Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mason's Lizard

Son Dylan had said he would like some of my art, a nice request I was happy to fulfill as a Christmas gift. I chose this photograph and made a custom walnut frame. I attached the second photo to the back with the description.

This mason jar was set at a grave site in a very small graveyard near Moab, UT. I presume it once contained flowers. A lizard must have crawled in for one last fateful drink.  - February 2006

Part of the appeal of this photo for me is the fond memories of the trip when it was taken. A long train ride from central PA, a stop over in Chicago, and on to Moab, Utah to see my friends Jerry and Barbara.  We worked on a small addition to their house but took time out to see the wonderous surrounding landscape. In the off season we had these cathedral like spaces to ourselves at times. I remember palatable silence amidst colossal forms.  Evenings at the local brew pub shooting pool or nice meals at home. It was such a perfect blend of working with a friend on a focused task and then relaxing and exploring  in an incredible environment.  A wonderful time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Lights

Geez this is wasteful isn't it? We've got people starving in China (are we still using China?) and this guy is burning energy like there is no tomorrow. He's generating enough heat to melt the snow on his lawn before everyone else. His neighbors get a brown out when he plugs 'em in. Ever heard of global warming? Can you spell c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n?

Actually I like it. Yeah it would be too much if lots of people did it but I think every neighborhood should have one politically incorrect dude who just goes ape shit with the lights. Palm tree lights?!!! It makes me smile.

So here is hoping that for one moment this holiday you can let go and raise a glass with family and friends in joyous celebratory excess. And be thankful that you can.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold windy night

Lucy needs a walk. Here I sit on the couch tired from work and a game of squash, full from supper with a fire in the stove and the Christmas tree alight. The wind howls around the house. Our heavy chime that is not easily excited has been a constant gong. Duty calls. But I know once she gets me up, inertia overcome, we might see something.

Yesterday's six inches of wet heavy snow is now icy solid. Must not fall down. As we get older we get shorter but the ground gets farther away. How does that happen? Man it's cold. Colder 'n a witches tit in a brass brassiere as they say in .... nevermind, no one says that.

Down the drive to the street where it's clear and we pick up the pace. Clouds on the horizon still seem white despite darkness. Maybe they are reflecting the distant town lights. Above the moonless sky displays countless stars. There's Orion's belt. There's the Seven Sisters. Those girls are faint but for some reason it's one constellation I always find. The wind is a constant drone.

Sorry girl it's too cold tonight. Just down to the stop sign and back to our cozy hearth. And a biscuit. After a walk comes a biscuit. I'm well trained. Punishment for not delivering the biscuit is 20 minutes of mournful staring.

Monday, November 16, 2009

dog house heater

My previous dog was a collie and had a serious coat of fur. I never did see her shiver. But not so my new dog, a black lab mix with sleek short hair. Since we are sometimes gone for the day and need to put the dog in her pen I thought a little additional heat in the doghouse was in order. A little internet searching turned up a homemade solution: http://www.nodakoutdoors.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=46653

Basically it's a coffee can with a light bulb in it. Had to wire an outdoor outlet and string a wire out to the pen but it's in place and looks like it will do the trick. Just need some cold weather to put it to the test.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Keb Mo at the State

In our town, State College, Pa. , the old theater on the main street was bought by a non-profit group, renovated, and given new life as a community theater. Their focus has been to bring in music acts - the up and comings, the once weres, and shows that just work in a more intimate setting. They also show alternative films and some community plays.

Monday my son Dylan and I caught Keb Mo, a great contemporary blues act. Good performance with excellent back up musicians to accompany his slide and electric leads. If you don't know his music you might like to check it out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLiMXitJzvw

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

tonight's moon

go where the river run

when the moon is holding water and the sky has gone bone dry
when the hour it is witching the wind howls do or die
do you think you will be ready to face the music and the facts
will your purpose tip the balance will you have the strength to act

go on go on go on there's so much more to be done
surely some path will open so go where the river run

like leaves that fall in season like a snake that sheds its skin
like winter snow that's melting they're dying to begin

what if it's now or never and you only get one turn
will you fold your hand in passing on the lesson to be learned

when the landscape looks so barren you'd swear there is no sound
when all has gone to darkness where can hope be found
well you know it's not in wishing the past could be undone
for it's only in the doing that happiness is won

the angry storm that rages the tears that come like rain
the tragic act that holds you so tightly in its pain
oh leave it where it happened leave it cause you must
don't be taken with it we need you here with us

go on go on go on there's so much more to be done
surely some path will open so go where the river run

go where the river run, so go where the river run

- written sometime in the 90's, for all who have known tragedy

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fuck NJ

Fuck NJ. Not Suzie or Janice or Mickey but NJ. This is graffiti on the Ben Franklin bridge in Philadelphia and its odd declaration got me thinking. Is it just human nature to denigrate and scorn the other?

I understand the need for us to belong. The self inflicted feeling of separation haunts us for a lifetime and so we seek connection however we can find it. Through lovers and mates, through race and culture and religion, through beliefs and preferences, through clubs and cliques we align ourselves with this or that seeking validation and confirmation that I am. I exist.

I suppose we then belittle all that we did not choose  to reassure ourselves that we have chosen correctly.  We are right.

I am from Pennsylvania, this imaginary place drawn on vague maps 300 years ago by guys who'd never seen the place and bought with trinkets from people who knew it is not possible to own land.

I am from Pennsylvania so fuck New Jersey. And fuck New York and Delaware too.

I am from the United States so fuck Canada. And Mexico and Cuba.

I am from Earth so fuck the moon. Fuck Jupiter and Mars too.

Man, I feel better already and I'm just getting started. Gotta get some spray paint.

Friday, October 9, 2009

dog walk sounds

today the dog's walk was at nightfall it's getting dark earlier now
at the bridge a deer is standing in the creek I haven't seen one there before
we watch each other until I move  she jumps into the cornfield
in fading light there is less to see more to hear
a gentle rain begins to fall on paper-like leaves of corn
it might be the same sound made by a thousand mice feet
along the meadow creek a feint ripple wake punctuated with a loud splash that spooks the dog - I doubt the muskrat has many visitors this late in the day
heavy movement in the corn and many footsteps deer on the move - the other day the paper warned us this would happen
the crunch crunch of my shoes on gravel
jingle of metal dog collar Holly calls serious bling
along the road beneath some power lines  but in just one spot a distinct buzzing and I can't tell if it's something with the wires or a horde of insects in this bush all saying the same thing
cars on wet roads begins afar and builds to woosh and fades not unlike the surf the rise and fall
we stop to get the mail and paper
it's dark now and we're wet.....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My favorite pie

Made with cherries Margy picked at our local orchard last year and froze. A nice gesture as she is not partial to cherry pie. It's my favorite however and once you have a fresh one the canned variety will disappoint. This recipe calls for a little almond extract, a nice addition. The listed sugar amounts make a fairly tart pie, add more for a sweet tooth. This time I added a cup of blueberries too just because we had them.

Cherry Pie
4 cups sour cherries
1/2 cup cherry juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
4 T. minute tapioca
1 T. butter
1/8 t. almond extract
Pastry for 1 1/2 10" crusts for lattice top
Combine cherries, juice, sugars, and tapioca
Let stand 15 minutes.
Pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter.
Place crust or strips on top as preferred.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then 375 for 30 minutes.

The recipe is in this book, published in 1957,  a favorite of the Frysinger family. It also contains the family's chosen unique pancake recipe. Margy received her own copy after leaving home. It is inscribed:

To make use of that 1/4 Dutch blood!
With love, Dad & Mom  6/1974

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken of the Woods

Or Laetiporus sulphureus. I found these on a walk on Sunday. Supposedly one of the most easily recognized and thus a "safe" choice for less experienced foragers like myself. And they do indeed taste a lot like chicken, so much so that the vegetarian in the household doesn't care for them.

I sauteed them in lots of butter with salt. Served on top of a zucchini, green pepper, onion, tomato ratatouille with cous-cous. Pretty tasty.

I'll post again tomorrow if it turns out I'm wrong and they have ill effect. Or not.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Every Sunday morning...

around 8 o'clock Mr. Barto leaves his home "uptown"...

and walks the mile down West Gatesburg Road to...

the Ross Methodist Church.....

where at 8:50 AM he rings the church bell to call in the faithful.
It sounds like this.

On December 16th Mr. Eddie Barto will be 90 years old. He has lived his entire life in Gatesburg. He has been ringing this church bell for at least the 30 years I have lived here.
Mr. Barto left Gatesburg to serve his country in the army in WWII spending time in the south seas, England, and France. When the war ended he came home and married Genevieve, the girl next door who was also born and raised here. His younger brother, Merrill, married her younger sister, Frieda. In the early 60's the two brothers built houses next door to each other where they raised their families. And there the two brothers and two sisters have lived as neighbors ever since.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bowl of Stone

Bowl of soup. Bowl of fruit. Bowl of stones. Bowl of stone.

Cherry, river stone, 10" x 10" x 4 1/2"
The stone is fixed, a bowl that is never empty.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Beet Soup

Margy grew some nice beets this year. I made up this soup last night and we thought it was pretty good.
Beet Soup
4 large beets, trim ends, quartered
1 qt vegetable broth
1 large onion
2 T. minced fresh ginger
4 lg cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground cumin
2 T. olive oil
1 T. each vinegar, lemon juice, vermouth or sherry
lots of black pepper
salt to taste

Boil beets until tender. Rinse in cold water, remove skins. Saute onion, garlic, ginger in olive oil. Put it all together with broth and puree in blender. I added a cup or two of water as it was too thick.
Serve with dollop of sour cream.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shoes on a wire

This image seems iconic or symbolic to me but I'm not sure what it means. These are in an upscale neighborhood albeit a 1/4 mile from a huge high school.

It conjures up the image of the junior high bully grabbing the required gym shoes from a hapless bloke who fearfully pleads "Aww c'mon man I need those". It is a power play with mean intentions.

We've all seen it. Is it purely an American thing? It speaks of waste, a perfectly good pair of shoes thrown away. In another place the bully would keep the shoes would he not? But here you just get another pair; it's not worth the trouble to get them down.

At this moment how many pairs of shoes are hanging thus? What is the life span of shoes on a wire? Do power companies routinely remove them or do they hang until the laces rot?

How hard is this to do? I've never tried it. Is it something you practice and get good at? "Oh, Hammer, he's the best, first try every time. I've never seen him miss." Is it a verb? Do you wire some shoes? Do people keep count like notches on your bed post or nicks in your scalping knife? "I am so on a roll. I wired three pair this week. I'm up to 26 and the last pair was some fine Nikes" There's a thought - does it mean more depending on the value of the shoes.

As it turns out, not surprisingly, I'm not the only one to consider this social phenomenon. Several websites give possible explanations: Wikipedia or The Straight Dope

I found it interesting. It is not always as I imagined. Some of the reasons given are benign, a kind of rite of passage, the shoes used are worn out or not needed and the one flinging is the owner. It happens in many parts of the world.

Gatesburg's Bicentennial

I actually live in Gatesburg though my mail is sent to Warriors Mark, a good 8 miles away. Gatesburg has a population of about 70 and hosts two churches, several farms, and maybe two dozen houses. One of the farms is owned and operated by the Gates family, descendants of our founding father. This summer Gatesburg celebrated its bicentennial with all the fanfare they could muster. A committee was formed and enthusiasm was high. They commisioned and raised funds for a veterans memorial to be built on church ground by the picnic pavillion at the "center' of town. It is a plaque mounted on a low brick wall inscribed with the names of all Gatesburg residents who have served in the armed forces from the civil war on. I was asked if I served and wanted my name included.

The committee put together a small book of the town's history and a cookbook of recipes contributed by residents. They organized a parade that lasted over an hour: fire engines, antique cars and tractors, a couple of floats, baton twirlers, the town's dignitaries and I think a few folks who just wanted to be in a parade. There was free food with a corn boil and hot dogs, and a pig roast. There were civil war re-enacters with tents and cannons, and demonstrations. There were yard sales, vendors, and live music including an over 60 jazz ensemble aptly called the Second Winds.

Note:It seems this embedded slideshow sometimes gets cock-eyed when down the page. Refresh browser to set it right again.
We took in the festivities with visiting family, a young niece and nephew and rode home on a hay wagon enveloped in diesel fumes, engine noise, giggling kids and warm summer air.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dan's 94th

Margy's Dad celebrated his 94th birthday tonight. Born August 31st, 1915. Another year blows by in a puff of smoke!!

Margy, Dylan, Robin and I joined him at his apartment for a nice supper with take-out Chinese food and a Margy made chocolate cake.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blind Driving

It started as simply one of those morbid thought streams imagining going blind and what would be given up. Like driving. But I got stuck there and started playing with it a bit, just a little at first. I'd be driving a nice straight section of deserted road and I'd close my eyes and count to 3; then 6; then 10; my eyes popping open as I hit the shoulder and veered back to my lane all senses lit like a torch ablaze.

And then I started to include oncoming cars; only a split second the first time. But I got bolder and the times longer and I waited for a honking horn before the correction and blur of an angry frightened face.

The last time was a large truck and I willed myself to keep them closed. I anticipated the nano second sound of smashing steel: would it be perceived? I waited through the screaming horn and whoosh of vacuum sucking shudder of the pass before white knuckled swerve from mid road back thumping braking stone-spitting skidding on the shoulder come to rest. Sweating, trembling, forehead on clenched wheel, "I'M ALIVE! DEAR POUNDING HEART I'M ALIVE!" Who knows how close the miss, how far off the road he'd had to go. "I could have killed him. I'm so sorry. Jesus I'm fucking crazy. I have to stop. I can not do this again."

But there are still times, certain places, you know, where the gravity is stronger and pulls you down more, and I'm tempted like an ex-smoker for another fix.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog Walk Pics

This time, just like the dog, I kept my eyes and nose(for what it's worth) to the ground.
It's been raining a lot lately - the mushrooms and fungi are thriving. I never noticed purple ones before. I didn't need a book to tell me not to eat these but looked 'em up and they are probably "Cortinarius cyanites" which are indeed not edible.

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Small Bowl

When you gotta make something you gotta make something. It's a blessing and a curse, the fairly constant stream of ideas and images and possibilities. It's been cultivated over a lifetime I suppose. I go for a while and then there is this pull to try to make one of them; to try to make something beautiful. But working full time and weekend chores doesn't leave a lot of time for it so this time I picked something small, something I thought I might finish with just an hour here and there.

Small Bowl
Walnut 12" x 5" x 4"

This piece went a little differently than my usual pattern. I usually have a well defined idea, maybe drawings and templates that I have done before I start. But this time there was just a rough idea and the piece of wood determined much of what I could do and generated ideas as I went.

Bark beetles bore into trees just beneath the bark leaving tunnel trails in the sapwood. Sometimes a chunk of wood looks fine until you remove some material to reveal these voids. So it was with this piece and with embellishment they became the hieroglyphics on the side - the undecipherable message from another species.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Poison Ivy

It's not really fair. Some bloke from the city comes out here to get a little fresh air and goes home with this. It looks like every other green leafy thing for chrissake. No thorns or warning signs at all. It doesn't look like something that will make you feel this bad and ugly to boot.

I know some people who swear they can get it by looking at it, or maybe a neighbor was burning it and they got it from the smoke, or it was just in the air that day. But apparently you do have to touch it. Actually any part of it; leaves, stem or roots. Dead or alive. Or if your dog was romping in it you can get it by petting him. That works too. I always thought it spread on the skin by scratching it but not so. It appears to spread but it's just different timing in the allergic reaction.

Urushiol is the bad ass chemical in the sap and about 85% of people are allergic. Most of us have heard the one about the person who was sure they weren't allergic. Or the one about the poor kid who couldn't walk away from the double triple dare ya.

It grows all over North America except Alaska and the southwest. It doesn't grow in deserts or above 5000'. Along the eastern seaboard if you stop by the side of the road to take a leak you're probably wading into it. So if you like to hike around outside it's a good idea to know what it looks like.

a healthy patch

"leaflets three, let it be"

I've always liked this song: The Coasters Poison Ivy, 1959