Friday, September 7, 2007

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

According to, the phrase “improvise, adapt and overcome” is an unofficial mantra of the Marine Corps based on the fact that the Corps generally received Army hand-me-downs and the troops were poorly equipped. Despite this, the Marine Corps has been successful mostly because of the creativity of its people and their success-based attitude.

Improvise, adapt and overcome seems to also be the mantra of all creative people. Scott has been a full time painter for about 25 years. At the age of 29, he decided that painting was his calling and this meant he would drive old cars, live in modest housing and work at flexible, low paying jobs in order to dedicate his energy to learning to paint and making a living at it.

Living meagerly for many years has given Scott the uncanny ability to “make-do” in a lot of situations. There is very little that gets thrown away around here without Scott’s scrutiny to determine whether or not it can be repurposed.

When we brought Amedeo Modigliani or “Modi” home from the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies not long ago, we knew that the 6 ½ year old dog was going to need plenty of exercise. Scott started out walking him every day, but it just didn’t seem to be enough.

One day, he came home with an odd assortment of materials from Home Depot. He had foam pipe wrapping, PVC pipe, rope and D-rings. He told me he was going to make a contraption that would allow Modi to run along while Scott rode his bike. I stifled my skepticism and let him go at it. A little while later he was ready to try his experiment. Inside I was cringing, afraid the whole thing would end in disaster.

It worked. The dog gets a good run every day and Scott and Modi have become a legend in our neighborhood.

What does this have to do with writing? I’m not sure, but I couldn’t resist posting these pictures!


reality said...

Loved the pics and the post.
I am giving away my beautiful Belgian Shepards, because there isn't enough exercise area around my home. and I reared them from when they were puppies. It's a sad day for me.

NoviceNovelist said...

Great pictures- very resourceful - and it looks sunny and warm! I'm envious - it's quite Autumunal here in the UK. They both look happy!

kristen said...

I absolutely love this. What fun these two must have together!

iyan and egusi soup: said...

dear lisa:

a perfect message for me this morning, as i organize some projects. likely i'll need to adapt, but i will certainly make it work. what synchronicity! thank you.

Charles Gramlich said...

Hey, maybe he can sell the idea to be mass produced. Looks like it works well.

Patti said...

haha! lovethis idea...uh-oh, do i smell a million dollar idea?! wouldn't that be ironic!

Larramie said...

Not only could this product be sold separately to dog owners, but what about starting a business around exercising dogs and then franchising it?

Necessity AND creativity are the parents of invention. ;)

Denis said...

scott was my hero, now he's my divinity!

Ello said...

What a great idea!

Also, it's cool to see the face of creative genius. I think his art is incredible. One day when I can afford original art, I hope to buy an original Scott Mattlin piece.

Shauna Roberts said...

What a great idea, and what fun pictures!

Lisa said...

Reality, so sorry about your pups. I know you'll miss them and hopefully, they'll find a new place with plenty of space to run.

NN, the weather in Denver has really been beautiful this week. We're enjoying it while it lasts :)

Kristen, ever since Modi came to live with us I've had to learn that when I hear Scott talking in the other room, he's probably talking to the dog ;)

Olufunke, I have total confidence you will organize and adapt!

Charles, a friend told Scott there already is something similar to this on the market, but it doesn't work very well -- a better mousetrap maybe?

Patti, ironic, or -- maybe incredibly awesome!

Larramie, whoa, now that's some idea! Dog walkers have been around a long time, but how about dog fitness trainers?

Uncle Denis, YOU are too funny! I hope you read my post on Puff the Magic Dragon and all the comments. Thank you so much for sending it.

Ello, I'm pretty partial to his art myself :)

Shauna, he's been using this gizmo for at least a month and I kept trying to catch him so I could take a picture. Yesterday, I finally did.

steve said...

Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies? Is Modi a retired rescue dog, or was he rescued? My parents had a tradition of naming their dogs after writers; I grew up with the Fitzgerald, a Golden Retriever mix, and Emily (Dickinson), a terrier mix. (Our Golden Retriever mix--my wife and children think he's really a Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever--is named Copper, because my son said he was the color of a copper penny.) So naming a dog for a painter doesn't seem unusual to me. I wonder whether a black Lab might be named for Clyfford Still.And you Denverites (Denverians, Denverese?) will, according to Wikipedia, get most of Still's work in the near future. His famous black canvas, I hope, will stay in Chicago.

Creechman said...

As if the dog has a choice?

Nice to meet you Lisa. :)

Lisa said...

Steve, Modi was rescued. Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies, or GRRR (cool acronym, huh) is one of several golden retriever rescue non-profits in Colorado. Hard to believe these great dogs are abandoned, abused or surrendered, but there are tons of them. Modi is sweet and smart, but after we had him a short time, we discovered he has severe canine separation anxiety, so we are working on that with him and in the meantime, we have to either have a petsitter come stay with him or drop him with a petsitter if we're ever going somewhere without him. If he's left alone, he'll injure himself trying to get through the front door. We're optimistic and he's been getting better all the time.

Creechman, Thanks for stopping in! Actually, he really does have a choice. We used to have a neighborhood kid walk him a few times a week and after a while, he just didn't want to go so we quit sending him. When Scott get the bike out, he gets very excited and obviously wants to go, but point taken!

debra said...

what a cool idea. Another manifestation of the creative process, I think.

Anonymous said...

hi Lisa and Scott;
New to your blog here, tripped on by thru Scott's site. Kewl idea for exercising the master of the house, and Scott gets a bit of a workout as well! Looks to me that he's gettin buffed out with all the exercise he's gettin! ie; Scott
Do you thread the leash thru the foam tubing? How do you attach to the bike?
Ta fer now!

Lisa said...

Debra, Great post at your place on creativity and thanks for linking to this one!

Jackie, Scott says: the "device" consists of a 3-4 ft. length of 3/4" PVC pipe. It's wrapped in a longer length of gray foam pipe insulation, secured with spray on adhesive and then duct taped to the PVC pipe. Leave about 6# of extra foam insulation hanging off of one end of the PVC pipe to cushion the dog's neck. Thread climbing rope through the PVC pipe and make a secure loop at the end with the extra foam insulation (dog end). Attach a caribiner to the loop end, which can attach to the dog's collar. the other end of the rope can be tied to the underside of the bike seat. If you tie to the post it may hit the back tire. You may want to attach a caribiner to this end to for ease of use. Voila!

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf