Stone Hall

I have decided to go sketch outside once a week (at least).

This is my first trip.  It was Friday October 10/6/17

This was at Stone Hall park, a tiny Metro park near my home.  It was a private residence that was built 1918.

I found a little porch where I could sit.

Here is the dry watercolor pencil version. This took an hour.

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Here it is after I added water.

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A lady named Julie came by and unlocked it.  She was cleaning it up for a wedding that afternoon.  I asked if I could go in.  She said yes.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

I’ve made up so many excuses to skip doing this for at least a year.  It was too hot or cold or sunny or wet or I was tired or needed to go to the bathroom or take leftovers home….and while some of these were applicable here, I went anyway because I had packed my supplies and a camp chair in my car.   I thought it would be a shame to not at least go and look.  I ended up spending over an hour here.  It was very invigorating.

Here is me inside the building.

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The inside/outside room

This week’s sketching adventure was at Summit hospital. There is a small patio that is surrounded by the building. It is inside and outside at the same time. The door has been locked for at least a year due to construction and remodeling.

I’d been there a year ago (an annual appointment with my cardiologist brings me here) and was planning to sketch then.  The construction had just begun, so there was no way.  This sign greeted me this year –

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I looked.  I could see no danger.  I didn’t test the door.

I got a pumpkin spice latte at the coffee shop and sketched and photographed from inside, through the glass.  This was my view from the inside.

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This is what I sketched (this is dry watercolor pencil)

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It is more impressionistic than realistic.  I didn’t match up the angles in the top North East corner (9 to 10 on the clock), so there is a gap.  It is OK, and I was grateful to have done this – to have made time to do this.

But this wasn’t enough for me. I talked to three people to determine why it was still locked.  The second person didn’t even think people were meant to be out there.  When I told her there were benches, she changed and said “Ask Ann” and jerked her thumb behind her to a small window that was set up like a bank teller.  It turns out that Ann is in charge of the switchboard. I have decided that if Ann doesn’t know the answer, she knows who knows.  She made some calls. She learned that it was safe to open again.  She called a security guard to unlock it for me.

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I’m the first person there in a year.

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I was overwhelmed with joy and pride at my bravery in asking.  I quietly said the “Shehecheyanu” prayer  – – “Blessed are You, Lord, ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.”

I chose a bench to sit on.  Here is what I saw –

One picture could not cover it all.

Here is what I sketched – (this is dry watercolor pencil)  This was 10-11 am, Friday October 13, 2017.  It was about 65 degrees.

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Here is what it looks like after, with water added. sum 10.jpgSketching isn’t about drawing everything that you see.  It is more than a photograph.  The filter is your perspective – not only externally, but internally.  It is what you want to show.  It is about editing out the trash cans, or highlighting the blue reflection of the mirrored glass.  It is choosing to draw only three lines of windows instead of 5.

It is more than a photograph because it shows things from a human perspective.

I took the results to the three people who I talked to in order to gain access.  I said “here is the fruit of our labors”   – and only the coffee shop person even remembered me.  I’d been gone for an hour and the other two had talked to lots of other people in the meantime.  They had forgotten about me.

Ann was particularly taken by my sketch and said “Do you do this for a living?”  No – I’m not paid (yet) for my art.  I do this to live.  But I don’t make money at it.  She brought up a local artist, Phil Ponder.  To have my art compared with his is a huge complement.  She said “You have real talent”.  I am pleased with my work, but I don’t think it is that great.  But this is inspiring.   She also thought that it would be a shame for this to stay in my journal – that I should make it so it can be on display in the hospital.

We will see.  This would involve asking more people, making sure that it will actually be on display and not hidden in a corner.  It might involve re-painting it on bigger and better paper.  Getting it framed.  Do I pay for that – or do they?  Do I want to go through all of that work?

Two different walls

This intersection is at McCallie Avenue and Central Avenue – headed North West.  To see it online, you can look up 1001 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN and turn left.

 

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Here is a wider view courtesy of Google street view –

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These walls used to be the same.  They were old and interesting.  Now the one on the right is obviously new.  I like that it tries to look old, but it is missing something. Sure, they could have just used concrete or bricks, so I’m glad it kind of blends in.

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But it just doesn’t have the character of this old wall to the left.

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Is the new wall even real stone – or is it concrete made to look like stone?  Doesn’t someone know how to stack stones like this anymore?

The lot on the left used to be part of a home.  There was an interesting house here.  It has been gone for years – but there is nothing there.  Further research will be required to find out why this valuable area has been empty all this time.

The “Before I die…” wall

I’d heard about this interactive art exhibit for years.  They pop up and are there for a brief time.

And then I came across one in Chattanooga, tucked away in a corner.  I almost missed it.  It was dark, I was tired.  I told my husband that we should come back tomorrow in the daylight.  He talked me into turning the car around and going to see this right then.

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It isn’t exactly on the main path.  Here is the view of the area from Google street view from above.  The wall is approximately in the middle. It is to the left of the bridge.  This is near Coolidge Park, but not part of it.  It is at the blue square, which is a roof for some machinery.

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Here is a view from street images from February 2017, showing the wall in the daylight before the exhibit.  This is a short walk from Sushi Nabe – a very good Japanese restaurant in Chattanooga that is also off the beaten path and worth finding.

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This exhibit was unveiled July 21st, 2017, and is sponsored by Hospice of Chattanooga.  Tracy Wood, CEO of Hospice, said that the goal was to create an opportunity for Chattanoogans to think about life and live every day as if it were their last.

According to the Before I Die website “Over 2,000 walls have been created in over 70 countries and over 35 languages…..The original wall was created on an abandoned house in New Orleans by artist Candy Chang after the death of someone she loved.

Here is the banner attached to the exhibit to explain it.

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Here are some of the photos I took of it.

 

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Several simply said “LIVE”

 

A few defined that as “Sky dive”

Several wanted to travel – namely to France, or Japan, or New Zealand.

Several wanted to marry  – some naming the person.  I wonder if they proposed at the wall?

Some were funny –

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And the last one that I saw was poignant –

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Saying simply “I want to live a clean a sober life” – and dated that day.  I paused, remembering my own struggle to get clean and sober.  I prayed for this anonymous stranger to have strength.  Sobriety is hard but it makes life much more meaningful.  A life spent messed up isn’t really experienced at all.

What would you write on the wall?

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My butterfly collection

All found near Nashville, TN, mostly in Old Hickory Village, on lantana and butterfly bush.  I believe that the best butterfly collection leaves the butterflies alive.

 

Black Swallowtail

 

Cloudless Sulphur

cloudless sulphur

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Monarch


Painted Lady

 

Pipevine Swallowtail

 

Red Spotted Purple

Red spotted purple

 

Silver Spotted Skipper

silver spotted skipper

Snout Butterfly

snout butterfly

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated fritillary

Zebra Swallowtail

zebra swallowtail

The road less traveled

       The road less traveled isn’t about the road.  It is about you.  It is about the fact that you stopped and thought and decided for yourself where and when and how you are going to go to get there. Where is there?  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is how, and that is up to you.   

Your road might be the highway. That is fine. The way doesn’t have to be a back road or a dusty path.  You don’t have to go on foot, carrying everything you think you’ll need in a backpack. You don’t have to suffer.  This isn’t penance. But perhaps it is a pilgrimage.

The famous poem about the two roads is at the end of this post for your convenience. Read it slowly, line by line, as if you are reading it for the first time.  If you are like me, you’ve heard it so often you miss what it is really saying.

But this isn’t about the road – either one.  This is about you.

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Where are you going?  Why?  Which way will you get there? Why? Consider it.  Be awake, and mindful.  Choose.  The only wrong choice is to waffle so much that you don’t make a choice at all.  To fail to act for fear of failure is the only true failure.

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My husband and I have driven together to Chattanooga many times over the years.  Usually we take the interstate.  I-24 East is a pleasant enough drive.  There are nice views and the trip takes about 2 hours.  It is safe, and that is part of the appeal.  There are places we can stop along the way for a snack or a bathroom break or to stretch our legs. However, it is uneventful, and because of the nature of the road, it inspires mindlessness.  You can get from here to there without thinking at all.  That is a concern.

How much of our lives is like that? Too much.

There is a road that runs almost parallel to I-24.  It is the original road that linked the cities before the interstate was built.  It is US-41.  We’ve seen glimpses of it on our right as we are coming home, going over bridge at Nickajack Lake, just West of Chattanooga. One time we got off at the exit just before there and considered taking that way back.  We stopped at a gas station and got some snacks and a map.  We went to the bathroom.  For some reason it felt like we were about to go to the moon and we needed to prepare really hard for this trip. It was going to add at least an hour and a half to our trip – maybe more.  We weren’t sure.  We didn’t know if there were going to be places we could stop along the way to refresh or refuel.

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We drove a little way up the road and freaked out a little.  We got back onto the freeway as soon as we could.  Perhaps we were already tired from our trip and just needed to get home.

Just going on a road trip can be the entire purpose of the trip.  Sometimes it isn’t where you go, but how you go.  The journey itself is the destination.

Another time we drove down part of the way on US-41.  It was beautiful.  Lots of hidden scenes and sights that you simply cannot see when going 70 mph.

US-41 is Broad Street in Chattanooga. But then it turns Right and is East Main.

It is how US-11 is also Lee Highway.

You can live in a town and not even notice how the road you’ve lived on all your life is part of something so much bigger – that it stretches all across the country.  It takes a while to find the lines sometimes – they merge with named roads, take detours, appear to drop off and then re-appear.

It is a bit like doing genealogy, now that I think about it.  If you’ve ever tried to uncover your family past, you might understand this.

The writer Charles Kuralt talked about this.  That we gain time when we take the freeway, but we lose something else.  We lose our sense of discovery and wonder.  Perhaps we aren’t meant to go faster, but to go slower.  Perhaps 70mph is too much for humans.  We sacrifice part of who we are, part of our nature, when we go so fast that we can’t see what is going on around us.

Life goes too fast as is. We need to slow down to actually live.  Life isn’t about traveling quickly from birth to death, but noticing all the moments in between.

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This time, on our way down, I went to find the maps we’d bought, but couldn’t locate them.  Would the GPS signal work?  We’d discovered that problem in the wilds of the North Carolina mountains.  There are areas where you can get pretty lost, still, these days. Technology doesn’t always serve. We asked for directions at a tiny church in a town called Frank.  Something about going up the road for several miles, and turning left at the dentist’s office. All too often, people give directions by what used to be there.  If I was local, I’d know what used to be there – but if I was local, I wouldn’t be asking for directions.   We wore ourselves out looking for that office.  It was mentally exhausting.  I didn’t want a repeat of that experience.

We went anyway, and I’m glad we did.

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I’ve learned that the route began around 1926, and runs 2000 miles, North to South, across the US, stretching from Miami, Florida to just before Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Maybe one day we’ll take a road trip and do the whole thing.

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The Road Not Taken – by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Wander kit

What’s in your Wander kit?
What supplies do you need on your adventure?

This is my basic kit – a “map case” bought at a Army supply store.  An assortment of pens.  A small blank journal found at a used book shop.  A bottle of water. An energy bar. A napkin.  A compass. Some reading material.

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This goes with me to doctor’s offices, when I go to get the oil changed in my car, when I have to take a class for work, and on every day off.  Simply assembling it gets me in the mood for a wander, knowing I’ll have the tools I need at hand.