Consumer -> Producer

Timmsy Tee and I did a little shopping today.  In the paper a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the Waste Commission of Scott County, in conjunction with the Rock Island County Waste Management Agency, was hosting a Compost Bin and Rain Barrel Sale today.  Tim and I have long flirted with the idea of getting a compost bin, but they are wicked expensive (usually at least $100).  The Waste Commission was selling the compost bins for $40, so we headed down to the sale this morning.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm, breezy day, and the line reflected the pretty day and all the pseudo-hippies’ desire for a good deal.  We waited in line for 30 – 45 minutes, listening to the incessant chatter of the day-care mom next to us, and the occasional wise words from the straw-hatted back-yard prairie planter in line in front of her.  It was an interesting 45 minutes.  It was actually really encouraging to see so many people who were willing to wait in line for an environmental tool.

The bin barely fit in our car, but we were able to squeeze it in.  We have all the pieces put together, but we haven’t screwed it into the ground yet.  I’m looking forward to no longer feeling guilty whilst throwing away coffee grounds, tea bags, and vegetable peels.  Hopefully within several months, we’ll have some nice, healthy compost to mix in with our clay yard.

After getting the bin situated, Tim went to the gym, and I went for a jog – the first jog in at least 2 weeks.  I ran a mile without stopping, and then walked about a mile, just enjoying the sound of the creek and the locusts and the wind in the late summer, crispy leaves.

For lunch, we headed out to Bent River.  We spent an hour or so lounging in the back patio, eating 99 cent tacos, fries with jalapeno ketchup, and drinking the Bent River Pale Ale – delicious.

Inspired by the free spirit pervading Bent River, at our next stop, Evergreen Art Works, I bought a few things I’ve been wanting for watercolor painting – a paint mixing tray, note cards made of 140 lb watercolor paper, and a 24″ x 32″ “Incredible Art Board.”  The teacher at the last Figge class had one of these boards.  You can stretch and staple watercolor paper to it, and it won’t bend or warp.  She had also taped wax paper to one side of the board, so she could mix her paint right next to her painting.  You can also flip over the board, and use the other side (of course, before flipping it, you’ll want to make sure your paint won’t run).  It was kind of pricey (around $33), but I think I’ll really like it.  No matter what kind of tape I use, I cannot get my paper to lie flat after I wet it.  The paint settles in the valleys and frustrates me.

I’m really looking forward to working with the watercolor cards too.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I hate and am no good at painting backgrounds.  The smaller the piece of paper, the less background!  I’m getting several pictures printed at Walgreens, so that I have a variety of subjects to choose from – everything from flowers (might as well give it another shot) to bridges (architectural, straight lines are much more predictable than petals).  Here are a few samples of what I’m planning on trying next:

I'll just paint the Luce - not the background.

So, with all this consuming we’ve been doing today, we better start producing – producing compost and artwork.  Good thing tomorrow is Sunday.

Yesterday, All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

That’s because it was Sunday, and I didn’t have to work!  Instead, Tim and I hooked up the bikes and drove out to Rapid City, IL and hit the Illinois side of the bike bath.  We braved a ferocious southern wind and biked up to Cordova and back.  It was a great bike ride.  We were wiped afterwards, but it was super fun.  Some day maybe we can ride all the way to Savannah and back…

We capped off the evening with supper (philly cheese steak and buffalo blue cheese brats) and pool with some good friends.  The only downfall to the Sunday was that it went by way too fast.  I didn’t get laundry done or grocery shopping done or anything.

Exploration on Two Wheels

On Saturday Tim and I braved the 90 degree weather and went for a monster bike ride.  We took Grand to Kirkwood, Kirkwood to Iowa, and then Iowa to downtown.  We crossed the Mississippi using the Government bridge.  That is one unsettling bridge to bike over, what with the the platform of the bridge being a GRATE and all!  You can look down and see the river flowing beneath your feet.  From there we hit the bike bath and rode east all the way to I-74.  On the way, we saw things we’ve never seen before, even though I’ve lived here for over a decade, and Tim has lived here is whole life.

We discovered Sylvan Island.  It’s this island park between Moline and the Arsenal.  It’s laced with gravel bike-paths and the ruins of a steel mill.  I found this great article on the history of the island and the people who convinced the City to turn it into a park.  Road bikes are not the best bikes to use on those paths, however, so we didn’t ride around much.  We want to go back and hike and take the camera, however.

We also discovered that along the bike path in Moline, there are more industrial ruins – perhaps of John Deere facilities?  It looked as if there were walking paths and signage around the ruins, so we need to go back there with the camera too.

Once we hit the 74 bridge, we turned around and headed back to Rock Island.  We biked through the new Schweibert Park (where the gross casino used to be).  It’s a beautiful park now, and it was packed!

From there we biked downtown and onto the Centennial Bridge.  That bridge is even scarier to bike over than the Government Bridge, as the path is partially blocked at intervals by the beams holding up the arch.  We took it slow, though, and didn’t end up scraping any hands off on the beams.

We biked across downtown Davenport, and then headed up Main Street.  That hill is a KILLER, especially after you have already biked 20 miles in 90 degree heat.  Tim, of course, totally out paced me on the ride up the hill.  As I was slowly cranking my way up the hill, I ran across some people directing traffic (must have been some event at Palmer).  One of the guys was kind enough to give me a push, and, man, it made all the difference.  It gave me a great boost, both physically and mentally.  I love nice people.

Tim and I recuperated for a bit at the top of  hill, drank the rest of the water in our water bottles (which, even though our bottles are insulated was nice and lukewarm), and then headed home through VanderVeer.

By the time we got home, we were drenched with sweat and completely wiped out.  But, it was super fun.  I am so excited that I can see progress.  I am getting stronger and can bike longer and harder.  I’ve been wary of changing my left gear ever since I got my bike. The first time I tried to do it, the chain fell off.  But, since I’m getting stronger, I’ve felt the need to use the hardest gear on the left, and I’ve finally have figured out how to change it without jacking up the chain.  I just have to make sure that I’m in the correct gear on the right side first.  If I’m in the correct gear, the bike shifts seamlessly, amazingly well.

Our plan today is to get the bike rack hooked up to our new hitch, so we can drive over I-80 and catch the bike path there on the Illinois side.  Tim tried to hook the rack up yesterday, but we discovered we received a bum bolt.  It’s threads are off, so when Tim tried to tighten it on the bolt, it became fused to the bolt.  Tim and I together had to muscle it off, amidst a bunch of cussing and hand cramping.  Hopefully we can find a nut at Home Depot that will work until we can get a replacement nut from Swagman.

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day!

Watercolor Class #2

I took my second watercolor class on Saturday. It was again offered by the Figge, but this class was held at the Stone Building at VanderVeer park.  We met in the hot, old building for about an hour while the teacher (a former art teacher at Pleasant Valley) demonstrated various techniques (how to use salt, Frisket, saran wrap, etc.) to produce different effects.  Then she walked us through her hand-outs, which contained several tips on color combinations and composition.  Many of the tips came from “Painting Flowers in Watercolor” by Karen Simmons, a book the teacher highly recommends.  After the introduction, we gathered up our gear, braved crossing Central Park, and settled in for some plein air painting.

The class instructions did not tell us we would be painting outside, so I wasn’t very prepared, meaning I didn’t slather myself with sunscreen.  I tried to pick a shady spot, but the damn sun moved, and I ended up getting pretty burned on my shoulders.  Despite the sun, though, the first hour/hour and half working out there was super relaxing.  The flowers I really wanted to try painting (nice, symmetrical, small orange daisies) were in the full sun, so I settled on some slightly more complicated flowers (from the Gerbera family, I think?).  They were a almost flourescent shade of fucshia, especially around the edges.

I settled in on the detailed work, painting the inner parts of the flower in tiny detail, outlining the leaves and pulling the color down the petals.  I used the end of a paint brush to “bruise” the paper where the vein ran down the petal.  The effect was very subtle, but interesting. I can’t find any good light this morning, so I apologize for the shadows on the pictures.

While working on the flowers, the time flew by.  The teacher came over periodically and gave me some tips on color (needed to add more purple to get the color truer).  Some park visitors wandered by and said the painting looked good, which made me happy.

Then, I had to start on the background.

I HATE doing backgrounds.

Backgrounds suck and ruin all of my artwork.

I need to start blowing up my subject matter, so that it takes up all of the paper space.

I was fairly happy with the flowers; at least, I enjoyed working on them.  But, once I started on the leaves, I quickly got frustrated.  First, I used the wrong color and made the leaves too dark and dead.  Then I was at a loss about how to fill in all the white space, so I just started adding random leaves in everywhere.  And, I added a nice, washed-out sky.

So, the painting is definitely not hang-up worthy.  But, it was a good learning experience.  I learned that painting outside sucks. You get sunburned, you can’t easily get fresh water, your subject material has the gall to move with the wind, your eye can’t capture the changing colors as the sun passes over, etc.  I am definitely more of a paint by photo kind of gal.

The five other students in the class produced some nice work.  One especially chatty student (a retired woman who just recently started painting), painted a very Salvador Dali-ish canna leaf.  It was swirly and crazy and super cool.  Maybe that’s the key to producing something beautiful – you need to “interpret” it and not try to make a carbon copy of it.

It was a good class, and I’m glad I took it.  I don’t see myself doing a lot of paintings of flowers/plants (I enjoy painting houses much more), but  it’s nice to spend 3 hours with a random group of people who are content to sit outside and try to create a thing of beauty while getting to know each other.

6 O’Clock on Sunday Evening

I have a cold.  It is so unfair to be sick on the weekend.  Tim got sick with a cold on Thursday and was just coming clean when it smote me today.  No bike riding or jogging for Heather today.  No much of anything for Heather today, except for nose blowing.  I swear I’ve used a whole box of tissues.

Truth be told, I did get some stuff done today – laundry, dishes, breakfast, Target shopping, etc.  I also pulled out 3 tomato plants and chucked them into the yard waste bin.  They are still producing tomatoes, but the tomatoes are gross.  They have soft spots and black spots, and they just end up rotting on the vine.  So I chucked them.  The back yard is a little better looking now.

Besides today though, it’s been a pretty great weekend. Tim and I made it to the gym yesterday.  It was the first day back for me since last Wednesday!  My morning workouts are getting harder to do.  I need to steel myself, is all.  Tim and I are thinking of starting a Facebook page for us and our health-minded friends to encourage each other to work out.  It’s so much easier, or at least it sucks less, to work out when one has friends to which to be accountable.  I did arm weights and elliptical, and my arms are literally killing me today.  I don’t know if I’ll make.  I love you all, and it’s been a fun ride.

We also had Mom and Dad over this weekend.  They arrived in time for macho nachos last night, after which we played euchre and watched The Ugly Truth. TUT is not a good movie, per say.  But, Mom and I were looking for a light-hearted, funny movie, and it fit the bill perfectly.  It’s a little raunchy, but there are some good, tender moments in it – like when Gerard Butler is all falling for Kathryn Heigel, and she’s oblivious to it until the elevator scene.  Tim and I were discussing Inception today, specifically the point where Joseph Gorden-Levitt steals a kiss from Ellen Page under false pretenses.  We agreed that those simple, clean, restrained moments are more romantic than full-on knocking boots (ala the last scene of TUT).

Anyway, it was great to see Mom and Dad again.  I asked Dad in June if he could build me a tall table/desk, so that I can use my computer whilst standing up.  The desk will also serve as a stand-up drawing table.  I was just looking for a simple, tall table, but Dad found a beautiful pattern for a drawing table with an adjustable table top.  It’s full of whimsy and will be an heirloom of our household when it’s completed.  I can’t wait.

I am taking another watercolor class held by the Figge on Saturday.  I am looking forward to getting some instruction again.  I enjoy drawing and painting, yet it’s oddly hard for me to do it unless I have to for a class.  I’m starting to get suspicious that I’m just lazy.  I hope that’s not true.  It’s definitely something I need to work on – producing instead of consuming.  Consuming is just so much easier.  And, we all have our addictions.  Tim and I went to the Active Endeavors Tent Sale yesterday, and I almost bought another travel  bag, even though I already have 2 perfectly servicable, attractive travel bags.  I just really, really, really, love bags and purses.  I don’t know why.  I just do.  I like to buy them and use them, and look at them – more than I like to sit at my desk and draw or paint.  It’s easier, but less fulfilling, which is the way of life, I guess.

I got some reading done with weekend too.  I am almost done with Lord of the Rings, which I am reading for the fourth time. I had forgotten how bastardized the movies are.  They portray so many characters inexactly.  Frodo, Faramir, Gimli – they are all mockeries of their book-selves.  I do really enjoy the movies, and I understand why they felt the need to alter things (to reach a wider audience), but it’s a true shame that they took so much honor away from these noble characters, especially Frodo and Faramir.  They are no noble and wise in the books.  Anyway, the books are making me somewhat pensive and reflective – making me wonder what good I am doing in this world, how I am fighting the darkness.

But, this post has gone on long enough.  It’s time for supper and Tim and Lucent.  Take care and have a wonderful week.

Yours truly,