Eight months ago I moved my studio from a shoebox sized sitting room off the kitchen to the much roomier bonus room on the second floor. There were several reasons for the move, not the least being the good vibes I get in sitting in a room resembling my attic loft back in Sterling. The move also forces me to negotiate a set of stairs at least four times a day, providing the exercise that is too easy for me to avoid given the chronic pain I deal with.
Sometimes the stairs provide more than exercise. When I went to visit the second-floor bathroom this afternoon I found that there was no tissue to be found anywhere, which prompted me to head downstairs for the hall bathroom. I had no sooner started down the steps when I slipped/tripped/mis-stepped which caused me to fall down the rest of the flight. As I was bouncing between the banister and the opposite wall I kept waiting for that avalanche of pain that accompanies a fracture but evidently judo and jump school taught me how to fall correctly and so far the only damage I’ve found is some pretty ugly bruises.
I’ve been murmuring continual quiet prayers to myself – this could have gone SO badly for me but so far the only damage is to Jaybug’ s eardrums when I set a record for consecutive “son of a bitch” utterances. The incident also taught me one very important lesson:
“Always keep the upstairs bathroom stocked with toilet paper!”
You wouldn’t know it by my current profile, but I fenced in college – two years foil and one year saber. I did my best to continue the sport after graduation but other than weak jokes about replacing the rails and tightening the wire around the back pasture I found little interest among friends and family. As time went by and my waistline expanded I sold or gave away most of my gear so I was surprised to find two (each) masks, sabers and gloves while cleaning up the garage this last weekend.
Any thought of a clean escape quickly evaporated as My Star Pupil took notice of the equipment as well ; since that discovery we’ve had two sessions with the sabers. I decided right off that we weren’t going to just goof around and aimlessly smack each other – I’ve taped off a properly-proportioned-but-smaller piste on the shop floor and we work on technique and terms before any Errol Flynn stuff. He’s pretty sharp for a little guy and can remember the 2, 4 and 6 positions most of the time. Lori says she can still see a little bit of form in my movements but I tell her she is just watching me with her 1977 glasses….
Every weekend my Star Pupil and I try something new and this week it was use of an ax. It was a skill that really wasn’t on the schedule but a box of tools I recently gave him unfortunately included a sort of multi-tool-on-steroids that inexplicably included an ax blade…and as anyone with kids will tell you glaciers can be moved by hand before you’ll get a five-year-old boy to change his mind about something like this.
After a safety briefing we spent about forty-five minutes in the shop chopping away and eventually produced the sundered one-by-two you see in this photo. The process could have been faster but one too many roadrunner cartoons convinced him logs literally jump into with one direct chop with an axe held straight on. I’d demonstrate alternate chopping at an angle but then he’d politely correct me and attempt to bludgeon the board in half.
We finally succeeded in parting the one-by-two and now he’s out with his mom visiting friends while I am busy hiding every other cutting implement before he gets back.
My sister Robin and I both spent most of our teens out of step with our own generation. I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why that happened – it could have been the frequent moves, our parent’s influence or our own inclination – but at the end of the day it worked out simply that we had more in common with our parents’ generation than our own.
It made for some interesting experiences in the classroom and I’ve often wondered what life would have been like had I fallen in line with the rest of my fellow post-peak Baby Boomer peers. I wonder about that because I see the same thing happen with my Star Pupil AKA my grandson Jayden. He gets more time around grandparents than most kids – a slightly skewed experience that will be even more skewed because of my own square-peg-round-hole experience.
For example – his experience with personal electronics differs from that of his friends. Oh, we still have to use a crowbar to peel him away from phones and tablets, but he also has plenty of non-digital influences surrounding him. Case in point is his tool kit. He’s intensely interested in my activities so in an effort to preserve my own tool kit I’ve made up a set of his own, to include a hammer, pliers, some odd combination wrenches and both types of screwdrivers. I’ve also prepared a two-by-four with pre-drilled holes and several screws of both standard and Phillips flavors.
I think he may come out of my youth a little more “handy” than most kids his age.
I normally don’t share the “letter pages” – the left-hand side information that supplements rather than tells the story – but this drawing turned out kind of nice. It’s a pirate sub by the name of Crimson Cod and is central to a plot twist in DKJ&SS.
This latest installment in Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup depicts a Bony Express Glider.
For those of you just tuning into our program: Dog King John is story I am writing for my grandchildren, but when I finish the story I am planning on publishing a book version either through Amazon or Kickstarter. The story actually has two types of pages, with the story being told on the right-hand pages and background material presented on left-hand pages. Right now I’m only sharing the right-hand pages – a move that is both a marketing measure for the eventual book as well as a way to keep things special for the grandkids.
Spacing out the pages also gives me a chance to correct/tweak details as ideas come to me throughout the process – which makes each book I make for the kids an artists proof.
One change will be a subtitle: printed below Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup will be a line that states “a story for the precocious fifth-grader in us all.”
No need to dig out the old Hanna-Barbera VHS tapes – there is no “Jadex” among the Herculoids, at least anywhere outside of the Deitrick household. My Star Pupil and I spent last Saturday morning doing what Saturdays were made for: watching cartoons. We spent a lot of time with the old H/B action shows like “Herculoids”, “Jonny Quest” and “Space Ghost” and once I was able to muzzle the internal critic complaining about the absence of all three Laws of Thermodynamics we had a good time
We were at most seven minutes into our session when it became evident the team needed an extra member bearing a strong resemblance to my Star Pupil.
It’s been a good news/bad news type of situation the last couple of days. Good in that I’ve gone almost five months without an upper respiratory infection, bad in that I’ve finally come down with some kind of bug but good (?) in that it is some sort of stomach virus and I’m still able to breathe. I’m not getting as much done as I’d like but I’m grateful to be able to work.
My Star Pupil and his father helped me with installing a shelf in my Beautiful Saxon Princess’ part of the closet. In these types of situations BSP just laughs at me “at the five minute mark I hear you voice slip into that measured cadence and I know at that point you’re in teacher mode again. “
Latest installment – but lacking captions, logo etc. I don’t have a 11″X17″ printer/copier so I had to tile the image from multiple smaller prints – hence the are also some obvious mismatched areas I’m also trying to brainstorm a way to enhance the aerial perspective as seen out the window without the linework washing out completely in some places.
My Star Pupil spent a couple of hours in the studio with my Beautiful Saxon Princess and I. He had made a snake and lady-bugs out of Paperclay a few days earlier and yesterday they had dried enough to paint.