Monday, January 30, 2017

Make Art, Not Walls

To be quite honest, I'm none too happy with our current political environment. The willfully ignorant are at the helm with a self-woven and hateful hood over their eyes and our flagship feels as though it's about to be dashed upon a rocky and barnacled reef of stupidity and racism.

I, personally, love cultural diversity. I don't fear people with darker skin than myself. I love the sound of foreign accents and languages (and if I were better off, I'd love to travel and meet them). I don't fear or dislike gay people or those of a different religious affiliation (I happen to be Episcopalian, if you're not, good for you.)

My daughter recently gave me a Mexican Talavera pottery coffee mug that she and my wife picked up at a local Mexican market and panaderia. I place we love to go to for the Mexican "real sugar" sodas, sweet breads and interaction with shy but friendly hispanic owner/operators. My small and heartfelt bit of protest this weekend came in the form of this watercolor sketch. It's the cup my daughter gave me last week and it's a beautiful piece of work in its own right, just like the people that made it.

A Mexican Talavera coffee mug my daughter recently gave me. Make art, not walls. Watercolor sketch

Walls don't just keep people out, they keep people in. When you put one up to keep people out, you only succeed in building a bigger prison.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hiking Hobbs State Park, Arkansas - Jan. 2017

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Last weekend, a few friends (the regulars, Brian D. and Darren G. and newcomer/coworker Chris D.) and I drove a couple hours south to Arkansas and spent a couple days and nights in the woods. Being winter and winter weather being more chaotic in the past few years (place peer reviewed scientifically backed reason here or not), we limited ourselves to easy access destinations. Last year, we were iced-in along the Buffalo River for a couple of days and we didn't really want a repeat situation.

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park fell on our radar simply because we'd never been there and it seemed easy to get to. Since we were opting to car camp and bring cast iron and other items of the heavy kitchen sink variety, we chose to camp at nearby Withrow Springs State Park rather than backpack heavy gear into Hobbs. Hobbs only has hike-in sites.

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs was a decent hike. In the 9.5 miles we walked Saturday, it repeatedly touched along Beaver Lake, which was nice. Being around water always seems to break up the monotony a tunnel of trees sometimes creates.

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Sunday morning, we hung out under a tarp in the rain for a few hours and then before heading back to Springfield, Chris and I went back and checked out War Eagle Mill, along War Eagle creek.

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Wildlife seen: bald eagles, kingfishers, woodpeckers of various size and shape (including pileated), an armadillo, bats and a couple of roadrunners. Wildlife heard: owls and coyotes.

Hobbs State Park, Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Mill

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Recent Watercolors

A schooner from a pic I found online sometime back.

ship watercolor

A still life of objects around my house - a pocket knife, a candle, a stone, a railroad spike, a baseball and a cob pipe.

Still life - watercolor

Parker-Hickman Homestead, near Erbie, Arkansas - from a pic I took last year on a hike trip.

Parker-Hickman Homestead, Erbie, Arkansas

Monday, January 16, 2017

Camp Galley / Chuck Box 2.0

Coffee table to camp kitchen/galley box.

Several years ago, I cobbled together a camp cookware box from remnants of our old coffee table (see above). It was heavy, not particularly weather resistant and finally started to crack after my last camping trip in November. So, over the weekend, I slapped this together. It's made from scraps around the garage, keeping with the spirit of the Mark I version. I even used cheap mistint grey paint from Lowes. The whole thing maybe cost $6 on its own.

Camp Galley Box / Chuck Box 2.0

I had a small piece of aluminum sheeting laying in the garage, so I cut it lengthwise and notched the pieces at both ends to mate together to form a heat shield for my alcohol camp stove. It breaks apart and fits inside the larger of two camp cook pots that I bring. The second, smaller one, houses the stove, matches and handle for the pots and fits inside the larger one, as well.

Camp Galley Box / Chuck Box 2.0

The finished box. Seen in the unpainted shot above, my new stainless steel tea kettle also nests on top of the cook pots.

Camp Galley Box / Chuck Box 2.0

Monday, January 9, 2017

Recent Watercolors

So far, I'm really liking the Sennelier travel aquarelle/watercolor travel set I received at Christmas.

From a pic I took at Parker-Hickman Homestead last year, in the Erbie area of Arkansas.

Parker-Hickman Homestead hearth, Arkansas

From some pics I took in St. Charles, Missouri a year or two ago. Blanchette-Chouteau Gristmill, I believe. Old St. Charles Grist Mill

One of my corncob pipes at Roaring River State Park fire tower, last winter. It's a Rusticob from Aristocob, a refinished Missouri Meerschaum cob pipe.

Pipe on a fire tower base, Roaring River State Park

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Home Projects

For the past two months, all I've done in my spare time has been work on the house. Initially, we had a crew come and fix a bunch of water damage on two northern faces of the house. One of which, the worst one, was our bedroom. We slept in the living room for two and half weeks while it was torn apart and put back together. It's a lot nicer now, well insulated and actually has been staying warm so far this winter.

Finished up the pallet wood clock this evening, as well as all three Roman blinds.

After the construction crew left, my part began. I've been painting (about 18 hours worth, all over the house), putting a bed together and making custom art and design pieces for the room. Over the four-day weekend, I made three Roman blinds and a new wall clock shaped like the state of Missouri with the mechanism sitting about where Springfield finds itself on the map. My friend Joe T. gave me some pallets a week ago and I cut up the most interesting of them, ran it through my table saw and then edge glued the pieces together in a blank. I then made a stencil from an outline of the state I found online and printed tiled on two 11x17 pieces of paper. The Roman blinds I winged from a couple of online tutorials and some pics I used for reference.

Making a Missouri shaped clock from pallet wood.

Scratch-making some quasi-Roman window blinds.