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Morning Sun
  • TRUE STORIES: The painterly light of leisure

  • In the past week I’ve danced (with joyful, rock and roll abandon) to the Gass Company at the Idle Hour, written a new song and poem, taken a day trip to Crystal Bridges museum, eaten home grown tomatoes, caught a channel cat, and called for the assistance of Michelangelo’s spirit as I worked on our 12-foot high front porch ceiling.

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  • In the past week I’ve danced (with joyful, rock and roll abandon) to the Gass Company at the Idle Hour, written a new song and poem, taken a day trip to Crystal Bridges museum, eaten home grown tomatoes, caught a channel cat, and called for the assistance of Michelangelo’s spirit as I worked on our 12-foot high front porch ceiling.
    I also read one and a half thrillers, two Sunday editions of the New York Times and took a long nap every day.
    Which is to say, I’ve been on my annual summer staycation.
    A staycation, in case you’re not familiar with the concept, is when you stay home and enjoy leisure activities around the house or within driving distance — museums, libraries, parks, dances, movies — rather than pack up the SUV and head out for a vacation destination. One of the best features of which is that you get to sleep in your own bed at night.
    In my case, a staycation also involves working at a leisurely pace on projects around the house.
    The key word here is leisurely. Which is to say, projects I’ve put off working on not so much because of the energy necessary but the frantic pace required to “fit them in” between work and other commitments.
    That’s not to say that all things done leisurely work out for the better.
    On Saturday, after Linda and I took a slow stroll with our oldest friend, Jeanne, and her dog, Sammy, and had coffee and toast on the front porch, I leisurely leaned in to the back seat of her car to get a doggy kiss goodbye from Sammy.
    What Sammy gave me was a good nip on the cheek that had Linda going for the peroxide and me checking on the date of my last tetanus shot. Note to myself: Don’t lead with your face when crossing into a dog’s personal space.
    My main project over the past week has required standing on an 8-foot stepladder to reach above me and scrub the black mold and dirt off our blue-green porch ceiling.
    About halfway through the effort, my calves, neck and shoulders began to cramp, which is when I called upon the spirit of Michelangelo. Specifically, when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel and had to work in much the same fashion.
    It was Pope Julius II, also known as "Il papa terribile" (the fearsome pope), that requested that he paint the chapel ceiling. Julius was determined that Rome should be rebuilt to its former glory (not to mention prove he could outdo the Borgias).
    In my case, it was “mia moglie bellissima” (my lovely wife) who requested the ceiling work so, rather than pressure, I was getting support and encouragement — along with water, coffee and snacks.
    Page 2 of 2 - The process did get me wondering, though, about how many times Michelangelo must have wanted to just get the whole Sistine Chapel thing over with and get down off that scaffolding (on which he labored for more than three years).
    I’ve also had more time, this week to sit, watch and listen. This morning, for instance:
    On the front porch glider at 6 a.m., in what’s known as “painter’s light,” the neighbor’s cat eyed me quizzically, a cardinal couple posed beneath the ancient elm, a mongrel dog angled through, nose to the ground, and trotted over the bricks toward the next scent.
    Then, an early rising, full-bodied, young Aphrodite in flip-flops, rounded the curve of Olive street — following her mobile phone down the sidewalk while pulling her red blouse down over the exposed curve above her waist.
    Amazing— how she rounded the corner like an angel, the faintly acrid air of July 5th snatching at her heels, and leaned wide into the curve —  sashaying along the brick sidewalk under the catalpa trees that stood in hushed reverence at her passing — and continued on across Rose street to wherever young southeast Kansas goddesses gather early mornings after Independence Day.
    As she disappeared, the distant thunder of a KCS freight called from south of town — its trombone of a diesel horn washing over me like a morning consecration — and I smiled to know that it was all put there, this day, just for me … to experience … leisurely.
    J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Counseling Services, 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg. He can be reached at 620-231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net.

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