The average temperature for this upcoming week should be around 47/25 so it looks like we’ll be having nicer weather than what we deserve (or should have). The maple in our backyard popped over the weekend. I’d expect with these upcoming temperatures, we’ll be seeing more signs of spring shortly. I need to get out on the Bark Park trails and see how the pussy willows are coming along. Friday is the first day of spring, and we’re mid-month now. I really need to get my bike out. I’ve done so little exercise this winter I totally expect to not be able to even get in ten miles.
This little image didn’t come out very well. It’s actually not a bad impression of the reference image, but it’s still not great. Still, in the interest of posting successes and failures, here’s painting #35, in gouache on watercolor paper. I have so many reference photos, but this weekend I just couldn’t get enthused about painting any of them. Maybe it had more to do with motivation and mood than potential images. I did manage to play the recorder each day, so at least I have that going for me.
This week is short, but full of dreadful meetings. Planning on doing continued creek cleanup at Mom’s house this Friday, and hopefully this time I won’t fall in the water. Last time I was in the water, but got stuck in the mud and fell over backwards. Then, as I laid there on my back, my hip waders filled with water. I wound up being wet and muddy from toe to neck. I’ll bring an extra pair of pants on Friday just in case.
Ok, I’m fairly pleased with this one, painting #34. I think the tree on the right could use a little more work, but overall, not bad. The reference image was from a Smithsonian magazine, and it’s done in gouache on watercolor paper.
It’s warmer today and tomorrow, but I don’t want to enjoy it because the next few weeks will be back to cold. Close to average for this time of March, but still. I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to spring, as I don’t like people being outdoors making noise. I do however prefer to not be cold. My lungs seem to enjoy warm, moist air. The opposite of Michigan six months out of the year. I should have gotten my bike out for today. I’m not much motivated to do anything except play the recorder. I am motivated to do that. I’ve been also playing a bit of Beat Saber on the Oculus Quest 2. And watching British mysteries in the evenings while I crochet blankets for the cat room at the shelter.
You may be asking yourself…what? The recorder? If you are a certain age and went to school in Michigan, there’s a good chance you were forced to play the recorder in elementary school. And 30 kids playing the recorder at one time is just as horrific as it sounds. Who knows why we did it. I barely remember. But I recently came upon a professional recorder player on youtube and it really is a lovely sounding instrument. As recorders are hella cheap (for the kind you can learn on, not professional quality of course), I picked one up and decided to learn to play it. And it’s really quite nice. I don’t recall picking up another instrument so quickly. Also, whereas with my other instruments I’ll get tired of playing after awhile…aching neck, sore mouth, etc. there is none of that with the recorder. If only my experience in elementary school had been better, maybe I too would be a professional recorder player now. Here’s a nice little bit of recorder playing for reference:
Painting #31 is an acrylic study of a photo I took some time back. It could use a little more work, but I will likely leave it as is. I’m doing an online class on painting nocturnes now, which is interesting, but I’m having some trouble finding reference photos I like. Am I improving? Who knows. But the time spent painting is time not spent fretting about stressful or unhappy things. It’s impossible to paint and mentally deal with anything else other than paint, brush, and paper. I’ll take it.
The weather is endless gray days and snow. We’ll have a few minutes of sun here and there, and thankfully it’s not been bitterly cold, but I’m feeling the strain just the same. It’s harder to get out of bed and damn near impossible to get off the couch. I did read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which is the first book I’ve been able to finish in some time. Like a year. I don’t know if it’s just my mood or if my new glasses are helping my eyestrain some. I know it’s only 61 days until the official start of spring and we’ll probably have a February thaw and the end of winter will happen. I’m trying to plan on bright things, like a surprise Twin Peaks Day package I’m sending out and Valentine’s gifts for the staff members. Still, it’s a struggle. It’s hard to write letters when I don’t have much to say. It’s hard to take photos when everything is the same color of gray all the time.
There’s no making waves in these parts these days. Everything is cold and gray. The temperatures have hovered around the freeze/thaw cycle since before New Year’s, and we haven’t seen the sun in longer than that. It’s sort of interesting, as the temperatures warm up just enough to start melting the snow which creates fog and then the fog freezes in the air and on all of the surfaces. We had an ice storm over the New Year weekend (and survived it without a working furnace!). It looks like the weather will be more of the same for the ten day forecast, and continued clouds. It is hard to tell between 6am and 11am, 4pm and 8pm. All the same gray. It’s hard to get motivated to get out of bed or to do much of anything.
I’m continuing on with the Class 101 painting class. This section was about making waves. I’ve decided that I don’t really enjoy painting waves. It’s hard to find a good reference photo that worked with the assignment. The painting above (#27, for those who are counting) is in acrylic and had several attempts at it. You were supposed to start with a lighter color and go in for the darker tones. These two paintings were supposed to feature light on top of the waves.
This one is in gouache, and was started with darker and then lighter added in. The shapes are maybe a bit better but it’s still weird. I look forward to moving on to the next lesson and seeing what the assignment is. And I just look forward to painting. Even when it doesn’t turn out how I’d like, I love the process and learn from it. When I’m not painting, I’m often thinking about painting.
I did clean up my office plants a little. Added more soil, fed them. They are looking better. My office itself is a little cleaner, too. I am ready for the January thaw already. 72 days until spring.
Happy New Year! Well, almost. And holy cats, what a year. From rotten politics to COVID and quarantine, we’re not sure if we are coming or going most days. While we look forward to the new year, it’s hard to tell what it will hold. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.
This lovely vintage postcard features
La BreezeMotel 1114 No. Atlantic Ave., on A1A Daytona Beach, Florida Tel. CLinton 3-9165 Ultra Modern Rooms, Apts. And Efficiencies Located Directly On The “World’s Most Famous Beach.” Hot Water Heat Reasonable Rates
O’Brien Color Studios, Daytona Beach, Fla.
The card has not been used, but the writing on the back says:
Hello —– This is a picture of our motel. It is a beautiful
and it cuts off there. The property, according to Google Street View, is now an empty lot.
Wishing you and your family much happiness and great health in 2021.
It seems we are ready for some misc. updates. I’ve been doing better keeping this updated in general this year, but I am lacking on the postcards. I’ll have to work on that.
We’ve had our first major frost, and it’s been colder than average the past week or so. It is supposed to warm up in the next two days before dropping down again so maybe I will get two final bike rides in. I sure hope so.
Mom and I went up to clean up the cemeteries on the 13th, and took the back way home to take some photos for later painting inspiration. I think this has been the most beautiful autumn I ever remember. It’s so lovely, it fuels my neuroses and makes me wonder if the beauty is to make up for a horror that will arrive soon. Do you ever feel that way? Anyhow, I pulled over at Goldies Motel to snap #10. This photo has not been retouched. The colors were that amazing.
I’ve been doing website updates at work. The shelter is closed to the public through the end of the year, except by appointment. It’s more peaceful this way, and we’ve still been doing fine with adoptions. I do miss the Trail of Terror though, and dressing up for Halloween, even though it is a ton of work. Donna and Jerry Castleberry died from COVID-19 this past weekend. Cases are climbing in Calhoun County.
I’ve been watching streaming and crocheting in the evenings. This blanket is for a relative. The colors reminded me of water…that of the ocean and of the great lakes. It’s Lion Brand Mandala which is self striping, and I’m doing my old trusty repeating HDC using an L hook. I watched The Trial of the Chicago 7 which was quite good. And the Haunting of Bly Manor. Just started Deadwater Fell.
When I am not painting, it seems I am always thinking of painting. I’m taking an online class to build my skills now. I’ve been working on color swatches which is helping me to pick colors I guess. So I have learned something new from the class. It is cool we live in a time when we can take classes and learn so much online. This is my latest piece, which was inspired by a photo in an old Sunset magazine. It’s in gouache and is piece #22. It serves as a reminder that you absolutely need a ruler to draw your horizon line. But I think the rocks are pretty good.
I got my flu vaccine and have been having nightmares and bad headaches again. Not because of the vaccine, but just because. I’m finding it somewhat hard to concentrate on writing snail mail letters and impossible to read.
I finished the third of three baby blankets. This was a really soft, fuzzy yarn that was hard to work with, but the nursery color needed is coral and it fit that perfectly. It’s my standard, continuous rows of half double crochet. On this one, I did a border of rows of half double crochet as well because the yarn is so thick and fuzzy you’d never be able to see a scallop pattern. My friend liked it, and I’ve moved on to another blanket, this one using mandala yarn. Expect an update.
As I’ve been crocheting, I’ve also continued watching documentaries. A Secret Love on Netflix was excellent. Such a heartwarming love story. Athlete A on Netflix was a horrific look in to Larry Nassar and the US Women’s Gymnastics program. A good watch just the same. I started watching Dick Johnson is Dead and honestly I couldn’t get past about 12 minutes of it. Life is too short to watch uninspiring tv or movies. Anyhow, I’m making pretty good progress on the available likely nominees for 2021 Best Documentary Oscars. I have also started the next season of Great British Baking Show, which is balm for my sore and aching heart, and the Haunting of Bly Manor which I am enjoying. We’ll watch the West Wing reunion this week, and have one more episode to go of Raised by Wolves.
I’ve put on 954 miles on the bike this year. Over the weekend I pulled my back gardening and it is supposed to get quite cold this week. I’d like to think I can still get out a few more rides and break 1,000 miles. It’s easier to do it on a sunny day, because at least the sun is warming. Coming up with a replacement exercise plan for winter is going to be challenging.
I had a little bike accident that involved a flat tire, sore shoulder and nasty road rash. When I stood up, I apparently had tiny liquor bottles stuck to my leg (yay, Battle Creek!). And since my tires were old and shredded, I had to order new tires. In the meanwhile, as I wait for the new tires to arrive, I’ve been walking at lunch hour. It’s a very small tour of Battle Creek. And very hot for walking. If you’ve seen a sweaty, scowling individual walking around, it could be me. Photos from recent walks:
We are reaping the rewards of our garden, with adult monarch butterflies and a second round of monarch caterpillars.
We’ve pulled a few cucumbers, green beans and cherry tomatoes, plus romaine and parsley from the garden. And the monarch beds are really filling in. I’m pleased with how it turned out this year for sure.
Haven’t had a ton of time for reading or painting or sewing or crocheting lately. When I do seem to have time, I’m way too tired to attempt any of it. I did manage to read this Barbara Delinsky book, which was a fun summer read. I have another fun read sitting on the table waiting. And I do have a sewing project on tap! It is amazing how fast the summer is going already. What are you working on this summer?
The monarch beds are doing well, and these chonky caterpillars are eating the milkweed leaves like crazy. Soon they will be off to begin their metamorphosis.
It’s been crazy hot and we haven’t had rain in well over a week I think. But it’s a lovely Michigan summer just the same. You have to get in your activity in the morning before it gets too hot, and then stay in the air conditioning during the rest of the day. I don’t mind it at all. Much better than the cold.
How I became a fat, pretentious cyclist…and why you shouldn’t hate me.
I know you hate me. You yell things out your window at me. You wait until you get up right behind me and lay on your horn. Thankfully, so far, I have yet to have anything thrown at me but I know the more miles I put on, the more likely I’ll be hit with a projectile. Probably you are mumbling to yourself about how my padded bike shorts make my legs look like sausages in casings. To you, I’m just another fat, pretentious bike f*ck. But let me tell you how I came to be this way.
I got my Trek Navigator 300 bike sometime between 2001 and 2003. I’m sure I have the paperwork somewhere. It was around $400. And with that, I got a helmet because safety is important and I don’t want a closed-head injury. That’s all I had. I didn’t ride very often at all. I didn’t especially even like to ride. I wore shorts and a t-shirt.
Time marches on. I aged, like one does. I had a tragic skateboarding injury. That led to pursuing other kinds of exercise. I have a Y membership and swim. I occasionally stand up paddleboard. And last summer, I dragged out the old bike. To my surprise, I liked biking better this time around. I’m biking in the neighborhoods of my childhood. It’s generally peaceful and relaxing. And as I am on a diet and trying again to lose weight, it should theoretically be helping that. But as I’ve put on the miles, I’ve had to add some things to my bike. Believe me, I don’t like adding all of the accoutrements as every bit takes more time and makes the activity less of a childhood pick-up-and-go free feeling. The more hassle, the less I want to do the activity. That’s why I don’t paddleboard as much as I’d like.
The first addition was SPF rated shirts. I don’t want to prematurely age. To that I added gloves to keep the sun off my hands, and a neck gaiter, because I don’t want a wrinkly neck. Simple changes.
Then I added a rear-view mirror for my handlebar. As I am riding local roads, I want to know what’s coming up behind me. I also started using hand signals – even though I almost NEVER see motor vehicles using them during my travels. I want people in cars to know my plans. I also added a bike bell (cute and kitty-themed), mostly for when I’m on linear park as I don’t want to come up on a blind curve and be hit or hit someone.
Now, although I am putting in some good miles, I am fat and on a low-carb, low-calorie diet so I don’t have a lot of extra ooomph to make me go fast. I am a slow rider. I am also rather uncoordinated. For those of you on a low-carb diet, you’ll know that one needs to drink a lot of water. I could get my little water bottle OUT of the cage while riding, but do not have the coordination to put it BACK. And when I would try, I’d drop it in the road and have to circle back around, get off my bike, put it in the cage, get back on and start up again. So this year, I bought an Osprey hydration pack, one of the little backpacks with a water bladder that you wear and drink through a tube. And you know what? If I keep hydrated on my ride, I don’t wind up with a blinding headache all afternoon. But this addition I fear has pushed me from looking like a fat middle aged woman on a bike to a fat pretentious cyclist.
The final step in the process happened last Monday. It was hot. In fact, the last week of rides were all rather hot. And you know what happens when you put on so many miles and it’s extra hot? You are required to take a few days off biking, avoid sitting, and start looking for padded bike shorts. This itself is a challenge. Bike shorts are not made for fat people. And if you get a size that actually you can wear, it’s not pretty. I warn others to avert their eyes lest they turn to stone.
I believe my final step will be getting a flashing head and tail light. When I see other bikers with them, you can really see them coming and it might make it just a little easier to be seen. And with that, my transformation will be complete. Born out of both the need for safety – especially with people in large vehicles who hate me for simply biking – and for my own comfort.
I did not add these items to belong to some elitist club of bikeholes. I’m just trying to get a little exercise on my lunch hour. I try to represent the bicycling world in a positive way. If the sidewalks are clear of pedestrians, I hop on there because I don’t want to be in your way either. If there are people on the sidewalk, I ride in the bike lane or on the extreme side of the road. I use my hand signals. I probably see you before you even notice me. I double and triple check for traffic before I enter intersections and while I am going through. So far this summer (since the end of May), I’ve put on 265 miles. Last year I hit just over 600 May – October. I average 12 mph and normally ride an average of 15.5 miles, all on my lunch hour. I’m not worthy of your hate.