Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rex and the Crisis of Conscience

We spent the afternoon examining fossils and how they are created.  One of our field trips, recently, was to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, where we gawked at the wonderful exhibit of all things dinosaur, and so we were continuing in that vein yesterday.  Our readings led us to Sue, the largest, most complete T. Rex skeleton ever discovered.  Sue is a Tyrannosaurus Rex - the favorite of boys across the globe.  I thought she'd make a nice art project, too.

And she did.

IMG_0002 (1)




I haven't quite finished mine, yet.


Onto the crisis of conscience.  It's not mine, for once - it belongs to the elder bug.  Here's the thing...

We went to the grocery store yesterday - a new one, actually.  I was so excited to find it, because the produce department was enormous and exceedingly well-stocked.  I've not been really happy with the other stores I've been to so far.  We half filled our basket before we moved on from produce.  At the seafood counter, there were many selections (although no flounder, which was disappointing), including some whole fish, packaged right alongside the filets.  Now, I'm sure that the boys have seen whole fish at the seafood counter before, and they've certainly seen them on the docks when we've been to Hatteras and watched the fishing fleets come in, right before we walked into the market and ordered a couple of pounds of shrimp and red snapper.

This time, however, something hit Doodlebug - right in his gut.  He's my sensitive one.  He loves animals.  He cried when Benji was knocked out by bad guys.  We couldn't finish watching March of the Penguins, because he was so upset that the sea lion had eaten one of the mama penguins and that meant that her baby would die.  He still can't talk about Ben

Somehow, though, it had escaped his moral core that the cheeseburgers that he eats (at every restaurant we go to) mean that a cow had to die.  It totally sucker-punched him.  He made that connection as we walked from the seafood counter over to the beef.  He stared at that red meat and grew a little pale.  He looked at me, eyes filling with tears, and said he wanted to be alone for a little while.  We finished our shopping trip with him walking morosely up and down the aisles.  He said he might want to be a veterinarian.

"An animal doctor?" I asked.  "You'd be a wonderful veterinarian."

He looked at me strangely.  "No, mom.  Someone who doesn't eat meat."

"That's a vegetarian, son.  Not a veterinarian."

"Oh.  A vegetarian, then.  I could just eat salads and fruit."

I told him we could talk about it - that we would have to come up with some protein substitutes and then his eyes glazed over and he wandered off to look at the doughnuts.  Dr. SmartyPants made hamburgers for  supper.  Doodlebug ate his fries and baked beans and about two bites of the hamburger.  This child has never left any portion of a hamburger on his plate.  Ever.

This morning, as per our usual Saturday morning tradition, Dr. SmartyPants made pancakes and bacon, and we all enjoyed those along with some delicious cantaloupe from the new grocery store.  After breakfast, I asked D about his grocery store conversion and he said he was still thinking about not eating meat.  I reminded him that he had eaten all his bacon at breakfast.

"I don't like pigs," he stated, emphatically.

So.  Apparently, if he doesn't like the animal, he can eat it.  That means cows and chickens are out, because he likes them.  Eggs are okay because the chicken doesn't have to die to produce it.  Same with milk.  He remains undecided about fish..  I told him I was making chili soup for supper and he requested that I make some without the meat in it for him.  I think there may be a lot of pork chops in our future.

It should be interesting to see how long it lasts.  Is this the start of  a lifelong eating trend, or just a normal reaction to a sudden realization?  Anyone else out there have a little wanna-be vegetarian in their household?  I want to respect his wishes, but still make sure he's eating well - but I love me some meat.  If anyone has advice...I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Blind Contour Drawing

We took a quick trip south over the weekend, to check on the house and visit the orthodontist and the boys' guitar teacher.  We had obligations that prevented us from seeing everyone we'd like, but we know we'll be back again in a few weeks, so that helps to offset the disappointments. 

One evening, while the boys were over at their buddy's house next door, I took a few minutes to look through the WetCanvas website.  At one time, I was a pretty active member, but over the last few years, I've found myself there less and less.  No real reason - just a shift in time spent doing other things.  One of the things I always enjoyed doing was participating in the Weekly Drawing Event, where one member posts about 15 photos and the other members pick from them to draw/paint/collage...whatever.  I grabbed this photo from the site and did a quick blind contour drawing, which I then went back and added a few things to - like the shading, and the reflections in the sunglasses.  I should probably call this a modified blind contour drawing, because I did allow myself to peek whenever I got to a point where I needed to lift the pen - like going back to do the sunglasses, and the starting points for facial features.

I love doing these, and whenever I get one finished, I always wonder why I don't do at least one a day.  They don't take any time, they feel good, and the finished product is always so interesting to me.

Maybe that will be my Creative Everyday focus for March - one blind contour per day.  No pressure - it's not really possible to be pressured with one of these, because I know they aren't going to look exactly like the thing I'm drawing.

I like it,

Monday, February 16, 2009


SI Castle Window

I've noticed the days getting longer, and the quality of light changing this last week or so.  Even though the temperatures have been chilly, the darkness is receding.  While out on the National Mall on Sunday, I even noticed some bushes sprouting some yellow flowers.  They reminded me of the forsythia that usually start blooming about now farther south of here, but I'm not sure exactly what they are.  All I know is that they lifted my spirits.

This room lifted my spirits, as well.  It's the west wing of the Smithsonian Castle, and it is a beautiful space.  It's the first Smithsonian space that I've been in that wasn't crowded with throngs of loud-talking, inconsiderate people.  The soaring ceilings and beautiful windows and skylights let in a ton of light and warmth, and the soft velvet benches provided ample seating to enjoy the collections.  It's a place I believe I'll find myself on those days when I venture out alone, in need of quiet reflective time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who, Me?

Family Portrait

Self-Portrait (front and profile), with boys, inside and outside Dan Graham's "For Gordon Bunshaft."

We wandered around The National Mall today, visiting the Museum of Natural History, eating hot dogs on the Mall and wandering through the Smithsonian Castle.  We also meandered down to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden to see the Death Star.


It's not really the Death Star.  That's just what Junebug calls it.  It's really Sphere No. 6 (Sphere within a Sphere by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, which pre-dates George Lucas' Death Star by about 15 years.  I love walking through sculpture gardens.  I have latent sculpting tendencies.  Which is much better than the latent maniacal tendencies that I usually have.

I need a studio.  With lots of cool machinery.  And glue.


And HEY...remember the give-away over at Julie's blog?  Well...

I WON!!  Woo Hoo!!!!  I picked out my print and notecards from Julie's etsy shop and she's going to send them out this week!  Yay Me!  I'll post a photo when they arrive, so you can all envy me.

Thanks Julie!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bye Bye Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird

Last Sunday, as we walked toward the Lincoln Memorial, Doodlebug and I spotted a red-winged blackbird sitting in a leafless shrub.  I couldn't get my camera in place quickly enough, but seeing the little blackbird made me want to draw one.  So - I turned to the trusty WetCanvas reference library and found a lovely photo, graciously provided by Dave Slaughter.

It's funny.  This was my favorite bird when I was a kid.  I'm pretty sure it's because I could identify it in the air - the flash of yellow and red surrounded by all that deep, dark black.  I can still remember learning about them in my kindergarten class in upstate New York.  My mom has always enjoyed birding, and I can remember looking for these birds with her.  Of course, they were everywhere, so I had immediate success. 

Maybe that's the key to a lifelong love of something - immediate success.

No.  Wait.  I've had a lifelong love of music and art and other pursuits in which I didn't have immediate success.  Ahhh...

The key to a lifelong love of something - immediate joy.

Yes, indeed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Warmish and Windy

Woman in Quincy Park

February threw me another bone yesterday.  The temperature was pleasant, although the wind was quite strong.  We headed out to the park to enjoy the sunshine while we could.  This lady was watching her children and reading something on her phone.  She was very still, which made it quite easy for me to dash off a quick sketch of her.  The wind was whipping her long black hair into a frenzy, though.  I was glad of my ponytail holder, personally.

I picked up this sketchbook while I was out with Linda on our latest, extended, visit to Knoxville.  We met up at Borders to chat and catch up and so she could impress me with her mad iPod Touch drawing skilz.  The sketchbook is one of the Paperchase varieties, inexpensive, but nicely put together.  I've been wanting to draw on this brown paper for a while, following Teri's zentangles and those marvelous drawings of of Bjorn Eskil, who is somewhere here in Arlington.  I love how the gouache looks on this paper - I'll definitely be doing some more in it.

Steviewren and Ai sent some love my way this week - I guess they thought I needed it after my whiny post on Tuesday.  It's much appreciated and sent right back to them. 


Anyway - I'm supposed to list seven things I love, then pass the award on to seven bloggers that I love.  Here goes:

  1. I love the first buds and shoots that come up in anticipation of spring. 
  2. I love the way tough little boys still like to curl up in my lap in the mornings, their eyes not quite opened, their hair still matted from the pillow.
  3. I love that the friends I've had the longest are the ones I love the most.
  4. I love curling up on the couch with a good book and a stack of others waiting for me.
  5. I love feeling the sun warm my face.
  6. I love learning something new and finding an application for it.
  7. I love standing in front of a painting and having it take my breath away.

Now on to some lovely bloggers.  Please go say hello, and tell them I sent you!

  • Zelma Cinnamon.  I met Zelma through Linda, and right now she's working on a GORGEOUS peony using a reference photo that I took at the Biltmore House last spring.
  • Chris Beck.  I stumbled across one of Chris' blogs via the Artist's Magazine Blog, and her work is spectacular.
  • Melinda.  My oldest and dearest friend - a writer of such hilarity as to make you double over in stitches, except when she writes such poignant stuff that makes you want to cry.  Go.  Read.  Weep.  Laugh.
  • Ray.  He's my dad.  What can I say?  He should blog more.
  • Karen Blados.  Wonderful, best ink lines ever.
  • Pherenike.  Always inspirational, lovely photos.
  • Ann Nemcosky.  Homeschooling mama, wonderful artist.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

200. ish.


This Thursday is Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.  We treated ourselves to a day at his memorial on Sunday - the first day in a long time where we could go outside without bundling up in 14 layers to avoid frostbite.

Perhaps I exaggerate. 

In any case.  We spent the day wandering around the western end of the National Mall, enjoying the sunshine and greater than 60 degree temperatures.  I took a quick 5 minutes to lean against a column and sketch the man himself.  Perhaps not my best drawing, but I enjoyed the swiftness of it - the quick lines coming together - the quiet and solemnity of the space.

There are signs at the entrance to the hall that houses this magnificent sculpture that ask for quiet, for respectful behavior, and in a world where it seems no one is quiet or respectful anymore, it's a joy to see so many embracing it.  I marveled at the number of languages that I heard - at how many people from other countries had come to pay their respects to a man that worked so hard to hold our country together. 

We'd gone, a couple of weeks ago, to the exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of American History on Abraham Lincoln's life.  There is an online exhibition, too, and if you have a moment, click over there and enjoy it.  It was exceedingly well done.


In other news, it is February, people.  Dang. 

I don't like February.  February is slump time.  February is blech time.  February throws you a 60 degree day and then follows up with 6 weeks of the cruelest cold.  I just checked the 10-day forecast, and the temperatures go down the whole time.  February may be the shortest month, but somehow it really feels like the longest.  February sucks the creative core out of the center of my body and throws it out into the yard, where it sits under a blanket of snow waiting for the spring thaw.

Have I mentioned that I don't like February?  It's funny.  When I go back and look at my archives, February is always very slim.  I can't even blog in February.

How do you get through February?  Embrace the cold?  Huddle under the covers?  Drink?  I'd like to know.  If it works for you, I may try it.


Sunday, February 08, 2009



1. Doodlebug with a ZR1, 2. Porsche, 3. Washington Auto Show, 4. VW Reflections, 5. ZR1, 6. Corvette, 7. Bug, 8. Washington Auto Show, 9. Dodge Electric Vehicle, 10. Ferrari 550 Maranello, 11. The Bugs with some Ferraris, 12. Corvette ZR1

We headed out on Friday to the Washington Auto show, where all the Ott boys drooled to their hearts' content.

Saturday and Sunday were both beautiful days, with temperatures reaching the low 60s today.  We walked all over Arlington on Saturday, and headed back out to the Lincoln Memorial today, in honor of Abraham Lincoln's upcoming 200th birthday.  I had a chance to sketch the big man, himself.  I haven't had a chance to scan my drawing yet, but I'll get it uploaded tomorrow.

We visited the Korean War Memorial today, too.  It was my first visit there and I was struck by the stark, rough nature of the sculpture.  Commentary on the stark, rough nature of war, I suppose. 

Korean War Memorial

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Head's Up!

Julie's having a giveaway - go check it out!

I finally made it home (from's very confusing).  I'll blog more tomorrow.

'night, peeps...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Everywhere We Go

There we are.

We're in Knoxville this week - since Friday, actually.  My folks drove up from Alabama to meet us and celebrate Papa's birthday.

Happy Birthday, Papa!

Whenever we're here, we try to squeeze in as many friend visits and doctor and dentist and whatever appointments as we can, but today threw a little wrench in our plans.  We made it to my orthodontist visit and also managed to drop off the paperwork that keeps us school-legal, but everything else got shafted.

Because of this...

Snowy Chairs

The snow started while we were at the orthodontist, and this is what our back yard looked like an hour later.  Driving back home in my Mustang was a bit of a challenge.

Linda and I were supposed to be getting together this evening.  Not...looking...promising...

The bugs were supposed to have lunch with one of their buddies.  Didn't happen.

Their guitar lesson has been canceled.

We're supposed to head back to Arlington tomorrow morning.  Not likely.

Thankfully, we have lights and heat and food.  We have schoolwork, DVDs and the Wii, and maybe the bugs will get their Nintendo DS's out of hock.  I brought my knitting and sketching supplies, I have books and a new BlackBerry Storm to keep me occupied.

And, of course, the blogosphere.  Sweet, sweet bloggy goodness.

Keep posting, people - I DON'T have cable...