Plate 14

Warren's sister, motionless, arms spread, on the ramp of the hive as a bee hovers in front of her face.

“Hailey!” I called to her and her eyes popped open. She saw me, leaned over and put a finger to her lips.

“We have to keep the noise down, coach. There’s nothing so far. I don’t want to scare ‘em.” She whispered down to me.

“I know! Your brother just made contact. He wanted me to give you a heads up.” I whispered back as best I could, excited as I was. She gave me a quick nod, then stood back up with her arms out. Her eyes darted from side to side. She looked worried. Wasn’t this going to be her first time handling bees? She’s an amazing tad, but she’s still a tad.

“Warren told me that if anybody can learn this stuff and pull it off, it’s his sister. He said you’ve got this.” She stood for a moment, then her mouth curved into a smile and both her thumbs went up.

She stood smiling with her arms out for a long while. Then, I thought I heard bees. Hailey already had her eyes locked on a spot out over the field. I followed where she was looking and saw them. It wasn’t a big cloud like we saw from the tree, it was a smaller group drifting towards us. It looked like they were changing positions in the cloud as they flew. Finally one broke away and flew closer to Hailey. It stopped before it reached her and just hung there in the air, looking. Hailey was motionless. That one bee drifted closer, till it was right in front of her. First it looked in her face, then it drifted back and forth along her arms getting close, then drifting back, getting close, then drifting back. They were both motionless, looking at each other. Then it dropped to the deck and walked around. It looked like it was looking for something back and forth along the deck. I have no idea how bees do what they do. This one moved about and finally went up to the entrance darting in and out several times before it flew away. I was shocked, and started to say something when Hailey gave me a quick, soft “Shhh!” She was still motionless.

old cover experiment

Young girl in a field by apartment buildings, tieing a kite to a bucket that has a cat in it, wearing flight goggles.

This, along with several sheets of vellum showing different arrangements, just tumbled out of a pile of old papers. After 30 years, I had forgotten all about it.

Back before I started at the university, I’d left the restaurant to try to make it as a commercial artist. I bought a list of different businesses that purchased illustrations.

For one outlet, I thought I could come up with a cover for Jack and Jill Magazine. My daughter, getting ready to test fly a doubting pet cat seemed ideal. Especially in a unique setting like our apartment complex.

This was an experiment to see if the idea would work and how I could do it. It never got past this initial attempt. I think I started part time work at the university about this time. Now, I can see so much wrong with it. I know I could “fix” it digitally, but it makes me smile just like this.

Plate 13

Warren and his sister looking at books in the Millheim library.

Warren looked at me and raised his eyebrows, “630s?”

“Books in a library are kept in order by general subject and given numbers that the library adds to the book spine. See? These shelves here are, well, these shelves are all fiction. That’s by author. Over there starts the 100s. We can go from there.”

As it turned out, the library had a shelf of beekeeping books. Warren pulled out a few that looked useful to him and I grabbed one to look at to stay busy. We found seats and I sat in a comfortable little arm chair. Warren found a small couch and spread his books around him. After reading for a bit, I looked up and Hailey had joined Warren on the couch. She was reading her new unicorn book, but lost interest when she saw Warren’s focus. She pressed up against him and read along, jotting down things that she saw Warren jot down. They made a warm picture. Their devotion to each other was so obvious. Warren wanted to learn and the tad was determined to help. They kept at it for a while, even conferring in whispers. I only caught a word or two when their excitement made them ignore the library’s rules of silence.

Then I must’ve drifted off. I realized I had when Warren asked if I was learning much. Glad I had my head down and an open book on my lap. I said, “This is fascinating Warren. I see you have a helper- are the two of you learning anything?”

Old slides

I came across a sheet of old slides, mostly of much older pastels. I taped them to a window and photographed them. The onion and tomato image was recovered from my parent’s house after my mom died; drawn in 1976. Over the winter it’s easy to plop something from the fridge onto my drawing table and use it to ‘keep my tools sharp’. I should be doing more of it.

A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.

poster fair

In the early 2000s I did an annual workshop on preparing graduate and undergraduate poster fair posters. I ran it for over five years and eventually I reached a point where I couldn’t find the time. And I thought a move to digital presentations was inevitable. I kept the material in my Penn State web space and even twenty years later I received requests from all over the world for the information. When Penn State closed the personal server and hence, all its web sites, I thought the need was finally gone. Over the past year, though, I’ve received several requests for larger versions of the poster. Apparently, the main image has been used and credited in other websites, and the link it provided is now broken. So here it is again:

The image above—a poster about making posters—links to a much larger version. The original website is now in my space, too I removed links in the guide and on the site that went to other postershow help pages- they were all dead.

Plate 12

The Coach eating a sandwich by the library statue.

I’m not sure about some of this. Seeing it here helps me step back, assess and adjust.

The library wasn’t quite open when I got there, so I ate the breakfast the café had packed. When I looked up. Warren was walking towards me. I felt a wave of relief; he was laughing and talking with his sister. She was laughing, too.

“Good morning, coach.” They both said at the same time.

“Good morning. Great to see you both. Ready to dig into some books?” Don’t even mention baseball. Or yesterday. Or crying.

Color Plate 11

Toads having muffins in their kitchen, with their adopted son, the ball player.

Well that was lucky. I had no real desire to see what kind of creatures were making that noise in the barn. The ballplayer’s dad was at the table looking at a big basket of muffins. Mom sat a mug across the table from him.

“Good morning, sir.” Good start, anyway. “Your son is a remarkable ball player.”

“He’s pretty remarkable at everything he tries. Thankfully he’s trying to help his family just now.”

“Is that why he has a job at the Inn?” I asked. I figured I’d jump right to it.

“Pretty much. It wouldn’t be what we’d chose if things were different. But they are what they are.” I would have asked a little more but the ballplayer came in with his little sister. They were a real team, the little one idolizing the big brother.

Rough, plate 10

Mouse winding up on the pitcher's mound, ready to hurl to a young frog batter while a cricket waits to fetch.

I picked up a ball and gave it a gentle, underhand toss right into the zone. She held the bat out, letting the ball hit it and bounce back to me. “That isn’t the way you teach pitching, is it, coach?”

She took her stance again, looked me right in the eye. I didn’t want to embarrass either of us with another soft pitch, so I wound up and let one fly towards an inside corner. It wasn’t my fastest pitch, but it had some pepper on it. She dropped her left shoulder a bit, started to crouch, then swung. There was a crack, and something flew by my left ear.

“Coach, we only have two balls. You have to catch them, or we’ll spend all our time in the woods looking for them.” I picked up the second ball and she took her stance. Her eyes didn’t leave mine. I took a few steps back so I’d have more time to react. This was a tough player. My eyes locked on hers. I wound up, then curved one over the outside rear corner. Or, at least, that’s where it was heading when she smacked it. It came back right in the same place as the last one, but I managed to get a glove up. It cracked into the glove. She was aiming her hit so I could catch it. I’ll be darn!