Saturday, May 27, 2006

Illustration Friday

“My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.”
– Dave Barry

The Cupcake
When I was eight or nine years old, my parents loaded up our '66 T-Bird and headed out for what was to be one of the most amazing trips I would ever take. Some day, I need to sit down with my mother and my sister and write it all down before all of it is lost forever.

To make a very long story short, we took a three week trip across country. The year was 1968 or 69. We left Florida in June and headed west with stops in assorted campgrounds along the way. No, we didn't rough it, we were pulling a 13 foot Shasta camper and we had our faithful dog Peanuts to keep us company and entertain us. We made all the great spots along I-10 and just over 30 years later I find out my wife made almost the identical trip the same year. We were only a few weeks apart as we visited such places as the El Paso with a lttle juant into Mexico. At the time it cost 2¢ to leave the US but 3¢ to return from Mexico. We also visited the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Carlsbad Caverns, Disney Land and the Hoover Dam to name just a few of the spots.

Now, we didn't make the exact same trip. We stopped in Cheyenne, Wyoming to visit my mother's oldest brother and his family. It was the first time I can remember meeting them although I know I met my Uncle Ray and Aunt Jean years before at a family reunion. The "Cupcake Story" actually comes a fews years later when I next saw my cousins. My Uncle Ray had two daughters, Janet and Cindy. Janet is the older sister and had a prothestic leg from the knee down. And for her sixteenth birthday, her younger sister Cindy, decided to play a practical joke on her. She made her an chocolate cupcake laced with Exlax so all night long she heard her sister hopping down the hall to the bathroom. Now it sounds a bit cruel, but siblings will do such things to one another. So that is my cup cake story.

On a side note. My cousin Janet's first husband died in a freak accident not long after the birth of their third child. And just like most young couples, they weren't prepaed for such a loss. The taxes from the estate were mounting and Janet just couldn't keep up. But the IRS can be harsh and demanding, so she turn to her congressman, Dick Cheney for help. He worked with her on her case but before everything was cleared up, in frustration, she removed her leg and wrote her "check" out for the amount owed and sent it to Uncle Sam. Both she and the future VP got a lot of press out of it and Janet actually recieved the "cancelled check" and wore it proudly for many years afterward.

I'm off for vacation now. I won't be back until next week. Be procductive and have fun.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

An Anonymous Plea

You know those little signs you see stuck on the side of the road? Most of them are pretty self-serving – slumlords looking to "help you stave off foreclosure" or "Make $5000 a Week from Home".

This one was probably the most selfless signs I have ever seen. It was posted in a place where "homeless" people generally stand and ask for money because they have cancer, or lost their job or met some other wild tale. Now, I'm not a cold-hearted person. I have been known to take some of those unfortunate souls to dinner on occasion or to just listen to their story. This, however, was something special. It was at the bottom of the off-ramp from I-95 near my house. Every time I came home I said a prayer. How could I not?

A few weeks ago, my wife asked me to take a picture of it so she could send it out and add to the prayers for David. Yesterday, I finally made the time to do it and when I got to the spot, I found this simple sign torn into pieces and left on the side of the road.

Someone is going to have some bad mojo for that.

If you are the praying type, please offer one up for David and all the Davids out there. And for the special someone who has so much love that she would ask strangers to pray for her loved one.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Illustration Friday - Sorry

The night was cool
when I walked up the steps to your room…

It took me years to do it…
but I finally got the nerve to hold your hand.

It was something that I had to do.
I had only recently gotten comfortable
with telling you that I loved you.

Up until a few months ago
it was unspoken but I always knew.
I could see it in your blue eyes.
Blue like the sky and every bit as deep.

And as I took your hand in the darkness,
I could feel your heart beating with mine…
slow and steady and time seemed to stop…
and part of me, the selfish part,
wanted to hold on to that moment forever…
hold on and never let go.

So I held your hand in the dark.
Your hand was so soft, but too warm for December…
no words spoken…
then I, too, closed my eyes
and let the memories of the times we shared flood over me
and I wondered why this moment
had taken so long to arrive.

Was it only yesterday that I picked you up
and carried you through the door and put you in your bed?
Or was it a week ago?
Time slips in times likes these. Peace settles in.
And the night begins to play its tricks on you.
So I held your hand, this one last time,
and one last time I turned to you for strength
because I knew you could hold this reality together.
You were always the strong and sensible one.
The magical one who could do anything by shear will.

And I held your hand.

Then time slipped away… like the beating of your heart,
there in my hand… and it was time for me
to walk out that very door I had carried you through.
Time to leave you there with your wife one last time.

I started out with a new illustration but I ended up thinking about the death of my father and the words just started flowing. And I thought about the last time I saw my father alive. I was young, but not as young as the self-portrait I did almost thirty years ago. But it seemed to fit because I drew that when I was seventeen after having one of those run-ins seventeen-year-old boys inevitably have with their fathers.

And how does this all tie in to this week's Illustration Friday topic? I'm just sorry I didn't appreciate him more when he was here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Graveside…the photo

Some of you wanted to know just what that photo was in last weeks Illustration Friday collage so I figured I would share it with you. Please don't ask me the details, I have no idea where it came from. I have quite an extensive collection of vintage photos.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Illustration Friday - Angels and Devils

So, I made it back… barely. I'm glad all of you have been able to keep up with it. While I haven't had the time to get pencil to the paper as often as I would have liked, I did manage a quick look at a few of my friend's work. Fantastic as usual. You should visit Illustration Friday and see for yourself.

This is a quick pencil sketch that I scanned in and used it as the main subject of a Photoshop collage… much fun was had…

Thanks for stopping by…

Monday, May 01, 2006

Illustration Friday - Under The Sea

My illustrations are from the award winning Reef Set series by Ned DeLoach and Paul Humann. They are just a few of the books that I have had the pleasure to work on with these two incredible underwater photographers. You should buy their books if you are into anything under the sea. Since the late 1980's I have drawn about 80% of all the species that are found on reefs from Alaska to the Galapagos and from Florida to Brazil. These drawings are more for reference and ID so are not specifically anatomically correct. If you want to see the good stuff, my super friend, Frank Hilzerman has a great illustration of a Dragonet up.

I will be doing something more for Illustration Friday in the next day or so, so please do check back.