Tag Archives: beer

Of Hops and Hummingbirds

I spent my weekend alternating between sketching and organizing in the not-quite-so-new studio… satisfying yet exhausting.

If you click to enlarge the thumbnails (I haven’t quite gotten the hang of re-sizing galleries) you’ll see much better detail, although the fact that these were photographed rather than scanned does cut down on the crispness of the image I’m afraid.  (Note to self – get a new scanner.)  The hops I planted this spring are evidently ripening, although if my neighbor hadn’t mentioned it I wouldn’t have known.  In spite of having a family connection to hops (see the hand-written text), this is a new “crop” for me.  Funny how you’ve never paid much attention to something, and then suddenly one day everyone you know seems to be discussing it.  I recently learned along those lines that when making beer, you just toss in a bunch of hops with the mashed up grains and let them stew for a bit… and here I thought maybe you had to wait for berries to appear, or make slits in the bark for the beer juice to drip out like with a maple tree, or something quite complicated!  And I have also learned that when you lift up the flaps of the cone, there are tiny yellow ovary-looking spots that are filled with powder (think the cheezy powder on cheetos) which smells very strongly like – beer!  Duh.  Or rather, the beer smells like the hops, given that hops came first.  Another mystery unraveled.

The second sketch is the view from my studio work table.  (Note to self – don’t try to capture eyelet lace curtains again – too fussy.)  When I was about two-thirds finished, a hummingbird buzzed up to the geraniums in the window box, a chartreuse gem of a creature that made me catch my breath.  This doesn’t do justice to the bird or the exuberant jungle of the cottage garden, or the wild aspect of the neighbor’s garden beyond the fence, but I’m determined to keep at this sequence until I get it right.

And in the meantime, I have also vowed to put in at least one hour every day in the studio going through the papers that have resulted from a lifetime of writing and journaling and sketching, taking up literally half the available studio space.  There is also a huge stack of art pieces that need to be sold, kidnapped, loaned out, given away, or otherwise jettisoned…  I mean seriously, what does one do with these things?  How does one sort through the flotsam and jetsam of one’s life?  Fascinating reminiscences for me, of passing interest to a few other people in my world maybe, but, essenetially a waste of space.  Who in this world will ever have time to look at them, much less read all that has been recorded, just here, just in this one little building that is now my studio?  Just one life among the billions…  Of course,  there is no more time for digesting a blog than for shelves of sketchbooks and journals, but at least a blog is just a bit of charged ions, not tons of paper taking up square footage and it doesn’t have to be recycled.  All of which begs the question of why continue to write and journal and sketch… because.  Because I love to do it.  With or without audiences, it is intensely satisfying.

When I finish a sketch, I prop the sketchbook on the piano music stand.  I walk by it several times a day, before it is eventually replaced by another, and each time I see something new.  With each glance, I feel a small thrill of, “I made that!  What fun!” or “What a wonderful shade of red!”, or sometimes, “WHAT was I thinking?!”  It is a constant feeback loop of learning, questioning, intensifying.  So yeah.  Because.

Adventures in Munich

Beer Garden Sketch

Augustiner Beer Garden, Munich

Labor Day back home, I hope the weather is cooperating as everyone relishes that last three day weekend of summer.   It’s raining and muggy here today, but the weekend was gorgeous.

We spent the weekend exploring Bavaria, first Regensburg on Saturday with Ursula and baby Simon, then Munich on Sunday with Markus.  Both days we enjoyed traditional lunches featuring schnitzel or roasts, with potato dumplings or potato salad, and Really Good Beer.  Light beer is called “Hell” on the menus, or “helle” on one menu… so in the college vernacular, I suppose I could say I drank hella beer?  That is especially appropriate since in a “real” beer garden, the only size beer available is one liter.  That’s a lot of beer… Markus and I split one.

Architecture.  Wow.  At the moment I’m feeling very much like this time last year at the Grand Canyon: I don’t know where to look.  I sit with my sketchbook and gape, so for now I content myself with pretzels and beer mugs and objects to which I can relate. 

Cultural Differences.  Just in the course of describing moving her furniture from Berlin to Inglestadt, Ursula mentioned that when you move in to a rental apartment, you must install your own light fixtures.  The last tenants take theirs, leaving you with just the wires hanging out of the ceiling or walls.  Ouch.

Traditions.  What goes around comes around.  Leiderhosen and dirndl skirts are making a comeback with the 20-something set.  Our travels over the weekend took us past several local harvest festivals, with many such outfits in evidence.  The twist is that more often than not, girls are wearing leather shorts, and/or some pretty risqué reincarnations of the classic little blouse and vest.  Fun!

We’ve found accommodations in London, more on that later.  We’re looking forward to a few more days here, then on to other German locales.