Learn by Doing


The bird said to me, “I just couldn’t handle the nagging anymore. She just kept pushing and pushing me, right up to the edge. Finally, I just exploded at her, ‘Fine! You don’t believe me! Fine, you’ll be sorry, you’ll see!’ and I jumped.”

The bird fluffed his feathers, then blinked into the distance a few times before turning an eye back towards me. “Well, how was I to know? So, flying isn’t something one has to approach gently, with caution and baby steps. Turns out it’s one of those ‘learn by doing’ things.” He twisted his head around, and around, until he was looking backwards, then picked at his tail feathers.

I waited, sure there was more to the story. But he just ignored me.



It’s my blog and I’ll write about my shoes if I want to. #2


These are my walking shoes, and here is the story of how I came to own them….

A long time ago, in a previous life when I had a husband who had a huge extended family and none of them hated me yet, I was friends with one of his cousins. She and I were really close until she started dating the man who became her husband. He and I never really got on too well.

No meanness ever passed between us, just a lot of confused looks. He was one of those people who never made a lick of sense to me. He was just so… nice. Not creepy-nice, or syrupy-sweet nice, more like 1950’s television nice. Aw Shucks nice. He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and didn’t eat meat, all things my friend had once done, with relish. Almost over night, she focused in on him and she stopped being fun, started being nice, like him, and we lost all the things we’d had in common.

Anyway… many years after they married, her husband and I briefly shared running as a hobby. Though, hobby is probably to mild a word to describe anything he did. He was the type to get obsessed with things. He knew everything there was to know about running and all the equipment necessary to fully experience all the pleasure one could squeeze out of it. (yes, of course he ran marathons, did you have to ask?) It was truly just a hobby for me, and a short lived one at that. Really, I was more of a jogger at heart.

He offered to take me to his favorite shoe store and help me pick out a pair of shoes, and for reasons I can’t even fathom, I agreed. So the two of us went to the store. Alone. Take any awkward situation you’ve ever been in with another person and times it by 11. We both really tried to find things to talk about, but it’s like talking to someone in a language you’ve just learned. Once you get beyond your health and the weather, you just run out of words that you both know. That car ride lasted at least a week.

When we finally got to the store, he introduced his running buddies, then left me to their salesperson devices while he shopped for himself. (It was a relief, actually.) The sales person figured out that I wasn’t as much a runner as a fast walker and sold me these instead of one of the really fancy and expensive pairs my friend’s husband had been talking about before we got there.

Eventually he drove me home and neither of us ever acted on our promises to go run together someday. Then I lost all of those people in the divorce and that was that.

Regardless, these are really good shoes.


I picked a face and I drew it three times.  It is the same person, despite the fact that the three drawings looks so different from each other.  Sigh.  Just when I think, this art stuff is as easy as rolling down a hill, I smash into a wall.

Real vs. Fake

This is not my greatest work, but it is today’s work, and that is good.

I want to say, also, that it is not really my work. I mean it is, I painted it. It is of a place I saw, a landscape like any other, but it is also a painting of a painting, sort of…

Somewhere out there (probably in Austin, Texas) there is a 3d modeler who might (if they took off their glasses and squinted a bit) recognize this scene as their own.

“Lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much, lemme sum up…”

In an online world called Star Wars The Old Republic, on a planet called Rishi, I stopped on my way towards a battle with traitorous Revanites to admire the lush jungle scenery. I thought, this is awfully pretty, I should try to capture it in watercolor. So I did. Try I mean. Not quite sure I succeeded.

The funny thing is, the few times thus far I have attempted to capture what I’ve seen in the (so called) real world, it has come out so much better.

You would think that painting an image that is already rendered in 2d, flat on my computer screen, would be so much easier to paint than something outside where I have to do the conversion of 3d to 2d myself. But it is not.

Yet another lesson learned.  There is a reason artists prefer drawing from life.  It’s just easier.


Through my exploration of the creative medium: ‘pictures and words,’ I recently discovered Danny Gregory.  He wrote a book called Art Before Breakfast that I devoured in a day.

Inspired, I painted my breakfast this morning. The food was cold by the time painting became eating and drinking, but somehow more satisfying than usual.

Last month I finished the first draft of a novel and asked two of my siblings to read it for me. Not only did they read it, they both took extensive notes and then sat with me for an hour to share their overall impressions. I can’t tell you how generous this was of both of them (One, a mother of two with a full time job and the other, an engineer running his own company.)

Their reviews were honest, and a tiny bit painful.

The thing is, I get bored with my own writing, and in the long form, it shows. There are places scattered throughout the manuscript where I just didn’t care, but I needed to write something to get onto the next bit that I did care about.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I always wake up hungry, and I find the foods we typically eat for breakfast to be delicious.

Breakfast is always a small meal, short and to the point.

Breakfast is fast. It requires very little planning or prep: cereal in a bowl, two eggs in a frying pan, toast in the toaster. A slice of ham. A piece of fruit. It nourishes and doesn’t stick around too long.

I’m not sure what to do with my manuscript. As my siblings (and Will, my partner, who never finished it due to utter frustration) have said repeatedly, “There’s a really good story in there.”

But where? Is it only in the bits I enjoyed writing? Perhaps it’s not one long story but several short ones. Fast and easy to prepare and digest.

I’m in love with the idea of combining pictures and words to tell a story. I do not, however, enjoy the idea of creating a graphic novel, a book long comic book. I don’t really like comic books that much. They hurt my eyes. There’s too much stuff happening on a page. They’re confusing.

The illustrated journal seems to be the happy medium, though most, I find, do not use the pictures to tell the story, the way the pictures in comic books do. The pictures in an illustrated journal are there to add something, flavor, texture, but aren’t necessary to the story.

The quick watercolor of my breakfast tells a story all by itself – it tells you, the viewer, even without the words, that it was a meal, prepared and eaten, probably by the artist.  The words written near by add to the story told by the picture, but aren’t necessary. In fact – now I regret writing “coffee and toast” on the drawing. I didn’t need them there. Only the date and the word breakfast were necessary to complete the story.

Less is more.

Pictures and words should complement, not replicate.

There’s a good story in that stack of pages, I just need to draw it out.