Back to Routines

I took this photo toward my studio at the house while Patrick and I were packing up Lee’s shop tools.

With some wonderful help almost everything was loaded into a trailer or his truck to head north. So many heavy power tools…table saw, planer, router, large stand sander, sand blaster, drill press that belonged to Lee’s uncle, two large tool chests on rollers, and many, many tubs of parts and pieces of even more tools. Then came the wormy chestnut lumber that has been saved in the shed for such a long time waiting for Lee and Patrick to come up with yet another project. What is left in the shop will go back at Christmas in another trailer with furniture that won’t be necessary to stage the showing of the house.

The filters came today for the floor scrubber and vacuum. I put them where they needed to be and the cleaning lady will be surprised tomorrow how well things are working.

I am back on my morning walks. Very cold but got a nice riverwalk in this morning.

The water is way down in the river.

A quick stop at the state liquor store today as I was going to meet friends for lunch.

A single malt compliments of friends in California and a strange little thing that begs to be tried.

Peanut butter whiskey!! Remember when these little sample bottles were only one dollar? Nott now! But I paid my three dollars just to try this concept of flavoring whiskey with peanut butter. What in the world will be next?

Sunsets have been pretty this past week.

And more in the Bird Stories book.

That is about all for now. The trailer made it home to Michigan in eleven hours and is now unpacked.

Til later…..

Tips – This Could Be A Good One

Tip # 1 – catnip helps cats get acquainted.

Tip #2 – Greek yogurt can be substituted for sour cream and when there is not as much butternut squash as the recipe calls for, add a sweet potato. And rosemary looks as good as chives for a garnish.

Tip #3 – chicken tastes like a more moist turkey and paired with the regulars makes a fine Thanksgiving dinner.

Tip #4 – Appreciate the light around you.

Tip #5 – Learn how to sit quietly and enjoy the flavors of a fine cotes-du-Rhone and a new scotch. And think how lucky you are to have friends far away that think you should buy a good scotch, send you a check to pay for it, and ask you to set up a time so you can have the drink together. The best!

Tip # 6 – Accept the fact that it is so cold at the dam and the wind is giving you an ice cream headache. Turn back at less than 500 steps across to take a shot of the Mars-like landscape and get into the car.

Tip #7 – and this is where it gets really good. If you are like me it does not ever occur to look at manuals. The one that lurks in the glove compartment of the car is certainly the most avoided, or so I thought.

Our Hover floor scrubber just quit sucking up the water it so willingly sprayed on the floor. My cleaning lady suggested I ask Patrick to look at it. As suspected – full of “lint”. Packed from one end to the other with years of cat hair. I estimate that every cat we ever owned was somewhere in all the curved, angled, hard to reach areas. So Patrick took it apart carefully remembering which screws went where.

The tip part of this is the tools I used to clean out the hard to reach areas.

The standard toothbrush.


The mushroom cleaning brush was the best for clearing cat hair from the spinning bristles.

And then this! Rosemary stem. Flexible enough to go around corners and sturdy enough to poke away at the stubborn clumps.

So, pleased with our progress on the Hoover, we turned on the Dyson vacuum to assist in the cleanup. Patrick said it whined a bit too much. Well no wonder – same issues! But the filter that I am sure the manual claims should be replaced regularly had completely disintegrated into what we assumed was more packed old cat hair. So we scrubbed the parts remaining.

And they are now out in the sun because deep inside hidden from view was a warning not to put any damp parts back into the vacuum.

While these parts dry I have ordered new filters for both cleaning machines and decided to write this blog. Patrick is now off to the hardware to get a replacement door knob for the door to the garage and more tubs to pack tools from Lee’s shop.

Using the kitchen sink to clean out the scrubber and vacuum have reinforced the idea to get a laundry tub put into the new house. Speaking of which we did stop by on our way home from the dam to take a picture of the lot being prepared for construction.

And there was time to get a new drawing into the Bird Stories book. A junco that is on the left is on my mind because they show up by the dozens when it gets cold enough for them here.  It sure is now!

No more news from here. Lunch will be some of those yummy savoury scones I made the other day and a piece of one of the chocolate mousses Patrick brought down. He will fix the door and go down to the shop to work on the new mantel for the house and I will try not to watch more episodes of Perry Mason, a superbly acted and filmed story of his early life. So good that one would think it is a British production.

I have a bunch of blank books that only need their Coptic bindings to finish them off. Several were found while Marla and I were going through the studio packing things up. I could work on those or go back to my stitching. Maybe I will just watch out the window for juncos and pick a fresh supply of rosemary for the kitchen.

Til later….

Thanksgiving Week

Dilly, a very pleasant cat to have around. She and Sadie are getting past the hissy bits.

Yesterday’s walk at the dam.

Then after a quick stop at the grocery store I baked the rest of the day.

Wonderful savoury scones.

And second best malted cookies I ever ate.

Then this sunset.

And this morning 20 degrees at the riverwalk.

Somewhere in the past few days I got more drawings done in the Bird Stories book.

And just now I picked these seed fluffs from the now gone blooms of the Japanese Anemones.

They are like fine cotton balls. I was thinking of drawing them but took them back outside before Dilly became fascinated with them and the fluff would be all over.

Tomorrow I will take my early morning walk and do some more stitching and drawing. Maybe even bake a cranberry orange pecan loaf just to put in the freezer. This afternoon I should make up Lee’s recipe for cranberry relish.

The hospital called the other night. Lee had fallen and had a bump on his head. So following protocol he was taken to the hospital where a cat scan showed blood seepage between brain and skull. Six hours later it had not gotten worse so was taken back to the care center. I haven’t had one of those middle of the night calls for quite some time, but they never cease to be frightening….even when you know what is coming.

Time to go get the blender out to make his relish and think of better times.

Til later…..

An Illustrating Journal Class

While working on sorting books down in the studio I came across this large book. I loved it when I found it and even more so now. Too much moisture has buckled the pages but the influence still remains.

As you can see it delves into the illustrations that accompany correspondence…..mostly French artists and writers.

Francine Prose says the following in her forward to the book:

“It is too simple, I think, to see these letters merely as relics of a bygone era – of a time that existed before the telephone, before email –  and lament the fact that communications as eloquent and glorious as these may never be created again. For what Illustrated Letters gives us, in addition to pleasure, is a kind of faith in the playfulness and generosity of artists and writers who create this art merely out of a motivation to give it – to send it to someone else.

Personalized, individualized, unique, meant for only one reader, letters are the opposite of the commodity, of the object of mass production. These letters are like missiles aimed from one heart to another, or like messages in bottles that reach us from great distance, across lost and far-off seas. Their words and images continue to hold us in their grasp long after we have closed the book – even as the intermission begins and the orchestra strikes up its waltz.”

Isn’t that simply the best way to talk about quick illustrations, done to clarify a point, for the sole purpose of adding clarity to words and thoughts on a page. I love it! Here are some examples from the book.

So when I see the “Illustrated” whatever this book is what comes to mind. It lives in my brain folder named “Illustration”.

And when I saw a class being offered that was titled “Illustrated Journal” taught by a woman I admired, I enrolled. I told myself that this was going to be perfect! I would learn how to draw quickly whatever it was I wanted to convey to myself and the person reading/looking at my pages.

In preparation I made my own journal. Made using folded folios of cheap drawing paper that were stitched into a repurposed file folder.

My thinking here was that it was not about doing good work on archival paper, but quickly getting down the necessary essentials to convey a message. Not unlike drawing on a cocktail napkin at the bar to make your companion better understand what you are talking about.

The first day of class my fellow students line up to purchase journals from the instructor…landscape oriented hardbound books holding an appropriate amount of nice watercolor paper pages. It did not make sense to me then or now. But I came to realize that all but me were interested in making a lovely product out of their learning process for the week.

Here are some of my pages with valuable information and self-criticism…which only had value to me. It is how I learn. Do what I am assigned and make notes on the assignment.

Notice how I am attempting to keep up with the fine calligraphic-style writing that other students are using to “talk” about their subject.

We are to go off and spend only so much time capturing and illustrating what we see. Here I forgot to take my test swatches for color management before actually applying color to the journal page.

I liked this one so much because it occurred to me that the book would have to be turned sideways to complete all I wanted in this image. Making adjustments on the fly so to speak, just what a quick sketcher would have to do.

We were to draw in lightly with pencil, then ink, then color. I am testing my pens for how the water of watercolor affects the lines. We can easily see how long it is taking to do these “quick” drawings.

I like how I ended up lurking in the closet of the spinning studio to get this last drawing done.

Each day we brought our sketchbooks back to the classroom for critique. Each of the other nine books were carefully spaced out along the wall. Mine I placed at the end so as not to disturb the presentation and visual continuation of the more perfected illustrations and written words.

Some time later I met up with the instructor and she asked what I thought of her class. I told her it was not what I expected. I wanted to learn more by drawing less. She seemed puzzled by this and am sure she thought I should have read the description of her class better. And she was right to think that. The only way to get what I wanted to learn was to draw, and draw, and draw.

It does little good to join a daily sketchers group if you are the only one drawing. It does no good to involve anyone but yourself in the attempt to become quicker, clearer, and more to the point when illustrating words and thoughts.

I am not in the hurry I used to be in 2009. Doing something quickly seems silly now. Due to Covid I am no longer sitting in cafes and bars, tucked in a corner with sketchbook in hand looking at how an old man’s hand fits so easily around a pint of dark beer. I miss that. The old man, his hand, the beer, but mostly I miss being there with a small book open and a pencil or pen trying to capture the moment.

I also found my sixty-four year old notebook from my sewing classes in junior high school. I received a “B”. The teacher did not think I was trying hard enough to do things correctly. I believe she is also the same teacher who had each of us girls place a tape measure around our hips and then be seated. Look at the new measurement and know clearly which of us would end up with a “secretary spread”. Now I know that only the anorexic would have kept her tape measure reading the same number but at the time we were a classroom full of girls made painfully aware of what our future rear ends would become….broader!

I think there are no more books that bear discussing in the blog today.

Til later…..