Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chinchorro lleno de lisas

Had I told you we caught more fish that day than the nets could hold you never would have believed me. That's me and Evaristo, my sister-inlaw's husband. See how handy Spanish is?...we have a specific word for that relation- concunyo (I think that's how it's spelled) Anyway, him and I pulled on the dad-blame (no Spanish equivalent) net till it started to rip and the boat was already half-full of fishies. We took the "panga" to shore and drug the last 100 yards of fish-laden gill net up onto the beach as tio Hector looked on. We fed half the village that day...and were cleaning and eating disc-fried fish till the late hours of the night. The disc comes from the tractor-pulled plows used to cultivate/turn over the soil. The hole in the middle is welded closed and it makes a pretty handy and efficient (Large) frying pan. When the fish were done we used it for roasting garbanzo beans to make coffee. Really it was the best fake coffee we've ever had. Just roast the dry, uncooked beans over high heat with sugar. The sugar melts and forms a re-action/chemical amalgam with the beans. It turns into a heavy, not sweet, tar-like substance. Let it cool, break it up and grind it in a coffee grinder or hand mill. If you make it in a clean iron skillet or a piece of heavy sheet-metal your coffee won't even taste like fish which, believe me, is a real plus. There are lots of foods you don't want to smack of the sea and coffee is one. However, there is a tantalizing treat that might sound as deadly and diabolical as the above mixture but whose result would be a delight to the senses of men and children alike on both sides of the rio Grande...might even help stop the spread of swine flu. That's how good it is. Just last night, somewhat inspired by my culinary exploits south of the border, I made banana splits for the kids...with a twist. Imagine Neapolitan ice cream, hot fudge , whipped cream and maraschino cherries...with two strips of bacon! Save for my questionable vocabulary and redneck tendencies I would be a shoe-in for one of those Travel Channel food shows. I'll publish more recipes in future posts so stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Apex 30x24

What is the biggest problem that plagues America, ignorance or apathy? If you answered "I don't know and I don't care", than I think we might be in a world of hurt. Well, that seemed to be the consensus sentiment the other night when I gave the van-load of teenagers the option of going to the county fair. Oh how wrong I was. I swung a U turn right in the middle of a busy multi-lane road and headed for home. It took less than a block to persuade me to swing another U'y and get us back on track for the 4H exhibit barn. The livestock auction was in full-swing right next to the tiger tamers. Both were good shows and I'm probably not the only one who fantasized about a few of them Siberian bad boys breaking loose and getting right in to the thick of the food chain. Now that would have been something to blog about. As it was, we thoroughly enjoyed the many rows of fancy pigeons (my fair favorite), chickens, sheep, goats, Ferris wheels, roller coasters (our new 13 yr. olds' first) and a few stuffed toys won by adept dart throwing and a steady aim at the water gun race. The barkers have all but lost their bark. They now have electronic bar-code readers that scan your "ticket" and discount the value per game etc. None of them were toothless and not one of them yelled at me to win something for the beautiful senorita I had on my arm. Quite disappointing. All in all it was a nice outing and that I was able to resist buying a 4 dollar "hand dipped" corn dog is a testament to my great self discipline... The fact that we spent over ten thousand dollars trying to win a stuffed banana might have had something to do with it but I don't want to talk about that.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vines On The Hill 30x24

We have a gypsy camp down the hill from our house. There's a pile of dread headed kids that roam around barefoot in all weather (don't worry this is Arizona) and are constantly on the prowl for creatures great and small. They have baby birds, geckos, lizards and now...four huge king snakes. The scaly serpents had congregated in an old shed and as dangerous as they are to rattlesnakes (they eat them) they are quite docile and easy to handle. The children played with them for a while...we took some pictures and instructed them to let 'em go around the house in strategic places. A little while later 7 year old Naomi runs in exclaiming at the top of her voice that the snakes had mated. Her dad asked how she knew. "Well" she said, "One bit the other one and they squeezed and then they were done."...and that's how the world as we know it became populated with snakes...and Vampires.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Farm House 18x24

Shadows are falling though it’s not dark all the way
Thickening gloom though I don’t see it that way
A mist has gathered strange silhouettes
That fade and focus through the shrouded veil
The peripheral eye catches movement so slight
The eye of the hunter pierces the night
The owl sees from his gnarled perch
From the snaggly limb his deadly search
But shrouded in mystery and veiled to his sight
The cat will catch the prey tonight
And but for the haze ‘round a dead live oak
That covered the ground in a milky cloak
Would have feasted the fowl, Would have famished the cat
The beak and the talon would have fixed on a rat
Darkening shadows means light to large eyes
Covering mist leaves something revealed
In a moment you see it though not all the way
Keep your eyes peeled for here comes the day

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coastal Clouds Converge 24x24

It’s no toil turning dirt to gold
Treasure and light combine in this
Lump of clay and mortal bliss
Are housed in light and sparkling mist

It’s but a vapor clothed in earth
Small seed fallen to the ground
Small indeed yet grows to be
The purest proof of alchemy

Golden smile shining heart
Ere it grows in golden sun
All is bright in wistful years
Water seed in silver tears

It’s no toil turning dirt to gold
But dear the price when all is counted
Your life the cost to leave behind
One shiny proof of love divine
Children Are Gold by Hush Puppy Hawkins

The painting above is of the coastline near the croc adventure described below in a previous post...just off the Mosquito coast in Central America. I was in the area on two separate occasions, got a lot of pics and a few tall tales to impress the kids ...and my neighbors who have never left the desert. Being auctioned this very moment on eBay

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clouds Alone 18x24

There's something about this painting that smells of western wildlands. According to my wife of over two decades I reek of woodchips and sawdust. Well, she didn't really say it like that but was it a compliment? I read an article a while back that quoted a young and pretty hip-hop starlet to say she thought Bob Dylan smelled like old wood. I don't think that was a compliment but if Carmelita was comparing me to my uncle Bob than I guess I'll take it as a kindness. I'm sure if this gets back to him he'll wish the comparison was reversed...jealousy runs pretty deep in our family. Regardless, I would be flattered if someone held me in such high esteem as to compare me with old wood. Any kind of wood for that matter. Old wood, new wood, Norwegian wood...hey didn't my uncle's friend George write a song about that?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Out The Window 24x30

So you fancy yourself a non conformist eh? I'll show you what not conforming is all about. Forty seven years young, the ball fields smell of fresh watered grass, springtime is a buzzin' all around us filling every sensory receptacle with glad tidings of a new dawn, in the middle ground between two baseball games under the tall-posted lights attracting night-hawks as the sun was leaving room for the cool spring eve and chatter of baseball teams near and far filled the air, we were playing! And what do I get for my non conformity? A nearly broken collar bone on a beautiful over-the-shoulder touchdown catch on what should have been the last play of the game. I gathered a handful of teens and tweens who I could tell are just achin' to get tatooed and pierced, told them to drop their skateboards, cell phones and soccer balls and come over to play a real sport...a real man's sport. Well, as persuasive as my words seemed to me, the expressionless stares of my soon-to-be teammates told me it wasn't so much the words that convinced them as the fact that they needed a ride home. So, I guess in a way I coerced them to indulge my non-conforming fantasy and in the process turned a couple of 'em into Heisman trophy candidates. Back in the 70's, had some young handsome man encouraged us to be real men and invited us to play a bit of smash mouth we would have risen to the challenge.(Or we might have run away suspecting the worse of some old dude that had nothing better to do than to hang around a dimly lit park at night with a bunch of kids) This new breed of reluctant pseudo-rage-filled teens with their non-stop messaging makes one wonder what the future holds for the modern world. Well, if you haven't noticed, the non-conformists have all conformed to their non-conformity and look to be the most easily led group of people that have ever lived. Maybe these new ones will finally realise that Wal-Mart isn't their's their employer and if they work their buts off they might get to eat more than just a plate of runny pottage...and be happy and thankful campers in the process. The painting here is the view just south of the scene of my glorious athletic exploits...and our studio. I used a lot of paint on this and am pretty happy with the outcome. I've painted this mountain a number of times and in various moods...these are kind of rare colors for early spring, just after a good soaking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Real Croc Hunter ...?

I know...It ain't a fourteen footer but we did eat it and it did taste like chicken, ...a rubber chicken with frog water oozing out of it. The natives on the island were deathly afraid and seems this one was feared responsible for a few lost dogs...and maybe a small unwanted child or two. A four-ten shotgun loaded with #4 duck shot is all it took. It was 2am and we had just slogged through a salt-water swamp. At midnight we were together, four trepid, would-be croc slayers and me, the only one who could be accurately described as intrepid...until my headlamp went out as I was staring down a pair of glowing orange eyes about fifty yards away. My companions had gone on ahead not wanting to "spook" the 12 foot croc we figured him to be. They left with the parting words "Just remember Paco, keep the beam of light right on their eyes. The cayman and the alligators (for there were a lot of them too) run off when they get spooked but the orange eyes belong to the crocodile. If you can't keep the croc mesmerized by the light, head to higher ground (one mile away) or get your gun ready." Well, I was knee deep in mud, spider webs all over me and I was sweating profusely. It was pitch black and a big ol' croc was after me, tic toc tic toc...and I was armed with a single shot .410 shotgun with three extra shells in my pocket. Two hours later we found the one we were after. He was a real man-eater (?) and was laying on the bottom in about five feet of water. I slipped a dull gaff hook under his jaw and lifted him to the boat. We just about had him to the gunnels when my fearless companions began to howl and scream into the dark and majestic Caribbean night. Yes, they were afraid and armed...until everyone dropped their guns and lamps and ran to the back of the 12 ft. skiff. I didn't know whether to laugh or shriek at the exhilarating thought of the small fiberglass boat sinking to the bottom of croc infested waters with it's bullet riddled hull. As the poor creature thrashed around the surface calling others of its kind to come and check us out and the floor of the boat projected light beams like a used car lot's once-in-a-lifetime sale a gentle peace wafted over me. I knew everything was gonna be alright and that I would live to see my children's children. We did save a small village that day and were duly celebrated as heroes. They feted us with crocodile stew and shrimp gumbo and waved palm fronds in our honor. (only a very few parts of this story have been changed due to time and space constraints.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cover Me with Clouds 24x36

You might say my mettle was tested today...while trying to explain the meaning of the word mettle to my mejico-born soul mate. But really, we are used to linguistical conundrums around here as we all fancy ourselves amateur linguists. Very amateur I might add. (I can give you accurate definitions of only five of the 8 parts of speech) Truly there are frases and words that need a lot of explaining, depending on the language they're coming from and the one they're being translated to. I've heard it said that the meaning of the expression to abide is a hard one to translate. And indeed it is. There's just no easy way to express the meaning of this in Spanish, at least in some of it's uses. English isn't known for it's precision as much as it's abundance of terms and lack of clean grammar rules but here it really shines. What a great word and full of all kinds of multi-hued implications. A huge mouthful of meaning is found in the expression to abide as used by the Lord Jesus. He said something that's often quoted with the important part being left out. "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Well, half the people who heard Him got their dander up and promptly and proudly declared how they had no need to be set free since they weren't slaves to anyone. Typical of us humans I guess. Anyway, I won't be angry with Him for telling me I need to be freed (nor with the ones who don't want Him telling them they need His words) I'll just keep trying to figure out how get at that wonderful place of knowing Him and letting His word abide in me...and no more wearing stripped pajamas and ball and chains.
Also, concerning the quote above, I've often thought... "hmm, what is truth?" Well, I've concluded only two small things from my mystical meddling in mysterious musings on this point. The first is that my version of circumstantial reality isn't necessarily truth. At least not in the philosophical sense and second, that it's purpose, when once discovered, is to make me free...not to rub someone else's nose in it. So, here you have my little theology/ language lesson for the day, brought about by my mettle being tested ...not to be confused with the tempering of metal or with any intent to meddle with your own heresy or theology. The painting pictured here has something to do with truth and love and the American way...or something to that effect. It's being offered on auction here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rancho Ridge 18x24

Things I don't get....Why some people don't like John Madden's football commentary or how anyone could say they don't love Bob Dylan's singing. This, my Midwest-American, slanted heavily by a Texicanish California version of the world would be a hollow and lonely place without them. John just retired and save for his Raider years nothing but fun and happy redundant belaboring of the obvious will be a fondly remembered legacy...and football will never be the same. Bob, on the other hand just keeps going. The day he retires I think we should all just re-string our guitars (whether you have one or not) and tune our radios to that 40's station that you find in every town and wonder who really listens to it. Well, FYI, here in Tucson it's am 580 on your radio dial. You can hear Bing and Frank and Andy and, well, all your (my) favorites. This painting has the classic feel of those crooners we all grew up listening to. It was the view we had last Friday heading out of Catalina state park.

Green Tree Mystery Water 24x18

Mystery water is right. What could be lurking just under the mercury-green vale that separates our world from theirs? Don't worry, there's only a few trout and some small oxygen deprived crayfish in this emerald hued mountain lake. The warmth of the glowing golds mixed with the coolness of the blues and greens are fun to paint...make a great combination that's as easy on the eyes as it is on the heart. In the foreground to the right there's a slight ripple in the water, the remnants of the wake left by a young beaver...Or was it some other, unknown creature? I know a couple of college kids that want to go to Scotland and search for the Lochness Monster. One of them lives here. (the student not the monster) For my part, I would enjoy a ride on it... just once or twice around the loch would be fine. Once they finally catch that thing they should let me have a go at it. I figure I've seen enough bull riding and done enough exploring of the Amazon to qualify. Plus I'd love to read the headline..."Once Again, Europe Has Reason to Thank America ...This Time For Taming Nessy". Just something subtle like that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Contemplation or Green Cow Monday 30x24

The more you paint large the more the intimidation factor wears off...unless the painting stares back at you! The obstinate cow pictured here would not let me out of it's sight. I talked to my old buddy Randy not too long ago. His dairy farm is the last of it's kind but they still work their buts off so my cheerios don't get lonely and my cookies have something to swim in before they go down the hatch. An old bull wouldn't take his eyes off him either, much like my experience with the painting pictured here except for a slight difference. His bull charged and tossed him around like a rodeo clown before he got up and over the fence. Oh, there is one other difference too. I didn't run in and get my shotgun to teach the critter a little respect. Turns out that he gave him a little too much teaching and the bull up and died. I guess both barrels of 00 buckshot (I'm sure he used birdshot) was a little too stiff of a reprimand. I'll have to keep that in mind as I school my paintings...and my kids. See the link to the top right for this painting's auction page.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Young Cooder Hawkins

Young Cooder Hawkins hoists a stringer of pan-fish sometime in the late 60's. That's how we referred to crappies, sunfish and the like. I suppose rock bass would qualify as the "like" but no one really liked 'em. They were considered bad for eatin' and were viewed as a sort of rough fish. Rough fish of course are bottom feeders. They spend their life vacuuming off the floor of the deep which can hardly be said for rock bass. I always kind of figured they got the short end of the stick when it came to fish reputations. I have eaten them and save for a few extra bones they were fine. Of course, I have eaten Coot too...How many people can say they've dined on their namesake? Well, Coot would be one of my nicknames...if my name were really Cooder.

Monday, April 13, 2009

View The Vines 24x30

better than gold from earth derived
earth and sky conspire to lend
from nectars deep and hid within
the secret sources flow and blend
the mighty man brought low to earth
the lover's heart made to see
what goods' perceived from this thy perch
shimmers gold from sea to sea

golden mead and drink of gods
from whence comes thoughts and noble deeds
waves and rows, leaves and earth
sunshine ripens heaven's seed
return now meadows drenched in dew
and forget not all I have is thine
return oh man to this thy toil
harvest gold from grain and vine
Cooder Hawkins

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Scene From Argentina Ranch 20x30 1987

Miguel Angel and Elfido showed up at about noon. They hollered to me to come out and "see something". I was in the middle of a dang quesadilla and it was hot (both the food and the air...and spicy too) and there were flies everywhere. The ranch house was next to a mesquite grove with a corral for the cows and a big ol' chicken farm and it's manure piles were just over the fence. We ate a lot of soup in those days. Hot and laced with atomic chili peppers the stuff would flow out your nose and land on your spoon on it's way up to be ingested again...this time with two or three flies in it! I am not even capable of exaggerating how bad the flies were. In fact, I have spent many a sultry afternoon with the temperature hovering around 130 degrees covered in them! Times too many to count I've spit them out of my mouth one after another just to breathe or to finish an important conversation...about the weather. You know the flies are bad and your existence tenuous when you let them land on your face and mouth and hardly think to shew them away...That's how bad they were. I told the cowboys to hang on as I gulped down my last bite of mosca-cheese delight and noticed one of their horses dancing around out in the front yard. His ears were pinned back so I could tell something was bothering him. They had shot a big female lion at a watering hole not far from the ranch headquarters. She was strapped to one of their horses and we all know how good horses and mountain lions get along. I don't know how I found a camera but I did and took this shot. The big cat had killed a number of calves so it was a relief to the cattle people and non vegetarians amongst us. My handling of human figures was still pretty clumsy back then but this turned out OK.

Cooder Hawkins Brands A Calf

That's me helping my friend, cowboy Jack Blankenship work calves in Montana. I used to wrestle and I'm sure it helped to have those skills when we pioneered back then. Come to think of it, no one really ever thanked me for taming the west. Now, we all enjoy the fruit of the hard labors of us drifters and grifters...and painters of pretty pictures. I painted a couple of small canvases that day after the branding was done. A study of the mountains between Red Lodge and Roberts and some flowers in Jack's garden. I don't know what ever came of those paintings but Jack does have one I made of a couple of vaqueros with a mountain lion strapped to a horse...think I'll look for it and put it up here. I've got to offer some proof of my tall tales from time to time or you all will get to thinking that the tongue is mightier than the pen.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sky On Earth 24x36

It had been a while since I was involved in a police chase and the little adrenaline rush last Sunday did my heart good. We hoped the fence at the not-yet-open-for-business skate park on the south side of an unnamed city somewhere in the southwest. The area is home to a large grassy park and is one of the most popular for snow-bird homeless folks (yes there is such a thing) and all kinds of park bench dwellers and stand-in-liners populate the place especially in the winter. For the most part they are normal people, maybe a little down on their luck or just a couple of cards shy of a full deck. Some might not be considered the sharpest tool in the shed or might even possibly be considered the dullest knife in the drawer depending on how you look at it. But they are normal nonetheless and seem to fit most peoples criteria of humanity. Anyway, I actually have spent a few nights in mission shelters and on the streets sleeping in cardboard scavenged from back alleys in big cold cities ...and I'm not ashamed to admit I've stood in my share of soup-lines on not just a few occasions. So, I feel that common bond that unites all the disenfranchised of the world...witnesses to our daring and brazen escape of Sunday last. A couple of us had exited by climbing the turnstile-gate-come-ladder moments before the sirens barked their warning and approach. In a deft pincer move two squad cars came on and circled the enclosure. Eddie was one of the first to clear the 7 foot tall steel barred fence. The kids with the bikes had the hardest time having to throw their BMX's over the top before they could follow suit. My son, using his inherited smarts, deftly and with appropriate dissimulation handed his skateboard to an unwitting little friend and quickly joined his brother and I as we walked boldly and stiff-legged between handcuffed bikers and a pile of trespassing skaters being handed warning tickets and who knows what else. After we cleared the main parking lot we galloped and skipped the rest of the way playfully tossing a baseball back and forth and giggling like the bunch of red-necks we are. It was good to see my hard-earned taxes at work and next month when the park officially opens you can bet my boys will be there and show the respect the new park and it's fence deserve.

Swept Along 15x30

I really do think I would shine as a Costco door greeter / receipt patrol. Not that I've been offered the job or have applied for it but with the way art sales are going it might not be a bad idea. One does wonder just how certain people perform certain tasks in jobs of high public interaction. Doesn't one? I know just the kind of customer I would make to wait extra long as I checked and re-checked their items too. ...anyone like me! But how about the food sample people? Now there's a gig! Especially if your the one doling out pieces of pizza or chocolate or frozen cream-puffs. I wonder if they line up in the morning as the boss hands out assignments. They're probably listed on a dry-erase board next to the time clock. You punch in and see that asparagus and four bean salad are slated for the day's offings. If you're in any kind of gregarious mood you'll definitely want to stay away from giving those out. We just got back from Coscto. I cringe every time my wife mentions going there 'cause it seems we never get out without spending at least $100.

PS. I spent a few extra moments with the lady at the free dark-chocolate sample cart. Down the isle a little ways was the lonely lady at the cart with the four bean line, no one to talk to...piles of uneaten beans and oil and vinegar at her feat!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Saddle Back 24x30

I heard a fellow say in a tearful shaky voice that no one ever told him he's a man. That his father never said "now your a man son". And he was determined to make a big to-do about his sons and have coming-of-age ceremonies for them and tell them they are men before it's too late, age 13? I heard another man describe that what makes you a man is being responsible...Giving your word, keeping a commitment even if it's not convenient or painful. That's what makes you a man. Now, I'm not about to tell you what makes a man but at the risk of being labeled a redneck @#!!% I can tell you what real men don't do. Real men don't stand in line well ...especially at functions that involve a lot of moms dropping off and signing in kids for some school activity. No, a real man, in a situation like that fantasizes about building clearing bomb scares or sudden rat infestations or 7.1 magnitude earthquakes that shake the earth to it's foundations as he fidgets and fumes waiting for all the happy-to-be-there-and-chat-with-one-another-moms...and a few dads with shock collars fastened tightly to their necks to hurry up and sign in and get out of the way! I also note that a real man pulls out of the parking lot of said line-of-humiliation trying his best to squeal tires and hurry off to fulfill his responsibilities, imagined or otherwise. Thankfully the kids finished their proof of manhood ...uh, state aims testing today and no more ignominy of waiting in interminable lines of shame is slated for their father.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Zephyr 36x24

What happens to the stream of consciousness when a person is unconscious? Does it stop flowing? Does it dry up? Does it go underground? I know a river that goes underground for long stretches only to re-emerge as a crystal clear and deep running spring of everlasting bass fishing and catfish catching delight. I camped on it's shore one evening next to a mountain lion-proof fire. As the embers grew dim and my eyelids followed their lead the large dead frog left on my hook not twenty feet away was all but forgotten. In the morning the rod and reel were gone. Moments later I lost Pete's gear on a near-death-fall while trolling a spoon through a tall and narrow canyon. This all took place before my erstwhile companion even showed signs of life and the sun was barely waking. After I informed ol' Pedro that we had no more fishing gear and we'd not be frying fillets for breakfast I spied my pole in about 20 inches of water just below the sandy bank. I waded in and grabbed it with a sigh, happy that at least I'd have a chance to redeem myself and prove my piscatorial prowess to my doubtful friend. I shook the water out and reeled in the line and lo and behold if there wasn't a five pound channel cat on the other end! The sky painting above is the view from a ranch about an hour from the disappearing stream of consciousness mentioned here. Available this week on auction.