More Art: Coyote!

I figured I’d post more art since I finished this too and it’s up at deviantart. Makes me feel like a real artist, you know? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. For the most part, I feel like I am. I think this proves it.

Coyote

Let me know what you think. This is Blackbird, my Coyote character. Well, basically, she’s me. Hence, the Blackbird (Snailbird being her nickname). Does it not make sense to you?

Too bad, it makes sense to me.

Photoshop Brush Sets!

I didn’t think I’d get these done for the night, but I did so I thought I’d post them here. I updated Studio Brushes with two new Adobe Photoshop 7.0 brush sets, one with leaf brushes and one with made-from-scratch star brushes. For those of you who are lazy, you can just download from here.

Leafy Greens
Leafy Greens
10 Individual Brushes
Download Zip File

Night Lights
Night Lights
5 Individual Brushes
Download Zip File

Alright, I’m tired and achy so I’m gonna go sleep. And then tomorrow is cleaning/shopping/artsy day. Hopefully it’s not as rainy as they say it will. Anyway, I’m off to bed. Good night!

A Dream Wolf.

And now for some art, because I haven’t posted any in a long time. My scanner isn’t hooked up (and I’m not even sure it’s actually here) so I had to make do with Ash’s camera, which is nice, but the lighting made it look funny. When I get my scanner set up, I’ll replace this with a better copy.

Dream Wolf

The original (and larger version) can be found here on my deviantart. I’m working on some more (with my brand new markers and colored pencils). I feel like an artist again. I just wish I could paint more too, then it would be perfect.

This is a wolf for my Ash, done in marker and colored pencils (Prismas). A wolf for my wolf!

Just Smile, Smile, Smile.

I’m tired and full of chicken alfredo, so all you get today is this:

Happy Face

Everyone should just be happy. Smile. It’s good for the soul. You’ll feel better once you do. I promise. And it’s contagious. The more you do it, the more others will too. It makes people feel good. Like chicken noodle soup on a cold day. It warms the heart.

(Ash took this picture. Someone had drawn a smiley face on the ground in Austin. It made us smile too. See? It works. Pass it on.)

Evidence that I’m Cooler than Most.

It’s bad when I’m sitting in a room full of people and I’m the only one to laugh at the “Java applet” joke on The Big Bang Theory. I think that just proves the fact that I’m a complete nerd. That and the fact that I really like this show and it reminds me too much of my interests back in high school. I like to think I’m a lot cooler than I used to be. Though I still laugh at the idea of “Friend-making booths” at ComicCon. (And actually agree that they’d make a fortune doing it).

“Uh oh. He’s stuck in an infinite loop.”

Hi. I’m Nikki. I think lichen is one of the most interesting structures on Earth. I mean come on, fungus and algae coming together to form a symbiotic relationship and growing in places that are almost entirely impossible for anything else to exist in? My favorite genus is Ramalina, or fruticose lichens, because they can grow cool-looking alien landing pads and British soldiers. Seriously. Lichen? Coolest stuff on Earth.

OKAAAYYYY THEN. That’s the end of that little trip into Geekville.

Me being Patriotic.

And just to prove that I was, in fact, on the National Mall (in case you didn’t believe me), have a photo.

Me

Me, waiting for the inauguration to start. I didn’t know Ash was taking this picture, otherwise you would have gotten more of a smile from me. It was a cold day, but I was warm for the most part and the day was sunny and blue and beautiful. Yes, it was worth it. (Note the red, white, and blue scarf – see, I was patriotic!)

The Inauguration Experience.

Lots of people

I was there. Actually, we were on the right side of the mall where this picture was taken, near the Natural History museum. The number of people there was absolutely incredible. And, predictably, it was chaotic.

We left Crossville, TN at around 7pm on Monday and drove 9 hours throughout the night, arriving at the metro station in Fairfax, VA at about 4 in the morning. Actually, we arrived to the exit ramp for the metro at 4 and it took us an hour and a half to actually get a parking spot, it was that backed up (at 4 am!). We stood in line for awhile to get into the station and even longer while waiting for a train. When we did finally get onto our train, it broke down two stops later and everyone had to get off and wait for another train. Despite it being so ungodly early in the morning, everyone on our car was so excited and happy and willing to help each other. We all joked about the train and when we got back on our train car, people broke out into the Star Spangled Banner and cheered.

We got off our train just off of Virginia Avenue in DC and walked the couple of miles to the National Mall. There were so many people everywhere and the energy everyone gave off was one of excitement and hope and pride for the changes that were coming. Ash and I walked down the center of Independence Avenue holding hands with no fear, and I was just in awe of all the historic architecture and museums and impressive buildings. People looked at each other excitedly, strangers became friends with just a smile, and there were pictures of Obama around every corner.

The national mall was packed even with two hours to go before the inauguration started. Two million people were milling around the mall, talking and screaming and shouting and beaming happily, and cheering every time Obama’s face appeared on one of the many Jumbotrons. After much tramping around to get a good spot, we found a clear space off to the side by some trees just outside of the Natural History Museum. It wasn’t long after this that the event was kicked off by the US Marine Band and the San Fransisco Girls and Boys Choirs and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Rick Warren gave the invocation after the senator spoke, and I went into that speech with every bone in my body ready to hate it. Surprisingly, I was impressed and found myself really appreciating what he was saying. I can’t help but wish that he would take his own words to heart when he so passionately spoke about equality for all citizens, but maybe his relationship with Obama will help change his mind, and his heart. I thought it was a very moving speech. Aretha Franklin sang after that, beautifully, and and then Joe Biden was sworn into office. A large cheer went up over the crowd after that and the positive tension rose as the crowd knew that we were getting closer to the big moment. Only minutes until we had a new president.

The anticipation grew as Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill performed a soul-inspiring song composed by John Williams (the man!) called “Air and Simple Gifts.” It was beautiful and there were people all around me with tears in their eyes.

And then the big moment. The president elect stood up before the citizens of America and recited these words:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The President

After Obama said that last word, the crying and applause rang out over Washington DC and a million tiny American flags were waved in the air as every single person there celebrated the new president of the United States (okay, so maybe those weren’t the exact words he spoke – but that’s not his fault and he did say them right later). I’m pretty sure that after this, not many people payed attention to what anybody else said into the microphone after Obama gave his inauguration address (which, while it wasn’t his best speech, it was still a good one). Elizabeth Alexander read a poem (rather badly) and Joseph Lowery gave the benediction. The event ended with the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters singing the National Anthem. By that time though, we were trying to get off the mall.

Everything kind of went downhill from there. Really, the problem was completely caused by the lack of organization that the cops and volunteers at the inauguration had. Most of the streets had been shut down for security and the parade (which we didn’t see at all), and the few exits they had were packed. Two million people wandered aimlessly around the mall and the streets and under bridges and on top of overpasses and nobody knew where they were going. The sun was going down and it was getting colder and for almost five hours we looked at maps and streets and tried desperately to find a metro station to get out of the city. They closed down many stations because they were packed or just not working and when we finally found the station we had arrived on, we waited in line for over three hours. It was cold, we hadn’t slept or had any food for over 24 hours, and we were miserable.

But throughout it all, every person we met and talked to remained in good spirits. Everyone, no matter who they were, was willing to put themselves out there to help a complete stranger. At one point, my Social Anxiety Disorder kicked in and I had a nervous breakdown in the middle of a plaza while being shoved from all sides. I lost it and couldn’t think straight and the next thing I knew, a woman had grabbed my arm and was quite literally line-backing people out of the way to get me to an opening. She kept asking me if I was okay and waited until Ash and Winnie and her mom found me again. It was scary, but everyone was so nice and calm and trying to make sure everyone else was okay. The spirit of the day had filled every person there and it was truly inspiring.

After we got into the metro station, we got onto a train relatively fast (though Ash nearly got smashed as the doors closed because we jumped on at the last minute) and ended back in Virginia where we started. It was almost unreal getting into our car and driving home – had we really just gone through all of that? Where we really there with all those people? It was insane, chaotic, and amazing. I switched back and forth for a long time whether it was worth it or not, but you know what, how could it not be when we actually got to be there to witness history in the making?

Barack Obama is our new president and already he is coming through on so many of his promises. Check out this site that Ash found earlier: Politifact Truth-o-Meter. It keeps you up-to-date with Obama’s promises and what he is continuing to do for our country. I’ve never really been that patriotic, but for the first time, I actually see a reason to be excited for where America is going. We can do this and we will. Things are going to be better than ever.

At Work

Of course, not all is good and we still have a lot of improvements to make. I was vastly disappointed when I read this blog article about the trash left on the mall. I mean, come on people. Clean up after yourself – isn’t that one of the biggest things we are suppose to be working for? Jeez.

There’s always tomorrow.

You are so Envious.

I apologize for the lack of posts this week, but it’s been a pretty busy week with hiking, a new puppy, lots of cleaning and laundry, and good food in big towns. But the biggest news is this. You all know what Tuesday is correct?

Good. Now guess where I’m gonna be Tuesday. Yes! That’s correct. Ash, me, and her mom and sister are piling into the car tomorrow and driving the ten hours to Washington D.C. to sit for hours on the National Mall to hear Obama speak and be sworn in as our new President. I am beyond stoked for this and absolutely thrilled that I’ll get to say that I WAS THERE. Seriously. Okay, so I won’t actually see Obama (or the parade, or any cool people, or the White House really), but I’ll be THERE. And that’s what counts.

So tonight we’re gonna pack and get everything planned out and pulled together so we’re ready in the morning. Right now I’m tired because of our crazy weekend out in the mountains (beautiful, beautiful mountains) and I’m gonna go eat.

Yay for crazy last-minute historic, life-changing plans!

Give us the Change.

Oh man, everyone in the house is sick with some kind of cold/sinus thing. My throat and ears hurt like all get out and all I want to do lately is sleep. It’s a very miserable feeling. Ash and I did get out and play badminton today, but after awhile I just couldn’t take it anymore and we came inside. I’m ready for a nap now.

The inauguration of Barack Obama is coming up fast. The last few days, we’ve been watching a bunch of different documentaries. One was on what people in different countries think about America’s foreign policy called Internationally Speaking and I highly recommend it. It’s got some really great insight from both in and out of the country. Another one was on Coming Out in different countries, which nearly brought me to tears. Sometimes I take for granted that our country is so much more accepting than most others. Which is sad considering all the things people still say and believe here. Anyway, my point is that I can’t help but feel this overwhelming burden of hopelessness sometimes, but things are gonna change, if Obama keeps his many promises.

“The important thing in life is to try to live and do the best you can,” he says. “We done had it bad. Let us help give our children a better life, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren. Let’s try to give them a better life than we had. But anyway, just keep the good work going, is all I say.”

There was an interesting article over at CNN called “Obama is our Moses”, and if you overlook the flowering descriptions and sickening over-the-top empathy that CNN always pushes onto its readers, it really is inspiring that the man they interviewed has such strong beliefs because of the way he grew up. He’s a man that doesn’t take voting for granted. While I hope Obama keeps his promises for my own selfish reasons, it’s for people like this that I pray even more Obama doesn’t go back on his word. It’s people like this that really need and deserve to experience change more than anyone else. They believe it the most.

On a different note (and back to being selfish and talking about my own interests), I was interviewed by Sylvie at Fuel My Blog about blogging (what else?) and everything it entails. You can find the complete interview on their blog. Check it out!

One more step towards internet stardom.

Coyote Needs a Storm.

I miss summer thunderstorms. I miss the sudden cool breeze that brings in the rolling dark clouds. I miss how the thunder starts with low rumbles deep in the chest and the wind picks up and slowly, one by one, the rain starts to fall. I miss the dark, low sky and how every green blade of grass is polarized in the sudden ambiance that takes over the world. I miss how the electricity builds in my chest as the thunder gets louder and the lightening fills the clouds with a promise of more to come. Most of all, I miss the feeling I get when a storm is in the horizon and I just feel alive.

It has rained too much for the past week but it’s nothing like a summer storm. It’s cold drizzle, mixed with hail and tiny flecks of snow that don’t stay on the ground. It’s not the frigid freezing of northern Wisconsin that we left, but the cold here is nothing less than annoying, making it uncomfortable to play outside in the wet air. So I’ve been stuck inside, staring out the window at the lonely lake with waves that Ash describes as dancing. It is beautiful, in its dreary way, but I want to run. When we were in Texas, I ran for the first time in I don’t know how long, with no asthma side effects. I want to run now and jump and just move and explore. I am feeling Coyote but I’m stuck within four walls with nothing to do but chase my tail.

And it doesn’t taste very good when I catch it. Sigh.