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


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


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?


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.


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


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


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.


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.