G.B. and I had been too busy working, living and loving to notice that we were gaining weight.
One particularly hot and unusually humid day, our friends Cleo and Omar Cotter, ranchers from Texas, arrived in town. They had come to choose stone for the mantle and hearth of their newly built Arizona sandstone ranch house. During the course of building they had visited Ash fork and the quarries several times to select sandstone and shist. On each visit we dined together at Rod’s Steak House in Williams.
In preparation for dinner with the Cotters, G.B. was shaving and I was in my dressing room, showered, perfumed, coiffed with my make-up done — and tears running down my cheeks. To be more precise, I was crying because I had tried on everything in my closet and nothing pretty fit me. I wanted to pout and say I would not go, but I desperately wanted to see Cleo and Omar, besides they were due to arrive at any moment.
Already in a lather, I threw on an old, long sleeved, white satin blouse and squirmed into a plum, knee length, straight velvet skirt — held together with a piece of elastic pinned centre back across the yawning unzipped zipper. I donned the matching velvet jacket despite the fact that it would tint the white blouse pink, as I was steaming from the exertion and frustration of trying on every garment I owned.
I twisted around to look at my back in the full length mirror and saw the open skirt placket showing below my jacket. I ran toward our bedroom intending to throw myself onto the bed and scream I can’t go when I came face to face with G.B.. He was wearing his lovely big Stetson and the Western style sports coat I had given him on his most recent birthday. His shirt gaped open over the rounded curve of his corporation and his slacks were tied on with a piece of rope running through his belt loops”
“G-GOD DAMMIT, CHARLE! I CAN’T GO!”
The more I laughed the louder he hollered. By the time my laughter and G.B.‘s rage had subsided we were both drenched with perspiration and exhausted. With a rare rush of decisiveness I said to him, “We’ll diet later, but we’ll eat tonight! Change your shirt for one you can hang over the gap in your slacks, and never mind if the shirt gapes — the restaurant’s dark.”
“But my damned britches’ll slide off without my shirt tucked in!”
“Well hang on to them then.” I snapped, having no time for tact.
I went to a drawer of scarves, found one with splashes of pink, turned my skirt sideways, hung the scarf over the open placket, and let it float gracefully down below my jacket.
As we waddled into the living room to wait for Cleo and Omar, my panty-hose began to creep down toward half-mast and when G.B. sat down he felt the bite of the cinch and grumbled, “It’s like two danged hogs a-comin’ out’a a fatenin’ pen.”
When the Cotters arrived Cleo reached out to hug me and I deflected her arms up to my shoulders so she would not get a handful of flab swathed in damp velvet. As Omar approached I reached out to shake his hand before he could get to me.
Following the drive to Williams we settled around a table at Rod’s Steak House to enjoy dinner and every moment catching up on one another’s lives, Cleo and I occasionally pausing during our conversation to listen to the men trying to best each other. G.B. was hard put to outdo Omar’s beautiful huge ranch, his cattle, crops, and gas wells but he certainly tried with his town, stone quarries, beer joint, gas station and one oil well.
While Omar was saying, “An early September freeze killed ever’ section of m’wheat deader’n hell.” I silently wished I had used a longer piece of elastic.
We made sure dinner progressed at a leisurely pace in order to draw out the precious time and multiply the pleasure.
At one point Cleo looked from G.B. to me several times, studying our flushed faces. Concerned by our appearance she asked, “Would y’all like to take y’all’s jackets off?” And then added with sweet Texas charm, “Isn’t it awful hot in here for y’all Charle? No?”
“I’m fine thank you Cleo.” I replied with extravagant sincerity. G.B. chose not to hear the question, despite the fact that he and I were adding seriously to the humidity in Rod’s Steak House dining-room.
At home later that evening, as we cut ourselves loose from our clothes, G.B. declared war on himself. “Never did have an extra pound a’ fat under m’hide in my entire life. Put me on a diet Charle.”
Oh good. I thought. We can do it together.
In the following days you could almost hear the fat falling from us. When G.B. consulted his bathroom scale, before each meal, and found daily results to his liking, his pride began to return, until early one morning.
“I haven’t stopped dietin’ Sweetheart, but I weigh the same as I did two days ago.”
He declared frantically.
“Don’t get discouraged G.B.,” I said, “It’s only a plateau. It happens to everyone. Don’t give up Honey.”
“GIVE UP HAYLL!” He screeched. “I AIN’T A-GONNA QUIT DIETIN”! I’M A-GONNA QUIT EATIN’!”
And he did — until he had removed his entire corpulent excess.
Posted by Charlotte Madison at 12:03
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|For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.
When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.
I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series
when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."
For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home
For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.
April Update 2012
Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?