Sunday, June 28, 2009

Art projects

I've been feeling extra creative lately. A couple more reliquaries, and a weird little creepy picture thing (above).

And more pictures of my custom Blythe. I loves her!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Back to Blythes

I finally started working on my custom Blythe doll again, after having problems with the eyes and getting frustrated. They still don't work perfectly, but it's my first custom job so overall I'm fairly happy with the result. She's wearing a wig right now which looks pretty cool, but my next project is to make some permanent hair for her. It doesn't seem to be a trivial task so we'll see how that turns out.

The doll to the far right in the top pic will be my next custom job. The others are too pretty as they are to cut up.

Two sides of a predator

This cat:

Can also be this cat:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This spider is far less charismatic

Obviously I have an unhealthy affinity for invertebrates, but even I get creeped out by some of them. Giant spiders like this give me the heebeejeebies, I just can't help it. One of the office staff at work brought this in to me, already dead, so I'm going to try to make something cool out of it.

Jasper has moved on to slightly easier prey this evening, snatching this still-steaming french fry from my dinner plate and quickly beheading it. I thought it looked like a good Lolcats opportunity.

Cryptic jumping spider

Not so cryptic on the screen door, unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home to Morgantown

Summer is here, everything's in bloom and the bugs are out.

I came home from France just in time to catch a water lily blooming in my neglected koi pond. Now that there are no more fish to knock them around and uproot them, the lilies are doing much better. I think this is the first time that one has bloomed.

My butterfly weed is also in full bloom, attracting honey bees and monarch butterflies.

Jasper is happy to be back outside killing small helpless mammals. Here she's toying with a mouse (that I ended up having to finish off, ugh), and this afternoon I found a dead chipmunk in the basement. Ah, the joys of cat ownership.

Twenty-four-odd hours in Paris

I stayed at a hotel in the northern part of Paris, close to the Montmarte, which is the highest point in Paris. As you walk up to the top of the Montmarte, you can look back down the street for some beautiful views of the city.

View from the top of the Montmarte.

Sacre Coeur cathedral at the top of the Montmarte.

There was a little square by the cathedral where several artists had set up their easels, painting and selling their wares.

A cheese store on the way back down from the Montmarte.

My hotel was also close to the Moulin Rouge.

For my last stop I took the Metro down to see Notre Dame cathedral. The last time I was in Paris the front face of the building was being restored, so this time I was able to get some better pictures.

Close up of the spire at Notre Dame, bristling with gargoyles.

All in all a nice trip, but still kind of nice to be back home. I'll post some pictures of that later on.


The trip to France was great, work-wise and personal-wise. The only unenjoyable part of the trip was the air travel, and I'll just get that out of the way here:

Maybe I'm just getting old and curmudgeonly, but goddamn the seats seemed particularly small on this flight. It was hard to arrange my limbs and get comfortable in this tiny cramped space, and when I dropped my iPod case I just had to wait until the flight was over, there was no way I was going to be able the reach down to the floor and find it. And don't even get me started with the security theater I had to participate in to get back in the US at the Pittsburgh airport...

Anyway, once in France I took a train to Roscoff on the northern coast. Roscoff is a beautiful little seashore town with a biological institute, which is where the meeting was held. I was mostly busy going to talks and doing other meeting stuff while I was there, but I took a few pictures.

Tide going out, all of the boats anchored in the harbor would just be left dry until the tide came in again.

An artichoke field amidst stone buildings.

Next post: Paris!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy birthday to me, part II

Jasper's first kill of the year. Thank you, sweetie!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy birthday to me

My birthday presents for myself- bug catching stuff.

A rare sighting of the Morgantown jungle cat.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I collect little bits and pieces of things that I guess you could call bioephemera, to borrow the name of one of the blogs that I read. Bones, bugs, plants, anything that happens to catch my eye while I'm walking along outside. For awhile I've had the idea of making little soldered boxes to keep them in, called reliquaries (it's not exactly an original idea; Jane Wynn, for example, makes beautiful biology-themed reliquaries). The only rules for the objects I collect are that I don't kill anything (they have to be already dead, or well on their way out in the case of some of the insects), and I don't buy anything at the store (which would likely mean that someone else had to kill something in order for it to be there). It's not because I'm some kind of pacifist, I just think it's more challenging to leave what I find up to chance.

Anyway, here are the three I've made so far: