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.
Just like any other American family, when I was a kid, we'd go to amusement parks.
On some random weekend or other, we'd pack the car up and head out for a day of magical fun and adventure.
Though mom was keen, I think dad would have rather been mowing the lawn, vacuuming the carpet, doing dishes, or sticking needles in his eyes.
I can see them now, waving excitedly, as I stepped on the roller coaster, the tilt-o-whirl, the spinning teacups or any other medieval torture device. Were they out to kill me?!?! I don't think so, but I'm sure it crossed their minds a few times when I was a teenager.
Just think of it - death by teacup.
Amusement park rides and I have never played well together. I dread long lines. I hate carnival food and, of course, who can properly describe the overwhelming joy of expelling, at velocity, carnival food you didn't even like traveling in the other direction.
I'm sure heredity has nothing to do with it either. I think my brother loved all that stuff. Dad was in the Canadian Navy and spent five years at sea. Mom could probably sleep upside down on a train moving at the speed of light. She could sleep anywhere.
Me, I got the seasick gene.
Going to fairs and festivals isn't horrible. I like going for the music, the spectacle, the camaraderie. I can even enjoy them as long as I'm not asked to get on some spinning whirling rickety nausea-inducing death trap.
I used to go to fairs and such because I wanted to be with my friends. My so-called friends, however, always intended to get me on some spinny thing. They'd goad me or somehow coerce me into getting on a ride.
Sometimes I'd give in. Maybe, it was the excitement. Maybe, I wanted the same experience my friends had. Maybe, I didn't want to be left out. I don't know why. It could have been a combination of all those things.
When I did get on the ride, I'd remember why I didn't like them. First, there would be that flush feeling. Then, the color would drain from my face. That pallor would soon be replaced, in due course, by a lovely shade of green.
I learned much later in life that it's okay to say yes, but it's okay to say no too. It takes some of us a bit longer than others to catch on.
Now, I don't go on those kinds of rides anymore. I can admire them from afar but I don't go on them.
While at San Diego State, millennia ago, I knew a guy who followed this principle to the letter. If you asked him if he wanted to do something his answer was either yes or no. There was no equivocation. If you thought there might be some explanation coming, you'd be wrong. I admired him for that.
It took me a lot longer to put that lesson into practice.
You can say no politely. You can offer an explanation if you'd like but you don't have to.
No is often the best answer.
The next time somebody asks you to jump off a bridge, you can say no. I know I will.
This week's painting was done a while ago. It hangs in our house and I see it every day. It's a bit creepy but I like it very much.
Until the next bridge comes,
I wish you peace.
Some people like to multi-task, but me, I like to take it one step at a time.
I learned the value of concentrating on one thing at a time playing golf.
When my brother and I were teenagers on summer break, a little to old for babysitters and a little too young to be left to our own devices or to create new vices, dad would sometimes drop us off at the golf course on his way to work and pick us up on the way home.
I suppose it kept us out of trouble most days. We spent lots of time on the golf course. It's a good thing we liked it.
I learned a few things on the golf course like how projecting into the future can be a bad thing sometimes. Most great golfers will say they visualize their shots before they even step up to the ball. They pull from their experience to project into the future.
The problem is that I had a lot of experience hitting bad shots. So I'd visualize everything that could go wrong and didn't pay enough attention to what could go right.
Negative forecasting is a bad habit to get into.
My projections really worked against me. I'd get all flustered and nervous and nothing would seem to work. I'd become my own worst enemy.
If you spend too much time thinking your ball is careening off a pine tree into no-mans land it will happen. I've been told that trees are 90% air but somehow my golf ball never got that memo.
I learned to take my mind off the bad stuff by focusing on keeping my head down, keeping my eye on the ball, and following through. That's it. It's what they call "swing thoughts". Yup, it's a real thing.
Swing thoughts, for me, exist to block out the negative so I can concentrate fully on what's happening now. I think they might call it mindfulness today.
It's the same thing when I sit down at the easel. It always goes better when I concentrate on what I'm doing right now rather than worrying about the results. I think about applying each brush stroke, paying attention to the brush as it hits the canvas, and focusing on what happens as the colors come together.
If I stick with doing one thing at a time, most of the time I get a pretty good result and the experience is much better too.
I just show up and paint.
BTW- I did show up and I did do some painting this week.
I have included a little video of my brush hitting the canvas. I hope you enjoy.
Until next week - I'll keep painting and ... you ... well ...
I wish you peace.
The last couple of weeks have been busy. Very busy. I was running around like a chihuahua chasing its tail. To paraphrase the Duke of Edinburgh, I've ..."been running around like a blue-arsed-fly."
I say that right up front because I feel a bit guilty for not publishing a blog or the newsletter last week. I've always known consistency is important but it home last week.
That is the concept. You show up consistently without fail. Well, last week I failed.
Because I was so busy with everything I let the newsletter slide. I let it get away from me. I gave myself permission to give this one a pass. I thought nobody will notice. I thought nobody will really care.
I was wrong. I got a stream of emails asking if I was okay and asking where I went. One emailer even demanded, "where’s my little artsy newsletter!?" - you know who you are!
Conclusion - If you say you're going to publish every week, by gum you should publish every week.
Big publishers don't miss an edition. Professional publishers don't give themselves a pass. I couldn't imagine National Geographic, Scientific American, or the New Yorker would miss an edition.
Though I'm not a big publisher, I do consider myself a professional.
The three keys to professional success, as I learned them from a salty ole Gunny, are:
1. Show up on time
2. Be in the right uniform
3. Do the job.
Passion is great but you need consistency to get things done.
Show up on time and do the work. The uniform is optional for me today.
I'm moving on. Fall down, get up, move forward.
Oh yeah - My drawing this week is a cardinal, it's the state bird of Ohio. I've been thinking of seeing my friends next month in Ohio. I hope I see a cardinal there and I hope I see you there too. If you live in Ohio that is.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
It's a gamble when you start a drawing. What you want to be a masterpiece could end up in the bin. The result could lead to endless sobbing in your pillow - or - it could actually turn out okay. It's a risk. There was no sobbing or gnashing of teeth involved in the making of this drawing.
As in all things, there are ways you can keep from whimpering like a child who's lost his toy.
Practice the basics. It might sound trite but I really believe it's true.
This is why.
Long ago and far away, when I was growing up, my family was very sporty. I'm pretty sure my parents used sports as a pseudo babysitter.
Our days were filled with ice hockey, football, baseball, golf, basketball, and I even had a stint as a boxer. I was okay at most sports. Not great but okay. I have to admit that as a boxer I got pummeled more times than I care to remember. Come to think of it, that might explain a few things.
We played lots of sports but our drug of choice was ice hockey. I could have called it hockey but hockey, to some people, means a game played with an upside down shillelagh on a soft grass pitch.
I'm talking about ice hockey. The hockey that has pucks, blades, sticks and missing teeth. It's a hostile game of speed, skill, and brute force. It's gang warfare splayed out on a sheet of ice.
Originally from Quebec, our family has huge gnarly chunks of St. Lawrence River ice cutting through our veins. I'm sure you'll find it in our DNA somewhere.
I can still smell the locker room, feel the ruts in the ice, and see the steam rising off my uniform. I loved the game but I never really liked that nudge at five in the morning, and yes we played at 5 in the morning.
In every sport, a player knows they have to practice the basics endlessly to get good. Here are just a few:
If you want to get better at art, practicing the basics is essential too. You have to study:
This week, I'm getting back to basics - just because.
In this drawing, I was practicing the fundamental elements of drawing: composition, shape, form, and contrast. The basics of producing an interesting image.
If one thing is off, the whole thing can look horrible. Unless, of course, you're Salvador Dali or Pablo Picasso.
This bird made it in my sketchbook this week.
I hope you enjoy it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.