Nick news, ratmobiles, fountains, and more

Hey, my neighbor’s finally back from wintering in Arizona. My dad and I were starting to worry.

What else is new? The latest Nick White episode, for one thing.

The subtitles aren’t properly done yet because I keep getting some weird “taking longer than usual” error message when I try to fix the time codes on them, but I guess there’s not too many people who need to worry about it, and if you’re one of them, I’m working on it.

I think I have the text and punctuation and line breaks set now, will try again tomorrow to fix the sync/timing.

Other Nick news: I’ve finally started getting the extra interviews posted as text to the website for The Nick White Show.

So far I have Jason, Joanne, Paris, and Sally posted, with 5 more to go on the current list… though I think I’ll add more down the road, one for each character (eg. I really should have an interview with Zosime, but she wasn’t in the original interview list, and as we meet new characters like Nick’s long-suffering bandmates, I should add those as well.)

As normal when I have a new episode out, I have an ad running on Facebook to find more likes for the page and the show… still pretty small so far but posting more regular episodes will help (and I intend to). But also since I do have new people (up to 32 followers now!), I plan to post one interview each Saturday, starting with the video interview for Nick today. Kinda get folks up to speed… and maybe light a fire under my ass.

Speaking of Facebook pages… Noah’s up to 758 followers (but then I’ve done far more ads for Noah and also I post 6 comics or cartoons a week and have been doing so for 8 months now).

And it’s time to start posting more of my non-Nick-and-Noah art to Facebook and start building a little fan/customer base.

So, I’d made a page specifically for my art many moons ago but hadn’t posted in years and thus the page got unpublished. It only had 4 followers anyway, lol. But since it was specifically for my art, I debated reviving it… except why reinvent the wheel?

See, I also made a page for myself as a public figure almost 10 years ago when I was doing stand-up, and I have been posting Nick and Noah stuff there (I was gonna make a joke about how the 27 followers I have on that are just my core group of friends anyway… except I don’t recognize half the names so never mind).

Well, let’s tweak that into an art page, huh? Might as well.

So, follow my FB page here: Pyra Draculea Official

I did add artist and comedian to the categories, but it still displays as just “Public figure” lol…

Anyway, I suppose once I have it a bit more populated with paintings I’ll probably run some ads for that as well.

But first, I think I should be posting more drawings etc.

Speaking of populating paintings, I sure need to figure out a better means of photographing mine, especially if it’s going to involve bigger canvases.

To get the final proper pic for the painting that’s going into the upcoming Cowichan Valley Arts Council‘s Fine Arts Show, I ended up draping a black sheet over the bannister of my stairs into my dining room and over two chairs, putting the painting in front of that sheet on the two chairs, setting up my two softboxes, and trying a couple different lenses on my DSLR.

Not ideal, but good enough for this week’s rush.

The 85mm telephoto ended up being the winner, but I was squished against the window on the far end of the dining room to get the whole painting in the frame. Yikes.

Next time I might have to do it in the living room, which is longer if I’m going to use the telephoto.

But meh, I think over the summer I’m mostly doing smaller drawings and watercolors/gelli prints/mixed media which are way easier to shoot, and some I might be able to simply scan instead.

Well, since I’m talking art or the pretence thereof…

I didn’t get too many Ricky B drawings done this week, but of the two I did, this is my favorite:

“Important cheese business” lol… I do laugh at my own jokes, especially when they’re dumb.

“Doing rat shit” = driving around in tiny cars, perhaps? Somewhere on FB I saw a meme about that, that rats love to drive around in little cars, so I looked it up:

Key take-aways: even rats love the freedom of movement and speed and agency and autonomy.

One could also draw some comparisons with humans, with the rats from more enriched environments who took to the cars faster being similar to suburban and rural humans and the rats from the standard shitty lab cages being more like urban people living in little skybox condos… and note that while the “urban” rats were skittish of cars initially, it ended up reducing their stress to the level of their “rural” neighbors.

Reminds me of when I was getting my old pin-up tattoos zapped off years ago (before getting the big floral cover-ups: dude who was doing the lasering lived in downtown Vancouver and worked in Gastown, but he told me he had a cabin in the woods just past Harrison Hot Springs and on Friday afternoons he’d race to get to his car, grab his weekend provisions, and book it to the cabin til Sunday evening. Without that escape he would have gone nuts.

My brother told me when he used to live in the West End of Vancouver he went camping every single chance he got.

When I lived in Vancouver I’d become almost entirely nocturnal and I used to spend a couple hours a night unwinding by driving around the city and suburbs blasting loud music in the wee hours before heading home to crash. (Gas was cheaper then, of course.)

Turns out even rats benefit from that sorta thing… remember that the next time you hear some swine from the UN or city hall spewing shit about “15 minute cities” and how we need to drive less.

No, fuck you. You need to get nuclear power going all over to make electric cars more efficient and less polluting and otherwise mind your business and suck an old-fashioned carbon monoxide-spewing tail pipe.

WaPo almost connected the dots but almost purposefully misses the point in drawing lines from the rats’ stress levels improving when they could drive and how that might apply to humans and depression:

Oh and then there’s this: “And the rats that actually got to drive the cars, researchers found, appeared to be less stressed than rats that were merely passengers in remotely controlled versions.”

You still want those self-driving cars? Only if you’re gullible.

But back to the rats driving. It seems they didn’t give the little guys stereos in their cars but I think we all know what they’d be blasting if they could:

(Ricky’s probably more of a Ramones kinda dude, though. And if he were to listen to hard rock instead of punk, he seems like he’s be into Danko Jones.)

Other rodent art: The Bono Mouse sketchbook project continues unabated. My favorite of the week:

The book is starting to fill up, with 2/3 of the spreads having at least one drawing on them. By the middle of May I’ll be onto filling in any blank pages in the spreads, then sometime in the summer it’ll be into layering more drawings on top and in any available blank spot. (Eg, under Bono Mouse’s cheese-grubbing paws on the above page, ditto the top right corner.)

It’s funny how a project that started as a “I will never tell anyone I’m doing this” thing is now something I post a weekly update on, and I think when the book is totally full I’ll probably film and post a a sketchbook tour video.

The only question who will be more offended and confused: U2 fans or friends of mine who absolutely despite Bono? LOL…

What else? Well, this week my new clarinet teacher and I solved a big question of why the Hell I have such trouble playing. Turns out the BG ligature I was using was deadening the reed too much – when I tried my teacher’s metal ligature, it was like night and day. So much easier.

So this coming week I’ll try a few different types of ligature and buy a new one and in the meantime I have the crappy cheap metal one that came with the clarinet which is much easier to play.

Of course, BG ligatures are usually very highly reviewed, so what’s wrong with mine? Most BG ligatures I see online have a metal plate that goes against the back of the reed but mine doesn’t. It’s just a vinyl band… and I did buy this one off Amazon… maybe it’s a knock-off?(Although there is an identical one with no plate on the BG website.)

Anyway, clearly not the ligature for me at this stage of my playing.

So there’s a mystery of over a year now solved.

What else did I do this week other than a lot of drawing of Noah (as with every week)… I went to Butchart Gardens but let’s wrap up by talking about my own garden instead.

Well… first a few pics of Butchart:

Imagine the smell with the thousands of hyacinths, cherry blossoms, and daffodils in bloom. Fantastic.

But back to mine, which is sorely lacking in hyacinths with just a few puny ones around my front door… I should fix that this fall…

Well, I’ve gone around surveying what winter damage I have incurred. The top 6″ of the baby silk tree seems to be dead, along with some of the side branches from last year, but under that it’s alive and well. In theory a silk tree can put on 3′ of growth in a season, which would get this guy to be taller than me by fall, but then they also say that a tree or shrub’s second season in the ground usually is all about the root system and you might not see much growth in height, so I guess we’ll see.

Similarly the ‘Summer Gold’ dwarf dogwood is looking worse for wear and I worried it might have completely perished, but its trunk is alive (also 6-8″ down from its previous growing tip, which is all dead). So we’ll see how that fares season too.

I think the false spring kinda tricked these guys, because I could have sworn that in late January both were alive all the way to their tips, but in mid-February we had a couple nights with hard frosts after it had been warming up, the in late Febraury it had been warming up and then had a night of -10ºC with a couple other hard frost nights to follow, then in mid-March we had this abomination:

See that swing around St. Paddy’s from -2.6 to 10.9 then down to -2.8 and up to 13.3 and down to just above freezing up to 16.4? That fucks shit up. Or at least it seems to me I noticed a lot of dead-looking tips and buds after that week.

It was -1 yesterday morning and fingers crossed that was the last of it. It’s still colder than normal, but in theory we’re past the usual last frost date, and the 14 day forecast shows no further frosts, though it might get down to 1ºC on Tuesday night. That meant I gave in to temptation (and tempting fate) by buying some annuals and filling a couple hanging baskets I had kicking around, plus a pedestal planter.

I didn’t really pay attention to what went in each planter other than they each got a lotus vine for a trailer and the fuschia all went into the hanging basket by my north door as that gets the most shade.

The first night I had them done, we had some vicious winds and it did go to zero overnight, but only for a couple hours from 4-6am, and it seems I got away with it because I have no frost damage.

Similarly, I got started on my fountains.

I had this one last year, but against the wall of the house. I moved it to the other side of the covered patio because last year I had some birds hit the window it was under come summertime and in theory if I put it 6 feet over the little shits have time to change course… on the other hand, birds are dumb, so…
This one is new. Frankly, the sound isn’t very pleasant up close, and since it’s under the window of my desk which will be open all day long all summer long, and is 20 feet from my neighbor’s porch where she and her friends like to sit and play cards in the summer, I will probably put it in the back end of the yard by the shed (it sounds better from a distance, and the closest anyone might sit to it there would be 25′ away in my gazebo). Putting it further might also encourage the birdies to use this one as a water source instead of the other fountain… so I guess they’ll fly into the wall of the shed instead.

I will have to watch the forecast for the next week and if it looks like we’re going down to freezing overnight, I’ll have to empty the fountains… well, the taller one would probably be fine but the short one might not be due to its shape.

In other garden acquisition news, I’ve been thinking of getting a small greenhouse and my dad spotted one on sale in Princess Auto’s flyer for half what my neighbors paid for a similar sized kit from Buckerfield’s. We went down there and there weren’t any in stock, but were able to order it brought in from their Milton, ON location. It’ll be here in 2 weeks; too late to use for this season’s seed starting but that just means we have all summer to get the mulch pile cleared off of the concrete patio where it will be set up so that it can be used come fall for winter greens and then next year’s seed starting.

Nice little bit of the kinda synchronicity Julia Cameron talks about showing up in your life when you start doing all the creating stuff you’re supposed to be doing.

Anyway, let’s wrap up with some pics of what’s already in the garden.

‘Quebec’ tulips… y’know, in Canada we talk of Quebec as a distinct society with its own traditions. In my yard that translates into these tulips thriving when most of the other tulips I planted in 2019 have slowly petered out.
‘Sailboat’ daffodils… daffs do way better in my yard, ditto snowdrops and chionodoxa. I have plans for my remaining lawn this fall that will pertain to this bit of trivia… if I get around to it.
Some kind of saxifrage earning its keep.
Same spirea as last week only now it’s more fully in bloom
‘Showoff Starlet’ dwarf forsythia… there’d been another on the other side of the path but I thought I had to move it and it didn’t survive the transplanting. Oh well.
Fritillaria imperialis ‘Lutea’ – they’re impressive but only for a week or two and they’re not cheap, otherwise I’d have a ton more of these.

One of the more established hellebores; they’re all still going and I have a bunch of newbies to plant, too.