Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tricks Of The Calendar Trade

I am horribly ill. I’ve had a headache, chills, congestion, blah blah freakin’ blah, since last Thursday. Just as MY WIFE got over her illness, I started mine. It has been a new year filled with small joys but tempered by the hideousness of not having a completely healthy household for even a single day yet. Flu is hardly the worst tragedy that can befall a couple, however, so we’ll carry on and be happy as larks in a few days.

(What in hell makes larks so happy? Or clams, for that matter? I can see the larks more than the clams.)

Anyway, since I’m sick - and since I only post when I’m at work – you may be reading these thoughts on Tuesday or Wednesday or later. Thanks for stopping by, faithful one. I know full well this trip will not have been worth your effort – you’ll know that yourself by the time you’re finished reading - so I appreciate it.


MY WIFE and I celebrated Christmas this weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with why we would be celebrating the holiday at such a late date, I’ll quickly explain that January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany, also sometimes called Little Christmas, and for further detail you can refer to this entry from the past.

As always, MY WIFE gave me marvelously thoughtful gifts. Either she has a miraculous memory or she surreptitiously wrote down things I said throughout the course of the year. For instance, she bought me a little mechanical ear and nose hair trimmer. I think I once, and once only, mentioned on these pages that I had stuck a razor in my ear to trim some hair. So, not wanting me to do an inadvertent Van Gogh on myself, she bought me something much more sensible to do the job with.

There were other gifts, of course. I’m especially looking forward to listening to a collection of CDs featuring Jean Shepherd telling stories. Some of you may not immediately know the name. He’s the fellow who wrote A Christmas Story and he also supplied the voice of Ralphie, as an adult, in the film. The collection includes 8 CDs and I’ll enjoy savoring every one of them.

For my part, I made MY WIFE a calendar. This is something I used to do every year for my grandfather when I was a kid. I decided to do the same for MY WIFE last year and it was a big success.

Now, it was fairly easy to do when I was a kid. For one thing, I didn’t have even a trace of self-consciousness. I thought every picture I drew was the height of art and humor. I also had my mother to help draw the actual calendar portion of it and to assemble the whole thing when it was done. Last year, I found out how daunting a task it was to do this same thing as an adult.

Aside from the technical problems – drawing the grids, filling them in with numbers and writing so they looked like an actual grown-up had done them – I rediscovered something that I had known for quite a while, but which I had shuffled to the rear of my memory. I am a crummy artist. Senses of perspective, shading, color – that is to say, just about anything a good artist knows and uses – are utterly lacking in me.

In order to make up for my deficiencies, I rooted around on the internet for fairly simple artists depictions of the people or things which I felt would make good subjects for each month; a flag for July, flowers for May, a nativity scene for December. I then copied these things to the best of my ability. There was no hope whatsoever of my being able to copy them so well that they’d look exactly like the originals, but this was part of my plan. I knew that each drawing would positively look like I had done it from scratch because I don’t have enough skill to make them look like copies. And it worked. MY WIFE had a good-looking calendar and I appeared to be a much better artist than I am.

Much to my chagrin, though, this year she actually asked me to draw another calendar for her. Well, I had pretty much exhausted my slight repertoire of artistic tricks in doing the one from last year. I knew I couldn’t repeat the same scenes for each month this year and I had chosen those scenes last year because they were the only things I knew I could draw well enough so that the calendar wouldn’t look like it was done by an 8-year-old.

I figured I had to give it a go, since she asked, so I started out by getting a line drawing of Mount Rushmore from someplace on the internet. I thought that a depiction of this great sculpture would make a good subject for February since it contains Presidents Day. I attempted to copy it faithfully, but every time I drew George Washington he looked more like a skull from a bottle of poison than our first president. I never even got so far as Jefferson, let alone Roosevelt or Lincoln.

I gave up on that for the time being and pursued the copying of a portrait of Saint Patrick for March. It showed him driving the snakes out of Ireland. It was far too ambitious for my weak talents. Saint Patrick was all right, in a grade school sort of a way, but the snakes never looked menacing. Truth be told, they looked more like worms. I wrote a caption under the deficient drawing – “Saint Patrick Driving The Snakes Out Of Ireland, Except These Are Worms So They Don’t Understand Why He’s Talking To Them.”

The light dawned on Marblehead. I can’t draw well enough to make this year’s calendar even remotely as good as last year’s, so I’ll go for humor, instead. In that way, if a drawing is bad, it just adds to the funny! And so I drew truly abominable snowmen for January, the rarely seen rear view of Mount Rushmore for February, Saint Patrick talking to worms for March (while a real snake gives him a Bronx cheer behind his back), and other such silly things.

MY WIFE liked it and, as a result, she still has a much higher opinion of my art than it deserves. I’m afraid I’ve sucked myself into doing another calendar next year. Maybe I’ll be able to get away with abstract impressionism.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another little joy of the weekend. The lovely Isabelle, of Mondo Fruitcake, made good on her promise to send me the remnants of her holiday season. On Little Christmas, appropriately enough, there arrived a box in the mail containing enough fruitcake to satiate even MY hunger for the stuff.

MY WIFE and I sampled a few pieces just after exchanging our presents. Isabelle put a note in the package saying which brands she had included, but she did not label each brand separately. I think that this was intentional. I’m assuming that she wished me to pass judgment on them in a sort of blind taste test.

Isabelle, if you’re reading this? I’ll pass along some notes on the tasting in a few days. As much as I like fruitcake - and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who likes it more – this flu makes eating the stuff somewhat less enjoyable.

(That’s not wholly true. The eating of it is still as good as ever. Having it sit on my stomach right now, though, is another matter.)

Anyway, I’m saving at least one piece of each for sampling when I can more fully make a true appraisal.


And that’s about it for now. I’ll be back soon with more of the stultifyingly boring minutiae you’ve come to expect. See you then.


sween said...

I really need pictures for this calendar of which you speak.

Rhea said...

The light dawned on Marblehead.
That's a new one. Is this phrase only used in New England?

Suldog said...

Sween - MY WIFE hangs this calendar at work. The artist is the one who deserves to be hung, of course. If she hasn't already hung it, I'll see about throwing a couple of the drawings out here, IF I can remember how to scan.

Rhea - Hmmmm, I suppose it is! Marblehead is a town in Massachusetts.

DJ Big Mick said...

I seem to remember SEVERAL years ago didn;t you make a sort of "Beefcake" calendar for her with pictures of yourself in various costumes?
Maybe I imagined it...

Michael Leggett said...

& The Last Day of Liturgical Christmas is "Baptism Of The Lord", which by Traditional Calendar is Sunday 1/7/07, but by Current Practice Calendar, was Monday, 1-8-07:

This Sunday, I celebrate the 13th Anniversary of my 39th Birthday & Mass Will be in Latin, of which I still remember enough of, so if you're hearing Gregorian Chant on my Blog, that will be the Music, which I will be using from now on.

Suldog said...

Michael - You are correct, of course. Got a lovely CD full of Gregorian chants for Christmas, from my uncle. I'm enjoying it very much.

DJ - There was a calendar that I had made up for her that included photographs. Now, ONE of those photos might have been construed as "beefcake", but that's only by stretching the very definition of beefcake to include anything that includes me.

And, no, Sween, there will not be any of that picture showing up here.

James Cooper said...

You may not be feeling a hundred percent but your sense of humor is still intact :-)

And what's the name of the Jean Shepherd collection? That sounds like something the girlfriend and I would enjoy immensely.

Barbara said...

I hope you feel better soon Suldog.