On the Way Out the Door

I am heading out this morning at 8 a.m. to a watercolor workshop down toward L.A.  With so many things in boxes, waiting to be placed somewhere in the studio, I’m lucky to have anything to take with me.  It’s amazing how simple the flood was (we had a pipe break, FYI), how long it took to repair all the damage and do the upgrades (why not since the whole house was torn up), and how much longer it seems it will take to put our lives back together.  Like finding a specific brush or some paper or whatever.  I did some unpacking yesterday, and today, no . . . watercolor instead.  We were joking that it will probably take longer to unpack than any other part of this home repair adventure!

It’s been a nutty week.  Crazy end-of-the-school-year stuff.  Testing.  Stressed out kids.  I can hardly wait to be done with it all, and even more so, done with working and having a life during retirement.  To make life productive on a personal level, I’ve tried to draw or paint every morning before heading out to work.  Simple sketches, no lines, using watercolors as the way to do things.  Nothing really exciting is being produced, but what is good is the daily practice.  It does make things work better and it adds to a store of knowledge that comes only with practice.  Here are some of the things I did this week.

As well as putting my art supplies and books back together, my photography stuff is slowly getting straightened out.  I picked up some film I had processed.  I took both my Nikon Df and my Oly OM4-T with me to the botanical gardens down the road.  Film always has a quality to it which digital lacks.  I was excited to see how the auto exposure feature worked on the Oly as I only recently acquired the camera and had a test batch of Kodak Ultramax 400 in it.  I used a 35-70mm zoom, and was really pleased with a number of the photos.  Everything was in bloom – or ready to bloom – so I tried to catch as many colors as possible, from deep reds to pink to yellow and white.   I am really glad to have space now to keep my Pakon 135 set up, and the laptop I use exclusively with it, in its own space, plugged in and ready to roll.

Now, look at my check list and get on with the day!  While I am gone, J is gonna be brewing.  What happy little campers we will be at the end of the day!



Floors, Hidden Vanities, Studio, Office, Wrist & Finger

Okay, the shower is tiled, but now is covered in plastic sheeting, protected by the painter from the paint. Hidden but not forgotten as its door arrives Friday!

But what else has been happening? We now have floors. Not rugs. Not hardwood. Vinyl, 20mm thick, looks like wood and designed for dogs. You read that right: dogs. The flooring has textures so that dogs have traction and don’t go flying down the hallway. It’s actually quite nice. It feels good underfoot.

And, the vanities have arrived, but until the painter is done, they remain covered and mysterious. They need to be installed before the template for the countertops can be made, and then installed.

My studio and J’s office are beginning to become usable again. Funny how daily habits, when upset, are so nice to take up again. I like reading the news and drinking my coffee in the morning, and perusing other blogs. My cameras are back on the shelves – not all of them, but a lot of them – and I used my Nikon Df here, with the 85mm f1.8, to take some photos. I also used some film cameras outdoors … the drafting table is in place, and paints and paper and brushes are reappearing.

And, my wrist and finger are mending very well, and I am out of the finger splint altogether, but wear the wrist splint at night or when my wrist feels tires or sore. Hard to believe I went flying over Smudge (dog) 4 weeks ago.

Home, Sweet Home!

Thursday Morning

This has been quite a week or so.  I am so glad I get the next ten days off from work, starting at 5 p.m. tonight.  I am just about done in!

You could say it began two weeks ago.  A pipe broke under the shower pan in the master bathroom.  Three days later, half the carpet in the bedroom is gone, the shower stall is destroyed, and the leak is fixed.  Now all that remains is arguing with the insurance company, choosing tile for the bathroom, ordering tile for the bathroom, ordering flooring for bathroom and back third of the house, painting the bathrooms and bedroom, and installing new vanities, possibly one or two new toilets, new mirrors, and new lighting in the bathrooms.  Maybe it will be done by the end of April.  The other half is going bonkers with all the estimates and people coming and going.  Besides that, I had a 3-day painting workshop (yay!), a nasty cold and flu, and now Josh has the cold.

So, what is going to happen during the break?  A few appointments.  Lots of art if I am lucky.  Lots of photography, too.  Choices being made for tile and paint – the flooring is already chosen – and writing big checks for all this stuff.  And researching what “contiguous” means in context of California insurance law – but that is another story!

And, of course, organizing all the bits and pieces of my life that have fallen apart over the last few weeks.  I never realized how disorganization is like a perpetual motion machine – it is entropy at its worst!

The 8th Day

Today we went to see how the sky looked after 8 days of wildfires in our area.  Earlier, the smoke was piled high into the sky, looking like an atom bomb had exploded nearby – a mushroom-shaped cloud on the horizon.  The air is brown and hazy.  Now, the wind has picked up, again with 60-80 mph gusts, and the clouds have flattened out.  This is the view from behind the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, looking west toward the cities of Ventura and further into Santa Barbara County where the coastal town of Carpinteria is being threatened.  While my in-laws are now home, friends elsewhere are in danger.  We await our turn . . . we have been lucky so far.

Between Thanksgivings

Yesterday, here in the U.S., was Thanksgiving.  We celebrated it with a few members of our family out of town.  Tomorrow, members are coming here for the big family gathering, from east and south and west.  So, Wednesday we made pies, and today we set up the tabbouleh, tzatziki, zhuk, and marinating chicken for tomorrow’s feast.  Lots of chopping and such, along with a fun grocery trip to a market that sells all sorts of foods not seen in the ordinary middle class market . . . this one caters to Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, and Mexican tastes, so there is a lot of fun and strange food to be had.  On top of it all, it’s so reasonably priced!  If you enjoy cooking, nothing like an exciting market and a family which loves good food.

So, did I spend my entire day prepping?  No, I didn’t.  I did some napping, had some coffee, edited some photos, and then had an epiphany:  I can use my photos for subject matter, whether sketching, ink-and-color, or pure watercolor.  I went through a few photos from our summer on the road throughout the Southwest and Western U.S., to places like Mesa Verde, Ft. Laramie, Yellowstone, and Teton National Forest.  Lots of wonderful things to see.  Now, a lot of wonderful things to recall with a drawing . . .

Photo from Fort Laramie in Wyoming:

A quick ink-and-color sketch of the same:

They don’t really look like each other, but what the heck.  I liked the roof and chimneys against the blue of the sky.