Friday, July 22, 2016

Flashback Friday

This little gem of a picture isn't all that old.  It's not a school picture or baby or one of those family pics I've been inflicting on you recently.  On a life timeline, this is fairly recent.  It was taken on a trip to the Quad-Cities where we had lunch at the old Lodge, which, I don't think exists anymore.  If it does, its not called that anymore.  I was with the current Mrs. Blythe and Mackenzie and a friend of hers.  I'm thinking c. 2004.  Pre-gray, anyway. 

Since this was pre-selfie this was taken by someone at the table and by my look, I was not expecting it.  If you look at the backdrop,  this was my kind of restaurant - dark, dark and if you were placed at the right table, even darker.  

There isn't much else to this picture, except I direct you to my left ear.  Specifically the lobe.  Brendan and I engaged in a wager of sorts, and my part (having won or lost, depending on how you look at it) was this item that graced its place there for a few months.  There are no other pictures that I will admit to where it is in plain view.   I do remember having it on my bike trips that one summer of riding - tank top with new tats and earring.  I really looked like a biker stereotype that summer.  But then I learned that stereotypes are to be smashed, that we have to be true to ourselves, and decided my dark corner was more me. 


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Latest Waste of Good Oil Paint

The trouble with creating something from scratch is that we see the end result in a perfect or idealized state.  That's just the way our minds work.  Transferring what we see with our heads onto canvas, or any other artistic endeavor for that matter,  is what determines our level of success.  Shakespeare knew all about it and said as much in Hamlet's Soliloquy: "Aye, there's the rub."  

The Cabin in the Woods has a nice garage area so on a event-less afternoon I started to transfer something onto the large canvas I had lying around.  I'm going through a dark phase so I plastered the thing with black gesso and began to see what I had in mind for the thing, and it was pretty neat.  But putting that onto the blank blackness, aye, that's what separates true artists who command thousands for their work to guys like me who have closets full of these things.  But since I have a pension, I'm not in the starving artist category.  I can tinker with oils and not get too serious about it or too stressed out.  My problem isn't "perfection of the craft", it's   staying motivated.     

And so, as the days slipped by and I kept staring at the black canvas, the idea in my noggin began to take shape.  I thought of people I know who can turn something inside out and back and forth and see all the sides, like Mr. Sutor.  Then I thought of my friends who say keep it simple, like Mr. Stage, and I begin picturing what the final painting will look like.  Then I reexamine again.  Anything I should add?  Anything that isn't right?  Is it balanced?  And then I begin.  

Sadly for you, my time up North ended with the painting looking like this.  But I will return and finish it, hopefully.  I know exactly how it will look, in my head.  How you will see it, well, that's the rub.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sometimes Its Right Under Your Nose

My bike needed some work done so I took her up to Brenny's in Bettendorf.  They needed a few days to work on everything, and Mr. and Mrs. Wombie needed an oil change on their Trax, so after that they swung over and picked me up.  While waiting, I started walking and noticed a walk/bike path a couple blocks away from this area of town, which seemed fairly industrial.  

It was a bit like Dorothy going from black and white into color.  This walkway took me into a pastoral green park area that one wouldn't have guessed to exist from the roadway.  

The place is called Devil's Glen Park and the bike path took me along a winding creek with sandstone cliffs and several small waterfalls.

Another view of the waterfall.  Only had my iPhone camera so these aren't the best shots.

These block restrooms and picnic areas are remnants of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the '30's.

The next few shots are of the cliffs that edge a creek that runs through the area.  This bike path is 3.6 miles in this park but hooks up to a Greater Quad-City bike path that is about 10 miles long.

A beautiful oasis in a business and industrial area of Bettendorf.  Alcoa isn't too far away as are many other manufacturing companies.  It was a surprising and pleasant find;  once again, when you  travel you will be amazed at the things you find right under your nose.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits

Spotted in my Cabin In the Woods yard a couple days before my return to Floriduh.  It was quite pretty, and I thought about the construction of these nests - they were scattered through out the yard. Google said it is either a lawn spider variety or a ground fungus.   What do you expect out in the woods?


I never tire of the beauty of flight.  By the way, Allegiant and TSA had new streamlined security measures.  I didn't have to take my shoes off and did not have to go through the scanner. 

Also, Norah came to the airport with her Mom and Dad to pick me up.  It was just like in the movies as she came rushing up yelling "Papa" and a long embrace.  Awww.  Tear ducts open, fade to black, credits roll.


A couple St. Pete cops patrolling Target last week.


Don't believe it.


A couple weeks ago all the networks had a piece on a lady who improvisationally started singing the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Great singer and happy to see someone moved by the place, but she sang in a way that hate but is rampant in the music world today.  I'm not sure what they call it but it is a kind of vocal riff where you squeeze 10 notes into a single one, which to me is nothing more that showing off.  What do you expect from an old guy who's not that into music in the first place?


Speaking of music, I'm all atwitter over news that Meat Loaf will release an album (do they still use that word?) on September 16th, Braver Than We Are, with Jim Steinman.  Be still my heart.

Alfred and I donning old plastic bowl wraps.  Norah and I used to do this when she was just a baby.  I don't know why.  It just is/was.  


Nest camera capture of first morning of me babysitting both Alfred and Norah.


Nearby Wal-Mart in flames.  Not all people are good.  Not all fires are bad.


My Cabin in the Woods near Emerald City has been buttoned up for a couple weeks now.  I shall return toward the end of August for a few weeks.  I need to replace a thermostat and looks like I will need some plumbing work in the old outhouse in the back, too.  It is a great little cabin and look forward to returning for some bike riding, car showing and sky picture-taking.  Until then, Kenzie and her family are moving to their new house, I am moving to a new complex, and babysitting the girls.  Busy time.   


I can say without equivocation that I will never attempt to say "entrepreneurial", or "entrpreneurialism" without at least three beers first.


Hi, Tommy and Rose.


By this time next week I should be in my new place, Waterboard Apartments.  Frankly, I'm all moved out.  I'm hoping it will go smoothly and fast.  Bet it doesn't.


Monday, July 18, 2016

The Little Barge That Could

On a random bike ride to Keithsburg on a warm Sunday afternoon, I drove up on the dyke to see if there was any barge travelling by.  I first glanced to the left and then to the right and couldn't see anything.  

But then I saw what looked like some movement at the base of one of the old train trestles.  I couldn't quite make it out but it looked like something small was coming downstream.    

I am used to seeing long heavy barges plowing along, with powerful barges pushing it along.  What was this tiny thing heading  toward me?    

Well, I'm still not sure what it was, but it certainly wasn't a great powerful engine like one usually sees.  This was a miniature barge pushing a single platform.    

I think it can...

I think it can...

It approached quietly and just like that was heading away.  A chance encounter with one of the many boats that ply the river, this one, a smaller version but handling its task with a certain honor and grace.  

We all have a role to play, great or small.  Amongst the behemoths of the river, this little guy looks small and irrelevant.  But it surely can do things the big boys can't.  That is its role, its purpose and its pride.  Perhaps a lesson for us all.   

Friday, July 15, 2016

Flashback Friday

This is another repost of Flashback Friday.  Sorry about the recent spate of re-posts, but it has been a bit busy down here with everyone moving and my taking care of two kids.  We'll get to some new stuff soon but even re-posts are worthy of reconsideration.  especially this one.

These three ruffians are not too happy.  They have been awakened, dressed up, and forced against their will to attend Sunday morning church services in Seaton.  The twins are 4 years old.  Phil has just turned 6.  We have been propped against the tree for maximum photographic effect, and no doubt been told to smile or say "cheese", but let's face it,  this is a bad morning.  Church!

In what is probably one of the best pictures we three ever took together, this unhappy band of brothers exudes attitude; a kind of mad mob mentality that says, "we'll get even".    This classic picture is my favorite, and oddly enough, has a bit of history itself, besides the un-posed un-happiness of its subjects.

You see, it has been lost to history for a few years now.  Somewhere in this blog I drew a picture from memory of this photo.  It was a plea to sis-in-laws Holly or Jeanne to check their albums for a copy of this picture.  I was positive I had lost my copy in a BFE flood of my basement.  Sadly, neither had a copy.  

Just recently I was going through some boxes I'd never unpacked; one of those Spring Cleaning things where you see if you can get rid of anything to unclutter your life.  I always find new things to clutter it up with so it's a losing proposition, anyway.

I came across a couple of negatives and immediately threw them into the trash.  Who needs old negatives?  One voice said, good man, unclutter.  The other voice said "Keep all negatives, you never know if you'll need a copy."  The first voice won.  I tossed them and went on to the next pile.  But, damn if that second voice didn't keep whispering, "You never know!"  Just for the Hell of it, I grabbed them out of the trash and put them up to the light, and you know what?

Yep, the picture I thought was lost forever, it was the negative.  I squinted again and saw three figures against a tree.  Out of the depths of history, or maybe just one of those small miracles that happen, here, in a box, then tossed in the trash was the negative of  my most favorite of all pictures.  A small miracle indeed.

I found a place here in town that works with negatives and within a few days, that negative had produced a small moment in time, a fraction of a second when three boys, on a Sunday morning, a half century later, once again, displayed how pissed off they were to have to go to church.

Lesson number one:  you have to go to church when the folks make you, but you don't have to like it.

Lesson number two:  always take lots of pictures; one of them will be priceless.

Lesson number three:  never toss your negatives.

ADDENDUM:  A couple additional things about that picture.

  • The house was new, having been built just a couple years earlier.  The layout and some of the building features were ideas that Marj had.   Thus the lack of vegetation which would be planted later.
  • That tree we are standing in front of would survive another 5 or 6 years.  It would be cut down the same day "Bunker" Hill died in his Plymouth Valiant at McCaw's Corner south of Aledo.   
  • That tree also had a scythe stuck in it that the tree had claimed.  I always thought that was creepy.
  • The tree to the right in the side yard survives today and is full and lush and as pretty a tree as there ever was.  It was our climbing tree.  You could see as far away as a kid was ever likely to see in Seaton from heights of those limbs.  
  • The car is a bright orange '56 Buick.  Marj on a trip up to the Cities would carelessly flick a cigarette that would reenter in the back seat area and catch the interior on fire.  Their next car was a '62 Oldsmobile Starfire.   
I look at that picture and see the unbridled distaste for convention in a young kid's life. One of the first of many in a lifetime.  Suck it up, guys, it gets worse.  But not today it doesn't.  It is the absolute worse thing that could happen to these three guys on this particular day, and there is simply no disguising it.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wombie's Hummingbirds - Part 2

Part 2 of Wombie's hummingbirds.  They stopped by daily while I was dogsitting Miss Maddie and I set up my camera not too far from their nectar.  These guys can beat their wings 53 times a second which makes taking their pictures tough, if you are trying to do it with manual settings.  

Ruby throated hummingbirds are the only ones in the species to breed in North America, while the rest tend to do it when on vacation in Mexico, where they migrate each winter.  

Only the males have the scarlett red throats, while the mothers once again get nature's shaft, stuck without the pretty feathers and then have to spend all their time raising their kids.  

More hummingbirds coming up in the next few days.