Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Phoenixcon, 1984

I'm trying something new...

I've been constructing scrapbooks for two years now.  I only work on them in the cold months (because I'm away during the warm months!)  These pages are the result of my efforts.  The distortion you'll see has to do with the fact that when I shot them my intention was to preserve the content so that I could send it to friends, not to make exact reproductions.

You should know, I kept EVERYTHING, especially from the "early days".  I have added a ridiculous number of photos to Fanlore--"Oh here, I kept this plastic bag which is printed with artwork and the name of the con--from 1975".  Really, it's good that I'm doing this because my daughter would curse my name when I am no more and she has to clean out my studio...

This year I concentrated on the early conventions I attended, both before and when I had first started my business.  So let's see if these pages upload okay...
When I wrote "extremely short-lived" I meant "five episodes"...I had never seen those five episodes, and once the show had been axed, it was axed...no DVDs or Netflix!
Sorry the lettering isn't clearer.  Please squint.

So the star was Judson Scott, who is better known from "Star Trek:  the Wrath of Khan".  He played this guy named Bennu (an ancient Egyptian name for "phoenix"--I'm sure the writers thought they were really clever) who had been found in a Mayan crypt. 
I had been asked to do artwork, specifically portraits, to be presented to the guests.  Judson Scott, as you can see, was thrilled.  And that whole "His Suit is the Sun" effect is in spite of hours spent on Photoshop Elements doing everything I could to tone his 1980s white linen suit down. 
So...Richard Lynch...the word "follies" is entirely applicable...
I did not try to make him look like Donald Trump...I was working from the least blurry of two EXTREMELY blurry pictures.

Most of the story is on the page...

She hugged--no SQUISHED me!
Our emcee was the late Marty Gear, who was a treasured guest at many conventions.

And here is the first time anyone spoke of the "Female Assassins Guild"...it will not be the last time...
Add caption

 So that's what I have for you, I hope you've enjoyed it!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

21 March 2018

Mood:  Optimism with a feeling of Doom

Listening to:  my dogs snoring

Better get to the Doom first...

Well, it's snowing...again.  And sleeting.  They're calling for 5-8".  Joy.

Now on with the Optimism:

I heard from my editor a scant 24 hours after sending the proposal.  She was *really* excited!!  She gave me a word count (50,000 or thereabouts) and asked for some sample art, so I am working on that now! 

Art in the To Be Framed category has been piling up.  Yesterday I matted and framed three things--here are two of them:

This is a watercolor my Aunt Joyce did, probably in the 70s.  She went through a whole rabbit phase--truly she had Rabbit for a totem--she was soft spoken most of the time, but heaven help you if you threatened her or her family!  (Hint:  don't ever corner a bunny--they will come out fighting!

In any case, my Dad had framed the bunny in the frame below, which now holds my husband's chart of Masonic divisions.  It looked for crap on the bunny.  I went fishing in my frame collection--mostly frames procured at the Salvation Army--and found this one with the $2.99 price tag still on it.  I am thrilled with the result!

David's Masonic chart posed some special problems:  the gold border you see is printed on the paper--there really is no way to mat something with a margin that small.  I ended up mounting the whole paper on a piece of really nice mat board--you tell me, but that's a heck of an optical illusion that gold border gives!!

So I've started black and white illustrations for the book proposal:  I'm also working on commissioned sewing and paintings...Spring must be close!

Monday, March 19, 2018

19 March 2018     5:14 AM

Mood:  Meh.  Headache looming on the horizon.  Tired from a busy weekend.  Went to bed too early last night and didn't go to bed happy.  Had to write a Letter of Concern to a loved one.

Listening to:  the furnace trying to make the 64 degree living room into a 68 degree living room.  Clunk clunk clunk as the water moves through the old iron radiators.  I am thankful we have a house and oil to heat it.

One of the things I busted my ass on this weekend was a proposal for a new book.  I'm excited about this, but I really pushed to get it done (because it was pushing me).  Here's an excerpt from the Introduction:

Tata Rodriguez was a tall, heavy set Cuban, and his desk—a gigantic and ornate mahogany dinner table, cluttered with papers and books and sprinkled with ash (cigarette combined with cigar, if my nose was to be believed)--was perfectly proportionate to him—and his enormous spiritual presence. The hot westering sun streamed through the window behind him, an impromptu halo for a man I would learn was well-versed in the habits of his saints. In the corner, a window air conditioner labored to keep his halo from giving us all heat exhaustion.

Eileen introduced us. Tata's sonorous voice accented his Cuban Spanish-accented softened English. Sometimes he positively rumbled. And his laugh— the round, hearty “Heh heh heh heh heh” I would come to associate with him—came so easily to him: there was no sign of pretense in his mannerisms. No, he could not be anything but the Real Thing.

Tata (even though that title implies that one is a godchild in a spiritual “house”, I found myself using it almost immediately) gratefully accepted my gift. While we seated ourselves in the two chairs across from him, he examined it closely. “Wow,” he said; his voice was reverent. He looked up at Eileen. “You said she was an earth spirit?” He pointed at the images on the portrait. “Look at these spirals and horses: she's air!”

I was dumbfounded. This was not really the direction I had expected we'd be taking on first meeting. Why? Because the people out at the camp talked about elements. This was a totally different spiritual mindset. Shouldn't we be talking about the spell Louise had cast? And since when was I an air spirit? Me? The girl who'd collected rocks and minerals since she was four years old, who loves mud and hikes in the woods and digging in the dirt? Air? Me? How could he know that? He hardly knew me! And what did it have to do with anything anyway?

Tata set my portrait aside and pulled out a long thin paperback volume about the size of a legal pad. It had a black cover and its pages were filled with some sort of sigils—lines and curves, arrows and spirals, plus and minus signs. As he flipped through the book, he told me they were called firmas and that they were associated with the different spirits, or Nkisi. Finally stopped and set the open book in front of me. “What do you think?”

I liked the feel of this book. A lot. The drawings guided my fingers around their lines, spirals and arrows. I turned the page, tried out the symbols there, and didn't like them nearly as much. Finally I pointed to one on the page he had first shown me and said, “I like this one.”

He chuckled and nodded. “I thought you would.” A moment passed as he searched under his papers until he extracted a handful of large cowrie shells. These he threw several times. I wondered if he was getting the answers he needed, and had just come to the conclusion that they had told him to kick me out of the house when he concluded with a decisive nod and set the shells aside. He got up and walked over to a sideboard as impressive as his desk, and started rooting in one of the drawers. “That's Centella,” he said as he extracted a necklace of brownish beads with white and black stripes. “Put this on. Centella is the Nkisi of the marketplace and the whirlwind and she guards the gates of the cemetery. She is a powerful protector. “Now,” he continued, pulling out a pad of legal sized yellow paper, “If you make this--” he sketched a skirt with panels, and labeled each one a different color, “You will be very happy to dance in it.”

I took the paper from him, folded it neatly, and stuck it in my purse.

“Okay,” he continued. “Go on over there and clean yourself off by the water altar.”

“Um,” I said.

Now he laughed, not mockingly, and pointed. “Pour some of that Agua Florida on your hands, then pretend like you're washing all over. It's just to clear your head, that's all. Eileen, you show her.”

The water altar was set up on another monumental piece of furniture—this time a bureau with a mirror. The altar itself was comprised of seven glasses of water set in two lines of three, with the seventh located in the middle. A nice looking quartz crystal lay at the bottom of each glass. Across the central glass was a large crucifix.

“What's it like over there?” he asked as I followed Eileen's directions for “cleaning off”.

The Agua Florida powerful scent had sent my head spinning, but I nodded. “Peaceful.”

“Good,” he remarked. “That's how it's supposed to be. Did cleaning off help?”

“I think so,” I said. My whole being was humming. Was that what it meant, to be “cleaned off”?

“Good,” he said. I'll be right back.”

Eileen looked like she was about to burst. “Isn't this amazing?” she enthused.

I looked around the room, at the shelves of papers and books, the statues—particularly the huge statue of the Virgin Mary presiding over three men in a boat that occupied a side table near the desk—and the odd assortment of materials that filled the shelves and the mantle of the old Victorian fireplace. It wasn't what I had expected—but what had I expected? An Important Man dressed in a leopard skin wearing a necklace of human teeth and holding a spear? A darkened room hung with herbs and rooster feet?

Then I remembered: in Jorge Amado's books, the priests are regular people.

Tata reappeared in the doorway. Let's go downstairs.”

As I followed him towards the basement, I glanced out a window and saw street lights. When had night fallen? We'd just arrived!

If it's accepted, this will be a non-fiction book about Palo, an Afro-Caribbean religion that is a cousin to Santeria.

Meanwhile, The Promethean Oracle was not chosen as Oracle Deck of the Year 2017, but it was still really cool to be nominated!!

Projects:  Finishing up a costume for a friend of mine, a Sith.  I love making Sith costumes!  Jedi are so...brown.

Up and Coming:  

 The festival season begins in earnest really soon!  I have a new credit card processing company:  https://www.nationalmerchants.com/  They are FANTASTIC.  

I have been contributing to Fanlore, a website devoted, you might have already deduced, to All Things Fannish.  Scrapbooking has many advantages, as long as you don't let it run your life--if  spending money at Michael's becomes a daily thing, seek psychiatric help.  For one thing, in my search for the stuff I wanted to go into the book, I recycled SEVEN  document boxes stacked high with paper.  Many things were thrown out or went to recycling or the Salvation Army.  But I digress:  here are some of the Fanlore links:

https://fanlore.org/wiki/Colonial_Con     (I wrote this one)

To the others I contributed commentary and images.  

Scrapbooking also has me working in Photoshop Elements.  

The photo is from 1987 and yes believe it or not that's me.  In the background used to be my best friend's apartment door, but with much patience and learning-on-the-fly, I even got the letters at the top to look like they were carved in the background!

I like that the bottom looks like a painting!

Speaking of paintings I have a few of those on the horizon too.  More on that later!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I'm BACK and a favor to ask!

Here I am, after a year.  And what a year it's been.

Just before my last entry, I had injured my left knee while trying to keep up with two lines of very enthusiastic people pulling a soon to me megalith at Stones Rising 2014.  I didn't know it, but I was about to embark on a year of learning exactly why the stereotypical old person is grumpy.

 The knee hurt--quite a lot--so I thought I'd twisted or sprained it, and off to the chiropractor I went.  When she and I agreed it wasn't helping, I went to my general practitioner.  When, several visits later, we determined that what we'd been trying wasn't helping, I went to an orthopedist.  The orthopedist gave me a cortisone shot and prescribed round 1 of PT.  The cortisone shot gave me hot flashes for three days and then wore off; the PT was great.  The doctor gave me lubricant shots.  They didn't work.  Finally the doc said we should do arthroscopic surgery.  He didn't have a great rep as a surgeon, so I found another one and we did the surgery...where it turned out that yes, I had a torn meniscus, but--far worse-- I had galloping arthritis in that knee.  The doctor was irritated that it had not imaged in the MRI or X-ray.  Round 2 of PT.  I join a gym and ride the bike on non-PT days.  PT doesn't work--it helps a little, but not enough to declare me healed.  By this point we are towards the end of what has been a miserable camping and festival season.  Sometimes I couldn't even stand.  I called my doc and we determined that I should get the damned knee replaced.

I can unequivocally say that that was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

 I can also say that I now understand the meaning of "out of spoons" (if  you don't know Spoon Theory, look it up.  It will explain a lot about how people with chronic pain deal with the assumptions of people who don't have chronic pain.)

 I now know why it's hard for people with chronic pain to be creative.  Dealing with pain is exhausting.

I now know who my friends are, and I have a lot of them, with loving hands who picked me up when I couldn't walk, fetched things, and helped me to my campsite when I needed it.  They were there for me when I cried out of frustration, and they understood because they knew that I'm not the kind of person who cries in public, that  I'm the kind of person who values her independence.  I have friends even at Four Quarters outside events:  neighbors at a rave which draws 4,000 kids who made me a breakfast sandwich when the EMTs had put me on the disabled list and sent me (in misery) back to bed; friends of long standing from another, much smaller, event, who gave me use of their golf cart and brought me my dinner when I couldn't stand.  

I now know that my husband of 27 years is an even more wonderful man than I knew.

Happily, I am back to work on writing and illustrating my next book, The Promethean Oracle.  Here are some examples of the latest:

 This is Ashurbanial, who was not just the ruthless last king of the Neo-Assyrian period, he was the founder of the first library, which had 30,000 volumes, many of which he hand-picked or wrote himself. 
 Eziekiel had many powerful visions, but the most famous is the "wheel within the wheel."  Well, that's "done", so I focused on the cherubims' wings.
Here is Khaemwaset, the second son of Ramses II and a scholar rather than a warrior.  His fascination with the already  ancient monuments of his ancestors led to their study and preservation:  Khaemwaset was the world's first Egyptologist.
The Minotaur, looking at you.

Unfortunately, the buildup to the surgery, and the surgery aftermath, made it impossible for me to, even with help, sell artwork at Stones Rising or any of the other major events I usually attend. This means I'm going into 2016 without the funds to pay for vending space at my spring events.

To this end I've set up a GoFundMe account:  https://www.gofundme.com/8hct5dbd I've included gifts for those who donate special amounts too:  $50 gets you a pack of greeting cards, and $100 a 5 X 7" print, your choice. You don't have to donate anything, I'm not going to hold it against anyone.  But every little bit helps!

Thanks for listening, and enjoy the new art!  You can see more at http://badgersoph.deviantart.com .

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Yes, it’s been awhile, and I should be writing something else, but I thought it was about time that I updated everything.  I don’t know how people who blog regularly get anything else done.

So here’s Horus, and Horus is part of a new project, The Promethean Oracle.  This is yet again an oracle deck, but this time its focus is male energies (this does not mean women can’t use it).
I’m drawing (literally) from a range of characters:  historical, mythical, and Biblical (yes, Biblical), and limiting the origin of the subject matter to Ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, and the Bible.

Agamemnon.  A rat bastard if ever there was one.
Instead of watercolors on huge pieces of paper, these images are a more manageable size (8.5 X 11”) and are rendered in colored pencil.
I’m having a lot of fun with the imagery.  I’ve always wanted to do something with historical masks like this one (wait till you’ve seen Sargon!) and never really had the excuse. 
I’ll have to publish the proposal, now that it’s been ACCEPTED!!!

Good old Set, you know he's up to something.

This project came about as the result of me noticing that while there are oodles of Goddess based tarot and oracle decks, there is precious little depicting male archetypes or energies.  In fact, the only deck I could find was an oracle called Gods and Heroes, and that featured idealized bodybuilders.

Uh huh.

Because I don't have enough to do in my life, I prepared a pitch and sent it in to my publisher, Schiffer Publishing ( www.schifferbooks.com ) .  I was invited to bring the original art down, so I did, and that very day Mr. Schiffer told me I had a contract.

So off I go, diving into another project!  Stay tuned for news and special items!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yes, Virginia, My First Fanfiction was a Mary Sue

You may or may not be familiar with the word “fanfiction”.  The clever reader (which I have on good authority all of you are) might discern the roots “fan” and “fiction” and correctly infer that this is fiction based upon something of which the writer is a fan. 

Fanfiction has been wildly popular for more than three decades.  It has become so ubiquitous that college professors now give lectures and write research papers on the topic.  Some of the best pen and ink art I have ever seen graces the covers of fanzines--publications comprised of fanfiction. 

Fanfiction was in its infancy when I walked into my first Star Trek convention in 1975, and I still didn’t know what fanfiction was when I walked into my first Star Trek convention as a vendor in 1983. 

I got the crash course that first day.

The vendor coordinator hadn’t known where to put a business called “Fantasy Portraits”, so he had put me in the room with the fanzine dealers.  There I was, with my humble setup:  the aluminum easel I had borrowed from my Dad; my set of Prismacolor Pencils; and a pad of charcoal paper, surrounded by dealers sitting behind tables stacked high with thick, often ring-bound publications.  I didn’t know what to make of them, and they didn’t know what to make of me.  It was an awkward start.

Friday afternoon, the hoards came shopping:  women armed with huge canvas bags swarmed the tables, spending vast amounts of money on these publications--and completely ignoring me.  The frenzy was nearly overwhelming, and I thought I was sunk.  Fantasy Portraits would die in its infancy, all at the hands of these crazy ladies and their bulging tote bags. 

Though it’s not relevant to this story, you ought to know that the rest of the weekend was much better. 

These books were called “zines”, and that their content came in several flavors.  I learned that just because my initials were “KS”--for “Sophia Kelly”--that did not mean that I drew “K/S” (that’s zinespeak for relationships between Kirk and Spock; the “/” (you may see references to “slash” zines) is the shorthand for the relationship part.  I learned that if you could draw, you could illustrate for a zine, but there is no money in it. 

While fanfiction got its start with Star Trek, by the time I went to that convention, it had branched out to include many other TV shows and movies (referred to as “fandoms”).  There was already a considerable body of work involving characters from shows like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.  Throughout the course of the 1980s, more and more zines representing more and more shows were published, some with increasingly elaborate and colorful bindings. 
Today, fanfiction flourishes, and the fandoms it represents number as the stars, some new, like the BBC series Sherlock and some very, very old, like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Starsky and Hutch.  (No, really, I am not kidding.)

Yes, I have written fanfiction.  Much to my editor’s distress, I am not terribly prolific, but my stories are relatively popular and I have on occasion even received fan mail. 

Yet there is one ghost that haunts me, that sends me running to friends about 3/4 of the way through every story.

Her name is  Mary Sue.

Wikipedia defines a Mary Sue thusly:  A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in literary criticism and particularly in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfilment fantasy for the author or reader. It is generally accepted as a character whose positive aspects overwhelm their other traits until they become one-dimensional. While the label "Mary Sue" itself originates from a parody of this type of character, most characters labelled "Mary Sues" by readers are not intended by authors as such. Male Mary Sues are often dubbed "Gary Stu", "Larry Stu", "Marty Stu", or similar names.

While the term is generally limited to fan-created characters, and its most common usage today occurs within the fan fiction community or in reference to fan fiction, original characters in role-playing games or literary canon are also sometimes criticized as being "Mary Sues" or "canon Sues" if they dominate the spotlight or are too unrealistic or unlikely in other ways. One example of this criticism is Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The term "Mary Sue" is from the name of a character created by Paula Smith in 1973 for her parody story "A Trekkie's Tale"[1]:15 published in her fanzine Menagerie #2.[2] The story starred Lieutenant Mary Sue ("the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old"), and satirized unrealistic and adolescent wish-fantasy characters in Star Trek fan fiction. Such characters were generally original (non-canon) and female adolescents who had romantic liaisons with established canon adult characters, or in some cases were the younger relatives or protégés of those characters. By 1976 Menagerie's editors stated that they disliked such characters, saying:
Mary Sue stories—the adventures of the youngest and smartest ever person to graduate from the academy and ever get a commission at such a tender age. Usually characterized by unprecedented skill in everything from art to zoology, including karate and arm-wrestling. This character can also be found burrowing her way into the good graces/heart/mind of one of the Big Three [Kirk, Spock, and McCoy], if not all three at once. She saves the day by her wit and ability, and, if we are lucky, has the good grace to die at the end, being grieved by the entire ship.[3]

Today "Mary Sue" carries a connotation of wish-fulfilment and is commonly associated with self-insertion (the writing of oneself into a fictional story). True self-insertion is a literal and generally undisguised representation of the author; most characters described as "Mary Sues" are not, though they are often called "proxies"[4] for the author. The negative connotation comes from this "wish-fulfilment" implication: the "Mary Sue" is judged a poorly developed character, too perfect and lacking in realism to be interesting. Such proxy characters, critics claim, exist only because authors wish to see themselves as the "special" character in question.
The term is also associated with cliché such as exotic hair and eye colors, mystical or superhuman powers, exotic pets, possessions, or origins, or an unusually tragic past, especially when these things are glaringly out of step with the consistency of the canon. These features are commonplace in "Mary Sues", though even a character who lacks them may be labelled a "Sue" by some critics. The term is more broadly associated with characters who are exceptionally and improbably lucky. The good luck may involve romance ("Mary Sue" always gets her man); adventure ("Mary Sue" always wins a fight or knows how to solve the puzzle) and popularity (the "right people" seem to gravitate towards the character). These characters have few problems while attempting to achieve their goals. "Everything goes her way" is a common criticism regarding "Mary Sues", the implication being that the character's inability to fail makes her insufficiently humanized or challenged to be interesting or sympathetic.

So there you have it:  Mary Sue.  The article goes on to state that some critics have labeled Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series as Mary Sue’s.   I tend to agree.

Yes, my friends get at least one email per story, plaintively asking, “Is my zine a Mary Sue?”.

Invariably, to my relief, they say “No, of course not.” 

But they have never read my first fanfic.

Written in 1985, my first attempt at fan fiction was to the tune of Miami Vice.  I freely admit that I had a crush on Lieutenant Castillo, played by Edward James Olmos (who makes any role cool).  My best friend and I cooked up what we thought were some pretty awesome characters (and they are, to a certain extent), and I started writing.  At the time, I thought it was pretty good.
This morning, I opened up the file for the first time in decades, and started reading.  I was prepared:  no doubt the grammar would be painful, there might well be too much exposition.  I gripped my coffee cup and plunged in.

The first scene was surprisingly good, and with the exception of an apparently chronic inability to anchor point of view, the grammar and structure of the developing tale were pretty solid.  The underlying plot (the case the detectives are investigating) had merit.  The dialogue was about 80% character appropriate, which isn’t bad, considering that this was a first attempt.  At least I’d been paying attention.  

The pacing was definitely too fast.  It was so fast it made driving on I-95 around Miami at any given time of the day look like a snail’s pace (my husband once said that he’d rather change a tire on the Schuylkill Expressway at rush hour--that is beyond hazardous--than ever drive around Miami again.  I’m pretty sure I thought this story was done, but in reality it read like a first draft.  You should see what’s happening on page FIVE.

And then the Universe delivered the coup de grace to my artistic pride: I realized,  Oh.  My.  God, the main original character was ME, right down to the insecurities about weight and being dressed appropriately.  I mean, it is one thing to envision oneself as a statuesque blonde (which I did not do) and another thing entirely to drop in a character who is obviously me, who waltzes into the squad room and seduces Martin Castillo (in his first appearance one of the other characters describes him as “Dirty Harry by way of Little Havana”--read “not easily seduced”).  That’s some special talent there!
I usually have a sense of humor about the vagaries of my youth, but this one made me literally nauseous.  I console myself with the knowledge that only about five people had ever read it--and they did so such a long time ago that it’s likely not even a  memory anymore.

I will probably take a dramamine and read through the whole thing to see if there’s anything I can salvage (thanks to Netflix I am on a Miami Vice kick right now, and am thusly inspired).  But I am humbler now, as I embark upon my first REAL book (the one that comes with a REAL publisher and a REAL contract). 

Hey, Universe:  thanks for the reality check, but next time you decide to take me down a notch, make sure I’ve had a couple of drinks first.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cider-Roasted Chicken That Almost Wasn't

 Ever been going through recipes and ended up taking a walk down memory lane?

I used to be a Cooking Light junkie.  When I still worked at Waldenbooks (when there still was Waldenbooks) I looked forward to the box of magazines that would yield the new issue, through which I would eagerly page looking for new ideas.  At that time, my husband David was still away doing Army stuff (we joked that even though he was Army Reserve, whose motto was "one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer", we only got to see him one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer) so I was in charge of getting real food into myself and Emily.

The cover of the October 2004 issue featured an extremely attractive recipe for Cider-Roasted Chicken, which I immediately decided I had to try.  Soon after purchasing the magazine I went out to the market and purchased all of the ingredients, including a small roasting chicken.  When I got home, I began my preparations:  following the directions, I carefully removed the packaging on the chicken and fished out the bag of giblets.  I then thoroughly washed the chicken and set it on a measuring cup at the very back of the kitchen sink to drain. 

At the time, we had an aging English Springer Spaniel named Teegan.  Springers are quirky by nature (one source states that if you have a ghost in your house you should obtain a spaniel because they will chase the ghost away with their goofy nature) and Teegan was no exception.  She helped raise Emily (she is in virtually every photo of Emily from babyhood on); she ate watermelon with me when I was pregnant; she loved green beans.  In the span of her lifetime she never, ever curled a lip at a child--even when they pulled her ears, lips, fur and stubby tail.

Teegan was named for a character on Doctor Who--a bossy, outspoken Australian airline hostess who questioned everything the 800-odd-year-old Doctor did and who had a habit of barking responses when she didn't like what he said.   I just liked the name:  I didn't realize that the puppy who climbed over all the other puppies to get to us was an alpha dog--which meant she was bossy--would also always be after my job, literally nipping at me, challenging me (and not in a playful way), and talking back to me if I scolded her.  When David was away, she would try to promote me to Alpha Male by taking over my side of the bed and pushing me over to his.  She was also the Wolf in Our Living Room, the Mighty Hunter, a Dog's Dog.  You could play tug of war with her for hours and her teeth would never come near you, but if she got hold of something she knew she wasn't supposed to have, she became a different dog--demonically possessive.  Before you ask, yes we worked with her--with limited success.  She was determined to be the Boss.
Teegan, sitting at David's computer--you guessed it--at the dining room table

When this all occurred, Teegan had reached the venerable age of ten years:  the only evidence of her status as a senior citizen was that she had gone utterly and completely deaf (and was really enjoying it--there were times when you could just see her looking at us waving our arms and thinking "this is GREAT!").

Imagine for a moment your kitchen sink and how high it is off the ground.  Now imagine an English Springer Spaniel--a dog whose shoulder comes roughly to your knee--next to the sink.  Tack on 10 years--that's 70 in dog years--to the dog and what you've got is the equivalent of my mother attempting the high jump.

Except my mother is not Teegan.  My mother knits; Teegan is the Mighty Hunter.  My mother wants Archway Cookies; Teegan wanted that chicken.

I still don't know how she did it.  After setting the chicken to drain, I turned away for two seconds, and when I turned back there was Teegan standing on the floor holding the chicken--the raw chicken, MY raw chicken-- by the wing. 

The following thoughts flashed through my head in the microsecond of realization that occurred before I reacted to this sight:  if Teegan gets away with the chicken she will take it under the table--from whence I won't be able to get it back without getting bitten -- and eat it.  Which will make a huge, disgusting mess.  If Teegan eats the chicken she will then likely get really sick, making an even bigger, more disgusting mess.  I must get the chicken back!

 I knew I had to keep my hands clear of her teeth:  this was a prey object, which she had hunted and caught fair and square and she was prepared to defend it.  

Lightning-fast, I reached down and grabbed the chicken by the leg, instigating what remains to this day the strangest tug-of-war in which I have ever engaged.  Predictably, Teegan did not let go of the chicken.  She dug in as best she could on the kitchen floor:  this was a battle to the death!

...ever played tug-of-war with a raw chicken?

Teegan had the advantage:  her teeth had a firm grip on the chicken and all she had to do was pull.  Meanwhile, I was forced to use my hands--including my supposedly evolutionarily advanced opposable thumbs--to try to maintain a grip on my slippery chicken leg.  And I was laughing--how could I not as I tried to hang onto a raw chicken that my dog had decided was hers?

Finally I realized that this had to end before I slipped and Teegan got away with her prize.  In a last, desperate measure, I stuck my whole arm into the chicken's empty body cavity and pulled up with all my might.

And my 40-pound Springer Spaniel came right with it, gripping that wing with barracuda-like determination.  After a moment suspended by the chicken, she realized that I wasn't giving in:  grudgingly, she let go and dropped to the floor.

Calmly, I washed the chicken very thoroughly again, patted it dry, and set it to marinade in the cider-brine described in the recipe.  It was very tender when cooked:  whether it  was the marinade, or the extra tugging, we will never know.  But here's the recipe: