Tuesday, June 28, 2011

first cave tour

 Here we go on our first cave tour at Mammoth Cave.  It was a beautiful morning as we waited outside the historical entrance by the visitors center. Then when we came out it was pouring rain, and it just kept on raining.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I love this photo.  She found this at our camp site.  It was the only leaf in the entire place that looked like that, and it matched her shirt perfectly.

Setting up camp

Here are some photos from our camping trip the weekend before last.  These first three are from the first hour or two we were there.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walnut ink lunch break sketch 6-23-2011

Black walnut ink on paper, about 11 x 15 inches.
I did this one today, again over at  E. P. Sawyer State Park.  Most of this was done with my homemade bamboo pens, but I also used a large brush to roughly darken a few areas, and I did a little bit of shading/drawing with a fine metal nib, too.
I sat in a small gazebo, and it was very nice out.  Nearby, five women gathered under a big tree and discussed plans for an upcoming wedding in that spot.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mammoth Cave National Park camping


We camped at Mammoth Cave over the weekend, from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. Kim's dad put up a tent next to ours, and my parents got a cottage nearby and planned to hang out with us for a couple of days, too.


The campground near the visitors' center, Mammoth Cave Campground, is large and nice.  There are 105 sites on loops of road, and the campground can be pretty busy, but it was woodsy and pleasant.  I think the campground can get filled up most weekends in the summer, but it wasn't full while we were there, probably because of the weather.  The restroom facilities were well-kept and appeared to have been remodeled within the past few months, and the whole place was surprisingly litter-free.  I liked it.


About that weather…it was nice when we got there, partly cloudy and it felt good out.  After Kim and the girls put up the tent (while I took pictures of them and spectated), we went on a 1 ½ cave tour. When we came back out--surprise!--it was pouring rain. It kept raining, and didn't stop until the next afternoon.  By then, the inside of Kim's dad's tent was wet (he had slept more or less in a puddle on Friday night).  Since the rain didn't appear to be nearing an end, he decided to cut his losses and head home.  My parents did the same.  Why stay when all the activities (apart from cave tours) are outside, and it's raining?


Well, my daughters voted to stay, saying that they would still have fun in the tent even if there was nothing else to do.  Fortunately, the weather cleared for Saturday afternoon and evening, so we got to fix campfire pizzas and corn-on-the-cob.  We took a drive and crossed the Green River on the ferry, and went on a short hike with a park ranger, who talked about the cave systems, springs, the river, etc.


Before Kim's dad left, we went on a fun (and only slightly rainy) hike around Sloan's Crossing Pond, which was full of pond lilies and singing frogs.  We all went on two cave tours, which I enjoyed quite a bit.


I dozed off late Saturday night, sitting by the fire.  It was gorgeous out.  I finally went to bed in the tent, but was awakened a few hours later by more rain and thunderstorms.  It rained all night.  Then, around 8:00 a.m., a real bad storm hit.  We quickly got the girls into the minivan because large limbs were falling around the campground, and Kim and I packed everything up in a downpour.  Then we drove home; it rained the whole way.


These photos are from my phone.  I didn't take any photos with our camera, but I think Kim took a few.  I'll try to put some more up later.


Despite the weather, I had fun.  A lot of the fun is retrospective; it was sort of annoying or uncomfortable while it was happening, but not toooo bad, and it makes for good stories afterwards.  We only found one tick and, amazingly, I never saw a single mosquito.  I want to go again.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lunch break drawing 6-16-11

Here's a black walnut ink drawing I made at lunch today.  This was over at E. P. Sawyer State Park. I like drawing trees, but I wish I could find something else that interests me.  I wish there were some more older houses close by.
This was on 14 x 17 inch paper, with one of my homemade bamboo pens and a brush (the brush was much easier to use than my finger.)


There are noodlers around here, but I don't know any personally. I see or hear it discussed from time to time.


However, noodling is one of those things I just can't quite get my head around. I almost get it. I almost think it would be fun. I almost think it would be safe. I almost think it would work. However, the act of sticking my hand into underwater holes/overhangs/hiding spots, waiting for something big to bite me, and then pulling it out...that just strikes me as a little too crazy to be enjoyable. If I were starving and I really wanted to catch a fish, I'd try it. But until then, maybe I'll just watch.

Lunch break 6-15-11, Haunz Lane Park

I did this one in about half an hour, and it sort of looks like it.  It's 14 x 17 inches, and I used my homemade bamboo pens and my fingers to smear the ink over large areas (finger painting!).  It's the creek that runs through the park.  Not very successful; I think it looks sort of like the woods are on fire, but it was fun messing around. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Black walnut ink lunch break sketch

Nice weather today.  I went over to E. P. Sawyer State Park and sketched a tree on my lunch break.  I used my homemade black walnut ink and my recently fashioned homemade bamboo dip pens.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Portrait work-in-progress

I still have quite a way to go before I'm finished with this, and I just got some good suggestions, too.  Here are the first two stages of the double portrait (8 x 10 inches, oil on panel.)


Ceiling Emergency

Last night I decided to stow our large cooler in the attic space above the garage. I pulled open the overhead trapdoor, but the edge of the door, which is rickety and shuts crooked, got caught on the edge of the drywall ceiling panel next to it.

The ceiling panels in our garage look like they were put up by morons.  They are chipped and sagging in spots, and I always figured I'd have to do some fix-it work with them some day.  I always put it off, because it was never pressing—until that trap door got caught on that edge.

The corner of the panel finally ripped clear (some of the nails had already been torn loose years ago, probably in the same way).  Half of the panel started to crack down the middle, so a 4 x 4 foot section of it was sagging, and attic insulation was falling into the garage.

I quickly (as quickly as I could, in our crowded garage) grabbed a hammer and nails and climbed up to nail it back in place.  However, it was very heavy, and I discovered that hammering on it was making it shake loose and tear even more quickly.

I could hear other parts of the panel creaking, and I knew that if it all gave way, it would be a heck of a mess to clean up.

I also forgot to mention that it was about 100 degrees in the garage, and even hotter in the attic, and the hot air in the attic was blowing down in my face.

Knowing I had very little time, I dashed into the house and grabbed the bare remains of a roll of duct tape.  I climbed back up the ladder and, hoping I had enough tape to work with, I wrapped a loop of tape around the corner of the drywall and then wrapped the other end around one of the cross-beams in the ceiling.  It worked!  I had temporarily slowed the collapse.

This gave me time to get out the drill and extension cord and screws.  As I assembled the materials I could see the strip of duct tape being stretched out like gray taffy by the heavy, splitting panel. 

I used pine lattice strip scraps as braces (see, this is why I don't like getting rid of wood scraps!) and screwed the ceiling panel back into place.  It's now probably more secure than it was when we first moved into the house.

I was summoned back into the house, coated in sweat and a layer of gritty dust and insulation, to fix dinner for the girls.  I felt heroic, but I think we all know who the real hero is.  Duct tape.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Explosion on the Sun

This is an attempt to embed a video URL via email. I don't know if it will work, but I hope it does, because the video is really cool.
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Lunch break sketch from a month ago

This is one from early May, in charcoal.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Lunch break sketch

This is a charcoal sketch from early April.  I did this in the woods behind my office building.

Freshwater Drum/Fishing Report

Here's the fish I caught Friday evening down below the Falls. This is a freshwater drum, about which I've been reading a little bit (I had to do a little reading after I caught one.) They aren't a popular fish, perhaps due to their homely resemblance to carp, but there are those who esteem them for the good fight they put up (this one had a good pull) and for a good flavor (some people don't think they're that great, but those who seem to be "in the know" say that they key is to get them on ice quickly; they're delicious, though if you don't ice them down the flavor and texture suffer.)

They get their name from the drumming sound the males make. They are also known for their otoliths, which are rounded stone-like mineral formations in their ear regions that were used as jewelry and trade items by Native Americans.

This is the second drum I've caught; they first time was about ten years ago, in Otter Creek.

I was down at Shippingport Island for two or three hours. I started by the dam, where I saw small fish jumping but didn't catch anything on an artificial minnow or on a worm beneath a bobber. The current there was very strong.

Much of the shoreline was inaccessible because the mud was too soft. I found another rocky area farther from the dam that was easy to walk on, but where the current was still fast. That's where I caught the drum. There were a few other people fishing on shore, and a number of fishing boats out—looking for sauger or striped bass, I assume. Way across the river, at a boat ramp on the New Albany side, I could see other anglers.

It was a very pretty evening, and very peaceful, and I'd like to go back there to paint.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Bamboo pens

I cut down two pieces of bamboo into homemade bamboo pens. They work pretty well; this is them with some marks made using my homemade black walnut ink.

Sorry it's not a great photo. This was taken with the Blackberry.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Art & Garden


I am making progress on my double-portrait commission. I'll try to post a photo of it soon.

I have to run some errands on my lunch break today, and I plan to stop by the railroad tracks on my way to cut some bamboo. Besides making good garden supports, I want to experiment further with making my own bamboo dip pens for drawing.

Someone inquired with me today about doing a very large aviation-themed mural. I'm interested, certainly, but I'll have to work on ideas; getting a solid concept is always the hardest part (though a close second, for me, has always been the middle part of the painting process, the part that comes between drawing/blocking in and the finishing-up towards the end.) I'll have to work on ideas.


The garden is off to a spotty start for the summer. The fennel came back strong, and fennel volunteers have been a problem all over the place. It reseeds itself vigorously.

The mesclun greens are doing pretty well, especially one particular plant – I think it's the endive, but I'm not sure. Last night I picked a selection of these greens, a few fennel fronds, a few cilantro flowers, and a bee balm leaf, put them all in a bowl with homemade vinaigrette, and ate it for dinner. The sliced up bee balm almost overpowered the whole thing, and my dressing was far too strong also (it's only my third attempt in 20 years, do I don't feel too bad about it, and I didn't have anything but olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus a little lemon juice concentrate). Otherwise, it was pretty good, and I'll eat more.

The spinach never came up, probably a victim of too much rain.

The broccoli is growing, but it won't do well in this heat; it'll bolt before there's anything worth picking, though it's still very small.

My tomatoes are still very small and probably won't have any fruit until far into July, although it might surprise me; this heat might really do it some good.

The garlic looks all right on top, but I don't know what it'll look like underneath.

The coreopsis is blooming, the glads are all green and happy looking, the mums have tiny buds, the three sunflowers I planted are up and running, the little blue flowers that Helga gave us look quite nice, and the Asiatic lilies have been blooming vividly for a couple of weeks. So with the flowers, I have no complaints.