I am really liking having a painting going in the studio (our heated shed). It may be my best turban squash painting ever. And even if it’s not, it’s given me a lot of satisfaction. I haven’t painted large since my 30 inch water colors in the early nineties. This one is 24 x 36 inch. When I’m out there painting, I get a deep sense of peace, like, this is where I should be, and what I should be doing. I know it sounds like psychobabble but my mind gets very clear and I enter a “zone” where it’s just me and the painting. Everything else is forgotten. I’ve missed this…a lot.
Because it’s so large, it has a presence that’s undeniable. It seems to say: “Like me or hate me, I’m big, and I’m here to stay!” But speaking of that…this one is painted on 5 ply cradled maple plywood. It’s huge, it’s heavy and it will be difficult to store. Here I was thinking I was so clever to cradle a couple 36″ boards.
I’m realizing there was a reason Van Gogh painted on large canvases. He could take them off the stretcher and roll them up. When Vincent died, his brother found a shed full of rolled up canvases in perfect condition. They make for a very compact storage option. Even some modern painters prefer to work on unstretched canvases. They tape them to boards for plein air work. If they turn out, they can be stretched and mounted later. If they don’t turn out, they can be painted over like any bad work.
To that end, I just bought 3 yards of medium weight canvas for $36. I’m priming it for oils as we speak. Perhaps I’ll do some big jtree paintings. With this studio work, I should be warmed up enough to do some good work down there.
Early season cement snow
November 18th, 2020
Last weekend we saw a big storm coming. The passes were already closing down. But we have a four wheel drive truck with brand new snow tires and decided to drive up to White before it shut down.
I-5 was terrible in the dark with heavy rain in rush hour. We didn’t know it but having a full size truck means we are above much of the tire spray coming from ahead. That almost makes up for the scariness of driving a bigger truck. The thing is so big I haven’t learned where it’s edges are. Our RAV4 and Tacoma are much smaller and easier to drive. Once we got past Packwood there was no one on White Pass and we motored up toward the top where the last 12 miles was in snow. Our new Hakkapeliitta R3 tires seem very good. Not a single slip, just like their 10 year old studded cousins on the RAV4.
At the summit we turned into the ski area parking lot and were pleased to see 8 other vehicles camped in the snow. They varied between a full Grayhound bus sized RV to a 5th wheel, a popup on a Tacoma and SUV towing a small trailer with a wood stove. We opened the gate on our Canopy, shell, topper…whatever it’s called and crawled in while the snow fell quietly outside.
I lit our Mr. Buddy heater and it quickly got cozy. When I crawled in my sleeping bag, I disconnected the hose from the tank down on the ground. I brought the hose inside but left it connected to our heater. In the morning, I connected the hose to the tank and lit the stove while it was sitting in the canopy, with the upper door open.
I’d assumed the connections were tight as I’d not loosened them the night before. Bad mistake!!! After a minute of normal burning, I got a football size explosion of propane at the stove connection. It burned wildly for a long 15 seconds as I leaped out and shut off the valve at the propane tank. The flare up shut itself off automatically probably due to the little propeller spinners in the fittings.
It turns out, the hose and stove fittings at the propane filter had loosened. I’m wondering if it was because freezing things causes different metals to contract at different rates. For example, to loosen stuck bolts in an engine block, you heat them with a torch.
Anyway, that was a wake up call. Never assume your propane fittings are tight…always check, every time you start it up! We could have burnt down our new rig.
To make matters even worse, we skinned up to the summit and found that the snow was awful. Cascade Cement is a term used to describe snow that is so deep and thick that you literally can’t ski through it. Still, it was a fine adventure, great to get outside and do a little skiing.
Painting and the election
November 18th, 2020
It is squash season and we found a great one in Leavenworth. None of my squash paintings have ever sold (one exception) so I decided to paint 24 x 36″. I’m operating under the go big or go home principle. I painted for 5 hours the last three days and made some good progress. I’m not sure where I’m at with it. On the one hand, it’s well drawn, and it’s big…so there’s that. But the composition and colors could be better.
The challenging part of being a rusty painter is that nothing I do can be good. I can’t jump start my talent with will power. It takes time and practice. By nature, everything I paint will be a train wreck. And yet, the only way to get better is to paint train wrecks…a lot of them.
I could post my work on Instagram, where 20 artists would like it. And that would be my “pay”. But I like to think that I’m smarter than that. Van Gogh didn’t have social media. He got good because he believed in the process.
We bought Nokian Hapelitta R3 tires for our truck today. Now it’s as stable as our studded RAV4. I didn’t want to put the darn thing in the ditch during a snow storm. It’s painful to invest in rubber…but that is the nature of owning cars: you have to maintain them. And a new one has to be brought up to snuff. Now it can go anywhere, snow or not.
Biden may have got elected and there is a lot of celebration on the news. Trump did a few good things I didn’t know about. Clint says he got money for the National Parks.
But his extremely bad speaking style made him seem far more of a monster than he really is. With Trump as the face of America it was very hard to feel any patriotism. As soon as Biden was elected this showed up on youtube. I haven’t felt a speck of patriotism in years…but this made me feel some tingles:
It puzzles me why we couldn’t find anyone better than Biden. I mean, with all those younger politicians, isn’t there someone who could have risen to the top? Kamala is amazing. She has it going on. And perhaps Biden does too. It’s just hard to get excited about him. Nevertheless, at least he seems to have integrity, and his speaking style is ok…lightyears ahead of Trump.
October 22nd, 2020
I’ve not written in a month. My interest in keeping this journal goes in cycles. I guess the main reason is that I enjoy reading older entries. So much of life races by and gets forgotten. Only the big events stick in memory. Having this journal is a way to check in 10 years later and have something concrete to read. I read these old entries and say, oh yeah, I remember that. Otherwise they’d be lost forever.
Starting with the most recent things:
Sue and I camped at Vantage in our new rig and hooked up with Fletch, Lisa G. and Vitaly. I jumped on Steel Grill since it was the only thing open in my price range. The place was packed, biggest crowds I’ve ever seen. It was a Saturday, and the only dry crag in the state, still, those crowds were not sustainable.
I did OK on the lower section of Steel Grill. It’s just reachy crack climbing. But the crux stopped me cold for at least 20 minutes. I finally was able to jam in a good #1 red above me. It requires a lot of up and down to get comfortable in a spot where you can place the high red. After that I had to hang, and slowly put a layback together with Fletch giving me tension. I totally cheated…but at least I got past the crux.
I need to trust that layback early. It’s only two steps with a great edge to pull on and then you rocker in on your feet and Bob’s your uncle. I would benefit from three number fours, 4 #2’s and 3 blues. The five would be heavy but useful on the move above the crux out of the last pod.
After our day of climbing we had a jam session around our propane firepit. Must have been 15 people from the gym. It was so nice to just hangout normally like the old pre-covid days. We all felt safe around the fire because the wind was blowing hard and not much chance of disease in the air. About half the people there were nurses or doctors. It’s crazy how this sport attracts medical people. I had to drive home in the dark afterward in the new rig, so I abstained from imbibing. Sue said Fletch and I performed our campfire songs better than usual…perhaps being totally sober was the reason.
In other news, Chad talked me into a Track saw. Much more convenient than a table saw. I love the way it’s just like cutting matts for framing paintings. We also just today bought a Mr. Buddy propane heater to keep the canopy warm while winter camping. Craig and Ken D. both have one in their rigs. The canopy is water tight, even at highway speeds. I think we made a good decision. And at only 100 pounds while being high enough for us both to walk around in, plus Toyota reliability…gotta love it.
I painted at Paradise a couple weeks ago. It’s unfinished, I’ll post pictures later. I also bought some German cobbler glue. I used it to fix a de-laminating problem on my new custom rock shoes. I sanded and scraped off (razor blade) the old glue with lacquer thinner and lighter fluid. I brushed on a single coat, let it dry 30 minutes then heated it up for a minute with a hair dryer. This activates the glue…making it sticky again. I put the shoe on , then stepped into a block of that kayak brace foam until the glue cooled down…about 5 minutes. I took the shoe off and used finger pressure to smoosh it down even more. This guy explains it well:
City, Smith and a leather hat
September 27th, 2020
Sue and I had planned to leave for Lovers Leap on the 18th after getting our new canopy installed. We were going to hook up with Chad who would have just finished up a week at Yosemite with Annie, Brian and Liz. However, Chad was on his way down two weeks ago and couldn’t get past Centralia due to bad smoke from the Eugene Oregon fires.
He stopped by our house to drop off a coat of mine. I was sewing my new leather hat and we discussed options. I mentioned that the City looked relatively smoke free…and we could possibly bring our plans back to life by going there. I had plans to climb with Kena on Sunday but was free after that.
So off we went Sunday night, crashing at midnight up a dirt road on Swauk pass, then getting to the City Monday at 6pm. Highlights of the City were my cruise up Private Idaho, and a couple 9 and 10b slab leads at Lost World. Sun and smoke were a problem, but it was still awesome as always.
We climbed hard until we woke up Wednesday, 9 days later and realized we needed a rest day, plus that BLM road was getting irritating in my two wheel truck. The ruts are a full two feet deep. But rather than a rest day, we decided to spend it driving closer to home. We drove to Smith, arriving at 10pm to a half empty Grasslands. I led Outsider and second pitch of Pack Animal while Chad led two 11’s at Morning Glory: Zebra seam and Lion’s Chair. Not sure of those names…
He also led Pack Animal Direct, which I fell off of at the top. It was totally covered in Guano. The Covid shutdown has brought back the nesting birds. I had to rest following him up Karate before the traverse. I blame that on the lack of gym power. Can’t be that I’m getting older.
I got home Friday. Today I sewed a beaded hat band for my new leather hat, which survived the two week road trip in perfect shape. I chose to use a pattern size of Medium, since I was in the low side of that hat size at: 22.6 inches. Turns out, that made a hat too small. But my experience with leather phone cases told me that leather can always stretch…though shrinking is less likely. Almost twice a day I had to sponge water on the hat opening and wear it too tight. Finally, it is starting to remember my big head.
Just in case though, I ordered a hat stretcher from Amazon. It was really awesome seeing Sue today. We are both very independent people…but absence does make the heart grow fonder. I wish dad was alive to see my hat and hear all the family news. He would be proud. Pictures to follow later .
September 8th, 2020
I bought a new rubbermaid bin recently and it only lasted 3 months. I suppose it might have frozen in the bitter jtree snow storm, but still, I’ve had them last 10 years.
I bought some nice plywood from Architectural Woods downtown: #2500, 1/4 x 4 x 8, C2 white maple appleply 5 ply NAUF carb 9310 phase 2 compliant
The key to a tight box seems to be to cut the bottom and long sides same measurements. Then cut the short end pieces 0.5″ shorter. Assemble it with the short sides attached to the longer bottom first, using temporary shim pieces for alignment. It’s kind of a no brainer…but it took me 4 bad wood boxes to figure this out.
Cheap DIY tonneau cover
September 8th, 2020
Our new custom contractor canopy from canopy-world.com won’t be here until October-ish. Our trucks been sitting since it’s useless for camping without a storage area.
I decided to build a DIY tonneau cover from 3/4 inch plywood. I can re-purpose the plywood later into ourcanopy bed…and it was a fun project. Total cost was around $200.
Because I built it on a Sunday, the metal shops were closed. I mickey moused the C channel with some drilled square pipe cut in half. If I was going to use this long term I’d cut the post 2 inches taller and mount proper 8′ long C channel directly to the posts, thereby skipping the 2 x 2 and all the leaks inherent in my current system of partial coverage C channel.
There was one major problem. Once I started measuring for the proper panel widths I discovered that the post holes in the bed are not in a straight line. They curve. This made the C channel curve caused fit problems. I solved that by redrilling the last post off center to true the 2 x 2.
Back from a week at the Leap
September 8th, 2020
I’ve been having some challenges finding partners who have more one or two days available. But bless the stars above, out of the blue I heard from James. We’ve been on many the long trip over the 14 years since we took that first Jtree trip with Austin and Brett.
We left on Sunday around 10 and arrived at 1pm the next day. We stopped to sleep near Shasta Lake in a city park outside of Redding. It was sketchy, but at least there were no signs forbidding camping. I might of slept a couple hours….kept worrying about getting busted.
We did some exploratory hiking the next day. I’ve been there 3 times but could barely remember anything other than Bears Reach, Corrugation and Haystack Crack.
We ended up climbing all of those plus East Crack, which is a much safer start to Bears Reach. We discovered a ton of stuff over on the Hogsback. Ham and Eggs was a standout with 4 pitches at 5.6.
I backed off Corrugation Corner 40 years ago but got it clean this trip. It’s a 5.7 that feels like 10B due to exposure and runnouts. 50 year old bent pitons are considered ‘good protection’. The trad ethic is in full swing down there. They don’t even allow bolted anchors or rap stations.
I’ve had a few nibbles on my blue car. We parked it in front of the house with a for sale sign. Someone test drove it today and seemed to like it.
Protected: My daughters wedding
August 29th, 2020
Baked out of Darrington
August 2nd, 2020
Pam and I just got back from 2 days at Darrington. Forecast was for 95 but we thought it would be cooler, it wasn’t. We got three pitches up Till Broad Daylight before rapping off in the extreme heat and bailing for home. The climbing was lovely, I sailed up a runout 5.9. I almost felt like I had my mojo back…until the sun hit me. There is zero shade at D-town. It felt like standing too close to a roaring palette fire at Jtree. Unbearable heat. Did I mention it was warm?
We ordered a canopy from a local company out in Parkland. It won’t be ready until October. It’s crazy how back-ordered all the canopy companies are. Some of the popup builders have one year wait lists. At least we will have it for the winter months. We are looking forward to having more room in the bigger canopy. I will have room for climbing, painting and a sleeping platform. For decades we had to haul heavy loads to the front seats and roof rack so we could sleep in the back. Now we should have room without a lot of heavy lifting.
I painted Comet Falls at Rainier the day after climbing Rattletail with Christine. It’s a palette knife painting and might be good. Three people asked me where my gallery was. Then the very next day I carried my heavy rock pack with two ropes up to three o’clock rock. That was 4 days of heavily loaded hiking in a row…in the heat. My shoulders hurt from the art pack backpack straps. That is my first hand sewn back pack, and the straps weren’t thick enough for 40 to 50 pound loads. Just tonight I sewed new 3 inch thick padded shoulder straps. They feel awesome, can’t wait to take them on another painting expedition.
Now that we are both getting SS checks I have less pressure to sell my paintings. Now, I paint because it’s fun, not because I need to sell them to make money. It’s kind of freeing knowing that I don’t have to sell my paintings anymore. I mean sure, it’s validating to have them sell, but knowing the good ones can stay with me is cool.
Vitaliy dropped by today with his wife and kid and new baby. So great to see him! He hasn’t climbed outside in a year. He is such a great climbing partner.
I have a bunch of new songs this summer: Difference between Whiskey and You, Cat’s in the Cradle, When you say Nothing at All, Shallow (Lady Gaga). I swore for decades that i could never memorize a song. Fletch persuaded me that I could, so I did. I’ve got Whiskey dialed.