Landscapes Watercolor Class


Been taking these watercolor classes for, I don't know, a year now. I'm not really any better than when I started. I have more expensive paints, and know that this isn't my medium. I think watercolors are lovely, and I am unable to paint what I want to paint. Every once in a while I manage some sky correctly, but the paintings are nominally and consistently meh.

Which was just fine today, because, well, buckets and all, for this class, I just painted and worked on my techniques. I used too much water in my wash, and learned that I actually was using too little water previously. I cut up the papers to small sizes, and learned that I really prefer the smaller sizes (and that what I bought as Arches is actually counterfeit and not actual Arches paper). I pulled out the small brush and worked on my thin strokes, painting grass. I used dark colors that are far more saturated than I usually use.

So, I ended up with these.

This one was working on saturated colors and layering a couple together without a wash.

This one was working on finer lines, adding weird grass.

This one was dropping super saturated dark colors to form a forest impression. I really like the sky in this one.

This one was my first fine lines work. The lines are not very fine, and I didn't wait long enough for the base to dry before trying the lines.

This one was "use up the paints on my plate." I painted this one on the wrong side of the paper. Oops.

When the painting part of class was over, and we were all showing off what we had painted, I went first and went very vocally. I don't like any of my paintings, but I can point out the parts I practiced on, I can tell Dave how much I appreciated his teachings, I can keep going, keep trying, and be glad for a calming hour where my head wasn't spinning loops. In doing so, I give permission for everyone else to talk about their own works, and the conversations flow. I've noticed when no one breaks the ice, we all just sit there, lost in our own criticisms.

I'm likely going to switch back to my Nekos.

Buckets of Shit


Well, today was one of the shittiest days of the year. Perhaps not the worst, but, in the top 5%. Sure, life could be worse (WAY worse), but this one was sufficiently bad that I did something I had not done before: I turned to my dad for emotional support.

We had a long streak going on where we would text each other daily. He's been sufficiently overwhelmed by the pandemic that he manages maybe one or two days a week now. I hadn't heard from him in a good four days, so I called him. We chatted with the usual chit-chat, shallow greetings for a bit, and then he asked how I was doing.

"Six buckets of shit worth of bad, Dad."

He laughed. I do so enjoy hearing his laughter, much the same as I enjoy hearing the laughter of all of the important men in my life, so that brightened the day slightly.

We talked a little more about my buckets of shit, what each was filled with. Eventually, I admitted that none were farther away than 100 meters, and well within my shooting range, which I think delighted him even more. Worse case, I could shoot the crap out of them. He gave me a few words of encouragement about dumping out the buckets. I guess I could hand one of the buckets to someone else, or, you know, just walk away from a bucket or two. Maybe let one sit and decompose into a bucket of life-giving compost to fertilize the next thing.

I don't know. Mom is always uncomfortable when I start talking scatologic. Maybe talking shit with Dad was more comforting that I realized it could be.

Happier Times


Because sometimes you need to remember the good parts to make it through the bad parts.

Two Boats and a Helicopter


Him: "Well, are you passionate about this project?"

Me: "Very much so."

Him: "Then the rest of this [worry] is all bullshit. You'll figure it out."

<long pause>

<I might be starting to cry at this moment.>

Me: "You're awesome."

Him: "No I'm not. I'm out of ice cream."

Trail Hunting


Went out trail viewing with Aunt Sonnie today. Greenhorn is closed (sorta, kinda, maybe - officially so, but locals hike it and say the washout that has the trail closed for another 12 months is actually passable, and yes, you can be fined $5000 for hiking on the trail anyway, but more likely it'll be a $150 fine, so go on Saturday when the rangers aren't out. At least, that's what the locals say...), so other trails became needed. We drove around for a bit, my looking at my phone to see what trails were coming up along the highway, Sonnie pointing out different houses, different roads, different mountains, different turns. She would tell me about who owned this house, and how they met, who owns that house, and how they met. She would tell me a story about this restaurant, or that lake.

At some point, fortunately quickly, I realized we were doing more than looking for trails for me to hike. She was telling me of important events in her life. She was sharing her nostalgia, her memories. She was gifting me with happy events. She was sharing her knowledge, but in a bigger sense, she was being vulnerable with sharing what she had lost years ago when she moved away a half decade ago.

I put down my phone, stopped tracking where we were, and listened.

At one point, Aunt Sonnie asked if I wanted to take the short cut, a windy, narrow dirt road. I said sure, then laughed mightily when we arrived at the other side and I saw the name of the road.

Stop sign at the junction of Highway 165 and Short Cut Road

Outside of the Comfort Zone


Oddly, I fell asleep at 20:30 last night, and woke up at 6:30 this morning. I usually don't sleep that much, but last night, I needed that much sleep, so sleep I did. With my late rise from bed, however, I needed to hustle to check out the trails that were literally right outside the back door, before I needed to work. I mean, how many times have I said I want to be close enough to trails such that I could walk out the back door and start climbing up? IDK, lost count.

So, on with the hiking boots and heart rate monitor, and out the door. "Go to the right!" Aunt Sonnie called out as I passed over the electrified fence. Okay then, not the path up, the path across, which seemed odd to me at the time, as I wanted to go up, and was asked to call her when I reached the summit. Sure. Okay. All these trails are unknown to me, have at it.

path through a forest
hill through a wood

I had originally intended to walk this trail being fully present. My aunt had told me about the bears (big!) and snakes (big!) around here, and cautioned me to be alert for both around here. I had recommended to V----- recently that when he go out for his Thinking Walk™ to stay off the phone, no music, no audiobooks, no podcasts, no pictures, just walk. I wanted to do the same for myself: go out, and just walk and think.

Turns out, when the simple thing is gone and you're getting old and want something to rely on, having a Keane song running loops in your head is not the best way to go for a Thinking Walk.

Wasn't long before I had done no thinking and, yep, lost the trail.

clearing in a wood

I eventually found the trail again and kept walking along it, feeling increasingly uncomfortable as I did so. This path was going around the mountain I wanted to be going up. The giant piles of poop I kept walking past weren't bear poop, were old, and were very large. I was going for a short walk, so carrying only water: no stick, no knife, no mace, no matches, no tourniquet, no Inreach. No, I wasn't far from civilization, wasn't far from where I had woken up that morning. I was, however, outside of both cell phone range and my comfort zone.

And when I heard movement that was at least human size, and wasn't me because I was standing still, I decided that nope, I was just fine turning back around. To my chagrin, I was gone less than half an hour.

more path through a woods

When I returned to my starting point, the trail outside the back yard, well, you know what? There was another trail going up. Maybe I'd be okay with that one.

It went up, and up and up, at an easy grade, nothing difficult, nothing worrisome. It quickly twisted around the rocks I had seen at the top of the hill when I was at bottom of the hill. Okay, this delighted me.

outcropping with the sun behind it

Still being cautious about bears and snakes, I walked along the very obvious path that wandered in a valley between two of the rock walls on this hill. There were trees with enough shade and coolness for me not to be hot in my usual overdressed self. Had I been on this trail many times before, this would have been a lovely hike. Instead, I walked into a pile of bear poop.

bear poop next to shoe for size

Wellllll, shit.


Do I go forward or turn around? I stood undecided, listening for any large sounds. I heard none, still undecided. Hello, edge of my comfort zone, let me walk right through you. I went ahead on the trail for a short bit before I realized, hey, I could actually TOUCH the bear poop, see if it was cool or not. So, I walked back, and poked the poop.

It was not only cold, it was also a bit dry. I was fine. Whoo! Back along the trail I went.

Until five minutes later, I walked into a pile of large animal bones.

Okay, nope. Nope nope nope. I turned around and walked back down the trail, over the electric fence, and into the house. Laughing a bit to myself, I showed my aunt what I had found. She poo-poo'd pretty much everything that had made me nervous. The poop looked old. The bones, pfft, those were from at least last season. The sounds? Likely a deer. Next time, call out hello!

Seriously, I want to be this woman when I grow up. She's amazing.

Tomorrow, I'm walking down the road and back up. That seems a better idea, if more boring.