"Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can." - Danny Kaye
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Birds You Can Hug
A Few Stories of My Visit with Family in Central Florida:
1. The Fourth of July Barbecue:
Unnamed Relative (I will call him U.R.) put a massive amount of chicken on the barbecue and closed the hood. He then went inside the house.
I was left outside with the kids, my nieces and nephew among them. As the the Responsible Adult, I sat at the picnic table examining U.R's new Droid cell phone. It was cool. I turned on an app and was trying to figure out how to turn it off, but couldn't for the life of me. I heard the children talking in worried tones. How cute.
"Is the barbecue supposed to be smoking like that?" one asked. "Of course it is," said another. "I've never seen so much smoke before," said a third. "He knows what he's doing," came the response.
With a sigh I looked up from the Droid. Smoke was billowing from the barbecue.
As the Responsible Adult, I reluctantly laid the Droid down and walked to the barbecue and opened the hood. Flames the length and breadth of the barbecue whipped four feet into the air. All of the chicken was on fire!
I was at a loss. Turning off the burner might have been a good idea, but this has only just occurred to me now, during this writing. In college we all took turns riding a Moped. I got on, asked how to make it go, turned the handles all the way back and proceeded full speed towards a pedestrian and a car. At that time I forgot how to slow down and realized I had no idea how to stop, did not notice the hand brakes in front of me, and held onto the handle bars tight in full speed position. The pedestrian jumped out of the way just in time. Then the car passed by an instant before I crossed the road. Then came the tree and my abrupt stop.
This was like that.
At this point U.R. rushed passed me at a brisk walk and pronounced, "Don't worry. Everything's under control." At which point, oblivious of the flames, he began picking chicken off of the grill with tongs. The tongs would disappear into the orange flames and emerge with charred chicken.
"Is there anything I can do?" I asked. "Well a little water might be helpful," he said.
I went inside U.R.'s kitchen and hurriedly looked inside some cabinets. I grabbed a large glass and filled it with water. Whatever I do I will not grab a small glass, I thought, pushing back a childhood memory.
I brought the large glass to U.R. U.R. laughed and said, "That's no good - I need a sprayer! It's like the time you tried to put out the fire with the paper cup!"
Suppressed childhood memory 40 years later brought to the surface by one of the few that knew. Family. When I was about 10 years old a fire had been set in our yard by a vandal and I ran inside the house, filled one of those small bathroom paper cups with water and ran to the fire in my effort to put it out. They will never forget.
Emergencies just aren't my thing. Never have been.
"Anyway," U.R. said, "I have it under control." And he did. After some "tweaking", the chicken emerged delicious.
And my 11-year-old niece, Emma, told me how to turn off the app.
2. The Fireworks:
The fireworks had already begun but U.R. enthusiastically insisted that we march to the perfect spot in the middle of the huge bridge to watch them. So we marched at a brisk pace, and we marched, and we marched, as fireworks crackled and splashed overhead, and before we reached the middle of the bridge the grand finale' boomed and exploded above, so we turned around and marched, and marched, and marched all of the way back.
Best exercise I've had in ages.
3. Ossorio Bakery and Cafe:
I strategically chose my best sketching seat at Ossorio, a quaint and comfortable cafe' in Cocoa Village that serves pastries, homemade ice cream, wood oven pizzas and sandwiches. Then I learned that we had to go to the counter to order. I lost my seat. But I could turn to the side just so to get the vantage point I wanted. Then another Unnamed Relative said, "You are always sketching - be with us for a change." So I got my homemade ice cream and I sulked. Then when I complained out loud, I was granted a tiny window of time to sketch and very quickly cranked out the sketch above, finishing to tune of "Are you done yet?". The sketch is more like a dream of Ossorio, only Ossorio is such a special place that it is Ossorio that is the dream. I colored most of this during the drive home with a waterbrush, then finished it with some regular brushes as well.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and a delight to be with the people I love.
Follow Up to My Last Post:
During my family visit, Ingrid of the Free Quark wrote a wonderful post here referring to this blog. She is the photographer whose pelican I drew. I overheard some ladies speaking today about pets. One woman said she needed dogs because you can hug dogs, but not cats, and certainly not birds. "You cannot hug a bird", she said definitively.
Swerving along the artistic road with every sight a potential target. * * * If you'd like to contact me about any of the art that you see - about purchases, commissions or just to say hello - feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you!