Tag Archives: gratitude

Monday Gratitude: This Here Ukulele

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She ain’t pretty. But she is cheap. And easy.

Settling on a gratitude came with difficultly tonight; I seem to exist in a state of muted rage lately. That makes it hard to count your blessings. I’m either working or avoiding work at all times, and the number 1 way I’ve been avoiding work lately is this ukulele. Why is that slowly picking out “Stairway to Heaven” 40 times in a row feels easier than accomplishing the tasks I need to do, I want to do, other people are depending up me to do?  Tasks I’m actually capable of successfully completely, unlike ever being able to play “Stairway” at tempo.

That’s just this week. Usually I don’t use it as a distraction, but more as a calmative. I had developed a bad habit of staring at the screen late at night, and the ukulele gives me something I can focus on in the dark (much like with touch typing, I realized the only way to learn to do it without looking was to make it impossible to look), allowing me to pull back from electricity and possibly sooth my psychotic circadian rhythms.

I’m grateful for the uke, and the ability to play music. I always, always wanted to play, but I hated the music I was supposed to learn for the piano, so I hated practicing, so I never got better. And my hands are too little and intractable for the guitar. And certain things I can only learn on my own, with my own hands. I pity the people who tried to teach young dragon about music.

Monday Gratitude: If you haven’t got your health…

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No, I’m not shilling for Whole Foods.

I’m choosing to be thankful for my current health. And hopeful regarding my continued health. At various points throughout my timeline I’ve been pretty proactive about my health, and, as a result, enjoyed decent health. At other points, I’ve ignored my problems until they overwhelmed me. It happened last year, a confluence of allergies, asthma, and the common cold that culminated in me being force-fed a nebulizer during a routine physical because the doctor claimed she couldn’t hear any air moving through the bottom part of my lungs.

Last fall, I felt something coming on–achier than normal, tonsils way bigger than normal and scratchy like the desert, so I was sure it was going to hit me hard–and my massage therapist told me to take these zinc tablets. And I didn’t get sick. And I started taking them semi-regularly, definitely any time I’ve been vaguely under the weather, and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

Today the Girl turned up with a disgusting cold: coughing, sneezing, congestion, &c. So here’s the real test of this product, because I definitely don’t want to have what she has, even though she assures us that aside from all her symptoms, she feels fine.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on zinc. When I bought my first bottle, the cashier who rang me up said, “Good for you!” and the lady behind me in line offered me her thoughts because she had researched it thoroughly when her father was dying of cancer and it “really works because it’s an RNA inhibitor.” Most people seem to agree that it works but don’t take it because it’s usually served in an unpleasant preparation. But this Whole Foods 365-branded version doesn’t seem to. It taste good, like a lemon drop. Just don’t take it on an empty stomach.

Anyway, I haven’t had any type of cold or flu or any viral/bacterial health issues in almost a year, so even though chronic conditions slow me down sometimes, in general I’m a very healthy person, and I’m really grateful for that. Now, I hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

Monday Gratitude: Class Consciousness

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This macro image obviously has nothing to do with this blog post. I’m sure I could concoct some convoluted metaphor that would tie together tiny bugs and class stratification in America, but I won’t lay all that weight on this poor little bug’s exoskeleton.

[Artists] are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous.

Had to do a little digging on this quote, which has been attributed, in a slightly altered form, to Joe McCarthy and Queen Victoria, but apparently it was actually written to Victoria by her uncle, Leopold, the King of Belgium. He concludes that artists are “hardly ever satisfied” and spending too much time around them gives one ennui.

Ennui is probably not a side effect of art, but of having too much money and not enough to do with oneself. This reminds me of a passage from an Louisa May Alcott book, An Old Fashioned Girl, in which wealthy Fanny, who has lived the life of a debutant for several years, feels prematurely aged as a result of her glamorous but pointless existence. Because she is rich and sheltered, she is also clueless, and she confides her problems to Polly, her one working-class friend, who never judges her (out loud).

“A little poverty would do you good, Fan; just enough necessity to keep you busy till you find how good work is; and when you once learn that, you won’t complain of ennui any more,” returned Polly, who had taken kindly the hard lesson which twenty years of cheerful poverty had taught her.

“Mercy, no, I should hate that; but I wish some one would invent a new amusement for rich people. I’m dead sick of parties, and flirtations, trying to out-dress my neighbors, and going the same round year after year, like a squirrel in a cage.”

In case you’re wondering, Fan loses her fortune a few chapters later and spends a while learning how to live in genteel poverty, before marrying the richest guy in the book.

Artists aren’t satisfied because they have the vision to see how much better things could be. I don’t know if all artists associate with all classes of society. If you have not, it’s hard to understand how vast the chasm between the wealthy and the underprivileged actually is.

I accidentally went to what I heard referred to as a “socialite” party last night. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until after I found myself watching a bouncer check my name off a list and usher me into a 10,000 square foot house full of exquisitely dressed models where nobody, and I mean nobody was talking about politics. They were talking about the 3 swimming pools and how many selfies they needed to take, but they weren’t talking about the plight of the immigrant in America, or the destruction of the environment, or Russian interference in the election, which in itself set it apart from every gathering I’ve attended this year. And I was thinking about how many refugees could have been comfortably housed in that building, and how I escaped the culture of material worship and ostentatious wealth. Which I guess makes me dangerous.

I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived in giant houses, and I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived on the street. And, although the knowledge of inequality’s depth is heavy, it’s never a source of ennui. And I’m grateful that I can see the big picture, no matter how frightening the big picture is when you get the whole thing into frame and focused. I’m grateful for the privilege that gives me this perspective.

If you’re satisfied with the way the world is, you probably haven’t seen that much of it. You’ve just been dazzled by the sparkly parts that were bright enough to blind you to the details.

Blurry Lemon/Finding Gratitude

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You know what this means, right?

Winter broke the day before yesterday in Tucson. We had 2 80°+ days, and now we have rolling thunderstorms. I saw a rainbow this afternoon. Both the citrus trees are budding and Miss Kitty and I ate Sno-Cones in the park. Even though the rain brings the temperature down, spring returns to the desert; it always does in time for Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, in national news, the judiciary and the intelligence communities seem to support the resistance.

Sorry for the low quality lemon photo. I should have taken pictures of the tiny purple lemon blossom buds but I never got the lighting right. But I’ve had this lemon tree for 6 years. Last year it made 4 lemons. This year, 1 lemon. Next year, who knows! At least I have a lemon tree. I have several trees. That’s something else to be grateful for.

As always I’m extra grateful to anyone buying my book, wearing my merch, or supporting my Patreon.

The Last Rainbow Mandala

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As good a place as any to pause and reflect.

About 6 or 7 years ago, long before QWERTYvsDvorak, I started this 100 mandala project and when I got to 100, I wasn’t ready to stop. Why not 1000 mandalas, I wondered? Because, as it turns out, 1000 is a LOT of mandalas. Ultimately, I drew about 130 of them, not counting a few drawn after the blog started, and this is the very last last one of the original set. It felt like I had come full circle from the first (also rainbow) mandala and perhaps going on would mean just repeating myself.

I’m not saying I’ll never draw another mandala again, but they won’t be my regular Monday feature/safety net when I forget the weekend is ending.

Ms. Kitty suggested that I replace it with some sort of Monday gratitude, which seems like a really good idea right about now. Must think of how best to execute within the framework of QvD re: art.

But speaking of gratitude and art: that Lady Gaga concert sure was something, wasn’t it? So many people were watching it that the roads were completely empty, as were all the best hiking trails. But I caught it later on the NFL Twitter page. Those NFL people really put on a good show. I seem to recall they hosted one last year for Beyoncé that just slayed.

Next Time, I’ll Get You a Rabbit

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Is this slice of life, or is it a complex metaphor for my relationship with my husband?

I had a rare opportunity to write about my cat today. I mean, someone else specifically requested professional quality writing about cats for publication on a paying website, and I wrote about mine. I have written about her before and also attempted to paint her for this blog. This cat is a very particular representative of her species. We’re talking the archetype of Kipling’s cat who walks alone. She wants all the comforts of home and none of the restrictions, and while we mostly understand each other, there is clearly nothing I can ever do to communicate to her that there is no type of animal, dead or alive, that I would even enjoy receiving as a present. So she just keeps trying.

Actually, I should count myself lucky that she’s never brought me a rat, but that’s probably just because there aren’t that many rats around here. There must be Norwegians, because there are Norwegians everywhere, but I’ve never seen evidence of one. If she got a rat, it would probably be a packrat, but it doesn’t seem like she’s ever brought a packrat in. Maybe they’re super-delicious and she keeps them for herself.

Also, I recognize that it was extremely unprofessional to draw that woman’s hands with zero fingers but I did draw her fingers, over and over again, and all of them looked super freaky and I called it a day. No fingers for you, freak out lady. She’s lucky. I originally uploaded a version where the joint on her left arm was backwards. It looked crazy painful. Her hair started out with best intentions but lost something in translation. That rat is just gross as can be. Actually, it could be grosser. But it’s pretty gross. Seriously, if my cat brought that inside I would probably cry.

Thanksgiving Gratitude

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Sometimes we need to stop and appreciate how much we really have.

It’s pretty common knowledge that a person can improve their overall state of mind by thinking of 3 things every day for which to be grateful. Living with constant gratitude simply makes you happier. For example, we have so much food. So. Much. Food. Some people in the world go hungry, but we never do. That’s something to be very thankful for.

So here I’ve sculpted 51 tiny fruits and vegetables out of polymer clay because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Mrs. Kitty and I were hanging out last week and needed something to do with our hands. She made a bowl and some jewelry, including a hilarious pendant that reads, “Be Kind, Asshole.” Genius. And I made a bunch of produce. I already had a bowl and a couple pieces of fruit from my trip to Flagstaff in 2014 with the Owl, and then earlier this week, I added a couple more and made another bowl and a basket, and Mrs. Kitty also made a bowl. And then I spent seriously THREE DAYS setting up this shoot.

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Pretty basic setup here

You can see my photo studio. I love this Flower Fairy popup book for a subtle backdrop. When I don’t use the bookshelves for the setting, this Ikea Lack table typically serves as the stage for 3D comics, and this old lamp, which once belonged to my grandmother, is always the light. The tripod ended up being useless because it wouldn’t go low enough.

Some close ups:

IMG_7789IMG_7808IMG_7871IMG_7876IMG_7878There could be another 10 photos to this post. I mean, you can hardly see the details on the basket of carrots, or the pumpkin, or the eggplant! But you get the idea.

Pictured here:

  • Apples (2)
  • Asparagus (6)
  • Bananas (1)
  • Broccoli (1)
  • Cabbage, purple* (1)
  • Carrots (6)
  • Cauliflower (1)
  • Corn (1)
  • Cucumber (1)
  • Eggplant (2)
  • Garlic (1)
  • Grapes, purple (1)
  • Grapes, red (1)
  • Lettuce, romaine (1)
  • Mushrooms (5)
  • Onions (2)
  • Pear (1)
  • Peppers, chili (2)
  • Peppers, orange bell (1)
  • Peppers, red bell (2)
  • Potatoes (2)
  • Pumpkins (1)
  • Squash, butternut (3)
  • Squash, yellow (1)
  • Tomatoes (5)

The cornucopia is made from a paper bag.

* You can’t really see the cabbage because it’s too deep in the cornucopia. I banished it there because I wasn’t happy about how it turned out.

If you’ve enjoyed these seasonal miniatures, or anything else on this site, why not consider supporting QWERTYvsDvorak by visiting my shop and purchasing my designs on some fine merchandise, or simply sharing links to your favorite products or comics with people in your network who might appreciate my work.

QvD will be on vacation for the rest of the week. Here’s wishing everyone a peaceful week, especially if you’re in America and spending time with your family. If you have people to spend the holiday with, that’s something to be grateful about too.