Monthly Archives: September 2014

The slow and steady

Over six months ago, I challenged myself to do 100 illustrations of my city of Vironevaeh, the fictitious city that is the unspellable namesake of this website. I would build my world in myriad ways, practice art, and create some beautiful scenes. On Thursday, I finished the fiftieth color image. I have images of city streets, markets, pets, agriculture, constellations, architecture, pastimes, clothing, family, and weather.



Eventually, I will have descriptions for each of them, and a place on the map. Eventually there will be at least 50 more. It’s a lot of work to do for something that probably won’t mean much to anyone besides me. But Vironevaeh is a city at my side for over 17 years, and it will mean a lot to me. I am so pleased with my progress. Here are a couple of my favorites:


A man showing a child constellations in the sky. These constellations are of Abenn the hermit and Peep the mouse, who hid away on Neva the spaceship. These legendary figures are the subject of my recent and free fairy tale The Lonely Man on the Ship. Sharp eyes may note that the people here are blue and green.



Children running with a kite in the countryside. A pretty typical scene even here on Earth, except for the lovely purple Vironevaehn sky. Also the fact the fog in the valleys behind them could be brain-eating. All in normal day!

Soon I’ll bind up a little fun book of my favorite ten illustrations, but for now, I’m basking. Onto the next milestone!


Writing prompt: Turning 200

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

(A quick aside: travel this month has damaged the regularity of my posting, but I am back now, with a Monday post and a Thursday writing prompt.)

“turning 200” (this prompt inspired by my grandmother-in-law’s recent 90th birthday.)

Heather surveyed the room of happy faces, here for her birthday party. She wasn’t the first person to turn 200, but she was the first she knew. She had lived a healthy life, reaching 95 before the longevity treatments became available. Since then it had been smoothing sailing. She didn’t feel a day over 65. Physically.

Several of her great-great-great-great grandchildren played across the room. She mostly didn’t know their names or the names of their parents. That was odd to realize. When she had an expiration date, the young had seemed like the greatest investment she could make, the only real way to some kind of reach beyond the grave. Now that she was still around… well even the 100 year olds had so much to learn. Apparently the country agreed with the average age in the senate at 120.

The guests sang happy birthday, and Heather sat politely through it. She could bear anything with equanimity. She had time. After cake, she checked the news, something to do.

Third bicentennial dies under unknown circumstances, one headline read. She pushed the article up. The authorities couldn’t tell what had killed the man. A scientist sourced noted how little was known about the physiology of the extremely aged, due to small sample size. The three cases would be researched extensively, no doubt.

Heather had faced death before. But now she quaked in her chair. If the treatments had limits, she would surely face them before they were solved. She wasn’t prepared. She had been before, resolved to her fate for decades. She walked out of the celebration. There were things to do.

The beautiful Library of Congress

The Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress is just across the street from the Capitol building in Washington DC. It may be the most beautiful building in the world. Completed in 1898, it is covered in sculptures and murals portraying gilded age ideals; one section of painting shows personifications of the various scientific disciplines from astronomy to biology.

If you are a fan of art nouveau works, as I am, the Thomas Jefferson building is almost overwhelming, draped from head-to-toe in exciting color and design. Below are just a few of the pictures I took. Additionally, the library houses several excellent rotating exhibits. DC has a lot of great institutions to visit, and Library of Congress should definitely be one you seek out.


Ceiling of the Great Hall


Skylights of the Great Hall


Looking across the Great Hall


Mosaic, Minerva of Peace, by Elihu Vedder

LOC-00753 LOC-00750

Writing prompt: Pop-up People

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Pop-up people”

Light speed was a drag—it left the far colonies as alien to us as Victorians from Flappers. So when GE broke the barrier, a cheer went up. There was more celebration than when Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic. But the scientists soon realized the limitations to their ©SuperWarp Field. No space more than a cubic millimeter could exceed light speed. We had communication, but no transportation.

Every attempt to spread the field beyond a cubic millimeter failed, often disastrously. Finally another idea arose—if the field couldn’t grow larger, maybe the object could grow smaller. The nucleus is compact enough, but around it, electrons swim in a luxuriant, and frankly wasteful, vacuum.

Using the repulsive nature of dark matter, Sandia devised a way to compress matter as in a neutron star. Suddenly, a cubic millimeter was a damned fine amount of space. We sent little grains of rice to the colonies, full of a thousand people and a multitude of machinery in compression stasis.

The pop-up people went to the stars.

Some More Fun with Pop-Ups

I’ve written a few times about my interest in pop-ups on this blog. I’ve played around with making them and I’ve found some toys with which to make them better. But pop-ups can be hard, and after a lot of play, I found myself a little discouraged. I would try and try, but I wouldn’t seem to approach a working solution. I put my pop-ups aside for a bit.

Then, last weekend, I took a pop-up book class through a local club. The class was instructed by Carol Barton, who has written several pop-up instructional books, as well as produced several artistic pop-up books. We made dozens of pop-ups in the class, ranging from very simple to more complex. We talked about different kinds of folds and cuts. Some of my pop-ups worked, some didn’t. My classmates experimented too. Carol was an excellent teacher, helping us to think intuitively about the pop-up rather than strictly mathematically. I came out of the weekend feeling much more confident. I might still make mistakes, but I work toward a better product eventually.

Below are some of my pop-ups. The two most complex pop-ups are ones I’ve worked on this last week. The last three ones I made in a few minutes in the class with scissors cutting by hand.

If you are interested in learning to make pop-ups, I recommend Carol’s books in the “Pocket Paper Engineer” series. They have excellent illustrations and explanations. Even better, they have pages for you to cut out and work on pre-designed pop-ups. These pages show you all the techniques of pop-up books, starting at the most simple and becoming more complex.


My big project this week: the Old Courthouse and the Arch in St. Louis. I programmed this in Illustrator and used my Silhouette Cameo to do the cuts.


Preliminary work on a pop-up of UVA’s Rotunda.


A simple saddle pop-up, cut by hand in class.


A pop-up made of a series of box pop-ups. It looks fancier than it is– it took no planning and only a few moments of snipping and folding to make.


A series of box folds to make a very simple yet in my opinion really interesting pop-up.