Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Fresh Produce

We've been busy lately. The garden and fruit trees are bearing fruit and we're in the throws of canning. I just love this time of year, even though it gets quite hectic. Wilma and I were both raised in households that had gardens and canning was the norm. Just like home. None of my co-workers get it. Not many of the younger generation do. It's a shame. I like seeing the new interest that some of the younger ones have. A renewed interest in eating better and reducing dependence on the convenient pre-fab foods is good. That's part of my interest, too. Studies have linked a correlation between cancers and the emergence of the "Western Diet" that we all grew up with. I love eating the products of our land, too. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Wilma and I have been doing this long enough that we don't speak much when we have the canning wheels in motion. We each know what the steps are. Depending on what the product is, one will be in charge and the other is the sous chef. It's not a perfect process, though. We're still not mind readers and sometimes we miss. It all works out in the end, though.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Critter Time

Recently I found two pictures that I wanted to sketch from. I hesitate because more than one instructor has said to never sketch from a photo. However, it's my sketchbook and my process, and I really want to sketch them.

The first was a walking porcupine, from a wildlife-related Facebook group. Hard to say what distance he actually walked, but for one shutter speed shot he was walking. I loved the humble face he has and, of course, I couldn't capture all of it true to life. He seems huggable! Then I received a mailing from a bird watching organization and their calendar had this chick on it. Again, I just HAD to try to sketch it. His legs were even longer than my sketch captured them.

Then there's the Japanese Beetle. He was a life study, rather a death study. We've been invaded this year! This critter is a new one to me. References state that they do no long term harm to plants, but eat the fruit and skeletize the leafs. They swarm over our peaches, pears and blackberries and eat the fruit to its stem! They gorge themselves so much that they are not fast to escape when I approach. I can shake the fruit they are on and they fall into a bucket I have with soapy water and a lid. The picture is a pile of their dead bodies, collected over only a few days, on just two trees! They are a beautifully colored beetle and I can't bring myself to hate them. They don't cling to me as the swarm around me, and their sluggish take-off is comical. They also eat only one fruit at a time, leaving the others alone for me to pick.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Long Weekend in St. Paul

A while back I had a technical conference in St.Paul. The conference was Tuesday/Wednesday. We like the area, so we pulled off Monday as vacation and made a short 3-day weekend vacation. We've been here once before, so we had some places to re-visit and some new ones to explore. Sketching during a vacation can be a tough assignment. Time is short. However, I did find some time at a neat casual restaurant right on the Mississippi River edge that I could sketch. Then I simply listed the places we went, as a memory jogger.

While we were chilling out, a new tug came upriver and lingered around some barges next to the restaurant. The tug never exactly halted, but was slow enough for me to put together a rough sketch. These new tugs amaze me! This one had two engines and was not noisy and yet could probably push the Empire State Building down the river. Such understated power.

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 http://smalltownsketchers.com. 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.