A Nod to Mr. Bob


The last round of thyroid-itis hit just before Vegas when I found myself too tired to move or think, so I plinked and plugged away at “real job” work and fiction word count while cuddled up on the couch, laptop balanced atop my fuzzy unicorn blanket. An occasional passerby cat provided companionship (though lately my furry rescues are fairly ungrateful—fabulous little traitors who prefer my son or husband to me…fickle felines).


When the brain cells fizzled after a work session and the fatigue overtook, the ringing in my ears would start and prevent real rest. So background noise was a must. But what to put on that wouldn’t require me to pay real attention and would be a bit relaxing?

Netflix has Bob Ross!


Yes. I’m that person who binge-watched (and often thyroid-napped through) Bob Ross with his fuzzy locks and happy little brushes and double-primed pre-stretched 18x24 inch canvases (but I could choose whichever size canvas works best for me, he said so…). There’s something about his soft demeanor and the tisking and whisking of the brushes against the canvas that is utterly calming.


And the man never—and I mean never, ever—got paint on his shirt. Hand me a palette with that much gooey goop smeared all over it, and I’m covered in thirty seconds. Ask my husband what it’s like around our house when I try to paint something simple with one brush and one color. Let alone a rainbow and tons of brushes to choose from. Hats off to those neat painters out there, but I digress...


I remember watching Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting” with my grandpa. Grandpa had his chair—you know that one piece of furniture that no one else sits in? He had that chair. Where he’d sit with a coffee cup balanced on one of the wooden arms (it still has those mug-worn spots in the finish) and where he’d hear Grandma yellin’ some to-do list at him. He’d sit there with his long legs crossed and he’d grin at me, ignore her, turn down his hearing aid and turn on PBS.


I remember Grandpa grinning when Bob showed clips of Peapod the Squirrel or other wildlife. Or when Mr. Ross would use the term “happy little accident.”


And then there’s those Bob Ross-isms like “Cabin-ectomy” when you paint a cabin and need to clean up the edges or the “Bravery Test” when you’re about to plant an enormous evergreen right over the top of a mountain.


I remembered the names of his oil paints: Midnight Black. Prussian Blue. Alizarin Crimson (when I was a kid I thought he was saying “Lizard” crimson). The bits of advice like a thin paint will always stick to a thick paint, and if you try to work on a dry canvas, you’ll be in “agony city.”


But Grandpa grinned the widest when Bob Ross cleaned the two-inch brush. And Bob loved cleaning those two-inch brushes. He’d dip it in odorless paint thinner, “shake off the excess” into a trash can, then “beat the devil out of it” as he slapped the bristles ferociously against the leg of the easel. Then Bob would grin as big as Grandpa and say, “I just love cleaning the brush.”


This week, I’ve been doing some self-editing of the shorts I’ve written for the one-a-week-for-a-year. And, thank you Mr. Bob Ross. Your “isms” have made my “agony city” go much smoother. And I think I’ll take your advice with the devil thing…


Wow. Little Miss Muse sure did run off with a brush or two in more than one story. Happy little accidents everywhere. But I’m not re-writing them, just fixing errors.


Like where I put in the wrong character name, abruptly changed the weather or vehicle type/color (I can’t even remember what I drive, let alone what my characters are scooting around in), or where I allowed a character to meander about making toast or talking to herself for way too long…


That’s when you’ve gotta shake off the excess and then beat the devil out of it.


And grin.


So to speak.


Now, I don’t know that I’ll ever be so happy proofreading my own stuff as Bob was when cleaning his brushes. But it sure makes me smile to think of taking a manuscript of white paper with little black marks on it and shaking the snot out of it against a red ink pen.

Or maybe this whole analogy is still a residual effect of thyroid brain, Daylight Savings time, and the pandemic chaos that grips the world. I don’t know. I don’t think I much care.


And thanks, Mr. Bob Ross, for the lessons, for the -isms, and for bringing back those glorious moments I spent with Grandpa in front of the television set on Saturday mornings. “


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