Bananas for Breakfast

I signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National novel writing month) this year. It’s probably the first time I’ve actually been in a position, mental and physical health-wise, to give it a more than half-hearted try. I’m not trying to write an entirely new novel this time, but I figured it would be a good time to pull together my new outline for Somnolence and do that full reworking of it that I’ve been planning. It gives me a start and end date, plus a little bit of outside support and encouragement. I’m on track so far, which is cool.

I’ve also been experimenting with different ways to make my days more consistent. So far the weirdest but most effective thing has just been eating the exact same breakfast every day. For the past few weeks it’s been cottage cheese with a whole cut up banana and a drizzle of raspberry syrup. It’s surprisingly delicious, filling, and it gives me a decent amount of energy. The other most effective thing has been making sure that the the kitchen is always useable and cleared up for the morning, even if that means I wind up doing dishes right before bed.

This means that I don’t have to think at all when I get up. I just roll out of bed, turn on the kettle for tea, make the bed, make the tea, give the rabbit his morning salad and let him out of his pen, thaw the dog food, cut up my banana, give the rabbit the end piece of the banana so he won’t try to hop onto the table to steal it, then actually put together and eat my breakfast and drink the tea. Oh, and somewhere in there I usually shower and get dressed, too. It’s possible that part of the reason I need consistency so badly is because I have very spoiled animals, but it definitely helps to cut down on general friction in my mornings. It also cuts down completely on those super un-fun days I used to have occasionally where I would totally fail to eat any breakfast because the kitchen was a mess and/or nothing sounded edible to me, which meant I didn’t take my meds, which meant I couldn’t sort out how to fix the breakfast problem, which usually led to an eventual meltdown of sadness and starvation, and nobody wants that.

I think the next step might be to add a short after-breakfast walk for me and the dogs. Frodo seems interested in the concept, too, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t stand for a bunny leash. I’ve been trying and failing recently to keep up with my longer walks, but a quick daily walk¬† before work would probably have more of an effect on my everyday energy levels anyway, and even a short bout of exercise is supposed to help with concentration. We’ll see how that goes.

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Pretty succulents growing out of a cement wall, because plants are hardcore.

Inktober Sketches

For those who don’t know, inktober is an event where people try to finish at least one pen and ink sketch every day in October. I didn’t get a sketch done every single day, but I aimed for most days and didn’t stress about it. Here are the ones I deem decent and complete enough for sharing.

Since I knew I was gonna miss days anyway, I focused more on picking a variety of subjects, including some things I hadn’t really done before, like the ferns and the leaf insect. It was fun, and I’m glad I stuck with it!

Corydoras hastatus (a type of mini catfish) sketch
A baby California slender salamander in pen and ink
Fuchsia flower and bud
Some different types of fern. Maidenhair on top, bracken fern, and then sword fern on the bottom
A cute squid I saw at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
A sketch of my sister’s bunny from when we were kids. Her name was Cloudy, because children do stuff like that.
A little rooster I met a while ago at the heirloom festival
A juvenile male black widow that I found last time I was in California.
A cool leaf insect that I had for a while. Halloween seemed as good a time as any for some cute creepy crawlies.

I’m Still Not Used to Having Seasons

It’s interesting to feel how decisively Summer turns into Fall in Seattle. I grew up in the Bay Area in California, which really only has two seasons: Summer and Fall, but there’s not a ton of definition between them. You just eventually notice that Starbucks is carrying pumpkin spice lattes and decide that, even though it’s still uncomfortably warm out, you’re gonna wear a scarf, dammit. (And then stubbornly wear it all day while your neck itches and sweats. At least it’s cute.)

In Seattle, I just step outside one day and it feels like Autumn all of a sudden. It wavers back and forth a few times, but after that the Summer is pretty solidly over. Even the bright and sunny days that follow feel muted. The sunshine gets a little more golden, like it’s permanently set in late afternoon mode, and the flowers look like they’re getting ready for bed even though they’re still blooming bravely away. There are days like this in California, to be sure, but they’re usually heavily interspersed with heat that feels like it’s been personally sent to punish you for getting out of your air-conditioned car.

I can definitely get on board with this kind of beautiful, crisp Autumn, although I’m still not convinced about the whole snow and ice in Winter thing. I think that I’d still choose light sweaters and sushi at Christmas over getting snowed into the house and watching the neighbor kids sledding down the street with their big old dog, intriguingly novel as that very Hallmark experience was.

Spring is on probation. It’s awfully damp and the days are too short, but it makes the salamanders happy. Gotta think of the salamanders.

Blackberry vines running through a bush that’s turning bright red
Pink fuchsia flowers. They always look like ballerinas to me. If you pluck one and pinch off the stem, you can stick it through the middle bit of the flower to make a tiny little doll.
A hot pink dahlia flower that’s been nibbled at a little bit by slugs. Still pretty, though.
An unopened sunflower with little earwig tenants

Chameleons Really Belong in Sci-Fi

Drawing this reminded me of how weird they are, and how much they really don’t seem like they belong in the real world. If I had never heard of them and someone described a chameleon to me, I’d probably call bullshit.

Their fingers are fused to form perfect little tree-grabbing pinchers. They change color according to their mood. (Not to blend in to their environment, as is commonly believed. This one was almost perfectly¬†millennial pink when I met him, and that’s not exactly a common shade in their natural habitat.) Their eyes bug out from their heads and swivel around independently from each other. Their tails function like a fifth limb. Some of them have straight-up Triceratops horns. They can shoot their tongues out to grab food as it goes about its business a foot or more away from what would have been the danger zone for a normal lizard. They’re basically just cute, grumpy little aliens.

A sketch of a juvenile panther chameleon in pen and ink

Because I’ve worked in reptile stores, I also need to add that they’re high maintenance creatures and you should not go out and buy your own grumpy little alien unless you’re very prepared to spend a decent chunk of money on proper lighting and a large, well-ventilated enclosure. They don’t even like to be held, generally, and picking them up without a great deal of care can break their ribs. They’re strictly display aliens, not cuddly pets.

A Quick Visit and Some Very Cute Chickens

I visited my family in California this week and had a nice time. My grandma is almost ninety one, and has been losing some of her memory, so I’m trying to spend more time down there. Her memories are important, and I want to take some of them on when I can.

That means flying, which I’m generally not a fan of, but it’s more efficient than spending the better part of four days driving down to the Bay Area and back. Seeing my family is worth it, though, and having my ADHD under better control means that getting to flights on time and handling the bustle of a chaotic airport is less intimidating than it used to be. It also makes it easier to plan ahead to take my anti-nausea meds in time, because, oh boy, does flying play merry havoc with my inner ear.

While I was there, I also got my meet the newest batch of miniature chickens in my friend’s backyard farm. They’re only about a week old, or they were when I met them, but they’re also seramas, a breed of chicken that don’t typically get much bigger than large pigeons as adults. Their babies are impossibly tiny and adorable.

A little sketch of one of her hens watching over the babies while they practiced their very important pecking skills.
One of the serama mamas giving me a good eyeballing for being near the chicks. Her hens tend to sit on their eggs in pairs, so the chicks always have two mamas to watch over them.
This chick seemed mostly okay with being held. They’re so soft!
The yellow chick had some rather loud objections to me holding her, so I returned her to her little family pretty quickly. She’s still totally my favorite of this clutch.

A Walk in the Washington Park Arboretum

This is definitely my new favorite place to walk with the dogs. It’s so peaceful, and there are so many different paths to take.

Beautifully arranged rocks among the greenery
Mossy branches and emerald green leaves
A cool plant with broad leaves next to a pond covered in floating duckweed
A mossy tree trunk
A well disguised salamander larva lurking in the mud at the bottom of one of the ponds
Another baby salamander hanging out under the duckweed
One of the beautiful calm pools around the arboretum. I love that they don’t keep fish in any of them, which means that amphibians can use them safely for breeding.
A pretty pink flower in the undergrowth
Cute little brown mushrooms on a mossy log