One day when I'm famous and posthumous this will be known as my Porch Period, running concurrently with my Coffeeshop Period and my Rant Period, which will no doubt be responsible for the demise to which I glancingly referred toward the beginning of this sentence. Concurrent periods ought to be novel enough for an artist to warrant some kind of notoriety, at least a male artist. You'd think I'd get tired of drawing my porch, and you'd be right, except I keep having to relearn the major lesson of sketching from life: life doesn't conform to your preconceptions. Our pitiful mushy fissured little brains want to see patterns, want to learn visual truisms and apply them to new situations out of energy conservation, or, less kindly, laziness. A sketcher must always be on her or his or its guard to be seeing as freshly as he, she or it can, avoiding the application of prerecorded templates to a drawing. It's harder than it looks, if only because you can't be looking at your subject and your drawing at the very same time. In that moment when you turn your gaze to the paper, your brain takes over and says "Here's what branches look like. I had it stored away for you. Don't sweat the small stuff. Come on, finish this stupid drawing and let's go in and watch Judge Joe Brown." Brains are like that. I know, I've got a toy one, and I'm extrapolating so I can understand what a Big Boy Brain is like. My point is, the world is full of anomalies and singularities, and sketching from life, if you pay attention, is a wonderful way to grasp this. Now I'm going to stop fulminating and eat some Puffy Cheese Doo-doos. My brain is telling me it's the sensible thing to do.