25 April 2017

a cat cave


When Bearcat, my 14 1/2 year old Maine Coon died, I threw away everything that belonged to him. Not from sentimentality but to protect any future cat. When I adopted Bear, he was unknowingly exposed to feline herpes, which my other cat, Dali, had but had not presented symptoms of as yet. As soon as we found out about her illness, we started both cats on daily lysine that helps prevent outbreaks (there is no cure); for Dali it was too late -- she had been born to an infected mother. But it kept Bear healthy for many years. He died from kidney failure and cancer. Before bringing home a new cat, we threw all his stuff away and disinfected everything, so the herpes will not be passed on.

I asked our new kitten's breeder if her cats were used to cat beds. They tend to ignore them but love little cubbyholes or cubes they can hide in. Which fits what I've seen of Maru, a Scottish Fold popular on YouTube for diving into boxes and other small spaces. 

Years ago, I made a bulky-knit bathmat out of Sugar and Cream yarn. We had no need for it here in our new home, so I unraveled the mat and am using the yarn to crochet a cat cave. I found the pattern online, made of t-shirt yarn, but holding 3 or 4 strands of cotton yarn together seems to make a firm enough structure. . . . . My hands got tired so I took a break and sketched my work so far.

24 April 2017

scribbled crosses


While listening to yesterday's sermon, I drew a Celtic cross with wedding rings. Then drew several more simplified versions.

This year our 45th wedding anniversary happens to fall on the same day of the week that we got married on. We plan to renew our wedding vows on that day, in a simple ceremony under our own oak trees with family and friends. A VERY simple "wear blue jeans & bring your own lawn chair" event. Bill loosely described to me what he'd like on the invitations, so I was trying to simplify the sketch enough to draw it on each invitation.

22 April 2017

an odd bug


Lately we have been overrun with bugs of various types. Because of Bill's spraying near our home to get rid of the flea problem, all other bugs soon end up dead as well. As soon as I sweep all the dead 'love bugs' off of the patio, it is covered again. (Driving home from College Station on Thursday, they were so thick that drivers had to pull off to wash windshields!)

But this interesting yellow bug was found resting on a window screen, having recently emerged from the shell on the right. I looked him up through Google -- he (or she?) is called a Guadalupe fly, Wiley's fly, or a yellow drake mayfly. Whatever his name, he was fun to draw . . . even though I ran off the page trying to draw his _two_ long tails!

21 April 2017

a bigger cabin


When we purchased this wee cabin, the former owners took the curtains with them, leaving some bamboo roller shades --- which offered NO privacy at all. So we quickly bought the only curtains we could find locally.

Now after over three years, we were able to remove the curtains and replace the old shades with shades that have a privacy liner. And they make the cabin look HUGE to us! 



13 April 2017

silly wee kitties


I'm waiting to hear if I will get to adopt a certain red tabby kitten . . . As I wait, I've been reading up on the breed and drawing from photos found on line. These are Scottish Fold kittens, which pose in the silliest looking positions! There are long waiting lists for kittens with folded ears. Some of each litter are born without the dominant gene that causes the ears to fold; these are known as Scottish straights. That's what Bill and I are hoping for: a Scottish Fold with straight ears. Easier to find and usually costing less. And we think they are cuter than their folded siblings.

One of the breeders I have been in contact with has a 2 week old kitten that might be ours. Ears don't fold until the third or fourth week; if hers stay straight, I can have her. If they fold, she will go to someone on the long waiting list, and I will continue my search.

10 April 2017

a destructive plague


Bearcat has been gone awhile . . . yet we are still battling fleas in our wee cabin. And he was an inside-only cat! Feral cats try to claim our land as their own territory, bringing lots of fleas which we then carry inside on shoes and clothing. Bill is hard at work treating the yard.

And I am extremely allergic to flea bites! So we continue to spray, vacuum, bomb, vacuum, spray . . . I am literally covered with inflamed sores that itch like crazy. Bill suggested that I find some Dead Sea salts to soak in after hearing on a news program that it helps clear up psoriasis. Not finding any at local stores, I ordered some on Amazon --- and it works! I also found some natural flea & mosquito repellent soap that seems to work as well. 

05 April 2017

an iris found along our fence line


We have lived here three years now, and the iris leaves in a mass at the edge of our property have never boomed . . . until this year. Bill picked one to bring to me to sketch but we had errands to run in Brenham. By the time we returned, one of the blossoms had already folded up in a paler, bluer shade.

04 April 2017

cats on my mind


Since the recent loss of my Maine Coon, Bearcat, I sometimes think I hear him playing in the loft (it's just the cabin walls setting) or find myself looking for him to greet us as we come home (he used to always do this). It's time to find another cat . . .

I've decided to look for something different this time. Being allergic to average American shorthairs found in shelters, I've been reading about other breeds with a lower level of the Fel d 1 protein that causes most cat allergies. One breed with a naturally lower protein level is the British Shorthair --- I'm currently on a waiting list for one with a breeder in San Antonio. The other breed she raises, which has British Shorthair in its lineage, is the Scottish Fold.

The more I read about Scottish Folds, the more they fascinate me. Their personality traits are very much like the Maine Coons we are used to but in a more compact body. While looking for a book about the breed, I found this three-volume book in the used book market. Reading about the Scottish Fold kitten, Norton, given to a man who hated cats (but fell in love with this wee kitten anyway), I've just about decided that this is the breed I want. I've contacted several breeders; none available yet so I wait and keep checking back with them.

31 March 2017

revenge at the eye doctor's


Today I went to my eye doctor's for a regular 6-month checkup and a laser treatment on my eyes. The waiting room was "standing room only", yet this lady took the last remaining seat in the room for her bag. So I stood right across from her . . . and drew her! She was so absorbed in her electronic reader that she never noticed me.


By the time I had finished adding watercolor, she had left, leaving two chairs available. Dr. Horton's office is in a log cabin __very small waiting room__ and she spends LOTS of time with each patient so there is usually a wait . . . and she is worth it!

I have glaucoma, requiring regular monitoring and daily eye drops, and I had cataracts removed three years ago. The doctor told me at the time that I was young to have cataracts and that there would be some cloudiness later on that would require the laser treatment (removing the back section of the "capsule" holding my implant lens in place). I walked in today with cloudy vision . . . and after about 5 minutes per eye, I'm back to 20/20 vision!

30 March 2017

waiting . . .


A sketch of Scott & White Clinic's uninspiring waiting room as we wait for one more after-surgery follow-up. I forgot how much this water-soluble ink would bleed.

Bill's incision is healing, though the neck muscles are swollen, irritating the nerve that the surgery was supposed to free up. So he is still in pain, though with greatly improved mobility. Hopefully the pain will be gone when the inflammation caused by the surgery calms down.

27 March 2017

a new toy


Last year Bill's cousin Mike gave me a mechanical pencil he had made of bird's eye maple. A few days ago, he surprised me with a clutch pencil to go with it, made of "Arkansas ebony" that Bill had given him, and he even included three color refills to go in it. 

I played with both the graphite and the colored leads . . . I thought the colors were plain colored pencil leads but when I added watercolor I discovered they are water-soluble, like watercolor pencils. The super-fat graphite works great for thumbnail value sketches! Maybe I'll even start doing them before diving right in to a sketch.


22 March 2017

back again . . . and now home


While Bill's neck surgery in January successfully repaired and fused his bulging discs, he still had no relief from the arm pain he has lived with for over three years --- in fact, it increased. After some healing time and physical therapy, they were able to do another MRI and a CT scan. And this time an additional problem was found: a bone spear, actually shaped like a spear-head, was directed straight at the nerve. So back again for a different surgery, this time from the back of his neck.


That was yesterday; it went well and we just got home. Good results showing already with increased arm motion, greatly reduced pain, and less pain in the incision site than expected. Praising the Lord for bringing him through! Just some ongoing therapy to do at home and let the new surgical site heal.

20 March 2017

drawing whatever's before me


. . . which on Sunday morning in our discipleship class amounted to my bag, a large cup of hot tea, and my phone, opened to the Olive Tree Bible app as I followed the discussion. Mindlessly sketching while listening is something I do quite a lot.

16 March 2017

beginning anew . . .


I finished my Epsilon sketchbook journal on Monday, so I grabbed a handbound journal off the shelf. This one is covered with a papyrus type of paper I found at Jerry's Artarama in Austin, and is filled with Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper. The brown print fabric is a leftover smidgen of some bookcloth I made a few years ago.


As usual, I drew a palette on the first page, this time adding the tools currently in my bag. The tin box is a Daler Rowney Aquafine kit -- I removed the plastic insert and student grade paints, and attached two business-card size magnets in the bottom to hold metal pans purchased from Expeditionary Art. The space left over holds a #8 travel brush. I then attached three additional small pans of color to the mixing area on the lid, using rubber cement. Paints are from Daniel Smith.


13 March 2017

a warring angel


Sunday morning in our discipleship class, the conversation turned to angels. Jonathan told us of this Art Deco sculpture by Raoul Josset of a fierce looking angel with a huge sword found in La Grange, TX. So I looked it up on the Internet, then sketched it. Bill and I have driven through La Grange a few times; next time I plan on a side trip to Memorial Park to see the angel in person.

This is the final sketch in this journal; for those interested, the following show how messy the end papers get in my journals!



12 March 2017

bluebonnet time!


Even though it's been cold today, our roadsides are quickly filling up with bluebonnets
 and Indian paintbrush, blanket flower and evening primrose. Bluebonnets have been blooming since the end of February, a full month earlier than usual. And it's looking like this year will be a bumper crop!

08 March 2017

Cheese and Crackers


One day last week we drove out to a friend's home where Bill was checking out a plumbing problem. While he was inside, I went to visit our pastor's donkeys, named Cheese and Crackers. Cheesey loves people and will even "snuggle" with us . . . except when there is barbed wire between us! He is smart enough to stay away from the sharp pricks.

Crackers, on the other hand, is people-shy and stays in the background ignoring me. I took some photos with my iPhone, then drew these from the photos while waiting for Bill as he was in physical therapy. The waiting area is not very interesting to sketch but my donkey pals are.

04 March 2017

NOT doing what I planned


Even when I find free time to do whatever I wish to do, I find myself NOT doing what I had thought that I wanted to do. I've been wanting to answer the letter received in the mail this past week; I've already thought of complete sentences to write, in my head. Just haven't actually written them down.

I also have stacks of books and old art magazines that I've been reading through, a bit at a time. But instead of any of those things, I found myself drawing what was piled on the footstool in front of me.

03 March 2017

drawing to alleviate boredom


Lately we have spent lots of time at the Scott & White clinic in College Station. Yesterday I worked on this while Bill had physical therapy --- the waiting rooms are SO UNINSPIRING! Nothing interesting to draw and very few people waiting.

02 March 2017

something new


Bill is going through some physical therapy in hope that the nerve causing his arm pain will "get loose" from whatever may be pinching it. They also hope to increase his mobility; since his neck surgery, he has had limited range of motion in that arm.

Anyway, we were in College Station, running errands before his appointment and stopping for lunch at Jason's Deli. I love their chicken pot pie but I'm currently avoiding all grains so I ordered BBQ brisket on a baked potato, a common offering in Texas. But this time, I had it on a sweet potato --- and it was good! A bit messy to sketch, with cheddar cheese melted all over the top, but very good.

25 February 2017

The Cat That God Sent


For the last spread in this Field Notes memo book, I jotted down a quote from a little e-book I just began reading: "The Cat That God Sent" by Jim Kraus. When it was offered as a daily free book for the Kindle app, I downloaded it purely on the title. Then never got around to reading it . . . until now. Turns out to be quite entertaining!

The title captured my attention because God literally _did_ send me a cat! In 1978,I really wanted to adopt a cat but I am allergic to them. So I actually prayed for a cat that would not cause a reaction. Then forgot about it as I found out we were expecting our gorgeous son Matthew.

When Matt was 6 months old, a February snowfall soon developed into a blizzard. Through the howling winds, I kept hearing a strange noise on our front porch. Finally I walked over and opened the door, holding it against the strong winds and blowing snow. And in strutted a big cream-colored cat, right over to baby Matt laying on a blanket. He proceeded to wipe snow all over Matt's face --- Matt has been a cat-lover ever since!

We ran an ad to find the owner and found him; the cat had crossed a busy road and couldn't get back, being afraid of the traffic. The owner had two brother cats but they didn't get along so he said we could keep him. They were from an aunt who raised this particular breed. I later learned that he was a Maine Coon. He looked full-grown when he first walked through our door, but he was only six months old . . . and he grew and grew, with his coat getting long and forming what looked like a lion's mane around his neck, pantaloons on his hind legs and a fat raccoon-like tail.

And I was _not_ allergic to him! That's when I remembered asking God for a cat. Kippy was our first of this special breed, followed eventually by black and white Dali, then our classic blue tabby Bearcat. Our grown kids also adopted Maine Coons and Maine Coon mixes through the years. Amazing creatures!


22 February 2017

saying goodbye . . .


. . . to the best cat I've ever known. After a prolonged period of loosing weight and trying various foods, our Maine Coon, Beorn Bearcat, finally stopped eating or drinking, except the drips he loved to catch from the bathroom vanity. A tumor was found to be growing in his abdomen; at 14 1/2 years of age, with a history of bad reaction to anesthesia, we decided it was time to say goodbye.

Typically, Bear purred right up till the end.


21 February 2017

breakfast with friends


As we gathered at a local diner for breakfast a few mornings ago, I drew my husband's hands. The quote in the upper left had been jotted down several days earlier from a book I'm reading. After adding gouache to the fountain pen sketch, it dawned on me that they sort of go together --- like God Himself is sitting down to share a cup of coffee (or tea, in my case) with us. Our God delights in personal relationships with His children!

18 February 2017

more mini-sketches on-the-go


Ink sketches done quickly while out and about . . . 


Sometimes I add a bit of gouache, but I didn't paint the plaid pattern on my key so I drew it in ink later.


Some days we wear short sleeves and no coats; other days require warm jackets.


Bill should know better than to leave interesting objects lying around. Before he could loan this basin wrench to a friend, I drew it.


This is my orange-red Field Notes notebook made of cardstock. It lives in my purse, ready to grab quickly for whatever happens to appear within my sketching view. These were drawn with a combination of De Atramentis document black ink in a Lamy Safari, Noodler's Lexington gray in a Kuretake brush pen,  a Pentel Pocketbrush pen, and a white Uniball Signo gel pen.

15 February 2017

revisiting my potted plants


I had planned on adding watercolor to this sketch, especially since I love mingled colors on terra cotta pots. But after a comment on Facebook about the drawing's "clean lines", I decided to leave it just ink. . . . . but niggled it a bit anyway by adding some of the quilted cloth's pattern and darkening the dirt.

09 February 2017

yesterday, I sketched!


Lately, as Bill goes through convalescence from surgery, still with severe pain down his arm (the surgery was supposed to fix that), I have not felt like sketching as often. Bill's surgeon is mystified about the pain but the discs have to completely fuse together before another MRI can be done. 

But yesterday I managed to sketch the plants on the table, in my new "burnt sienna" ink mix. Messed up a bit with the quilted cloth pattern underneath since I was drawing directly in ink, no pencil. I will probably add watercolor later.


Then I drew my shoe during church, barely hanging on my foot. It reached 85° daytime high -- and my car's air conditioner is broken. Got a bit sticky-hot. Drawn with a Pentel Pocketbrush pen, gouache added later at home.

06 February 2017

more from Field Notes


With a name like Field Notes notebook, one would think that I would fill this wee purse-or-pocket sized sketchbooks with sketches of the pastures and cotton fields around us. But I tend to just grab them to draw in wherever I happen to end up sitting, whether that be church, a doctor's office, or whatever.

The above is drawn from a recent photo I took. Amazingly, butterflies are still with us through the winter even though it's been colder than normal at times.


I chose to draw my cross necklace here to go with the Scripture verse at church. It's called a "grafted in" cross, representing believers in Messiah Jesus being grafted in to the vine of Israel. God is not finished with His ancient people and His promises hold!


And then there is always a random sketch of my bag or shoe during church . . .

01 February 2017

in search of a burnt sienna ink


I love the burnt sienna color of my Tombow dual tip pen but it is water-soluble, meaning that I can't add watercolor unless I want it to 'bleed'. So following some of Jane Blundell's charts for mixing De Atramentis document inks, I tried mixing a burnt sienna using document red and document black. I think it may need a touch of yellow added, but I don't have a bottle of that.


I recently bought a bottle of the document red from Goulet Pens . . . and as usual, they sent a mini Tootsie Pop with the ink. Here, I tried varying amounts of ink in some empty sample bottles.

I'm also trying out a new Lamy Safari limited edition coral pen. It came with a "M" nib but doesn't yet write smoothly. I've had some Lamy pens in the past that seemed a bit unresponsive at first --- using them over and over eventually breaks them in. Or I can easily replace the nib with one of my extras if this one persists in being stubborn.

31 January 2017

recent small sketches


My small Field Notes sketchbook still lives in my purse . . . The true color of the cardstock paper never seems to come out right when photographed and posted on line. It's actually a dull warm red, without the "glow" that appears here. 

I usually jot down random quotes or Bible verses & notes several pages in advance, so I'm never quite sure if the quote actually matches whatever is later sketched.


Then there are days where I purposely Google an image to illustrate the verses written down. This falcon mother protecting her chicks seemed right for these notes from church.

30 January 2017

yeah, I got it done in time


. . . and Josiah gave his new bear a snuggly hug and named him Mike.

25 January 2017

coming down to the wire . . .


. . . but Josiah's bear is almost finished. I took a sketch break yesterday and drew what I've been slowly working on since my sewing machine was repaired. Joints and stuffing are done, just two openings to close, then his seams get brushed (to free hairs caught in the seams) and I sew the ears in place. The last thing I add is the facial expression and maybe some claws on his paws.

23 January 2017

coming home . . .


That's what it felt like for both Bill and me . . . After bad colds, Bill's surgery, and his recovering at home, it felt like forever since we had been with our church family. Yesterday we finally made it back to church. So did Karla and Ellen -- they both had various types of surgery with entry through the neck. Along with Bill, the three of them make up the "Cut Throat Gang"!
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