Friday, August 7, 2009


Our porch steps are half painted. Our dining room is beige, with test patches of silver sage and celery green on four walls. The kitchen mostly green. I'm getting kind of used to the boxes marked "office-fragile" sitting at my feet under desk. The weeds are half pulled in the flower bed in the front yard. None of this should surprise me.

As I took in my half done projects throughout the house today, I thought of Mr. Wrobel. My high school art teach. He was quirky, as any art teacher should be, but normal enough to be univerally loved. And he taught some life lessons in a setting where most kids didn't have their guard up.

Some days, he just sat at his desk, reading, sipping coffee, and helping each student that came up with questions. Other days, he made his way around the room, glasses perched on the end of nose, pausing a few minutes with each person to talk over their work together.

We were in the sketching stage of a week long project. It was a walk around day. It wasn't the kind of thing we dreaded, because he was always kind and always matter of fact, so it didn't feel too personal. But there was still a part of me that hoped for a thumbs up. He stood over my shoulder, looking for several seconds.

"Hmmm. I like it. But what are you doin' there?"pointing to the beginnings of a cowboy's leather glove.

"Drawing the glove," I said. I didn't know what else to say.

"Yeah, but what's this stuff you got in there? It looks like frosting."

"What?" I asked, confused.


"What do you mean?"

"You're frosting the cake before you bake it. You gotta finish sketching out the outline before you go in there shading and filling it in."

"But adding the details is more fun, " I explained, "It helps me know what it's gonna look like."

"You don't even know yet if that's where the hand should be and you're adding in all the details. That'll make it harder to move if you need to. Don't put the frosting on till you bake the cake."


"Keep up the good work."


Twenty years later, and I'm still fighting the urge to frost first.

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