Friday, September 28, 2007

Molly's Dad

Molly was just a puppy when her father Gato and Gato's owner Gerald came to visit us in Colorado. Gerald was a K-9 officer then, and is now the sheriff of another county. Gato was born in Germany.

We're leaving for Colorado Sunday morning before dawn, staying two months we hope. This time we've set up for a high speed connection. Hope to stay in touch.

Rooster trouble

Picture was taken a few years ago, when Dinah was smaller!
5:45 am and I have to post this on a chicken forum:
"My six year old white silkie rooster named Elle, in perfect health, needs to be boarded out for two months or less. I want him back. He's gentle. He can't live with other roosters because they pick on him. We're going to Colorado. We live in the suburbs, and I always put him in the garage in a hutch cage at night, because of the neighbors. I don't want to leave him in the garage the whole time. Could he survive that way though, if nothing else comes up? (We have someone coming in to feed, but that doesn't deal with the cockadoodle doo part.) I thought I'd set it up with someone but he's not returning calls! We're leaving Sunday. I can't take him in the car with us! Any suggestions?"

Already got one response:

"Leave him inside. He'll be fine. Some birds live their whole lives that way."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Molly's Just Great but Timmy fell in the Well!

I mean Tigger...

I was so happy to be back at Lake Balboa with Molly at dawn this morning. As we were finishing our walk we saw a prone figure right by the lake, with a big rear end sticking up. Having read a number of mystery novels lately, I was particularly concerned. Officer Cruikshank here.

Then I realized it was a life size Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) stuffed animal that had lost stuffing all over the grass.

Molly was aghast. Her search and rescue genes kicked in and she wanted to rescue it. I'm not kidding! She never likes to see people lying on the ground, and this one looked in bad shape. But when she investigated and got no biological smells, we could keep walking.

(The Timmy in the Well stuff is a Lassie tv reference in case you're too young.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How I Spent My Vacation

Just got home this afternoon from visiting my mother in New Jersey. "SPILL ON AISLE THREE!"

I spent so much time at Walmart's I felt like I worked there. I was trying to find pullup slacks to fit my mother and it was not an easy task. They have to go over her surgical stockings, over the knee brace, and also not fall down suddenly. The size I bought on trip two almost caused her to go to the emergency room because they cut off circulation. On trip three to Walmart I took her with me. We made it to the dressing room. Just barely. As I was pulling her pants over her ankles, she said, "You would make a good prostitute nurse."

She meant substitute nurse. We got hysterical. Later, when she was describing a gift basket she'd received that annoyed her, she said, "The pretzels tasted just like doorknobs."

(Because they tasted over varnished and bitter she explained.) Until then I was wondering when she'd been tasting doorknobs.

At the old folks home they'd remodelled the place and put the computer room in the basement, in an extended broom closet where you sit side by side with other telemarketers to do your work. Before it was upstairs in a lovely airy room. I don't have a laptop. The thinking is that most people, even the elderly, have their own computers now, if they have any chance of knowing how to work one.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chicken Leaves Nest

Here's a picture Dinah drew with the mouse, when I got my first computer around 1997. Emma was a fine chicken... Dinah was around seven.

Today was the day when the chicken left the nest.

I woke up this morning at 1:30 but didn't have to get out of bed till 3:30 am, so thrashed about, thinking of the day ahead. Tia and the goats and Dinah were headed for U.C. Davis today. We'd had a hard confrontational evening last night, just the thing before a major separation, (NOT), and I fell asleep crying.

Dinah and I took separate cars out to the stable at 4:30, but not before she went outside to say goodbye to the chickens, including Elle the rooster in the garage... how dear is that? She's always loved her chickens.

We got to the gated community where the horses live, (I know that sounds odd!), and the guard wouldn't let Dinah through the gate, because her new car didn't have a proper sticker, so she had to call me to drive back down and do some talking and show i.d., never easy for me since I go by my maiden name, and my formal name is Sarah. Then we waited in the dark for the trailer rig to appear, driven by Peggy and her bud Tita.

It was very cold; the weather had changed suddenly. A big storm was predicted, and Tia is prone to colic, which can be life threatening and is sometimes triggered by weather changes. Or any kind of change. And here she was about to go on an 8 hour journey.

Molly was quiet in the back seat. Even though it was her birthday.

Dinah brought Tia upstairs. She was wild, spinning around, neighing, and shaking uncontrollably, which was very scary to see. Horses don't usually act like that, but then it was the middle of the night, sort of.

Her goat buddies were right behind her. Peggy said to get some food for Tia right away, and once Tia started eating, she stopped shaking. She was really scared. Nicole the goat stole a banana I'd brought for Tia, ate the peel and spit out the fruit. Tia loaded up in the trailer, and fat goat Nicole went in too.

But her wicked sister, Margarethe, suddenly had a sense of "TRICK!" and tried to bolt away. When we surrounded her she had a moment of goat panic which is creepy to watch. She got very still and her eyes were sort of closing. Then she climbed in the trailer too. Peggy got out and the door was closed. Peggy has a closed circuit camera set up in the trailer so we could see from the cab video that Tia and goats weren't freaking out yet. The two women headed out on their eight hour journey. Peggy has always had this classic Chatsworth woman look, but as we said goodbye at 6 am I wondered if she had Indian blood (aka Native A.) The way she held her head and took it all in, checked all the details, knew what to do for Tia. Peggy has a big heart. The truck cab smelled of cigarettes and junk food.

Dinah and I walked to our cars, hugged, sobbed, said goodbye. Off she drove in her new blue car. This was: child off to college, end of line for child raising... a fall off the cliff time for me.

IT ALL WENT WELL! Dinah got to Davis two hours before Peggy. Tia seemed happy when she got off the trailer, the new stall is twice as big as in the gated community. She's eating, not looking weird, which is the first sign of colic. The goats kept ramming Dinah in the knees. Dinah sounded VERY happy. (not about the goats' behavior, but because everybody got there okay.)

So I'll get used to this I'm sure.

Sunday it's off to see Mom at the Quaker retirement place, Medford, New Jersey.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cobra Woman Leaves Home

Now that I have your attention!

Dinah's leaving for college Thursday night around 3 am when the horse trailer shows up at Bell Canyon to take Tia and the goats to college. Dinah will follow in her new blue FIT. She doesn't want me to come with her. Perhaps she's the Cobra Woman?

I feel an elemental sadness, was crying in the shower. I'm sure I've done that before, but the only other time I could remember crying in the shower was the week after Dinah was born, when Jon and his mother went out to buy baby things and have lunch, and there was no lunch in the house for me. (poor me: post partem d.p.)

Anyway, on a whole other note, thinking about early internet pals. Do you remember the first internet pal you had, whether or not you wanted him/her? I remember mine. It was around 1997, (or maybe earlier?) and I participated actively in a chicken forum, because we'd just gotten started keeping chickens and there was much to learn. One guy was especially helpful. It wasn't until later I realized he raised the kind of chickens used in fighting. ick. He worked as a janitor at U.N.C. in Chapel Hill.

Without my asking for it, he sent me a picture of him with his huntin' dogs, and the file size was so huge I had to scroll all over to look at it, and I didn't want to know what he looked like anyway. He was wearing a good old boy cap.

Then he started implying he liked to travel in his trailer, and might be planning a California vacation. oh god!

For about six months I worried this guy was going to show up on our little street with his bird dogs and chickens in the trailer, and just park out front. I decided I knew enough about chickens and left the forum.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Need book advice, readers!

We're off to Colorado for October and November, now that Dinah's off to college. This time I think we'll have a high speed line.

I've been trying to find some good books to read. I'm a very fussy reader.

On Friday night I read Nora Ephron's book, I Feel Bad About my Neck, from library. It was fun. Some of her observations were very funny, some too New York for me to relate to, mostly it felt like a good blog or a book in a waiting room to pass the time. Returning it yesterday, I picked out two books, one by Alice Munro and one by Alice McDermott, but neither one engaged me and both are going back. Vow: no more Alice books for awhile, except I see I have one on the list below!

I've been looking at lists of the best 100 novels. Being as old as I am, I've read a lot of them. Also as soon as I see novel number one is James Joyce's Ulysses I'm doubtful. On the other hand, if they include John O'Hara, Sherwood Anderson, or Theodore Dreiser in their lists, I look closer.

Some of the lists seem to go so overboard on the pc thing that you can't trust them either. On the other hand, I thought Their Eyes Were Watching God was exquisite.

In no particular order, here are the books I'm considering ordering, after perusing internet lists. Any feedback on them would be greatly appreciated, even if you already realize I have too many opinions on things:

I'm worried, though. None of these except maybe the last one jumps out at me as can't wait to reads. But at least I got a list together. Alas I've read just about every Kurt Wallendar mystery now.

(and if you don't think it took a long time to post all these links-- but at least it made me place my order!)

I started The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg last night, and it's great. Schulberg is a very talented writer who made the wrong decision in the McCarthy era.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

On Drawing in Flash

Your only hope for good line quality drawing in Flash is if you set the zoom at 400%. With the pencil tool the line adjusts for the zoom, but unfortunately with the brush tool you need to choose a different size brush if you're at a different zoom level. There's a setting for automatic smoothing- I keep it at 20 at present time because I'm on a non smooth jag, no pun intended!

Here are a few tips you may not have followed:

You can select the drawing and turn on the outlines button, in order to draw it better. Try drawing a brush drawing with the pencil.

Notice above the gray layer outline square shows an outline now, not a solid.

So I draw over it on a separate layer, keeping the outline layer locked so I don't accidentally draw into that and annoy myself.

wow look how smooth that pencil line looks compared to the old wobbly brush. Another thing nice about the pencil line is it makes fill easier, especially when you want to make changes.

Now we're going to try to get thick and thin elegance. You'll be better at this than I am.

Highlight the pencil drawing and then go to Modify> Shape>Convert Line to Fills. Maybe it's like this in Illustrator but I could never figure out that program.

Then you can drag out sections of the line to your thick thin desire. People who do this a lot get really good at it, but for me it slows the animation process down too much, and since most of what I'm doing now ends up on youtube, they don't notice stuff like elegant lines there.

ANEEta, your CHIN is quite LOVELY!

Went to visit Pepper Today

Dinah borrowed my camera this weekend, so I can't show you how happy he looked. He and Row continue to be best of friends, and Pepper enjoyed the four bananas and bag of carrots I brought him. Molly had to stay in the car, but she's doing fine as well. (The owner's dogs get to run free on the property.)

Kind of weird when you go to visit an old horse, though. I mean, you're sort of feeling like conversation is in order, but once the food has been hoovered the horse seems less interested.

from a shutterfly email!!!!

They said to see your child in an abc adventure. I needed a frontal shot and the one of me and the one of Dinah were each rejected, so I tried one of her boyfriend Cameron. It has sound too. Hold on to your ice tea for this one. And all from one jpeg!

If you don't see anyone, something's goofy about it, because at first he was there and they allow you to embed it. Their site may be swamped.

Here's a link to it with Dinah in it.
Cameron's head fit it better though.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Some thoughts on Flash

I've been working on a Charbucks chapter 2 this past week, and have discovered I can do about 20 seconds of finished animation in a week, averaging four hours a day.

THIS IS AMAZING! At least for someone like me, who started out doing pencil drawings that had to be pencil tested on film, developed, cleaned up, inked and painted, and then filmed. Talk about medieval processes!

When I first started using Flash, the emphasis was generally on keeping the file size as small as possible, and it took me awhile to get a grip on that. In fact I never got that grip.

Here's a drawing of Whinsey done with the brush. I set it for Wacom pressure, but I hold a pen so lightly that it never shows a thick/ thin line as it says it will in the manual.

The pencil tool creates a smaller file size than the brush but the line is less interesting..

Now I'm going to optimize the drawing so it has fewer points in it, which means smaller file size.

Look at what happened to all my "curves!"

In the process of optimizing, you also get the Flash "look", super smooth and more modernistic line.

Looks nice in that one image, but it doesn't always turn out that well. So I revert to the plain brush drawing. In about 45 seconds the ink and paint is done-- wowzer!

I make that a graphic symbol, in case I might want to use it again.

But I can also then take this symbol, break it apart, and using the nifty distort tool create quite quickly another symbol that will carry the animation along in a more fluid way that just popping eyes and mouths off the face, the suggested way to use Flash.

Generally it's recommended that in Flash animation you break your character into reusable parts or symbols: eyes, mouths, heads, hands. This is the part that felt especially un-natural to me since I used to always do full animation, not what was once called "limited" animation, where only parts of a character move.

But the way things play out with Flash right now, I find I'm creating animation in Flash, then finishing it up in After Effects so it can play on youtube. There's no advantage to keeping file size so small anymore, for animation, as far as I can tell. So I'm just drawing along, sometimes making the girls heads graphic symbols, which can work quite nicely in a library, if you have enough different heads, to switch them out for one another while attempting lip sync.

Since Jon and Dinah are both away today, I spent longer at the computer today, and animated almost 15 seconds in less than five hours.

Why did I do this long essay? I just finished reading some Pioneer Woman recipes and was impressed by the excessive number of photographs and clear writing, and determined not to make her biscuits and gravy recipe.

Here's a link to the essay Linda mentions in the comments.

Chicken Hawks are back.

from google image, but this is what they look like, small hawks with long tails. Cooper's Hawks. They always make appearances around this time of year-- we seem to be on their map. The chickens in their cage get really still and quiet, when the hawks are around, and sometimes Elle the Rooster makes a growly sound. Usually we only see one hawk but this morning I saw a pair checking out our chickens. The sound the hawks made was almost like laughter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Meanwhile, on the Planet Krill

Those Krillans sure have a sense of humor!

Found this in a comic I'm selling on ebay. Ben called today and told me he had a horse I should buy. Of course I can't afford it and it won't happen, but put me in a major state of the wants.

I'm in a video contest on weshow

Got an email that I'm in the running on a contest at weshow, if you feel like it, vote for me. I don't win anything, but maybe someone will wander from there over to my site to buy my dvd or whatever. I never heard of weshow before, but it appears that it does a decent job of categorizing and featuring videos. I hope "Your Face" doesn't win, but it probably will.

Do you do Zazzles?

This one I saw cracked me up. When I was in my twenties I always felt I was a magnet for weirdos, and here's a hat to identify the problem. I remember being handed a business card from someone who worked for the Time Travel Institute.

In L.A. it rarely happens, because you're in your car or in your house: life is totally insular. Although one day a woman stopped me outside Target and pointed to the sky. "The clouds aren't moving." I looked. She explained the military was injecting chemicals into the sky to stop them from moving... Then her adult son appeared. "Mother, this way."

But what I meant to ask was, do you design for Zazzles or Cafe Press? Do you buy from them? Both provide easy design interfaces to create t shirts, mugs, misc. junk to give your family or urge others to buy. And Goodwill is always standing by..

I don't wear shirts with writing on them. I don't even like to drink from mugs with writing on them. But with my subnormal ability to earn money, I'm attracted to the idea of these places.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Car buying is nutso and expensive

6 hours after leaving the house, we think? we purchased a sport FIT Honda for Dinah. Supposedly the top selling car in Europe and Japan... The humiliation of car ownership continues. more later. The color is called Fiji blue, snazzier than this blurry jpeg.

(early morning) She drove it home at 9 pm. We got a good deal. 0% on the loan, and they gave us $1500 for the PT Cruiser with 140,000 miles on it, a door that wouldn't open, the check engine light on, and a bum radio. Not to mention the dusting of a thousand French Fries and stable dirt. Then they discovered the car we bought had been already sold earlier that day, which was a big embarrassment for them. They had to get one from a dealer 50 miles away.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

She's Back! YAY!

We picked her up at noon. You can see her leg and back end are all shaved, but she looks happy, and we sure are too. Her leg is still pretty swollen. She's resting here in her crate, which is in our studio/computer room.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Molly doing better

Hi all- We went to see her today and she looked bright and so happy to see us. Jon had cooked a chicken fillet for her and she gobbled that up. She gave me a ton of kisses, and didn't look particularly uncomfortable, could take some pressure on the injured leg. She might come home tomorrow, Saturday, but Monday is more likely, because there's still quite a bit of swelling.

That's a puppy picture I posted!

I had to cancel my trip to visit my Mother, but since she'd forgotten I was coming it wasn't so bad.

Meanwhile Dinah's PT Cruiser's car brain died, and now she needs to get a new car within the week, an expense we weren't planning on. Not the easiest time, but we're all so happy that Molly's improving.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Molly update

Thanks for your support. Unfortunately she's not coming home until Saturday now.

Today they are going to insert drainage tubes surgically. Now they think it was a brown recluse spider, but it's controversial whether those even exist in California.

We went to see her but she'd already gotten her pre-surgery medication and was really stoned.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

One, Two, Chow Chow Chow

Major random cuteness at an intersection this weekend.

Meanwhile poor MOLLY is overnight at the vet's after a Black Widow bite this morning. I decided not to post a picture of a b.w. spider since some people are so phobic.

Personally, I'm freaking out, but am advised it will all be okay. We'll know how she's doing after 10 tomorrow.

Monday, September 03, 2007

These goats are going to college

But they don't know yet!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

It's usually 4 or more degrees hotter here than what Weather Channel predicts. Dinah's been at a four day horse show. I'm going to go watch her for a little while. Then home to a reading pleasure, Henning Mankell's One Step Behind, a Kurt Wallendar mystery, set in cool temperature Sweden.

He's my favorite contemporary author. I checked the book out of the library last week, then Dinah ran off with it because she likes his books too. The Northridge library was filled with people at the computer stations who seemed to be wearing either their pajamas or their underwear, odd. Pajama day at the library? Or is the dress code sliding further?