Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tornado Watch #955

I've lived in Kansas for most of my life, but the weather we've had over the past week has been very weird. It's at the top of the weird list, shared by only a very few other moments in history. And the first time we've had a Tornado Watch in December that I can remember, much less the day after Christmas. Just thinking about a tornado as Santa visits brings images to mind, so a journal entry is in order.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Wars

Every year it's the same for this season. Eating vs. Fitness. Merriment vs. discipline. More challenging as the metabolism slows down with age yet the eyes say eat . . eat . . eat! The pounds creep on but I know how to fix it. All I need is a strong dose of will-power. Why can't they pack that in a nice cinnamon roll?!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Which Bulb?!

After hanging all the strings of lights on our house front eves on a cold afternoon with little time, I turned them on and this string didn't work. After a day to cool down, I took them down to see where the problem was. Wife spent plenty of time and got half of them to light (we have an unwritten division of responsibilities, and she handles the bulbs, I handle the hanging). Never did get the other half to work. We happened to have a spare string so we were back on the road . . . except for portions of two other strings. Tonight, after the heavy winds of the last 24 hours, most are now working. Go figure.

Fav Ornament

Just a quick sketch of my oldest and favorite Christmas tree ornament. It's been put on a tree since I got it when I was about 4 years old. That's 48 consecutive years. Just can't seam to retire it.

Huntin', Day 3

Well, it's probably my last day of deer hunting for 2008. Full moon last night will mess up the deer. They'll eat at night and sleep in the day. Sure enough. None seen today. Had a good sit, though. Listened to turkeys waking up and watched cold weather move in. Made one more sketch, but just in time. I was dressed for 50F and the cold front brought in 25F with 25-35 mph winds so wind chill was around 10F. I could feel it steal my heat by the minute. Shivering told me it's time to quit. Head for a warm home . . . wait for another year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eye Doc

My eyes are still blurry as I post this, three hours after the eye drops. I have a mental problem when it comes to eye doctors and the act of poking my eyes. Can't seem to get over it. At least the doctor and his assistants are nice and make it as pleasant as possible. And while driving home . . . a revelation . . . WA LAA! . . . I can make a sketch about the whole thing! Of course, now every time I see this I will remember what it feels like getting the drops. Not sure if that's such a good thing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Butterfly Award

Well, I'm tickled pink because Margaret Storer-Roche awarded me this Butterfly Award! I'm watching her site all the time to see her colorful interpretations of the southwest, and value her observations. Nobody does it as Margaret does it.

Here are the rules that go with the award :

1. Put the logo on your blog, you can right-click and copy it from above.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you

3. Nominate 10 other blogs for this award
4. Add links to those blogs

5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

6. Give a reason why you consider their blogs cool.

So, to live, the award must be passed along. Here's my list, in no particular order:
Speck ( has some EDM, some sketches and blogs of things around her, like the cat on her hubby. Then go to her other blog for some witty writing about stuff.
Jim ( covers a wide range. One day a semi-truck, another day Paris or a liquor store. Check out his doctors exam table!
Karen ( has pleasant blogging with her great sketches. Mix of pen/ink and color.
Don ( has a variety of images in pen/ink and in color. A retired Canadian who stays busy.
Marva ( is into many art mediums. Sketching is predominantly EDM challenges. I like her composition skills.
Nina ( is a Swedish contribution to the blog world, with urban sketches and neat montage sketches.
Rose ( is multimedia and a mom. I like her family touches to her art and blogs, and her watercolor sketch layouts.
EJ Mordasky ( has a masterpiece for every post. She spends the time to get everything just right and has a style of her own.
Douglas ( has both pen/ink and color sketches with a mix of topics and blogs with more details. Love his power plant and train machinery. As an artist/blacksmith combination, he MUST be creative.
Ryan ( has sketches of vehicles and buildings and other stuff. I think, being a guy, I find interest in his view of things.

That's it for this blog. No sketch this time. Just fun surfing around blog sites.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Huntin', Day 2

On both days of deer hunting I watched a large group of turkeys. Still no deer, but these turkeys keep me interested. They seem content to strut along in no particular hurry. I made this sketch, too, while sitting in the brush. Need to work on my art gear box, though. It rattles around and makes too much noise as I walk in the field. Maybe a sponge or something crammed in to hold everything tight. Digging for WC pencils is too noisy, too, while I'm trying to be unnoticed. Need to try other methods.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Huntin', Day 1

Deer season's here. Rifle season started Wednesday, but my project at work is keeping me from pulling any vacation time right now. Saturday is my first day in the field. If you're anti-hunting, don't worry because I didn't shoot anything. I packed my sketch stuff just in case. I was in my ground spot before sunrise. When the sun came up, this rascal became irate that I was in his turf. He commenced to letting me know about it. I just smiled and watched. When he wouldn't go away I thought I'd try to sketch him. Once I got the stuff out, he was gone. So I sketched him from memory and finished the journal entry while sitting there in the brush. Temperature was in the upper 30's.

I came back that afternoon and a group of over 20 wild turkeys walked by my spot, just behind me. I sat quietly and watched the parade. My best moments in hunting are watching the wildlife and tracking them.

*****Post 50!*** This is post 50 for me. On New Years Day this year I didn't know what a blog was and I had a 2008 goal to learn how to do journal sketching like Danny Gregory and Dan Price. Now I'm a blogger and on my journey to learning and living this journaling stuff. And it's still 2008. I feel good about that. And no teacher is here to give me a grade to instill self-doubt. I can be as optimistic as I want.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Finished my field engineering work. Time to start the 4 hour drive home. It's not on the way, but 30 miles away is Greensburg, Kansas. The town that used to be. On a fateful night in May 2007 a huge tornado changed its history by wiping it out. This is the first time I've been anywhere close to it and probably won't be around here again anytime soon. So I drive over. I've lived most my life in Kansas. You learn trees that have survived a large tornado have a certain 'look' to them for many years. They are silent sentinels trying to tell everyone the horrors they saw yet they can't speak. Every tree in Greensburg was that way. Very spooky. I drove around, looking for a scene that I could respectfully draw and not encroach on private property. I found this scene that I could draw from the car. The house address had been painted on the curb in recent years, contrasting with the total destruction of house. The town is slowly rebuilding.
The city of Chapman was about wiped out by a tornado this past summer. One of the new houses there will be featured in an upcoming sweep week 2-hour edition of Extreme Makeover, Home Edition. Hope the national attention will help the little town is some way.

Conjunction & my job

My job took me out of town for a couple nights. Had some windshield time and was lucky enough to be driving south while the conjunction of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus was dancing before my very eyes. I'm not an astronomy genius but I do follow it loosely and knew this night would be great as long as the cloud cover doesn't kill it. It didn't. I studied it and memorized as much as I could. Then I thought about how it compares/contrasts with my job at hand and my career. One thing you CAN do while driving is think. Even if it's useless babble about astronomy and your place in life. I checked into the motel and sketched and finished it that night.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving '08

We went out to Hays this year. It's the wife's bloodline. Always like visiting this area of Kansas. More open spaces. Smaller towns. Nice family. Luckily both kids are home from college. Had a nice time, though nothing you'd make a movie or reality TV show about.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bottle Caps - Old Style

I haven't 'popped a cap' for a long time. Just bought a 6-pack that had the old caps. Can't get too cerebral about bottle caps. But they're neat! Never noticed before how nicely they're shaped ... and contrasting. The smooth crown with the jagged skirt. The light shade of color on crown and sharp shadows of the skirt. And they pull off the bottle top so smoothly. It's a better way. It beats the harsh feel of the omnipresent twist-top. But society won't be returning any time soon. So I'll just sketch'm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where's the Leak!

I started getting plumbing experience with our first house after we got married 27 years ago. Before that I'd just watch Dad mess with plumbing. It wasn't his strong point and I learned more cuss words from him than plumbing skills. As it turns out, it's not my strong suit either. But sometimes it's just the practical choice to take on a plumbing repair project. In my years of doing odd plumbing jobs around the house I know my limits. Toilets, for the most part, I can handle. Don't have to like it but I can handle it. I respect the skill of a professional plumber and hire them as needed. May need one yet for this project.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goodbye, Wild One

Nights are long and dark now. Deer are frisky. Animals moving at all hours. The perpetual animal/car conflict. It sucks. I've been having a bad run lately. I know these blogs are best if they are fun and optimistic. Well, life isn't always that way. In the big picture roadkill is a minor issue. But every night when I'm behind the wheel in this season I'm not thinking it's minor anymore. Too many memories. I just gotta journal about it and move on.

Don't worry. I won't leave you in a downer funk for long. My next post will be more lighthearted, even if it deals with yet another frustration of mine.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Project w/Dad

End of season landscaping. The wife and I are helping Mom get some yard stuff done before winter. We put in this edged area for plantings, and a place for the old lighthouse.

I love working in my simple shop in our garage. Wood, mostly. It's what I learned from my Dad, who learned it from his Dad. Had a chance to restore one of Dad's projects lately, this old lighthouse.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Slash & Gut

It's that time of year. Even though we are empty nesters, I still feel the need to carve at least one Jack-o-lantern. Used to carve close to a dozen when we lived in the city and could display them on our porch. It was fun watching the reactions or Trick or Treaters and their parents. Oh well. I'm typing this in the dark, late at night, as the owl silently watches me. Never grow tired of watching them flicker. Cost me many hours of sleep. When we lived in a smaller town with an active city recreation commission I taught pumpkin carving. Me with a room of 25 youth armed with saws and knives! That should have been a nightmare but the kids absolutely loved it, and came back year after year. They'd tell me what they carve at home and what they carved last year. Their energy level and excitement were a boost that made the HUGE cleanup effort even seem worthwhile. And teachers would have me come in and give a quick demo and tell the history of this holiday. They kids would send me neat Thank You notes. But we're in a larger city with a rec commission that doesn't need my services (I asked) and our kids are grown and gone. So now it's a personal venture. The wife and I quietly enjoy the simple pleasures of a family tradition that I can't let die.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oops, forgot a page.

In looking at my last post I see I forgot one page of my bike tour. Here it is, and it's the next to last page.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quick Solo Biking Trip

Well, the year has passed by quick and I knew if I was to get in one last trip, I better do it now. So I put together a 3-day 2-night loaded tour with my bike. Haven't really kept in good shape. Two weeks ago my daughter, brother and I did a 26 mile event in Wamego and it went ok, but back-to-back days like this one are tougher, and I've only done an overnighter before on the bike. Bunch of unknowns here. I also wanted to do something that didn't require burning gas or paying for motels. i.e. on the cheap. Local lake should do it nicely. Last weekend was the last weekend with electric and water in the lake campgrounds so the crowds should be gone . . . another plus. Cool weather . . . another plus.

Sounds good to me. This is also my first solo since I've started illustrated journaling, so I'll try my hand at it each day. This time I finished it shortly after I got back home, so the whole thing is right here.

I'm still getting the hang of this blog, so my orientation of these journal entries isn't perfect. Still learning.

The trip went fine. I was able to sketch as often as I felt the urge. The first campground was great and the second one was, well, interesting. Nice campground but some of the people were odd. One guy thought he'd bring his chainsaw and get some firewood for the night. A lot of firewood. Irritatingly noisy. Then, as I was leaving, a couple good ol' boys were dressing out their two whitetail deer killed fresh this morning. I'm a deer hunter myself, but there's a time and a place, and the family campers there (several) may not understand. Still a good trip, though.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Old Soldier

Here's an OLD bridge just south of us. I crossed it in my childhood on my school bus route daily. I've spent many years away from here after college, but I've been back in the old neighborhood for the last 12 years. These old scenes still bring back memories. So I decided this old bridge needs to be sketched. As with the last two entries, I did it all on-site. I enjoy the time spent really looking at something closely, live. Getting the perspective close proved fickle on this one, so it took a while. What's with the bugs in Kansas when you sit still in their environment? The drawing was done sitting in the shade in the brush (brought a small chair . . luxury!). I did the writing while sitting on the bridge rail, watching the muddy water flow by. The concrete railings are well weathered and pitted so it wasn't the most comfortable sit. Four cars drove my while I was drawing. Two I didn't look at, and they didn't change speed. One approached from in front, with a mother and teenage daughter, and both smiled at me as I smiled back. The fourth approached from behind, slowed way down, then stopped when beside me. I thought they wanted to talk, so I looked up, smiled, and said Hi. It was a grumpy Grandpa driving with a Grandma. He sneered at me, paused, then slowly pulled away. Don't know what that was about. I wrapped it up, loaded the bike and pedaled back home. A nice was to spend time. (First sketch journal is FINISHED! My travel journal has several entries, but this is my first journal to finish. A milestone.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Not Mother's Day

This morning I was working in our garage on a woodworking project. I heard the cattle next door screaming out like the world was ending. In a way . . . it was. Our neighbor runs a small cow/calf operation, and today is the day they take this year's offspring to the sale barn. I take a look. Two heavy pickups with horse trailers loading up. They soon fire up their diesel engines, low gear, and haul them out. I made this sketch at 6 p.m. The moms were still bellowing, though less often. Some were still swiftly walking around, calling out and looking for their offspring. I sat down and did this whole entry in one setting. The moms were watching me, too. I feel for them, but it's just the way the world works when you're low in the food chain. That was an early lesson from my childhood when we raised our own beef and poultry.

Changing of the Guard

Kansas has been a hotbed for energy topics this year, both wind power and being shut down trying to build our next large coal-fired power plant. In our western half we have a few large wind farms. This week I drove from Topeka to Denver for a utility workshop. On my way home I stopped by the wind farm near Ellsworth to sketch. I wasn't going to make it back to the office in time to do work, so I took my afternoon break to sketch. Couldn't believe I found this composition of an old windmill next to a new one. The field has Winter wheat planted and just starting to poke through the topsoil. I did the whole journal entry while sitting at the field's edge in the shade. The loaded semi-trailer was sketched from a photo I found on Internet. I had it with me, because I was going to make a journal entry about wind power, anyway. When I was driving and saw the turbines, it all clicked that I needed to journal NOW.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Visiting Our Son

It's time to visit our son. He's moved to Illinois to pursue a Masters degree, and just started this semester. We drove up for a day. On the way we drove through Hannibal, Mo to cross the Mississippi and got to see the steamer up close and watch it depart. Huge ship! Never seen one like it. I love road trips. Never know what you'll see, if you just look around and not be in such a hurry. On the way home we, unfortunately, drove through Kansas City when NASCAR races were letting out. You could see the race car personalities coming out in their driving habits. No accidents, just testosterone being exhibited.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Market Time

Market's are fun to stroll through. This market is one I remember from childhood and it's still kicking. The family business is one of the big ones in the Topeka area. They must be doing something right. Fertile Kansas River bottom land doesn't hurt, either. Never know what you'll find in the Market. Had to buy some peanut brittle when I bought the peaches.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pigs Can Fly!

The wife and I are just finishing up our first season of watching hummingbirds at our first feeder. These little guys are a hoot to watch. And boy can they eat a lot! When they're getting bulked up to migrate south they really suck down the sugar water. I think the males have started the migration. The feeder requires much less refilling. Book says the females will follow shortly. I often complained when I had to clean and fill the feeder, but I'll sure miss them when they're gone.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Camping Time

The wife and I made it out camping. It's been a while. We pull a 26' trailer now, but started with a tent when we got married. Then migrated to a pop-up trailer when the kids came along and finally to this trailer. We love to camp but just don't make it often enough. We have routines for packing and set-up and take down. When you don't go often, you get rusty. It's neat when we act as a team to do the tasks it takes to camp. We each have our jobs and it all works with little communications. And we get to relax a little more now without the kids. Less planning on how to fill time and less supervision required (other than the wife would still say she must supervise me).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Solo Gig

Playing acoustic music is a hobby of mine. Bluegrass in particular, but I grew up listening to rock so when its just me, I play old rock and some folk, too. I'm a fiddler in a hobby bluegrass band and we've played our local county fair for the last five or six years. However, this year my band mates couldn't make it and I decided to do a solo gig. About 15 years ago I did it two years for the Stafford County fair in their food tent as background music. It's nerve racking to do! Nobody to help you out when you falter, and the pace and song selection are all up to you. And this time I did some of my own songs that have never been heard by others. It's a push, but it's rewarding. There's something about performing that keeps me doing it . . . until they start throwing tomatoes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trip, Finale

This is the last post for this vacation. It took a month to finish, but that's OK. Plenty of things to compete with journaling time so I'm just glad I could finish it and it didn't become an uncompleted goal. A year ago I knew we were going to Glacier and I knew I wanted to journal it, even though I hadn't learned to journal yet, much less have an on-line blog. So this post is a dream come true for me. I did it!

We're on the train here, coming home. Settling in for another 30-hour ride.

Here's a list of how we fill 30-hours. The first hours go well, but by the time we're approaching Chicago, we're ready to have it over. Then we drive a few hundred miles to get home. Kinda have a tense time getting out of Chicago, but the rest go fine. Then time to adjust to regular life again. Goes by fast and I'm ready to go again. If you like the ourdoors, Glacier National Park is a great place to visit.

Since I haven't done this before I decided to do a spread that covers what I carried and how I approached sketching for this trip. The old memory bank doesn't work as well as it used to. Next trip I'll read this to refresh my memory. If anyone has comments or suggestions on how THEY approach travel journaling, I would be interested in reading your responses.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Trip, Part 5

On to Many Glaciers Lodge, on Swiftcurrent Lake. East side of the park. Had to decide what to do on our last full day in the park. I kept the agenda open so we could decide when we got there. Had no idea how we'd feel after climbing up to Sperry Chalet and back.

The last night in the park we're at Glacier Park Lodge in the southeast. Time to close down the vacation (blaaa). We'll catch the train at the East Glacier Amtrak depot.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Trip, Part 4

Well, this was my favorite day! I loved the whole park but this day tops the list. Admittedly Wilma was not as happy about the hike, but was game to try it. We've hiked many trails together over the years and she know's what it will involve. Once there, we were able to relax and enjoy life. The staff at Sperry Chalet are good at making that happen.

Time passes quickly. We could have used more time at all our lodgings, but this one seemed especially short.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Peach Time In Kansas

Well, I MUST take a short break from travel journaling or I'll get in a real blogjam here. Life doesn't wait for the journal to capture it. PEACH TIME! I LOVE peaches. My favorite pie. Mom always made apple pies from Jonathan apples, ..the best. I think I love peach pie so much because Mom rarely made them (we suspect Dad may have married Mom for her apple pies). On the farm we even had about a dozen peach trees but we had marginal luck with them. After sketching this one, I ate it on my morning cereal. Mmmm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trip, Part 3

This day was short, as the main activity was a white-water trip in the afternoon, which does not lend itself to active sketching (or photography). A short hike in the morning rounded out the day. The view from the motel got me kinda excited and I didn't actively check perspective with my pencil as I sketched. Oops.

This map is an overall map for our time spent in the park. I love maps, so I really was looking forward to doing this sketch. They tell SO much with so few words. Need to learn more about mapping. I fell in love with the Columbian Ground Squirrels, so they had to make an appearance here, too (taking pictures pays off).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trip, Part 2

Getting this travel journal finished is taking time. Journaling time is balanced with other activities we put off doing because of vacation, plus it's 4-H Fair this week. For anyone whose been through it as a family you know the world basically stops at Fair time to get things done. Even though we're empty nesters we still volunteer and have plenty to do at Fair time. I know, we all have excuses. My only point in mentioning it is to clarify that my slower posting rate is not due to waning interest in journaling. It will get done.

This post is a continuation of July 6, Sunday. The activity for today was a Red Bus Tour, mainly of the Going to the Sun Road. It was worth it! I enjoyed this more that I thought I would. With an open top you get sights, sounds, smells, wind and even splashes of water as the snowmelt finds its way down the mountainside. This was our last night at McDonald Lake Lodge.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trip, Part 1

Finally on the road! All the planning is over. We've begun the vacation and we'll just deal with anything that happens or with any plans that must change as they happen. I've seen a fellow EDM member draw a sketch similar to this and always liked it so I took the chance to make my own. Wilma took a turn at driving as I started lookin' around.

After a night stay at a motel, we hit Chicago and get on the Empire Builder train to Glacier N.P. and parts beyond. It July 4! That means we see fireworks from the train. Not exactly ideal seats, but still neat.

Here's observations from the train. 30 hours is quite a while to sit and think and read and watch. I like it. The coffee is pretty good, too.

Our first night in the park is at Lake McDonald Lodge. We can finally relax! The train doesn't get in until close to 9 p.m., so we pick up our rental car and drive the short mileage along the shore of Lake McDonald to lodge. Room as scheduled. They have a fire going in the fireplace and the scent riding on the cool air greets us. The showpiece of the lobby, to me, is the huge fireplace. My eyes are drawn to it so that's what I decide to sketch before we leave in a couple days. I think I'll try to have a minimum of one sketch and one picture for each of our lodgings. We'll see if I can keep it up.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pre-Trip Sketches

The wife and I just got back from a 10-day vacation to Glacier National Park in Montana. This is a big trip for us, and the first one since I starting really sketching. It was my time to play with what I've learned and what suggestions I've gathered from my EDM and LTJ communities. My travel journal has begun. This first sketch is blatant copying of an old magazine add that was used in a publication I purchased to plan this trip. It's my private journal (forget the fact that it's shared here with millions of people through Internet). I loved the image and wanted it for my first page.

Since this is my first time for a travel journal, I'll admit I don't know what I'm doing. Every trip won't be done this way, maybe, but until I try some things I won't know what style I like. Here's the first few pre-trip sketches. That's not exactly true. I WANTED them done before we left, but it's not to be. I worked on them during and after the trip, too. To finish the rest of the journal I wanted my digital pictures printed to base some sketches on, and transfer some pictures to the journal. Not exactly fast stuff. I'll post more as I get them done.