For the last few months, we've noticed a flock of birds that have congregated on the surface of the pond near our house, swooping and diving on the hunt for bugs swarming the surface of the water. This is always at dusk, so we've only ever been able to see their silhouettes.
Last week we went a little earlier, and not only were able to see them in better light, but unfortunately also found one dead, floating on the surface of the water. The bird looked very peaceful, seemingly unharmed, with its beak barely submerged below the water. It almost appeared to be sleeping.
The iridescent teal wings helped us do a bit of research, and we learned that these are tree swallows. They next in banks along rivers and bodies of water, in small holes carved into the dirt walls.
There is also a little duck pond nearby, with a fountain going in the summertime.
And here's a little time lapse of the sunset coming through one of our back windows. It's projecting the shadows of a few window decals that used to hang from the glass door to my grandparents' lanai. Always makes me smile when I see them.
More snow! Last weekend I fashioned some weatherproofing for my camera and walked over to Fulton’s Pond to document. The day before we saw someone ice skating on the pond. I have a pair of skates, but I’m a little too nervous to venture out for that, as charming as it sounds! Maybe if the cold was more consistent, but we’ve had a few mild days here and there.
We went to Endicott for Thanksgiving, though we took every precaution possible. We got PCR testing done ahead of time through my work and got our results ~30 hours later. We wore masks when we first arrived and the results hadn't come in yet. I've been avoiding going out in public at all the last couple months, and Chris wears his mask, social distances, and brings his lunch to work - even if he's working in an empty house. We didn't stop anywhere on the way.
It was nice to have a Thanksgiving together, since I haven't seen my parents since December last year and Chris has never spent a holiday in my hometown. It was just the four of us, so it was very quiet. We went for a few walks, enjoyed my parents' excellent cooking, and went up to Round Top and down to Grippen Park, two public parks down the street, to enjoy new lookout areas and a hiking trail. Chris wasn't feeling great the whole time, which has been our major ongoing struggle since he got sick in May. We just wish we knew for sure whether it was covid, given the too early/too late timing of his two tests in May/June and the low-sensitivity antibody test that he got almost two months later, which the doctor didn't think would catch anything. We can't wait until the vaccine is released.
We got our tests done late in the evening when no one was around, so I ducked into the office to use the scanner and capture some of the latest drawings. I'm now in a pretty sad part of the chapter and am finding it both cathartic and really hard to draw some of these scenes without becoming very depressed. I've been taking more days off between drawing sessions, partially to not get overwhelmed, and also because my day job is very high-intensity lately and I have little energy at the end of the day.
Last weekend I spent most of my time working on a commission, this week I worked over 50 hours at my day job, and this weekend was managing a lot of holiday preparations (including illustrating and printing my holiday greeting cards) so I haven't done any comic drawing at all. I find this usually happens around the holidays though.
Next week is my last week of work, and I'm using my remaining vacation days to take a load off after a really rough year. With cases rising, Chris and I again have Covid tests scheduled proactively given rising cases, but we decided not to go anywhere for the rest of the year. It'll be a little sad, but better safe than sorry. It will be nice to have a two-week retreat to work on the comic as well.
Mansfield may be a little smaller than the city, but we still had a nice turnout for an impromptu celebration in the town square! What a relief...
Also, the leaves are pretty much done now, but we went out for an evening walk and were able to catch a few remaining fall scenes with the moody light at dusk.
According to my last few blog entries, I have been spending time exclusively on nature walks and furniture arrangement. But I have been drawing too! It’s just that since I've incorporated higher quality scans, I've had to start saving up new pages in batches to scan them in-person rather than post lower quality photos each week.
I had hoped to finish these first 18 test pages by August (meaning, within five months), but I officially finished up yesterday (eight months). With illnesses, politics, and a move, I'm okay with that. And then last night, I was very antsy during election coverage, so I redid an entire page that I wasn't happy with between 8pm and 2am. There is one other page I would like to redo (page 2), as well as a couple individual panels, which I would need to retroactively photoshop in to complete an otherwise solid page.
Here's a spot-the-difference! I'm kind of embarrassed by the original (right), but I think this shows how much you can learn and refine a style with a few months and a lot of practice. Here are some clear changes that have developed:
This is what all the pages look like together so far. I'm enjoying the ladder of purple part-way through. Funny how patterns like that develop unintentionally. At this point I don't think I can photograph them as a group anymore because the footprint is too big! Channeling Jo March with her pages-on-the-floor technique.
I started yesterday with a scenic walk in a pretty chilly wind. A lot of the leaves have suddenly fallen already because of the big snow last week. The pond near our house is so charming and I made a friend in the small duck pond in the park. I'm still watching election coverage as I write this and am trying not to fall into a panic spiral while results remain unclear. That said, the closeness of this race and the hypocrisy, callousness, selfishness, and cruelty fueling the Trump movement speak to the shameful state of this country. I cannot see eye to eye with any individual who supports Trump and his conspiracy theories, as he stands for so many hateful things and is incapable of exhibiting basic human compassion.
I'll wrap this up with some calming photos of ducks and fall leaves and moving water instead.
There have been a lot of changes in the last couple months. First, Chris finally went back to work (very cautiously) for about a month and a half, though has experienced some setbacks over the last couple weeks. But for the most part has seemed to resume some vague sense of normalcy.
In the second week of August, we got a beat on a family friend who had a one-bedroom apartment open up in Mansfield. We were originally looking to potentially purchase our first home, but with the economy the way that it is, it just seemed like a risky time to buy and put all our eggs in one basket for the next however many years. I really didn’t like the idea of moving to a new place that might not be our forever home after 8 years in the same apartment, but we had been putting off moving for years with this excuse and it just felt like the right time. So as of a week and a half ago, we did it!
After making the decision, I also bought my first car, which will be a big help because we are now much further from the city. I can still take the commuter rail without needing to drive there first, but while I continue working from home, I needed a way to get around in case of an emergency. Soon enough, Chris will have a van for his electrician work, so we will have both on hand.
In the middle of August, my guinea pig also returned for a multi-night stay at the vet, during which she had an infection and resumed GI stasis. It has since stabilized and she’s doing much better, and she seems happy in her new home.
I used some vacation time last week so that I could settle into the new place, and am pretty happy with how we have it set up. Also, over the weekend I found a rail trail that is literally across the street, so I’ve ventured down there three times already. Here are some pictures from a recent walk!
Before we left, I stopped by my office for the first time since March (in the middle of the night) to scan in all of my comic panels up to this point. I've since updated the Key limes page with these better quality images. Since my last post, I cranked out several additional pages, and at this point have only 2.5 pages left before transitioning to a much more opened-up structure. I'm excited to settle into my new desk set up and continue chipping away after a month-long break!
Also, over the weekend I turned 30! About time, I feel like I've been in my 30s for the last two years. The Trump era has us all aging faster than usual. #hellograyhair
After work last week I biked to REI and bought a tent. My family just spent the weekend at my brother's house in Long Island and hotels/AirBnBs are expensive and/or hard to come by, so I figured I would spent less money and simultaneously have a way to explore in the future. Basically I just slept in their backyard for two nights and showered and used the bathroom as normal. But it was kinda cool to have a little space to myself! Looking forward to using it again soon.
Summer is finally here! I spent a whole weekend sitting out on the porch reading and planting flowers and it's so refreshing to be outside. When it's winter, a whole part of my personal space closes off because I can't spend time on my porch anymore. Also here is a summery scene that I worked on recently.
PS I'm reading Twilight in French. Never read it in English but I'm having a GREAT time.
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Mansfield, MA.