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.
"Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way…" - Steppenwolf 1968.
I think I was a lot like most kids when I grew up. Maybe not. We're all similar and different all at the same time.
My first car was a 1964 Thunderbird. Then I fell in love with mustangs and had a string of them.
One of the things on my bucket list is to rebuild a classic 1960's or 1970's car like a Mustang, a Camaro, a Corvette or something of that ilk. Who knows that still might come true.
Most things I have really ever wanted have come true. I'm a very lucky guy.
I'm also lucky in another way. I have a friend who owns a classic 1960s era Jaguar. The kind that Inspector Morse drove in the television series of the same name. My friend belongs to the Jaguar Club and goes to Jaguar events and hangs out with Jaguar people. He knows everything there is to know about Jaguars and knows more about cars in general than I could ever fit into my head.
He also lets me ride around with him in his fabulous classic car. We turn heads and get raised eyebrows and small winks of appreciation. None of it has to do with us of course but all of it has to do with that very cool car.
When I'm riding in the car and we rocket down the highway I remember a little bit of what it was like to be in my teens and early twenties.
I'm really no longer born to be wild.
I probably never was. Now I'm a bit more born to be mild.
Nevertheless, good memories and good friends are great to share.
I created this drawing for him.
The Jaguar hood ornament is a very classic bit of auto history. Whenever I see one it makes me a little happier.
My drawing of the hood ornament is going to be a 20" x 24" poster on his wall.
People who keep at it day after day, week after week are inspiring. Their dedication and discipline is admirable.
What does it take to keep up that kind of commitment?
I'd really like to know.
Here are some things that tend to get me sidetracked.
1. Letting things slide. When my foggy, misty goal is far off, when the path is overgrown and difficult to hack through, it's easy to let things slide.
It's not important to do this or that today. There is always tomorrow. Tomorrow's good enough. I can get back to it then.
This is a big trap. If I let something slide once it's oh so frigging easy to let it slide again.
Then I need a swift kick in the pants to get going again.
2. Contemplating My Navel. I'm a pretty laid-back guy. I like contemplating things. Sometimes it works against me. Sometimes it will break my rhythm and get me out of the groove. If it gets out of control it'll get me off the path quicker bacon disappears at the breakfast table.
3. Breaking it into Parts. When things get complicated, I like to break things down into smaller parts. Then I find each part has another smaller part. It is so easy to slide into this morass of mental manipulation. Then I'm caught wading quagmire of indecision and procrastination.
4. Losing Interest. If something's been sliding for too long I can easily lose interest.
When I'm in the moment it's interesting and exciting. When I pursue a goal daily I'm more apt to stay interested. It's more likely to feed my enthusiasm.
When I lose interest in an idea it can lingers in the back of my mind stifling other things I want to do.
5. Finding a New Shiny Thing. When my mind is chugging along there are always new and exciting ideas popping up to distract me. Unfortunately, I don't have time to chase them all down. I have to make a decision. I have to choose. If something new comes in that means something has to go. It's all so difficult. I make it difficult on myself.
I read a great book by Simon Senik called "Start With Why". This book describes why some people are successful and can accomplish things over and over again and why some people cannot.
Senik says those that are successful start with a good foundation. They begin with why they're doing what they're doing.
That "why" has to be compelling enough to break through the automatic pilot.
This means I have to discover a compelling driver.
I am pretty good at doing things just because they're a challenge but only for a while. Sometimes I need more. Sometimes the challenge itself just isn't enough.
Well, I'll to try to discover that "why" as I continue to practice my drawing and painting. I need to discover why drawing and painting is so important to me. I do enjoy it.
But it has to be more than that.
Is it important because I get positive feedback or I have something to say?
Those might be true but I think it's a bit deeper than that. We each have something positive to give while our heart's pumps and our lungs suck air.
Giving is always better than receiving. At least that is what I've been taught.
I want to continue to do this because when I'm creating I'm contributing. When I express myself I'm making the world a better place. When I create I can possibly inspire someone else to create as well. That would make me feel like I've really accomplished something of value.
I want to be that kind of person.
I want to be the kind of person that helps; the person who can inspire.
I think I just want to be a good person.
I didn't realize it has been so long since I had posted anything on my blog. I was going to be so diligent and disciplined but that didn't seem to work out. I have done lots of stuff in the interim. Too much to go into here. The best laid plans and such.
I did learn something though. I do have to better keep my eye on the ball. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do many things but I should really make this a priority.
I was fortunate enough to go to Spain for ten days. I brought my sketch book and was able to eek out a few drawings over that period. I plan on doing more pen and wash type drawings. I like the effect
These were fun to do.
One day not so long ago I had the good fortune occupy a little spot on the northwest coast of Wales. The closest village is called Dyffryn Ardudwy.
I knew nothing about the language though I did learn a scant bit while I was there. The problem with trying to learn and speak Welsh is most people in Wales speak English far better than I could ever speak Welsh. It's just more convenient to speak in English. I was pleased however, to hear quite a few people speaking Welsh (Cymraeg) in Wales (Cymru).
I had to ask myself why the English term for Cymru is Wales. I thought the answer was interesting. Wales is derived from the Old English term for "foreigner or stranger" and Cymru is derived from the Welsh word meaning "fellow-countrymen". I guess it all has to do with perspective - ain't that a hoot.
Our little hideout in Wales was wonderful bolt-hole called Gegin-Faeldre on an 18th century working farm. When we arrived and met the owner she told us that their family was on their way to a sheep shearing contest for charity. There were lots of sheep and cattle on acres and acres or land. There are more sheep per acre there than I had ever seen in my life.
As it happens the left coast is efficient at some things and not so efficient at others. The wifi at our little cottage was all but non-existent. If you could catch a signal you'd be lucky if it could catch you back. It was a constant chase which made it difficult to connect to t'internet.
That lack of connectivity gave us a bit of a tech holiday. If your video entertainment is normally provided by Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon Prime, you might, as we did, have to get used to a terrestrial television for a little while. We were not so much weened off the internet as cut off cold turkey.
We had wonderful walks and saw some amazing things like a beach that must have been 10 miles long with hardly a soul to be seen, took a ride to the top of Snowdon Mountain on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, descended into the dark caverns of an old slate mine, and visited a small place called Portmeirion. The sights were amazing. It was like having your very own little piece of heaven (if anyone really knows what that looks like).
For the most part, we had beautiful weather. However, one day we experienced what is arguably what Wales does best. Wales is very efficient at combining of hydrogen and oxygen . Two from column A and one from column B. This sometimes manifests itself in gorgeous sunsets, beautiful big pillowy clouds, a chill in the air and a great reason to hold up in by a dry and comfortable fire. This day the rain decided to set in and make itself at home. Long walks in the rain do not make me happy so we found something better to do.
Only a 10 mile ride from Harlech, we hopped in the car and careened down the road. to visit an old castle. Some roads in Wales, much like the rest of this island Kingdom lack sufficient girth to carry two cars operating in opposite directions. The verges are blocked by stone walls or precipitous drops. Maximum attention needs to be employed at all times. You never know when a car will come speeding (and I really mean speeding) around a corner and presuming the right of way. It's often a gut twisting drive that's made more harrowing when the passenger yells something like "Watch It!" or "Look Out!" or "Oh My God That Was Close" or my personal favorite - "Aaaaaaaaaghhhhhh". A scream that would make "The Scream Queen" - Jamie Lee Curtis proud (Check out the original Halloween movie) .
Once we navigated ourselves up a steep narrow road we found a place to park and walked to the Castle. We walked all over the castle's parapets and climbed a very narrow staircase to the top of one of the towers. The view was great you could see Barmouth to Snowdon Mountain. The castle was built in the 13th century by Edward I. From this vantage you could see attackers coming from far and wide. The ruin is not as big as the Tower of London but it does have, I believe, a much better view. Instead of cars, buses, aircraft, the city skyline and ubiquitous cranes and construction equipment. I imagine you can measure the economic strength of London by the number of cranes on the skyline.
All that rambling is to say that I really liked that castle and Wales delivered big time in natural beauty, ancient and near-ancient ruins, and better weather than we could have hoped for. If you have a chance I would recommend that piece of North Wales for great walks, interesting sights, and a really chilled out atmosphere.
In remembrance of our trip I drew this little pic of the castle. I wish you all the very best.
Last September I went to my 40th year high school reunion. It was fabulous because I got to spent some time with a great childhood friend. I loved the time I spent with him and his family over those few days. It was really great to connect again.
One day a while back Rick's better half decided the family would draw hearts together. As I recall everyone in the family had to draw a heart. All of those hearts were framed and put on the wall in the TV room/lounge. I thought it was a great idea.
I wanted to make a contribution to their wall.
Rick: No worries you don't actually have to put it up on the wall..; -)
We don't speak often and I see you even less but there is rarely a day you do not cross my mind. I always wish you the best my friend.
London is a great city with classic architecture. It doesn't matter how many times I go into the city i still have the same reaction. I stand there slack-jawed looking at the buildings and bridges and people. There is tons to do.
One of my favorite buildings in London is St Pancras Station. Opened in 1868 it is a sight to behold. It is the first thing you see when you get off the train at neighboring Kings Cross Station. Kings Cross has been newly remodeled and is a bit impressive itself. However, for me, St Pancras is gorgeous.
When I come into London, seeing St Pancras against the London sky means I've landed. I am in London. It is by no means the only cool thing to see in London but it is something you shouldn't miss if you're ever in town.
Here's my minimalist representation of the station.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - Couldn't have said it better.
We should remember these things. I am very happy to celebrate Independence Day today.
... "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
How many of us are willing to pledge our lives our fortunes and sacred honor. These guys were giving up everything they knew to make something new - something better. What are we willing to sacrifice to make things better for our community, our state or our country?
Today I will gnaw on that question and try to find ways to make things better for now and into the future. We should all think about how we can make things better.
We celebrate these kinds of things so that we remember. Let's remember that we owe it to generations to come to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic. This should not just be a military or political oath (which it is) but it should be the mantra by which we live our days.
Everybody has personal stuff going on. But remember what made this country what it is. People willing to give it all up for an idea that would make things better for everybody.