Tag: shakespeare

Artober 31: Aaaaand DONE!

Woah! I finished my painting and a whole month of arting! For me, that’s quite an accomplishment. I also really like this one. It took me longer than any of the others, but I’ve been working on it in 20-minute spurts. Painting is hard when you’re surrounded by puppies! Here’s the whole thing:

Oh! And here’s a link to the tutorial by The Frugal Crafter, who is fantastic.

My original plan was to take some time off, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. I’ll be starting a Skillshare workshop on inking + watercolor tomorrow. That’ll just involve a sketchbook, and I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, if at all. Maybe if there’s one I especially like. Unlike this month, I’ll have to finish an entire sketch a day, so they’ll have to be quicker and I’ll have to be more willing to settle.

In other news, I have some very helpful pets. Shakespeare kept my palette warm for me this morning, and Penny supervised.

We climbed a mountain!

Okay, that’s kind of a lie. It’s not technically a lie because “mountain” is actual name of the place. This “mountain,” though, really only qualifies as a largish hill. The actual hiking elevation was less than 200 feet, and the whole hill tops out at a whopping 535. So I jumped onto a bench by the sign and acted like I’d just climbed Katahdin. Palmer chose a more reasonable pose.

26870297121_98b78f190d_kOn Sunday, we “climbed” Driskill Mountain, which is just south of Arcadia, Louisiana. It’s the state’s highest point, and it’s just about as underwhelming as you’d expect for the Bayou State. That said, we had a Most Excellent time. Penny was so excited, she couldn’t stay still for long enough to get a good photo. That, and another family appeared from the trees with their own dog in tow, and Penny wanted to play.

It only took us a few minutes to get to the top. There are two trail choices: the main one, which we took, is about 1.9 miles up and back. There’s a second one that weaves through the trees, which are marked with blue blazes. I want to go back to try that trail.

There weren’t many signs along the main trail, but, for the most part, it was crystal clear. Driskill Mountain is private land, but the owners do a great job of keeping it up. There was a tiny bit of mud in a couple of places, but it was easy to get around, and our feet stayed dry. Penny, of course, bounded through every little puddle. There were only to slightly steep places, and Penny was more than willing to pull me right up. The only problem was that she was just as willing to help me get back down, especially since she was following the other dog’s tracks. We really need to work on excitement-pulling.

Almost everything I’ve heard about Driskill Mountain is about its being underwhelming. It’s a “mountain” in Louisiana: how can it be that spectacular? Louisiana makes bayous, not mountains. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I knew exactly what to expect. Will I go back? Definitely! I want to try that secondary trail. I’ll also probably have a look for other trails in the vicinity, though, as it’s kind of a long drive for such a short hike. Here’s the gpx I recorded (thanks, Alltrails!), a file format I just learned about:

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In other news, Shakespeare also had an excellent day on Sunday:

Non-Book Update Time (of course it’s mostly about the dog)

I made a few changes to the blog to accommodate posts that don’t involve books, and I haven’t written even one non-book post since. Until now. You, dear readers, have been underinformed about dog-related happenings, and it’s time to rectify that situation.

Zelda went to the dog park in Longview, TX.

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Which wouldn’t be so monumental if Shreveport would ever get one. (They say the paperwork is signed, but I’m guessing we might have one in 2020. Maybe.)

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Longview is over an hour away, so we stopped in Marshall for a bite to eat. Zelda tried her first potato chips.

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(She also snapped at the owner’s hand, but that was because he got all up in her face and scared the living bejeezus out of her. I was mortified.)

Zelda was timid at first, but she eventually joined in the fun and had an excellent time.

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It was nice to see her run. At home, her only outside option is a leash. Hopefully, we’ll have a backyard fence installed soon.

After the dog park, we met some friends at Starbucks, and Zelda enjoyed a puppy latte.

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In other news, Shakespeare turned 11 on January 1. His present was his very own cubby next to my desk, complete with a heating pad and No Dogs Allowed sign. He spends a good bit of his time there.

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And, finally, I got a master’s degree. The one I’d been working on for years. Good times.

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2014 Book #35: The Flamethrowers

flamethrowersAaaand back to our regular programming.

I’ve been putting off reviewing The Flamethrowers since I finished it a few days ago because I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I think I have it straight now. Here’s the gist: It’s a really good book that could have been a Great book but got a little lost on the way.

I discovered this one because of a Facebook recommendation. After I finished Butcher’s Crossing, I had no idea what to read next, so I took a little nonfiction detour and posted my frustration with being in a Reading Rut. A couple old friends from high school suggested Still Alice and The Flamethrowers. I’d heard good things about both of them, but I started reading Still Alice first simply because I didn’t have to wait for a trip to the library to read it, as I had to do with The Flamethrowers. Anyway, I got about halfway into Still Alice when I discovered that it’s Not My Kind of Book (I talked about this in my review of The Cleanest Race) and moved on to The Flamethrowers, which Is My Kind of Book. Oh, yes.

It’s about a young artist and a twenty-two-year-old girl nicknamed Reno has moved to New York City because that’s where she thinks Artists are supposed to live. She’s from Reno (hence the nickname) and wants to go back to photograph land art. She starts dating Sandro Valera, an older artist who happens to come from the Valera Tires/Motorcycles Family in Italy. Sandro has distanced himself from his family for years, but he agrees to get Reno a super-fast bike so she can drive it really fast on the salt flats in Nevada to Pursue Her Art. She crashes said bike with only minor injuries and talks her way into the Valera camp to convalesce. Valera makes a special car that has clocked the land speed record of 700-something miles per hour across the salt flats, and their driver breaks the record again. The team talks Reno into attempting to break the women’s record in the same vehicle, which she does. The Valera family invites her to Italy for a publicity tour with the other driver. She really wants to go, but Sandro is hesitant because he doesn’t want to get back into the world of his family. Except he agrees, and they go to Italy, and Things Happen.

Summarizing books isn’t my strong point.

When I read the blurb on the back of the paperback, I thought, Motorcycles? Really? The Desert, of course, was a draw, and the recommendation came from someone whose reading taste I trust even after so many years, so I dug in. I could tell immediately that it’s a well-written, solid book, and it got off to a really interesting start along the lines of that amazing art museum scene at the beginning of The Goldfinch – though not quite as good. (Overall, this book is much better than The Goldfinch, by the way. Much more worth your time.) I was a little disappointed toward the end, though, because Rachel Kushner seemed to get a little lost in the backstory. There’s a whole long section about a messed-up story at sea involving a relatively minor character, and its excessive length made it seem like a separate story Kushner was determined to fit in. Scenes like that happen a couple of times, and I think that’s the novel’s biggest weakness. Like many books, it could have been shorter, but, in this case, only because of the long tangents that didn’t really have to be there. That’s why The Flamethrowers isn’t a Great book.

That said, I really enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely be reading more Kushner in the future. She writes My Kind of Book.

In Puppy News, Zelda continues to grow. We’ve been walking over two miles a day between two walks. She’s…improving.

She celebrated her first July 4th at a friend’s party!

She didn’t really mind the early fireworks until Palmer shot off a fifty-pack of Black Cats. She seemed to get over it, though, because the booms around here don’t seem to bother her. Which is fantastic. We took her home and put her in her kennel before it got dark, and she was fine when we got home a few hours later. No Poopocalypses were involved.

A good time was has by all.

Jacob took the Photo of the Night:

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Meanwhile, in Puppyland, canine-feline relations are progressing very slowly. This is a regular occurrence in our household:

Shakespeare has spent most of his time hiding on our screened-in back porch, but yesterday he graced us with his presence on the top of the sofa.

Now that Palmer is home, I can hang out with him more, and I think that makes both of us feel better.

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