Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I wouldn't say I missed my calling in life but... if there was a fork in the road and one side was closed with a skull and cross bones on the sign and the other said "enter here to live the life of someone who raises gamecocks for a living" I just might have to take the path less trodden.  I've photographed, painted and owned not a few little red roosters in my time and I must admit I love to see them get their hackles up. I've never been to a real cock fight. I'm just saying that "IF" I had to raise them roosters for a living, under duress and coercion, I would.  This past weekend I was in Mexicali, Mexico, home, epicenter and gateway to Northwest Mexico's best  Wild Wrestlin' Roosters. There was a little soiree planned (birthday party) and it turned out we stayed in the house of my favorite horse surgeon, Paco. His wife Edilia is good friends with Carmen. In fact, we go way back to when Paco and Edilia would chaperon us (Paco and Carmen) on our Sunday evening walks around the old Sonoran capital of Alamos.  They were young teenagers in love and needed looking after. We were twenty-somethings and, well, Carmen was in love with me then too. Anyway, Paco is now a world famous veterinary and equine surgeon. There were a few cages full of  game-chickens at his house.  He's sort of watching them for a client and hatching out little chicks of various breeds known for their prowess in the ring.  I fought roosters as a fun pastime while teaching in a small town in rural Mexico.  I would do it with the kids in town.  Of course we never really made any monetary wagers and no birds were really ever hurt. That's the way I like it.  I want my fried chicken alive and I want to eat it too.  I'm not interested in watching the gallos eviscerate each other down at the palenque but I am fixin' on painting a few of these beautiful birds soon. The guitar I'm playing in the picture above was as beautiful as the bird in Dr. Paco's hand. I forget the brand but it is hand made in Spain.  The rooster is an American Gamecock.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Vermilion Flycatcher 12x12, Lesser Goldfinch 5x7

Now that spring is in the air we've got birds on our brains. Marissa painted these two little fellows.  They have been happy companions here in the studio.  The flycatcher has already found a home.  They are fun to watch as they hover and tread water waiting for a little gnat or mosquito.  They must be territorial because I often see one in the same place deftly and  acrobatically snatching bugs out of the air during the mid-morning jog. The finch, well, we have several kinds of those around here. They are welcome visitors of course but their song is not too remarkable. Enjoyable nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Where Buffalo Roamed 12x24, The Bounty

Dear Abby,
My youngest son Eli just got his driver's license.  He will be 19 in a couple of weeks. So, yes, he waited a lot longer than his siblings and father did to get theirs.  He has had to renew the driver's permit several times over the past three years.  Several times we have been close to haulin' him up to the old DMV and just making him take the test.  He hasn't been all that motivated (obviously) and each time we get close there is a scramble to get in a few evenings of practice especially parallel parking. Finally he succumbed to the pressure both internal and external, as you can imagine, and went ahead and did it.  It was no problem. Two nights ago a friend of ours was over at the house.  Maria is Chicana having grown up mostly in America with two cultures.  Well, obviously she missed out on the slice of Americana that says you teach your kids to parallel park before the drivers' test.  Her 16 year old daughter just got her license  too so I asked  how it went and especially about the parallel parking. "Pues" she said, "I jus put da car into da curb and she(the DMV tester) say its ok just don tell no one and I will pass you the test"  I am not even trying to kid you! My son had just taken the test the day before at the same place and was warned that if he even touched a cone or the curb it was automatic failure.  Maria just laughed when I asked her if she had even tried to teach her daughter how to parallel park and she didn't even know what that was. Now, I'm not here to fault the Chicano community for not teaching their kids tried and true passages of life in America but I'm about 2 inches away from reporting that test giver lady down at the DMV.  What do you think I should do.
Signed: Angry Bird Father

PS These paintings are available for purchase here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Coquille, Spring Cometh

Always be prepared. That is the motto of khaki-clad youth everywhere. So, as I disembark, the first real post-flight  necessity is to acquire a pocket knife to go with my desert tan britches.  I travel light with no checked luggage. I find in recent years that for some reason I am no longer permitted to carry on-board all my normal preparedness accoutrements. This makes for disturbing agitation and awkward groping as I am constantly reaching for the imaginary side-arms I'm so accustomed to carry.   I feel quite naked without my little knife waiting at the ready, snugly clipped into the right front pocket.  That has been how I roll since childhood. Apparently some people would want to hinder my ability to rescue victims and save humanity but just give me a smart phone and I'll find that nearest Walmart sporting goods counter as soon as we land and once again the world can breathe easy. On the way from Eugene, Oregon to the coast (post Walmart stop) the road winds and wends it's way through verdant vales and parallels and crosses turgid rolling rivers.  The coastal sky-bluster, grey and wet, is filled with geese and ducks. Small herds of Roosevelt elk nibble and chew and watch the passing cars on the lonely curves between moss-grown fir and ash and alder trees. Carmen rejected the Dairy Queen dip cone proffered by her loving husband.  It was a small indulgence which I deemed as highly deserved after the humiliation of the emasculation endured for three long hours previous. Anyway, as we came upon a curve in a deep and steep wood, a man appeared in the middle of the road waving for me to stop. I looked to my left as I pulled over on the dangerous stretch, noticed a tall  pine tree leaning over in the valley below from whence emanated tendrils of smoke and billows of steam. Larry and Carol's late model silver suv clung precariously to the muddy embankment, pierced through with various sized sticks and tree trunks.  The whole engine was exposed having had all the outer body stripped of metal as it appeared the vehicle speared itself into the thick woods at full speed.  We had to cut Larry free with MY ALWAYS-AT-THE-READY new (thank you Walmart) pocket knife.  Carol had to be extracted later by paramedics. I was able to rescue Beka the little dog from her kennel in the back.  Thank God for air bags 'cause that car looked pretty rough.  I was covered in mud and blood but Larry and Carol and Beka will be fine.  Soon after the above described events we were all cleaned up and interestedly perusing the Historical Museum in Florence, Oregon. I got a lot of great shots of the Oregon landscape. The painting pictured above ("Coquille") was made from them.