I was able to spend the day with my Dad on Thanksgiving Day. As I have said before, he's getting up there in years. This makes two years in a row I was able to spend Thanksgiving with Dad and Peggy.
These like times get more precious as age has not only taken a foothold but has begun to effect noticeable changes. I suppose you can only hold the whole thing together so long.
This Thanksgiving I feel grateful I've been able to spend more time around Dad. I've actually spent more time around him in the last 6 months or so than I have since I was 19 years old.
As we get on with our own lives and get absorbed with work and play and other necessities.
I keep thinking about Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle".
With my own very wonderful children I try to be available but not meddling. If they need me I will be there but I don't want to interfere. They both have fun and interesting lives.
I am grateful for the relationships in my life. I have been fortunate to have some very good friends and a wonderful family. I am also very grateful for the people in my life who teach me self-control, patience and compassion.
I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. I did.
This last February we were in England for a family funeral. It was a difficult time as you might expect. There was also lots of down time.
To stave off boredom and not dwell on the situation too much, I picked up my iPad and a stylus and started drawing.
It was so much fun — the drawing not the funeral.
No great expectations were floating around in my head because I hadn’t done much drawing on the iPad up until then. It was only to pass the time.
Turns out I really enjoyed drawing on the iPad. My hands didn't get dirty, there was no washing up afterwards and I didn't get chastised for getting paint on the floors / walls / ceiling / anywhere it wasn't supposed to be. I have to tell you, if you have a the slightest bit of Alizarin Crimson oil paint anywhere on your body it will show up in the most unlikely and unwanted places. Then you end up having to scrub the sheets, the floors, and your body with paint thinner. I wasn't a very popular person that day.
It was exciting to get used to how the stylus did it’s thing against the iPad. Learning mode is fun.
Have you ever heard of an artist called David Hockney? He’s pretty well known. Hockney was part a gaggle that slummed with Andy Warhol at his famous “Factory” in the 1960s.
He says he draws something on his iPad every morning and sends it to his friends. The inspiration to draw on my iPad came from his practice.
What a great idea! I started out doing a drawing a day. It lasted about three months and then became a bit much.
Plus, I got side-tracked a bit.
My dad’s getting on in years - he’s got 89 of ‘em stacked one behind the other right now. Inevitably, at that age, things start to go a bit haywire.
We're in the process of moving to Sun City Grand in Arizona to be close to dad and help out if needed.
I’m lucky I can pick up and move here to be closer to him.
Over the last couple of months I’ve started settle down a bit and have got back on track with the writing, drawing and postings. It feels pretty good to be back in the saddle.
My goal is to post a drawing and some thoughts once a week. That seems sustainable. I guess sometimes they’ll be more complex than others but I hope they’ll all be enjoyable.
Sustainable, to me, is better than something that I might burn out on.
This little drawing is inspired by Sun City Grand.
Jeremiah may have been a bullfrog and he might have been able to drink some really fine wine but he couldn't chase and catch a ball.
Scout is a very good friend of mine though and I don't often understand what he says and he does some really confusing things all the time. Sometimes he zigs when he should zag. Sometimes he's the ornery cuss who steals my shoes and won't give them back. However, he is always excited to see me and loves to fetch a ball.
Scout is getting on in years now. I think he's about 10 and that's pretty old for a Cocker Spaniel. He's not my dog but he owns two other humans. They take really good care of him. I'm sure he appreciates them. They treat him like a king and I'm sure he deserves it.
I did a little drawing of him cause I was thinking of him at the time. I am grateful for our friends and I am grateful they let us watch their dogs at times when they've gone away.
Dogs add a real presence to a house and they are missed when they're gone. Why is that?
It really doesn't matter. I just like it. Do you really have to have a reason for liking something. You either like it or you don't.
So I give this drawing to you for your amusement and pleasure. This is Scout, my friend. I can't wait to see him again.
Scout has a really good friend named Jasper. A story for another occasion. Today is Scout's day. BTW - I happen to get called Scout - a lot. He sometimes gets called Scott, I hope he's not offended.
In the mountains just north of the Mediterranean and south of Granada lives a small village called Pampaneira. It is one of a trifecta of villages in the Alpujarras. The other two towns are Bubión and Capileira. You can tour Pampaneira on foot from end to end in about 10 - 15 minutes. It's very laid-back. Just the kind of place I love.
We walked to Pampaneira from Bubión for coffee and cake one afternoon. Every day, stores put their colorful wares out on display. It steeps the whole place with a sense of calm and activity all at the same time.
This store caught my eye and I just had to draw it.
If you visit Pampaneira's wikipedia page you will see just how small the town is. According to the 2005 census the population there is 355 souls, some feral cats, a pack of stray dogs, a few goats, a handful of sheep and a host of touristy shoppy thingies. I think the entire population was out the day we breezed into town. The center square was buzzing.
You will see lots of hikers along the trail there. The town is along the GR7 route which is nearly 9,000 km long. It is the longest trail in Europe and we saw a steady stream of people hiking sun up to sun down.
This drawing brings back very nice memories of relaxing with a cup of coffee and watching the world go by.
I hope you enjoy my little Spanish Memory.
There are some things I miss now that I don't live in Dayton anymore. At the top of my list is seeing good friends I've made over the years.
Every time I make it back to Dayton, during football season, I get to meet up with long time and new friends for beer, wings and Monday Night Football. The group's been gathering on Monday night since the beginning of time. It's not really about football, its about sitting around with good friends in a friendly atmosphere and putting the world to rights. The composition of the group and the place changes a bit over time but, usually, once people start coming they stick around.
I also love the Summer Festivals like the Strawberry Festival in Troy, the Blues Festival in Lebanon, the Greek Festival in Dayton, the Italian Festival in Kettering, the Renaissance Festival in Waynesville and the Octoberfest at the Dayton Art Museum . There's always something to celebrate during the summer.
If you'd like to see a list of festivals in the Dayton area you can visit Culture Works cultureworks.org/festivals/. There are festivals to celebrate everything from the strawberries to sauerkraut to, of course, BACON. If you exist and draw breath you can probably find something to celebrate in Dayton, Ohio.
This year we made it just in time for Octoberfest; good beer - good music - fun festival food. They have a continuous roster of bands playing throughout the festival. Spungewurthy was playing the day we went. They are a very cool three man cover band that say they play mostly "dancey rock music". I like that description. They are fun and - yes - people do get up and get "dancey". We listened to the music, ate some very unhealthy food, and wandered the arts and crafts booths. Overall it was a relaxing and fun afternoon.
While I was watching the band - no my knees won't let me get "dancey" any more - I notice that the Dayton skyline was beautiful in the background against a clear blue sky contrasting with what I know of the last 20 years when the whole area had been under construction. You used to see enough orange barrels, construction equipment, hard hats and yellow tape to canvas the entire city. I remember it all being an eye-sore and it lasted over half a generation. I was so impressed with the new and improved view, I wanted to capture the image. So I did a drawing. It's what I do. Now I get to share it with you.
I'll miss it when I leave here but there are new adventures to be had, places to go, people to see and more stuff to draw. And ... like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "I'll Be Back".
Have a very artsy day.
Art is a product that is completely different than most products or services.
If you buy a painting, photograph, or sculpture it's probably because that work made an unconscious emotional connection.
There is the odd person who goes into a store and want to buy a light green drawing/painting because it goes with the wall color.
I guess environmental esthetics matter. But for me it is not the biggest concern.
There are lots of people who say they don't know anything about art but they know what they like. I guess it's kind of like that.
When I paint or draw - aside from the usual practice that I do it because I feel a connection with the subject matter or I just think - gosh it would be cool if.
I haven't been able to draw or paint as much as I would like of the last couple of weeks. I am working on something right now which is taking a bit longer than I would have expected. I have drawn a sketch and am trying to work it up in color.
I like drawing in pen and ink - one of my favorite things to do.
The drawing attached today is a sketch I did a few days ago of the Dayton skyline. I was at Octoberfest at the Dayton Art Museum and thought the skyline was stunning. It made an emotional connection with me.
I hope you enjoy.
One of the highlights this summer was our holiday to Spain. We stayed in a little town called Bubion in the Sierra Nevada nearish to Granada. The scenery was gorgeous.
In each little town we went you could sit on the avenue or in the square and have a beer or coffee or whatever struck your fancy.
One of the things I really liked was with each beer I ordered something yummy came . Tapas. Sometimes it was Jamón Serrano or a plate of olives or potatoes simmered with onions in good olive oil for god knows how long. Big smiles.
The pace of life in the mountains was unique. It was friendly and respectful and slow and business people seemed genuinely happy to see you show up at their shops.
I think that has something to do with the siesta culture. Most things close for several hours during the hottest part of the day.; mostly between 2pm and 5pm. When I was young my mother called it nap-time and I fought against it with all I had in me. Now, I see it as a perfectly civilized way of dealing with my inevitable mid-day food coma.
My Spanish is horrible. I was happy the people there were very patient with me.
In art the product needs to have meaning both to the producer and to the person experiencing it.
Personally, I like it when things take a bit of skill and thought to create. You can see craftsmanship in the work. You can see meaning. It touches you in some way.
This means something to me because I was there.
The welcoming feeling, the relaxed atmosphere and stress melting off you body like butter and jam dripping of toast in the morning is something we can all relate to.
All of that comes back to me when I look at this drawing.
It's like food for the soul.
As my little friend Oliver said, "... Please Sir, I want some more. "
We have reached the last twenty-four hours of our current stay in England. We enjoyed walks in the countryside and trips to the city. There is so much to do here and we never really seem to have enough time to do it.
It is time for us to do our fall migration from here.
What I'll miss most, as I always do, are the friends we've made and the experiences we've had.
William Blake described England as a "... green and pleasant land." It is that for me today even as it was for him then (late 18th century).
What happens to the time? When I get here in the beginning of summer the panorama is open with activities, places to go and people to see. When the end comes I look and wonder where the time has gone.
Where has all the time gone? Where have I been and what have I done. It's a bit of a whirlwind. - a dust devil that sprouts from nowhere, spins its tale and disappears with the same magic from which it rose.
Life's a bit like the whirlwind and I think, at times, about its fleeting nature.
Now on to Dayton, Ohio to see old friends and maybe even make some new ones.
It's been a very good ride so far. I'm grateful for every single minute.
I was able to pick up these two paintings that I had framed yesterday before we began the migration.
Living on an island makes you a subject of sand, sea and sky.
Every once in a while this unholy trinity rears it's ugly head.
We've lived in the Caribbean for almost six years with only slight brushes from hurricanes. They've nudged against St Thomas but haven't really landed.
When we moved to the island we kept hearing about Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. In 2011, the island was still smarting from that one. Marylin was still a ready topic of conversation.
Marilyn had 105 mph sustained winds and devastated the island. Irma, this year, had 185 mph winds which stripped the island of vegetation and completely transforming the landscape.
Now Maria threatens with about 160 mph winds. Two in one year stronger than Marilyn.
Irma is still an open wound and her sister, Maria, is setting sites on the Leeward Islands with torrential rain and lashing winds.
More people will lose their livelihoods, more properties will be destroyed and lives will be even more devastated.
We're very lucky not to be on the island this season. We're waiting to hear what happens with Maria. She is a strong one and will come awfully close to the Virgin Islands; potentially right over St Thomas.
Reparation had just begun in earnest and now Maria crops up. Two steps forward and one step back. These sisters of 2017 are trying to make life even more difficult, flexing their muscles to show who's boss.
We're gathering as much good karma as we can and sending it to the folks on the islands. It's gonna be another bumpy ride. Please hunker down and stay safe.
We're thinking of you.
This drawing has nothing to do with hurricanes. Just hope it makes you smile. It was a little French Bulldog we got to know briefly in Capileira Spain.
I think it was my uncle Billy who tried to teach me how to fly.
He would get me to stand on the arm of the sofa and concentrate really hard.
He'd said, "If you concentrate really really hard you'll be a flying master in no time."
I'd jump off the arm of the sofa flapping my arms fast as I possibly could. I really believed I could fly. I believe Billy believed it too.
No amount of sweat or practice gave me any different results. I always plummeted to earth quickly. How quickly? [F = G*((m sub 1*m sub 2)/r^2)]. I think this guy Newton came up with that one.
I never mastered flying. I practiced and practiced but it never happened. I'm sure it was my fault. I wasn't trying hard enough. I couldn't flap my arms fast enough.
It's a good thing I was a kid and had limited intelligence or else I might have concluded I just needed a higher platform to launch from. Luckily I learned about that whole gravity thing before opting for increased height.
I do a fair bit of flying today. I'm not opposed to flying but IT IS a VERY unnatural act. I proved that at a young age. (see above)
Every time I get on a plane, I thoroughly expect it to require bending over, putting my head between my legs, and kissing my derriere adios. Not just every once in a while but every single time.
I'm left with two options.
Give up a lifestyle I'm very happy with (understatement) or get on the darn plane.
The former isn't really an option. It ain't gonna happen.
Therefore, I'm left with the flying thing.
For me flying is an exercise in courage and faith.
I'll work on that one. You might want to try it too.