click on an image below to enlarge or scroll through a gallery ...
i've been thinking that it's been almost a year since i have added anything to the website blog. too long, but mostly i have been taking care of dian in her recovery from our auto accident and brain injury ... that caregiving takes a lot of energy. my blog entries moved to subjects more focused on the care duties and stages of recovery that i placed on caringbridge.org and some posts on facebook, just because they were easier and faster to post. that doesn't mean that this forum is forgotten, it's just placed aside for a time. now, i am adding something to the page ...
the waters have flowed on under the bridge of life ... yet, below are three new sketchbook pages ... some new works:
three drawings leaning on search for meaning ... from my sketchbook. shapes, reflections, images collected from inside my head or whatever i am looking at ...
i figure it's been about about long enough to add some new work to my website and start a few blog entries after a lot of time has passed. making the time is the requirement. after several years of spending time posting entries to caringbridge.org about medical conditions, the various things associated with recovery and fighting with healthcare insurance companies, maybe I can finally make some time to look at this blog about random things and commentary on art or other thoughts. i don't know, it's not as easy to pull it together in HTML for this site and post, but give it a whirl the mind says to me.
i'll begin by saying that having a really bad automobile accident changes your life in many, many ways. the best thing is that we were not killed by the impact and we are grateful for that, second best is the outpouring of love, prayers and care we have received from friends and family in this ordeal, but the worst thing is that recovery takes such a very long time and changes what you have time for and where you want to place priorities. there are many things in life that can do that, and you can find that blogging on one's own website is one of those things that can be greatly neglected.
to those who have followed the entries that i spent time posting for the last two years to caringbridge.org, you got to see a fragment of how life goes for dian and me. i still add entries there, but the entries are at a slower pace. that's a good thing. the new normals are what we have established. if you haven't followed those, all i can add and say is that in august of 2015, we were hit in the rear of our car by a speeding truck whose driver never saw us or even slowed down (apparently) as he impacted our stopped car at a road construction site near seabrook island, sc and we have spent a great deal of time, money and effort trying to recover from the physical and the mental damage. the damage to me has been a messed up septic knee joint that was a result of an infection from all of the cuts and scrapes. although it is a constant reminder to me of the accident due some nerve damage and the memory of how fragile the body is behind the wheel of an automobile, yet compared to the recovery that dian has had to undergo, my knee and limited abilities seem trivial. her physical damage was from an impact related aneurysm to her brain that required extensive surgery and recovery. the physical and mental recovery of all abilities, thought processes and physical challenges that occur when the brain is involved will effect her the rest of her life. we recover, but things are always different.
that being written, i can still sit here and listen to antonin dvořák's first two symphonies as I write and admire the beauty and complexity of the music, the sunny afternoon where i am located and feel so lucky to be able to do something as simple as listening to music or enjoying the sunlight. what a wonderful world of creation and energy we live in ... yet, so many never get the chance to experience it either by choice or by circumstances.
okay, it's a start ... where from here? make the time, go forward into life. see what happens ...
i look at photos and think of how happy we were and find it so hard to accept that in an instant it all changes.
the months have passed without having time to even consider blogging. and now, late at night, i am thinking of what to say to even speak of the damage. i'm not going into detail here, not yet, but the story of how life can be altered by the careless actions of another human being and the extent of what happens to someone with a brain injury effects everything is vast. both of us are changed by injuries. i'll write more on the subject later, but for now, i still, after many months, am trying to figure a way to grasp it.
yes, i've changed the colors of the blog again . . . i can do that if i want while this month flies by.
current list of things:
- inherit the light
- close down the affair
- disclose the numbers
- repeat the image
- speak only truth
- allow the spoken
- release the wounded
- avoid the reflection
- make the right happen
- float over the flood
- reach for justice
and so below, another sketch for this collection that is mixing a few of the ideas that have been floating around in my head. what's there?
finished reading madame picasso which was originally going to be a summer reading selection for a book club that we have joined. interesting to learn a bit more about pablo picasso's early life as he was at the cusp of his success as an artist—even if it is a novel. i didn't find the conversation dialog to reflect the period as i imagined it should be, but the audience is not at that time either. would gertrude stein have talked the way as presented? would pablo picasso had spoken in such tones and words? never sure what the best way to handle that is . . . i see and hear the same in a lot in the movie and entertainment industry as well. question: does one write dialog as it was spoken at the time or write for the audience reading or seeing the work? is it about understanding or being truthful? making someone use their mind to understand the dialog? at least one can be challenged to use the words of the historical time.
here's another sketch . . . does it matter? tree-like forms with moon rising? it just escaped.
july's been a hot month, maybe a bit cooler than june, but not significantly different. today was an appointment with a new doctor. why the new doctor? mainly, because our new health insurance policy didn't cover the previous medical group and my doc had retired from the practice anyway. some time ago as it turns out. so this was a first visit. and the first visit was . . . paperwork, and a bit of examination. punch here and see if it hurts, that sort of thing. these days if you don't fit the numerical codes, you have a problem, since you might not exist. blood work was simply a pain of code selections. the state of modern medicine?
here's a sketch for a multi-panel work, to help increase domain and widen interest, this marches . . . winged forms and flower-like objects.
we had our friend, pat, visiting for july fourth and took it easy. dinner came from the charcoal, yes, real burning charcoal and wood grille (no gas imitations here) with a basic primal type of cooking (at least i didn't burn the whole lot this time) with fire and smoke adding to the taste sensation. followed by, as it grew darker, a listen to the celebratory fireworks of the fourth rather than going to actually going anywhere to view them. we all knew what they look like, anyway. there were plenty of opportunities offered, but we chose to hear the explosions from afar and as it turned out, all around . . . seems like all night long on the third, the fourth and the fifth. i chose to text the deal with pop, bang and sizzle. kaboom was what i got back.
below a sketch for the window treatments, a panes collection that should stand. and does it reach potential?
a lot of heat, a lot of humidity and it seems like i have had little time for blogging ... so very busy this month. still working on many projects ... the exceptional hot weather for june has made life seem to slow down with all the bad news around for the month. records and horrors of unrest and the problems we all face that must be solved to live.
a few sketches when i have had some time:
there's definitely some figures represented in this and influenced by my current readings on picasso. singular and simple lines representative and yet impaired by the temperatures and the traffic flows which i get more uncomfortable with. who gives out the right to scream at me when i am trying to go safely along? zooming by as if there were no restrictions designed to keep us all moving forward while instead i see it all blocking up?
another of the ideas ... not sure what where ideas will take this ... only fragments and the collective usual objects. maybe the next month will produce more and find a direction, but can that be depended on? who knows if the time will even be there to challenge us?
we were standing outside talking to a neighbor and playing with her dog as the sun began to set and the light blue changed to a fire of red-orange-yellow seemingly billowiing as smoke while the clouds became simply astounding in their distorting of all of the colors of the evening:
i witnessed the transition of the fire that seemed akin to a furnace with the burning heat of the summer and the vivid late sun sky sinking deep into memory. what level of dante do we think of? and how are we blind to the life giving powerful burning gases of our closest star that could sustain us all if we would just apply ourselves?
i have no title for this sketch from my notebook that i worked on last night and again today, but there are definitely some tree shapes in it with all of the various branches extending. i guess it qualifies as some type of landscape image although I wasn't quite sure what it was to be when i began. below are some scans made from the composition as it was being created to explain more of the process:
i'm not sure where this image came from, somewhere within memory from something or somewhere i had looked at or been to and then made a photo like recall of last evening when i started the sketch. it just flashed somewhere within my brain and when i picked up the pen, the shapes emerged on the sheet. just from a composition standpoint, the right half was the first area completed, so I have shown it above.
i continued working right to left on the page as the drawing emerged continuing to add shapes and lines to the composition and it began to be denser with more lines, thus defined more of the landscape look. the composition then began to balance more of the various shapes into recognizable forms. whether intentional or not at first, this concept was changing as this point.
more strokes of the pen to fill in and adding items to the left and around the whole composition to tighten the drawing particularly as the central and closest "tree" shape emerged that could then divide the composition into a definite left and right half.
the final lines closed up the open space at the left half of the drawing and also created the density that i wanted to finish the composition overall. it's a simple black pen on white paper sketch taken from memory rather than actually looking at something (maybe i'll post process on one of those at another time). so basically, this is just a made up composition that creates a particular feeling or a satisfaction in my mind. I like both the unfinished versions and the final product.
ok, that's it for today, this is not going to be a painting or anything, but might stand to point in a direction . . . now, off to a graduation ceremony for a relative and then a dinner gathering afterward . . .
i've been working today to mix and distort some images in photoshop and arrived at an interesting (at least to me) combination of a photo of some sails with blue overlays . . . below is the concept and then further, a variation on the theme:
this past weekend my wife and i drove to the nc mountains into what felt like going back to the feeling and look of early spring while visiting with some friends at their mountain home on the toe river near the celo community. the area around celo is interesting as it sits in the rugged valleys below the shadow of the black mountains where one can look up toward the high peaks surrounding mt. mitchell (the highest peak on the east coast of the united states) . . . the area was quiet and seems calmer than so much of this growing state. maybe that is what the quakers who founded celo wanted . . . a separate place and a separate peace . . . and, the trip to visit was also a welcome relief from the over-abundant pollen coming down from the oak trees in charlotte which has been making me feel both sleepy and tired.
plus, it was an escape from the big town itself. (charlotte is always a big town ready for an escape from. there's always somewhere to go and escape away from it. and, it never really feels much like a city anyway . . . just a collection of suburbs with a central business core having a few somewhat interesting buildings—and surrounding parking lots, but no real character that i can place my finger on to define it . . . a large population with not enough cohesion of what is needed to make a culture that seems to define a distinct city that will pop out in the minds of those who hear the name.) that said, i live, love and work here among with the multitudes.
the toe river is quite beautiful as it winds its way through the valley below the magnificent peaks above. it's ever changing as we experienced with the shifting sands along with thousands of smoothed and tumbled rocks following the meandering path. the gurgle of the water flowing by was very calming in the spring sunlight while rolling a smooth stone or a pebble in my hand. i snapped a few images:
in the blackness of the night by the river—an area with wonderful starlight reaching down to us through time—and only tiny amounts of light pollution from the nearby populations, outstanding was the cutting light from this funky chandelier from our friend's collection . . . bright sensations and specular color amid the abyss of the distant night.
then, it was back to the blue sails image after settling some tax issues to see if creating an underlayer of the toe river image would add to the composition and make it more intriguing. the result:
if you ask, you might get what you want . . . if you don't ask, how would anyone ever know what you wanted? ask and it will be given, even if the thoughts are known before they are formed, still ask . . . and, since i was asked by a friend to post individual, larger images of the group i had posted on the fourth of march, here they are:
these images are added as a gallery for those web browers that recognize them as such and as of this date, i still have yet to get this painting underway . . . closer though. supplies in hand, just need to make the time.
i added a sketch by the name of 7M2.15 a few posts back that i am considering for a painting, so today, i'm adding some of color studies to the mixture of info posted. I like the composition of seeing the five color studies together in order to analyze them. maybe just one final, maybe all five? that would be ambitious. maybe some more colors to go—sharing them with the world however. . . as traffic zooms by my window at much too high of speeds for the road design.
in february, and now in this month of march, it seems like every charity and service organization has been calling or coming by wanting contributions or handouts. is this a new trend to catch people just before taxes are due? with the weather being so nasty in much of the nation, i'm surprised that so many groups would be out direct fund-raising. then again, spring must be coming and the organizations must figure that they can make a catch. i'm resisting.
instead, been reading a book on henri matisse after getting invited to a film showing some installations of his work in galleries in new york city and london. didn't see the film, but got interested in the artist (which is probably better in the long run) . . . his use of color and pattern is always fascinating—even if i do think so many of his works look incomplete.
didn't get to much in the month of february and adding to this blog. maybe it's just been too busy or cold or too grey and blah. except, i will respond to a comment to whoever sent me as a blind copy e-mail asking me to capitalize properly. as a designer, i do know what minuscules and majuscules are, i just choose to use lowercase. how does that sound?
here's a new sketch for a painting to be two panels. i'll start posting some color studies for it if i decide to make this one into a final. it has the usual drum like images are in the panels along with a few crossed notation squares and underlay-overlays and think it might make a good composition, but color will decide no doubt.
i also have few written posts from january that i may go back and post below, but it depends on whether i choose to type them out. spent most the the month working and reading with some development on yoga extensions. i was happy with the progress i was making, but as of today, there are changes and new developments. hmm...
january 2015 ... here we are ... and i promised i would tell some people how i made the collards that my wife and i brought to a traditional new year's day party in mt. pleasant, sc. first of all, the collards were raised in south carolina in the nice sandy soil in the low country + plus some pluff mud (they were locally grown and the leaves were huge, but amid them we mixed some organic collard greens that we had had brought with us on our way down to charleston, sc.
the recipe or style of cooking is fairly simple and was taught to me by a good friend of my parents, agnes rodgers. agnes and her husband, will, were both methodist missionaries in brazil and she had been brought up there as the daughter of a missionary (if i am remembering my history correctly). it was in brazil that she said she had learned to cook collards in this manner. i wasn't even aware that they grew collard greens in brazil at the time and had really never eaten them prepared in the old southern united states way of stewing them all afternoon with pork fatback, thus stinking up one's kitchen (and generally the whole house), but i suppose all it takes are some seeds, the right type soil, water and temperature while the light from the sun does the rest to grow such a wonderful and lovely plant. agnes called the collard greens "couve."
the above images show some of the preparation of the collards —
- break the large bunches of collard greens and wash the leaves thoroughly to remove any grit and sand from them. do not dry them. (my photo shows only a tiny portion of the actual number we prepared and washed in the sink.)
- remove the "bones" from the leaves—these are the large thick heavy stems and they can be torn out of the leaves or cut away from the green leaf with sharp knife on a cutting board (they are in a plastic bucket ready for the compost in the middle image. i saw a television cooking show where the host was suggesting that these stems could be used for soup by grinding them up and cooking them with chicken stock, but when i tried cooking them, the result was not particularly tasty, so, i think it works better to use them in the compost.)
- the smaller leaves in the right photo were washed and saved in a small pile in the red pot shown.
slicing and cooking:
the above images show some of the sliced collards and cooking —
- slicing the collards is critical to getting them to cook fast and easily.
- begin by taking some of the largest leaves and stacking them together four or five deep.
- fold the stacked leaves over in half so that they are folded on the long edge (adding some of the smaller leaves in between the layers).
- roll the stacked and folded leaves—away from you—into tight rolls—very similar to rolling a cigar.
- on a cutting board or surface with a very sharp knife, cut the rolled leaves in a chiffonade by slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick—this means that they end up in long thin strips. (i always start on the stem side of the leaves and cut away from that area.)
- pour some extra virgin olive oil into the bottom of a large heavy bottom pot (or dutch oven) and swish it around until the bottom is covered.
- place the chiffonaded collard leaves into the pot (usually placed as the cutting process is continuing).
- when all of the leaf rolls are cut into strips and are placed in the pot, move the pot on a stove burner turned to medium high-high heat.
- sprinkle the collard greens with salt and pepper and add some more olive oil on the top of the pile of leaves. (if they do not have much water left on them, add a few tablespoons of water.)
- begin the process of wilting the collards with the higher heat and turn the heat lower as they begin to change color.
- the leaf strips should change from the dull green of the natural leaf to a slick and "richer" looking green color as they wilt down to about 1/2 to 1/3 the size. constantly turn the leaf strips with a wooden spoon so that they do not burn. add a bit more water, if necessary, in small amounts.
- when the leaves have all turned from the original color to the newer, richer color green, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to stir them until they begin to change into yet a deeper green-slightly brownish color.
- as the amount of collards reaches about half of the darker color, turn the heat down to a low simmer and cover the pan. add a bit of water, only if necessary.
- simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes or until all of the leaves are turned to the deep green-slightly brownish color.
- turn off the heat and let the cooked collards rest for about 5-10 minutes.
- serve the collards plain or some people like to add some butter. i like to provide some good balsamic or white vinegar and some hot sauce (tabasco works, so does texas pete any hot pepper sauce) to add some extra taste and spice the collards, but always allow a guest to decide.
we served the collard greens with hoppin' john — a traditional charleston favorite that used crowder peas and some organic long-grain basmati rice ... yummy! a great way to start the new year!
here it is december and this painting is all but finished and my upstairs studio is cold in the winter air, but it (she) going to visit the owner for the holidays ... it's needed for the parties and celebrations, as well as, to see how it works on the walls of it's future home amid the commentary over a glass of wine. i'm not entirely finished with the colors and it has not been sealed or numbered, but it gets to visit the context where it will be hanging and enjoyed for a good while, i hope. i'm finding that it works in my mind and meets expectations, but still needs some polishing whenever the owner wants to bring it back to the studio.
one last photograph before leaving home...say goodbye for a while...
finished reading about the bohemians yesterday ... interesting history and book. it made me re-read some of bret harte and mark twain works which was a pleasure in itself. the book is for our local "deminted" book club for our discussion next month. ben tarnoff's the bohemians: mark twain and the san francisco writers who reinvented american literature (the link is to the author's web site) is an examination of the western and californian influence on american literature from the 1860s-1870s. not sure if i would say that it was entirely convincing of the "reinvention" of the title, but as history it read well, appeared to be well researched and put together in a way that it flowed nicely. mr. tarnoff is obviously a mark twain fan and has a fascinating blog at the link.
the book actually reminded me of friends at n.c. state who thought about and tried to create a new way of looking at (or toward) art and design. it was a group that explored, but we never really got anything accomplished. some had great ideas, but even less follow through and now i hear from others that as we all grew older, life turned some into conservatives that were simply happy with status quo. that's a pity ... the fringe is more fun to explore. not fueled by the levels of ethanol, though ... i never was good at that. still am not.
here's another sketch: it probably will never get paint, but it's an idea ... what are those things, anyway?
working to get some festive holiday light balls for our yard. these have become popular in the area after they were introduced to us in greensboro, nc. i see them popping up all over the internet. first it's about making the balls and then figuring how to hang and illuminate them as a yard decoration all the while trying not to break the piggybank.
what must the chinese think of all the christmas lights and other junk that they make and ship to the united states? they must love the income. while these can look interesting, but they will probably end up going the way of plastic pink flamingos. interesting at first, then kitsch and tacky. but, i still like plastic pink flamingos. apparently, so do others: flamingos. thank you mr. featherstone! the snomingo is great, too.
more, continued ... i had some free time:
bidder no. 104 was a tall gentleman dressed smartly in a dark grey suit. he wore no necktie, yet his royal blue button-down shirt was carefully pressed and obviously of high quality. his very stylish black cowboy boots with low slant heels didn't show much wear and he was what most would call good looking, but was also beginning to show thinning of hair. he looked to be in his late fifties or maybe early sixties with just a touch of grey, but he was physically fit with an elegant build making his intelligent, sophisticated look quite striking.
104 had an interesting method to his bidding by generally raising only a dollar above the current high each time. he would allow at least three increases before bidding again for any object. this was true for each lot that he bid on. he seemed to want many things, but the box drew some focus.
bidder no. 74 was quite different. she, was a young blond woman with longish bangs and shoulder length hair. strikingly attractive with piercing water-blue eyes, she caught most people's attention straight on when she walked into the auction room wearing a very soft looking dark red wool cape draped over a white blouse and a short leather skirt. her silver boots with very high heels seemed flashy and desirous of a call-out which contrasted greatly with the stare that penetrated a viewer as if to say with a loud voice, stay away from me.
yet 74 bid only on the box and no other object from the lots and each of her bids increased the pot considerably. she seemed confident, but ignored the bidding after a point.
bidder no. 112 was a strange somewhat bookish-looking young man of about thirty with extremely dark and thick hair that was not dyed, but was intensely black. wearing gold rimmed glasses with a fairly high level of correction in the lenses, he was dressed in crisp new, black jeans and a tweed coat over a dark blue t-shirt. tall and thin, he held tightly to a large grocery sack with what appeared to be a light, but rather bulky load.
his bidding was inconsistent for any lots and he only made four bids on the box early on in the auction. yet, it was obvious that he was very interested. his bids had made me become interested in what the box might contain and later i noticed that his dark eyes followed me closely, carefully as if burning my image into his memory when i finalized the bidding to walk up and claim the lot number.
the beginning of advent on the christian calendar...
i thought about our advent star on the first day of advent, but didn't get it hanging until a day later, while working out in the cold wind ... nevertheless it now is shining in the night from our front porch.
moravian stars are something i remember from early childhood days in w-s. the decorations of the city usually had moravian stars on them since it was so much a part of the history of the area. the whole town of salem being part of the moravian church's settlement that makes for the tourist industry now. it was the religion of the area and the cultural influence is widespread.
my grandmother, on my dad's side of our family, had a moravian star made of paper that we would put together each year for advent. she would take it out of a long and aged cardboard box that generally smelled like the dust from her attic where she stored decorations including a set of electric "bubble" lights that were older than me. (the bubble lights were never used on her christmas tree because they always blew her fuses, but she generally would let my sister and me plug them in to watch them work for a while or at least until the bubbled.)
inside the star box were stored the square and rectangular sections of the star carefully nested to take up the very least space possible (how very german). each piece was attached together with brass fasteners that used to be very popular in grade school to clip paper projects together. seems like there was always one fastener missing from year to year, so we would be hunting one down in the various desk or cabinet drawers that my grandmother and grandfather had in their house. a paper clip would never work, so if we could not find one of the brass fasteners, all assembly would stop until one could be borrowed. cellophane tape was generally on hand for mending and it was the older kind that used to turn yellow while staining the paper.
i don't recall my grandfather ever helping to hang the star. he would generally sit in his reading chair smoking cigarettes and eating peppermints while all of us worked on assembly. my grandmother would then hang it (or have my father, his brother, or me) while standing on chair to a small hook on the ceiling of her front porch where it would be protected from rain.
she didn't illuminate her star until i was in junior high school when it suddenly became very popular in w-s to light them at night. the city's downtown holiday decorations were redone at about that time and they had large plastic moravian stars that were specially made and illuminated from the interior. it was very unique to w-s and quite attractive.
i remember trying to figure out how to get a light bulb centered in my grandmother's paper star so that it would not scorch the paper points with the heat from the bulb. we were not very successful with that and i think she ended up buying another star later on, but that was still before the plastic ones were offered on the general market.
the one we have has some age as well. it first was a gift for my wife's house at isle of palms, sc when she lived there. it illumined a part of the charleston area that had not seen moravian stars. we have patched it a few times and try to take care of it so that it will shine the light in the darkness.
the day was filled with driving . . . weather: cloudy, bits of sunlight streaming through, then cloudy again and finally with lowering, cooler temperatures.
the driving was up to w-s again to visit with my dad and then return. dad was clearer than some days and enjoyed going from his nursing home over to a buffet thanksgiving dinner at the place he formerly lived ... except he didn't really know where he was, but that's part of the way he is these days. he doesn't seem to get to ill at ease over it. we wore him out, so he was ready for a nap.
the thanksgiving dinner was lovely. all the usual and expected dishes that seem so much of the tradition in america. i could eat all of the dishes with gluten and lactose issues, but the collection was quite a spread and i am thankful to have been able to participate: baked turkey, roasted ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (with way too much sweet stuff on top), green beans, some kind of congealed salad, and several different breads and, of course, stuffing with gravy. the staff at dad's skilled nursing center were all very good to work on the holiday even if it does seem like a country club some of the time with so much wait staff. i'm not used to that kind of service, but for those who are unable to feed themselves, the staff is very trained to assist.
one gentleman offered a blessing over the meal combined with a prayer that was very appropriate. he covered all the bases.
it was a cold and rainy morning when at last i am posting ... apologies to bulwer-lytton there
ok, ok, it’s november ... and i've been slow at adding blog entries ... so here's a long one.
weather report for the month so far: the temperature has been fluctuating between cool, then cold, then warm again, even warmer again. so, for those who want it to be consistent, that’s just not the case. the skies have been really clear though and wonderfully blue against the changing yellow and red leaves. it's also been quite dry ... until today, then boom, a few cracks of winter thunder and the rain poured down with chill and more cold to come.
we drove up to saluda, flat rock and hendersonville a few weekends back to take some photos for a project. the wind was whipping really cold ... felt like the winter air was coming on really fast in the carolinas this year ... maybe it’s just me and it’s like this every year ... i know it is similar each year, but seems like the flannels and blankets were out earlier for the colder nights in 2014, but i still see people in t-shirts and shorts walking around while i am starting to wear an under layer and a sweater ... i'm just cold natured (blooded?) in that sense.
saluda was great though with a bit of snow from a storm the day before still lying around in patches on the ground ... some crisp autumn apples, yummy. got them at the apple mill just off of interstate 26 and a bit up the hill. the apple mill's owners live on the property where some of the photos were to be taken, so we dropped in to get apples and supplies. (they said that their web site needs some updating, but the apples and products are delicious ... the best apple sauce in the world, hands down ... nothing but apples!)
our leaves are falling, have been falling, will be falling ... lots of them ... every day ... six days in a row i’ve raked the front yard and then the back, but it already looks as if i hadn’t done a thing ... more leaves falling ... more and more ... and still a lot of leaves on the trees ... yet, i look and see that the leaf colors are wonderful, stunning and spectacular, in fact. our maple trees have been vibrant with brilliant yellow, orange and deep reds that glow in the afternoon sunlight like stained glass in a church and they even are bright enough to show in the light of the full moon this month. the gum tree in the yard has really deep red-purple leaves that appear as a really rich color blood image as they project on our windows to our south side.
all of those leaves from the maples and gum decompose the best (much better than the smaller pin oak leaves in the yard). we try to rake and collect them to save for next year’s compost (or the following year’s) ... they go in our garden and renourish. it’s amazing how rich the soil in the compost can get from the maple and gum tree leaf deterioration (along with a few other additives like hay and lime). the composting pile of leaves is huge though and i've discovered that the angle of repose for leaves is about 38 degrees. above that, they just slide down and won't stay together.
will the real image please emerge? fun with photoshop's hue intensity ... this could go on and on ...
while i am raking, i have the constant and quite noisy sound of gasoline or electric-powered leaf blowers coming from other parts of the neighborhood. i enjoy raking the leaves the old traditional way and last year decided to see if i really saved any time by blowing vs. raking those all those leaves from so much of the yard ... raking actually turned out faster because i was able to control much more of the exact placement of the leaves ... the air blower sends them around everywhere with much less control. it was gentler and quieter allowing me to listen to the wind blowing through the leaves still on the trees and not get ear damage ... so much for the modern and noisy conveniences ... yet, people just don’t really seem to think about anymore ... they are just enamored with the devices ... nobody wants to use the very efficient rake and the exercise of raking the leaves is nice (even if it makes me sore the next day or in yoga class later on, ugh).
i had two different people come by and ask me if i wanted to have the leaves blown and collected, but i turned them down ... i like to do it myself … it’s a part of the autumn season for me even with the large number of trees we have in our yard ... with millions of leaves it seems. rake on, it's a crazy feeling ...
ok, change thoughts ... as long as i’m writing about observations on people’s "interesting" habits: might as well report on some other observations:
i was at a local discount department store the other day hunting for some long underwear (for those colder days and nights that are soon to be) and while i was shopping, i started watching some of the other patrons in the store ... although i probably shouldn't have been watching, it amazed me to see how many people were selecting and picking clothing off the various racks only to then just drop those selections on the floor ... honestly, what’s wrong with hanging it back where you picked it up? are these people basically lazy or just expecting somebody else who works in the store to do it for them while they chat about useless issues or have arguments on their smart phones? what gives with that? basically, it's pig mentality.
it's like watching someone just dump cigarette butts from their car ashtray or trash along the road or in a parking lot ... what are they thinking? so privileged that it's ok? somebody else can deal with the issue. jerk mentality is the best comment on it.
so, another comment on behavior comes from yet another recent observation about a brand new petrol station that i visited earlier in the year and found — on the third day that they had been open — somebody had already torn the urinal in the men’s bathroom loose from the wall and ripped the stainless stall divider down. what causes that kind of action? is it anger toward the world? the struggle of haves and have nots? is it juvenile? gang rites? i just fail to understand the mind-set of such behavior ... and, it seems such a waste of energy. it’s also not the first occurrence ... i experienced the same thing happen at a convenience store down in mt. pleasant, south carolina a few years ago. it was the same scenario, new petrol station and convenience store with brand new toilets, again, less than a week old, yet the men’s toilet had already been trashed. what’s that all about? just for the hell of it?
grow up, america, land of the free ... free to trash what you like, i guess ...
oh, and speaking of the trash and rubbish ... now that november is going … the election days are finally over, we can say thanks for no more political ads or those annoying pre-recorded and unwanted telephone calls on home phones and mobiles ... so now (well, maybe) those newly elected republicans can save us all from rapid destruction with their charming new ideals ... and the democrats can go ahead to keep working to save the world from these mindless actions on people’s parts ... and will they actually do something? and is it good thinking to press into every sector and make sure we all pay attention to do things the right way ... so, with the world’s population growing at the current rate, it’s always a new ball game out there in the left or right. either way, its all about getting more out of the middle income’s pocket for the corporate world and those with more, who want more so much that it consumes them constantly. that and threatening another cold war that we people, us citizens, should refuse to accept.
here's a thought on the whole deal: clean all the houses and limit any politician to two consecutive terms and at that point require a change in any office. oh, they can come back again if they decide to run in an election after someone else has served for a term and those voting people are willing to have them serve again, but no one in any government body could serve more than two consecutive terms ... (not talking about lengthening the terms either). hopefully this would get no professional politicians that can remain in office for years (and years and years) and also no one can really become a lame duck. what’s so wrong about that idea? it would never pass muster with the current group of long-time politicians.
reading … finished a round of the catcher in the rye and was not so very impressed again, didn’t find the “cool” language all that interesting or appropriate (maybe it’s a generational thing) and have gone on to a biography of william blake which is definitely written in an interesting style amid a lot of reading about web accessibility for diverse ranges of abilities. being politically correct and all that ... amid this is a autobiography of a dancer (a ballerina, wait, make that a black ballerina, just make sure you know) which is for a book club discussion ... relatively interesting, but my take on the influence is a bit overstated. moving on to a biography on norman rockwell and another on the bohemian writers of the american west in san francisco, like bret harte, mark twain, etc. who, of course, redefined literature as whitman was reworking poetry.
then, sewing up some holes tonight and threading a needle, so glad my mother taught me how to do it correctly ... mending, and the thread goes into the needle and we count the rows of weaving in the cloth to place each stitch accurately and tightly into place. hiding the seam and the patch if you are careful and take the time (which is the hardest part, taking the time.
another two trips up to winston-salem and back to see my dad … he was in and out of confusion, but that's normal, i ended up caught in very bad traffic on both returns to charlotte nothing unusual there though). chewing with medicare and the social security administration is a deal though ... just what will it be like when i get there?
also was watching a guy detail several cars in the neighborhood the other day ... i'm just not that obsessive about vehicles ... once a month or so, light wash might do.
- what have i got to be, my love
- you’ve been away so long
- you don’t know my heart anymore
- it’s not where i belong
- what’s to look forward to, my love
- by telling you this song
- all my worries have passed and gone
- and that now seems so wrong
the radio report:
stories about holidays becoming politically charged issues confronting the nation (this nation, at least) ...
it's religious—whose religion? and who would be offended? what are their beliefs?
it's a birthday—is the person worthy? or did they do things that would make them offensive in the eyes of some?
it's a memorial—is the subject politically sensitive to some?
sounds like debates over whether to celebrate confederate memorial day (not historical and inappropriate), thomas jefferson's birthday (a slaveholder and possible womanizer), diwali (victory of good over evil, what is that "good" anyway?), easter (ah, the resurrection and the raison d'etre for christianity), hannukah (wait, is that the hebrews again), the prophet's birthday (which seems to be on different days depending on which sect one references and wait, it might involve islam) ... don't blame me, i'm just listening.
when i first opened the box i found that it contained nothing more than a carefully glued and assembled black felt lining, so it made me wonder what three other bidders at the auction—where i had won with the highest bid—had been thinking. the exterior was nothing special, it was decorated with various decoupaged images of a bygone age when men wore bowler hats and ladies (which was how they were referred to at the time) of means collected their hair into large buns with multiple hairpins and squeezed into bustles that transformed their figures.
i had found the bygone figures to be interesting when i had examined the box among the various items up for auction at the estate sale and decided to make a bid. since no one was allowed to open the box to see what it contained, all the bids were simply sight unseen on a oblong object made of cardboard.
i cast the first bid for only three dollars thinking that the decoupage was interesting, but very few would be interested in such a period piece of craftwork. i was sure that it would be mine to take home, but i began to wonder about the contents only when my small bid was quickly overtaken by a larger bid for ten dollars and then another for seventeen. while these sums were not excessive, they seemed rather ridiculous, but i decided to play along and bid twenty to overtake the lead. to my astonishment, four new bids pushed from three others quickly pushed the object up to fifty dollars and left me in a quandary.
what were they thinking? who were these three bidders and how did they somehow know what was in this now interesting box to raise it's value? why were they willing to put on such a show over a small item in this estate sale? i became intrigued.
i had only read about this auction sale the day before in a friday edition newspaper classified section. auctions were not something i regularly attended, but this estate seemed like it could be a fascinating way to spend my saturday morning. the estate sale was included in several auctions to be held that morning and was that of a middle-aged single man from india who had only recently passed away rather uncomfortably as a suicide by drinking drain cleaner. not a pleasant way to do oneself in, but it had worked sufficiently to poison him while chemically burning the majority of his esophagus and stomach lining. There had been a small report on him and his estate on the local news and in the same newspaper that now advertised the auction, but it was not of significant news to have been headlines.
the end of october ... already. the pumpkin is carved into a jack from a local street party earlier in the week and is almost to the point of rotting with a bit of mold on the interior, but it will still work. i don't get to do much for the usual gang of kids in our neighborhood ... i'm off on a drive to see my dad in w-s again and then it's supposed to rain heavily this evening which could wash away any plans for tricks or treats. saw a few interesting costumes today though, the "best" of which had to be the muscle man in a flesh coloured fishnet outfit with basically a black thong beneath ... he must love showing off all those fully developed muscles. this is a costume? honestly, why not just walk down the street naked? except, that would get him arrested. too bad i didn't have a camera to snap a pic and maybe he's a model for one of those underwear sellers offered under places like ali express! he did have a great body and obviously worked to maintain it, caught my eye at least ... that was the point, i'm sure. still, seemed rather decadent to think that no one would be offended.
we had fun with the pumpkin though, below are some images of the jack-o-lantern for this year along with an image of the elizabeth community 2014 pumpkin wall that was located over on greenway avenue this year (the theme was "love" even though amid usual nasty political races going on). there was a string busted that had fallen from a rotten pumpkin. it happened just as we drove up:
our backyard has been filled with flowers this autumn ... the cold is coming, but these delicate flowers are blooming away, probably into november. they seem so delicate and yet they wait until late into the season to bloom when the temperatures are beginning to drop. perhaps it's a kinship to the late season bees who seem to love them. confederate rose hibiscus ( hibiscus mutabilis) seem to love the soil of charlotte and our biodynamic soils. our neighbor from across the street gave us some stalks from her magnificent specimen a few years ago and occasionally we can get more to root in water during the winter months (which is very easy). we have grown several of the plants in the shade and sunny areas of our yard. going from pink to bright yellow with swamp sunflowers (helianthus angustifolius) on the other sections of the yard ... these are so bright yellow and can take over to the point of being invasive (i think these plants have eliminated some railroad lilies that we used to have in the same area), but they are still quite lovely.
going out into the yard, i feel like monet must have felt with all the colors of the flowers around at giverny, but unlike him, i don't have the desire to paint them at all. my work is not about capturing impressions ... playing with color fields is a different ball park ... someone told me that even with the brighter colors i am using, they still found my work to be on the dark side with representations of evil things ... not sure where that came from, but i'm re-thinking about my images and the abstractions now.
- today, i’m not the same as yesterday
- yes, definitely true
- one has flown away, gone forever while another rises
- today only emphasizes the changes in things
- sometimes they are great, others can be similar
- and fascinating that a segment of sleep
- can divide our days into separate entities
- the sun goes down
- or better
- the portion of the earth
- where we are
- turns away from the light of the sun
- we go into the darkness of infinite space
- always there if we look away from the ground
- made less in our awareness by the light
- and if we are not staying awake
- all night, the day changes into night
- we go to sleep sometime in the darkness
- to awaken to a new day
- with new light of radiation from our nearest star
- a system that repeats over and over
- until our star burns itself up
- consuming earth in the process, so the science reveals
- yet, sleep has the refreshing ability
- of changing the mind and resting the body
- allowing for starting over again
- ma donna to the new day
- thank you ma’am
- in the freshness to look at things
- in the different light
- we say, sleep on it
- you will see it differently
- the new molecules of light waves
- come from a different place of space, a different time
- closing eyes and turn inward from the light
- then the conscience can see a new dawn
- now, it is no longer the future
- with regard to the past
- and could any one of us act the same
- yet, we do not appreciate the difference
- for each day new, makes our vast transition
- but, we cling to the sameness of our past
- and try to do over the unrighteous issues
- failing to look out to new horizons
- failing to see each other in the different light
- and holding tight to our old fears and grudges
- so urges us on, this calm with reflection
- to wake up to the change and freshness
- each day affords a new perspective
- today, i’m not the same as yesterday
- eyes and mind can see anew
there's a cat staring at me tonight from a perch on a nearby stool (ready to go to bed, i see or just taking a bath in anticipation .. clean paws) while me, now in my pre-winter clothing ... the temperature of the air is now cooler and i hate wearing more constricting layers ... stare back at her and calmly say, i need to finish ... so, i accept now that i prefer the warmer days of summer. is it that i am older and my blood is thinner? or, is my skin just unhappy with the coolness against it? alas ... the cat purrs with a nice coat of fur ... while i think of the scratch of wool and how much i dislike it.
was on the road today ... off to wonder about where my dad's mind was floating and then also sitting at the social security office for several hours trying to get some information for him. to no avail, and as tamara indicated later ... "it's amazing how well they can protect the information for individuals who really need it while the leaks of other information flow right out the door" ... i guess it's more that it would be deliberate disclosure on their part that could be the problem if it was a mistake, so, just more forms to push to get signed and recorded. paperwork, don't we all love it in our litigious society? first go the lawyers ... as they say ... yet, i read several articles and wrote a few commentaries on them to post for a class in the meantime.
another possible painting sketch posted while listening to some leonard cohen songs tonight and playing the chords progressions on his so long, marianne in two different
A Bm D A G D F#m E — A F#m E A Asus4 A Asus4 or G Am C G F C Em D D7 — G Em D D7 G
now the other cat is butting into my backside ... the creaking sound, what? oh, it's the desk ... ok, got it
we were up in highlands, nc for a wedding ... it was a bit cooler than the lowlands up on the mountains. the event was entertaining and planned at a professional venue ... they did get married ... which was the point. sorry, no photos from the event itself, that was von den Behörden verboten, but the dancing was delightful ... i did catch a panorama of the beautifully sunny next day on a hike to the nearby windswept peak looking down onto the changing leaves of the valley and the town nestled into it with the clear blue october sky:
down the flight away from an upstairs studio, just sitting before the screens ... working on a calendar concept and forms ... ho, it's all fidelity among the uses.
not critical mass here, ships passing on the left, left, right and back going—"llrg" ... me? reading some more, catcher, but not getting it finished today ... also, so only an interface containing left going—"iclg" therefore, two sketches to add ... distractions, more abstract sketches:
hmm, more sketches for possible paintings? perhaps, maybe, maybe not ... they might be just sketches ... as stated before, it can take a lot of sketches and ideas before deciding on painting. yet, tending to like the drawings alone even if there are grander concepts behind, so, if they were all painted, that might be possible, very nice, but very inconsistent ... still, the whole collection would (however) to be found acceptable. hard place there ...
our carolina wren is still singing in the morning and late afternoon. winter is still a ways off ...
- impressions of october ...
- warm temperature, crisp dry air
- change coming
- brilliant sunlight, clear skies
- low humidity
- train whistle in the distance
- growing closer, closer
- now feel the rhythm, swaying
- windows vibrating
- lamp quivering
- then, passed by and over
- more evening sounds of crickets, soft and sweet
- nature in the city
- and cooler in the evening
- but, the telephone rang all day
- alas, the electronic portion is out there ... waiting
this evening watched an interesting program on a man living in solitude in the alaska wilderness. researched his name, dick proenneke, and found a web site about him: www.aloneinthewilderness.com selling videos of the film (typical) along with a wonderful virtual tour of the area where he lived from the national park service web site: virtual tour. there is also a page on wikipedia about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/richard_proenneke.
proenneke must have loved the quiet natural sounds, the feeling of being a part of the land and the hard work required to live alone while recording the adventure for others to view. it's an ideal, and many think to seek it, but fail and yet i also would suggest that interrelationships are also a part of our existence (this coming from an introvert ... ha!).
above is another sketch for a painting i am considering. as in yesterday's study, no color work on it yet ... just the image in black and white. if this one develops, i hope to post the entries here. the if is a big question sometimes ... it can take a lot of sketches and ideas before i decide on painting.
my verse for today comes again from the old testament:
“come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
your face, lord, do i seek. — psalm 27:8
- october ...
- a month of transitions
- a time, passing
- work, beginnings
- work, endings
- sounds of crickets singing for mates before the cold comes
- road sounds, diminishing while days pass
- voices outside seem louder, now in darkness
- where just days ago was light
- i search for silence
- do we fail to need the quiet anymore
- always, something with sound, something with sound
- a longing for the times without it
- my ears repeat
- where is the quiet
- the quiet, the silence for rest
- needed, calm, stated
- for the recovery, yet
- if the man fails to act
- in the calm of thoughts
- think to call him failed
- or do they call him wasted
- all calmed, not to be worthless
- call it other, cannot be failure
- reply in time
- so, it is not the symptom
- it is the cause
- and the passage is made ...
my day was fixing things that failed to look as i intended. that took more time than i wanted, but it was fixed. a bite to eat and pressing through people moving in traffic toward a funeral for an acquaintance. this was a person i knew slightly, but not a close friend. still, it mattered to make the passage for the family. what are we if we are not sensitive to the rites that make us humans? we are born ... birth, we live ... life, we make ... transitions, and then we die ... death. it is natural, but it leaves some empty when a presence is no more.
above is a sketch for a painting that i am considering. no color studies on it yet ... just the image in crisp black and white. as it develops, i hope to post the entries here.
- “i know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
- ‘who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
- therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. — job 42:2-3
- the last of our summer peaches
- softening, ripening
- golden, pink and yellow
- sweet, satisfying
- captured sunshine with a painter's color pallette
we have been eating and freezing some of the peaches or making them into wonderful flavored smoothies ...
bought a basket of the peaches about a week ago and they were hard, firm, not fully ripe, but now have become very, very sweet and soft as they have ripened. the man who sold them to us at the local farmer's market said that he thought the variety was big red or monroe ... yet, whatever variety, they have been wonderful for a late summer treat and there are just a few left at this writing.
about freezing peaches ...
freezing the peaches has been very easy this year ...
we just let them ripen, wash them well in warm water, peel them and discard the peelings, slice them into sections and plop the sections into cold water with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. then lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon to drain away excess water and put them into freezer bags. The recipes i read always tell you dip the peaches into boiling water to loosen the skins and you can do that, but if they are ripe they don't need the dip them to loosen the peeling ... it also seems to make them turn brown faster when you thaw them later if you do. The boiling water might also be suggested to kill any bacteria, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference (at least to me).
from another place ...
walking through the backyard ... i spot in the sunlight ...
above is a photo i took of a spider lily (i think it is lycoris radiata) in our backyard. it's out there all by itself sticking up in the middle of the grass. i never planted it, i guess some previous owner of this place must have located the bulb in a strange place or it just grew up wild ... several references to this flower have it being used for funerals (in asia). look carefully at the image (click or touch over it to enlarge) and you can see that a clever spider has taken advantage of the bloom.
something i find exciting about the cooler end of summer-early fall weather that is coming into our area: we get some huge spider webs. usually, these webs are on one
of the porches or the eaves of the house, but this one—in the image below—is almost completely across our front yard! the longest threads we measured at
over 35' ... this is an ambitious, amazing spider! each day, during the mid-morning, the spider has been taking the web back in and then spreads it out again sometime
during the night. you don't want to walk into this web by accident!
click on the image to see the web larger ...
the main part of this web measured over 5 feet in diameter. sorry, that the image is a bit hard to read, but you can see the web (and the spider resting at the center). the spider is a brownish color ... it have no idea what kind it is ... but it's about an inch across (leg to leg). the web itself is fairly regular with 20 spokes usually, but is not totally consistent on the webbing members ... it's still amazing to look at. hopefully, it's also successful for the spider to catch the food it needs.
seems like the general news is all rough these days as the radio and television media give out more info about the seeds of hatred or evil that seem to dominate within stories of death and destruction at the hands of violent power grabs supposed made by holy quests ... which are truly unholy markers in that type of destruction. add to that, more news of spreading viral disease that has been destroying lives and economies for much of west africa. alas, only one small story of hope amid the chaos was mentioned where one person can try to make a difference. is this the world reflected in our population growth as a part of the endless struggle between the have and have nots?
i sit isolated, first hot in the humidity and the warmth of late summer afternoons, then cooler with torrential rains while working on projects and painting all the while sirens around me blare responding to thunderstorms and lightning flashes, rather than uprisings of violence ... yes, we need the rain to soak the dry earth, but the intensity is frightening ... yet it fills the air with an electricity that prickles on my skin ... (or is it just the added smell of ozone?)
16-progress on the painting ... i'm continuing to work on small areas, revising a few of the colors and adding washes. getting closer to finishing this painting before final varnishing the canvas, but there's still a way to go on paint layers and finish work on the "leaf" like things. I am adding some more images of the details of the raw painting below:
then, a side view from my studio of the painting:
quiet day here at the "farm" ... basically watched the squirrels in the yard chase each other and read a few more pages of the devil's backbone by jonathan daniels.
the book is an interesting collection of tales about the natchez trace that i saw in the park store when we visited mississippi back in july, then checked out of our local public library. the edition i've been reading is part of a series that was released by the publisher, mcgraw-hill book company, as part of the american trails series. other books (according to the frontispiece) were written about the boston post road, the california trail, the spanish mission trail, the great north trail, the spanish trail, the santa fe trail, the oregon trail, the erie canal and the morman trail. they probably would all be interesting ... if they can be found ... most seem to have been out of print for years. the devil's backbone is still available as a paperback reprint and used copies.
there is a series of woodcuts in the the devil's backbone that are listed as by "the dillons" ... there is nothing more than that about them ... but, their illustrations are super. i discovered on wikipedia that the dillons were a husband-and-wife team composed of leo dillon (1933–2012) and diane dillon (1933-) who illustrated a great number of books and won the caldecott medal both in 1976 and again in 1977. the woodcuts must have been early in their career since the book was published in 1962. i found a blogspot for them HERE which includes some of the woodcuts under the link at jonathan daniels name.
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