Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustave Watch

Hurricane Carla at Lake Mathis
8.5" x 11"
Another month almost here, and another hurricane out in the Gulf, with several more, following along, that are named or will soon be named. We've been watching the weather news and our handy, dandy hurricane tracking chart from the local tv station, KBTX.
We may be inland, and won't get the hurricane force winds or storm surge, if a hurricane should make its way here. But, sometimes, they do head up this way, after slamming into the coast, with tornadoes, wind, and heavy rain. I can do without ever being caught in another flood or seeing another tornado!
Since I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast, I go into "hurricane mode" when I hear about a storm. Are we prepared? Where will we go and how? What will we take with us? What would we leave? Do we have flashlights, candles, water, food ready? Should we tape windows? Are important papers and pictures in waterproof plastic containers?
We didn't hear much about hurricanes, growing up in Calvert. The coast was far away. We did hear about the great Galveston hurricane that hit just a short while after Grandpa graduated from Galveston Business College and returned to Calvert. But no pictures or much information. Just that it happened and was so bad. We would see newsreel pictures of hurricanes in far away places, but we were far from any big bodies of water and just had to be concerned with the Brazos River flooding in the spring. That was to our west and never came as far as town.
My first teaching job took me near the coast. Daddy wouldn't let me take my ragged little MG that I loved but insisted that I take the family Ranch Wagon. It looked more like a teacher, for one thing.
And, "What if a hurricane comes?" he asked. "How would you get out of there?"
My MG was very low to the ground and would "drown out" in a puddle when it rained! Not to mention that the brakes didn't work right and I had to gear it down and hit something in order to stop. Lights would go out when I hit a bump and I had to find another bump to hit for them to come back on. And, the canvas top would slide down over my head due to rotten wood that held the supports. The only way to tell if there was gas was to get out and put a yard stick into the gas tank. On top of that, it wouldn't carry very much.
But I loved that little car! So much fun and so cute!
Sure enough, we did have to leave as storms threatened and I dutifully drove the Ranch Wagon. Until I got a pay check and bought....A new MG! It would "drown out", too, we found out, so I ended up driving the Ranch Wagon more.
Two years later, in a different town, we rented a tiny lakeside cottage, not far from the Gulf Coast. I was alone out there, with my car being used by my husband, when school was dismissed. Carla was headed our way. I was just a little scared as I had not been in a hurricane and knew little about them. But I was excited. I was going to get to see one for myself!
Just a short way from the cottage, the edge of the lake spread out to the distance. A double decker fishing pier loomed over the water. I didn't know anything about fishing, was not about to touch a worm, and didn't have any fishing equipment, so the pier was not of interest to me, other than to look at.
At the entrance to the pier, there was a small bait stand and a little conveneince store. I liked to walk there and get a soda water and cookies or chips when I got home from school, and just talk to the people there, before going home to cook supper, watch tv, and grade papers.
People were urged to evacuate. A huge hurricane was coming our way. I had no car and was wondering what people should do in a hurricane. I had seen pictures in movies of ships being tossed by huge waves, but that was all I knew about hurricanes.
I wasn't really into painting or taking a lot of pictures, then. I should have because all I have are the pictures in my mind.
I walked down to the little store as waves in the lake were crashing over the pier. They got even stronger as I talked to the owner. In fact, they were splashing up over the top level of the pier, which was way up in the air, for some reason.
"You'd better leave," the owner told me. "I'm closing up and leaving right now. No one else will be out here. If you need a ride to town, I'll be glad to take you, but I'm not staying around. I'm boarding up and getting out."
"Thanks anyway, but I'll be alright. This is all very exciting, " I told him.
He put the board over the opening to his stand, got in his truck, and left.
I sort of wished that he would stay. It suddenly felt pretty lonely, with just me and the lake and the trees.
I walked to the house and wondered what to do with myself. I heated a tv dinner, ate at the little kitchen table, and watched tv, walked back outside the house to watch the waves violently spilling over the top of the pier. I hoped it would all stay there, in the lake, and not come up to the house.
What might happen in a hurricane, anyway? Would the house fall in? Would the roof blow off? I just hoped that the little wooden house was sturdy! I could stay there and be cozy with my tv. I had candles for the table, in case the lights went off. That might be kind of scarey, in the dark, out there by myself. But I had notebooks to grade and could stay busy.
The clouds seemed to move very fast, and had a cold feeling to them. I felt like I could have easily communed with God in that setting. We seemed to be alone out there by the lake.
I had my one expensive, irreplaceable thing, I thought, my tv set, and I didn't want it to get ruined. (Tv was still relativley new then and this was my first.)
The sun had not yet set, and I was still watching the waves when a Highway Patrol car pulled up with two officers in it.
"You have to leave, " they told me.
"I can't. I don't have a car . I don't know when my husband is coming back."
"Well, we're closing the highways and no one can get in or out, right now, so we'll take you to the shelter in town."
"I can't leave my things, and, what if my husband comes and I'm not here! I'll be alright." I was thinking that I couldn't leave my tv set, and other things, and I wanted to see what a hurricane really was like. And, what if my husband came home and couldn't find me. He might just keep going and never come back, I thought in my insecure little mind.
"Lady, we don't have time for this!" I was told. "If you don't come get in this car now, I'm going to pick you up and put you in the car! You are going to the shelter! No one is going to come back out here and the highways are closed. We are the last ones who will be out here."
I looked past his shoulder as my car appeared on the drive by the pier.
"That's okay. My husband is here, now, and I have a ride."
The men talked to my husband and they agreed that we should leave. Rain started to fall and the clouds grew gray and billowed over the lake. Satisfied that we would go into town, the officers left.
"I'm not going!" I announced. "Who will take care of my things! And I want to watch, anyway. I can't do that in town."
"Oh, yes you are! What do you want to take with you?" My husband went into the house and hauled out the console tv set and put it in the back seat of the car. Then he brought out a box with the papers I had been grading, my purse, and a wine set that had been a wedding gift. The door was locked and we were on our way to the school in town. I turned to look at the waves that had now turned a blue black as they rushed high into the air and over the pier.
"Wow!" I thought in amazement.
I wish I had had a camera and film. All that movement and power. Totally awesome.
We hope for the best for all those in the path of Gustave, Hanna, and the other row of storms out in the Atlantic.
Anyone interested in participating in the 20th Sketch Crawl Saturday October 25?
I'm particularly looking for someone in Calvert, Hearne, Franklin, Bremond, Marlin, Cameron,Waco, Navasota. Rockdale, and other Brazos Valley areas who would like to get a group together or serve as a contact person.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Calvert Sufferagettes

Calvert Sufferagettes
personal photo
During Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, she mentioned that this is the anniversary of the Suffragette movement. ( I looked it up and noticed that the sign in this photo is spelled sufferagette, while online it is spelled suffragette. I went with the way the sign in my picture has it spelled. After all, the photo shows women who were involved and, if that's the way they spelled it then, that's fine with me.)
I thought it would be appropriate to remember the women (and men) who were involved in obtaining voting rights for women. Many of them went through a great deal.
Do you know who these women are?
Flossie gave me this wonderful old photo and asked if I know who the ladies are. I don't have any idea. But it's a great historical photograph of a time that we don't often hear about.
We assume that they are Calvert ladies.
The fire escape steps behind them sort of remind me of the fire escape that is on the back of Calvert High School, leading from the auditorium down past the cafeteria. However, depending on when this picture was taken, the school may not have even been there, yet. I don't really know where the picture was taken.
While women couldn't vote, in times past, they still could persuade their husbands, in a lot of cases.
By the time I was old enough to vote, Texas had a poll tax. Most husbands would pay the money for their wives, if they were supportive of their wives. However some still had the idea that wives were something like property, or were to be kept dependent, or "barefoot and pregnant", as the saying went. Stay in the kitchen and out of anything that was deemed really important. The fee was a whopping $2.50, but you would have thought it was a small fortune. And, in most households, the men controlled the pursestrings. Women had to beg for everything they got, trick their husbands, or they had to save back something from anything that they were able to get their hands on.
I had been sick and had to go back home to live at the time that I was old enough to vote. My notice, and my mother's, came in the mail. I wondered how you knew about how to vote, since we didn't have a lot of communication back in the 1950s. Not much in the way of tv, but there were newspapers, radio, newsreels, magazines, and, sometimes, a candidate might come through town to make a speech or shake hands along Main Street. The main thing was to listen to the elders and see who they were endorsing, it seemed. People would visit all along Main Street in small groups, seeing who the elders or their bosses were endorsing. I tried to listen and watch as much as possible.
But, when it came time to pay that poll tax, all I heard was "Women are too stupid to know how to vote right." And there went our opportunity to vote.
Later, when I was working, I was able to pay the tax and vote. And, I've tried not to miss voting since. And I encourage others to participate as well. It hasn't been that long ago when a lot of men probably thought that their horses had more sense than their wives or daughters.
"We've come a long way, baby," from having to fight to get to vote, having to beg for $2.50 to pay the poll tax, to having a woman, "a traveling pantsuit sister", run for our highest office and make a speech before thousands while her husband, a former president, looks on.
Wouldn't the ladies in the photo be thrilled !
Hope that you enjoy seeing this photo as much as I have. There are some wonderful old pictures of Calvert. We really should try to get as many as possible together and do something with them. We talked about that in 1986 for the Sesquicentennial.
This is also a good reminder to label your pictures while you remember who is in them and where they were taken!
If you can identify these ladies, let me know.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back To School 08

Historic Events
8.5" x 11"
Today was the first day of school here. Ashton, our young student, started his year as a 5th grader. I guess he is growing up. He didn't even give "Grandma" a kiss at the door, or wake me up to say "Goodbye" at the door this year. In fact, his mother took him to Shipley's for kolaches (actually a pig in a blanket, I guess, since he likes the ones with sausage and cheese), which meant that I didn't have to cook breakfast for him. In the past, we have always sat down to talk a little, calmly, and have breakfast while he woke up, and, often, we even watched "Spongebob" together. Just to get some "gasoline for his engine", help him wake up, and not be so anxious about the day. He doesn't like to eat first thing in the morning, like me, but I thought that he needs to get off on a good start each day. It won't be long before he will be making his own food and not needing Grandma or his mother so much.
But, he has excellent teachers, a really good school, and we're looking forward to a great year. His last at that school. I told him, when he complains about "little kids", that he was once a little kid, and now he is like a senior. He is one that the younger ones look up to. And they will do some great things this year, with a camping trip at the end of the year.
The picture today is a drawing I did of the big study hall upstairs on third floor in Calvert High School. The one for the high school that also served as the library at one end. There was another study hall on the second floor for 5th through 8th grades, also with a small library at one end.
We didn't have a lot of technology in those days. Typing was learned on 1920s typewriters that you had to use a lot of force on the keys to make them print a letter. We had some movies in the auditorium, occasionally. The teachers had a mimeograph machine that used a fluid that had a smell to it like cleaning fluid from the dry cleaners. The stencils made everything turn out purple. But, with rationing, we didn't use a lot of school supplied paper. We had our own notebook paper or tablets in lower grades, and used those until they were full. We had a few printed workbooks and, in lower grades, we got the "Weekly Reader" and, for Texas History, we had a "comic book" style of book.
In the scene above, we had been marched from the lower floor to the high school study hall on third floor. Students were seated at the desks, and we crowded into assigned places. The teachers lined up at the front of the room, and a few remained at the back and by the doors to monitor and prevent any unacceptable behavior. We didn't know why we were taken there. We just marched to and from wherever the teachers took us.
The whole school was there. A wooden radio had been plugged into an overhead light socket and placed on a podium in front by the teachers. We were shushed, even though no one was making noise, and told to listen to the radio.
This happened several times as historic events occured. One particular time that I remember was when we heard General Douglas MacArthur's farewell speech. Everyone was very solumn as they listened. I didn't remember a lot of his speech, but I did remember the part about "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."
After the speech, there was no explanation, critique, or discussion. The radio was turned off and unplugged, and we were marched back downstairs to our study hall. And I wondered why we were taken out of our rooms to hear that speech. It was years later that I realized that we were witnessing history.
I can't recall the other occasions. I think one might have been when MacArthur announced "I shall return". Possibly we also heard a broacast of the signing of the Japanese surrender, a speech by Harry Truman concerning dropping of the atomic bomb, and other events.
I do know that someone had to bring their radio from home so that we could listen to the broadcast. We didn't have such fancy equipment at school. Of course, there was the PA system for the school , and for announcing football games. We could hear that all the way to my house and through most of the town!
For the events at school, some community members who were not busy with their stores or businesses, would come to see the movies and listen to radio broadcasts. Ladies would dress up in their suits, wearing hats and gloves, and dress shoes, to come to school. Those included, especially, ladies who were active with the PTA .
The people I have shown in my drawing, have hints of actual people and some of their mannerisms. A lady dressed up in her suit, with her hat and the veil with those little fuzzy balls on it; men in their suits; one teacher who wore a built up shoe and touched her braided hair frequently; a tall thin teacher; one who often wore dresses with a sweetheart neckline; another who sometimes wore flowing dresses.
Seated at the desks, one student has pigtails flowing over the back of her seat and onto the desk of a boy behind her. If we had actually used the ink wells, she probably would have had her pigtails dunked into a bottle of ink. Our ink wells were not used, but we did have a bottle of ink inside the desk. The shapes of the bottles had changed and wouldn't fit into the ink wells any longer. One girl has braids, wrapped around on the side of her head. Another girl has a fluffy hairdo, achieved with pin curls around the head with the top of the hair left straight. Pleated plaid skirts, penny loafers, saddle shoes, sweaters, white blouses, , dimestore pearls, cirlcle skirts were all part of the style of the day. For the boys, there were slacks or jeans, cotton shirts that had to be ironed, and belts, and some even wore a dress shirt with a tie and a sweater.
Remembering those speeches in the study hall is appropriate for today, with school starting, and with so many speeches coming up during the Democratic and Republican conventions, with many more to come in between. I wonder if students in school, today, will be allowed to watch the speeches. Maybe in a government or journalism class in high school, in some schools. I always thought that my students should see things on tv that were occuring, just as we had listened to those few speeches on the radio when I was in school. That's a big part of our education.
I always wanted to watch everything on tv, read about it in newspapers and magazines. I would prefer being there to see for myself. But, this time, I don't think that I can bear to watch the Democratic convention. I may watch the opening, and I would like to see if they do actually have a roll call vote, and how Hillary does. But I just can't endure any of the speakers, and it is really sad to see what has become of the Democratic party. And the amount of money that is being thrown away is just appalling.
I'm not trying to get "political", but that's the way I see it, through my eyes.
Have a great year, teachers, students, and parents! Administrators too!
Check out the Frame Gallery website for some information about upcoming classes and events there and in downtown Bryan. The workshop using Yupo looks particularly interesting to me.
Register for the 20th World Wide Sketch Crawl, scheduled for October 25. You can click on the logo in my sidebar and that will take you to their website. If you are in this area, I hope that you will join in.
Go to the Forum to find someone in your area, or you can register and put in an area of your own. You will see more information on their website about how to participate.
I'm still in hopes that we can Draw The Brazos Valley, with people working all over this area on that day. If you are interested, let me know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Indian Canoe

Indian Canoe
8.5" x 11"
I'm trying to think cool thoughts. Our air conditioner went out yesterday and we are sweltering. The repairman said the whole outdoor unit is out, so we will have to replace that. Meanwhile, he stuck a small window unit in a living room window, so we could "sleep cool tonight".
The problem is that we don't use that room except to walk through. It is big and open to the dining room, the den and kitchen, laundry room, and into a hall that leads to the bed rooms. The wall of the hall blocks off the bedrooms from the living room. He assured us that it would keep us cool.
Well, it would, if we stand by it, I guess. We bought extra fans and we do have ceiling fans, that help a little. I think it would be cooler to go outside, actually. We tried opening windows, but there is absolutely no breeze.
Thankfully, it is not one of those 100 plus degree times. We had rain a couple of days ago, and some clouds yesterday, so it was under 90 degrees. And the thunderstorms held off.
We humans may be somewhat uncomfortable, but the cats and dog are another story. I tried to get them to stay near a fan or the a/c, but they won't. They do have water, and can move around until they find a comfortable place. The dog was eating ice cubes during the afternoon. Twenty two year old Bitsy, the Manx cat, seemed to just stop while she was walking, look like she was going to fall over, then keep going. I tried to take her near the air conditioner or a fan, but she ran off to where she wanted to go. She is very independent and aloof.
This is the second time this summer that the a/c has gone out. The last time was during one of those scorchers, over 100 degrees. I thought the dog and the oldest cat were going to expire. That time, the a/c was only a tiny bit low on freon. Now, the whole thing is out. Which means thousands of dollars. Ouch!
But, we can't do without our air conditioning in this area, these days.
My grandson said that he couldn't sleep at all last night because he was so hot. They finally opened a window in that bed room, which is always hotter than the rest of the house, and put a fan in the window, and I think they finally were able to sleep tonight.
I told him that we didn't have air conditioning, or even a fan, when I was growing up. Some people spent time outside or found a shady spot or cool place during the day, and just sweated and tossed and turned during the night. I remember the bed linens, clothes, and hair being soaking wet while we just prayed that it would hurry up and be daylight so that we could at least go outside in the shade or to a cooler place, and get out of those hot beds and dripping wet clothes.
We had very small refrigerators that only had a tiny freezer, big enough for one metal ice tray, and a small section to put a package of meat. My room was on the southwest corner, and really got hot in the afternoons. Small rooms and windows didn't help. So, I made my own air conditioning. I tore up some old sheets, just the size of the screens on my windows. Then I put a tray of ice cubes in a pan of water, and soaked the rags. The cold rags were pressed onto the window screens and I was all set for 30 minutes or so. I could sit in my room and read funny books, listen to the radio or records, and even take a nap, in comfort. Until the rags warmed up. Then I would have to repeat the process.
That was fine, but I had to be sure that the ice tray had ice in it when Daddy came home for supper!
I haven't resorted to cold rags over the windows, yet, but I did freeze some water in plastic containers to put in front of the fans.
A few minutes ago, I opened the freezer door to get a cold drink, and, immediately, ice began to thaw from the ice dispenser, and drip on the floor.
I've heard about people on vacations, people going to places like Colorado or the beach. I'm going to have an air conditioner instead of a vacation-I guess. But I have memories.
The above sketch shows what I did some afternoons when I went on vacation to Colorado Springs with my great-aunt and great-uncle, "Toot" and "Honey".
"Honey" worked hard all year and needed a vacation where he could rest. And "Toot" was a live- wire, and loved going. She especially loved Colorado where she had vacationed with her parents. And, when "Toot" and "Honey" took a trip, they took one of the nieces or nephews with them. My trip happened when I was probably about 9 years old.
They rented a tourist cabin for a week or so. "Honey" took a nap most afternoons and I had to be quiet during that time. Some days, I sat in the little powder room, that only had a little shelf and a mirror, with a window, and I would draw and wish I had stayed at home! That is, until I had a big nosebleed one day while I was sitting there drawing. The dry climate and altitude. My sinus doctor later told me that it was my sinuses healing.
One of the little souveniers that I bought was a small, wooden Indian Canoe. While "Honey" napped and "Toot" rested, I went behind the tourist court where there was a beautiful, babbling brook or stream with a little waterfall and small rapids. It passed under a railroad bridge. The water was only about ankle deep, but swift. I put my little canoe into the water and chased it as it ran through the rapids. I could only imagine that it had passengers.
One day, another little girl was also playing in the stream, and we used the canoe between us. One letting the canoe go, upstream; the other catching the canoe below, before it went too far where the water was deeper.
We got tired of our game and decided to wait for a train to cross over on the bridge . What would it be like to be under a train? We stood under the bridge, but never saw a train.
I don't remember if I ever knew the little girl's name, or anything about her. I got the feeling that she lived there and was not a tourist.
We had a good time, and that water was so cool and pleasant. Sometimes, we would just sit down and let the water rush around us. How I would like to be able to sit in a cool creek now! Or even enjoy the cool breeze under the trees.
I wondered if those little tourist courts are still there, and if the stream is still there, so clear and clean. I think they were called something like Manitou Courts. I don't think I ever knew the name of the stream.
School starts here next week, so I guess it is time for families to wind up their summer vacations. I hope that you have been able to have a good vacation this summer. A lot of people have had to stay at home due to gas prices, and other problems with the economy, jobs, and for other reasons. These days, going anywhere, even the grocery store, is as big a thing as a vacation.
Get ready for the 20th World Wide Sketch Crawl Saturday October 25. You can click on the link in my sidebar to go to their website for more information.
Anyone in the Brazos Valley interested in participating?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia On My Mind
8.5" x 11"

Often, while I watch tv, I sketch. Sometimes I just start doodling and see what happens. Sometimes, I have a thought or memory that I want to record. Other times, something on tv inspires me to draw. There may be times when I draw my reaction to a program or the news, or I may even get an idea for an editorial cartoon.

I also like to draw girls when I doodle, and sometimes I put them into a scene or a story type of setting. I may also just be interested in a mood, a hairstyle, or fashion.

Last week, as I heard the news from the country of Georgia, it was hard to believe. I watched images of explosions, tanks and soldiers rushing about, the president of Georgia speaking, and the reactions of our own president and others. Tv pictures of destroyed buildings and fires, with ladies walking along, some with a small bag, saying they had lost everything and didn't know where to go or where they would sleep that night. Old men pleading for help for their country. And even a sweet little black and white cat, crawling from under a pile of broken concrete.

I thought that, sometimes, we talk things to death, while people suffer and die, property and even little animals are lost. We should have the power to make things right and just go do it.
Simplistic, I guess.

I wished that I could reach out and pull all those in harms way to safety. Let the men who can't agree, just go to it and fight it out, and let the rest of us go on with our daily lives in safety. Again, simplistic, probably.

As I sketched, one of "my girls" came out on the paper, in a wistful, somewhat pained, thoughtful mood. The song, "Georgia On My Mind" occured to me and I thought of our own U.S. state of Georgia, famous for peaches.

So, I sketched my girl, leaning against a peach tree, thinking of the song and the country, and of those across the ocean, who are in danger and who are losing so much. Her thoughts reach across the sea, although there isn't much that she can do, but hope and pray.

I remembered the peach tree in my great-aunt's back yard that was loaded with blossoms in the spring and, by hot weather, was loaded with sweet, juicy peaches. She had a man put a board with ropes on it to make a swing in the peach tree. I loved to spend time swinging and pointing my toes up to the leaves of the peach tree and the blue sky beyond. And, on hot days, when the peaches were ripe, I would get a treat to eat out on the back steps in the afternoon-fresh, homemade peach ice cream. Some afternoons, she would have milk and Oreo cookies to play with and dunk, or even a cold glass of Ginger Ale, sometimes with a scoop of peach ice cream in it.

I thought of the ladies I saw on tv from the country of Georgia, one in particular with a flowered summer dress on, so distressed and frightened, not knowing what to do, as buildings burned behind her. All she had was a small suitcase. I wondered what kind of home she had lost, and if she had special things that she did there with her family. Maybe they had cold ice cream, or cookies and milk, and enjoyed the shade and fruit from their own trees in summer. I wondered about their family pictures and papers, and stories, that now are probably lost.

After working with our family pictures and stories, I don't think I could bear to lose any of it. And, certainly, the pets would have to go too, along with family members and my art supplies!

I left the lower part of the drawing blank, thinking that it should be filled in as a painting, later, or just left as a suggestion for the viewer's eye to complete. At this point, I think that it allows some contrast between the texture and darkness of the tree, and the lightness of her hair and the figure. Detail in her face conveys her mood.
Notes indicate the haunting music, while the curving lines among the lettering hint at a gentle breeze blowing from the sea, carrying music and thoughts of Georgia, war and peace, bombs and peaches, youth and age, memories and uncertainty, power and helplessness.
Speaking of sketching, I just got the dates for the 20th World Wide Sketch Crawl. Mark your calendar for Saturday October 25. I have links to their website in my sidebar. Just click on the Sketch Crawl logo, and that should take you to their web page.
If you are in this area, I hope that you will join me in Sketching the Brazos Valley on the big Sketch Crawl Day.
If you are in another area, you can find a group there to join with or you can work on your own. If you are just learning about the site, look for someone in your area who might have registered, or you can register yourself. That way, you can post pictures of your results following the Sketch Crawl, or you can find others in your area who would like to get together to draw and paint.

And, remember, it's FREE!
I hope that Tropical Storm, Fay, quickly spins off to the sea, leaving behind some much needed rain in the drought areas, and little or no damage. We're getting a little rain this afternoon, but it has just made the grass grow and the Crepe Myrtles have blossomed beautifully today.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Sketching in the Park

More Photos and a Gesture Drawing from our last Saturday in
Virginia Field Park
Calvert, Texas

1. Merry go round and one gazebo Looking northeast toward the merry go round and gazebo from where I was sketching in the bandstand.
2. Gesture Drawing of Two Girls on the merry go round Two young girls, who I wrote about previously, walked, after exercising in the bandstand over to the merry go round. They very thoughtfully asked if I was through sketching the merry go round before they walked over to it. They whirled around on the wooden merry go round, not realizing that they were giving life to the scene and stirring memories when other young girls spent time in the park. I did a quick gesture drawing and also took pictures of the scene, but not with the girls. I thought that I could complete drawings or even paintings, later from what I had recorded with sketches, gestures, and the camera.
3. Shaded Walk and Street looking from my viewpoint toward what was the east entrance to the park. Across the street, on the left, is the home that will host the Victorian Tea October 4. The tea will be on the grounds. If you click on the link at the top of my page, and also under events, or even do a Google or Yahoo search, you will see pictures of previous Victorian Teas and Galas. The street leads to the high school.
4. View to the East from where I was sketching. This is part of the neighborhood where I grew up. Complete with sounds of the Mourning Doves in the park, the rattling of the chain on the flagpole and bells echoing in the halls of Calvert High School.
Scratch our plea for rain in this area right now. We could use it for grass, etc., but the farmers don't need it now. There was a segment on KBTX tv last night, showing what rain would do to the crops like cotton, and the possibility that, when it's time to harvest crops, machinery couldn't get into the fields. So, I guess our little rain from TS Edouard helped cool us off for a couple of days, and gave us a little moisture. They got more to the south, in the Houston area, though. And it certainly made us watch the skies and the radar!
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More Park Sketching

More Pictures From The Park
photos and pencil sketch
These are more pictures from our last Saturday morning sketching trip to Virginia Field Park in Calvert, Texas.
1. Water Fountain This is the concrete water fountain/bird bath that I have written about previously. There used to be more big oak trees to the right, just over from the fountain, and behind it, that gave shade and interesting sights.
2. Interior of Bandstand Looking toward where the baseball field once was. We had a world champion men's softball team that played here regularly when I was growing up. And, when they weren't playing, others, like some of the kids, would play softball here. We didn't play hard ball. We thought of that as a "yankee" game, and something for men somewhere else, not for girls.
3. Interior Shot in Bandstand Taken from where I was sitting looking west toward downtown. Barbara chose to work from the west side. You can see her painting gear near the entrance to the bandstand. I like the way that the light reflects off the painted floor. Lots of textures and shapes here. I was thinking of Robin Cheers and the way that she paints. I would like to see what she would do with painting in this place.
4. Gazebo and Merry Go Round This is one view from where I was sitting, looking north east toward the merry go round and one of the gazebos. There used to be swings, a see saw, a sandpile, and a concrete ping pong table in the children's area. One time, in the 1980s, we had an arts and crafts fair in the park. This little gazebo made a nice place for one craft person to display their handmade wreaths. In other times, it was just a nice place to sit with a friend and have a private conversation, or play house, or whatever our imaginations came up with at different ages.
5. Sketch of the Gazebo and Merry Go Round This was my sketch of the merry go round, gazebo, and view from where I was sitting. I did this on watercolor paper, intending to go back later and do a painting .
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hurricane Watch

Dolly Clouds
Top: watercolor (detail)
Bottom: photo
I tried to post last night, but couldn't get into my blog, for some reason. So, I just fought the computer and watched the weather news on Houston's channel 13, the Weather Channel, and the updates on our local channel KBTX.
Edouard was right out there in the Gulf of Mexico, looking like it was going to strengthen to a category 1 hurricane and go right over Galveston, then head over us. We were warned of winds and heavy rain.
I always tell myself that it couldn't be as bad as the day that I got trapped in a small car in Hearne with flooding from 20 inches of rain, 15 of those in just 3 hours . We didn't have flooding here, then, and most of the rain will run off into the empty lake near us, if we should have a tremendous rain.
I finally fell asleep this morning after I saw on tv that Edouard came ashore east of Galveston, and had not strengthened to a hurricane.
There is rain showing on the radar, coming this way, but we really need it. It has been very hot and dry, which is normal for Texas in summer. Sometimes it takes a hurricane or a tropical storm in the summer before we get any rain at all. A nice, slow, gentle rain, without storms, would be nice.
When Hurricane Dolly hit south Texas, we did get several bands of showers with it, but ended up with only about 1/2 inch of rain. There were some spectacular clouds to the south and overhead that I took a few pictures of. At sunset, there was a touch of yellow and orange in those clouds.
I pulled out a piece of watercolor paper and did some quick cloud studies after I looked at the clouds. I'm not happy with them, though. My yellow is just too strong, for one thing. And it looks even stronger on the computer. (It looks great in a room with the lights off!)
My mother used to tell me that a blind person could see my paintings! Bold, bright, big, strong, thick, heavy, energetic. Small, soft, and realistic things just don't come out of me, without being very tight and controlled to the point of feeling extremely restricted and uncomfortable.
In the small watercolor, I started out trying to study the clouds, but, pretty soon, I just had to let go some and play around, getting loose. I stopped after that one page, because I felt like I wanted to play with the watercolors, more than I wanted to capture the clouds on paper. I decided to let the camera record the clouds for me, for future reference.
This morning, I looked out the window to the south, but there have been no magnificent clouds, so far. It was just cloudy and gray. Maybe there will be more, later, as Edouard moves closer.
At least, it won't be as hot today. It was 105 yesterday, with unusually low humidity. Today, it's only 84, with sunshine.
I loved to watch crashing waves and wind-blown rain, and was one who always wanted to stay and watch the hurricanes and storms when I lived on the coast. I like rainy weather and storms. I feel more awake then. I just want to enjoy them when I know that I am safe! People always had to insist that I evacuate when storms were coming. I knew I was supposed to, but, still, I wanted to see what was happening. Now, at least, thanks to some tv stations, we can watch a little of it through cameras and the eyes of reporters, from the safety and comfort of our homes, or wherever we might be.
I loved to be on the Seawall in Galveston when a norther would blow in, and the waves would come in, splashing over the rocks, then get hit with a blast of north wind, spreading the spray out in a great fan, back toward the incoming waves.
I even liked to be out in a boat, in waves. I never considered that the boat might sink or turn over, until years later!
I miss being able to put my feet in the water, looking for things on the beach, watching the clouds and the waves. At one time, I bought one of those little mechanical things called the wave, that has blue water in it and rocks back and forth to make a wave. The mechanical part broke so I tried to buy a new one. But, the newer ones just look really cheap, but aren't, and aren't nearly as satisfying as those old ones. Besides enjoying it myself, I thought it would be something nice for my art room. I took the old one to let the kids watch, several times, and they were fascinated.
Some storms that hit the Gulf Coast do travel inland and do damage in this area through tornadoes or wind. We don't seem to have much flooding, except in certain areas where the road was dug out instead of being built up or where housing was built on a filled in creek.
I still watch for storms and am not quite sure how to prepare, inland, although I have spent most of my life in the area. I know what to do on the coast. Board up, tape up, pack up, and leave! But, inland, I guess we just have to think of what to do in case of a hailstorm or tornado. I still think that I should load up Daddy's cattle trailer, the pick up truck, the car, and move everything of value to Calvert, like we used to do. We did that with every storm threat. It worked because we knew storms were coming. It won't all fit into our little minivan, along with the family and pets, today.
Well, I think I am going to enjoy a rainy day, later, if it ever gets here.
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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sketching Day in Calvert

More Pictures From Sketching in Calvert
Here are some more pictures from our most recent sketching trip in Calvert, Texas. You can see more at the posts below this one. Sorry that I haven't posted sooner, but my computer was hanging, I got into looking for genealogy things, and now, it looks like we have thunderstorms coming and I may have to unplug the computer.
1. Our morning starts with a kolache at Zamykal Kolache Shop on Main Street. Jody, the owner, is a delight to visit with. In the first picture, she is serving a customer while we were sittingat a table, eating. I had my usual strawberry kolache and a Sprite to drink. Barbara had coffee with her kolache.
I accidentally made a movie when I was trying to see if I had the flash on or off on the camera. I may try to post that later, just to try to figure out how to add video to my blog. It is very short, since I thought I was just taking a snapshot!
2. Deciding where to go to sketch always takes a while. You could find something interesting to do almost everywhere you look! We do consider where we can find shade and a nice place to sit. This time, we decided to work inside the park. Plenty of shade, and a breeze inside the bandstand and pavillions, with benches to sit on. And lots of memories there, too. This picture shows the open car door and the view of the park from where Barbara stopped the car on Pin Oak street .
3. This is the latest sign outside the park, giving the name of the park and the date. Virginia Field Park, 1868. Land was deeded to the park in that year. The park was named for Virginia Field for all of her dedication and service to the community and the park. There is a historical marker. Several of the large homes in town, including the Barton and Gibson homes, and Hammond House, once had this same type of fence around them-pipes painted white, set into concrete posts. The fences around the homes, however, had about 4 rows of pipe and were, of course, taller. I believe that I asked older people why the fence in the park was so much lower and, if I remember correctly, I was told that it was just decorative, and also a barrier to keep people on horses from riding through the flower beds and the Crepe Myrtle trees that surrounded the park. At one time, there were large concrete objects with a ring in them, on each side of the entrance, for tying up horses before people entered the park. The same hitching posts could be found at several homes, as well. Those at the park were sold and two large white rocks were left on each side of the drive to mark the park entrance. The rocks also made a good place to sit and wait for a ride after activities in the park. The same kind of rocks were at the entrance to the sidewalk in front of the high school.
4. The west entrance to the park and the bandstand. At one time, there were entrances on all 4 sides, but those were closed up years ago. There was also a drive or road all around the park, beside the flower beds. About where the baseball field was, there was sand on a curve. Some people, like my dad, when he was young, liked to drive their cars around the park, hit that sandy spot, and almost turn over. I think that some people actually did turn over. Sometimes, they just got stuck in the sand, which wasn't too much fun. When I was learning to drive, I got "Toot's" 1950 Nash hung on those big rocks that marked the entrance. She wanted to teach me to drive. "Honey" didn't want me to drive his nice new car, but "Toot" took me out anyway while he was at his store. We did fine in the streets, but I never did like tight places, and just swerved too wide trying to get out of the park, and went right up on top of the rock on my left. We walked home, she called "Honey" to come get the car off the rock, and I hid at my house for a while until I was sure that he would no longer be mad. (The car wasn't hurt.) I thought I would never drive again! But, Daddy made me drive the tractor out in the country. Eventually, I did get back to cars. I never did like close places, though. Give me at least two parking spaces on each side of me when I parked, and I just crawled when I had to cross a bridge. They used to be narrow!
5.Walking up to the bandstand. Barbara is always prepared to paint, or for any occasion. She does plein aire painting often so she has all the necessary equipment like chairs, which she is carrying in this picture. We had views of the bandstand from the east side, growing up, and from the west side after we were older.
Martha Marshall has a new website. I've changed the link to her site under Artist's Blogs in my sidebar. You can just click on her name and it will take you there.
Myrna Waknov has an interesting video on her site today. Click on the video to see a reporter/writer from NPR Radio talking about producing work, etc.
Gretel Parker is another illustrator/writer who I'm going to add to my links in my sidebar. She has an interesting poem about cleaning the moon on her website, along with some lovely illustrations.
If you are a vendor, or if you have things that would be appropriate for Victorian times to show, you might be interested in the street fair that they are going to have with the Victorian Festival and Tea this year, Oct. 4. They are looking for vendors. Click on the link at the top of my page for more information, or contact Jody at Zamykal Kolache Shop in Calvert. They have a discount rate for first time participants. One thing they mentioned to me was anything like quilts, aprons, or anything that people make and would be approprite for the Victorian theme.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pictures from our last Calvert Trip
Here's some of what I do in the car when I am going somewhere with someone else.
In the top picture, I sketched shoppers in the parking lot while my sister went into the store. Good poses and movement of figures. People walking out of the store, in the summer heat, putting things in their cars, looking at their cell phone or game. At the grocery store, one young worker pushed a shopping cart out with his head covered with some kind of cloth or poster board on a frame. I wondered how he could see where he was going!
In the second picture, I was fiddling with the camera, thinking of taking pictures of some of the shoppers, if I saw a good pose. All that was in front of me was a sidewalk and a brick wall. I thought that I should try to figure out the camera before I got to a place that I wanted to take pictures. I thought I was trying to figure out how to turn the flash off, but, instead, one of those little doohickies on the camera was to make movies. I ended up with some pictures of myself in the car mirror. Which is kind of interesting, actually. Some possibilities for doing self portraits.
The bottom picture is a sketch I did while my sister was driving. I guess this could be called a drive by, only I sure didn't try to paint. I was doing good to get this much done with a pencil!
This is the "new" water tower at Benchly, Texas. I was looking at some tiny puffy white clouds in a cerulean blue sky, more than the water tower, but thought I would fill my space on my paper with the structure.
There are more pictures that show our sketching and our trip. But this was our start on a Friday afternoon, on our way to Calvert. Maybe I will do those as a slide show, or do another post.
Where has this week gone! In fact, where has the whole month of July gone! I think I have spent most of it trying to make the computer do something or another, usually just have to give up after a while though and wait until another day. Then, another day, another problem to try to figure out. Wish these machines were more cooperative, and simple.
Please notice a couple of changes.
*Martha Marshall has a new blog. I fixed the link to her in my sidebar.
* I added a link to another interesting site under Eye Sites. This one is Age Related Macular Degeneration Support, listed as ARMD Support.
*At the top of my page, in the upper right hand corner, there is a link to the coming Victorian Gala and Tea and Street Fair in Calvert Oct. 4.
*Check out Virginia Vaughan's blog, too, in my sidebar. She has had a really fantastic opportunity this past week, teaching a workshop to the young winners of the Houston Fat Stock Show youth art show. These are some really talented kids to have won that competition! The workshop was in Kerrville, Texas, so I know that they had a wonderful experience.
In Calvert, they are looking for vendors for their street fair to be held Oct. 4 during the Victorian Gala and Tea. If you are a vendor and would like to participate, there is more information on the link that I put at the top of the page. Groups, or anyone that would have something that is appropriate for a Victorian event, might be interested. It could be for fund raising, or even if you make something like aprons or quilts that you would like to show. The Lions Club is one group that plans to participate and have a place where people can donate their old eye glasses.
Vendors do need to dress in Victorian costume, and there is information on that on their website.
Visitors don't have to dress up, but they are encouraged to participate, if they wish.
If you, or someone you know would like to participate, there are forms and more information on the website or you can contact Jody at Zamykal Kolache Shop in Calvert.
It looks like summer has arrived, with all its heat and dry weather. I'm amazed that people are amazed that it has reached 100 degrees and over outside, and that it is dry with no rain in sight. The amazing thing to me is that anyone is amazed! They do it every year! So called "record setting temperatures and record low rainfall". I think I've been hearing that even before we had so much news on the radio! Like over 60 years! Now, in the '5os, we really had a drought! No rain for years. We had begun to think that nature was no longer able to produce rain! We looked eagerly at dry lightning to the east, and hoped it would rain. People had to haul water from the fire department in barrels and anything they could find. Cattle died or had to be sold. But, my great-aunt predicted that the drought would last for 7 years and then we would have 7 wet years, and we did. In the '70s, without air conditioning, the thermometer often hit 117 in the shade on the south porch. We tried keeping our aquarium on that porch and I guess the poor fish just boiled when we put them in there! They didn't last long. We even tried to cool the water down, but it didn't help. They had been accustomed to air conditioning and an even temperature.
I don't know what people expect. After all, this is Texas in the summer. It's supposed to be hot and dry. We did have a couple of years when it didn't reach 100 degrees, and we had a lot of rain in the summer, without having a hurricane. Now, it seems more normal. Not so pleasant, though, if you have to be outside.
I'm keeping water in the birdbath for the birds, but they seem to have taken off for a cooler place or something. Haven't noticed them splashing in a few days. Maybe they do when I'm not looking. There were some little rabbits hopping about the yard. I think we need to put out some water on the ground for them. But then I don't want to water the fire ants. (I hope that they will move on or die out.) A small lake near us was drained a few years ago, so those critters that hung out there, had to move on to other places.
Edie and Peggie told me that the building that I wondered about, at the red light in Calvert, was once Molly Tucker's hamburger place. I wonder what else was in there. At one time, Miss Molly had her hamburger place next door to Conitz Dry Goods Store. I'm thinking that she probably moved when the dry goods store burned in the 1950s.
Miss Molly made the best hamburgers. In fact, the only ones I would eat. She made "sissyburgers" for me and I still eat those today.
Stay cool and have a great weekend. I'm just so glad that we have air conditioning and fans, these days!