Grateful for My Immune System

Mountain Sketch 2
I often come back to mountains and sunrises — around here, mountains almost always frame the rising sun. New days, new hopes, new beginnings; grace, hope, renewal; all these come together when I see mountains lit afresh by the sun. Wintertime can bring some of the most staggeringly beautiful days, with snow in the mountains and skies washed clean.

Okay, so my skills as a digital artist don’t exactly reflect the glory I’m describing. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on making it my day job… But it does mean I’m able to stay vertical and semi-thinking long enough to do something. Which is progress! Also probably signs of improvement are my noticing and starting to feel alarmed about the fact that suddenly we’re barely a week from Christmas, and I have a ton left to do. I guess I had planned on doing it the last couple weeks, when instead I just subsisted.

I’m also noticing and caring about the state of my house, which reflects the fact that we’ve shifted into mere survival mode the last couple weeks.

And, finally, I feel sad that I can’t go for a bike ride today. Still no expectation that I would, or should, because I can’t go outside and breathe without severe, relentless coughing, and Benji is still stronger and faster than me. Plus I can’t imagine that long exposure to 30-degree temperatures and vigorous physical demands will help with recovering.

Speaking of recovery, I cannot believe how Kryptonite-y phenumonia is. It really does suck all my strength. I’ve lost almost 10 lbs in the last 10 days, and let me tell you, it isn’t mostly fat (darn it! I worked hard!…and I guess I will work hard some more). I’m starting to understand that there won’t be some day when I bounce back and feel normal, and everything will go back to how it was. No; I’m going to actually spend time recovering.

I haven’t had a disease that required actual recovery in a long time. Again, I feel so grateful that my regular life doesn’t involve that kind of deep, debilitating illness that trashes all my plans, strains my relationships, and throws “normal” out the window. These last couple weeks (and the next few weeks of recovery, too, I imagine) have helped me remember and appreciate the most basic blessing of all: health. The expectation of waking up in the morning able to function, participate in life, and contribute to my family and coworkers is a blessing I take for granted every day. But for now, at least for a while, I’ll remember to stay grateful for even that simple, fundamental thing.

I’ll leave you with a sunrise photo I took, which may do a little better than my doodle at expressing why I love sunrise over the Cascade mountains.
Sunrise and Mt. Baker from San Juan Island

Doodle Portfolio

I think I mentioned before I’ve been doing some doodling. Well, actually, by “some” I mean a fair amount, because I was doing it as a Christmas present for my chosen sister, Rachel. That is also why I didn’t mention the extent of my efforts, until she received my present. Now that’s out in the open, I wanted to share images of all my doodles to date. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them — they keep building up — but, hey, here they are (beneath the fold). If you like coloring and want larger/higher quality images of these to print and color, let me know. I’d be happy to share; also, I can always scan again with better color resolution.

A couple comments: They’re scanned in greyscale, which is why they’re kind of dull, but I did them all on nice paper with a fountain pen and permanent, archival black ink. After a while I got a drawing board and a T-square (still hanging around from my technical drawing class in high school!), which improved the straightness of my lines substantially, as you may notice, but I try to have fewer straight-edge lines and more freehand lines. Images are displayed in no particular order, but you can see I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about suns, moons, trees, clouds, and rain. Perhaps because I’ve always been interested in weather, these things pretty much never bore me to draw.

Why am I doing this? In part, as I mentioned, as a gift. But also because when I passed my Series 65 test, I needed something to calm my mind that was totally different from reading or the kind of thinking I’d been doing. I find this kind of doodling is something I can do while listening to the radio or talking with a friend (as long as they don’t mind my lack of eye contact), and it feels calming and meditative. I never know what’s going to come out when I start; sometimes I have a plan, but often I don’t. I just start with a blank sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and see what happens. I always try to just embrace and incorporate any errors (the black ink means there’s no undoing once I put the nib onto the paper), finding some way to redeem the mistake rather than fretting over it, because nothing in life is perfect, and I might as well accept that with my doodling as with the rest of life.

A lot of these look nicer on the page because the edge of the paper adds the sense of white space. I’ve been learning as I go what kind of balance of busy detail vs. white space feels right. Many of them are a little too busy, but then part of what I find soothing is drawing in this tiny space, many repeated but not identical elements, so that’s definitely not going away.

This window one is my favorite. I dredged some of my technical drawing skills back up and I like the straight line/curved line contrast as well as the content contrast.
Sun & Moon through Window

Pictures beneath here: Continue reading “Doodle Portfolio”

Still Kickin’

Day’s Verse:
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:7

I’m still alive! The week in Spokane was fun, the drive back wasn’t awful, and I spent the weekend recuperating. Monday and Tuesday this week at work we’re having a “Staff Revolution.” Everybody has felt for a while that the Bike Alliance has been stagnating and things need to change. This is where we build the groundwork for that change. We created a draft vision and a set of goals that really inspire and excite me — something I’ve not felt here before. By the end of the meeting yesterday, most of the other staff felt the same way. With a vision and goals like that, I could see staying with the Bike Alliance for a long time.

During the meeting, I doodled. Doodling doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention; during meetings, I either take copious notes (that I never look at again) or doodle, and that helps me listen. It works. Anyway, an all-day meeting means more flying cow pictures.

I drew the first one with this in mind:

It’s a fairly famous advertisement from around 1905, and most bicyclists have seen it at some point. Here’s my doodle. I just wish I could’ve added color to it.
Gladiator Cycles Flying Cow

And here are the rest of my doodles.
Flying Cow Silhouette
I like how the shadows turned out in this one so you can see it looks kind of like a sunrise or sunset.

Flying Cow Grace

Flying Cow Day/Night
Today I think I’ll play around more with the style of the last one. I like the inside/outside the border aspect of that doodle.