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Sunday, April 22, 2007


The balcony of our Fort Lauderdale hotel room held a nice view of the intercoastal waterway and (not visible in this sketch) a lift bridge that rose and separated multiple times a day to allow watercraft of a certain height to pass. I enjoyed the proximity to the intercoastal, in part because it reminded me of a couple of books that I read years ago by a friend who went from being a Fort Lauderdale cop to a novelist. Seems like the intercoastal always played a part in his work, and all of it bloomed in my imagination till it became one of those Other-Lives-Not-Lived deals. Do you have any of those? You know, the thing you'd do for a living if you didn't like what you do now or the place you would live if you didn't live where you lived now or the lifestyle (boats and surf versus fall leaves) you would choose if you could reasonably do everything that seemed alluring. OLNL as aI think of it contains no seeds of complaint; it's merely the acknowledgment that if we didn't have to make choices -- if we could really do it all for as long as we wanted until we got bored changing all the things we wanted to change -- well, some of us would enjoy a lifestyle of living near the intercoastal waterway, drinking a beer at sunset and maybe climbing on the back of some motorcycle for a ride home in the balmy breeze.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

For the garden

I thought about naming this post Columbine, after the flower sketched here, but it occurred to me that when people Google the OTHER Columbine, this might pop up. Not that this would necessarily be bad. Such a pretty word, wasn't it?

The first time I became aware of the flower called Columbine was when I visited Colorado years ago. I think it's the state flower or something. Turns out there are lots of varieties of Columbine. This one was what they had at our sparsely stocked garden center. Plants are trickling in after last week's big snow, but today feels like a beautiful summer day.

This sketch looks so nice when it doesn't have that awful gray scanning shadow across it, but the only way I know to get rid of it is to rip the page out of the notebook so the scanner lid can close all the way. And I don't want to do that. I've even piled blankets and a pillow (for weight) to try to keep light from sneaking in the sides. As you can tell, it doesn't work.

Friday, April 20, 2007


In the land of high-rises that is Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a person who enjoys sketching streetscapes has plenty to do. This hotel was visible from the beach, and the palm trees were included, no charge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The idea was that Lylah would get her hair cut on vacation. It was past her shoulders. Everyone agreed (sort of) that it would look better shorter. So I found a salon at the mall in Fort Lauderdale (this was last week) and asked a stylist to give her a blunt cut, with the goal being to get her hair off her back. We drew an imaginary line where the hair should end. Then, because it was predicted to be a 45-minute job, the rest of us went off to get a bite to eat.

When we arrived 45 minutes later, there was Lylah with her new 'do. The stylist had trimmed about an inch off her hair. At first I was just confused. I paid, stupidly. Worse yet, I tipped. Then I got mad. I figured maybe Lylah had instructed the stylist not to go as short. She claimed she didn't say a word. She claimed no one said a word during the entire process.

We marched off to another salon. I explained to the sympathetic, older gentleman haircutter person that I'd just dumped a lot of money on a haircut that didn't really happen. We spoke in specifics. Lylah got her hair washed again. I sat there watching while the first cuts were made. About 45 minutes later, she had the haircut she should have had the first time. Everyone loved it. Including Lylah.

But it's still a bitter memory for me, because I was such a doormat. Just once in a situation like that I wish I would be willing to be a "difficult" customer rather than wonder if I had miscommunicated. I won't even tell you how much money I spent on Lylah's hair that day. It is almost unspeakable. But she's very pretty. :-)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Earthly delights

So there we were, at our a-little-too-high-risey place in Fort Lauderdale when what crawled out of the intercoastal waters and onto the pavement on the hotel property but a big, lazy iguana that held a pose as long as it took for me to sketch him/her. Occasionally he/she would open his/her mouth a little, like an old person wondering if the dentures were still in place.

I cannot tell you how happy this made me. Well, yes I can. It made me so happy that I was not afraid to get quite close to him/her. Six feet, maybe. I don't know what it is, but lizards don't scare me - at least not like they scare my kids. Maybe they should. Maybe there was every chance of it lunging at my face and yelling "Boo!" It didn't, and any inaccuracies in the sketch (say, the fact that I didn't get the little spinal fronds in quite the punkish detail that reality dictates) were due completely to my own excitement at the idea of being able to sketch this thing while it stood there.

And so you were wondering what iguanas eat, weren't you? (No, you weren't, because you perhaps already know.)
Well, I looked up and it turns out iguanas are one of the few purely herbivorous animals in the wild. They also have delicate digestive tracts, but then I ask you, who among us doesn't?

Anyway, if life delivered a bit of pose-happy wildlife for drawing say, once a week, I would be in too much a state of bliss to function. I sure did like this guy, though.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On the beach

Pardon the absence.
We left Cleveland 8 days ago in a snowstorm and flew to Fort Lauderdale for spring break, where my activities included sketching, as you'll see this week. This little vignette represents the first of several days we spent on the beach. I hadn't done much sketching in the weeks leading up to vacation, and it really showed. Good reminder to do something every day. (Like we needed another reminder, right?)
Anyway, we returned yesterday - in snow. Funny spring so far.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A few particulars

A while ago, Lucette over at My Novel on Toast tagged me for a meme I'm sure she's forgotten about, having to do with foods that go together well. At the time, my brain hiccupped like a broken record on the memory of my parents talking about putting a wedge of cheddar cheese on top of apple pie. I remember thinking "Why would you ruin apple pie with a piece of cheese?"

Now I think it sounds good, like many cheese/fruit and cheese/vegetable combinations. This page, for instance, explains what I sometimes eat for breakfast.

But the meme really has become, in my head, a question of utensils. I can't think of too many original food combos that I love, though have you ever mixed peanut butter directly into a bowl of Breyer's vanilla bean ice cream? The peanut butter freezes up just a little bit. Divine.

I am particular, however, about the use of utensils and the gastronomical consequences of using them or not using them. So with apologies to Lucette:

1. Pizza tastes better when eaten with a knife and fork. Yes. I am the only person on the planet who thinks so.
2. Yogurt eaten directly from a yogurt container is better on a plastic teaspoon than on a real, metal teaspoon.
3. But don't use a plastic soup spoon. Plastic soup spoons are absurd, even for eating soup. They're ergonomically nightmarish. In fact, soup spoons in general really have no place in this world.
4. Salad should never be eaten with plastic utensils of any kind. Nor should it be eaten from a plastic clamshell container, if there's any way to avoid it. But there usually isn't.
5. Chocolate ice cream tastes better if it's eaten out of a coffee mug than if it's eaten out of a bowl because the mug maximizes surface melting and hastens the development of "chocolate soup."
6. Drinking coffee from a stainless steel "travel mug" is the food equivalent of brushing your hair with the upholstery attachment from your vacuum cleaner. It's like slow-dancing on crutches. It's like knitting with mittens. It's like -- well, you get the idea. Why does anyone bother with these things?
7. Drinking coffee out of a paper cup that has descended from some cavity in a vending machine will burn you, and the coffee is very unlikely to be anything that humans should actually drink.
8. Drinking coffee out of a styrofoam cup can be surprisingly satisfying.
9. Brownie batter licked off mixer blades tastes better than no batter, but brownie batter licked off a plastic spatula that has been pulled tight against the side of a batter-filled bowl is better than anything. Even than the finished brownies.
10. Milk drunk directly from the carton holds the kind of startling satisfaction that is left after one has peeled away all other vices, i.e. smoking, drinking in excess, chasing the pool boy around with a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic in your hand.
It should be done in secret. And with a smile.