February 27, 2008

Spring fever

Posted in blogging, garden tagged , , , , , at 8:18 pm by czygyny

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One wonderful reason that I love living in this great north state is the early promise of Spring. Here it is, only late February, and the pink petals of the purple plum tree are already peeking out of their buds, Bradford pears and almonds burst forth, and crocus and daffodils have already made the scene. If you are blessed enough to live close to the hills, the rich, honey scent of manzanita blossoms fill the evenings and the Pacific tree frogs are singing their courtship song at the creeks and and wet spots at night till they wind down as it gets cold.

If you are a scent-lover, you cannot be without Daphne odora marginata this time of year. Never failing a February show, this shrub will utterly delight you with the most heavenly scent that falls somewhere between orange blossom and Fruit-Loops. Its best grown in a large pot in our area, the gophers love the roots and they are picky about drainage, but if you have an east or north entryway, its creamy white edged leaves and pinky white blossoms are a must have to greet you when you get home. Make sure to pick a handful of the blossom  sprays and bring indoors. They will fill your room with delight.

If early spring color is something you pine for, johnny-jumpups are a good bet. Once they get established in your flower beds, they will rise up in every little spot, but their cheery purple and yellow flowers never fail to make you smile. Pansies are great this time of year, if the rain (or hail) hasn’t pummeled them to mush. ‘Tiger-Eyes’ are one of my favorites, it is halfway between a pansy and a viola in size but look at those ‘whiskers’!

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If you are a succulent lover, sempervivums are a must for the dry shade in your garden. This is the time of year that the purples, blues and reds glisten from these hardy perennials. One of my most satisfying gardens are my rock gardens, and the sempervivums are the rock-stars of the gravel beds.

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Now is the time to get that vegetable garden ready, too. We have ours rototilled, but haven’t done much in way of starting the seeds. It doesn’t help that I have hurt my back (chiropractor says I have too much stress in my life, imagine that?) and can’t sit or bend forward comfortably for any length of time, so the seed starting must wait.

Here is what our garden area looks like: how-it-starts.jpg 

And this is what it will look like when summer is in full swing:garden02.jpg

Also, it is the time of year that I can get a minute or two outside after work, as the days lengthen once again. The back of winter has been broken and spring can’t be held back. Soon those all too short weeks of unbelievable green will flush the landscape, brighter than any memory can hold, before the heat hardens everything into the greys and blues of a scorching Redding summer.

Don’t miss it!          snail.jpg


February 24, 2008

Reoccuring themes in my life

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 6:59 pm by czygyny


I find that I visit the same places in my art, again and again. This vignette is something I have been creating since my high school days, a tall rocky island, out in the ocean, with a tiny, hide-covered dwelling, with a rock rimmed fire burning, a long thin flag waving in the ocean breeze, a woman sitting serenely nearby. There is always a spring of fresh water, a small tree or plant growing out of the rock, and usually a tiny rowboat tied to the driftwood at the bottom.

I tried to find as many as I could for this post, for I know that I have done many of  them over the years.

I have looked for a name for this little place, and when I started learning about the Hebrew festivals given to them by God, I thought to name it Sukkot, but the hides wouldn’t be kosher, so I guess I wait until a better name comes along.  

The next one was done in watercolors, and the rocks are amethyst:

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This one is a little different, the shape, of course does not follow suit, and there are other creatures in the picture. Notice the purple guy getting ready to pounce on someone or something coming out of the hole!


These fellows, below, are waiting for leftovers:

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I have a twisted sense of humor, I suppose.

If I run across any more I’ll be sure to show them, I know they are hiding in a box, somewhere.



Here is yet, another!

February 20, 2008

Watching in quiet desperation

Posted in blogging, cartoon, drawing tagged , , at 8:53 pm by czygyny


I watch as my life is dismantled
by cold and uncaring hands.
What is wisdom for them
is venom in my veins
making my heart sting
and eyes swim.

The silver is separated
from the dross
in the firey crucible of change,
 the fools throw out the precious
and retain the offal
dressed in façade.

I hope, as the icefloe melts
all around my feet,
the water may be warm
the tide may be sweet,
the sands of shore
rise up to meet me.

And, all what came before
will pale and fade away
a fleeting dream soon forgotten.

But for now my soul bleeds,
my spirit weeps
waiting for the Promise.

February 19, 2008

Not enough hours in a day

Posted in blogging, cartoon, drawing tagged , , , , , at 8:46 pm by czygyny


Here’s another project I’ve been working on…a graphic novel. Trouble is, it takes me a week to do one page, and that is working on it every day. The story has become so complex that I am considering just writing it out in novel form and illustrating it. I also might try making the style a bit less detail intensive, something like my nephew’s Naruto illustrations, bold and simple.

Trouble is, I just love to keep drawing it in, hatching, pointillism, braceleting, shading!  I just keep on keeping on! So far, I have only four pages of finished story (sans dialog), but a whole binder of sketches I’ve made over the years. Both these sketches from from my binder:


The story ranges from Naia as a little girl, all the way through her life. Below Naia meets up with the mysterious Rook.naia-and-rook02.jpg

There was no time tonight to work on it or any other art project, tonight I had two troublesome 12 year olds to deal with; Dave is getting Ds in some of his subjects at school, and Stephanie got caught texting during a field trip. Both have been in trouble a lot at school, recently, adding to my woe. These kids are my brother’s, taken from their alcoholic/drug abusive parents at the age of five.

My mother is finding it more and more difficult to deal with their misbehavior, she was in tears, again, tonight. Stephanie also left a gate open in the barn that allowed the sheep to get into the hay and ruin a lot of it, so her punishment was helping me clean the stalls. I do so love working all day and coming home to clean animal stalls. I had a point to make.

I think she will tend to remember to shut all gates she opens, after this. Sheep stalls stink.

Dave will be a harder one to deal with. I can’t be there when they come home to assure them doing their homework, so I will have to find a way to deal with it after I get home.

If we had not intervened in these kid’s lives, they would be out living on the streets like their older half-sister and mother, or their dad, wherever he is. Snatched out of the fire.

I consider it one of the most noble things someone can  do is to raise children, and to take on someone else’s children is a special honor. It isn’t what I would have chosen to do, but it still is, perhaps, the most important thing I can do with my life.

It just isn’t easy.

It’s 8:45pm and I have to get back over next door to make sure they’re ready for bed. Then, when I’ve made sure their settled in, I’ll be hitting the sack about 9:00.  5:30 comes ’round awfully early.

Like I said, not enough hours in a day.

February 14, 2008

A bit of whimsy this time.

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:55 pm by czygyny

Most of you Philbert Phans know his wacky style of art, and his self-portrait monkey guy (yeah, I know, Mr. Giggles, it was modeled after you, and a fine looking chimp you are, at that) but my version of Phil is ‘Wooph’.

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We’ve known each other and worked next to each other for many years, even mistaking each other’s art for our own on many occasions (scary) This time, I am going to step aside from my usual rants, and present a little gem that has been mine alone for some years, I want to share it with the world for the first time. A long time running joke betwinxt Philbert and me, is my almost (well, no, it IS) obsessive love of gardening, ‘digging holes’, and a reference to a certain bovine that went for a dip in my swimming pool one day (but that is a story for another day). After sending an email to work poking fun at everyone having to be there and work, and me being home doing what I love best, I received this email in response:


Kung-Pow Pork: How To Spend A Day Off

Got up this mornin’ at 4 am, grabbed a shovel and pick, and after
fishin’ livestock outta the pool, I set to diggin’ myself a hole.
Figgered I’d dig til I hit…well, China. Got a hankerin’ for some Kung
Pow Pork…figgered they’d have some there…and what’ll work up an
appetite better than some good old fashioned hole-diggin’? The answer to
that eternal question is…Nuthin’. Nope, nothin’ like diggin’ yerself a
hole and then havin’ a big ol’ helpin’ of Kung Pow Pork…maybe I’ll lay
some PVC pipe as I dig and then I might be able to talk one them Chinese
fellers into pumpin’ some Kung Pow straight on back to the homestead
every once in a while…save me some diggin’…not that I mind diggin’
mind you, but I figger if I give that Chinese feller a dollar (I heard
tell that one of our dollars is as good as two or three trillion of
their dollars so I bet he won’t mind pumpin’ the Kung Pow a couple of
times a week) that I’d save enough time to start another hole. Maybe a
few feet to the left of this one. Shoot, if I get fired up enough on
that Kung Pow I might just hang a right and get me some of that lasagna
over there in Rome. Anyway, just thought I’d drop a line and say
“neener, neener, neener”, I’m havin’ Kung Pow Pork and you’re not!
P.S. A more accurate description of my day off can be illustrated by
placing an inanimate object in the middle of the room (a vegetable would
suffice) place a cold beverage nearby and turn on “Sports Center” with
the sound off while blasting Captain Beefheart’s classic “I Want To Find
Me A Woman Who Will Hold My Big Toe ‘Til I Have To Go” on the
stereo…if somehow the object happens to move this will indicate that
it’s time to go to the “Little Vegetable’s Room” in which case a fresh
beverage should be provided on its return. Repeat this process until
——————————-signed, Philbert

So, I hope you get a kick out of it like I did, back when he still worked amongst us lowly peons.

For those of you who have not yet met Philbert, you can visit him here: http://intestoons.blogspot.com/


I’m on a roll…

Posted in blogging at 7:03 am by czygyny


 Here is the third in my series ‘Tales of the Disaffected’. I can sympathize with the good folks who are in the same sad situation as I find myself, these days.  How long have some of you been working overtime? Don’t you get tired of not being able to spend time with your family, friends and life without feeling burned out? When ‘they’ are done with you , you will be tossed out with the overruns and torn inserts, unless you’re star managerial material, then they’ll whisk you off and we’ll never see you again.

It really feels like we are sitting in a leaky life-raft, too frightened to jump into the waters with danger unseen below, but with the sickening realization that the raft is taking in water fast and will sink soon, anyway.

This is why I have such a loathing of big corporate industry. The higher you climb, the less in touch with the people that really matter you become. Instead of the employees who invest themselves in your business, and the customer who is the true backbone of your success, only your stockholders are a concern to you, all just as uncaring, and greed-driven as you’ve become. They become your only focus, and any attention you give your customers is just to keep the money rolling in. You sharpen yourselves on one another, you lie, steal, you push and shove and gouge out your place in the limelight, and all the unseen people who helped you get there are cut away and left behind.

Wow, aren’t you proud of yourself? ——————————-

…I’d rather trust a countryman than a townman,
You can judge by his eyes, take a look if you can,
He’ll smile through his guard,
Survival trains hard.
I’d rather trust a man who works with his hands,
He looks at you once, you know he understands…

———————————Genesis- ‘The Chamber of 32 Doors’

February 12, 2008

Grab a shovel and dig your own grave.

Posted in blogging, cartoon, drawing tagged , , , , , at 7:28 pm by czygyny


Here’s another cartoon from the series I have aptly named ‘Tales of the Disaffected’.

This one’s caption is ‘Grab a shovel and dig your own grave.’ Going along in the vein of disgust at working yourself out of a job.

Hmm-mm, I like how I can draw myself many pounds thinner 🙂

Many of my coworkers are still putting in loads of overtime, it seems that the deadlines are never met, anymore, whereas when we did them as we knew best, we were seldom late for pressrun. In fact, we usually were days ahead.

Imagine that, a job well done, a product well crafted, client’s money well spent.

You can kiss that off from now on. Sorry, customers.

I received an ad last week that made me blow a gasket. It was a complicated ad, that much I admit, but when I received it back from outsourcing (and even went through our ‘proofers’) I found perhaps 10 to 12 misspellings, some very blatant and just sloppy, inexusable design and layout errors.

If I hadn’t given it a glance over, that ad would have been a printed embarrassment and likely a make-good. In the good old days we managed to get out well designed and largely error-free ads every week. Dang, they even won awards every year.

Tain’t gonna happen much anymore.

Just like a corrupt and bankrupt country, where all the talent, ethics and pride of work move on to better haven, another well-known personality at work has given notice of leaving, this week.

Its not the rats that are abandoning ship,  the rats are the ones foundering it on the shoals of corporate greed.

February 10, 2008

Learning to take it a day at a time.

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:10 pm by czygyny


Well, my scanner isn’t the greatest, the vignette at the top and bottom is a bit cheesy, but that’s what I get for not shopping smarter. It’ll work for now.

I sat down to paint this picture with rocks in mind. I forgot to bring home the image I wanted to use as a guide, so I just sketched a bit and started painting. It isn’t a very large image, about 5″ x 7″ or so. The little child sitting absorbed in the scenery is a very young version of the woman in the previous illustration. She’s something of a wild-child with odd abilities she doesn’t quite understand. I put her sitting there, enjoying the sound of the water and  the smell of the forest .

Just what I would like to do.


Today has been a wonderful early February day. It was almost 70° today, wispy cirrus graduating to a high overcast that softened the shadows in the gardens. The robins are here, blessing us with an occasional sweet song. Meadowlarks are polishing up their lady-wooing music. Those vermin, those English sparrows are chattering away-brigands who chase away my phoebes from their mud nests. Starlings are high up in the trees doing their stand-up comic routine. If you are good at listening, you will hear them imitate frogs, ground squirrels, red-tail hawks, even squeaky doors.

I had the pleasure of working in my garden today. I divided up my strawberry plants and made another 30 foot row. The whole vegetable garden area, all 40′ x 70′ of it has been tilled, now comes the time to plan and plant. The stevia and the yacon both seem to have made it through the cold weather. I have started seeds for the stevia, that natural sweetener. I hope to sell them when they are big enough. Most of that garden is bare and awaiting the next season. Swiss chard and carrots are still edible, even the potatoes that escaped harvest last fall are trying to sprout. Little bright green beet seedlings have volunteered everywhere.

bitmap-in-daffodils.jpgI saw my first daffodil bloom today!! The true promise of spring has arisen! My most diminutive ones bloom first. They are only 6″ tall, and they were so beautiful sitting next to my gold and purple johnny-jump-ups. I have invested in a number of different kinds, each one blooming in its own time. Not much else is attractive right now, except for the crimson leaves of the nandina, but oh so wonderful to be outside and handle soil and plants, listen to birds, smell the early sweetness, watch baby lambs cavort.

Tomorrow, its back to my little bit of hell. I really sort of hope I am the first one laid-off when the time comes. Unemployment insurance isn’t much, but it’s a start. My supervisor, whom I have been friends with for so many years, is very sad at the thought of me leaving. We had hoped to retire together. Never did we think that we’d be faced with such an agonizing debacle as what we are experiencing today. She has been going through a lot of heartache and this is just a double portion more. I have been encouraging her to get her own resumé together and start looking for something better. There is always a job for a good manager and coordinator. Armed with the skills she has, she surely has a better chance of good employment in this community than I face, that’s for sure.

But, all that is hours and a good sleep away. I think I’ll go back outside and enjoy the remainder of a very lovely day.

February 2, 2008

Wearing thin the fabric of life

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , at 6:34 pm by czygyny


Stress. It ablates. It tears. It wounds. It is the pavement wearing a hole in the knee of your jeans when you fall. It’s the sunburn peeling off the layers of your tender skin.

My stress level has been so much worse lately, since this big change at work, different hours, different expectations, inexperienced direction. It has come to a direct clash with my family and home life at the time I can least afford it.

Something had to give, I guess. This week my chest pains came back with a vengance. Its been almost ten years since I had them. The last time I was dealing with a somewhat deranged husband, now it is an insane work atmosphere.

The last time, I had a heart scan. I can’t remember what the diagnosis was, although I tried to memorize it, it sounded so mysterious. My doctor told me in layman’s terms that my left ventricle was beating like a bat out of hell.

Those symptoms subsided, and all was forgotten. Until this week. Now, perhaps, I am faced with heart troubles on top of everything else. Of course I elected the cheapest health insurance policy this year. Heck I hadn’t even seen a doctor in a couple of years. I subscribe in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude and a strong distrust of the modern medical field.  I usually have a pretty good idea what my problem is before I even go to see a doctor, and some don’t take too kindly to that. The one I have now is that way. Cold, stuffy, aloof.

The illustration above is from a story I have been writing for many years. I drew it during that time that my crazy (ex) husband was spinning out of control and causing me so much grief. Naia, the heroine of the story is being attacked by a venomous and deadly creature, and one of her companions, Antholann, is trying to save her life. It seemed appropriate for this post tonight.

Still fighting overwhelming fears and obstacles that prayer doesn’t even seem to conquer, manifesting itself into a physical demon.