Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Devil's Den Dream

I had another very strange dream this morning that went on forever. Stay with me here. Get a cuppa Joe and get comfortable, this is gonna take a while.

The dream starts at some unknown distant relative's house. It is a special occasion, but I don't know what occasion. The house looks more like a commercial building than a home. It has white cinderblock walls, white square tile floors, fluorescent lighting, and suspended ceilings like a dorm, frat house, or insane asylum. The rooms are huge, and the "family room" has three couches in one corner around a TV. There are 50 or so people milling about from room to room.

I'm sitting on a 1960's harvest gold couch and a girl who looks vaguely familiar sits beside me and snuggles up to me like she knows me. Humm....she tells me who she is, but her name doesn't ring any bells. More milling about, then most of the people mill out of the family room to other parts of the house. The hostess, a short blonde lady, comes into the family room and looks at the floor in disgust. There is a checkerboard pattern of sticky yellow wetness on the floor. I look up to see the suspended ceiling tiles have gotten wet and fallen. There is a leak from the second floor bathroom. The yellow stickiness on the floor is urine.

As I'm looking at the bottom of the floor above, it starts to collapse. I run for the door. It's a double glass push bar door like in commercial buildings. Outside to my right is a long, buff brick wall. Extending for about 50 yards is a corrugated tin walkway cover. The far end of the cover is starting to collapse and the collapsing tin is coming at me in a rolling wave. I realize I will be crushed by the metal in seconds. However, when it reaches me, it is not tin at all. It is actually strings of flat, white, lightweight plastic beads. They made "curtains" for teenagers out of the stuff several years ago.

I turn and go back in the building, but it's no longer the family room. It's a big vacant warehouse. The roof is collapsing because of a deluge of a reddish-brown substance, like wheat or rice grains. It's like a blowing sandstorm this stuff, and it's causing the buildings to collapse from the weight. As I go from room to room the ceilings are all collapsing. This is an apocalyptic end-of-the-world sandstorm of red rice.

I figure if I get under a doorway opening, or better yet, the fire escape stairwell, that the building won't collapse on me. I realized that was a bad idea because the red rice was filling the stairwell and now I was going to suffocate.

The red rice was coming in but I saw a hole underneath an AC duct and wiggled through to another larger room. But that room was filling up with the red rice too and it covered me in seconds. I was now suspended in and trapped by the red rice. I was holding my breath and trying to "swim" to the top but getting nowhere. As I was swimming away, I realized I was breathing normally and the red rice wasn't getting in my nose or mouth.


I am running diagonally across the junior high gymnasium screaming, "Get out! Get out of the building! It's collapsing! Get out NOW!" There is a P.E. class sitting on the floor in rows and the teacher is taking roll. They are all wearing white T-shirts and navy blue, double-knit gym shorts. They just stare at me as I scream across in front of them and out another set of double glass doors.

Outside is a large parking lot with another of those corrugated tin walkways. People are running wild-eyed towards the building, or away from something terrible. They are yelling "Devil's den, devil's den!" Apparently there has been an expedition to find seven markers around the world which have been lost for ages. They have just uncovered the sixth one outside the building. There is a ceremony to recognize the discovery.

The marker looks like a heavy iron manhole cover. It has strange markings on it and sits atop a concrete pillar. A tall scaffolding has been erected around the top of the pillar so people can get up there and look at the marker. I'm suddenly up on the scaffolding with a small crowd of people. The devil is coming up the stairs shaking hands. He is six or seven feet tall and wearing an ugly green zoot suit made of a rough material like burlap.

I know he is the devil, but everyone else knows him as the wealthy businessman who has financed the search for the marker expedition. He is coming up for the grand unveiling. The devil is not powerful now, but when the seventh marker is uncovered he will unleash his devilness on the world and it will be destroyed.

So the devil is coming up the stairs shaking hands. But I don't want to shake the devil's hand. I know somehow that if I do not extend my hand, he will not be able to harm me. I stand with my hands clasped in the fig leaf position. The devil extends his hand but then sees that mine is not out. He gets an embarrassed look on his face in the awkward social moment, and kinda hangs his head with an embarrassed grin. He then lightly swipes his hands a couple of times along the hem of my jacket.

And his hands, oh my. He had four hands. One set looked like human hands but were a pale green. The other set were fake and wooden looking and were on rods coming from his elbows. The wooden hands were small, painted black, and were covered with yellow-green puss filled blisters.


I am in a small electronic control room high above the world's largest fair. It is nighttime and through the large plate glass window I see the vast expanse of the fair with all the pretty lights. Between the fair and the control room is a lake and the lights of the Ferris wheel are reflected in the dark water. I remember Blonde Hostess had mentioned something about going to the fair after the party was over.

I am exhausted from running from the apocalyptic red rice and the encounter with the devil. I don't feel well. In the room are three 3' x 3' x 3' black flight cases for shipping electronic equipment. I kneel behind one, suddenly naked, dizzy. I know this is a dream, and a bad one at that. I am wanting it to be over in the worst way.

The door to the room opens and Blonde Hostess and Snuggly Girl come up to me. Blonde Hostess says, "There you are! We were wondering where you had gotten off to." When I look up at them, they and the room around me are fuzzy and suddenly in black and white. Through my fuzzy fog I tell them about my dream....using a British accent. I realize that people with head injuries sometimes awake from a coma and suddenly have strange accents. I wonder if that is what has been happening to me. I laugh and exclaim, "Where did this British accent come from????"

They give me knowing smiles and help me to my feet. My clothes have suddenly reappeared. The control room is actually the garage of Blonde Hostess's house. They explain that the weird dream was caused by a party drug that was spiked in the food at the gathering. It is usually quite harmless, but had a bad effect on me because I still had my appendix. They thought everyone at the gathering had had an appendectomy. They didn't know I still had mine and were very sorry about my bad dream trip. Snuggly Girl explained to me she was the one with whom I had a one-night lesbian fling when I lived in Texas. Oh! I remember her now...vaguely.

We walked back in the family room where I found my cousin John and his best friend Paul wearing silly long blonde wigs. I knew they were the ones who spiked the food. I ran over to John, jumped on him and pinned him to the couch. I hadn't seen him in a long time and was glad to see him. He was laughing and so was I.


I'm at my mother's house and I'm helping her clean out stacks and stacks of old magazines, notably Popular Computing and National Enquirer. I'm hauling the stacks out on the front porch when my friend John Allen stops by. He asks if he can have the magazines to take to his mother. I go back in the house and there is a blonde lady sitting at Mom's kitchen table. I start telling her about my weird dream. She says she knows Snuggly Girl and explains who she is. When I go outside with the stack of mags for John Allen, I suddenly realize Snuggly Girl is probably Jackie Sue's (yellowdog granny's) daughter. I go back inside to ask the lady and she explains that *she* is Jackie Sue's daughter, not Snuggly Girl.


Phew! I woke up and looked at the clock. It was 5:30 a.m., just two hours after I had gone to sleep. Cheezburger the cat was yowling to go outside like he always does at 5:30. Today I'm glad he woke me up.

Like all dreams, some of the images and people were real and some came from the dark recesses of my mind. Here's a rundown:

1.) Snuggly Girl is a real person. I've seen often in the past but I don't see her now. I can't quite place her. I think she works at the local hospital. If I were to have a lesbian tryst, she wouldn't be the one.

2.) Blonde Hostess is the face my imagination has assigned to Kate Johnson, a watercolor artist in the on-line sketch group. I know her only by a sketched, self-portrait icon. I don't know what she really looks like.

3.) The devil looked just like Jim Carey's character in "The Mask", except for the rough textured suit.

4.) My cousin John, his friend Paul, and my friend John Allen all are real people in my life and had their actual faces. John Allen's picture was in the paper yesterday. Hubby asked yesterday if my family was going to have our big Cousin's Christmas party this year. I would have seen my cousin John there. That may be the family gathering occasion in the dream. I have no idea why Paul showed up.

5.) The blonde lady at my Mom's kitchen table was totally unknown to me.

6.) Jackie Sue (Yellowdog Granny) is a real blogger person in Texas. I have guilt feelings because I haven't been over there to read her stuff lately.

7.) The "family room", control room and the fair were all unknown to me.

8.) The long, buff brick wall is outside the front door of my high school, but there's no covered walkway beyond it.

9.) The junior high gym is the actual local junior high gym.

10.) The stairwell with the AC duct was in my church when I was a kid. It was torn down in the 70's.

11.) The open room where I was covered with red rice was the actual gym in the junior high I attended.

12.) The P.E. class uniform was similar to the one I wore in high school in Texas.

13.) The scaffolding with the devil's marker is an actual location. It's between the science building and nursing building on my college campus. Some years ago they built a planetarium on that spot though.

14.) The manhole cover atop a concrete pillar is something I see frequently. I think there is one across the street from my bank, or maybe the post office. They are located in low, swampy areas prone to flooding, so they build the pipe way up in the air. I guess it's done that way so rainwater won't backwash the sewer system.

15.) The devil's marker is from a TV ad for a movie I think. I recall the image of a gloved hand brushing away snow from a marker that looks like an iron manhole cover. Does this sound familiar to anybody????

16.) The rolling wave of collapsing roofs/ceilings is from The Universe series where they describe Einstein's theory of General Relativity. The Earth is pushed towards the sun by space-time and they have a neat graphic to show the theory. The rolling wave is that graphic.

17.) The apocalyptic sandstorm of red rice is also from The Universe series. It's the red sandstorms on Mars.

18.) The lightweight plastic curtain beads were purchased by my sister for her granddaughter several years ago when they redecorated her room from little girl to teenager. I think the actual bead curtain was purple though.

19.) The devil made his appearance because I was reading an art history book just before I went to sleep. I was looking at a triptych painted by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1510, titled The Garden of Earthly Delights. The first panel is The Garden of Eden, second is The World before the Flood, and the third is Hell. I looked at Hell and thought, "Hummm...Hell looks like fun." I immediately thought, "Oops, I shouldn't have said that." Nothing like a good dose of religious guilt right before bedtime.

20.) The British accent is from watching waaaaay too many "How to Paint with Watercolors" videos on You Tube produced in the U.K.

21.) I still have my appendix.

22.) There was never a single issue of Popular Computing in my mother's house. She had a subscription to National Enquirer though.

OK, anybody want to venture an analysis?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ain't Dead Yet

Good Grief! It's been two weeks since I've had an interesting thought that wasn't art related. I have however, been drawing and painting up a storm. I've been keeping a paper journal of my mundane life with a daily sketch. The pages are posted on my sketch blog if you are rillyrilly interested in reading all that.

If not, here are highlights of some of the artwork:

Cleaning the fridge coils:

Sketch of a cool old building with strange white capstones on top:

And a painting of that same building, but just the corner detail:

Big boys on big toys Thanksgiving day at the farm:

And a colored pencil study of the same apple:

And that's what I've been up to lately.

Still working on the farmhouse rehab. We're now ready to start the painting and that's always the fun part for me. Yay!

Monday, November 17, 2008


"...and unto thy neighbor's husband be dominatrix."

When we passed this sign today, I looked at Hubby and asked, "Did that say 'Wife submit to your husband'?"


"OH! OH! OH! Go back, go back! I've gotta get a picture of that!"

"I AM NOT turning around. You can take a picture next trip."

"NO NO NO! Turn around now! Pull in right there! (pointing wildly) Right there! Right THERE!"

Hubby sighs and hangs head in resignation. He swings the truck around in a parking lot and heads back down the highway.

"Pull in there, in the second driveway, on the far side of the sign."

"Yes dear."

"Roll down your lean back a little...pull forward just a smidge."

"Yes dear, yes dear, yes dear (sigh)."

The irony of the situation is not lost on Hubby.

I take a few shots and we pull back out on the highway. I start laughing.

Hubby heaves another big sigh.

"You're gonna blog about this, aren't you?"


I don't think I would make a very good Churchachrister.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weird Dreams

Hubby went off to sand sheetrock by himself today and said I didn't have to go. Yay! Spent most of the day horizontal napping on the couch and had two very strange dreams.

In the first dream we were in the process of moving to California and I needed to find an apartment. I assumed apartment rent in California would be sky high and we couldn't afford anything more than a hovel.

A gay friend of mine, name unknown, face unfamiliar, was showing me his apartment to show what we could get for the money. It was a plain white box kind of place, but it was spacious enough for the two of us and the rent was reasonable. I decided that maybe California wouldn't be as bad as I feared. Then I woke up.

Got me a root beer, ate some popcorn, and fell back to sleep.

In the second dream Hubby and I had moved back to the little town where we went to college. (We actually want to move there BTW.) We had just moved into a ratty old 1970 era single-wide trailer with low ceilings, avocado appliances and dark paneling. It was nasty. (I actually lived for three months in a place just like this in 1990, it was miserable.)

All 15 of Hubby's family had dropped in to see the place. I was trying to pull together food to feed them all.

There were leftovers (whose?) in the fridge, so I started pulling all that stuff out. I pulled a sheet cake pan of tea from the freezer, but the liquid wasn't frozen. (Why was the tea in a sheet cake pan, and why was it in the freezer?)

When it came to room temperature, mosquitoes started hatching out of it and flying away. I was madly slapping my hands over the pan trying to kill them. I kept slapping and slapping but I couldn't kill any of them.

I finally decided, "I can't serve this."

Then I woke up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Minimizing the Damage

Hubby wants to go out to eat. I'm looking pretty rough - wrinkled sweats, no makeup, hair in a ponytail. Ewwww. I don't really want to be seen in public.

Me: "I look too rough to go out."

Hubby: "It doesn't matter, you're always beautiful. Just brush your hair and put on some shoes."

He's so sweet.

I putter around in the bathroom for quite a while.

Hubby: "What are you doing in there???"

Me: "Putting on earrings to minimize the damage."

I don't think it helped much.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rainy Day Nuthin

A cold, drizzling rain was falling when I woke up this morning. Hubby yelled from the kitchen, "Do you want to skip sheetrocking today and stay home?" I yelled back, "More than life itself!"

So we flopped around in our PJs all day and watched West Wing and numerous episodes of Law & Order. We ate cold pizza for breakfast and warmed over pizza for supper. It was heavenly.


Cheezburger the Porch Cat has decided he likes it inside better than outside. I won't allow him in until late at night after everyone else has gone to bed. He gets rambunctious with the old lady cats and I don't want them to have a heart attack due to his presence. Poor Chelsea is a rickety 16 years old and she just can't take the excitement.

Cheezburger stayed in all night last night and went outside this morning to eat breakfast. When he was finished he wanted right back in. I'm standing at the front door looking down at him with his nose glued to the storm door waiting for it to open. Hubby is piled up nearby with his coffee and the morning newspaper.

"Your cat wants back in," I say to Hubby.

"So let him in" he replies from behind the paper.

I ponder that a moment. Cheezburger has been in for eight hours or so and he has just eaten breakfast. He probably hasn't left the porch since it's raining. He probably needs to pee and poo and I don't want that happening in the house.

Looking down at the cat I ask, "Have you taken your morning poop somewhere???"

"Yep" replies Hubby very matter-of-factly from behind the sports section.

"Not you, the cat."


Don't old people inquire about each other's colonic activity? Geez. And why would I have included the 'somewhere' part if I was asking Hubby? That's a little more than disturbing. We only have one potty.

"Have you taken your morning poop somewhere Honey?"
"Where exactly?"

I wouldn't want to step in it or anything.


Cheezburger still has the quick wits of an outside mouser and chases anything that moves. He was sitting on Hubby's desk when something up in the air caught his eye. He meowed that "I'm gonna eat that" meow and started pacing back and forth trying to figure out how to get to it. I couldn't see anything but guessed he had spied a bug up there somewhere. He continued to mewl and started to climb the bookcase.

Finally I figured out he was after the second hand on the wall clock! He worked at it quite a while, long enough for me to get a picture.

This is one big honkin' cat by the way. He is all meat and muscle, so very unlike our little lightweight old lady housecats. If he gets between your feet it's like tripping on a cinderblock.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Sheetrocking, The Saga Continues

The demo work at the farmhouse is complete. New thermal pane windows have been installed. A new closet has been framed out. (Please let my calculations for the rough opening be correct.) All critter holes in the exterior siding have been plugged, screened, caulked, and tarpapered over. Exterior walls have been insulated. Wiring has been run for the closet light. All sheetrock has been hung and the first round of tape and mud has been applied. That's seven days of work since finding the snake if anybody is keeping track.

Hubby and I have decided we are too old and out of shape to do construction work for more than two days at a time. We work two days and rest two days. Of course each day of work involves a three hour round trip driving over the back roads of rural Arkansas in a work truck. The trip alone beats us up pretty good and Hubby is already tired when he arrives to start work.

Friday we started the taping and mudding phase. Mudding sheetrock is probably the worst task on a rehab job. We learned how to mud sheetrock by trial and error so there is probably an easier way to do things. We've also probably forgotten a few tricks we learned along the way because too many years pass between sheetrocking projects. Of course each time a room is completed I vow I'll never sheetrock again, but somehow I keep getting dragged back into these farmhouse projects. The good thing about our inexperience is that no matter what we do, no matter how many mistakes we make, it always looks 100 times better than it did. Our motto: "It ain't perfect, but it's better than it wuz."

Saturday we sanded down the first mud. I forgot that sanding sheetrock is actually a worse job than mudding. We wear masks but I know half a pound of gypsum dust is probably sitting in my lungs right now; they are on fire. I always wonder if I'll end up with sheetrock dust pneumonia. My neighbor ended up in the hospital for seven days with it when they remodeled their living room.

Hubby put a box fan in the window to help exhaust some of the dust. He set it up on the sill, looked down at it, took it back out of the window and starting taking the grill off.

Let me pause for a moment in the story and tell you about my husband's obsession with box fans. We have two in our house that run 24/7. He loves the noise and the blow. I hate the noise and the blow. He is obsessive about keeping them clean. He periodically takes them completely apart and cleans them with a toothbrush and toothpick. Nary smidge of dust nor cat hair is tolerable on the precious box fans. In truth they would probably last a lot longer if he would clean them a little less fastidiously and a lot less often.

So he starts taking the grill off the box fan at the farm. I'm thinking, "Hellz bellz boy, don't clean the fan now, clean it after we get through sanding. A cat hair isn't gonna hurt a damned thing with this mess!" I go over to rip him a new one and I see what he sees. There is a dead mouse in the fan. Fairly large, healthy looking mouse except he's dead and all. Now how in tarnation did a mouse get inside a box fan? He was too big to fit through any space in the grill, and the housing of the fan was metal. It's a mystery, but there he was. Somehow he got in and couldn't get out and died in there. Ugh.

You will note I mentioned cat hair. Yes, there are four cats at the farm. Indoor cats. Worthless beasts apparently. I vote to turn them out and let them become hawk or coyote food. Might as well be good for something. Obviously they are not mousers.

So add one more dead critter to the list. (The mouse, not the cats.)

Having all these wild critters in the house without me knowing they were there would give me a big ol' case of the heebie jeebies. But that's life on a farm. Hubby's momma wouldn't trade it for nuthin'.

I'm glad I'm a city girl.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sheetrocking, Part 2

Holy Cow! I never finished with the rest of the sheetrocking story. Pfft!

So Hubby and I arrive at the farmhouse to find the yard dogs toting around a dead bunny. Add another dead critter to the list. The bunny didn't have a mark on him so the dogs must have run him to death.

Poor bunny. I felt so bad for him, really I did. He was out there in the woods, minding his own business, getting himself a little bunny breakfast, and the stupid yard dogs run him down for no good reason.

And yes, they're pretty stupid. Their names are Who Me? and Why Not?, so named because of the perpetual dork look on their faces. The vet's office thinks the names are a hoot.

So we go in and get the sheetrock hung in the living room. Hubby is keen to start taping and mudding, but his momma decides she wants all new sheetrock in her bedroom and wants the "homemade" closet torn out.

The farmhouse was built by a little old man using lumber he cut from the property. He didn't know doodley-squat about home construction so nothing is done to standard. It's a nightmare to try to do any repairs to the place. We can only dream about studs being 16 inches on center. There's not one in the whole place.

So we tear out the whonky closet. This involves crowbars, sledgehammers, and a reciprocating saw. Lots and lots of banging noises and screeching saws. We get the structure down and most of it hauled out but there is still a huge pile of crap in the middle of the floor.

It's hot, dusty work, so I take a break and head for the kitchen for something wet to drink. Hubby is still in the bedroom banging down the rest of the sheetrock on the exterior wall.

In just a few minutes we hear Hubby yelp. We can tell there is something bad wrong. It wasn't the type of yelp where something nasty like a mouse poop has fallen on your head. That's actually a common occurrence when we open up the walls at the farm. One day I will probably contract hanta virus out there.

This was a yelp like I-need-help-now-get-in-here. We go running in the bedroom and Hubby is on the far side of the room white as a sheet.

"What's wrong??? Are you OK? Are you hurt?"

He can only point to where we had been working. I look and see nothing. No blood. That's a Good Thing. I look back at him.

"Down there", he says and points again. "I yelled 'Snake!'"

I peer over the pile of sheetrock debris and see this....


"Is it alive?" I asked, trying to size up the threat level. I couldn't imagine a snake would have hung around with all that banging and sawing going on. He would have had ample opportunity to depart before we exposed him to daylight. I figured he was dead. Dead critters in the walls are also not that unusual at the farm.

Then it moved!

It was a big, muscley, meaty slither. This sucker was very much alive and quite healthy.

I SCREEEEEEEAMED like a girl, me being a girl and all, and ran out of the room.

Hubby's yelling after me, "Get the camera, get the camera!"

I retrieve the camera from the truck and come back in to snap a picture. The snake still hasn't moved from the hole in the wall. As I'm trying to focus Hubby keeps urging me to get closer. Oh not no but hell no. The camera has a zoom and that's all the close I need to get.

"What kind of snake is it honey?"


The big damn wall snake was toted outside on the tip of a very long brush ax.

Add one more critter to the list.

Poor snake. I felt so bad for him, really I did. He was curled up in the wall, minding his own business, getting himself a little snake nap, when a stupid yard husband comes along....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Road to Sheetrock

Friday night Hubby comes home and tells me I have to hang sheetrock the next morning. Oh joy. Hubby is in the process of rehabbing his mom's old farmhouse...again. This time it's the living room and her bedroom.

She wanted new hardwood floors and once the old carpeting was ripped out she thought new windows would be nice. Oh, and a new hearth, and crown molding, and while you're at it.... Sigh.

The living room got demolished down to the studs. Hubby and his brothers finished the demo last weekend. During the week Hubby replaced the windows, repaired the exterior wood siding, replaced rotten studs, rewired electrical outlets, and insulated the exterior walls by himself.

The next step was to hang new sheetrock but he couldn't do that alone. All three of his big, strapping brothers suddenly and mysteriously had other plans for the weekend. That left me. Oh, my joy was immense.

I've been going to bed about 6:00 am and getting up around the crack of noon. Hubby told me I had to be in the truck ready to leave at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, and that was too late as far as he was concerned. We have an hour and a half drive to get to the farm and daylight was a-wastin'. The late hour was a concession to me.

I'm not a morning person, especially not after just two hours of sleep, and knowing I'm going to have to spend the day hanging sheetrock. I step out the door Saturday morning to find Cheezburger the Porch Cat has had a successful night hunting. He left us a dead baby mole and a skullless (sic?) mouse. The face is still there but the top of the head is missing. The little mouse brain is still in place and shining bright pink in the morning sun. Barf. How did Cheezburger manage that I wonder?

I stagger out to the truck and hunker down in a rather foul mood. The black cloud of seething resentment is visible over my head. My brain had not yet began to function. I need caffeine. Hubby knows not to speak to me or I'll rip him a new one. He brought Pepsi out of self preservation.

We drive in silence for about 15 minutes. We pass a church sign that reads, "Pray for the harvest, but continue to hoe." My brain couldn't quite comprehend what that was supposed to mean, either at face value or in a biblical sense. The Pepsi had not yet kicked in. After a few minutes it registered.

Then I smirked.

Pook! My little devil horns pop out. I break the long silence.

"I *so* want to steal me an "E".

Hubby smirks.

"You are so bad."

Bwahahahaha. He knew exactly what I was talking about. We have lived together waaaaay to long.

A few more miles down the road, there was a dead coon splattered on the center line. Five feet away was a mangled deer. I wondered if the deer was on his way to sniff the dead coon when he got hit, or the coon was en route to sniff the dead deer. It was odd. Of course I had to ponder on that a while.

There were so many dead critters on the road we started keeping count. Final tally: 5 deer, 3 coons, 2 possums, 1 skunk, 2 armadillos, 3 cats, 1 dog, 1 chicken, and a goat. Yep, a goat. Have no idea where he came from. Somebody is gonna be really mad when they figure out they've lost a goat.

A few more miles down the road was a little man walking along pulling a little utility cart thingy loaded with his belongings. Hubby said he had seen the guy walking through Our Town a few days earlier. Dude must be walking cross country. Sign on the back of the cart: "REVOLT - Fight for Jesus." Wasn't Jesus a pacifist??? Oh, the irony.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trifecta of Nothingness

Big sigh. I'm still stuck in arty mode so my wordy mode is on the wan. I've been doing illustrated journal entries on the mundane happenings in my life and I've got a post every day for those. I guess my life was always mundane and I just didn't realize it.

I've been thinking about margins lately. Some of these arty types run their artwork to the edge of the page in their little journal books. EEK! That goes against all that is good and sacred in my wee little perfectionistic OCD heart. There *must* be a margin! It's written in stone somewhere! We were trained to have margins on writing paper by the insidious notebook paper manufacturers. You will respect the little red line!

I pondered on that a while because it bugged me, really it did. There's no margin on the page. Nowhere is it written in stone. So why is it that I think there needs to be a margin? What kind of margins have I put up in life for myself? Where have I drawn those lines in the sand that I will not cross? What things in life have I missed because they were too close to the edge and I felt the need to respect the margin?

Dang, it's these kinds of questions that keep me up at night. The introspection, the endless questions, the existential crises. Crap, why has a one-inch bit of paper given me such grief?

Must ponder on this some more.

And the gratuitous "Awwwww" picture:

This photo was titled, "Halloween Kitties". Hummm....Almondine looks more like a Playboy Bunny with those ears. And she's topless too! Future career???

My sister's gonna kill me for that comment.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Arty Stuff

I've been obsessing this week on arty stuff. I figured blogging endlessly about arty stuff would run off the few intrepid readers, so I saved it all up for one big summary post.

I was looking at some other people's arty stuff on-line and I saw a painting this lady had done of aspen leaves. It had lots of bright colors and she used bright blue and bright orange for the bark of the tree. I've been trying to draw things too realistically lately and wouldn't have given myself permission to use bright blue for a tree. I decided I would draw and paint me some blue trees dammit.

When I sit on my front porch, the view of my neighbor's house is framed beautifully by the two little live oaks in our front yard. It's a scene I've been meaning to sketch, so I thought I would draw it and make the trees blue. When I got the rough sketch down I decided the little house was too boring if the trees were blue. It needed some whimsy. So I made it into a little hobbit house with curved walls, round windows, and a thatched roof...and a Hobbit Accord in the driveway.

I got it all inked and was very proud of the result.

But I'm not a painter. I didn't want to mess up this perfectly charming drawing with a lot of messy paint. And it would be messy if I painted it, trust. So I scanned the drawing then printed it on watercolor paper using my laser printer. I painted on the copy instead of the original then re-inked the whole thing. It came out a little coloring book looking, but I think it's OK for my second watercolor ever.

The challenge this week for the sketch group was "Extreme Close-up." Folks were supposed to guess what the drawing was. Here's my entry, can you guess what it is?

I was originally planning on doing this drawing with colored pencils. My heart wasn't in it so I abandoned it and started a fresh sketch using a ballpoint pen. I *love* doing pen and ink drawings. I guess technically ballpoint isn't pen and ink, but I don't know what else to call it.

Anyway, I retrieved the first sketch (I was going to throw it away) and decided to use it for watercolor pencil practice. I scribbled on the colors and swooshed them with water and it was kind of meh. Added more pencil, swished some more water, and it was still meh.

Finally broke out the liquid watercolors and went after it with a brush. I finally got enough color on it and it came to life. Not half bad for my third attempt at watercolor.

Me no likey watercolors. They do things I don't understand. The color doesn't stay put and the paper crinkles up and wah, wah, wah. I didn't like watercolors as a kid, and I still don't like them much now. But, I'm trying to expand my horizons. So I keep practicing.

One of the guys in the sketch group kept insisting the extreme close-up was a hook for airships. LOL! I thought that was an imaginative guess if nothing else. So I drew him a hook for airships. Painted it with watercolors for the practice. This would be watercolor #4.

I purchased a cheap little journal for $3.00 two weeks ago and have been writing all my deepest, darkest secrets in it. For such a cheap journal it has amazingly nice paper in it. It seemed a shame to just write words and only words in there. I thought I would give a go to the "illustrated journal" concept that a lot of the folks in the sketch group do. My entry for today:

I *hate* doing laundry. I got the whites washed, but they're still in there wet. Sigh. It's now 2:20 a.m. and I won't have clean, dry drawers for tomorrow. Sigh.

This evening at dusk I was standing out on my front porch and the neighborhood church chimes began to ring. It was a magical moment. You could almost hear the world stop for just a moment to listen. How cool.

I pondered if there was a way to adequately capture the sound and magic of the chimes in some arty way. If there is, I'm too dull to figure it out. I decided to try to capture the chilly lavender sunset framed by the blackness of the neighbor's house and trees. Maybe with that painting I could remember the magic of the chimes. Watercolor #5.

All of these drawings have been uploaded to my Flickr account that I had to open when I joined the "Everyday Matters" sketch group. On Flickr you can click to embiggen each drawing in a really, really big way to see details. You can also see the comments made by the sketch group members on each of my doodles. If you wanna go look at all that, here is a link to my photostream (aka home page) on Flickr:

Specklin on Flickr

I had to use the nickname Specklin 'cuz Speck was already taken. Phooey.

And that was my week - chock full o' arty goodness.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Had a Secret...

I had a secret...but not any more.

A long time ago I posted a long, drawn out rant about what I would do if I were President. I prefaced that rant with the statement that I was the most apolitical person in the U.S. Then for some odd reason I started drawing and posting political cartoons. Did anybody catch that? Anybody wonder about it?

Well, there's a story behind that and I'm fixin' to give you the long-winded version.

When I was drawing the hotdog cartoon series, Booda kept after me to shop them around for publication and she suggested the small local newspapers. I tried that and got the same response from all: We buy our cartoons through the national syndicates. Not interested, thanks.

Not deterred, I pondered a while on what I could possibly offer them that they would want but couldn't get from the national guys. I hit upon editorial cartoons with local content. There's always something worth lampooning in a small southern town. It's rife with colorful characters doing things they shouldn't oughta.

Our local newspaper has an on-line blog for breaking news. That's kinda funny since this is a small town and they have to dig up news for the daily print edition. Not a whole lot of breaking news going on.

After a while the guy in charge of the blog ran out of steam trying to keep it up. Right about the time I hit upon the local editorial cartoon idea, he posted an open call for readers to submit their own stories of happenings around town.

I sent in a story and also sent a cartoon about the decaying state of the local economy. He loved it, the editor loved it, and it was promptly published on the blog. No money in my pocket, but it got several nice comments from the few loyal deranged readers. A few more were submitted and published, all with more comment love.

Then, out of the blue, the local arts center director lady called. They, in conjunction with the local paper, were sponsoring a political cartoon contest for the general public. The cartoons would be on display in the arts center gallery for all the world to see. "Yeah, OK" I thought, "is she asking me to enter cartoons in the contest or what???" No! They wanted me to do the graphics for all the promotional material!

Woot! A commission! Once again, no money in my pocket, so maybe it's not technically a commission, but there *is* a happy ending to this. She wanted three different cartoons. One would be on the entry form and the other two would be in consecutive editions of the arts center newsletter promoting the contest. She said the entry form with my cartoon would be published in the print edition of newspaper!

Today is the day! I'm somebody! I'm somebody! Here it is....

(click to embiggen)

Yes, the formatting is way more than squished up; it's supposed to be square. Trust me the original looks soooo much better. At least you can still make out the donkey and elephant. If you squint really hard, you can see my signature down in the corner.

So that's my secret I've been keeping all this time; I was fixin' to be published. I didn't want to jinx it by saying it out loud.

I'm a published ar-teest! Woot! Woot! Woot!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Baby Wrangling

I've just returned from a 4-day visit with my sister and the triplets, aka "The Beans". I'm exhausted and smell like clabbered formula.

Let me start this by saying I am NOT a baby person. I have the same inclination to snuggle babies as I do rabid Rottweilers. About all I ever manage when around somebody's baby is a rather forced smile and a quick, "Um, cute kid." Then I cut and run as if my life depended on it. Not a baby person, never have been, probably never will be. Kids know this instinctively and take one look at me and start screaming. Joy.

So, the thought of being trapped in the same house as the triplets for four days had me on edge. I arrived at feeding time and Mamma Bean, not knowing I was not a baby person, handed me one and said, "Here, feed this kid." My sister was smirking at the horrified look on my face. Looking back, they may have planned that. Hummm.....

Lo and behold, Almondine didn't scream and gave me a big ol' grin. I managed to get most of the strained pears poked in the poor child. Only a little bit ended up in her nose and hair. She laughed at me the whole time. For the rest of the visit she was mine, tucked into my left elbow.

Nana is keeping the babies all day by herself while Mamma Bean finishes up the last semester of school. After just a month Nana already looks like she's been through WWIII. She's in a back and wrist brace. She can sing the opening and closing songs to The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, and Go, Diego, Go!.

In the afternoon Nana has "school" for the babies. I think this is more for her benefit than theirs actually. She lines them up in bouncy seats and goes through the repertoire....puppets, books, sound makers, etc. Whatever she says, whatever motions she makes, whatever sound effects she adds, she does it three times; once exclusively for each baby. I didn't make it to the end of school once. I crashed out in the big nursery chair somewhere after the third, "This is the cow [puppet], see the cow, the cow goes moo, moo, moo..."

The second day was a field trip to the ophthalmologist's office during afternoon nap time. Taking three tired, cranky babies on a long ride then having a stranger poke things in their eyes is simply lovely. I jiggled upset babies for an hour in the doctor's office. Phew!

I sang and rocked trying to keep them happy and entertained. I went through all the kiddie songs I could remember then started on In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a bullfrog), and some old bluegrass tunes. I was getting the stink eye from a lady in the waiting room. I guess she didn't think Iron Butterfly was appropriate for 7-month-olds.

So over the course of the last four days I did lots of baby wrangling. I discovered at this age they are pretty sturdy and rubbery. I didn't have to be so afraid of holding them "right." Anything shy of dropping them headfirst on the floor is right. Their favorite sound is the kissy sound. Kissy sound will elicit a big smile and thus a hole in which to poke strained pears. Lots and lots of kissy sounds made this week.

Somehow I managed to skirt diaper duty for the entire time. I thought I might actually attempt a poopy diaper (would have been my first diaper ever!) this morning, but I thought better of it and let Nana do the dirty work. It was a good thing too because that monster was loaded. Ewwwww! The babies are trained to poop at exactly 11:30 a.m. each morning. I don't know how they get three babies to do that together on cue, but they do.

Anyway, I'm back home now, still smelling of clabbered formula. I survived the rabid Rottweilers...and they *are* cute kids.

I already miss their sweet little smiles.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Touch the Money

I joined an on-line sketching group called "Everyday Matters." They have a weekly challenge to draw ordinary objects around the house. Since I'm such a hermit I thought that would be right up my alley.

This week's challenge was to draw paper money. The moderator said it would be interesting to see all the different kinds of money from around the world. Hubby has a small collection of international coins and paper money so I got him to dig it out. I picked a dozen of the prettiest and most interesting bills and laid them out to start the sketch.

My brain apparently was a bit Type-A with this challenge and decided a quick sketch wasn't going to be good enough. It turned out to be a full-blown art project.

I seriously underestimated the time it would take to draw 12 monies. I could only get about two done per day before my eyeballs exploded. I have a whole new appreciation for counterfeiters.

More than once I thought I would just give up and call it done. I pulled a Herculean drawing session last night and finally finished. I'll get to that in a minute but first I want to tell you a story.

I'm still a little kid at heart and when I draw I crave instant gratification of praise and encouragement. When I finish a drawing I squeal at Hubby, "Wanna see?" He, of course, has the patience of Job so he always say yes.

After each bill was finished I would trot over with the sketchbook and lay the real dollar next to the drawing for comparison. He would coo appropriately and pat me on the fanny and say, "Very nice" because, ya know, he has the patience of Job and knows with appropriate pacification I'll cook him dinner.

So, I finish the third bill in the series (the red and yellow Philippines one) and trot it over to him.

Instead of the usually nonchalant, "Very nice", he sits up, puts on his glasses, intently studies the drawing for a minute, then runs his finger across it.

"Why did you touch it like that???"

"I thought you had glued a color photocopy to the page and I was feeling for the edge."

Wheeeee! That's some high praise there. If someone thinks you faked it, you're doing a good job. It made my day. He got chicken fried steak for dinner that night.

Here is the finished drawing with all its warts and glory. (Click to embiggen)

Some of my favorite bits are these two portraits. They are the size of a thumbprint to give you some idea of the scale. This is some eyeball-killin' work with a ballpoint pen, lemme tell ya what.

And I really liked how this temple came out. It's about the size of a thumbprint too.

For the next EDM drawing challenge I don't think I will be so ambitious. My old eyeballs just can't take it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Text Life

After the funeral the other day, Clan Speck invaded my sister-in-law's house. We took her daughters with us while she went back to her in-law's house halfway across the county.

Rachael the niece, age 12, was all meshuganah.

"I want to text my friend Brandi but my cell phone is in Mom's car!" she wailed. We shrugged our shoulders; not much could be done about it. She would just have to wait for her mom to get home.

Twenty minutes later....

"I *have* to text Brandi." This was accompanied by high drama arm flinging, eye rolling and facial contortions.

Twenty minutes later....

Shriek! "I so need to text Brandi I can't stand it." More little girl histrionics.

Ten minutes later the phone rang. It was Brandi wondering why Rachael hadn't been returning her text messages. Rachael was outside playing.

"Rachael! Brandi's on the phone! Do you want to talk to her?"



I fear our younger generation will forget how to talk to each other face to face. They will sit in the same room and have a conversation by tapping away on tiny electronics. Their larynges will shrivel and disappear from disuse and their thumb muscles will be as big as cucumbers.


My niece (the triplet's mom, not the 12-year-old) can carry on a conversation while tapping a text message on a 12-button cell phone without even looking at it. She could probably change a baby's diaper with her free hand if pressed. I have a photo of her holding and bottle feeding TWO babies in one arm and texting with the free hand.

Me, it takes all my powers of concentration and both thumbs to figure out how to punch in my own home phone number on a cell phone. Gah!!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Catching Up

Hummm.....where to start?

An elderly neighbor who lived three doors down passed away on the 17th. Her son Junior took the few things he wanted and gave Janie (her across-the-street neighbor) and I carte blanche to use our womanly sense to go through the house and toss or donate things appropriately. Stuff was heaped head high throughout the house. We worked all last weekend clearing things out.

Most of it was pure-dee trash: bags and bags and bags of plastic bags, boxes of empty boxes, utility bills from the 1960s and 1970s, unopened junk mail from the past decade, crappy plastic knick-knacks. What is it with little old ladies and the hoarding of plastic bags, empty boxes and plastic butter tubs??? It made me want to come home and throw away everything in my house but the furniture. Junior still has lots to go through but at least the trash is gone so he can see what's there.

I took a few things: a T-shirt, a new leather purse, a couple of books, and a few handkerchiefs. They had that little old lady smell to them and sat on my porch all last week airing out. The books are still out there.


I drew some McCain political cartoons here, and dabbled with my first attempt at watercolors here.


I spent Monday and Tuesday designing and drawing two logos for Our Town. The tourism promotion board folks are having a logo contest to update the look of their promotional material. The winner gets $1,000, second place $500. What the hey, I can draw. I sent them in. We could use the money.


Wednesday we went to the funeral of my brother-in-law's father. It hacked me off severely. The man was a well-loved major figure in the little town where he lived. He achieved some major accomplishments in his lifetime. He was an active member of the little church where the funeral was held.

With all the people that knew him, with all that he had done, the only time he was mentioned during the funeral was when the preacher read the obit from the program. The remaining time was the preacher practicing his Sunday sermon. Not even a humorous fishing story.

Could they find no one to stand up and eulogize this poor guy? Dang. I ended up doodling a sketch of the preacher on the back of the program and scribbling snide comments about the sermon. Sigh. There's an hour of my life I'll never get back.


Thursday I looked for more lost alums.


Friday I had a Brian Wilson day. I locked myself in the bedroom and told Hubby and the cats they were under threat of death if they bothered me. I watched a marathon of CSI: New York and tried to get a little alone time.


Saturday the particulate count in the house got toooooo high. I had to clean. I pulled apart every room in the house except the kitchen and cleaned things like they ain't never been cleaned before. Stuff got washed, scrubbed, waxed, polished, detailed, bleached, scoured, repaired, whatever. House is much happier. My hands and back not so much.


Sunday I rested and napped...and blogged.


I realized tonight that I forgot my sissy's birthday last week. All she ever wants for her birthday is acknowledgement of the day...a phone call or a card. I did neither. Crap.

She always remembers mine.

I feel lower than snake poo.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

# 5 Washtub for Miss Healthypants

This was too long for the comments section, plus I wanted to show photos. For those folks who know what a #5 washtub is, move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

For Miss Healthypants who was apparently raised on concrete, this is a #5 washtub:

Country folks all had one and it hung on a peg on the back porch. On Saturday night it was filled with water (while still on the back porch) from the well and you took a bath in it. Your legs hang over the sides and there is lots of sloshing. That's why baths took place on the back porch.

Of course most country folk don't look like this lady during a Saturday night bath.

After indoor plumbing came along the washtub wasn't used for baths anymore but all grannies kept one anyway. If you got too dirty playing outside, your grandma might snatch you nekkid and plunk you in the washtub out in the yard to knock off the big chunks before she let you back inside.

If you got annoying she would plunk you in the washtub along with some dishwashing liquid and a garden hose and let you entertain yourself for a couple of hours blowing bubbles. You got to wash the yard dogs too while you were out there. Grandma was a smart cookie.

Eventually, the washtub would rust out and wouldn't hold water anymore. At that point you either planted maters in it or turned it into a washtub bass.

I worked with a guy who could wail on a washtub bass. I was amazed that an old tub, a 1x4, and a piece of clothesline could really make tune at that!

And that, Miss HP, is a #5 washtub.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Doodles

A collection of doodles:

I went shopping at Goodwill on Friday but had to cut the trip short because I got a

Crap! The notion of a turtlehead stuck in my brain and ya know how that'll be there until I draw it.

The electricity went out Saturday afternoon as the outer bands of Hurricane Ike started throwing tornados around the county. I sat in the semi-darkness and doodled while listening for weather reports on the emergency radio. Why an eyeball? I don't know. Maybe because I couldn't see well at the time.

Watching the storm surge bash the seawall at Galveston on TV earlier in the day I wondered how sea critters fared in a hurricane.

The horseshoe crab came to mind because I had watched some weird program on animal evolution 20,000 years from now. They had these funky octopus monkey things swinging through the trees and a ginormous T-Rex sized squid that fed on them. Gloriously weird show.

Anyway, one of the strange new critters was a horseshoe crab looking thingy that was the size of a #5 washtub and the terror of the ocean.
Anybody besides Uncle Buck know what a #5 washtub is?

And then in the fading darkness I drew all that I could see...the armillary sphere outside the window in the garden. It's a little whomperjawed because I couldn't make out where all the circles crossed (it's all dark and rusty anyway.)

Tonight I was piddling around with a ball point pen, doodling on a notepad that was supposed to be my grocery list. It developed into a shoe instead. Obviously I wasn't too motivated about making a grocery list.

And these are a couple of rough pencil sketches I did back this summer and unearthed cleaning up my computer nest. The guy is from a photo in my hometown newspaper.
I got one eye perfect. The other one looks like he has a big ol' cataract. I think there was something funny about that eye in the photo anyway.

Just a sweet doggie cuz I like sweet doggies. I really miss my doggie.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wishing for the Graveyard

I've been busy this past week doing volunteer work for the alumni office of the little college I attended. I am their Friendly Internet Stalker, searching for chronically lost alums, updating addresses of the living, and verifying the dead.

We've been working on the classes of 1950 through 1959 trying to get the database clean. Before 2003 nobody had the time, tools or technology to keep it up-to-date. Some of the addresses are the alum's parent's addresses from back in the '50s...General Delivery, Toad Suck, AR. (Yes, there really is a Toad Suck, Arkansas.)

It's a hoot to call up little old ladies and gents and yak with them about anything and everything. I've found friends of my parents and grandparents, distant cousins, and quite a few colorful characters. Every life is a story and even these 'ordinary' people have some pretty interesting tales to tell.

Back when I first started doing this three years ago, the folks in the alumni office thought I was some kind of a miracle worker. Alas, I've taught them all my tricks so they can easily find folks themselves using a few on-line resources. Now they send me just the hardcore, chronically lost.

It takes about eight hours or so per alum digging around through various ancient records, putting two and two together, then calling some distant relative to verify information for these folks. Usually this list includes the most common names (which are much harder to find): Mary Smith, Margaret Wilson, Bobby Jones, etc. I praise the saints when I get the odd duck like Violet Genevieve Argonaught Brokowski. Easy.

Anywho, I'm looking for a Robert L. Johnson, (June 1917 - ???), deceased. We don't have a date of death or a social security number for him. Obviously my counterpart in the alum office didn't find him in the on-line Social Security Administration List of the Dead, a.k.a. SSDI. We try to verify that everyone marked dead is actually dead. With the very common names sometimes the wrong John Smith got auffed in years past.

I find our guy in the cemetery in the town where he last lived. Matching name and exact date of birth, died in 1977. There isn't a spouse listed in his record so I go looking to see if I can determine if he was married. Lots of alums marry alums, so finding the correct spouse means clearing up two records.

His headstone is a single, but in the little cemetery there is a listing for Evelyn S. Johnson, "loving wife of Robert L. Johnson". She has a double headstone with Robert L. Johnson, Jr. (1958-1988). Yay!, got her.

Evelyn died just two years ago so I look up her old address and phone number. It shows her in the household along with Robert L., no age (which usually means that person is deceased.) I cross reference that to the current phone listings and it shows up still as an active number under Robert's name.

It's not unusual for a wife to leave the phone in hubby's name long years after he dies, so that part didn't bother me much. What bothered me was the number was still active two years after everybody was seemingly dead. Hummm.... So I call the number.

Lo and Behold! Robert L. Johnson answers the phone. We chat for a little bit as I explain who I am and what I've found. He is not our alum because he was born in June 1919, not June 1917, plus he graduated from a different college. He confirms that Evelyn is his recently departed wife and she is buried next to their son.

He seems like a sweet little guy but very lonely. He heaves a sigh and says that it's supposed to be the husband who dies first and leaves the wife with all the insurance payoffs and pension funds; that no man should outlive his wife and son. He fills his days with volunteer work with Alzheimer's patients, allowing their caregivers to have a day off every now and then.

I'm busily taking notes and I say softly, to myself really, "So it's *your* wife in the cemetery....(scribble, scribble, scribble)....buried next to *your* son....(scribble, scribble)....but it's not *you* in the cemetery....."

He sighs again and says, "Yeah, but I wish it was."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tap Shoes

Out on the porch the other night, I hear the strains of a lively tune from some old musical on TV. My foot automatically moves on its own...ta-tick, ta-tick, ta-tick, muscle memory of the tap shuffle from eons ago. I look down at the plastic crocs on my feet and long for my old tap shoes.

I loved, loved, loved my tap shoes. They were black, patent leather Mary Janes with a grosgrain ribbon tie.

They were flat "little girl" tap shoes. Only the girls who had been tapping for years got to wear tap shoes with heels.

I would wear them around the house because I liked the sound of the clickity-click they made on the hardwood floors. It drove my mother nuts. She would yell at me to take them off so they wouldn't scratch the floors.

What she didn't know was in the afternoons before she got home I would roll back the living room rug and tap my little heart out.

I tapped with the grace and coordination of a wounded walrus. I probably looked a lot like the bee girl in the Blind Melon video, but I didn't care. I was tap dancing!!!

Just for that brief moment in time I was Gene Kelley, singing in the rain and tapping away through the rain puddles. I was graceful and talented and the movie producers were knocking on my door, begging me to be in their next big musical. I was the toast of Hollywood AND Broadway.

Then at 5:00 pm I would take off my tap shoes and roll the living room rug over my dreams for another day.

I didn't learn much in the few months I took lessons but shuffle-hop-step and "shuffle off to Buffalo." At least that's all I remember. But every now and then I hear a song that calls for a tapdancer to do it justice, and my right foot begins the ta-tick, ta-tick, ta-tick involuntarily.


I still dream of being Gene Kelley and I still miss my Mary Jane tap shoes.

And I still look a lot like the Bee Girl.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Tale

Mr. Hotdog and Cindy Lou were camping this weekend and Hubby wanted to go out for a visit. I slogged around Saturday and didn't get myself in gear soon enough, so I promised him I would go to bed early so we could start out early Sunday.

Well, the best laid plans.... I got involved with watching Hurricane Gustav track towards New Orleans and figured this would be a repeat of the nightmare of Katrina. Then I started to draw. Always a bad idea to start drawing at 10:00 pm when I should get up early the next day.

I finally went to bed at 6:00 am Sunday after staying up all night piddling with this:

After just three hours of sleep, Hubby woke me up and we started off for the campground. On the way we passed a church sign: "God has a big eraser." I think it is supposed to mean that God will forgive and forget all your sins, but I got a whole 'nuther message:

Yeah, I think funny.

At the campground there was a temporary corral with horses down by the lake. Odd, but I guessed it was somebody running from Gustav. Yep, Louisiana plates. Hubby had to stop and find out the rest of the story.

The guy and two other families had escaped from New Iberia, LA. He said (with a delightful Cajun accent) after Katrina the water had come within two feet of his house. He had ridden in an air boat over two-story houses. He said he wasn't sticking around for Gustav and he wasn't leaving his animals. He had packed eight horses, two cows, and a Shetland pony in the cattle trailer...and the pig in the ice chest.

The pig was on the grill and smelling mighty fine. They were trying to get everything cooked before the rain set in. He was appalled to find nobody sells beer in Arkansas on Sundays. Yes, we're a backward state.

They had left New Iberia at 2:00 pm and had to stop and swap trucks somewhere along the way because one had lost an oil pan. They arrived at the campground at 10:30 pm and finally got the corral up and the horses watered and fed at 2:00 am.

The horses were stressed from the trip and the tight quarters and were biting each other on top of a sunburn. Mr. Cajun agreed they didn't have an ideal situation here, but, "Ees bedda dan swimmin'."

We got to Hotdog and Cindy Lou's camp and Cindy Lou's brother was there too. He's a Harley Davidson guy and has a little pop-up camper trailer he pulls behind his hog.

(click to embiggen)

Cindy Lou liked this sketch so much she wants to frame it and hang it in Brother's Harley Davidson themed bachelor pad living room. I just rolled my eyes.

We finally headed home after a long, hot day of swatting skeeters and picking ticks and chiggers. I made Jambalaya for dinner in honor of our Cajun guests. Man, it was good.

Hubby made me a root beer float for dessert and I promptly fell asleep on the couch around 8:00 pm with my glasses on and Hurricane Gustav coverage blaring on the TV. Around 3:00 am I woke up to find I was clutching a plastic coffee can.

What the hell??? I don't even drink coffee. Why did I have a death grip on this thing? Hubby swears I woke up, had a conversation with him about how I wanted it for some project, and took it from him. I don't remember anything about it.

Sleep deprivation doesn't suit me well.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Breaking in the Sketchbook

So, I have a new sketchbook. What should I put in there? In my brain a sketchbook is a place for doodles, just bits and pieces of stuff that float around. Maybe a place to try out different drawing techniques. My dilemma was whether or not doodles would be worthy of a leather bound volume with fine papers.

Golly, I've seen other artist's sketchbooks and they seem to do complete artwork in their sketchbooks. I don't quite understand that because the artwork is forever bound in a book and most of it spans two pages. How would you ever display that? Would you want to display that? So I pondered on these things for a day or two.

I finally decided that an empty sketchbook was worthless. It had to have something in it. So I decided to write or draw whatever was on my mind. I don't think there are "rules" for what is supposed to be contained in there, so I was free to make up my own rules.

Rule #1: Write/draw something every day.

Rule #2: Lead free

Lead free means no pencil sketches that will later be inked. It means drawing with ink *only*, so if there are boo-boos, the boo-boos are there to stay. No "go-backs." I'm not getting graded on this stuff after all. Lead free will also make me think a little bit before the pen hits the paper. It will force me to "see" what I'm about to draw and really study it. I need to get it right the first time. Re-drawing takes a lot of time and saps the joy out of drawing.

I opened the sketchbook and wrote "Speck's Sketchbook" on the first page and drew a box around it. At the bottom of the page I noted who had given me the book and the date. Phew! No mistakes so far. On the next page I wrote the story of the digital tablet and the surprise sketchbook. So far so good.

Then I faced a blank page. Now what? I remembered a comment from Yellowdog Granny, (paraphrased) "If you can draw a horse's ass, you can draw McCain." So I wrote that at the top of the page for inspiration. I tried to draw McCain as a horse's butt. I didn't do too well in the attempt. I changed pens to a finer point one hoping it would help. Hey, if ya can't draw something, blame it on the pen.

The new pen didn't help but it was much more fun to draw with. I let the pen draw whatever it wanted and just sat back for the ride. Here's the result:

There are clips of some of my favorite doodles here if you're interested in seeing some of these close up. I took the best horse's butt McCain sketch and cleaned it up digitally for you Yellerdawg. Oh, and I drew him with short, stubby arms for Sageweb too.

The rest of the doodles are kinda steampunky. I draw nuts and bolts on things that shouldn't have them. Most of my creations would go well in a Myst game.

I've done pretty good with Rule #2 so far. Rule #1 is already slipping. Oh well, such is my boring life.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Toys

Blogger buddy Lost in CO kept bugging me to get a digital drawing tablet. She assured me I would love it. I believed her but money is tight right now and the smallest one costs over $100. Really nice ones with graphics software hit around the $800 mark. "Buy a used one!" she says. "I got mine at a yard sale!"

Well, since no store within a 300 mile radius sells these things, the chances of finding a used one were zero. "No problem!" says Lost, "I've got a friend who will sell you one cheap!"

Not only did the ever-bubbly Lost acquire a used tablet from the friend, she downloaded the drivers, found some graphics software, tested it out on two different computers, then packaged it up and sent it across the country.

My new toy! Woot! It came with an electronic pen and a six-button mouse that I haven't yet figured out what all the buttons are for.

I've become an electronic crackhead with this thing. I don't eat, I don't sleep; all I do is draw. Endorphins are spewing from the right side of my brain. Heaven!

The Obama-McCain political cartoons were all done using this and I was able to tidy up some old pen-n-ink drawings too. I've been experimenting with the settings trying to get the cleanest drawings possible. The Waiter Brought a Tray drawing came out nice and crisp. Woo Hoo!

The ever-bubbly Lost also included a surprise in the box...a GORGEOUS leather sketchbook.

When I opened the box and saw it, the digital tablet was temporarily forgotten. I held the sketchbook to my nose to inhale the rich smell of the leather, and fondled all over the thick, creamy pages. supply orgasm. Then I sat in the middle of the floor, hugged it to my breast, and had myself a good weep.

Lost probably never imagined a chunk of cowhide and wood pulp would elicit such a response. Yes, I love the new digital tablet. It will be a useful tool for a good while, but eventually it will become obsolete and get replaced. The sketchbook however will be CHERISHED forever. I will drag it around with me until the day I die. It will hold all my little brain secrets and will never be obsolete or go out of style. It is a truly magnificent gift.

Thank you Lost for you thoughtfulness and generosity. You will never know how much this gift healed my tattered soul.