The Best Laid Plans
Not everything goes as planned. Not everything works out. That's why I'm including this painting. I planned for it to be something else, but it turned out like this. I'm still not happy with it and someday I might make it better. Just in case you think everything turns out great. Well ...
The actual quote is, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley." - "To a Mouse," by Robert Burns.
Adaptation, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." Helmuth van Moltke, Prussian Military Commander.
Traveling long takes a lot of coordination. You can't just hop in the car, start the engine and point the car in a reasonably accurate direction and make adjustments along the way. My mother was that kind of person.
In 1994 we were heading to an Attenborough family reunion in Maine and starting our journey from Ohio. Attenboroughs from across Canada and the United States converged on a little place called Westways in a small Maine village of Center Lovell.
My mother, myself, and my two younguns piled in her white Volvo pointed the car in a general north-easterly direction, and commenced our journey. We'd been on the road for about an hour when I asked, "Hey ma, is there a map stowed away in your bra or some other hidden container?"
She said, "Scott, where's your sense of adventure? Where's your 'joie de vivre'? I thought I taught you better than that. Half the fun is not knowing exactly where you're going. You know that! Why I drove two thousand miles from Detroit to Redwood City all by myself in your dad's brand new Buick Skylark in 1968 when maps were spare, and signs on the highways were almost non-existent."
Of course, driving for almost 24 hours with my mother was an experience that takes some nerve and tolerance. It was not for the faint of heart. There was the regular consumption of vodka with tonic or with orange juice if she wanted to feel a bit healthier (I was driving - no vodka for Scott). We'd listen to Jacques Brel's 'La Valse a Mille Temps,' a thousand times, and Edith Piaf's 'La Vie En Rose' or 'Je Ne Regrette rien' until we began to regret it. I was almost completely worn out by the time we got out of Ohio, and we still had twenty hours ahead of us.
Ah, those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end. Frustrating, fun, and I do miss them too.
Travel, the way we approach it today, takes a keen eye for detail, a sharp intellect, and nerves of flexible steel. That's why Andrea takes care of all arrangements, coordination, documentation, and reservations. She is a logistical genius, a veritable transportation savant.
I have, at times, volunteered to make arrangements. Those overtures are routinely turned down. There is some trepidation on her part with handing the reins over to little ole me. I understand - I do. I sometimes question if I will remember my name in the morning sometimes.
Andrea and I have different ways of approaching things because we are different kinds of people. No two people would handle any situation precisely the same way, but sometimes two people can have approaches that are diametrically opposed. That's us.
Andrea is the kind of lass who likes to time things to the millisecond.
If you have a domestic flight departing at 10 am, you are required to check in an hour before your departure. Simple, right?
To Andrea, that means showing up at 9 am. Of course, that makes sense. Check-in at nine - fly at ten. Simple!
I would say, make sure we get to the airport at 8:30 in case there's a line at the check-in counter. Then there's security, which is a slog at the best of times, but when it's busy, it's quasi controlled chaos which can back up through a snaking barrier that turns you into the tail end of a coiled serpent when you join.
So I say, "Hey, let's get there at 8 am just in case we have problems or delays."
Andrea gives me that look. That look that says, "Oh, we're going to have that discussion again."
Eventually, after some barter, cajoling, and back and forth, we come to a reasonable compromise. This means neither of us is completely happy with the solution, but we think it might work.
Sometimes I'm right, and we're glad to have the extra time. Sometimes I'm wrong, and we end up reading a book or having a coffee before we have to board the plane. I'd rather be wrong and reading a book rather than right and biting my fingernails.
You see, I don't like pressure. I used to think that I loved last minute arrangements; I imagined I was at my best in the middle of a cyclone - a seat of the pants kind of guy. But, I'm not really that guy.
I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like stress. I thrive on knowing what's going to happen and when. I don't like guessing if I'm going to get to the airport on time. So I like planning extra time.
After our negotiation, on Wednesday, we were up at 7 am to ready ourselves for an Uber at 8 am. Things were going swimmingly.
Then, I heard, "Bloody Hell! from the kitchen."
Sheepishly, from the bedroom, "Can I help with something, dear?"
"Our flight's been put back an hour!"
In my mind, I'm thinking; the Gods are with me. We'll have extra time to get to the airport; things will be hunky-dory.
Eight o'clock rolls around, and I'm wondering where our fabulous, handsome, Uber driver was.
Andrea, "Oh, I moved the Uber back to nine-thirty."
Me, "Okay, so the plane was delayed by an hour. Obviously, we need to move the Uber back by an hour and a half."
Andrea, "Well, we won't have to worry about the traffic so much because it's a little later, and traffic will have died down."
*Keep your head down, Scott and don't make waves. You can handle it either way. Just stay calm and don't over-react*
We began puttering around, making sure we closed up the house properly. About eight-forty-five, the airline sent a text saying our flight was moved back to its original time.
Then came the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then came something that I wasn't expecting. Nay, it was probably never uttered before by those beautiful lips.
... "I can only apologize. I was wrong. I'll fix it."
Uber was rearranged, I was told he was showing up in ten minutes. That would get us to the airport on time if we didn't have any problems. God willing, and the creek don't rise.
I don't think I breathed between the house and the airport — nerves on edge. We tried to tell the Uber driver how urgent it was, and how grateful we were that he was in the neighborhood as we genuflected before his Nissan Pathfinder.
With luck on our side, the creek didn't rise, and the security line was short. We walked through and were just in time for boarding to begin.
The rest of the trip came off without a hitch. We made it safely and on time to Heathrow a little bit ahead of schedule. Our friends Marilyn and Peter were there to greet us. Andrea got smiles and a big hug!
Yeah, I know she deserves it.
We're glad to be in England for Christmas and the New Year. It's gonna be a rip-roaring December full of fun, festivities, and frivolity.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Jon Peters - Artist Of The Week
I first started watching Jon Peters on YouTube because I was trying to understand how to frame a painting. He gives excellent instruction and is a wonderful woodworker.
I like watching his videos because I learn something new all the time. He does top-notch woodworking videos (BTW - Woodworking = Serious Art). But he's a pretty decent painter as well.
Though I first went to his site to learn about making picture frames, I've learned quite a bit more from him as well. Whether it's painting on aluminum, stencil painting, or even making small landscapes, he's one of my go-to demonstrators.
Here's one of his woodworking videos where he teaches how to make a picture frame. You might find it interesting. I know I have some woodworkers in my audience. I think you'll love it.
This crazy little painting came to mind because I felt like someone was sneaking in and looking over my shoulder in a creepy, weird kind of way. I felt a bit invaded.
Therefore, creepy, weird eyeball painting.
Last week, to my bewilderment, my computer started freaking out. Here's what happened.
I sometimes go to Goodreads to check out authors I like and follow. I just finished reading Stephen King's novel, 11-22-63. If I ever had trouble remembering the Kennedy assassination date, I probably won't have any problem anymore.
I love reading Stephen King because he sucks me right into the story.
Now, I was looking for the next decent book to read.
We have tons of books in the house, but I do like looking around for something to read almost as much as I like settling on something I'd like.
This time I clicked on a link to the website of an author I follow. I thought I Goodreads is a reputable website, and I trust the author; there should be no problem whatsoever. It surprised me when the author's website said I needed to update my Flash Player. It was such an innocuous thing. I did it without thinking at all - all it took was a click. I could update my laptop, and I would be on my way.
The internet is so easy to use. Sometimes it's just too easy. I was like Nike - I just did it.
When it comes to downloading software from the internet - that IS NOT the best advice. I should have been skeptical. Instead, I was gullible. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was happening, and I immediately a hollow, "Oh my God, what's happening?" in the pit of my stomach. I think I was experiencing a little bit of shock.
What happens if somebody gets control of my computer?
What happens if they get a hold of my passwords?
What the hell is happening anyway?
The next thing that crossed my mind was - my security software license had lapsed.
I had no idea what to do. I disconnected my computer from the internet by turning off wifi access. I shut down my computer and rebooted it.
When my computer came back to life, it had pop-ups telling me that my computer was infected. My laptop got hijacked by software that took control of my browser. The first evidence was my browser went to a search engine called Searchmine.
Had somebody had just violated my privacy? I was angry.
"They've" invaded my space. I wanted to lash out and felt like screaming. That would have done no good whatsoever. Why should I upset the rest of the world for something that was undoubtedly my mistake?
The fault may have been the bastards that planted that little nugget out there for me to download, but it was my fault. I didn't heed that voice in the back of my head. I'm usually pretty good about that.
Luckily, I had another computer.
I went to my other computer and looked up how to rid myself of this pesky malware.
Hopefully, that will keep the jackals at bay.
Andrea, she's often the calm in my very stormy brain, left me to my devices as I tried to figure out how to fix my problem.
There are plenty of sites that talk about how to remove this bug. All of them promote downloading their "clean up" software to take care of the problem. I tried downloading one of them, which did nothing, or did it? Did I inject ebola into my computer? Were the various viruses swimming around in my laptop duking it out for world domination?
My panic ratcheted up to DEFCON 1.
What do you do at DEFCON 1?
That brought to mind the drills we did at Selby Lane Elementary School in the late 1960s.
So I crawled under my desk, laced my hands behind my head, put my head between my legs, and kissed my @$$ goodbye.
Quick, "Andrea! Where's the scotch! Not that one, the good stuff! We're going under here!"
I was scared. Had I just destroyed all of the work that ever contained on my computer? I could see pictures of paintings melting, my blogs disintegrating before my eyes. I sat paralyzed by the biological warfare taking place in the bowels of my solid-state hard drive.
I think I was on the verge of tears because I couldn't figure out how to fix this.
Remember your training, Scott!
No, not my Marine Corps Training.
It was the wisdom of Douglas Adams from "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy."
Do you know that "Arthur C. Clarke said Douglas Adams' use of 'don't panic' was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity."
When you are your own IT department, you have to be vigilant and always on top of your computer's security.
I hunched over my computer for hours trying to figure it out.
Finally, I found a set of directions designed to delete and uninstall the malware. I followed the instructions and rid myself of the problem.
I know a little bit about computers. I've worked on computers since the 1980s. I know the ins and outs of doing stuff. What I realized while I was trying to solve this problem is there are billions of people out there who don't have my experience and don't know what I know. I'm not saying that I'm a genius on the computer, far from it. I failed my first computer programming class, dismally.
I still have nightmares. Nightmares where I was supposed to turn in a program, and I just hadn't worked on it at all. I turn up in class, and I am more than clueless — nightmares imitating life.
I wonder what people who haven't had my background would do. If I can get caught out, I think anybody can.
The best thing that came out of this incident is I realized how relaxed I had gotten about my computer security. I don't remember my computer ever being bit by a bug or infected by a virus. This infiltration taught me a lesson. My anti-virus software is now up to date, and I'm even more conscientious about what gets downloaded to my computer. I don't click on any external links unless I'm absolutely positively sure about their origin. I thought I was okay before, but I wasn't as good as I thought I was. You can't let your guard down for a second. There are bad people out there that want to do bad things.
I hate that there are bad people out there.
It's time for an adult beverage, and, of course, it's time for the weekend to begin.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Trail - 137 DAYS
Mark Carder - Artist Of The Week
Mark Carder is a self-taught painter who has developed quite a good reputation and business.
He not only creates fabulous paintings, but he also develops products used in oil-painting. I like his line of premium paints.
He markets his high quality, hand made, oil-paints and accessories at Geneva Fine Art Supplies.
Mark has been commissioned to paint two United States Presidents and a Secretary of State. His paintings are barely distinguishable from photographs.
The goal of his "DrawMixPaint" YouTube channel is to "... eventually, cover all essential instruction for painting realism in oil so that anyone can learn to paint for free."
Sounds good to me. Mark has been posting "how-to" videos for the last seven years. If you want to learn how to paint realist paintings, his channel is a perfect choice. I hope you get a chance to see those videos and learn a little bit more about the process. You can see his work on his art website, you can learn from him on DrawMixPaint website, or you can buy any of his products on his Geneva Fine Art website.
Now go out and make some ART!
The Great Gardening Workout
When you're away from home for any length of time, the garden is bound to need some attention when you get back. Because we spent the summer in England, the yard needed some tender loving care when we returned. We're lucky that there's no grass to cut, but there are weeds to keep down, shrubs to trim, and trees to cut back.
If you get the chance to watch landscaping crews go to town at Sun City Grand, it's worth a watch.
About half a dozen young, muscular men hop out of a truck with saws, trimmers, spades, rakes, blowers, and other specialty landscaping tools. They're like a swarm of locusts and kick up dust all over the land. It's like the Tasmanian Devil descends to the garden.
We used to have a gardener who came by every two to three months to keep the foliage at bay, but he was not very honest, and he didn't follow instructions very well. I told him not to come back.
Sometimes it sounds like Silverstone or the Indy 500 outside your window at about 7:30 in the morning. Saws are revving, blowers blowing, and orders shouted over the din in a language I don't fully understand.
About an hour later, trees have lost limbs, bushes have been transformed into topiaries, and the flurry of leaves created is scooped up into the waiting truck bed. Then, the crew loads up like keystone cops they're off on their next adventures.
As for me, I thought, how hard could it be. It just takes a bit of time and stick-to-it-iveness. I haven't got the spry muscles of a young man anymore, but I can get out there, putter, and do a bit at a time.
It feels good to be outside in the sunshine laboring a bit. While I'm at it, I get the feeling that I'm getting a pretty good workout. It feels good to bend, reach, stretch, and downright muscle some things around. I can feel old sinews stretch and muscles getting a good workout.
The other day after a reasonable turn in the garden, I came in to get a drink and said to Andrea, "You know gardening can be a great workout, getting the old muscles working. It feels pretty good."
The look on her face was precious. One side of her mouth turned up, the other side of her mouth turned down, and a slight frown moved in between her eyes. She said, "Ooooohhhh ... Could we really call it a workout?"
Many things crossed my mind at that time. Not all of the comments that crossed my mind are suitable for a civilized audience. I kept them to myself.
Sure, it's not like pumping iron or an 80-mile bike ride, but it does get you to use muscles you don't often even twitch when you achieve the kind and delicate age I now inhabit. Hell, I can get a pretty decent muscle twinge emptying the dishwasher or taking out the garbage.
It's my opinion that using muscles leads to a better condition, which leads to better health. It's a simple formula. Every little bit helps!
I suppose if my gardening were constant and less sporadic than it is, it would be better for me. But, when I do it, I feel good about myself.
You'd think doing that kind of stuff would make you feel better afterward, too. But, no, it doesn't. Those sinews stretched become tight as an archers bow, they cramp, and twitch, and require some TLC of their own.
Not only that, because plants here fight back (here in the desert they've got spikes and thorns of Biblical proportions), there comes the ritual inspection of extremities, and the application of bandages occurs. We stop offending rivulets of blood leaking from my body before my scarred creaky corpus is allowed to settle delectably between the clean sheets.
Andrea said she had a similar gardening/workout conversation with her college friend Tony. After telling her about what a good workout he had in the garden. Apparently, Tony got the same, "Ooooohhhh ... Could we really call it a workout?" conversation with her.
I said, "Andrea, you're horrible. You can't stop yourself, can you?"
She reluctantly agreed.
Tony, my friend, I'm sorry, I can only apologize.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Brad Teare - Artist Of The Week
Brad Teare is a painter in the tradition of van Gogh. I love the thick application of vibrant paint in his landscapes.
He calls himself a landscape painter, but to me he's more than that.
I think he's a bit of a pioneer in the way he develops his landscapes and the way he thinks about art.
His career has spanned several decades. He's freelanced for the likes of the New York Times, and has done book covers for James Michener and Anne Taylor, and he occasionally teaches art at Weber State University as well. He and his wife shared a studio in Salt Lake City until she passed away in November 2018.
I enjoy reading what he writes about art on his blog and look forward to watching his calm and instructive videos on YouTube very much.
Brad's been on my watch list for quite some time. I hope he'll now be on your watch list too.
You can see him on these fine internet venues.
Now go out and make some ART!
We Can Make Him Better
This little entry may be short and sweet.
I've felt a bit adrift, lost in a sea of vanishing data.
The painting I attach today is old(ish) one, and I sold it from a Gallery in St Thomas a while back, but, hey, I like it.
I've been logging a bit of overtime working like the devil on a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, I forgot to heed alarms in the back of my head.
You see, I didn't pay attention to an Excel warning that if I saved my file in .csv form, much of the formatting and formulas in the spreadsheet would be gone. In my mind, I'm saying, "I didn't use many formulas, I didn't use any special formatting - at least nothing that I couldn't redo. I'm sure it will be okay. Go ahead, save your work in .csv. What harm could it do?"
What I didn't realize when you save multiple worksheets to a .csv file, the system only keeps the current worksheet. Which, in this case, means when I turned the computer back on, what was my work, was a blank worksheet.
There it was, staring at me and grinning as only a spreadsheet can. It was empty, devoid of contents, a smoldering shell of its former self.
That meant hours upon hours of meticulous effort was lost, gone into the ether. My diligent work evaporated into a smattering, a virtual scattering, a useless spattering of unrecoverable electrons, making their way across the universe laughing at me merrily as they went. I'm not sure electrons can laugh. But if quarks can be charmed, strange, and spin, then certainly electrons can laugh. At least I think they were this time.
What did I do? How did I handle this travesty of justice handed out to me, well, by me?
My heart sank like the Titanic. I felt like Leonardo de Capuccino floating on a piece of flotsam in the vast Atlantic. I could see myself drifting into the deep with Kate Winslet staring down helplessly at what she hoped was her future. Why didn't she make room for him anyway? There was plenty of room on that big ole piece of wood for both of them.
Okay, don't cry. It's not worth it.
But it was forty or fifty hours of work. Poof.
I was devastated. I was so distraught I thought of getting a glass of whiskey at 9 am and blowing it all off. The angels of my better nature, sitting watchfully on my shoulder, forbade that indiscretion. The devil was silent.
I got up from my chair and walked outside. Several deep breaths later, I came back in to see what I could salvage from the smoldering embers of my blunder. Was there anything I remembered? Was there something I could quickly reproduce.
I tucked into the work and started over again. I thought, "at least I have the benefit of how I did it before. I know the process and understand the formulas. I can do this." "Figuring it out was the hard part," I told myself.
As I started back at work, I noticed a couple of things that I could have done better. I saw some things that I could do more efficiently. I saw some different tweaks in how I was evaluating the content.
I started to feel like I was making the six million dollar man.
We can make him better, faster, stronger than he was.
Something better came as a result of losing all that information. In about eight hours, I've almost caught up. I think I can even breeze through the rest of it in the next day or so.
It doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes a little screw up like that can leave you on the side of the road weeping for your mama in a glass of gin.
This time, calmer heads prevailed.
I've won. I did it. The "Come Back Kid"
Sometimes it pays to relax. Panic would have served no purpose.
Of course, getting on with it is all we can do. So get on with it.
Then I remembered a little poem I wrote.
This 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 thing?
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,
And 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 first became acquainted with Rodgers Naylor at the London Online Conference about 9 or 10 years ago. That's when I met his other half, Ellen, representing the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) We had a brief conversation, and I went on my way.
It took me a little while to look up his work, and when I did, I think I drooled a bit. His plein air paintings are beautiful. They capture the light in a way I can only dream of achieving.
He uses broad, confident strokes that can only come with experience, patience, and practice. I often visit his website and flip through his Instagram feed to study his paintings, and admire his work.
Rodgers teaches weekly classes at the Park Hill Art Club in Denver so I wish I were going to the 2020 AIIP Conference there in April next year. I might have even skipped out on a session or two to take a lesson from him.
Rodgers travels to art festivals across the country to show and sell his work. Just this last weekend, he was in Carefree, Arizona, only forty-five minute drive from our house. I wish I would have known; I'd have driven up to see his work in person. Hopefully, there will be another chance.
Here's Rodgers Naylor in Carefree, Arizona, last weekend.
If you’d like a larger dose of Rodgers Naylor here are some interweb sites where you look up his paintings.
You can also find his work at the following fine Art Galleries if you’re lucky enough to live close by.
Button Gallery, Douglas, MI
Susan Calloway Fine Arts, Washington, DC
The Rice Gallery Of Fine Art, Overland Park, KS
Now go out and make some ART!