More Quarantine Sketches

A wild rabbit has eaten some of my broccoli plants, which is very rude, but everything I’ve learned over the years tells me that rudeness is standard for rabbits. In spite of this setback, I’m still focusing a lot on the garden, and I’ve managed to keep up more exercise this week, which is probably helping with my overall mood. I’ve also started reading another Alma Katsu book, since I really enjoyed The Hunger. Besides, who doesn’t need a little additional horror in their life right now? The Deep seems pretty good so far.

Anyway, stay at home, take care of each other from a distance, and please enjoy these weird sketches.

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This is the look I get from my bunny whenever I walk into the room after hearing a random crash. He definitely didn’t do anything.
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Earthworm, moth, springtail, common garden snail, and woodlouse (isopod) sketches. These are all critters I’ve found around my yard over the past few months.

Coping Sketches

I’m not doing super awesome with this whole pandemic thing, honestly. I think we should cancel it.

I’m super scatterbrained and just keep forgetting what day it is and what I need to be working on, to the point that my blog post didn’t get written on Thursday or Friday, and then I kinda felt like it didn’t matter in comparison to everything else, but it does matter to me, so I’m writing it now.

I think I’m going to try to do a sketch a day for a while, because that was pretty fun in October, and it seems like a good way to get my mind off the wildly stressful stuff that’s going on right now. Today, I drew a Chinese mantis that I met quite a few years ago. She had wandered into my garden and was quite charming and friendly. This introduced species is very common in the US, and is even sold in garden stores for pest control.

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A pen and ink sketch of a Chinese mantis.

February Life Update

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month, so that’s exciting. I’ll be thirty one! I suspect it’ll feel very much like being thirty.

I finally got a treadmill last week, and I’m actually surprised by how much I love it. I really like walking, and I already spend a truly excessive amount of time listening to audiobooks and watching youtube videos about weird stuff, so now those activities can be combined. This makes me feel much less useless and floppy.

I’ve been iron deficient for quite a while, and I found out that the supplementation I’ve been doing hasn’t actually been working all that well, so that’s fun. Having shitty blood really saps energy and focus, and the things required to make me absorb iron better are all also things that throw my potentially very painful stomach issues into overdrive. It’s a wee bit frustrating.

On the bright side, though, I did some vital houseplant maintenance and drew some tropical fish.

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A moorish idol (top) and banggai cardinalfish (bottom) that I got to see at the Seattle aquarium recently, drawn in black pen and colored pencils. Sorry about the lighting on this pic. It’s always hard to find enough light to show the colors without washing out the black a bit.
One of my African violets was looking pretty sad, so I trimmed and repotted it.

 

Messing Around with Colors

I have no idea where I’m going with this one. I usually aim for detail and accuracy, but right now I’m really just playing with colors and shading. Maybe I should just mess around creatively more often. It’s pretty fun not to have any particular expectations going in. I’m not even sure if it’s finished yet.

A pen and ink drawing of a narcissus flower
The same drawing, but filled in with colored pencils. Things got a little wild around the edges.

Song Sparrow

I had a mystery bird at my feeder, and it turned out to be a song sparrow. Identifying it online was a bit of a challenge, because the population of song sparrows up here tend to much darker than usual. They’re really striking little things.

I’m already waiting for spring, so my little sparrow got a pomegranate branch to sit on. We’ve had our snow now, and I’m ready for all the plants to wake up again.

A song sparrow sitting on a blooming pomegranate branch drawn in colored pencil

Let’s Go Round the Sun Again, One Step at a Time

Like most milestones that humans care about, the new year is pretty arbitrary, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to wipe our mental slates clean and look forward with a little extra hope.

A lot of people are probably already finding their new year’s resolutions to be a heavy burden, because we’re usually encouraged to set our sights way too high when crafting goals. If you picked something that’s making you miserable and burning you out, I hope you’ll consider stepping it down to a more reasonable level now rather than just dropping it when you run out of energy entirely. That’s not failure, it’s just good planning.

Restrictive diets don’t tend to work for the vast majority of people, but adding an extra vegetable source to one meal a day is pretty doable for many, and that can help build a long term habit that supports individual health. So can adding five or ten minutes of stretching or meditation at a convenient time of the day rather than committing to spend an hour at the gym five times a week when you haven’t gone in months or years. It doesn’t mean you can’t increase your goals as you go along, but keeping the increments ridiculously tiny means that it’s almost impossible to let yourself down. Small wins make a huge difference in confidence and self-image, while repeated failures are disheartening and typically lead to completely abandoning all effort.

This stuff is even more important to consider if you live with mental illness or are neurodivergent. There’s a huge amount of pressure to use that yearly boost of energy to DO ALL THE THINGS and be… better. And it works, but only for a few days, and then our actual limits come down even harder on us because we burn out all of our reserves. And then all that hope turns into just another thing that we feel bad about failing to live up to, and none of us needs more of that. Not a one. We need a bunch of little successes a hell of a lot more than we need a handful of new regrets.

So, please, give yourself the gift of some really small but consistent wins this year.

Some humble, slightly random suggestions for new moderated goals:

  • Go to bed just ten minutes earlier than you have been
  • Set your alarm for ten minutes earlier (but only if you went to bed earlier. Sleep is so important.)
  • Switch just your afternoon tea or coffee to decaf
  • Add a veggie you don’t hate to one meal a day
  • Stretch for a couple of minutes every morning
  • Walk around your block once a day at a convenient time
  • Write 50 words on a project every day, or even less if that’s too much
  • Spend fifteen minutes doodling if you’ve been missing your art
  • Spend ten minutes gardening and then go inside if it’s cold or raining
  • Clean or organize one part of your space for ten minutes and then let yourself stop for the day
  • Read a page or two of a book you’re interested in every day
  • Catch yourself when you start thinking negative things about yourself and practice redirecting to something more neutral whenever you can. Neutral is a much more achievable starter goal than positivity, and it’s still an improvement.

Adding something small to your day tends to be easier than eliminating something, and in the long run it can have the same effect by slowly edging out whatever it is that you think you should reduce. If you’re interested, the book Mini Habits by Stephen Guise is a pretty helpful guide for setting consistently achievable goals and he also explains why they work so well.

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Steller’s Jay Drawing

My office window looks right out on the tree that holds our bird feeder, so when I’m working I also get to watch the little house finches and juncos squabble and flit around. They’re all really cute, but these jays are probably my favorite birds that visit the yard. They’re all attitude and their little crests are just excellent. Plus, they sound like angry robots when they yell, which is very endearing.

A pen and ink drawing of a steller’s jay sitting on a thin pine branch

Another Fluffy Dinosaur

Gobiraptor minutus is a cute little dinosaur species that was discovered in the Gobi desert earlier this year, and I love it. I drew it as an awkward chick just starting to get its big dino feathers in, since the specimen they found was a juvenile.

A drawing of a juvenile Gobiraptor minutus in pen and colored pencil, with colors and markings loosely based on Pallas’s sandgrouse.