Monday, May 30, 2011

Saturday's sunset

 The always photogenic greenhouse

A few stems of lupine with flash

And, of course, some clouds

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Uncle Ray

There wasn't much in the paper, but there rarely is unless one wants to pay through the nose while grief is still fresh. Seems a bit cruel, but then again, early on there's so much more to do than write, unless one is a writer. But I don't know of any others in my family, and finances would prohibit it anyway. So, Uncle Ray got the standard obit with a couple photos thrown in for good measure.

This photo of Ray is the one I remember seeing at his house from my earliest days. He took great pride in his military service during WW II. I should remember better, but I believe he was a gunner in the back end of a bomber.

This is more how I remember Ray:

Somewhere in his house is a room, no doubt full, of photos, videotapes and DVDs of family events over the last 50+ years. I can only imagine his camera collection. In later years, he and I would play a little game with each other in that while he was recording the family, I recorded him. I had promised a copy of a compilation but never got around to making it. Somewhere in this dungeon...

Ray loved the family, from his own wife and sin, to his grandkids, to all of his nieces and nephews and their children. It was often said that he was the oldest of us kids, for it was Ray who would play Stratego with the young ones while the adults sat around and yapped. He taught me how to play baseball.

Ray was a diehard St. Louis Cardinal fan. He has a killer vintage baseball card collection. He was a model train enthusiast. When I'd ask him what he'd been up to since the last time I saw him, he say the same thing year after year: "Playing with my trains and burying people." He was part of the American Legion Color Guard, and has been buried alongside his brothers-at-arms.

At 83 years old, Ray was thrown out of the courtroom during the sentencing of the guy who killed my brother. He stood up from his seat, walked up the center aisle and started yelling at the guy. Bully for you, Ray.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Three days of rain, at first off and on, but now with some gumption. And cold enough that when the sun does manage to peak through, dark surfaces steam up. And the roof around our dormers is leaking again. Called the contractor, and know I'll have to do it again at least two more times. Standard protocol, yes?

Let's hope we get a bit of a reprieve this afternoon to bring the air temp back above 60. There are little sprouts in the greenhouse that will begin to dampen off if not. And those spuds in the ground will rot. And I neglected to mention the sleet that surely must have knocked the transplants around a bit.

The tadpoles in the pond are enjoying this. And, mind you, I'm not complaining as much as worrying, and then not fretting so much for our little patch as those trying to make a go at what we gave up a few years back when already the weather showed signs of cooler and wetter springs, only to leave off the wet bit for summer.

The young farmers we have attempted to mentor have a thing going today: Get to know your CSA farmer. CSA = Community Supported Agriculture, a term with which I've never been entirely comfortable, as it is more a subscription service to a particular farm or group of farmers. It needs to be more personalized to match the commitment of all those involved, provider and consumer, which is why the young farmers are hosting today's event.

We were invited. They want to pay us back for all that we have done for them by giving us a free share for the season. In return, we offer feeback. In my more cynical moments, that seems to keep them beholden, but this is not the reason we have declined the weekly basket. See above.

I will, however, put on my muck boots and mosey on over at some point today. With this rain, I can't imagine they'll have much of a turnout.

Friday, May 27, 2011

What I didn't tell you yesterday (potentially not for the queasy)

I remember sitting with a few other bloggers over a meal, and in that we all had this thing in common, it was a topic we easily turned to. I can't remember how exactly, but at one point I said, "I don't write about everything I could." but I can guess where it came from: no niche.

Truth be told... nah.

Yesterday morning DW had a question: "You know that animal... it's not a gopher..."

"A vole?"

"No. What did you say you scared up the other day?"

"A shrew."


"A pointy nose..."

"Yeah, but how big?"

"They're tiny. Maybe three inches with the tail."

"No. Bigger, but with the nose."

"A mole."

"Yes. There's one laying by the yews. Well, between the yews and the spruce, alongside the drive."


"Yes. Annie was smelling it but I pulled her away."

"I'll take care of it when I go outside." And I did. I threw it into the bed of my truck. And dimes to donuts, that's where it will stay for the foreseeable future, 'cause I'm kinda that way. I'll want to see the bone structure.

"Did you find it?"


We take turns walking Annie. DW has the morning "poo" shift and I have the evening. I'm often still sleeping when DW walks her, so I don't know the route they take, but I imagine they stay pretty close to the house. My walks might be bit more wide-ranging, and they give me a chance to check a few things around the place. For instance, the gophers are doing a number on the fields I haven't mowed. And I walk this same route everyday, so I see the speed at which they are lengthening their burrows. (They've also moved up on my to-do list.)

Two days ago I saw something that took me by surprise.

It's a cat. In fact, I know which cat, for there are clumps of hair still attached that match one that has some history on the farm, and on this blog. It's the female that had her kittens in one of our sheds last year. For those of you who retain such things: yeah, that one. Need some help? Think oil pan. Still need a nudge? Nah. Don't really want to revisit that day.

What I didn't know is how what's left of it got strung up on the fence, folded over as it was. Nor was I clear on how long it had been there, although I was fairly certain that I am observant enough to notice something so contrasted by its pastoral surroundings. I did know it couldn't stay there.

You see, it hasn't been all that long since we put down DW's favorite feline. And this one here, well, DW'd been trying to feed it cooked egg yolks for a few months. And then the bowl stayed full. So, her heart was in it too deep, and that heart's been pretty close to the surface for the last several weeks, meaning that it didn't need any more of its strings pulled just yet.

But just like that mole laid to rest in the back of my rig, I had to get a few photos of the cat. Well, more than a few, but this is the only one that worked for me. And even then, I couldn't see putting it up here in color.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

X marks the spot

I rather like this photo I shot yesterday. Should I explain where it was taken? Or what kind of animal skull? Or the herb it lays next to? Does it matter? For me, it's the composition more than anything else.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Punk Poker

I was in the BB, and the young hot shot was the dealer. A LAG player, pub tourney style: any two Broadways are raised. He'd already stacked off and was working through his rebuy at 50/100 when he popped it up one big blind after two limpers. My J8 was good enough to call, watch his face closely and see a flop of J93 rainbow. I checked. UTG checked, as did the cutoff, and he put out the same amount of 2 BBs. Given that he had looked dismayed at the flop, I raised it to 600. Two fold and he jams. I knew I had him, said so, called another 700, and flipped 'em over. He had TK.

The turn was a Jack and I said, "Need a Queen," which he promptly... well, not promptly. He looked at the card for a couple seconds, slowly turned it around in his hand and held it next to his face. He looked at me like he was holding my still-beating heart in his hand, showing it too me before I collapsed.

He was that good.

To Do Thoughts

I suppose I could have been more diligent, checking to see that what I gave was what they got. Well, technically, they received much of it, but more than what was intended, plus some of what was not. But it's been corrected, and I don't suppose anyone will bother to notice or be worse off for it, except, perhaps, me, and that's merely a judgment call.

Diligence, by the way, seems to be a sub-category of discipline, as is habit, although the latter seems to involve more latitude in the determination of whether something is good or bad; but even so, I can imagine blind spots are unavoidable on the whole.

For instance (ah, hope for clarification!), with the onset of favorable weather, it has become imprudent to lose track of the hour down in the dungeon. Likewise, a re-defining of what it means to be busy, which does not necessarily always mean productive. It is, after all, a dungeon. And with the increase in daylight hours accompanied by sunshine, duties elsewhere vehemently demand a little more sweat than tears, if you get my drift, and I'm certain you do.

But then those damned distractions: yet another ailing pet, deceased uncle... unwelcome reprieves. It is no wonder that when I finally get outside I heartily greet the birds in the yard (although I'm sure they have troubles of their own) and then get to managing their increasingly favorable environment.

My editor has told me he prefers the cranky me. (Not as coarse of a transitional sentence as it might seem.) My response was that it comes too easy. Edification, for I must have something to show for my time, comes in seeking resolve (understanding) amongst peers. In that regard, the final draft is preferable. I have other motives than hits.

Which brings me full circle, an orbit, if you will, and (but not before mentioning that I am aware of fewer posts here) I envision a trajectory like a space capsule slung.

Ah, but that's how it starts. Back to Earth, cowboy.

Today it is weed-whacking and the ongoing saga of ridding the back ten of Scotch Broom and tansy. Tonight I may have time to start sorting through artwork for an exhibition in July.

Away we go!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

No rest for the wicked (mind)

Okay, I'll post script the apocalypse: The old guy who started this is still around, right?  I read that only some kid in Tibet was taken up. Hey, if and when, fewer than professed. No redheads for sure.

No surprise, perhaps, that I've been thinking about such matters for many years. A cocktail of over-active imagination and whatever else I can stir in that guarantees a foul taste. All ingredients are readily available in New Jersey, although most can be ordered online from elsewhere.

What if the sole criterion was a sense of humor? That would be kinda nice.

The End Times garden is half planted. It's late, I know, but Nature wasn't cooperating, nor my schedule, or my foresight. Still, if math turns out to be a weaker skill than proselytizing, or my temporal logic, we have a chance.

Four types of tomatoes
Two types of peppers
Two types of eggplant
Mustard greens
20 pounds of potato seed, four varieties
Several herbs

Seeds germinating in the greenhouse include green beans, two types of summer squash, one winter squash, basil and two types of lettuce.

For that matter, two mules and four llamas can keep a body fed for some time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Review

Thoughts after last weeks Open Engagement conference. Thanks for having a look.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


the bug is pretty much gone, as is several buy-ins at Poker Academy. Stan says I have to raise more preflop, which I've pretty much figured for a while now. Problem is, a small raise with Aces or, say, Queens from early position will get those small and medium pocket pairs to tag along. Maybe not so readily for the small pairs if I go big. And yes, had I raised big on either of those two hands, I most likely would have pushed them out. But don't I want them to come along?

Yeah, I knew I was beat both times, so I have no excuses for stacking off. Self-sabotage. Five losing sessions in a row. Yadda yadda.

What else?

I could use a nap, and here it is not quite 11:00 in the ayem.


I guess, but best not push it.

Yeah, today is DW's birthday, bless her heart. Hope she likes the gift. And cards. I like to give her lots of cards. Pitiful romantic at times, but know where my blessings lay, so don't be too hard on me. Grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. And chocolate cake. And movies. Her choice.

The switch to my brain has a short in it. Or some gunk on it. A smudge, like on a lens. Or blockage in the pipes. Hard to tell. Yet, it shows.

Not to worry. Saw it coming. Got it covered. Gonna throw a blanket over it.

Look out, images.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Caught and Recapturing

No sooner than I had typed the ellipsis at the end of yesterday's post, I fell ill. Well, I didn't fall, but I did lay down for eight or nine hours. Gut bug. I blame the conference, perhaps one of the attendees or poor food handling. Eight more hours of sleep and I'm better now. Better.

I imagined last night what it would be like if my hair grew as fast as my lawn. Of course, if it did, I thought that it should also go to seed. I shuddered at the thought. Or it might have been a slight fever.

That lawn. I should have mowed it five days ago, and even then it was too long for the bagger attachment. Now it is as long as it was the first time I could mow it this year. As is my list of other to-dos.

Soon, my impatient one, soon.

I hate getting sick. And to make matters worse, the sun is shining.

I had a plan.

And tomorrow is DW's birthday. Luckily, some forethought went into it and I'm just a tad behind. The paint is still drying.

The essay is pretty much done, although I wouldn't recommend writing under the influence of NyQuil.

I suppose I'll get to the outside work on Friday. I have plant starts and seed packets. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Must be excitement.

I'll probably know for sure tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The folks who rent our pasture for their mules have a dog, Loopy, a four-month old female of standard  poodle and some other heritage. They bring her with them when tending the mules, and like most pups, she has enough energy to run circles for five minutes straight before laying down for a minute to rest up for the next round. And so it was yesterday.

Our dog, a twelve-year old female of a multiple retriever breeding, spied her young friend from the dining room window and let DW know in no uncertain terms that she wished to have a visit with the pup to catch up on butt smells. DW obliged and our old dog came a-runnin' from the back door clear to the paddock gate, a feat of about 100 yards to which she is unaccustomed. Still, upon arrival, smiles abounded and smells were exchanged. Then play began, but only one dog engaged. The other, ours, perhaps as a form of self defense, and certainly expended, laid down.

I have been home two days after spending three at the Open Engagement conference. For much of Sunday night and Monday I have been writing, and occasionally reading, eating and sleeping. At the time I did not notice that I may have been the oldest person at the conference. Not that it mattered, for rest assured, I had no younguns bouncing off of my hind quarters. (And just as well, for even though it has been many years since learning this lesson, such distractions have consequences.) In fact, the few conversations I did have I found somewhat exhausting for my mind was already at capacity with seminars and presentations that cried for my deconstructive attentions. Any responses from me, I'm afraid, spewed forth much like the waters managed by the Army Corps of Engineers after heavy rains. If I made little sense then, I need to now.

That old dog of ours can barely move this morning, but she is not too tired and sore to raise her head once in a while and tell us about her time with Loopy.

Back to it...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When the in-laws still lived in Colorado, and DW and I in Illinois, I stole an idea.

DW and I were on a jaunt, exploring a part of Illinois that we had neglected, and coordinated the trip with July 4th so to see small town parades and such. And maybe do some fishing. We followed a river from town to town and one night settled at a restaurant/bar that showed the exterior rustic promise of at least a decent burger.

If I remember correctly, the food and beverages were standard and therefore within expectations, yet a meal that long ago can be readily dismissed, even if superior. Even forgotten. Even if one takes a photograph, as is now a popular digital trend, as it leaves few markers aside from olfactory, my point being that something caught my eye. In the corner of the dining area sat two unused chairs, more stools, hand-carved with padded seats. So memorable were these chairs that some six months later and from one hundred miles away, we returned to this same establishment just so I could take photos.

No, I do not have those photos handy, for I am at this moment away from home again (and, I might mention, the place where I had breakfast this morning sufficiently stocked with "complimentary" bacon), nor have I scanned the old prints, assuming I would be able to find them. In their stead I offer this story. You see, I took the photographs so I could someday approximate the stool design.

My DFiL is a horseman, and as such, gifts he receives often have such a theme. Such is his fate, just as any cat or dog lover, no? He doesn't seem to mind. Yet, for the conscientious giver, the same ol' same ol' ups an ante. And when I saw those stools, I knew what I had to do.

The equine back-end.

My version has seen better days. Never mind that the hand carving is less than masterful. Cottonwood is not a wood conducive to detail, but it was the only type we could find of sufficient size when we went to the city of Boulder's communal wood pile. DFiL and I rolled the still wet, seven-foot long log up onto a trailer and brought it back to the house where I rough-cut the form with a chain saw. And over the course of three years and a several more visits, I carved and carved and carved and carved, and then painted.

Now cracked and peeled, the Colorado weather was unkind. I am not certain that the California sun is less so.

I thought I should take a couple photos.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Photoin' it in

Nice to see Blogger is back. Too bad I'm in crunch mode and working on little sleep. Not much is going to change in the next few days, but I do have pics from our trip down south.

Of course, the last two are my favorites. There are more, but mostly flowers as I try to figure out depth of field and such. Plus a story or two, which pertain to perspective.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Checking in

There are flower photos, and more. The dungeon awaits, but that is tomorrow.

We had a lovely, low key day yesterday with an old friend from our Chicago days. I met a gallery owner whose space and roster shows promise. Most gracious, which, I must say, is a rarity in that world.

I am in the land of misnomers and contradictions. And long stretches of shopping centers. Don't know if I could endure this for a long period of time. I miss my tractor, and although noisy, it is my noise.

In a short while I'll be heading off to a Rotary meeting with my DFiL, and then we'll celebrate his 80th. Good guy.

I've probably put on a few pounds.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

There's no guarantees, I know, but I may get a chance to play a little live poker in the next few days as we're headed south to the DiLs' house. DFiL is gonna go octo on us whether we're there or not, so off we go. Word has it there's a bit of a to-do list and some much ados, so I may not get away. If I do, I promise...  Otherwise, I'm giving a heads up that time may allow only a few pictures.

And speaking of time, it's not going to get any longer between busy upon our return, as I've committed to my first-ever Press Pass. I want to believe. I really do. I have my singing voice all warmed up and and just need to work on harmonizing. Small chance. Still, I'm thinking very carefully about distinctions between genial and congenial. Best intentions, you understand.

I'll try to keep up with my blogroll. Cya!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


T and Bella


...and a promise.

I can keep 'em sometimes.

To Keep

There are little tadpoles in the pond. Well done, frogs.  I will do my part, keeping the water level high when things otherwise dry out. Enough for a full cycle, anyway. Just wish they ate yellow jacket hornets, at the very least as a show of gratitude.

The mules are back. Did I mention this already? Well, one of the original mules, anyway. The other, still stalled elsewhere for a while, has been replaced with a beautiful speckle gray. I'll get photos, I promise. The sun is out and it promises to warm things up. I could use some tractor time. So, maybe if I go out and till the garden, I'll take the camera along.

Should I mention poker? The final table last night at the pub tourney. Again knocked out with KQ. I told myself to raise pre, just like last week's KQ, but didn't. Nice 47off, two pair against my pair, Mr. Big Stack in the SB. No biggie, except I don't like that I didn't keep my promise to myself. (So, what chance, photos?) Came home and read more of Julia Kristeva's "This Incredible Need to Believe," made a "Gist," and went on to tear up PA a couple hours later.

The Gist? Wanna see? No? Okay.

Yeah, I'm thinking about promises. Very close to finishing a sculpture called "The Big Lie." More like long-standing, but temporality is hard to portray, and time itself contains little, if any, aesthetic.

I had a longish talk with a gallerist/artist friend of mine yesterday. Much of what we discussed was good faith gone awry. Someone offering help followed by delays and avoidance. Someone who had acknowledged his good work. Oh, it's complicated, but I should point out that at no time did he feel owed. Help was offered then denied. But he learned a lesson in political capital, and that has some value.

I was reminded of my own venture into that world some years ago. Before farming. Before venturing forth again, promising myself this time it would be different.

And it seems I will be in an exhibit this fall in Houston. But like I say...

(Digression if sorts) Nevertheless, it's too late to stop.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Aline Smithson has the blog, Lenscratch. The woman is a dynamo and her blog is one of the go-to sites to see what people are doing in photography. Every once in a while she invites readers to send photos based on a certain theme. There is no jury process. Just send a photo and she posts it. Today she is showing self portraits. I mention this not only because I sent one in, but there are quite a few really nice shots.
It does the soul good to have the lawn mowed. Even if the mower deck needs to be leveled, I take a certain pleasure in the tire tracks and angled cut as I circle the yard.

Then there's the designated garden area, kept short by the neighbor's llamas the last two years, except for the area where the hemlock grows. The first pass with the tiller went deep enough to get the roots and such, but not as deep as I thought it might go, two-hundred-pound animals compacting the soil as they will. Yet the soil turned well, and with one more pass after the rain today and tomorrow, I will be able to make rows for planting.

I will have to mow the hemlock. I like the smell but will not linger.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The beers were by and large underwhelming, those that I tasted. I found no ESB that didn't suffer from the popularity of pale ales and settled back into lagers. Longboard from Kona Brewing Co. I had while visiting my DS and his family. Nice. And although not very adventurous, I finished the day with a Stella Artois, a summertime favorite.

But screw the beer. I had a great time hanging with our friend and vet. I picked her up at her clinic and the rest, as they say (not really) "is pictures."