Thursday, October 30, 2008
It was a truly splendid morning for a walk. No wind. That's all I ask most of the time, here in Kansas. Just give us a morning without wind.
Ollie treed a young -- just past kittenhood -- cat and got himself thoroughly revved in the process. Nothing makes his day like a close encounter with a member of the feline class. God knows, if he ever caught one it would probably kill him. God knows but Ollie doesn't. So he keeps trying. The cat business took place early in the walk so he was chocked full of Airedale energy all the rest of the way.
We took one of our normal routes, winding around 7 or 8 blocks, dodging cars driven by folks off to work (work! I remember work!) and counting political yard signs. Looks good for Obama in my neighborhood. One of the things I always do is check out the (non-political) window signs at this one corner house. An older lady resides there and I believe I heard that she was a retired elementary school teacher. She obviously misses the days of having a roomful of little ones to instruct. Now she puts these little signs in her windows, I'm betting they were once put up daily in her classroom, which are riddles aimed at the younger set. Usually she puts the question on one window and the answer in the next. Today's: How do you fix a broken pumpkin? With a PUMPKIN PATCH!
The first few times I noticed these riddles I was slightly taken aback. What the heck is this? Why would anyone do a weird thing like that? Must be a little "titched in the head!" But with time I've come to appreciate them, look forward to them and enjoy them. It's an unusual idea, to entertain passersby, and there's something sweet about it. Probably no more than 8 or 10 folks a day even see the little notices, maybe less. Still she posts them regularly all through the year. It's not really so different from putting up posts in a blog -- a small audience but somehow fulfilling all the same. If I could draw large enough I'd consider posting the occasional editorial cartoon in my window.
Eventually Ollie and I ended up back at our grove of cottonwoods where I like to sit a bit and practice not thinking. Not thinking is harder than you might, well, think it is. We all think all of the time, practically, and most of our thoughts are repetitious and unnecessary. I buy into the view that I'd be better off if I could relax my mind enough to get in touch with my true self, the one that's connected to things like cottonwoods, cats and elderly retired schoolteachers. Ollie's already there but I have a ways to go. Most of the time my true self is treed by my incessantly barking ego.
Then again, there are worse places to be cornered than up in a tree.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
It's an old habit -- drawing editorial cartoons. About Karl Peterjohn. So this one had to come out after reading the story in today's Eagle about the aviation industry's alarm at Karl's candidacy. Karl is a radical and it's good to see that local business leaders are realizing it. The National Center for Aviation Training is a worthwhile and needed government-funded project and Karl's desire to pull the plug on it is shameful for one running for public office in the Air Capital.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I enjoy doing posters for Karen and my gigs at Watermark books. I believe it's been nearly 10 years now that we've been performing there once a month. It's always the 3rd Saturday of each month. Here's an old poster. Our next date there will be October 18, from 5 until 7. For free!
I'm adjusting to the layoff but it'll be a long time before I get used to not seeing my old friends at the Eagle on a regular basis. Here's a Gridiron program cover I did in 2006 which featured the "Fairy Tale Princess" herself. Can you spot the other luminaries in this drawing?
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
One of the more soul-nourishing routines I've fallen into within the last year or so is my morning walk with Ollie, our big goofy Airedale. My alone time has always been important to me. Maybe that's because I was like an only child, my sister and brother being 12 and 14 years older. I barely can recall when they were still living at home with my parents and myself. So I learned to enjoy drawing, reading, watching Captain Kangaroo and fending off voracious lions, giant spiders and crocodiles with my rubber Tarzan knife, usually alone.
I especially delighted in climbing trees. Some summers I swear I was more often in a tree than on the ground. My friends and I built two tree houses. Both were high up in the towering oaks that dotted the Memphis suburb where I was raised from age 9, called Whitehaven. (It wasn't a race thing, the name Whitehaven, I mean. Though come to think of it, it was all white. And it was in the South. And it was the early sixties. Hmmm.)
Frequently I would take a book up into my tree house and sprawl across the splintery planks, swiped from nearby construction sites, for hours on end. I miss tree houses. But I still value my solitude at times and the morning walks provide that. Granted, Ollie is with me but his attention is all focused on squirrels, other dogs and the many places those other dogs have peed. So that's my meditation time.
Near the end of our walk we always veer off into a small green space tucked into a corner of our neighborhood. It's a little playground area that contains a grove of cottonwood trees. I position a chair beneath the largest of those trees, let Ollie run off-leash and I consider that tree.Its limbs have contorted through time and the extremes of Kansas weather, twisting outward, stretching languidly and waving their thousand of small green flags at the frequent gusts of wind. What a wonderful sound those leaves make this time of year. They rustle with an Autumn crispness, the result perhaps of their increasing brittleness as they gradually lose their green to pale yellow. At this early October time some of them are letting go and drifting down to a silent rest on the grass.
For me that tree speaks about endurance. Quiet perseverance. Harmony with the sky and with whatever that sky sends its way. It has lessons to teach us.
When Ollie and I walk by the tree on our way back to the street and towards home, sometimes I brush my palm against its rough bark. That's as close as I get to actually hugging it. I am a proud tree hugger in sentiment, but not quiet literally. Though I have to say that sometimes when I sit in that chair and look up at that old cottonwood, I feel as if it's embracing me. It's one of the best feelings I know.