your body stiff and straight, and hold onto my collar.” I took her hands and wrapped her fingers around the back of my tunic collar. “I will swim and take you out. Halfway, I will stop and breathe into your mouth—I will pinch your nose when I do it so you don’t suck in water—alright?” I craned my neck to look at her behind me.
The girl nodded, her eyes big.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Ready, Melia?”
Melia nodded again. Her face was pale but resolved.
I turned to face the black hole of the tunnel. “Take a deep breath,” I said, filling my own lungs with the damp air of the cistern before diving forward with my burden.
I swam for speed this time, not caution, hugging the bottom of the tunnel so I didn’t knock my passenger unconscious. And this time I counted. Melia didn’t know I had no idea where “half way” was, and I was determined that next time I would.
When I reached eighty I reached back for her hands and tugged her fingers off my collar. I swiveled in the passage, still gently kicking forward so to make the most of the time, and grasping Melia’s shoulders pulled her up to me. Her hands closed on my arms with deathly strength—she was afraid. I hadn’t done this since we’d fled Galhara; it was exhausting, dangerous, and unpleasant. Even with the girl holding my arms I managed to find her face with my hands, pinch her nose, and putting my mouth over hers blew my air into her. She let go of my arms and as quickly as I could I had her grasp my collar and I poured myself into swimming.
I had reached two-hundred and my burden had gone limp when I saw the pale of the river at the end of the tunnel. Another forty before we reached the surface. I towed Melia by collar to the steep stone bank near the alley where I was to meet Jemin. How were we to get out? I flung one arm up the bank, hooking my hand on the cobbled street and trying to pull myself high enough to see into the shadows of the alley. “Jemin?” I called softly. There was no answer. I shifted. I had to get this girl out of the water, then get water out of her, and I had to do it quickly. “Jemin?” I called again, a little louder. Please be there. “Jemin?”
A figure came out of the alley, crouched low, “Lady Zare?”
“Yes,” relief flooded me, “Give me a hand here.”
“Are you alright?” Jemin came to the bank and tried to take my hand.
“No,” I shook my head, “Get her.”
He noticed the head bobbing beside me for the first time. He looked surprised, but he reached down into the river, snagged his hands under the girl’s armpits and pulled her out of the river. I helped guide her body over the edge. Then I used both my hands to haul myself up after her. The cold night air hit me as a harsh reminder that this was autumn.
Jemin laid Melia on the cobblestone in the alley and I was glad when he set about the business of forcing the water out of her lungs so I didn’t have to. I leaned against a building and caught my breath as the girl hacked up water and coughed. She startled when she saw Jemin but he soothed her and helped her sit up. She wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. He put my vest around her shoulders.
Jemin turned to me. “Are you alright? What happened?”
“I found the kidnapped girls. I killed a man. They are all in the cistern now waiting for me to get them out.”
Jemin stared at me.
“And my family has already been moved,” I added, wiping water off my face.
Jemin stared a moment longer then exclaimed, “I thought I told you not to get cocky!”
“If it makes you feel better it was an accident. And I’m sure not feeling cocky, I have to bring eleven more women the same way I brought her,” I pointed at the girl huddled by Jemin.
“Will they all arrive full of water?” he asked in annoyance.
“Hopefully not,” I huffed. Now that I had a count, I could space the breath better. “I have to go back. Maybe you can start thinking of a way to get out of the city.  It takes roughly four minutes to swim the tunnel one way, so, don’t expect me back before eight have passed.”
Jemin shook his head, “Be safe,” he said, resigned. I turned and went back to the river.
The Tryber received me warmly and the trip back to the cistern seemed to take much less time than the trip out had. I was greeted at the other end by eleven pale, frightened faces in a dark cistern. If any servant girl did happen to see them, she would probably scream in terror at seeing the cistern haunted by such ghosts. I took the closest girl by the hand and explained the journey as I had to Melia. She was one of the acrobats and significantly easier to pull through the water, accustomed as she was to making herself stiff as a board for minutes at a time. Fit and aided by a better timed breath, she made it to the free air on the open river without ingesting water. I stayed in the water as she climbed out into Jemin’s care. Then I dove down again. Ten more to go. I felt the currents helping me along as I enacted the grueling evacuation. With each trip I could feel my limbs getting heavier and my head getting slower. Swimming took more and more effort, even with the Tryber’s kindly efforts. I tried to remember the last time I’d swum as long as this and couldn’t. Probably because I had enough to do counting and swimming. By the time Olena, the last to come, and I broke the surface in the river I felt that what I wanted most in the whole world was a warm bed. Right this instant, in fact.
Olena climbed out with but little assistance from Jemin. My arms shook as I pulled myself up and Jemin quickly reached a hand to steady me and help me to the alley.
“I should go back,” I mumbled wearily to Jemin, “and close the grates behind me. I had to prop them open to get everyone out.”
“Grates? Forget them, you’re not going back. The last twenty minutes there has been a commotion in the garrison, I expect soldiers in the streets at any moment.”
“I bet they found the blood.”
“I’m sure they did,” growled Jemin. He pulled me deeper in the alley, past the women huddled together in the darkest shadows, and stopped next to a small pile of crates. Probably the waste from the fine kitchen of the fine house we were hiding behind.
I sat down on the crates and tried to wring out my clothes, shivering in the night air. The moon highlighted the dark splotches on my tunic and I shuddered. Bunching my sleeves up I grabbed the cloth and twisted it savagely, wishing I could get all the blood out of them as I drove the water out.
“Are you hurt? Are those…” Jemin hesitated and I looked up at him.
“Stripes?” he pointed awkwardly to my forearms.
“Oh,” I had forgotten about those. Visible now after so much time in water, two blue stripes graced each arm, stretching from under my sleeves and trailing halfway down my forearms. “Yes, nymphs have blue stripes…camouflage in water. Mine are much more pale, and not quite so far reaching. They fade when we aren’t in water.” I pulled my sleeves down and shivered again.
Jemin shook his head in wonder and leaned against the wall next to me. “Here, my lady,” he put his arm around my shoulders to share his warmth.
I leaned in gratefully.
“We don’t have much time,” said Jemin, “Here is the plan.”

Friday, February 5, 2016

Chambray and sweater

I love it being cold enough for me to layer with button ups. I love the look, but usually can't layer because it's too warm. Too warm isn't a problem these days!

I found this cardigan/blazer thing at Marshall's. I grabbed it to try on because I  couldn't figure out what it was...and then I really liked the way it looked. It's a great little cardi/blazer thing.

Chambray shirt. AE. Pants. Kohl's. Blazer/Cardi. Marshall's. Boots. Naturalizer.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

ink sketches

This is how I pay attention in meetings.

Playing around with my no-bleed sharpies, remembering how much I liked line drawings. So much less work! So nice to remember about using suggestion in drawings, rather than giving in to my compulsion to spell everything out in detail.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I took these pictures before the big blizzard.

It was a cold day after a frost and all the areas that had spent the morning in shade were covered in glittering crystals.

I was pretty unsatisfied with my ability to capture how pretty they were. I need a microscope.

 This is Midas, waiting patiently while I crawl around in the wet grass trying to take close ups of ice.
 This is Maverick, who came all the way from the gate to see what I was doing.
Ice--particularly in this form--is so cool. Haha. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

21-Of Daring Deeds

21-Of Daring Deeds
I didn’t think. In five steps I was behind the soldier at the door smashing the jar into his head. He crumpled beneath the force as an explosion of water soaked us both. Inside the room his companion and a dozen women gaped at me. The other soldier had Olena by the arm and had been pulling her toward the door.
“Hey!” the soldier released Olena and started toward me.
I threw the broken handle of the jar him. He ducked and kept coming, his face filled with murderous intent. It only took a heartbeat to realize just how much trouble I was in—in the middle of an enemy garrison, alone, picking a fight—I couldn’t run and for the first time didn’t have my brothers fighting with me. Oh, EloiMy only hope was a swift and silent victory. I drew Shiharr and Azzad and leapt into the room.
The soldier cursed in surprise at the sight of my daggers. He drew his sword and swung it at me in a smooth motion. I caught it with crossed daggers to an accompaniment of womanly shrieks.
“Shut up!” I snapped as the soldier attacked again. I jumped out of the way and tried a slash of my own but came nowhere near him. Damn range difference. I would have to be clever to get around his sword. I tried a few more awkward attacks with my daggers—letting the soldier evade easily and willing his confidence to grow so he’d get sloppy. He started advancing, swinging his sword in repeated strikes which I leapt to avoid. When he brought his blade around in a particularly heavy sweep and I dove forward. I barely deflected his blow with Shiharr and thrust Azzad into his inner thigh. He cried out and blood spewed. I pressed my advantage as he stumbled and grasped at the wound. He made a faint attempt to block my advance but I overrode his sword and drove Shiharr into the soldier’s neck. He crumbled and didn’t move again.
I stood over the soldier’s body panting, Shiharr and Azzad dripping blood into the growing pool at my feet. I had forgotten the smell and sight of gore. My first kill alone, my first since the siege.
Olena broke the spell, “Zare!” She ran the few steps to me and gave me a quick hug. “What are you doing here?”
“I have come to rescue you.” Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered that, in fact, I had come to scout. It was a touch late for that now. I looked around the room, taking in the wide-eyed faces. “Is this everyone from the circus?”
Olena nodded, “And a few more from town. Is Ayglos alright?”
“He is,” I replied, kneeling to clean Shiharr and Azzad in slow deliberate strokes on the soldier’s sleeve. “And he wanted to be here.” As the blades came clean I willed myself to move on and I thanked Remko for his gift. “Where is the rest of my family being held?”
“They are gone. I’m sorry, Zare. I heard the soldiers talk—they left this morning. They are sending them to the Nether Queen.”
I blanched but stuffed my feelings back inside. I had a big enough mess right in this room without thinking about where my family was going. “Get them up. We must be quick, and silent.”
Olena turned back to the women in the room and I turned to the soldiers I had felled. The man in the doorway had to be dragged into the room—as did the broken pieces of pottery. There was nothing I could do about the puddles. I found the room key in the soldier’s hand. He was only unconscious, and I used him as a bridge to get the women out without tracking blood. Now, in the shuddering torchlight of the hallway I recognized most of the women. They were haggard looking, clothes torn and dirty. But my dear circus girls were accustomed to silence and order under stress, they lined the hall waiting for me to take the lead.
Olena was the last out of the room. She closed the door on the soldiers and I locked it. “Where next?” she asked.
Where, indeed, I wondered, pocketing the key. I could take them to the wall, but didn’t know the best way to get there and didn’t know anything about sentry patterns. Pulling Jemin’s knife out of my belt I handed it to her. “The cistern. Bring up the rear.” Then I turned and went back the way I had come, the women trailing quietly in my wake. As an afterthought I sheathed my daggers. Fighting my way out was not my first choice here, even at the head of a line of stolen women. My cheeks heated as I realized I had left my vest with Jemin, and had been openly carrying my blades on my back this entire time. What luck no one had come behind me and seen them. Hopefully that luck would hold till we could get out.
Every hallway we crossed filled me with dread of discovery. The thick quiet of nighttime felt hollow and treacherous. Our every footfall and breath was magnified in my ears till I fancied I could count us without looking back to use my eyes.
We were almost to the cistern when a soldier walked out in front of us. He was looking at his feet and had the air of someone finally done for the day. He looked up, his expression blank at first, then surprised, then irritated. “Where are you going?” he demanded.
“I was ordered to take them to the baths, sir,” the explanation popped out, and I prayed the garrison had baths and they were in this direction.
“Who ordered you, and why didn’t they send guards with you?” he scanned the group with narrowed eyes.
“The captain, sir,” I stammered, “I don’t know, sir.” I glanced over my shoulder at the women. They were hanging their heads, doing an excellent job looking downtrodden. “He said he wanted them cleaned up, sir. That’s all I know, sir.”
The soldiers’ gaze came back to me and lingered, appraising me until I felt very uncomfortable. “You had better have a bath yourself, and wash your clothes. You smell like the river and look like the butcher’s handmaiden.”
I looked down at myself and saw, in horror, that red stained my tunic in several places.
“I’m sure the cook doesn’t need reminders to beat you for clumsiness,” he sneered.
I had no idea what he was talking about. Did he think I’d spilled in the kitchen? A half dozen replies whirled through my head, but I was too taken aback to settle on one. I flinched toward my daggers but the soldier gave a little laugh.
“Don’t lose any of them, and you won’t get a beating,” he said, stepping aside to let us pass.
“Yessir,” I replied and, angling my body to hide my knives as I passed him, started off down the hallway again with my charges in tow. I glanced over my shoulder at him a few times with the pretense of keeping track of the girls. I daren’t turn down the corridor to the cistern with him around. He lingered a few moments watching us, then turned and continued on his way. Not a moment too soon. I found the hallway with the cistern, and shortly after that the stairs down themselves.
My twelve women gathered like a dust on the landing. I waited till they were all arrived and then said, “I will have to take you out one at a time through the water tunnel.”
Doubts scrawled across all their faces.
I continued, trying to exude confidence, “You will need to hide in the water until I get you all out—someone will find your room soon enough and that other soldier saw us headed this general direction.” My audience started to look very nervous. Realism is apparently not encouraging. “Can anyone swim?”
Only two cautiously raised their hands. Well, that was something at least. “You two, grab empty jugs and come with me.” I picked up a water jug and walked down the stairs into the water. The other two swimmers follow suit and I led the way to the tunnel entrance and the screen. I pushed up the screen and propped it open with the jug I had brought. “There are more grates like this, I’ll go in and you pass me the jugs.”
Shortly, the two swimmers and I had all the grates propped open. This would save me a few moments each way, at least. We swam back to the landing, where all the women were still standing. “Olena, get them into the water. I know it’s cold, but it’ll save them from easy discovery.”
Olena nodded and put her hands on the shoulders of the girls nearest her, “Come on, there are stairs, and we can hold onto the masonry.” She coaxed the group to submerge, shivering, into the cistern. Their heads looked like buoys lining the landing as each hung by her finger tips in the cold water.
I was not excited about the next part—it would have been so much easier to boost everyone over the ten-foot wall—if only I’d known how to safely cross the garrison. “Who is willing to go first?”

Friday, January 29, 2016

Green and Black

Zorro picked out this shirt. It's one of my favorites. The guy is really good at picking out clothes.

Also, fleece lined leggings are fantastic. Plus my winter riding socks...this outfit is even more cozy than it looks.

Shirt. Patty Boutik (via Amazon). Skirt Victoria's Secret. Boots. Aerosoles.

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