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Taral Wayne
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Wee Beastie

2 min read

For some time, now, I've been finding little "presents" around my apartment that tell me that a mouse has taken up residence. I've seen it a number of time, and more brazenly each time. Two weeks, I saw it saunter out into the living room, as confident as though it were the owner. It disappeared, as before behind a cabinet that I'm unable to move without a tremendous amount of trouble. So, I've ignored it, figuring that my place is clean, I leave no food around, and my groceries are all in jars or cans, or refrigerated. Eventually, the mouse would stop coming around here without finding food. Making a living is tough enough for a mouse, without wasting effort. So far, it seemed to be working. I hadn't seen the pest for those last too weeks. But I spoke too soon. Yesterday, I used the washroom and noticed movement in the bath tub. I looked and fund it was my mouse! I don't know how it climbed up the tub in the first place, but plainly it was unable to climb out. The presents suggested that it had been hiding in my tub for a couple of days, in fact. Once I was sure the thing couldn't escape, I went to the kitchen for a large, clear plastic jar that had previously held cashews. I clapped the jar over the mouse and scooped it in with the lid. That easily, I looked the wee beast in the eye and wondered what to do with it next. They have a poor chance of survival if removed from its native surroundings -- which happened to be my apartment. But obviously, I didn't want it to have the free run of my place, regardless of its chances. So I took it out in the hall and let it go... let it be some other apartment dweller's problem. The last I saw of wee mousie it was running hell-bent-for-leather down the hall and would likely run smack into the fire door at the end, if it didn't stop. Like I said ... no longer my problem. It was either that or down the toilet, and – while it may all be the same in the end – I didn’t have the heart for aggravated mousicide.

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How did it happen? Another two months have gone by, and what have I got to show for it? Not much.

There has been a little news, but not much of it good. For instance, I saved up my pension for a number of months, meaning to order some interesting new coins. One was from medieval Florence, two from medieval Venice, one from the reign of Edward IV in the 15th. century, a fourth that was struck by the second son of Pompey the Great, after Caesar’s assassination, that would have completed my collection of both sons, and the end of the Pompeian dynasty. There were other, lesser coins as well, but what did it matter? Everyone of them was lost in the mail! The dealer mailed them and the coins never arrived in my mail box!

The “good” news is that I’m not on the hook. My dealer and I have a good relationship, and – trusting me -- he unfortunately mailed the goods before I authorized payment. When they never arrived, he began a postal investigation that he said would never likely find the missing items, and wrote off the entire loss himself. I’m happy personally, but I wanted the coins that I was willing to pay for. Also, the investigation showed that the package was delivered to the local post office, and then to the carrier. So what happened to the coins? That’s easily explained ... the moron put my package in the wrong mail box in my building, and some dishonest crook, who might live just down the hall from me, opened the package, read the itemized invoice and – even though they likely had no idea what old coins were worth – instantly understood what $1600 on the bottom line meant. He or she then took my coins to a pawn shop, maybe got $100 for them, the pawn show pocketed the rest, and my dealer and I got screwed. Right now I don’t feel kindly to my neighbors, one of whom knew full well that they were stealing from me.

I lied. There is no other news. Oh, except I lost my prescription sunglasses. It would cost me about $100 to replace them, unfortunately, so I’ll be doing without them. I’ll do without my prescription glasses, which I rarely use anyway, and use regular sunglasses that cost next to nothing. So the “good” news is only that I’m not dodging Russian artillery shells while living in the Ukraine.

Although I have no news to share, I have been working. I’m slowly progressing on some colour artwork that will be published in a British fanzine sometime in the Spring. I’ve also been writing quite a lot, working carefully on a new piece of Fraggle Rock fiction, the one that introduces the characters of Kiki and Darl, and explains how Darl starts as a Silly Creature yet ends as a Fraggle. It’s turning out to be a challenge, with subtleties of character I hadn’t suspected would emerge, and curious symmetries in the story-telling that I also hadn’t suspected where there. At the moment I’m around 17,000 words into the story, and I think it is unlikely to fall short of 24,000. It gets quite dark at times, too.

But it all works out in the end... which is more than I can say I feel likely to happen in real life.

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It's mid-winter 2022, about 8 months since my last journal post. Surprisingly, little has happened since then. The pandemic goes on, and I'm beginning to think it will never truly end ... just fizzled into another "flu" that kills mostly seniors (like myself) on a seasonal basis, adding another half-million unnecessary deaths every year. But everyone is determined to lift preventative measures, blithely assuming that the last peak of the virus will not simply revisit with another peak... possibly a worse one than Omicron. There is the war in Ukraine to liven things up, of course, and as the world's autocrats grown bolder and more evil, there's no guarantee that, as soon as next week, events in Europe (or over Taiwan or South Korean belligerency) won't result in the end of civilization as we know it. So maybe Alfred E. Nieman had it right ... "What, me worry?" In the meantime my life plods on. I draw very little, without reviving my interest. I read a little, muck around the apartment, see no friends but for one, but have nowhere to go with the weather is so formidable, watch movies, eat, sleep and wait for something better to come along. A cure for getting old would be good. The indictment of Donald Trump for federal crimes and treason would inspire me. A movie contract to film to my Fraggle Rock fantasy, stipulating no interference, would restore my sense of purpose. But failing that, I am largely without purpose or satisfaction.

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It Is This What the End Feels Like?

I was beginning to feel as though it was time to update my journal. Then I realized that the last entry I made was as long ago as the end of March! That meant that it had been about three months since I wrote for my journal, a record that was unnecessary to check for accuracy.

What happened to result in such procrastination? I don't really know where the time has gone, despite so little having been accomplished in the last weeks. If anything, I feel as though my activity rates have in fact improved somewhat since the end of winter. Yet it is hard to account for how three entire months slipped by so easily.

What I can account for seems to focus on the day-to-day, such as being able to travel more widely with the arrival of better weather. For instance, rather than having to rely on supermarket brands, I recently stocked up on fresh coffee beans from the Farmer's Market. If nothing else, beans from the market are cheaper as well as fresher.

Another small change in my routine was the also new BluRay player installed in my computer. Now I’ll be able to play BluRays while I’m at my work station, not only when I’m sitting on my couch next to my big flat-screen TV.

I've also replaced my keyboard and mouse with wireless models. They were themselves replacements for a much older mouse and keyboard set, but I was curious about wireless ones whose price had fallen.The set I bought was particularly cheap, and – after about a year of use – I realized that the mouse wasn't working right. The mouse would scroll down a few lines, and then spring back to where it was, or even farther up the page.As though that were not annoying enough, half the lettering had worn off the keyboard. While I do touch-type, I need subliminal cues to correct my typing that prevent my aim from drifting off the right keys. So, I splurged for a new set, wired the old-fashioned way, that were better made. You get what you pay for…

I also bought a gizmo that I clip on my finger, and which tells me my pulse rate, blood pressure and blood oxygenation level. For some time, I had been concerned that my measured oxygen level had been low, and that it might be affecting my sleep. It had been noted by my physician that I had low blood oxygen levels before. The gizmo was not especially expensive, so I had one ordered on the internet. Now I know for sure that my blood really is a little too "blue" to be ideal ... although I think not dangerously so. As well, I already knew my blood pressure tends to be higher than is good … but also not critically so. I take more drugs than the Freak Brothers to keep everything under control, and hopefully I have a number of years left on my warranty before it expires.

The biggest purchase I made was a new back-up hard drive. My system HD is only about four gigs, which is not generous. Even so, I still have almost a third of my memory available for new files. The problem wasn’t my system drive, but my back-up, which was only a half-gig. Although I don't store software on the back-up, all the art, text and photos I have saved fill the drive entirely. I had resorted to storing temporary memory on USB sticks in the interim. So, I decided that it was time for a replacement, and found a 2 tev hard drive for under a hundred dollars that will serve my needs for a very long time. At 2 tev, the new drive is actually a lot larger than my main system drive! When I have the time, I plan to add another 2 tev drive to my main system as well … but with a third of my HD still free, there is no hurry.

One reason I hadn't run out of space earlier is that I have all but given up storing new files found on the internet. Many of the files are art that I like, but I also need a lot of space for downloads from NASA sites.

Spending money has also helped enormously to drive away winter and departing pandemic doldrums, but my recent blahs have had another source. I just don’t quite know how to put it. The simplest explanation may be that I have lost most of my interest as an artist. I am particularly unmoved by furry art, which arrives through the internet by the gig-load every day. And it is all the same. No-one does anything different, whether cats, dogs, wolves, skunks, dragons, cetaceans or bizarre Pokemon-like creatures with extra tails, horns and unexpected mouths. Don't get me wrong ... much of it is very good art. But how many drawings of adult My Little Pony babes do you want to look at before you get tired of them? Or of Disney characters doing a mash-up with the Simpsons or The Borg? Sadly, I've long since reached my limit, and I've stopped downloading most art.

There are a few artists that I'm still sympathetic to for one reason or another, and will continue to "collect," but there is very little likelihood that I will ever fill the majority of a new 2 tev hard drive.

The worst of it is that I've been as guilty of this glut of art as anyone. I've been dumping uninspired art on the internet – mostly furry art – for a long time. People seemed to like it, and I was willing to please them. At a rough guess, I'd say that I had mostly lost interest in what I was doing for myself sometime as early as 2012, or at latest by 2015. Where I still felt an interest, I was increasingly turning away from furry to human subjects, or gaining inspiration from writing stories about Fraggle Rock. The important thing was that I had to break away from repeating the same poses and characters over and over. It was as though I had completely used up all the old ideas!

I suppose I had used them up. To be honest, the stroke I suffered four or five years ago likely accelerated the process, but was not responsible for it. My decay was already well in evidence before the year or two that it took for me to recover most of my faculties and skills. I would have reached this point sooner or later, and the stroke only made me face an inescapable fact: I will turn 70 in less than four months.

Where do matters stand now? That’s very hard to say. The last two years have not been helpful for anyone trying to cope, and no more so for myself. Certainly, I've had to face a few difficult adjustments, not all of which I feel like discussing.

I was 21 in 1972, when I first understood what I meant to say that I was an artist. I wasn't very good at the time, but I quickly grew in skill, and have consistently sought new horizons. Now that it is 2021, I have been an artist for 50 years. Might it be time for me to concede that I have relinquished the title, and I am no longer an artist?

No, I suppose that is too late to go back all the way to the start. But I think it is time that I stopped calling myself a serious artist, as though it was spelled in caps, and admit that I drew for no other reason than that I felt like drawing, and not care what anyone else thought about it. Fifty years is too long to go on trying to be serious...

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I just tried to upload some new art, only to discover that there seems no way to organize it as I want it.  Instead, new posts go to a "new" folder, or to "all", but I can no longer organize them into theme folders or a featured folder.  I've searced until I've poked and pressed everything twice, but I cut can't seem to find to add stuff.  Deviant Art hasn't worked quite right for at least a year, and I'm more than a little cheesed off about it.
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