Saturday, April 30, 2011

 The Bridge I Cross
Today is just a backyard picture kind of day. So I am showing you photos of my backyard, garden and the studio where I work.
 My Garden in progress
   I am lucky, I walk to work, about a hundred feet from my back door, across this little stone and steel bridge to the front entry to my studio.

This is my garden area next to the studio and a big area of concrete where I do my outside work and display my pieces.  This pair of benches have been sold and found a nice home but this reminds me that I should make some more.  They are steel framed with a concrete bench with slate veneer.
 Trumpet Vine in Bloom
The gated archway to my garden has a large trumpet vine, offering hundreds of beautiful orange blooms for all summer long.
    My garden is mostly Tomatoes and mostly heirloom varieties from seeds that I have saved over the years.
I made, years ago, perhaps the best food dehydrator in the world!  I have the plans for this if you want them!
 Little Garden Plunge Pool
I can dry about a five gallon bucket full of tomatoes at a time.  Dried like potato chips, they are great on a cracker with some cheese.

This is the little garden "Plunge Pool" I built with the help of my daughters when they were eight and eleven years old.  It is three feet deep and about 8' x 14', can be heated but I don't.
My daughters have moved on in life but I got to keep the pool!

There are hundreds more photos of my garden  HERE!

Friday, April 29, 2011

"For Richer or Poorer"...

    I just saw "The Wedding" on Television, at least the critical last ten minutes of it.  Did anyone else notice Kate's smile as she repeated her vows?  I wonder what she is really thinking?  The laws of ascension are complicated to me and I don't understand them.  They are considering changing them but I doubt if they will.
Kate is his Queen but not The Queen, of course, not the Queen of England.  That is Elizabeth, William's Grandmother and she will be a hard Queen to replace.
   I think Elizabeth has lived a long time on purpose.  No one could imagine Charles being King of England.
Everybody loved Diana and wanted her to be Queen even when she was no longer married to Charles.
In the old days it was easier to keep track of who was next in line.  If you could "keep your head" you had a chance and they didn't have messy divorces.  If you didn't produce a male heir you were simply executed.
"Off with their head", that typical British slogan.
    I think William is the once and future King now and Charles is just sort of Dad, out of the picture, but I don't know exactly how that happened or why he was allowed to keep his head about him.  I suspect Kate will become pregers pretty fast or at least if I were William that is what I would be doing.  She needs a son or if something bad happened to William, something that would cause him to lose his head, well then, it would be up to Harry, wouldn't it?
   Of course, if Harry would be King there would be a party and lots to drink!  The problem and advantage to being second in line is no one takes you seriously and you can sometimes keep your head about you while other's are losing theirs.  I like Harry;  I like the name.  Harry King!  I might like William a bit more if I knew him as Bill or when he was Billy if he ever was.  It is so difficult to really get to know these British Royalty.
   It was fun seeing all this on Television.  I could pretend I was there and I was in my pajamas.  I saw Elton was there and Mr. Bean!  Now that's great, I know that Kate has a sense of humor!

What I do is HERE.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Entering the Art World

My entry into the art scene was a little different than most. I live in an area of about 200,000 people and have participated in the local Home Shows as a remodeling contractor for years.  I have always had a thing for Home Shows every since I was eleven years old and saw my first Microwave Oven.  That was just magic to me, futuristic, outer space kind of stuff.  I think Home Shows should not be more of the same, just seeing again what is already available and everywhere.
    I did Home Shows for 25 years in a row, 15 as "Jerry Carlin Construction" and the last ten as "Stonepost Co.", my alter ego art side.  I never had the same booth twice, never brought the same stuff back to another show, never sat at a table waiting for customers to approach me.  I always had some kind of drama there, something to make them curious, something they had never seen before!
    By the time I was ready to toss the Construction Company aside, a lot of people already knew me.  I had my jobs on television, been interviewed a few times and written up in the papers.  I wasn't famous for anything but interesting news on a slow news day.
   It is a tough business, making art from metal and attempting to make a living at it.  I quickly learned that China Incorporated makes everything and they are tough to compete against.  I don't know how they do it.  I can't get my stuff powder coated for what they sell theirs for!
    The first rule I made for myself was, if it would fit in a plain brown cardboard box, if it were easily shipable, if I had seen it before, if they were angels and fairies or flimsy garden arbors, then I wouldn't make them.  This rule led me to make some really heavy stuff, really big and really strong and pretty soon I got a name for myself as a builder of just such stuff.  I don't know why but few were building anything really cool in this town.  Three styles of gates were about all you had to choose from! and the type of arbors one can get at Costco or Walmart.
 My "First Painting" on Stainless Steel
   Now I have entered another dimension of art.  I have begun to paint!  I am cleaning and rearranging my studio to include a painting area and it is going to be a lot of fun. I know absolutely nothing about painting, no rules, no methods, no artists, nothing.  I am pretty illiterate when it comes to this world.  I have friends who are "real artists", sell their wares for big bucks and are "gallery known", successful.  One encourages me, gives me hints and inspiration and the other is silent.  Maybe polite.
   It will be interesting to see what happens. I know for sure if I don't do it, nothing will happen!
More of my Paintings are HERE.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pot in My Garden!

 Copper center planter and two stone planters at the back of my garden.
Well, the headline is to catch you they are really pots, flower pots and I have a lot of them.  I counted them yesterday as I was cleaning them, painting others and placing them around my garden.  I have thirty-two of them and they all hold over five gallons of soil and some many times that.  Twenty of them are from recyled light fixtures that I ressurrected from the dump but others I have made myself.  Some are expensive costing me over $300 and others were just about free.
 One of 14 fuchsia plants in my courtyard
Dabs of color are everywhere along my garden paths and like an artist controlling vision, they are the backdrop to this garden canvass.  At the end of my garden I have them seven feet in the air and although it is physically possible to see past this to my neighbor's house, the eye always stops at this wall of "Wave Petunias".
   As you leave my house to cross my bridge to enter my garden area you first enter a little courtyard of filtered sun where you will find 14 fuchsia plants in seven pots about four feet off the ground.  They are always beautiful and thriving and huge, giving you anticipation of what is to come.
   Every year I do it a little differently and this year I rebuilt the main entry to my garden, creating a concrete curb to separate the garden from the walkway.  This area is about 30 feet long and I have placed pots all along the way at varying elevations.
 In my shop.  One of my painted pots!
Behind these pots is a fence structure which will become a wall of green beans, creating a "secrete garden" and encouraging your curiosity.  It is going to be fun this year!

You can see more of my garden HERE!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More of the same...

International Politics and clashing of cultural values is a bit like the game "Prison Dodge Ball" we played in grade school.  In theory there were only two teams pitted against each other but we all knew there were clicks and personal favorites within each team and there were the kids who just got sacrificed because they were in the way.  I find it fascinating that all of Nato, led by the United States is so quick to get involved in Lybia and so reluctant to address Syria.  China has a huge presence in Lybia and Iran influences what goes on in Syria.  Most of the Arab world doesn't like Ghadafi and has a fear of the Nuclear capabilities of Iran.
   It is interesting to watch all of this from a distance and a bit frustrating that I have really no idea of what is going on.  These are not terrorists with an agenda against the United States but they are not "freedom fighters" as we know the term.  It is clear however that the United States has supported repressive regimes,
some for over forty years because they support our policies and for one reason or another are "on our side" in this game of dodgeball.
   Times are changing and it is difficult for me to understand Middle Eastern Cultures.  I have my background and they have theirs.  I live in a country with a "rule of law" and a purposeful separation of Church and State.
Theirs is a Tribal Society and the current unrest is a battle of supremacy, one tribe above another. They all seem to want a Religion backed government and the rule of Shea Law over individual rights and responsibilities.  I don't understand a culture that would condone mass rape of a young woman as some kind of tribal justice.  We have gotten in trouble many times in the past with the attitude of "supporting the devil we know" as opposed to the devil we don't know.
    What bothers me the most is we are not being told the truth about anything, by anyone.  We see something on T.V. or read an article and think we understand it but we don't.  We are being given limited information with a narrow scope about a culture we examine through our microscope, not theirs.
   It makes me wonder how we really choose our battles?  It is certainly not an indignant scream for justice.
We allow Darfur to continue.  We did nothing in Rwanda. The Kamer Rouge killed off their intellectuals, teachers and civil servants and set their country back in time a hundred years and we did nothing.  Horrible things happen every day and made even more horrific when they become institutionalized, a policy of government. Sometimes we intervene and sometimes we don't.
   Revolutions do not necessarily make the world a better place.  I think Egypt was the first and now the latest polls say that over 70% of them want to do away with the Peace Accords agreed to with Israel.
How is this going to bring about world peace and make the region more stable?
    This is all important to me because I like to know what is going on.  It affects me because my country is going deeper in debt and threatening to cut social services in an attempt to fund our involvement in these issues.  It is all borrowed money and I just wonder why, what is the truth to all of it?  To say I am helpless and surround myself in my art is to bury my head in the sand.  If there really is a judgement day, what am I supposed to say?  Gosh, I didn't know? or, crap, I just didn't give a damn!  I know I have such little power but I know what I won't say:  "I did nothing".  I am talking to you, aren't I? and you in turn can talk to others,
enough of this and eventually some kind of truth will emerge.  The path we are on is dangerous, expensive and dark.

HERE is where I hide out!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

25 Abandoned Soviet Monuments that look like they're from the Future | Crack Two

25 Abandoned Soviet Monuments that look like they're from the Future Crack Two

Wow, somebody sent these to me and they are really worth looking at.
I wonder where these will belong in the annuls of Art History?  It is interesting that in the 1980's these monuments attracted millions of visitors and now none, abandoned.  Some are clearly engineering marvels, way ahead of their times and all are huge, massive, heavy, in your face.
   They are depicting battles from World War II or Concentration Camps, moments of death and suffering for millions.  How do you do this without being ugly?  I would think that to be part of the artist's task.
Monstrosities for a monstrous times.
   What is interesting about this "art" is that no humanity is depicted in it anywhere.  Maybe that is the way it should be, just power and insanity gone amok.  It is "non-art" now, abandoned and gone to waste with no upkeep and no visitors.  I don't think it was ever meant to be pleasant or graceful or entertaining or attractive like Disneyland.  I think it was meant to "Shock and Awe" and find it interesting that it no longer does this.
Have a look at it and tell me what you think.
You can always find me HERE

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Know What You Did Last Summer!

I never saw that Movie but I heard it was a killer.  So I am reading the news like I always do and I discover that the new iphones come with a tracking device, not a passive GPS that you can use when lost but a system where "they" know where you are and where you have been all the time!  I think these have been on new cars for a long time and it will become a method of taxing us based on milage, particular roads used and what sections of town we visit.  I am waiting for the latest model that will tell me where I am going.
     I am so out of touch with this Century.  I don't own a cell phone and I am wondering when they will make that illegal?  I admit that I have a Blue Ray Contraption Thingy for my television set but I have no idea how to use it.  I have had it for almost two years; the television sits atop it to get the perfect elevation.
    I would be the perfect canidate to get a GPS for my truck.  I am always getting lost.  I don't mind this though.  It gives me a sense of adventure.  To get from "A" to "B" the fastest way possible has never been my style.  I am an ambling kind of guy and have been known to stop along the way or take detours and sometimes just change my mind entirely.
     I can't imagine anyone with an interest in tracking my movements.  It would be a boring job.
Visit me HERE!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pots in My Garden

 Pots near secondary garden entry

 Flower Pots on my Garden Wall
 I have a lot of flower pots scattered throughout my garden.  Most of them were once light fixtures,
the type you might find in a school gymnasium, made from porcelain covered steel.  I once found at the local scrap yard a whole truck load of them

 about to be ground up and sent to China!  I bought them all, about 60 of them, took the light assembly out, made stands for them and turned them into flower pots!  Most of them I had powder coated the primary colors but some I painted myself.  They are pretty big, about 19" across and 14" deep.  I love them and kept 20 for myself, selling off the rest to good homes, I hope.

As you know, most of my garden is tomatoes, that is my lot in life, perfecting the tomato plant!
But I do like flowers and have them everywhere,

Painting on one of my flower pots!
even seven feet in the air!

Spring is here and every year about this time I plot and plan my garden, always with the task to make it a little better than the year before.  My garden is one huge canvas and where I do my best art!
More of my Garden is HERE

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rock Stars and Artists

     Well, I don't really know any Rock Stars but I do know a movie star, some very successful authors and a couple artists who sell their wares for big bucks.  I went to High School with them and as youngsters we were friends.  We went on to college together and I have sort of followed their career paths all along the way.  I may not know them well enough to write their biographies but I could certainly add a chapter or two!
They have become very successful in their career choices but I wouldn't say they were extraordinary people. ultra bright or in any way marked for success from the beginning.
    All three of these people had some talent for sure, in painting or theater or writing things down but I knew others with these same talents who fell by the wayside, on to other things, letting their abilities slide.  Many of us do that, the day to day business of living is calling us all and needs attention.  One day, just for a day, we don't write, we don't paint, no theater of life at all.  These days add up and have a power of their own.  They are demanding and art can wait.  We deal with the necessities of life.
    These people were not rich or well off at all, had no trust fund, nothing special to allow them to travel roads we avoided, had no extra strength to stretch a day.  I think they were directional, knew where they were going and how to get there.  Maybe, maybe not fanatical, they were disciplined and created time for their talent.
    Corvallis is an interesting little town in the heart of the Willamette Valley and has produced several famous people.  I knew Bernard Malamud, a professor and famous author.  He maintained a separate apartment away from his home and family just for his writing and so he wouldn't be distracted.  He wrote four hours a day, every day and had been known to take notes while at a party.  Just in his blood.  I remember a story about the birth of his child concerning whether he would be there or not.  "If it doesn't interfere with my writing schedule," was his response.
    My three childhood friends who went on to become very successful at what they do did so by definition.
First and foremost that is how they saw themselves, writer, actor, painter.  It is who they were and each step along the way was cement to further solidify their identities.
 copper etching
   I one time thought to myself, "How difficult can this be?"
I spent two days hunting for galleries that might like what I do.
This was the easy part.  I had a week of frenzy and created a small pick up truck load of my "stuff" and the galleries loved it.
 My "stuff" in a real art gallery!
I went to "openings",  had wine tastings, actually dressed up in clean clothes.  All of a sudden I was on television and in the newspapers!  I admit this was an accumulation of thirty-five years of experience, and had an idea of what I was doing, but really, it all came pretty easy.

 Painting on copper sheet
What comes hard is the rest of the story, the follow through.  Oh, the galleries were a success and my stuff sold and I was flattered that they wanted more.  It is the definition and discipline that I am having trouble with.  Many days I would prefer to just spend four hours in my garden.  Maybe I am too complex.  Too complicated to be defined?
   I am not driven.  I think, maybe, that is what it takes.

MORE Paintings and Stuff HERE

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taxing Situation!

    I like being an American Citizen, consider myself pretty lucky, but it doesn't really cost me anything at all.
Forty-five percent of Americans pay no Federal Tax at all and I am in this group. Twenty-five years ago it was the bottom 20% that didn't make enough money to have to pay taxes.  We are an expanding segment of America.
   I think there is a downside of living in a country and not contributing to it.  Oh, I pay local taxes and property taxes, it is just that I don't pay any American Taxes.  This is an element of the "American Dream" that has gone by the wayside.  The notion of working hard and paying your fair share will lead you to a life of success is not attainable to the vast majority of people.
    There are some efforts now in Congress to tax the rich a little more and you know I think this is a good idea.  Most of their money is made through "Capital Gains" (think money making money) and taxed at 15%
with hundreds of loopholes and deductions to get out of even that.  This is an archaic system that worked when the money and jobs it created remained in the United States but so many get shipped overseas now and the money stays in off shore accounts.  This is not the "American Way" that lead us to such great success.
    But, don't leave me out.  I want to play too!  I think it is necessary to contribute something to be a part of a great country.  We are losing our sense of participation, of belonging, of "being an American".  Like everything else in life, if it doesn't cost us anything we probably won't pay much attention to it.
   Western Europe and a lot of other countries have the equivalent of a National Sales Tax, pay as you go and pay on everything and there is no April 15th tax day.  The wealthy pay more because they buy more and the poor pay less because they buy less but everyone contributes.  There are no write-offs and loopholes.
It has to be clear by now to everyone that our present tax codes do not work.
   I am a product of the 1960's and I hate war.  It is not a polite way to resolve differences and is always expensive.  I miss the draft though.  Oh there were ways out of it if you really put up a fuss.  There were all kinds of alternative services you could do.  I like the idea of serving your country, two years out of a lifetime
helping other people, learning and contributing.  An investment in America.
   These are horrible economic times.  Forty-five million Americans are not choosing to pay nothing in taxes.
We are not choosing to be left out.  We would like to join in the discussion of what it means to be an American Citizen, the Rights and Responsibilities and contributions.  It is not a good feeling to say "I did nothing,"  "I paid nothing", or "I don't even know anything."  That is not us.  That is not who we are.

My Art Site is HERE.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Business of Business

Small business is the backbone of this country and I think that is defined as 200 employees or less.  For a while I had as many as fifteen but the average for my 35 years in construction was only five.  I also had steady, reliable sub-contractors, plumbers, masons, roofers, electricians and such.  It is a lot of responsibility.
   The cost of doing business does not begin here though.  In my town this type of business can't be run out of your home so first you need a place for business, somewhere the employees can gather to go to work and a place to store equipment and supplies.  I had a small shop I rented in one of those series of shops that every town has.  This costs me about $600 per month.
   Electrical rates for business are more expensive than residential rates so with only a small office heated this added about $200 to my monthly expense.  I had a lot of tools which I sometimes forget as an expense of doing business but you have to have them.  I would guess at one time this might have been $10,000 worth of tools, and then, a little truck, a big truck and a van.  I had to have insurance of these, of course, and commercial insurance is more expensive than personal insurance, and then you need liability insurance on everything you touch!  My "insurance package" came to over $500 a month.
    Without opening my doors and going to work, actually finding a job to pay for all this I figure my base cost of operations was close to $2,000 a month!  And I sometimes, except for around tax time, forget the yearly expenses that just seem to come up!  Accounting and bookkeeping was another grand a year!
    And, have I mentioned Taxes yet?  I am retired now and I have forgotten most of them but everyone wanted a piece of my action!  First, without making a dime, there were property taxes and inventory taxes and taxes on the equipment and vehicles!  And when you really get that first job the tax people are at your door.  It is like working for the Mafia!  In my county we have a bus system that is employer subsidized.  It makes no difference that we can't actually take our ladders and saws onto the bus, we pay for it anyway!
We have a great on the job injury insurance in our state but it is extremely expensive, averaging 17% of a paycheck in the construction trades, over 40% for roofers.  Social Security costs another 15%, the employer contributing 8% of this.  I have always been self employed so I paid the entire 15% on myself.
   I know there were more taxes but like any painful memory, as you get away from this you have a tendency to forget them.  Then, of course, there is the great bug a boo, the thing we hate to talk about and hope will just go away or solve itself:  Health Insurance!  When I began my company over 35 years ago I could get an adequate, although not perfect, policy for my employees for about $100 each per month.  When I retired this expense had grown to over $900 each per month.  It has become a burden that business can no longer bare.
The cost of health care adds about $1,700 to the price of an American automobile, almost nothing to the cost of an imported car!
    As an average, the last year I was in business, my employees made about $12 per hour, some more, some less.  I had to divide my expense of business by five, the number of employees I had.  Sometimes I am competing with a guy out of his car with a Black and Decker skill saw and a fifteen foot extension cord with no license, no insurance, no cost of doing business at all.
    I guess I am writing all this so you can appreciate how complicated all of this is.  I take my hat off to the small business person of this country.  They work hard with high risks and little appreciation for being the backbone of our American system.

visit me HERE

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Way it Should Be!

I love the Republicans, I mean I really do!  I once had a short affair with one and she was the best.  No, honestly, I was just talking with her.  So their new tax proposal will give a $250,000 additional break to the ubber wealthy and raise medical care for Seniors $6,000 each to pay for it.  This is really as it should be.
Old people are getting too old and there are far too many of them. I read a story on the internet, as opposed to say my grandmother, today's old people don't have anything of value.  My grandparents had really old Victorian furniture and I admit mine is mostly junk.  Whatever old people have they aren't going to take it with them and they should be stripped of every last dime.
     I like the ubber wealthy or imagine I would.  Think how great it would be to make Five Billion a year and be in a fifteen percent tax bracket?  Not pay a dime to transit tax!  Stop paying into Social Security after a mere $116,000! That would be a yearly celebration every January 3rd or 4th!  They do provide jobs though and that is for sure.  My daughter is one of 250 attorney's, each being paid $30 an hour plus loads of overtime, to investigate the beginning procedures in an upcoming lawsuit between two rival corporations!
That's productivity!
    We are told that the small employer is the backbone of America and I know this used to be the case.
I know lots of small employers; I was one myself.  I don't know a single one who makes $250,000 in a year.
Most of them work seventy hours a week and make less than half that amount.  I think they must be waiting for their ship to come in and, finally, after they make their first Billion, they will be thankful for that tax break!
    After we finish getting all we can out of old people we will go after other groups, you can count on that.
The disabled should take care of themselves too, or get family members to do it.  Veterans too, when they come home from the war should realize that it is over.  No more free rides for them!
   Piranha in a fish bowl.  Soon we will eat our young!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Debt and other philosophies

   So much for WIC and women!  Why should I give up part of my hard earned money to provide assistance to some dumb pregnant broad?  Stupid to get pregnant, didn't do it on my dime!  Maybe the Republicans are correct and our financial problems can be solved by attacking the lowest 3%.  Three cents out of a dollar.  I know it will make me feel better when these pregnant bitches are off the street and I don't have to see them.
I can't stand the unemployed.  They are just lazy and with their food assistance they eat better than I do!
Why should I help someone with their utility bill when I can barely pay my own?  And they are cutting medical care down to the bone and that is a good thing!  I didn't make them sick.  No more federal funding to community health clinics and that is the way it should be!  They are not worth a crap when they get well anyway.  Medicare, of course, is next.  Old people have had their chance and they screwed it all up. Why should we help them anyway?  They are hardly producing members of society.  They have become leaches.
We will cut back on Social Security too.  They just live too damned long!
     I think we should have debtor's prisons and proper shanty towns, places away from us so we don't have to look at them.  If milk is so important let them get their own milk.
    The battle in Congress is not about the National Debt.  All these issues don't amount to three cents on the dollar.  It is "chump change" (what you pay a boxer to lose a fight on purpose).  It is all mirrors and shadows.
It is a discussion on philosophy, not economics.  I know a couple of things for absolute fact.
     Money MUST be circulated or no one gets any.  It sounds great on paper to curtail these programs and quit paying these freeloaders out of our hard earned money but I wonder what the consequences might be?
I wonder if a glass of milk or baby formula could prevent malnutrition and costly long term illnesses?  I wonder whether giving up community health programs might send more people to the emergency rooms?
I wonder whether stopping unemployment insurance might lead to more people living on the streets?
What happens to all the decent paying jobs of those who care for those in need?
    Why do the Republicans have such a fanatical desire to protect the rich?  The Democrats would like to raise taxes only on money earned after the first $250,000!  The Democrats would like General Electric to pay some kind of tax.  They made a profit of Five Billion last year and paid Nothing!  What is the deal here?
    It is the old belief in "Trickle Down Theory", that we can eat from the crumbs of the aristocrats and be grateful.  This was all before off shore banking was invented, before we learned to register all ships in Panama, before we exported all of our jobs to China.  Times have changed.  I don't understand why it is so complicated.  We have THREE WARS going on now and all with borrowed money.  If someone was serious about the National Debt they might address these issues.  There are more Millionaires  and Billionaires now than ever! and they pay less taxes than ever before in our history!  As a percentage, far less than the average person.  Just 3% tax on them AFTER they have made the first $250,000 would solve every financial problem we have.  Or, if you prefer some fun in our Constitutional Law, you could get them to do what we do:  spend it.  Most of us spend all of our money before the tenth of the month!  Why not, for one year, create a law that says you can make whatever you like but you must spend it every month?  Just joking, but not really.  That would circulate money pretty fast!
    Why is being wealthy such a sacred cow?  It is our society that allowed and provided opportunity for the wealth in the first place.  Shouldn't there be a tiny payback to that? Say, 3%?  Where do we get the idea that someone may work harder than we do and actually deserves $50,000,000,000 in a single year?  It is an old belief and the reason the nicest house is highest on the hill and closer to God.  Scary but true.
   If you want to return The United States to its Glory Days of the 1950's, under Republican leadership, that would be okay with me.  But remember in those days we had a graduated income tax, the more you earned the more you paid in taxes.  It is all pretty simple math.  In the meantime we are piranha in a fish bowl, eating the bottom fish and next we will eat the ones in the middle and the fish on top are laughing at us because they know they will be eating us for lunch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sold but not finished...

     I posted a photo of the art piece I did for the top of the stairs at a local winery.  That job has been bothering me and I have been thinking a lot about it.  Oh, they liked it just fine.  It was exactly what they wanted, artistic and functional, a safety piece of art to prevent some guest from tumbling down the stairs.
 Paid for but something is wrong with it?
But there was something about it I didn't like. Ever since I acquired a digital camera I have always taken photos of my work.
I studied these photos for several days, long after I was paid in full and the job completed.
    Part of the problem wasn't my fault.  There is always an element of risk when I measure for an installation piece and the remodeling or construction is not complete. I had allowed for a baseboard to be installed but thought it might be four inches high.  As it turned out, it was about 8" tall which caused me to put a shim piece of wood on the wall at the top connecting piece of my rail.
 New and Improved and Framed!
    This worked and did the job but it just didn't have the tight to the wall look that I had envisioned.  My customers were happy but I wasn't.  Something wasn't right.
  A part of the problem was this piece wasn't designed to be 3/4" away from the wall and the other problem, thought of after the fact, I admit, is the main 2" post on the left acts as a frame to this art, a frame incomplete with nothing against the wall.
   I could have left well enough alone.  I had been paid in full and the job was completed, but it bothered me.  It was not a case of saving my good name, a year from now no one will know who made this.  It is not signed.  But I knew it was nice and it became a matter of saving my art.  I could make it better!
I could so I did.  Now you can see both photos.

My other Work is HERE.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Job of an Artist

 Nice, but will it go with the couch?
I spent 35 years in construction and know that there is art in a good foundation.  Rafters cut to perfection have a clean, crisp look and provide strength to the finished, framed house, the biggest "art projects" that I have ever worked on.  A house can become the most expensive art a person will buy.
     Fifteen years ago when I developed an interest in art welding my sense of scale was reduced and I created smaller art pieces.  Steel is still expensive but has an intrinsic value whether the art is good or not.  It has value by the pound.  It is always an investment because the materials themselves have worth and will cost more next year.
     A year ago I discovered painting and am having a lot of fun with it but don't understand its value at all.
I have seen at garage sales what I consider perfectly acceptable works selling for less than the price of the canvass.  Painting is the cheapest art since popcorn.  You can paint some really big paintings for three dollars worth of paint.  I enjoy it.  It is fun.  It is creating poetry without language and images without restraint, but I don't understand it.

Night Scene

There is a marketing to the sales of paintings that is like no other.  Everyone knows that the nicest painting is on a thirty dollar canvas and contains three dollars worth of paint.
You can buy a thirty five thousand dollar car and the dealer might make $2,000 for his trouble.  You can buy a house and the commission might be 6% but expect to pay 50% to the gallery where you buy your paintings.  So, half the value of the painting is in hype.  It is in the wine tasting, the opening night, the rubbing shoulders, the gala event!  We buy a painting because we want a piece of this action, a taste of something we may dream about.
     Good artists work their trade and ingratiate themselves to galleries that work for them.  I am happy I discovered painting; it is a cheap way to fill the day but when you are used to selling art by the pound it is difficult to understand its value.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Irrevocable Decisions

    I am a list maker, have been for most of my life.  Not only do I make a list of "things to do", but they are diagrammed and outlined with methods to do them and the materials that will be needed and where and how to get those.  I think this is left over from my school teaching days and lesson plans. As a teacher you had to set goals and methods of achieving them, alternatives to chaos and a realization that there are several routes to success.  An attitude of "we will see what the day brings" will always lead to disruption in the classroom.
   "Control" in itself can never be a goal because that always leads to nothing.  It is not a good teacher who at the end of the day can only say "my class behaved itself".  That is a poor mark of success.
   I took these same list making and lesson planning attributes with me for my 35 years in the construction industry.  Goal setting in construction is what it is all about.  Schedules and timing and the order of things are the essential elements.  When the concrete arrives on Wednesday you need to be ready for it.
   Art is no different.  There are steps and stages, materials to gather and conditions all along the way. There is an order to things and an allotment of time.  Even now in my retirement I find myself making lists.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Everything Under the Sun...

   has been written about, done and redone.  There can be only so many "dark and stormy nights", so many misty sunrises pushing out the valley fog before we get bored with the language and put the book back on the shelf.  We want things, especially descriptions, to offer us a new plate of emotions, a view not seen or buried
too long.  A writer can be stuck for hours on an ocean wave in an attempt to describe the Pacific in a way that hasn't been done.
   This is especially true when it comes to sex.  We think about this all the time, as the saying goes, 65% of the population masturbates and 35% are liars!  IT is in every advertisement, in all the magazines, on almost every television show, everywhere.  When it becomes our task at description we stumble and fidget, find euphemisms, draw the curtains and guess.  Sex is one of the hardest (!) things to write about.  How do you do it without it being pornographic?  Or how do you do it so it is very pornographic?
    At one time or another we have all stumbled our way through it and maybe with practice achieved perfection but that doesn't make it easier to write about.  It is in and out, a repetitive exercise with sometimes contorted, uncomfortable positions that leaves you sweaty like any good workout program.
    Part of the problem may be that sex isn't really what we are after.  It is just a pleasant road on a journey to discover something else entirely.  But intimacy itself is a difficult subject because intimacy always means we are not enough.  Intimacy is far more personal than sex; it is allowing another into your soul and it is a position of vulnerability.  You can get wounded.
   It is a trick not taught to go through life without developing callouses, defensive shields and barriers.  It is a defensive mechanism of survival but works against us too.  We set perimeters and boundaries to prevent approach without ever realizing these same behaviors limit our ability to escape.  It is a difficult situation.
I cannot be who I might want to be because I have a fear of who you are.  We develop a distrust of reactions and a caution to what other's might think.
    A way out of this situation might be to own your own feelings and let other's own theirs.  I am not responsible for how you think or how you feel.  I don't make you feel anything.  The feelings are yours, and mine are mine.  That is a lot easier to say than to incorporate and conflicts a bit with our use of language.
You make me feel sad.  In my philosophy this is impossible. Yeah, you can make me hot baby, but only I can make me sad!

Don't worry, be Happy.  Look at my art HERE.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Christmas in April

    I have been really busy with doing the little art thingy for the winery and creating a new entry to my studio.
I just plain forgot all about PAMO!!! Mea Culpa for sure I just didn't have my priorities in the correct order.
If I were clever I would link this site to hers, but I am not and you will just have to do the leg work. She is on the blogs I follow and well worth a visit.

As you can see I am gently opening it to discover a package within a package!
   It seems months ago that we decided to exchange presents of some kind. a piece of my heart kind of thing, a bit of art between our houses.  She set up rules for me. Can you believe that?  Rules?  Me?  Something "about the size of a post card", so I created something from the debris around my shop and mailed it off to her.  Then I just plain forgot about everything!
This morning on my doorstep is a package from FedEx and I am thinking that I didn't order any steel, what could this be?
Viagra always comes in a plain brown package and for a whole weeks worth it is a bit bigger and heavier, so I knew it wasn't that.  My hot russian babes photos always come in a flat parcel, also clearly unmarked and never wrapped in red.  I am thinking how can the internet be so smart?  How do they know that red and blue are my favorite colors?  Do they know about the russian babes?  My friendly Canadian Viagra salesperson
(Helga) has always promised me discretion!
    I continue this gentle unwrapping process and my heart is pounding.  I really haven't done any drugs since the '60's, could this be my friend from Afghanistan?  No!
 Original PAMO Art! and a BOOK!
   It's from PAMO! and now I am rich beyond my imagination!
I am off to the frame shop today as this is certainly "suitable for framing"!  PAMO, I can't say thank you loud enough!
AND a book! "Twice Weekly Letters", by Robert Genn with thousands of his blogs to friends and fellow artists.  An idea gold mine!  Thank you for this too!!!
   Christmas in April.

My concrete pour is HERE

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

At The Top of the Stairs

There are a lot of wineries near where I live probably because we have similar weather as France with beautiful rolling hills with lots of southern exposure.  Some, as I have told you before are a bit like the Hatfield's and the McCoys, bitter rivals and enemies, rich retired people with more money than sense.
These can be vast spreads of land and it all reminds me of Ben Cartwright and the Ponderosa except there is not a cow to be found.  It is all grapes.
     One of the first Wineries in this region is, appropriately called "King Estates" and it is by far the biggest.,
 A metal sculpture at the top of the stairs.
too big I think to become involved in the tantrums of the smaller growers.  These are nice people.

 A closer detail.
Within view of the main winery, which is huge, and situated on a little knoll is a guest cottage which is being renovated to become a "Bed and Breakfast" offering a panoramic view to the thousands of acres of wine grapes.  Assuming these guests might drink a little too much of what is being offered, at the top of the stairs I built a little metal sculpture as a safety feature.
I think I am at all of the wineries now, a little of me scattered all over this little valley.
It is flattering when people say to me that they have seen my work, even if they can't remember exactly where.  Some wineries have my big entry gates, other's have my "original Stone Posts", some have a wall hanging or two or little "desk art" and now, at the top of the stairs, I am at King Estates!

More of what I do is HERE

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hokey Pokey

   You put your right foot in...
I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out what life is all about. Plato, I think, said "the unexamined life is not worth living," and I am even trying to figure what that means?  It is a difficult beginning when you don't even understand the question!  He and Socrates discussed so much from within the darkness of a cave and decided that you don't really need to experience something in order to understand it. You don't have to be a cow to know sweet from sour milk.
   It is interesting how we achieve our identities and I am pretty convinced that we are born with our personalities, but is personality the same as identity?  Psychologists claim that there are only so many personalities, type 'A' or type 'B'. introverts and extroverts, those that go after life and those who wait to receive it, passive and aggressive.  Is that what it is all about?  One or the other?
   We can't be all things to all people and we are different for different people.  Our behavior is altered by circumstance.  Even I can be nice!
   So much of our identity is circumscribed around our employment.  It is almost the first question asked:
"what do you do?"  In these tough economic times this is becoming an embarrassing question! Yet if we ask the question: "How are you?" we really don't expect an answer!
   This changes a bit with retirement and maybe comes about with lower expectations.  There is not much that I have to do.  The question that I like is, "How are you enjoying retiement?"  I wonder why this question couldn't be used earlier in life?  Not what did you accomplish today or how much did you do, but what did you enjoy about it?  Pretty weird, huh?  In a day's work we are supposed to stack one hundred and forty two boxes and it is okay to be miserable during this whole process!  It is a race.  So much to do and so little time.
    What is interesting is that we get caught up in this and are continually moving the goal post.  Every item purchased on credit is a promise of future indentured servitude.  I have always had two prices for my art.
If I have already done it, it is pretty cheap but if you want to obligate my future it can be very expensive.
   You put your right foot out!  Why can't we dance along the way?  Somehow, along the way, I think we have got it all wrong and we are asking the wrong questions.  Maybe the answers are found in the roller rink of life, found in the Hokey Pokey.  That is what it is all about.
You can visit me HERE!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I've got to quite reading the newspapers and maybe all my problems will go away?  Brian Roberts works really hard.  He is the CEO of Comcast Cable Television.  He made 31.1 Million Dollars last year, a fourteen percent jump over the year before.  They didn't even think to hire me. I would have done it for less,
maybe even a mere twenty million, depending on the benefits and all.  I mean I am not stupid, if I don't get the fortune I would want the fame.  I admit that I would have a lot to learn.  Who would even believe such a concept?
     I remember when television was free!  Well I only got three channels and now I get about a million! It would be tough to live now without the bowling channel and shopping network and I could never learn to cook without the kitchen programs.  What did we eat before Rachael Ray?
   I wonder what the salary was for the first CEO who came up with the clever idea to charge people to watch advertisements?  The guy was a genius!  and on these million channels that are now available to me they all have advertisements all at the same time!  I can flip through the stations without ever missing a commercial!  That's wonderful.
    I know the Mr. Roberts works hard for his 31.1 Million dollars but I wonder if it was his idea that an hour long program has been reduced to a mere 41 minutes?  That gives us 19 minutes of pure unadulterated joy,
catching up on the very latest in the world of consumerism. I don't want to miss anything!
   The future will bring us interactive television so we can actually order stuff on the spot while we are watching our favorite television program.  The guy who creates this will deserve a bonus!  Advertising is selective now, aimed at neighborhoods and even incomes.  That is right, my advertisements are not necessarily your advertisements!  How clever is that?  Yes, deserves a bonus I think.
    But if I were in charge I could think of some additional improvements.  Oh yes I would deserve a raise almost immediately!  For instance I would do away with the "off button" entirely!  That's right, no way to turn the damned thing off!  Think about it?  24 hours a day of advertising!  I would cut down on the actual programming time too.  Sixteen minutes would be enough for an hour long show. If you don't get what is going on in sixteen minutes you won't get it anyway.  We talk faster now and tweet, get things done quick.
Repetition seems to be how we learn so I would have the same advertisements shown over and over again!
Although I am sure they are already on to that. I think previews of advertisements would be a big hit. Instead of what the show will be about next week we could be lured in with a hint of commercials to come! I think they do this with the Superbowl already but I would do it all the time, every day, on every program.
     They are on the edge of combining computers with television and that will be such a relief.  My Google understands me and sends me advertising I need.  Don't believe me?  Try blogging about chocolate or cooking or dieting or vitamins, or even, god bless them, hot Russian babes and watch the Viagra ads appear!
Television should be like that.  I would want my "new and improved" television to come complete with its own camera!  I know that they know what programs I watch now and probably what comes in my mail,
but can you imagine the convenience of a television set that comes complete with its own camera? Finally the guess would be all out of this.  They would know what I need!  They could see in my living room and gear new furniture ads just to me!  It would be personal and intimate.  They could see what clothes I wear and recommend improvements!  And, God forbid, on occasion (not often) they could see me naked and offer diet programs just to improve me.  They would care, I know it!
     Oh yes, Brian Roberts I am after your job, be very careful.

Friday, April 1, 2011


     Just when I was happily about to turn this blog over to the art in gardening and the therapy I receive from gardening I am struck by the headlines in my local paper!  What I could do is use the paper to wrap my kitchen scraps in but it is already too late.  I read the damn thing!
    The first one is General Motors (yeah, an American Company!)  They are doing well in this tepid economy, and you know they work hard for it.  It seems that they made FIVE BILLION DOLLARS off the American division of their company.  Like all clever companies, they also have an International (think Offshore!) division and that did well too, about $15,000,000,000 in Profits!  They are not even slightly embarrassed that they paid No Federal Taxes, at all, zero!  I wonder what they do in a good year?
Didn't they used to have a slogan? something like, "as goes General Motors, so goes the country"?
    There are really two more headlines worth mentioning.  Another is about McKenzie Willamette Hospital, one of two hospitals in our area.  This one is a for profit hospital, part of a conglomerate of hospitals throughout this country, based, I think, in Tennessee.  It seems there is a labor dispute going on there and the management is attempting to save pennies by reducing benefits and retirement programs from the house keeping staff.  These are the people who make the beds, serve the food, wash the sheets, and in general keep the hospital clean.  They make from $8.50 to $12 dollars per hour. The management wants them to buy their own health insurance! It is a hospital, remember?  The CEO of this company receives a base salary of FIVE MILLION DOLLARS per year, every year.  Clearly he is one hard working dude.
    The last headline, and by then I had had enough and went to the comics, was an article about what Missouri is up to.  This one will actually be interesting to follow.  As you know I believe that you need a constant flow of money for the system to work.  I believe that part of the problem today is the rich (making over $250,000 per year and others are making millions!) are not spending the money. It is no longer trickling down.  The middle class is getting smaller every day and we are doing our part; we are spending every dime we earn!  Money has to move.  The unemployed are living by the skin of their teeth and spend it the fastest.
This money in turn goes to rent or mortgages, food, gasoline, packaging, the farmers, and all the way down the line.  Even though I hate the bastards for this free handout, I believe it helps the economy in general.
I could be wrong and now we will see if I am right.  Missouri is stopping extended unemployment benefits!
   This will be fun.  Well, fun from where I am sitting.  This will be trackable and verifiable. Will this help the Missouri economy?  Hey, I would be all for it if it works and now we will find out!
   These articles are all related.  Five Billion isn't what it used to be. GM made five billion last year but that was a whole company!  ONE PERSON on wall street also made $5,000,000,000 just by himself!  He worked a lot harder than I did, I know that for sure.  He probably deserves every single cent, poor guy!
The truth is it is easier to go after the little guy, those making less than $10 bucks an hour and those laid off and collecting unemployment because of a failed system.
   But keep your eyes on Missouri because I could be wrong!  Missouri is taking the same route as Ireland
and England and the Republican Party.  Austerity programs, go after the little guy.  I could take all this a lot easier if companies like General Motors paid their share. Or maybe the CEO of the hospital chain could make do with, maybe only 3 million?  Shouldn't that be enough?  Tough in the winter, I know.

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