29 May 2017

45 years and counting

At 7:00 pm on a Friday 45 years ago, Bill and I got married. Last year on our anniversary, he asked me to marry him again . . . because it means so much more now than when we were 2 naive kids. This year, our anniversary fell on a Friday, so we planned on renewing our vows at 7:00 pm, exactly 45 years after the first time.

Uh . . . we ran into a slight glitch. Our pastor's grandson graduated high school at 7:00 the same day, in a different town. After a bit of thinking, Bill realized that we had been married in Arizona time, which is 2 hours ahead of Texas time. So we got re-married at 9:00 pm under the oak trees at our home in the country . . . exactly 45 years after the first. This ceremony was so much more special, made especially so by our pastor and friend, Gary Faulkner.

This is also the first sketch in my new sketch journal, a special grass-paper covered handbound journal made by Cathy 'Kate' Johnson. Makes this "new beginning" of ours even more special. I worked this in watercolor alone (over a guideline of pencil), using a fine Molotow Grafx Art masking liquid marker. This paper is Strathmore Multi-Media. The journal has a variety of papers in it -- I'm glad Kate penciled a code on each type of paper so I'll know what I'm working on!

25 May 2017

some late night sketching

I was tired last night, but not yet sleepy . . . So I picked up this Lamy Vista, filled with Noodler's red-black ink, and drew stuff on the nightstand next to me. Then washed out a bit of ink here and there with a waterbrush.

And so ends one more sketch journal . . . just in time to begin a special one tomorrow, handmade by my dearest friend, Kate (aka Cathy Johnson). Below are views of the inside facing pages of this small journal just ended. The rough textured brown paper was a bit hard to write on but I managed to jot down a few things I wished to remember.

24 May 2017


Today my kitten is 10 weeks old . . . meaning that I could technically pick him up from the breeder's at any time now. We decided to go get him after we renew our vows this Friday; a new kitten doesn't need to deal with all those visitors to our home!

But oddly, I have not been able to get in touch with the breeder this week to finalize plans. Up till now, she has been extremely responsive to emails and texts. She told me she would be unavailable earlier this month, but she should have returned by Sunday. Yet she is not answering my attempts to reach her. I hope everything is well with her and her family.

Meanwhile, I have been debating whether to use Bearcat's stoneware water dish. I bleached it and washed it well, to rid it of any contamination due to his having had feline herpes. I want to make sure it is not passed on to the new kitten. But I'm still uncomfortable using the water dish, so I ordered a new one. It arrived this week --- poorly packaged and broken. :-(

23 May 2017

snail studies

Last week, when we drove to Giddings for a funeral, we picked up a dear friend, Billie, on the way. At her house in Caldwell, I noticed some pretty snails and tried to take a quick photo of one to sketch later. But the snail hid in its shell. 

So later in the week, Billie sent me some much better photos she took. The upper two were drawn in a water-soluble ink (J. Herbin's Lie de The), then washed out a bit with a waterbrush. The other one is drawn with Noodler's Lexington Gray water-resistant ink and watercolor added. I wish I had paid more attention to leaving the white paper for the shine.

22 May 2017

Celtic Woman

One of our sons gave us tickets to go see Celtic Woman, as a 'wedding' gift (we are renewing our vows for our 45th anniversary). Bill has been wanting to attend one of their concerts for many years!

As normal for us, we arrived way too early, partly because we weren't sure where the Smart Financial Center was, so I sat outside and drew the arena. This section along highway 59 / 69 was an empty field when I used to drive between Sugarland and Richmond. This is the venue's first year, and the Celtic Woman tour is all new as well. We were sad that Mairead Nesbitt is no longer with the group __her fiddle playing while dancing around like a wee sprite was amazing!__ but the new member, Tara, is equally amazing! A classically trained musician, she sings as well as playing fiddle and harp.

I was glad to see two favorites are still with the tour: drummer Ray Fean and piper Anthony Byrne. I could listen to Anthony Byrne play the highland pipes forever! 

I ran out of page in this wee handbound sketchbook before I could fit in the other singers: Susan, Eabha, and the other Mairead. Maybe I should have captured them first? But instead, I went for the drummer and piper first. I would have liked to draw the other drummer, the uilleann piper, and the male chorus . . . but I was just enjoying the show instead.

20 May 2017

sketches from this past week

I've been a bit sporadic lately with making time to sketch, as we get ready to renew our vows and prepare for the kitten. I grabbed a moment during a drive to Giddings and drew this wildflower that had popped up in our yard. I had to work fast, as the plucked flower kept changing as I held it. Later, I saw this scissor-tailed flycatcher at the Giddings cemetery (we went to a funeral for a friend's dad).

And our tomatoes are so early this year, they demanded a sketch! Actually, I've been eating the tiny grape tomatoes for a couple of weeks already.

13 May 2017

a bit more crocheting and knitting

After crocheting a 'cat cave' for my new kitten out of repurposed yarn, I gathered bits of leftover yarn and started making cat toys. Some have a large jingle bell, some are stuffed with a bit of catnip. Two of them are hung from door knobs (or from a willing human hand). Just keeping my hands busy while I wait to go get Bardie.

12 May 2017

a Fiestaware . . . cat dish?

My Maine Coon, Bearcat, had an odd habit of removing his food from the cat dish and placing it on the mat before eating it. I thought nothing of it at the time --- my previous cat, Dali, always dunked her food in the water dish before eating it!

But recently I read of something called whisker fatigue. Apparently a cat's whiskers are extremely sensitive at the tips; when they touch the edges of the food bowl, vibrations travel down to nerves in the cat's face. This can actually cause pain and stress in some cats. Bearcat had _very_ long whiskers; if I'd only known the small dish was a problem for him!

Years ago, my mother gave me her Fiestaware creamer and sugar, along with a salt and pepper set. As I recently rearranged things in the cupboard, I thought why not use the tray for a shallow cat dish for my new cat? There's one side for dry kibble, one side for canned food.

10 May 2017

a few current wildflowers

The bluebonnets are long gone, but the countryside around us is still bursting with wildflowers. This is just a sample of the varieties . . . and there's more to come. The prickly poppy here is early; soon the road between home and Somerville will be covered in them. And snow-on-the-mountain is just rising, not yet in bloom --- it covers pastures in masses of white.

05 May 2017

Bardie MacRuadh

Though he is still with his mama (being only 7 weeks old), my new Scottish Fold -straight has a name: here's a recent photo of Bardie MacRuadh! (My Scottish Terriers all had Scottish names, so why not stick with tradition?) Bardie means 'gelded cat', but also 'pert or cocky'. MacRuadh (Mac-ROO-a) means son of red -- his daddy is a gorgeous red tabby.

I was reading a fictional book set in Scotland many months ago and came across the word 'bardie'. Not knowing what it meant, I looked it up. I thought at the time it would be a good name for a male cat, though I had no plans at the time of getting one. And it remained stuck in my head.

04 May 2017

random sketches, yesterday & today

Yesterday evening I mindlessly drew my foot __again__ while jotting down notes at church.

This morning, I ruthlessly cut back our roses, saving this wee bud to sketch. Some of our roses were completely de-leafed by wildlife grazing at night. Some had a bad case of black spot. And the old climber at the corner of our patio was completely dead, seemingly overnight. It was blooming just a few days ago!

I cut them back quite severely; because they had bloomed a full month earlier than expected, I had not had a chance to trim them back in early spring. Maybe we can save some of them. When we moved here, the whole front of the patio were planted with roses, plus two tall ones at the back door. We have had to replace several, mostly due to wildlife eating the leaves. We thought we had that solved by leaving 'fairy lights' on all night, but apparently they have decided the light was no threat.

02 May 2017

an exercise in colored pencils

Some dear friends gave me a great set of colored pencils --- I have played with watercolor pencils a bit, adding water so they were more like using "controlled" watercolor, but I have never tried wax-based colored pencils for art before.

I _did_ have a how-to book on my bookshelf ("Colored Pencil" by Eileen Sorg) and one of the exercises fit my brother, Dave, whose birthday is this week. So I followed the steps to make a card for him.

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