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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

"Mother Nature's Schedule"

The Laughs On Me...


Good Wednesday Morning, all bodies!
And, so it goes...
The last couple of days I've taken the dawg for some walks around the bird sanctuary. On the last four or five walks gaggles of Canadian geese would split the early morning silence with their honkin' intercoms as the pass from their overnight stays to the east to their favorite ponds and lakes west of here.
Earlier this week, I took my iPad out to the driveway to record a developing storm coming from the south. It was a beautifully painted sunrise everywhere except looking south. Within four attempts to capture the lightning zipping downward, I never once came close.
But, as soon as I turned the camera off, ZAPP!, there's was a bolt or two... Each time.
This morning, I was gonna try my luck at capturing the goosey "V" formations as they cruised by. It was a rather brisk walk passed the bird sanctuary up the slightly elevated Orleans Avenue to Alexandre Street. All the streets in our subdivision have French names like Normandy, Bienville, Pierre, Montmarte, Denise, Chenell. I guess the builder was a Francophile of sorts.
The many times me and our cocker spaniel, Pierre, walked, we'd stop at Alexandre and turn back for home. The beauty of the street is that it is unobstructed by trees which gave me and the dog a great view of the honkers.
As routinely occurred, the birds would flyby between 6:45 and 7:30am and I was there promptly, though already a bit sweaty, at 7am. I waited and waited and waited waving rather perfunctorily to neighbors as they drove by. At 7:20, a school bus arrived to pick up two kids waiting at the corner. The kids waved and the bus driver waved and, with a sigh, I waved back. I was gonna have to put down my coffee mug if these morning greetings continued.
A few minutes after the kids left for school, the sound of geese rang out from the distance, but they passed three or four blocks north of Alexandre.
By a bit passed the half hour, I decided this wasn't gonna happen, so I started back down towards home. A block from my original stand, a formation of geese honked and flew by. Unfortunately, the trees hindered my capturing the entire flight.
In the distance, I could hear another group arriving from the east. As it passed along the line of where I wanted to video, I was conflicted. The thought of all those opportunities lost because I wasn't patient drove me back to Alexandre Street where I patiently pretended to be Marlon Perkins from "Wild Kingdom" days preparing for that perfect shot.
It never came!
At 8:10 am, I reluctantly started back home. Halfway home, another gaggle streamed across the sky. I aimed the camera and shot the geese only momentarily as the passed above the trees.
The playback was hilarious. I just had to laugh at the frustrated "fowl" language that appeared without me realizing it.
Well, Mother Nature has her own schedule that we all have to learn to live by, but that doesn't mean I have to approve.
In fact, as recorded on the discarded video, I was pretty pissed!
Third cup!

Monday, July 22, 2019

"Fancy Stirrups"

A pair of decorative stirrups from a collection...
Well, Good "rest in peace" Monday Morning, all bodies.

I found out yesterday, at Gus's, that a friend of mine passed away last Wednesday. Even though the last time I saw him, which was about three months ago, he commented that he looked better than he felt, his mood seemed a bit dejected. 

I was doing a demo painting at the local coffeehouse and he was awaiting a good friend's arrival, so I didn't want to interfere. It was about one year since I had last seen him, accidentally, at another restaurant. When I asked him how come I hadn't seen him here for a breakfast or two, he told me that his creative time was late at night and had a hard time getting up in the morning.

For a while, we'd get together at his home which wasn't too far from my home, to talk and listen to him philosophize as he picked out new tunes on his old Gibson. When my wife became ill, I kinda curtailed those extracurricular activities hoping to catch up with him and the many sea going tales he loved to tell at lunch sometime.

Even though I had my breakfast at Gus's, I decided that I'd put off the day to drink coffee and think about our good times. The sketch is from a collection of saddle stirrups on display at Giddy-Up in downtown Folsom. Because of a rather large thunderstorm, that lasted over one hour, I decided, thankfully captured as I was, that I use the time to my best advantage and dedicate my grief to Tony. Of course, to my knowledge, that "salty dawg" from Grand Isle, never owned a horse... or a stirrup!

Copyright 2019/Ben Bensen III








Saturday, July 20, 2019

"Broken On Through To The Other Side"

A forty minute sketch with a Sharpie...
Good Sunday Morning, y'all.
Here's a sketch I finished a few mornings ago. I guess I was a bit too enthusiastic attempting to break on through to the other side.
What is it that gets said about gates? "No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men." And cliches about "starting gates" and "knocking a little louder" and, you know "hidden gates" to eternity or financial freedom, or to new exciting roads of adventure, and such.
Well, this gate held none of those promises. This gate was rebuilt about fifteen years ago to assist me in keeping the fence line free from unwanted trees, foliage, and brush. Unfortunately, the fence boards were treated but the framework was not.
At one time, we'd use the gate to go next door to feed the thoroughbreds apples and carrots. But that was three owners ago. Nowadays, that place has fallen into the same state of disrepair as my gate is. Rebuilding it again with all treated wood is a possibility. It sure would look great again and would be in keeping with the rest of the fencing, but rebuilding it is not something I'm willing to do... again!
So, a stock metal gate to fit that hole in the fence is probably the best option for me, now.
I'm thinking, maybe, I'll leave it up in this current state of disrepair long enough to capture its romantic, idyllic, and picturesque setting in paint...
Ha, first cup!




Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Yes, I Sketched A Gas Cap..."




Good Sunday Morning, all bodies.
Yesterday, after feeding the birds, the dog and my baby ( she had a two egg ham and cheese omelet with avocado slices! ) I took off for parts unknown.
If you are wondrin' why I decided to sketch a gas cap, let me explain...
"There's fumes coming from your engine," my wife said. And, she was right. Somehow, someway, I had lost one of the gas caps to the two 5 gallon tanks on my lawn tractor. I, therefore, thought the most prudent thing to do was to shut the whole lawn thing down.
No honor in going down in flames, especially, cutting the grass.
My ExMark service center was thirty miles away, but even further if I have to drive all the way into Hammond to arrive there from the backside.
"Hey Zel, I need to replace a gas cap... Are you guys open? And, Is the bridge finally fixed?"
"Ben, how did you lose the cap?
"I don't know, man. I have a habit of filling the gas tanks and then, put away the gas can before returning the last cap back on the tank. I've done it before and usually find the missing cap ensconced neatly between the tank and the engine. But this time, I've walked the property twice and can't seem to find it!"
Zel replied,"You'll find it soon enough when you run over it and wreck your blades, ha!
"Ha, ha, very funny, Zel. Is the bridge finally fixed?"
"No, it is not, but you can drive around the barricades that are placed on both sides of the bridge... I've been doing it for the past year or so!"
To me, it seems awfully strange for it to take over one year to repair or even replace a bridge. Of course, Louisiana is a third world country!
Having never seen the bridge in question all the years I've traveled to Tickfaw, the thought of getting caught by the police moving the barricades or attempting to drive the edge on the brink of disaster was not what I needed in my life... right now!
But, I threw caution to the wind to save a few precious minutes and miles and drove passed the intersection where large yellow detour signs abound. Traveling a few more hundred yards, I arrived at a even larger sign that warned...
BRIDGE OUT... except for local traffic.
"Local traffic? Bingo!"Ha
I arrived at the shop where, though Zel was nowhere to be found, a gas cap rested on the counter for me to pick up.
Having succeeded in bagging my prey, I figured since I hadn't had any breakfast that I would treat myself to a visit at the Hammond Cracker Barrel. The food was great! The place brought back memories of the times my son and I would stop for a bite before dropping him off at school.
I decided that since I didn't have my iPad with me, I'd have a few more cups and sketch. It's been a while and...
It just seemed fitting to sketch a gas cap!
Third cup, today!

Monday, February 18, 2019

"Impromptu Sketches at a Coffee House...





Spent about four or five hours making some adjustments and adding my cocker spaniel to the  painting at Giddy Up. Later in the evening, I returned to share a few brews with friends and sketch the duet called "25 South". Interesting name for a group that harkens from Franklinton, LA.
I wonder if they ever go north on highway 25?
Anyway, these are the only two sketches I did last night. I spent about 20 minutes or so on each sketch.

Copyright 2019/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

"Ninty-One and Counting"...


Well, Good "Happy New Year" Tuesday, y'all.

Hope no one over celebrated and ushered in 2019 with a headache or hangover.
Yesterday morning on New Years Eve, I decided to share a cup at Gus's with anyone lonely enough or hungry enough to be there. I knew Henry Mauthe (pronounced, "Mo-tay") would be there. He's always there for breakfast since he retired a few months back and celebrated his 91st birthday.
I was in my usual end of the year funk when I noticed that there were quite a few of the regular patrons there. I said my hello's and as I started to pour myself a cup of coffee I noticed Mr. Mauthe was finishing up breakfast and preparing to leave to start the day. I heard one of the regulars wish Mr. Mauthe a Happy New Year. As he approached the door, another friend blurted out...
"Mr.Henry, now you call me if you need a ride home tonight, okay?
I about choked with laughter on my first sip.
"You got my cellphone number, so don't be afraid to call me!"
"Yeh, buzzed driving is drunk driving, ya know?" said another guy!
First cup of the new year!

Copyright Ben Bensen III/ 2019

Sunday, December 30, 2018

"And Stay By My Side 'Til Morning Is Nigh."



I got up and started a pot of coffee like I always do. The morning routine always messes with my trend of thought. It's true what a friend said to me about the darkness before the dawn. Lying awake staring at what would be the bedroom ceiling, if I could see it, was, she said, her most productive time.

I agree. But today I race to scribble down bits and pieces of an emotion I know will be fleeting.

The guy really wasn't a great guitarist though in most of the photos I saw had him thumbing a big, badass Fender bass. I realized as I watched him strum an acoustic three chord riff devoid of any seventh note in the turnaround, that I didn't really know him all that well.

I met the man through his partner who, over the many years, came by to repair, reroute or replace our home entertainment system. Every time he entered our master bedroom with a smile he'd ask if I still played.

"Not like I used to man," I said. "My heart just ain't into it much anymore!"

"That's a shame," he'd reply. You really should start again, ya know? It's good for the soul!"

A week or so ago, I pulled out my Fender Mustang and started in on some tunes that I used to play well. Many of them were Christmas songs of the traditional non "Keep Christ in your Christmas" type. I hadn't play in so long my finger tips were no longer callous enough to play for very long.The days of playing till my fingers bled were last since gone, but my intention was to get my fingers strong enough to join him with my acoustic guitar to play some swamp music. I knew that he liked Creedence Clearwater Revival. I thought that it would be a nice surprise and some fun.

Every day for over a month, my friend would video tape himself playing and singing a gospel song. I told him how much I enjoyed his daily performance, but not being into gospel music, was amazed at how many songs there really are to sing. And, he sang them very well and pretty much from memory.

My fractured thinking isn't strong enough to put down in words this feeling of great loss. Casey's last performance was a few days ago when he sang the lyrics to a well known Christmas song... "Away in a Manger". His voice was still quite strong, though it wavered and cracked as he sang Christmas greetings to everyone on the eve of His birth. At 2:40 am, December 29th, Casey's gospel song book and guitar were permanently put to rest.

"I love you Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh."


The morning light distracts. It splinters my concentration into too many pieces. My eyes steal away what the darkness provides. Always.

I think I'll have a second cup!

Copyright 2018/ Ben Bensen III