Monday, May 31, 2010

Same thing every day

White Crowned Sparrow

Untoward (back and forth)

When we left Chicago, we did so at a pretty strategic time, and had an extra dime to drop on some property. Had to, actually, and it’s been a good deal for the most part, carrying the ball when up against a tough spot.

One of the occupants is the former owner, and in that it is his place of business, he takes special interest in upkeep...inside. The downside is that I don’t pay much mind to the place until I drive by. Then I see the weeds out front, and after another pass or two remember that I have to get rid of the plants misplaced. Today was that day of doing.

“Have you ever looked at the gutters?” asked DW. Why, no I hadn’t, the building being in town and on a relatively treeless block. “Well, you might want to check them out while you’re there.” But I forgot the ladder. And as I walked around the building, the amount of displaced mulch directly under those gutters told me I had a problem.

Back home to retrieve a ladder. Back into town. Set the ladder up in back, the gutters are spotless. Move around to the front, there is sludge an inch deep running along the entire gutter from one end of the building to the other. My gloves are inefficient nor sufficient, and the shit stinks like swamp gas.

I will need a steady stream of water to clear this baby. I know there is a spigot in the back of the building, so perhaps there is one in front as well. I had never bothered to look before, but lo and behold! No handle. I make a note that the part on which the handle would be placed in order for the spigot to be turned on and off is the square variety. I then go to fetch the hoses in back. I already know I will need to add a spray nozzle to my shopping list, and add a hose to it when I see that the male end of each hose has been un-rounded at some point by a foot, car, or some other weight and pressure.

Off to the hardware store. Fifty feet of hose should do it, a spray nozzle that looks like a miniature version of an old school fire nozzle, and the proper spigot handle.

Well, the spigot handle is square, but the piece in the spigot matches only in shape, as it is a fraction of a millimeter larger. Not wanting to drive back home and waste another half hour, I drive back to the Ace (just up the street) to buy a cheap pair of needle nose pliers (I can leave them for the building’s tool kit.) Turn the spigot, and water comes out where it shouldn’t. Turn off the spigot.

Fifty feet of hose is now inadequate for the job as I will have to bring the water from the back of the building. I could go home and pick up a hundred-foot hose, for I have several, which means that if I were to do that, I should have done it earlier and brought a fifty-footer from home as well, and a pair of pliers, and a spigot handle — even a whole new spigot. I was well-supplied at home, but not well-prepared here.

Behind our building is a garden center. We have a bit of history with the owners over the driveway that their clients must use and is owned by yours truly. Access is all legalized and such, but you’d think they own the damn asphalt. But, like I said, that’s history, so I worked up a smile and a spiel to borrow some length of hose I had spied from afar.

Everyone was very gracious.

I could now set about the chore I had set out to do an hour and a half prior.

Did I mention stink? Oh, and splashback.

I was able to spray down the front of the building afterward (it needed it anyway with all of the road grime) but I would have to wait until I got home to finish the job.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Negative Images

When I woke up from a dream about trying to find a way to turn dog shit into a bowtie, I knew the day was getting off to a bad start. Just no way a body can kick that symbolism back down into the hole of the subconscious. The only hope is for distraction. So, after my fill of coffee, I grabbed my camera and took a drive.

I had a destination in mind but evidently had not seen the No Trespassing signs months back when coming through the area at 60 mph. I did, however, take the road alongside up into the hills and into Weyerhauser country.

A half mile off of the main road the pavement I was on turned to gravel. The gravel itself was fairly new or the road well maintained, for there was no washboard effect to be felt for the two more miles up into the hills. There were a number of side logging roads that were gated, and only one area of clear-cut right along the road I was on. Eventually, my progress was blocked by a gate. Nevertheless, with perhaps only another one hundred feet in elevation from where I stopped,  I had a pretty spectacular view of the canyon below.

I did not do justice to the view with this photo, yet perhaps you can get a feel for the vista.
(The yellow in the foreground is pernicious Scotch Broom, the same as in the distance upper left.)

On my way back down I stopped at the clear-cut area. It had been worked several years previously, but with evidence of a few stray trees recently cut. I could have taken more photos of the mess, but I really had in mind a photo of the border of scotch broom that had seeded itself around the edge of the barren area. Yet, as soon as I turned off the truck, I heard something unexpected: running water.

The sound was coming from just a little ways back up the road. I left the truck and tried to narrow down where the water was, for I could see no sign of it from the road. It seemed to be coming down through some heavy vegetation, again, somewhat unexpected, and even though I could hear it, I still could not see any of it. I moved a bit farther up the road to see if I might gain a better perspective, and heard yet more rushing water a bit higher on the hill.

This time I could see it, yet I’m afraid my camera work failed me again.

Resolved to come back with a tripod and more suitable boots, I returned to the truck. Yet something bothered me. With so much water coming down the hill from various locations, where were the culverts under the road? I returned to the uphill stream and found its continuance, but the lower one eluded me for a bit. I had to follow the water down a roadside ditch until I found the pipe. On the other side of the road the pipe was positioned tight against a big pile of wood debris that had no doubt been placed there to limit the erosion through the clear cut area.  One hundred feet away is a beautiful little waterfall. Nothing pretty about this downhill slope.

And even Mr. Boulder doesn’t like it.

I took the slope back down in second gear so as to save my brakes. As I hit the main road I noticed a sign that pointed up the hill I was just on. The sign indicated that the road was an evacuation route. Up a logging road? To where? I already knew what for. Thirty miles further up the canyon stands a dam that holds back a huge reservoir ten miles long and one hundred feet deep. A sizable earthquake or volcanic glacial melt could send that lake down upon the canyon floor on which I was now driving. The next such paved escape route back up into the hills is the road that takes me home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

myself a city to live in

I go back and forth with such regularity and compulsion at times one might instead insist that the activity is more similar to spinning the wheels.

Take poker. I say I won’t play and then that time of the night arrives where I’m not quite ready to go to sleep, I play. I missed my calling, or rather some training in politics might have come in handy at some point in my life and learned to never say never. Truth of the matter, I love the game and miss it enough that I just have to open up a table. I know I’m playing with fire a little bit, yet perhaps I won’t be so tiresome if I just get on with it, no apologies, no back peddling. And perhaps politicians will some day be up front about the absolute thrill power sex is for them, even more fulfilling than what puts them in such a position: successfully selling out their constituency.

Reel it back in. I was addressing ambivalence and its ilk.

The emotional fallout of paradox, duality, human nature…those kinds of things.

We’ve been down this road before. One is smart and the other is pretty. Smart and pretty in one and the same picture might be better, but that is a fairly rare occurrence; and I’m not entirely convinced anyway that a viewer has to be able to come back time and again and get something new out of the piece for it to be enduring. More like an inspired reminder. And that leaves us with questions of criteria: How smart? How pretty? and not so much how much of both. The bar may be set higher from time to time with a third interrogative: To what end?

The answers don’t come in one color or size fits all, nor am I wont to provide them without some initial test of interest, some response, comment or critique. Curiosity is an introductory form of reciprocation. Yet, in some cases, granted straightforward in a generic sort of pleasantness, one can be surprised, and even thrilled by a response so simple yet more sublime than the most scholarly deconstruction.

I submitted the second photo to the local daily blog. I looked for comments today, and this is what I found: “Crazy, when I brought up this picture I actually got a whiff of fresh lavender! I love it when a picture solicits that kind of surprise response!”

Yeah, I do too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Campaign update

Folks are in a huff; others are in a hough. I depends on which side of this hunting preserve thing you fall on. Me, I don’t get how something can be preyed upon and preserved at the same time. Of course, monocultures of fir trees are considered sustainable. “Get in on the green” is nothing new. It just depends on how gullible or uninformed you are.

Excuse me. I realize it is unlike me.

Not surprising, not all neighbors in proximity to the proposed bird-in-a-box ‘preserve’ are aginit (sic), and the general alarm was leaked to kin, of which, again no big surprise, there’s a fair amount in these back roads. And they have the internets to-boot! So, there’s a lot of back and forth now, and it’s pretty comical to see the hounds released on both sides. (I’ve recommended a short leash but we’ll see how far that goes.)

Funny, because on one side of the debate is the fact that one of two habitats on this side of the bigger mountains for the state bird is threatened and the state authorities on such matters have now taken an interest. Meanwhile, one who is pro-preserve has advised that opponents who use the adjacent road should not to be concerned, as the maximum range for #6 or #7.5 shot emanating from a 12-gauge has a range of 40 yards (1/3 the distance of published reports), and “even if all safety rules were ignored (shooting toward the road), and a stray shot were to occur, at the distances described above, you might at most hear some tinkling on the roof of your car.”

I could do a stand-up routine on this, for the truth of the matter is that I love engaging in hyperbole and do a mean hick dialect. I am waiting for someone to invoke the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, I wish I had a 500mm lens today for these:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sizing things up

Aside from the occasional yet rare visit by a neighbor or farmer friend, or an equally infrequent fishing trip, I don’t find myself too often in the company of other men. It is not that I avoid such encounters, yet nor do I seek them out, happy and content with a day consisting of touching base with DW from time to time and chore to chore.

Now that I can no longer pull my hair back into a ponytail — and I know it might seem strange – once my hair begins to touch my ears, I am in the barber chair in a matter of a few days, and it is here I get my fill of man things. Still, my lack must show somewhat.

“See what you learn in a barber shop?” my barber asks me as his friend goes out the front door.

This is roughly their parting words:

Barber: Kiss your wife for me. He says it in a suggestive manner, for as I have gathered from overhearing conversations he has with women on the phone, my barber considers himself quite the ladies’ man.

Friend, after a slight pause: Glad you like her.

Barber: Tim likes her too.

Friend: I reckon he does.

Barber: But then you’d have to swap him for Pam.

Friend, as he’s closing the door behind him: There’s not enough booze…

Both men are wearing big rodeo buckles.

Says I, “I know all about barber shops and have known since I was five years old,” for I am reminded from his comment to me of my first barber, Stosh. I then relate the story of girlie and detective magazines strewn about the shop, and the need to be out of his chair before two in the afternoon for after that Stosh would take a piece of ones ear for pulling him out of the saloon. I knew from first-hand experience, and remember my grandmother’s anger upon seeing the dried blood.

“Sounds like G over in Lyons when he was still cutting hair. Speaking of girlie magazines, have you seen the new 3D Playboy?” He had it and told me his own story of a woman friend who knew he subscribed and came to his shop with the express purpose of seeing his copy.

My barber is also a horseman of some skill, and coordinates the local rodeo. Knowing this of him, I redirect the conversation. His enterprise is not faring well as sponsors are tightening up and competitors are giving a bigger bang.

“You mean to tell me you taught that boy how to ride and this is how he repays you, by having his event the same weekend?” If you followed professional bull riding you would know the name.

“I gave him plenty o’ shit about it but it was outa his hands. Powers-that-be booked it as the only free weekend on the west coast.”

About that time, my hair was sufficiently short, ears and eyebrows trimmed, and his next appointment, an elderly fellow, had walked in and moseyed over to the chair. As I dug in my pocket for price and tip, I asked. “You gonna show me that Playboy?”

“Sure!” and he opened to the centerfold, the only photo that had been made ready for the red and blue glasses provided.

I took a quick look, and besides a miniature left breast protruding slightly from the page, there was not much else worth looking at, and I said as much.

“Here, let me have a look,” said the old guy, and after some scrutinizing retorted, “Oh, I don’t know. She looks pretty good to me!”

I held my tongue, or rather, didn’t give it much more thought to formulate something witty or conciliatory. I said my good-byes, walked out to the rig and called DW to say I was headed home.

And should you be so inclined, here's a collection of past centerfolds.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baby Beuys

I have a couple pieces in a group art exhibit next month. One piece is the video I Love Art but and the other is an untitled piece, a core sample of the compost pile that I built for the video.

Those of you who have stuck with me longer than a year will remember that I have referenced this ongoing project off and on, and first discussed it (and personal angst about art making in general) here. But if you don’t want to click through to the link, the video basically documents me composting ten years worth of ArtForum and Art in America magazines along with a coyote. In doing so, I am partly referencing a piece by another artist, Joseph Beuys, I Like America, America Likes Me. I’m excited that the work is going to be seen by a larger audience than the few who have taken the time to download the rough cut version on my website. .

Taking the core sample from the compost pile two-plus years after it was constructed was the gallerist’s idea, and to my way of thinking, a brilliant idea at that. However, getting the core sample was not the easiest chore, given what I had to work with. I used a 4-foot long piece of 4-inch schedule 40 PVC that I sharpened on one end while fashioning a handle on the other so I could twist it down into the soil. It took about twelve minutes to drill down a little more than a foot, all of which I videotaped. How well do enameled paper stock magazines compost/decompose? Now I know the answer, but I will leave that as a surprise for the exhibit. The video of the coring will be used as another aspect of the ongoing part of the project.

Pictures? You want pictures?

Another aspect of the project is growing on the pile right now.

Two different varieties of winter squash volunteered on the pile last year, one Delicata and one Spaghetti (I know I’m repeating myself). Now, six offspring (seeds) from the Delicata are growing on the pile. I actually had a few seedlings come up from the Spaghetti squash but they looked puny and weak, so I culled them for the hardier plant, and hopefully get a good crop of a new squash variety, which will be called the Beuys Winter Squash.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What goes down

Promised sun tomorrow, and a small spike in the temp, I’m hoping that I can get a little mowing and spraying done before it gets wet again Tuesday and the foreseeable future. A few months ago I fretted the lack of snow on the nearby small mountains. Now, with the freezing levels at 3,000 feet the last several days, there’s good cover, albeit a bit later than usual.

Of course, with a lot more days of rain than sun, crops aren’t getting in the ground. Indeed, the oak leaves are much larger than a squirrel’s ear but the temperatures won’t allow for germination. Put that wet and cold together and you get seed rot anyway.

So, if I get a day’s respite, I must be prepared to make hay, so to speak. Short on gas for the lawn tractor, and the truck under a quarter tank, I dodged some raindrops, hopped in the rig and went to town.

The Hollywood Video in the Plaza Shopping Center is closing its doors. Apparently, Netflix and those red boxes scattered about have brought the demise. That’s progress, I guess, but in a small town, that kind of change leaves a scar, especially when the 5,000 square foot space adjacent to the video store has been vacant for more than a year. This on the main drag.

Yet, I suppose there’s hope. We just got our second traffic light, part of a major road construction project on the highway that passes the outskirts. Two lane to four lane, two years in the doing, anticipating something big, one would think… or rather, hope. No shortage of that, I suppose: hope.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Speaking of which

And cold. Did I mention cold? It was in my queue, believe me. There’s a bit of sun to go with it, yet the wood stove has been rekindled for the past two days.

First a dead cat and now a woman. Not here on the property, luckily. Up river, unidentified at this point, and from the description, we have hair color and apparel but all else is open to speculation: age, height and cause. There is where the similarity begins and ends.

“I’s out walkin’ the dog and seen her washed up in our weeds.”

I forget exactly, but I believe one’s property line extends a bit beyond the shore, which some take more seriously than others. As for me, I claim no ownership of weeds, yet recognize a certain responsibility to restrict drift and therefore wait for the next warm, dry day to continue the assault mounted last week.

Meanwhile, DW has set her sites on a more social form of activism that will, in one way or another, find its way back to the home front. Up the road a good piece a new owner, but long-time resident, has plans to expand his pheasant fodder business from seller to competitor, setting building-raised birds free on the newly purchased prairie so those who wish to claim they have done so can bag a bird or two straight from the crate.

Now, I suppose if prospective clients were to pursue their prey with a show of force appropriate to the bird’s prowess and natural wiles, a high-powered air rifle would introduce sufficient ‘sport’ into the adventure, and neighbors would not be as concerned. However, as some readers will anticipate, a more realistic scenario must include gun power measured in gauges.

Now, it is my expectation that no self-respecting hunter of some experience and skill would be caught dead paying for the pleasure of picking off sitting fowl. In fact, that same hunter might be justified in fearing that engaging with other paying customers could put his life at some risk, at least at close range. Otherwise, the spray of 7.5 shot could at the very least prove to be a nuisance. It is this potential, along with other factors such as noise, has the neighbors up in (ahem) arms. And in that we’re not talking about wide open spaces, there are a lot of neighbors, both farmer and residential folk.

Anyway, here’s the local rag’s version of it. Salient points are missing (such as a proposed skeet range that is not seasonal and the impact on neighboring livestock), expecting, I suppose, emotions will sell more papers.

It is not that folks out here in this semi-rural area are unaccustomed to hearing gunfire on occasion, and that would include my neighbors when I have a varmint problem, like the growing number of feral cats.

Now there’s an idea. I might be able to make a little pocket change.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Back for balance

The neighbors called to ask if the gate between our two properties was closed for a reason. Their llamas usually move between properties and keep a couple of our small paddocks well-trimmed. No, it wasn’t closed on purpose… or, rather it had been but that was days ago, and I had merely forgotten to reopen it. I said I would remedy the situation as soon as there was a break in the rain.

We’ve been getting a fair amount of precip the last few days, and today has given us the most. I am happy about this, The tadpoles are just now starting to swim away from their egg masses, and it will be quite a while before they morph into frogs. The rain forestalls the need to run a hose to the seasonal pond.

There are two ways to get to the gate in question. One way passes in front of the lean to that contains the owl’s nest. The other follows alongside the barn and alongside the wall of the lean to. The latter also requires crossing a little bridge across the little stream created by the pond overflow. Thinking that it must be close to egg hatching time for the owls (if there are indeed eggs to go with the owl in the nesting box), I took the latter path today.

The stream runs underground through dual culverts for a bit and opens up again at the back of the lean to only to disappear again under some blackberry brambles before the bridge. It was in the dark sky shadow of the brambles that I saw something in the water. It took some discerning to figure out it was a dead gray cat.

Gray is a pretty common color for feral cats, just as it is for domestic felines. I am familiar with most of the gray cats in these parts, both pets and pests, but the decomposition, moisture and perhaps lack of light had made identification impossible. Yet, the only one I would be sorry to see go is the one owned by the neighbors of industry, for, although I may be mistaken in this assessment, the amount of joy their gray cat brings, whether a small comfort or great, distracting release, might be critical to sanity. Despite the fact they manage to burn their garbage on the days when the wind pushes the foul smoke directly to our back door, I wish them no ill and will keep a hopeful eye out for their pet.

Nor did I have a desire to fish the thing out. Yet, I did stare at its corpse a good while, and while doing so a sparrow flew down through the brambles and bathed near the dead animal’s head.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

To be fair

I toy around with titles. For instance, should I start a new blog (unresolved), I think about tone, voice and topics, and depending on where I’m at in the internal discussion, fluctuate between “Clean Slate” and “Sour Grapes,” anonymity or apologia. Or maybe “Musings of a Binary Mind” as I wish in one hand and stay on-subject in the other… A quest for the ideal is fine; chastisement for not attaining it is another.

I would do well to remember such caveats, as I once again enter the art fray. Close readings can be an irritant and nigh impossible in a mirror. I can see my lips move. The social is another matter altogether, no advantage whatsoever when feedback is not forthcoming, or even worse, discouraged. Again, when one can only get a word or two in edgewise, they have to be pointed. Who is up to such a task?

Perhaps it is the wrong question to ask. In fact, with another’s attitude, there may be no need for unknowing or doubt, the social circle more a pie graph than it first seems: lots of individual wedges, the percentages shifting as new data finds a place to stand, introductions made, a welcome stated, and after that, pieces of the pie restrategized, or so it seems.

Why qualify?*

Pie holing after close readings through our filters is like inescapably failing the Ishihara. Recognizing this should make one more reticent; ignoring this should not make one more popular. Either way, silence does not seem to be an option, and I’m sure it must be old news anyway, so I’ll just come right out and ask:

Is art about not knowing what to make art about art? I propose a graduate seminar with the title, “Is this question art?”

With the emergence of PhD programs in art, are folks with only BFAs the new Sunday painters? And if so, you know where that leaves MFA grads.

Is ‘polymath’ the worst word to be introduced to the art world?

Too specific?


The new experts courtesy of this vehicle here, the non-poetic rays of light.

Too oblique? 

(Insert your primary concern here.)

I envision a day when there will be a trailer park that only allows cat ladies.** (Everyone fires up google to see if in fact one already exists.) And now there is at least one reference.

Yes, it is better to have something with a steady beat (all derivations of applause) if one wishes to dance.

*Let me assure my long-time readers that my mind is still as intact as it (n)ever was. I’m working on elasticity.

** Let's have some fun. Name that park! There might be a prize for the best name.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

There I go again

What doesn’t get as much attention is when the prodigal son returns and it’s the same old shit. Where’s the parable for that one, eh?

I had Skirts in the hole two hands in a row, first UTG then…well, you know where, and lost more on the second than I won on the first from the same shortie; shorter the second time, he resigned to call off and hope for an Ace. I was cool about it. After all, right?  I know, right? Just wait, right? Apparently.

I was showing down with strength, which in my book says, “Keep it up, Pal, and your gonna get kicked in the teeth.” Mind you, I’m not saying it; I want the little voice in the opponent’s head to say it so I can pull off something a bit later. In better position.

Or at least middle with 89h. Yeah, that’s worth a limp with half a dozen other players. Except then the SB min-raises, which is nothing more than a back-assed straddle in my book, because everyone goes along for the ride.

The flop is Ah5c6h and I’m liking it. SB leads out with 1/3 pot. UTG, formally the shortie, now bought in full and perhaps a bit tipsy announces, “I have a gutshot” and calls. Well, imagine that. I sweeten it with a new half-pot and both come along.

The turn is the 9s. I have a pair! I figure the SB is sitting on a big Ace and Chatty Shortie has what he says he has (I know him well), both check to my show of strength on the flop and fold when I bring down the hammer.

It’s a nice little pot and erases my deficit with interest, and I’m pleased.

And then I note an old, familiar feeling. Fleeting, but familiar. Enough for me to shut it down for the night…perhaps for good.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I suppose I could complain. You know how that one goes: It’s not the heat. Exhalation is quite moist, which might be one reason for a given social distance.

I am regularly assured no one would listen, as if that passes for humor. Maybe wit. It’s sometimes difficult to tell without the proper emoticon.

Not that I have anything to lament.

Sure, a couple prospects turned up mica, and to admit to being inured with such matters may indicate that such an attitude may leak out in manners that my particular style of blinders keep out of line.

Just a suspicion. Or, it may be my narrow, deep-set eyes.

Or ambiguity, which always reminds me of another word: ambivalence.

So, we’re back to that, are we?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. And I suspect that should such things be required reading by, oh, say, twelve years of age, we could forego a lot of unnecessary discomfort from trial and error over well-trod ground.  Well, for me, anyway.

And then one could make step-by-step combinations, a DIY collection of snippets. For instance, one about hard work, another about extra effort, and balance them out in a parallelism with one about payment and another for patience.

No small wonder, really, this circumlocution just to get a word in edgewise. Here’s one for you: if not prepared to explore an idea, don’t open the floor for discussion.

But I digress, and inasmuch should be looking for an intact bootstrap.

On a marginally related matter, the neighbors bucked and split a wet load in less than three days. Husband and wife. Grown son helped for about two hours stacking.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two hours of work becomes six.

Can wear and tear occur even when a piece of equipment goes unused? Of course. Yet, that doesn’t mean that it is to be expected.

The pernicious weeds are flowering already and I’ve been waiting for that sunny day when the air temperature hits 70°F and there is a relative surety that the skies will remain clear for a couple days. Today was that day and the fifty-gallon PTO sprayer with a pistol nozzle attachment was my weapon of choice.

This sprayer came with the place, and up until now, the only thing that has been in it is compost tea and soluble lime, and even then, I can say that I have not used it more than twenty times in seven years, and not at all last year. So, I rather assumed I would be good to go, except as I engaged the PTO to disperse the last two thirds of my dual mixture of salts, something in the PVC aspects of the lines gave way.

I got wet.

Now, normally I wouldn’t worry about a little dampness, but packaging labels had expressed how important it was to not stay wetted too long unless one wanted (and should) get a bit wetter from a garden hose or some such source of plain water. And, had DW been about, that is precisely the action I would have been encouraged to take. However, alone, I was more concerned about the thirty or so gallons of pricey cargo that, should it be leaked to the ground in one location, might be more than that area could endure for a good many years after. Also, in order to fix the sprayer while the sun still shone, it was clear that the plumbing would need to be completely dismantled.

So I found some buckets.

And I got to cutting 1/2” and 3/4” hose so that I might unscrew various plastic parts. And then I unscrewed plastic parts from other plastic parts in order to replace the broken piece. There were several separate pieces when all was done, yet nothing too complicated, or so I thought, and so I didn’t diagram the dismantling.

Replacement parts acquired, I sought help from the manual that came with the sprayer. A saving grace, if I understood how the generic diagram of sprayer principles applied to my particular set-up. But I guessed as good as I could, and once the plumbers putty dries, I’ll engage in a little trial and error.

In the meantime, I have a nice backpack sprayer and as of this writing about twenty gallons still to use.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Some 'xplainin’

I’ve been getting these urges... almost like auras before a migraine, or so I assume, for I am not a sufferer. I’ll be working in the barn, walking the dog, reading Popular Photography, or something equally random and innocuous and all of a sudden a little signal goes off in my head that flashes “MUST PLAY POKER.” I recognize the impulse. The difference now is that the urge passes. More or less.

It’s no secret that I have weaned myself off of 200 hand days; the Pavlovian effects of a errant ticker will do that. That doesn’t mean I haven’t played. Nosiree. For instance, just last night I played thirty-five hands at the Deuce and won 4BBs. I even dropped in at PA the other night after a couple-week hiatus.

“Fek, I thought you were dead.” That’s Stan’s way of saying he missed me. Others were more appropriate in their greetings. I stuck around for about fifty hands and broke even.

And after encouraging words from friends last week, I two-tabled some PLO Hi-Lo for a whopping 200 hands one night, for which I got my ass handed to me to the tune of a buy-in. Figured I was rivered and didn’t care with given odds. Usually I’d stick around after such a loss and hope to get some of it back. That night clearly I could care less.

And that’s the thing: I can pretty much care less. And that’s because before, back in the day, I cared too much. Or not enough. Or both. I was good enough to get in trouble but didn’t want to work hard enough to get better, so disappointment was assured. So, why bother?

Well, it’s kinda like cold bacon grease in the bottom of the cast iron skillet after a nice brunch. The aftermath, anyway. Heat it up, pour it in a ball jar.

In other words, every once in a while I still have a hankerin’, and when it gets strong enough, I’ve got enough fat stored up that I’ll indulge in some eggs and home fries.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sorta Sustainable

Simply said.

Bill Will, Are you listening to me? 
at Nine Gallery. Portland

It has been observed that when an art opening is attended mostly by fine artists, many of the conversations are not so much dialogic as they are recitations of résumés, perhaps more like what others would say of some presbyters networking rather than engaging in fellowship. One might also liken it to maneuvering through a sales meeting in an attempt to get the boss’ ear. Insiders may accept the rules of the game while those unfamiliar with these social settings, rightfully so, would find the practices wholly unsatisfying, and even rude.

This is how I remember artists’ receptions in Chicago some years ago. It was not uncommon for someone to leave a conversation without so much as a parting nod, only to set up camp next to someone of supposed greater social stature (curator, gallerist, critic, collector) and more beneficial to one’s art career. The art world is very competitive, and every little edge is needed to pad the vitae and pay the rent, so between artists, such behavior is soon forgotten, if not forgiven, because it is understood as the way the game is played.

Not a pretty world: social yet not always sociable, which goes a good way to deflate the myth or notion that art-types are a more sensitive and astute lot. The offenders may seem self-involved and arrogant when in actuality they are merely behaving in a manner perceived as needed to succeed in a food chain, therefore moving them closer to our furrier cousins. When people have only their individual agendas, nothing else matters, and the conversations ultimately are no more than empty chatter.

Judging from Bill Will’s installation, “Are you listening to me?” at Nine Gallery in Portland, he has noticed the same tendency.

Upon entering the gallery space, one sees groupings of various coffee makers affixed to iron rods that are in turn welded to platforms in grouping of 2 or more. The pots are all upside down with their lids hinged to the bodies. A string runs from each pot up to and across the ceiling, then down a wall to a mechanized contraption, which is in turn hard-wired to a box that instructs the viewer to “Press and Hold” a mounted button switch. When one follows the instruction, the mechanism causes this:

Most unsettling. So much so that one dares not hold the button down for long for fear of disturbing the sanctum that is the adjoining and larger gallery space on this quiet Saturday afternoon. Still, I was amused. Mr. Will makes his point quickly and clearly, thereby answering the installation’s title question: Just like so many openings with people chatting away at once, no, no one is listening.

I suppose I could stop with an analysis of the meaning behind Bill Will’s installation with the above remarks: The artist asks a rhetorical question, and the mechanized sculptures are emphatic in their response; end of story.  Yet, I remain troubled by the title of the piece, which in turn leads to a series of other questions, the most important one being: Is listening to me the same as understanding what I mean? Asking such a question opens the piece to further inquiry.

I don’t understand why the coffee pots were used. Is it because people in Portland are big coffee drinkers and may get so hyped on coffee that they are incapable of shutting up long enough to listen? Or were the pots used because their shape suggested heads and the lids hinged jaws? I’m guessing the latter.

And what does it mean that the viewer of the art has to choose to engage the mechanism to make it produce the noise? If the viewer does not see the button or choose to push it, does the installation have the same potential for meaning as when the piece is made to function?  How does this interaction or lack thereof relate to the social? Do we enter social situations voluntarily and are likewise free to engage or remain apart? And in that the noise persists only as long as we hold down the button, in essence controlling the clamor of the crowd, is he asking to be listened to during situations of his own making in which he cannot be heard without yelling? And finally, what does it mean to create a contraption that disturbs the otherwise relative quiet of the adjacent gallery space?

Trying to determine meaning from what is presented is not as straightforward as it as first seemed. I thought about emailing Mr. Will to ask him what he had in mind with this installation and its title, but thought again and decided against it. I would have listened to what he had to say; yet, I did not want the possibility of the multiplicity of meanings — no matter how troubling or buried in subtext — to be quieted.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back to it (again)

The sun shining and dew drying, today was a day for getting things done, although I took my time getting to it.

DW has been running errands for the most part this week, while I’ve laid back. (I’m happy to say that at the time of this writing, I am nearly recovered from the cold. Thanks to those well-wishers.) Granted, I got out a bit yesterday, and that bug took hold today. Let’s call it spring fever — although it is a bit tardy — and a good cure for the cabin variety of late. So, today I made the trip to the Post Office and such.

One of my errands included a stop next door to the music shop from which our local AM radio station is transmitted, and thought to drop in on the station owner, Ken Cartwright. I wrote about this station back in January. Mr. Cartwright is an industrious and civic minded gentleman. He not only maintains a commercial business in our sleepy little downtown area and has his radio station, he also videotapes bluegrass concerts (that he sponsors and worth a watch) and our city council meetings. The videos are not only on his server, but transmitted via the local cable access.

As I left the business adjacent to his, luck had it that Ken was about to sit on the bench in front of his store and have a few puffs on a cigar. Greetings exchanged, he invited me to join him, which, having an inch and a half left on a Macanudo, I did. After health inquiries and updates were exchanged, Ken told me that he has been videotaping the dismantling of a water tower in the town north of us, a tower that had a bit of fame a few years back when that town tried to Ebay the thing away, to no avail. He was rendering the video as we sat. He told me soon this footage would also be available on his site.

Much else was going on for Mr. Cartwright, some which may best be kept mum until it comes to fruition; but when it does, I will let you know dear readers, for it may be a first in our nation.

I noticed that Ken’s cigar had been allowed to extinguish, which was cue enough for me to move on. Besides, I had another errand to run and a couple acres to mow.

Second errand accomplished, I caught the eye of our insurance agent in the parking lot as I was pulling away. In that he walked toward my moving vehicle, I figured I should stop and opted to park again. We assumed the position on the bed of my rig, exchanged  pleasantries, an inquiry was made as to my stamina these days and then question pointed toward our policy (that was the purpose of the former question), and (to further camouflage the intent) went on to talk of the upcoming fish runs and the rivers to chase them on this year. As one might expect, the conversation did not last long.

Errands completed, I headed home. Not only did I have the grass up front; DW also requested the path around the Back Ten be shorn double-wide, which meant the Kubota be brought out as well. I looked forward to a good five hours of chewin’ on a dead stogie.

Except my neighbor friend was on his Kubota near our fence. He retires for good (down to part time now) in a week, and we had not seen the other for a month, and did have much to share and strategize. It took a while, but we now have pasture maintenance settled for the summer.

I mowed until close to sundown. I thought about turning on the headlights, but the weather guy says we have at least four more days just like this one. I have time.


I left my camera out in the truck. I won’t worry about it, odds being such out here nobody’s coming through tonight with an urge to pillage an old rig with a big blue blinking LED on the dash. But I kinda remember a photo I thought I might share. I remember the thought, not the photo, so on second thought, maybe it’s not such a hot shot after all.

I have this strange feeling that I have left a handful of sentence frags lying about these tubes the last couple days. Blame it on the perpetual Nyte heralded to quell the phlegm. The battle is in its final throes, the last of the mean greenies spirited away in gossimer-like paper. I’ll double-back on my tracks in the next couple days and see how bad it got, and hope that meaning stayed intact. You know what I mean?

Like this ditty: Charles Barkley chimes in on the immigration thing, likening Hispanics to “the fabric of the cloth.” You know what he means, or at least recognize the spirit of the sentiment, although it lends little to the discourse. I’m down with that.

Lots of other stuff too, but for now I have to conserve my energy, narrow my focus. And go get my camera.

What'll it be?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have no excuse, I suppose, if I was set on posting daily, plopping any old photo or wisecrack as it must often seem; it would just take a few minutes.  Yet, a head cold will make any effort to think beyond immediate needs such as pills, juice and bed difficult. So unmotivated, it is best to log wakeful hours, all eight of them in the last forty-eight, in front of television.  And now, if you’ll pardon me, I think I’ll go lay down.

Saturday, May 1, 2010