Ahoy there!

The last few weeks seemed to be a string of mechanical failures: from the car to multiple doctor visits by two members of the family, one also kind of caused by the car. (Annual reminder: the one time you don’t tell your kid to watch their fingers when shutting the car door will be the one time you need to rush them to the ER for X-rays. Nothing was broken, but it was still a very traumatic, expensive lesson.)

Thanks to my co-parent’s brother, the car/ a.k.a. “finger smasher” is working again. In an attempt to take a break from the chaos while also doing research for a few projects, I signed us up for a family trek on the Lady Washington.

Lady Washington docked in Tacoma. 6/25/2021. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

This was the second time I have ever been on this ship. The first was during a Nisqually Middle School oceanography field trip to look for whales. I didn’t see any. As I recall, the trio of nerds of which I was a part spent much of the day struggling with sunburns and motion sickness. It was still such a cool experience, so when I found out the ship was docked in Tacoma, I wanted to share it with my daughter.

My child threatening a random insect by the waterfront: 6/25/2021. Posted here with her permission. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

We didn’t tell her where we were going, but when she figured it out, she was excited, too. I came prepared with an OTC children’s motion sickness med, which she and her dad decided to take just in case. I also loaded my camera bag with snacks and cans of 7-Up. Although the ship didn’t leave Commencement Bay, the little one had a rough time up until right before came back to the dock. So in essence, I did share my experience with her, but not in the way I had hoped.

My child on the Lady Washington, June 2021: posted here with her permission. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

I need to accept that our Scandinavian ancestors were most likely landlocked farmers and not fearsome, seafaring Vikings.

Concept illustration of what the artist’s great-grandparents’ journey from Norway could have looked like, originally included in April 2019 Tripod Series slideshow presentation by Suzanne Skaar, 2019. All rights reserved.

The crew did their best to help make kiddo feel better and recommended hanging out in the back close to where the Captain was stationed in order to not minimize her seasickness.

Lady Washington Crew: 6/25/2021. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.
The Captain of Lady Washington. 6/25/2021. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

In between juggling parenting duties and documenting the experience, the outing was a great chance to learn about history,

History Talk on the Lady Washington: 6/25/2021. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

enjoy the sea and the sun before the Pacific Northwest heatwave hit,

Bell on Lady Washington. 6/25/2021. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

and look at our city from a different perspective.

Tacoma Marina. 6/25/2021. Photo by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved.

Kiddo said she enjoyed our day despite not feeling well, but our next adventure will be on a much smaller vessel: like a pedal boat.

Good News

Animated gif of a dinosaur happily bouncing up and down side to side.

I am pleased to announce that I have received a Tacoma Artist Initiative Program Award for the 2021-2022 cycle! I’m honored to be included as there are many great artists on the list. Thank you everyone for your support through this process. More details to come, including how to watch my artist talk later in the year.

Dino Game Update

Hi.

I started working on my first video game in June 2020. Progress is coming along nicely. I’m striving a balance between pushing forward and fleshing out the first game level’s overall layout while going back and refining existing work. The following trailer contains some new in-game scenes. Tacoma people might recognize a couple of shout outs.

Thank you for following along as I tackle my largest project to date!

If you haven’t yet done so, connect with No Mine! Studios on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and now even TikTok. I would love your support!

Suzanne

Developer Diary: 4 Months

4 months ago I started developing a 2D pixel art game by myself: the artwork, the writing, the music, and building the project in Unity. I’m still in the early phases of my project timeline, but I wanted to share progress so far.

Thank you to everyone who has given advice and support. If you like what you see, please drop a line in the comments and/or share this with friends.

Onward!

Dinosaurs and other Updates

Summer has been fairly busy. On top of entertaining a kid during a pandemic and planning for homeschool, I’ve had other projects in the works. I was asked to submit work to a by invitation-only call for cyberpunk stories to a journal overseas. Regardless of whether my story gets picked up for publication, it was an honor to be asked, especially as I haven’t written in this genre before. I’ve been volunteering locally as I’ve been able. Remote meetings are a lifesaver for individuals with chronic illnesses/ conditions like migraines, arthritis, and motherhood (ahem), so I hope this trend continues after the pandemic. The ability to turn off the video and audio functions is especially appreciated. A laughing, streaking kid in the house did elicit momentary panic at one point.

In the relatively quiet moments and through the chaos, I have begun to make significant progress on my biggest project to date [Master’s thesis be damned]: an indie narrative game combining many of my favorite subjects.

Here is a peek at the main character:

Mini Dino Pixel Art.
Mini Dino Pixel Art (side view). Suzanne Skaar. 2020. All rights reserved.

Dino Front view Idle 8 19 2020
Front view Dino character, idle. Suzanne Skaar, 2020. Animation/ pixel art. Work in progress. All rights reserved.

My last programming class was in high school, more than 20 years ago, so I have been teaching myself Unity, a development platform which is free to users up to a certain revenue bracket. Brackeys tutorials on YouTube have been on repeat for months in the house. They are awesome: go check them out! Thanks to the site Beepbox, I have also been working on digital music composition for the first time. I first started using Audacity for podcasts a few years back, and it continues to be a great tool for artists. [While I’m not ready to share some of my serious attempts yet, my co-conspirator did willingly lend her vocals to this “parenting dance anthem.” It was created using Beepbox and Audacity.] 

Other snippets of the game art are up on the No Mine! Studios Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. I’ve set myself a soft deadline of December (6 months from when I started) to get basic art in place so I can focus on research, writing, and mechanics. This game is a one mother show. If you are on the above platforms, please follow for updates, like, and share. Your support means a lot!

Controlling the Narrative

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Photo by Tacoma Knights of Pythias/KKK member Marvin Boland of Pythians in “redface,” available through the Tacoma Public Library Digital Archives online: “‘Tahmamaiwis,’ a Native American drama, was presented under the auspices of Tacoma Temple No. 58, PythianSisters, at Castle Hall on September 25, 1924. Castle Hall was located in the Knights of Pythias Commencement Lodge #7, 924-26 Broadway. The play was written by Mrs. Laura B. Downey Bartlett of Tacoma in what the Daily Ledger called the ‘inter-tribal’ language. Examples of tribal baskets are also on display. G23.1-069 (Tacoma Sunday Ledger, 9-28-24, 6B)”

In honor of Women’s Day, check out my latest essay on Medium, “Controlling the Narrative: Gatekeeping, Secret Societies, and the Good Ol’ Boys Network.” This work, adapted from my 2019 presentation for Portland’s Drunken Discourse, explores the inherent sexism and racism of the fraternal order Knights of Pythias. This organization’s history, current structure, and practices are too often glossed over, despite receiving taxpayer funds from the City of Tacoma to make archival materials available to the public. I share some of my own personal experiences with the Tacoma chapter which led me to research this topic, as well as a bibliography for further reading.

If, like me, you think this kind of work is important, then please follow me on Medium (@suzanneskaar) and share this article with friends. I am also available to give the full presentation. Please contact me at suzanneskaar@gmail.com for more information.

I appreciate your support.