Draw This With Me

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My grandfather was the most naturally cool person I have ever met. He was all skinny tallness with dark hair, soft-spoken and absolutely brilliant. He passed the bar exam without going to law school and worked as a lawyer for a time. He lived in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He taught me how to play Gin Rummy, and he would make cheese crackers. That was the only thing he made, because he and my grandmother employed Willie May Turnipseed, who cooked and cleaned for them for decades- after her mother had worked for their family. Yes, by god, that was her real name. I remember her scratchy voice and age spots all over her hairline, and how she would offer my sister and me coke in a bottle when we were visiting my grandparents.

My grandfather smoked unfiltered Camels and held them like hipsters do, all cross-legged and casual. We would write letters back and forth- mine saying things like,

HI! I am eating Nutter Butters.

While his would be written in scratchy, scrawly handwriting and test me on vocabulary. Every single time, I would have to look up a word in the dictionary and write him back the meaning; I loved it. Cerebellum is what stands out in my head. That’s the only one I can remember.

Here is something he taught me how to draw, and I pass it on to you with the understanding that you will appreciate it and keep it safe. Only share it with those you love.

optical illusion drawing




  1. 01/25/2012 / 1:54 pm

    I so want to grab a sharpie and draw that on the wall in the library or something. Is that weird? That's weird, isn't it? Sorry. I promise I won't.

  2. 01/25/2012 / 1:58 pm

    Nice tribute to your grandfather! Really cool symbol and love the way he taught you in steps.

    Reminds me of my grandfather (except for the slim, southern part) who taught me how to play the harmonica by taping numbers & arrows on the harmonica and writing down some songs with the same code.

    Turnipseed is going on my list of interesting names.

  3. 01/25/2012 / 4:08 pm

    Now…. do you still play harmonica?

  4. 01/25/2012 / 4:09 pm

    Send it to me. Or did you start and not be able to stop? Because it has that power.

  5. 01/26/2012 / 3:01 am

    I loved reading all of that. You're a good storyteller.

  6. 01/26/2012 / 4:55 am

    Very cool, thanks for sharing. I miss my grandpa who taught me so much, including the importance of taking time to sit around and talk and share stories.

  7. 01/26/2012 / 6:56 am

    Willie May Turnipseed … I think you need to write a novel (kidlit or adult) with Willie May Turnipseed. I'm thinking along the lines of The Help. It could be big!

  8. 01/26/2012 / 7:51 am

    I cam so close to buying some today, but refrained. Superhuman strength.

  9. 01/26/2012 / 7:51 am

    Thanks! If you heard me try to tell a story in real life, you wouldn't be saying that. It's painful.

  10. 01/26/2012 / 7:53 am

    Yeah- I wish I knew my grandfather when I was older.

  11. 01/26/2012 / 7:53 am

    The name does lend itself beautifully to the start of a great character…

  12. MJ
    01/26/2012 / 9:03 am

    I wish I'd have had the chance to get to know my grandfather, thanks for telling such a cool family story! and I've drawn it several times on my desk pad now, will have to show my son this evening..

  13. 01/26/2012 / 9:44 am

    It's kinda fun to draw, isn't it? You may start to see them all over your house, depending on how old your son is…

  14. Foow
    01/26/2012 / 10:09 am

    You could use THAT as your logo.

  15. 01/26/2012 / 12:57 pm

    Mmmmm camels. He sounds so cool. I'm gonna practice this when I get home. And, Nutter Butters.

  16. 01/26/2012 / 4:43 pm

    Have you drawn one yet? It'll put you into a trance.

  17. 01/27/2012 / 3:39 pm

    Oh, that's the cutest post! I could picture you guys sharing your moments and you practicing your drawing (the sorry made me laugh). And how is that Turnipseed name not in a movie or something by now?

  18. auntie
    01/31/2012 / 7:44 am

    My grandma taught me how to draw that same thing one sunday in church. Nice memories 🙂

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