This is a portrait of Jasper. I drew (or dotted) this portrait of my pal over the last week or so. Jasper and I are very good friends
We get along so well, he and I.
That’s probably because Jasper is a stoic. As a stoic, he never makes too much of a fuss, and he enjoys his alone time. He tolerates people but doesn't need a human for anything more than food and water. The boy's happy in his own skin as long as he can sniff around the refrigerator from time to time.
We both struggle with our weight. I think he's doing better on his regimen than I am. He's got an edge. There's no beer or potato chips in his life. A bit of an advantage, I'd say.
When I first met Jasper his belly was slightly closer to the ground than it is now. I don't think there was a pancake's worth of distance between that Tibetan belly and the hardwood floor (one of those thin English pancakes).
Both of us like our treats when they come, and both of us scoff them down way too quickly.
The other day, while eating some tortilla chips with a little bit of hummus, Jasper patiently stood in front of me. His big ole puppy dog eyes pleading without really pleading. Every once in a while his little doggie tongue ran across his little doggie upper lip. He looked like one of Pavlov's troopers.
As each chip went past my lips you could see his upper lip flap and hear a tiny puff of air like he was trying to blow a hair from in front of his eye. He was either disgusted at my eating or disgusted he didn't get any. I think it's the latter.
"It's for your own good", I tell him.
He says, "It's hard work being lovable."
Still, he didn't beg, but he didn't go away.
Persistence is one of his very strong suits. This Little Lord Fauntleroy does not give up easily.
We've been happy to have him stay with us many times. He's not much like his older brother Scout. Scout's a ball chasing, tail wagging, run-till-you-drop dog rocket. Jasper is the waddle till the next treat type of pup.
I love Jasper. I call him "Little Chunk" because, though he's dropped some tonnage, he still more resembles a plump chipolata than a svelte wiener.
The little fella is short, squat and chunky, just the way I like my Tibetan Spaniels. I rather think he'd like that description.
Well there Little Chunk, if you're reading this, I hope you're not offended. We love you very much and wish you plenty of small wooden swords from the seaside or at least a nice chewy bone to pass the time.
I'll bet Scout is really happy to have you around too even though he weasels in on every bit of affection that comes your way. I know. Yes, I know. You have ways to get back at him. I've seen it with my own eyes.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
As any experienced fixer-upper of things will tell you, "You need to use the right tool for the right job". You can almost always do a better job with the right tool.
Wouldn't you agree?
What if waiting for the right tool keeps you from doing the job at all?
If you think new tools will solve all your problem, you might want to think again. When I start waiting for the right brush, canvas or paint to come along, I could just kick myself.
Let me tell you a little story.
I was jonesing after a new set of golf clubs. I thought my problems with golf could be boiled down to the 30-year-old set of second-hand clubs I was playing with.
I thought a new set of clubs and it would fix everything. The handicap would plummet. I'd be a scratch golfer in no time.
The day came and my clubs were delivered. I loaded sticks and headed to the range.
My game would be born again!
I put the first ball down and pulled out my handy-dandy pitching wedge. The pitching wedge was always a go-to club for me. I never missed with a wedge.
I took a couple of practice swings.
I thought, "Damn, this will be good!"
I moved up to the ball. I used every mantra I knew to bless the shot.
The club went back. It felt so good.
Then the turn. This is where it all happens.
The turn was smooth and steady, inside-out, left arm straight, eye on the ball. Perfect.
Now, push, swing, follow through!
It all happened so quickly. My club made incredible contact.
I left a beautiful divot. It was an impressive divot. It was a professional divot. You would have loved my divot.
The ball, however, went 10 yards on the ground before it came to rest just past the tee box.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
No matter how brand-spanking-new your equipment is it can only make you incrementally better.
New technology will help you hit the ball farther
- but not that much farther.
New technology will help you hit the ball a little straighter
- but not that much straighter.
What will make you better? Take lessons and practice.
Now I concentrate on practice.
I don't wait for miracles. If you're waiting for the right brush or pencil, don't.
Pick up your pencil and draw. Botch it up a thousand times. Persevere.
Remember, "A poor workman blames his tools."
I once saw a guy draw with an Oreo cookie and it was pretty darn good.
Make a mark people will remember.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I wish we could all be more kind to each other. We all need to be a bit more patient and understanding but sometimes it's just harder than hammering a 9-inch nail into concrete with a teaspoon.
As some of you might know, I try to maintain a rather stoic outlook on life. I try not to let things bother me. It's not that I don't care, I just choose not to get all riled up. I know what I'm like when I'm angry, and I don't like him very much.
Traffic seems to bring out the worst in people. It drives me a bit buggy. Sometimes, other drivers just rub me the wrong way. The fact that ninety percent of drivers think they are better than the average driver does not surprise me at all. We all can't be above average, can we? I must run into the 10 percent more often than other folks.
Last week, we had two occasions to climb on to the M25. This can, at times, rattle even the most zen seeking and peace-loving among us.
Sunday was a perfect day to go out and enjoy the seaside. We decided to take a longish ride from Stevenage to Whitstable. For those of you who don't know Whitstable, it is a seaside town on the east coast of England. It sits at the entrance to the Thames Estuary. I have to tell you, overall, I loved our little excursion to, as my daughter used to call it, the big water.
We crossed the River Thames at Dartford Crossing. Traffic at Dartford Crossing is heavy at the best of times. This dystopian combination of junctions, mergers, two tunnels, and a bridge is a fustercluck if ever I saw one. The traffic at Dartford Crossing can be a nightmare, and it was a touch like that on our northward crossing under the river.
Tuesday, we had the occasion to share a meal with some good friends in Chorleywood just before the England/Colombia match. Chorleywood is a village just off junction 17 on the M25. We left home at 5 pm to be there at 6 pm. We should have given it a bit more time, but I was true to form, and running a bit late. I hate to admit it, but I'm usually the one who makes us late.
I will tell you, rush hour is not the time to drive in or around London. Having said that, somehow we opted, you guessed it, to mount the M25 in rush hour. The entire journey wasn't too bad, just parts. It certainly wasn't like the mind-numbing, zen-crushing, soul-destroying traffic in and around Los Angeles. However, merging on to the M25 from the A1(M) was like squeezing out a kidney stone the size of a bowling ball. (I would have used a childbirth analogy here but, being a guy, I have no frame of reference.) It was painful, raised my blood pressure and seemed neverending. I wouldn't recommend it.
I know, given the tinderbox state the world, traffic on the M25 is only a nit in the fabric of life but even nits, compiled one on top of the other, can be endlessly irritating.
I guess it's not so much the traffic that's at issue, it is how people treat each other zipping around from within the confines of their little glass, fiberglass, and metal boxes. Just because your car has zoom-zoom doesn't mean you always have to zoom-zoom.
Three things I hate about traffic jams:
Sometimes it's best, for your own well being, to sit back and let it all wash over you. Nothing is so pressing that you have to put your own life or somebody else's at risk.
I leave you with this. The best thing you can do in a traffic jam is to:
Lastly, crank up Led Zeppelin as loud as you can to drown out the second-hand hip-hop coming out of the car next to you.
Seriously, be sane, be safe, and be kind. Love each other and make the world a better place, not a worse place.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
We're all memory builders but the memories we build are so very different. Though we are the same, we are, most definitely, very, very different.
Almost everybody has a refrigerator magnet or two.
We have one that I love.
"Remember that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away!"
I love that quote, though there is some debate over where it originated. It's something that I think we can all agree on the sentiment.
We've just wrapped up another memorable holiday in Cornwall. I'm already getting nostalgic for the long walks, bright sunrises, stunning sunsets, and relaxing to the sound of the sea.
Part of the whole holiday experience, for me, is the train ride from St Erth to Paddington. The train passes by some of the most picturesque countryside. We pass Dawlish, Teignmouth, and Saltash. We finally arrive in London at Paddington Station.
It was the stuff that takes your breath away. What great memories.
When we got back to Kings Cross last week, I paid a bit more attention than I normally do to the throng gathered at "Platform 9 3/4". Under the sign, there's a trolley, some suitcases, and a birdcage partially embedded in the brick wall.
Of course, Platform 9 3/4 is where Harry Potter famously transitions from the real world into the magical world of Hogwarts, magic wands, and Quidditch. It's the beginning of his magical journey.
I can be a bit cynical about this kind of stuff.
Why do people get so excited about a book or a movie or a sports team? I'm trying to understand.
I don't get all hyped-up for some fake trolley stuck in a wall.
Though people are the same in so many ways, we are oh so different as well. Maybe Harry Potter was a big thing for them.
I guess I shouldn't get so cynical about it.
I remember telling a friend, one time, that I was going on a holiday and there was nothing but beach for miles. This was my idea of heaven.
She said, "Where's the bar? Where's the nightclub? Where's the excitement?"
That's the point! I was after no excitement.
She said, "That would drive me crazy real fast" (she really said bat-shit-crazy but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt here).
Different people have different priorities. What I find lush and relaxing can be seen as boring and dull by somebody else.
The same way, I didn't grow up with Harry Potter but the kids who did are now getting out and feeling their way around the world. The trolley and the wall must evoke pleasant memories for them. I guess they're trying to capture a bit of that feeling again.
Perhaps, more than anything else, Harry Potter lets us dream like my generation did with Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, or Bilbo Baggins.
They bring us out of our everyday lives and make us feel like we're partners on their fantastic journey.
We're vacating our existence to participate in their world.
I guess it's kind of a vacation.
For me, that's what art should be as well.
Good art should help us to vacate our normal life and be transported to another magical world. Art lets us build memories or remember things that are important to us.
That's probably why I've painted this lighthouse above so many times. It reminds me of our four-mile beach-walk to have lunch at the Godrevy Cafe here. When I look at this painting it all comes flooding back to me. Life is good.
I'll probably paint that lighthouse many more times in my life. Just because it makes me feel good. It's a whopping great memory.
So, when I breeze through Kings Cross, and I see the crowd of people gathered around that half a trolley, I'll try not to be so cynical. I'll try not to be so critical. I can feel good for the memories they're creating or reliving.
I can understand why but I guess I still don't get it.
For me, I'll stick to long walks, fresh air, and a bit of color splashed here and there.
Not bad, I think.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Everybody knows that when you travel you have to be at least tangentially aware of local customs and traditions.
We just had a walk on a secluded cliff edge path. It was a bit drizzly but a really nice walk just the same. Topping off the day, we decided to stop in a little harbor town called Porthleven to see the beach, visit some shops and watch the tide come in.
After getting a bit shopped out the sun made a brief guest appearance.
There was a nice pub portside. I thought it would be great to grab a pint and some chips because I really love chips. Okay, I really like beer too. What's not to like about chips and beer except the calories and the starch and the grease and the ... Okay - I did it cause I like 'em.
Having ordered my chips (fries), a beer, and a ginger beer for you know who, we sauntered, as you do on any great day, out to the patio area next to all the fishing boats in the harbor.
We waited patiently for the fries to arrive. When they were delivered there was a plate and chips but where was the stuff you put on the chips. There has to be stuff to put on the chips.
By the time my brain caught up with my mouth, the server had disappeared into what seemed to be thin air.
The accompaniments were all inside. So I got up to go inside to get salt, vinegar, and perhaps some mayo.
As soon as I turned my back to the chips the Devil's horde descended from the heavens in their multitudes (okay there were three) digging their nasty little beaks into MY chips.
Andrea deftly scooped up the dish with the fries and swooped them under the table. Several people shooed the vermin from the table which enabled me to go forth and continue my condiment quest.
When I came back to the table, I gathered the plate within my protective space, hunched around it, and growled at any seagull that would dare encroach on my chow-space. I was even offered a loan of a very cute little black cocker spaniel to help guard my chips (I thought that little pooch was a bit too eager so I decided to pass).
The point here is I didn't think twice. Even though their horrible little H1N1, Avian Flu carrying, tick-infested nasty carrion-eating winged critters had their muzzles full-in on my vittles, I had no problem scoffing the rest of them down. I didn't think twice.
You see when the zombie apocalypse comes it will be some poor idiot like me that will be patient zero. He'll be the idiot that the monkey bit or who ate his fries after some pox infected feathered freeloader lunged face first into it.
Yeah, it's just somebody like me who thinks they're a hardy person cause they ate quite a bit of dirt when they were a kid. It will be somebody who thinks that not much of any kind of disease can affect them.
Yup, I'm not much worried about the zombie apocalypse. I'll probably succumb to something more mundane. I'll probably be taken by something like Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Gull Fever and squawk my way to the grave.
Maybe I'll have to pay more attention and start being a bit more cautious. Maybe I should be a bit more respectful of those creatures who could inadvertently do me harm.
Whether or not I survive till next week, I wish you peace.
You've been traveling all day long. You've taken a space at the airport bar and you're quietly waiting for your next flight. You sit down, order yourself a beer and perhaps you scan your phone to see if you have any messages. Maybe you've picked up a newspaper to give it a good read. You just want to pass time and get lost a little bit in your own thoughts. Maybe you're watching the television above the bar for entertainment. Then this guy sits next to you. He's already talking on his phone when he sits down. He continues to flap his gums.
"... There's nothing much happening here, sweetheart. We're just waiting for the plane. In the meantime, I guess I'll just sit around here and watch people going by. It's not a bad occupation to have at an airport but people do just think so much of themselves. How will I ever get through the wedding? It's been so long since I've been in the same room with all of them. It is so boring. Don't you think? I wish I wasn't going. You know how I hate all that dancing an frivolity. There is nothing for me there. I'll show up, I'll make nice and in the end, there will probably be a fight. There's always a fight. Especially, when I get together with my family. It's just inevitable. You know Adam. Adam has to be right all the time. He has to be the center of attention. He's the kind of guy who just has to be able to say his piece. It doesn't even matter if he is right or if he's wrong, and he's usually is wrong. God forbid you should even roll your eyes in his presence. He just has to have his say. Of course, Sam will take offense at anything that Adam says. Sam always takes offense at whatever Adam says. Sam is just bound to get his knickers in a twist over something or other. You never really know with my family........"
The guy just droned on and on like that for a whole hour. There wasn't an ounce of interesting information in his whole oratory. He barely stopped to take a breath.
At one point, I thought he was just holding the phone up to his ear to make everybody believe there was actually somebody on the other end. I was convinced there was nobody on the other end. I'm sure there wasn't. There wasn't enough time while he sucked in his next breath for anyone on the other end to respond to anything he said.
I think he was just trying to tell everybody around him that he was so important that somebody at the other end of the phone was willing to listen to him pontificate on subjects from family relations to the situation in the Middle East to auto mechanics.
Small mercies exist. In this case, that is, I don't know the guy, and I will probably never have to sit in the same room with him again. Ever in my life. Ever. Never.
Then there's the guy who is having the most important business meeting of his life over a pulled pork sandwich, fries, a shot of whiskey, and a Sam Addams Octoberfest chaser. He got the chaser for half price. And just wait for the carrot cake topper. With a full mouth and some very convincing mumbling, I'm sure he was able to put the world to rights. This is the all-important airport business meeting conducted by a ne'er do well who ain't all that talking so loud when he says "Millions" or "sign the contract".
I am not really good on the telephone. My daughter is the same way. If we have three words to say to each other that will convey the sentiment there is no need for four words.
For those of us that have problems recognizing and respecting another's space, I suggest a few rules of engagement.
Smartphone Rules of Engagement
Rule Number 1 - If you're in a crowded room (hell - if you're in a room with other people) and you have to take a call - excuse yourself, leave the room, and relocate to a more private location.
Rule Number 2 - If you're in a crowded room/room with other people in it and you have to make a call - see rule one.
Rule Number 3 - If you're on a mode of public transportation and you must watch the last England goal (not that they happen very often) or the last episode of Eastenders, use a pair of bloody earphones. I don't want to listen to it.
Rule Number 4 - Your smartphone is not a BoomBox. I don't like your music. No - Really - I don't - especially out of a tinny smartphone speaker. If you must play it - Use Earphones/buds.
Rule Number 5 - If you're at dinner with somebody special - Put the damn phone away. I really don't care about this one if you are having dinner with somebody else. It's funny to see people not talking to each other. However, if you're having dinner with me - please put it away. I like to see the whites of your eyes when I'm blabbing with you. Please turn it off and put it away.
Rule Number 6 -Just because you have the capacity for 20,000 pictures on your phone and the last picture of the last time your child spit up on you, you don't need to show it to me. (I have a bad habit of over-sharing photos cuz I think it's cool - I will try to do better - honestly).
That's all - if I think of any more I'll be sure to let you know.
I painted this lighthouse scene yesterday. The paint is not yet dry. I really like the view from the St Uny Church in Lelant through to Godrevy Lighthouse.
Until then, seriously, I wish you peace.
I had a 1968 Ford Mustang, eons ago when I was little more than a young colt. I loved tinkering with my old friend. It was a cool car. It was a great car.
Oh, the good times we had together. We would eight-track our way down the highway, riding the rage. We entertained each other. We were best friends. Yes, we were quite a pair.
Life has its little twists and turns, and we eventually parted company. One of us zigged and, I guess, the other just zagged. He got old and I got responsibilities. I needed a new and more reliable buggy.
We did have a good life together though. I do miss that old horse. I feel like I might have let go of the reins a bit early.
I'd like to rekindle that old relationship. I want to get my hands on one of those old fellas. I want to get behind the wheel of one of them again.
There must be an old pony out there I can breathe new life into. I can make it purr like a kitten. I can shine it like brand-spanking new.
You might say, "Scott, you're not thinking straight."
You could have a valid point. I can delude myself a bit sometimes. It's been known to happen.
It may not be such a great idea after all. It might not be practical, but are dreams supposed to be practical?
Why do we do these things?
It's a mystery to me.
Nevertheless, I'd like to keep thinking about it for now.
Why? Because it's fun and I like it.
I'll keep dreaming and the next time you see me, who knows, I could be rolling around in a flashy old pony car.
Until then, I wish you peace.
I get to think a lot when I'm on my walks. This was drawn from a walk we did near St Paul's Walden. St Paul's Walden is where Queen Elizabeth II's mother, The Queen Mother, grew up. This drawing is of the house on that lovely piece of country. We are thinking of going there tomorrow or Sunday.
I like to think about how things might be in the future; where I might go, what I might do.
Though, when I was a kid, I think I spent a bit too much time dreaming and not enough time acting.
Like most people, I'm great at projecting out into the future. I love thinking about what it will be like when I ...
I can go on and on and on... It's just fun to think of how things might be.
That's all gaga, fiddle-de-de, fanciful thinking unless you take action today.
I know there's Free Beer Tomorrow but how often have you collected on that one?
Today is the only time we have to make a change that will change the future.
It's like taking the next fastest train. The next fastest train to your destination may stop at every puddle, pub and fish shop but it's the next fastest train. You don't know, especially now, if the next fast train is even coming.
So take action today while you have the chance.
You can't spend money tomorrow. You can't be in better shape tomorrow. You can't be rich tomorrow. That is, unless you do something today.
But just like you can't take action tomorrow, it does not serve you well to carry today's baggage into tomorrow. It will weigh you down like an anchor keeping you from doing today's important things. Remember, when the day is done - It's Done.
The day is done.
I'll clear the decks.
I'll stow the baggage,
And bury the wrecks.
Today has passed.
I can't have it back.
Did I do the right things?
Am I on the right track?
There's no use churning over
What woulda been?
What coulda been?
What shoulda been?
Cause today was perfect,
Right in every way.
I can't change it now,
I can't make it stay.
Today was perfect,
But I can't hold on
Because tomorrow will come
And today will be gone.
I'll clear the deck,
My blank check.
Was, just as it should've been,
Perfect in every way.
Until next week - I wish you peace.
I've been thinking about life in general recently.
Eldercare isn't easy. For me, though, it hasn't been horrible either.
I've been able to spend more time with my father in the last two years than I have since I left high school.
Its prompted me to think about things while I still can.
How will I approach that time when I might seem okay on the outside but the gears aren't really meshing under the hood. I really don't know. All I can control is how I live now.
My dad has a 30 years' head start on me, so, hopefully, I have about thirty years. I think reaching the age of 90 would be excellent.
I saw this the other day.
According to the 2012 article, Top Five Regrets Of The Dying, in The Guardian,when people come to the end of life their biggest regrets are, and I quote:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I'm determined to not have those regrets when the clutch starts slipping and the pistons start misfiring.
How do I accomplish that? How do I counter those things most people regret? Countermeasures baby! I have a choice.
That's my list. Those are my countermeasures. It sounds like great ammunition to me.
And - I'll make it fun! Shouldn't it all be fun?
I will make what I make and do what I do the best way I can and I promise not to take myself too seriously.
I'll keep on creating till I get to the end of this journey so I can "... skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
When I see you on the road or on the other side, I hope you’ll have no regrets.
Until then, I wish you peace.
I was in Barnes & Noble the other day, and I bought a book. Yes, it was an honest-to-goodness book. It had real ink and real paper and occupied real space.
Nowadays, I almost exclusively buy e-books. Every so often, though, I love rummaging through the shelves in a real bookstore. Holding a physical book in my hands makes me happy.
What convinced me to switch over to e-books?
I switched over to e-books when I was moving from Phoenix back to Dayton about eight years ago. Our shipping bill doubled from when we moved to Phoenix only two years earlier. Surely the shipping company was ripping us off. Someone was taking advantage of me.
I nearly jumped out of my skin. How in the world could that have happened? Did we get new heavy furniture? Did we buy some extra lead flashing? Did I pack the limoncello? Were we shipping stuff that wasn't ours? Did our neighbors sneak some of their stuff in the truck?
I had to scratch my head. Then it finally hit me.
What caused the big jump in shipping costs? I had to put it down to the books we bought over the previous two years. We had bought tons of books. Okay, maybe not tons, but a lot of books.
Why was I paying to ship something I might never use again? I could donate the books and save shipping costs. Then, I could buy new books on the other end. It would have been a net win.
But, it is so difficult to get rid of books. You have time, money, laughter and tears invested in them. When you read them, they become a part of you. If you give them up, it's like giving up a piece of yourself. Would you want to lop off even a finger or a toe?
It was then that I decided I would only buy e-books. There are advantages to owning e-books. Like:
So, I've made the switch. I'll stick with e-books for most things, but when I need indulge my emotional attachment to paper and ink, I reserve the right to head down to the bookstore to entertain my tactile nature.
Like life, I am full of caveats.
Until next week, I wish you peace.