Larry.s Creative Zone

Larry.s Creative Zone

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Iowa weather...

I visit many garden blogs and it is depressing to live in Iowa when I make comparisons. Every year about this time I think that I am not going to mess with any garden, there is nothing out there. It is the time when the weather flirts with us giving us a couple of warm days then it is yanked away for four more weeks. The blog gardens that I see are from England or out west or out east. Some people in the central part of the United States must have protected areas where they have planted bulbs and they are up and doing well. I fortunately have two lots so I have a lot of land, but there aren't many protected areas because of that. In fact I don't take off leaves for a long time as a freezing rain could take out a lot of young sprouts.
My late parents place is in Osceola, which is south of here an hour or so. The plants are way ahead of ours. In about four weeks I will see things shape up a little and then get enthusiastic when all those iris and day lilies and peonies will come up and remind me that I do have a garden out there. We don't have flooding, we don't have snow on the ground, so I need to quit whining, sorry, but it is cold enough to spit a little snow.
I do want to get my apple trees sprayed this year early instead of late. More spraying will give me many more good apples.
The geraniums are in my east window and leftover from a planting for my father in law last, late summer, for his room. They are doing so well that I have taken a number of slips from them.
The daffodils are starting to come up among that bleak, gray flower bed. The stems are from a very old tradition rose bush that was here when I bought the place. It spreads well and really can be cut down each fall. It is a very pink with a nice scent. Tomorrow you get to see my new purchase and the shape of my tomato seedlings. Thanks for reading......

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tough Day...

It is a sad day at our house. We had to let our cat Nala go today. We found her less than a year ago as a kitten, and she had Manx syndrome. We kept her going for a longer period of time than the four months that they usually live, but the last few days were tough. It is less difficult to let them go when they are not well. She had given us a lot of love. She was such a special animal. She had special needs that we were privileged to care for and we miss her so much. Thanks for reading...


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mini Bridge....

I dug a pond in my back yard quite a few years back and we have enjoyed it. It has been difficult to maintain as I made it deep enough that fish could survive the winter and that means so many leaves can fall into the water and rot all winter. I usually net the fish out and bring them in for the winter so it doesn't have to be deep. The picture of it a few years ago shows how lush it can be and also you see the old bridge.
So I need to do some problem solving to rehab the whole thing. I am thinking turn it into a shallow pond that I could keep small goldfish in and also wouldn't have to worry about any dangers of children falling into it. Number one thing that comes this spring is to pump it dry and get the old leaves out of it. The rest will come. It would mean hauling a lot of dirt in my rickety old wheel barrel. The new bridge isn't completed as I want to make a railing on it between each corner post. The old bridge had was getting dangerous. Our border collie doesn't like this one as he doesn't want to take the time to cross it straight across and likes to jump from the edge to the other side.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jack Sparrow and Canola....

Jack Sparrow is our male cockatiel. He was given to me a few years back by a student. His mother didn't like the mess that was being made by him in the bathroom where he was being kept. Cockatiels spit their seed shells out of the cage while they eat. They had been given the bird and they were just passing him on to me. I kept him at school most of that year then brought him home during the summer and kept him home. Certain people in school, adults, get easily irritated by their sounds. It just takes one so I just kept him at home. A couple years ago, another student went to a exotic animal sale and she bought a female bird, for twenty five dollars, named by her, Canola. I kept her at school and when the girl graduated it became my bird. I took her home and put her into Jack Sparrow's cage. She was not a very old bird when she was purchased.

I researched last year how to build a nest box for cockatiel's, made one, attached it to the outside of the cage and then the fun began. The male bird just spent days trying to get her to go into that box nest. He would crawl into that nest and call hours upon hours. Finally she succumbed and they immediately had six or eight eggs in there. Jack Sparrow actually sat on the eggs more than the female. She did take turns but he spent most of his time on the nest. A dozen days or so later after all the eggs were laid, they started hatching. From that batch we had two full grown cockatiel chicks. We had a lid that let us look in but all of a sudden one day one of them, full grown just crawled out of the nest and was in the cage. Probably five days later the second one left.
Those chicks kept returning in the nest at night so I didn't take the nest away. Before I knew what was happening, the adult female had gone back in there and had laid many more eggs. So babies helped sit on those eggs as well as the adults. This second time we had three more chicks. With in a month and a half we had five new cockatiels.
Needless to say, I didn't hesitate to get that nest off the cage once everyone seemed old enough to be out of the nest. What a crowd. I did give two birds to the girl who had given me the female, Canola, and I then had to separate the couple from their three babies. As you can see in the pictures they look a lot like their parents. I like to call them the three muskateers. They are really a very sweet bird.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Garden Gate...

I live in a 1904 farm house in the town of 1500 people. It is the older part of town and was call Colter before the railroad caused them to name it Woodward. This picture shows the green that I am anxious to see. I am tired of the brown and we are back to freezing temperatures again. This gate is our back door garden gate. The old sidewalk was made by the WPA (Works Progress Administration)(1940) after the depression, and the small one going to the gate, was one that I found under a lot of soil. It is a homemade job by some previous owner. I had fun building the gate and the latch is due an adjustment as the whole gate has settled and the latch is now a half inch off, making it hard to open and close. That green looks so good to me right now. Thanks for reading.....

An older story about this gate.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Birthday and potatoes......

It is my birthday today and I am so surprised who really cares. Edward Jones knows it is good business to keep our relationship warm, friendly and close, the guy in Granger finally has quit sending me cards as I haven't bought a car from him at that dealership since 1996, but the Dentist who is taking a lot of my money has sent me an email birthday greeting. What a deal that is....
I was nostalgic today and bought some seed potatoes. After being on the internet, I am confused about what I bought. The sign said they were a golden yellow potato, but not Yukon, but the potato above pictured from Burpee says it is a white potato, it has this purple skin. I think my friendly hy vee screwed up the identity of their merchandise. Anyway, I will plant them.
I was raised in southern Iowa where my mom and dad cut all the leftover potatoes into small parts, each having at least one sprout on them. They were Kennebec potatoes and we planted many long rows of them. I remember that it was a family job to get them planted. My dad would drop them in the long furrow and step on them, and the younger boys followed with a rake to cover them up. We had many rows of potatoes as we a family of six ate potatoes all year on them. It was the boys job, the four of us, to keep the weeds down. The older two boys were out of the house eventually so it was the two younger boys job. By fall when they needed to be dug, the weeds had been left to grow. It was my older brother Dwight and me to go out and find the dying vines among all the weeds and dig them up and let them dry for a day. We didn't do this all at once but it always became a drudge job by the time we were done. The baskets were heavy and we would leave the out in the garden filled ready for my dad to carry them to the basement.
All of that flashed before me as I picked out about a dozen whole purple skinned potatoes. They have multiple sprouts so I can probably get 4 or 5 starts off each one. I hope that the kind that I bought were golden yellow as that is the reason I wanted to grow them. I think it would be nice to have something different to grow and to eat. I will go back to the store next week and check out exactly what I bought and I will get a sweet potato to get started in water for planting. I live in central Iowa so I am curious to see how this goes with a different zone.
Birthdays are fun when there is cake and my wife is making a red devil's food cake for me. My two brothers have called already, both of them older and arguing about when I was born. They were born before and during WW2 and my brother Dwight was born in 1947 and I was born in 1950.
We have the post war and prewar gap in age so the older guys have a hard time knowing anything about their younger siblings. Now that one brother older than me is gone, and Mom and Dad are gone, they have to rely on my oldest brother's wife to know what is going on, or they break down and call me. The two sons will call tonight. One will call the other to remind him as his computer will remind him that it is his dad's birthday. It will be good to hear from them.
Thanks for reading... oh yes if you haven't figured it out, this is my last year to be in the fifties.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life according to Nala the cat...

When I get weary or discouraged I watch the behaviors of our rescued cat. She was so small and helpless when we found her, we almost lost her twice and were encouraged to put her to sleep. We decided to give her the best days or few years of her life and she has really rewarded us for that. We don't take her to the vet every few days anymore. In fact she is well enough to growl and spat at the vet so we can't take her for check ups, but we do still medicate her a little and moderate her daily eating needs. We also watch her everyday life with great joy. She loves to rest in the sun, she is always discovering everything that exists in this world and she is anxious for the day when we will let her explore the out of doors. She really enjoys life and really teaches a lot about how to live life. Thanks for reading.....

A younger Nala

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Garden Fence Decoration.....

As a long time art teacher, I always have each year one or two students who never take any of their work home. As a young student I would never do that, but todays kids live for the moment and sometimes do assignments just to make me happy and get a grade rather that make it for enjoyment. So for all these years I have collected these things, houses, that have been abandoned. In all honesty, I kept them around for a few years because sometimes, rarely, a student would come back and ask if I still had a certain project. When I quit teaching it was either the dumpster for them or bring them home. My neighbor gave me the woodedn box from her garage and it made a perfect shelving unit for student's clay houses.
Another project I have planned is a large amount of clay masks. I want to put them in a water feature looking up from under the water, just like the one scene in Lord of the Rings with all the bodies looking up from the swamp water.
It has been a long day with father-in-law in emergency room for a large part of the day. He came back home with us with a new walker. Thanks for reading....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cheap roses,,,,,,

Every once in a while I get brave and try out a cheap rose. Some of them at the department stores have strong traditional names, but the quality really isn't as good as the expensive rose. Nala our cat is checking out the one that I bought recently. It is called Iceberg and it is a florabunda rose. I know in my heart that this is probably a good way to throw away four dollars but I will baby it and maybe see it bloom at least one year. The thing we have to do in Iowa because of our confusing borderline zones is to plant them very deep. We are zone 4 for some years and we can be zone 5 on other years. When you look on the zone map of Iowa we are this little special small bubble part that is surrounded by zone 5 and we are suppose to be zone 4. Anyway, we have to plant our roses deep enough to generously cover the graft with soil by three to four inches. Otherwise they freeze out and we get these funny rose foliages from the stock root and it never blooms again. I am also anxious to see if the transplanted roses from my late mothers property will grow and bloom this year. I moved them from southern Iowa to this central northern part of Iowa and I think they are still alive. We have to wait for a few more warmer days to see if the greening starts at the base of the plants.
I also found some other seeds for future planting. I saved zinnia seeds from last year. I plant a water melon for grandpa each year and we get one or two good ones but not many. Also you can see those gourd seeds that I bought new this year. One can paint beaks and eyes on them and turn them into swans. A little corney, but off the wall is ok sometimes. It will be fun to see what happens. Thanks for reading.....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Day Planting...

Planted seeds yesterday. I like to get them going for my father-in-law to nurture in his window in his room. It is a large picture window on the east so it works well. I started doing this five years back for him to have something to do. He will be 98 years old soon and he feels like he is farming.I had never started anything in the house before, but he babies the plants until they get so big that I have to transplant them in larger pots.
For my own interest I planted peppers and two herbs, sage and dill. I am keeping them in the dining room window on the south. When I was a kid on the farm we had large dill plants that self-seeded each year. My mom used the dill in pickles but there are good recipes out there for biscuits with dill. I planted all of the seeds of the Big Boy and Better Boys tomatoes, there weren't very many in the packets. The Burpee seeds were so plentiful in the packets that I only planted half of the seed in each of the Roma and Beefsteak. Because the seeds do so well, I have had years of almost a hundred tomato plants. I don't like to kill any of them. This year I am going to find homes for some of them as the three of us don't need nor use up that many tomatoes. Thanks for reading.....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sears and Roebuck Oat Sprouter...

My Grandmother Mabel Brooks lost her husband, my Grandfather Leroy Brown, in 1937. When she remarried she married Oscar Brooks. Oscar, my step grandfather, was the only grandfather I knew growing up, as my Dad's father died in 1949. Oscar had two sisters in which one lived in Chicago and the other, Iva Horton lived south of us in the country about 5 miles. Iva and her husband John were very close to my family even though we were step family. I still write to one of their son's who has long retired and lives in Iowa City. I want to blog about them later on about where they lived and how they lived. They were true pioneers in many ways. It was like visiting the Waltons on the tv show both in country setting and family.

When you visited them, you never entered by the front door, as it was facing the road and that was far from the driveway.  At the back of the house was a shady yard and their back door was inside on  a porch. The porch was a work space for them and storage space and the floor tilted down hill in case the rain would come in. It was a screened porch and I suspect they used it as a summer kitchen area for canning and other cooking needs.

As you entered the back porch and walked toward the back door of the kitchen, one could always see this cupboard. It was typical styling with a glass door of two lights over two. It had one door at the bottom. For all the years that I visited there, I never asked about it and just admired it. When John and Iva moved to town while I was in college, I helped with the other neighbors in the move and I never again thought about that cupboard.

Through the years I noticed it in my dad's garage and he was storing his rocks in it. I had never made the connection that it was the same piece until I notice the gray patterned paper that was taped in the window glass of the door. It was the same paper that I saw at John and Iva's and it hit me that was the same cupboard and Dad had it. I never knew the drawer was in it as I could never see in it. I was very excited. I knew one day that it would be mine.

I like old furniture and the history of it. I talked to my Dad about it and he said John told him it was an oat sprouter. The sprouter was lined, I am assuming with zinc sheeting at the top area where you see the glass door. The lining is just like the metal you see in old wooden refrigerators that were cooled by blocks of ice. It had shelves in there and I am presume they put trays of dirt with oat seed planted in the dirt. The drawer built in at the bottom of that section was probably made by John as the turned it into a storage cupboard. I do know Sears made it as on the bottom of the front is a metal name plate, very deteriated, that says Sears and Roebuck. I assume it was ordered from the catalog.

At the bottom is the door with the hole in it. I would think that it was for a light bulb to warm the whole unit to cause the oats to sprout. If not electricity it could of been where they put steaming hot water to warm the unit. Who knows? The holes on the side are air vents so the plants can be kept from rotting with too much moisture.

Now some of you non-farmers are wondering why oats. The oats, once sprouted, would be taken out to the chicken house and fed to the chickens. Chickens love fresh greens in the spring. This way they could get better eggs during the winter by feeding them forced oat seed.

The sponged finish on the cupboard was a freak mood that I was in as I thought it would make it look like a novelty piece which you see sold in stores today. I also attacked it with some decals to give it a more craft look. It is a novelty but some day I will probably strip it back down to the red brown stained wood. As you can see the cupboard is filled with collections of war soldiers, water fowl ceramics, my wife's toy dishes and other things. That will be another long blog. Sorry to go on and on. Thanks for reading

Friday, March 20, 2009


A lighthouse in Maine near where our youngest son lives. He sent us this picture along with pictures of him working with a lobster fisherman. He was having a great time.
I was at the bookstore for a while today and found a newer book of large pictures of lighthouses. They photographed many of them throughout the world. The architecture of them overseas are very different than ours here in the United States. Their profiles were swayed in at the belly or they built them perfectly square with a platform on top.

Our most favorite place to visit in Minnesota is the Split Rock light house, the yellow one above. It was built in 1909 with all of the materials being shipped in and carried up a lift system up the side of the hill. No roads existed at that time so once it was built, it was supplied solely by ships. We like to paint there and down below it in a park area along the lake. The picture you are seeing is a pastel that Della had done a few years back. The story behind that painting was that we had donated to a church auction for missions, and two people who had liked the painting and had seen the lighthouse, fought over it. The bid went over three hundred dollars before they quit. The painting below is one that I did on the beach below the light house. It is done in pastel and lives in a nice man's house in Madrid, Iowa.

The one above is one that Della also painted. It was on Lake Michigan and is called Point Betsie. I believe that I read that it is a private residence now. I sold one like it but it was a lot smaller than this painting. Mine was a watercolor and the one above is in pastel.
We have had a dream to travel the shores of Superior and Michigan and paint all of the lighthouses but that hasn't happened yet. Thanks for reading.....

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have always had fish. When I was teaching, I had three different tanks at school. I was the fish rescue as well as a bird rescue. On Sunday afternoon I had a parent call me and said that I had to come and take these fish away, one has died and I don't want to watch the rest of them die. So I dutifully went over and picked up four beautiful gold fish. They were the kind that I refuse to buy because they are very expensive. I am cheap as I always go and buy the feeder fish that are intended to be fed to bigger fish. Goldfish come in and they will sell three for a dollar. I will buy them and keep them for years and they get very big. I have an outside pond that I throw them in during the summer and they grow and deepen in color while being outside in natural water.
In the years I have received expensive cichlids from frustrated kids or parents. They are fun, but they eventually eat each other. I do know that my friend Dave still has offspring from that rescue, but I don't like how they behave. He has convict cichlid and they are very aggressive fish. In the photos you can see one large orange cichlid that I still have, given to me a couple years ago. I have him in with my two Koi fish and with goldfish. There is a lady who works at Walmart fish department who gave me a great scolding for keeping the tropical fish with cold water fish but they have always done well with each other. That large orange fish liked the camera and came up to the glass to watch me. The black and white larger fish you see is a Koi. I swore off of them for a while as they kept jumping out of my tank when I would forget to put the cover on them. I would bring them in from outside and put them in a school tank and come back the next morning with it laying on the floor dead. I broke down and bought the black and white, and also an orange one. They sell for fifteen dollars but if you find them when they are clearing out a tank and they are selling the real small ones, you can get them for four dollars. So I bought both of them in the past three or four years.
I have only one tank at home now which is nice. If I can reduce some of my bird population to just a couple cages that would be great. I am teasing you by not telling you how many bird cages that I have in the house but I will tell you about my cockatiels some of these days. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finches and Parakeets...

I have many birds. My first birds were given to me while I was teaching. I was given three female Zebra finches. I bought a male finch and the rest is history. I have given finches to so many people. When I quit teaching they had to come home with me.
A few years back, while I had the finches in my classroom a nice guy, redhead boy in school walked up to me and said do you want a parakeet. He told me his story about the cat killing its mate and he said the remaining parakeet, named Mikey had safety issues all the time. He said I will give you the cage, everything and you can just keep it here at school. Great, I kept him at school, so when summer break took place, I brought home the parakeet. Bought him a partner, and they both lived very well for a couple of years, then Mikey died. Last year, another high school student said he had a cage and a parakeet for me, his parents hated the bird because it was too loud during the evening while watching television. Ok, I thought, I have one lonely parakeet, I will take this other one and eventually put them together. Bird books say never quickly introduce a new bird to a cage as they may become aggressive and kill one or another. So we kept the two in different cages for a month or two. Finally I got tired of cleaning two cages, put the one with the other and wow, they just loved each other. They spent days just grooming each other and being so happy that they had company. As you can see one is larger and greener than the other one that is yellow. They are quite an interesting pair. I have another set of birds to tell you about but that will be another day. Those really reproduced well, also. Thanks for reading.....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It is a done deal.....

Yes, I have completed this work of art. The day started busy with us eating out breakfast uptown with Della's and her Dad's relatives. We came home and crashed for a while then both Della and I hit the studio. I worked hard on it and reached a point where I declared that I am not painting on this anymore. Della loaned me an acrylic brush pen to put the rigging on the boat and I then signed it. Ok, I confess, after I signed it I went back and touch just a few more things, then I quit.
Now the work begins. If I sell on ebay, I will need to create an art blog just for selling art work. That means hours of digging up old work that I sold from the gallery or ones that I commissioned and putting them on the site. I need to finish setting up pay/pal so that people could pay me if they actually chose to buy my work. These days I wonder what will happen.
The day finished in a good way. I actually went out and lowered the latch on my gate so it will work correctly without having to lift the whole gate to get it to latch. That was months coming and took only 15 minutes to do. I also took a bunch of pictures for my photo a day blog and for this blog too. I scared all the birds trying to get them photographed, the fish didn't care what I was doing along as I was feeding them, and I took a picture of my oat sprouting cabinet. I won't say more but that and will leave you wondering about that one. Going out to grill hamburgers for supper. It is a good thing. Thanks for reading.....

Monday, March 16, 2009

70 degrees in Iowa.......

Most states in the United States have diverse temperatures, varied winds, and some sort of seasonal change. Iowa has knee jerk weather. We have had average snows this year but we had abnormal amounts of cold arctic air coming down from Canada many different times. The picture shows what we look like most of the winter outside at our sign identifying our gallery and frame shop.
Today we were probably over 70 degrees. I would love to show a picture of that, but what we have is debris all over the yard, dead very grey leaves, small and large sticks and soggy areas where the frost is just starting to come out of the ground. The winds were tough on the trees and all the branches are strewn here and there. I even have branches up on the roof. I need to rake, but knowing Iowa I don't dare uncover the flower beds because we are not done yet with cold weather. We get freezing rain on tulips and frost up until the second week of May. So I will rake and clean a little but I won't get into any hurry as I have the whole month of April, when it isn't raining to rake and clean. Thanks for reading....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Naked ladies......

Naked ladies in my garden. This will be the most risky my blog will every get to be. When we lived on the farm on top of our hill, the previous owners had planted these lilies and they would be all foliage most of the summer then late summer after we had mowed the green leaves down, these spikes with white lily flowers on the ends would shoot up. I was told they were called naked ladies. Now that I have grown up and I saw that I could buy them, I did so. The different companies that sell them vary the names from surprise lilies, the fall bloomers, and sometimes in the catalogs you will see them labeled naked ladies. They struggle to get through the cone flowers and the black-eyed susans but they do hold their own. Right now this spot looks pretty sad but I will clear it and rake it and soon the green sprouts will start again. I can hardly wait. Thanks for reading.....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Donkey flower pot...

Having lost my Dad, Mom and now my brother, the house has to be cleaned out. It isn't a fun thing to pick up, sort and throw out things that belonged to others. My need for more things to be added to all my other collections is not great. My wife and I have been on our own with this job for some time now and we have been avoiding going back since Christmas. We will start again, this spring, to go through the belongings and toss as much as possible. My parents didn't buy new, they in fact wore everything out rather than buying new. My mom had the same cooking pans as she had when they left the farm in 1973.
While going through things there are always surprises. Not things of great worth but things of great memories. I ran across the above ceramic piece the other day and it made me happy. I thought it was gone, it doesn't have any great value, but the memories are 56 years old.
When my dad and mom bought their farm in 1953 they moved into a very drafty cold old house. The kitchen was of what they call a part of the T shaped architecture of farm houses, it was the bottom leg of the T. When they originally built it that part, the kitchen only had six foot ceilings. I don't know why they did that as the other parts of the house had normal height or at least higher ceilings. We had a gray formica topped chrome table with vinyl and 6 chrome chairs. In the middle of that table my mom had crocheted out of variegated black and silver crochet thread a large round doily and on that doily sat this donkey and basket ceramic piece. It had a vine plant in it and it had to be taken off every meal and put back after every meal. I was a surprise that my mom still had that planter as they made two moves and things like that get tossed. I don't think she every used it after she left the farm. I found it stuffed in a linen closet stuffed under old bedding. The finding of it was great, as I have already started a collection of this kind of thing a few years back. I have been buying them at the Osceola antique store so this one fits right into the collection. I will photograph that collection sometime to share. I have a duck, cat, and various others that one could plant in if you wanted.
Back on the finding of things in a house where three people have lived. We have found an ancient cookbook that was probably in the old house my dad had to tear down in order to build his ranch house on the property. Other things like that we are finding as well as old army things from the war. One thing that we still have not found, is the picture of my grandfather in his casket. It was back in 1937 and was a common practice to do so. The caskets had a panel on the side that flipped down so a photograph could be taken. I know it is in the house somewhere, but it just hasn't shown up yet. Mom took it from her mom and hid it all the time in a clothes drawer when we lived on the farm and really didn't want anybody to see it. So it really could be stuffed somewhere strange now in the city house. One of my biggest worries is that it might have been tossed with magazines or newspapers or whatever she may have slipped it between on some shelf.
Well enough on all of this, the donkey is cute. I may research it sometime in antique sites to see if anyone else has one. I know that I will always be glad the I found it and have it. Thanks for reading...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Art bound outing.....

We are on our way this morning to the Des Moines Art Center, to view Grant Wood's "American Gothic" for real. We both have seen it many times in print, and in fact we painted it for a bank business as a company picnic fun item. We were asked to paint it with them standing and cut holes for their heads so people could pop there heads through the back and be photographed. The last time we saw it was on TV news where it apparently had been donated to the Historical Building in downtown Des Moines. I don't think Della and I signed it, but we know who painted it. Anyway, lunch at the art center and viewing art. We might even feel human for a change. I finished teaching my last adult teacher mentoring class for second year teachers. I am still numb to the fact that it is done. I will get back to you on how the day went. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Almost done....

Since retirement, I have finished one drawing, and now I am almost finished with this acrylic painting. I am going to call it "A brave new world" and it should be done in a couple of more days. What do I say, it was like a monster, out of control. I have never painted one like this my entire life. I have painted landscapes and I have painted abstract designs, but I have never put those styles together before in an artwork. Art works are hard work and sometimes they take on a mind of their own. I still don't know where this came from but maybe the next artwork will give me an answer as to where my new style will be. Thanks for reading......

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Barnabus, our wonder dog.....

Barnabus was and still is our wonder dog. We picked him up one night in December, four years ago, at Petsmart, while buying dog biscuits for a small poodle. He was about seven months old and those who were adopting him out didn't know his breed. He had been wandering in a Missouri town south of us and was picked up and kept until he could be adopted out to us. He had this wonderful soft tan fur and was so wild at first. I spent many a night with him outside his crate teaching me patience and him too. He became a very obedient dog, but patience was needed all the way.
We were puzzled about what kind of dog that he was and border collie kept being the breed that we could see in the dog. Obviously he was not black and white, so people thought we were crazy. He herded us everywhere and his energy level was beyond intense. I searched on the internet for a few weeks and finally I found my proof. There was a site for all kinds of border collies, and they show and describe the colors of collies besides black and white ones. There are reddish brown ones as well as some almost white ones, and the yellow collie was clearly identified. The site described the father was probably a black and white dog, and the mother was reddish in color. They gave the genetic explanation, so I wrote them. I sent a picture to them and they wrote back saying we needed to buy him some sheep.
The one bottom photo and the puppy photo at top are actually pictures of other dogs from their site. It was nice to see what he would have looked like as a puppy. The adult picture is their example of a yellow border collie, its a duplicate of Barney. The other two are ones of our Barney with our oldest son Andy, and the other showing Barney guarding out property. He is on top of protecting our property.
We love Barney and he has become such a loving dog. He has a few problems that are just plain his breeding. The dog books all say don't make them into a house dog. It was way too late for that. He wants to see everyone, greet them and let them know how lucky they are to see him. One guy on television described the behavior of the dog as one that thinks that every day is his birthday, and he acts accordingly.
As for pets, I have another cat to write about and some birds, lots of birds, and a few fish but that will be another time. Thanks for reading

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

1949 Pontice Silver Streak 8.....

I am very interested in history and also the history of design. Across the street from where I live sits this car. I had to research to find out what it was but it is 1949 Pontiac, Silver Streak 8. I love the lighted Indian Chief head as the hood ornament. The art deco design of waterfalls being created on the hood and on the back trunk. The car of course is named after Chief Pontiac. The photo of the restored car comes from a blog. I didn't want to steal from that site, but I have to show you what this car would look like if it were restored.
This car still has the name of the original dealer printed on it and it is still in business this last year in downtown Des Moines. The interior shot shows all the deco design also. Not a normal blog for me, I know, but I find car design history to be interesting. I can see design on these cars being influenced by the art deco architecture of the time, as well as electric products, dishes anything made at that time. Some of the design also has a space theme to it also, like the radio speaker. Of course the metal on that car is very thick and heavy. My neighbor's daughter owns the car and someday she will have it restored. I am anxious for that day, but I still like to go over and just admire it. Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Family photos.....

I was going to use this for my photo of the day, but I thought maybe a photo of photos wouldn't be right, plus I would write too much for that blog. I write too much for all blogs.
This is one of the two displays that we had for my mother's funeral. I took pictures of them before we removed them from the foamcore backings. I didn't really think they would mean that much to me but I thought I could send them to my brothers so they would have the memories. I guess I still have the pictures unless they ask for some of them.
When you look at just one family and all the extensions to one family, you see life is diverse and so many people having so many experiences. My Dad, Mom, and my Brother have passed away. My brother's son died when he was a little over two years old. The large group of people show some of the sisters and brothers on my dad's side and they are all gone. And one of my nieces is about to give birth to her second child. Those pictures tell only the present, when they were taken, but not the future.
When you study these from a family frame of mind, you can see that my parents had done a lot of things, fun things. You can see pictures of their 50th anniversary, their riding in a boat in Arizona, them out on the desert and riding dune buggies, attending my wedding to Della with the two then young boys in cute little suits, and always holding the visiting grandchildren and great grandchildren form California, Arizona, or Minnesota. There is really nothing profound one can say about this composition, but the place of collages of pictures at funerals seem to be common any more, and as you view them, they are our last tangible, visual, record of lives lived. Not one picture of my mom could be shown independently, as her husband , her kids, her grandkids and great grandkids are evidence of a good long life lived. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Old friends.......

I ran into an old friend today at the Machine Shed restaurant . It seemed strange. I worked with him for ten years at the school he in Band, me in Art, and he has been working at another school for a couple of years now. We really didn't spend a lot of time together and yet we were both there in the same teaching situations and were trying to keep up with the chaos of the schedule of the busy school days. We had some serious talks but when I think of how many times in ten years, is was not very many. I watched his kids grow up and taught his kids. I listened to his remodeling stories when we had time. He kept track of our youngest son periodically by asking how he was doing, but he didn't really know my other son. We were good friends, work friends, and we bonded a lot because of the commonality of the work we did and we knew we were getting the job done, one day at a time. It would have been nice to talk with him for a longer time today but he was with his family and a son's new girlfriend and family. I was with my family. So we talked just a little and it was nice to see him.
I found this photo from a junk yard in Grand Marais, Minnesota. The photo I took is entitled "truck buddies" and the picture did cause me to have these thoughts. The trucks are friends because of their common fate. They have a lot in common because of location and I bet they are getting to know each other very well. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Button the dog......

Button is our ten year old poodle. He was given to us from a friend and he seemed so small then about the size of a hamster. The person who gave him to us was concerned that we wouldn't like him because he had brown ears. What a deal, brown ears and a button nose.
Button use to be an only child dog wise but we did have a yellow cat that sort of ignored him, but now he has adjusted to the newer Border Collie and the Manx kitten. He was really frightened of this wild collie dog as he never sat still and he was 4 times bigger than him. It took him a while to get use to him so we had to carry Button everywhere all over the house as he didn't want to be on the floor. The same is true when he is around the kitten now as she rushes at him and tries to push him over bodily. Button is our great traveler as he has put in many a mile with us when we did our Minnesota painting trips. We have pictures of him sitting in the van front seat while we loaded the van, waiting so we would be sure not to leave him behind.
He is need of a haircut right now. He gets this non poodle look like a scruffy mongrel and when we do get him cut, he looks like this femie little dog. You can't see his pointed nose right now but someday we will free him from lots of fur. Thanks for reading.