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.