I just finished a beginner’s class in botanical drawing at my local high school’s continuing ed program. Drawing plants should be easy. Who knows what a plant really looks like, anyway? It’s not like drawing my brother, Stu, where close family and friends can say, “Yep, that’s Stu!” On the other hand, if one were to take a hostas leaf and swap it for another, who would know the difference? The botanical artist, that’s who. And they will also cite phylum, class, series, family, genus and species. These people are the most detail oriented renderers on earth. They must have inherited that special set of genes that gives them lots of patience and the steady hands of biatheletes. Think of drawing the cross-section of an artichoke including all the fuzzy filaments on the heart to exact scale. And this is just what they would do for a warm-up exercise before getting down to business.
Our instructor started us out on drawing a green pepper. The idea was to create volume from using shading techniques to portray shadow and light, and not to draw any lines per se. I not ony learned a lot about the form of a pepper, but also the texture of the drawing paper (not as smooth as I had thought) and the quality of my HB pencil (uneven in hardness and scratchy) as well.
One day the instructor brought in an assortment of natural objects: branches, seashells, dried plants and seed pods. I skipped the symmetrical and straightforward nautilus and went straight for the magnolia tree seedpod. What hubris. Our instructor said that even she had never attempted a magnolia seedpod. Well, I got so confused with all the irregular shapes and proportions that I abandoned botanical art and ended up doing my impression of a seedpod. I’m really a stand-up artist and I hope you can see how I captured this seedpod’s prickly personality – haha.
I’m walking behind an elderly couple on Broadway on my way to Lincoln Center when just ahead I see a volunteer soliciting donations for the homeless. He has a patter, “Show your love for the homeless. Any amount will do.” The elderly man briefly glances at the solicitor as they walk on by. The volunteer then shouts out after them, “Show a little love. Why not put that arm around your lady friend.” To which the gentlemen looks to his lady, puts his arm around her shoulder and draws her near. To no one in particular, but loud enough for everyone to hear, the volunteer shakes his head and comments, “What a gigolo.”
Mae and I had just arrived into our hotel room in Los Angeles a month ago and I begin unpacking the luggage while she goes into the bathroom and lets out a squeal with her there’s-a-spider-in-the-bathtub voice, “Ray come HERE!”. I run in expecting the worst. She grabs me by the arm, pointing at the mirror, and says, “Doesn’t this mirror make me look younger?!” And I take a look and say, “Wow, I love this mirror! I look ten years younger! Let’s buy one for each of our bathrooms!” We’ve been coming to this hotel annually for the past 4 years and each year there have been incremental improvements in furnishings and decor, but the new bathroom mirrors this year were astounding. They were framed with this amazing soft indirect lighting. They made us love going to the bathroom. I know I’m pretty handsome, but just take a look at each of the pictures above all taken with the same smartphone. The one on the left was taken yesterday with our bathroom mirror, the one in the middle was a month ago at the hotel, and the one on the right was taken last August at my barber’s. Some might say buying these mirrors is just delusional, but face it, we are all living in Plato’s cave, so why not enjoy delusion? For your reference, the hotel is the Royal Palace Westwood. A non-chain boutique hotel catering to the budget minded traveler.
A year ago we bought a programmable coffeemaker because, now that I’m retired, I no longer get up at 5 AM to make coffee before going off to work. Now, Mae gets up first, goes downstairs and has coffee waiting for her in our automatic coffeemaker. But, at least once a month, she will come back upstairs and announce in her pre-coffee voice, “No coffee!” The reason there’s no coffee is because of one of the following reasons:
- I forgot that we have a programmable coffee maker, and don’t even bother to make coffee the night before.
- I did not know that after programming the coffeemaker, you have to push the program button a second time to activate a program.
- I forget to push the program button.
- I have the coffeemaker programmed to start at 7:15, but Mae had to catch a 7AM train to Manhattan.
- I filled the reservoir with water, but did not put coffee in the filter basket.
- I put coffee in the filter basket, but did not put water in the reservoir.
- I failed to put the top on the carafe – the top that keeps the no-drip feature in the up position and allows coffee to flow from the filter basket into the carafe.
- Someone unplugs the coffeemaker to charge their phone.
- The power goes out at 3AM.
- I have the coffemaker programmed to start at 6:15, Mae has a 7AM train to Manhattan, but last Sunday was the start of daylight savings time and I forgot to set the coffeemaker clock one hour ahead.
Good thing I don’t drive an automatic coffeemaker.
I’m walking on 58th Street on my way to work near Columbus Circle, and I see ahead of me a disheveled homeless man bent down picking something up off the sidewalk. I give him wide berth, but as I pass by, he stands up slowly and with an unsteady step begins to follow behind me. I have to stop at Broadway for a light, and brace myself as he comes up and stops right beside me, and drops the trash he had picked up into the waste receptacle next to me.
Fish bowl grins,
Shoulders crowded together,
A peering into
A fun house mirror.
Grand Central Grand Dame
It was the morning rush hour when
I saw the silver-haired woman,
unsteady on her feet,
moving at a very
across the great hall
of Grand Central Terminal,
creating swirls of commuters
around her as they jockeyed to get by.
– 8:20 am, just outside Track 30, April 22, 2013