Friday, December 31, 2010

The sun. Big puffy clouds. To the rig! Camera in tow.

A gate was open, so I took advantage. My approach interrupted a gathering of crows.

The clouds on the north horizon were gathering in some interesting ways, so I drove on in that direction hoping that they would provide some interesting backgrounds for photos, but they quickly dispersed, so I hung a right on to Coon Hollow Road.
 I love this drive, this road. After three years I have a pretty good idea of the lay and notice changes.

This one wasn't subtle:
The field continued over the hill and down the road 1/5 of a mile or more. Five or six year-old trees. I had noticed (apologies for the dark shot) while hunting harvest helicopters earlier this month that many of the trees nearest the road had been clipped for garlands, meaning that middle branches had been cut off. But the trees were still standing at that time. No doubt the glut off trees necessitated this cull, and it will be interesting to see what comes next for this field.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Obliquity to Clarity

You might recall the usage of the non-word. If so inclined, here is the referent.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Resort? To What?

  • live "inside the outdoors" in the paradise of Hawaii
  • commune with wild friendly Hawiian spinner Dolphins
  • sleep in a plush outdoor bed
  • sip pure, organic "super anti-oxidant " Asantae Coffee or herbal tea
  • awaken to a chorus of tropical birds
  • eat papayas and veggies from the organic garden
  • experience healing from biostimulating light waves emitted by low level lasers
  • plant seeds, connect with Mother Earth
  • experiment with flower essences for soul development
  • eliminate heavy metals/toxins in our comfortable (low heat) far infrared sauna
  • visit the ancient Place of Sanctuary for spiritual revitalization
  • walk the colorful labyrinth inside the rainbowed illuminarium
  • ride the hammock as the sun sets
  • pamper yourself with a lomilomi rejuvenation treatment
  • learn how to pamper your face with an organic skin renewal system
  • Avail yourself of our K1 triangular vibration system
  • sail on a Hawaiian double hulled canoe with Captain Kiko
  • share fresh, organic meals with kindred spirits
  • laugh and sing by the (unessential) fireplace
  • nurture body and soul, with humor
  • hosting weddings, honeymoons, workshops
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More than obligatory

While tempted to feeling remiss, whether  through a discipline put aside for other pursuits or to a degree that one has grown accustomed, at first blush, knowing  the coupon book from Costco is not reason for excitement, nor from which a tale may be readily spun,  except, perhaps , as a culmination of  errands  and the sights while

A two- count of Nutria road-killed.

The young man with Asperger’s who works for the local grocer delivering provisions on his scooter in the rain. A pleasant and cordial lad, he wants to be a veterinarian, and who could blame him, his own mother giving him the heave ho.

The woman who laughs a bit too much as she tells a clerk about the inmate who spit on her when he thought he was being shorted a goodie bag for Christmas.

Or the woman to follow wearing a pink bandana on her hairless head. “Two packs of Marlboro Menthol Lights, please.”

And yes, Forrest, obesity is an issue in this small town. Which brings me back around to Costco. The extra-wide aisles are not only for the flatbed carts.

Which brings me to year's-end.

There was a period in the progression of jazz music , say around 1958 to 1962, that Miles, John, Eric and Ornette, among others , began to move beyond the expected tonalities, doing so while  the foot could still be found a-tappin’, all in preparation, intentional or at least desired, for the moment when the beat would too be buried to all but those with an ability to keep beat with their hearts.  Nor do changes in tempo mean we stop listening.

Hearing is a forward motion. Choice, not necessarily.  Who doesn’t struggle, grow weary, and sometimes incrementally overcome? For instance, the first person singular.

Hence, it is more from reticence,  or perhaps  that mundane Costco booklet  (I did not open it.), or numbers that don’t lie: Books read, less poker, resultant missives, stolen kisses and poems written  that keep me away. 

In some respects, and I say this with heartfelt gratitude to those with appreciative persistence, there is no going back.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DGS

Friday, December 24, 2010

DGM: "We were excited to get only an orange for Christmas."

I'd say that I'm listening for sleigh bells, except I've been hearing them for what seems like a month, this certainly akin to the accumulation of gifts in the guest bedroom, our wrapping HQ, that culminated Thursday with DW's trip to FedEx with a slough of last minutes packages to friends and family. There are still more to go out, including a couple local goodie bags for those away this holiday season.

I will admit to leaving the bulk to the pro. I do believe that she and my DM had a contest, albeit unspoken, for the greater number of presents to wrap. I did, however, attend to the packages for those people sharing my bloodline and our bed (cats excluded). Still, with the lion's share of ribbons and bows to manage, DW did a magnificent job, hard work only matched by the size of her heart.

Included on this year's list was the young farming couple I have mentioned in the past. DW had intended to make the delivery this morning, but in that she had still others to consider before readying herself for a small fete with friends, I took the reins, but not before phoning ahead. When the woman answered the phone, she said to meet them in the barn as one of their cows, having calved three days prior, was having a hard time with a distended udder and they would be trying to milk off some of the pressure for their Christmas Eve. I thought to take my camera, and packed it. I imagined a manger scene quite unlike another. Yet, by the time I arrived, the family had returned to their small farmhouse and I left the camera in the rig.

Young farm children have a certain nature. They are unaccustomed to company, and while excited when a visitor appears, they either hide behind Mama and stare, or run about in proximity yet dare not make real contact. Today, it was the latter and it lent an extra degree of chaos to the kitchen, yet they did manage to take control of the satchel I brought and began pulling the presents out.

"What shall we do with them?" the daughter asked her mother in French. The mother replied that they should be put under the Christmas tree. In English, the daughter asked me if I would like to see the tree. I was happy to.

The doorway from the kitchen to the living room was covered in a blanket, no doubt to keep the heat from their wood stove confined for efficiency in at least one area of the house. We passed through this barrier to see a bucked log of some diameter acting as the base for a sizable yet bare oak branch decorated with a good number of homemade garlands.

The daughter, at six years, said, "It's not really a Christmas tree. It's a limb."

 "No, Dear," said I. "It is a Christmas tree, and I think it is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen." And I was not fibbing.

Although there have been times in my life that a dollar found blown into the weeds along a sidewalk seemed a bounty, I have before and since been blessed in so many unexpected ways. I have benefited from love and again recognized those riches in that barely warm living room.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Repercussions

At times I look down to find in my right hand a knife and in the left my nose. Or at least I imagine that as an outcome, opinions being just so much snot. “’S not!” they cry, or again, so goes the fret.

Why worry?

It’s complicated.

“Not another obliquity!” shout a chorus in dismay.

You see the problem, don’t you? If it was just a matter of the cat sitting in front of the space heater, or the reason I am using a space heater instead of the pellet stove, things like this where agency is limited to me in my immediate environment, no social drums to answer back on the field of battle… Friend or foe?

There I go again.

I’ve written something. And yes, I’m being coy. Contentiousness will do that, no?

No?

Right. Not necessarily. Not one-on-one.

And that’s the thing: What I’ve said to so many people in confidence is no longer less than part of me. So, out with it.

What I really wonder is if folks will be so pissed off that they miss the constructive and positive parts.

You know, like sour grapes floating under a burning bridge on a river of spilt milk with a shit storm blowing in.

I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting a jump on the Mayans


I’ve never been one to go on at length about my beliefs when it comes to a deity, and although I am fully cognizant that I have missed out on opportunities for fellowship, it is after accepting invitations to such that I have experienced divisiveness on the smallest of matters. I find it prudent to keep my own counsel. It is therefore with a great amount of reticence that I even broach the subject now.

DW often sends me links to things that cross her RSS. This morning’s blue type was followed by “Two days after my birthday. I will miss you.” It seems the End Times draw nigh.

Again.

I am reminded of an aunt and uncle of XW. Given to justifying whims and ostentation in the name of the Lord, they were perfect candidates for a permanent cloister arranged in the hills of Missouri based upon on a single tenet. One time while visiting, XW asked where she might recycle the bottle she had just emptied. The reply: “We don’t recycle, for the Rapture is coming next year.” That was 1987. Perhaps bankruptcy is a form of Armageddon.

Numerous Millennial predictions prompted me to curate an exhibition at our Chicago gallery just prior to 2000 c.e. called “Watch.” While dealing more with ecumenical than doctrinal or apocryphal representations of faith, it was nevertheless based upon a particular verse from the New Testament, Mathew 25:13.

The disciples ask Jesus about his immanent return. Although there are many places in the New testament that repeat this scenario, his response comes over a couple chapters as he outlines the death and desolation, corruption and deception to come in its wake— basically the history of humankind’s suffering —and in the end gives no solid answer: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

No biblical scholar, and not of a legalist bend, I do wonder how those of that literal persuasion overlook such a remark in order to prepare an inside track. Watch, yes; know, no.

Then again, I understand a need for a deep and abiding faith, one without question when the questions become too complex. Unfortunately, I also tend to think that doubt denied turned to an assertion is what heaps a whole lot of suffering upon folks. The tautology is a conceit, and put into action is hubris. We spin as we see fit.

It is no wonder we “know neither the day nor the hour,” even though at times it seems we’re doing our damnedest to get there. I’ll agree with the doomsayers that much.

And they accept donations.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ashtray Heart

I am listening to a Jersey City radio station online. In another room of the house, a local station is keeping a cat company. Both are playing Captain Beefheart tunes and have been for a couple hours now.

I checked email when I arrived home from my outing with OB. Crash sent me a link with the sad news that Captain Beefheart had died. His real name was Don Van Vliet, and he had been suffering for many years with MS. An accomplished musician and painter, he is survived by his wife of 40 years.

I don’t remember exactly when I first heard the Captain’s music. Sometime in the late 60s. Rock and roll was still a teenager and in its youth was already doing a lot of experimentation, separating itself from its roots in blues. Beefheart chose to stay behind and explore those roots, deconstructing, if you will, that basic rhythm into what some would say is equally innovative as the infant free jazz movement of the time. It certainly had my attention.

Beefheart was a poet of the absurd. I like to say that his music found the sounds in between the notes. Psychodelia certainly played a part. But lest a person call it noise, consider that he was a person with a strong vision, a perfectionist who alienated many of his band members.

His music is certainly an acquired taste, even though some may say it lacks musicality. Yet it is also defining, and therefore brings like minds together.

It may have been 1983. I had recently moved to Syracuse, NY. There was a cooperative gallery in town, Artisera, that I frequently visited, and I soon became friends with the SU grad students that ran the space. One of them fancied himself a poet, and knowing that I wrote and did performance art, asked me to join him and a young undergrad writer one Saturday afternoon to do a poetry reading at the gallery.

The grad student and I created an environment for the reading. He hung a tree limb from the ceiling and spread dead leaves on the floor. It was Autumn. I brought an old Hoover upright, an old B&W TV on a stand, turned the TV on to static and had a female grad student in vintage clothing vacuum the leaves. We were young, but the undergrad was younger. He showed up with a boom box, and was wearing only military fatigue pants.

The grad student read first. I have no impression that remains. I read next. My stepfather, who also lived in Syracuse (another story), fell asleep. The undergrad woke him up with the boom box. Captain Beefheart. He crushed dead leaves against his bare chest as he read poems directly to his girlfriend in the audience.

I don’t remember the grad student’s name. Maybe David. The undergrad student is James Gray, a friend forever. I was his Best Man.

Thank you, Captain.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Opinh Bombay

My Poker Academy buddy, Opinh Bombay emailed me the other day to say he had a layover in PDX (Portland in pilot speak) on his way back to Anchorage. OB, as we call him in our online table chat, flies for FedEx. I gladly made the drive to hang out with him.

Our time window was rather small, yet I wanted to make the most of it, so I suggested we take a drive up the Columbia Gorge to one of Oregon's most attended tourist spot, Multnomah Falls.

What I didn't tell OB was that we would be making the trip in Gert, my little four-banger Toyota truck. OB is 6'8".

Nevertheless, we arrived safe and sound, despite being buffeted by the strong Gorge winds, had a lovely late lunch and chat, and took some photos. See you in March, OB!


Fun Fact: Multnomah Falls is approximately 100 times taller than OB.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mixing it up

"I just received another text, this one from Pennsylvania!"

Gary, the coordinator of the pub tourney, was sitting to my right and cracked a little smile. I remarked, “You know I keep a blog, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I seem to remember Sarah telling me about it.”

“Well, guess who made it into the next post.”

Not the next post, exactly. The one after, and there’s a reason: keywords.

It’s been well over a year since I played poker with these folks, and it mostly because I can’t keep my mouth shut. The last time was when Sarah felted me with K3off making a call no one in their right poker mind would make. Slightly steaming after the beat, I said, “Guess who just made it into tonight’s blog post.”

In that post I gave less than flattering appraisals of play and behaviors. And even though I haven’t divulged my moniker, my real name exists out there with links back. I guess they’re not too hard to find, as SiteMeter readily showed me the path she took.

I may have very well been fooling myself that all would be forgotten or at least forgiven when I convinced myself to hit the game again last night, but at least everything seemed cordial on the surface.

A lot of familiar and just as many new faces. And much the same style of play one comes to expect in such a venue: a naked Ace or King, and any small pair demands a call no matter the size of the bet. Yet, I know deep in my heart that sort of play should be welcomed and I won’t belabor it aside from recounting some fairly remarkable hands.

I have splashers on both sides of me at one point (Gary, a decent player, has been knocked out). Bet big or go home, right? I am in the BB when everyone amazingly folds around to the SB. He flat calls. I have pocket fives and raise it 3XBB. I have him well-covered relatively early in the game, but he says, “Well, I might as well go all-in.” I’m getting 3 to 1, so I call. He flips over A7off. The board plays out 89TJ. I recover and felt him in the next level.

I recovered  two hands later by raising all-in with AQoff from the Button. Only the SB called with pockets sixes. He has very little left that he throws in on the flop. Two Kings and two Tens makes my Ace high ugly good. He’s gone.

I made it to the final table in pretty good shape as second in chips. I made a fatal error by making a pot-sized bet with pocket 8s on the Button after four limpers. The young gun big stack called with K5off and hit a King on the flop. I knew he had the K when he raised my continuation. I could have folded, but to tell the truth, I could care less. I preferred to go home.

I said I’d return next week. Not a very quick study and prone to repeat errors, I have an idea. We’ll see.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News



Had I been outside instead of hunkered down in the dungeon, I might have seen the twister as it approached Aumsville, some five miles northwest of us. We can  pretty much see twenty-plus miles to the west from our porch. Several building bought it, but fortunately, no one was hurt. The area television stations covered the event all afternoon and well into the evening. We just don't see that many tornadoes out here, not until the last few years, anyway.

The coverage was interesting. Four affiliates from Portland were on the ground and in the sky. At first, all we saw was shots of the damage: a plumbing business and the adjacent barber shop were destroyed. A big shed had the front torn off. The police station had some damage too. Later we heard that a barn northeast of town had been destroyed. Trees across the road and power lines down. Eventually, the reporters on the ground, almost all second string players, got around to interviewing eye witnesses. And in that Aumsville is a small town (pop. 3,000 or so), names started being repeated, like the elderly woman who opened the plumbing operation with her dearly-departed in 1959.

Having an appointment to get her car serviced at the local Ford dealership, the woman was not in the shop. "Narrowly escaped," the reporter reported, this before she had been interviewed. Perhaps the townsfolk not only knew that she was where she was, but also knew the time of the appointment, I can't say. Still, such claims should be verified, and the woman was sought out, a grandchild behind her as she sat and told the story of her shop, and how God had been there for her with the scheduling of her car repair. She then went on to speak of her spiritual life. "Back to you."

She was not the only one. The town has two barber shops, the second spared except for broken windows. "I figured it was time to meet Jesus." Clearly not, yet in the spirit of his faith, said that the other barber would be free to use his shop until he could reopen. Thinking the reporter might be interested in his notice of down trees, the barber continued off camera.  Glancing back at the barber, the reporter ever so quietly said, "Back to you."

As one might expect, live coverage ended as abruptly as the storm had hit. Yet, tonight's pub tourney found the story still very much alive. The game is held in the banquet room of one of the four Chinese restaurants we have in town. As I was walking in, a guy in flip flops was coming out with bags of carry-out. I overheard him as he explained to someone on his phone that their house was uninhabitable. One player, a woman who lives in Aumsville whose house was not damaged, mentioned that she was receiving text messages from people all over the country, asking if she was OK . As we were playing, she held up her iPhone and exclaimed, "I just received another text, this one from Pennsylvania!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Go figure

...the odds, that is. First hand of the night, and a first for me.


Poker Academy Online #79,046,596
No Limit Texas Holdem ($0.25/$0.5 NL)
Table Dioptase
December 13, 2010 - 23:29:46 (PST)

 1} EarlyCuyler      $50.00  9h Th (me)
 4) bolly            $46.55  ?? ??
 8) AlmostDead      $102.97  ?? ??
 9) Vee *            $52.88  ?? ??
10) Card-Dead        $85.94  3h 4h

Card-Dead posts small blind $0.25
EarlyCuyler posts big blind $0.50
bolly folds
AlmostDead calls $0.50
Vee folds
Card-Dead calls $0.25
EarlyCuyler checks

FLOP:  6h 5h 8h
Card-Dead checks
EarlyCuyler checks
AlmostDead bets $4.50
Card-Dead raises $10.50
EarlyCuyler raises $34.50 (all-in)
AlmostDead folds
Card-Dead calls $34.50
EarlyCuyler shows 9h Th
Card-Dead shows 3h 4h

TURN:  6h 5h 8h 7h

RIVER:  6h 5h 8h 7h Tc

EarlyCuyler wins $103 with a Ten High Straight Flush
$2 raked.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Busywork



I ran into a farmer's wife the other day. She was grocery shopping, two young kids in tow. Delightful woman, Delia is. All three were quite soaked by the downpour outside.

It has become apparent over the last few years that DW and I were part of a second wave of people with the idea they could make a go of it market gardening on a small parcel of land in Oregon. The first phase happened in the late 70s and early 80s. These established farmers act as mentors for newcomers like DW and I, and Delia and her husband, Fred.

Delia and Fred arrived a couple years after us, and with a farm about five times larger than ours, no hired help and two very young children, they have found the farm more than they bargained for, or so Delia shared while selecting heads of broccoli.

"Fred's depressed, except he's the last one to know it."

The growing season has been unkind the last couple of years.

"Still, it's more than the work and being poor. It's this blasted rain."

Well, the rain is part of the problem, it and cool weather, that has made the crops rot on the vine before they can ripen. But I knew what she meant, because Fred isn't the first person I've heard about who is suffering, or has suffered the depression that can set in after the first two cloudy and damp months out of seven. In fact, much to my surprise when we first came to Oregon, people talk openly about the effects the weather has on their mood. And now I know why.

"Tell Fred to call me."

"He won't."

"Well then, I suppose I'll call him, invite him over for a scotch."

I can show him my clean barn, the video I'm editing, and the wood I'm getting ready to sculpt. Everything except this post about the rain.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Privacy of Home Game

R has pretty much quit holding his home game since he announced that he was getting married. “We do other things” was his answer when I asked if he was still playing. This from a guy who played four or five nights a week and talked of retiring to tool around from casino to casino in his motor home before hooking up. The Nit Express. Yet, he married a good woman, so bless them both. Still, I half expected him to show up at Mike’s game last night.

Mike has been texting me for months about his Friday night games, yet I never seem to have the wherewithal to hit the game, until tonight. “Men only. No women. No drama.” Mike lives with his elderly mother. I arrived about a half hour after the game started, and already there were seven people at the table, five of whom I know, and others were on their way.

R is known as a very tight player, and I’d say I give a similar impression. At .50/1.00 and limited to a $50 buy-in, Mike’s is a very loose game, and  while I will occasionally limp with connectors, leading out with anything less than 10 BBs is asking for four callers. I took this into consideration when early on I was dealt queens UTG. I limped. Of course the guy to my left (unknown to me) limped as well. The next player, Stephen, raised it to $4 and immediately got 3 callers. I re-raised the pot and took it down right there. And then I went card dead, or otherwise missed draws until I was down 20 BBs. I topped my stack off.

I studied the two people I had never played before, and eventually figured out one was a calling station with the capability of buying in again and again; the other, a loud, red-faced guy, played very straight-forward poker and wasn’t afraid to put it all in, as I found out when I re-raised with bottom two pair. Easy fold. Another guy, Roy, I had played with once before: loose pre-flop, and a fan of suited connectors. He didn’t have the best board reading skills in the world, which helped later in the game.

As I have played with a number of these guys for three or more years, they know my story, and Steve (as opposed to Stephen) inquired as to my health and activities. All good, I assured him, and told him that I had gone back to writing while waiting to unload the farm. Without going into the work that generates income, I mentioned that I was writing art reviews for a couple sites in Portland.

Mike: I bet I could write about art.

Me: And I reckon I could drive an eighteen-wheeler. (Mike is a truck driver by trade.)

Roy: But can you back one up?

Me: Exactly my point.

Roy then explains that his son is an artist attending school in California. The son started out as a painter, very meticulous (his word), but had moved over to photography. Knowing many photogs who have that personality trait, I assured him that it sounded like a good choice. And as I have done a fair amount of research on the faculties of art programs in California, told him that his son was most likely receiving excellent instruction from prominent artists. This seemed to lessen the furrow in his brow.

Now I must digress before moving forward.

Not long after I arrived, a troupe of four young guns arrived, and while they were not turned away, as most of us knew the guy who brought the rest, there was a collective, if muted sigh of disappointment, for Jimmy is a crazy, unpredictable player who never shuts up. It is only the last part of that characterization that poses a problem for the old timers, and which only bothered me because the straight player I mentioned earlier is so loud and has such a irritating laugh that I found myself having to cover my ear closest to his mouth. The young’uns were seated at another table and the rest of us drew high cards for the move. I stayed put.

The other table was playing a lot of Omaha Hi-Lo, and the two regulars who moved to that table found themselves busted enough times to make them leave, and when we lost a couple, the tables combined. And soon thereafter, Fred arrived. Fred is affectionately known as Fuck You Fred, primarily because he likes to splash around and frequently delivers the cooler. The players who did not know Fred found the nickname amusing, and once they had a little taste of his style, joined in with the name calling. Fred responded with mentioning that he had often been the subject of my blog because of his play. Roy quickly picked up on this little bit of information.

“Can you write down the address of your blog?”

“No.” and realizing that I may have come across as too abrupt, added,  “Sorry, the blog is kinda private.”

Well, I just wanted to give it to my son so he could send you some of his art for you to comment on it.”

“I can give you my art website, but not the blog.” I told him my art site’s address. “He can contact me through it. Yet, I might mention that your son could find it awkward to make such a contact. There is a bit of a protocol with such things.”  He had mentioned a bit earlier that his son was “the strange one” of his children, and while I felt the guy was proud of his son’s talent, he may have some questions about the boy’s way of seeing the world. I did not want to add to the latter should the son be reluctant.

Now, back to poker.

The young players brought their Omaha game to our table. It was clear that Roy and the guy to my left had never played the game. This is how it went: limped near-family pots that quickly grew after the flop. I was able to come in with 3347 in the BB and flopped quad threes. I checked, Roy bet, the SB called, as did I. When the turn made no low possible, I put out a 1/3 pot-sized bet, which both players called. The river straightend the rest of the board, and again I led out, this time with 1/2 pot bet. Roy called and the SB folded. I made a pretty penny,

The very next hand I called with my .50, again with pocket 3s, an A and 10, this time calling a $4 bet from middle position. With all of the callers, the odds seemed to be there. I flopped a set of threes, but the 3 was accompanied by 45. At best, I would be splitting this one, so I checked, as did everyone else. When another 4 came, I made a 1/3 pot-sized bet. Again, Roy and the guy to my right called. The river was a 7, and the SB led out with a pot-sized bet of $64. Something about the bet made me know my underfull was now no good. Roy was not convinced and lost to sevens full and the nut low of A277.

I was now down $4. It was midnight and time to go.

As is my usual practice, I began writing this post in my head on the drive home, recalling the significant hands as best as possible and trying to remember the more hilarious moments. Yet it was Roy’s questions and interest that kept creeping to the forefront. In the three or more years I’ve been playing with the majority of these guys, no one has ever asked me about the art side of my life. Not that I’m surprised at the lack of interest.

There are several lacquered and framed jigsaw puzzles hanging on the walls at Mike’s house.

“Your mom do jigsaw puzzles?” I ask.

In almost a sneer except for the embarrassment behind it, Mike replied, “Yeah.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It seems like there are more trees being harvested this year than in others of recent memory. Is there a larger demand this year, despite the economy? Somehow I doubt it. Most likely it is a cyclical thing, perhaps simultaneous plantings on many farms seven years ago, and they must be harvested at optimum size.

Or, I’m paying attention.

I found today’s helicopter. A huge operation on Kingston-Jordan Road with, I’m guessing, close to a thousand acres in Douglas, Noble and Grand Firs. The harvest was taking place a good 400 yards from the road, too far and not enough light for my 300mm lens to do much good, so I took a deep breath and pulled onto the property.

Workers, bundled trees and tractor-trailers in abundance, this was by far the biggest operation I had seen. I parked close enough in to blend but far enough away to not be in the way or needed to beat feet. The workers and drivers were aware of me but none took issue. If I had seen any supervisory-looking folks I would have asked permission, but none to be found, I made my way to the edge of the field. Still too far away, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

Suddenly, vanloads of workers started coming in from the field. It was noon and the roach coach had arrived. I took this as my cue, yet as I turned toward my truck, my eye was still engaged.

Trees Lights

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hog heaven

My son called this evening. I’d been wondering.

DW (his), son and he moved to Hawaii last month. It’s their second try at making a go of it there, expensive and service industry-oriented as the state is. I was somewhat relieved to know that he was out looking for work today.

I still worry, yet there may be a way to eke out a subsistence lifestyle as they rent from a farmer who has groves of fruits and nuts and needs labor. My son is already helping by clearing away jungle that has encroached, thereby insuring a better harvest.

“Of course it doesn’t help that a feral pig comes down to eat the macademia nuts every day.”

“And this pig is still alive, why? There’s your protein.”
 
“We’ve been eating a lot of mung beans and tofu.”

“Still, I know you like pork.”

“We don’t have the freezer space.”

How about your landlord? Does he have a gun? I’d say a 30-06 oughta do it.”

“It’s 250 pounds, and no, I don’t think he owns a gun.”

“Well, how about your old neighbor, the pig hunter. Buy him a six pack of beer and offer to go halvsies.”

“Yeah, I could do that. We could smoke up some good meat when you’re here in February.”

“Yes, we could.”

With no natural predators other than humans, pigs have become a problem on the island, just as they have in many other countries without large carnivores.

“We have some wild cows up the road too. You can hear them bellowing at night. Our landlord says it’s some of the best beef he’s ever had. There's wild goats too.”

“Lord, son, borrow a gun and buy a used freezer.”

“DW (his) says you’d do the deed, Dad, no problem.”

Indeed, I would. I have to look after my kin, right.

February.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I am writing a review of a photography exhibit I saw Friday. To briefly describe the photos, they are of the photos that one sometimes finds encased on headstones. All are aged and in some deteriorated state. The photos, as they are enlarged and framed, are of some interest, and aside from the one grave in our family with such a marker, there are other associations that I begin to draw from in my essay: another photographer, a poet, and a philosopher who I know has written on the subject of photography in the context of death.

I know the book title and look it up. It is available on google reader. But don't I have a copy in my home library? I do. A thin volume that should take little time to read.

The book is essential in beginning to understand contemporary thinking about photography. I gently chastise myself for not having read it sooner. If I am going to walk the walk, you know. More of my catching up, you know.

The book is not an overly difficult read, a bit vague or beyond my comprehension in places, but I do not have the time to reflect too much on a passage when all around it is wholly straightforward. I take notes when the ideas contained may help me develop  and refine my own thoughts about the exhibit.

My mind wanders. I think back to Friday again, more of the social aspects, and assess those who I encounter, some who have surely read this book long before now, and benefited from its influence. I  reread what was lost in that detour and turn the page. The facing page shows evidence of having been dog-eared.

Three pages on I notice the shadow of ink that awaits another turn. It is my handwriting. There are two notes, the first banal, perhaps as a reminder, and the second too oblique to have any current purpose.

I have made some noise in the past about the criteria I apply to my own photography, that which I consider art and that which, despite formal successes, is mere representation of a moment. It is an opinion that I refrain from when commenting on others' avocations with the medium, yet it does determine the level of inspiration I might receive from the viewing.

"In an initial period, Photography, in order to surprise, photographs the notable; but soon, by a familiar reversal, it decrees notable whatever it photographs. The 'anything whatever' then becomes the sophisticated acme of value." — Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

The above was bracketed at the end of the chapter I just finished. I have no recollection, per se, but I feel better. From the number of dog-ears I see now as I flip through the rest of the book, it will be interesting to see what other influences I have "forgotten."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Art of the hose

My buddy, Crash, requested the occasional update on the young couple we are advising as they navigate  farming down the road a piece. Not that DW and I are pros; and in fact, in the quit ting, there are adages that are quite harsh when it comes to that.

Nevertheless, we know where we went wrong in a lot of instances, and it is with this information and the material goods no longer needed where we can help. In turn, we get a little help in the offering: the barn becomes less cluttered; and today, soaker hose that remains in the field since the onset of the issues with Thumper are being removed.

I’d be out there helping the guy right now were it not for a relatively sleepless night (a story not worth the typing, really), and let him know so when he phoned asking if today would be a good day for the pulling and coiling. Yet, it is cordial to put on pants and take the jaunt.

The rows in this particular field are 100 feet long (30 meters), and if I accurately recall, 30 such rows, making for about 3,000 feet of hose, all somewhat hidden and secured by two years of dead grass. Even so, an earlier trial of pulling gave hope that the task would be fairly easy, or rather, easier than pulling with established growth. Therefore, I didn’t feel too bad in letting him work his arms, legs and back for 1/2 mile or so.

Still, I felt I had to make an appearance. “Ah, you’re doing it the way I did the first time I tried retrieving soaker hose from a field.”

He laughed that laugh one does while working and someone comes to offer advice. You see, he was pulling with one hand and coiling onto the other arm, which is good for about fifty feet before it becomes too awkward to manage in an orderly manner.  I then explained leverage  on the hose was more important as an initial consideration. Keep in tight to pull, that way minimizing stress from stretch on the line. Once freed from the grass, pulling into a coil would go much easier.  I then handed him a roll of twist ties. I believe he was grateful, for his demeanor remained friendly.

I then told him of hope and despair, more to commiserate than lecture, and informed him of Crash’s request. He took no offense, so here you go.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wordies






Reading has more or less taken over a large part of my day. Catching up, you see, ever since I buried all of those art magazines in the compost with the coyote, and just recently getting up to a speed where I can... well, there really is no getting ahead when there's always a horizon.

The above are the most recent additions to the ongoing series, Gist, and come from those readings. I read some pretty heavy shit, for as I said, and because I can't seem to help it, think trebuchet. Admittedly, at times its a real slog  from where I left off some years back, and sometimes I can do no better than glean some fundamentals that I can paraphrase. Gist runs parallel to this endeavor, not only as little clips of bigger ideas, but as ideas that expand on the authors' original intents. Sometimes more like poems, other times like conceptual art pieces, while they can be passed by quickly, it is hoped that they elicit more than one reading/meaning. The better ones, anyway.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Perhaps I have a limited imagination, or my repertoire is suggested by past experiences that press for a revisiting. With the new camera, it may be that I wonder if I can do better than before, and more, I know I need the practice with the thing.

As I came up to the bend on Triumph Road, I saw the helicopter around the next, and as I slowed down I saw the kestrel in the field to my left, hovering the way they do, waiting for the vole to emerge from the tall grass. I took this as fitting, although more as a loose sort of metaphor or good omen.

I haven't looked hard at the rest of the photos, opting instead for the one that stood out. I changed my position after a bit to capture a different angle, and shortly after that, the copter set down over a hill, so I moved on to see if anything was happening on Coon Hollow Road.

I was up on a ridge that I had been on several times while shooting the field burns. It offers a nice vista just another 100 yards from where I pulled over. Again, I haven't scrutinized the photos, but I did get the below video. Watch the bale of trees. I knew I should have brought my tripod...

An old story

As regular reader might remember from a recent post, I am in the process of archiving my older art work. I have scanned all sculpture, drawing and painting from 1990 -1995 but have yet to organize it into some form of coherency. I also have a good number of photos to scan and video work to burn to DVDs. In organizing of the latter, I came to one of the first videos I made. As the notes for the vid indicate, it is rough, rough, rough. Yet, even as a novice I knew the story needed to be told, technical skills be damned.


What Happened to Johnny from Patrick Collier on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just so much

The helicopters could be heard to the northeast and southwest, working to get Christmas trees out of the fields on Thanksgiving. Again all day today, in the rain, to make kids in California, Mexico and Japan happy with anticipation. They quit just before dusk, about the same time the big stand of firs across the road started to make its own clouds.

Meanwhile, there’s a list of things I thought to mention to DW but forgot to bring up with the bucket of firewood and the plastic bag of dog shit after walking the dog. Among those things pushed to the back was not the way the seasonal creek flowed through the culvert or the animal trail wound its way through clumps of tall, dead grass.

It was getting dark, a little later than the day last week when I saw something large and tan slink from the firs on the property line and along the fence lines that made the alley to the back pastures. I was about to walk the dog then as well, but went back inside for a gun, and DW to hold the leash while I patrolled.  The dog’s nose never left the ground.

Our outdoor cat saw the dog and I head out this afternoon and emerged from the shelter of his shed. He hopped up onto a shelf I built for him and remained there until we returned. He too was wet when the three of us entered through the basement door. DW met us and dried off the cat while I toweled down the dog.

I just remembered there’s finished laundry in the dryer.






Thursday, November 25, 2010

DW

Her name is Jill, short for Gillian. Today we mark knowing each other for twenty years. I am grateful for many things, and I need nothing else.

May your day be special in some way as well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


When the rains comes strong, one will often see vehicles parked down by the boat ramp just to watch see if the river will come over its bank. Today, in much the same way, there was an older gentleman buying an outdoor thermometer at the hardware store. We’re supposed to get down to 19°F tonight. Maybe colder. And were it not for the cold, the river might have crested.

People scoff, “That’s not cold!” Well, it is cold for a temperate area. It’s cold to me, and I lived through –80°F (with the wind chill factor). I felt a little bit of that ice-pick-between-the-eye’s feeling while walking the dog. I braked and turned into the back end of my rig as I took a curve a little too quick. Someone will lose it on our road tonight.

It’s even worse to the north. This from last night in Seattle:



Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For all of its worth

Mr. and Mrs. Jung lived next door to my grandparents. Of an evening my brother and I would walk over to their house, go out into their fields to fetch their heifers and bring them in for the evening. We did a few other minor chores for them as both were getting on and had enough to do on their small farm feeding the pigs, chickens, horses and cattle. They also had a couple milk cows, and it was at their house I tasted my first home-churned butter.

If I remember what I was told back about the same time, my grandparents had rid themselves of their last milk cow some time shortly after my birth, so we had store-bought on the table. I cannot say that I noticed or recall any difference, and bring it up now only because the memory of that mounded bowl and the uniqueness of the experience came back today after dinner at another farm.

A young couple came to our attention via our orchardist friends. Our friends said this pair had moved into the area with plans similar to our own a few years ago. They wanted to grow vegetables for market, and were slow to start the process as they came with absolutely no training. Knowing of our valiant but failed efforts despite some background in the ways of farm life, our friends sent the couple to us.

Over the last two years we have helped this couple with advice and materials for which we no longer had a use. Last spring it was about fifty pounds of seed potatoes, and last week I offered them enough greenhouse supplies to stock a sizable field with plant starts. To show their appreciation, they invited us to sup with them and their two young children.

The meal consisted of a lovely potato and kale stew, and a three-year old hen au jus. For dessert we were served ice cream, the cream provided by one of their cows. Oh my!

I am lactose intolerant, and anticipating that the dinner might contain dairy, I took a pill that lessens the effects of milk products, so I graciously accepted the bowl. And I suppose my internist would understand that concerns over my cholesterol could be dealt with tomorrow, for who could refuse when offered a second helping?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Having drunk the kool aid that has now replaced my blood

"Have you ever owned a Mac before?"

"Son, most likely I've been using Macs longer than you've been alive." I didn't ask for verification of his age, but my point was made.

Early on in Apple's history, ad agencies used their computers. Even though I had a Kaypro at home, I used a Classic Apple at work. That was in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

The first Apple computer I ever owned was a IIc, given to me by the sister of a friend. The computer was already a relic, and to tell you the truth, I didn't ever use it. However, I still have it, as that friend has since passed on. As soon as I could I bought an Apple for home, a Centris model.  When it was stolen one Thanksgiving break-in, another friend gave me an old Classic to use.

At one point in Apple's history they leased out their operating system, which immediately flooded the market with inexpensive Mac knock-offs, and I bought one: a Starmax 300 made by Motorola. No sooner had I acquired it, Apple ceased the leasing program. My computer was doomed to obsolescence in one week. I still have that computer, and it still works like a charm. Slow as hell (it was the fastest available when new), but I fire it up every now and then to retrieve old poems and stories.

When we opened the gallery in 1998, I purchased my first laptop, a Wall Street, again made by Apple. My son still uses it. And when OS 10 first came on the scene, the handwriting was on the wall for OS 9, and it was time to upgrade once again, this time to a G4. The beauty of that machine was that it ran both OS 9 and OS 10, giving me a chance to archive while still working in the old OS.

In 2006 I came into a bit of money and expanded my video production capabilities, which made it necessary to upgrade to a G5. As soon as I made the switch, Apple announced that it was changing to Intel processors, which meant a new configuration for their OS. While the switch meant more Windows-based apps could be run, it also meant more obsolescence was on the way. Still, I used that machine for over four years, until it died earlier this week.

Well, it didn't exactly die. The power came on, but the OS wouldn't fire up. Fortunately, everything was backed up. Everything. So, I took it to the nearest Apple Store, some sixty miles from home. The young man who hooked up the machine for a diagnosis was pleasant enough, even though he could not say for certain what was wrong with it.

"Can you fix it here?'

"Uh, no, we send them out. And Apple won't be able to fix it either because it is a vintage machine."

"Vintage?" I asked but I already knew soft corporate-speak when I heard the word. Basically, they couldn't be bothered with an older machine.

"They don't carry the parts for vintage machines. However, if you take it to a Mac Store, they'll be able to get it fixed for you." As if this post is not already boring you to tears, I must bother with some clarification that you might give less of a shit about: Apple Stores are corporate; Mac Stores are licensees. In fact, I bought my G5 from a Mac Store a mere 15 miles from home, the same one to which this young man was referring me.

"Don't you send the machines to the same place?"

"No."

Never mind that when I called the Apple Store to tell them my pre-Intel Mac was broken, they made an appointment for me anyway.

So, back to Salem. Another diagnostic gave the same results, or lack thereof, so I left it there to be sent to their repair shop. This morning I received the news: for $2,083 I could have my old machine as good as new...vintage new. Just under the amount of money a new one would cost.

Well, I can't say I didn't see this coming, so I told the repair guy to pull the hard drives and optical drive and send them back to the Mac Store, and I'd come fetch them. I hung up the phone and hopped in DW's car. I was going shopping.

As I said, I saw this coming, so I had already looked online to ponder my next purchase. So, now I am the somewhat proud owner of a 17" MacBook Pro. By some miracle I can still use my 30" Cinema Display that I bought with my G%, so there's that to be thankful for, I suppose.

But now the fun really starts. It will be interesting to see how much of my old pre-Intel software is still useable. After today's purchase, I can't really afford a new Final Cut Pro (video editing), PhotoShop, and who knows what else.

I have been in a foul mood over this all day. No, actually longer, for when I have wanted to purchase new Mac software for photo processing, I learned that the new stuff wouldn't be supported by a pre-Intel machine. And then, just like today and Monday, I found no compassion from the salespeople. I can't really blame them though. Times have changed, and this vintage grumpy guy, who used to be a proud member of what used to be a community of  loyal Apple users, people who knew they were using the best computers available and advocated for the company because of this fact, just didn't understand that once Apple became a successful mass-market corporation, it obviously didn't really have to give a flying fuck.

No, I'm not surprised.

Oh, and my G4 bit the dust this week too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

"What's your name?"

"Brandy."

"Brandy?"

"Yes."

She knew her name. That was good. Brandy was a big girl. Wedding ring. Maybe 24 years old. Pupils constricted but her eyes weren't fixing on me or anything else. Brandy was laying up on the far side of a ditch behind the red Toyota that rested on its roof in the middle of the mountain road.

We first saw a guy waving at us to slow down. By the time we reached him we could see what lay ahead. He was shaking hard but his voice told me the tremors were unrelated.

"There's a woman hurt bad. I called 911 from my house." 30 miles from the nearest town of size, I told Steve to pull over.

"Keep pressure on it." was the first thing I heard. "Do you have more big bandages? We need more bandages."

The guy with the first aid kit was fiddling with an ice pack. "I can't get it cold. That woman there was hurt in the head." It was the woman applying pressure to the right wrist. She had been driving. I looked at the knot on her forehead. It was still small. I took the pack from him, put my fist into it and handed it to another woman who informed me that she was an EMT and Vet's assistant.

"Brandy."

Pulse 90, strong and regular; respiration, 24, steady and deep. Brandy bellered. Compound fractures of the right arm for sure. Internally, who knows? Someone said she had her seat belt on. Her window must have been open. Yeah, it was. She started to shake all over. Shock was taking hold and I said so.

Someone asked, "Should her feet be elevated?" Brandy's feet were in the ditch, along with her breakfast.

Someone else asked, "Should we move her?"

I about bit a head off with my answer. "No! Keep her covered up. Continue with the pressure. Keep talking to her."

And we left. Timing is everything for the anonymous good Samaritan, five miles onward pulling over for the Rescue, the Deputy, two ambulances and the Trooper.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I must have just missed T, the woman who rents our pasture for her two mules, for I came up from the dungeon door after cleaning more of the barn. DW pointed her out, her car door ajar and the mules out on the greener grass outside of their paddocks. The mules were having a time of it, running hither and yon along the fence lines.

About the time the thought to videotape the scene finished crossing my mind I saw T's hands wave up in a manner that made me put my street shoes on and grab my walking stick. Getting those two animals back into the pasture was gonna take some doing.

T and I assessed the situation and the mules responded well to the stick. But there's a lot of open space and the decorative vinyl fence only goes a hundred feet or so, so avoiding the stick was no problem when there was so much more to explore. The dominant head faked and headed out, T doing a running "whoa" while I attempted to intimidate the other from following. No go.

DW was called in for assistance as the animals headed west down the road to the next open gate they saw. Another mule lives there and eventually their curiosity found them in a fairly confined area with a gate. Harnesses and leads were easy with the help of a little grain in a pot.

Thanks were extended, short stories of similar events exchanged, and off we went to catch our breaths and do some assessing and reassessing: No more off-lead time outside of the paddocks. The damage done to T's husband's truck was not more serious than a slightly bent rear bumper. My rear quarter panel was hammered pretty well just above the left side of my bumper, and I would have to replace my tail light.

As the women ran down the road, I ran (yes, ran) to the metal barn to fetch the leads and harnesses. I walked fast back to the truck, threw the gear in the back, fired up the rig and kicked up gravel in reverse.

T had called H, and failing to see them out on the road, he continued on to our place.

"I seen ya comin' and punched it, but I guess not enough."

There was a moment when I thought to take the truck out to the barn to get the gear. I would have too, if it didn't require opening a gate. That would have made a difference. Even the pause. Or a bit more endurance. I felt bad for not looking.

But then again, not too long ago, H had his face reconstructed. "I could tell you stories. Don't worry about it."
The barn. Shit.

Well, there's a bit of dry sheep manure left over from an art project a couple years ago, but that's not the issue. It's more a mood brought about by all that goes with the dried droppings. Let something go for a while, and, well, you know.

Or maybe it's the weather. Dreary, I tell you. Not enough to get a soaking but it does somehow get deep inside.

I've waited this long; I'll give myself another twenty minutes. But it needs to be done.

Actually, I already started cleaning the thing this week. All of the starter trays and pots have been stacked and organized, ready to be handed off to another couple who started farming a couple years ago. They should be happy. No, they are, inviting us to lunch next Sunday.

Tool room: check

Irrigation room: check

General storage area #1: check

So, see? Not that bad after all.

No, it's more of the contrast between now and then, when I had a use for the building. Or rather, the other use, because it's about to become a studio for some rather sizable sculpture.

After I clean up the other barn.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Out with the new camera

Not a bad close-up, if I do say so.

I may have stumbled onto a new series.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This-un's a keeper!

(That's a Toscani stogie stuck between my teeth.)

My fishing buddy and I hit the Salmon River Monday morning. It wasn't our originally planned destination as the Chum salmon were running on the Miami River, and they make for a fun catch-and-release workout. Nor was the Salmon River our second choice, but that place is a more closely guarded secret, so no mention of it will you find here.  We chose the Salmon perhaps because it was the closest, and it has facilities at the nearby hatchery, a necessary stop en route to other areas as the morning coffee works its magic.

This time of year the hatchery is doing its fish count, collecting mature fish as they come up a fish ladder, recording the fish, and then sending them on their way upstream via a large tube into the water above the wier. It is in these waters one typically finds a bunch of guys eager to hook into the congregated school. The busiest time for this nuts-to-butts style of combat fishing is in October. By November, the craze has generally passed, and Monday found only three of us in the water: buddy Steve, me and George. 

I fished for about ten minutes before I hooked this beautiful male, and landed him about fifteen minutes later with the help of George's net. Shortly thereafter, and after I suggested he go to a silver spinner, George caught his first fish. Steve and I left, while George decided to stick around. 

What?! leave when the fish are obviously hitting? Well, that's pretty much my fault as I didn't have my current fishing license on me. I thought I did, but no, and 2009 has passed. Steve had his, though, and we tagged the fish on his. Then there was some contradictory signage about a day's limit (different than the published regs), and being so close to a state fish facility, we decided to error on the side of caution. And always thinking, Steve snapped this picture next to his fly gear and then remarked, "In two days I'll have convinced myself and everyone else that I caught this fish."


Although my fish is a bit smaller than the one on the right, experienced anglers will know that of the two, mine is the real prize. Fish as chromed as mine are the exception, younger than the other male colored up and ready for spawning. The one on the right is George's fish. It was his first-ever salmon, and as much as Steve, a chef, tried to convince him that it would not make a good meal, even smoked, George was adamant. Both Steve and I knew what that first fish meant, and since for both of us our first fish were also beat to shit, we dropped the matter.

The two salmon steaks on the grill last night were delicious. Today I smoked a whole side fillet and we still have two meals worth of fish. Fish, o mighty Chinook! thank you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It was a triumphant, very early morning despite a comedy of errors. Generosity among friends found joy despite inconveniences. I cam home content, and to a wife who said she was proud of me. I then cleaned up what needed care, and before taking a nap, read emails.    

Dear Colleagues,


I am saddened to inform you that our community has lost a wonderful and important teacher, writer and friend. Last night, Adjunct Associate Professor Kathryn Hixson passed away suddenly in her home. We are unaware of the details surrounding her death but have watched Kathryn battle serious disease over the last few years.

Kathryn was one the most distinguished art critics in Chicago. Her writings on the histories of conceptual and neo-conceptual art constituted important contributions to the field. She was very attentive to new and emerging artists in Chicago and around the world, and championed these artists through her writing, curating, and lectures. Indeed many of you benefited from her close advising and guidance, and many of you were fortunate enough to have her keen insights of your work noted in the public record through her many reviews in the New Art Examiner, Arts Magazine, FlashArt, and others. Kathryn's role as Associate editor, then Senior Editor, and finally Editor of the New Art Examiner in the nineties demonstrated her commitment to not only the value of open reporting on the arts and culture, but to a Chicago presence in the international field of art criticism.

Kathryn did her MFA at the school and subsequently taught here since 1988. Her courses in art history, fiber and material studies, and new arts journalism, as well as her constant work as a graduate advisor in the MFA program gave much to the students and to the community at large. She was in the midst of completing her PhD dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin while continuing to teach at the school and write criticism.

Kathryn was a serious critic and scholar. But many of us also know how Kathryn liked to play. She loved to laugh, to party, to art world gossip, and to giddily dwell in a world of ideas about love, music, art, and politics. Kathryn was unafraid of strong opinion--really she was charmingly indignant. Her fortitude and her friendship will be greatly missed. We mourn the passing of our dear Kathryn Hixson.

Lisa Wainwright
Dean of Faculty
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

A piece of my heart fell away, as if the Valentine maintained its symmetry but no longer came to a point.

The letter above says much about Kathryn. She was about my age. We talked freely, drank heartily, danced wildly, and shared many sentiments about the world of art by which we found ourselves passionately driven. She bummed the occasional smoke. My art appeared in her periodical, The New Art Examiner, more than once. It was also in that magazine my first essays on art were published.  As an editor, she found encouragement more useful than a chainsaw. She once said a piece I had written was too long and I threatened to rewrite it as free verse. When she did not push back, I acquiesced.

The New Art Examiner was notorious for not paying its writers on time. A shoestring operation, it nevertheless was the pre-eminent art periodical in the Midwest, and recognized as a low-budget peer to the bigger national magazines like Art in America, Art News and Sculpture. This was largely Kathryn’s doing, and I suppose it was because of this, and just because it was for Kathryn, writers continued to write for her. We all hoped that something more would come of the magazine.

As someone with considered opinions and an editorial advocacy, it may not come as a surprise that Kathryn had her detractors, especially in those who saw themselves as heroic artists demanding a place in the Pantheon. For Kathryn, ego had no place in the realm of creative ideas and endeavors.

The magazine did try to break out to a wider distribution, and burned in that quest. The hole left has never adequately been filled. Shortly thereafter, I moved away from Chicago. Kathryn left as well, and I lost touch with her. It was only recently that I found her again through Facebook, and from the sole picture of her there I knew something had drastically changed. Some inquiries told me that she had been battling cancer, but that she was recovering. I have thought to write her on several occasions. Better than about her, but now too late.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Going to Portland today to look at art and hunt for a show or two to write about. This instead of staying home to listen to/read the play-by-play of the final table of the WSOP.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

The moment I saw the photos at 1430 Contemporary Fine Art last week I knew the landscape, even though Devon Oder photographed areas a thousand miles from my own. In both places they are the ones we alter into crags where there once was a forest.

The small railroad that primarily services the lumber mills to our east has been working to clear their right of way of trees for the past two years. After cutting, they haul the trees back up to a clearing —more a staging area — presumably to be chipped and shipped, although the pile just gets longer and longer. You will see in the first photo that some enterprising folks have availed themselves of some of the protruding trees for firewood. In that the majority of the pile consists of deciduous hardwoods, (the firs were hauled away to the mill), this in itself is not a bad idea. And while there undoubtedly is much more wood that could be harvested, the pile is well over twenty feet tall, and too much enthusiasm could very well result in severe injury.

I have photographed this pile from time to time, and believe I have mentioned it here at some point. Pretty remarkable in its size last year, it has now doubled and I am working on a way to document that immensity. An initial attempt at videotaping it as I walked along failed to stay in focus, no doubt due to a technical oversight on my part. I did, however, manage some stills that I brought home and played with in PhotoShop. Again, not surprisingly similar to Ms. Oder's work.





Monday, November 1, 2010


It’s not something I make a big deal about, that birthday I just had, except to say that DW made on helluva nice blackberry cobbler. We waited to eat it for the movie choice for the evening was “Soylent Green.” I wasn’t going to mention the day were it not for the lose tie-in I felt with a rash of technological run-ins and problems.

Before I bought my new camera a friend had warned me that I would not be able to work in RAW format with my aging PhotoShop. Seems Canon doesn’t support older versions with the new products. He advised that since I have a Mac I purchase Aperture for both post and file maintenance. No problem, says I, and make my way to the Mac store. Of course the latest version of Aperture works only with the latest Intel-based Mac hardware. However, I am advised that Aperture 2 can still be found on the internet.

With winter coming on, the plan is to catalog not only my recent photos but also begin to archive the hundreds of slides I have of old sculpture and drawings. To do so, I would need a new scanner. My old one only works with Mac’s OS9, a ten year old version. And while I still have two OS9 machines, I did not want to bother. Besides, that old scanner has a malfunction that would require packing it off to get fixed, and I can buy a new scanner for what it would cost in repairs. (You know the story.) So, I read about a Epson scanner, the Perfection V500, and with a fifteen minute window in errands and appointments last week, I snatch one up. Home, I hook it up only to find that my computer can’t find it, Side of the box says Intel-based Macs only. It’s a 80-mile round trip to return it yesterday yet I now have one that works with my antiquated system.

I know 56 is not that old.

 Pull Toy (1992)