You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.
As the holidays are so busy this year, I will be taking a short break from blogging and new toons. There won’t be any more until next year.
…So sorry, but I couldn’t resist this lame new years joke. Stay safe, have fun and have a designated driver tonight! Happy New Years!
I love the close of a new year. It’s a time for contemplation. A time for resolutions and one last hurrah of overeating! A time to be grateful for the blessings of the last year and to be a bit fearful of what awaits around the corner in the new one. Without fail, every year about this time I start wondering and worrying about what the new year holds and my anxiety goes through the roof.
I have been pretty lucky deathwise in my family. My parents are both still alive. So are my sisters. My children. I’ve never had a friend die. One year, I KNOW that the deaths are gonna start coming, probably in batches, and this terrifies me. What if the new year brings cancer? What if it’s a year filled with chemotherapy, which is something that I definitely don’t want me or any of my loved ones to suffer though? What if it brings a horrendous car accident or disfigurment? I don’t know why I worry about this at the end of every year, but I do. I wish I could stop it.
Then I start wondering about where we’ll be next year at this time. Is there a huge move in the future? A job change? Financial trouble? I know that life can change in the blink of an eye for the better and especially for the worst, and there are no do overs.
What if I make the wrong decisions? What if I make a really serious mistake with horrible, long-term consequences?
I’m usually a sunny optimist, really I am, but I do know how to make my skin crawl with anxiety. It’s like a scab that I can’t help picking in late December. Like a car accident that I can’t look away from.
Will Dick Clark be around next year to ring in the New Year with me? Will I still be around to ring it in with him? (No, I am not ill. Just morbid). I always start the new year with prayer and hope for the best year ever. I do know that whatever happens God is in control and he is a good and loving God with my best interests at heart. I just wish there was some way to peel back the curtain and take a peek at the coming highs and lows of the year, take a few notes and get mentally ready before crossing the threshold.
Oh well. Since I seem to have misplaced my crystal ball, may you all have a blessed, peaceful and prosperous 2009!
You know, I never had a weight problem until I started having children. I was a rail-thin child and young adult. I managed to get my figure back after my oldest was born, but I had two more children in quick succession and suddenly, for the first time ever, I was fat. I went on my first diet ever when I was in my late twenties and I did very well with it. I lost all the weight I needed very quickly and I couldn’t understand why this was a problem for other people. That was a big mistake. Pride goeth before a fall and all that jazz.
Then I got pregnant with twins and I gained 65 lbs. I was told to do it, and I followed my doctor’s advice to the letter. The upside was that I ended up with HUGE healthy babies and no C-section. The downside was that I have NEVER gotten my body back for any length of time since my twins were born. I was SO enormous at the end of my pregnancy that I didn’t even recognize myself. I couldn’t drive because my stomach couldn’t fit behind a wheel. I couldn’t fit into the booths at restaurants. I was a spectacle everywhere I went. Honestly, I was the largest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen outside of women who are carrying sextuplets. Women used to come up to me and spontaneously express their pity. “You POOR thing!” they’d say as I lumbered along resentfully in the Florida summer’s heat.
After the babies were born, I was left with a body I didn’t recognize. I had a saggy, drooping stomach, stretchmarks on top of stretchmarks (TMI, perhaps?) and a lot of extra weight. I lost 42 lbs in the first two weeks just because I was breast feeding and weight was just sloughing off of me. But then I started to gain it back. Slowly at first and then faster and faster. I went on a diet and lost some. Then I’d gain some. Then I’d lose it again. Over and over and over I’d yo-yo. Now I was not so complacent. Not so prideful about my own skinny body and abilty to lose weight at the drop of a hat.
I began running again. I would lose some. Then I’d slack off on the exercise and I’d gain it back again. Right now, I’m nowhere near my heaviest weight, but I’m also nowhere near my thinnest. So, I am going to attempt to diet one last time. As luck would have it, the new year approacheth, which is a wonderful opportunity to start anew. I’d like to finally get a handle on this weight thing for good. Yes, Lord, I believe we can chalk this down to a lesson learned. Okay? No more pridefulness. I am humble and you can just let this lesson go and move on to the next one. M’kay? Pleaaasse?
I am going to spend the first part of the new year exercising like mad and eating for one and not for a football team. Then I shall attempt that thing I cannot seem to figure out. Maintenance! If all goes well, I shall be ready for my appearance on Oprah around late April, early May-ish.
I’m sure she’s penciling like mad to squeeze me in…
I LOVE Christmas Eve. It’s probably my favorite day of the year. It’s always filled with baking, and family, good behavior, church, and anticipation. I like Christmas, but it’s much more of a draining day. Exhausting, is more like it. I enjoy the crack of dawn present opening stuff, but the rest of the day really isn’t that fun. First of all, I always make a big feast for dinner. I am a good cook. Lots of people tell me I am, so I must be. But I really don’t enjoy cooking at all.
I am not a vegetarian anymore (I was one for 12 years), but I am also not a complete carnivore. I only eat meat about once every two weeks or so, and I’m thinking of giving that up and going back to vegetarian land. But on holidays I roast a turkey and every single time as I look at that raw bird I am just resentful that there is no one else in my family who will cook it for me so I won’t have to touch it. I hate taking out the giblets and the neck. I hate reaching inside of it and I hate stuffing it. I do like the way it tastes at the end, and so does the rest of my family, but I am not sure I will ever do it again.
If I had to kill the food I ate, I would definitely be a vegetarian and so would the rest of my family. I would hope that the vegetarians out there can refrain from lecturing me or grossing me out on purpose. I KNOW all that, and still eat meat occasionally anyway. This is a personal decision that everyone must make for themselves, and this is where I am right now.
This year we were also given a ham. I do not eat pork ever, and I’ve never in my life made a ham. It was daunting, but I googled it and lo and behold, it wasn’t hard to make. Just heat it through and Voila! Ham! After it was cooked, I was trying to carve it with a paring knife (the only knife in our kitchen that wasn’t dull. Time to buy some more knives! Where’s the one that will cut through a tin can when you need it?!) and I was hacking off these huge 1/2 inch slices. My husband came over and got completely grossed out. “Those are some BIG ol’ slices o’ ham!” he said. “WHO is going to want a slice of ham so big?” As I looked at it I knew he was right. They were pretty damn thick and …succulent. If they were grossing out a man who loves pork, then I was definitely doing something wrong. So we turned it around and sliced it thin from the other side and sent the leftover ham (and there was a LOT of it) home with my inlaws. Problem solved.
Next Christmas, I am getting a Christmas pizza. Maybe I will make it, OR maybe we will find some establishment that doesn’t give their employees Christmas off (I used to work at just one such establishment!) and order up a round of pies. Everyone loves pizza, it’s always a treat, and I woudn’t have to cook. In fact, this is DEFINITELY my plan. Oh yeah…
I am already anticipating next Christmas. The annual opening of the presents. The annual tantrums from my autistic child who really doesn’t like Christmas much at all because it’s different, and now our new tradition of the Christmas pizza where mom gets to spend the day outside of the kitchen, and there are no leftovers and no dishes to clean… Sigh. I can already smell its bubbling goodness…
One of our family’s beloved traditions is to open one gift on Christmas Eve. I usually buy new pajamas for the kids so they will look cute on Christmas morning, and this is the gift they get to open. Of course, they loathe this tradition and wish that they could open a cool gift instead, but I always hold firm because I believe they will eventually come around. Or, they will eventually force this tradition on their own children, which is just as good.
So there we were, opening gifts when my husband throws me a little gift to open. I was surprised because I know everything I’m getting and I didn’t know about this. He goes shopping with me, asks me what I like and then buys it on the spot. I’d much rather be surprised, but he seems incapable of doing it, so I’ve come to uneasy terms with this over the years. He has even said to me, in the past, “Do you want me to wrap them for you or do you want to do it?” Like I’d want to wrap my own gifts!
Anyway, now this little gift has me intrigued because it’s a surprise. Maybe he actually put a little thought into it this year! I open it up and it’s this pretty red bag that says “You’ve been naughty” on it and now I’m really confused. Was it lingerie? And why was he giving it to me in front of the kids? But it wasn’t soft, it was hard and crunchy feeling. Then I thought it might be jewelry of some kind. Not diamonds. This isn’t a commercial. But I did think it might be a locket or a charm. So I eagerly open it and this is what I find.
Yes, that’s coal. He gave me COAL for Christmas Eve.
This is SOOOO a cartoon…
Anyway, this holiday season is kicking my booty for some reason, but while the turkey is cookin’ tomorrow, I promise to try and get the last three cartoons posted. I should have time before the family arrives.
Wishing you and yours a blessed, peaceful Christmas. Happy birthday, Jesus!
Um, yes I did. I really used the word penis in my cartoon today, and I’m sorry if it offends anyone (especially anyone who might possibly be reading from my church!) BUT, I had a good reason. And that reason was… wait for it… it was funnier that way.
My husband and I were having this discussion and he said that teenage boys were walking penis’s. (What a weird word. How the heck do you spell it?!) I thought this was hilarious and we both knew immediately that it had to be a cartoon. But, if I changed the word penis (oh come ON, it’s just a word like any other word. Penis, penis PENIS! But, from now on in this post, I will say the P word instead.) to hormones (as in, teenage boys are walking hormones) it loses a lot of the umph. Now, if I was still syndicated, I would have written this, laughed and put it aside knowing there was no way to really do it. I have reams of ideas that are not suitable for print. But since I’m not syndicated anymore, I started thinking that, you know, I can TOTALLY get away with this! My husband thought I should do it and he egged me on, so I did. I have no idea what kind of reception it will get. I don’t plan on making this kind of thing a regular thing. But, if I think of something that I think is funny and it’s a bit off-color, I will probably post it. After all, the buck stops with me now, and I am not known for using the best judgment. I told you my editor at UPS saved me countless times!
My son read the cartoon and said in a shocked voice, “Mom! Are you allowed to get away with using the P word?” And I said, “Of course I am. Who is going to stop me? The internet police?” And then I laughed my evil laugh and went on my merry way.
At least I didn’t use the V word. The world is not ready for the word Virginia in a cartoon. Or the word vagina either, for that matter…
The sunday cartoon I like, but I’m not sure I went with the right punch line. I went back and forth between the one I used, and one where in the last panel, Eve says to her mom “Tag, you’re it!” Now, I’m second guessing my self and I think that would have been better. Oh well. At least it’s done.
Also, I will be completely caught up tomorrow night. I will post the last two cartoons and then it’s one a day from here on out! I am SO excited about this that I cannot even express it.
Due to demand, I have posted all of the Clear Blue Water archives since I started back on the web. They are listed on the side of the blog roughly by week. The top of the blog just has a generic “Comics Archives” with directions inside it, because this was they only way I could get it to remove every single comics archive link from the header. With nine links in the header (soon to be much more) it looked cluttered. I wasted a lot of time scouring the site and reading the help forums on WordPress, but I found the directions I needed to remove the headers, and I am proud.
Before our computer died, when I posted a cartoon to the archives, all you had to do was click on it and it would become bigger. Apparently, while I was offline, WordPress had an upgrade, and this particular service was changed. Every toon I posted with the new computer wouldn’t enlarge. Again, I scoured the help forums and found a way to fix this. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t work exactly the way it used to, but it does work. You can click on the cartoons to make them bigger. The archives 1-6 work the old way. 7-9 you get a very large cartoon, but it’s only half visible. You must click on each cartoon in turn to read the entire thing. Again, sorry for the inconvenience, but at least I figured something out. It was giving me fits.
People keep asking me why I don’t post archives on my actual site (www.karenmontaguereyes.com). Well, it’s because I don’t know how to write code, and so I have to hire someone to do that for me, and right now, all of our extra income is going towards Christmas. Maybe sometime in the new year I’ll be able to deal with it, but for now this is what I’ve worked out.
I hope you enjoy the full archives, and I will strive to keep them updated.
Have you ever been so tired that you are having hallucinations? I am not there right now, but I have been there before. Once, I was trying to finish a project and I was working round the clock for a few weeks in a row (getting only about 2 hours of sleep a night) and I began seeing things. I would see black paint running down the walls. The walls would warp in and out. I would catch movement out of the sides of my eyes, but when I’d turn around there’d be nothing there. This really freaked me out. I thought maybe I was going crazy or we were in the middle of a haunting, and then I got some sleep and these things stopped. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Right now, I think I’m on the verge of something similar. I need to start being kinder to my body and soul. Suffice it to say that living with our autistic son is hard these days (he’s going through puberty and this is hard on neurotypical kids so you can imagine how much harder it is for him. Not a whole lot of sleeping or, you know, SANITY going on in my house lately. Enough said…) I really need to get more sleep and have less stress. Make a pill that does that and I guarantee you’ll be a billionaire. Sigh…
It’s almost 11 here. My cartoons are written and drawn up but not inked yet. They have not been scanned. If I do those things I will be here until after 1 am easily. I am exhausted so I am going to go to bed. Tomorrow I will TRY to catch up on my cartoons, my emails and this blog, but I make no promises about it. (Well, I do promise to post new toons tomorrow no matter what). Tomorrow is saturday and the only way I’ll get the res tof this done is if my son has a good day. Add in a bad day and all bets are off.
Tomorrow is the 20th. The last toon I posted was the 16th. Tomorrow night I’ll try to post the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th dailies. Then sunday night I’ll post the Sunday the 21st toon and the Monday the 22nd toon and then I’ll be caught up! Yippee skippey! That means a lot less work for me throughout the holidays, which is always nice.
Wish me luck!
A few days ago I wrote a post about how I had limited my daily strips to 70 words when I was syndicated, and how I felt that it had greatly improved my cartoon. I have been getting a lot of email about this post for some reason, so I just wanted to clarify a few things and answer some questions.
1. 70 words? That’s still really wordy!
Yes, 70 words might still be considered wordy by some. I get that. There are cartoonists who routinely write 20-30 word gags and they are wonderful, but they are just not ME. I routinely write 100 word gags. Now, I CAN write a 20 word gag and I’m always really excited when I do because I aspire to less wordiness, but it’s not my normal, nor do I feel it needs to be. Not everyone is terse, nor does everyone enjoy reading it. Something for everyone and all that jazz…
2. How did you choose the number 70?
69 was too little, and I felt that 71 was just a tad too much. No, really, I just counted the words in every cartoon that I liked in the newspaper for a few days to gain some sense of what other cartoonists were doing. There are some cartoons, some big, celebrated toons who routinely (as in a couple times a week) go over 100 words. But it looks crowded. There’s just no way to fit that many words without it looking crowded. But this works for them. There are others who write 20 words and it looks great, but I needed to shoot for a number that I could actually achieve on a daily basis. 70 was a high number, but it was a high average. Most strips I studied had between 50 and 80 words per daily. 70 still gave me enough words to tell a complete story, but it left enough room to draw. I found that if you disperse 70 words equally throughout the cartoon, you will always have enough room to draw a nice picture. If you put most of the words in one panel and the rest in the others, the one panel will be crowded, but the rest of them have PLENTLY of room for the art. No matter how you break the word count up, it just seemed to work for me.
It is not a magic number. I just put it out there as a tool that really helped me. For some, their magic number will be 35, others might be 85. Still others will never have to give word count a second thought because this is not an area in which they struggle.
I’ll throw in another GREAT piece of advice that someone gave me early on. Leave plenty of white space in the balloons. The words don’t have to go right to the edge of the panels (in fact, they look better if they don’t–if there is a bit of white space there). And ink the words in first before you draw. This way you always have room for the words and you don’t end up crowding them and writing really small to fit in a complete thought around your drawings.
One more thing before I close. I LOVE my non-photo blue pencil and I use it for all my panel borders and word balloons. I do absolutely no erasing because I cannot stand to do it. It takes too long and it always feels like wasted time to me. I’d rather go to the dentist than spend 30 minutes erasing anything and I’ve worked it out so that regular pencils don’t ever come in contact with my finished cartoons, and my life is that much richer for it.
Yesterday our phone lines went down and I couldn’t use the phone or access the internet (we have DSL). So, no update until the phone company could come out and fix the lines today. They just left and the culprit was ants. Huge ants had infested our box outside and chewed through the wires. They cleared out the ants, fixed the lines and we are back in business. We are to spray around the box every month or so to take care of the problem in the future.
It’s just so random! I figure there is a horror movie in there somewhere. A woman living alone has ongoing trouble with ants chewing through her phone lines and she learns to just be irritated when they go down, not afraid. Until the time it’s NOT ants but some psychotic axe murderer who has broken out of the institution that’s just down the road from her house (no wonder she got it for such a great price!) and who’s axe has her name on it. Let the games begin!
Feel free to use that scenerio. I have another that begins, “It was a dark and stormy night…”
Anyway, that should hopefully conclude the problems with getting my cartoon out on time. Here at CBW central we ‘ve braved computer problems and giant ants. What’s next, aliens? Dun dun dun….
To be continued…