Category Archives: My Sketches

STONE COLD

    What does a colander, kidney stones and Church have in common?  This is the question on the front of every thinking person’s frontal brain lobe, isn’t it?  If it is, here is my answer to my own question.

     They all came together one hot, summer Sunday morning at our Church.  It began when one of our Church ladies started cornering people who were still inside the Church.  She was carrying one of those short, squatty plastic glasses that a person gets from the local convenience store from the soda fountain.  The cup appeared to be filled with something cold because beads of condensation had formed on the glass and were temptingly sliding down its side.  Was it a soft drink, iced tea or just ice water?  Any one of them would have been welcomed on such a warm day as it was turning out to be.  What I had hoped for, what I had imagined in the cup was not at all what the cup actually held.

      Like the rest of the unsuspecting Church people whom the woman had trapped, I too was given the opportunity to see something only a few eyes have seen.  At least, that is the feeling the woman was trying to push-off on us.  

     “Ivan, you gotta see this”.

     I had to see it?  What if I didn’t want to?  I wished I had gone with my frontal brain lobe thought that said, “Run far and fast.  You ain’t going to wanna see that!”  Sadly, I didn’t listen to myself!

     Frozen in the clear ice of the glass, suspended in cold storage, were small, smooth, hardened clumps of what looked like peanut butter with a slight case of Jaundice.   Yellowish, beanish looking orbs. 

     After the show of’ show and tell’ came the ‘tell’ part and tell she did.  Her explanation blasted any thought of wanting an ice-cold, refreshing drink far from my mind because of what we were having deciphered to us.  Kidney stones.  Those globulations on ice were kidney stones.  To be more precise, they were her kidney stones!  She had cultivated, produced, grown and somehow harvested her own kidney stones. They were locally raised, one owner, genuine kidney stones from a lady in our Church.  What more could a person ask for?  More details? Definitely not! Not me.  I was not going to ask for any details.  I had seen enough and had managed quite well to keep my breakfast down, up to that point, though it was becoming somewhat of a struggle. 

     I didn’t need to ask.  She didn’t need to be asked.  She was the queen of show and tell!  I knew she had not recently had any operations because she had not missed any Church. Her story of explanation was deep with explanation of her taking some kind of special medication to get the stones, her stones in motion.  In order to tell if the procedure was doing any good, she had placed a kitchen colander in the toilet every time she ‘did her duty’.  That was how she had managed to catch and collected the stones.  For a woman who did a lot of fishing, why she didn’t believe in the ‘catch and release’ idea, I’ll never know.   After catching, all that was left for her to do was to add water to her specimens, freeze them to keep them fresh, just so she could show them to everyone at Church.  That included all who were not interested or had weak stomaches which basically covered every person in our Church!  The good news in all of this is that no one puked, at least not publicly. 

I have come up with this CONCLUSION: In the end, I thought that a person like her was just the one to start a chapter of KSAP or Kidney Stone Anonymous Passers.  They could meet weekly after completing a Twelve Flush Program.  One by one, they could stand and say something like, “Hi, my name is so and so and in the past, I have been kidney stoned.  Not anymore.  I have been relieved.  Let us now pass the plastic glass around.”

     By the way, that’s all I have to say on the subject,  just in passing!

     (The above sketch is another of my early attempts to sketch my thoughts with the only resources I had available at the time.)

FOOD FOR (the) THOUGHT(less)

    

The other day, I drew the CONCLUSION that I’m not against sitting down with the family and having a meal together. We do it all the time. It helps keep the family, well, together! Evening meal time is a time of sharing, talking about the events of the day and generally, a place to chew the fat. (Not that we chew much fat. We’ve tried to cut out as much fat out of our diet as possible.)

I remember one night, many years ago when, after having our meal together, I did what I usually did after a hard day at work. I herded three youngest of our six kids off to bed while the oldest two, mom and the baby stayed up a little while longer. It was only about 9 PM and, as usual, I was sleepy. So……..since Dad was going to bed, the younger three should also go to bed. I thought that all I had to do was to tuck them into their beds and then I could be off to mine. That should have been it. That should have been the extent of my duties at night. How hard could something like that be? How long could that take? That was the way it was supposed to be but that was not the way it was going to be that night!

I tucked the two youngest kids into their bunk beds and the older one into his double bed. It was at precisely that magical moment that the action began. Requests, excuses, tattlings, whinings and general chaos.

“Can I have a drink”?

“I have to go potty”.

“I’m hungry now“.

“I’m cold”.

“I’m too hot”.

“Will you scratch my back”?

These and so many more stall tactics were incorporated, even before the tungsten in the switched off light bulb had cooled down. I wasn’t going to turn the light back on so I did my best to deal with the kids in the dark. And then, there was one question that always caused me to turn the light back on. One question I simply could not resist. One question, which looking back on it now, many years later, I realize the kids knew I couldn’t resist.

“Dad, will you read to us”?

“Okay, just a short bedtime story”, I thought. After all, I enjoyed a good bedtime story as much as the other kids did but that night, I wanted to read something I felt was interesting to me. Unfortunately, classic poetry was out of the question, unless of course, it was the all educational Dr. Seuss or the Bernstein Bears. What I was going to read had to be light and childish and something a little bit more exciting than a picture book. To my way of thinking, all of their choices of reading material were about as exciting as the getting the flu! After much begging, I graciously gave in.

“Fine! I’ll read the book you chose”!

I was too tired to argue anymore about whatever it was that they had chosen so I lay down on the double bed with two kids laying on one side of me and one on the other side. I began reading but abruptly stopped my reading when I had a question of my own to ask.

“How come it smells like someone wet the bed”?

One of the kids replied, “Because they did”!

“Where”?

“Right where you’re laying Dad”.

By then, it was too late to move. I had already begun to sponge it up. Gross! I quickly made a mental note that from then on, I would not give the kids anything to drink…. for three days before I put them to bed!

As for the bedtime story I had begun to read, somewhere after the first five or so pages of a twenty page book, the story had worked its magic. The sound of snoring was echoing off of the walls, but that was only to be short-lived. One of the kids interrupted the noise by saying, “Dad, wake up. You’re keeping us awake with your sleeping!”

Was it my fault I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I stretched out on a bed with a good child’s book in my hands? A moment’s relaxation could have turned into a night’s sleep, if only the kids had not interrupted me. I was so ready for sleep, why weren’t they?

I tried reading again and again, the story worked its magic. I closed my eyes for just a second and the next thing I knew, the kids were fighting and crawling all over me as if I was a human jungle gym. Right about then, my wife called out and asked me, “Are you putting the kids to bed or not”?

When I said, “Yes Dear”, she said, “It sure doesn’t sound like it”! Then she added something like, “Did I need her to come in and do it for me”?

Like I needed her to do my job! Then again, I did wonder why they were having such a hard time falling asleep when I was having no trouble at all.

It wasn’t too long before, once again, I was lulled off to lull-lull land by the rhythmic soothing sounds of the kids screaming and hollering at each other! I never did know how long it was before I woke up to the sound of too much quietness. The sound of silence was eerie. It was plain to see that the kids were still not asleep, that much was easy enough for any sleepy-eyed Dad to see. Something was wrong. They were not fighting! There was no screaming. No one was wetting the bed! Instead, the only noise I heard them making was a munching, crunching, chewing sound. I wanted to know what was going on.

The two youngest kids were sitting on one side of me and the older one sat on the opposite side as I lay in their bed. Their positioning had not changed. The three sat there, quite contentedly chomping on some of those little fish-shaped cheese crackers. They weren’t being very neat about it either. As I began to wake up a little bit more, I began to wonder why I was covered with crumbs. Cheese cracker crumbs.

As it turned out, while I had been sleeping, the kids had gotten hungry and one of them had quietly gone for snacks. Whether on purpose or not, they had shared their munchies with me, turning me into a piece of furniture. Specifically, I had been used as a table. Each kid had put their personal stash of cheesy crackers somewhere on my belly. Quietly, politely and one at a time, the kids were eating their crackers from off of my tummy. I was covered with a mess of yellow crumbs up and down my belly and I had an itching in my belly button.

Looking back on it all now, there were three things I should be thankful for. First, they were all quietly sharing. Second, they were eating crackers instead of something that required forks, knives and spoons. And, third, if it had been potato chips they were eating, they may have used my belly button to hold the chip dip! Now that would have been disgusting!

     Below is another sketch I made in ink, on colored, lined paper, years ago.   I have since discovered erasures, white, unlined paper and colored pencils.  Now, that’s progress! 

ROMANCE, RATS AND SHOELACES

     Romance, rats and shoelaces hardly are kissing cousins when it comes to being related to each other yet, somehow I managed to lump the three together!  It all was so innocent and began when I had just cleaned up from a hard days work and was sitting on the couch with the love of my wife for eighteen years, my wife.  She was looking lovely as ever.  It was early in the evening and we were leisurely sitting in front of the flickering glow of the TV set.  Although we were all alone on the couch, we were not at all, all alone.  Strategically seated around the room were all six of our children, each one in their personal favorite spot.  With that setting, I could tell that romance for the evening was going to be tough but still, I was going to try.  I was not embarrassed to show romance to my wife in front of the kids.  They had seen us smooch and snuggle too many times to count and each of those countless times were enough to gross them out.  They freely showed true feelings by their reactions of gagging or complaining or both simultaneously.  With those visions vaguely on the back of my mind, I leaned close to my wife’s ear and whispered these six little words;

     “Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.”

     I was whispering sweet nothings into her ear.  In between crunches of the corn chips she was munching on, her response to my romantic gesture was, “What”?

     I tried to tell her to hush because I didn’t want it to be obvious to the kids that I was trying to work my romantic magic.  After all, any couple that was near the forty-year old mark should not be romantic, at least according to them.  Their biggest nightmare was to see their own parents being romantic!  How terrible could that be? 

     Looking around, I noticed that not a kid had seemed to have noticed nor had any one of them lost their focus on whatever it was they were doing at the time.  That gave me reason to be encouraged enough to try it again.  Once more, I whispered the same six words.

     “Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.  Sweet nothings.”

     Ah, but the second time, her response was different.  She turned to me and repeated what she had heard.

     “Sweena, sweena, sweena?  Who’s Sweena”? she asked as she took  another corn chip and put it in her mouth.

     Instantly, I began to question the futility of the situation but decided it was time for me to step things up and take desperate measures.  Taking her face in my hands I kissed her long and deep.  Then I said the next six little words that popped into my head.

     “You smell like a rat, Dear”!

     What I said and what I meant were two entirely different things!  Of course, after my bold statement, it was at that exact moment that the radar of each kid came on.  Normally, anytime an adult spoke, their radar was turned off.  Not then.  It was up and running.  Full blast!

     Glancing over his shoulder, my sixteen year old son said, “That really sets the mood for romance, Dad!”

     Our fourteen year old daughter then said, “Smooth move, Dad”!

     Of course, her comment was followed by, “Way to go, Dad” from my eleven year old son. 

     His seven-year old brother chimed in and said, “”Awe ver!  Dad said Mom is a rat”!

     Not to be outdone, our four-year old daughter said, “Dad!”

     And last but not entirely least, our eight month old baby girl had to get her two cents worth in.  For some reason, she simply started to cry.  

     It was at that precise moment that the whole ball of wax of romance, rats and shoelaces came together.  All I was trying to do was to be a little romantic but when I mixed in the part about the rat, the shoelaces naturally had to follow! 

     My wife looked long and hard at me then spoke her feelings on what I had just said, thus, the introduction of the shoelaces.

     “You just stuck your foot into your mouth, Mister”!

     Quickly, I tried to cover my verbal tracks by saying, “I mean, your breath smells like a rat.” 

     Wrong line number two!

     Glaring in my general direction, she continued by saying, “You just stuck your other foot into your mouth, Buster”.

     I could see the ice beginning to form over any romantic attempt I was going to put forth from there on.  And yet again, I tried to come to my own rescue.

     “It doesn’t smell like a rat all the time”.

     “You just swallowed both feet, clear up to the laces of knee-high army boots!  Thanks a lot, Dear!”

     With that said, I knew I had just put a polar icecap on my own iceage which was going to last a very long time, especially if I didn’t stop before I got any further behind.

     By that time, none of the kids had any idea of what was on the TV nor did they didn’t care.  As it turned out, I was more entertaining than anything they could ever think about viewing on the TV! 

     Looking back on it so many years later, I still ask, “How was I to know that one little ‘rat’ comment could cause such a big stink”? 

     All I could do that night was to head off to bed, pull the covers over my head and wait for the thaw.  One CONCLUSION I have learned from all I had  been through was this:  Corn chips, when eaten, will always smell like a rat!   And whatever a husband may do, he must never tell his wife what her breath smells like!  Never!

     PS:  This is another one of the stories I wrote about 1996.  As said before, since that time, I have discovered white, unlined and uncolored paper; pencils and erasure for rough draft sketches and colored pencils to add color to my sketches.  Has my artistry improved?  Probably not but I still love giving it a try.  Hope you liked what you just read.

I’M REALLY BUMMED

     One day, I took it upon myself to do something really nice for my beloved wife.  I was carrying on a tradition I had been doing for a long time.  Years earlier, I heard a radio broadcast from Paul Harvey’s, The Rest Of The Story about a man who had bought roses for his wife every day for something like fifty years.  It sounded like a good, romantic idea so I began  my own tradition.  Every payday, I would buy my wife flowers, well, one flower and take it home to her.  When I first began this tradition, I had also used roses as my flower of choice.  A single rose for my love.  Nothing was too good for her!  She loved the roses and I loved giving them to her but there were one or two flaws with roses.  One, roses had thorns.  Two, roses were quite expensive and their cost could fluctuate greatly from one week to the next, especially around the holidays.  It wasn’t like my wife was not worth the cost of a single rose every two weeks because she was.  Rather than look on the cost of flowers as an expense, I looked upon the price as an investment.  I was practically a banker with my investment way of thinking!What played into my second choice of flowers were reasons three, four and five.  Carnations were less expensive.  Even during times of special occasions, their prices didn’t fluctuate from season to season.  At the original time of this writing in 1996, a buck a piece was the norm.  

     Another thing about carnations that made me make them our flower of choice was that they lasted longer than one week.  Some, if they were completely fresh when I bought them could last from one payday until the next. 

     And lastly but most important was the fact that my wife really did love to receive carnations more than she did roses.  Ah, what sweet luck. 

     The particular payday I referenced in the beginning was like many of the other 364 days in Portland, Oregon.  It was raining and though it was, the rain was not the problem I am endeavoring to explain. 

     On my way home, I had parked about a block from my flower shop and was walking back to my car in the rain, holding a fresh, white carnation in my hand.  Having become a regular, my florist had wrapped my flower in a funnel-shaped tube of colored paper.  She had also tied a pretty ribbon around it making it look quite impressive for a dollar. 

     I was feeling pretty good about myself because I just knew that when my wife got her flower, her eyes would light up.  Perhaps, her eyes would then cloud over with tears as they had in times past.  After presenting her with such a beautiful flower, I would say those three little words she had become so used to hearing.

     “What’s for dinner”?

     Her response would be something like:  “What?  No, ‘Honey, I’m home, how was your day’?  No, ‘I love you Dear’, it’s good to see you?  Not even a kiss?” 

     Of course, after that, I did only what I thought was proper and right.  I repeated, “Honey, I’m home.  How was your day?  I love you Dear.  It’s good to see you”.

     With that being taken care of, I followed it all up with a kiss.  My wife’s response to what I had just done was, “Do you really mean it or are you just saying those things because I just said them”?

     “Yes to both questions.”

     That’s pretty much how it went that night.  I announced my arrival by asking for dinner, she asked her questions and I gave her the responses she wanted me to say.  Before she had a chance to say more, I quickly asked, “Do you like your flower?”

     She had told me before how much she loved getting a flower each payday.  Sadly, for me that evening, I really didn’t have a flower to offer her.   Things had changed in between the time I had purchased her flower and my walk in the rain back to my car.  As it turned out, just before I got to my car, I was trying my hardest to avoid all of the puddles and keep from getting drenched.  It wasn’t working because I was getting soaked through and through.  With my car was in sight, I just happened to glance to my left and noticed a man sitting on the low brick wall of a flowerbed in front of a bank.  Looking closer as I hurried past him, I could see that the man was not just any man.  He was a homeless man.  A street person.  Some might even call him a bum.  He was someone who slept out in the open and rummaged through dumpsters in allies, looking for pop cans and any other useful items he could fill his empty shopping cart with. 

     As I walked past him, I was truly grateful that it wasn’t me sitting in the rain.  I was blessed with a job and a home to go to at nights.  I was also blessed with a car.  I was thankful I wasn’t living off of the streets like he was.  I was glad I could afford such luxuries as the white carnation I had just purchased for my wife.  Closing the door of my car, suddenly, I had a twinge of conscience  which quickly erupted into a full-fledged attack of guilt.  There, in the rain, sat a man holding on to an empty shopping cart, save for a coffee mug in the bottom.  He just sat there in the rain, watching people go by on the busy street.  Very few of them even noticed him and those who did, hurried on past him before he had a chance to ask them for something.  He was bothering no one because he was asking for nothing.  All he was doing was watching.  I just sat there, out of the rain in my nice, warm car watching him in my mirror as he watched what was going on around him. 

     It was then that I began to notice a few more details about this man.  I could see that he wore a red baseball cap with the brim turned off to the right.  It was perched crookedly on his head with a mess of unkempt hair spilling out from under it.  The side of the cap, which had become the front, had a big patch of grey duct tape on it.  On the tape was what I presumed was his name.  It said, “Old Stu”. 

     Finally, after several tense moments, I could not take it anymore.  I was going to leave the security of my car and approach the man.  Just before I got out, I came up with a plan of what I was going to do once I actually made contact with him.  I grabbed my wife’s carnation and headed in his direction.  He saw my approach but did not move.  He just sat there as the rain continued to come down.  I held out the flower and awkwardly said, “Here, this is for you”.  Then I quickly asked, “Want a carnation?”

     He smiled slightly.  I got a better view of him as we stared silently at each other for what seemed like an awfully long time.  He looked a bit ragged as he was sporting what must have been a week or more of facial stubble.  I could not help but notice that he was missing most of his teeth which caused his face to cave in around his hollow mouth.  When he spoke, his words came out slightly mush-mouthed and was a little hard to understand.

     “A pflower pfor me?” he asked 

     Though he identified that the ‘pflower’ I was holding out at arm’s length was for him, he made no move to take it from me.  Not knowing what else I could do or what I should say next, I stuck the point of the funnel-shaped flower paper in a coffee mug that was sitting in the bottom of his shopping cart.  It then fell over and leaned against the side of the cart. 

     I had accomplished what I had intended to accomplish.  As I turned to go, again, he smiled only slightly and said “Pfank you.”

     I nodded as I walked away and was suddenly feeling pretty good about myself and my selflessness as I got back into my car.  I had done something special, for a total stranger, who appeared to be living off of the streets in the inclement weather.  I was trying to not get too puffed up with myself although I was pretty proud of myself for what I had just done.  I had never done anything like that before.

     The whole way home, I kept thinking of my wife’s response when I shared with her the hospitality I had shown to Old Stu.  Surely, she would be pleased and I would be recognized as somewhat of a hero.  She would practically fall down at my humble feet in adoration of my thoughtfulness to a perfect stranger! I was going to be her Knight in shinning armour.  Her beloved husband!  Her Prince!  Her everything!  I tried to not dwell on how just how great I really was!  There was no one else like me!

     Once I got home, I was almost bursting with a desire to tell my wife of my good deed but I decided to contain myself.  I wanted the moment to be just right, the mood to be perfect.  All of the kids needed to be present, just in case they felt the necessity to add to the admiration that I soon would be getting from my wife!

     Finally, the proper time came while we were all seated at the supper table.  I hushed all conversation and eliminated all distractions.  All eyes were on me.  clearing my throat, I said to my wife, “I guess you have noticed that I didn’t bring you your usual carnation”. 

     I was going to draw the occasion out, play out enough line, set the hook deep in all of their hearts then reel in their emotional affections!  That was my plan alright. 

     “Didn’t you get paid today”? my wife innocently asked.  I answered her that I had indeed, to which she followed up with another question.

     “You just forgot to buy my flower, didn’t you?  That’s alright.  You don’t have to get me a flower.”

     My plan was going to be harder to carry out than I had initially thought.  It was getting hard to tell just who was fishing who.

     “Well, no I didn’t forget to buy your flower”I said.  “As a matter of fact, I did buy your flower.”

     Her response was, “I thought you said you didn’t buy me a flower”.

     “I never said I did not buy you a flower.  What I said was that you may have noticed that you didn’t get your flower”.

     I went on to explain my act of unmatched kindness in as much detail and with as much enthusiasm as I  could as my wife and kids looked on with awe!

     “I did buy you a flower but I gave it to someone else” I announced cheerfully.  With the attention of the whole family, I had them all right where I wanted them.  And yet, the expressions on their faces began to worry me.  It was like a silent look of unspoken accusation so I continued on with my explanation.

     “I gave your flower to an old man”! I said proudly, perhaps puffing my chest out just a bit.

     “You what”? she asked in surprise, not batting an eyelid.  In fact, if I had not known better, I would have said that her eyes bugged out…..just a bit.

     Still, I felt like I had finally hooked her and I slowly began to reel her in. 

     Smiling, I said, “I gave your flower to an old man sitting on a wall by the bank”.

     “You gave my flower to a bum”? my wife asked. 

      At last, she was getting the picture!  I found myself fighting hard to not radiate in my humble act of earlier kindness but evidently, for my wife’s sake, I still had a bit more explaining to do.  No problem!  I would just give her the facts.

     “He wasn’t a bum.  He was a street person”!

     “He was a homeless bum!  You gave my flower away to a nameless, homeless bum”! 

     She sounded a little bit irritated.  Things were not going exactly the way I had pictured that they would go but I thought I could still save face.

     “He wasn’t nameless.  His cap said, ‘Old Stu’ on it.

     “Old Stew”? she asked.  “You gave my flower to an old, stewed, homeless bum”?

     It’s not that my wife is a card-carrying, nameless bum hater or anything like that.  Quite the opposite.  She is a loving, caring, generous individual who would do just about anything for anybody.  Perhaps, I had crossed a fine line in giving her flower, (my small token of my undying love to her) to a….to Old Stu.  Just perhaps!

     It was somewhere around that point in the conversation that the more I tried to back pedal, the deeper in I got.  From there on out, each little detail I added only made matters worse.  The hole I was digging seemed to be turning into a deep grave that threatened to cave in on me at any second.  Finally, I just gave up when some of the kids chanted, “You gave moms flower to a drunk!”  “You gave moms flower to a complete stranger!”  “You gave moms flower away!”

     Needless to say, I had not earned any brownie points with my wife and the whole flower issue like I generally did ever pay-day!  Instead of feeling like I was floating on cloud nine, I felt like I was in the middle of a big black rain cloud of guilt.  All that was missing under my storm cloud was Old Stu!  The rest of the evening only went downhill from there!

     The next day, the guilt cloud followed me all day long until after work, on my way home, I went back to my flower shop.  That time, I didn’t stop with just one single carnation.  No siree!  Instead, I bought two carnations to replace the one I had sacrifically given away the night before.  Walking back to the car, I was relieved that Old Stu was not sitting on the wall where he had been seated the night before.  Good!  I wouldn’t feel compelled to give him half of my wife’s flowers!

     On my own initative, when I got home, I walked in the door, kissed my wife, asked her how her day went, told her I loved her and handed her two neatly wrapped white carnations! Her eyes clouded over and I was where I should have been the night before if it had not been for some random act of kindness to one named Old Stu. 

     Looking back on it all now, I have come to the CONCLUSION that the whole experience could have left me feeling really bummed!      

JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT!

These are some more of my sketches. 
Every now and then, I’ll post the same sketch with different captions. 

I don't know what happened. All I remember is I ate some loco weed, things got blurry and when I woke up, this is how I looked!

 

    

Stop saying, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings”. You know I can’t sing!

I'm serious. I didn't do this!

 

I've stewed over this all day and all you can say is that there is a hare or two in it?

 

I thought you said you had a "coin" collection, not a CON collection!

 

Crash Test Mummies!

 

Weez gots ways of making you talk, Head!

 

When Animal Crackers Go Bad!