Monday, August 26, 2019

New At Last!

I love my bicycle! Haven't changed my opinion since childhood. This summer I haven't ridden near enough, but I love it when I do. Big miles are enjoyable. Cycling gloves seem to last forever, but given enough years they do wear out. That makes me happy. Worn out gloves are proof that the rider has put in the miles. Can't fake that. Mine finally started pulling apart, so I had my excuse to go out and buy a new pair, guilt-free.

This is my first pair to have the gel padding, and they were the most comfortable. Not cheap, but cost per mile isn't bad. I went for a ride on our rail-to-trail near our house. To go toward Topeka the trail has the proper limestone screenings (fine gravel), but away from Topeka and I quickly run into the original granite ballast. This stuff is rough and loose, and easy to loose control and wreck if you don't focus. I made it to the trail's end and then jumped up on the asphalt road to circle back home. This was my first time to do it, and it felt good. I belong to the organization that's building the trail and we plan on laying down limestone screenings this year or next.

In a couple weeks a local bike store has organized an overnight bike ride, with camping at a local lake's campground. I hope to pack some sketch gear and have something to report later.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

No Spark Joy

I've been making strides to get rid of "stuff". Our daughter gave me a copy of Marie Kondo's book on "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". I can't bring myself to apply it everywhere, but she makes a persuasive case that we don't need to keep all the things we have. I even like the challenge it presents to think it all through and question the past. She has a better way to fold cloths in your dresser. Her acid test for keeping something is great. Does it "spark joy". Love it!

So, I made this sketch for some things that don't spark joy anymore. The CD player is very very old by technology standards. It was the first generation mobile player. It still plays but the sound skips with the slightest bump! Not sure if there is someone out there that would find joy in this or not. It's not junk, though (yet).

The mini waffle iron never really sparked joy. I found it in a discount bin. Such a buy! Really marked down . . . such a steal! That little voice in my head said 'don't' but I did. Never used it.

The coffee mug I never wanted. I found it at a local art/craft fair. The artist had two mugs. Both different but roughly similar. I fell in love with the other one and she made me a (marginal) deal if I bought both. The other one still 'sparks joy'. This one not.

So, these will all go to Goodwill. Every little bit helps clear the house. We have a basement, though, that I need to hit, and I've been avoiding it. I want to develop my editing skills before I/we hit it to improve my confidence because it will be tough.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

And A Seat Belt, Too!

We live just outside of town. A quarter-section parceled out like a mini-suburbia of five homes within a pasture section. The lots are bigger than suburbia, though. We (more precisely I) mow three acres. I like mowing but don't like the lost time that I could be doing fun things like sketching. My latest mower (zero turn, or ZTR) is in its sixteenth year and  burning oil for the last three years and an idler pulley just worked itself loose. The last time I mowed, I popped the belt about ten times. Frustrating. I've not putting any more money in repairs.

I've been looking at mowers in recent years to determine what my next mower will be, so after popping the belt so many times, I spent a couple lunch-hours talking to a local retailer and pulled the trigger. I still get sticker shock but I'll use it for many years. I chose one a little wider and faster than my current one. The three and a half hours needed to mow the yard is just too painfully long. We need to speed it up.

I've just mowed once, and it's taking some time to get the feel of it. It's a ZTR, too, but from a different manufacturer so it's different. It's going to work out nicely. It will be faster. This thing is so fast that it comes with a seat belt. It's raining right now or I'd be mowing now!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

March Sketch Crawl

Time for the USk KC sketch crawl! I missed the last one, and will miss the next one, so I made it a goal to hit this one. I like going to this Bass Pro store in east Kansas City. I've sketched there with a prior sketch group that has folded. This store is loaded with nick-knacks to draw. This Kansas City group is a nice group. I've always felt welcome, even though I'm not a local.

I had a real failure to draw the inverted canoe mounted above my head. Total mental process meltdown. The eyes could see it but the brain hijacked that message and forced what I THOUGHT I was seeing and threw off all my angles and lengths. I just couldn't handle the foreshortening and non-typical position. Seems like a good challenge I need to try again.

What I DID like was the antlers. I've tried them before and only had limited success. If I were to lay it out in pencil I could be assured success, but I lay it out in ink. It's tough to catch the graceful symmetry and curves and balance with ink. I feel good about this one.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Quality Not

They just don't make things like they used to! In the last two months we aged out our coffee maker and toaster. I still try to support local stores, so we went to Walmart to replace the coffee maker. Mr. Coffee has been at it a lot of years so I purchase a standard 12-cup version. It brewed fine, but the built-in clock ran three times faster than normal. The 2-hour hotplate shut-off in under one hour. That also meant the timer start fails. Many tries - many fails. I then did a Google search and found that this brand has had this problem for the last 1.5 years. But they have great customer service. A quick message chat on their Facebook page and they sent a replacement. The replacement works great. It just seems like a good quality assurance program would have caught this and saved everyone a headache. I also had to throw away the new-but-defective brewer. That's a lot of landfill!

Then the toaster gave up the ghost. Both of these had over 10 years of service so I don't fault them. The new toaster from Target wasn't the entry level so I expected it to work. However, the lever to load the bread failed to stay down after a couple days use. I had to hold it down manually to complete the toast cycle. It's junk, too! And yet such a pretty thing. The Oster company isn't as helpful. I need to deliver it to the local authorized service center, which is 60 miles away and requires proof of purchase. Who keeps receipts these days? Things should work! The credit card printout for the month lists it, though. Tomorrow we're going to KC for some shopping. The service center said they will determine if they can fix it or have Oster send me a replacement. I suspect it will end up OK, but what ever happened to quality construction!?

This is my first home sketch of the year. It feels great! I don't like being away from sketching for as long as I have, but that's life. The font I used on the title and the appliance descriptions came from a fountain pen Facebook group posting. I thought it was a beautiful font, so I'm trying it out.

Monday, January 7, 2019

January sketchcrawl: UrbanSkechersKC

Finally got out for some sketching this weekend. I just haven't been out much. The Kansas City group organized a sketch crawl at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Wilma and I have seen the sign to it for many years and just never made it. This gave the perfect excuse to get there! I learned a lot and enjoyed taking it all in. Thirty five years of league play and mostly east of the Mississippi. It's sure not the best chapter in American history. Diversity proved to be better for the game.

I wish Topeka or Lawrence would have something for sketchers. The 68 mile drive to KC to sketch is a bit much but I figure it is still the closest I have. I can't make all of the outings but I pick the most interesting. The group of sketchers is friendly, too. Most of them just come for the sketching, but plenty stick around for lunch and to chat. I'm still in the 'new kid' mode and haven't gotten to know any individuals well yet. That will come in time.

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.