Thursday, June 3, 2010


(a bit long)

As DW will remark on occasion, when I set my mind, not much else gets through. While problematic at the dinner table, it can be a good trait when shove has bypassed push. It is the time of the latter, for Saturday I am headed to Portland to drop off my piece for the show on the 11th, and aspects have not turned out as planned. Specifically, the core sample looks like nothing more than dirt in a glass cylinder vase.

And, as I’ve suspected for the past week, it’s not a very good sample, meaning that it is not a good representation of all that went into the compost pile at the onset. Or so I suspected; yet I was disinclined to attempt another sample closer to the middle of the pile, not because I might bring up some unfinished coyote, but because the first sample at a shallower part of the pile was difficult enough to core. The pile was another four or five inches deeper toward the middle, and I didn’t think the additional grunting and groaning would provide me with any better of an example of dirt in a jar, even if I were to find bones or the spine of a decomposed art magazine.

That is assuming that the magazines have decomposed.

Before I dug the first core sample, I was pretty certain that were I to remove the top layer of compost, I would find all of the magazines intact, and perhaps only stained by canine effluence. When I retrieved the sample, I was surprised to see no obvious evidence of the magazines. Could they have decomposed? Or had I not gone in close enough to the center? The pile has shrunk to about 40% of the size it was two years ago, so even though I thought I had picked a good spot, there was still a nagging feeling that I missed my mark.

The core sample had some other problems, namely missing portions from a messed up initial attempt to transfer it from PVC to glass. The first vase broke and a portion of the soil was impregnated with glass shards. I successfully removed the glass, but a good deal of the soil went with it. The core, then, was in essence a misrepresentation. I thought I might be able to live with this, that is until I was nonplussed with the final product.

It had always been apparent that the idea of a core sample was more appealing than the retrieval and display process. (I still like the video of the process.) That is not to say that there is undoubtedly a better way to go about it than the way I did it, yet I had none of the resources to accomplish that task. I made do with what I had available and how my feeble mind could conceive of a plan and came up with meh. But as indicated, knowing that the project was not going well, I made contingency plans.

As I was removing the broken glass from the compost and the core began to crumble, I began to think of other ways to display the compost. Test tubes crossed my mind. Then book ends. Ah! A pile of the dirt between two bookends and call the piece “Back Issues.” I liked that.

At dinnertime I told DW of the difficulties I was having with the core sample and shared my other ideas with her. She had a couple ideas herself, particularly with the bookends idea: perhaps ornate bookends, or maybe one of those boxes that one uses to archive periodicals. I knew exactly what kind of bookends I wanted to use, and if I couldn’t find them, I liked the idea of the archival box enough to put it on the back burner.

What sort of bookend? You know the type. The simple metal ones used in libraries. Now, where to find such a thing… The library!

I almost got ahead of myself in the chronology. I was going to relate my trip to the library before taking one more look at the core sample. I looked, still found it inadequate for my needs and to my eye, fetched a spade from the barn, and commenced to digging closer to the middle of the compost pile. My boot pounded the shovel blade deep into the pile, time and again until I hit something hard. Clearing away the soil, I could see pieces of pristine magazines had been torn off by the blade. I had a true sample!

OK, so I walk into the library. Our town has a beautiful library, and it is well used by those folks in town. (Those folks. As we live outside of town, and in fact in another county altogether, we are not supposed to have access to the library, at least for checking out books, so there is little need for us to go otherwise. But I could be wrong on this point, not having checked out the other resources it might have.) The front counter is staffed by two people, neither of who I know, yet I catch the eye of a friendly looking chap in a casual short-sleeved button down and purple tie.

“Can I help you with something?”

“I have what might be an weird question.”

“Well, I’m weird, so fire away!” I shook his hand as a comrade and made my request for two bookends that I might buy or have if in some state of disrepair. He could not accommodate me, nor had an idea where I might find such things, and away I went, for I had little time to spare and a bit of a drive to the office supply store in the city.

Long unaided search short, I found the bookends. Except they weren’t the bookends. These were modern, meshed, not quite what I had in mind. Nevertheless I bought them, because, as I mentioned before…the shove. I might have to settle, or find a way to make them work and be content.

But I was not content. These new bookends were too fancy, and a lot more expensive that the ones in the library. Hell, I could probably buy 20 or more library bookends for what I paid for these.

And then it hit me. It was worth a try anyway.

“Now you’re going to think I’m even weirder. Will you trade two of your bookends for these two?”

We made it a little adventure.

“Do you want tall ones or short ones?”

“Short ones, please.”

The piece is going to look great with red wigglers crawling in the dirt and over the pieces of magazines, all loosely contained by the bookends.

Now I can relax.


Memphis MOJO said...

I'm mixed up. Are you doing the thing with the bookends, then taking a photo of it for the exhibit?

bastinptc said...

Just woke up. No coffee yet. Sorry for any confusion in my thinking out loud. I will be displaying the soil and bookends.

TenMile said...

Well, thank you MOJO. And then, this morning, the day after this post, I found a bastinptc visit on an unnamed site.

That was surprising as bastinptc indicated he was to be in Portland - I think Portland is in NV someplace - so a visit was unexpected. Even with my charm.

Good Luck with the display, bastinptc. Pictures please.

I don't believe I ask for those. Really.

Ahh, the word verfication: grateele

bastinptc said...

TM - Riddlin' me?

Headed up to PDX this afternoon to drop of pieces and see if ay shows strike my fancy pen, and then again for the exhibit opening, June 11.

Pictures and stories to follow.

joxum said...

trading bookends. Sounds like a hobby that would only take place from the booth of a pick up on badly lit parking lot.

Nice try though, I'd never think of that myself!