[Art] Happy Birthday Banjo 2019


Banjo was born in Southern California, but he loved the snow! Today in 2000 was his adoption day (I’ve heard it called Gotcha Day), and I always used to make him a special treat. Now that he’s gone, I like to draw a picture for him.

He definitely would have loved the storm we just got, about 14 inches of snow!


[Story] Character of the Week – Hraavik

[[ Hraavik is the main character from my 2005 NaNo novel, Eishundr. Basically, they are dog Vikings — yeah I know, but it makes sense in the book! This is a story that takes before the novel, when Hraavik was a young man. Young dog. Whatever. ]]

The alluring scent of roasting meat and pouring ale met Hraavik’s nose as they dragged their boat up onto the rocky shore. Alrik smelled it as well, his ears perking with interest. Spirits all around the village were high, lamps burned bright in every window, the fences draped with evergreen boughs and bright sour winter berries.

“We’d best hurry,” said Alrik, looping the rope over the tether. “Else they’ll eat and drink everything before we get there.”

Hraavik nodded, pausing to hoist the bundles of furs onto his shoulder. As much as his friend was right — the feast had no doubt already begun, and they shouldn’t wait too long to join — those skins were the whole reason they had gone out in the first place. He couldn’t very well leave all of that value just sitting out in the fog and snow where anyone might take it. “Go on ahead,” he told Alrik. “Save some for me.”

Candles burned warm and bright in the window of his parents’ house, but they had already gone on to the feast. His father’s workbench was strewn with little curls and chips of wood, still smelling fresh. When he was young, his father had carved him countless toys there — figures of warriors and animals, bristly trees and rounded boulders. Now he was too old for such things, and too young to have sons of his own. He supposed his father carved now for himself, or for Hraavik’s mother, or perhaps only out of habit. Hraavik tucked the bundle of furs underneath the table and made certain the door of their house was closed before he hurried down the path toward the feast hall.

The whole of the village had gathered in the hall, a long and imposing building nestled safely within the forest. Its many windows glowed bright, throwing squares of light onto the cold snowy ground outside. Inside, a joyous riot of smells and sounds — the rich smell of the beer, stacked in its aged oak barrels, the spiced sweet bread and roasted nuts, rich delicious meat crackling over the fire, singing and toasting and boasting. They had to celebrate now, while they could, for behind the smiles and cheer they all knew what awaited just outside — the cold bite and merciless blizzards of the northern winter. The grey days would stretch into weeks and months without fresh food or sunlight, and dangerous spirits would stalk the frigid woods. Some would no doubt fall to winter’s fangs, the very old and the very young were most at risk. But not here, not tonight. Tonight the old ones happily gnawed at bones, the young ones bounced on their parents’ knees and grabbed from their plates. Tonight no one would speak of the winter that awaited them, only look back fondly on the year that had passed and celebrate their time together.

Hraavik sat at his father’s side, as was custom for an eldest son. He nodded to his father, who had already devoured one plate full of food.

“You’re late,” he grumbled.

“Sorry,” Hraavik said, piling some of the roasted meat onto his own plate. There were so many good things, he hardly knew where to start. He took some of the root vegetables, the hot grainy bread with berry jam, and aged cheese. “We got a lot of furs, though. Alrik’s a good trapper.”

“Hm,” said Hraavik’s father, glancing across the table to where Alrik sat with his parents. “I hear he’s found a wife as well.”

Hraavik turned an ear back and frowned. “Yeah, I think so.”  It was true in fact, Alrik had already told Hraavik about his plans to offer Tola a ring. They’d met Tola, striking with her dark markings, the summer before. She was from a neighboring clan, but had relatives among their people. Hraavik had thought her strong and beautiful, but she’d only had eyes for Alrik from the start. Was he jealous? Perhaps a little. He worried that his friend might not have time for him any longer, but it hadn’t really been the case. The worst thing was that he spoke of Tola constantly, always telling stories of things she’d said, or looking for gifts to give her. Everything seemed to go so easily for them, and Hraavik had no doubt that once they’d married, everything would continue to do so. Nothing had been easy for Hraavik; despite having a good family and a strong father, none of the girls in the village had paid him any attention. Maybe he was just too shy, he never knew what to say to them. Alrik said just to speak to them as you’d speak to a friend, but that didn’t seem to work either.

There were girls that he hadn’t seen before, daughters of families far up in the hills who didn’t come into the village often. Some of them were bringing drinks to the table, taking away empty plates, laughing with the young men. One drew Hraavik’s eye right away, a girl with long flowing bright hair. She had braided some of it, and tied it with a ribbon. Had someone given that to her? Probably so. Hraavik drank his beer glumly as he tried to imagine which of them it was, but the girl didn’t seem to speak to anyone more than the others. Maybe he could try to talk to her, but not during the meal when it was so loud. He’d wait until the dancing started, and he could offer his arm. At least that way, if she refused, no one else would have to know. Hraavik tried to watch her, keep track of where she went, in spite of the crowd she stood out to him like a bright star in the winter sky.

Just like talking to anyone else, Hraavik assured himself, but he could feel his palms sweating as he approached her. She turned to look at him, her long lashes lowered.

“I saw you watching me,” she said, and a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth.

“Oh,” said Hraavik. “Do you want to dance?” The words came tumbling out of their own accord, not how he’d planned it at all. He felt his ears getting hot.

The girl threw her hair back over her shoulders. “All right. But I don’t know your name.”

“H-Hraavik,” he said.

The girl took his hand and led him to the dance floor. “I’m Rania.”

[Art/Story] Character of the Week – Shenandoah

[[ Shenandoah is a very old character of mine, dating back to around 1996 or 1997.  Originally she was made for an RP based on Balto (DON’T JUDGE ME) so she was living in a little town in Alaska, after her owner moved from Seattle to open a dress shop. Later on she became something of a personal avatar, and I have a lot of art of her representing me. It was really fun to draw her again, I’ve missed her! ]]


Shenandoah knew that their new home would be different; since her human started packing everything into boxes, she could sense the air of excitement around the house. All of her human’s clothes and belongings, all of her fabric and mannequins and sewing things went into the boxes, along with her vases and dishes, the furniture wrapped up in cloth. Shenandoah investigated all of these new things thoroughly, sniffing around them and exploring beneath the drapes of fabric. Her human laughed and ruffled her ears. One day a lot of men came and took all of the boxes away, this worried Shenandoah because they were her human’s things, and she barked in protest. But her human stroked her head and told her it would be all right, so she had to trust that it would be. Later that day, her human put the leash around her neck and they went in a carriage to the docks. Shenandoah was eager to sniff everything there; while she’d smelled the sea from afar she had never been so close and there were exciting smells everywhere. But her human gently tugged on the leash and she followed obediently onto the boat. She was put into a dark crate filled with straw, with a little bowl of water. But then the crate was closed behind her and it was dark and frightening. Shenandoah barked and cried, scratching at the wooden walls around her, but no one came. She curled up, trembling, with her tail over her nose and tried to sleep but it was much too scary. The floor beneath her rocked and swayed, and she could smell all sorts of strange things in the other boxes. She did not know how long she was there, but relief flooded over her once the crate was opened again and her human stood there before her. Shenandoah leapt up happily and licked her human, grateful that she had been rescued from that terrible dark place.

She noticed right away that it smelled different — the ground and plants smelled different, and there were many more dogs around. There had been dogs in their old city too, she often smelled their marks while they walked on the streets. But here they were everywhere, lounging beside buildings, watching her warily. The look of them frightened her a little, they looked rough and ragged, as if they had not been brushed for ages. Many had scars crossing their muzzles, and their eyes looked hard and bright. Shenandoah watched them from afar, sitting on her haunches, as the man carried all of the crates into their new home. After she was certain that her human didn’t need any help, Shenandoah ventured out into the evening to explore. Though she thought it was late, the sun still hung in the dusky sky. This was puzzling, but Shenandoah accepted it as just another different thing here. There were hardly any trees, nor grass, instead a sort of plant that clung close to the ground. Much of the town was muddy, and there were wooden walkways to travel along. The town as a whole seemed much smaller than their old city; there were only a few roads and it didn’t take her long to make her way along all of them.

Some of the strange dogs approached her, their hackles raised and their lips pulled back into savage snarls. She tried to introduce herself, but could only manage a frightened little yelp as they nosed rudely at her. She fled, her tail tucked under herself, squeezing under one of the nearby buildings. Shenandoah crouched in the dark place, trying to will herself not to tremble. She didn’t like this new place! But her human had brought her here, and there had to be some reason. Dogs couldn’t always understand what humans did, she had learned that already. Her ears perked at the sound of the other dogs scuffling nearby — were they going to follow her under here? They were all larger than her, bigger dogs than she’d seen before. Back in the city, most dogs had been smaller than her, but here she felt like a tiny pup. She began to whimper again, remembering the friendly dogs along their walking route. The little black one with the pointed ears, the one with long hair that covered her eyes, the long one with the always wagging tail. Why weren’t there any dogs like that here? They seemed wild and savage, all gleaming eyes and fangs.

Shenandoah realized once her initial fear had passed that she was not alone in her hiding place. In the far corner, a shadowed shape moved and began to draw nearer — she could smell that it was a dog, but it was far larger than any dog should be. Cautiously, she showed her teeth — though she had never bitten anyone, she would defend herself if it came to that.

“I do not mean to hurt you,” said the dog. His voice was deep and rumbly, but his face was kind. She believed him, and relaxed a little, trying to get a closer sniff of him.

“You are new here?” he asked. His fur was long and plush, brown with a white stripe down the center of his face. His ears and jowls were long and drooped down around his face.

Shenandoah nodded. Was it that obvious? Of course it was. She didn’t belong here, and anyone could see that.

The big dog settled down onto his belly, his massive front paws stretched out in front of him. He looked out between the boards and saw that the other dogs had left in search of some other prey.

“Who are they?” Shenandoh whispered.

“Sled dogs,” the big dog explained. “Humans use them to pull things over the snow. They aren’t like you.”

Shenandoah frowned, her ears dipping backward briefly. “What does that mean?”

“You have a human, yes?” His dark eyes studied her with a hint of humor.

She nodded.

“You live inside a house?”

She nodded again.

“They don’t. They are given food, but otherwise they look after themselves. They have a hard life. You can’t really blame them.”

Shenandoah regarded the other dog suspiciously. “What about you?”

He smiled, his tongue lolling over his massive jaws. “I’m a house dog now, like you. But I worked when I was younger. I pulled things too, but heavy things. Usually things from the grocery. Too old for that now.”

“Oh,” said Shenandoah. He wasn’t so bad. Perhaps the other dogs would be too, once they were older.

“Please don’t think ill of all of us,” said the big dog. “There are many who are kind and friendly. And some who look fierce but are only trying to protect themselves. I’ll show you around.”

Her ears perked up. “Oh, would you?”

“Of course.” The big dog exhaled a heavy sigh as he got to his paws. “I’m Bruno. What’s your name?”

“Shenandoah,” she said, her tail wagging over her haunches. “Or just Shen, that’s what my human says most of the time.”

Bruno nodded. “Come along, Shen. I’ll give you the tour.”

[Art] Art Fight

More that I happened to like ~


A’ramin Tia ~ UrbanHermit (Jae)


John – DeathByUFO


Lavender – LavenderArts


Peri ~ Bekuno

[Art] Art Fight

My favorites from today!


Crackers – Hunny-Bunny


Demetrius – DeathByUFO


Sneezy Dazzlebees – AngelSami

[Art] Happy Birthday Banjo

Today was Banjo’s “birthday” – actually his adoption day, sometimes called a “gotcha day”. I would always make him cupcakes, and sometimes he would get a cheeseburger too.


[Story] Story a Week 4

[[ Prompt: The Afterlife ]]

Banjo awoke in a sunny field, the grass soft and warm beneath him. It was speckled with little flowers and he could smell their light, sweet aroma carried on the hint of breeze. Not far away, he could hear the gurgle of a stream over rocks, the promise of fresh water. But there was something odd about it. For one thing, he wasn’t wearing his collar. His collar was important, it had his name on it in case he should get lost. He’d never been without it, only when he was having a bath. Was he having one now? He didn’t think so. For the other, more distressing thing: his human was nowhere near. He couldn’t see her, or smell her. She would never leave him alone like this. It had to be some mistake. Even when she went away from the house, her smell was still there. Banjo tried to remember back to what had happened before. He remembered riding in the car with his human, wrapped in a soft towel. She had held him on her lap. It had hurt a lot then.

Looking down at his paws, Banjo realized that they no longer hurt. The ache that had crept into his joints over the years was gone. He hadn’t just forgotten it momentarily — it was gone. He gave a little jump to test it, then a larger leap, then he bounded over the grass, his tail aloft like a flag. He felt young and strong again, like he could run for a hundred years. His human would be so pleased! They could go for hikes in the forest again, sniff all the strange plants and animals. He especially liked it when she gave him water out of his own special bottle. It somehow tasted better than the bowl water. Imagine all the adventures they could have again! Lately he’d just been too tired, too sore, to walk for very long. Banjo had to find his human. She’d be so worried about him.

At the edge of the forest, Banjo paused. He recognized a familiar scent, though it seemed more faint than before. He raised his muzzle to sniff, searching for it. Sitting on the top of a fallen log was the cat, Sophie. His tail started to wag, but then he remembered and his expression grew suspicious.

Hello, said Sophie. I’m glad you’re here now. You’re going to love it here.

Banjo glanced around, warily. Where is here?

I don’t know what it’s called, the cat continued. But there are a lot of animals here. It’s always warm and no one is hungry, and no one hurts. Look! She swiped a paw over her head. Banjo remembered that she’d been missing an eye. It was there now.

But how— Banjo said. He remembered now. She had grown ill over the space of a few weeks. The human had been very upset. If that cat had been hiding here all this time, Banjo was going to let the human know about it!

Follow me, said Sophie, hopping off the log. Her tail curled up into a little question mark. They crossed the little stream, Banjo stopped to drink the water. It was fresh and cool and clear. The cat led them to a larger clearing, where animals of all sorts played and rested in the soft grass. Dogs and cats, horses and goats and birds. Some of the animals, Banjo didn’t even know the names for. No one growled or hissed, no one seemed scared or upset. Banjo had never seen such a thing.

It all seems very nice, Banjo said, looking around. But where is our human? I want to see her.

Sophie’s ears perked. Oh, this way! She said, and dashed away again. Banjo hurried to follow. The cat led them to a still pond, surrounded by lush grass and chirping frogs.

She’s in there? He asked.

On the surface, said Sophie. The reflection.

Banjo was doubtful, but he leaned in to look. He gave a little gasp as he saw a vision of his human, at home in her house. His expression fell. She looks sad, he said. I want to go to her. She needs me.

You can’t, Sophie said gently. But she won’t forget about you. I promise that. I know she still thinks of me. And you can see her here whenever you feel lonely.

That’s not the same, Banjo said. He touched his nose to the water, and the image shivered and faded away. I want to see her now!

We have to wait. All of us do. That’s why we are here. Over there — the cat nodded to the north — is a place where you will be together again. At least that’s what everyone says. I’ve never been myself. We have to wait for her.

Banjo looked to where Sophie had showed him. A rainbow illuminated the sky overhead. All right, he said. I will wait too. They returned to the clearing with the other animals.