Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I painted on Saturday, and finished both of the paintings that I posted photos of last week. Now I need to let them dry a little while and frame them.

I worked in my studio for a little while, on the saw—I sketched on it, and decided on a composition. I’ve actually hardly done any work in my studio. And I also discovered that it’s a supremely spidery place. I cleaned it a couple months ago, and now it has lots of cobwebs again, and there are spiders all over. My dad suggested spraying, which I might do, especially if end up spending more time there.

After I worked in my studio a bit, I went over to Aaron’s house and painted on his porch. That’s where I finished the two paintings previously begun. As I painted, I got to chat with Aaron and David, and had a beer. Very pleasant.

David, Brooke, Kim, and I played Puerto Rico on Thursday night. It was only the third or fourth time that we’ve played it. I really enjoy it, but it’s pretty time consuming (Thursday’s game lasted, oh, I dunno, three hours).


David won.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Dairy manipulation

I've been wondering. How come you get butter when you agitate cream, but get whipped cream when you whip it? Why isn't whipped cream butter?

This is obviously a question from someone who hasn't actually tried to make either, or bothered to look it up.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Works in progress

The blue in this one shows up brighter in the picture than it is in real life. This painting is pretty small, and it's almost done.

This is the one that I started painting while it was snowing, back in early April. It needs a little more work than the small one, but it will be done soon, too. There is also too much glare in this picture, but it's the only one I have right now.

On the pig/in the hats/in the car

They like my hats.
The nice neighbors across the street gave them a car that their daughter has outgrown.
Here we are with one of the pigs outside Mark's Feed Store.


I will now show myself to be a “Lost” geek.

What a season finale! Whoa! And two hours of it! Jack revealed himself to be just as useless in flash forwards (sneaky “Lost” writers, darn them) as in flashbacks, although he had some fine moments in the present. I’m glad he didn’t cave in during his one-on-one with Ben.

Best part: Unexpectedly, Charlie. As sad and awful as his death was, he did a great job, exhibiting quick thinking and courage. The whole build-up to his final (? <-- obligatory question mark) scene had some good twists and just played out well.

Worst part: Locke killed Naomi. Every bit as egregious and near-inexplicable as when Michael shot Ana Lucia and Libby. Sure, he must have been inspired by a sense of I-must-stop-this-at-any-cost desperation, but obviously it wasn’t enough to motivate him to kill Jack. Or maybe the revolver wasn’t working. Fifteen years sitting in a tropical corpse pit might make it sort of inoperable.

For a show that primarily involves castaways on a tropical island, there sure are a lot of people killed or mangled by motor vehicles. Three more in last night’s finale, not including Jack nearly being run over as he crossed the street to the funeral parlor. And who was at the parlor? Kim suggested to me that it was Ben, and I think that’s probable, although Michael comes to mind as well.

Another annoyance, although it’s really a blessing: The ending really didn’t give us much more to speculate on over the summer regarding the nature of the island. Obviously, it has some sort of effect on the timeline, including events of the past. Not much more than that can be nailed down. Unless Jack’s references to his father in the present-tense was a product of his drug and alcohol abuse.

Who was Naomi working for? Why was Penelope transmitting to The Looking Glass station? In what way does rescue from the island end in regret or doom?

It looks like the whole dynamic of the show has now shifted. Next season seems likely to start with most or all of the surviving characters rescued, or put in a whole new form of peril.

I note that no core mysteries in the show’s mythology were solved. I hope that, when more is explained, I won’t regret ever getting hooked.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

At the Louisville Coin Club meeting on Sunday, a gentleman who was sitting in front of me struck up a conversation. He asked me what I was interested in—that’s the general ice-breaker question among coin collectors. What do you collect? What do you focus on? It’s a question that’s a little awkward for me to answer, because I have little money to spend on collecting, and my interests are so varied. I’m not much on being a completist, like many numismatists. Key dates—those coins that are rarest in a series—are usually well outside my price range. I don’t have a key date of anything. But this is actually a digression.

My answer to that question now is that I’m most interested in the detective work. My favorite thing about coins is when I get something that sort of stumps me, and I have to look it up to identify it. I find it a lot of fun to find a coin and have little or no idea what it is, and then have to hunt around for information on it. This always ends in some new little window opening for me on some other culture or bit of history. Ancient Roman coins bore plenty of political propaganda. That Indonesian coin I have depicts a congklak game board, which is a version of mancala. The four small pictures on Icelandic coins are depictions of Iceland’s four guardian spirits—dragon, bull, vulture, and giant.

In regards to being a completist, I have almost finished a complete set of business-strike Kennedy half dollars. I’ve been pulling them from circulation, so that means that they each cost me fifty cents. The only one I still need is a 1988-P, which is ridiculous, because it’s not a rarity at all. It had a huge mintage, but for some reason none of the hundreds of coins I’ve searched in the past year has been that one. The only coins of the series that I had to spend money on were the 1987-P and 1987-D, which were available only in mint sets and not released into circulation. I bought those a couple of years ago. Besides finding that one coin I’m lacking, I need to keep searching for better examples of the ones I have that are pretty beat-up.

At the coin club meetings there is always an auction at the end. Last weekend I noticed an old Whitman folder of Lincoln cents, 1909-1940, missing only key date coins. All the coins were worn; I doubt any would grade higher than Fine. But there were many coins there that I needed for my collection. I decided that I’d gladly buy that if I could get it for less than $8.00. Unfortunately for me, one of the club members brings his young son (or maybe grandson, I don’t know.) Nobody really wants to get in a bidding war with a five-year-old. He got the Lincoln cents for $6.50. A little sad for me, sure, but also very cute.

If you’ve read all of this post, you are either crazy or interested in coins. Not that the two are in any way mutually exclusive. Why don’t you just go read the sports scores or the blog of someone totally hot? Obviously, I just write this for myself. And that one guy someplace who Googles the terms “congklak” and “guardian spirits.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I spent a short while last night planting watermelon seeds. I turned over some soil, and then piled on some dark wormy compost from the compost cage. I was eager to do it before last night's thunderstorms arrived. Now, with a little luck, we'll have a half-dozen watermelon vines shortly. I also put down a few newspapers as mulch, weighted by bricks, flower pots, and sticks. I didn't have time to finish that, though.

There are buds on the hollyhocks. There are flowers on the blackberries.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Again last night I set up my easel at E. P. Sawyer Park, this time with a very small canvas on it (I’m not sure of the measurements, but it’s about 9x10”). The subject was a pair of trees. I’ll have to find out what kind of trees they are. The painting is pretty much finished, but I have to do some touching up after it dries in a week or two. Photos will follow.

After I finished painting and the sun was sinking behind the distant houses and trees, I went over to the studio and worked on the saw. A co-worker gave me a saw that her mother wants me to paint. I’ve had the darn thing for a long time—like, two years, or maybe three—and I’ve just let it sit around. Finally, last night I sanded it, cleaned it with denatured alcohol, and primed it with gesso. All the while, I was wondering if my co-worker’s mom even still remembers it or wants it.

I got home late, and Kim had some very delicious pasta set aside for me. I ate and began watching “The Departed,” but couldn’t finish it before I had to go to bed. Not only did I go to bed much too late, but I also had trouble sleeping. I woke up frequently, had trouble falling back to sleep, and had long, tense, vivid dreams of cops vs. mobsters. Not a good night.
Last week I asked a teller for all her half dollars, and she went back to check. All she had were two rolls—but when she handed them to me, I saw that they were both unopened mint-wrapped 2001-P.

I’m not sure what to do with them. I’ve never had a mint roll before, so they’re kind of neat, but at the same time I realize they have very little premium over face value. Maybe I’ll try to sell a roll at the next coin club auction.
I haven’t had much time for gardening. My peas are growing well, but I need to make a little trellis for them. The kohlrabi is getting bigger, forcing me to wonder: What the heck will I do with it when I harvest it? Kohlrabi? Will any of us really eat it? Will we eat all of it?

I noticed today that I have dill and cilantro volunteers growing. Seeds that fell from last year’s plants. Cilantro is a very nice little plant. Besides adding interesting flavor to dishes, it’s sort of pretty in the garden and required little maintenance. The dill, though less attractive, doesn’t look bad, and it was a lot of fun adding it to various dishes.

When I can, I’ll have to plant the watermelon seeds. I also have gourd seeds, but I’m just about out of room. I either need to make more garden space, or just give up on it for now.
Yesterday was another painting day. I went to E. P. Sawyer Park and continued the landscape I started a month ago. One of the dangers of painting [i]en plein air[/i] in sunlight is that, once the painting is taken indoors and viewed in typically poor interior lighting, the whole painting looks much darker. Some paintings I’ve done in years past looked like bright sunny scenes while sunlight was on the canvas, but when viewed indoors they’ve looked like an oil paint version of those night scenes that were actually filmed in daylight using special filters in old movies.

I tried to be conscious of that while I was painting, and it worked, although I’ll need to make a few adjustments. There are a couple of areas I need to brighten. I also want to work on the sky a little. However, I could stop right now and call the painting done. I’m quite happy with it. I’ll do a little “tightening up,” but it looks good. I’m especially happy with the tree limbs.

I was painting in a weedy area that bordered woods. One really nice thing about painting in such surroundings (and this is one of my favorite things about fishing in an isolated spot, too) is that the wildlife comes out around me. Painting is a quiet and relatively motionless activity, so lots of little critters come and go and don’t pay much attention to me. The underbrush was so thick, though, that it was often hard to figure out what I was seeing or hearing.

There were all kinds of interesting bird calls, and things rustling through the leaves. Squirrels and chipmunks and mice. I saw some huge bird of prey, probably an owl, flying up into the trees carrying something in its talons.