Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Always Something!

 Stuck duck in center of  lake quickly frozen over after the winter storm and temperature drop.  He couldn't get any purchase on the smooth ice- flapping and clawing to no avail.   How his 7 associates made it across to stay under the dock is a mystery to me.  (I suspect that they better anticipated the lake freezing but who knows nature?)
 So a rescue was in order and three days later , and  after a warmup to 18°F,  I managed to devise a plan involving a raft, rope, and hunting knives since the ice was too thin  and creaky for me to walk on yet.

 Seven associates under the dock.  We built them a functional duckhouse and enclosure including a chicken-wire top sewn together with aluminum wire ,usually used for electric fencing, to keep out the racoons and owls from above.  (you can barely see it to the right of the chicken house -- sans chickens.)
But keeping them in the duckhouse is another problem even though that is where the food is (mostly dried corn).  They will eat then shoot right back out into the lake even though the fencing for the area extends out into the lake to capture about 6 feet of water.  They are domesticated but not at all very controllable.

This the deflated raft.  It started losing air as I was sitting in it on the ice while using two hunting knives' points to propel it forward while roped to a tree in case the ice broke and I had to pull myself back to shore.
Duck freaks when I get to it but didn't have the strength or the means to get away. Grabbed it and brought it back to shore by pulling on the rope where waiting black dog further freaks out  duck--fortunately it had not eaten in several days! (The duck not the dog)

But all is well; at least in this little corner of the story.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Teal and Rust

I posted last September and October an inquiry as to what is art.  Turned out to be no definitive description, as personal taste and subjectivity   entered  into it.  But the following general statement may come close to enclosing a workable theme:

"Art is a revelatory expression of a supportive nature that balances the human  tendency for logical criticism."

So, expression is it?  Could be music, painting, dance, writing, poetry, performance art in the street -- seems many forms of expression would qualify.  For the expression to be "revelatory" imposes a personal aspect as it must affect the subject in a way that causes a reaction of some sort.  So art can be good or bad!

I envision an expression inside of a living structure which would reflect the outside conditions.  Temperature, wind ,solar incidence and intensity, moisture, could be indicated by changing colors on a painting or even changing geometry on a three-dimensional display of moving pointers on scales.  The connections would be tricky and would probably have to be done as the house is being built (or electronic signals, senders and receivers would be easier).    But  glance around and see you are living, or at least aware of, conditions external to the building .  If a variable can be detected, it can be expressed, and how much more revelatory can you get?

I have driven by this old trailer for years and the door section, painted and rusty, has always caught my eye.
So I present it as art , for me at least, although I doubt I would want it in the house.

Monday, October 11, 2010

One of All

I have always liked this shot:  water snake free in his element and duck seeming to take on a "trust but verify" posture.  Must be ever vigilant.

Our flock of eight ducks now, only two of four were left after last winter; we had to get six more to expand the flock.  The white ones are Pekins and the darker ones are Mallard domesticates named Ruens. Others are cross-breeds, maybe the solution to getting along.
You will not see any of this flock more than ten feet or so from any other member of the bunch.  Safety in numbers as long as a member can squack and warn in case of danger  (and it is a specific squack.)  Drift out too far from the group and danger lurks-- may be coyote or coon food.  It has happened.

Interesting how they of different breeds get along; even if it is only for self protection.,   Perhaps we as humans need a common enemy to get along with each other.  The "my God is better than your god" attitude of the clergys is getting tedious and is surely not helpful  to a good end.  But what enemy?  If the antibiotics eventually fail to protect us from disease how do we help there -- I have few test tubes and would need to depend upon the existing medical setup.
We need an enemy which we can all fight against; the lowliest and least mobile and those needing help being recognized but can think in ways helpful if listened to are all part of the communal effort .
It was clear in the past: donate your steel pots, gas rationing, donate material, rubber, anything which could build war machines and defeat a clearly deviant enemy.  Pitch in! " Howdy neighbor, let me help you with that load! "  We are all in this together.  God (god) must have sat in the background and  flinched at the scene, but common-enemy joined us together in life and victory, although the millions in the ground may disagree -- could they speak.
The enemy is hatred, fear,  and ignorance.
So we must stick together, be kind and understanding to each other, help if possible the others in need and build bridges to be used when a belief is far away. 
It is the only future that I would like to live into.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


"Night, Seaport by Moonlight"         Joseph Venet

"This Hermit good lives in that wood
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with marineres
That come from a far countree.

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve--
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss that wholly hides
The rotted old oak-stump. "

From  "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Painted about 1771, this oil resides in the Louvre in Paris and looks a bit worn here in this depiction.  I wonder if the artist was using lantern-light while painting and how that affected his selection and laydown of color.
  After sometimes months at sea, sailors must have really appreciated stomping around on solid ground, building a fire and talking with the pretty ladies of the port.  I saw somewhere while researching this painting that it is the port of Palermo shown here.  Makes me wonder if the white building shown on the hill still exists and if one  could get away with building a fire near the shoreline in these times.

Friday, August 13, 2010

bringing IT home

 It cannot be ignored, has to be said that this is done in my name.  Some enemy are cowards, dressing as women and old men, drawing fire to the homes and gathering places.  How to fight that?
How does this fellow go on?

So I present bent trees, mosques and buildings, poems of mountain retreat and watery solace, rivers flowing, ducks and pigeons in their lives and other' lives long gone, flowers and beauty.  Attempts at cleverly relating visual image with written image (a lost friend used to tell me that all of my photographic images did not present many people--so true as I look back) are presented as attempts at relating to the world.

But some of the world creeps in late at night, around the edges, hanging onto thought and precluding sleep.  How to handle this?

I wondered how Rumi (16th century Persian Sufi Poet) would see it:

At the twilight, a moon appeared in the sky;
Then it landed on earth to look at me.
Like a hawk stealing a bird at the time of prey;
That moon stole me and rushed back into the sky.
I looked at myself, I did not see me anymore;
For in that moon, my body turned as fine as soul.
The nine spheres disappeared in that moon;
The ship of my existence drowned in that sea.
Divan, 649:1-3,5

I am not sure what more I can say. . .            WHY?

Monday, July 12, 2010


A place in time

a space formed man-made claypit lake 
 we walk to she and me

as the heat grows and small breezes help anticipate cool relief

a nice shade to sit and lay out some orange and cheese chunks.

Strip down for a swim . . .  careful of the kinda muddy edge . . .  best just to dive in.
water is deep and clear, and cool , and floating watching up to see blue and puffy floaters.
why arent clouds heavier than the air and come down nearer for closer  inspection?

smooth silk flowing fluid  by as we thread together and then apart.  really nothing to push against
but one with all as time is on hold and eternity passes with a heartbeat and a breath

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Church of Transfiguration at Kizhi, Karelia region (near St Petersburg, Russia) 1714

There'll be noone in the house
Save for twilight. All alone,
Winter's day seen in the space that's
Made by curtains left undrawn.

Only flash-past of the wet white
Snowflake clusters, glimpsed and gone.
Only roofs and snows, and save for
Roofs and snow -- no one at home.

Once more, frost will trace its patterns,
I'll be haunted once again
By my last-year's melancholy,
By that other wintertime.

Once more I'll be troubled by an
Old, unexpiated shame,
And the icy firewood femine
Will press on the window-pane.

But the quiver of intrusion
Through those curtain folds will run
Measuring silence with your footsteps,
Like the future, in you'll come.

You'll appear there in the doorway
Wearing something white and plain,
Something in the very stuff from
Which the snowflakes too are sewn.

Poem by Leonid Pasternak 1890-1957                                           


This church is at Izma, Arkhangel Region of  Northeastern Russia built in 1679.  It is on 65°  Northern Latitude; about the same as Fairbanks Alaska or Great Bear Lake in Northern Canada.

Interior of Kondopanga, Karella Region, Church of the Assumption 1774 --  This church may still be in use.   

These Photos and others  were taken by Richard Davies as he roamed the north country of Russia recently.

The churches were built during the reign of Peter the Great who ruled from age 10 in 1682 43 years until 1725.  Seems he was responsible for many improvements in Russia in attempts to modernize; and it is said that he studied incognito in Europe for a few years around the turn of the century attempting to gain knowledge of other cultures' methods and  progress.

I wonder as as to those attending these churches.  They probably led a harsh life as compared to what we enjoy, and badly needed the solace of a warm place to gather and be with others during the long winters ; belief may have been secondary, but necessary.  But just as those raised in poverty and not really realizing it until later life when they could look back and compare,  I suspect that the members of the church considered themselves lucky with a decent growing season, their good health, and their ability to overcome adversity and produce those who would go on to the next section of years of faith and survival.

Lends a new aspect  to me of the term "Godless Communists" ; those I was told we were fighting in Vietnam and Korea to keep our fair and worthy country free.

  But then, any generalization for war seems to be a good generalization for war in a pinch.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Johnie In The Slot


A scan of a slide of a photo taken in Korea around 57 years ago.  My dad on the right with his crew chief.  Shirley Mae is my mom.  My girl said that he looked "cocky" in this picture.    I have seen this slide hundreds of times over the years and had never assigned that descriptor; but I guess if you have  a 12 cylinder Rolls-Royce engine five feet in front you cranking out up to 2000 horsepower as you are zizzing through the clouds vibrating to the low drone of the P-51 in flight, you could be cocky too!
Dad died  in March and one of the fellows he flew with in the Air National Guard out of Lambert field in St. Louis (prior to Korea) saw the obituary and sent me a note describing how they would fly acrobatics to stay sharp -- even competing with other Guard units around the area.  He described Phil Houghton as left wing, Bob little at right wing, Walter Stueck as lead, and "Johnie in the slot" while flying the 4-plane diamond formation (John was my dad).

It would seem that would be the hardest position to fly, with the wash from the other planes and all,  causing turbulence.
But I never asked . . .  I should have.

"Death is only a change of condition:  time and space are in you; you are not in time and space"
by Swami Vivekananda  (another perspective)

Maybe so, but I cannot help but think that we are left mostly as memories . . .  and some things we made.

Fly safely my father

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Almost Gone

You are only there to help.  Cricket and Gary are up from Texas and Gary is a woodworker -- makes furniture and such from mesquite and cedar wood.  You get the chainsaw to cut a tree in the north woods which has a burl about six feet from the ground , found by ginny previously, growing off of a black oak. Tree is near the size of that shown here but the burl is maybe three-quarters as big. Woodworkers go nuts over these since the woodgrain inside is beautifully swirled and colored.  And any type of tree can grow these  burls since they are the product of some sort of injury or assault to the trees' exterior.
You make a cut to the tree high so as to lessen the cutting necessary to release the burl.  Tree is going to fall to the East I predict, Gary says to the West.  You make the first cut on the West side, then go over to the other side where, after a cut into the tree, the saw is pinched in the cut..  You are too distracted trying to free the saw or turn it off to consider the next move; not realizing that the saw is pinched because the tree is falling the way you predicted!
You feel a strong push from the left (gary), reel to the right but remain standing.  A soundless mass of dark tree lightly brushes by your left shoulder on its way down as if a shadowy hand has brushed a fly from your arm.
You are one  arms-length away from being gone.
You later  try not to think of the bad outcome; or let it flow through once then forget it -- best not to dwell on a messy situation.  As it occurs during meditation, let it pass -- let it flow then let it go.
Just another thought to watch without reaction or tensity.

All you can say later  is:  I had better get a bowl out of this deal . . .

The burl can be cut into a thin veneer and made into a wood-surface upon any type of furniture.
This is called a "bachelors chest" and has the thin burl layer attached to the desktop and drawer fronts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The First Google

Prior to the advent of internet searches, information and tools could be hard to find.  Local library, local stores, telephone book, word of mouth , were all means of obtaining information and tools but could be limited in scope.  This catalog, started by  Stuart Brand in 1968 attempted to include sources for books and pamphlets which may have been at the edges of what was obtainable locally.  Here you may find information on communes, building your own sauna, ordering a parachute, carving a pipe, building a tipi or log home, desert farming, and a book which I may look to see if it is still available called  "The practical cogitator".   There is a running drama on the pages of the catalog called "Divine Right's Trip" which is interesting to read as you peruse the pages, and tends to draw you into the rest of the page which contains summaries and comments on the books presented for sale.  Readers could submit writeups of books or catalogs and would be paid $10 if their presentation was printed in the next supplement.  Between fall of '68 and spring of '71 there were 14 updates/supplements sold to stay current with what was available and add new sources.

I used to collect catalogs and still have a pile of useless ones since they are mostly way out of date (I still get a few sent to me which is odd because the companies now have an on-line presence and need not print them.)
On the cover of the first Whole Earth Catalog was a photo of the whole earth taken from an ATS satellite in November 1967.  It is said to be the first full-earth picture published.  (Eat your words flat-earthers.)

But  we can now search on any topic or item  and get many sources and possibilities for products and reading.  What need for libraries or stores when anything can come in the mail?

I marvel at the possibilities; but  do wonder what exists out there and may not be available by punching keys.

 The first

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Deep in the heart of cold
I exist Unique among many
As you
A hopeful bright spark of existence
Here but for an instant in the flow of time
We shine brightly

I have sometimes wanted to try to photograph a snowflake with some sort of microscope/camera rig which could be set up winter-outside to keep the little guy from melting first. Seems that it has already been done by this fellow.
From CalTech in California he travels the cold snowy parts of the world to capture the images of snowflakes and even grows some flakes in the lab to further investigate crystalline-structure formation.
There is wonder everywhere if we only seek to find it. Small almost unseen places exist and we need only to look for them ,and see.