Here's a little chaotic painting I did a while back.
I have some strange miswiring in my brain that drives me completely bonkers. I can't leave the house in one shot. More often than not, I forget some things along the way.
I don't try to forget stuff it just happens. I'm not sure if it's a function of getting older or if it's just something inherently wrong with the way my brain works.
Yesterday, I had an appointment at the dentist. I was determined to get there on time.
Sometimes, the more I want to be on time, the more my plans to fall apart. The universe introduces a little more chaos in my life than might usually be there. The more I want it to get into order; the more anarchy rules the roost.
I'm sure the second law of thermodynamics plays a critical role in my life (the second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases - things go from order to disorder).
I was leaving the house yesterday. I was all ready to go. I got into the garage, almost to the car, and realized I'd forgot my sunglasses. It was a brightish day, so I stopped on the steps to be sure I wanted them. I thought, "Of course you need your sunglasses, you silly boy, go back and get 'em."
I went back and got my sunglasses. Mission accomplished.
Heading back out to the car, I sat in the driver's seat, and as I was getting ready to start the car I thought, "Just in case you get held up in the waiting room shouldn't you have your earbuds so you can listen to music or a podcast or something (rather than to despair, drills, and drooling) to pass the time waiting on the dentist (my buddy Super-Dan the Dentist)."
I went back in to get my earbuds. Mission accomplished.
Backing out of the driveway, brought another thought, "Don't you think you'd like to have your phone; since you have your headset, you may as well bring your phone." You see, when I went in to get my sunglasses, I put my phone down to look for them. So I had the headset and glasses, no phone.
I went back in to get my phone. Mission Accomplished.
I thought I'd remembered everything when I set off the first time. I thought I had my shit together, but just like every time I try to leave the house, something happens, I'll think, "Hey, I should go in and get a drink. It's going to be a longish drive." or, "wouldn't it be nice if you actually brought your wallet."
I've even tried using a checklist; albeit a mental checklist.
I am leaving the house.
Okay - make sure you have: Wallet, Keys, Passport, Money, Glasses.
Perhaps I need to come up with mnemonic like, "Will Mother Pass My Glass Kettle." or some other strange but similar thing.
Part of the problem is I am usually rushing, and rushing can cause a variety of vexing situations. I always think I have more time than I do. I still think I can get that one more thing done before rushing out the door.
I'm convinced I'll do better the next time. I'm confident I'll give myself more time, but it never happens.
Like when we were on holiday in Spain. It was a lovely little rental in The Alpujarra. The owner of the property said, "when you leave, leave the keys inside and when you close the door it will lock. My housekeeper has a key, and she will be by later to clean the house."
We were in a little bit of a rush because we wanted to stop on the coast to watch the ocean a little before heading to the airport.
Being the obedient tenants that we are, we left the key in the house and closed the door as instructed. As we were walking up to the car, it dawned on me; the car keys were also inside the house. My heart sunk and my shoulders dropped. I had to break the news to Andrea.
Slowly she turned. Step by step, inch by inch, I could see the disappointment growing. "God, Scott, not again!"
It's become an oh so familiar mantra, Andrea says, "No clean getaway again eh?" with that little disappointed sigh.
The landlord was thirty minutes away. There was no way for him to get to the house in time. Andrea dialed his number. I couldn't talk to the guy. He was a German who spoke more Spanish than he did English. I have difficulty with English at the best of the times. It's much better that Andrea called.
After a bit of hemming and hawing, she stared at the ground for several seconds. I don't know if she wanted me to have a heart attack or not. After a while, she lifted her head and said, "The cleaner only lives around the corner; she'll be here in just a couple of minutes."
Then, the "Scott ... we have to start keeping tabs on each other. We can't just let things keep happening to us!"
I know she meant me but it was very nice of her to include herself.
It's a cross I have to carry. I hope it improves over time but I don't think so. I just hope I can continue to bear the slings and arrows that come my way. It's liable to only get worse with age. I'll try to ease into it, make my peace with it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I ran across this week's artist in Montreal this weekend at the Gallery Le Luxart. The gallery highlights the work of about thirty Québecois and Canadian professional artists. I found most of the art there engaging.
One artist that stood out to me was Hugo Landry. Hugo lives and works in Quebec City and uses a palette knife/spatula to create his paintings. They are colorful, and I could stare at some of them for hours.
I don't often go for completely abstract works, but the colors and rhythm of his paintings just made me feel good. His works are in your face saturated with color that brings you to life.
I think it's important to take in art that stretches your imagination. For me, Hugo's art accomplishes that mission. It is a little ray of sunshine that can brighten your day.
If you'd like to have your day brightened by this Quebec artist you can visit him at any one of these galleries or internet venues.
Le Luxart, Montreal
Gallery Perreault, Quebec
This is a pointillist drawing I did of St Ives a while back. I haven't done much drawing this week.
I'm a bit preoccupied with the weekend coming up.
We're going to a family gathering in memory of my dad this weekend. I've been consternating over what to say.
I could talk about the things I learned from him. I could talk about the things that he did. I could talk about the kind of man he was. But all I know is what he was to me.
To me, he was upbeat and encouraging. He was firm but always fair and most of all, he was there. No matter what happening I knew I could count on him.
He didn't wear his heart on his sleeve. He didn't talk about himself, although he did have some pretty funny stories about this and that.
I didn't find out until about a couple of years ago he was wounded in the Korean War. I think it was that proverbial shrapnel in the backside story. I never looked to make sure.
Everybody knows he loved to play golf. I'm sure his love bordered on obsession and he passed a bit of that love of the game on to us. Dad even figured out how to use golf as a babysitter. One summer, more than once, when Neale and I were teenagers, he'd drop us off at the Palo Alto golf course in the morning and pick us up there on the way home from work.
We had such good times playing catch in the schoolyard behind our house and not such fun times getting up at five o'clock in the morning for hockey practice. Dad was deeply involved in what we did. He was a coach and encourager who set an example to follow.
After dad passed away and we got to know many of the people in his Arizona neighborhood, every one of them readily said what a great guy he was. One day, John and Gayle came by from next door; they love to tell stories about dad. They said, "John and Peggy were the best neighbors we've ever had."
One last thing.
When we were little, dad sometimes let us stay up to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. I loved the little mouse puppet called Topo Gigio. At the end of his spot on the show, Topo would sidle up to Ed and say, "Eddie, Keesa me Goo'night!" Later, when it was time for bed, dad would come to tuck us in and imitate Topo, "Keesa me Goo'night!" We'd giggle, get our kiss, and settle in for the night. Dad, every time I came to see you, you had a smile on your face and an encouraging word. I'll always remember how your face lit up when I walked in the door.
You gave me more than I can ever say. I'll always love you.
Goodnight Dad, sleep tight.
I Keesa you Goo'night!
I wish you peace.
I occasionally get updates from something called "Informed Collector." They hold a competition called The Bold Brush Painting Competition. This week I was turned on to a Chinese artist born in 1959 in Jilin Province, called Fengshi Jin. He's exhibited all over the world.
The painting of Keith Richards below has beautiful free-flowing strokes; he seems to capture the essence and all the hard years put on the septuagenarian rocker.
I was captivated by his style. It is very raw and very alla prima which means at first attempt. Each stroke he puts down, he puts down with confidence, leaves it there, and moves on. I'm captivated by this style.
I love the result. For those of us who like to watch paint dry, you can visit Fengshi Jin's YouTube channel where you can watch him paint. Personally, I love it.
If you're interested in checking out more of his work you can visit him at his website or on YouTube. If you're feeling up to it, you can visit his page on Daily Paintworks.
I hope you take a chance to look at his work and I hope you get out this week and make your OWN art.
I've wondered what I was going to write about all week.
We finished our island adventure, and that's all I've been able to think about all week.
All I've been able to think about was what was behind me. I haven't been thinking about is what's ahead.
That's what it must be like for that cowpoke ridin' off into the sunset.
You know, where the good guy's killed the bad guy, everybody loves him, he tips his hat to the townsfolk, kisses the girl he'll never have, points his trusty steed into the setting sun and rides off.
What does that mean?
Is the story over?
Is his life over?
Are the good times all gone?
All it means is that bronco bustin', gun-slinging, whiskey-soaked badass is at the end of one adventure and fixin' to take on another. It may be the end of the movie. It may even be the end of that particular story, but it's not the end of life.
"The Island" was an adventure. There were good times and not so good times.
There are lots of things I loved about living on an island:
There were lots of things I won't miss:
It was a marvelous adventure, but now it's time to move on.
If you read here, you'll always be up on the next adventure. I won't be sitting on the couch watching life rocket past.
I'll be out there living it and maybe even telling you about it.
I look forward to continuing to see you every week. There's lots more to come.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Valérie Butters is a Canadian artist who is from Ottawa, Ontario and studied at the Ottawa School of Art graduating in 2005. She currently lives and works in Pemberton, British Columbia.
Her paintings are referred to as -
"Fearlessly feminine" (British Vogue) and "Interestingly gaudy and exuberantly messy" (Montreal Gazette).
I see a lot of freedom in her paintings. Her art has freedom in practice that I would like to adopt in my work. I love the feel of it.
She sometimes paints with the brush at the end of a bamboo pole to help her gain the freedom and expression she wants to achieve.
I enjoy watching the short videos she posts on Instagram. You can also find her at these excellent internet venues.
Silk Art Gallery
There's a great interview with Valérie at Create Magazine .
Life is supposed to be easy, isn't it? In reality, what happens is often completely the opposite of easy. And that makes all the difference.
Last weekend was going to be fantastic. We went over to St John on Saturday to get our island retail and chill fix. I visited the Bajo El Sol Art Gallery, bought a shirt at another shop at Mongoose Junction, then headed to the Sun Dog Cafe for a couple of beers and some lunch.
We polished off a pain killer or two, had a bit of lunch/dinner, and walked on down to Cruz Bay to watch the water pass drift by with the passing hours.
A great start.
Sunday, we planned another lazy day. That's what Sundays are for, aren't they? They are for me.
After an expected slow, easy start, we headed down the bumpy road in our jalopy for a bit of beach time. We love to walk on Magens Bay Beach. It's somewhere between about three-quarters and seven-eights of a mile long. You can stroll up and down the beach, watch people playing in the water, smell the grills, feel the thrills, and generally "smooth' off dem edges."
I usually make fun of Andrea for wearing her flip-flops walking on what has to be some of the softest sand in the world. She has a good reason though. A few years ago a bee got in the way of her foot and the dreamy soft sand and deposited its stinger in her foot. It morphed smiling, happy Andrea into frowning, grumpy Andrea in less than a second.
This particular Sunday, I noticed and commented that she decided to go barefoot for the first time in a very long time.
We were well into our second length on the beach. Andrea was keeping a proper lookout for bees, and I said I would keep an eye peeled too. We wouldn't want grumpy Andrea to show up again. It was such a beautiful day.
Things change so quickly.
I guess I was paying too much attention to the reggae music, or the sun on the water, or, maybe, I was just bouncing around in my own head. Our little walk was interrupted when I felt like I stepped on a piece of glass, or a needle, or something else sharp. We often find small chunks of this or that on the beach. We do our duty to keep the beach clean, but apparently, some people aren't as diligent.
This time it wasn't a misplaced pop-top, chard of glass, or sharp piece of coral. What I stepped on, was one a pesky little black and yellow buzzer. Those little beggars hurt. My only consolation was watching it writhe on the ground, unable to sting anybody else.
I managed to get the stinger out and hobbled down the beach. I'm pretty lucky. I'm not allergic to bees, and the sting wasn't all that bad. There was no swelling, and the pain went away relatively quickly. Before too long, I was skipping down the beach like a teenager. Well, perhaps not skipping but at least I was walking without a limp.
I kept my eye peeled as we walked up and down the beach four times and I did not see another bee in the sand. According to my Fitbit, I took 6,338 barefoot steps on Magens Bay, and I did not see one other bee on the ground. The one I stepped on just happened to be the only bee I saw on the beach that day and that unfortunate soul ended up under my foot.
I guess I just bee-lucky.
Having recovered quite well from the great bee-tastrophy, we continued our pleasant Sunday stroll. I waited three and a half miles for my post-walk relaxation libation. So, I was a bit giddy when we stopped at the beach bar for a couple of painkillers before meandering down the beach to set up shop with our chairs, cooler, snacks, limes, rum-n-mixers.
I was sauntering down the beach, painkiller in hand, I must have had my head down. I was probably looking for bees.
Out of nowhere, a football (American football not English football) ended up connecting with my left eye socket from about twenty or thirty yards away. SMACK!
The first thing I felt was a rocketing pain that reached from my left eye socket to the back right quadrant of my head. The synapses must have had a good jostle because the next thing I felt was a complete numbness starting at my knees and traveling back up my spine. The earth started spinning, and my legs nowhere to be found. I collapsed like 245 pounds of slightly set jello into, what turned out to be, a lump on not so soft sand.
When everything stopped spinning, and I was able to get off of that ride, people were gathering around my sprawled beach body. My sunglasses were askew and falling off my head. The only thing left, of my once near full painkiller were little cubelets of ice next to my phone in the sand dangerously close to the next wave coming in.
The guy who threw the football ran up and was very apologetic. He first asked if I was okay - which I thought I was. But the cobwebs must have still been clouding my thoughts because when he asked if he could buy me another drink, I can only plead that I had a concussion on this one, I said, "No, I'm alright." I must not have been very alright. Turn down a free drink! How sad is that! I must have been out of my head delirious!!!!
As it turns out, that was the last physical assault on my body for the day. God had stopped having fun at my expense. We sat down and watched a magnificent sunset from an idyllic spot on a beautiful beach.
Just in case you thought I'd escaped the insult after my day of injury, when we got home and sat down to relax and watch a movie, the power cut out, and we decided it was time to call it a day.
Fast forward several days to Tuesday, I woke up and couldn't move my head. My skull seemed to have situated itself on the top of a very painful stick. My neck was stiff, and I couldn't turn to the right or the left. I was just short of going to the pharmacy and buying a neck brace.
Luckily, I stockpile painkillers (of the pharmaceutical type this time). Okay - Ibuprophen, Tylenol/Paracetamol, and Voltarol. Although I wish I had had a bit stronger stuff, in the end, it wasn't necessary.
Wednesday, stiff neck and all, we went for a nice walk with Marty, Girly, and Bob. I really got attached to Marty when he was found on Martin Luther Kings Jr.'s birthday (thus the name) several years ago. Now that we're leaving the island, I'll miss that ole fella. He's such a sweet soul. Girly is another foundling of the canine variety and an excellent walker, as long as you don't mind a bit of tugging. Bob, is not a dog, but sometimes, just sometimes, we do catch him barking at the moon. - just kidding.
That evening, God must have been bored because he showed up and started poking again in the form of a set of stairs, a cactus, and a clumsy oaf (me). Andrea was walking up the stairs in front of me from The Shoreline Restaurant when I tripped over one of the steps. I claim that the earth jumped up just enough to tip me off balance.
Poor Andrea. Her backside ended up snuggling up to a very prickly cactus. I tried to help, so she didn't fall entirely, but as it turned out I just pushed her more into the weeds.
When the dust settled, her shorts were full of hundreds of tiny cactus spines. It was so irritating, the poor woman had to remove her shorts and travel home from the restaurant in her knickers.
Yes, you're right, that did not make me her favorite person that night. We even had to stop for gas at which point she put my hat in her lap to disguise her lack of clothing.
I know the great cactus fall was all my fault. I can only plead clumsiness in my part. As Andrea says, "Scott, you don't tread lightly on this earth." I guess she's right.
So, my friends, this week has shall we say, been eventful.
As I lick my wounds and pack for our final departure from St Thomas, I wish you happiness, health, and good fortune. But most of all, I wish you peace.
This week I bring you, Layne Johnson.
I first spotted this talented creator from Texas on Instagram. He's quite a prolific Instagrammer.
He believes art isn't something he "does" it's who he is. I like that.
He says on his website, "I want my art to be a break from all the chaos and negativity."
Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly. We all need a respite from the vitriol that is so prevalent today. That's part of the reason I have this website.
Though Layne produces some great portraiture, I get the feeling his heart is really with the landscape, and it shows. He wants to take his medium and transport you to a beautiful place, and for me, he does.
His cloud paintings are phenomenal. His paintings give you a real sense of their overwhelming size and grandeur on the landscape.
Clouds are pretty much made from the same stuff, but they can be dramatically different. Some are wispy as a breath of air, and some have such heft you wonder how they stay aloft.
Clouds are constantly evolving. If you watch them long enough, you can see them changing before your eyes. They grow, evaporate, shade you from the sun, and pour down rain. They can morph from one shape to another before you know it.
I love how different parts of the cloud reflect and filter light differently. Layne captures the whole spectrum of color from nature on his canvas.
He is, like many artists, a teacher. It's no good to just hold on to your talents or techniques. It's much better to spread the wealth around. If you want to learn his techniques and make beautiful art as well, you can order his online course or attend one of his in-person workshops.
But, don't take my word for it. Check out Layne Johnson's work for yourself. Here's where you can find him on the interweb. I'm sure he would appreciate a visit and a like or two on social media.
Facebook Instagram Twitter Website
No go out and make some art!
I did this painting of Latitude 18 when it was up and running. Latitude was our local hangout when we lived in Red Hook, and it was a hopping place back then with live music every night.
I spent some time today gazing listlessly out the window. I was taking in the fabulous colors and watching people frolicking in the bay.
Every once in a while I'm overwhelmed with the beauty of the ocean around here. The waters run from deep blue to the most tantalizing turquoise and aquamarine. When the sun shines, and the breezes blow off the sea, it's bright, beautiful, and most of the time it's serenely peaceful.
Sure, there is the occasional hiccup, but I don't mind most of the time. Most of the time, I've been pretty content and grateful to be here.
As we're planning to leave the island in a couple of weeks, I'm getting a bit panicky because I want to redo some of my favorite things before we go.
We want to visit St John and our favorite little haunt there like The Sun Dog Cafe, where lots of people gather to tip a few and have some laughs. I want to have a Pain Killer at the Beach Bar on Cruz Bay. I've heard its open for business now, so we've got to check it out.
It's time for one last round of our favorite bays and beaches.
We want to dip our toes in Honeymoon Bay on Water Island and perhaps relax to the smooth vibes of a local band.
We can't leave out Hull Bay, Magens Bay, Lindquist Beach, and I can't forget Sunset Beach.
I'm looking forward to visiting some of the many restaurants we've come to love: The Coconut Cove at the Ritz, The Twisted Cork in Frenchtown, Gladys' Restaurant in Charlotte Amalie, and Fresh Bistro at Yacht Haven Grande.
Unfortunately, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devoured a couple of our favorite haunts.
We've had to bid a fond farewell to Latitude 18 (painting above) on Vessup Beach and Epernay in Frenchtown. They have shuttered their doors permanently or quasi-permanently because of storm damage.
Mahogany Run, a once picturesque golf course, was ruined by the hurricane. What was once a beautifully maintained track of land is now, well, not. Trees grow out of the bunkers and bushes are sprouting out of the greens.
Yes, it's time to say goodbye to all our favorite places. On April 30th we're off on new adventures.
I can't wait to see what's next.
I'll be writing my last post from St Thomas for quite some time next week. I hope I'm able to report success on our final days in paradise.
Until next week, I wish you peace!
Not many of the artists I recommend in this newsletter come with a warning.
David Goodsell is a scientist. He's a "structural biologist." He studies the structures of cells and in particular, viruses. From his studies of these cellular structures, he creates his artwork.
He makes up the colors in his painting because the proteins he's represents have no real color. So he makes up the colors to help distinguish between the different functions each of the proteins have.
I think the representations are fantastic.
The reason I think Goodsell should come with a warning is not that he represents things like HIV, the Zika Virus, and other extremely hazardous cells in his paintings. It's because the subject he's representing makes you want to dig. You can lose yourself for hours in his work.
His artwork makes some very complex functions a little more understandable and accessible.
If you want to find David on the internet, you can find him at Molecular Art | Molecular Science. You'll find out all about him there.
Now go out and make some art!
I just swooped back into St Thomas. Carnival parade is coming up in the next couple of weeks. So I thought I would include this painting from Carnival. I noticed a lady watching the parade and festivities from her balcony. I thought it would be nice to include the painting I did at that time here. It will be our last Carnival this year. I'm looking forward to it.
You’ve probably wondered if the dog ate my homework this week. I’m afraid to say the dog did not eat my homework, but it’s been a hectic week. It started with scrambling to get the house in Phoenix closed down, flying to Philadelphia, and closing out my term on the board of AIIP.
AIIP is the Association of Independent Information Professionals and this last week was the association’s annual conference. We’re folks who have small or medium-sized businesses in the information industry.
I love going to the conference. It’s a place to learn about new things and to network with people who actually “get it.”
It’s dangerous for me to try to explain what I do to put rice, beans, and rum on the table. So I don’t try to explain it very often.
I’m in big trouble as soon as a few details spill from my inner geek. The person I'm talking to starts developing an impenetrable haze over their eyes. Their eyes look like my bathroom mirrors after a long hot shower.
Everybody reacts a bit differently, I might see their eyelids start to flutter (kinda like a lovestruck teenager or maybe me when I’m scrolling through cute little puppy pics on Pinterest).
I try to shut up I get to the point where their breathing gets noticeably shallow and slightly erratic.
Eventually, their eyeballs begin to roll like a one-armed bandit. I think they lodge somewhere north of the eyebrows and perhaps even close to the back of their head.
The next thing you know their lips are trembling, they’re heading toward the bar, and I’m in danger of losing a potential friend.
So I don’t talk about my work too much. It’s tough to get your life work into a 30-second statement. But that’s what we do. Everybody at the conference takes a turn introducing themselves and telling everyone what they do at the beginning of the meeting. It's a great way to get to know the people at the conference. I love putting a name to a face and listening to how my the members describe their business.
Lots of folks say that speaking in front of a group is one of the most stressful things they have ever done. It doesn't bother me too much, except at last year's conference in Minneapolis.
I was standing in front of the audience waiting for my turn to talk. I took a couple of deep breaths, and I was almost ready to go. Then I found my zipper was wide open.
Yes, the zipper on my trousers. And it wasn't slightly open; it was all the way down.
I was about third in line. There were several options here.
1. Just zip up my trousers in front of the audience. Sometimes admitting your mistake and fixing it is the best route but I wanted another way.
2. I could politely excuse myself and walk out of the room - fix things and walk back in. That was probably the best way to do it. But stepping out of line would alert the crowd that there was something wrong. I didn't do that either.
I gave my schpiel and confidently walked back to the relative anonymity of the crowd where I sat down, did up my zipper, and breathed a sigh of relief.
My colleague at AIIP, Mark Goldstein, takes pictures of everybody presenting and sends them out to the membership, I scrolled through the photos to see if there was one with me during the presentation.
Last year all I asked him was, "Please take at least one photo of me where it might look like I know what I'm doing."
I think this photo was it. But this is the photo where my zipper was down. I guess I just exuded so much confidence that nobody noticed.
I'm happy to say that, without a doubt, I carried it off like a pro. I was the only one sweating it.
This is the photo of that moment.
The good news is, it was unnoticeable, and I've got proof. I'm sure glad things worked out the way they did.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I can't believe I've not included David Hockney before this. Did you know we share a birthday? He was celebrating his 21st birthday when I was born. No wonder he's such a cool dude.
A few years ago I was watching a BBC program highlighting the work of David Hockney. The BBC Program called The Art Of Seeing.
Andrew Marr was the host of the show. Andrew starts the program looking over the North Sea sketching the sunrise on his iPad. In the introduction, he said David Hockney, at the time in his 70s, did a sketch on his iPad every morning and sent it to his friends. That's such a great idea. Apparently, at the time, Hockey got up at 5 am every morning to do these little sketches and send them to his friends.
When I first saw this program, I thought of starting my blog and doing a sketch a day and posting it to my blog. I kept it up for a couple of months. It was exhausting.
That kind of work ethic is impressive in my book, and if you keep a book, I'm sure it would be impressive in yours as well.
He's from Yorkshire but lived a lot of his life in New York and California. He was an acquaintance of Andy Warhol's crew and hung out for a while with them too. Most of his time was spent in Southern California.
I love that he's 81 years old and is still making stuff and using new technologies. He says painters are workers. You can't create unless you work and he says he works every day.
Hockney's paintings sell for prices in the millions. Last November, one of his paintings sold for $90 million. At the time it is the most expensive work of a living artist sold at auction. It broke the previous record of $58 million set in 2013.
If you want to learn more about that painting and the sale you can visit the Christies Website.
You should check him out. Especially the interviews with him on YouTube. He's just an easy going relaxed kind of a person, comfortable in his skin. I like that kind of person.
You can learn more about him on Wikipedia and at the David Hockey Foundation Website.
Today I'm sharing a colorful painting I did recently. I may have shared this one before, but I love its vivid colors. And just like week's artist of the week, I love colors.
I'm also a bit fascinated with beta fish. The color, their enigmatic look, and flowing fins are mysterious and mesmerizing. What, you say, they're only fish.
I'm intrigued by new and unusual things. I'm even a bit adventurous sometimes. When I was in college, I kept a couple of pet snakes and some other reptiles because I was somewhat skittish around them and I didn't want to be. I got used to it though I'm still not a fan.
When it comes to new technology, I'm not so adventurous. I've never been an early adopter. You won't find me standing in line to buy the latest gadget. I might admire it from afar until it's proven itself, but I'm not sticking my neck in that door until then. I wouldn't say I'm an early adopter.
I find it hilarious that people who look like they can't afford dinner tomorrow will stand in line and go into debt to buy the next Apple iPhone 36 Delta Force Satellite Handheld or the Samsung SkyMaster Communicator 8600 Splash with the non-flammable battery upgrade.
I hear those new "phones" can anticipate your every need. They'll start and unlock your car, or turn the lights on at home if you're afraid of the dark. You can have them order you dinner if you're too lazy to dial, buy you a drink when you need one most, or cut you off and call an Uber/Lyft when you've had too much.
With more functionality comes more complication. Phone contracts are unintelligible. I find them to be more like a deal with the Devil or the Corleone Family Olive Oil Company. I think they read something like:
"I promise to pay through the nose until my nose runs dry. If I'm no longer able to pay through my nose, I'll donate an arm, a leg, or even a kidney to satisfy my need to have the next best gadget.
If I run out of body parts, my children will be offered up as compensation.
Should I be unable to conceive or obtain a firstborn child, I will submit to a visit from a large bald man whose thoughts barely chug along one syllable at a time, sporting iron knuckles that drag on the ground leaving a trail of fireworks reminiscent of New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July.
If all collection methods fail you will self-destruct, your soul will be delivered directly to hell; you will not pass purgatory, you will not collect another phone.
We will obtain the gadget by any means possible, ship it back to the manufacturer, and ensure the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
In return, you will receive something that may not have been tested or approved. We don't even know if it will cause a deathly illness or nervous compulsion.
We do not stand by any of the apps that you use because they don't belong to us, nor do we guarantee the gadget will work a week from now unless you buy the near-obligatory service policy and insurance.
You may not return the gadget until we determine that you need an upgrade. At such time we'll stop remotely updating your software so it will become practically unusable. At that time you will be forced to return to the store, so we tempt you with new shiny flashy things."
I'm not a complete dinosaur though. I think I'm only a few versions of the iPhone behind. I've had it for hmmm - well - long enough that I don't have to pay for the phone itself anymore.
I have friends who still have their flip phones and are kind of proud of it. I can't blame them. Why change something when it works for you.
As for me, I bought my current phone when they stopped updating my iPhone 4. This phone was less than three years old, and the battery was giving me fits.
I called up the Apple Store, and a sharp young man ran through some diagnostic tests with me. He found that my battery was getting close to kaput. It had finally tipped over the edge and was past the point of no return. I had a few choices though.
1. I could buy a new phone.
I went online to see how much a new phone was. I gagged and passed out. When I came to, I remembered when you could go into Radio Shack and get a pretty cool landline for less than $15. Those were the days.
2. I could keep my phone plugged in all the time.
This option defeats the purpose of having a "mobile" phone. I'd be right back to the landline scenario. I might as well call up Ma Bell and have them wire my house again. Benefit: I could use the 15 dollar phone I still have stored in the garage — phone bill, negligible.
3. Go incommunicado.
It's not impossible. I could do it. I've been phoneless before. I could rid myself of all of the iPhonalia (iPhanalia: paraphernalia tied to the upkeep and proper care of an iDevice). I don't need a phone. Most of the calls I receive, want me to buy something I don't want and can't afford with money I don't have.
4. Get a new battery.
I opted for this one because, like a lot of folks, I've got used to the cool functions on my phone. Yeah, I'm a sucker. That, and I didn't want to mothball a phone I paid for over time and through the nose for.
So, I went down to see the folks at my local Apple store. My Lord, these kids were barely out of high school. These cherubs were all happy and perky and oh so willing to help. I'd say they were frustratingly and irritatingly ready, and able to assist.
The kids were, however, in fact, handy, and suggested I walk across the street to have a beer while they worked their magic — not a lousy waiting room. The place was called "Pies & Ales." What's not to like?
A half hour later, Presto-Chango new battery. It wasn't over the top expensive. I spent 49 bucks instead of a grand, and my phone ended up being just as perky as the Apple Junior Mafia with their trendy tattoos, and their persistently patronizing smiles.
I left with a smile though. My phone worked again. Maybe it was the beer. It could have just been gas.
I hope when you call, I'll be ready to pick up, and my phone will be serviceable, all charged up, and ready to use. I'll be so happy to hear your voice.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I ran across David Behrens on a program called "Colour In Your Life." Color in Your Life originated in Australia and was conceived by Graeme Stevenson who is an artist in his own right.
David was one of the first people I saw on that show, and his style really intrigued me. It's an expressive style with bright, bold colors set against a black background. That doesn't stop him though. Looks like he'll paint on just about anything. He is very creative.
He says he feels an affinity with ancient symbols and uses real and made up symbols in his works of art. The works are abstract but also representational and expressive. I love the detail and the systematic nature in the creation of his art. He has created his own style.
His works are collected by people all over the world from Australia, the UK, Asia, and the United States.
The Colour In Your Life program on YouTube features Behrens and his art. I think you might find it interesting; I did.
His work is unique, and I love the bright colors and symbols he uses. He says that the process he uses is intuitive and just flows while he is creating his paintings. I like the way things flow with him.
Whatever the process, I love the results he gets.
If you want, you can visit him on any of his interweb venues.
I've been thinking about St Thomas today, so I thought I would include a little painting of the St Thomas Yacht Club today.
I like St Thomas, though you need to have a reasonably high level of discipline and perseverance to live on a tropical island. Everyday things on the island are just a little bit more difficult.
You can't let things get away from you. Eternal vigilance pays off.
And, every once in a while getting away is just the medicine the doctor ordered.
God, is it great to get away.
I get "State Side," as opposed to "The Territory," and everything is different. For one, when you get a drink in a bar, the glass is probably not half full of alcohol before they start pouring the mixer. There's a term for that on St Thomas. It's called a Stateside Pour. Yup, It's a thing. I think the reason is, mixers are more expensive than the booze there. So you've got to keep an eye on your liver.
When I make it back to the mainland, I experience a bit of culture shock. Here are a few signs I've been on the island a bit too long.
1. Road Side Confusion
Do you ever get confused what about what side of the road to drive on; I hope not. You should have that down pat, but traveling back and forth from St Thomas can throw me for a bit of a loop. On the island, you drive on the left, and the steering wheel is on the left side. It's not so bad once you get used to it, but your first couple of excursions in the car can force you to engage a few dormant brain cells. It's not insurmountable, but sometimes it gives you a little bit of an uneasy feeling pulling out of a parking lot. At least, in England, the steering wheel position is commensurate with the side of the road you travel on.
2. Wild Eyed Wonderment
As I wander through the aisles of the supermarket, I look like I've just come from the third world. Everything is so bright and shiny and so new and fresh. The shelves aren't half empty because some container ship didn't come in this week. In the island some days the market will have the bread you want and some days it won't. The very next thing I notice is a gallon of milk costs a ton less than eight dollars, a half pound of butter doesn't need a second mortgage, and if I can spot a nice loaf of bread and it can be scooped up for less than $10.00, I'm liable to swoon.
3. Friendly Faces
Stateside I smile all the time at bank tellers, supermarket cashiers, and other service people. The US is a service oriented country, and we do it well. If you've ever complained about customer service here on the mainland, stop right now. Service is so much better here. I would forgive you for qualifying the Continental United States as a different planet.
The worst service in Arizona is oodles better than average service on St Thomas.
There are some places on St. Thomas where the service is exceptional, but exceptional is indeed the exception, not the rule. At most places, you can hardly get the cashier to pay attention to their job if you can pry them away from their cell phones.
4. Trips Are Easy Man
Going to the store in Arizona or Ohio is as easy as falling off a log. I'll gladly go at the drop of a hat. I'll even volunteer with a smile as big as a kid with a humungous bowl of ice cream.
We plan every shopping trip on St Thomas like a military operation. We have to prepare to go to the right store for bread. Then, the butter is less expensive at that store. The fruit is better at the Fruit Bowl but sometimes more expensive. Do we have to get gas, because the station at Coki is thirty cents cheaper per gallon than the one in town? Can I stand to go to Pueblo this week or will Plaza Extra fill me with less angst, gloom, despair, agony, or depression? Which Drug Store (Chemist) will have what I need for my prescriptions? Do we need to pick up the mail? Is the mail center open at this time?
Friends are important. The people you know and you're comfortable around are few and far between. We've met a lot of tourists, and we used to try to get to know people, but they're here one day and gone the next. Building lasting relationships on the island is difficult. I did start to get to know some folks at the golf course, but Irma and Maria were jealous and put an end to that, and the golf course is not only closed and unkempt but up for sale. Got $42 million to invest?
I like being where my friends are. I guess that's the way with most people. I know it's like that with me.
I think this year is our last on St Thomas. Though I have enjoyed the experience, I'm ready to call it quits. We committed to living on the island for five years, and this is our eighth. I'll make the best of our time remaining, and I know I'll have fun, I always do. I'll lap up as much sunshine and salty air as I can, while I can, but then I will think of the Caribbean in the context of holidays rather than day after day.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Fifty years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took a romp on the moon. I was thinking about the astronauts who went to the moon this week. Amongst them was the fourth man to walk on the moon, Alan Bean.
He retired from NASA in 1981 to pursue a career painting. I guess he figured he'd paint what he knew, so he spent the rest of his days blissfully painting that far away place he visited so long ago. I imagine he could have taken up just about anything but he decided on painting.
His paintings are unique.
First, there is no other painter in the world who has first hand experience with the landscape and feeling of being on the moon. He was there, he experienced it first hand and he passes that down to all of us in his paintings.
Second, because he was allowed to keep his space suit and other memorabilia like patches, he thought he would incorporate some of that moon dust he brought back in his paintings. He mixes the paint and adds a bit of magic from November 1969.
Third, he used his space boots, and the hammer used to sink the flag pole in the surface of the moon to add texture to his paintings.
If you look closely at this painting, Spirit of Apollo, you can see the textures he added with his space boots.
I suppose this was not exactly as he saw things 240 thousand miles from our front door, but it's exciting to see how he wanted to convey the experience.
We owe a lot to these adventurers who took that round trip to our little grey cousin in the sky. It's motivating to see such a guy take up painting and sharing his experience and his work. If you want to read a bit more about this painting, you can visit his website and read it in the artists own words. The Spirit of Apollo.
Alan Bean passed away last year and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery on November 8, 2018. His funeral was marked with all the attendant flourishes you would expect for such a man.
Rest in Peace Alan, your work will continue to represent you long into the future.
You can visit Alan Bean on Wikipedia or his Website.
Now, you go out and make some art.
What happens when you are just born without fashion sense? I mean, look at this painting I did a few years back, it all fits. All the colors are in all the right places.
You’d think, having an artistic nature, I would be good at coordinating clothes and colors and getting myself looking smart, but the fact is that I am hopeless at putting an ensemble together that doesn’t look like I’ve been dumped off a turnip truck after a long day picking.
It is not that I don’t want to look good, because, as they say, if you look good you will feel good. That brain function just doesn’t work for me. I reach into the drawers and pull something out, and no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to get it right. I’ve even tried and look in the closet and pick something that would NOT go together. That doesn't work either.
Did you know that unless you match the right shade of blue with the right shade of blue, you will look like a blooming idiot? The problem is I have no clue what those blues may be.
On my sixtieth birthday, we had a little shindig at the homestead. In my closet was an array of clothes that, individually, were just perfect.
I picked a pair of shorts I liked. Then I pulled a nice linen shirt I wanted and put them on.
The problem is the pair of shorts I liked were not in love with the shirt I wanted. The lovely pink shirt ended up continuously bickering with the colorful tropical yellow shorts. I tried to keep them in order, but they just wouldn't listen to me. They just kept arguing and disagreeing with each other.
Eventually, Andrea chimed in to stop the argument, “Now, that’s enough! All three of you upstairs!” She said, "I’ll be up shortly to settle this argument once and for all."
Knowing who the boss really was, the yellow shorts and the pink shirt shut up immediately. Andrea has that way with clothes, she can order them to do just about anything. And they listen.
My wardrobe choice was driving me crazy. I was trying to figure out what I did wrong. I picked the clothes I loved. They were each wonderful in their own way. But the minute you put them in proximity to each other they clashed.
I remember picking out the clothes myself. You wouldn't believe it. They were trying to blame each other for the sorry situation we got ourselves into. I was only an innocent bystander in this clothes selection magnum opus.
When I went to pick out my clothes, it was like walking into a homeless shelter with a hundred dollar bill hanging out of my pocket. Everybody loved me.
While perusing the Attenborough collection, I saw lots of contenders.
I have many colorful shirts, but they’re long-sleeved shirts, and they didn't want to play on this warm summer's day.
One shirt, one exceptional shirt, jumped out and recommended itself. It said, “Scott, you know you like me. I’m that pink golf shirt that you like so well. Wouldn’t it be just the best thing in the world if you would wear me today? I know you like me best. Don't you?”
I thought, “Of course, I love you pink shirt, please come out and play today.”
What a fabulous choice; on went the shirt.
Rummaging through my drawers I saw one of my favorite pairs of shorts, the yellow shorts said, “It’s warm outside, I know that’s unusual for England, I’m a great pair of shorts, don’t you want to wear me. Pick me! Pick me!”
"Brilliant - I love you too," I said, and the shorts went on.
Both items were, in themselves beautiful clothes, fabulous clothes, they were clothes of considerable standing in my drawers and closet.
I should have known there might be problems when I lay the clothes across the bed, and they started to clash. They were both vying for world domination. Yellow is such a colorful color; it’s a vivid color; it’s a fabulous color. I said, “Pink, you are one on my favorite colors too.”
Eventually, Andrea came up the stairs and completely dismissed that the clothes were still arguing. I wasn't arguing. I wasn't to blame. But she said, "You silly, silly man. Do you see what you've done here? Don't you know those colors don't ever want to be together? Everybody could see they were arguing. Everybody could see you had no control over the clothes. Do you know how embarrassing that was?"
I looked down at my shoes, and kicked the carpet with my right foot gently and said, "I'm sorry, but it's not my fault. They chose me."
"Do you know how silly that sounds."
"Okay, let's see what else there is to wear."
In an instant, the clothing goddess arranged my recalcitrant wardrobe.
In the end, it was a lovely party. I loved every minute of it, even though my clothes tried to ruin the occasion.
So, if you see me around and I look like I've got it all together fashionwise, it's either a fluke or I've had some very good advice and direction. Probably the latter.
Until next week, I wish you clothing peace.
When I was growing up, I loved Leroy Neiman. I don't know if it was because of his flamboyant personality or the vivid colors in his paintings. He was, to me, one of a kind. He was pretty much the only modern era celebrity artist I knew about at the time, probably because he was always showing up on sports programs with his paintings.
His colorful paintings are iconic. To me, they represented the sports era of my childhood. He painted golf, football, baseball, The Olympics, and he even painted an album cover for the 5th Dimension. I remember seeing him on television a couple of times when I was a kid.
Neiman did his work in oil, enamel, watercolor, pencil drawings, pastels, serigraphy, and some lithographs and etching.
His paintings blast your senses with motion, strength, and color.
He wasn't a reclusive artist like Andy Warhol or Lucian Freud. I thought, wow, he's an artist and a celebrity.
There are still places you can see his work on the internet. If you want an original, you can expect to pay a few bucks. If I had the money, I'd be right there.
Check his work out on these excellent interweb sites
Leroy Neiman Website Leroy Neiman Foundation
Now go out and make some art!
I painted this about ten years ago in Arizona. I know it was about ten years ago because, a tiny bit more than ten years ago, just before we moved to Arizona, I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
This painting reminds me of the mysterious and my life has often been a mystery, even to me.
I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I spent some time cutting concrete and pumping gas. I thought being a Marine would be a nifty idea and the Marines is one of the best ideas I'd ever had, but that's another story altogether.
When I was young I had trouble choosing a direction. I couldn't figure out if I wanted to be a brain surgeon or a fry cook.
So, I drifted, and I dithered. I had dreams and inklings of what I wanted to do but never really went for it.
I've always been hesitant to go for it. You know, to go for it with everything you've got. What's wrong with going for something that you want to do. Well, it's pretty scary.
As a consequence, I think I've spent too much time thinking about doing things and living in my head. I've discovered that being out where the rubber meets the road, doing the things that you love to do, is so much better.
For a long time, I liked playing the guitar, and I dreamt of being in a rock and roll band. I never thought I would be good enough until, about ten years ago, I started hanging out with my friend Doug. We'd periodically get together in his basement to make music. Perhaps we only approximated music, but we had a lot of fun doing it.
We started telling friends what we were doing and how much fun we were having. Eventually, Jon, Wayne, Harold, and Kevin joined us. They may have known what they were doing, but I certainly hadn't a clue. All I knew was I was having fun and more fun than I'd had in a very long time. I loved getting together and making music with those guys.
Eventually, we went from playing in the basement to playing out at various places. I got such a thrill from that experience. If I could have glowed, I would have. It was relatively short-lived, but for that brief time, I had so much fun being a rock and roller.
Eventually, I moved away; the guys kept playing together, and, of course, they've been getting better all the time.
When I come back to Dayton, I look them up to see where they're playing. I love to go to their gigs and experience a bit of rock and roll vicariously through them.
I feel great that, at that time, I went for it.
Maybe, someday, I'll pick it up again. Maybe.
For now, though, I think I'll stick to writing these letters, and instead of picking up my guitar to play, I pick up my brushes today.
With any luck, I'll continue to get more creative, more proficient, and better able to express myself.
I hope you've found ways to express yourself. It feels so much better doing than just thinking about it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
This guy's a one-man marketing dynamo. He calls himself the worlds greatest living artist. At least he's got a goal. He's prolific, and he does come up with some work that I like. His name is Jose Trujillo.
What I like most about this guy is his enthusiasm, initiative, and his willingness to "go for it."
He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He came to the United States with his parents when he was around nine years old. Kinda like me. I came to this country when I was nine years old with my parents too from that northern border!
Jose lives in Tucson, Arizona. Maybe I should take a little drive down there. I've got other friends there I've love to see.
His paintings are impressionistic and he says he wants to follow in the tradition of Monet and the Impressionists.
I follow Jose on YouTube. He puts out a video almost every single day. He is energetic and does his best to share his knowledge with anybody who will listen.
In this video he shares his background and why he does what he does. He is a full time working artist. That is a feat all unto itself. It takes guts and a willingness not to hide your light under a bushel. I admire his moxie.
If you ever lacked confidence. If you ever needed a kick in the backside to get going. You might want to look up Jose Trujillo and see how he does what he does.
You can find him at these fine internet outlets.
Iguanas are exotic creatures. They're in just about every nook and cranny on the island.
Iguanas remind me of hanging out at the beach. They can show up just about anywhere.
They look like fierce creatures. You might even think they're dangerous, but they're not. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of iguanas, but I do prefer to give them a little distance.
I do, however, have another phobia. It's a fear that has to do with humans; a particular type of human.
Like lots of people, I hate going to the dentist. I avoid going to see anyone until it's absolutely necessary. I know it's wrong, but I'm guilty.
I equate the dentist with pain. I'm either in pain when I go to the office, when I'm in there, or when I leave. It's all pain.
I've been told I grind my teeth at night. I wouldn't recommend it if you want any kind of longevity out of your pearly whites. Over the years the constant pressure can end up putting cracks in your teeth. It wears them down.
It doesn't help that I like eating lovely crunchy things like nuts, ice, hard candy.
A couple of years ago my grinding and abuse cracked one of my teeth, and it got infected.
I had to find a dentist on St. Thomas. I hadn't even located a barber let alone a dentist.
Either I'd get it taken care of, or I'd have to suffer the fever, and pain that came with my cracked tooth like some demented bonus, indefinitely.
Pain killers weren't touching the lightning bolts generated in my mouth, firing through my eyeball, and escaping out my right temple. It was seriously destroying my island serenity.
I got right to it. I looked up a few dentists online and came up with a list, and a three-pronged strategy.
First, I had to understand the receptionist. I have real trouble understanding people on the island sometimes, and I didn't want any lack of communication where there's pain involved.
Second, after leaping over hurdle number one, the dentist had to be busy enough he couldn't see me immediately. If the dentist was too busy and couldn't see me right away, they were in high demand. If they were in high demand, they were good. Pretzel logic, I know, but I was in pain.
Third, being too busy to see me, maybe they could recommend a dentist who could. A good dentist wouldn't want to ruin his reputation by referring me to a bad dentist. So, if that dentist were too busy to see me, he would recommend someone good who would.
I got lucky! The first dentist I called passed test number one with flying colors. The receptionist was friendly, courteous, and best of all, understandable.
They passed the busy test too. The doctor couldn't see me right away, but he might be able to fit me in tomorrow. Bingo!
I made the appointment right away and was sure to show up on time.
When the doctor did the exam, he found the job required some heavy lifting he couldn't do. He'd have to refer me to an oral surgeon.
Surgeon?! Yikes! Holy Moley!
Finding decent bread on the island is difficult at the best of times. For heaven's sake, fresh vegetables are hard to come by. From what magic hat are they going to pull this mythical animal called an oral surgeon?
I had visions of being medivacked.
I'm happy to say the dentist had contacts. He knew of an oral surgeon only 15 minutes away. He called up and got me right in. I hoped it was one professional doing a favor for another expert. I didn't want to think the oral surgeons were hanging out at Floyds Barber Shop playing checkers just waiting for customers.
He told me the oral surgeon was excellent, so I got in the car and drove over the hill to my savior's office.
When I got in the waiting room, things got a bit blurry.
I remember some irritating and inconsiderate people. For some reason, they assumed it was okay to play videos with the volume up on their smartphones for entertainment. It was like they thought everybody should listen.
I remember getting into the dentist's chair.
I remember getting a shot of Novocain that felt like it penetrated my optic nerve. It numbed my entire throat. I felt like I had to swallow continually. Then, I felt like I had to cough. Then I felt like I couldn't breathe. Gasp.
Was I going to die in this freaking dentist's chair?
The doctor came back it to see if the numbing agent had done its job, and I was apoplectic. He told me to calm down. He said it was normal. I said that his normal felt like crap. He dismissed me like I was a petulant child. (I probably was).
He got to work with his jackhammers, hammers, and chisels. He pulled out several things I'm sure I saw in my studies of the Spanish Inquisition.
I thought to myself, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Thank you Monty Python.
If they were questioning me, I would have confessed right away. I've seen Marathon Man. I know what happens. But I had nothing to confess. I'd have to make something up quick.
After much tugging and prying and digging out of tooth parts, the carnage was over.
The only thing left was a bruise on my chest from his knee.
I staggered on my way with a suitcase full of Vicodin and a bunch of gauze in my mouth.
All I wanted to do was sleep for three days. I think I did just that. The problem was solved, but at what cost?
It was a very stressful time on the island.
Last week, when I lost a crown. It fell off in my mouth, and my eyes bulged to the size of grapefruits. I waited for the lightning bolts behind my eye; the stabbing pain in the temple.
My previous dental trauma flashed in front of my eyes.
Luckily, there was no pain.
I did feel an extreme desire to wait for help until I got back to Dayton.
When I got here I went to my friend Dan is a dentist. I shyly went to him and said, "Can I come to see you in your office? I think I have a problem."
He said, "Of course."
I was delighted he said yes. There's no gnashing of teeth. It's all in the bag.
I have not regretted my decision to wait to come to Dayton. It was the right choice.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
If you're me, sometimes life runs right up and bites you in the backside. Something like that happened last Saturday night. It was payback time.
We went out on Friday night. Friday is the day we decide to get off our backsides and escape into the wilds of St Thomas for an evening. It takes strong external motivation to head beyond the walls of your hermit(ish) existence.
Last Friday brought some external motivation. We met a colleague of mine for dinner. Well, I might say he is a colleague and a patron as well. You see Phil and Bonnie Jacobs bought one of my paintings of St John (see painting above).
They retired and moved to Kentucky, near Louisville, with acres and acres of land, five horses and a whole passel of other critters.
Fast forward a few years, and we moved down to St. Thomas. He may have been a bit envious of our move, but he has a great life where he is too. He loves to visit the islands and this year he came to our island. Yay.
Hurricane Irma devastated this place, and there's still a lot of damage around, but repairs are ongoing. Some places, like Fresh Bistro, survived the onslaught of the storm better than others. Fresh is in full swing. The restaurant has good eats and friendly service, and, I must say, they make killer mojitos.
We had a lovely evening and want to thank them for looking us up and taking the time to see us while they were in town. Meeting up with old friends is one of my favorite things to do.
When we came home, we settled in for what we hoped was going to be a relaxing and pleasurable weekend - until Saturday.
Saturday is often referred to by people in the travel business here on St Thomas as "changeover day." It's the time when the sad, sunburned, waterlogged, and detox-ready visitors take their big silver birds home, making room for a new crop of mainlanders whose livers, libidos, and psyches are ready for a tropical makeover. For many, that includes a lot of sun, sea, and relaxation. Others take it up a notch with rum-runners and loud music.
Saturday, for us, brought us a relaxing walk on Magens Bay Beach. It started to rain a bit, so we hopped in the car and boogied on down the road to our house about a mile and a half up the Peterborg peninsula.
When we got home, we decided to kick back and have a cocktail or two and some dinner.
Unfortunately, one of the newest crop was Loki.
Do you know Loki?
Loki is a Norse god, like Odin, Thor, Tyr and that lot, but he's not a nice guy. He's one of those troublesome gods. This guy, who can be a woman too, likes to stir the pot. He is a shapeshifter that doesn't play by the rules and will put a monkey wrench into any good times.
Sometimes they call him a "Trickster." I call him annoying.
We live next door to a rental property that runs $22K per week. I guess if you pay that much you want to let your hair down a bit. But this guy, Loki, when he let his hair down, it covered the earth around him. He had more hair to let down than Rapunzel.
Actually, he was a short, stocky, middle-aged, balding, investment banking party animal from Philadelphia in a tropical blue Hawaiian shirt - and he was the owner - ugh. As he puts it, "I like to party, man."
As we were in mid-chill, we heard a cacophony from the house next door. Just imagine Led Zepplin, AC-DC, and Guns-n-Roses turned their amps up full blast, pointed the speakers at your home, and let it rip.
Well, that puts it a bit mildly.
We yelled a couple of times to ask him to turn down the music. He didn't hear the neighbors above us, or us, screaming, "Turn the F^@*ing Music Down!" So, I strapped on my indignation, slipped on my flip flops, and stomped down in the rain through the open gate to find the culprit.
When I got inside the compound, my jaw dropped at the opulence. There were marble floors, glass walls, Greek columns, and a fountain behind the pool that must have been dripping champagne. I thought I was in Shangri-La.
I found Loki and sidled up to him. "Hi," I said, "My name is Scott. I live next door."
"Hi Scott, how can I help you?" Actually, it sounded like "Hey schlotz cn I hepz-ya?" He was clearly well on his way to funky town.
"Dude! Can you please turn the music down or at least turn the speakers off that point at our house?" I said.
"Sure, man, no problem, come on in, can I offer you a drink? You say you live next door. Do you know Ken? I know Ken. I've tried to buy that house off him a hundred times. He keeps turning me down. Can you talk to him for me?"
"Sorry, no, I don't know Ken."
"You know, I spent $11 million on this place, and when I visit I like to party, you know? I like to party. I'm a party guy. Did I tell you I have 700 rental properties all over the world?"
"I understand (I didn't), but do you need to music quite so loud?"
"Here, let's go in here." By here, he meant his sound room, yes sound room, off of his glass-walled bedroom looking over Magens Bay. "Here it is. I think this is the right knob. Let's see if this works."
"Is that better?"
"Well, the walls are still shaking, can you crank it down a little more, so the earth will stop liquifying."
"You know, I come here every once in a while, and when I'm here, I like to party. I like to get along with everybody. I'm a party guy."
"No problem, I understand, can you please not shake the foundations of our house while you get your party thing going, though?"
My bitching was going nowhere, we didn't have anyplace to turn, and I was sure Loki honestly didn't care.
When I came out of his room, I saw Andrea talking to his wife who was acting clueless. She couldn't understand why we thought it was so loud. "Oh, you'll have to talk to Loki," she said. "He runs everything here. Don't worry; it'll calm down soon enough."
Anyway, we had said our piece, and he had made a small concession. Not nearly enough but I was tired of pushing the point. We scampered home, tails between our legs, shut the windows, turned on the air-conditioner, and watched the television on the other side of the building.
Sunday, more of the same. It started at about 2:30 in the afternoon - not quite as loud but I could still hear it in my marrow. We huddled around the television for a while, wore our noise-canceling headphones, and then went out for a walk. When we got home, I turned our music on to drown out his music.
I was so conflicted because I liked the music he was playing. It was a mixture of the 60s and 70s rock and roll that you can get your toe tapping and your head banging. (Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh, The Eagles, and many more.) It was the thought he was playing the music loud to spite us which infuriated me.
Tuesday evening Loki came knocking at the door and said, "We're going to have a little party tonight. We have a chef coming in and a bunch of friends; and you know I like to party. We promise to have the music down by 9:30. Then tomorrow we're out on a boat and Thursday we're most likely leaving. I hope that's okay; and you know I like to party. But we'll have it down by 9:30 at the latest." Hilariously, the loud music never manifested.
The fact that he came over and warned me or discussed it with me made me feel a whole lot better. He was at least trying to consider us. He wasn't an ass for the sake of being an ass. I didn't feel so much like he was violating my space anymore.
Earlier, I mentioned it was payback time. Here's why.
When I was 17 or 18 years old, I wasn't the fine upstanding citizen you see before you today. I was a bit of an angsty, self-absorbed teen. I think we all were. Didn't you think the world revolved around you?
Anyway, in 1977 or thereabouts I was playing some Jimi Hendrix on my parent's cool-ass stereo. My dad was an electronics engineer, and he built our entire stereo system, from scratch, which my mom got in the divorce. Lucky me cause she got me too.
Dad's stereo was terrific. You could break eardrums with that thing. Unfortunately, we lived in a quiet, smallish condo in Los Altos with paper-thin walls. Our neighbor (I can't remember his name) was a retired man and his wife. The poor guy came over to ask me to turn down the music. Oh no, not Jimi. You can't turn down Jimi! I gave him a few choice words and slammed the door in his face. I'm sure he was dumbfounded and bereft.
I caught hell from my mom later on that evening. She was a good one for giving hell. Suffice it to say; I had to go and apologize and never played the stereo that loud again.
Now, fast forward about forty or so years and as they say. Payback is, shall we say, a bitter and painful pill to swallow.
So, when you least expect it. Your past might jump up and bite you. If it does, grit your teeth, take a big breath and be thankful you weren't an even more horrible child than you in fact were.
I am grateful for all the lessons in my life. I might not like them, but I am thankful.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I've been following Lori McNee for a long time. She's one of the first artists I came across on the internet.
Lori lives in Central Idaho, but one day in 2012 she came out to St Thomas.
Here she is doing a bit of plein air painting at the Ritz on St. Thomas.
Lori paints great landscapes but what I especially like are the bird paintings she does. What she calls her still life paintings are more quasi-still life because they all have some bird or other in the picture, and, of course, they are alive.
Lori has written for numerous magazines like Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, The Artist's Magazine, and her blog, Fine Art Tips. She was an early adopter of blogging and social media, and it has served her well.
If you'd like to read more about Lori McNee to learn a bit about what makes her tick this article is a good read, Lori McNee-From Duck Stamps to Monet’s Garden.
I like reading her blog too, but you can find her in these exciting places across the interweb.
Practice can mean a couple of things.
You can practice something to get better, or you make something your practice to do something. You make it your habit. It's how you apply your time.
As in - it is my practice to take a walk every day.
Doctors have a "practice." That doesn't mean that they're still working the kinks out. They make medicine their practice. They apply their medical knowledge and skills to healing others.
Lawyers practice the law. They apply their legal expertise to a particular area of the law in service to others.
To be good at anything you have to make it your practice to do that thing. It has to be a habit. It's not just practicing as in rehearsing for a game, but the practice is the game.
I played golf a few weeks ago with my friends Jan and Brian in Arizona. I hadn't played a lot this year.
Because I hadn't played much, I wasn't very confident. I'd miss a lot of shots I should have made. I duffed way more shots than I should have.
I know when I play more, I play more confidently, and I play better.
It's quite stressful trying to hit over a water hazard when you have no clue where the ball's going to end up. Stress will give you the yips, or you could miss the ball entirely. But if you play a lot, and you've hit tons of shots over the water, you expect it to work.
I did have a great time. However, if I had made it my practice to go to play golf every day (or even a couple of times a week, or at least go to the driving range), I would have played much better.
I want to get better at drawing and writing, so I have built a practice of showing up to write and draw every week.
You see, I love making things. Publishing them here gives me the incentive.
I'm grateful you read, and I maybe get something out of it sometimes too.
I want to make you smile, I want to make you think, and sometimes, I only want to divert your attention from all the yuckiness out there and make your day better.
I want to make it my practice to make your life just a touch better from time to time.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I've been following this guy on Instagram and I love his work. He specialized in multimedia portraits. His name is George Papadakis.
His portraits of athletes are very popular. The portrait he's standing next to here is of a pole vaulter called Sandi Morris.
Here is a portrait he did of Tiger Woods.
These are places you can find her on the internet.
Facebook Instagram Pinterest
YouTube Twitter Website