Walking In The Desert
It's been a great week here in the desert. The temperatures are starting to rise a bit. This week's highs were in the eighties and next week is promising nineties.
You know where this is heading, don't you? Last summer the highest temperature here was 120F / 49C.
Change is all around now as one season gives way to the next. I'm sure it's the same in your neck of the woods.
I like to get out for a walk almost every day. Walking just makes me feel good, especially when the weather cooperates.
By stepping out and moving my legs I keep myself sane(ish) and in better shape than I'd otherwise be as I sit behind a computer or a painting umpteen hours every day. Operative word, "sitting".
Sitting's not one of those nice active verbs. It's not like running, jumping, swimming, climbing, or walking. It's passive, reserved, shy, retiring, blah. Though I do like a nice sit after a long walk. That's relaxing and restoring and not blah at all. It's also easier to read a book, drink a cup of coffee, or use a knife and fork, or type while sitting. I guess sitting does have a use.
It's just that sitting and I have a far too intimate relationship. I like to keep my distance so I don't get sucked all nice and cozy into the armchair vortex of slothfulness.
Walks give me a chance to "stop and smell the roses", admire the clear blue sky, or the mountain views along the way. There are so many beautiful things to see if you pay attention.
I love watching the trees begin to unfold their leaves and the flowers open up to show off their goods.
I guess lots of people like this time of year because poems about flowers and spring are all over the place. You won't find me waxing lyrical with eloquent profundity about their beauty. I'll leave that kind of thing to the likes of Mr. Shakespeare. Okay - here's a bit of one I like by Mr. Wordsworth.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
William Wordsworth, Lines Written in Early Spring
Let me say simply that the flowers here are gorgeous.
Of course, many pretty things have very effective ways to protect themselves. I'm not talking about bodyguards either but I've found the prettier the flower the more vicious the defense. Some of the plants that sprout flowers here happen to be prickly, unforgiving and can be downright dangerous. I wouldn't want to get too close.
To get the best effect when you stop and smell the roses though you have to pay attention and appreciate them too. That's what I try to do. I'm usually irritating to walk with because I'm always stopping and snapping photos of things that I find interesting. I'm kind of like a child.
Have you ever seen a cactus flower? It's quite a sight.
Here's a selection of photographs I've taken over the last week of flowers, shrubs, cactus, and trees here in Sun City Grand. You can see them below in their fantasmagorical spring splendor. The reds are really red, the purples very purple, the palo is quite verde, and the saguaro is just itichin' to pop. I'll have to keep an eye on that one.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy the changing seasons in the next month or so before you have to start mowing the lawn all over again. Every season comes with its chores.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Wanna Be Talented?
I'm going to the AIIP Annual Conference in Minneapolis next month (April 19th - 22nd.) I was inspired to draw something for the conference. This flyer is the result. It's the iconic Spoon Bridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. I thought it was kind of cool and I wanted to share it.
This conference is where Independent Information Professionals meet up and share the secrets of making and delivering world-class information products. I look forward to the conference every year.
I didn't learn to build information products overnight. Experience has been my best teacher, more than 25 years worth.
I had a bit of aptitude for it. I understood things rather quickly. It still took a lot of water under the bridge to understand what I do today, which, in the grand scheme of things, is just a grain of sand on a very large beach.
Then why did I think that I would be able to be so good at drawing right off the bat? I suppose it was a bit of fanciful/delusional/wishful thinking.
That's kind of changed in recent years.
It all happened when I made up my mind to be better. I stopped saying I wasn't good enough and only strove to be better regardless where I was in the process.
I'm talking to all of you who say, "I can’t even draw a stick figure." or "I wish I could draw."
I'd like to say that you CAN draw a stick figure and if you can draw a stick figure you CAN draw.
And wishing is what you do with your fairy god-mother or upon some star or other. It's the same as saying, “Let me have X and don’t make me work at it.” It’s wanting something for nothing. Believe me, I've often wished I was better but practice works much better than wishing.
Here's a little tidbit. Did you know if you wish upon the first star you see at night - it’s most likely not a star but a planet? BTW - Who is this guy Tid and why do we care about his bits?
Work is the only way to get there. It's really sad that proficiency doesn't fall out of the air like manna from heaven or grow on trees. You can have a bit of talent or aptitude but even Michelangelo worked his tail off to get better. One of the reasons he got so good is he did more and worked harder than other apprentices at the time.
I'd like to tell you, "If you can write you can draw." What is drawing but representing something on something else with some medium or other that is understood to be what it is or evokes some emotion?
Can we agree on that? Maybe or maybe not.
Do this - take out a pencil and write the letter "A".
Does it look like an “A”?
Do you think other people recognize it as an “A”
You just drew a stick figure that was recognizable to at least the entire literate English speaking world. That’s a lot of people.
You CAN draw something other people can understand and recognize.
Yes, some people write better than others. People who write well often care about writing more than those who don’t. There are calligraphers and there are doctors. The chasm is wide and deep.
The rest is just getting better. That takes educating yourself, practice, and the most important thing: Desire.
What do they say? "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." So find your desire and watch the teacher appear.
The saying is often incorrectly attributed to Buddha. Its likely origin is a charlatan called Mabel Collins. She actually recanted her claims in an 1889 letter. Why not use a "Fake Buddha" saying if it sounds good? It just sounds better coming from Buddha. There's no harm in that. Is there? I like the sentiment.
The rest is just - wash, rinse, repeat.
You don’t need any special tools. You can start with a pencil and paper.
If I draw something poorly, I just try again, and again, and again.
I guess you also need a high tolerance for repetition and failure.
The next time the spirit moves you, make a horrible drawing. You have to make a whole bunch of them. I’m sure the next one will be better.
It’s not always about the result but sometimes it’s about the process and the process can make us better people.
If we feel better about ourselves, aren't we are more likely happier, healthier and nicer to be around?
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Scottsdale Art Festival
Finally, My Dale (Scott's Dale) had an art festival for me. I wasn't sure when it would happen but it did happen and I got to go there last weekend. I should be used to these type of honors but it still overwhelms me a bit when a whole festival is thrown in my honor. I want to thank the state of Arizona and the City of Phoenix for the honor. I hope to be picking up the royalty checks very soon. I think they're in the mail.
I really shouldn't have been surprised though.
Gosh, "they" even named a whole village after me in England. Who would have guessed?
Attenborough is a little village south of Nottingham in, of course, Nottinghamshire. That really put me on the map - literally. Been there.
Did you know "Attenborough Studio" is a real thing? It's at the Darwin Center in the Natural History Museum, London. Though, to be fair, there's a guy named David who thinks it's named after him. We'll keep that one quite - just between us for now. Yup, been there too.
As I was driving to "My Dale" Art Festival I was eager to grace them with my presence. I looked forward to being able to wave to my people. Then, as if a crushing weight fell on my head, I realized how far Scottsdale is from where I currently hang my hat in Surprise. It takes almost an hour to get there.
Why do we live in Surprise and not in Scottsdale - you say? Partly because stuff is really expensive in Scottsdale and - well - nope - that's it. It's expensive. There are a lot of other reasons but I don't want to bore you with them right now.
Scottsdale has a great "Old Town". It gets overrun with tourists this time of year or at least it was last weekend. Partly because the weather is great but it's also spring training season here in Arizona. Scottsdale Stadium hosts the San Francisco Giants. Fans were out it droves drinking, merry making, and basically whooping it up to a karaoke version of "Take Me Out To The Ball Ole Ball Game". Fans can be loud.
Nevertheless, I was there for the Art Festival.
When I go to these things I like to learn something. I look at it as gathering intelligence at a trade show. How do they do this and how do they do that. I pay particular attention to the artists, how they set up and how they sell.
There were a lot of fabulous works on display and some less fabulous. I would say all of the people exhibiting were really professional. Nothing looked amateurish or poorly executed. I did notice a lot of the same old stuff but there were some interesting new takes as well. There was high end (ish) art. Nothing even close to the $100,000 range but nothing was bargain basement priced.
There were bands playing the whole time on two different stages, the beers weren't outrageously expensive but the food was a bit more than I thought it should be.
Even though it rained while we were there (mostly an irritating drizzle), we had a good time slinking in and out of booths, commenting on this, admiring that, giggling profusely, and generally spending a wonderful Saturday afternoon in Scottsdale with friends.
I spoke to exhibiting artists about how they applied to show their work at the festival.
That's how I learned about a web app called ZAPPlication.org.
I've been playing around with the ZAPPlication website, exploring different venues to exhibit and sell artwork. There are several shows where I might be able to play show-and-sell. Who knows, I might come to a town near you! Some of the artists I met go from show to show every week selling their artwork.
I could paint during the week, sell my wares on the weekend. Doesn't sound like a bad gig to me. It would be better than working during the week and painting on the weekends.
I'm in the middle of trying to figure all this nonsense out. Hang with me, please. It's good to make meaningful progress toward a worthwhile goal. It makes me feel good.
I hope you have a wonderful project that you're working on too. I hope you have something that makes you happy and makes you feel good. It does create a bit of brightness and lightness in life.
For now, I leave you with this bright and cheery bird for the weekend.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Life is moving faster and faster lately.
Have you seen a hummingbird while it hovers? My life seems to be whipping by faster than hummingbird wings.
When you're a kid you don't think about the amount of time you have left in this place. Right now, I'm pretty sure I've seen more days behind me than I have in front of me.
I have to face the facts. I'm giving a big wet kiss to 60 right now so I'm not even middle-aged anymore. If you're an optimist you can believe that you'll get about ninety years. My dad is going to be ninety this year. GO DAD! Mom didn't get that many years.
I love learning about new things and learning about the world in general. One way I learn is to listen to podcasts. I love podcasts. I'm not what you might call a self-improvement junkie but I like to see if I can pick up tips along the way.
I just want to know how I can be the best Scott I can be.
I was listening to Nancy Davis Kho's podcast the other day. Hi Nancy! Her podcast and blog, "Midlife Mixtape", circles music and the middle years. Nancy talks about "thriving in the years between being hip and breaking one". I love that!
Now that I've not in the middle years am I not allowed to listen to that podcast anymore? Again, my party, I'll listen if I want to. She has some great guests on her podcast. The last one I listened to involved a Chainstitch Wrangler called Kathie Sever. If you want to find out what a Chainstitch Wrangler is that a great place to find out!
I love how Nancy always asks her guests "What was the first concert you went to and when?" My first was Peter Frampton, June 14, 1975 at San Francisco's Winterland and, yes, he did play "Show me the Way" but that's a whole 'nuther story.
Fortunately, I haven't yet broken a hip. Unfortunately, I don't think I've ever been hip. I'm not quite at the finish line yet but I'm not the spry young thing I like to remember myself being.
When you look at life with the middle years in the rearview mirror, you realize there are only a certain number bullets left in your magazine but unlike the rifle-range, reloading isn't an option.
Some people measure those remaining years in the number of books that they can read, the places they can go, or myriad other things before the eyes dim and their living skills start slipping away.
I've been thinking more in terms of paintings or artworks I can see or create before all my vigor has slipped through my fingers. Picasso created more than 50,000 artworks in his life. I haven't made the calculation yet but I don't think I have time to catch up. He had a bit of a head start. I'm not giving up though.
I've been thinking about how I can maximize the years left. I worked out these five things that might help me get closer to being the best Scott I can be.
Today I'm grateful for you...
Until next week - I wish you peace.
Flying's A Real Pain
Traveling is just not fun. I don't mind being in the places I go but the traveling is just horrendous.
This time my flight left at 1:10 am. I'm usually inspecting the insides of my eyelids about that time not getting ready for boarding.
I’ve found being prepared for the flight can make the whole experience less horrible.
This time - No big suitcases for me. I set off with only a carry-on and no checked bag.
Okay - important... Organize Carry On...
I was all set for the flight. All I had to do was point myself in the direction of the airport and engage propulsion. SuperShuttle to the rescue.
I wish somebody could explain the airline boarding system. Apparently, there's now a Group 9 on American Airlines. Group 9?! By that time all the space in the over-heads and under-seats must be taken up with chickens, turkeys and carrier pigeons. I was lucky to be in Group 5 because this plane was packed to the gunnels. God knows I was grateful not to be in Group 9. It's all so confusing.
Usually, after I sit down on the plane I try to keep my head down. I don't want to stare at the throng/thongs of backsides & elbows jostling for seats and storage space.
This flight was a bit different.
I was trying to keep my head down - really I was. I couldn’t help notice the "Children Of The Corn" romping down the aisle. I braced myself because every single one of those ankle-biters was coughing and snorting and touching everything they passed. They were touching everybody!
I’m not terribly paranoid normally.
I’ve eaten enough dirt and filth in my life to have a pretty healthy immune system. Nevertheless, there’s no need to tempt fortune by being exposed to some deadly virus in a sardine can hurtling through the atmosphere.
Isn’t that how those disaster/zombie movies always start? They all start on a plane where unwittingly patient zero gets infected by some mutant zombie virus. Hold it - Maybe I'm patient zero. Noooooo!
This time though, I pleaded the universe to keep the little germ factories away.
Please, God, Help Me!
I stared down the first of Satan's spawn with daggers coming out of my eyes emphatically pleading - "Don't touch me"! It must have worked. At the last second, the little beggar grabbed momma's coat-tail. He passed me by sucking his thumb. His gangly limbs were firmly wrapped in his own little personal space.
Then zombie apocalypse candidate number two came coughing and snorting and sneezing down the aisle. The little germ-ball was touching EVERY SINGLE SEAT with his tiny nasty fingers.
Mother was oblivious to what was going on. She paid no attention at all until, just as the heavens parted for Elija, like a whirlwind, she swooped the kid into her arms as they approached my seat.
Whew! - Number two avoided.
The last little rug rat was at least three rows ahead of me. Lucky me three times - this really is a great day.
Number three down. I'm Free!
Just then - A God Send!
I noticed the seat beside me hadn't been taken. I unconsciously caught myself chanting under my breath: "please leave that seat open, please leave that seat open… "
But it happened just as the doors were about to close. Somebody plopped down next to me. It just wasn't meant to be. No open seat next to Scotty Boy. I guess the miracles I experience only extended to zombie virus avoidance.
I didn’t get a certificate from my seatmate but he looked healthy enough. Actually, he seemed to be a nice guy. We exchanged pleasantries and started to go about our own business. I stared at my iPad - and him - I don’t think we'd even started to taxi and he was asleep. I envied him.
I'm grateful the universe loved me today.
The four and a half hours to Miami seemed to go by in a flash and my flight to St Thomas was also uneventful. It's been about a week now and I haven't manifested any sign of sickness. No zombie apocalypse virus this time.
A big thank you to whoever was smiling on me.
Today's little drawing is one that reminds me of St Thomas. Iguanas are all over the place here, even after the hurricane but that's a story for another week, maybe even next week
Until then - I wish you peace.