Tuesday, December 30, 2008

year's end

I was going to post my favorite story drawings from the past year in a bit of a retrospective but this is much nicer by far. May I wish for us all the hopes in this poem by Rabidrath Tagore:

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Friday, December 26, 2008

if I could paint I'd..

Then the nightingale sang.

"That's it," said the little kitchen girl. "Listen, listen! And yonder he sits." She pointed to a little gray bird high up in the branches.

"Is it possible?" cried the Lord-in Waiting. "Well, I never would have thought he looked like that, so unassuming. But he has probably turned pale at seeing so many important people around him."

"Little nightingale," the kitchen girl called to him, "our gracious Emperor wants to hear you sing."

"With the greatest of pleasure," answered the nightingale, and burst into song.

"Very similar to the sound of glass bells," said the Lord-in-Waiting. "Just see his little throat, how busily it throbs. I'm astounded that we have never heard him before. I'm sure he'll be a great success at court."

"Shall I sing to the Emperor again?" asked the nightingale, for he thought that the Emperor was present.

"My good little nightingale," said the Lord-in-Waiting, "I have the honor to command your presence at a court function this evening, where you'll delight His Majesty the Emperor with your charming song."

"My song sounds best in the woods," said the nightingale, but he went with them willingly when he heard it was the Emperor's wish.


The story quoted here is The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen and the painting is my favorite of all the illustrations done by Edmund Dulac.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

marooned in real time

We're stuck for the time being after a dusting of snow here in Portland led to more and more snow. On Friday afternoon we tried to take our little Geo Tracker shopping and even with me sitting in the back seat holding a fruitcake there wasn't enough weight to convince our little Fuchsia to take us up the steep ice covered driveway. Oh well, old habits die hard and, having spent so many other years in rough winter climates, my habit of storing up extra food means we won't go hungry. Now freezing rain is working on adding extra ice to the inches of snow that fell yesterday so I'm hoping the power doesn't fail.

This is a picture of me and my Dad taken during our first winter in Canada in the early 50's. None of us had learned to skate yet but he and my mother ventured out onto the ice so they'd be there to catch me when I fell down - an inevitable first consequence of having blades on the bottom of your shoes. I always miss my parents most particularly at Christmas but I've been thinking lately of how much things have changed in general since that faraway time.

There were no superhighways, suburbs, shopping malls or agribusinesses. People lived either in the city or the country with not much in between but a few small towns. It wasn't much different here in the US and nowadays Canada has all the same stuff as we have with the major exception being national health care. I know it will sound incredibly antiquated and perhaps even unbelievable but our first house was small and tightly built with a coal stove that provided heat. We did have a gas stove, running water and a gas water heater but there was also a well with a hand pump only a few feet from the back door. When it snowed dozens of neighbors went out with shovels to clear the cars and the private road that led to the houses. The cars were mechanically simple enough that people could repair most glitches on their own. Televisions were a rarity so radio and newspapers provided news and a softer version of entertainment.

I think the biggest difference is that there was a general sense of community. Needs were simpler and people were willing to share what they had whether it was help with building a new room, care of a sick person, an extra place at the dinner table or whatever was needed. There were always parties and get togethers with lots of laughter, stories about even older days and talk about politics and work.

Will we be able to recreate a simpler lifestyle again if we must? Next time we can drive the miles from here to the market I plan on buying a snow shovel I can lend to the first strong young neighbor I meet. Meanwhile, I remember my Dad and the woman holding the camera in that sweet time.. my Mother.

Happy Christmas everyone with much love. I wish you Peace and a slice of warm apple pie to greet you when you return home.

Friday, December 19, 2008

doesn't take much

Good morning. It's been a 'weather' week here which means we've had some snow and more is in the forecast. What would be normal or hardly noticeable in places where I spent most of my life shuts down Portland.

Yesterday when I came home for lunch the woods behind our place had been transformed by another brief squall that morning. The sun was shining and our usually moss covered winter glade took on a magical sparkle.

I'll leave to your imagination pictures of uncleared roads, stuck buses and people slipping and sliding on icy sidewalks. This moment was worth the inconvenience of living so close to my work that I never have snow as an excuse to stay home.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

unicorn dreams

It was only yesterday, or seems
like only yesterday when we could
touch and turn and they came
perfectly real into our fictions.
But they moved on with the courtly sun
grazing peacefully beyond the story
horns lowering and lifting and

I know this is scarcely credible now
as we cabin ourselves in cold
and the motions of panic
and our cells destroy each other
performing music and extinction
and the great dreams pass on
to the common good.

Phyllis Webb (1980)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

what's it all for?

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
by William Blake

for Seraphine

Sunday, December 7, 2008

i could have been sleeping

Oh, my beloved Arkham where the cloisters of olde Miskatonic U. rang with a chorus of slobbering screams of those newly made monsters who used to be my friends and classmates. August, is that you wearing the bloody beak of gore and is that really Abdul Alhazred, the Mad Arab himself standing next to our dear chancellor? Isn't he the very one who wrote the Book that cannot be named?

(The Necronomicon? You can't be shown one! The libraries never will loan one! But if it's so rare and guarded with care, why does every nut case seem to own one?)

I struggled to hold onto the last vestiges of my sanity as well as my precious bodily fluids. I didn't want anything running down my leg that might attract the attention of the tentacled ones overrunning my alma mater. I had to find a way to get to Innsmouth for help. Why do I suddenly feel like singing?

Pardon me boy,
Is this the Lair of Great Cthulhu?
In the city of slime,
Where it is night all the time..

Running this way and that finding every path to freedom blocked I suddenly heard a great whooshing sound. As dark shapes filled the sky and flame lit breath shriveled the monstrous ghouls who'd crept close to me in the gloom, I was plucked from my frozen stance and swept up to the back of a giant worm whose rider was my little sister, Kate.

I hadn't seen her for years but now wasn't the time for mentioning that she appeared to have made some strange friends in my absence and where on earth were we going? A giant bubble of light surrounded us as we flew high up into the starry sky. I must have dozed because once I opened my eyes the one thing I did know was that we were nowhere near New England anymore and another song came welling up from deep inside:

Cthulhu, you're breaking my mind.
My sanity's vanishing daily!
Oh, Cthulhu, I'm down on my knees
I'm begging you, please --- go away,
Go away!

We'd arrived in an alien world where a huge pool of dragon spawn was surrounded by a two dimensional landscape of primary colors. Had I been partaking of the illicit pharmacopeia in my sister's open saddlebag and who exactly was this strange beast who'd carried me to this unknown land?

His name was Randal, the trickster who contaminated me with the wicked Splotchy virus, on whom I will get my just revenge.

*note: Just so there's no mistake about my abilities to be spontaneously funny the songs came from an obscure place.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

what's really real?

Not being able to think of a better title at the time I called this one 'Everything Merges'.

I have i-photo and a sample program of photoshop elements that allow me to make sure the photos I post are decent facsimiles of the originals. Not for the first time I've noticed the paintings look different depending on what computer monitor I happen to be staring at. We have two at home - my old favorite G4 powerbook with its 17" soft screen and the new mac book. The G4 loses 20% of its power on its way from the shelf to the couch so has a second plug-in over here. The paintings look fine on it, washed out on the book and fairly blah on the new Dell pc in my office. What gives?

If you have a thing, a three dimensional object with mass, then you can usually rely upon it looking pretty much the same whenever you happen to regard it, depending of course on the way it's lit or how much dirt and grime have either accumulated or been removed, it's still the same thing. It would be fitting to say you'd be disturbed to discover your favorite chair had decided to become a table sometime during the night or that your toaster had determined to change itself into a puppy (although the children might be delighted). Things change on the screen and we hardly notice unless it affects our way of getting on in the world we mutually inhabit.

At work we got the new ms vista operating system last summer and since my work requires a seemingly endless cascade of excel spreadsheets I find myself getting very nervous about the permanence and reliability of the information I'm seeing. Why is it that if I open one to search for some information and then want to close the document I invariably get a message asking if I want to save my changes? I didn't make any damn changes unless you want to count the quantum physics definition of changing things by merely looking at them. Worse still is the worry I may have changed something by accident and that the document is no longer correct. What if my bank is using the same software?

A friend is planning to buy her two children a wii for Christmas so they can pretend to bowl, play baseball and tennis. I couldn't help but ask wouldn't it be better to take them bowling but she explained it's too expensive now. We've entered a world where it's cheaper to play virtual games than real ones and I can't help but wonder if a generation will grow up thinking they know all about bowling, baseball, football and golf by proxy.

I rather like physical things. I prefer people to machines and hate that every time I make a phone call nowadays I run into machine generated voices and have to play button pushing games that take half an hour to maneuver when a person could have given me the information required in two minutes. How is this more efficient?

Anyway, I'm glad to know that when I open my portfolio again I won't be finding this instead of the image above but at least now I do know what it would have looked like if I dropped it in the bathtub. I may have wondered.. or maybe not.

If you happen to think this is an improvement please let me know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

stopping by woods

This is one of the very big watercolors that didn't translate to Kodachrome well enough to be retrieved for future electronic viewing but I thought I'd post it anyway.

Dust of Snow

The way a Crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost

For DCup because she reminded me of it at a moment when I needed reminding and I wish I could conjure snowflake blessings for her and her family so they wouldn't lose their home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

what else don't we know?

The painting here is called 'After Science' - a simplified reflection on what might come about if our rigid intellectual priesthood of archaeologists was able to follow their own advice and consider some of the evidence that exists before a priori closing the doors to other explanations of human origins. Although strictly interpreted biblical explanations are laughable, so too is the Darwinist theory of gradualism too simplistic.

When the politically correct theories on human origin were first formed, a little over a 150 years ago, they were supported by a relatively few scientific fields of study with a limited range of technical methods. Today, with so many scientific disciplines, specialties and technologies at our disposal, it is an apt time for re-examining the existing theories to see if they really are worth keeping intact, or in need of significant overhauling.

For example, even minimal research into the mathematical, astronomical, and engineering feats of the great pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, supposedly built a few thousand years ago, reveals an architectural masterpiece that required the stacking of one million stone blocks weighing 2.5 to 200 tons (with some interior blocks weighing up to 200 tons) to a great height with a mathematical precision unequaled anywhere in the world. Yet, to apply orthodox theory, one would have to believe that the people who built it were primitive men, using stone tools and a jury-rigged apparatus of ropes and logs!

Even with modern technology, it is unlikely we could reproduce this masterpiece with such mathematical precision. The Japanese actually attempted to build a 20 foot tall pyramid in Egypt in the 1970's using the tools Egyptologists say were the only ones available when the original was built. Not only were they thwarted at every step, reverting to modern tools and methods, but the comparatively tiny pyramid they constructed didn't match up at the apex and they went home defeated. It is interesting that orthodox scholars so often make meticulous demands for proof of advanced technology in antiquity—yet in instances such as this one, their own theories either ignore the current evidence or give absurd explanations.

In fact, the occurrence of knowledge being won, then lost, then rediscovered “for the first time” is far from uncommon even in our documented history. Columbus’s discoveries of America and Galileo’s pronouncement that the earth was round are two such examples. It is firmly established historical fact that Columbus was not the first to discover America, and the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and Chinese knew that the earth was round long before Galileo’s time.

Alternative historians have paved the way toward a new understanding of human origins that incorporates the early and current research of orthodox anthropology, paleontology and archeology with other scientific disciplines (e.g., archeoastronomy, engineering, geology, mathematics). Even the written and oral traditions, myths and legends of traditional peoples throughout the world are being openly researched and analyzed for further insights.

If any of this interests you I'd recommend: 'Forbidden Archeology' by Cremo and Thompson; 'Shattering the Myths of Darwinism' by Richard Milton; and 'Evolution, Creationism and other Modern Myths' by Vine Deloria, Jr. These three books are intriguing works that put human evolution in its rightful place - as a theory in serious need of reconsideration.

I'm just fed up with so-called 'experts' telling me what is 'true' and since I have the luxury of spending my free time doing and reading what interests me I'll continue doing just that. The world is far older and stranger than the history we've been told and maybe we are too - I already know I am.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

how old am i?

Just as I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever write (and draw) another one, I've surprised myself by doing it again. Boy, is my wrist sore. I doubt you've wondered what it was like when the first boomers hit highschool but I decided to tell it anyway.. one version, anyway. There are millions more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

eco this eco that

Crow here. The nice thing about having a pair of wings is not having to get passports, earn money for plane fares or suffer the indignity of having to remove our shoes or prosthetic bits when we pass through Security. Speaking of which, a number of my friends are feeling very insecure nowadays and this is a big part of the reason:

"With the possible exception of the rat, humans are now the most numerous mammal on earth"!

I've been traveling a lot these last few years and I've met some pretty fascinating characters of the human and non-human variety. There are always interesting things to learn and as you know, my friend susan has given me an open invitation to share my findings with whoever drops by to visit.

Of the six billion people in the world maybe a billion lead a decent lifestyle; of this billion maybe half can be considered middle class; of this 250 million maybe 100 million earn over $90k a year. Of this 100 million maybe 10 million are close to a million dollars in real wealth or higher. So 10 million out of 6 billion is pretty much the batting average you have achieved using up some terrific non-renewable resources or a 1.6% batting average.

Humans are torn between self interests and group interests. If you define the ultimate group interests as those of society as a whole, then there is clearly a conflict between the two. The focus of this conflict rests with the pursuit of short-term personal gain, which is opposed by the requirement for long-term group survival. The net balance between these two factors determines the nature of economic (and political) systems.

Discussions about nature and the limits it imposes on human society are not new but what's needed are discussions about how to live in some degree of prosperity and avoid ecological collapse. It would be nice if some space was left for the rest of us who share the planet with you. In an effort to provide you more amusement and ourselves more notice, I've started a program to provide silly shoes and funny hats to all the plainer birds and mammals.

The genius of the current capitalist endless growth system is that it offers everyone the promise of stupendous wealth. It depends upon your understanding of wealth, I suppose, but people will put up with pretty miserable lives in the hopes of better lives. Birds such as I and the other creatures I've known simply don't understand this concept since our needs simply involve access to clean air, clear water and a comfy branch to rest on when the day is done.

Now we're running into resource constraints as well as the current economic disaster. It's become obvious that it's physically impossible for the growth to continue forever and, if endless growth is impossible, then at some point the hope of universal wealth must be set aside. People become afraid. That's there's such resistance to ideas like peak oil and climate change - people have to either ignore physical reality or reject the capitalist growth system. Many people would rather ignore reality than give up hope but there may be some relevant ideas we can all consider.

Keep smiling and we'll figure out something. Now I'm off to bake a nice seed cake for susan's birthday tomorrow. Maybe I'll even give her a slice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

one for three or three for one

Awards.. I got a couple recently and as usual I felt embarrassed about the attention but what's more to the point is that I'm the proprietor of a very tiny blog with about 12 occasional readers. I like it that way but it really does limit me from being able to pass around the awards - never mind the rules about link back to this and don't forget to post a note over there etc. So I've decided to post my own award since it's almost my birthday and everybody knows you can do what you like on your birthday. I'm awarding the phantsythat 'gotta love it' award to the following charming and much more popular bloggers listed below. There are no rules. Keep it yourselves or give it to someone you like. Your choice.

I opened my email a week or two ago and found this highly artistic blog award from my friend, Randal. Since he was using it merely as a bribe to get me to post another of my historic watercolors I did just that and then went over to read more of his contemporary poetry and sports reports - sometimes they're side by side or all mixed up in the same post. The guy's either a marvel or his wife sometimes forgets to put his medication in his breakfast cereal.

Thanks to Utah Savage for the lovely Marie Antoinette award. We both tend to lean toward the Madame Dufarge side of the equation since we're of an age where we've learned the satisfaction of outliving the bastards. You must admit though, the aesthetic appeal of this picture compared to one of a pair of knitting needles and a head in a basket. Utah's been writing her savagely beautiful autobiography as a thinly disguised novel at the same time I've been drawing and telling the adventures of a silly person who shouldn't have been allowed outside by herself.

Then there's Border Explorer who in the midst of moving from her summer home in the midwest to the Texas - Mexico border can still take the time to do justice to memes and pass out awards properly all while continuing her commitments to human rights issues. I mean the lady and her husband are right out there on the front lines and not just writing the odd note to a disinterested legislator. BE asked me for a list of seven favorite albums and to oblige here's what I found under the B's:

BB King - Let the Good Times Roll
Banco de Gaia - Last Train to Lhasa
Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
Beau Hunks - Manhattan Minuet
Billie Holiday - The Gershwin Songbook
Bjork - Homogenic
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - Let's Make Up and Be Friendly

Oh what the heck. Since I'm already in this far I'm going the rest of the way. The award is for all of you who come by and like it and just in case you'd like to see it it full size:

'Every time when a light rises from you, a light comes down toward you.'

Friday, November 14, 2008

bordering on harmony

The beauty of a thing lies in the fact that the possible perfection, corresponding to its inner nature, emerges.
Al Ghazali

The essential essence of our embodiment as human beings is our sense of perception. A very dear friend who has been a Sufi for many years once told me it was improper to draw pictures of naked ladies and animals. Furthermore, if I wanted to surrender to Islam as I was considering at the time, it was a pastime that must cease. Oh well, that was it for me becoming a Sufi. Buddhism doesn't come with the same stringent regulations and as we all know, practice makes perfect, whatever the practice.

I did spend some time considering the extraordinary beauty and grace of Islamic art as well as the magnificent poetry of the Sufi masters and thus painted a couple of mandalas based on the borders I'd been using for years. Where would they go if they were allowed to define the entire space? As you'll notice, I had a hard time giving up any representation of the natural world. The hummingbirds insisted on being accommodated in this one and where better for them to play? Al Ghazali's thought seemed to echo my impression.

You think that I know what I do, that I belong to myself for one or even half a breath? As little as a feather knows what it writes, as little as a ball guesses where next it flies.

The first mandala I painted was never photographed but was carefully packed as a birthday card to my friend. She was pleased.. or at least she still loved me enough to say so :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

randalicious souvenir

My friend Randal's request for another painting I'm happy to oblige even without a reward or bribe. This one from the late 70's is one of the very few that ever included a male figure since drawing 'manly' men simply eluded me. I think the Gaia Principle was affecting me a lot back then with its philosophy of our natural inclination toward stewardship of this precious planet we're lucky enough to share for a brief time. Of course, I had no clue that my light-hearted rendering of a 'Polar Bear Spring' might actually become a reality as the ice caps continue to melt. Ah well, maybe we'll have an especially cold winter now that we know Hell's frozen over :-)

Crow stopped by a little earlier and asked me to let you all know that if you're a little short of funds there's still time to apply for your Federal Bailout money. Just click on this link to find Taxpayers For Common Sense and their link to the genuine (as in the real, honest-to-God same one the banks have been filing) 2 page document that will allow you to sign up for your share of the $700 billion. Act fast. Offer ends on November 14th.

Finally, for anyone who might be interested in why the investment houses (now banks - where are the tellers?) shouldn't be bailed out with taxpayer money, here's a wonderful article by Michael Lewis who wrote 'Liar's Poker'. The picture alone is worth the effort but he has the gift of describing abstruse financial shenanigans in a comprehensible way. I like that since I don't have Crow's natural ability.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

reality check is in the mail

Crow here. I've been noticing that a few of susan's blogger friends have little tickers on their side bars counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds left in the reign of the current administration. From what I've been hearing about the state of the economy and the continuing meltdown I've been thinking the tickers could be counting the money that won't be available for Obama to allocate when he takes office in January. Things are going to get worse before they get better and everyone had better be prepared for any major changes to be slow.

AIG wants another $50 billion this weekend and who knows what next. The company is expected to post huge third quarter losses again on Monday which are mostly the fault of credit default swaps they shouldn't have been engaging in to begin with. Would anyone in their right mind purchase insurance from a casino? Wasn't it the AIG kingpins that were caught at a posh spa, getting pampered with massages shortly after they were first bailed out? Wasn't it the AIG managment who were defending their spa vacations because, darn it, they worked so hard and they deserved some relaxation? I believe that they said something to the effect that they were under great stress and needed to decompress.

GM needs $75 billion in order to retool but they haven't designed or built the kind of cars people want or need for the past 30 years. The banks all want $100's of billion more. The other insurers want bailout money. The major home builders want bailout money. This is insane.

If we really were engaging in free markets, the failing companies would be allowed to fail and stronger companies that were run intelligently could take their places. Pretending that growth will be constant and unlimited isn't part of a free market system, it's just a scam that the scammers themselves ended up believing. If we're going to have a market, let's have one, and let it really work. If a company can't do business, too bad.

Well, don't be afraid, CHANGE is coming but like Paul Krugman mentioned - couldn't we maybe move it up a bit before all the money's gone? Never mind. Soon it will be sunshine everywhere, birds chirping non-stoppingly and, of course flowers and more flowers. It will be a BEAUTIFUL WORLD starting January 21, 2009. Perhaps we can let Alaska secede and invite Iceland to be the 50th state. There are only 300k Icelanders and they're all very well educated and civil.

Okay, gotta go. I have a night flight planned with a couple of old friends and I see one of them coming in for a landing now. I wonder why he looks worried?

Friday, November 7, 2008

gone but not forgotten

Okay, I'm trying to forget and even now the memory grows dim but the best take I've read on her chances for the next (Heaven forbid it's not started already) presidential race was written by my son, Ben at flyingtotems. I don't know if the towel story was real but it certainly sounds true to character. What was so horrible about the whole thing was that all of a sudden the Republicans were appealing to baseness itself rather than appealing to their political base. There's a big difference.

That's all from me this evening. It was so very nice watching our new president elect introducing his economic advisory team today and actually being able to give thoughtful responses to the reporters questions afterward. I cried all over again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

for Ingrid

Black Man Given the Nation's Worst Job

WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."

With thanks to The Onion

Sad but true. Nevertheless, along with you guys, I'm still pretty euphoric. For once in a lifetime we've got the brass ring. The monster aren't gone but at least they're no longer holding the reins and tomorrow is another new day.. and the girls get a puppy to take to the White House.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

way back machine

or the miracle of photo shop - ye olde photo shoppe essential elements, that is. The scanned photo was very dark and out of focus but this is almost as I remember the original having looked.

This painting is close to 40 years old and was done shortly after I switched from painting with acrylics and enamels to watercolor, my painting medium of choice ever since. I'd always wanted to work in oils and had been very attracted to the Flemish school as well as the Orientalist tendency to paint in layers of intensely rendered detail. Unfortunately (or not), it turned out I was allergic to oil paints and the thinners. I couldn't be in the same room with a bottle of turpentine without suffering hives and difficulty breathing - which didn't allow much space for getting creative at a time when inhalers and portable oxygen weren't available.

The colors here are too thick, especially on the dragons, but I hadn't yet learned the lighter touch that watercolor requires. Nevertheless, the image is still pretty neat and once again I can relate it to the times we face. Do the dragons represent bankers now hoarding the tax payers $700+ billion or are they hysterical right wing Republicans afraid of change?

I plan on staying on edge until the election is over and done and pray I won't be opening the emergency bottle Remy Martin on November 5th.

In the meantime, I'm working on another story. It's funny but once I start considering one all sorts of images, memories and moments I'd prefer not to remember come bubbling up to the surface and need to be sorted through in order to produce a series of drawings that add up to the baseline of a coherent story.

Remember getting home from a date hours late and having to present a reasonably episodic account of events to your mother? It's kind of like that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

balancing act

There I was looking for something else and what I found was this sub-optimal photo of one of my old paintings. It's long gone so I don't have the opportunity of retaking the picture with my nice digital camera but it's enough to get the idea I was trying to express.

Once again, we dance with untamed beasts under a threatening sky.. a familiar situation for most of us. The important thing to remember is that the meaning is the dance of life itself. Our aptitudes differ but our admiration for one another's proficiency, in whatever roles suit us, nurtures our humanity.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

virtual regards

In the past six weeks three fine bloggers nominated me for virtual awards and each time I was delighted and very surprised. All three are passionately committed to pursuing their ideal of making the real world a better place for all of us now and for those who show up on the planet in the future.

So what I thought I'd do this time is to give a virtual award back to each along with a brief review of why each of them deserves an award far more than me. Here goes:

The first one to arrive was from the lovely Border Explorer back in September. BE and her husband, Mr. BE, spend half the year in Iowa and the other half on the border between Texas and Mexico and in both places they are on the front lines of the fight for human rights. I'm sure they could be living in far greater physical comfort but they have chosen to devote themselves to the well being of migrant workers and their families.

BE uses whatever spare time she can gather to keep us informed about the plight of people forgotten by the media in this country and for this reason I award her the virtual 'Purity of Spirit' necklace.

A few weeks later I received an award from Divajood who lives in LA and works in the travel industry. She very bravely struck out on her own in spite of the economic downturn recently rather than work for an employer who didn't appreciate her talents and skill. In the midst of all the turmoil she's also campaigned as the kind of president many of us on the far left of center would like to see running this country. Her granddaughter, also known as the Secretary of Strawberries, has a very clear and distinct point of view.

Diva's political and creative writing skills win her the virtual 'Tornado of Change' necklace.

Just a few days ago I got a note from

the tres charmante La Belette Rouge to let me know she'd nominated Adventures Ink for a blog award. LBR and I haven't done mutual visits for months but naturally I went over to see what she and He Weasel have been up to since their move from Austin, TX to Valencia CA. LBR writes and writes very well about everything that catches her interest and she's interested in every waking moment. Her flights of fancy are a joy to read as she whisks you away to worlds where people live lives she dreams of living then drops you back to the strange earth we know where real people make magic happen.

LBR gets the virtual 'Passion for Fashion' necklace.

You all have my fondest regards and hopes all our best dreams come true.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain? He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning:

"There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The hen clucked, scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me and I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house." The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse then turned to the cow who said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house - like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake, whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife on her bare toe.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital, but she returned home with a burning fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them all, in thanks for their sympathy, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; and died an agonizing death. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered, to provide enough meat for them all.

The next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember - when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life.
We must keep an eye out for one another, and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
Remember, too: each of us is a vital thread in another person's tapestry... and our lives are woven together for a reason.
Fighting against evil, blow for blow, we lose... because thus, we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion.
The best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.
The only thing wrong with the game of life is, we are forced to keep playing... until we lose.

"Greed is fear in action."

I found this at a blog I'd never visited before called paws and reflect .

Sunday, October 19, 2008

autumn equinox

Going outside or just plain looking out the window lately when it's time to get ready for work it's become pretty obvious winter is on the way. Christmas too. That means it's time to paint a couple of new scarves because I need a new one to wear and who knows who might need a present to brighten their life some very dark and cold day? The blue one here is the one just finished. I think I got bored half way through but it's okay. The words on the bottom say, 'Caution, slippery when wet'. I told you I got bored and that's what happens.

So I've decided to start another whose progress I'll post just in case anybody was curious about how one gets done. It's a 10' long piece of silk that's 18" wide pinned at the middle in a 22" x 24" stretcher frame. I've worked on really big stretchers but the problem with that is having to set the whole thing up on the floor with drop cloths. It's a killer for the back and knees.

I've mixed the silk dyes in the shades I liked and then added a thickener to stop the color running. You may notice the section is wet and I'm sitting here now waiting for it to dry before adding the next part. It's a slow process but I have time and with luck the result should be interesting.

I read an appropriate quote this weekend about the situation in general:
'Armageddon was yesterday. Today we have a problem.'

All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed for a grown-up result on November 5th. We need a governing body willing to help solve the problems. Maybe Michelle Obama would like a nice scarf to wear when she and Barack stroll down Pennsylvania Ave. to the Quickie Mart come January.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

adventure time

I'm not bothered about writing these reminiscences in any kind of correct time line but this one follows the last simply because it allows me to introduce the years we spent living in Vancouver. There are any number of real stories about that and hopefully they'll show up here with not so long a wait in between.

Meanwhile, I'll try to keep in mind a quote by the Buddha:

'Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.'

Thursday, October 9, 2008

it's all about meme

My friend divajood ,the most worthy of current presidential candidates, tagged me with a meme today. I'm a bit nervous about letting people know how boring I really am so with a little help from worth1000 I decided to let you all in on my secret life:

1. is clothes shop. Sarah Palin not only shoots the bears from helicopters but she's such an all round chunk of feminine talent, she chews the skins to soften them up and stitched up a fine outfit for the Inauguration we hope we'll never witness. I'll shop wherever she doesn't.

2. furniture shop. Very useful and cheap items for making greedy bankers, brokers and ceo's welcome in your home. They're all the Rage now but the shop went out of business when they couldn't renew their loans.

3. sweets. I agree with Jood that chocolate is a food group. These guys make the best 'enhanced' brownies I've ever tasted.

4. city. I like cities with an interesting cultural mix where the infrastructure isn't currently collapsing. Most of these are no longer in the US.

5. drink. Any old fountain of youth will do for now. In the meantime, tea.

6. music. Anything that will sooth the savage beast.

7. tv series. Haven't watched the damn thing in a long time but the last favorite was the 'Simpson's'. Old favorites were 'I Love Lucy' and 'Fawlty Towers'. Crack me up. Who does that remind you of?

8. film. I learned long ago there are many more really bad movies than good ones so I decided to make the most of the situation and love both kinds. I hate MOR ones.

9. workout. I enjoy it all but I've learned to know my limits.

10. pastries. More chocolate - any shape or size. Lemon meringue pie is good too.

11. coffee. Only first thing in the morning but it has to be strong and smooth.. the way I prefer a few special things.

Please forgive me for not retagging. Jood. Most of the folks who meme have likely been hit by now.