Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Class Coming

In February I'll be taking an Internet-based drawing class by Roz Stendhahl. It's called Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public and will be held the month of February. Two classes posted per week, with daily homework and two webinars on Saturdays afternoons. That topic is a weakness of mine and a strength of Roz's, so it's a class for me. She says we only need a pencil and sheet paper but says she will introduce techniques using materials on her list. It's sold by Wet Paint in St. Paul and is discounted if purchased as a kit, and most of it I don't have (though I have similar), so I bought it. The kit was delivered before Christmas so, of course, I had to sketch it!

Wilma was taking a weaving class this weekend in Lawrence so I drove her there and headed for a coffee shop to sketch and have a latte. Lovely way to spend time.

I haven't posted it yet because I came down sick with something that took five days of sick time and some antibiotics to get under control. That rarely happens for me. I'm mostly OK now. Time to get back into it.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Had some time to sketch this morning when Wilma was shopping for her hobbies. We went to Lawrence. Mass Street was a-buzz and we found out we JUST missed their holiday parade, which had horse-drawn rigs! Oh well, maybe next year. As she shopped I walked down the street looking for something to sketch. The Granada theater front just grabbed me. I went in the Amy's Coffeehouse across the street for a coffee to drink as I sketched because there's a chill in the air (any excuse works). Luckily a concrete planter provided a quiet place to sit and sketch. There's a ton of people around.

Lately I've been using my Namiki Falcon flex-nib fountain pen with Noodler's Lexington Grey ink and I just love the responsiveness of the pen. Lines from extra fine to thick with ease. I recently loaded up my Noodlers Ahab flex-nib to play with it more, too. The calligraphist in me likes to play.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sharpening Tradition

I like the old-school way of sharpening knives. Our kitchen knives needed some TLC, and I always take some time in the holiday season to get them in great shape again. It's getting hard to find the supplies any more to do this type of sharpening. The world wants FAST and NOW. That means power grinding wheels, ground diamond stones and sticks, and other fast-is-better-forget-quality approaches. That's just not how I view things, so I do it the slow and steady way. The proof is in the finished blade seen with a magnifying glass.

When you consider what the routine tasks are for a kitchen knife, any sharpening method will get the job done. If I'm making a sandwich, store bought bread makes a sandwich just as functional as home-made bread. There's more to life than 'functional'.

On a lighter note, I can now sleep soundly knowing our butcher block of knives are all in top working condition. It may seem like such an invisible thing that doesn't mean much, but it does to me. They are the right tool for the job!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Couple Recipes

No sketches today. Just a couple bread machine recipes as requested. My usual bread is a standard recipe with either bread flour or a mix of bread flour with whole wheat flour. I usually throw in some wheat germ and ground flax seed. I think every bread machine comes with a recipe list that includes a basic bread recipe that works fine. Of all four machines I've used, the basic recipe always performs well.

Here are two recipes I make when I want something that's not the standard loaf:

CREAM OF WHEAT BREAD (I don't make it all the time, it's a treat. Makes the best toast with butter and honey! I make this when our grown daughter visits, too. It's her favorite. I cut off the rounded top in a really thick slice that JUST fits in the toaster for her. She's putty in my hands.)

milk   1C
butter   1/4 C
eggs   1
sugar   2 Tbs
salt   2 tsp
bread flour   2 C
cream of wheat (uncooked)   1 C
yeast   1 1/2 tsp

This is a medium size (3 cups flour size). If you want small or large, let me know.

BRANDIED PUMPKIN BREAD (From Gold Medal Bread Machine Recipes book. Just made this last night and I'm in LOVE. Soft. Semi-sweet. Moist. Plus I'm a pumpkin nut.) Use the Sweet or Basic/White cycle.

canned pumpkin    3/4 C  (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie can)
water   1/2 C
brandy extract or vanilla   1/2 tsp
butter   2 Tbs
bread flour    3 C
sugar   1/4 C
salt   1 1/4 tsp
pumpkin pie spice   1/2 tsp
yeast   2 1/4 tsp

Spicy Glaze (drizzle over loaf after it cools)
powdered sugar   1/2 C
milk   1 to 2 Tbs milk
pumpkin pie spice   dash

This is a medium size (3 cups flour size). My new machine can handle a larger loaf, so the one I used is large (4 cups flour size):

canned pumpkin    1 C  (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie can)
water   1/2 C plus 2 Tbs
brandy extract or vanilla   3/4 tsp
butter   2 Tbs
bread flour    4 C
sugar   1/3 C
salt   1 1/4 tsp
pumpkin pie spice   1/2 tsp
yeast   1 3/4 tsp (yes, it's less than the medium size)

I come from a German bloodline and Wilma's bloodline is even more-so. Breads are a big thing. The carb-free movement is of no interest to me. Those are almost fighting words. Hope you try these recipes and share my joy.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Junk Is Junk

I haven't had much luck buying a bread machine that is built well. I just purchased my fourth one. They wear out if you use them on a regular basis like I do. Two electric knives have worn out, too. They're junk!

My fourth machine is a Panasonic and I can tell the design is better than my prior models. The on-line reviews are great, too. We'll see how it holds up.

I'll be going back to a plain bread knife, too. Nobody makes a more durable electric knife that I can find on-line. I give up. It can't be that hard to make a better knife! The trigger switches have all worn out. I suspect they are not designed for the high vibrations of the reciprocating blades.

I think the problem is that I'm not the statistically average consumer that the designers consider. I use these products on a regular basis. They design for the occasional user, and probably prefer the user that simply stores the gear away and never uses them. It's a sad state of affairs.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

One Season Down

It's that time of year. Need to winterize the travel trailer. We had our last trailer for sixteen years and a windstorm totaled it out. This Spring we bought a replacement, and we just finished our first summer of camping with it. Love that trailer! This is our first time for a slide-out and we're enjoying it.

For the old trailer we could blow the lines out with compressed air and all was fine. This trailer has a more complicated plumbing system, and no drawings to show how anything works and the Owners Manual has a minimal explanation of how to winterize.

So, I had to draw the plumbing out to see how it worked. Then I cruised some YouTube how-to videos. Once I understood how these things are done, the cryptic directions in the Owner's Manual made sense. The rest is history. The winterizing process worked fine. Then, all that was left to do was sketch it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lake Superior Vacation

We took a short vacation to see some big lake country. We already have seen Duluth and the North Shore. We like Ely, MN and the Boundary Waters. This time I chose Isle Royale National Park, which is an island on Lake Superior. I sketched some but not as much as I would have liked. The trip was almost two months ago so you can tell it took me a while to finish the sketchbook entries.

Before we could drive up there we stopped my Minneapolis and St. Paul. We like this area, too. I learned my bookbinding at Minnesota Book Arts with Roz a few years ago so I like to stop by the store when we are in the area. Then we (I) had to check out Wet Paint art supply store after hearing so much about it. The next day way drive through Duluth on our way to Copper Harbor.

Then a ferry ride to Isle Royale. It's postponed by one day due to bad weather. That cuts our two night stay on the island down to one night. I manage to get motion sickness on the ferry because the waves are still 10'-15'. I survive. On Isle Royale we get in some hiking and eat at the restaurant. We could spend a lot more time here! I get some nice quiet sketch time in the morning as we wait for our ferry ride back to Copper Harbor. Quiet little harbor. I sit on a quiet dock and can sketch the marina and ferry before we board. The ride home was smooth and sunny. I was all over the decks watching the view.

Next stop is Bayfield for a couple nights. We had time to check out Madeline Island and eat out a lot. Found some great coffee. Had a glass bottom boat tour of some ship wrecks around the Apostle Islands. Did some sketching on the docks. I like all the boats. Again, could have spent a lot more time here. The sailing and boating culture is very strong here. I had one acquaintance assume I boated, and simply asked "motor boat or sail boat?". We're not in Kansas.

Then it's a drive back home. Time flies. Glad I brought my sketch gear, even if I didn't have much time to use it. The time I did grab sure felt nice.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oct. Lawrence Sketch Crawl

This month's sketch crawl gave me an excuse to explore a Lawrence park we've never been to. Wells Overlook Park. Gail organized it. Attendance was small, with just Gail, John and I, but it was a beautiful day for it.
It's a small park with just an observation tower and a covered picnic shelter, but such a view! I couldn't sketch the 360 degree panoramic, but I could handle smaller parts. A sketch crawl in a city park lends itself to drawing maps, too.

I did the map last night, before the crawl. Recently bought the book "How to Draw Fantasy Art & RPG Maps, Step by Step Cartography". I have a thing for cartography and it's on my "To Learn" list. When I saw the book I HAD to buy it, and it's a good one. I used a few of the concepts. To do it right would take HOURS of work, so I did a sketchbook short cut version.

While I was sketching, I struck a conversation with the father of a family out to walk around the park. The family dog was a Great Pyrenees, and she was beautiful! Once the ice was broken she was a push-over and ate up all the petting I could give her. The dad said the park has a trail system, too, so I need to get back to check it out.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Found New Coffeehouse

Friday was a good day. First, I pulled the day as vacation. I had pulled our camper down to the lake and set up camp for the Labor Day holiday. Wilma will join me in the evening after her workday is over. On my own for the day I decide to check out a coffeehouse I heard about at a recent Lawrence sketch crawl. Wilma gets tired of my coffeehouses so I grab the chance to go stag when I can.

A web search tells me of a coffeeshop called  Decade. It intrigues me. One review bashed it because, even though the coffee is great, they don't have WiFi and predicted they won't be able to compete with the other shops. Well, the owner said he doesn't allow WiFi because you come to a local coffeeshop to talk with your neighbors, not stick you head in your digital device and surf the web. I like him.

I tried to find the store a few weeks ago and failed. The east part of Lawrence is a quiet and very old part of town. Parts are run down. The businesses are mostly commercial, not retail. One review explained the area is undergoing gentrification. I found one old warehouse that has been restored beautifully for apartments. More web searching and I find the address of Decade. They don't have a large gaudy sign, probably by choice. I go in and fall in love. It's very clean yet eclectic. The furniture is all original, usually using nice wood with artistic vision.

So I order my latte and have a seat to sketch for a while. People in and out with foot traffic increasing as noon approaches. College students. Families. Singles. It's a real mix, like any neighborhood would be. I finish up to get back to camp. I'll be back.

I had my Pilot Falcon fountain pen fired up with Noodler's Lexington Gray. Love that pen. Then follow up with watercolor pencils and waterbrush.
I want a fast sketch so I don't use pencil for layout.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fall River Lake Camping

Last year a wind storm totaled out our travel trailer. We replaced it early this year and have been camping out more this year that in recent years. It's been nice.

We had our fourth outing this past weekend.  Packed our tandem kayak, too. We spent Friday scouting out the Fall River as it comes into the Lake. Our Kansas kayaking book tells us of the various put-in points. We scouted out where to go when Amy and Cody come out to visit us on Saturday with their kayaks.

Had a nice chat with a Wildlife & Parks field guy. He verified the book's information. The names for the access points are all correct. Water conditions are low right now so the flow is down. Several riffles would be present, but that was OK. It's an excuse to walk through cool clear flowing shallow water on a hot day. Felt like a little kid again!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August Lawrence Sketch Crawl

This month was the second outing of this group. Gail organizes them. This time we met at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence. On these hot summer days the group wanted some air conditioning, and save the outside sketching for later. This is an operating hotel with roots back 150 years and has quite a history. The restaurant and cafe/bar add a nice touch. Wilma and I have seen the outside of this nice old place for years and we never went inside. Now we can say we have. For our after-sketch gathering we ate in the cafe/bar. Five of us sketchers and Wilma. Could have talked all day, but had to move on. Mowing to do, garden and fruit trees to tend to.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lawrence Sketch Crawl

I had my first outing with a sketch group in Lawrence this morning. The weather finally turned good so it was a nice outing. We met at the Visitor's Center and sketched for a couple hours. Then met for a meal and chat. Met new people and made new friends. Wilma went to some fabric and quilting shops while I sketched. We like to come to Lawrence for many reasons.

A couple coal trains passed by while I was sketching. The center is a former Union Pacific terminal. The tracks were literally ten feet from my sketching spot. Boy do they make the noise and actually make the ground shake! When you compare the mass of the train to the mass of the earth, I just don't see how there is enough energy available to do that but there is.

I chatted with two different families that were walking by with their young kids to see the sights. The kids didn't like the trains when they passed, but they sure liked to run around the grounds. There's just something that kids like about trains, and some of us don't outgrow it.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Buggy Out

It's buggy out there! The main insect this year is the seventeen year cicada. Internet sources say this is the Magicicada Periodical Cicada, Brood IV. This is the first time I've seen these in Kansas, although my youngest brother says he remembers their last hatch. I think they're cute! They don't bite and are small that our usual cicadas, so they are less intimidating. And their color scheme is much more appealing than their kin. I've never seen their numbers, though! They absolutely cover the trunks of trees, are spread out in the tree canopies, and cover the garage doors at night time. When they sing they can be deafening. I have a dB application on my phone, and at work I measured 98 dB at the base of a tree! The occupationally harmful level is 85 dB. It's more of a constant vibration, too, not like the pulsating vibrations of our typical cicadas.

As for other insects like mosquitoes, the population count hasn't been that bad. We've had a wet spring but for some reason they haven't been bad. I have coworkers that say the ticks are bad this year, but we haven't had a problem yet.

The other insects I sketched happened to show up by our night light on the garage and I found them interesting. I took cell phone pictures of all of them for sketching purposes. Live sketch time just hasn't happened lately. I like to email them to our home account and print them off so I can sketch them over lunch hours at my local coffee shop.

I like to journal about these things because this serves as a timestamp for things that happen around here. As soon as the seventeen year hatch began I knew that they'd end up in my journal. Next hatch - I can count the years and see if it was really seventeen years. Mother nature's timing is amazing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Business Travel

This time I drove to Oklahoma City for an engineering committee meeting. After the day's meeting I like to stroll through the Brickyard, which is a neat area of restaurants, bars and retail stores. They even have a small canal system. However, we had tons of rain this week in the country's midsection. The rain kept me pinned down to the motel's area. I could stroll out some between rain sessions but didn't want to get too far away in case it started up again. Wasn't dressed for it.

For the first day's lunch break I stole away and discovered this American Banjo Museum. What a jewel! They covered the four string banjo the best (it started as a 4-string collection) but had a nice selection of bluegrass banjos, too. They had early banjos or mock-ups thereof, and four long necks from the '60s (Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger style). They did not cover the open-back flailing banjo, though. All the displays were museum quality. They've spend $5 M on it so far.

Next day I HAD to get out, so I skipped over to a Starbucks for a pastry and a sketch. It was cold and misty so I couldn't sketch the Banjo Museum face like I wanted. I fixed that, though, when the meeting ended at noon and I went back to the Museum. Had another chat with the staff. Picked on a couple banjos on display for patrons to use. Bought a banjo T-shirt. Then on the road for home.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I'm trying something new . . . rather it's old. Centuries ago kombucha was created and claims to have healthy benefits. My daughter Amy started making it this year and spurred my interest. So far I've made two batches, a half gallon at a time. I don't know how much is a daily serving, but I'm starting at a juice glass worth. This stuff is easy to find on the east and west coast, but is new to Kansas. Our health food stores in Topeka have it, but most of the population here has never heard of it.

I had the bottle caper from my old beer brewing days, but needed some caps. We have only one store that sells brewing supplies, and it's a guy running a business from a home. I drove up to get the caps and found out he, too, is brewing kombucha. He showed me his gallon jug of fermenting tea, with a smile. We are both cautious with our expectations, since we don't buy into all this alternate health stuff blindly. It's worth a try, though. We both see the similarities to brewing beer or wine. Fermented food is hardly a new concept. Plus there is the fun factor.

I'd be interested if any readers of my blog have experience with kombucha? Let me know. The traditional American medical community isn't buying into the claims, but that's true with a lot of health foods out there.  I figure if it's been around for centuries, if it was killing people the recipe wouldn't be around today.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Plan B

Today was to be the April sketch crawl organized by Kate. We were to meet at Case Park in Kansas City, Missouri, near the merging of the Kansas River and the Missouri River. The forecast started terrible early in the week,  but yesterday made it look rosy, or at least dry. Wilma and I left Topeka in overcast and drizzle. As we drove by Lawrence it was raining. As we drove by Bonner Springs it was raining cats and dogs! Not the weather I like to drive in downtown KC, so we turned around.

We've always heard of the Moon Marble Company there, and my folks had gone years ago and gave it a thumbs up. We had our lunch packed for the planned picnic so all we needed was a picnic table with a cover and we're set. We found the Visitor's Center, a restored caboose, and they had a small gazebo with picnic table. Bingo! We picked up some local info and moved into the gazebo for our picnic lunch. It's raining in a fine mist now, so it's fine to eat out. I bought extra cookies to share with the sketch group, but they'll keep until we can eat them all.

We watched some local pre-teens play around the caboose. As I sketched the caboose, Wilma found an embroidery/quilting store. Then we walked around a little and checked out an antique store. Talked to the owner to get some local flavor. Then off to the Moon Marble company. The owner gives demonstrations of creating a marble, right in front of us seated in bleachers! We then grabbed some Dairy Queen, drove over the Kansas River to see how it looked, and headed home.

It may be Plan B, but it ended up a fun day. Missed the fellow sketchers, but there's always next time.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Good and the Bad

This is a random sketch.  I use my smart phone camera to capture images that I like but don't have time to sketch. Then, when I have more time, I stroll through the pictures and sketch them. It's now time to catch up.

I've sketched my pack rats before. They are a bother and can cause costly damage to any vehicle parked outside. When they show up I use a catch-alive trap to catch them, and relocate them down the road. We live in a rural area with few houses. It's easy to drive them to a large field with great habitat for them and set them free. In the big picture, these rodents proliferate well and I could just kill him and cause no damage to the ecosystem. However, he's so darn cute I can't do it. When they make it into the garage I do, but when they're outside, their crime doesn't warrant death.  However, a coworker had one eat a hose on her automatic transmission that she didn't notice until the transmission was totaled out. I may change my protocol if that were to happen to me.

As for the bread, we like to cook it fresh instead of buying it. We like the artisan no-knead breads as an occasional treat. They are photogenic, just like the rat. I'm baking some rolls for Easter as I'm putting this post together, too. Can't get enough fresh bread!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tyler Bend

Ozark country! I have two routes to choose from to get down to Little Rock and one routes through Branson and over the Buffalo River. The Tyler Bend Visitors Center is on that path. I like to stop by and take a break. Feel the water. Talk to any staff if the Center is open. This time is no different.

Recent rains and snows of flooded the watershed. The springs are running high so the Buffalo is running high.The forest floor duff has absorbed the water and spreads a clear scent in the air that makes we want to just settle down here and forget about life anywhere else. Throw in the pine scent and I just had to stay a while longer in the parking lot and sketch the Center. 

A light windless rain was falling, too, and some would spill in the open doors and windows of the car. I sat in the middle so the sketchbook didn't get wet. If I had rain gear it would have made great hiking weather. I waited until I got home to add the color and text. Didn't have THAT much time. Wish I could have bottled up the clean air.

Biz in LR

Time for business travel to Little Rock. Brought the sketch gear just in case I could grab some time. Didn't have much because I had a coworker with me this time. But I did have one night on my own. I headed down to The Heights. They have a wonderful outdoor supply store there. Then there is a array of little boutiques that don't do much for me but create a neat atmosphere that draws people in. The elevation is high for Little Rock so I'm sure there's a history of the area.

For this sketch I sat on a bench next to the sidewalk with this view in front of me. It was nearing sundown. Once I had the ink work done it was too dark to finish so I walked down a couple blocks to the local Starbucks, bought a skinny latte and grill cheese for supper and added the color and text. It was finished when I walked back to the car. A young mom, probably on business, too, did a FaceTime call to her husband and two cute kids. I couldn't see them but I could here their cute voices. Some others were studying and a few late shoppers. Quiet mix.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

That Time Of Year

Spring is getting close! This weekend's warm temps have gotten us thinking about the garden. First step is always tilling the garden, which is my task.

We once owned a tiller. That rascal was a maintenance nightmare. I spent more time tending it than using it, and it was far from dependable. When it finally aged out I decided to simply rent every year. The frustration is gone. The cash flow is reduced. Yes, I have less control over my time, but that's a small price to pay. I've sketched about this before.

When I was finished tilling I still had time left. The sun was shining and the temps around 70F, so I decided it would be a good time to sit quietly and sketch and relax. It was time well spent! I decided to sketch, paint and post in the same day to make it almost real-time.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Holton Competition

I couldn't make our regular monthly sketch crawl because I was attending a 4-H Shooting Sports competition in a nearby city, and the weather canceled the live sketch crawl and made it a virtual crawl where we all simply sketch on our own, wherever we are. I was busy all day with the air rifle competition so I snapped a picture on my cell phone and just now finished the sketch.

We had over 200 kids attend and Shawnee County (ours) had the fewest, at four shooters. The other counties in northeast Kansas are more rural, and they just have a larger interest in air rifle, BB-gun, air pistol, archery and black powder disciplines that Kansas 4-H Shooting Sports offers. It's neat to see the energy level and interest of all those kids running around.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Grand Old Lady

This was the last day of my SPP TWG committee meeting in San Antonio (I know you have no idea what that group is, but I wanted to show that it did have a name). One of the first things I noticed from my hotel window (which did NOT overlook the River Walk) was this old building. She was straight and true and was clearly winning her battle with age. Someone was caring for her. I wanted to know more about her.

My committee meeting took most of my time. My first priority was a River Walk sketch, which I was able to get after the first day of the meeting (prior post). Plenty of street people out for some reason. Got pan handled a couple times but never felt threatened. I did a web search and learned that the Hotel Robert E. Lee was now apartments for rent for the unbelievably low range of $600 to $900 a month! There must be more to this story.

My break came when our meeting ended a half hour early. That gave me one hour before I had to catch a taxi to the airport. I checked my luggage with the bellman, grabbed my sketch gear and hustled to the Hotel, which was only a couple blocks away. First, check out the lobby. I met a staffer so I struck up some dialogue. This is now a rent-assisted apartment complex run by the State of Texas, and a person's annual income must be below $25K. All the architecture has been maintained well, with some nice cut stained glass at the far end of the lobby. More paint on wood trim than I like, but it's still cared for.

Now for the sketch. Need to walk around for a nice view that I can stand or sit for a while. Found a surface parking lot that worked. I leaned up against a parking lot lightpole and started. Then, in the corner of my eye, a body slowly approached. I figure it's a street person and I'm going to be hustled again. Nope. "May I help you?"  I look. It's a cop! I explain that I'm on business travel and I like to sketch and I really like this Hotel. He gives me the eye and is quiet. I show him my book. Still quiet. I said I found out on-line that this old hotel is now apartments, and that a staffer told me it's some type of subsidized housing. He finally talks, and seems nice. He verifies the story and tells me more. This old hotel was top of the line when it was built. It was the first retail establishment built in San Antonio with air conditioning! The ground level access was all retail sales for shopping. This was a show piece. He said he'd leave me to my sketching and left. I sketched for another 15 minutes and finished. Packed my gear and left. Then I saw the cop had simply driven a little further and had parked, with me in his plain view. Maybe I DIDN'T convince him of my innocence. I waved goodbye and left. Mission accomplished.

Business Travel, San Antonio

Most of my business travel is in the Kansas/Missouri/Arkansas/Oklahoma area, but this week I had a committee meeting in San Antonio. Been there twice before so I knew about the River Walk. I brought my sketchbook supplies again in hopes of getting out.

The challenge was finding a spot to sit and sketch. The real estate along the River Walk is all high dollar stuff and they want you either walking or dining. Eventually I found a spot at street level looking down at the river walk. Met a neat little boy on the flight down, Ricardo, and met my first Uber Driver, too. Also grabbed a sketch of an old building that will be my next post. Good trip.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Six Point Buck

Bagged me a buck but wish I hadn't. Not this way. I was driving home tonight in the dark. All the sudden a six point buck runs in front of me and I have no time to do anything. Plus it's snow pack road and slick. Hit him broadside. Both sides of the conflict loose.

This was on 93rd Street, out in the country, through the Wakarusa River valley. Tons of wildlife. I love the scenery but it comes at a cost. Over the years on this five mile stretch I have now killed two deer, one bobcat, a hunting dog and several possums and coons and seen a mountain lion.

Another bad thing about the car is that it only has insurance for personal injury and liability. A hail storm a couple years ago totaled it out and I bought it back because mechanically is was still a great car. This deer hit is purely on my dime, and probably totaled it for good.  We'll see.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

More Winter

Well, Punxsutawney Phil performed his annual duties to predict the seasonal weather trend, and he saw his shadow, which equates to six more weeks of winter (at a rather low probability of validity, by the way). Seeing his cute publicity shots got me on-line to learn more. I found one head-on shot that was particularly cute. Every hair on his (or her) body seemed to radially emanate from his nose. Had to try my hand at sketching that!

I also found that this day of celebration goes back decades, and in the early years we would feast on these cute rodents. That begs the question - recipe for groundhog? I found a couple on-line. In today's world we derive some finicky eating rules that had no credibility in a day when you lived more in tune with your environment. You needed calories and protein to go with the carbs, etc. You looked at the world around you for mammals that could fill that need. Wala! Groundhog.

Then I just happened to talk with a friend yesterday who was raised in the eastern states and he grew up on the meat that they could get from their farmland.  Groundhog was on the menu often. He says thumbs up. Good meat. It was one of many mammals and fowl that his family relied on to survive.

We have groundhog in Kansas, and we call them woodchucks. I've only seen two in the wild, so I wouldn't kill one to try the recipe. However, if I had a connection to back east and could get one, the recipe sounds good to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Six Eyes

It's my first sketch in my freshly bound journal! Anxiety about starting a new journal never hits me. I like binding them, I like using them. The topo map is the recycled end paper I was talking about.

The subject of this post is my new reading glasses. The bifocals weren't working for the PC monitor at work. I had to tilt my head back too far for the bifocals to work, or take them off and have blurry-but-functional vision. These work much better. I sketched on one of my lunch breaks.

The paper is BFK Rives in this journal, maybe 120 lb. (forgot to note weight). First time to use it and its working nicer than the ArchesVelin text wove of my last journal. Velin was great for watercolor pencils and waterbrush and fountain pen light sketching but wasn't so nice with pencil or fountain pen writing.

Time to settle in and get some sketching done. Hope it doesn't take as long to finish this journal as my last one did (a.k.a. " I need to sketch more often").

Sunday, January 25, 2015

They're Done!

Another batch of journals done. These take some time to bind up when I don't have a long stretch of free time. But that's OK. Patience gets me to the final product, and I love using them.

This batch uses Stonehenge Printmaking, BFK Rives, and Strathmore Aquarius II papers. I've used the Aquarius II before and had some left over. The other two papers are new to me. In a past set of journals I used Arches Velin text wove and liked it. I prefer the lighter papers like printmaking paper because I don't use heavy watercolor washes. My tools of choice are fountain pens, art pens, watercolor pencil and a waterbrush. I sketch directly in ink so the paper's ability to hold a graphite line doesn't matter. I'd be interested in what papers any of you have a preference for?

This batch also uses end papers for my first time. These topographic maps are being recycled from a friend's engineering firm employer who was pitching them. I could see them in my mind as end paper so I spoke up for them and here they are now. They are topographic maps of Kansas, bound in a journal in Kansas by a Kansan. It ties it all together . . . plus I have a thing for maps.

Now I need to use them up so I can bind some more.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Alma Visit

We live just southeast of the large town (by Kansas standards) of Topeka. Just west of Topeka is the little town of Alma. The sketch has a chart showing populations. You'll see how small it is. Alma is the largest town in Wabaunsee County, as Topeka is the largest town in Shawnee County. We're sisters in a way. The small size equates to a very small retail sale district, so we haven't had a reason to 'stop by'. I decided it was time. They've always had the cheese factory but I wanted to see other things, too.

The weather was a winter cold, at least too cold and windy to just sit and sketch in any resemblance of comfort. Therefore I used the capture-it-on-the-cellphone-sketch-later approach. Less than ideal but better than no sketch. Alma does have some nice churches and a large government building for their county seat. We stuck to downtown, all three blocks of it.  The cheese factory is close to it, down by the tracks.

This is the final sketch of my current sketchbook. My next batch isn't bound yet, but it's close. I have another sketchbook started that I abandoned because I don't like the landscape orientation. I can use it to hold me over but I really want to finish my bookbinding. If the next post is wider than tall, you'll know I didn't make it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

In The Works

I'm running out of journal pages to sketch on, so it's time for some bookbinding. Every time I do this I need to tell myself to have patience. There are many steps in binding a journal and it does't get the rewards as fast as a sketch journal entry. I think the sketch journal encourages fast results. Bookbinding takes time, so it's a different mindset. Here are seven text blocks (the guts of a book), ready for covers. I'm still exploring different sketching papers, so there are three types here. Seems like nobody posts pictures of the intermediate form of a book.

I find the whole bookbinding process quite satisfying. I tend to be detail-oriented so the careful steps don't scare me away. It's also nice that it's so low-tech. I can get absorbed in the process without "needing" the latest technology this or that tool, which costs a lot of money.

FYI - The work surface is a folding table in our family room. It's a temporary abode, but it's cold out and this room has a wood-burning stove for supplemental heat. Love the ambiance. It beats my sketch table in the unfinished section of our basement. What I prefer is our dining table, with its firm surface, windows to the back yard and access to radio, food and the coffee pot! But when I use it, I need to clean up and move every mealtime. Life is a compromise.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Yet Another Tool

Well, do we ever have enough tools? This one I really needed, though . . . really. I'll be doing the electrical wiring of a storage shed we had built. Looking over my tools I see there is a new product out that would be useful. I NEED it. I can check to see if a circuit is hot just my holding this close to the wires, even through drywall! Don't need to actually touch the bare copper of a hot wire. Life just gets better.

As for the National Forests logo, I need to declare that I'm into calligraphy. I love fonts and letter layout. This logo was in an advertisement and it caught my eye. So old school. So well thought out. This isn't digital fonts cut and pasted into a fast production. Someone sat down and thought this through. I HAD to sketch it. Of course, it has nothing to do with the rest of the sketch, but it's my sketchbook.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Tool

I love hardware stores! The smell. The sights. Tactile. Being reminded of all the possibilities for home improvement projects or yard projects. It's a reminder of how we've evolved to be problem solvers. And once in a while you find a new tool that solves a problem you didn't even know existed. And sometimes they're legitimate! This is an example. Shopping with family around Christmas time we stroll through an old-school hardware store in Lawrence. Ernst & Sons Hardware & Brewing Supply, 826 Massachusetts Street, since 1905. A favorite of mine. They may have restocked since 1905 but they haven't remodeled. Strolling through the tight isles I found this jewel. Had to have it!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lunchhour Coffee

I'm lucky. Topeka has several coffeeshop choices. Good choices. We used to live in a town of 14,000 in central Kansas and there was no 'real' coffeeshop. When I travel for the job to rural electric cooperatives around Kansas I spend time in really small towns. Love the small towns, but I miss my coffee. That's kinda shallow of me. But that's how it is. I like my daily routine of visiting a nice coffeeshop at lunch to have a cup and read or sketch. It's my little world for a short time. It's a splurge but as long as my paycheck can cover it (it's just a 12-ounce coffee, no cream, no specialty drinks unless it's a celebration) I'll continue.

On another topic, I'm trying to find my new sketching mojo. I know I'll continue. I'm hooked. But when in the day and for how long. Will I keep posting? What's my new routine to make sure it all gets done? Right now I'm grabbing time when I can. This is being posted on a Saturday morning before I get real work done around here. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. In my posting hayday I spend way too much time and late nights getting it all done. I need a better balance. When I evaluate all the ways I spend time, evaluate my collection of hobbies, I conclude that sketching makes the short list of 'must do's.