Every so often, I get the “urge to art something.”  (No “Where’s the f?” jokes, if’ you please…)  Problem is, like most people, I haven’t discovered my “gift” in art, yet.  Writing doesn’t count, lol.

When I think art I think of things like what my buddy Gaye over at www.strategiclivingblog.com talks about in Pursuing Your Passion: Getting Started With Adult Coloring.  Since we’ve been friends since ’73, or so, I’ve talked to her several times about this kind of art – and what she says makes it sound like something that might be worth trying.

Truth be known, I was a pretty good “paint by numbers” guy,  50-odd years back.  Want a million-dollar idea?  Come up with a paint-by-numbers kit that you could project onto your own canvas that would colorize the painting and put in the numbers for you.  THAT would be cool.

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My tastes in Paint By run to paintings like these:

As you will notice, I like rural, mountains, woods, and waterside things in general.

But, like I was saying:  If there was a service where I could send in a picture, like the boat we lived on for the first year and a half we were married, THAT would be fun to turn this into a painting.

Since the “regular” painting kits, in the 16X20-inch range, run in the $15 and under area, I would think a $50 kit with the right paints and the numbers would be a really cool service.

Maybe it’s out there and I just haven’t stumbled into it yet. But, if someone has done it, Paint By Numbers (PBN) is a form of making.  And all making is good.

Meanwhile, Elaine’s got a corner of the guest quarters/gym staked out for her artsy side.  She’s one of those people I envy – not needing numbers of lines to stay in…

There’s actually a forest scene that will emerge from that canvas one of these days.  A big problem painting while looking out at the woods is there’s just so damn much to see.  It’s distracting as hell… deer, owl, hawks, cats…it’s all out there somewhere lurking.

Activity Scheduling for Later in Life

As much as I would love to be working on a painting – that’s just one more time sink in life I don’t need right now.  Still working on web site revisions – which will be done— when they’re done.

Doing a paint-by-numbers looks to me likek something that could be pushed back into late-stages of life.  Assuming there’s not too much of a palsy, of course.  Heck, even if there is, it’s just turning that into a bazillion brush strokes.  Not stippling, but near enough…  Attitude and overcoming is the point of life, is it not?

For now, I can still handle most of the Big Work around here single-handed.  Where I need/or cautiously rent – a hand now is for high work on ladders and such.  Cleaning out gutters, comes to mind.   Sure,  CAN still do it all, but statistics say that’s dumb.  

Lifting heavy weights (much over 80 pounds) seems like an unnecessary strain, so those go onto the “for hire” list.  Painting the house might be on it this spring, too.

On the other hand, gardening seems like it could go on much longer (80 something?) IF you have been studying that weed-free gardening book I mentioned to you recently ( Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich).

Reich’s approach doesn’t involve turning over the soil – and that appeals to me more every year.  Love-hate- with the tiller this time of year.  We have plenty of pine straw around, toss in a few bales of real straw and a couple of 166-foot rolls of Trimaco Red Rosin Builders Paper, should  give us a good start on that Weedless Garden Reich writes about.  Five minutes to a half hour a week?  Pinch me.  More on this as we give it a try this spring.

At some point in aging, it will be time to shelve the power tools, too.  That may be when we get serious about moving to the ideal dream retirement home.

We keep collecting the list of specifications (one level, short walk to store, low crime, inside city, 3-minute medical response times, modest climate but not too cold, low taxes, no HOA ham radio nazis, etc.).

With that big picture done, the subordinated task becomes figuring out what hobbies, pursuits, and pastimes will be put into that “some day” dwelling.   Thing is, we know when people either don’t have projects, or if projects get stalled, then ill health almost automatically follows.

I was talking to a fellow who has an airplane for sale  (at the right price we still think about it…) the other day (flying, like sailing is something you never get over).  Gentleman selling a mint Cessna 175 is 80-something and has been retired for more than 15 years.  He’s building what will be his second or third airplane now.  An RV-4, if you’re interested.

Knows he probably won’t be flying it much.  But, as a retired A&P and inspector, he just loves keeping active.   “People die when they sit down” he confided…and we agreed.

It’s like that with ham radio around here.

We will be taking a number of casino trips this year – loading up the memory banks with some of the great entertainers who are still around.  Going to see Johnny Mathis is early March, for example.  Tom Jones in May.

You see, that’s the thing:  We don’t enjoy the cattle call experience or wife-grabbing that air travel has evolved into.  So, we plan to take leisurely drives.  A cruise now and then, maybe….sure.

But our main goals are to fill in all those blanks in life we’d never gotten around to earlier.  Write the Great Novel, find the hidden keys to life, master spiritual realms ahead of time…little projects like those.

Which gets me back to painting.  Even if rudimentary and by numbers.

I told you a good while back about Karl Hansen, one of the last of the real master model builders of sailing ships out of Portland, Oregon, was a friend of the family growing up.  He sailed them all:  Tall Ships from about age 10 as a cabin boy around 1890 on…

As an Able Body Seaman, he’d sailed the last of the big ships – ones used in the lumber and grain trades, mostly.  Knew every line aloft by heart and has been up there in gales around the Horn and more.

There’s a “doing magic” part to those eras.  Like the steam engines. Something more of a “hard contact sport” of life than the sissified world gone virtual, accessible, correct, and boring.  There’s still some frontier land in Texas, and many other states.  But the people are softer now, less determined, lacking the broad vision.  Don’t know how to put it into words.  But seriously, is getting consciousness out of a body and onto a chip a worthy goal or charade – a kind of last act of self-delusion by a world of people driven mad by their own devices?  Bit questions these.

It would be just a dandy decorating project for the “last home” to have something in the den/office that would be a focus on a single ship.  Maybe old Cutty Sark, or Thermopylae would be good.  Bigger?  Sure: something like this Model Shipways USS Constitution 48” Long Wood Kit. Easier to work the lines (shrouds, ratlines, and such) if you’re dealing with larger.  On the other hand, hand-laying the plank on frame models IS more difficult than an inexpensive plastic variety.

Plastic isn’t bad.  Hansen built a goodly number.  Where his genius was he knew better than modelmakers where each line went, what it’s purpose was, and how it was stowed.  Modelmakers who’d never been to see made some stupid decisions on some lines.  You don’t just put up lines for fun and appearance on a real ship, though.  Purpose…focus on that.

Between a painting, a good-sized model, and a writer’s over-active imagination with a penchant for travel, the whole package might be spun  into quite a painting, a finely crafted model, a book, or two, and travel adventure to see the old harbors.

I plan to continue banging on  a Morse key well past the medic unit showing up…and with so many books to read (and many more to write) it isn’t like there’s not having enough to keep us busy around here.

Still, when the sun’s out but still too cold for real gardening work, it’s tempting to eye the “art spectrum” and figure up how to  “stage” some of that into the order of appearance for the tail end of life.  I don’t think any of us every get to sample enough or it, though.

Assuming this smorgasbord doesn’t stay open forever, there’s still empty-space between our ears into which we can all pack a ton more experiences and knowledge – the currencies of the soul that you really can take with you when you go to the Big Sleep.

Busy people don’t die.  People with no goals, on the other hand, seem to be pushing themselves to the front of that line.

Additional Weekend Column?

Hobby and Making discussions:  I’m thinking about adding a column on Saturday or Sunday from time-to-time.  Topic would be Making & Electronics.

There are lots of “moving parts” to this little enterprise, but some of the more interesting ones (to me, personally) are those involving electronic projects.  Ham radio restorations, explaining the fine art of being The Radio Detective – plus I’m well over 100 pages in a slow-motion writing project I’m working on called “The Art of Ham Radio Repair.”

This is aimed at the retro tube-type equipment which is far easier (thus more fun!) to work on than SMT (surface mount technology).

So let me know if there’s interests in the further adventures at the dumb end of the soldering iron, scope, RF signal generator…etc. etc….

Been a ham since 1963 or 64 (memory blurs) but in that time I’ve made most every mistake someone can make…no reason you should have to…

Write when you get rich…

George@ure.net