Monday, October 31, 2005

The Children's Hour


A number of photos in no particular order. I don't think I've ever done a large sculpture quite this quickly. Hmmmm. I don't know that I want to again, any time soon. But I did enjoy showing you lots of the steps involved. Still he came alive for me late one evening and I'll never forget that experience, and the piece came out rather well, I think. It's not your everyday floor lamp, exactly. One day possibly I'll show you all the steps involved in making a rat...there are more than you might think, and probably different.

The Children's Hour


Closer look at his face. I'll have to try to get a better photo of his eyes during the daylight. Posted by Picasa

The Children's Hour - little puppets


A closeup of the puppets in his pocket, and a look at some of the surface texture, which I'm rather pleased with. Posted by Picasa

Here with his beacon lit. Posted by Picasa

The Children's Hour - puppet


A closer look at the puppet, who wears a fox mask. I stayed with a monochromatic finish. It just seemed to work for this piece. There's a lot going on with this piece, so I'll try to get some more photos on a less hectic day. I do hope you've enjoyed it's creation.

The Children's Hour


Busy night. Trick or Treating for Orion, I'm so ready for food and sleep. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Something October - Part 3 conclusion

“I’ve played this game before, with you. The board was bigger then. No. I was smaller.”

“Yessss.”

“I left this dream, and you came with me. And…my mother…”

“Brought…us…BACK!!” he roared the words. My hair blew back in the gust as he stood, violently striking the chessboard. The pieces flew, tiny missiles into the darkness. The board crashed into the shelves, shattering glass jars filled with horrors and sending shards flying in all directions. One tore into my cheek.
The noise was deafening. The wind was a discordant symphony of shrieks. A palm tree had just crashed onto an iron bench on the balcony, knocking it through the French door. Loosed curtains whipped in the violent, sandy air, creating strobe-like shadows. Fragments of glass littered the carpet. I was shaking, my fingers curled like two dying spiders. I pulled myself up and reached for the lamp. My hand brushed something soft…the cat? No, it was the puppet. I flung it to the floor.
Panicked, I was tangled in the covers, stumbling, half falling down the hall slapping at light switches as I went. To the kitchen, bright now as an operating room. I pressed my hands to my face like a madwoman. One cheek was bleeding. I bent over the counter, gulping air, staring at my bloody hands. Oh God, help me. I’m losing it. This time I’m really losing it. My chest felt raw. Breathe. Breathe. No. I wasn’t crazy. Just very, very frightened. The wind howled. A deck chair clattered, then splashed into the pool. Good. Something familiar. Something real.
Real? What is real? How could I know?

But I did know this: That sometimes we trade memories for dreams, dreams for memories. These were more than dreams. I was going back to a place I’d been before. A place with a door I’d left ajar. A door my mother had died trying to shut. At her death, grief had stunned me into a quiet where my inner workings would reshape things noiselessly, without expression. Now I cried like the child I had been; loudly, openly, tears streaming, nose running, body quaking. Then, after awhile, I stopped, took some ragged breaths and stood. I tore two paper towels from the roll, wet them under the faucet and wiped my face. I might need some stitches.
But first, it seemed I was ready to learn something new. October had come to the desert after all.
I tore off a dry towel, blew my nose and walked to the studio. I surveyed the evidence of years of work . My gaze rested on the stacks of drawings and blueprints for the carnival.
They were using me. I was the puppet. I’d let them in and my mother had found a way to drag them back, close the portal. Now I was building them a new home in the desert; a carnival. The were awaiting my invitation, again. They couldn’t come without it. But why the nightmares? Those were more like warnings. My mother, and the puppet…
Oh Christ! I remembered the puppet. I sank to the chair like a rag doll. Then shot up and tore down the hall to the closet where we kept all the things we didn’t know what else to do with. The puppet had been in the old box of photos from my parent’s house. I tugged it out, threw open the lid and began clawing through it. So much for not being crazy.
Piano recital, no. Birthday, no. Welcome to Virginia, uh-uh. My sister; ugly prom dress, uglier boyfriend, toss. Christmas, Aunt Ester, another piano recital. There. There it was. A black and white photo with a scalloped white border. A six-year-old Sara looked back at me through years suddenly as clear as glass.
And, this is what I knew; There was a closet in my mind where I locked all the things I didn’t know what else to do with…
She sat on her bed, a thin little girl in pajamas, smiling at the camera…like memories for dreams, dreams for memories..
Mother held the camera, but for now, the little Sara was smiling at me and the key turned in the lock.
She was surrounded by plush animals, get-well cards, coloring books. She held one hand up for the camera, for all these years, on it was a white-faced jester puppet. The puppet was the same as every other puppet given every other child in the pediatric ward. The puppet was what she wouldn’t let go of, even as nurses cut her pajamas away with scissors to get around IV’s, even when she heard her mother sobbing in her father’s arms, even as she heard herself scream in the icy bath that would stop her brain from cooking in her head..
The door swung open.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Sis.”

“God, Sara, it’s four in the morning there. What’s happened?”

“ I need to ask you something, Evelyn. When I was in the hospital, when I was six. You were there, right?”

There was a silence. She’d dreaded this moment for a long time. I knew it, somehow. I’d nearly asked her several years ago, after our dad died, when we found the puppet.
Well, here it was.

“What the hell happened to me?”

“Sara, you were very sick. Your fever…Then Mom. Everything went to shit.”

“I died, didn’t I?”

Silence. “Evelyn. This is important.”

“Six minutes. They were ready to pronounce you.”

Some other place. Six minutes or an eternity. No difference there. I closed my eyes. Dreams for memories. Memories for dreams. I rearranged a few items in my brain’s closet. A place for everything and everything in its place. Six minutes in Hell. I’d known. In a way, I’d always known. And now I was mad.

“All this time. The nightmares, the therapy, the drugs, my work…How could you? How could you not…

She choked out the words. “We didn’t tell you, because Mom never got over it. Because she killed herself. Because you would have hated yourself for it.”

“How could you know that?”

“Because I hated you for it.” She let out a ragged sigh. “But not now. Not for a long time.”

“Thank you.”

“Sara…”
I hung up the phone.

I was no longer alone in the studio. I knew without understanding how I knew. If you’ve ever been in a car crash you might understand what someone means when they say they read all the bumper stickers as they flew through the windshield. Time becomes meaningless.

And, there she was. Spun copper for hair, eyes green, kind and intelligent. Her dress was dry, her face radiant. She looked warm. She was surrounded by a group of children with bright, happy faces. My mother. And the chess children. It was just after midnight, but they were bathed in sunlight. Their hair blew in a breeze I couldn’t feel. The light grew brighter, blinding. I shut my eyes. When I opened them again, they were gone.

My hand puppet, back in its case, stared placidly at nothing.

The first rays were just appearing over the mountains behind me. I drove with the windows open. The dusty air flapped the papers piled in the back seat. The trunk was packed full of more drawings, as well as notebooks and discs and models, some working, some not. On top of all was a shovel, two cans of lighter fluid and a box of strike-anywhere matches. Tucked into the sun visor was a black and white photo of a little girl smiling at the camera, with a jester puppet on one hand. I fished a bottle of pills out of my purse, popped the cap and emptied them into the wind.
I had some doors to close. Some here and some in a place I knew well enough now to get around in. Neither would be easy, but I’d be okay. One way or another. I punched the CD player and ‘Religion’ cranked it up again. My sunglasses were dusty. As I ticked off Joshua trees and tumbleweeds to the beat of “Better Off Dead” I relented. I’d brought October here, and now I would send her home.
End
If you made it this far, thanks, and Happy Halloween.
G'night

Something October Part 2

The gallery of faces twisted with synchronized grace to stare reproachfully at me. I was newly aware of the drip, drip, drip in the near distance, aware of my vulnerable back, not daring to turn around. The pawn squirmed as I held it between my thumb and forefinger. I put it down quickly. One square forward. Fine. If my opponent takes my knight, he’ll lose his bishop. A sigh of relief escaped me when the tiny faces turned as one back to my opponent.
The drip became more distinct. I looked toward it.

It was my mother. A faint aura of light revealed her sitting in a familiar position before her easel. Her housedress was soaked, as was her auburn hair, looking inky black dripping in the half light. She was working at a drawing. I could hear the scritch of her pencil.

Wake up, Sara. Oh please wake up.

My mother, who’d been healthy and beautiful and thirty-five. Who’d walked down the steps with a basket of laundry to hang in the sunshine on a lovely summer morning. Who’d pinned up the towels and underpants and put the extra pins back in the basket. Who’d put the basket on the stoop of her pristine porch, turned and walked down to the river and stepping in, pulled great lungfuls into herself.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Please let me wake. Her pencil went scritch. The twisted figure in the sketch had a paper mache mask. “Wrong room, Sara,” said the paper mache mouth.

I started violently, spilling coffee on the already ugly chair. It was still warm. I looked around the familiar room like a lost soul. There were my tables, littered with sketches and mechanical drawings of carousels and Ferris wheels, shelves of models, some working, some not.
“I’m working way too hard,” I said, wishing my family wasn’t quite so busy, wishing the house wasn’t quite so empty. I poured out the coffee, got a glass of milk instead.
After an hour of thumbing through magazines and half listening to television, I felt calmer and even sleepy. By eleven-thirty I was enjoying the cool feel of the sheets on my feet and the warm press of the cat against my back. The wind was picking up. I didn’t mind. It was the desert’s answer to rain on the roof and, in its own way, soothing.

There was the smell of sawdust. It was still, as though all the air had been pulled away, and waited to rush back in. I felt warmth on my face and opened my eyes. A hobo fire burned in an old metal barrel, its rusted holes creating a grotesque jack-o-lantern. An old man swept up wadded food wrappers, lost toys and ticket stubs and threw the bits into the flames. Shadows from the fire crawled over his intricately tattooed arms. His dirty undershirt, ripped in several places, revealed deep intaglio on his back and shoulders. A barn owl, white-faced and beautiful, perched on his shoulder. Rivulets of blood flowed from where the bird’s claws held him. More was caked on his shirt. Behind him was a tent, darker than the shadows. The sweeping man gestured to the open flap, then held out his hand. I stared dumbly for a second, then fished around in my pocket and found a crumpled twenty and three ones. I straighten the bills, folded them once and laid them on his outstretched palm. He dropped them into the fire and walked away, sweeping as he went. The owl swiveled its head to stare back at me as they retreated into the darkness.
I was inside the tent, back on the confessional stool, back in the game. I sensed others in the darkness, an occasional rustle, and muted jingles. I smelled the antiseptic, sharp and thick.
My opponent made his move. This time his hands were pale flesh, stretched tightly over large knuckled bones that looked too long. He captured one of my pawns with his bishop. My heart sank. The pieces were children. Now I knew what hopelessness looked like; it was carved into their faces. No, I was mistaken, these were not children, but ghosts of children, beyond hope or fear, which are privileges of the living. Some had been here as long as there have been carnivals. They were once children who’d laughed in the sunshine, fidgeted in church and rushed through their homework. Who’d stolen an extra turn on the Ferris wheel, chosen the wrong door in the funhouse and now they were here, wherever this was. His bony fingers handed my captured pawn to a dwarf standing beside the board, who accepted it with both his small hands cupped together. A tiny faded teddy bear lay in the square where the pawn had stood. Woodenly, I reached for it, but before I touched it, my opponent flicked it into the darkness with a finger. The dwarf pulled a pair of scissors from the impossible folds of his ragged clothing. I gagged. He motioned with his head to a bucket on the dirt floor beside my stool. I smelt his putrid breath and retched, puking into the bucket. I wiped my mouth on my sleeve, dizzy but too terrified to black out.
The dwarf screwed a lid onto a glass canning jar. Formaldehyde; that was the antiseptic smell. He held it up. The tiny body floated inside, minus the head. He waddled over to a wall of wooden shelves behind my opponent and carefully placed the jar between two identical ones. A punk show. There were other things in jars I couldn’t recognize and wanted no closer look at. And one I knew all too well. My mother, in miniature, floated in her own jar, eyes open, her pink housedress billowing around her, a line of tiny bubbles streaming from her mouth and nose. I retched again but there was nothing left.
You’re dreaming Sara. Wake up. A gossamer thread of sanity. Hear the wind?


I heard muffled laughter. There they were. The carnival troupe. Sweet Pete, Jack, Bones, Lady Lamia, characters I’d sculpted in wood or clay. My opponent raised his head. Paper mache mask with painted cheeks and a blood red grin. “Your move,” said the paper mache mouth.
My remaining sanity gathered itself and broke through my will, escaping into the darkness, leaving me with a curious sense of freedom.

“ I’ve been here before,” I heard myself, from a distance.
“Yessss,” said the mask.

Something October Part One

The thing in the studio is drying, tomorrow will be painting and photographing. In the meantime, since this is the last breath of October, I thought to post the story I wrote for the Strange Attraction anthology. It's not a new story, but I'd bet not many of you have read it. I've shortened it just a bit and divided it into parts for posting.

Something October

October doesn’t come here. It starts in Wisconsin, with good intentions, but turns tail somewhere north of Pueblo before its first taste of desert , a long haul from Blythe, California. I missed it. October wasn’t just a month for me; it was a state of mind. Today though, my mind was in the state of here and now, driving home from the foundry with a new bronze on the back seat. It was a jester dangling a tiny dead angel from a noose. I’d given the jester only a vague hint at facial features and star-shaped hollows for eyes.
I’d always loved October. The wind felt like promises. Growing up, I turned each year with the leaves. It was time for new discoveries. Some got filed with fodder, some made me a little wiser, but some would empty my pockets of all I believed, leaving room for things I didn’t want to. I closed the windows quickly against a curtain of blowing sand just ahead. My windshield was finely pitted; signatures of other sandstorms. It was nearly Halloween. As I ticked off Joshua trees to the beat of Stranger than Fiction, I relented. October was a no-show. Still, of all that mattered and all that didn’t, October always brought one particular magic: Carnival.

I was eight when I saw the contortionist. It had been a damp-chilly Carolina day and my dad and I walked about the county fair. There were calliopes and ghost houses, cows and jars of pickles with prize ribbons, Joey’s hawking their crooked games, vinegar fries in greasy cones and the Ferris wheel with its view of the river. A tent at the end of the midway held a wooden stage with a rusty tin skirt. A tattooed man stood by a sandwich board that said ‘Strange Attractions’ would appear. He tore our tickets in half with stained fingers and we stepped solemnly through the flap to stand near the stage. We listened to the vagabond arrangement of some murdered waltz. A spotlight washed over the stage and something burst spider-like from the folds of musty velvet. It was a man, long and wiry, in a black leotard and a paper mache mask. He curled around backwards so that his head and arms came right through his shins. When he skittered to the edge of the stage a yard from where I stood, I slipped my hand into Dad’s, suddenly regretting that last candy apple. Something felt very, very wrong. The contortionist’s eyes surveyed the audience and then a terrible thing happened. The eyes settled on me. The moment stretched and thinned. I looked up at my dad. His head bobbed to the music, his cigarette glowed red.
The mask was suddenly inches from my face. “Hello, Sara.” An eye winked and the contortionist skittered away, disappearing into the blackness. For a moment there was no air, then time snapped back to normal. The music played. Two clowns and an ancient poodle were exiting through the velvet. We walked back through the flap with the other patrons. I put my head down and followed my dad through the carnival’s arched gate.

I hadn’t thought about that in ages. I wasn’t even sure how much of it was real anymore, and which part was dream. Mostly that depended on whether I considered it during the bright light of day, or late, when everything was quiet but the breathing of the walls. I’d had nightmares since I could remember. I’d been in therapy, taken a prescription, tried smoking dope. Nothing helped. Finally, I’d learned to live with them. I sculpted and painted them, building a successful career. Now I was beginning the project of a lifetime, a full sized carnival to be constructed right here in the desert. Rides that employed the latest computer technology, but were built to look like they ran on magic older than the wood I’d carve their facades from.
I’d turned lemons to lemonade. But recently, the dreams had grown more disturbing, more tiring.

When I got home, the house was quiet. I was pouring myself a cup of coffee when I noticed my little hand puppet on the counter. I wondered who would have taken it from the studio, but was too tired to pursue it. I put it back in its case, then plopped down in the ugly but infinitely comfortable chair between my work tables. With the strange clarity that exhaustion sometimes brings, images began filtering back in.
It was cold and very dark. I smelled alcohol, antiseptic. I sat on a confessional stool of carved wood, smoothed by years of use. Oddly, my feet didn’t touch the floor. A single lamp illuminated only the chessboard before me. I played black. The knights had broken rank and several pawns were face-to-face at the front line.
My opponent sat in shadow, only his hands visible. The one resting on the table was veined marble. The other, hovering over our silent battle, was carved of some exotic wood. I waited.
No walls were visible in the darkness, but I became aware of a slow, steady drip somewhere to my right. Its echo told me the room was large and empty. I turned my attention back to the game. I’d seen masterfully carved sets before, but not like this. The kings were as long as my hand. Except for the rooks, the pieces had intricately carved faces round as moons and upturned in grotesque parodies of children. I thought of the sunflowers by the river. My opponent’s hand moved to his queen, touching her crown with one polished finger. I watched in horror as the little faces turned in unison. The hand paused, then chose the bishop instead, whose tiny eyes widened as he was lifted delicately and moved two squares diagonally, next to my knight, whose face now followed the hand as it retreated.
My move.











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Friday, October 28, 2005

October eyes


Last night Pete heard a noise, opened the back door to a pair of eyes looking right back at him. Our guest was accomodating enough to stay put for a photo. I spent the morning working in the studio, the afternoon seeing "Stay" and the evening packing art for the World Fantasy Convention. Posted by Picasa

Another view


A better look at our visitor. Tomorrow I'll be back in the studio with an entirely different visitor. I'll be sure to take a couple of photos. After "Stay" I'm seeing nothing but grids, but I should be over that by tomorrow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Luck's Dancer


I'm going to be putting up a page of special pieces for holiday gifts.
The first of these is "Luck's Dancer"

Does he look familiar to you? He should, as he is cast from a mold taken directly from "Luck Be Nimble, Fate Be Quick" SlaughterHouse Studios: Luck Be Nimble

Everyone seemed enamoured of the little dancing jester the frog was trying to snare, so I thought it would be nice to make him available. I painted the original one yellow, in balance with the rest of the sculpture it's a part of. But now the little fellow is on his own, possiblities abound.

I'm really attracted to the idea of painting each one uniquely. This would allow me to be creative and will make the jesters ever so much cooler.

But, I can't show fifty different designs on the website. SO. What I will do is eventually settle on one design, and give collectors the option to say "Surprise me!"

The jesters are 9 1/2 inches from elbow to toe.

Luck's Dancer


Blues and greens. The polka dots were an afterthought. They will be nicely packaged with a card that shows the original sculpture and the story behind it.
Somewhere around the first week of November, I'll put up a page with holiday gifts between $10 and $150. If you just can't stand it and want a Luck's Dancer sooner than later, you can always email the harlikn7@aol.com address. The sale price will be $60. Cool, eh?

Luck's Dancer detail


Closer detail, so you can see some of the paint textures. I'll be doing some experimenting.

Luck's Dancer, back, and that thing in the Studio


Back view. Hope you see what I mean about painting. How could I possibly choose just one?

Now for food and rest, for tomorrow I will rejoin the rather large creature in the studio for some real communicating.
As for RRNN, and others who cannot stand the wait and are prone to name calling his name is below.
For those of you who don't rattle their holiday gift packages or snoop under beds and in closets, don't scroll down, or highlight the text below.
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The title of the sculpture will be: The Children's Hour

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

TEN

As I twisted and taped newspaper on, snippets of text began to catch my attention, strips of tragedy and superficiality one over the other, one over the other. I finally felt myself falling into the rhythm of the sculpture.
I was hearing the incredible voice of Lisa Gerard, and wrapping long, wet strips of heavy paper around and around the frame and everything about this figure became strikingly clear.

This kind of visualization is the pinnacle of the creative process for me. These moments can be very intense. I’ve considered several times creating a sculpture on site as an art exhibit. It occurs to me tonight, as I write about it just after, how personal the experience can be. I have to wonder if I were doing this as a performance piece, if that moment of clarity would be recognizable to those watching-- would it show on my face? or even if I’d be able to get to this level of creativity in that environment. Pete suggests working in an isolated room with a monitor in the art show. Then I could have the impression that I was alone.
Interesting to consider. Another day.

But tonight, in the studio I was alone, then I wasn’t. I recognized exactly who I was conjuring here. I know his texture, his shape, his weight, his posture, his energy, his history and most of all, his name. I can imagine his scent, follow the turn of his head, hear the scraping of his feet and the whisper of his voice.

I’ve known this fellow for a long time, I think.

I’m going to leave this here, for now. Tomorrow I’ll show you something entirely different, while I work uninterrupted. I’ll keep taking photos, and will post them all at once….maybe on Monday.

Oh, and I’ll tell you his name too…

G’night




TEN Posted by Picasa

TEN in lesser Light


Posted by Picasa

Work in Progress Step 09


Finally, back to it this evening, after a long day of ratty and other business, including making a meatloaf.
The outer layers are mostly dry, so I can use rolled up newspaper to add some bulk to the torso. This is a good way to accomplish bulk without adding weight up here that would make the piece top-heavy. You might be surprised to find out how heavy a paper mache sculpture can be. (Think of a thick pack of printer paper). In thick layers, paper is very heavy. Pete, who ran out to get flour for me last night, has the tornado that is Orion so I can go make some progress.
This is real motivation at work. I'm actually walking right past The Daily Show to go work...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


G'night Posted by Picasa

Work in Progress 08 c


Up to now, I've used heavy paper used for roofing jobs. Tomorrow I'll switch to a much lighter masking paper to give me the fine testures I'll want. He's holding a lot of water right now, so is pretty heavy. I'll let him dry in front of a fan overnight. Posted by Picasa

Work in Progress 8 b

The face becomes more detailed, This is the moment he becomes real. I suspend my disbelief here, nearly as when watching a film. It's the moment you can forget the medium and enter into the story. Here is where I see him, and he looks back. Posted by Picasa

Work in Progress 08 a


Framed up the hood with bailing wire and masking tape. Just the general shape--the wire is flexible so I can make changes. Posted by Picasa

Art, Interrupted

This is where real life kicks in. Here the artist, no matter how inspired, must switch gears to accomodate last minute schedule changes and pick up Orion, take a dozen packages to the Post Office and stop by the market, same three-year-old dynamo in tow. Didn't I mention something earlier about food?
This stuff happens. It's not glamourous, but who ever said being an artist is? The shows are nice, but the creative hours are peppered with down-to-earth everyday have-tos. Then, if the everyday wasn't there, it's likely the art would be lacking some of its punch.
Food, finishing up the rat orders that came in today, tearing up lots of paper, then a rest and coffee and back to it. It's poised, I think, for a good session, waiting for me to come back and find out who, what he is. I do know this already--he's evil.


--later

Work in Progress 07


I'm going to stop here for a bit. It's a good place. He's starting to shape up and I have a good idea where I'm going but I haven't quite hit the zone yet. It's coming, That's an interesting place and I dare not go there without food. Posted by Picasa

Work in Progress 06


This is the messy part. It's a good part too. It's the part where it starts to come together in my head. This is a sleeve. I'm liking the sort of organic curve and decide to repeat it. Posted by Picasa

Work in Progress 04


It's a Boy!! Yes, his gender has been determined. In the tub is a mixture of flour, water and wood glue (about a pint). You don't have to have the wood glue, but it gets rid of the chalky texture and makes it more plastic and, it seems, stronger. Posted by Picasa

Work in progress 03


Ok. We've moved inside to begin in earnest. The downside of doing a sculpture off the cuff like this, so to speak, is that you run the risk of utter and complete failure. And that you can easily paint yourself into a corner, put the cart before the horse, throw the baby out with the bath water and whatever other cliche you can think up to describe mistakes caused by lack of planning. On the other hand, you can learn a lot, it's fast, and really, it's fun to let the thing make itself. I'll be tearing up lots of paper next, mixing glue, and putting on some music. Funny to think that whatever I choose to listen to will decide in some part what this thing becomes. Posted by Picasa

Work in progress 02


So I decided to make use of the working light. This helps me choose a position. Nothing has really hit me, so I just picked one. A figure holding a light in one hand, looking and gesturing with the other. What gesture, I haven't decided. Or any other details, but I have to start somewhere. I removed the globe, pulled the cord and socket out a bit. fitted a strip of wood for the shoulders, and attached the socket to the end. Now, a little framing, and more thinking. Music will be good here. Posted by Picasa

Work in progress 01


One unsightly old lamp, in working condition. Now for more coffee. Ok. So I'm moving a little slowly. Nobody jumps out of bed and vacuums. I'm looking...I'm thinking... I'll be back in an hour or so. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Good Day for...Bugs


It begins.
I'm sure I'll see this sight a few more times. I'm posting before ACME hour begins. No kid's education is complete without Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. To me, a truly rounded person can tell Berlioz from Dvorak and Chuck Jones from Fritz Freleng. Ok, that's a ridiculous standard, but I can dream. While I'm at it, I'm teaching Orion to operate Pez. One day, when he's ready, I'll introduce him to Ready Whip in a can. But then, that's really Dad's job, I think.

A Good Day for...Grace


To Deren, and others who've asked: Please forgive the delay. This is a photo of the sculpture Neil writes about in Smoke and Mirrors. It's called "A Measure of Grace." He's had it for a number of years and says he suspects there is a book in there somewhere. I know there's a painting in there, or perhaps a sculpture in a different medium. I'm not so certain I'm finished with the idea.

A Good Day for...Rats


Eight Rats and a BAT! Wow. A box arrived from Robert and Roland in Atlanta. I couldn't have been more pleased than to find two huge rubber rats unlike any I presently have, a sqeaky white rat, four sweet, squishy ones, a Bone rat creature I especially like for some reason and a very cool bat, Thanks you two! I like rats... Posted by Picasa

A Good Day for...Chili

Well, not quite, but hopefully soon. This recipe arrived yesterday from way back East courtesy of Ivory, whom I hope will be attending Balticon next year. I imagine this chili is best served in colder temps. Whoever tries it first, let the rest of us know!

Ivory'’s Hot Diggedy Three Bean Chili

-3 pounds ground chuck - 1 6-ounce can tomato paste

-2 cups coarsely chopped onions - 1 teaspoon salt

-2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic - pepper to taste

-1/4 cup oil - 4 beef bouillon cubes

-1 teaspoon oregano - 1 12-ounce bottle beer (lager or stout work best)

-1/4 cup chili powder - 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained

-1 teaspoon cumin - 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained

-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes - 1 15-oz can black beans, drained

-1 15-oz can cut okra, drained - water as needed

(DISCLAIMER: This is my recipe that I developed over the course of many years and many batches of chili. It is based on another recipe that I found and experimented with until I perfected it to my tastes. My challenge to you is to do the same. Use this recipe as your blueprint to go and build your own house. Add and subtract ingredients until youĂ‚’ve made it your own and to your tastes. Good luck and good eating!)

Brown ground chuck in large skillet, stirring until crumbly; drainSauteutĂ‚’e onions and Garlic in oil in skillet for 5-10 minutes. Add oregano, chili powder, cumin, red pepper, Tomato paste, salt and pepper; mix well. Fill a glass with boiling water and dissolve 4 bouillon cubes in it. Stir in bouillon water and bottle of beer (the type of beer you use will affect tflavorour of the chili a lot. Experiment with different types and styles.

I prefer the taste that dark beers give to the mixture such as Stouts and Lagers.
Guinness, Beamish, and Samuel Adams are all good choices.)

Add ground chuck; Mix well.

Add just enough water to make the mixture lightly soupy and easy to Stir.

Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours (I find a good sized slow cooker is best for This). Add beans and okra, simmer for an hour more. For best flavour I'd advise Chilling overnight and then reheating. Top with cheese and serve with plenty of Bread and beer.

Thanks, Ivory!!

Tomorrow, rain or shine, ready or not, I will make some sort of something of the unsightly old lamp. I will keep you posted as it comes along, or doesn't.

The voice of the late Mr. Blanc calls...

G'night

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Quiet Sunday 1

Quiet Sunday. Alison came and we made soup, but not tea. Coffee. The photo is of her and her boyfriend, Richard, who is in his final steps of training to be a firefighter. She is working. They have plans to go to San Francisco where she’ll be learning to be a chef. Hmmm. I remember her cooking experiments when she lived at home. This firefighting thing might come in handy.

Quiet Sunday 2

Alison and I talked about possible sculptures for me to make from the lamp. We talked about how bottom heavy the lamp is. She pointed out that this is good from a not-falling-over standpoint as well as a not-getting stolen standpoint. This reminded me of the birdbath we had back at the Big Blue House in Georgia. (and Aubrey, running around it).
I awoke one morning to discover it missing. Someone had actually stolen the birdbath right out of our front yard. Go figure. Bastards! So I bought another birdbath. A big one. A solid one that required three grunting, sweating men to move it from the back of a truck to the spot in the middle of the flowers. A couple of months went by, then one morning, we awoke to find the top of the birdbath about a yard from the bed, and the bottom at the end of a rut, the result of dragging it several yards across the lawn. It had been abandoned there, and scrawled on it in black marker, the word “BICH.” I have to wonder, if this dude had stayed in school and learned to spell, if he’d be trying to steal someone’s “fuking burdbath?”

Quiet Sunday 3

That got us started in on the Big Blue House. It was once a school. It was echo-y and cold in winter. At night we could hear it ‘breathing’. But it was big. Soooo big. Sort of empty really, because we didn’t have enough furniture to fill it. But lots of books and lots of space to play. The carnival was born there. In some ways, all my work was.

Quiet Sunday fin

I’ve been in the desert for nearly eight years now but still, sometimes I’m overtaken by a painful nostalgia, especially when I remember winter days when we walked around with blankets and drank cocoa and watched motorists ignore the signs and try unsuccessfully to climb the icy hill. So much of who I am and what I write and paint and sculpt is drawn from that palette of gray skies and evergreens. It calls me, pulls at me and I have to busy myself with other concerns so part of me doesn’t just fly away home.


Don't forget to speak up sooner than later if you want a Grim Ratter to arrive before Halloween.

And, if you were thinking of sliding a Tiny Story in just under the skin of the grace period, now's you chance. Again, sooner than later.

As always, thanks for checking in,

G'night