I was eleven. I was watching a documentary about the Cuban Missle Crisis with my father. That sounds impressive for a tween, but it was 1973 and there was only one television. Since I was almost as quiet as Dad, I was allowed to stay in the room.
The program was relating how Kennedy cut a press trip short with the excuse that he had a bad cold.
Dad turned to me and said - and I clearly remember, it was a Friday, because Dad didn’t speak to me unless it was Friday and he had been drinking, which he only did on Fridays - Dad turned to me and said solemnly, “And that lie was the FIRST time a president EVER lied to the American people.”
i was amazed. Amazed. First, amazed that Dad knew so much about American history, and specifically about Presidential lying. Also, I was amazed that presidents didn’t lie, but he had specified that it was a Lie to the People, so maybe there were other lies, but maybe presidents had vowed to be straight up with the People?
I remembered that for years. Enough years, thankfully, that I grew up and:
I wonder what on earth he would think of the current president, who - who just - I can’t even use the term “lies all the time” because, honestly, for something to be a lie you have to have some idea of what the truth is.
I was down in the basement, wondering what I should paint next. If you are oil painting and you want to paint every day, you have to have three things to work on, because every day's work takes three days to dry.
I had been painting a croquet ball and I was very pleased with it. It had looked quite fresh, and then I started painting the cookie tin it was sitting in, and it all went sideways. Spheres I can do, but cylinders are beyond me. Plus I'd picked the wrong color and --
"Hey!" barked Spunky.
I kept painting. "What do you need, Spunky?"
She cried out, "I am a Great Beauty. How is it you are not painting my portrait in oils?"
I shifted my attention away from the cookie tin. "Fine," I said, "as long as you don't expect an exact representation."
So Spunky sat for a portrait, and I also worked from a reference photo. She didn't talk and was very patient. After a week and a half, I was ready to show her what I'd done.
"Oh my god! Is that how you see me? My big toe. It's so ... Fat."
She was right. I narrowed her big toe.
"Now my little toes look so ...one dimensional. Make them curvier."
I added some yellow and white highlights.Then I gave her kind of a halo.
"That's good," she said, "Post that on Facebook."
Foolishly, I did, and I found there is nothing better than posting on Facebook to make you aware of what is deeply wrong with your painting. Mainly, the slope of the toes was utterly unnatural.
So then I had to rehab her two left toes, which left me with this, which will have to do:
Then she said she looked jaundiced. So I gave her a more flattering background ala Madame X.
Spunky is satisfied with that.
Gary recommends I put a water droplet on her big toe.
I have to turn it toward the wall or I’ll start adding a reflected blue to her feet.
So, one of the first things I did was look for a walkthrough. The king of walkthroughs is of course Bob Ross, and while I dutifully made some Happy Little Trees, I didn’t like the result.
However, this walkthrough was more my style. You don’t have to wait for the paint to dry and can knock it out in an hour, and the result is an excited teacup.
Here’s how that ended up:
There's something wonky with the bottom of the teacup, but I don't care. It was one of the first three things I did and it was encouraging. I highly recommend that walkthrough.
Of course, that was followed by the Pier Horror. I had a very realistic photo of a pier and I tried to copy it. The pier was okay, the water was impressive, the hills were acceptable. I invested a lot of time in it, but when I tried to work on the sky ... a few hours later it was in the trash. There were also some daisies I finished and then trashed. I'm averaging 60% acceptable and 40% trash.
The pier should have taught me that a lovely photo will make a frustrating painting, but I still held on to that dream. I had a nice photo of a peony. It came out okay, though only after a lot of overpainting and extra work. But, it did give me a chance to practice water droplets, which you too can learn to paint if you follow this handy step-by-step process.
I like bits of that one. I really like the bottom left petal with the droplet right where the highlight is.
The problem is finding things to paint. I have some croquet balls I like to use in arrangements, because they're colorful, and easy to draw (duh, circle).
Of course, just like with the guitar, it's always about trying something harder, so now it's time to move on to the human form.
The thing I like about playing the guitar is how muscle memory will kick in and your hands can play a tune without any help from your brain. There are now about 10 tunes my hands can play on their own.
Well, this year I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to play the tune plus the accompanying chords. But, when I added in the chords on top of the notes, my hands got all confused. Nothing felt natural. I felt like I lost years of progress. And I'm talking about easy stuff. This Land Is Your Land. Blowin in the Wind. A version of Danny Boy that is so slow you forget you are playing Danny Boy.
However, two weeks ago my hands had a breakthrough and played a C chord entirely on their own, and of course I felt that same sense of surprise. Surprise, mixed with a little horror, because you just felt your hands operate independent of your brain.
Like they suddenly became sentient. It makes me shudder when they do it.
Lke they're going to start doing crazy stuff entirely on their own. No, really, it feels like that.
I figure if I keep them happy playing the guitar an hour every other day then they won't try to choke me in my sleep.
Okay, there's just no time for the blog when the creativity has been spewing forth from every other outlet: specifically the painting outlet, the guitar outlet, and the bathroom ... outlet.
Ah, the spewing that's been going on in the bathroom. It all started with the anatomical prints we got in NOLA. They had to be hung, and I am short on wall space. Gary first suggested we rearrange everything, and then that we have two medical bathrooms, and eventually I suggested that if he ever takes a bath I will personally take down the prints I finally had to put above the tub.
Above: new french L'Anatomie print, blue-green Anatomy print, Hal the skeleton, the head (another find from New Orleans), Friend 2's ultrasound, mirrors, various colonoscopies. And of course, below, the 3D anatomy chart, the China Vagina, and my MRI.
So a few things had to be removed and rearranged, and eventually the transparent pages from the old medical book had to turn in to this:
That's actually two of those floating magnetic picture frames that I drilled some extra magnets into. I didn't explain it too well to Gary. Tonight he emerged from the bathroom, horrifed, holding one of the transparent pages. He was confused because he didn't realize it came apart. He said, "I thought this was encased IN the acrylic."
Yes. Because I can pour acrylic in the basement. DO you pour acrylic? Do you extrude it?
Now I want an acrylic shop in the basement where I can encase things in acrylic.
I was so pleased with how the bottom round roast turned out in the sous vide that I thought I'd do a round roast taste test. Top round, bottom round, and eye of round.
Three roasts enter! One roast leaves!
I carved them up into one pound chunks, bagged them, and then my 1990's Foodsaver vacuum sealer decided that it was too old to keep up with all these sous vide hijinks, thought longingly of the days it was only used to close potato chip bags, and announced it would henceforth only seal and not vacuum. Given that we've referred to it as "The Suck and Seal" for decades (sorry, Foodsaver brand), now that it didn't suck I had to heartlessly dump it into the trash and buy a new one.
Eventually, all three roasts were sealed up and went in at 132 degrees for 36 hours.
That left me plenty of time to wonder why there are top round roasts, bottom round roasts, but no middle round roasts.
Come to find out the top round is the inner thigh (sexy!), bottom round is the outer thigh, and the eye is the very outer part of the outer thigh. (If you can stomach the sight of a dead cow being turned into supermarket meat, this video is very thorough and interesting.)
After a day and a half I fished out all the roasts, and sliced them thinly, and did the taste test. I have decided I still like the bottom round the best. Eye of round was pallid and dry (evidently that cow didn't have cellulite on her outer thighs) and the top round ranked in between the two.
Gary loved them all. Loved them. Even the eye of round. He refused to pick a favorite. My fear now is that he will snack on it from the fridge and will get food poisoning.