Friday, February 17, 2017

Business Trip to TX

I don't fly out often on business, but it happens. This week contained a 1.5 day meeting of a regional engineering committee I'm on. We met in San Antonio, TX, which is a favorite of mine with their River Walk. I have no proficiency for flying. There are little things that should be looked at before you fly, and I'm rusty. Little things like making sure there is no crazy long layover (like the 3 hour layover I have in Dallas going home) and knowing what ground transportation your using when you land (completely forgot). But life has a way of progressing, anyway, whether it's planned out our not. And it did. Nothing profound happened, but it was a little clumsy.

Getting time for sketch time on the River Walk is a challenge. I need a combination of daylight, time away from the meeting (which is paying my salary), and a spot to sit. The real estate is crammed with restaurants and stores. I'm sure it's all expensive, too expensive for green spaces to sit and relax. When there is the occasional bench, if you sit you may get approached by the street people that are killing time. However, our meeting was over 30 minutes early and I had a window of time before my flight. I found a mexican restaurant for lunch that overlooked the walk. I could sketch and eat. Being a popular restaurant, though, I didn't feel I could relax too long and take the space from another paying customer. So I did order a dessert, which I normally don't, to have more sketch time. A real sacrifice (ha!). This was the trip for pen and ink.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February Sketch Crawl

The Urban Sketchers Lawrence group had their February sketch crawl at the local bowling alley. I just recently found out about this group. This is my second outing with them and it was mostly a different batch of people. Had a good time and met some nice people.

We were there this morning and we thought a tournament was going to be happening. However, the general public was all that was bowling, so most of the lanes were empty to get ready for the tournament. We still had people to watch and observe and sketch. So many parallel lines and perspectives! The kids were fun to watch, too. They always have so much fun bowling. Brings back memories.

I started with some quick gesture sketches in my other sketchbook, using my brushpen. All the movement of limbs was captivating. I just learned in an on-line sketching class I'm taking now to start by thinking of the verb - then see the line of action - then draw it. The verb would be bowling. The line of action is complex. Usually there is just one, but here there are two. The body slides and stands on one leg while an arm delivers the ball. The shoulder line and hip lines tilt differently, and torso leans. This is good stuff . . . and I've never noticed it before.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


I've got a thing for flashlights. Always have. Always will. And it seems that it's not unusual for guys. The recent craze for tactical equipment is just another verse to the old song. I've resisted buying one because they're just too pricey. These are LED torches with rechargeable lithium ion batteries. They brag about their lumens. My brother and brother-in-law have them and paid dearly for them, and they punch out into the night real well. Very impressive.

Then I had a thought. Maybe if I bought the smallest one it would be affordable. Well, I found that an AAA-size flashlight is the least expensive, as I thought. I'd have the neat power and features without the high cost of the full size flashlights. However, they are still expensive. I've resisted for a long time, but finally succumbed recently. This little rascal is great! With the rechargeable high-output batteries it puts out more light than any traditional flashlights we have around here. I'd do it again.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Drugs To Go

She's long, dark and mysterious. That's the storage closet in our bathroom. Linens. Medical. Personal care. Holds it all. But what we regularly use is only on the front edge of the shelf. The shelf is 22" deep, so there is a large dark mysterious space behind what we use, that hasn't seen daylight for many years. I think it's time to clean it all up and pitch stuff that's expired or that we won't use again.

I set up a folding table next to the cabinet and attacked. Shelf by shelf. I found stuff that we couldn't remember. Some of the expiration dates were obscene. The process was slow but rewarding. I ended up with quite a stack to go to the trash or the county haz-mat dump site. As I sat there the drugs talked to me. They wanted to be sketched, and it seemed like the thing to do. So I set there for a while and sketched. This was just plain fun to draw! Now they are all gathered up and sitting in the garage, in a box of CF burnt bulbs and batteries and photo developing chemicals. Now we just need to figure what day of the month we can take it all in to the county dump. That may take another 20 years.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Local COOP

It was a nice day. OK, maybe 38F and windy, but still I felt the urge to get out and sketch. The local COOP was here when I was a kid fifty years ago and it looked old then. It's seen a long life and is still kicking. However, times have changed it. The scales are accessed via satellite and the office isn't manned, at least in the off-season like right now. But the buildings are all as I remember them as a kid. They needed to be sketched.

The mood was different now. This was a happening place, especially at harvest time. The scale building also had a small retail sales space to sell rabbit food, dog food and other miscellaneous items that don't need to be bulk loaded into a pickup or grain truck. The smell of grain was everywhere, and you needed to watch out for huge trucks driving to the scales and then driving to unload. It was exciting!

The elevator is still in use, and maybe it is still hopping at harvest time, but I doubt it. The scale building appears empty of all furnishings. I think all the weighing is done remotely through the satellite antenna. Times have changed. I suppose they need to keep up with the economics of the grain markets and cut costs. However, today's youth won't have the same experiences that I did at harvest time.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Old Dog New Tricks

My dad taught me how to shave with both an electric razor and a blade. I settled on an electric razor process and have been using it for over 40 years.You'd think I'd be content. However, recently I've been intrigued by the shaving soap/brush method. It's more work, but it's a more earth-friendly method. The foam doesn't come from a pressurized can made of metal and using many chemicals. Just a simple round puck of soap and a brush made of natural bristle. Those are all points wasted on me until this generation of environmental consciousness. Plus it has a touch of nostalgia. I remember being a small kid looking up at my dad lather up and shave with this method.

The last straw was when I passed a soap/brush/stand shaving kit at the local grocery store marked off 30% as a clearance item. I had to have it!

Now how do you use it? My dad's gone so I can't ask him. Answer - YouTube. So there I was, a grandpa myself now, watching YouTube videos to learn how to shave. How did we learn anything without YouTube in the past?

After a week of use I can say I really like this method. The shave is close and the fragrances are not as strong as other products. One sensation I did NOT expect, though, is that when applying the lather, it feels somewhat like when your dog just jumped in the pond for a swim and then comes out and shares some love with you and his wet tail smacks your face a few times. That SHOULD be a turn-off, but I love dogs.

My next step, someday, will be to try the double-edge razor with the soap and brush. That's also what my dad used. The replacement blade cassettes hadn't been invented yet. If money was the sole driver I'd be using the double-edge now, but how much shaving gear does a guy really need? This is enough change for now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

August '16 Alaska Cruise, Part II

That's it for the trip. We could sure do that more often. Just need to find that money tree.