Thursday, January 21, 2010


My friendly neighborhood tire store fixed my flat (see previous) and gave me a complimentary calendar as well. Every month has a scenic photo and a motivational thought in fancy writing.

While looking through the wise words I was thinking about my lack of success in my studies of Sumi-e painting. I’d gone from diligently painting an hour or so almost every day for weeks, to total procrastination. Things did not look good.

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” Confucius--- Was one calendar quote.

Was walking away from my attempt at oriental style painting going to be like quitting music lessons—something to regret years later?

Another month’s inspiration was: “Act as if it were impossible to fail.” Dorothy Brande And another: “Admire those who attempt things even if they fail.” Seneca

I considered how I really hate doing repetitive crafts. Others can turn out loads of handwork and needlework with similar designs, all beautiful. I, on the other hand, went bonkers when I had to crochet two hot pads that looked the same. Trying to paint bamboo leaves and birdies over and over was really getting under my skin.

Another deep thought: “When you have faults do not fear to abandon them.” Confucius

Abandon them—hmmmm. Maybe putting away the bamboo brushes and rice paper wasn’t failing, but just quitting while I was ahead. I decided life is too short to waste on looking for chi.

CHI: The unimpeded circulation of balance of negative and positive forms in the body. Held to be essential to good health in traditional Chinese medicine.

Chi? Chi? I don’t need no steenking Chi. Most artists are considered unbalanced anyway. I stashed the black and white and got out my Arches watercolor paper and my sable brushes. In one afternoon I turned out a painting of the National Elk Refuge just out of Jackson, Wyoming—the piece you now see incorporated into my new blog header. Actual size is 30 inches wide. If you look closely you can see the elk herd.

Granted all the studying of brush work has improved my painting ability. It even helped my handwriting.

I seem to do my best work on paper towels. 
(No pressure to perform, I guess)

The hours spent weren’t totally wasted. And I have lots of ink and newsprint so the kids and I can have great fun together.  Time for me to move on.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The road between home and Yellowstone National Park is sometimes two lanes, and sometimes a four lane divided highway. On The Big Hill it is two or three lanes, but usually the center lane is for passing slow uphill traffic. The trip has no switchbacks, just a long climb or, if going down, a wild descent. This is especially true if the surface is icy and the shoulders are non-existent because the snowplow has filled the roadsides truck-high as it cleared the way. Plus there are the huge eighteen wheelers that rush headlong down The Big Hill with what seems like little regard for insignificant vehicles such as a small Subaru Impreza. This not a good place to get a flat tire.

But there I was at the wheel hauling down the hill when some gosh-awful noise started coming from the front and the steering wheel began to shimmy. I carefully pulled over close up against the wall of snow with almost no room to open my door without losing it to passing traffic, turned on my emergency flashers, and pulled the instruction manual out of the glove box to figure out what the heck to do next.

This is not the actual situation. I didn’t stop to take photos that day. The highway on The Big Hill is wider, but you get the idea.

I’ve changed a flat before. One time it was on our big old Chevy Nova. I was on my way to grandma’s house with a load of kids and no hubby. The tire went flat literally in the middle of nowhere. (There is a lot of that in south-central Idaho.) The kids were ecstatic for an opportunity to escape the car. They exploded out of the doors and ran off into the weeds. This was before the time when spare tires were the size of donuts. So the most difficult part of changing that tire was lifting the spare out of the trunk.

This is hubby loading the Chevy Nova. The spare sat deep in the trunk and probably weighed forty pounds.
Anyway, I changed that tire. A few cars passed during the incident, but the only one that stopped was driven by a kind lady who was smaller than I was. It took both of us to put the flat tire into the trunk.

Back to the flat on my Subaru: It was a challenge to find all the necessary tools. They were stuck in crevices and hidey-holes in the back. It was a real trick to discover where the jack was hidden. Meanwhile the big semi-trucks flew by in the passing lane flinging melted slush from their wheels.

Just as I was pulling off the hubcap a compassionate fellow stopped his pickup truck and came to help. Between the two of us we got the problem fixed and me on my way. I traveled the thirty miles on my little spare to my friendly neighborhood tire store with no problems.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Real is more than fact.  The question is not what you look at--but what you see.
Henry David Thoreau