Monday, January 13, 2020

Sketching to Music

The local sketch group met up at a music store last Wednesday -- Ted Brown Music, a big place with tons of instruments, which were challenging to draw.  Rather than try to sketch a whole row of guitars or violins or saxophones, I opted to do bits and pieces of different views from my vantage point by the front counter.

We got to listen to music while sketching over the store's speakers -- for the first hour it was peppy, 1980s pop, which got to me after a while (not my favorite stuff), so I took a break and asked the store manager if we could have something a bit more rockin'. 

He obliged with some Led Zeppelin and I was much happier.  Not sure about the other sketchers...but nobody complained!

I finished my drawing early, and wound up looking through the piano sheet music, and the next thing I knew, I was $52 poorer...but with three new collections to play -- one of Scottish folk tunes, one of traditional Irish songs, and a big, fat book of Baroque music.  Yay!

Lastly, here is a pic of Truman on one of our recent riverfront walks -- with tumbleweeds.  Tumbleweeds were in the news here not long back, when a windstorm blew thousands of them across a  highway, completely blocking it and swallowing not only cars, but a semi truck.  Twenty feet high in places, it took ten hours for a crew with snowplows to clear the roadway.  Yikes!

The ones we encountered on our walk were quite tame by comparison!

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 Books Read

Here is my annual Books Read post, just for the record.  I read 88 books in 2019:  45 nonfiction, 43 fiction.

Favorite Nonfiction reads:

WWII On the Air (M Bernstein & A Lubertozzi)
Don't Shoot, It's Only Me (Bob Hope)
Hitching Rides with Buddha (Will Ferguson)***
Rape of the Nile (Brian Fagan)
Art of Travel (Alain de Botton)
The Pipes Are Calling: Our Jaunts Through Ireland (M. Williams & C. Breen)
Don't Make Me Pull Over (Richard Ratay)
Japan: It's Not All Raw Fish (Don Maloney)
A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle)
Diary of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell)
Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific (J. Maarten Troost)
Getting Stoned with Savages (J. Maarten Troost)
Beauty Tips from Moosejaw (Will Ferguson)
Westward, Ha! (S.J. Perelman)
Toujours Provence (Peter Mayle)

***This was my fave among the favorites, a delightful travel memoir that I didn't want to end

The rest:

The Second World War (Spencer Tucker)
Stuff Matters (Mark Miodownik)
The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders (Stuart Kells)
The Smithsonian Book of Books
Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up
20 Things You Didn't Know About Everything (Dean Christopher)
Beatrix Potter's Art (Anne Hobbs)
Gallery of Regrettable Food (James Lileks)
Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (William and Mary Morris)
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into Hollywood
Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder (Lawrence Weschler)
Expect the Unexpected (Roger von Oech)
Varieties of Scientific Experience (Carl Sagan)
How Did It Begin?  (R. & L. Brasch)
The Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe and America (Wendy Kaplan)
How to Be a Canadian (Will & Ian Ferguson)
Story of Civilization volume 7 (Will & Ariel Durant)
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (Jenny Odell)
Bored and Brilliant (Manoush Zamorodi)
Dave Barry Turns 50
Neither Here Nor There (Bill Bryson) (Re-read)
When Wanderers Cease to Roam (Vivian Swift) (Re-read)
Walking with Plato (Gary Hayden)
Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind (Carol Hollinger)
84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff) (Re-read)
Golden Age of Zen (John Wu)
Sketching & Painting Out of Doors (Adrian Hill)
Uncle John's Canoramic Bathroom Reader
Fated Sky: Astrology in History (Benson Bobrick)
How to Be a Victorian (Ruth Goodman)

Favorite Fiction Reads:
Code of the Woosters (P.G. Wodehouse) (Re-read)
Sci Fi (William Marshall) (Re-read)
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (P.G. Wodehouse) (Re-read)
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) (Re-read)
The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins) (Re-read)

The Rest:

A Pelican at Blandings (P.G. Wodehouse)
Rest You Merry (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
If I Were You (P.G. Wodehouse)
Luck Runs Out (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
The Grub-and-Stakers Move a Mountain (Alisa Craig) (Re-read)
High Rising (Angela Thirkell) (Re-read)
Wrack and Rune (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt a Bee (Alisa Craig) (Re-read)
Golden Tresses of the Dead (Alan Bradley)
The Grub-and-Stakers Pinch a Poke (Alisa Craig) (Re-read)
Something the Cat Dragged In (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
The Corpse in Oozak's Pond (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
The Grub-and-Stakers Spin a Yarn) (Alisa Craig) (Re-read)
Vane Pursuit (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
The Grub-and-Stakers House a Haunt (Alisa Craig) (Re-read)
The Roman Hat Mystery (Ellery Queen) (Re-read)
An Owl Too Many (Charlotte Macleod) (Re-read)
The French Powder Mystery (Ellery Queen) (Re-read)
Sherlock Holmes & the Scroll of the Dead (David Davies)
Great Mouse Detective: Basil & the Cave of Cats (Eve Titus)
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes (Loren Estleman)
Summer Lightning (P.G. Wodehouse) (Re-read)
Her Royal Spyness (Rhys Bowen)
A Royal Pain (Rhys Bowen)
Royal Flush (Rhys Bowen)
Royal Blood (Rhys Bowen)
Return of Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)
Goody Hall (Natalie Babbitt)
The Calder Game (Blue Balliett)
A Little Yuletide Murder (Donald Bain*)
Death of a Blue Blood (Donald Bain)
Knock 'Em Dead (Donald Bain)
Rum and Razors (Donald Bain)
Murder on the QE2 (Donald Bain)
Gin and Daggers (Donald Bain)
Brandy and Bullets (Donald Bain)
The Highland Fling Murders (Donald Bain)
A Hobby of Murder (E.X. Ferrars)

*this mystery series is based on the TV show Murder, She Wrote and is listed as written by "Jessica Fletcher" but Bain is the actual author

Currently Reading:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) (another re-read...)
Stardust (Neil Gaiman) (ditto)

I don't seem to find much in the way of new fiction, and wind up re-reading a lot of old favorites.

On to 2020!

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Brief Emergence from Hibernation

Last Friday the SUN appeared for the first time in a long time and the temperature got close to fifty, so I was able to ESCAPE the confines of human habitation!

I took the Hounds for a walk at the McNary Wildlife Refuge in nearby Burbank in order to look for Snow Geese, and hey, I found a few.

Snow Geese migrate every winter from the Far North to more pleasant climes.  Many of them seem to like the Skagit Valley (an hour or so north of Seattle), where I used to see 30-40,000 of them hanging out.  Down here we get fewer, but still a few thousand.

I timed my visit just right -- a large flock was on the water, and then began moving en masse to the fields to feed.

There were other birds around -- hundeds of Mallards, and a couple of Canvasback ducks, but I only had eyes for the Snow Geese.

Two other random birders were there enjoying the show, and we had a nice chat about Snow Geese We Have Seen (and Heard -- the honking is quite something).

I'm glad the weather cooperated so I could see these lovely birds.  Of course, next day the overcast and the cold returned -- so I am hunkering back down into hibernation mode once more.

Happy Winter!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Going into Hibernation

Just a note to let folks know that I haven't been doing anything (other than reading, watching TV, walking the dogs, and vegetating), and don't have anything to post about.  I don't anticipate this changing anytime soon due to The Dark Times of Winter.

So I am putting the blog into Hibernation Mode (posting only as needed if I actually do something interesting).  Thank you for stopping by.

I wanted to end with a Christmassy photo of Truman and Pippin, but they didn't entirely cooperate.

The Hounds do NOT want their photo taken:

Truman cooperates but Pippin messes up:

Both Hounds are now thoroughly annoyed:

I give up -- this is the best one, and will just have to do!


Monday, November 25, 2019

A little more doodling

I did one more wacky doodle last week, and now I think I'm all doodled out, at least for a while.  This final piece can be looked at in any of four ways, so I'm including all four views:

This is only doodle I tried to color in, which I think was mostly successful:

Other than that, I mostly hung around the house puttering about, except for one Urban Sketch group outing.  We met at the local art gallery, where I drew a display of ceramic art.

The Hounds and I have been enjoying lazing around the house very much.  Here is Truman after experiencing a bit of static electricity thanks to the plush blanket on the sofa, which he loves to roll around on.

I hope everyone out there has a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Out of Control Art

This past week I did some doodling.  It got a little out of control, which you will soon see.  But first, I did some non-out-of-control art in watercolor.

My issue, as you may remember from previous posts, was coming up with artistic subject matter.  Usually I just go outside and find something I want to draw, and as we know, this doesn't work as well when it's forty degrees or raining or when leaves are being blown into your face.  So I went in search of pretty pictures to use in the comfort of my home, and at the library book shop I found a magazine about Britain.  Yay!

After all that ink drawing in October, I decided to ditch the pens and do watercolor only, at least for a few days.  The lovely English home above just called out to be painted, as did the coastline of northern Scotland below:

Then someone donated a calendar to the bookshop, with lovely bird photos, so I did this Blue Jay next:

And that was it for my watercolor-only experiment.  I missed the pens!  I still couldn't think of anything to draw, though, and so one morning I simply sat down and started doodling.  The doodle began with a little doorway and some stairs, and then it kept growing and growing and getting odder and odder and I kept adding one peculiar bit after another until I wound up with whatever this is:

[CLICK on PICTURE for clearer view]

What can I say?  It's a doodle on overdrive.  I put in things that I like -- lighthouses, hot air balloons, a bird, plants, was completely unplanned, with no preliminary pencil sketching at all.  And I had a ton of fun.  It reminded me of wacky stuff I used to do way back in grade school when I was bored in class, which was a lot of the time, although back then there would have been dinosaurs.

Anyway, I had such fun with it that the next day I did it again!  This time I started in the upper left corner with a roof line and a wacky claw, and then just kept going wherever it decided to go.  I decided it would be a cross-section of a bizarre house -- there's a bedroom, a bath, a kitchen, a library...and of course, you can't have a bizarre house without an owl, a frog, a hybrid lizard-fish, and plumbing that turns into a tree root...right?  Right!

Now I'm thinking of doing one in color -- whee!

And I'm happy to have found something to draw when I can't get outside -- all I have to do is step inside my own wacky mind.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Little Scottish Rock

Last week I gave a tour of my area to a rock that came from Scotland.  How's that, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you!

Vivian Swift is an author/illustrator (When Wanderers Cease to Roam; Le Road Trip; Gardens of Awe and Folly) from Long Island, NY.  I love her work and follow her blog.  Earlier this year, Vivian went to Scotland, and while in the town of Stromness she found a painted rock.  One side was blue with white lettering ("Shh...I'm hiding") and the other side said "Stromness Rocks" with a Facebook logo. 

This is a thing in many places around the world -- people paint rocks, leave them in public places, and strangers who find them can either keep them or put them somewhere new, and they post about it on social media. 

Vivian decided to take the rock that she found back to Long Island, and then she asked for volunteers to "host" it on a U.S. tour.  She mailed the rock to the first host, who took photos of it at local sights, and then mailed it on to the next person.  Eventually it will get back to Vivian, who will make a scrapbook to send the rock with back to Stromness in Scotland.  Okay, it's a bit of an odd thing to do, but hey, why not?

Above is the rock in front of the conning tower of a nuclear submarine -- one of Richland's attractions.  It was the first submarine to circumnavigate the world completely submerged. 

Yes, I volunteered to host the rock from Stromness.  It reached me last Monday, and I showed it around the area as best I could.  I took it with me to my volunteer gig at the Friends of the Library book shop.

Vivian's town also has such a shop, which she co-manages.

The next day I drove it 68 miles north to Vantage, WA to see the ancient rock carvings at the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

And I posed it on one of the petrified tree stumps overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

There's a gem and rock shop in Vantage, with dinosaur statues out front.  I had to stop there!

The little blue rock is hiding nicely among these agates:

The next day I tootled on over to the local museum.

It has a natural history section:

Which has a lot of information about the ice-age floods that carved out our unique region:

Over in the history section about the role the area played in the Manhattan Project, there's a Geiger counter display.  I used the wand there to check the rock's radioactivity, which luckily registered hardly at all.

The next day I took it to see our vintage 1949 Uptown Shopping Center:

 And down at our main park, I spotted one of the paddle wheel riverboats that ply our waters:

And later I went to the Atomic Lanes bowling alley to show the rock how small town Americans entertain themselves:

It was a fun and silly little adventure, which I enjoyed participating in, and I hope to get a copy of the scrapbook someday.