’tis the season

Ok, so maybe it’s still 20 degrees outside.  Yeah, and maybe it snows, at least a little, almost every day.  And, I’ll admit to some pretty nasty icy patches out on the drive.  In my mind, however, it’s just about spring time.  Perhaps its just me in psychological survival mode but there are real signs that things are thawing out.  Just a few minutes down the road in Kentucky, my friend Justin‘s chicken’s are laying eggs already and we are delighted to take a dozen home each week.  They are from happy, free roaming chickens and are lovely shades of browns, blues and greens.  Way more fun than the plain white ones.

Meanwhile, my old amaryllis bulb is back up for it’s late winter show.  It never ceases to amaze me the life force to be found in a flower bulb.  This plant grows so fast and furious, it doesn’t even seem real…

But what is really telling me it’s spring time is my schedule.  It’s Tornado Season once again so Jeni and I are already on the road with the Red Cross’s delightful puppet show, The Wind Around the Toy Box, spreading the word to little kids about how to stay safe in case of a tornado.  Just as I got home from Key West, it was time to start rehearsing.  We were back up and running just as the sirens started blasting here for the seasons first batch of storms, headed our way from Oklahoma.

Tornados are serious stuff, but the show we put on helps make things a little less scary for young kids, while still getting the important messages of safety across to them.  Last season we did the show for over 10,000 children and we may break that record this year which would be great.  Below are some sketches I did last season of these crazy characters with whom we spend so much of our spring time…

Puppeteering is hard work.  Physically it’s exhausting, dragging the set in and out of dozens of schools plus performing sometimes 3 shows a day.  For me the most demanding part of it all is getting up in front of people and Performing.  As an introvert, I’m usually toast by the end of the day.  That said, I love this job.  It’s good work for decent pay.  I get to promote the work of the Red Cross and spend most days hanging out with my BFF.

A few things may fall by the wayside a bit in the coming months…. especially this blog.  On my long daily to do list, the blog usually sits at the bottom.  But I will do my best to update when I can.  I am back to teaching at the Art Academy for the next 6 weeks.  My students are a great bunch of people whom I’m sure will have exciting work that I’ll want to post.  In the meantime, my hope is to get outside and watch for signs of quickening.  Perhaps you should do the same…. and send me an email if you find something cool; better yet, draw it!

Changes in latitude

This past weekend my mom, sister and I flew to Key West, Florida for an annual girls getaway.  As usual, Key West had much to offer just about any interest.  Like any tourist town, there are galleries, museums, shopping, restaurants and bars .  I avoided most of the trappings (except perhaps the bars) and instead spent much of my time outside.  Walking, looking, drawing, exploring, soaking up colors and textures and people so different from what we have here in Ohio (especially this time of year!).  Every day I spent a few hours at the man-made (but thoroughly wonderful) beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.  Here I could soak up a little sunshine but also explore the fort and walk the nature trails.  Key West was experiencing a winter’s chill last week that had the locals feeling a little grumpy, but for me, it was plenty warm enough.

We stayed at a lovely guest mansion called Marrero’s, famed to be haunted by a friendly ghost named Enriquetta.  This was the first time we stayed in the downtown area and we will never do it differently.  Marrero’s is close to everything and a nice quiet place to experience the atmosphere that personifies Key West.

Since this was the 4th time we had been to Key West, mom decided it might be fun to do something a little bit different and head out for a sunset cruise.  We took a ride on a beautiful sail boat called the Western Union sunday evening.  What we all thought would be a nice, though rather touristy, couple of hours, turned out to be the pinnacle experience of our trip.  The weather was perfect, the wind just right for sailing.  The captain mentioned that we might see a few dolphins while out on the water… sure enough, right on cue, there were dolphins, just before sunset.  I now know the meaning of the word frolic as that is what personifies dophins in the wild, something I hadn’t experienced before.  They were beautiful.  The passengers on the ship were encouraged to help get the sails up (in fact, the captain said, “no sails, no bar”, so most people pitched in!) My sister and I heaved and hauled with other passengers while the crew shouted out directions.  It was exhilarating!  Sunset could not have been more lovely, with just the right amount of clouds in the sky to play with the colors.  One of the couples on board got engaged at that moment.  The energy on board was peaceful as people chatted and listened to the boat creak and groan.  As we headed back into port, the crew replaced the sails for next time and we ended our short journey. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.  I think I may have left a little piece of my soul on that boat.

After dinner, we headed once again to our favorite Key West watering hole, The Green Parrot.  It seems no matter where we wander through the evenings, we always wind up back at this place.  Slightly off the beaten path of the nauseatingly touristy Duval St., the Green Parrot is a place we always meet the more intrepid tourists such as ourselves, along with colorful local “Conchs” who are fortunate or crazy enough to carve out a living in Key West. I could go on and on with stories of our wonderful trip to The Conch Republic, but that would be a waste of precious art time.  I am now loaded with images and ideas that need to be born into some artistic form.  I have tons of drawings in my sketchbook and have plans to do more.  My well is full for the first time in months.  This is all very good.