What does this have to do with art? About being creative.

Trouble. Gary Whitley. # OhCrap
I should have been painting

“Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.”

–Alex Haley

“I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow.”

–Woodrow Wilson

While on the farm throughout the 1990’s we had cattle, horses and about 40 acres of timber to take care of. We built fences, mowed fields, thinned trees and cut firewood. I also cleared land to make more pasture for rotation. My tractor could do some of it but not all of it. Oftentimes when I needed some extra muscle, my neighbors would loan me some of their heavy equipment. Larger tractors, dozers, backhoes and loaders–Big Boy Toys. I loved running them and seeing the quick results.

Then I was loaned an excavator.

From Wikipedia:

“Excavators (hydraulic) are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, dipper (or stick), bucket and cab on a rotating platform known as the “house”. The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. All movement and functions of a hydraulic excavator are accomplished through the use of hydraulic fluid, with hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic motors. Excavators are also called diggers, mechanical shovels, or 360-degree excavators (sometimes abbreviated simply to “360”). Tracked excavators are sometimes called “trackhoes” by analogy to the backhoe.”

However they do not perform well while under water.


Track hoe. Gary Whitley
What It should look like in the upright position

It was a Summer Sunday and I was working near a creek filling in a dip from where it used to run before it changed course years before. There were some old downed trees and brush to clear as well.

The vibration of the excavator started to liquify the ground under it. By the time I noticed the earth shaking like a bowl of jello, it was too late. I tried to maneuver my way out and it just made it worse. I reached the bucket out several times and buried it in the still good dirt 30 feet away to pull myself out but that didn’t work either. When I looked down behind me I saw I was now in water. #OhCrap.

I thought I might soon become the reluctant owner of a drowned 20 ton $150,000 paper weight.

By this time some of my friends that had shown up at the house drove out to check on me. I didn’t have to say anything about my dilemma; it was obvious.

They hauled out all the railroad ties and beams and unused fence posts that were in the barn to throw under the tracks as I would rock the machine up. We thought we could build a sort of platform to get it level enough to drive out. When I rocked back it sank right back where it was before. #SinkingFeeling.

I turned the excavator off. We had no more ideas. None except to call King Crane Company on Monday and see if they could lift it out. From the road 200 feet away. I didn’t want to know how much that would cost.

Then someone heard a rumbling up on the hill above us. I knew some neighbors who happened to be loggers had been working up there. But it was Sunday. One of my friends hopped on a quad and drove up to investigate. A half hour went by before he came racing down the hill. About that time I could hear the noise getting louder and louder. Just as he drove up there was a beautiful sight–a D7 Cat crawling through the trees toward us.

They pulled up and sized up the situation. I had to dig out the part of the undercarriage that had a tow loop so they could attach a cable to it. If you look at the first picture you can see a green shirt sleeve, a hand and a shovel handle on the right. That’s me digging it out.

Rescued. D7When we went to pull it out I still had to use the bucket clawing into the ground for more power, but we did it. Thanks to all those friends and that D7 Cat.

I drove the excavator straight up near the barn yard where I could get a water hose to it and washed and scrubbed and hosed it as clean as I could. I never borrowed that excavator again.

I think I should have been painting instead of digging that day.

What does this have to do with being creative or illustration or art again?

As artists (or life in general) we can get stuck on a painting or project or assignment but if we do we can call on our friends to help pull us out of it. They may lend a fresh eye, a new perspective, a creative idea or even a D7 Cat. You just never know.

“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”


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P.S. I’m calling on all Grammar Police and Spelling Wizards to comment on any errors or omissions you may find in any of my posts. It will help make me a better writer, give me a thicker skin and bring a bright smile to your face knowing you have once again rescued the english language from certain annihilation.

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