ACW Episode 300 – FINALLY!!!

Cynical Woman!

Click on the webcomic to see it full-sized!

FINALLY!!! FINALLY!!!!!! FINALLY, I HAVE POSTED THIS BLOODY WEBCOMIC!!!!!

I’m sorry. I’m having a frustrating night… week…month… semester… life.

I think it’s ironic that as I was drawing the episodes for this particular story line, a lot of this has actually been playing out in real life. I had horrific insomnia and night sweats all summer (two of the more fun symptoms of menopause). Then just as I was coming to grips with all of that, the school year re-started and I got clobbered with all the turmoil that goes along with that – parent-teacher meetings, volunteer work, after-school activities, volunteer work, Girl Scout recruiting, volunteer work, troop meetings, volunteer work, eighth grade and the associated looming graduation from middle school, VOLUNTEER WORK.

It just never stops. Seriously. And I am doing my best to embrace the madness, but all the volunteer work has just killed my work schedule the last two months. I am hoping to fix that now that we’ve gotten past cross country season, but I know there are more opportunities for VOLUNTEER WORK just around the corner.

Seriously, if I didn’t need my right hand to draw, I’d cut it off at the shoulder to keep myself from raising my hand every time someone calls for volunteers!

Anyway, the comic above is a pretty good representation about how I feel these days, right down to the blowzy old broad in the final panel. I swear, I will have that hair AND those pants one day, and I will look FABULOUS!

ACW Episode 295 – Enjoy the ride?

Webcomic!

Click on the image to view it full-sized!

Seriously, I can’t even ride on the swings anymore without getting queasy. It’s so sad the things I can’t manage to do anymore. Although being married to the Hubster is still a lot of fun and adventure! Twenty-three years, folks! Twenty-three amazing years 🙂

February Cats – Day 02 & 03, Seeing Spots with Catbug!

 

Catbug's spots!

Oh Catbug! Why do you have so many spots?!

 
So, yesterday I went digging through my yarn stash (which right now really just looks like a huge mountain of yarn strewn all over the bedroom) and I dug out the Catbug pillow I had started last spring. I had managed to get the red part of the back done, as well as his light blue tummy. Then I started working on his purple spots and that’s pretty much where I stopped because I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THOSE BLOODY SPOTS!!!

I mean, seriously! Look at the spots on Catbug’s back! They are lopsided ovals! And lopsided ovals are actually not easy to make when you’ve spent a couple years learning how to crochet perfect ovals! Ovals with stitch increases at regular intervals! Ovals that grow equally in all directions while you work! I tried so hard, but I could not make the stupid bloody lopsided ovals!

Look at the big dark purple blobby shape on the left-hand side of the picture above. Do you see that? It looks more like an eggplant, or maybe even a mutated pear stricken with the bubonic plague. It does NOT look like an oval. But that’s the only shape I could come up with after several attempts! And do you see the pointy little purplish egg-shape next to it? That’s what I spent all yesterday and today struggling to make. It looks a little better, but still, NOT A LOPSIDED OVAL!!

Ugh. I’m tired. I don’t feel well today. And thus I am easily frustrated. I am sure (yes, I’m lying to myself right now) that with a little time, I will be able to figure out how to make Catbug’s spots and not tear out my hair in the process. I will continue to post my results as I work. But right now, I’m going to take a long hot soak in the tub and go to bed. I’m declaring tomorrow a sick day, since I don’t feel well and I know I’m going to be busy all this weekend with Girl Scouts and school stuff. I’ll see you later. Good night!

October Crochet – Day 22, Brain-Dead and Making Ghosts

 

Ghost hat cat?!

Little Boo asks, “Is dat my baby bwuddah, or a hat for a cat?”

 
Today was another “burn-out-my-brain-cells” day, thus the switch to making a simple ghost instead of the spider web poncho. I swear, if I had known how brutal this month was going to be, I would have thought twice about doing a crochet challenge this month. And taking Girl Scouts to the archery range. And throwing a mystery party for the troop. And volunteering for the school fall flower sale. And volunteering for the teacher luncheon. And volunteering to drive members of the cross country team to races. And agreeding to sew 3 costumes for 2 girls…

I am soooooooooo tired. I may be a ghost myself before the month is out!

ACW Episode 274 – Grinding and the Minecraft Life

Webcomic!

Click on the pic to see the full-sized version!

The kids and I started playing Minecraft a couple months ago, and life will never be the same. Pixie seems to love the game the most, and she has spent quite a few hours at my desktop building houses and mining for ore and catching chickens, etc.

For me, the game has a rather ironic feel. I’ve been reading articles on productivity and recently came across this one on grinding in games versus grinding in real life. I realize that in real life, grinding translates to the everyday tasks I hate to do – laundry, dishes, making the bed, etc. I can get away with not doing most grinding tasks for long periods of time (for example, I dust the house maybe once a year). And some grinding tasks I’ve been able to pass on to the kids (I make them clean their own bathrooms, sort their own laundry, etc.). But there are some grinding chores that have to be done daily, and I hate them, because these are the most futile tasks. Cleaning the kitchen is especially miserable for me. I can spend an entire afternoon washing dishes and scrubbing down the counters, only to have all that hard work go “POOF!” the moment another family member enters the room. The kids make a mess every time they grab a snack. And when Hubster cooks, he can turn the kitchen into a disaster area beyond even FEMA’s scope to fix. (Okay, yeah, FEMA doesn’t have the best reputation for fixing things, but you know what I mean).

So I’ve been trying to find a way to turn these grinding chores into something that either seems more enjoyable, less miserable, or more productive. I haven’t succeeded yet, but I will keep trying.

In the meantime though, yeah, I live with a bunch of creepers. Really messy creepers.

Pray for me.

Holiday Hangovers. Ugh.

So, how were your holidays?

Me? I ate too much, drank too much, slept too much, watched waaaaaaay too much TV, and in general had a really great time. Not something I get to do very often.

It was a very loud holiday break. Usually, the kids are at school and Hubster’s at his office while I stay home to work. But for two weeks, everyone was home and things were very LOUD and MESSY while we baked cookies and hung ornaments and played video games and tore through our Christmas presents. There was lots of laughing, a bit of screaming, and plenty of farting (I’m not going to say who was responsible for that last activity, but I will say some people are not going to be allowed to eat beans for a loooooooooooong time). All in all, it was a very fun, very noisy Christmas break.

But now it’s the first full week after New Year’s and everybody has gone back to school or work. After being crammed in this house for the last two weeks with three other maniacs, I am now all alone. With everyone’s trash… And their dirty dishes… And their dirty laundry.

Guess what I will be doing this week?

I am very glad to get back to my normal routine, but I really wish I had someone else around right now to help me clean up this place. Or at least listen to me bitch about the mess. And maybe help me bake and eat another batch of cookies.

Which reminds me. Girl Scout cookie season starts this Saturday. Glob help me.

ACW Episode 243 – Jaleo!

Webcomic!

Click on the image above to see it bigger!

The Hubster and the children inform me that I have drawn Uncle Paco perfectly. Paco is one of Hubster’s 4 brothers. His son, Jaleo, graduates from college this year. No kidding, that freakishly tall kid was an infant in poopie diapers at my wedding. And now he’s finishing college and already got a job lined up at computer software company. I feel old just thinking about it.

With regards to Hubster and his brothers… Hubster is the oldest of 5, Paco is the second child, and then there is Patrick, Carlos, and Chris, in that order. Chris has been in the webcomic once before. His son is Evenrood. Gabe is Patrick’s son. All 5 of the brothers are “saints,” thus the halos. They became “saints” when they were very young. Hubster’s parents traveled often to Puerto Rico, where my mother-in-law is from, and there was an artist in San Juan who painted plaques of saints.  The first year they met him, he painted plaques of my father-in-law, mother-in-law, and the Hubster all as saints. The next year, when they had another baby (Paco), the same artist painted a saint portrait of him. And the year after that, he painted one of Patrick. The artist disappeared after that, but when Patrick was older, he painted saint portraits of the youngest two brothers, Carlos and Chris. And their saint names are…

  • Saint Jerry, Patron Saint of Good Husbands
  • Saint Carmen, Patron Saint of Good Wives
  • Saint Michael the Magnificent (the Hubster)
  • Saint Paco the Perfect
  • Saint Patrick the Powerful
  • Saint Carlos the Crafty
  • Saint Christopher the Cheerful

And this is why when I draw the Hubster or any of his brothers, they all have halos. So now you know!

By the way, this webcomic was actually all done and ready to be posted yesterday afternoon. Then I discovered something very annoying about Manga Studio 5 and Photoshop.

Do you see the plaid pattern on Paco’s shirt? That’s a Manga Studio material/screen tone. It was originally yellow, but I wanted to make it a shabby sort of blue, so I check the option in the materials panel to make the plaid material a black and white screen tone instead of its original yellow color. I then set the blending mode for the material layer to “color burn” and painted a medium blue color on a layer underneath that. The result was the exact shade of blue plaid that I wanted for Paco’s shirt. Hurrah!

(If none of the above made any sense to you, don’t worry. I’m just being a huge graphics geek here. The basic gist of this is, I wanted to make a yellow pattern blue, and that was how I did it.)

Then I went to export the image as a flattened PNG. That’s the file format I use for all the comics. But for some reason, the exported flattened image lost the blue plaid on the shirt and left me with a gray-scale plaid instead!

“Okay,” I said to myself. “Maybe Manga Studio has a problem with flattening layers with blending modes. I’ll just export this sucker as a layered Photoshop file instead and do the flattening in that program!”

And I did that, and when I pulled up the layered file in Photoshop, I saw that I had all my layers but that the plaid material layer had been set to “normal” as the blend mode so it still showed up as gray-scale instead of faded blue.

Well, that was no big deal. I reset the plaid material layer to “color burn,” got back that lovely faded blue, and flattened all the layers in Photoshop…

And promptly got the same gray-scale plaid material again.

I then spent hours researching what the problem could be. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get Photoshop or Manga Studio to keep the blending mode of the plaid material set to “color burn.” The moment I flattened the image, I kept getting the gray-scale, “normal” blend mode instead.

How could this be?! I’ve been working with Photoshop for 5 years or so now. I know I’ve flattened images with blending layers before, and not had ANY problems! In fact, just about every image I’ve ever created with Photoshop used various blending modes  and I don’t recall having any problems with any of those images! So why was I having problems with this image now?

After hours of searching the web, I ran across a comment that pointed me in the right direction. It was a short comment, buried deep in the responses to a graphics forum post from someone who had had similar problems to me a few years before. The comment mentioned how someone at Adobe had really screwed up when the wrote the code for the “color burn” blend mode.

And that’s when I realized that I had never used the “color burn” blend mode in an image before. I know I’d tried it while working on some images, but the result was never something I liked and so I switched to another blending mode instead, like “overlay” or “soft light.” So I opened up the layered comic in Photoshop again and this time set the blending mode for the plaid material to “soft light,” and then flattened the entire image. And it worked just fine. “Soft light” works a bit differently than “color burn” so I got a different shade of blue, one not so perfectly faded. But hell, it worked!

So that was the problem. The “color burn” blending mode in Photoshop (and apparently Manga Studio as well) is pretty much all screwed up, at least in CS3. It was such a tiny little thing in the end, and it took me only 5 hours to figure it out!

You live and learn. Painfully, most of the time, but still, you learn.

Enjoy the webcomic. I’m getting started on the next one tonight!

 

ACW 238 – Sometimes the tooth hurts.

Cynical Woman!

Click on the thumbnail above to see the full-sized image and ignore the fact this is late!

Yeah, I know I’m late, and Bitchcraft hasn’t gone up yet this week, but I did warn you guys.

So far this month I have broken a tooth (on an M&M), tested for 4th degree black belt (4 hours after I broke the tooth), had the tooth repaired, took care of Hubster when he got sick, took care of Hubster when his back went out, took care of Pixie when she got sick, got sick myself and then MY back went out, attended two school holiday concerts, pulled an all-nighter on Christmas Eve to finish presents for the girls, and then sort of collapsed and kept myself good and drugged through the rest of the holidays so far.

Today is the first day that my back doesn’t bother me at all. I’m slowly catching up on stuff that I was going to do while I was sick, and I’m trying to make plans for the next couple of months. Resolutions? I’m pondering them. What I’m pondering more though is where my motivation has gone. I want to do NOTHING. I hate when I feel like that. It just sort of seems like everything I do is pointless. Logically, I know my work is not pointless, but I’ve been able to accomplish so little the last year due to the torn ACL and now the issues I seem to be having with arthritis.

What to do, what to do. I have contemplated dedicating this year to finishing up all my unfinished projects. I have enough to fill a year and then some, so I may go with that. We’ll see. Maybe if I can get some of these unfinished projects off my plate/conscience, then I’ll feel less pointless.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll say to hell with all of it and go curl up in bed with my heating pad, a hot buttered rum, and a good book. At least for the rest of tonight 🙂

Happy New Year, folks! I promise I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow.

And Bitchcraft will return on Friday. Promise.

Christmas Recipe – Mom’s Russian Tea Mix

I’m having a crap-tastic day so far. Stayed up waaaaay to late to finish a story that didn’t quite work like it should have. Then I tried to sleep late this morning only to have my oldest invade the bed, demanding I get her going for church. I am not religious. The closest I come is Zen Buddhism, which I practiced regularly for three years. But there’s no longer a zendo in my area, so I feel no need to get out of bed to prep my daughter for church while her Catholic father snoozes away. That doesn’t stop her from trying to get me to do it however.

Anyway, after everyone who was going to church headed out the door, I went to make myself some coffee, only to drop the coffee pot and watch it shatter into a million-billion little pieces. So no coffee this morning. To salvage the day from this tragedy, I have turned to one of my other favorite drinks, and to make it a good, positive thing, I am sharing that drink with you. Here it is, Mom’s Russian Tea:

19oz container of Tang or orange drink mix

19oz container of lemonade mix

1 cup ice tea mix, unsweetened (with or without lemon, up to you)

1 tbsp cinnamon

1tbsp ground cloves

Put all the ingredients together in a Tupperware container and make sure the lid is sealed VERY tight. Then start shaking it to mix everything up. If the lid isn’t tight, you will have a drink mix disaster of epic proportions. Once you have everything good and mixed up, put 3-4 teaspoons of the mix into 1 cup of hot water and enjoy. Trust me, this will taste like Christmas.

The Husband Dilemma

On the one hand, Michael did take the kids for most of yesterday so I could sneak off to the library for work.

But on the other hand, the house was destroyed when I got home.

But on the one hand, I did get some much needed work done, and he had the kids for four hours while I was gone and another three after I got back.

But on the other hand, it’s really, really hard to get ground in Play-doh out of the carpet.

But on the one hand, he also fixed dinner.

But on the other hand, he destroyed my kitchen in the process.

But on the one hand, it only took twenty minutes to clean up.

But on the other hand, I had already cleaned it twice yesterday, both times thanks to him and the kids.

But on the one hand, he made this really delicious Puerto Rican dish that I loved but can’t pronounce.

But on the other hand, he deep fried that dish… in a shallow pan. No matter how much I mop the kitchen, it still looks like the Exxon Valdez ran aground on our linoleum.

But on the one hand, he didn’t even complain that I came down to dinner an hour late.

But on the other hand, that dish was so deep fried I think I may drop dead of a heart attack at any moment. Does he want to kill me?!

But on the one hand, he did set up my BowFlex in the garage, so I can work out and be healthy.

But on the other hand, maybe he’s trying to tell me I’m fat and flabby…

But on the one hand, he did buy the first season of Heroes on DVD so we could watch it together.

But on the other hand, he KNOWS I need to get up at 5:30 AM, so why did he buy something that was so damned addicting to watch and yet can’t be viewed while the kiddies are up? I’m dragging today!

I dunno. Should I kill him, or jump his bones for joy? Both maybe? But in what order?

Husbands… Feh!