Cycling, Walking and Art…

This past Tuesday, while our hiking group was scattered to the wind, we took our “dog free” day to go bicycling. I find extra motivation in destination cycling but we stayed in town and cobbled together 20-miles on local greenways. I didn’t protest the hilly route (too much) and, in not avoiding the hills, I discovered I had developed new climbing strength. I feel sure that the Cades Cove ride from last week helped make the difference.

Tuesday on the greenways.

Tuesday evening, post cycle meant a few hours spent with this little one. We seem to be getting into a rhythm now with the 14-month-old crying huge, blue-eyed tears as her parents attempt to sneak out, then running around giggling the moment the door closes. We are happy grandparents!

The rest of the week involved such events as a celebratory birthday lunch with good friends (just 40ish days post birthday) and testing out a new puppy daycare with Katie. We also took various walks each day from 3.0-7.0 miles. Our walks included neighborhood streets and local parks and greenways. The most challenging of the walks involved the hills in South Knox where the USA Cycling Championship was held just a few weeks ago. Grades on these hills are up to 29%. Challenging for me for sure. The flowers below are from one of the park walks, a flat greenway. Getting out has been difficult due to the high heat and humidity. I am looking forward to fall already.

Over the past weeks, I have had a lot of “what next” thoughts occupying my mind. What next when my body can no longer hike 7-8 miles, what next when I can no longer spend mornings bicycling. My outdoor self has been my identity for many years. Hiking, backpacking, running, bicycling and walking is what I do. While I am not anywhere close to giving up, the thoughts of how I will keep my days interesting, and my mind occupied in that future “someday” are on my mind.

In recent years, I have dabbled with art including several drawing and watercolour courses at our wonderful Knoxville Fine Arts and Crafts Center. Unfortunately, I have always walked away feeling like I don’t remotely have talent. These feeling are not due an instructor’s comments (well the comments may have been verbalized back in grammar school) but because I am a lifer in the school of “you don’t have artistic talent”. Yet I have not been completely put off either. Earlier this week I signed up for an on-line beginning watercolour course. In the privacy of my kitchen in what feels like a “no judgement zone”, a dim light bulb went on in my brain. H-m-m-m-m, maybe! Afterall, I am doing this only for an audience of one and that would be me.

So, the on-line instructor with the lovely British accent is teaching from the beginning, handling the brushes, playing in the paint and understanding how water and paint work together to create specific effects. The green dots below are part the project to learn about water and paint. Around the circles are noted such things as “little water, thick paint” or “very wet, thin paint”, a reminder of how each affect was obtained. This was interesting and informative to me and I look forward to the sessions I have yet to do.

Along with the on-line course, I have been reading the book “Sketch NOW, Think Later.” The ink and watercolour above is my first attempt at a quick ink drawing and watercolour. While there are many, many things wrong with the attempt, there is one thing very right, I did not pick up a pencil to do a preliminary sketch. I picked up a permanent Micron marker and jumped right in. I am so very pleased!

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, Sugar Queen Creamery opened in a location about five minutes or so from our house. Although I have never been a big ice cream eater, this stuff is really good! Last night was our second night in a row eating ice cream :-(. Luckily the shop is closed on Sunday (it’s the South, ya’ll) so we can hopefully break what could become a very bad habit.

From left: sweet cream, mint chocolate chip, burnt butter Pecan and my all time favorite, maple and walnut.
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