Thursday, July 28, 2016

104 and climbing

Another hot day in a long string of them. We won't see any drop out of the 100's until sometime next week. The AC is working non-stop and I'm thankful for the solar panels on the roof as they play a big part in reducing the power bill. At the end of June, the power company owed us about $16 for the year. Our final 'true up' bill in September will not be quite as generous as it will include a very hot July. Either way, it's so much better than it used to be.

We went downtown this morning for coffee with our middle daughter, a habit we like. And while we were there I was able to collect a bunch of pokemon's. Yes, I'm one of those people. I can't walk very far so my ability to hunt them down is limited. But, it is fun!...and it keeps me out of the pool halls.

Interesting...I have observed that most Pokestops, a reloading station, are located at a church. I have no idea as to why that is but it makes it easy to find one when you need it. And Pokemon is denominational!

I'm putting together a collection of my smaller art work and getting ready to print it. Once I see what they look like, framed, I will make the necessary corrections and then submit them for a show at the coffee shop.  Since all the artwork is digital, I will have a ready made portfolio for submission anywhere.      

We have watched a few episodes of Manor House on Amazon TV and find it oddly compelling. It's reality TV of another sort as there are no prizes at all. Hard to describe; it involves masters and servants living in a very old and beautiful English manor house, all set in 1906. And everyone must play their part as if it were 1906. For 3 months. Wood fired stoves in the kitchen and perishables are kept in the cold room where blocks of ice keep it cool. You want steaks for dinner, or maybe a roast? The cook must cut them from a side of beef. They have already gone through 2 scullery maids as that is the lowest position in the household staff. They simply went to their rooms, packed up and walked down the road and away from the job. I could hardly blame them.  The show gives you a whole new look at life in Edwardian England.

Well, back to my brush, palette and canvas...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Life goes on

Yes it does. Day after boring day. Still waiting for my appointment with the ortho surgeon. Some good news; a friend of mine, a retired RN, told me that the surgeon I will be seeing is one of the best. It's nice to hear that from a medical professional. I remember her comments about other doctors and she does not pull any punches.

Okay, I see the surgeon and he orders a few x-rays and an MRI. Then a final consult and a determination is made for the surgery. Then it's a waiting time, usually short, for a surgery date. I might be looking at mid September? Then a lot of PT. Probably 6 months at a minimum.

In the meantime, we have the election to think about. I try not to. The ignorance of the Trump fans is appalling. They are literally brain dead. Do they ever read anything at all? Anything longer than a paragraph? Critical thinking? You know, weighing the evidence?

Best way; assume you know nothing at all. Now search for the truth by looking at the evidence. Not hearsay; real evidence. Benghazi? A heavily partisan congressional committee searched for months to find evidence that Hillary Clinton was guilty in any way for the deaths of the ambassador and others. They could not, much to their chagrin and after spending millions of dollars. That's a fact and is recorded in the Congressional Budget Office. Another  truth is that congress was asked by the State Dept. for an increase in their budget so they might pay for an increase in security for the embassies. It was denied. This was before the attack in Benghazi. Now, who is more to blame? Clinton or Congress? Facts are in the Congressional Record. That's critical thinking.

I read an article in the New Yorker the other day, Trump's Boswell Tells All... you should read it. If you're a Trump fan, go ahead and challenge yourself; read it. I know it's more than a paragraph but you can do it! Then weigh the evidence...

Hillary is not my first choice nor was Bernie. My candidate hasn't shown up yet. And, unless the Democratic Party has a brain transplant, I doubt that candidate will come from there. The party of Roosevelt faded away a long time ago.; a shame. And Bill Clinton was right there, pushing the party away from the Left and over to the center. I expect his wife would continue that family tradition.

Bernie never had a solid plan as to how he was going to govern. If he did, it was never heard. I would have followed Bernie if I were 25 again. But I'm almost 76 and I've seen some things in the past 50 years that makes me wonder if Bernie isn't, somehow, stuck in the 70's, 80's or 90's? He doesn't relate to my view of the 21st century.

I've said too much...I need to retreat to my lair to await the results of all this noise from the arena.

Art is where I need to keep my head. I have been enjoying the pen and pad; digital, that is. I am trying to put together a show that I can submit to the local coffee shop. The wall space between the windows is small; less than 2'. I need to come up pictures that are close to 16" wide and I need about 24 of them. This coffee shop is located in an old Great Northern (Northern Pacific) railroad car. Most of the seats were taken out and some were relocated to provide for table space between them. It's a great venue and pulls in customers from the University, about 3 blocks away.    

I am being optimistic. I need to be selected for a show. And there is a waiting list.  Oh, well. I am enjoying the creative process as they say...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wacom World

Earlier this month I told you about my purchase of a Wacom pen/tablet. This has been a life changer. With this painful hip of mine I can't stand at the easel any more. Wacom has given me a virtual or digital easel to place a canvas of the size I want and then I can paint with any brush or any paint and color. The choice of brushes is limitless. You can tweak them in a million different combinations of length, width, pressure, paint load, how much paint to release in a stroke, opacity and on and on.That goes for the paint as well.

In the past week I have been painting five or six hours a day. (my hip limits my sitting as well, but not as much as standing does) The canvases have not been masterpieces but one or two have been worth saving in a file dedicated to my digital art.

After doing some Emil Nolde style works I have moved on to the works of Sir David Hockney. In his 80's now, he has become a digital artist,turning out work he did on his iPhone or iPad while making the long flights from his home in England to the one in Santa Monica. Here's a link to the next one I will attempt to emulate. Searching hockney digital on Google will show you just what an artist he has been and still is. His bio is lengthy and worth reading.

In the painting I am attempting I have printed out the image of this painting and I'm using it for reference. I already have about 9 hours into the work but I look at his and there is life, abundant! Mine is still flat and dead. But I have plenty of time to inject some life into it. I'll show it you then....

Another momentous occasion

Once again I have had a haircut. I hate haircuts. Always have hated haircuts. I remember being placed, kicking and screaming, on the padded plank that barbers would rest on the arms of their barbers chair,  just for little customers like me. When I was old enough to go to the barber by myself, that was probably when I was 7 or 8 years old. I would resist as long as I could. Finally, my mother would declare that I would go or she would take me there herself! Okay...I would go, but reluctantly. I would usually sit in that shop  for half an hour or more before it was my turn. Now this was time that I actually enjoyed because I could listen to a variety of adults in conversation with one or two of the barbers. Most customers didn't even notice me sitting there so I learned some new and interesting language. Also, they had copies of the 'National Police Gazette' to read along with Mechanics Illustrated or other how-to magazines. This must have been the final years for the National Police Gazette magazine. I have just learned that there is an archive on-line of the magazine and I may go see just what interested me so much in 1947. Even with the distraction of the magazines, I hated every minute of my time under the hands of the barber. And they were rough hands, pushing and pulling my head to suit him. Also, haircuts took a long time back then; at least half an hour or more.

This mother/son struggle with haircuts continued until I was 19 and I joined the Navy. There was no arguing about hair length anymore. It seemed like the Navy was more concerned about hair length than they were about guns and anchors. I soon abandoned all attempts to let my hair grow 'just' a little bit longer. That was for 6 years and then I found that the Navy had altered my brain in some way and I continued to have haircuts on a regular basis, though I still hated them. Not enough to kick and scream but it was hatred.none the less (I also learned that there had always been something a little 'off' in my brain and had been since birth. I have ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'm on the spectrum but I think it's minor because I had learned to cope with the societal distress in most cases)

Then I retired and I refused to go to the barber again. It was heaven! My hair grew long and luxurious. I gathered it up in a pony tail each morning and then let it fall open in the afternoon. I also found a dentist that would put me to 'sleep' for all procedures. No barbers and no dentists to irritate me by constantly touching my head! My ASD was in heaven...

That went on for a few years and then I started to see some disadvantages to having long hair. Disadvantages that every woman knows about. Hair in your face and hair in your food and hair everywhere. You would bend down to sign a document and there was your hair, right in the way. You would wake up in the morning with hair in your mouth. And long hair demanded constant attention. You had to wash and condition it constantly. So I made the decision to go to the polar opposite and I shaved it all off.

I looked in the mirror and I liked the look! And I could wash my non-hair with a wash cloth while taking a shower. The same for keeping it short; a few strokes with the razor while in the shower and my haircut was all over with.But of course there is a downside to being bald. Everything seems to have a downside. My head needed to be covered with a hat if I wanted to go outside. I hadn't thought about that and after a year I decided to let it grow out despite the fact that I was quite handsome; or my head was handsome.

Now with conventional length hair and an old fashioned style I have found Super Cuts. A haircut in 10 minutes. I can handle that. Even though an old family friend does hair cutting  not a 1/4 of a mile away, I prefer the 10 minute haircut. I've had lots of haircuts from this friend when we lived in Susanville and so did she. But her haircuts took about an hour; she was so interesting to talk to that I could usually forget my ASD for the first half. Plus she was the only 'barber' in town. Their were others but they reminded me too much of my boyhood barbers.

I've been tempted, at times, to do the long hair/no hair once again. But, at my age, just the thought of caring for all that hair makes me tired. So I go to Super Cuts once my wife tells me, in no uncertain terms, to get a haircut!

Monday, July 18, 2016


Yes, I go Pokémon Go. My granddaughter came over this morning and I asked her about Pokémon Go. Of course, she had it on her phone. I had been reading about it here and there on the internet and was interested in finding out more about it. I loaded the app on my phone and she quickly found my first Pokémon for me and instructed me in the fine art of catching one. Well, that was easy. Now what do I do? I hope there isn't some limit of Pokemon's that can be caught in a day or do I have to catch a minimum number? Oh, the things you do to entertain your grandchildren. And yourself of course. Still, there are lots of Pokemon questions here...darn! there's one now! It turns out that there is a recharging station (to get more Pokemon Balls) at a close by park, near the 'Jungle Gym' apparatus.

I thought it was all harmless fun and then I read the news and found that someone in Florida (of course) had gone into his house to get a gun and then shot at some Pokemon players. My granddaughter told me that some players have been injured because they have walked into traffic while completely absorbed in the game.

The best thing about this game? I don't have to think about that other pain in my life (that convention)


61st Anniversary

Of Disneyland! I just ran across some photos of that 1955 event and was reminded of just what a momentous occasion that was; if you lived in Southern California. And we did. We had been listening to stories of its construction and of how great it was going to be. We had no idea that it would exceed our imagined reality. I was fourteen at the time and cynical as most teenagers; I didn't believe the hype. My wife was 11 and she was able to go to the park that year. She said it was an incredible feeling to see such a grand, fantastic, beautiful place. Bigger than life! I went in 1957 and my cynicism evaporated when I saw the Matterhorn. I went again in 1958 and then in 1962; Date Night at Disneyland with my girlfriend. I proposed that evening; not at the park but at the beach, closer to home. We went again in 1966 when the park used to be closed to the general public and groups could rent the park for a day. I went with my sheetrock hanging partner and his wife. His father, an L.A. County fireman supplied us with the tickets and we joined hundreds of firemen and their families enjoying a park where the rides were free and there were no lines. If you enjoyed a ride you would get off and get right back on it! Our first born was only 2 and left in the charge of a baby sitter that day. It wasn't till 1973 before we had a chance to return and that was very special as we took the whole family of 5. We stayed overnight at the new Disneyland Hotel just because it was a stop on the Disneyland Monorail. The train would roll right into the hotel at the second level of the lobby and we could go back to the room whenever our youngest needed a nap or? Our oldest was 9, the middle child was 6 and the youngest was 3.

We didn't see the park again until 1992. We had been away for 19 years?! Yet the park had only improved and not fallen into disrepair like so many 'amusement parks'.

With grandchildren we invented our own new family tradition where the grandparents would take the grandchild and parents to Disneyland when that grandchild reached the age of 8. We came up with that age through experience and some facts of the park. You had to be of a certain height to get on some of the rides. We didn't want them to be disappointed at the age of 6, so we came up with the age of 8 as the age where they were going to be tall enough and also more likely to remember their trip for some time.

It was 1992 and our first trip in the tradition and it  was with our 8 year old granddaughter. It was immediately memorable as she made her first ever airplane ride! Then we stayed at a nice hotel near the park and it had a shuttle back and forth to the park. We discovered that the monorail had been rerouted and would never go through the hotel lobby again. Sad. But, it was a great trip and I had a chance to impress my granddaughter even more by renting a Cadillac sedan for us. I didn't tell her that it only cost a few dollars more per day. We also spent a day at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Overall, a wonderful trip for all to remember. It  was also memorable as we were also celebrating her mothers (our daughter) graduation from the University of California, Chico campus with a bachelors degree in education. The first in our family with a degree and we were very proud of her. (this granddaughter also graduated from the same University with a pre-law degree)

Our second granddaughter turned 8 in 2002  and we gave her her first airplane ride as well. This time we stayed at the new Grand Californian  hotel as the 'back door' of the hotel was an entrance to the new California Adventure Park. It made for a quick exit to return to your room for whatever? you might need. Then a short walk with no waiting and you were back in the park. This was the time that my granddaughter asked me if I would go on the big rollercoaster with her? How did I say no? I hated rollercoasters! But this was my granddaughter...I had to say yes. I couldn't let her know I was scared to death. It turned out that I was afraid for no  reason at all. We immediately ran and got in line again! (I think I rode the coaster 8 times on that trip) The hotel was magnificent, especially the lobby, and the cost was not much more than a lot of the close by hotels. Our granddaughter was thrilled by the whole adventure; as were we. And we had 4 more grandchildren to go! (this granddaughter is currently a Junior at the University)

The next time we went, in 2007, we took a grandson and granddaughter as their birthdays were just 2 years apart. We had to wait till Kyle was tall enough to go on all the rides and that made Karlee 9 years old when we gave them their first airplane ride. Kyle caught the eye of the pilot as we were getting on and he was invited to come and sit with the pilots for a while. He was thrilled! Pictures were taken and then we took off. With Kyle back with in his seat of course. Once more we stayed at the Grand Californian and it was just as splendid as it was the first time. Plus we could quickly change our wet clothes with just a short walk. The water feature that has circular rafts? and lots of splashing was very close to the exit/entrance. Since we didn't mind getting wet now, we used that convenience more than once! Disneyland continued to thrill us even though I was now in my 60's. I was still in pretty good health at the time. Yes, Karlee and I rode the coaster. Kyle was not so ambitious. A wonderful trip and never to be forgotten! Now there were just two grandchildren left and they were twins; definitely 8 years old at the same time. In fact they were 9 in 2012. (Karlee is starting at Butte College, a local JC, in the fall)

Being 8 at the same time was a bonus but we had a new problem; Abigayle was the smaller of the two and by quite a bit. Would she be tall enough? Giving grandchildren their first air plane ride was becoming a habit as was staying at the Grand Californian. This time I was already in the lobby and was watching when the twins came through the front door. Their eyes opened so wide! They live in Susanville and go to Reno once in awhile. They had never seen anything like this! And the rest of the trip was much of the same. They loved it all and Abigayle was just tall enough for the rides; just tall enough! We did all of the rides including the rollercoasters. All of them. There were more experiences than I can write about. and it was sad for us, the grandparents, as this was more than likely our last trip to Disneyland and it all started in 1955 when pre-teen Laurae went to the park in its first year.

A digital world

All is normal here; or almost normal. The hammering and other assorted construction noises have started right on time; 6 AM. My hip kept waking me up last night...this hip pain drives me crazy! Unfortunately, that is the 'new normal'. But I have something to fight it now and that's my new Wacom digital pen/board. I've been painting with it every chance I get and I'm getting better at it. Nothing good enough to post here but I think it won't be long. I already have one abstract that was was worth printing and although the printer setting was wrong, I was able to piece it together from the 4 sheets that printed (like a jig saw puzzle) and I like it.

As I said before, a number of artists are giving the digital world a chance. Digital painting has been given a bad rap because of the proliferation of fantasy/science fiction type paintings that have emerged from the digital boards. Now, some big name and middle name artists have tried it and done well. I can see why a very good artist would welcome the chance to 'paint' with the pen as it takes away a lot of the drudgery; such as laying down the correct background. And when you make a mistake you only have to hit Control/Z and the mistake is gone without a trace left behind. I may have given this artist a mention once before, Randall David Tipton. His work is always worth looking at. He's not an abstract painter and he's not a hyper realist. I don't know what school you would put him in but he adventurous enough to have been experimenting with a digital pen as well as Yupo.

Right now I'm following the works of Emil Nolde. I can't forgive him his affection for the Nazi Party and it pleases me that they turned on him and destroyed/banned all of his works and forbade his painting of anything, even in private. But his paintings before that time have their own life and I love his palette of reds, yellows and gold combined with seascapes.

I think I have discovered another benefit from the use of a digital pen to paint with. The pad sits on my right hand side and I must watch the screen in front of me to see the cursor. My hand has to function out of sight. Glancing down won't reveal a thing. I have to turn my head slightly to see the pad and now I can't see the screen/cursor. It's a whole new experience for my brain. Try looking at your monitor while sketching on a notepad on your right. Besides the sketching, you also have to access the menu on your screen to change colors or brushes, all done without being able to easily coordinate the two; your hand and the screen image. I think this is going to do good things for my brain! (learning something new is better than a thousand crossword puzzles) *

* I made up that 'fact'. It's probably closer to a hundred...:-)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Something for everyone

We're just back from a walk. We walked all over the Farmers Markets and then over to Raley's Market followed by more walking in the aisles of Trader Joe's. On the drive home I was telling Laurae that this was the perfect way to go shopping; we started at 7:30 and we were finished by 9:30. Everyone we met was friendly, courteous and helpful. Everyone was smiling and it's contagious. Even more so at Trader Joe's; it is all smiles and laughter there.

I had to pay a price for all the walking. My hip pain afterwards required a double dose of the pain   medication. I saw our regular doc yesterday and he asked me which surgeon was I going to see? I told him Dr. Jones. Oops! It turns out that there are 3 Dr. Jones that do orthopedic surgery and they all work in the same medical group. It's a father and a son and...I don't know for sure what the relationship of the 3rd Jones is. Supposedly, it's the the first Dr. Jones that is the best. You really have to know your Jones's around here. Now I need to email my doc and tell him that all is well, I have an appointment with the preferred doctor.

I have been assured by many that hip replacement is a piece of cake. I also know one, a close artist friend, that has not had a successful replacement. As usual, there are no guarantees.

I've been working with my digital pen/board and I'm seeing some light. I've finished a few simple abstract pieces and I'm using the other software, Art Rage Light, to try out a different look. Now I can paint in the dining room while listening to the library of music on my Mac.

The tomatoes are everywhere and there is every kind of the fruit? vegetable? to see.

The market always has a large supply of flowers. There seems to be more of them than usual this year. My daughter, the one that owns a large nursery/gifts/cut flowers company, told me that she will be doing a lot more of the cut flowers in the days to come.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Some other things in our life

Chico is an odd town. We have a major state university here and we have annual wage levels in the city that are far below the state average while we pay our police and firemen at the same level as Beverly Hills. The University is a predominantly 'Blue' institution while the City Council has a majority of  'Red' council members and the conservative citizens of the town believe that students shouldn't have the same rights as other citizens of the town because...well, they're students! I must admit that I do like this time of the year because the whole downtown area is calm and uncrowded; until the students return for the fall semester.

We are going through a major heat wave here and we're looking forward to the weekend when the temps are supposed to fall back into the 90's. We try and keep the doors and windows closed as well as the drapes. I'm opening the garage in the mornings to bring the temp down and then closing it all up as soon as the temps equalize. Boo, the Magical Cat likes to sleep there at night and I hate to see the temps in the garage climbing towards the high 80's. Even with a fur coat, the heat doesn't seem to bother her. We keep her well watered and that makes me feel better. No, we don't make her go into the garage; she leads me to the door every night.

We are getting used to life without cable or satellite. We keep our TV usage down to 2 shows a night. And those have been on Netflix and Amazon Prime. We've run across some good shows lately; Bleak House, the old Charles Dickens story, was given a great interpretation on a series that was run on Amazon. It's an 11 year old mini series that was new to us and we loved it! Also a good one was Dr. Thorne by Julian Fellowes. I think it was on Amazon as well. So far, we have found the British shows to have the better talent and stories. We just started watching Upstairs, Downstairs and the PBS show Indian Summers.

I do miss the Bleak House show; Mr. Goodweed, Inspector Bucket, Lady Dedlock,and Guppy! All brilliantly over acted by a cast that seemed to be having a great deal of fun with it. If I were an actor, I would love to have a part in this drama.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 last

I've been wanting to drop off of Facebook for quite awhile but I always found some reason to continue. It's incredibly addicting! Even more so when so many people you know are using it to exchange news and videos.

It takes 2 weeks before the deletion is final and it's 2 weeks where they email you constantly, trying to lure you back. It is going to be a long 2 weeks. I really hope I can stay away from Facebook long enough for me to be rid of the attraction it holds for me. I know I can! I know I can!

My time with the compassionate pain doctor is over. She has referred me to an orthopedic surgeon and I will see him in about a months time. In the meantime, the pain continues to increase. I will be seeing my regular doctor that's not a doctor, my incredible PA tomorrow and I will be doing something I would never have thought I would do...I'm applying for a handicapped placard for the car and I need him to complete the form.

Since it's quite difficult to stand at the easel anymore, I have decided to try out something a lot of artists using these days; a pen tablet and some good software to create the size of paintings I want so badly, all done on my Mac. I bought the small and inexpensive model of tablets that Wacom makes and I'm 'renting' the software on a monthly basis. Autodesk, the creators of Autocad, have begun renting the software for most of their products. Their products are very pricey and sales were dropping so the rental program probably makes them a lot of money. SketchBook is the program I'm using and it is incredibly powerful. The live area of the Wacom tablet is probably 5"x 8" and with scaling you can print out a finished painting that 30"x 48", which is my favorite size. And I won't drop any paint on the living room carpet where I'm working.

Well, I'm off to paint...or whatever you want to call it.