Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ditch Burning Time

It's Springtime! We like to burn the tall dead grass in our steep ditch to clean it up and prepare it for new growth. This always is a spontaneous decision. We need a time when we have the time, and the wind is low, and the grass hasn't grown much yet, and it's not too dry and not too wet. It's like an ah-ha moment and we scramble to get it done.

In Shawnee County we are required to have a Burn Permit and we need to "call in" the burn before we start it. This year the Fire Station was empty (out on a call) when I went there, and the "ah ha" moment was upon us. The conditions were perfect so we went ahead and did the burn. No close calls.

There is just something about burning grasses. The smoke, the flame, the sounds, the physical activity needed to follow it with tools and water to keep it tamed. I've always liked it, even though at times the outcome isn't good. I HATE talking to firemen as they put out our uncontrolled fire. Not an issue this year.

With this post I also celebrate 10 YEARS OF BLOGGING HERE! Can't believe it. Maybe I haven't been consistent but I've posted each of those years. The climate has changed in the blogging world. Few if any visitors. Few if any comments. The social media options for keeping a web presence has eclipsed this old style blog, but I still prefer this format. I miss the old days when I had back-and-forth dialog with viewers. I may decide to pull the plug at some time on this blog but, for now, I'll still post. It's a process that feeds a need.

KATY Trail - Almost

It's early in the year but it's starting to be bicycle weather. Rita and I were talking about how much we love bicycle trails and concocted a plan to get together, with Wilma and Jana, and hit a trail somewhere. I recommended the KATY trail in Missouri. Wilma and I have been on parts of it over the years and I wanted them, as newbies to this sport, to experience a top-notch rail-to-trail. We made plans for a place to stay and figured we'd bike in the day and base ourselves at a place to stay, and pulled a couple days vacation to create a long weekend. Rocheport fits the bill.

Unfortunately for me, the week prior to the trip I over-exert my right knee and it's barely functional. I can walk - but no biking. Plan B: I drive the other three to and from the trail and I use the down time, while they are on the trail, to SKETCH. This is a great compromise and it works out fine. I still miss riding, but the other three get in some great riding time and we have plenty of time over meals to catch up on things and the evenings are all spent doing things together.

We spend time in Columbia. Being a college town it has plenty of things to do. We wanted to catch Pokey Lafarge the first night at The Blue Note, but he cancelled due to illness. We caught other live music though.

Then there's the FOOD! Restaurants at both Rocheport and Columbia fit the bill. Missouri University at Columbia is their state's land grant college, so it has Vet Med and agriculture. That means a retail room that sells ice cream! Buck's Ice Cream, with Tiger Stripe ice cream as one offering. We hit all the retail stores in Rocheport, numbering almost a dozen. Many artist studios.

Great long weekend. Hope to do trips like this again. Hopefully do trips where I can ride, too, but these sketches would not have happened if I were in the saddle. Too many ways to have a good time.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Dover, Kansas

Dover has the closest dealer for my Zipper mower, so I get out there once in a while for mower repair and maintenance. If the cafe is open, I drop by and get a coffee to-go for my drive home. I knew I wanted to sketch the cafe some day.

The game plan today was to an Urban Sketchers Kansas City sketch crawl in downtown KC. However, with forecasted temps in the mid 20's they pushed it back a week. I wanted to sketch, and I've been meaning to get out to Dover, a small town 25 miles west of us, to sketch their cafe. Today's the day! I need to buy some supplies to breath life into my old zero turn Legacy so I figured I'd stop by Schwant Tractor for those supplies and then we'd stop by the Sommerset Hall Cafe for lunch. That place had near 30 customers! Glad to see it doing so well.

I attend several of the Urban Sketchers Kansas City outings because they are only 60 miles away. Topeka has no activity, and Lawrence is only 15 miles away but Urban Sketchers Lawrence has limited outings. I prefer less-urban sketching, though. I grew up outside of town, and live today like that. I am more attached to the smaller towns, and feel no bond with a metropolis.

Then Jessica Wesolek started the blog I learned my watercolor pencil journaling technique from her a decade ago, so I just had to submit something for her to consider posting to show her I'm still in the game. Supposedly including #smalltownsketchers in this blog will announce my intentions. I know nothing of hashtags so I'll take her word for it.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

USk KC March Sketch Crawl

Time for Urban Sketchers Kansas City sketch crawl. This time it's The Plaza. Wilma and I always like going to The Plaza to stroll around and see the interesting high-end retail shops. The architecture is unique. If I had taken architecture classes I could explain it better. The trip info claims it "reflects a distinctive Seville Spain theme". I'll go with that. We are encouraged to make and wear name tags with the USk KC designation. That sure makes it easier to identify who we are in a crowd and makes it easier to strike up a conversation.

I found the top of a parking garage with a 360 degree view with an edge wall the right height to hold my gear. It was sunny and jacket weather, so it was a nice outing. Met a sketching mom with pre-teen daughter who came up after I was settled in. Both were sketching.

Ground zero for this outing was The Unity Temple. I don't know it's background or affiliation, but this was a great place to meet. After we sketched, we met up again to show and talk. They put is in a small theatre-type room, which worked great. Then many of us stayed to eat at Eden Alley, who specialize in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. A bit expensive, but great food. I had a Chickpea Rancheros, which was spices and a bit of heat. Plenty of flavor and texture.

This group is the best-run USk group I've sketched with. The pull off the sketch crawl, I think four volunteers were involved, and they are always researching future places to sketch. Those who attend I find to be very approachable, even if their large number is a bit intimidating. I'll be attending more sketch crawls.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Another Batch

Many years ago my daughter-in-law made me a batch of aftershave for part of a Christmas present. I found that I really liked it. It doesn't have the strong heavily-perfumed presence of commercially made aftershaves. Many months later I needed a refill and she said it was easy to make and gave me the recipe. It was a recipe of rough proportions and left room for interpretation, but it worked!  Now it's what I use most of the time. 

I found that recipes vary a great deal in the liquids used, and the ratio of essence oils to the main liquids ranges all over the place. I kept with the pine needles and eucalyptus essence oils. So many to choose from. Maybe the next batch will have a change.

The use of rum intrigues me. It's in the shaving soap I just bought, too. It must be part of the heritage of men's toiletries. I don't really go for rum drinks. Rum and coke tasted good when I was in college but not so much now. So I don't have any emotional ties to the rum smell, but I do like it in shaving products. I may research that more.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Urban Sketchers KC February Sketch Crawl

Well, I actually missed this month's crawl due to the bookbinding class I was in. I'm not complaining, but I did want to go to the Roasterie Factory coffee shop and roasting factory. I've wanted to see their facility for years. So, when my class was over Saturday, before I drove the 60 miles home, I went there by myself and did my own sketch crawl. I love the plane on the roof but didn't feel like going outside in the cold to sketch it. A hot coffee and PB cookie sounded much better while I sketched.

I love the coffeehouse environment. Mid-afternoon Saturday they had quite a crowd. Retail shop with gift-type items. Factory that gives tours. Cafe.  I just wish they had a place to set and see the plane. The Roasterie sells coffee nationwide now. I've watched them grow over the years. Several restaurants in Topeka now use them. They do good work.

Monday, February 5, 2018

New Frontier

While in KC for the bookbinding class I decide to check out a new donut shop; Donutology. I ran into them on-line because they now sell coffee from The Roasterie, where the sketch crawl was this month. I had my donut and coffee before class and didn't have time to sketch. After class I just had to go back and sketch. Since I was there, I decided to finish the sketch inside while having coffee and another donut. That extra donut is a secret, though.Mum's the word.

In addition to the traditional pastry offerings they let you choose the donut/frosting/topping/sprinkle combination and have a creation that stuffs a donut cone with ice cream (I think I have that all right). They have individual glass-bottle milk, in flavors that include cotton candy. Very creative.

I had the good fortune to meet and talk with the man who put one of their donuts in space! I was familiar with the story from reading their website. They have a looped video that shows the story. A customer close to the display told me the man who did it was right there beside us, and introduced me. We had a nice chat. They thought the weather balloon would go up and come down within 10 miles of the launch site and they'd be done within an hour. Wrong! The weather balloon with the donuts and camera and GPS transceiver went to 97000 feet. The flight lasted three hours 47 minutes, and landed 273 miles away in another State. The jet stream had fun with it. The GPS froze up and didn't thaw out until it landed. Quite a story. I'll be back.