Saturday, February 28, 2009

I am done......

I am not going to do any more painting on this. I will try to get it on it's pole in the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow is Sunday, a good day to rest. Thanks.....

Working in the gallery.....

I have been working in the gallery the past couple of days. Today it was peaceful. Early this morning, Della and I had to send off one of her paintings to Alabama. I made a box for it and we got it matted and packed and ready to go. Della now is in the studio area working on a painting, Button, our poodle, is on the couch and is asleep on a afghan in the living room, Nala is locked in her crate watching me, and Barnabus is laying next to Nala's crate waiting for something exciting to take place.
I am painting on the birdhouses and am not happy with it. I am almost done and really don't like it's look. I work on the framing counter so I have everything strewn all over, I had all the paint cans open and did all of the final touch-ups on each piece. I glued and nailed twenty or so rectangular white wood pieces to replicate windows and I have the base to repaint one more time. Then I should fasten it all together but I just don't like it. I grumbled about it to my wife, but that didn't make it look any better, so I dug under the gallery sink to see what I could find. There is a dark blue sign painting enamel under there so I will try to perk it up with that. I hate that paint as it is not a water base and usually I get it all over myself and it doesn't want to come out of the brush well even with mineral spirits.
Note Barney's pose. He is a rescued Border Collie who has a lot of fears. We don't have good pictures of him because the pointing of a camera in his direction scares him. He doesn't run away but he does not face the camera. I will blog about him some of these days. Already some of you are saying he isn't a border collie because he is tan, not black and white in color. I will tell you about that in a future blog and tell you about what a great fellow he is.
Well I am back to resting again. I am still not happy with my paint job, we will have to see what I will do. I may go get some real shingles stored in the garden shed and shingle it. That may be the problem. Time out for now. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It is just a lawn chair, right?

A very good friend of mine named Bernie, who I have known since Kindergarten, says Larry has this thing with projects. He always has a project. I guess he is right and I have been thinking about this one for a long time. I have always admired Adirondack chairs. My oldest brother made one when he was in high school and that was back in 1957 or so. I liked that chair, they really are kind of strange. When my youngest son needed a project to do for shop, I suggested one of those chairs. I am sure his shop teacher was wanting something more sophisticated like a table, end table or cabinet, but Aaron took the hint and that is what he built. His shop teacher encouraged him to make it out of very good hardwood, so when it was done it was a beautiful piece of furniture with stain and clear finish. It was almost more like a modern furniture piece because it wasn't painted like they are done traditionally. Anyway, that chair didn't stay here and went to someone else's cabin in Minnesota never to be seen again.
As I have thought about recreating that chair, I had a diversion. On a public television show there was a gardener who was making this other style of chair, as seen above. He had charge of a very large public garden, and he was making these chairs and placing them all over the large acreage. The nice thing about them was he had broken the design down into grouped parts so that it could be made quickly and easily. I like the idea of fast, mass producing things.I thought that was a neat idea and I could make them for my orchard area, patio and elsewhere where it looks like one would want to sit down. Well, since that show, I researched the design and it was actually originally created by a German furniture designer by the name of Gerrit Reitvied. In the 30's he had received awards and his chairs today are in museums. There is a blog out there dedicated just for his furniture.
Back to the original story, I found the chair pictured in a magazine, painted red and rustically finished, and I thought that is what I wanted to make for my yard. The only problem that bothers me is it's styling is almost too modern and I don't think that it looks like a very strong piece of furniture. Also our house is old, 1903, and Adirondack really is more the style for this house. I know, the world has a lot of more serious things going on right now, and I won't probably be able to afford wood in the near future and I owe for those who can't pay their mortage, but it is a long time coming project. I guess you will have to wait and see what I will decide. By the way, I am almost finished painting my multi-condo birdhouse, but I promised not to show you until it is all done. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Framing in our studio......

I can't imagine how much more help that I can receive when framing a picture. I was quietly working and my wife was working nearby on a painting and all seemed fine. Then it got complicated. I had glued the frame together the day before so I needed to get nails put in on the corners as a second safety for strength. Our cat Nala, was hanging around but sleeping and father-in-law was getting ready to go to a senior citizen dinner. We were going to take him at 11 o'clock. As the work continues, Clarence seems to be ready to go. It is an hour and a half early though so he comes in and watches and ask questions and that is good. He needs to have things to do, but then he let the border collie into our work area and preceded to give him directions to keep him from harassing the cat, and the dog is begging for food from him and generally created a circus. I kept thinking after he found out that he was early that he would go back and lay down for awhile until it is time to go. No, that didn't happen. Actually the cat and dog get along well without interference and it is better to ignore them and they just go and lay down by each other. He sat at the kitchen table, watching from afar, asking questions, and keeping the pets excited and chasing and fussing with each of them As you can see Nala our cat was getting into the frame clamp strap and she was underfoot a lot of the time. Regardless, Clarence sat there for the entire hour or so, waiting for us to take him to the senior site. I could have just quit, but I really wanted to get this job out of the way as I have other things I want to get to. I just pressed on to the end.
As you can see, I did get the glass cleaned, the mat placed over the mounted picture, pins put in to hold it all together and paper and hanger wire on the back. These frame jobs of long pictures use to stress me out but usually I don't have so much trouble if I just pace myself and do parts of it strung out in a three day period.
I included a close up of the picture that was taken in 1916. It was a health camp meeting of some sort in some northern Iowa town. I have heard of these, or read about them when they had these on Long Island in New York. I don't know if it is a denomination of a Church or what, but I did read that they had actually built small cabin-like houses and lived in tents on Long Island for their annual meetings. I think their meetings lasted a week and it was a time of getting fresh air and creating good health in the body and discussing clean living.
Received a big downpour of rain today, and it is promised by weatherpersons to become snow or sleet, or both. We are looking very gray today and foggy too. Walked the dog tonight and the windchill has become artic air. Wow, it is now so very cold. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bookstore, rest and relaxation.....

Della and I play hookey once in a while when we get so cramped and closed in at the house. We love to hit the bookstores in our area. We browse all the magazines, search all the books on art or architecture, home improvement books are fun and art books are great. We buy coffee and just relax. My wife ended up buying a Photoshop magazine that helps give her directions for editing pictures and storing them in folders. There is no manual when you buy programs and the tutorials get to be irritating. Anyway, hopefully the magazine can help her do some of her computer work with the different sites she works with to sell art.
I know you are wondering, what is with the bubble lights. That is a Christmas thing, but let me explain. I found a book on Christmas decorations collecting. Most of the ornaments made from the early 30's to 60's were mostly cheap plastic except for some few glass blown ornaments that we could by at hardware stores or dime stores, but this book had page after page of bubble lights that people are collecting.
Anyway, when I was three years old or a little younger, I went to a Christmas party that my three brother's country school was having, and I saw bubble lights on their tree. The school was near our farm close to Hopeville, Iowa. I was so in awe of them, and then I never saw any ever again. In the past years they have started coming back and you could see them in Christmas shops and now in our superstores. I was fortunate to find some on a %75 off sale a year ago. I was so pleased as I wasn't ever going to pay full price.
The thing that I discovered in the Christmas collectors book was that there were only a couple different companies that made them and a lot of the older ones have oil in them or harsh chemicals that bubble up when the little light warms the fluid. When the bulbs break you have trouble. The thing that really surprises me now is that on Ebay there is a large following of collectors of these strings of bubble lights and there are unlimited amounts there to buy for very high prices.
The lights that I remember at the country school actually made a jingling sound as they bubbled. I know this seems silly but back then, TV was just being made available for the public to buy, it was 1953 and anything like this space shaped light was really beyond a curiosity. I was mesmerized. It seems to me to be such a treat to own then now today.
Being a kid at heart, I also collect glass blown ornaments. I like to buy the ones that resembled the old classic German ones of simple shapes of acorns, santas, mushrooms, little houses, etc. I also like to buy the ones today that are antique looking even though they are a new product. The sad thing going on right now is that the Chinese are making blown hard plastic ones and are painting them with the same glossy paint. One has to be careful to be sure they are glass.
The second picture of the Christmas tree is the little one that I keep my lights on and also the glass blown ornaments. It is fun to keep adding to the collection but I may have to get a bigger tree next year. Alright, I will quit, it is so out of season to be discussing this. Collectors get to be crazy don't they. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The next frame job......

My next frame job is of a long photo like this of many people at a healing revival. It is as long as the one above, about four feet in length. The one above is of downtown Woodward, 1900's. We frame a lot of these long photos for people and they are difficult. We have to special cut the mats by splicing sections of other color into them to stretch a 40 inch mat to a 48 inch mat. There are a lot of the long pictures like this one in town as there was a photographer who had one of those cameras with a shop uptown and he took lots of photos.
At the library is a picture of this era of the neighbors house across the street from us. It was taken probably from our front porch and it shows a dozen or more model Ts lined up and down the street. The barn that once stood on the corner opposite of our once barn on the corner was standing there with a cow in the coral. Incidently the house across the street from us is a reverse duplicate of our house so we could see the porches and summer kitchens that once were on our house back then. Well, I have to cut the frame for the one in the shop tomorrow. We special ordered the glass already and the mat is already cut. I just need to get it together. Thanks for reading.

It is cold outside.....

I just got back from spending time at the town park looking at the depot. An energetic retired newspaper man, who wants me to paint a mural on one of the walls inside was with me. The depot is a historic building that was used for the interurban railway system. The trolleys were electric and they ran from Des Moines out to many distant towns picking up people to take them to work, picking up milk to go to market, or people traveling to visit others. The retired gentleman wanted me to see the actual space that he wants the mural to be painted on and also showed me all of the old historic features of the building. The tracks are now gone, but the one side of the depot is still authentic in appearance and the goal is to restore it as much as possible back to its original state. The track bed actually sits under the west lane of the highway 141 heading south towards Des Moines and west to Perry and on farther. You can see a five mile section of the authentic rail bed south of Grange with wooden culverts and the works.
As a point of interest, they want a large mural on the one wall depicting the loading dock and the trolley, waiting to be loaded, boarded and ready to be on it's way. They are going to put a sliding barn-like door and a rail system to hold it up and allow the door to be opened and closed. They can cover the mural when they feel it needs to be protected, and slide it open for history buffs to see what it actually looks like to see the trolley from inside in the waiting room as they did years ago.
It has to be approved before we can start the project, and I do mean we. I want Della to be a part of this project as both of us have lived here long enough to leave something that we both have made to the town. I have a sketch I could share but everything is in the developmental stages but the picture above is just like one of the trolleys.
I said it was cold, the guy and I discussed everyhing we could outside the building and then we went in and did the same. I could see our breath inside and I got chilled to the bone. I am so looking forward to spring. Thanks for reading

Monday, February 23, 2009

Benches are for resting......

We were given this bench from Della's cousins. It belonged to Della's Aunt Irene and when she passed away, it was given to us. In many ways I am sure they were thinking that Clarence, Della's dad could sit on it out in the garden. That is what I thought but I have only seen him sit there once with our Yellow Kitty rubbing up against him. Farmers really never rest much and Clarence had a hard time learning that he could just sit and enjoy. He has been with us over six years now, and I kept thinking he could go out and sit on the porch and watch the world go by and he didn't have any obligations of things to do to make him feel guilty about it. But he still is a farmer and I think that he is afraid that he would be viewed as lazy if he sits out there. That is one of the reasons I think he has to walk three blocks up town at least once a week, to show that he can. Before he moved in with us he was still living in his home and was cutting a large tree down with his chain saw. Of course he ended up with a heart attack and in the hospital. He was 92 then and really couldn't take care of himself. His eyesight is also poor and as things developed, he now lives with us. Who he is and how he is viewed is that he needs to have worth and farmers don't just sit. Anyway he is 98 soon to 99 and it still bothers him that we bring a lawn chair for him when we go to a parade on main street. He offers to rake my yard or tried to get up on my roof to help me shingle.
It is all in one's frame of mind. When I retired from teaching, I couldn't slow down. My job required me to do double time work all the time never stopping. No move that I made as I lived my daily life was to be wasted. As I talked to kids about their projects and walked around the room, I was on continuous housekeeping duty. When I made any effort to do something I was always doing another thing along the way. So after I retired, I had a difficult time resting. I hit the yard and the garden on the run as I was free and time was limitless. On a July morning, I finally figured it out. I was looking over the front steps that I was going to remodel, I had taken measurements, and I sat down a minute to catch my breath. Our outside cat came around the house and joined me, and there I sat. It was a mild day with a gentle wind and it felt good to sit there in the shade of the house on the steps. I discovered if I would stay in one place, that I could see the insects busy at work. I could hear the neighbors dog barking. I watch a few cars go by in front of the house. I petted the cat and watched a garter snake slither across the sidewalk and I continued to just sit. People pray, and so do I, it is a good time to be quiet, and others meditate, but this time of just sitting and watching and listening was a revelation to me. I do need to slow down, take time, pause, relax, and observe the world that we are living in all around us. As a former farm boy who didn't want to seem lazy, and as a multi-task professional who had burned out, and as a projects oriented guy who can't waste time, I finally discovered that quality of life comes from not just doing, but being.
I like having the bench out there under the apple tree, waiting for spring. I like the way it looks with its invitation to come, sit, and rest. I like that as the next season comes that I am going to plant vegetables, but I am also going to sit out there and watch them grow. God does all the work in making them grow, but I sure need to take time to watch for awhile. Enough for now. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Searching for my place in art....

I have finally started a painting. I promised myself and pledged to my wife that I will complete a painting between every project that I have planned to do. I want to rework our framing gallery to give us more room but can't do it until I get this painting done.
I can't show you the painting as I am embarrassed and frustrated with it. I just started it and I don't know my style anymore. I have shown you pictures of the past and I can see pretty tight painting. The past years I have done some great paintings for examples for my students. They were far more loose in style and more painterly. I have created a fantastic Rothko rendition. I imitated Monet's waterlilies in great impressionistic form. I really can do a mean Kandinsky. So the painting I am working on right now is a combo of all of these things. I have to decide on a definite style.
I was at a bookstore today with my wife and I saw in a book a painted abstract by the late Edward Betts. It has given me direction. I am going to have a realistic sailboat in the composition but I am going to abstractly place various other things around and in front of it to create a painted design. I have new shapes to add and old shapes to remove and hopefully tomorrow I can get a handle on it. I will let you see it when I am done and not ashamed of it anymore. Thanks for reading

Old Family Photos ......

Both of my parents have passed away. My dad, Jesse, died in 2000, and my mom, Zella, passed away this last May. As a result of this, I am left with many pictures. So many pictures that one could of asked questions about, but it didn't seem relevant at the time when they were alive. I have a large set of pictures that were from my Dad when he was in Belgium and Germany during the final Battle of the Bulge. Those will become a blog of their own someday, maybe next winter, but Mom had pictures of her Grandmother who after having two childern lost her husband early in their marriage. She then remarried, creating a large group of half relatives by the name of Driver which I will never be able to figure out in the pictures.
Today's pictures posted above are some that I now find have more stories to them that when I first started this blog. I looked closer at the one picture and realize that everyone in that picture has an interesting or sad story.
Where to begin, I guess at the top. The photo of the house is one of a house built north of Murray, Iowa on a farm. I have been told that my Grandfather Burgus built this house. I saw it when I was seven or eight years old but never again. My mom helped out with a funeral meal out at that house probably fifteen years or more ago but the house now isn't there and was moved to a small town area of Lorimer. Why? I don't know and I don't know where.The questions that I also have now is, was my Great Grandfather Charles Burgus alive at that time and did he help build it? Also, the other question that I have but never asked before is, did any of my Grandfather's family members, he had 12 other brothers and sisters, help with the building of this house? Was it a Sears kit home?
Regardless of all the unanswered questions, my Grandfather sold that farm before the 20's and bought two other farms, one was near Murray so that some of the kids could go to high school, and the other southeast of town near a small French village called Lacelle. Due to the depression, my Dad and his brother dropped out of school to try to help save the farm but it didn't work. Grandpa Burgus lost that farm and they moved South to their other farm with a very small Victorian, gingerbread decorated farmhouse on it. That property they lost is presently owned by Pinky Phillips and his wife Sally.
The second picture down, is one of Grandpa Charles Burgus and his wife Grace Elizabeth (Turner) Burgus and their ten kids, five girls and five boys. One boy and one girl of the ten were twins. None of the family is alive today. This picture was taken at a park, and World War 2 had not started yet.
The bottom picture is the one that struck me as unusual once I started to think about it. My Uncle Donald is on the left, and he is dressed in uniform. He was stationed at the Alussion Islands in Alaska during the War, not a state of the United States then. My dad, Jesse is on the right, in uniform, could of been home on leave because my brother Rex had been born. I don't know the whole story here as it was unusual that both Dad and his brother were home at the same time.
Dad was stationed in Wash. DC for a while reading radar, watching for enemy planes. He was there for a year or two, before he was shipped out to Belgium to enter the war at a difficult time for the US. He was being sent in with others as reinforcements for a very hard and long battle that had been going on. They were invading Germany for the last time and the German troops were resurging for their last final attack trying to save their border. It was the bulge of their successful attack that caused US General's concern as we were loosing thousands of troops. Anyway, my Dad was there involved carrying a radio in front of the front lines with scouts until the end of the war.
In the picture, besides Grandpa and Grandma Burgus is my Dad's oldest brother Cecil and wife Bertha. The tall girl was their daughter Cecilia, who passed away this year. She was my oldest first cousin. Next to her is her brother Roger. He eventually grew up to be a scientist who did research at the Salk Institute in California. He worked with Dr. Salk, the famous Polio vaccine scientist, and in the 80's with others they successfully develop a drug for dwarfism. Before he died in the 90.s he was doing cancer research. The little boy with a gun in the picture, is Uncle Carl's and Aunt Pauline's only son. He drowned tragically, at the age of sixteen trying to swim across the Thayer Lake near Murray. He was with relatives at the time and just wasn't strong enough of a swimmer to make it all the way across. The woman next to my Uncle Donald on the left is his twin sister Doris. Uncle Donald eventually met an English woman during the war, who was in the service and he married her. He brought her back to the states. His wife, Eileen had been an only daughter of an English Officer that supervised the British colonial countries like India and she lived in grandeur most of her young life in foreign countries.
The family lineage is an ironic mixture as my Grandfather was very German, Prussian, and my Grandmother Burgus was very English. Grace Burgus came from a family of Turner's and her mother was an Abernathy. It was unusual that my Dad would be fighting with England and all of the allies against German's. It was a strange sad time and we were really fortunate that my Dad survived such a dangerous time. Enough for now.
Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nala, our rescued Manx kitten....

We have two dogs, many fish, birds (that I kept at school but are now at home), and an older cat that now lives in the basement and outdoors because of Barney our rescued border collie dog, so getting a new cat was not in the plan. But I was out walking our border collie a few months ago and we came upon the very small, young, shivering kitten. It's eyes were mannered shut and her hind quarters were a mess from who know what health problems that she had. Barney chases cats so he doesn't really seem too friendly with this small fir ball helplessly crouched on a very cold sidewalk. I had to tie Barney to the fire hydrant because he thought it was a wild creature or something. I went back and tried picking her up, but her hearing was fine and she started to spat at me and creep away, even though she couldn't see. I did catch her and she was so thin and so cold. I immediately put her inside of my coat despite how filthy that she was. She immediately started warming up and purring. I was hooked. I brought her home and had Della come down from upstairs getting ready for church. Della washed her eyes open with warm water and cotton balls and we put her into a carrier. Since we were going to church we decided we could get some milk made for kittens and a baby kitten bottle for her at the pet store. I didn't say that she was so very young. I went outside with one of the dogs right before we left and I was thinking about the kitten, and when I came back in I looked and said, she has no tail. We hadn't noticed because she was in such bad shape.
Speeding up the story we tried to feed her after church with the baby bottle and she immediately chewed the end of the nipple off because she was so hungry, so we put it in the bowl, and the rest is history.
Little did we know how much of an adventure this was going to be. We named her Nala after the female cub in the Lion King movie, as this kitten did have a determined attitude. Because she is a Manx, we learned through research, that some of them have genetic defects. People who sell Manx cats, don't sell them until they have grown up to see the they have developed normally. Our Nala has been to the vet so many times as she is numb in her anal area. She has no control of what she is doing there, and we read that because they have no tail, that they also have a bad vertebrae or missing one which may cause them to have no feeling back there. Well anyway, she doesn't go to the vet anymore as she doesn't like her and is tired of visiting there, so we work with her and give her two special medicines to help us keep her in pretty good shape. We have made a lot of adjustments in our house for her, keeping her only in certain rooms and crating her at night to keep her safe. She has Barney visitation rights off and on throughout the day so they can play, and she is a very fussy eater that keeps us guessing at what canned food to buy.
As a cat, she is a loving thing, and she is so full of energy. One relative teased us saying that it will probably grow up to be a bob cat. In some ways he was right. She has so much energy, and loves to run through the house. She also loves to sit on top of our antique rocking chair and watch the parakeets. You can see her doing that in one of the pictures. She did that when she was very young and now she is over seven pounds and she has to work at it to keep her balance on that rail.
We kept her separated from the collie for a long time, but we did notice that he wasn't going to treat her the same way as he does the cats outside. In the past two weeks we experimented and let them be together, and Nala just adores Barney. He likes her because he can herd her like a sheep and she loves him because she can stand up on her hind feet and play with his face and nose. He doesn't mind. I am working to get a picture of that as it is a made for movie scene.
Picking her up that morning, being so cold and helpless, and inspite of a her problems, we really love our cat. She has enriched our lives, taught us patience, and gave us a new perspective on rescuing animals. We are glad we have her, she adds one more character to our zoo. The dogs would be jealous if they knew I wrote about Nala first, but I will share about all our other creatures at a latter time. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Time to start thinking about tomatoes.....

I received a seed catalog a few days ago. A seed company has my email address and they send me offers every two weeks and I do believe it is time to get some tomato seeds ordered. My father in law, 98 yrs. old, who lives with us, became entertained with growing them in his large east window of his bedroom. I suggested it to keep him busy and he fell for it, so the last four years or more, he has grown my seed for me into eight to ten inch high tomato plants. I use to give him three packets or maybe four and we would end up with 100 or more plants, so last year I limited him to two packets of seed and we still had sixty plants or more. His eyesight has worsened this past year so I will probably have to plant them for him. He has a large planter of red blooming geraniums in his windows and we need to move that somewhere else.
I always like to have the heirloom variety, Brandywine, and he always wants Best Boy or Better Boy. I have been so disappointed with the yellow varieties as they have a lemon flavor rather than the old fashion sweet tomato flavor. My wife and I like to grow the Roma variety also, and one year we had so many that we gave many of them away.
Secretly, I would like to buy a bunch of seeds of the heirloom kind and grow plants and sell them to the community. I was asked last year if I had any heirloom varieties that they could have. I really don't think there is a market for it, so it is a pipe dream.
Anyway, I need to finalize the wish list. Maybe I will limit Clarence to ten seeds per variety and I will order four or five kinds. We have snow predicted and thirty mile an hour winds to come this evening, but seeds need to be started by the middle of March so we can get them in the ground by first or second week of April.
I follow a blog from over in England and they are planning gardens right now and have crocus blooming, and are ready to plant potatoes. I suppose it is the island effect that keeps them a little warmer. We get the arctic winds directly through Canada and the earth is going to have to tilt a lot more before we stop getting blessed by them. I would like to grow the golden yellow variety of potato this year. It will be another month before I can even think about tilling the garden.Think spring, Iowans, think spring. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Painting the birdhouses......

Ok, I will blog no more about the birdhouses until they are completely done. I tried to destroy my hands with the drill and that larger type of drilling mechanism. I was in Des Moines today but didn't get any paint as we were at the wrong kind of stores for that. I have four frame jobs to get done now and will put this guy aside until I get caught up with all my serious projects. Bought dog food for Barney and groceries and art stuff at Hobby Lobby. Had fun today telling people about son's engagement. Was 26 degrees today and the wind chill was 18 degrees. It was painfully cold. The day is done. Thanks for reading

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Our youngest son is engaged......

Our son Aaron just called us and told us he had just become engaged to his girlfriend, Keegan. He was very excited and we are so proud and happy for him. Aaron met Keegan Wardwell this past summer while serving an internship at Acadia National Park. We were pleased to meet her last June in Chicago at our older son's wedding. No wedding plans at this point. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Birdhouse update. . .

The birdhouse is coming along in it construction. The whole thing is turning into a lot of detail work which is the part I like best. I found my drill part that will make 2 inch holes for the openings. My father in law insists that it is a purple martin birdhouse and I guess I really don't care. It will have seven compartments when I get all of the floors put in and the holes cut. I will paint it when I get done working with all the trim parts. The top photo shows how I increased decoration to the very top piece of the house. The below picture actually is the older view of what is happening. Sleet and snow predicted for tomorrow. I need to go bring in my jig saw from the side porch before I go to bed. Going to Perry to buy paint, then I will have to make up my mind on color. Thanks for reading

Our older son is in Chicago....

Our oldest son, Andy, lives in Chicago with his wife Patricia. They were married last June in an old cottage there in Chicago called the Grove. It had a large two story room with a large front window to give it a church-like appearance. The cottage was built by a couple as a summer home. They were both writers and the cottage is full of neat dining rooms, a balcony, a paneled stair case, and great roof structure of the arts and crafts cottage style. It was eventually given to the state and is now a State Park.
Andy works downtown Chicago as an adviser to people who create websites for medical firms. He is a communication go between for the website people and the computer geeks of the company, helping them to communicate with each other and assisting in the website creations. Patricia is a scientist with a degree in genetics. Her present work is in leading research of nano technology in the human disease area. Nano's can be injected into the blood stream and then removed later for evaluation. There is a lot more going on than that but this is all that I am able to understand. The two of them have a condo in Arlington Heights. Andy has to drive to a train station every morning and rides to the downtown area for forty minutes for more. Andy was always fascinated with the big city life and we knew he would end up there, somewhere, where there are lots of things to do. He enjoys the art galleries and history museums. The two of them traveled to England and France and we have viewed many pictures of art, architecture and historical sites.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our Second Son Lives in Maine....

Our son Aaron lives in Maine. He and his girlfriend have two dogs and they live on Mt. Dessert Island, at Seal Harbor. The pictures of the real North Shore on the east coast reminds me so much of the Minnesota's North Shore in rock formations and fauna. But when you see views of the ocean side, you see salt water creatures. The lobsters, crabs, star fish and all the other kind of salt water creatures on the shore. It is really a shock because my brain can't wrap around the idea that the shorelines can be so similar and then you see crayfish and such. Oh well, we hope to visit him sometime and maybe it won't seem so abnormal. I have read that there are puffins and whales in the area as well as dolphins. That would be great to see. His girlfriend Keegan took him lobster fishing last summer. I couldn't find the picture to show you. Aaron is a graduate from the University of Iowa. He and Keegan work near Bar Harbor at the Jackson Laboratory. As you can see, he loves his dogs. He really loves Maine. He was a Minnesota fan for years but he loves his new state with hiking and biking trails and great wildlife. Thanks for reading

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Grand Marais, Minnesota .......

In the summer when you want to get away, I recommend Duluth, Minnesota and the North Shore. You can find lots of things to do in Duluth down by the harbor, then you can travel north to Grand Marais. Along the way are many state parks with trails and waterfalls. Also Split Rock Lighthouse. The pastel painting at the top is one that I did while sitting along the shore at Split Rock. But the topping on the cake is when you reach the Grand Marais area. It is a small, older town, that use to be a fishing village. It has a large protected bay where you can watch boats come and go, see the wildfowl and walk out to Artist's Point. It is where you see the above rock formation plus many other types of rock formations. You can walk along a great rock edge to Lake Superior and in bad weather you can see huge water waves coming in and crashing on the rocks. It has a few nice tourist traps, a few art galleries, a coffee shop right off the bay, and a few nice restaurants. If you are a donut freak, there is a family-run World's Greatest Donuts. They are huge and fresh baked early in the morning. The whole area seems to be rustic and back in time by forty years. The weather is fantastic and did I mention the Gunflint Trail. It is a road back up into the Superior National Forest and ends up at the Canadian border. Check out . It is a great get away spot. This is my second blog about this area. I guess I am really hooked. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Added the Goats.....

This is a painting I created a few years back. It is oil on canvas panel board. I like painting on long and narrow canvases. My wife and I use to spend time on the North Shore, Lake Superior, and would paint en plein air. We would be so sunburned and then tanned from sitting hours each day painting along the lake shore from Duluth to Grand Marais.
At one of our nights stay at an unfortunate motel north of Grand Marias there was this building. The motel was a long stretched out one and one parked in back to go into your room. Directly behind our room stood this building. I took various photos of it and then painted it later in the studio. I like architectural accuracy on older buildings and this one intrigued me. It probably was the original home on the property before the motel was built. The house was used for storage now. Note the model T garage on the right side of the building. The lean to on the right of the garage was probably added later and could have been the workshop for the farm.
I actually found a picture of the old truck in a newspaper years before and I researched the goats in a book and painted them to give it some interest. I made up the barn too, but it isn't untrue to it's style of that time period. The entrance door is one of a door similiar to one on a building that I used to own. The door is actually from a Queen Anne era of architecture in style that had been recycled and installed on a cabin. That is another story. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flower Power....

An old hippie saying was to use flower power instead of guns. It was pretty stupid as putting daisies down the barrels of guns of scared young ROTC guys was just making it difficult for them to do their practice march while on the field at Iowa State University. Not a single flower in a single gun saved a single soldier who died in the Vietnam war.
But spring will bring flowers and we will see the coneflowers and the black-eyed susans again in the summer and we will feel alive again. It snowed again today in Iowa and we have a beautiful snow covering everything. There is a beauty there but now it is getting to be too much of the same thing. I looked through my pictures of fall, and pictures of summer iris, and stargazer lilies, and I get hopeful. I know it is ridiculous to wish as it will be two more months of this.
I have started constructing my new birdhouse. My battery charger for the battery of my drill has decided to not to work any more. I had to dig out my old electric drill and that was a pain. I know the power was great, but the changing from drill bits to Phillips screw driver head was a long difficult process. I cut and built two sections of the birdhouse using up nine foot of my boards. I can see now that I will run out of wood. That is the story of any project. Three trips to the store before you get it finished.
Tomorrow is Valentines day and I have roses for my wife. They will be great to have around for me too, as I can soak in the rich red color of living plants from a warmer climate, probably California. I will pick them up in the morning uptown with 7 inches of snow on the ground and 31 degrees. One has to be careful in our weather as this kind of cold can destroy any plant if not protected from the harsh cold. One can't even hurry fast to the car without getting a plant frosted and ruined. Well enough whining about the weather. Maybe the sun will be out and the snow will have great reflections and it will seem warmer than it really is. Thanks for reading.

My wife is an artist........

My wife, Della, is an artist. She was born an artist, has always expressed herself with visual creations, and now today continues to daily create works of art. When we were first married, she was stuck housekeeping and raising two boys so she didn't start off right away painting but then she just had to paint again. She bought a large oak easel and worked primarily on portraits. Up to that point she continued with portraits and started to receive commissions from people I worked with at school, from family members as well as others that she knew before we married. She had done commissioned work before we married, but her contacts doubled when we married.
Our second year of marriage, we added a gallery to the house that gave her some space to work and that evolved into an art gallery and also a frame shop. We became framers because the public wanted a local area to get things framed. Della ran the business of the frame shop as well as continued to paint. Twenty five years later, we still frame, but Della has expanded to selling world wide on the internet. She has work all over the world. During the past twenty five years her work has continued to be portraiture, but the business or should I say the market redirected her into doing paintings of animals. Her biggest market is of painting of horses, cats and dogs. She has sold flowers, landscapes, wildlife and paintings with an Amish theme. She has also done commissioned portraits from local clients. All and all, she is in her element and loving every minute of it. Her involvement with various artist internet friends has been rewarding both socially and also from an educational standpoint. Her closest friends are in Texas, California, Oregon and Montana.
One of my long lost relatives the other day said it must be delightful to have two artist in one house. I guess it is. As artist go, it is fun, frustrating, and a lot of work to create works of art. As an art teacher for 35 years I have barely touched the surface compared to what Della has accomplished, but I too have learned, and grown, watching her and her friends doing their thing in this internet art world. I am proud of her and of all her accomplishments. It is fun to watch her do what she so loves to do. Thanks for reading
Check out
Also she is found among a number of artist at