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.