So today started out dumb, but this afternoon was AWESOME.
I’m on the porch attempting to construct a railing for the stairs when I notice a weird noise. Like, a kind of droning or buzzing? And it’s getting loud. So I investigate. It’s coming from the neighbor’s yard.
It is a metric fuckton of bees. I have never seen so many bees in my life. It is a fucking swarm of bees, and I have been reading about bees because I got a wild hair a few weeks back about wanting a hive of my own, but haven’t yet convinced Husbandthing, and there is suddenly a SWARMING HERD OF WILD HONEYBEES IN THE NEIGHBOR’S YARD.
I see postings on the neighborhood page all the time for feral swarm collection, but I also know the guy in the house across the alley just set up a hive. “Hey I think your hive escaped,” I text him.
He calls me back about three minutes later. Turns out, the swarm he was supposed to get never came; the company went out of business and his order got cancelled, and he’d found out HALF AN HOUR AGO. And he says he’s got a friend who is a professional beekeeper, and he’s going to go pick her up and would it be okay if they came and got this swarm please please please?
So Bee Neighbor and Professional Beekeeper show up and immediately don bee suits. Apparently there is fierce competition for feral swarms, and the swarm in the neighbor’s tree is HUGE, and also twenty feet off the ground, and Bee Neighbor wants them very badly.
The tree the bees are in is in a yard belonging to neither of us, so we go knock on the door, but there’s no answer. I knock on the house adjacent to it, but that guy’s not home either. Finally, I text the neighbor on the other side of me to see if he’s got contact info for the property owner, who is incredibly shy and in three years has never made eye contact. No luck.
So…we trespass. We get my extension ladder, and Bee Neighbor climbs the tree while Professional Beekeeper stands on the ladder and walks him through the swarm collection. Turns out, you just shake the swarm into a box, and as long as the queen makes it into the box, the rest of the swarm will eventually follow. Bee Neighbor has never collected a swarm before (this is, in fact, his very first swarm of bees ever) and it takes the two of them the better part of an hour in the tree trying to shake the swarm into the box.
Bees eventually get into the box. Bee Neighbor gets out of the tree without dying, and Professional Beekeeper examines the swarm and makes pleased noises. At this point, the box is the neighbor’s driveway, and about two thirds of the swarm is still milling around the box all confused. Since the neighbor isn’t home and we can’t contact him, he risks coming and parking right in the middle of a huge cloud of bees. Professional Beekeeper doesn’t want to move the box too far away, because we risk the milling bees losing the queen’s scent and never going into the box. An equidistant point between the current location and Bee Neighbor’s yard is the top of my recycling bin.
So they put the box of bees on my recycling bin, and I text Husbandthing.
Now I have a box of bees that I am babysitting. They’re being all lazy and dopey and bumbling around. I think I might be in love. Bee Neighbor will pick the box up later tonight and put them in his hive, and then the bees will be MY neighbors too!!
Hypothetical Handplates scenario in which Sans realizes he can teach himself Common.
(Ugh, tumblr is making them blurry for some reason so I guess full-view if you want the not-blurry version??)
Convoluted explanation incoming. Handplates is an Undertale fancomic by @zarla-s and if you like Papyrus and Sans, go read it, is good stuff. So I guess this is an AU fancomic of an AU fancomic? I dunno, the idea wouldn’t leave my brain until I did something with it. So. Zarla did a Christmas doodle where Gaster gave the boys a box of ginger cookies that had the word COOKIES on the side in big letters, and because my job gives me way too much time to think about random stuff, I realized something.
In Handplates, Gaster taught the bros to read and write Wingdings but deliberately did not teach them monster Common (ie: English) so they can’t read his nametag or anything. Thing is, Wingdings is a 1:1 substitution cipher for English. Every Wingdings symbol exactly equals an English letter; it’s not a different language, just a different set of pictures. As somebody who has taught herself a fair number of substitution ciphers, there are a few things you look for when you’re trying to translate a code and you don’t have a key in front of you. Most notably, single-letter words (in English they will usually be A or I) or double letters next to each other. Like the OO in “COOKIES”.
Sans is smart. Gaster has fed them junk food before and odds are good Sans knows how to spell “COOKIES”. The word is on the box in huge letters and Gaster just said it out loud, so it is fresh in Sans’ mind. That double-O is a huge tip-off. He would put it together that the word on the front of the box matches what’s inside. Once you figure out a few of the letters, it becomes steadily easier to decode the rest.
I feel like Gaster exposes the boys to enough Common (the nametag, food wrappers, computer monitors, the books Sans sits on) that Sans could pick it up with a proper starting point. Papyrus probably not, because he had a hard enough time with Wingdings, but Sans is eager for any opportunity to undermine Gaster and I’m sure he’d jump at the chance. In this comic he elects not to tell Papyrus, though. He doesn’t know Gaster has cameras in the cell (or even what a camera is) but he’s figured out that Gaster can spy on them somehow, and the last time Gaster caught them learning something he didn’t like, Papyrus got the ever-loving hell beat out of him. So Sans keeps quiet about it for now. And thus starts the long-standing tradition of keeping important secrets from his brother.
On the technical side, it took me a freakin’ week to sketch and outline this whole thing. Coloring and shading only took me like a day. In the meantime Zarla actually kinda addressed the cookie comic, but this was almost done by then so oh well. I’m finding my poses and proportions turn out a LOT better when I’m doodling skeletons, like what, drawing basic anatomy will make you better at anatomy, you don’t say?? A lot of this was a self-challenge to see if I could imitate Zarla’s art style, and I referenced previous Handplates comics a lot for the backgrounds and Sans’ face. Full disclosure: Gaster’s pose up there is basically copied from Zarla’s original comic because I was rushing through to get on to the actual meat of the story. He’s just here for setup. I had fun trying to figure out how to do his Lost Soul head though. Also, I hate Papyrus’ face from the front. Also also, it was tricky trying to convey “mentally translating an unknown alphabet into a known one” when pretty much everyone who sees this comic is already familiar with the “unknown” one and not the “known” one, but I think I pulled it off.
TL;DR- I imitated somebody else’s style to do an AU of an AU; I am not Zarla; Zarla is the creator of Handplates and also Gaster’s pose in the first panel; I like ciphers too much and also I gave the cookies icing because that is the only kind of ginger cookie I know.