After-Christmas Report

Wow, blogging *again*!

Christmas dinner was yummy.  The dogs got their shank bones in the afternoon. Pippin eventually came in; the beagles came in when I went out and confiscated the remains.

Saturday we did some running around doing boring errands, with more interesting stops at Games Plus where Ron and Robin got X-Wing games, and I went down the block to Mosaic Yarn Studio and got a new knitting project (colorwork socks). Then we stopped at Target to look for a new card table, as the one we have is probably 40+ years old. We wanted a plastic one, like our banquet tables, but struck out. I decided to just exercise my Google-Fu, and found a 48″ diameter round table on-line, and ordered it. Yes, that’s larger than a card table, but Robin frequently uses a 48″ square for miniatures games, and extra space is good.

While I was table shopping, Ron and Robin were playing a game of X-Wing. Fun was had.

Saturday afternoon, while playing guitar, things started feeling odd. This is why:


Kiyohime decided I needed help practicing.

Yesterday I finally got around to making the noodle kugel I mentioned Friday. It was yummy. I also made shepherd’s pie out of the leftover roast beef and gravy. It was also yummy.

This morning I started to go to work, and by the time I’d gotten to the intersection of Ela and Palatine decided that I’d had enough and turned around at a church just to the west of the intersection. Palatine Rd. was not in good shape, nor was NW Highway, and I was driving the Explorer, which is 2WD. And I lacked motivation. So this was my view on the couch a little while later:


And now Pippin has switched to the other end of the couch. I expect dogs-on-couch is going to be the order of the day, unless I exert my rights and evict them, temporarily.

I should know that the weather is horrid when the husky sticks his nose out the door and says “no thanks” – horrid in a cold and wet way, that is. If it was cold and *dry* that would have been a different matter.

I went upstairs Saturday to get the last three mice of the latest batch for Kiyo and the baby girls, and discovered a litter of babies. We’d already defrosted pinkies for Wonambi, Shai-Hulud, and Danger Noodle, so some of the bigger snakes took care of things for us.

Henry shed about a week ago, and Fezzik shed Saturday. Here’s a picture comparing their scale sizes:


Fezzik’s shed is the top one, Henry’s is the bottom. Henry is probably close to fully-grown. Fezzik is about half Henry’s length, but his scales are *much* finer. He has plenty of growing to do.

Which reminds me, I need to call Animal Plastics to pay off Robin’s birthday present skink cage (still in the waiting/design period, since it’s a custom size); and order another T8 for us, thank you parents!

Busy Long Weekend

Gimli woke me up about 10 after 7 Saturday morning, by his usual method of washing my face. And then I was attacked by a Tommy. So I was well and thoroughly beagled.

A little later I sent Tommy in to wake up Robin. At first I thought he was unsuccessful, and Robin had fallen back asleep (he was awake until at least 1:30 am, had to close at work), but Robin did eventually get up.

Eventually all three of us and Xap hit the road for Tinley Park. It was uneventful trip. Finding parking was a bit challenging, the parking lot at the convention center/Holiday Inn was very full. Pre-purchasing tickets was a good thing, the will-call line was much shorter than the at-the-door line. Probably a good thing we were a little later than opening, I expect the lines would have been much worse.

Our first target was Zerkle Reptile Co., to get Ron’s Blue Beauty. Fortunately, there was a map of the layout, and the list of vendors was alphabetical (unlike the list on the show website!). They were on an endcap in about the middle of the hall. Ron waffled between a couple males, and eventually chose one.

Then we started from where we were doing the rest of the aisles. There were lots and lots and lots of snakes and lizards, lots and lots of which were ball pythons and geckos, and lots of boa constrictors. Also bugs, cages, supplies, and other things. It was also very crowded. And some of the vendors really could have pulled their tables farther back into their spaces and given traffic more space. It didn’t help that the hall has a kink in it, so the layout wasn’t quite on a rectangular grid.

We found the Animal Plastics booth. The cages are nice, and so were the people.

By the time we’d done half the room and taken a break for lunch I was already suffering from ball python overload, and I wasn’t even looking at all of them. At that point I’d only seen one Stimson’s python, an adult, with somewhat muddy patterning. At lunch we worked on names for Ron’s new boy, and ended up with Màu Xanh Long, which should mean “blue dragon” in Vietnamese, although the syntax may be wrong. The “Màu Xanh” part does definitely mean “blue”, so the question is if we have the long/dragon bit in the right place. And here he is:


He’ll get blue as he ages.

Then we started on the rest of the room. Lots more nifty things, and a row of morelia python breeders along the back wall. We also picked up a new 4-output thermostat.

Close to the end Ron was getting burned out, so went out to a somewhat quiet hidden hallway to wait. Xap went with him, and Robin had disappeared, which left me unattended. And near the morelia breeders.

This was a bad thing. I hadn’t been planning to bring a Stimson’s python home, and had only found one more, who was a baby, but also faded. But I started looking at the morelia row again (there were other morelia breeders scattered around, but I think this bunch was intentionally grouped).

And I had a fail, even though Robin caught up to me and chanted “No new snakes!” at me (didn’t help than Ron did not discourage me when I texted him). This is a young male Jaguar morph Jungle Carpet Python:


Then I went looking for a cage. I went to the Animal Plastics booth first, but they’d sold everything they’d brought. I didn’t want another glass one, so I started looking for another vendor I’d seen that had climbing perch inserts for big lexan food service bins, and one set up with perch and a hinged mesh top. But on the way I found another cage vendor with 2’x2’x16″ cages. The material isn’t as thick as AP’s, but the price was decent – about the price of the lexan bin. Got that, and went to find Ron (sneaking out a side door by the thermostat vendor).

The cage I got has a front opening, which is better than the top-opening lexan bin, thinking about it, both for getting to the occupant (better to approach from the side or below than above), and for putting it on a shelf.

On the way home I was looking at the Wikipedia Rainbow Serpent article again for Aboriginal words for rainbow serpent. While I was doing that and debating, Ron, Xap, and Robin named my new boy Bruce. As in the Monty Python sketch with the university professors all named Bruce. I picked Yurlunggur, so he’s either Yurlunggur or Bruce.

Got home and worked on setup – adding the thermostat to Màu Xanh and Yingarna’s cages, and setting up Yurlunggur’s. Then it was feeding time for the colubrids, which includes Màu Xanh. Not surprisingly, he didn’t eat (we offered to him first, so the pinkie could go to Scatha or Haku, if he didn’t eat, or we could thaw another if he did), although it had been a week.

While Ron, Xap, and I were doing that, Robin went up to his room and crashed. When his store called I unfortunately didn’t think to tell them he had a family thing so he wouldn’t be able to come in. I did decline to immediately fetch him to the phone, though. So he had to call them back and tell them he was not coming in – especially since he was already scheduled to open Sunday.

After our family thing dinner (crock pot for the win), we all ran up to PetWhatsit, to get dog food and some more greenery and more water bowls for the snake cages, and an LED light for Yurlunggur. And then we had more family thing, which included ice cream (and italian ice for me). And then home to bed.

Sunday about lunchtime Ron and I ran out to Menard’s, for a big container for the aspen bedding we got last week, and some other odds and ends. We were going to get Rubbermaid bins for books, but we got smart and got cardboard book boxes instead (we’d started packing in unused Rubbermaid bins after switching Otter to the road cases).

Ron installed Yurlunggur’s light. I was going to put him into a Critter Keeper, but he had 3 or 4 coils around a finger and wasn’t letting go, so I held him instead. He’s nippy, but like Yingarna, it’s fear/threat nippy, he bites and lets go, because he’s trying to convince you he’s a big scary bitey snake that you should leave alone. In an amusing turn of events, he nipped me, but not Ron (Yingarna’s better for me than Ron).

Then we cleaned the 4-cage stack, which was on the calendar for Saturday, but we were pooped by the time we got home and did cage setups, feeding, etc. And we practiced, and I ordered rats for Yurlunggur, since he’s eating smaller ones than the other pythons, and Carpets can be hard to switch to/from rats/mice, and he’s unlikely to eat today anyway.

Ron and I both have today off for Columbus day, so we got to sleep in, yay! So far we’ve been to the bank, the gas station, and the grocery store, and have packed up 4 boxes of books and things that were dumped into the spare bedroom. There’s at least one more box’s worth of Robin’s textbooks, but I’m going to suggest he see if he can sell them at the Harper bookstore.

This afternoon we feed pythons, and probably tweak what’s on what thermostat for the newer snakes. Once Robin gets home from work, he and Ron will take a load, including air conditioners, to storage.

Yurlunggur’s cage, under Yingarna’s:


Yurlunggur in his new home:



Friday Again

Ok, this is real-Friday not virtual Friday.

Been a busy evening. Stopped at Ace on the way home for a dimmer switch, then through the Wendy’s drive-through for dinner. Got home, let the dogs loose, ate my dinner, then fed the dogs. Then I changed one of the bulbs in the outside fixture,  which meant standing on a step-stool which was at the edge of the porch by the steps. Fun if you’re a klutz and know it, but accomplished.

Did dishes and made dinner for tomorrow (pork pot roast). Put the dimmer on the new snake cage heat lamp. Handled all four of my snakes, plus Haku. Took pictures of the baby snakes in a light bulb box, and posted them to

Packed up an Etsy order. Posted a short event report to the Otter Necessities blog. Ordered more padded envelopes and shipping labels. And now I’m blogging here. And about to go sit in the tub, since this is actually one of the last things I’m writing.  🙂

The gaming convention last weekend was slow. It wasn’t a loss, but it was duulllll.

On Saturday afternoon at the convention I was taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi (College of DuPage student center), and looked for Vietnamese Blue Beauty (VBB) rat snake breeders. I found one person who didn’t seem to be breeding VBBs, but looked like might be able to point me to someone who would.  Then I found another breeder, who is breeding VBBs.

And is not far away. Indiana, IIRC. Zerkle Reptile Co. – very minimal webpage, but pictures, etc. on facebook.

And will be at the reptile show this weekend.

And is bringing VBBs.

E-mails passed back and forth. A deposit has been put down for a baby VBB.

I have purchased tickets on-line for the show.

The plan is to be there as close to opening tomorrow as possible, and proceed straight to their booth.

After that, we’ll do the rest of the show.  🙂

Anyway, rolling back to last weekend, I then started poking around on-line looking at/for cages. Reptile Rapture had one the next size up from Smaug’s original, which is/was housing Yingarna, at a decent price. I took Monday off as a recovery day, so the plan was to get my nails done when the nail place opened at 9, then to head Madison-ward and be at the store close to opening time at noon.


First, I napped until 8:30 (I can’t really say I slept in, since I woke up when Ron got up, when Robin came in to get his clean laundry that was actually in the dryer, and when the dogs barked at him leaving for work), and then didn’t get moving quickly, so I didn’t get to the nail place until almost 10, and they were busy, so it was past 11 when I got out.

Then there were more plan-changes, in the form of Ron going too, and meeting at Xap’s, but Xap not able to go because annoying utility screw-ups.

Shopping was accomplished. We got a cage, some decor and bedding, and admired snakes, but did NOT bring any new critters home.

Back to Xap’s to pick up our other vehicle, and then a stop for gas, and I thought I was headed home.

Except I ended up stopping at the library to reserve meeting rooms for MuseCon.

And then a stop to pick up dinner (which Robin ordered while I was at the library), while Ron went to a meeting.

IIRC instead of getting home in the early afternoon, it was more like 7:00-7:30.

Tuesday Ron set up the new cage, and we transferred Yin over to it. Both cages are 24″ tall, the older one is 18″ x 18″, the new one is 18″ x 24″. Last night we got some artificial viney things, and tonight I stopped at Ace for a dimmer cord/switch, since the heat lamp was making the new cage warmer than the VBB will need.  Here’s the new cages, and a closer view of Yingarna (click to embiggen):

Arboreal_Cages Yingarna_Perching

She’s not easy to get pictures of. She’s still flighty and nippy, and her ledge is slightly above my eye level. I’ll have to have Ron take some pictures while I’m holding her.

On the other hand, here’s Wonambi climbing a spray bottle last week – get up onto the sloped shoulder, constrict to get to the ridge, and then stretch up to the top.

Climb_1 Climb_2 Climb_3 Climb_4 Climb_5

Taking pictures of Wonambi can sometimes be challenging, because she wants to investigate the camera/phone/tablet.  And she moves deceptively quickly.

Wonambi is definitely my favorite of my snakes. Even though she’s little, she’s brave and curious, but a little bit calmer than Scatha – I think it’s a python thing. Scatha and Wonambi also move differently, but I’m not sure how to describe the difference. I’m really hoping Yin settles down and is as nice as Wonambi – Bredlis (Yin is a Morelia Bredli) are supposed to have a good temperament, similar to the spotted pythons. At the moment I do not trust Yin near my face, whereas I get nose boops from Wonambi pretty much every time I have her out (because she wants to climb up on top of my head and hide in my hair).


Mid-Air Refuelling and Dental Fun

Got my permanent crowns installed yesterday. Xanax and Zoloft and topical and local anasthetics for the win! Also a small cavity that the assistant discovered on a nearby tooth while cleaning up the cement prior to putting the final crowns on.

There was an issue with my flexible spending card, so I initially said I’d have to go back next week for the filling, but the dentist said that since I was there and drugged up, she was going to go ahead and do it, I could come back and pay for it next week. Plus they’d started on me early since I’d gotten there early, so I’d still be out by the time my appointment officially ended (although that was a non-issue for me and Ron). She’s so nice. Dr. Nancy Bagel, First Bank Drive, Palatine.

Fed Wonambi, Scatha, and Henry tonight. Wonambi was trying to escape from the critter keeper while I was getting the mouse ready, so I tried to entice her back in with the mouse. And then I tried to nudge her in once she’d grabbed the mouse. I was not particularly successful. Hence “Mid-Air.




Mostly Dogs & Snakes

When last we left this lunacy, I had a new guitar support and we have a bunch of snakes, and dogs were being dogs.

I used my new guitar support for the first time at my lesson last night. It needs a little more adjustment, but it (by getting the guitar into a better position) definitely helped with my left-hand issues. Dog damage to the support is/was minimal – some teeth marks in the surgical tubing and the padded base.

The other day all three dogs were interested, and the beagles were rolling in something in the back yard. Ron went out to investigate, but found nothing. Last night, the beagles were noted to be a bit odiferous. Robin decided that it was bath time. I suggested that equality of evil did not need to extend to Pippin, since he wasn’t smelly, and his longer fur takes longer to dry.

This morning Robin checked the yard, and found nothing. Then it was bath time for the beagles. He reports that the beagles pretty much stood there looking dejected. Which is good, because Robin was doing baths by himself (he did put their nylon harnesses on as convenient handles).

It was a very bad morning for poor Gimli. Ron barked at him for being obnoxiously noisy (trying to get Pippin to play) and picked him up, at which Gimli completely came apart, making “I’m being beaten” noises. Then later Robin gave him a bath, during which he was either scared or cold and started shivering. Later yet Robin tripped and stepped on one or both front paws. Gimli eventually got coaxed back in for apology-snuggles, but he probably thinks he’s the most abused dog in the world. And beagles are very good at looking abused. He’s also been very quiet tonight.

Moving on to the scaly members of the family, the last couple nights Wonambi has not gone straight back into a hide after being handled. I got her two weeks ago today, so presumably she is settling in and getting more comfortable with us. Yesterday morning I got pictures of her lurking in the low plastic foliage, this morning I got better pictures of her hanging out on another plastic plant. Also, she boops my nose when I have her out. Henry, Tanis, Haku, Scatha, and Smaug do not. I don’t trust Caudimordax near my nose.

Speaking of Mr. Pissy-Pants, last night Ron handed him to me curled up in a towel (I hold him with a towel on my lap, because Mr. Pissy-Pants), and he just . . . stayed curled up in a ball. So I let him. Also asked who was he and what did he do with my snake. But on being put back in his cage he displayed more usual Caudimordax behavior.

Breakthrough? Didn’t feel like he was being held because he was in a towel? Taking a nap, dammit? We’ll see if towel-holding is a way to get him to not be more relaxed, or if last night was a fluke . . . less successful tonight, but still not as cranky as when I held him in my hand (because he still needs to get used to direct contact). I saw the guy I got him at the reptile show on Sunday, and he said that was typical juvenile (delinquent) Honduran milk snake behavior, he should settle as he matures.

Trying to decide if Scatha’s tummy was pink on Tuesday night, or I was imagining it. She last shed shortly after Smaug did, so the timing would be right to be in shed again.

Found a cage manufacturer that will do custom sizes, and their cages seem popular. I forwarded their information to Robin, and have them shortlisted for myself – if we buy any more cages, I want to switch over from glass to plastic.

Ron has admitted that he continues to lust after a Vietnamese Blue Beauty (VBB) snake. We saw them a couple weeks ago at Chicago Reptile House (CRH). Ron called CRH yesterday to see if they still had any VBBs, but they don’t, which is probably good. Ron points out as a somewhat arborial species they could use the tall cage we started Smaug out in, and suggested where to put it. I am unable to refute his logic so far. He also accepts that VBBs will probably be about as crabby as Caudimordax, at least to start. In turn, I have admitted my interest in Stimson’s pythons. We’ll see how it goes.

And to finish up, pictures of Wonambi sitting in one of her artificial plants this morning. For reference, she’s 33 cm long and 18 grams. The black hide in the second picture is nominally 3″ x 5.5″, and is larger than she really needs (which is probably why she often is in the 2″ x 4″ tool bin one that’s not shown.



– Posted using software from hardware

Reptiles and other Ramblings

Yes, this post will include more reptilian ramblings, with pictures. But just of cages, no reptiles to be seen.

At the moment I’m sitting at the desktop, with Gimli under my chair, playing with Pippin. Happily, they seem to be avoiding nipping me while aiming at each other.

Saturday evening was annoying. A couple neighbors had planned a block party, but looking at predicted thunderstorms, had cancelled it on Friday. So when I took the dogs out around 7:00 what was the weather like? Cooled off to actually pleasant temperatures, including a light breeze, a few scattered non-threatening high clouds, and not even mosquitos. WeatherBug predicted no rain at for the next 12+ hours. Perfect outdoor-party weather, in other words. How aggravating! The aggravation was topped off by missing mango sorbet. I’m sure I saw it in Friday’s PeaPod order, and Robin remembers putting it away (probably hiding because he thinks he left in a bag with something else, and I haven’t looked for it again since asking him about it on Sunday). I made do with guava paste and cream cheeze on ritz crackers, which is not at all a bad dessert, but not what I wanted, dammit.

I think Tommy being a noisy brat over the weekend might have been because Ron wasn’t home – I’m wondering if Tommy had declared himself protector of the house in Ron’s absence. Which is pretty silly, since he was “protecting” us from the neighbor dogs and a visiting terrier that was maybe half his size. When Ron got home I was in the living room with Tommy on a leash, so the other dogs could go in and out, and I could still keep Tommy under control. I my believe my first words to Ron were something about being . . . annoyed with Tommy.

Saturday night I sat up with the lights out to watch for Scatha. Eventually I realized that that spot in some of the greenery was her head, she was lurking and watching. After a while I realized that she was going to win a contest of patience and went to bed. But Sunday morning when I got up I found Smaug out pretending to be a branch. And one early morning this week Ron got up to take the dogs out and found Scatha roosting in some of her greenery. Because tiny snake can do that. I think she approves of the greenery – more hiding places, and it screens the openings on the larger hides.

Ron liked Scatha’s greenery, so he picked up some for Smaug’s cage on Monday. And when Ron got Smaug out that evening to be weighed pre-feeding, we noticed that his eyes were cloudy (looks like a sudden case of cataracts) – a sign of impending shedding. He took a little extra zombie-mouse-dancing before he decided to strike, most likely due to not being able to see as well as normal. Some snakes won’t eat during the shedding process, so a slight delay before deciding is no big deal.

If I’d been paying more attention on Saturday, I might have noticed subtle skin/color changes. It was probably also why he wouldn’t un-curl out of the ball python-ball when I was holding him – they get extra shy during shedding. OTOH, he was out Sunday morning, so maybe not. By last night his eyes had cleared, which means the actual shedding is coming closer. Probably before we leave before MuseCon, which is good – we can make sure he sheds completely. This morning when Ron peeked under the hide he thinks Smaug hissed at him, which is in line with the shyness-during-shedding thing.

Neither Ron nor I made music lessons last night, for Reasons. I did get some mango-carrot Italian ice at Daisy’s, the new-ish ice cream shop that’s opened up where Ben & Jerry’s used to be. IIRC they said the carrot is there for sweetness, not flavor, and I can’t taste it as carrot. Their Italian ice is really really creamy, not a dairy-free poor relation to “real” ice cream at all.

Because I am an absolute nerd, I have a set of spreadsheets for figuring out future cage sizes for the snakes – most of the books and websites make suggestions based various sizes of fish tanks, in gallons, with various modifiers like “long”, “breeder” (similar to long), and “high”. However, I’ve been looking at cages that can stack, are opaque on 3 sides (more privacy/ insulation), with front openings, and which are not measured in gallons.

I started out with making a list of suggested sizes from various sources, for both ball pythons and kingsnakes.

Then I found a website that has dimensions for various aquariums (,

how convenient), and created a spreadsheet which has what type of tank, dimensions, and calculates square footage of the floor and total volume in both square inches and square feet. The square footage is the important information, since neither Smaug nor Scatha are arboreal species that need tall cages for climbing space.

Then, for each type of snake, I have a table that lists the source of the recommendation, size suggestion, square footage, and volume (in feet). I’d included the volume before thinking more about it and realizing that it’s a less important number, and haven’t bothered deleting that column. Each list is sorted by square footage.

Turns out for both ball pythons and kingsnakes, most of the tank suggestions are either 2.5 square feet (30″ x 12″), or 4.5 square feet (36″ x 18″). One of the place I was looking at cages makes a 5 square foot model, which at 30″ x 24″ isn’t too much bigger than the footprint of Smaug’s current home (18″ x 18″ -ish on a 20-mumble inch square table), so it would be easiest to fit in the house. But we’ve got time, both snakes have some growing out to do before they need bigger homes.

Wandering back from snakes to MuseCon, via Smaug shedding, MuseCon is rapidly approaching. I believe the plan for tomorrow night is to go to the storage locker with the trailer, take the two Things, Max, and the Grinch in, unload one of the Things and return it to the trailer empty. Then either Saturday or Sunday Robin can take the trailer to pick up blinkie stuff, and we’ll pack all of our stuff into the Thing. And this weekend we really, really need to trim the gridwall down that we got at ACen and want to shorten – some of the pieces are mildly banged up, so those are the ones to be modified. Also need to remember to get the zip-ties, zip-tie guns, and clippers out of Max or the Grinch to assemble gridwall at Muse.

Robin’s been working on making banana bread for the Con Suite. The process is slightly hampered by the “yellow” bananas I got from PeaPod on Friday being more green than yellow, and the fact that the big oven was pronounced dead on the 4th of July, so he’s baking one loaf at a time in the toaster oven. Which on the plus side heats up the kitchen a lot less than the big oven.

This year I’ll be Room Mom for the workshop room again, and doing the Turkish Braid knitting as an open build. I may bring along doll clothes stuff to keep my hands busy, too. Or maybe knitting. Or both. We’ll see. The dogs are boarding at the vet’s. I have adamantly refused to wrangle all three dogs by myself for that trip, not sure who’s helping with that rodeo. Ron has walked all three by himself, I’m not that insane.

To finish up, I got pictures of both snake cages in their current configurations with greenery. Click to embiggen.

Snake_Cages-20150726-001 Snake_Cages-20150726-002 Snake_Cages-20150726-003 Snake_Cages-20150726-004 Snake_Cages-20150727-005 Snake_Cages-20150727-006

Scatha, Smaug, and Dogs

Warning, this is a picture-heavy post.  I’ll put a cut-tag in before them.

I worked on the MuseCon program book, finished it on Thursday night, and uploaded it to the printer. Ron has lower-resolution copies of the book and the single-sheet grid to post on the MuseCon website, not sure if he’s had a chance to or not.

Pippin’s face and ears are much better, after a week of cleaning and applying ointment twice a day. Still giving him antibiotics, but that’s minor, just an extra pill at pill time. Need to clean everybody’s ears today.

My earaches continued on and off, although not as bad as last Sunday. I was at the doctor’s Friday to follow-up on anti-depressant dosage, and my were diagnosed as likely due to sinus pressure, no sign of infection. She suggested sudafed to relieve the pressure and prescribed a prescription antihistimine. They seem to be helping.

I suspect it’s a bad year for allergies, Pippin hasn’t broken out like he did in past years, and I don’t usually get earaches like I have/had been (sinus pain, yes). Eowyn and I used to have bad allergies on the same days, maybe Pippin and I are also allergic to (some of) the same things.

Sunday evening we gave Smaug a couple hides – inverted tool bins. Much better than trying to hide behind the fountain.

The original plan for Friday night was to go see The Tooles at an Irish festival in Arlington Heights, but the weather was toooooo disgusting in terms of heat/humidity, even without thunderstorms. Instead we got dinner and went to a movie – “Minions” started first, so that won (vs. “Ant-Man” and “Mr. Holmes”). It was a lot of fun. After that we stopped at Menard’s and got a new hot glue gun, as our old one has disappeared.

More snakey natter and pictures below the cut.

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Tommy and Tattoos and Weather


Tommy continues to settle in. He and Pippin are still getting along, nothing more than an occasional growf or yelp when somebody gets stepped on or nipped too hard. They like to play tug with stuffed animals. Not the rope toys, which are actually sturdy enough for that game, noooo.

Tommy had a bath yesterday morning. He’s softer now, and I think scratching less. And less funky. We took him to visit the vet yesterday morning for a well-dog visit, he’s 30 lbs., and the vet didn’t say anything about his weight. He’s a very strong, solid little dog (15″ at the shoulder). Pippin was 37 or 38 lbs. when he was at the vet about a month ago, and is 20″ at the shoulder.

Tommy is learning to come when called, or at least when I call, thanks to the power of bribery with baby carrots positive reinforcement. He ignores Ron, even when Ron shows him the container of carrots (which I haven’t had to do in a couple days). I find this pretty funny, because otherwise he’s Ron’s dog. Ron’s very snuggly dog. Although he likes me and Robin, too, he’s not exclusive.

Friday Tommy had all sorts of fun on Friday. While Robin was cleaning his room Tommy stole and ate most of a kneaded rubber eraser, chewed on a roll of heavy-duty blue “shop” paper towels, and disemboweled one of his stuffed animals. Then, after I got home, he found and had taken away a piece of leather, a measuring cup used for bismuth shot (used to fill the sand/shot bags), and a piece of sheepskin.


I didn’t complain when it was just above freezing yesterday. Cold but dry was fine. I was not so amused when there were light flurries around noon. I was less pleased when the flurries had increased to real snowfall by dinnertime. I am outright vexed by what could not-unreasonably be called a snowstorm, complete with craptastic driving conditions, this morning.


If you don’t “get” tattoos, and/or don’t want to read natter about getting them, you probably just want to stop reading here, and definitely ignore Ron’s left forearm.

So, there’s this large tattoo design Ron’s been wanting to get on his chest, and recently got the artwork for, but has been delayed for Reasons. Friday and Saturday he was looking at phoenix designs, for Other Reasons. Saturday evening I exercised my Google-fu to look for phoenix designs, and looked at stuff that interested me, and, um, it kinda went downhill from there.

Yesterday morning Ron narrowed his choices down to two phoenix designs, then I showed him prehistoric cave art I was looking at.

The tattoos on my arms are Native American, northwest coastal style, and I’ve been thinking for quite a while of a stag’s head on my chest (face-on), but hadn’t decided if that was going to be NW coastal style, or something else.  OTOH, since getting the tattoos on my arms, I’ve become a more aware of the concept of cultural appropriation, thanks to various, um, “vigorous discussions” in various areas of fandom. I’ve never flaunted my tattoos and/or claimed to be anything I’ve not, or that they have any spiritual meaning blah blah blah eye-roll-nonsense, they’re mostly artwork I like, although not chosen completely at random. If that makes sense.

Now, some people say that any amount of Native American heritage makes you Native American. And some people say that you have to be “enough” Native American to be allowed to do XYZ . . . like play the ship’s captain on “Star Trek: Lost in Space”. And sometimes the same people will say both things in the same 1-hour panel. Yes, I’m looking at *you* participant(s) in that particular panel at a past WisCon. Ahem, um, continuing back on topic, if you go by “any amount”, I’m unknown-group Native American, but very probably not from the northern Pacific coast. If you go by “enough”, you can stick a fork in me and call me a WASP.  So, another northwest coastal style tattoo is probably not the most culturally enlightened thing I could do.

I’ve looked at various stag’s head designs over the years, and I have yet to find anything I like. Most are generic “tribal”, celtic with spiritual/religious overtones, shooting sports-affiliated (Buck mark logo, etc.), or a little too identifiably Dalmorie whisky logo.

Thus, I ended up looking at cave art. I didn’t find any reindeer/red deer/generic deer I quite liked, although I did look – mostly the animals are shown in profile. Lions and bears and aurochs weren’t doing it for me.

I kinda ended up with horses. Depending on the cave in question, there are lots of images of horses. I was thinking of this series of little horses, which are painted under the “falling cow” in Lascaux in France:


But I was afraid that they’d just look dorky out of context.

I like this set of horses’ heads, also from Lascaux:


Ron liked this one, which is called the “Chinese Horse”, which I also liked, and which is also from Lascaux.
I wasn’t only looking at images from Lascaux, it’s just that Lascaux is really well-documented.

I decided I wanted the bug by the horses nose, and the wheat or spearheads, but not the odd bits coming out of the head or butt, which in the right pictures you can see are actually chips out of the cave wall. Or the line coming up off the tail.

So I saved several versions (re-drawings) to my iPad and bookmarked a photo of the original in my big dead-tree book entitled “Cave Art”, and after going to the vet’s, we went into town to Jade Dragon, arriving shortly after they opened.

The available artist started on Ron’s design (he’d finally decided between the two, and we’d figured out what colors to change it to, because the original colors just weren’t doing it to us), on his left forearm. I finally decided that yes, I did want it, could afford it, and where to put the horse, another artist arrived and started tracing it, while I tried to be patient. He worked from this rendering:


Ron and I decided to go as large as possible, which meant the design ended up onto my collarbone. And it unavoidably crosses my sternum. And I think my chest is more sensitive than my arms were. So it was an experience. I described the outlining (single needle, more painful) over my sternum and on the collarbone as “exciting” which amused the guy working on Ron (Greg), since it was obvious I meant “hurt like hell”.  Ron asked if I was going to take a break after the outlining was done, and I said probably not, because I was afraid I might chicken out, and my artist (Fred) obviously took me at my word, because he went right on to filling in the black. Which was not so bad, since it was a larger/multiple needle.

Ron was done about the time filling in the black was done. His looks good, the artist did a nice job with the colors and shading. Figuring out coloring as a challenge, since what you see is not what you end up with after it’s done healing, and it’s definitely a mess during the process.

Filling in the brown on my horse was “exciting” again. The endorphins had worn off. But I did have Ron’s hand to crush squeeze. And then there was shading the brown, which isn’t really showing yet. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much of that, not sure I could have taken much more.  I didn’t bolt out of the chair at any point, but I did squeak a few times. And occasionally had to remember to breathe.

Is it a bad or good sign when another tattoo artist looks at what’s being done to you, and says “wow, that’s a big tattoo.”? Because I got that.

Anyhow, eventually I was done, and cleaned up, and slathered with a thick layer of A&D ointment, paper towel taped on, and sent on my way, still kinda woozy (they did ask if I wanted to sit down again, not rushed out at all). And oozy. A tattoo is a road rash with ink frosting.

Before slatheration with A&D:

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On the way home we stopped for A&D and Ivory soap, and then dinner at Durty Nellie’s. Amusingly, even though I was the one that had been sitting with my shirt off for a couple-few hours, it was Ron that stayed cold on the way home and at dinner last night (yes, I was cold by the time I was done, but I warmed back up quickly).

Coming home and being greeted by the dogs was fun, because Tommy likes to climb up on people and give them hugs and that means planting his front paws on my chest. And he’s a scent hound, he wants to smell things. I let him smell, but not climb me. He did get his paws planted on my chest before I could catch him this morning, but I’m also less sore this morning. Marginally. Lovely burning sensation after applying ointment, yes indeedy, especially since I’m trying for *light* coats, so I don’t soak shirts (I am wearing a semi-sacrificial t-shirt under my polo shirt).

Yes, tattoos are addictive, although for me it’s been multiple years between. I’m thinking maybe I’ll eventually add some other smaller critters as satellites to my horse. Maybe ibex, or reindeer head(s). Bison and aurochs are also candidates.

Catching Up, Again

Since its been almost a month since I last posted, let’s revisit some of the topics from last time.

Ron’s still fighting insomnia. Visited our family physician yesterday to discuss options. We’ll see how those work out.

The Tree of Damocles (an American Elm) is scheduled for removal the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, along with another little elm and a branch coming over from the back neighbors’ yard. We could take care of the little elm and the branch ourselves, but the minor cost increase is definitely worth letting the professionals take them out/down, and dispose of the remains. Emphasis on the disposal part.

Banjo and guitar lessons still going well.  And Ron got me a wonderful new guitar-like thing, an “Inuk” by Godin Guitars, which is based on an Oud (middle-eastern-ish). It has 11 strings – the highest-pitched 10 are tuned in pairs, same tuning as a guitar. The lowest string is a single. All sets of strings are wound, usually the three highest guitar strings (on metal-strung guitars) are smooth. And the strings fan out as they go (each pair stays parallel). It does have frets (Godin also makes an oud, which does not have frets). It has its own unique sound. And I need to fret it differently than my regular guitars. Short audio/video clip of somebody that knows what they’re doing with it here.

No progress on Bollywood films.

Got a vest made for Robin (the black and silver), which came out well. Got another made for Ron, without the collar of damnation, which came out ok. I thought I could fix the wrinkling on the neckline by adjusting the shoulder seam, but more investigation while Ron was wearing it makes me think the real fix involves alterations to the body.

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 Got a new outfit made for myself. Dark brown skirt, made like hakama, dark red shirt, and a gold brocade jacket, cut along the lines of a kosode, with burgundy trim. The jacket went together as planned, although the very fussy details I committed made it take a while. The shirt, from a Simplicity pattern, turned out well, once I added gussets down the side and underarm. The pattern is set up for different bust sizes, and fits pretty well. I’ll be modifying my gussets (so they play nicely together) and making another couple. I also plan on re-drafting the sleeves, which are fine if you never want to get your elbows away from your sides, but make the shirt ride up funny otherwise.

Teslacon was interesting. I don’t know how to just attend a convention. There were some (IMO) issues – a schedule that was in micro-print, didn’t include the dealer’s room or entertainers, and which left off the hotel map (that was in the PDF version on-line), and opening the dealer’s room an hour early on Sunday without telling the dealers.

Ron got two corset/vests at Teslacon. He looks very very snazzy in them. Also a couple ascot ties. I got a cowl (hood) that matches my new outfit fairly well, a couple big scarves/shawls, a pile of books, and a cuttlefish.

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 Robin got a hat and mask from Blonde Swan. I will post a picture of Ron in one of his corsets and me in my new outfit once I get it from Ron. I also got extremely drunk on Friday night. Ron assures me I was not an annoying drunk. I remember the general gist of everything I said, which was pretty much lacking any brain-mouth filter.  I do remember torquey-torquey-turkey (I was wearing one of Ron’s torques), and that my drinky was smiling at me.  Which it totally was (pumpkin martini).

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Took a vacation/recovery day yesterday, have today off for Veteran’s Day.

And now the cleaning fairies are here, so I’m going to get out of their way…


More Doll Clothing

Oops, meant to post this a week or so ago:
 Shortly after MuseCon I posted pictures and nattered about Japanese-style doll clothing. At that point, I’d finished these kosode (robes) and kariginu (vest) from a set of fat quarters:

 I’ve finally finished the last two pieces made from that bundle: a robe, the exact name of which escapes me, which is essentially a kosode without the overlapping front extensions:

Back view, to show off being picky about the placement of the koi:

And this hakama-style skirt. Which is more of a muted olive in person:

And now, the fan-pattern kosode, which I meant as a bottom layer, with the hakama. Sorry, I still haven’t gotten my PVC display stands made yet:

And the layered robes. You’d probably actually want a plainer kosode as the center layer (instead of hiding the koi), but you get the idea:

And a more casual outfit of kosode, kariginu, and hakama:

You may notice that the flowers on the kariginu also show up on the large koi robe. And the koi three of the five fabrics. I wouldn’t have thought of using an olive with the other colors, but it works. Which is an advantage of using fat quarter bundles. Granted, the collars for the koi robes and the kariginu didn’t come from the bundle, but they’re good color matches and work.
 – Posted using software from hardware