Letters to Holly

Monday, April 17

I Work. I Get the Job Done.

Once again, I realized I had not copied over files from my old, busted PC and once again had to hook up and crank up that fractured Windows PC. I needed the package art I made for Your Sister's mix CDs. Hopefully, this will be the last time I have to venture into that computer and deal with its constant crashing. I've started a new mix CD for her, called Moody Boys, full of hard-rock and whiny guy songs. When your sister awoke, we grabbed lunch at Juan's and a metal fork at the Humane Society. The latter means we no longer use one our eating forks to cut up cat food, something that irrationally makes me blanche. The lady at the HS store was a bit shocked to see someone bring one small fork to the counter. Cost = 11 cents. This was all we wanted and needed despite her efforts to sell us Easter gear at half-price. I bought some coffee for Your Sister, and we saw a great summery painting that we're tempted to buy. It's very rare to find anything in this area that jumps out at us, but this is a decent size and the work of someone who knows what they're doing, unlike all the folksy crap we see about town.

We drove to Asheville then. Your Sister shopped for complementary bathroom gear (towels, shower curtain, washrags), while I killed time in Best Buy, only the greatest store since Toys R Us. I again drooled over "Guitar Hero" for the PS2, but sadly the store demo was showing sings of customer abuse. I'm thinking of buying a chess program, but Your Sister suggests instead we can play. I'd prefer that. I also checked out scanners for the office, flat monitors for me, some other PS2 games (Lent is over, and I can play the system at will again), and the satellite radio systems. They're pretty cheap, to my surprise. A plug-and-play receiver set only costs $50 and the subscriptions run $13 a month. That's mighty do-able.

With a bagful of towels in hand, we went to downtown Asheville. Your Sister, to jumpstart my wall painting, bought me a really nice easel. I mean, really nice. I'm now obliged to paint until I drop to make that investment worth it. With the storage room cleaned out, I have plenty of space to work in. We looked at some new pieces in the furniture store where we bought our chairs. I don't think we're replacing the couch before the fall. We met your parents for dinner at Asheville Pizza, and I used their flagon to drink Houdini ESP. I didn't see any evidence of new beer logos and can't help but wonder if they have any interest in using the ones I designed after all. It's a pipe dream, I know, and I'm setting myself up for disappointment. That flagon is a strange cup to work with; it stays cold for an hour, but the lip makes the beer flow around your mouth. No wonder the dwarf in Lord of the Rings was a messy drunk. I went through three napkins to dab my mouth dry.

After this, Your Sister and I caught an Irish band at the Diana Wortham Theatre. A packed audience watched them play for about two hours. Right before the show, the theatre manager announced that among the crowd as a French rotary group visiting the area for a few weeks. That's more than likely the same group that will come to Brevard in a few weeks and includes Valerie, our house guest. It wasn't so much a catalog of songs as much as grooves. I see now the appeal of jam bands. The players started off separately, found a hook, and played it for five minutes at a time. It's a nice sound but not very distinct. I did find that the music sparked my brain to write most of a short comic story. Your Sister bought two of their CDs after the concert and had the players sign them. The two of us shared a piece of pie afterward and went back home to collapse exhausted.

On Saturday morning, we went to the old-fashioned soda shop for lunch as we normally do. A clutch of Russian tourists snagged some ice cream and a Charleston couple was looking at house-hunting paperwork. Yes, summer is not far away. After a quick stop for crackaccino, we strolled through Lowe's for what seemed like hours looking for project tools. We ran into Travis, and he meekly asked if he and Kathy could come back Monday for another wrestling show. Well, of course. We also saw another local teacher, and I helped him find some items for his honey-do list. We picked up a sealant for the bathtub (Your Sister wants to remove the sliding glass doors and use a shower curtain), a wheelbarrow, a workshop vice so I can sharpen the lawnmower, weedkiller, a putty knife, and screws.

Once we got home, we went to work. Above the bed, we hung the rug you brought us from Swaziland. We tried to do this before, but the hanging instructions foiled us with inadequate wall anchors and screws. We ditched the instructions and now the rug hangs perfectly. We also finally installed the curtains on the back deck door. No longer do we have vertical blinds; instead we're using the curtains from her old apartment. We had picked them out together with the notion that they might hang in our house one day. Now, almost a year after we bought the house, we have them up. Following that, we caught some horse racing on TV and toured the yard to get notions of how to tidy it up. One of our neighbors chatted and walked the property lines with us. We want to radically change the front yard; the two garden rows require daily maintenance and are quite the eyesores. Your Sister plans to tackle them during her Spring Break. I, however, want to till some of the backyard garden and try our hand at growing food. At first we'll use a small patch and then expand if we get the hang of it. The firepit was hauled to the deck for summer display, and the workshed was inspected. It's serviceable for now, but it can't last another five years. Wood is rotting, and carpenter bees are boring throughout the trim. Your Sister is trying to use a new color system in the main bathroom and again relied on my "painter eye" to help. I try to tell her that this is subjective but was pressed into service anyway. My best advice: Put up some towels and close the door. Don't look at it for a while, and check it again later with fresh eyes. We watched Anatomy of a Murder but the damn TiFaux cut off the ending. It’s a fine courtroom drama starring just about everyone at the time.

Easter Sunday saw us take a long lunch and read the New York Times. We took turns with the laundry and turned on the ceiling fans to cool down the house. The down comforter is now packed away, and the cats are enjoying the sights out the open windows. I fiddled with the “Star Wars” art, as you can see below. I then put together the easel and wheelbarrow, and we worked in the yard for a little bit. She’s going to rip up the first of the two ugly garden rows in the front yard, and I showed her how to use the hedge trimmer to thin it out. A snackish dinner accompanied “West Wing” (only three episodes left) and some “Mad About You” reruns.

While she got ready for bed, I finished up the third Harry Potter book. The gal who lends them to me is gone for Spring Break, so I can’t start the fourth one until next week. That’s fine. I have a box of library books to plow through. I read one of them Saturday, a retrospective on Captain Kangaroo. My head flooded with memories untouched for almost 25 years. But I learned that Margaret Hamilton, the original Wicked With of the West, was the Book Lady on the Captain’s show. I remembered her and never knew the Book Lady was the Witch even though I knew Hamilton taught kindergarten. Crazy.

Sketch Day
This is the third update on the artwork [the sketches and the modeling photos]. At this stage, the first idea is just to map the drawing area on the page. Once you get an idea of how large the art will be, then you can worry about proportions. Initially, it’s very loose. No shapes are defined. I lightly sketch simple body forms and angles to get a very rough outline. I then tighten up some lines here and there. Using a photo allows you to compare placement of body parts with lines in the clothing. They act like navigational landmarks for each other. Then I start to define the outlines, making the lines heavier and darker and more controlled. I’ll add some circles to mark changes of light, primarily on the boots. The main thing Your Sister isn’t modeling is a hood, but I have plenty of action figures and SW art for reference. I’m starting off with the Emperor’s hood, and it, like all props, can change if need be. Once I get the initial sketch done at full size, I’ll let it sit and return to it later with fresh eyes and tighten up more lines. My preference is to switch back and forth between the two portraits so each stage of the pictures can be completed at the same time. This picture has been darkened in Photoshop to better show the work. The faded gray line is the merge of two scanned images.

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