Monday, September 7, 2015

Found New Coffeehouse

Friday was a good day. First, I pulled the day as vacation. I had pulled our camper down to the lake and set up camp for the Labor Day holiday. Wilma will join me in the evening after her workday is over. On my own for the day I decide to check out a coffeehouse I heard about at a recent Lawrence sketch crawl. Wilma gets tired of my coffeehouses so I grab the chance to go stag when I can.

A web search tells me of a coffeeshop called  Decade. It intrigues me. One review bashed it because, even though the coffee is great, they don't have WiFi and predicted they won't be able to compete with the other shops. Well, the owner said he doesn't allow WiFi because you come to a local coffeeshop to talk with your neighbors, not stick you head in your digital device and surf the web. I like him.

I tried to find the store a few weeks ago and failed. The east part of Lawrence is a quiet and very old part of town. Parts are run down. The businesses are mostly commercial, not retail. One review explained the area is undergoing gentrification. I found one old warehouse that has been restored beautifully for apartments. More web searching and I find the address of Decade. They don't have a large gaudy sign, probably by choice. I go in and fall in love. It's very clean yet eclectic. The furniture is all original, usually using nice wood with artistic vision.

So I order my latte and have a seat to sketch for a while. People in and out with foot traffic increasing as noon approaches. College students. Families. Singles. It's a real mix, like any neighborhood would be. I finish up to get back to camp. I'll be back.

I had my Pilot Falcon fountain pen fired up with Noodler's Lexington Gray. Love that pen. Then follow up with watercolor pencils and waterbrush.
I want a fast sketch so I don't use pencil for layout.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fall River Lake Camping

Last year a wind storm totaled out our travel trailer. We replaced it early this year and have been camping out more this year that in recent years. It's been nice.

We had our fourth outing this past weekend.  Packed our tandem kayak, too. We spent Friday scouting out the Fall River as it comes into the Lake. Our Kansas kayaking book tells us of the various put-in points. We scouted out where to go when Amy and Cody come out to visit us on Saturday with their kayaks.

Had a nice chat with a Wildlife & Parks field guy. He verified the book's information. The names for the access points are all correct. Water conditions are low right now so the flow is down. Several riffles would be present, but that was OK. It's an excuse to walk through cool clear flowing shallow water on a hot day. Felt like a little kid again!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August Lawrence Sketch Crawl

This month was the second outing of this group. Gail organizes them. This time we met at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence. On these hot summer days the group wanted some air conditioning, and save the outside sketching for later. This is an operating hotel with roots back 150 years and has quite a history. The restaurant and cafe/bar add a nice touch. Wilma and I have seen the outside of this nice old place for years and we never went inside. Now we can say we have. For our after-sketch gathering we ate in the cafe/bar. Five of us sketchers and Wilma. Could have talked all day, but had to move on. Mowing to do, garden and fruit trees to tend to.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lawrence Sketch Crawl

I had my first outing with a sketch group in Lawrence this morning. The weather finally turned good so it was a nice outing. We met at the Visitor's Center and sketched for a couple hours. Then met for a meal and chat. Met new people and made new friends. Wilma went to some fabric and quilting shops while I sketched. We like to come to Lawrence for many reasons.

A couple coal trains passed by while I was sketching. The center is a former Union Pacific terminal. The tracks were literally ten feet from my sketching spot. Boy do they make the noise and actually make the ground shake! When you compare the mass of the train to the mass of the earth, I just don't see how there is enough energy available to do that but there is.

I chatted with two different families that were walking by with their young kids to see the sights. The kids didn't like the trains when they passed, but they sure liked to run around the grounds. There's just something that kids like about trains, and some of us don't outgrow it.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Buggy Out

It's buggy out there! The main insect this year is the seventeen year cicada. Internet sources say this is the Magicicada Periodical Cicada, Brood IV. This is the first time I've seen these in Kansas, although my youngest brother says he remembers their last hatch. I think they're cute! They don't bite and are small that our usual cicadas, so they are less intimidating. And their color scheme is much more appealing than their kin. I've never seen their numbers, though! They absolutely cover the trunks of trees, are spread out in the tree canopies, and cover the garage doors at night time. When they sing they can be deafening. I have a dB application on my phone, and at work I measured 98 dB at the base of a tree! The occupationally harmful level is 85 dB. It's more of a constant vibration, too, not like the pulsating vibrations of our typical cicadas.

As for other insects like mosquitoes, the population count hasn't been that bad. We've had a wet spring but for some reason they haven't been bad. I have coworkers that say the ticks are bad this year, but we haven't had a problem yet.

The other insects I sketched happened to show up by our night light on the garage and I found them interesting. I took cell phone pictures of all of them for sketching purposes. Live sketch time just hasn't happened lately. I like to email them to our home account and print them off so I can sketch them over lunch hours at my local coffee shop.

I like to journal about these things because this serves as a timestamp for things that happen around here. As soon as the seventeen year hatch began I knew that they'd end up in my journal. Next hatch - I can count the years and see if it was really seventeen years. Mother nature's timing is amazing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Business Travel

This time I drove to Oklahoma City for an engineering committee meeting. After the day's meeting I like to stroll through the Brickyard, which is a neat area of restaurants, bars and retail stores. They even have a small canal system. However, we had tons of rain this week in the country's midsection. The rain kept me pinned down to the motel's area. I could stroll out some between rain sessions but didn't want to get too far away in case it started up again. Wasn't dressed for it.

For the first day's lunch break I stole away and discovered this American Banjo Museum. What a jewel! They covered the four string banjo the best (it started as a 4-string collection) but had a nice selection of bluegrass banjos, too. They had early banjos or mock-ups thereof, and four long necks from the '60s (Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger style). They did not cover the open-back flailing banjo, though. All the displays were museum quality. They've spend $5 M on it so far.

Next day I HAD to get out, so I skipped over to a Starbucks for a pastry and a sketch. It was cold and misty so I couldn't sketch the Banjo Museum face like I wanted. I fixed that, though, when the meeting ended at noon and I went back to the Museum. Had another chat with the staff. Picked on a couple banjos on display for patrons to use. Bought a banjo T-shirt. Then on the road for home.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I'm trying something new . . . rather it's old. Centuries ago kombucha was created and claims to have healthy benefits. My daughter Amy started making it this year and spurred my interest. So far I've made two batches, a half gallon at a time. I don't know how much is a daily serving, but I'm starting at a juice glass worth. This stuff is easy to find on the east and west coast, but is new to Kansas. Our health food stores in Topeka have it, but most of the population here has never heard of it.

I had the bottle caper from my old beer brewing days, but needed some caps. We have only one store that sells brewing supplies, and it's a guy running a business from a home. I drove up to get the caps and found out he, too, is brewing kombucha. He showed me his gallon jug of fermenting tea, with a smile. We are both cautious with our expectations, since we don't buy into all this alternate health stuff blindly. It's worth a try, though. We both see the similarities to brewing beer or wine. Fermented food is hardly a new concept. Plus there is the fun factor.

I'd be interested if any readers of my blog have experience with kombucha? Let me know. The traditional American medical community isn't buying into the claims, but that's true with a lot of health foods out there.  I figure if it's been around for centuries, if it was killing people the recipe wouldn't be around today.