Day 21-Quarantine-Dependency

Five ways to beat the Corona Virus

Twenty-one days since I enter this life of near solitary confinement. I say near because I still get out and walk and when I do I see people. I rarely speak to them, but I do speak to friends on the phone. My biggest adventure was to break out the car yesterday for a quick trip to the drug store. I used the drive through for the very first tie in ten years. My prescription met the minimum requirements and I didn’t even have to pay this keeping my hands away form the tube. Once at home, I washed my hands according to the protocol.

My day was somewhat strange because I was extremely tired and decided the cure was to nap, I did. The nap didn’t really work well, but I forced myself to prepare a supper and after some wine I felt great. Could it be that I am hung-over most of the day? Could it be that my system requires a bit of alcohol to tune me up? Dependency would kill me for sure. The idea of needing something so badly that my body sends messages is scary.

While fighting the blahs I also forced myself to the shop to glue some pieces together and to begin the second of three main elements in my new creation. Oh my God! the last phrase of my sentence jumped to the paragraph above. Have this ever occurred to you? I am typing on a laptop with a touch pad, and if I touch or drag a finger over the pad while typing the text suddenly skips to another part of the page. Annoying to say the least.  Sometimes I will go on for entire sentence before I discover the I am typing in the middle of the first paragraph.

After I complete this post I will leave the confines of the house to the confines of my garden. I have one more area that needs a spring clean up. If I wait longer the new foliage will pop up through all the dead leaves and last year’s detritus. It doesn’t make for a pretty garden. Gardeners are funny that way, besides like colorful flowers and unusual horticultural matter planted in artistic beds they love neat and clean beds. That means not old rotting foliage, neatly tilled soil surrounding flowers, and healthy corona free plant matter. I wonder if the corona virus can attach itself to living plants the same as it does to humans? Wouldn’t that be a trip?

Later this evening I am attending my first ever Zoom board meeting. It is the first Tuesday of the month and that is the scheduled day for the Lions Club board of directors to meet. Zoom is an app and service that we download to our computers and then register for a meeting with a Zoom generated code. It allows those who register to conduct a conference call with the added pleasure of seeing the attendees by way of their cameras. It is a giant face time phone call. Anyway, this service will allow us to discuss how on earth we will serve the needs of our community while remaining socially distant.

The garden beckons me. It is 64 degrees F out, the warmest it has been this spring. I can’t waste the opportunity to feel some warmth after a long winter.

Day 13-Self Imposed Quarantine-On the Seventh Day God Rested

Today is Sunday. I have to remind myself of that. Last week I lost a day and celebrated Friday on Thursday. That means I didn’t eat meat at any meal before I realized my mistake, and then had to abstain again the next day. Not that fish is bad for me it is because I don’t have a stock pile of it my freezer. I have peanut butter, but my KETO diet keeps me from eating bread, and I love peanut butter sandwiches. Does that make sense?

After posting my rant about the stupidity of car companies offering to make medical devices I finally got underway filling the day with more productive activities. By then I developed enough courage to go outside and attack another flower bed clean up. I must have slept through some heavy rain because the leaves were soaking and the soil muddy. I wound up cleaning mud off my heavy shoes several times. I completed another one hour baby step toward a burgeoning upcoming floral season. I photographed the first blooms of spring to make my heart leap with joy. The next project was to strip naked in front of the washing machine to wash my muddy clothes.

After a quick shower and clean clothes I proceeded to cook a batch of KETO stroganoff. Actually, it is the same as regular stroganoff but without any flour as gravy thickener. When it was finished I thought the gravy a mite too runny, so I added some Xanthan gum to thicken it, and it worked. I didn’t have a zucchini to make zucchini noodles, so I decided KETO go to hell for this meal, and cooked up some wide egg noodles. I am not sorry I did that because the stroganoff was great! Today, I’ll have left overs, except I’ll substitute leftover cauliflower mash for the noodles and be totally KETO compliant.

After supper, I went to the TV and found a stupid movie called “Thirteen Going On Thirty”.  It starred Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffallo, since they were in it I thought it would be good. I endured it to the end. I’d give it about a half star. The plot grants a thirteen year old girl’s wish to be thirty. The overnight transition from a thirteen year old to a thirty year old was too much to believe.

There was still an hour and a half before my usual bedtime so I turned to watch episodes of my latest series “Homeland.”  Three episodes later and long after my bedtime I shut the TV off and forced myself to sleep. There is so much action in this series that my mind continues processing throughout the night. The sleep is not restful and I find  myself dragging in the morning. My dreams are all wild with people from the series running and shooting and plotting.  The Homeland series is several years old and there are over ninety episodes, and I have watched only thirteen. Either I slow down, watch in the daytime, or ration my watching to one episode per week. As tired as I was from the yard work, which usually makes me sleep like a baby, I woke up with my blanket bunched up and twisted in a roll. I was rockin’ and rollin’ all night long.

Terrorists Strike a Frankfort Home

Late last evening Akkmed Wabbit and his young son Osama bin Wabbit were seen high tailing it out of the garden. This morning Grumpa Joe discovered the attack  while he strolled the Monet Vision with his coffee in hand. “The little bastards just took out sixty dollars worth of petunias. I hope they get indigestion,” he said out loud. He then went inside to plot his revenge.

He should have known better than to plant Petunias, but Joe felt secure after not having seen a Wabbit for several months. Last year the marigolds kept them out. He started to research methods for eliminating Wabbits from gardens. Here is the list of ways he is considering:

  1. DeCon, poison

2  Live trap

3. Rat traps

4. Shotgun

5. Import a coyote

6. Hire a Hawk

7. Plant Marigolds

8. Fence off the flower beds

9. Hire a 24 hour armed guard to chase them away

10. Buy a Beagle and let him patrol the garden.

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Monet Vision-Patriot’s Dream on June 3, 2016

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Monet Vision-Patriot’s Dream eaten by Wabbits, June 11, 2016

A surprise retaliation awaits you little bastards.

 

 

 

THE WAR BEGINS!

This evening my war with thistle began. I’m finished with pulling and digging the darn things out of the ground. The weed propagates via runners. Pulling on them just breaks the vertical shoot and leaves the runner below to sprout again.

The evening is incredibly warm for April, and the wind died down. There is very little vegetation showing except the dreaded thistle. It is the perfect night to spray. This time the assault emulated Sadam Hussein’s, and Bashar al-Assad’s attack on their own people, chemical weapons. Earlier in the month I met the scourge head on with a biodegradable chemical know as vinegar. Vinegar  had little to no effect on these vermin. Tonight I bumped up the game to full strength Round Up. Certainly this will put the running bastards down for good. I can only hope.

After last summer’s dreadful lack of attention to my garden I have promised myself that this is the year of the Monet Vision-abcdefg, The second name will come later after I have planted and know what the color scheme will be. One thing for sure, it will not be orange or yellow. The Monet Vision-Golden Glow will be hard to beat.

Most likely, I will be stupid enough to plant flowers that the Wabbits love. After two years of a very sparing Wabbit population, I have evidence to believe they are back. The evidence being visual sightings of as many as three Wabbits in the yard at one time. This would be the year to plant Wabbit repelling Marigolds, except they only come in yellow, and orange with some brown.

Talking To God

GOD to ST. FRANCIS :

st-francis-of-assisi-praying
Frank , … You know all about gardens and nature.
What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

St. FRANCIS:
It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD:
Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow i and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD:
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

GOD:
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS:
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD:
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS:
No, Sir, just the opposite.. They pay to throw it away.

GOD:
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:
Yes, Sir.

GOD:
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:
You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away..

GOD:
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS:
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD:
And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:
Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE:
‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

GOD:
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Make Art For Your House

Last winter while lounging in the boring sunshine of Sun City West, I got the notion that it was time to do something I have never tried before. I painted a picture on canvas. I do well with pencil, and I have even worked in charcoal. My favorite medium is color pencil although I limit that to book illustrations. The only formal training I ever received  came from the nuns in grammar school. I took drawing class at a local Junior college, but I was already beyond what they taught me. The benefit of going to school came from doing pictures for assignments. The practice helped tremendously. The only schooling I had for working with paints came from watching an artist on Public Television do paint projects where the teacher did a complete landscape in a thirty minute time slot.

The engineer in me prescribed the method I used to make this painting. First, I have very little creativity to draw something from scratch. My brain does not work that way. I received a beautiful photograph of a cactus flower from a cousin by eMail. This would be my masterpiece. I’ll take you through the steps I used to paint an 18 x 24 canvas.

1. Make a hard copy print of the subject photo.

Photo printed from email

Photo printed from email

2 Draw a 1×1 grid on the hard copy print with pencil.

Draw a 1x1 grid on the hardcopy photo with pencil

Draw a 1×1 grid on the hardcopy photo with pencil

3. Start with a fresh canvas of any size. This description uses a 18 by 24.

Blank 18 x 24 canvas from Michael's

Blank 18 x 24 canvas from Michael’s

4. Add a grid that is square and proportional, i.e. the number of squares on the canvas equals the number on your photo. To make things less stressful, number the grid lines across left to right on both the photo and the canvas. Use letters to id the lines from top to bottom.

Canvas with grid penciled in

Canvas with grid penciled in

5. Begin transferring the picture to the canvas by marking where the subject crosses the grid lines. For instance, say your starting point on the photo crosses the grid at 4-c. make a point on the canvas at 4-c. Repeat this process until you have the subject shaped with dots on the canvas. Connect the dots lightly with pencil to make the subject appear on the canvas.

The pencil image of the subject is on the canvas, The photo is on the upper left to show the scale.

The pencil image of the subject is on the canvas, The photo is on the upper right to show the scale.

6. Continue the placing of dots until the entire subject is on canvas in dots. Connect the dots lightly with pencil to make the full image appear on the canvas.

The completed pencil image of the subject ready for paint.

The completed pencil image of the subject ready for paint.

7. Begin painting. I used acrylic paints because I don’t have patience to wait for oil to dry, and I like a water clean-up. The hardest thing to do is to match the colors. I always begin with a dab of white and add a color to it. In this case I added a tiny dab of red color into the white and mixed it completely with a popsicle stick. I continued adding red in ever so small amounts until I matched the lightest pink in the photo.

The first layer of pink. I chose the lightest color in the photo knowing that I could add darker hues over the light color easier than adding a light color over a darker one.

The first layer of pink. I chose the lightest color in the photo knowing that I could add darker hues over the light color easier than adding a light color over a darker one.

8. Continue adding colors.

The painting is about sixty percent complete at this point.

The painting is about sixty percent complete at this point.

9. Fill in areas to define the image. In this case I filled the area around the flowers with a grey that is in the background. This defined the petals and gave me a base to work the backdrop. Notice how the grey fill made the flowers pop.

The flower petals are ringed with grey. A serious painter might have begun by painting the entire canvas grey.

The flower petals are ringed with grey. A serious painter might have begun by painting the entire canvas grey.

10. Complete the painting by adding more to the background to make the grey blend in. Add more detail to the yellow stamen, and highlight dark areas to give the image depth.

Notice how the background has filled in closer to the flower petals, but the grey is still too apparent.

Notice how the background has filled in closer to the flower petals, but the grey is still too apparent.

11. Finished painting next to the starting photograph.

Pink Cactus Flowers, completed

Pink Cactus Flowers, completed

I did this on my kitchen counter top using a piece of cardboard for my paint palette. I bought a set of brushes, and a starter set of acrylic paints with a portable easel to hold the work. I spent less than fifty dollars for the set up, but have enough paint to do several more pictures.  I never painted for more than two hours at a time, and I completed the piece in about a week and a half. Will I ever become rich painting pictures? Nope, not a chance. I have a deeper appreciation of art now that I completed this project. I understand why art is so expensive, and also why the term “starving artist,” defines most people who sell their art. Today, there is a modern technique to make a picture faster, and with less effort. I could have taken the electronic image to Staples, and had them print the picture on canvas, and mount it for about a hundred dollars.

Pink Cactus Flower now hangs in my Great Room where I can enjoy seeing it everyday.

 

 

 

 

 

I Give a Rat’s Rear

The 2015 Monet Vision is in its Blizzard White phase, and I could care less. The snow is pretty looking at it from the warmth of a house, but it becomes a hazard when outside. I don’t care about snow at my age. I’ve seen enough to last the rest of my lifetime. No longer do I rush outside to shovel the drive or the walks. I tend to let it accumulate and hope the sun melts it off. That however, is a dream. It’ll be May before we get the temperatures to melt off a snow pile. Instead, I will drag myself out with shovel in hand to push the snow off the walks and the drive. If I don’t, then walking becomes hazardous, and tedious. I’ll just let the beauty of it all soak in a while longer before I venture out with shovel in hand.

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