17. Heating

15

While I was drawing this, a woman with long hair, and glasses, and holding a postcard for an estate agent, crossed the road and stood off to the side of me, and asked me how it was that I had chosen this house to draw.
‘Is it your house?’ I asked her, pausing my podcast*, and she said yes it was, so I went on to explain how I chose.
‘I choose them because of their light or colour, and the garden, or the style,’ I said looking up at her from my position on the edge of the gutter, ‘or for a bit of sunlight for me to sit in.’
Then we talked for a few moments about my drawing, and I asked the woman if her house was built in the 60s.
The woman said yes it was, and that there were a few more of this style in this street and neighbouring streets.
‘That house over there has a sunken lounge,’ she told me, ‘and I think they were all designed by an Italian.’
Then we talked on a bit about the development of Los Angeles, and the architecture, and the gardens.
‘You can tell the ages of the neighbouring streets by the trees.’ she told me.
‘That makes sense.’ I said.
Then the woman told me when she had first moved into the house, that she had lived for years with winter cold.
‘When we moved in we had no heating,’ she told me, ‘and then my mother died and we got some money and so we finally got some heating.’
Then she told me that when she’d moved in she’d had trouble with the neighbours complaining about some of the plants in her garden, which she had chosen water-wisely with the environment in mind.
‘So I went to the garden centre and bought those wispy ones there.’ she told me, pointing to a waving bush being disturbed by the gusts of wind that were also disturbing me.
We chatted on for a while longer and the woman told me she was going out and wondered if I’d be here much longer, and perhaps still be here when she got back.
‘I’m about to leave,’ I told her, ‘the wind is a bit cold and I’ll finish off the rest of the garden when I go home.’
Then the woman asked me what I would do with the drawing when it was finished, and I told her about my hundred houses project and said I would send her a photo when the drawing was finished.
‘Great!’ she said.
‘My name is Leigh,’ she told me as I put her number into my phone, ‘and I’m really looking forward to seeing it when it’s finished.’
‘Bear in mind,’ I told her as I stood up and began to pack up my colours, ‘I do use some artistic license, so don’t be disappointed if the garden looks different.’
Leigh smiled and said okay.
‘I’ll put in those plants that annoy your neighbours.’ I told her, and we both laughed.

*Today’s podcast: Cold Case| Criminal

16. The Old Man in the House

14
While I was drawing this, a couple (man and woman) walked along the footpath behind me and stopped and began to speak.
‘Ooh, let’s have a look.’ the man said.
I turned to look up at them, at their baseball caps and big round sunglasses, their polo shirts, and their grinning white faces, as they stood there looking at me down in the gutter grinning back up at them.
‘Oh, look at that,’ the man said and pointed at my drawing, ‘my, that’s pretty!’
The woman said nothing, no noise, not a nod of the head.
Only grins.
‘Is that chalk?’ he asked.
I set him straight by telling him it was soft pastel, and made a stroke on the paper with one I was holding between my fingers.
‘Much softer than chalk,’ I told him, ‘look how smooth.’
‘Uh-huh, uh-huh,’ said the man, who now had his hands on his hips, his legs slightly spread, and was nodding and looking down at the paper, ‘Uh-huh!’
I hadn’t turned my podcast* off for this disruption, so after the man made a few throwaway lines of encouragement at me, and told the woman ‘Let’s go, honey’, I went back to listening and drawing.
Then around 20 minutes later, as I was nearing the finish-line, a man walked along behind me and said- ‘Oh, I don’t want to startle you.’
I laughed and told him it was fine, he hadn’t startled me because, out of the corner of my eye, I had seen him coming.
The man, who was wearing a white baseball cap with a small logo on it, a white polo shirt, shorts and sock and trainers, stopped and laughed and told me he liked my drawing, and that he thought it was beautiful and that I’d gotten the light right.
‘Do you live around here?’ I asked him, and he told me no, and that he’d only be around for a bit longer.
‘I live in Houston.’ he told me when I asked him where he lived.
‘Do you know who lives in the house?’ I asked the man, who was standing to my right, slightly out onto the road, looking straight down at me with his hands folded behind his back.
He looked back toward the house, which had cracked paving, and patchy uneven lawn where the roots were bulging under the earth.
The porch was empty of ornaments, unlike the other houses in the street.
‘I believe an older gentleman lives there, alone, but the neighbours all look out for him.’ he said.
‘Oh, that’s lovely.’ I said.
Then he asked me if I would sell my drawing to the man in the house.
‘No,’ I said, looking up at him, ‘I go about the place drawing houses, you know, where the light is right. I’m going to move neighbourhoods soon though, I need more trees.’
‘Oh, I see,’ he said, ‘but what do you do with the drawings?’
‘I’m drawing a hundred,’ I said, ‘and I’m up to 14, and when I get to 100 I’ll have an exhibition.’
‘Oh, I see, wonderful!’ the man said, smiling.
‘Yes, and I write little stories about the people who stop to talk to me while I’m drawing, so you’ll be this drawing’s story.’
‘Oh,’ the man said in a slightly raised surprised voice, ‘really?’
‘Here’s the address.’ I said, and I told him the address of my blog, ‘Can you remember it?’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I’ll remember that.’
‘Good,’ I said, ‘You can read about yourself!’
Then we both smiled and said some niceties to each other and told each other to have a good day, and he left, and I went back to my drawing, giving the grass a bit more green, the paving a bit less crack and adding a few red and white flowers that perhaps the old man in the house might have liked.

*Today’s podcasts: Trumpcast- All that Kushner Money
  Sword and Scale: God’s Plan

12. World’s Biggest $hithole

While I was drawing this I watched, in front of a house 2 doors up, a young couple quickly kiss, after which the young man crossed the street toward me, and the young woman went into the house alone.
‘Do you mind if I wait here with you until my girlfriend comes out?’ He said, looking down at me, smiling.
‘No,’ I said smiling back up at him, because even though I thought it an unusual request, I really did not mind at all.
‘What are you doing?’ asked the young man, who was probably about 17, and who had what I would lazily describe as a ‘mop’ of thick dark hair, and was wearing a thick flannel shirt, jeans and a pair of Caterpillar boots, ‘You drawing?’
Even though it was obvious what I was up to, I explained to my guest that I was drawing this house as part of a project I was doing.
He said ‘cool’ and as he sat down on the grass next to me, he asked me what the project was.
I told him about the hundred houses and he said ‘cool’ again, and then he said nothing else, so I went back to my drawing and podcast.
Occasionally I would look at him out of the corner of my eye, and he would be sitting quietly, moving his head slowly, looking around or picking at bits of grass.
After a while I got curious and asked him what the girl who went into the house was doing.
‘She’s a violin teacher. She’s teaching a kid in there.’ He told me, ‘She’s my girlfriend.’
‘Oh nice!’ I said.
‘Are you a musician?’ I asked him.
He laughed a little bit and said no.
Then we went silent again until he noticed a button pinned to my red flannel shirt that was lying on the grass.
‘Cool,’ he said, of the button which featured Donald Trump’s face, an arrow pointing to his gaping mouth and the words ‘World’s Biggest $hithole’ encircling it all.
‘Would you like it?’ I asked him, ‘I make them and hand them out to like-minded people.’
‘Yeh, cool, thanks!’ He said.
Then we went quiet for a good long time, until finally we heard someone calling out ‘Thanks’ and looked up to see the young woman come out of the house, crossing the road toward us.
‘Hi,’ she said to the young man who was now on his feet.
Then she said hi to me and I said hi to her.
‘She’s drawing the house,’ the young man said, ‘and she gave me this button.’
‘Awesome,’ said the young woman looking at the button, ‘that’s awesome.’
‘Okay then, have a nice rest of your day,’ the young man said, ‘and thanks for letting me sit with you.’
‘My pleasure.’ I said.
And as the young man took the young woman’s hand and they walked away, I realized that we’d sat there together for a good 3/4 of an hour and he hadn’t once looked at a cell phone.

7. Bright Red car

7
While I was drawing this a man pulled up in a bright red car, got out of the car and without acknowledging me, passed close by on my right and walked up the driveway of the house behind me.
The man, who was dressed in a tidy shirt (open at the neck), slacks and brown shoes, then came back out of the house, crossed the street and got back in his car and drove away.
Then for about 45 minutes nothing of note happened and I continued to draw and listen to my podcast*, until about 40 minutes later when the man in the bright red car came back again.
And this time he had a woman with him.
And this time they both got out of the car and passed by me, walking up the driveway of the house behind me.
And this time the woman ignored me too.

*Today’s podcast: WBEZ Chicago- Making Obama Part III

1. Tony

1While I was drawing this a woman driving a small teal SUV stopped in the middle of the road in front of me.
She had short ginger/blonde hair and a frown, and was waving her hand.
I paused the podcast* I was listening to and called out hi to her.
‘Have you seen a dog?’ she called out to me.
‘What kind? ‘I called back.
‘Small! White!’ she said, her tone high-pitched with dog-loss anxiety.
‘Nope, I haven’t seen a dog,’ I called back to her, ‘and I’m sure if there’d been a dog running around I’d have seen it.’
‘Yes,’ she called out, ‘so if you see him, his name’s on the collar, and the phone number.’
‘Okay,’ I called calmly, ‘I’ll look out for him.’
‘His name’s Tony!’ she called as she started to drive off.
After she’d gone I sat there for a few moments looking up and down the street, hoping to see Tony come trotting down a driveway, or out from behind a bush or from under a parked car.

—————
*Today’s Podcast: Slow Burn- A podcast about Watergate