Serpenises and fangirls and ants, oh my!


Have you been to the fair yet this summer? I’ve been three times. Except one of those times doesn’t count because we couldn’t actually get inside. Parking was insane. We circled the fairgrounds for a mind-numbing half-an-hour in traffic and one by one, every single parking lot closed on us.  I think there are five or six lots and all of them filled up right before our eyes when we were two or three cars from the entrance. It was maddening.

Then we attempted to park in the college parking lot across the street and one by one those spots disappeared right before we could get to them too. We pushed further out to a metered lot and finally found one spot. We didn’t have any quarters so we bummed eight of them off this really nice lady who refused to take our cash. Pay it forward she said. Then with quarters finally in hand we discovered that our meter, the very last meter, was jammed. It just wasn’t meant to be.  We gave up and went home with sad faces. Of course promising the kids we’d come back the next week they were with us and we’d definitely leave early to beat the rush. Defeated, we stopped for Panda Express for dinner on the way home and paid our eight quarters forward to a cashier who thought we were tipping her.

The next week we did make it back and we left early enough to get an actual parking spot. We had a great time eating fair food, checking out the baby animals, the wood working room and of course getting henna tattoos. The girls wanted matching Riverdale tattoos on their forearms and with a little extra cash they found an artist willing to try it. They were so proud of their tattoos BUT when they were done we got hustled into a crowd and Bug bumped her arm on my purse or something and the “t”  in “serpent” got smudged so that it looked like an “i.” Southside Serpenis was just not gonna work. Back we went and while the artists in the booths tried to smother laughter, they fixed the “i” back into a “t.” I thought it was pretty funny too. Bug was mortified.


My parents are selling their home in the Sticks finally. They’ve been wanting to move since forever and they actually have almost sold their property. Cross your fingers, say a prayer that the escrow closes. We went out there to help with packing some boxes and pick my mom up to take her to Cat Con.

It was about 110 degrees. Well, not 110 but it really doesn’t feel much different from 101 to 120 when you’re in the thick of it. It’s hot and miserable and the worst time to be moving.  I can’t even humble brag about helping them because I only helped them one day while they have selfless church friends (and my aunts) who have been helping them for MONTHS! I am so thankful for their friends (and my aunts). We might not get along or agree on some pretty big things that keep us at odds but we definitely agree on loving my parents.

It was kind of bittersweet to say goodbye to my parent’s property. While I’m so happy they are getting the hell out of dodge and leaving the meth heads and drug dealers behind for a quiet gated retirement community on the other side of town, I will miss their giant green park-like front yard. I’ve taken so many pictures of those red chairs in the shade. Bug has played on the swing set and picked tomatoes from their garden since she was old enough to hobble around. We will definitely miss all their fruit trees and abundant tomato garden. But they won’t miss the old mobile home with the floor that was falling through!

It will be a good move for them. They are moving way out in the country by some mountains near a state park that we can explore. Their community has a big olympic-sized pool that hosts aqua-aerobic classes that will be awesome for my mom. I can’t wait to visit and take the kids there to swim. Since they are way way out in the sticks now, they will be in prime coyote territory so my dad has to build a giant cattery for their eight cats. It will be fun. I look forward to helping him design it.


It was quite timely that we were going to Cat Con and we had an extra ticket for my mom. It was supposed to be me and the girls going (because we had so much fun last time) but Joon couldn’t go because she is taking a vacation with her mom.  My mom was happy to oblige for cattery research purposes and for free cat food. My mom loooooves free stuff, which may or may not be why it’s taking them MONTHS to move.

Whenever Bug and I lost her in the crowds of Cat Con we’d just look for the nearest free cat food booth and find my mom there filling out some form. She had a blast.


And so did we! One of my favorite things about Cat Con is checking out all the illustrators. Someday I’d love to have a booth there and illustrate a bunch of cats. I know I could do it. I’m just in an owl phase right now but you know I have a few cat characters in me too.

Anyway, we stopped by the Emily the Strange booth and I actually got to meet the artist, Rob Regur! I was shy because I’ve been a fangirl since forever. Finally on the second swing by his booth I got up the courage to ask for an autograph. It helped that Bug was shelling out some funds for a really cool cat-scratch black sweatshirt for herself. He was super nice and even drew me a picture! Of course I put my foot in my mouth and said something stupid about liking him since I was twelve, which is totally not true because he is only 50 and I am 46. I got my age wrong. It just felt like I’ve been a fan since I was 12 but it was probably more like I was a fan since college. Whatever. Fangirl brain has dumb.


Speaking of illustrating I have had a brilliant idea. What about Christmas Postcards! I was going to make cards for Christmas this year and sell them in my shop but as you probably know if you follow me on Instagram, I have a thing for postcards. I like to draw and write at least one a day. So why not make Christmas postcards! Who needs an envelope? I always struggle with filling up all that white space in a card anyway. It’s wasted! A postcard is nice because you only have enough room to scrawl a few lines. So that’s my plan.


I’m thinking Little Hoo Christmas cards. Though I would totally use the Papa Hoo card all year around. I might add a few more designs (Christmas Fairy for Gingermog and Stringing Popcorn and Cranberries for Heather..) or I might not. Still thinking on it. Of course I’ll brand up the backside with some cutesy SAJ style.


I was also thinking about making some SueBee cards. Remember her? She’s inspired by my mom. Which style do you like better? Vector on the left or sketchy on the right. I like the vector style better personally but Bug likes the sketchy style. I’m torn. Bug usually has good taste.


You know what else is happening this summer? ANTS. It has been the summer of the Great Ant Conquest. They are out to take over our house with a vengeance. I swear they will probably outlive us and slowly eat our entire house bite by bite. Everyday we find new trails and spend hours spraying them with poison and then cleaning up their trails of dead bodies.

I can thank the ants for my sparkling clean pantry that is now all reorganized and purged of anything with a sugar content. In fact, I got so into cleaning and reorganizing that I asked Payam to build me small shelves in the giant shelves that I used to always lose things in and he did! It is soooo much better. It’s amazing how now I can see everything in the pantry at one time and I don’t have to dig. It’s the best thing ever. So I guess having an ant problem has it’s perks.

We think they have a colony in the attic so we will be calling an exterminator and taking care of that soon.


That pretty much wraps up this summer as I know it.  As Cody says, Stay cool, dudes!

Ramona Play in the Sticks


This last weekend I checked off a big item on my bucket list: Take the kids to The Ramona Play.  When I was growing up in The Sticks, The Ramona Play was pretty much the only thing that The Sticks had going for it. It was a really big, traffic-stopping deal in our small town. We went when we were in fourth grade as a class field trip and it left a lasting impression on me.


What’s most amazing about this play is that it is set entirely outdoors in a huge amphitheater in the hills of Hemet.  (There, I finally revealed where “The Sticks” are. We’re famous for Scientology, The Ramona Play and meth heads.) Everything is real and life size. When the cowboys come trampling through the scene on their horses, it’s very dramatic. Add some loud gun pops and a cannon and even the shortest attention-spanned kid is sitting on the edge of their seats with eyes glued forward.


The play was just as amazing as I remembered it. They let all the fourth graders see the play for free because that’s the year that fourth graders are allowed to act in the play as Native Americans that hide in the hills. It’s a great scene. Throughout the play, the fourth graders (dressed in drab clothing) wander off into the hillside and hide in a zillion hidden places. Behind rocks and bushes…you get the idea. Then during a big scene, they all pop out at once giving you the feeling that the hills are alive with tiny people. Where did they all come from?!

This year there weren’t as many “Indians” popping up in the hills as there used to be. I remember them covering the hillsides from all directions but this year they only took up one section. It was still impressive though. There were lots of different parts that changed. I think they expand and decrease rolls based on the talent pool. This year the señora had a huge monologue about her baby dying that I don’t remember at all.


Of course it was just as hot as I remember it too. Hemet is a desert after all so the sun can beat down with a vengeance. Thankfully, the play takes place at three in the afternoon right when the afternoon winds start to kick up and offer some relief. Then as the hours go by it gradually gets cooler and cooler. I love that about the desert. No matter how hot it is in the day it always cools down at night.


The kids really enjoyed themselves. I was worried that they might find it boring, you know since they are addicted to their phones and all.  Fourth-grader me had no television, no phone and pretty much no life so naturally to my entertainment-starved kid-brain, the play was the BEST THING EVER! But these kids? They can’t go five minutes without being entertained.  Well, that’s not completely true. We do practice boredom regularly as an exercise because I think it’s good for kids to be bored but they do love to be entertained constantly.  So when they LOVED the Ramona play I was so happy! A flurry of gun shots, a loud canon blast that made you jump, horses galloping in and out, a little singing and little dancing, some romance…what’s not to love?


It was especially fun to get to pose next to Ramona herself after the play. We were a bunch of fan girls.


And then of course the long drive home. I really enjoyed sharing a little piece of my childhood with Payam and the girls so I narrated the whole drive home with stories to which they promptly fell asleep.


Just kidding!

So long sticks! Until next time!