Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bohemian Meeting / Art Show

Tonight is the monthly meeting of the Bohemian Art Society at the Rhythm Kitchen in downtown Peoria. It is good to meet with other artists and go over what is going on and find out maybe new information regarding shows.

Then this weekend I have signed up for a show at a local business, Hoerr Nursery, the only problem with doing this at this time is that we will be in the greenhouse. Although it will not be outside, the greenhouse is only heated by the sun and is subject to temperature swings. Since today’s starting temp was about 14 degrees I’m not looking forward to setting up and freezing myself to death trying to hawk some art. The nursery does run ads on local TV and I have made some sales there in the past so it is a risk that I must take. The weekend forecast is for slightly warmer temps but a chance for rain, clouds won’t help warm up a greenhouse.

Shows are the necessary evil of the art business, if you don’t go out and put in your time sitting and talking to would be patrons you would never sell anything. Now that I have the ability to produce my own prints these shows are much more tolerable. At least I come away with a little money to offset expenses.

Kaleb and The Woman will be at Regionals in Olympia this Saturday, I will be keeping you informed of his progress on his way to state.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Snow Days

It seems that every time there is snow in the forecast that the excitement level at home rises. The Woman, who works for Pekin School District, and the two kids still at home are a buzz with how much, when, and most of all will school be cancelled? I on the other hand am indifferent; I don’t get the scrolled message on the local news channel that work has been cancelled for the day.

So the snow came and all it meant was that I had to go out and clear the large mound of heavy wet stuff that the snowplow had so graciously deposited at the end of the driveway. School and work was still in session and maybe winter will be over at some point and we can start to think about spring.

Thanks to Martha Jr. I got another full evening in the studio and “Lori’s” is looking good. I was undecided about which view to paint, a front view our a side view, so since I had two square canvases I am doing both.

Kaleb has Regionals this weekend and I have an art show so The Woman will represent me and hopefully Kaleb will continue his winning ways to State. He has placed first in the last three tournaments that he has been in and has a very good shot at winning Regionals (He has pinned all his opponents in the last two tournaments)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Cheyenne Diner"


Kaleb won regionals yesterday, today I'm in the studio taking care of stuff. Like finishing "Cheyenne Diner". Like all painting when they are finished I'm not as excited as when I started, I'm looking on to "Lori's" that I will start as soon as I am done with this blog.

"Lori's" will be 24" x 24" and should not take too long.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cheyenne Diner

Last night was a very good night for painting; The Woman went to a movie but little Martha Jr. had left a pot of chili for dinner. After having some with Chelsea (we broke the rules and ate in the family room while watching TV – we even answered the phone ) I hit the studio and nearly finished the painting.

Most people would say it is already finished but I want to put some details on a few more areas. I will definitely have an image at some point this weekend.

Kaleb will be at Regionals at Illini Bluffs this weekend and so will we.
Hopefully I’ll get to see some of my Chimnea friends as they ditched us last weekend for a progressive party.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Garbage Day

One of my favorite days of the week is Thursday; it is garbage day at my house. Yours may be on a different day, but mine falls just before the weekend. It’s like a new beginning the big green can rolls out and by some miracle of modern wizardry it is empty when I get home for lunch.

Good painting night last evening, Martha Jr. (The Woman) had a wonderful dinner ready and college basketball. Although I tried to entice Kaleb to come into the studio so I switched to the UFC fights but he wanted to stay under his blankets in our bedroom.

Martha Jr. went down to his bedroom and rearranged his furniture and clean the teen age “Man Cave” as Kaleb calls it. Good thing it was garbage day so the refuse could vanish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Tuesdays are usually good painting nights lots of basketball on TV and yet another important primary evening. Kaleb had a home meet, so not a lot of traveling home by seven.

Kaleb’s match went well even though the other kid started punching and pinching him while he was pinning him. Tremont’s team was penalized a point for the infraction and the child was yelled at by his coach. This weekend is regionals and Kaleb should finish first as he has beaten all the people in his weight class from this area.

Sent The Woman off to eat dinner and went home to get some painting in, still plugging along.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Painting every day

I think I need to get back to the reason for the blog, to keep a record of and push myself to paint every day.

Because my canvases are large I need to spend a great deal of time on painting them. So there are long stretches of time in between images that I will put on the blog. But it is important to keep my brushes to the grindstone so to speak and daily put paint on canvas.

Although tonight we have yet another wrestling event (a home meet against Tremont) I should be able to make it home at a decent hour with time to paint. The Woman is turning into Martha Stewart and cooking and baking things to eat so a quick snack and off to work.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents Day

It seems in my house that everyone gets every holiday off but me. I knew I should have started at the post office with Zack Dilly right after high school (of course Zack ended up going a little off and they found him in his garage with the car running last year) But look at all the holidays that they rack up.

The Woman works in the school system and only has to work 180 days a year. That’s less than half of a year, and yeah they don’t pay them for the work and the bull that they have to put up with, but man they get some time off.

After spending this weekend at wrestling at finishing my taxes, I am looking forward to getting some actual painting in tonight. “Cheyenne Diner” is coming right along the diner itself is finished and all I have to do are the surrounding buildings and detail work. I hopefully will finish this week but I don’t want to rush through, we have another wrestling event Tuesday at home and then the Sectionals at Illini Bluffs, so weekends are pretty much done till the first part of March.

My oldest daughter, Charlie, is in the “singles crew” for “Juice” magazine in Des Moines and to my dismay as I looked at the web site this morning she is the “most popular search” so I also may to have to go to Des Moines and kick some perverted boys asses.

We had a wrestling tournement for Kaleb Saturday in Canton IL.

Canton is a mysterious land that was lost in time. It is trapped in the 80’s. Guy’s that sport Members Only jackets and mullets. Women that have big poofy permed hairdos with tight pants and shoulder pads.

This weekend was no exception, we were greeted on or arrival by the famous mulleted Canton dad, his mullet is extremely long, although there were others. We went to eat and saw an Asian with a mullet (of course they pronounce it muh – rett) Then on the way home we saw the rarest of all mullets, the permed ball o-mullet, where the guy perms the long hair into a glistening ball of perfection.
Kaleb did well winning the tournament in his weight class and beating all his opponents by pins. The only problem is that it was a 12-hour ordeal sitting in a smelly gym, surrounded by people who drive Camaros and still listen to the Thriller album.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chimnea Night

For the still uninformed Chimnea Night is one of the highlights of the week. Although it is a sometimes-floating day (could be any day from Friday to Sunday – depending on other events, could be at home or at any place agreed upon by our members) it is always looked forward to with anticipation.

It is a time of relaxation and libation, a way to relieve the stress of the workweek. A time for friends to get together and play games, talk, wind down, and other wise just have a good time.

Although it started with a clay chimnea and fire that has been replaced three times. (We now have a cast iron one) it has continued in some form for the past six years. The people attending change and with the weather in the Midwest sometimes the fire is a unattended on the deck, it continues.

This weekend takes us to Canton for a wrestling tournament and hopefully some time to finish up “Cheyenne Diner”. Kristopher is back briefly this weekend for a meeting and then leaves to go back to London. Charlie is enjoying her newfound fame as a part of the “Juice Singles Crew” in Des Moines; visit the link below to see her in action -

Chelsea survived her 17th birthday, and Kaleb has never got enough food and is wrestling his way to state.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Chelsea

Seventeen years ago, The Woman and I were presented with a Valentines Day gift. Samantha Chelsea Gross

The doctor said she was the most beautiful baby that he had ever delivered. (That was high praise since Dr. Saad had been delivering babies for twenty-five years) And since he hadn’t delivered any of the other siblings they might not even argue that fact.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Took a trip to Mohomet, IL to see our son wrestle. Mohomet is a small town outside of Champaign that lives for wrestling. They teach their children the double chicken wing before they can walk. So not only is it a long drive (one hour each way), you know your going to probably have your work cut out for you when you get there.

We went into the gym it wasn’t looking good for our team; our first four wrestlers had all been beaten. (This included two that had gone to state last year) Kaleb, we hoped, would at least make it a contest in his match. His match started, then in a blink of an eye the hand of the ref hit the mat and the whistle blew. A look at the clock showed that just 11 seconds had ticked off, Kaleb had pinned his kid.

You want your child to do well but I was a little disappointed, I just drove an hour to watch 11 seconds of action. Couldn’t he have toyed with him a while, made it a little more interesting? Oh well, we got back in the car and made the long drive back home. (The Woman put on her favorite CD and gave me a serenade along the way)

Not any painting done but there is always tonight.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday – Monday

The first full week back and the routine begins, get up shower, shave, dressed, Hot tea for The Woman, bagel for Chelsea, get on buses, go to work. Sounds boring but it feels good, got some studio time in after dinner.
Tonight’s wrestling is in Mohomet, a small town about an hour southwest of here. It starts at 5:00 so The Woman and I may not make this one. Kaleb was confidant he would win as I dropped him off at school this morning. Seems the kid is wrestling is the worst one on the usually tough team.
“Cheyenne Diner” is coming along, last night I could tell that it was coming back. By that I mean the effortless pushing of paint together that turns out exactly the way you want the first time. In the groove, the more you paint the easier it is to manipulate the process and shorten the time that you spend thinking about what to do, it’s just a reflex.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Welcome Back

We are a week out from our trip and back into the swing of things at home. Our welcome back greeting to Illinois was five inches of snow the first day, followed by this weekends dip into single digit temperatures. It doesn’t seem like just a short week ago we were wearing light jackets and enjoying spring like weather.

This weekend wrestling trip took us to Clinton and the King of the Hill Tournament, Kaleb who is finally getting over his strep throat, did really well. He finished the day as “king” of his weight class, beating kids from eight other schools.

Did manage to get some painting done, but I really need to concentrate this week. I need to finish “Cheyenne Diner” and two others (probably Lori’s and Fog City) before the deadline to enter the Fine Art Fair. I’m still hoping that a theme for my entry will give me the best chance of getting accepted.

This also Chelsea’s birthday week, I don’t know why my daughters get weeks instead of days. So I’m sure that some evenings will be used in the celebration of seventeen years of blessing us with her presence.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Back at the Studio

After a few days off it will take me some time to back in the groove that I was in before I left San Francisco.

The trip did get me many of the desired images that wanted to complete the diner series. I stopped by and photographed Fog City several different times ( it is conveniently located on the F-train route, also Lori’s, Little Orphan Andy’s, and many cool neon signs) I never know what I might get to out of these but it is always good to have them.

Wednesday evening I managed to work a little on “Cheyenne Diner” I was sort of forcing it though. Last night we had a wrestling event in Eureka, IL and Illinois played Indiana so not much done. Tonight is Chimnea so I will also probably take it easy, but the weekend is upon us and who knows what will happen.
Bonus Day

We were all set to leave San Francisco on Monday; we had a 11:55 flight nonstop to Chicago. To our surprise when we got to the airport all flights to the Midwest were cancelled. After a tense hour in line waiting to get redirected or something like it, the best we could get was first flight the next morning and hope that the fog had lifted by then. Yes, the flights had been cancelled by fog, not in San Francisco that is known for foggy conditions, but in Chicago. It seems that the snow from Thursday and Friday now was causing zero visibility fog because of a warm front that had pushed through. (Calls back home confirmed the bizarre weather – they had even had a thunder snowstorm previous evening) The airlines (Southwest) also help us secure a hotel for or additional night, so we dropped off our bags and headed to the BART for a bonus afternoon/evening in the city.

Determined to make the best of it we spent the rest of the day exploring Union Square and revisiting Chinatown. All was fine until while checking on the kids The Woman found out that Kaleb, our youngest son, was sick and not feeling well. After frantic calls to his older sister and Kaleb, The Woman had arranged for our best friends to take him to a prompt care. This made for a tearful end to the evening, with The Woman wanting to be home to take care of her baby. It doesn’t matter how old they are she always worries about her babies.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Summer of Love

Being somewhat aware in the late 60’s, I had to go to get some photos of the Haight / Ashbury district in San Francisco. In my early teens this was the epicenter of the Hippy Movement. Jefferson Airplane, LSD, Free Love, Wavy Gravy, these are just some of the images that run through my mind as we approach.

When we arrived (we overshot it by 2 blocks cause the bus doesn’t even stop at that corner) it was nothing of these images. Still a low rent area with street people panhandling about, I snapped a couple of shots before some young guy asked me “You want some free marijuana?”
I certainly have aged, cause I told him “No, I’m good” Thirty years ago I’d be saying, “Fire that Motha Up “ My how the times have changed. It’s all for the best, he was probably a narc.

Castro & Market

The F-train goes all the way to Castro Street and then turns around and goes back to the Wharf. After Coit Tower we got on the F-train at Embarcadero and rode it all the way uptown. It was quit a long trip through some neighborhoods that looked pretty seedy.

I was on a mission to get some photos of another diner, Little Orphan Andy’s, as the name suggests it’s all about guys up here. As we neared Castro the neighborhood began looking decidedly better and we saw lots of rainbows (All the neighborhoods sort of mark their turf with colors around the light poles- in little Italy they are red/white/green in this area they were rainbows) When we arrived The Woman looked sapped and I realized that it was like 2:30 and all we had ate was a cinnamon roll at the Happy D (and I had ate most of that) so we started looking for a place to eat.

A few blocks farther down Market we came upon a place called The Sausage Factory. We went in and sat down in the nicely decorated interior. The Woman ordered Chicken Marcella and I ordered something called the Sausage Lunch Box; this was far and away the best meal we had in San Francisco. The restaurant staff was helpful and the food was great and at a reasonable price (including a 8.00 tip / 50.00) Way better than the $100.00 tab at The House of Prime Rib.
After we were fed we continued on our explore of the area, then we were off to get the final thing on my photo list.

Coit Tower

After the ballpark tour and a quick donut (which I must say was fantastic) we headed up to Coit Tower. Lucky for us the bus runs right up to the front door, the tower is located on top of Telegraph Hill one of the highest points of the city.

The tower itself is free; you can go in and look at the murals painted by the WPA in the 30’s when it was constructed. There is a $4.50 charge to go up the elevator to the top of the tower, you would think for a $10.00 ride up 12 stories the elevator operator would be friendlier.

When we got to the top the views were wonderful, but the wind blowing through the Plexiglas window covers was a little unnerving for me (see previous post on wind) , I persevered and after about 30 minutes of sightseeing we made our way back to the small elevator.

As we waited for the bus the traffic to the tower had backed up about a block long with cars waiting for a parking spot to open up. (Don’t rent a car in San Francisco- No place to park and the traffic is thick) The Woman thought it would be a good idea to walk down the hill on a set of steps going through the woods. This well-worn brick path snakes from the top to Levis Park at the base; this is a drop of 275 feet or about 27 stories down the Filbert Steps.
After the walk down we hopped on the F-train to go all the to the end of the line Castro Street and the heart of the Gay District.

AT&T Park

We were trying to make it back to AT&T Park for the 10:30 tour; they have two daily one at 10:30 and one at 12:30. Because of the transfers to get all the way to the park from Golden Gate (28 bus to Marina – 30 bus to Columbus – F-train to Embarcadero – T-train to Willy Mays Way) we arrived about ten minutes late.

The good news was that it was Super Bowl Sunday and beside the staff we were the only people in the place. The tour guide offered to take us on the tour even though we were a little late. And because we were the only people that showed up it would be a private tour. (She said she had only given one other private tour- to a doctor – and he paid 300.00 a person – we got ours for the regular fee of 10.00 – score!!) We had unlimited access to the stadium, she would take us wherever we wanted to go.

We entered and tour the locker rooms, showers, luxury boxes, press boxes, press room, field area, and dugouts. As we were going to the upper deck to see the view of the bay I noticed that The Woman was looking a little faint, I then realized that we hadn’t ate a thing all day, so we called the tour off a little early and went to get a bite.

The tour guide pointed us to the Happy Donut, directly across from the park and we picked up a cinnamon roll and some much needed caffeinated beverage.

Golden Gate Bridge

Sunday morning we woke to a totally sunny day, what a difference from the midwest. Surrounded by sun, palm trees, and 60 degree weather, if not for the wind we would have been in shorts and t-shirts.

We bussed it over to the Presidio and caught a shuttle to the Golden Gate Bridge. After the obligatory photo ops at the Welcome Center, we started our hike across the bridge. It was truly an amazing journey on one of the modern worlds architectural wonders.

The sample cable consisting of thousands of 1/4" steel wires once bound together is over three feet in diameter. The wind on the walk across was sometimes fierce but it was worth the effort. The view back at the city was awesome, of course at that moment my camera batteries where done. After a quick stop back at the Welcome Center for fresh juice for my camera, we hoped on the 28 bus back to the city for our next stop - AT&T Park

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pier 39

Friday evening we had gone down to the Wharf to look around and didn’t see to much action. We were somewhat surprised as it was a Friday evening and the weather was somewhat nice. After our showers and a change of clothes we headed back down to get something to eat at Bubba Gump’s, the boardwalk was a buzz of activity. Even with the rain the weekend crowd had arrived, the shops were opened and we spent the rest of the evening checking out all the shops on the pier.


After the tour of Alcatraz we headed uptown on the F-Train. The F runs from the Wharfs and Embarcadero to Market Street al the way to Castro. We rode it to Stockton and made our way to the Chinatown Gate. I wanted The Woman to enter through the gate on her first time.

It was everything that she wanted it to be, it is a tourist magnet and not necessarily the place that I wanted to be. The Woman was having a blast though, rifling through the small shops in search for bargains and purses. If you ever need anything Asian or something with a San Francisco Logo you need not go any further.
Chinatown is about a mile long trip to what Americans think Asia must be like. From dragon-accented streetlights to turreted rooflines it was a buzz of stereotypes. We finished our trek through to a not too steep cross street (words cannot describe the hilly terrain in San Francisco, being from the flat Midwest, these “hills” looked like mountains), you had to pick you battles. We crossed over to Powell and took the Cable Car back to the Hotel for a shower and dry clothes.


Saturday we headed out early to explore the city some more and we wound up on Powell at one of the destinations that I had planned to photograph " Lori's Diner " The Woman and I had a wonderful breakfast surrounded by 50's memorabilia including an Edsel parked by the restrooms.

It was a little cool and rainy that morning as we headed to the ferry to take our tour of Alcatraz. We boarded and took our seats on the top deck at the bow of the ferry so we would have a birds eye view of the island as we approuched. The weather was appropriate as we pulled up to this foreboding island called " The Rock".

We made our way up the steep walkways and watchtowered shore to the cell house. At the cell house we were given our audio tour headphones and started our journey through the prison narrated by ex gaurds and inmates. The background sounds at times gave you the eerie feeling that there was lots of inmates on the upper tiers. I fould myself more than once looking up to see who was making the cat calls as I walked down Broadway, the center row of the cell house.

The cells were amazingly small, 5' x 9' with a 7 ' ceiling , with a toilet, sink, two shelves, metal table and chair, and metal rack for the mattress. It must have been torture on the convicts to be so close to the city and to be confined in these tiny cubicles. There are even little windows in the cell house area so the inmates could look out at the city.

The morning at Alcatraz was very somber with the misting rain and cooler temparatures, this was a terrible place to be held captive. We were reminded as we left the island by a sign that read " When you break the law they send you to prison, when you break the prison they send you to Alcatraz"

We're Back

The trip this weekend to San Francisco took a little longer than expected. Thursday evening we were getting hit with a major snow storm in the midwest and we were scheduled to leave early the next morning. The Woman and I decided to drive that evening to a hotel by the airport to make sure we would be able to arrive on time for our flight, good plan. The next morning we awoke to 12" of snow and a cancelled flight, after some frantic phone calls we managed to get rerouted to Los Angeles and then to San Francisco. The drive that should have taken 20 minutes to the airport was at least an hour, short story we made it to San Francisco about four hours later than we had planned.

On the the flight to San Francisco from LA we sat next to a friendly attorney who gave us some tips on places to go and to eat. She recommended the House of Prime Rib on Van Ness and The Woman had to go there the first night. So after checking in and taking the F-Train up to Powell and Market to proquer Muni Three Day Passes, we took the Cable Car back down toward the Wharf. The Conductor also highly reccomended the restaurant and gave us directions on how to get there. After dinner we rose the 47 Van Ness bus back to the Wharf and walked allong the piers and looked out at the lights of the cities shimmering off the Bay.

If you are going to San Francisco I highly reccomend the Muni Pass, trains and busses are 1.50 a ride - cable cars are 5.00 . The pass was 18.00 a person and good for three days ( hint : don't scratch off the date that you bought it until you have to / drivers don't usually even look if you flash it at them and if you wait you might get an extra day or two out of it )

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