Consolidation is the name of the game

This game isn’t nearly as fun as Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit, but it’s much more useful. In taking the Kids Comics Unite Intensive (technically the Kids Comics Intensive) Part II: Marketing & Business and consulting with teacher, agent Janna Morishima, I decided to make my life a little easier by consolidation.

Two geese were not better than one.

I’ve already given up my Facebook author page (and am trying to get rid of my personal page there, too), and I’m going to stop posting to my author Instagram account, keeping my first and personal one only. I also intend to consolidate this blog with my website. I’ll keep posting here for a while longer because I do love the fact that it has a community (random WordPress bloggers have stumbled into my blog before) and it can automatically share to other social media.

BUT, keeping everything on my website will make things better in the long run (or so I’m told). The other advantage is that I can post videos to my blog, a feature that I don’t have here. Not that I have current plans to post videos, but it could be helpful in the future.

What about you? Have you been wanting to simplify your life or you a happy maximalist?

Short and sweet

No, that’s not a description of me (the first part fits but the second part doesn’t). Rather, it’s my philosophy with a lot of things. Don’t take 10 sentences to say what can be said with one. It doesn’t come naturally for me, of course; I have to self-edit a lot in order to be compact in my presentations, to say my thoughts in small but coherent chunks that don’t leave people’s eyes glazed over.

Of course, I’m not the worst offender. I try to keep pithiness in mind. There are many others who, as my father-in-law was fond of saying, have “diarrhea of the mouth.” They operate with no sense of censorship of what comes out of their mouths–going on and on, sometimes repeating themselves and sometimes repeating what others have already said. And I will admit, my eyes do glaze over (if I’m not actually rolling them hard).

I saw a great quote from the James Clear newsletter recently that encapsulates this idea and applies it more broadly:
“Great work resists compression.

Great explanations are short, but potent.

Great software delivers the same outcome in fewer clicks.

Great manufacturing processes create products in less time and with less waste.

The shape of genius is simplicity.”

What do you think? Do you agree that there’s beauty in simplicity or do you prefer ostentatiousness?

When life gives you eggs…

Our hens are laying well right now and we have a ton of eggs–I mean a TON!

What do you when life gives you an excessive amount of eggs? Well, a lot of things, but one of them is make fresh pasta!
The gorgeous ball of dough in the bowl.
I used this King Arthur Flour.
Done…rolled out and cut.
The herbs are fresh from the garden and the jar of anchovies are from Vital Choice.

Dinner is served alongside a garden-fresh salad, also just picked from the garden. Homegrown is unbeatable!

This is one of our favorite homemade meals. What’s one of yours?

I ain’t afraid of no hands

A couple of weeks ago, I attended San Diego SCBWI’s MayFest virtual conference. Brian LaRossa, Art Director at Scholastic gave a fascinating and engaging talk on the “dos and don’ts” of an illustration portfolio. I’m a huge sucker for talks that have numbered points because those are often laid out in a clear, logical way that I can wrap my brain around.

One of the things he urges you not to do is to hide hands. A good illustrator needs to be able to draw hands. That was good news for me because I love drawing hands! I don’t do it often enough and I’m probably rusty at it, but I do enjoy it.

Here are some hands I did quick sketches of a number of years back…

You may have noticed that most of the drawings are of the left hand. That’s because I’m right-handed and my left hand serves as the model. That happens a lot, apparently. The one drawing of the right hand is of Kid1’s hand as they ate a noodle dish in Xi’an when we were there in 2013.

Have you ever tried to draw hands? What about feet? Now, THOSE I don’t like to draw. As I said to a friend, feet are like the ugly, malformed cousins of hands. Heh.

Pronunciation puzzles

What? It’s not still Friday? For a number of reasons I won’t bore you with, my usual Friday post did not go out as planned and it’s now Sunday. You can plan all you like, but the universe will laugh in your face. But, on with the show…

The Northern Parula is one of the beautiful warblers that breed in our area. We’ve always pronounced it /puh-ROO-lah/ for year. But this recent article in American Bird Association says that it should be pronounced /PAR-a-la/ or, even more weird, /PAR-you-lah/.

Uhh, why? In the same post, it says that the bird is in the family Parulidae–pronounced /puh-ROO-luh-day/ or /puh-ROO-luh-dee/, which is much more like the way we pronounce “Parula”–and NOT in the family Paridae, which is pronounced /PAR-a-dee/.

So why continue to propagate the falsehood with the wrong pronunciation?

What are some pronunciations that baffle you?

Blooming Joshuas~

If you’re not one of the thousands of Cindy’s followers yet, I highly recommend you follow her blog. It is stunning and such a respite for weary eyes and souls from the daily grind.

This is the first time I have ever seen Joshua Trees in bloom!

These trees were recently designated an endangered species by The California Fish & Game Commission.

They are vulnerable because they exist in a limited area in The Southwestern US and Baja California. Their range is mostly contained by the boundaries of the Mojave Desert. This habitat is under pressure from development and climate change.

Joshua Trees are pollinated by Yucca Moths. Desert habitat is sensitive and species are interdependent.

Interestingly, in the distant past, Joshua’s were pollinated by Giant Sloths!

Humans have lived in The Mojave Desert for about 12,000 years.

Petroglyphs, cryptic messages from the past, can be found throughout this region.

Cheers to you from the fascinating Mojave~

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#AAPIHeritageMonth

May is apparently Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I’ve been showcasing some AAPI creators over in my author Instagram account. And for this blog post, I want to share an interesting book I read recently.

While interesting, it’s heavy on the entertainment side. I don’t think I saw anything about scientists, sadly.

But it’s written with tons of humor and in a variety of styles…infographics, interviews, etc.

This spread of a “typical” asian home is hilarious. If you can’t see item number 1, it says “Shoes removed by the door, because we’re not barbarians.” And that’s pretty much us in a nutshell. LOL!

I want to share one more spread because it’s an interview of 2 of my favorite asian comics creators, Greg Pak and Gene Luen Yang. As a fan of comic books, I’d like to see more Asian representation there.

If you like to learn about all the super talented AAPI thespians, athletes, and others in the arts arena, then this book is for you! Me, I like to learn more about scientists and doctors. Maybe they’ll do a book focused on that segment of the population next.

Happy weekend!

The joy of missing out

I’m reading a pretty interesting book right now called Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. Like most books of this type, it can probably be summarized in a 1,000-word, or fewer, essay. But, I’m still getting some decent advice and outlook from it.

One of the things that’s sticking out for me is the idea of the joy of missing out instead of the fear of missing out. “it is the thrilling recognition that you wouldn’t even really want to be able to do everything, since if you didn’t have to decide on what to miss out on, your choices couldn’t truly mean anything.”

I see my author friends making appearances or going to conferences and retreats, and my first thought often is, “why isn’t that me?” But I don’t understand why I have that reaction because, at heart, I’m an extreme introvert. I don’t even want to be a speaker or schmoozing, so why am I envious of those who’re doing it? I have to change my mindset.

Another thing is, as The Spousal Unit is fond of telling me, that I want to do too much on my own, too: I want to weave in addition to knitting and crocheting; I want to sew like I used to; I want to make soaps and other body products; I want to bake all the things, too. Something’s gotta give though. I love my sleep and leisure time, too.

Here’s one more quote from the book to mull on for the weekend, for me, for you: “…the core challenge of managing our limited time isn’t about how to get everything done–that’s never going to happen–but how to decide most wisely what not to do, and how to feel at peace about not doing it.”

Best books for small amounts of yarn

Remember the project I was working on? It’s now completed and I have to wait for cold weather to wear it.

So, I’m on to the next project (which is for Kid1).

The great thing about this cowl is that it looks terrific from either side, unlike most projects that only look good on the right side.

This was a pattern I bought from KnitPicks, but the previous cowl was in from one of Storey Publishing‘s wonderful One Skein Wonders books. They are perfect for using up single balls or small amounts of leftover yarn. If you’re like me and impulse-buy a ball or two of beautiful yarn just to try them out, then these books are for you. I don’t know how many they’ve published, but I have 5 of them and highly recommend them.

Do you knit or crochet? What are your some of your favorite books and stores?

Try a new hobby for Earth Day

There are, supposedly, about 45 million birders in North America. Are you one of them? If not, you might want to consider becoming one on Earth Day this year.

Birdwatching is a (mostly) relaxing and joyous affair. I say “mostly relaxing” because if you want to spot warblers, it’s a great lesson in frustration. The only thing that rivals the frustration is trying to photograph said warblers.

Here are some in my area that are my favorites…

The Chipping Sparrow is a tiny, spunky thing, like the Chihuahua of the bird world.
Common Grackles have stark yellow eyes and an iridescence that’s mesmerizing…or scary, depending on your mindset.
House Finches are common and ubiquitous but they have a certain charm, especially when you catch them in a pensive pose.
The Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker is an unusual Woodpecker in that it tends to ground feed (but it’s not a bottom feeder because it’s not a politician).
White-crowned Sparrow are one of the more easily recognized sparrows, even I can ID them easily. Of course, newer (or drunk) birders could sometimes still confuse them
for White-throated Sparrows

If you’re really lucky, you’ll spot the majestic Pileated Woodpecker. And if you’re really, really lucky, it’ll actually show up at your suet feeder and make short work of your supply.

Ms. Pileated getting her fill, and then some.

Or, maybe a pair of identical, stunning Red-headed Woodpeckers will visit, too. I can never get enough of their stark coloration and strong personalities.

“Yo, lady! If you keep staring at us, we’re gonna have to charge you for it.”

If you’re a birder already, what are some of your favorite local birds? Tell me!