“When you start on a long journey, trees are trees, water is water, and mountains are mountains. After you have gone some distance, trees are no longer trees, water no longer water, mountains no longer mountains. But after you have traveled a great distance, trees are once again trees, water is once again water, mountains are once again mountains.” – Zen teaching
Start of another journey, indeed. Headed out for Indy to visit the Gabreks (however, Lori was out of town on business) as well as to deliver a commissioned piece of artwork. Mark and I had some dinner, then back to the house where I presented first the photo art that Diann has gifted them as they were so hospitable to us in June. The piece is "Morning at Lake Douthat" which is one of my favorites of her's; it is sunrise on a lake in Virginia. I had been teaching at Governor's School, hosted by the university in Newport News. Di had flown out to help me drive back from Virginia to Chicago and we were tent camping on the lake. This scene is what we saw when we exited the tent next morning.
I showed Mark the painting. I had done a 16x20" oil of the lake place in Brown County and I was very pleased how it turned out. Actually, it had, in my opinion, a slight resemblance to the work of master painter, Richard Schmid, who was for a long time an iconic presence at Chicago's revered Palette and Chisel - from the 60's onward - and now resides in Vermont with his wife, also an artist. Fair to say he is an influence in my work.
A couple of things came to light at dinner as we reminisced old times: both of us, Mark and me, shared a penchant for Taco Bell tacos when we were young and foolish. We first started patronizing the Bell together when the first Fort Wayne store opened in 1975, something like that. I used to drain down three or four taco sauce packets, just open them and drink them, after knocking down four or five crunchy tacos (they were $o.29 then!), which also had sauce poured on them.
Too, we tracked the fact that we both played baseball in parallel leagues - he at Village Woods and I played Little League at Hillcrest from age eight years old to twelve, then moved on to Senior League which was hosted at Paul Harding High School. Mark played Babe Ruth league, the like-companion to Senior league. We also started playing soccer same years, including a visit to the State Championship in Carmel where we lost 2-1. We both had stories of brief football careers, mine lasting through the first try-out in fifth or sixth grade; I remember thinking to myself that day, "now there's something I never need to do again." Mark said he made one of his first tackles, little running back named Mike Stronzcek, who hit him straight on - Mark's reaction, wow, this isn't even fun to me, as he slowly picked himself up from the ground, teeth rattling.
Anyway, got on my way as Mark was leaving for work next morning. Drove an indirect route eastward across central Indiana so as to visit Hagerstown, IN, where I had my first summer theater job with Nettle Creek Players in 1981. Right across the street from the tent theater was an awesome smorgasbord restaurant called Welliver's where many of us went virtually each Sunday evening after performances. Operating as Willie and Red's since 2010, it was destroyed by fire just a few months ago and was, for me, a bit chilling to drive by, as the building was almost completely boarded up; you could say, I suppose, 'smorgasborded up'.
These are the things I think about when driving cross-country on a painting trip.
At one point, passing through Columbus, I get a heavy metal station and have a wild hair of an idea. I try calling the radio station to make a request (I NEVER listen to metal music, trust me; my fondness for Peter Gabriel's music would betray me thoroughly). I just think it's funny that I am traveling to Maine to visit, before attending the workshop on Monhegan Island, a buddy of mine and his partner, Leigh, whom I have not yet had the pleasure meeting. This buddy, Jeff "Oly" Olson, was the original drummer for the metal band, Trouble, with whom he traveled extensively in Europe on tour back in the day. Jeff has appeared on each of the Trouble studio recordings as well. He now conducts a heavy metal podcast each Monday night, interviewing metal musicians, for his start-up business and label, "Retrograve." In addition, Jeff works for the stellar brew company, Allagash. This intrigues me more than the metal music. Beer. Wine. Maine.
However, this has always been one of my favorites of "Oly's" stories: they were playing a huge stadium in Europe, some tens of thousands of people in an open air venue in Holland, not unlike Woodstock, audience going nuts as the band takes the stage, and the singer for Trouble yells/shrieks into the microphone, "Is everybody Heeeeeeeeeeeeeerrree!" Oly said the other band members kinda looked at each other, then at the crowd and everybody - band and audience - was, for a shared moment in time, completely dumb-founded. It cracks me up. Oly said later, the reference clearly was intended to knick a famous moment of Jim Morrison and the Doors onstage, but in the moment it was lost.
The Kia and I make a stop in Old Hilliard, Ohio, to top off the brake fluid and to cash a check from a recent art purchase. I now am flush with cash for this trip, and here is how the budget works this time: I have three or four bank envelops, each with allotted amounts, the envelops designated "Monhegan Lodging," "Monhegan Workshop Fee," and "Gas-Chicago to Maine." I will be on a cash-only basis for all expenses for these three or so weeks.
Note that I haven't any envelops marked for foodage (yet), nor for fuel for the return trip. You sell a painting, you eat. Well, not to that extreme, but sure would like to have an envelop after my first sale on this trip - hopefully sooner than later, ha - designated: "Clam Chowder". If the piece that sells is 16x20" rather than 11x14" which, by necessity, commands a healthier purchase price, I will also write on the chowder envelop "... & Lobster." But I did go to Trader Joe's before leaving Chicago to stock up on and gather various trail mixes and couple of bottles of wine, as well as several canned goods for the Coleman stove. No worries. I am flush with canned goods now.
I arrived just before dark at Lake Erie State Park so as to camp and set up for a meal. I, Paul, borrowed from Peter exactly $8 for a visit to the market which resulted in a pork chop, a can of white potatoes, and a sack of organic broccoli/cauliflower. By light of my trusty old friend, the Coleman (florescent) lantern, I set to it browning the potatoes, steaming the veggies, then started the pork chop. Halfway through, I added the potatoes and veggies to the cast iron skillet with the chop, grilled them all together and ate directly from the skillet under an incredibly full moon. I wouldn't have wanted even $18 to buy this meal in a restaurant; my $8 served me just fine.
Now I have to find money to pay back Peter.