Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Christmas eve morning jog, dog leash in hand, Bob Dylan singing Working Man Blues on the iPod, and an empty bottle of Seagram's 7 in the ditch to my left. Here's how I fantasize. -Out of the corner of my eye I catch the blur of dark fur and fury leaping from the center stripe on Wilds road in Catalina, Arizona. The air is crisp and the mountain snow shimmers in the morning light as the arching creature, fangs bared, hurdles toward the throat of my favorite man's-best-friend. Moments before, my ears caught a glimpse, or you could say I saw out of the corner of my ears through the headphones the growling bark of what I'm sure was a rottweiler/bulldog-mix, bred specifically to maul people like me and dogs like Davey. Normally, my morning-run fantasies are about Davey and I being attacked by wolves (inspired by neighborhood dogs on the loose) I pull out one of my ever-present knives and dispatch the offending cur by deftly placing a well aimed thrust between the third and forth ribs leaving the miserable demon dog to slowly drain on his way, limping back to his home where he should've been kept fenced or tied or...I join Bob on stage to play along with some sweet groove that moves at just the right beat...in step with the run. This day, however, no knife was found in my running suit so the Seagram's bottle became the tool of my daring rescue and revenge. I lived and re-lived the various possible scenarios of how the dogs would grapple- I would break the bottle either over the attacking dog's head or on the ground to gouge out his eyes with the broken, jagged edge. There really are a number of ways this fantasy could be played out and it takes almost a whole song (Bob's can be quite long) to get to the end of my fanciful meditation. In all my daydreams I do end up rescuing Davey and coming away with only a few stitches and no lawsuits against me...almost every time.
Well, maybe not what you expected for a beautiful Christmas story to go along with Canon in D major played above in the you tube video. We didn't practise this...I just told the band (Marissa and Ellie) to strike up a tune. It's long and repetitive so I won't feel bad if you don't make it through the whole thing. I wish you well and that you can find / have some good company in these special days.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I've not caved (yet) to my wife's pleading lamentatious eyes and her unspoken desires to go to Mexico for the holidays and as long as I can stave off her piercing stares and unrelenting silence on the matter we should be able to pull off a happy and home bound Christmas. Our friends and family south of the border are completely oblivious to our American style concerns about safety in travel, worry about border crossings and recent warnings from the state department about the multitudinous dangers in Mexico. Not that we're chicken mind you. Danger is my middle name after all and I've never been too opposed to staring it in the eye with an unflinching steely glare. It's just that the kids (the boys) don't really like the travel and having to speak Spanish all the time (teenagers)...and we usually do have some sort of harrowing adventure that includes the "D" word above. To the folks south o' da border those concerns are petty compared with the joy of gathering the family for fried fish, tamales, unsalted peanuts in the shell and sea turtle soup...you know, your normal Christmas fare. Oh, I forgot to mention that they're butchering a pig just for us...expecting us to arrive on the 26th! Too bad I'm a vegan.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
And you feel the heartbeat thumping
Then a quiet whisper whispers
A red bird starts to sing
When the fish are just not biting
And the June bugs cease to crawl
On the screen at evening
The porch light says it all
Early dusk late sunrise
Crisp the windy blow
A warming light at evening
Warm the hearth and glow
How they come so happy
Shake the white off boots and brow
Yonder turkey gobbled
Now he lays the table low
He heard the footsteps coming
He heard the cardinal song
He laid his crown on yonder block
He roasted all day long
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Red sparkle lets you know
The warmth and joyness fill your head
I hope that we don’t stumble
On our way to lay our head
Down to sleep the sleep of fools
Inviting as it is
You take in hand the crystal globe
Where swirls the one that says
Drink, drink your fill and drown your will
Give no thought for the morrow
I’ll take good care of you and yours
...And haul you in a barrow!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Star bright and starlight…I hope and pray and hope I might
Catch a star to wish upon and catch a wish when hope is gone
Gone from my head the happy thought that weaves and spins tomorrows joys
And just as true as wishing might bring to you the hopeful sight
Of dreams come true Dreams old and new
to have and hold and to hold anew
But truth be told that falling star will burn a hole right through your heart
And if by chance your pocket fills with falling stars for tomorrows ills
That flaming spark much hotter than a million suns will come again
And bake a hole right through your leg and heart and heel coming limping beg…
It wasn’t even a rainy day and all my hopes are gone away.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The word "trolling" is as part of the vocabulary of Midwest fisherman as "tortilla" is to the southwest bean eater. In regards to fishing, well, there is just one typical connotation. Concerning vandalism and aberrant behavior though, there might be several uses of the word. Here I am referring to the dastardly act of throwing snowballs, light and fluffy, at cars and passersby from behind the hill at Riverdale park. We called it trolling. At first it was just a bunch of blood pumping, adrenaline flowing fun. No harm was intended. And save for the odd car screeching (or sliding as it were) to an abrupt and blustery halt on the historic West River Road, no one was ever hurt. (although the one police chase incurred was quite invigorating) Well, unfortunately for the unwitting passersby, adolescents grow...into bigger and stronger adolescents and...snow melts away. This leaves a horrible vacuum and necessitates that something replace the little round fluffy projectiles that we so eagerly and happily heaved at unsuspecting travelers during rush hour as the sun was setting over the Mississippi. Of course the most logical option was to go down to Peterson's field and do a little pre-season harvesting. You can imagine how this quickly turned into one of the most perilous activities that the Riverdale Right Footers ever partook of. To our credit I will say that as trolling turned into a more popular sport in our neighborhood and was taken over by older kids who soon grew bored with gourds and pumpkins and turned to rocks and real damage, we quit the practice. Every once in a while I pine for the northern climes and my hands begin to grope, involuntarily for something to chuck at unseen cars careening out of control over the next hill. This is my curse. This is my burden. This is my favorite fall memory. The painting pictured above remotely and in only a very esoteric and obscure way relates to pumpkins and fishing.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Speaking of metaphors, I have to mention Montana. Never have I been to a place where the general populace is so adept at mixing them. As in, "That's all for one and...two for a dollar". Or, "A bird in the hand is worth...a penny earned" I'm not even kidding. Maybe it's the ranch heritage or...heavy metals in the water. Or maybe those Montanans just need to step up to the plate and grab the bull by the horns and quit counting their chickens before putting all their eggs in one basket. So, now you know what inspires me to make paintings like this.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
From the very beginning of my expeditionary ramblings I’ve had a desire, small at first, but always niggling, to discover and pilfer an ancient grave. Nothing morbid mind you. It’s just that I figure, once they’re gone well, they’re gone. No sense fussing over the sensibilities of someone who’s not there. Right? Nevertheless, with due respect for the living I’ve refrained from overt body snatching and even though I’ve developed a keen interest in digging up stuff that’s not mine, I’ve held back…for the most part. You see, I’m really not afraid of ghosts and the like and since I swore off curses and cursing (for the most part) a long time ago I always assumed that I would be a good candidate for entering the tomb and bringing to light the treasures long hid with the mummy. The exposed above-ground sepulchers common in the little mountain village that was my haunt for a few years were tempting. There I found myself torn between the potential for the proverbial hot tamales hitting the fan (If I got caught) and, the easy pickins’ these weathered adobe / brick ruins offered. I did broach the subject a time or two with some native confidants and was met with withering stares and disbelief . So, this desire was put on the back burner, until...
We arrived on a large island not far from the Honduran mainland. It was a diver’s paradise and a smuggler’s haven. Stories of pirates, old and new, abound and surrounding the big island there are dozens of small atolls that lie just north of the infamous Mosquito Coast region of central America. The natives are descendants of slaves and their speech is seasoned with old English expressions like "smoke" and "thunder" and a distinct Caribbean accent. The pigeon English spoken there can be understood when it’s directed at you but as soon as one islander addresses another it’s almost completely unintelligible, man.
Dan was an Anglo transplant that had helped develop a champion soccer team and a medical clinic on one of the populated islands near Roatan. He was a local legend of sorts and had garnered the respect of most people on the island…on both sides of the law. As a favor to him and his buddy “Paco”, two men invited us to explore some caves that had never been entered by expeditionaries like ourselves …not to mention lesser explorers like anthropologists and archeologists. These two non Spanish speaking citizens of Honduras owned plots of land on a remote hillside where they grew bananas and harvested wild-grown fruit and …yabba ding dings. The ancient peoples that populated these islands left lots of ruins- pottery, jade, shell and coral stuff. Figurines and pots and all kinds of neat artifacts lay exposed to the sun and free for the taking. Every passing hurricane unearths more. It really is a gold mine for the local government and their associated museums, archeologists etc. They call the findings yabba ding ding.
Hot jungle. Need I say more? If you haven’t been in one you can imagine the fourth of July in southern Missouri. We slashed through vines, large-leafed undergrowth and side-stepped tar pits and quicksand while slipping down steep hillsides and losing our footing for slapping at the ever-present flying, biting, stinging bugs. Finally we came to a small opening in the ground at the base of an old gnarled tree. It looked to be little more than a rodent hole but as we pushed away thick foliage the entrance grew and beckoned us to enter with the distinct smell of bat guano and the cool moist aroma of a deep cave. I could tell our native guides were frightened. They had been speaking rapidly and excitedly as we neared the burial cave but now as we were about to enter they were all but silent. A few grunts, a few nods that gestured toward the opening and a reticent acquiescence to us non-superstitious expeditionaries. To understand their reluctance at this point it would be good to remember just how big a role folklore and beliefs in spirits and superstitions play in most non western cultures. This place was no different. A typical islander would hardly dare to walk a path where a ghost had been spied five months earlier, let alone disturb his ancestor’s rest by violating a sacred tomb like we were about to. Well, I always figured Indiana Jones to be somewhat of a roll model and so, superstitions be danged, we went on in.
Crawling on our bellies at first, we were finally able to stand, albeit crouched over, and fight off a few stray bats angry that the midday ruckus had interrupted their upside-down sleep . Light from both our flashlights and a long vertical shaft that let in the sun at just the right hour illuminated ancient burial piers. The bones were bleached white and if they were indeed what they appeared to be, these were 3000 years old remains of Paya Indians. Surrounding the skeletons were lots of little clay figures and some more elaborate ones made of stone and what appeared to be jade. We dug a little and unearthed more bones and stuff apparently burried by wild dogs or foxes. No gold or silver to be found in this cave nor in another further up the hill where we found similarly undisturbed bones and figurines of an ancient people. With nothing to take as real loot that could get me some serious jail-time in a third-world prison, I decided I had only one choice. I grabbed the smallest skull and made for the entrance, my mind already replaying and recounting the day’s events to an imaginary future audience sitting at my hearth being regaled by my first-hand accounts of Caribbean adventure, the jewel encrusted (I would do that later for effect) cranium looking down approvingly from the mantle. My little reverie was broken by squeals of fear. “Paco man, what you be doin’ ,man? Put ‘im back! Please put ‘im back man. We don’t want to be wakin’ ‘im up, man. My companions trembling as they implored me to return the remains. Something about curses and headless corpses and ghosts and well,… I put ‘im back, man.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Yes, this is a big fat bad boy of a painting. I know, I make it look easy. Well, if not for the ability to consume mass quantities of diet caffeine free Pepsi mixed with the real hard stuff...regular diet Pepsi, I'm not sure I'd be able to pull this kind of stunt. Oh, I think the speeded-up video feature on the movie making software helps too. The songs that play in the background are made in the same studio as the paintings. If you like 'em I have a bunch left over from our little music project of last year. Just drop me a line and I'll send you one. It's home-grown music and some of it might be a little mushy for your taste- 10 songs of new compositions. I play the instruments and my daughter and I sing. My friend Scott, who is an expert music critic panned this effort. I've said it before but I think he believes that I'm cooler than I really am. He was expecting something worthy of the local alternative rock station I'm sure. Well, what can I say? I love the Lord Jesus and feel so grateful to Him that it just seems to override any aire of coolness I might try to put on. Be that as it may, there are some good grooves on this disc and the next project will be either all Spanish worship style music or a more edgy country rock fusion with subtle jazz overtones and a slight Irish lilt. I'll keep you posted.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I think the name Gary predisposes a person, especially a guy, to certain acts of either bravery of foolishness. Gary lived at the edge of the bike trails. There were miles and miles of fields with the most elaborate system, if you could call it that, of dirt tracks that led to every place a boy could imagine wanting to go in the days before video games, Atari pong and Pac-Man notwithstanding. It was a time of go-carts, mini-bikes, ten-speeds and collecting beer cans. Gary had a large collection of fire-arms, knifes, dead grenades, swords, beer cans and Nazi gear. As I said, they lived where the trails started at the edge of farm country. They also had big stack of Johnny Cash and Elvis records. This too was the area where Garison Keilor was raised and in fact he attended the haunted, boarded-up brick schoolhouse that was at the end of our street a few years before we discovered all the places and people he talks about in Lake Wobegone. We were all very interested in collecting beer cans in 1976. The country’s bicentennial was a good year for that and Gary had invited Marty and Mike to come over to “make some trades.” If the reference to the Elvis and Johnny Cash records mixed with the Nazi stuff isn’t enough I’ll digress a bit here to give you some insight into this guy’s psyche. Not long before this little tale transpired Gary and I had been messing around with some swords in his basement. After I nearly lost my hand to a vintage civil war saber I proposed we do something else. With a deviant look in his eye Gary invited me to see his dad’s new .357 magnum. Now this gun is a revolver with a long barrel. You can load a .357 with either magnum shells or smaller .38 caliber bullets. The 38’s are a lot cheaper and many people will shoot those for target practice and keep the magnums handy for fending off intruders etc. Gary removed the firing pin. I didn’t see it. What I did see was the large .357 magnum bullet he dropped into the cylinder. He spun the cylinder then he pointed the gun at my head. I remembered a story I had heard about someone who had “lost” playing a game of Russian roulette. That was fresh in my mind.
Both Gary and I considered ourselves hunters. We were pretty savvy about guns and shooting stuff. We had also attended firearm safety classes and seen the gory filmstrips and movies designed to scare a kid into good firearm etiquette. (Much like the ones they showed us during driver training.) Maniacal chuckling was coming out of him as he clicked off empty chambers at my head. I was waiting for the one with the bullet. Actually I wasn’t waiting, I was running through his house cursing and looking for the nearest door while Johnny cash was singing about a boy named Sue in the background. He just chased me clicking the gun at my head laughing like an idiot. He finally told me the gun had no firing pin. This was the fellow we were dealing with.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
My first bike was a red convertible hand-me-down. I suppose it had been my sister’s but I don‘t remember ever seeing her ride it. She was 4 years older than I and had nothing to do with me, my friends or ...snakes for that matter, so the “convertible” part made sense. The top bar that distinguished a boys bike from a girls was removable. In the case of this vintage cruiser it was in the shape of a streamlined gas tank. At least that’s what I always thought it was supposed to look like. As soon as the training wheels were removed it became my constant summertime companion….Until the stingray with the banana seat and sissy bar took it’s place. I don’t remember too many places or activities that were prohibited of us kids then. Not that we (I ) really listened too well to those things listed as “off limits“. I think the old folks back in those days had the wisdom to keep quiet about things that would unnecessarily pique our interest and feed our already over-active imaginations and…lead to trouble. There were no computers, no videos and no sitting around the house molderating and getting bored. The odd black & white TV show didn’t hold much for us either. We had bikes, matches, pocket knives, the burn barrel and…Elm Creek.
The creek and a small marsh were about a mile from the house. They should have been off-limits to my friends and me. The new bikes and our ability to navigate them with preternatural skill and speed made the seemingly endless journey an adventure of grand proportions.
A number of small creatures dominated our interest in those days. Skinks and salamanders were especially high on the list. But the real monster of the 5 year old’s brain-field was the common garter snake. Capturing them was never a question of “if”, it was always “how” and then, what to put them in to bring them home as living trophies of our conquests. On the particular day I’m remembering we caught an exceptionally long one. After trying to carry the hapless, half-choked little serpent a ways it was evident that we weren’t going to make it like that on our bikes. There were no coffee cans laying around. Plus, he kept biting my little hands. What else do you put a critter in besides a Folgers can? The sinuous shape of the shiny chrome handlebar seemed long enough and since I had the habit of dropping my bike every time I got off it the plastic hand grips were all but gone. This left a nice snake-sized opening. Greg and Jerry thought it was a great idea so in he went. We hurried home and being preoccupied as we were with our long scaley prey we gave hardly a thought to stop and adjust the close pins & playing cards in the spokes. As soon as we could get him out there’d be a nice shiny new can to put him in…with grass and maybe some water or a frog or two. Upon arrival every possible tool, implement, condiment and pressure was used to get him to come out; the garden hose, pepper, pliers, sticks, catsup, rocks etc. We dragged the bike up and down the slide on the swing set hoping to jar him loose, to no avail. We pried, smashed, jolted, blew, sucked and, short of using fire, tried everything our little devious minds could come up with to dislodge the snake from his tubular den. We never did know if he crawled out later that night …and we never did see him again. However, there was an aroma that followed me on that little convertible bike all summer long. It was 1967. The summer of love. This is just an introduction of sorts to my many and various snake tales-just to give you an idea of when and how it all started. ...and a hint of how far it (might) goes. And no, I'm not responsible for the snake-barfing-up-a-hippo video that's floating around out there.