Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Don't Know What I am Doing

 No reasoning behind this. I did it because I could.
   A part of the fun I have while painting is that I do not know the rules, have no expectations and just allow things to be.  Might be a nice attitude to be able to take life that way.
   My paintings are never finished and exist in stages only and only on this computer.  Sometimes I may do something I like and then will spend an eternity trying to discover how I did it!
   Clearly the sunrise I saw while in Puget Sound
 There is a reason behind this!
embossed onto my brain.  I don't think I have ever seen such colors!

Then...I started playing with textures!
The sky that morning was red and purple and yellow and orange for as far as the eye could see, reflecting these colors into the water and along the shores.  Even the plants had this color glow.
   The bank is thick in vegetation and maybe 20 feet to the water's edge.  All was cast in this red glow, the green stealing its color from the sky.
   Oil paints are different from acrylics.  They stay and hesitate while I am used to mixing and swirling.  I think they never dry!

More of my "paintings" can be found HERE

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


   I don't paint landscapes or portraits simply because I can't.  Oh, I might be able to if I took a class or studied this art, applied myself, practised!  That is how I learned to weld.  2,000 hours and anybody can do it.  I don't want to paint that way with little details to drive me mad.
   But I like to paint.  I like the clash of colors, effects of shadows.  I like the discovery to painting.
 This is the image, a photograph of a morning sunrise over Puget Sound.
   To me, it is not like a camera with its image being developed.  It is a birth process and I don't know what it will be.
   The photo on the right somehow got embossed into my brain.  This beautiful scene is where I enjoyed my morning coffee on my visit to my cousin in Washington.
   Blue and purple, yellow and orange, reds, all reflected into the water.  Pretty amazing.

So I began with this!
   Somehow these effects, the colors, depth, shadows, expanse, textures, the combination of it all stays with you.

Remember I have lots of oil paint and over 200 brushes from a garage sale?  Well I got them out and these were my first experiments with oil paint.
I would never have believed a sky could look like this if I hadn't seen it myself!

 Just Playing with Paint
...And then I started playing!  I have one more to show you but somehow these images are screwed up and I have lost the ability to control their size or where they appear!  So, maybe tomorrow?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Port Townsend, Washington

Is a little town, less than 10,000 people and always in transition.  The little island it is on was at one time the home to maybe four Indian tribes, maybe eking out an existence for hundreds of years, surviving on hunting and fishing, gathering oysters from the bay and eating the abundance of berries found everywhere.  It was "discovered" in the late 1700's by the white man and serious settlement since the 1850's when it was incorporated to become a city, the "city of dreams", competing with Seattle and Tacoma for the largest port on the West Coast.
   The local Indians were friendly to these white settles and there were no wars.  They disappeared from the devastation of disease, from smallpox and measles.  Now they make up 1.27 percent of the population; there are more Latinos there than Native Americans.
   Dreams of becoming a big port city died before the Depression and the Railroad never connected for essential services to the rest of the world.  A paper mill still stands, the industry that saved Port Townsend and has been in operation since the 1920's.
   It is a beautiful town, still a shining example of an earlier age, a beautiful Victorian Seaport town.  The 1950's were hard on Port Townsend and its population dropped by a third.  The beautiful architecture found in the commercial town center and the old Victorian houses with their majestic view of the bay were deteriorating, suffering the same fate of the Indian cedar plank lodges.
   In the sixties Port Townsend was discovered again and it became a mecca for artisans and crafters and a magnet for tourists.  "New Money" saved this little town and there was a Renaissance of restoration.
   Today it is a mecca for retirees.  20% of the population is over 65 years old.  This brings new wealth to this little community and it will change again, altering with the times.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

There is a sad look to Puget Sound...

   Charter fishing boats were difficult to find.  There are no big docks, no fishery canneries, no real smell of fish at all.  No nets piled up along the beaches, no stacks of crab pots along the docks.  Port Townsend was the nearest "big town" and it didn't have the look of a working city at all.  We stopped at a boatyard, seemingly the biggest industry in Port Townsend and saw acres of yachts being restored.  This has become a playground for the wealthy.
   Indian names are everywhere. streets, cafes, casinos.  I wonder whether this is for the benefit of the tourists?  Reminded me a bit of Sisters, Oregon, a little town in Central Oregon with a local ordinance that all new construction has to have an "old West appearance".  There is a McDonald's there with an 1890's look!
   There is no living History from this Indian Heritage, no one is making canoes or Totem Poles anymore.  Beef Jerky is not made there, nor Pemmican, no dried fish operations or the smell of smoked Salmon. "Pow-wows" are only evidenced by a round up of motor homes, giant R.V's and Winnebago's.
   Casinos seem to be every thirty feet.  "Lucky Dog," "Indian Jack", silly names the white man gave them.
Revenge, I guess.  We took their land; we took their livelihood, customs and language.
   American Indians had no concept of private property, no word for land ownership.  Like the air we breathe, water that is found everywhere, the sun that shines equally, the land belonged to everyone.

Puget Sound
This is not to say that they didn't have a concept of wealth; they did for sure. These are the Northwest Indians who invented the "Potlatch", what we sometimes call now a "potluck dinner', although it could last for days and weeks in a very good season.  Tribes would get together and share their bounty and the wealthiest tribe were those who gave the most away!
   It is the Modern Era and times change, I know, but it seems that along the way we are dropping things that maybe we should have taken with us, and embracing things that make our past more difficult to find.

I am HERE too!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jerry Carlin/poetry

Someone googled that, "Jerry Carlin/poetry" so I did too!  oh, it takes you here and there to bits of me, but no poems, no published volumes.  It doesn't even take you to my youth when I did write poetry.  One of the first rules of writing is to keep in mind your audience and I only wrote poetry for one.
   Writing is not difficult.  It is telling a story, setting a scene, creating a curiosity, a little mystery and a heroine.  It is a descriptive painting in words and can be told  layer by layer, each brush stroke singular and purposeful, shadows telling time.  Stories can be told after the fact, like restoring a Renaissance Painting, removing layers, chips of old paint to discover the original.
   I have time now, a luxury accumulated by accident, words come as a mist, swirl like snowflakes and disappear on the water's edge.  Difficult as catching kisses but I am going to try.
   It was easier to write in my youth when I had an audience, even if just one.  Easier to write when I didn't know the future and it was all make believe, imagination and dandelion wishes, flowers in a garden with no foot steps.
    All words now seem like travel writing, descriptions and places of where I have been and I wonder whether Shakespeare wrote love stories from memory?
   I might write poetry and I might not.  The truth is I do not know what I will write.  There is no story boiling within me and that makes it an exercise, doesn't it?
   You would think that at my age I would have discovered a truth worth telling but maybe the answer is "over easy", "medium well", not rare or well done at all, no extremes, careful planing on a course well set.
God that would be boring and so predictable and so not me at all.
   So, maybe I will find something, "start with the now" and go backwards or do what I have always done, jump ahead and fly!  Scenery, timing, shadows, water and moonlight, budding flowers and dancing butterflies, songs carried by the wind, a heroine, the temperature, what is happening everywhere and in a particular place and why we do things at all?
   It is all poetry, every bit of it, every syllable, every initial carved on a tree, every sunrise the first one and may be the last one. Every breath taken is poetry and I am honored to be googled together: Jerry Carlin and Poetry.
 My garden and other stuff is HERE

Thursday, August 25, 2011


   The last memory I have of travelling in a big city was New Orleans in the late '60's in my VW bus.
Pretty scary to be down in Southern States at all during the tumulus riots and protests of that era.  I was a Western boy from a small town in Oregon and we just plain didn't hate anyone!
   The freeway system over New Orleans is a spider web of raised roads with 60 mph speed limits and off ramps it seemed every thirty feet.  You get skilled at reading the green sign boards fast or you get lost.
   I can get lost in Portland, our "big city" only 100 miles from my home town.  The same 100 ramps as New Orleans and decisions that need to be made while travelling fast, sandwiched between cars.  Certainly not the time to get the map out!
   Port Townsend, the nearest big town to Nordland, Washington was across State Lines, right through Portland, into Vancouver, off the main route to Seattle and driving through the heavily forested Olympic Peninsula was where I was headed.  I would need Oregon maps, Washington maps and a good sense of direction.  Me?  hahahaha!  I can get lost in my own town.
   I am not a 21st Century kind of guy.  I don't own a cell phone.  I could get along just fine with a well trained horse who knew its own way home.  I admit I own a "BlueRay" but don't admit that I know how to use it or what it really does.  It has been sitting in the same place for two years and has a little blue light that tells me it is powered up, attached by a cable to something.  It won't talk to me, ask me questions or guide me in any way in an attempt to understand it.
   TOMTOM is different!  She, (I actually programed her to sound like Marilyn Monroe!) tells me everything!
She asks me where I would like to go! and tells me how to get there.  She is wonderful.  Gives me tons of advanced warning that my next decision will be to turn left or right or just veer one way or another.
   "Go straight for 37 miles and then turn left"  She is brilliant!  I have no decisions to make for half an hour and I can turn the radio on!  I don't want to miss a single word from Marlyn!
    I found two radio stations, both talk radio, and, of course both politics!  One left leaning and one right.
I get balance that way and conformation that the craziness of Oregon politics extends into Washington and satisfaction knowing the whole world is nuts!  We are not alone!
   "In two miles turn left"  By now I would do anything Marilyn asks of me!
   At the beginning I was nervous and without complete trust.  How could she know where I was all the time?
Would I dare stop for a cup of coffee?  What happens if I have to pee?  I thought seriously to stay on the route.  I was afraid of detours.  I could maybe just pull to the side of the road and pretend I was "checking my tires"? A radiator leak maybe?  No, I wanted coffee too and I was hungry.  I left on this trip at 4 in the morning and now it was after seven.  I saw a sign for food and pulled off the freeway onto a little side road without Marilyn's permission or guidance!  I got my breakfast thinking, where has she gone?  Does she know where I am?  I certainly didn't have a clue.
   I started my little truck and instantly there she was!  "Redirecting, please wait".
   Marlyn, well TOMTOM anyway, was my guardian angel and knew where I was all along!  She was waiting for me!  Love and devotion, she never left me at all.
   She tells me at two miles, the one mile marker, 200 feet and 40 feet and then what the next decision will be.  She knows everything!
   When you get to where you are going, now, can you imagine this!  Marlyn Monroe says, "You have reached your destination!"
   No, Norma Jean, you made it all too easy!  We will do this again, maybe another place, a different destination, who knows? maybe all the way!
   I love my TOMTOM!  and she does nag!  If you go over four miles faster than the speed limit she will turn
red! and a little faster then she will blink!  She knows the speed limit and how fast you are going! And the time of arrival!  She is so clever, not a dumb blond at all.

 Early morning sunrise on Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Got Crabs!

   I don't even know how to begin this story, creatures died, that is for sure, and I saw hundreds of islands carved out so effortlessly during the glacier age eons ago.
   Puget Sound is not the Ocean but a vast fingering of the Pacific Ocean carved and gouged, created from the ice a millenia ago as the sea engulfed icebergs miles deep.  It must have been quite some battle.  A battle of giants leaving behind only the scars, the hundreds of islands and deep channels that is now Puget Sound.
 The table where I had my morning coffee.
   The is Indian Territory, every island named for Indian Tribes, Indian words for each small town clustered on the banks of these forested islands.  It is a place of abundance thick with berries and oysters along the shoreline.  Deer are everywhere.
   It is difficult to feel this place without thinking of Mitchner's book, "Chesapeake Bay".  There is a long History here and Centuries would only be chapters.
  Yes, I had a great time, lots of stories to tell.  It will be the beginning that will be the difficult part and I understand how a story can weave.  Back and forth stitching to make a whole cloth.
   TomTom was amazing.  Tells me where I am going, how to get there, the time of arrival and flashes red when I go over the speed limit.  I never got lost!
 Chinook Salmon on the bar-b-que
   The fishing, it was great!  I won a bottle of wine for the first fish caught!  I also caught a huge sea aneminme, bright orange and thick but there was a discussion about its being a vegetable, maybe, and it didn't count as the "biggest fish caught".
   I'll save the fishing stories for another post, suffice it to say we were not issued shotguns like Hemmingway did for his friends while shark hunting off the Florida Coast.
   Indian Casinoes are everywhere and I both won and lost and that should be a post unto itself also.
   I am back now, safe and sound, bigger and with more visions.  Like any good travelling adventure, I will never remain the same.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gone Fishing!

You would think, being self-employed all of my life, that I would have hung (people are hanged, everything else is hung) this sign up many times: GONE FISHING!
   I never worked a full year until I was 28 years old and have never taken a day off since!  Well, almost never, it is a rarity for me.  There is always "the chance" that I will miss something, some job out of nowhere will materialize while I am gone and I might miss it.
   Being self-employed is not all it is cracked up to be.  Never have I had a paid day off!  I can't even imagine it.  Someone would pay me to go fishing?  hahaha!  sure, in my dreams!
   Well, I am retired now and one day mixes into the next, a Tuesday is about the same as a Saturday, sometimes work comes in and sometimes it doesn't.  It is a bad economy and I don't hunt for work like I used to.
   So I am off on my adventure starting early tomorrow morning.  I am packed, have my TOMTOM, turned to a sexy voice for companionship and directions for when I get lost.  A five and one half hour drive, the longest road trip since I was 27 and crossed this whole country in a 1965 VW Van!  Now that would be a blog!
   And this upcoming adventure will be something to Blog about too; I know it will.  I'll keep mental notes and I am taking my camera so I can report all of the highlights to you!  Well, the ones I am willing to talk about anyway!
   And there will be fishing stories!  Big ones!  Giant ones!  and The One That Got Away! Except I have every intention of catching it!
  That's it!  See ya Wednesday.  I have GONE FISHING!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Clothes on My Back

   Yesterday I posted the photo of the Vintner's gate, the one that took months of litigation before the case was settled.  There I was, the artist and his gate!  I included me in the photo!  Black socks and sandals and short pants!  I should be on the cover of a fashion magazine!
   I like short pants.  If I wouldn't be arrested I would wear no pants at all.  I wear them from the first sign of Spring until October when the winter rains come and dictate my fashion sense.
   My feet are big.  Size 13D and I am very hard on a pair of shoes.  In reality I don't own a single pair of shoes.  I do own one pair of boots but almost never wear them.  My feet are very tough.
 Time for new sandals? nah! Notice the socks are clean!
   I wear sandals every day, rain or sun or snow and ice.  I even own what I consider my "dress" pair of sandals, clean ones at least that I don't weld in.  Yes, sandals and black socks!  Most of my socks have holes in them in a particular pattern across the top caused by the splatter from the welder.  The tops of my feet have little burn scars from the little plasma burn arcs that have melted through my socks.  It doesn't hurt.
   It is not easy buying sandals and almost impossible to buy shoes although I admit I never look for them.  Sandals are pretty much sold "in season" only, especially when you are hunting for my size.  When I find them, in early May or April I usually buy four pairs all at once, and all exactly the same.
I prefer the "river sandals" with the Velcro straps.
  My entire clothes budget for the average year should put me on the cover of a lot of fashion magazines.
   I discovered long ago that it makes no difference what I wear.  By 10 o'clock in the morning I am dirty.

More of my fashion wear and some naked pictures of me can be found HERE that is so funny, we'll see how many "hits" this gets!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Farm Aid

 Here it is; here I am. Much ado about nothing.
a simple gate after a ton of bickering and lot of lawyers!
Wow, they are trying to balance the budget and I am wondering where they will start?
  I used to think, not the poor farmers, those who toil from before sunrise to after sunset, those who rely on the fickle weather to eck out a living scratching their existence from the hard clay of this Earth!
   My "Hatfield and McCoy" feuding vintner's job is being resolved.  Yes, I still have their gate near the front of my shop!  You might remember this story.  Three "vintners", one road and the argument over who pays the bills and who can use the road.  It all went to court and now it is resolved.  Maybe...
   At any rate they called me to say they are ready for the installation of their gate.  After three months, "what gate?" I said, "Who are you?"  Too subtle for them they saw no humor in my quibs. 
   I will install this gate today but went out there yesterday to make sure there were no problems, at least no anticipated problems.
   Forty acres seems to be the minimum size to get significant "farm aid" around here and that is what they have.  Unkempt, poorly trimmed and looking abandoned.  Forty acres of grapes and weeds.  But I got to see "the House"!
   At least 4,000 square feet, at the top of the knol, brand new and just on "the tour of homes", it was a showcase for sure!
   I could go on and on about this, describing walk in closets bigger than my living room, but just so you get the idea I want to tell you about the kitchen appliances.  No, not the whole kitchen which could comfortably seat twenty onlookers as the cook (chef?) prepared the evening meals, just the stoves and refrigerators and stuff.  $58,000 worth!  That is way more than I paid for my house, fifty-eight thousand dollars just for the appliances!  I didn't even know there could be such a thing!
   This guy sells used cars for a living.  A used car salesman with a farmer's aid package that cuts his property taxes to less than mine!
   He might, on a good year, produce one bottle of wine, a vinegar based cooking wine.  Something to give you a sour taste in your mouth.

My art and garden is HERE

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Process of Art

   I am more interested in the process of art than art itself.  What is it about a person that would make him an artist?  What causes a drive toward excellence or the idea that tomorrow you can make something better?
The story of any particular artist is fascinating to me.
   Maybe it is true, we see the world in a different way or we see it as other's and wish to change it.  Perhaps it is just a different reaction to the world we all see?  I "art" therefore I am!  It is in the definition; it is who we are.
 Just a butterfly, colors from the torch.
   I think it is like personalities.  I am pretty convinced we are born with an attitude, our very being encrypted into our DNA.  You have it or you don't but it can be nurtured along the way, tempered and altered with experience and opportunity, small successes along the way.
   We can "learn art" from mentors or maybe a good art teacher along the way, someone to teach us the skills of an artist.
   But that won't make us an artist.  At some point we find a project, some idea we have to develop, some thought we wish to make material, some transference from the soul to the hands, a kind of poetry we wish to hold.  That is the moment when we become an artist.

My Art, my Garden and most of me can be found HERE

Monday, August 15, 2011

Painting on Ice

   Painting, I know, is an attempt at immortality.  We want to leave something behind stronger than the last breath we take.  We tell stories and share who we are that way but art offers an intermingling of our souls.
I create a piece, some kind of art, and a million ideas run through my head in the process until finally my hands interpret what was in my heart.
   I work with steel and copper when I can find it.  I like their strength, the weight of the piece and with proper attendance, how they can float.  I am often asked, "will it rust?"  As though you are anticipating disappointment from the beginning!
   When I pour concrete the only guarantees I make are that it will be hard.  It will be gray.  It will not burn and no one will steal it.
   Art will age.  Steel will rust.  It is the only quote in the Bible I know.  Concrete will crack.
   I often wonder what is lost in the original when ancient artwork is restored?  The painting could still be pretty but it seems to me, muffled a bit, a covering over the soul.  Some lost artwork can only be identified by fingerprints left behind by the artist.
   I wonder which is critical?  Did the artist really touch that painting?  Or does the painting really touch you?
 copper/stainless steel/copper
58" x 14"
   In either way it is only around for awhile.  It is a shout down a darkened alley.  It could be a moon lit masterpiece but will change with the raising sun.  It is like painting on ice.

 One of eight butterflies
Eight butterflies in flight.  Oil paint over stainless steel.  Copper and stainless steel panels framed in steel, powder coated clear coat.  Lots of fingerprints and no doubt some DNA.  I never work with gloves.

How I make my living is HERE

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Off my Island!

   I seriously seldom leave the little island paradise that I have created on a city lot.  I am famous for going nowhere.  I want the mountain to come to me.  I have everything I need here.  All the tools of my trade and a large steel inventory can be found in my 1,000 square foot backyard shop.  I have the penultimate garden, offering a bounty of fruits and vegetables, all surrounded by a million flowers.  Dragonflies, butterflies and hummingbirds visit me daily.  On a hot day I have my little garden pool.
   In my office and in my house I have thousands of books and an out of body experience is only a page turn away.  I can go anywhere and never leave the comfort of home.
   All of this is about to change.  I am going Salmon fishing!
   The Pacific Ocean is an hour from my front door but it is a large ocean and I am going to a different place, a five and one-half hour drive to the State to the North of me: Washington to visit my cousin.
   We are the same age, have been friends since childhood and got into plenty of mischief together as youngsters.  I wonder if he remembers my dad washing our mouths out with soap on one occasion?
Now there would be something to blog about!
   We grew up in different towns, fifty miles apart in similar environments, but often saw each other at Christmas and other times during the year.  We went to college together and took some of the same classes.
It will be a fun week and he has planed a giant fishing expedition on a charter boat with crabbing, bottom fishing and the hunt for salmon all in one long day to be culminated with a bar-b-que aboard the boat.
   He too has created his own island paradise along the Puget Sound where he can gather oysters after breakfast and have them for lunch, and hunt for Thistle berries along the way.  My cousin the home maker, he has won awards for the thistle berry jam at the State Fair!
   I can get lost in my own little town.  I have no sense of direction.  Up until now this has never bothered me because I have no place that I have to be.  I think I have always been that way.  Even in my youth when I was a traveller, hitch hiking all over Europe, people would stop and offer me rides, asking where I wanted to go?  "With you, your direction," was always my answer, I had no destination, no place I had to be.
 My latest "painting"!
   So I bought a TomTom!  That GPS navigational thingy tracked by three separate satellites.  Someone will know where I am and tell me where I need to go!  Ah, this modern era.  I am entering the 21st. Century after all.  I still don't have a cell phone though!

What I "do" is HERE

Friday, August 12, 2011


I had my first bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich yesterday and there is no finer meal.  The season is late this year, about a full month late, but I have had my eye on a particular tomato for this past week.
   Most produce from my garden is picked in the early morning hours, before the heat from the sun and while still crisp from the cool of the night.  Not the perfect tomato.  A midday picking after the fruit has been warmed through, kissed and loved by the sun is best.
   My plants are vibrant now, tall and green and proudly displaying their gifts to me.  The tomatoes are getting big, some turning a bit of color, offering a hint of a bountiful crop.  You can't buy these tomatoes.  There is no relationship between store bought and what can be grown in the home garden.  I have 27 plants, nine varieties, mostly heirloom, some black, some purple, stripped, yellow and red.  Each has its own distinct flavor, subtle or dramatic and you can smell them from 20 feet away.
   I have told you I like to dry them and if the season continues to be good ALL of you can expect a gift of dried tomatoes from me this year!  That's is the advantage of not having too many "followers"!

"Cherokee Purple"
   What I can't send you is a fresh tomato sandwich.  Just a simple one with a slice of cheese and a huge slice of tomato or the "complete meal", the BLT! or maybe a hamburger where the tomato slice is bigger than the hamburger itself?  I wish I could describe this better!  It is a burst of flavor like you wouldn't believe.
   I was so intent on making and eating this sandwich that I forgot the camera!  I forgot to take a picture of it.  But this is just the beginning!  There will be many more and other things to make.  I will keep you posted and if you should ever be near, please stop and visit and you can taste these for yourself.

My whole garden, my shop and what I do is HERE.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100 Ways to Find Me!

   I am still learning about this computer world.  I am thinking so much of it must be automated, machines working all night long to categorize stuff and put them in their proper columns.  When I finish a blog, at the very end, it asks me for "key words" and I never know what to say?  It may not be necessary to say anything, someone else is doing it for me.  Maybe a machine at night?
   So, this morning I was looking at the statistics section of my blog.  I do that from time to time just to learn my geography if nothing else.  Then I came across the "keywords" section and realized there are a hundred ways to find me!
   You can "Google" "Mandarin Stuffing" and it will direct you to me!  Yes, I once talked about it.  It is a pretty darned good turkey stuffing, and there it is on the Internet...forever?
   There are over a hundred "keywords" that will direct you to me and some are pretty obscure.
   "retirement golf" is a funny one because I have never played a game of golf in my life and I think I mentioned that once.
   "entering the Art World". I suspect there are a million postings in this section but somewhere in there is me!
  "tomatoes", well, that one doesn't surprise me at all.  I consider myself an expert it that field!
  "50 words for snow" I once talked about my first girl friend who could ramble away in six different languages but found no word for love.
   "hang art" is a funny one.  It is the name on my blog but someone "googled" it to discover how to put a nail in the wall.
   There are so many more, like a hundred of them.  I realize why people have to be careful on the computer, be careful of what you might say!  It will be categorized and summed up into one "keyword".
   What is your experience?  What is a strange "keyword" that might get me to you?

My art and garden is HERE

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London's Burning!

   The Title could have been "London's Bridge is Falling Down," except I believe that has been relocated to Arizona!  What is really happening and could it happen here?
   The Ladder to Success only works if you can see the first rung.  The London Riots are not about the death of a black man being shot by he police.  He is no martyr, we don't even know his name.  That is not the issue at all.
   I am reminded of the movie, "A Clockwork Orange".  Tons of violence in a post industrial age where identity is lost.  There is a problem with gated communities and block after block, row after row of apartment dwellings. It creates a "them Vs us" atmosphere.  The greater this divide the more occasion for trouble.
   I thought of titling this post, "I have to water my tomatoes", that simple sentence would explain all I am trying to say.  It contains responsibility and ownership, something to be conservative about.  Youth today are feeling left out, an isolation finding comfort in gangs and street violence, the darkness of drugs and despair.  If they see the rungs of the ladder at all they see them as broken or a ladder meant for someone else.
   The difference between what is happening in London and other "hot spots" in the world is a matter of degree.  The London Rioters are lucky.  Lucky to be in a civilized country of law with a custom and culture
admonishing violence, a country where very few of its policemen even carry guns.  A country that, so far, has
never used tear gas, water cannons or rubber bullets or other efforts at crowd control.
   But they want a piece of the pie too, these rioters who have lost an ability or ambition to actually earn their possessions see this an an opportunity, an "easy money" opportunity of theft and destruction of what is not theirs.  They see it as a destruction of things they cannot have.  Toppling a broken ladder.
   A part of this problem, in an attempt at appeasement, in a type of bribery in return for non-violence, we have given them too much.  Or too little?  What used to be a small segment of society, the "down and outers"
the unemployed, underemployed, those struggling with minimum wage and minimal jobs is now a larger percentage of the population.  "They" have become "us"!
   England has a National Debt problem also and for the past two years has attempted to balance their budget on the backs of the poor with various austerity measures.  Basically less for the poor and less for the police who protect us from them.  This is clearly NOT working in England and why anyone would want to do this here is beyond me.
   Jobs.  Whether in England or Egypt or here, this is really what it comes down to.  Given a chance people would rather be good.  Life is easier with a solid footing on one rung of the ladder and the next rung within reach.
   This is a serious issue and I don't know how to solve it.  We could be next.

Art, my garden and Happy Stuff is HERE

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


My $5,000 "Retirement Fund" in Steel Stock is now worth less than $3,000.  The Stock Market "Crashed" yesterday and is nose diving again today and I wonder what all this means?  Where is the $2,000 that I lost?
I wonder who got that?  I wonder how hard they had to work to get it?
   The Stock Market "Lost" over a Trillion dollars yesterday.  One day.  I wonder where it went?
   What was supposed to happen with our credit down grade is money should be harder to get.  A little higher interest and money would become scarce.  No one would loan us any.   In theory that should make existing investments more secure, old money better than new money.
   That is not what happened.  The Bond Market (people loaning us money) went nuts!  Lots of money entered the Bond Market and Stocks plummeted.  Now, what the hell could this mean?
   Bonds are often "long term investments", meaning over five years, often ten.  I remember buying them in grade school, a left over from WWII.  We would buy them at .25 cents a week and $17 dollars would buy you a Bond with a face value of $25 dollars ten or so years later.  Yes, Bonds are loans and they are based on faith.  In ten years things will get better.
   Stocks have become a "right now" investment, more closer to gambling than investing.  With computer generated buying and selling and day trading lots of money changes hands hourly and a great deal of money is lost or won in an hour.  Today the economy is in the tank and stocks are more like lottery tickets, pretty unusual if you should win.
   Nothing is related to any of this.  In the last three years Schnitzer stock has seen a high of $117 and a low of $23 and sits at $40 now, going down still.  The price of steel keeps climbing, always inching upward and never in retreat.  Buying steel stock in not the same as buying steel.
   America should have a quadruple AAAA+ credit rating, no, not because our industry is so great and not because of our banking system.  We need to improve those.  We should have the highest credit rating simply because we are the only "dream on the table".  In this game of Monopoly it is our best card to play.  The world knows this even if we have lost that card in the shuffle.  They still want to loan us money.
   I will keep my steel stock.  I like telling people that "I own Schnitzer Steel".  I think my little ownership of the corporate world gives me license to be critical of it.  And voting gives me the right to be critical of my own country and our complaining bickering political system that drove us into this mess.
   There is no second choice, no one else at bat, no other political system, no other country, no other economy.  Now is not the time to fold 'em, not yet time to count your cards.  We are the only game in town.

My garden and art stuff is HERE

Monday, August 8, 2011

Yes, We Have Some Tomatoes!

 My First Tomatoes!

Finally, almost exactly one month late, the first tomatoes are ripening!  I have nine varieties and a total of 27 plants.  Some get only 2' tall and others, over eight feet tall.  Some are Black.
Many are purple, some yellow, orange, and of course, some are red.
   At the moment most are green.  The weather is good now, better than most of the country, low '80's every day, but it took a long time getting here.  One of the coldest, wettest Springs on record.  I lost two plants to early blight and chopped branches off others to try to save them.
   Can you imagine the anxiety in being a farmer?  Too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot, seldom "just right".
   A lot of the tomatoes for the fresh market are grown in greenhouses these days.  They can be grown in Iceland now!
There is something about the warmth from the Sun, how that marries into a tomato to offer the perfect fruit. 
   Tomatoes are related to potatoes and are part of the "deadly nightshade family"!  Such sweetness from a plant thought to be poison!  A native of South America, the world didn't know much about tomatoes until the 19th Century.  I feel sorry for the Kings and Queens that never had a "BLT"!
or just a tomato and cheese sandwich.
   I like the color combination of my different varieties, makes salsa pretty and each color is a different flavor.
August tomatoes are the best.  It is the warmth at night that is important to the tomato.  I am hoping for a late Summer.  The cool Fall evenings can drain the flavor from a good tomato.

Tomatoes ready for the dryer!
   Until I discovered food dehydration and dried tomatoes I canned them all.
   Most commercial dried tomatoes are the same as store-bought tomatoes.  They are grown from a variety designed to ripen all at once and be picked by a machine.  Their genetics are for perfect roundness and firmness.  They are picked green and allowed to turn red in a room full of gas.  They never ripen, just turn red and have the bite of an apple.
   My tomatoes and my dried tomatoes have a full flavor that is difficult to believe.  You can do a million things with dried tomatoes but what I like best is just on a cracker with a piece of cheese and to give them away.
   It is one of those "art things", a gift that can't be bought.
More of my garden is HERE

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Maybe We Have Enough?

   Our Economy is based on Consumerism.  We ourselves are the engines that keep it going.
   We are caught up in a "chicken or the egg' argument.  Business can't hire if we aren't buying and
we can't buy if we aren't working!  That is a difficult egg to break.
   I don't know the statistics but Billions and Billions of dollars are spent to encourage us to buy new
stuff, the latest and best, new and improved!  More is better and we are induced to buy stuff a dozen at a time.
   This is trickery that has worked for the last 50 years or so.  It is the secret to the SUV success.  We needed the bigger automobile to haul the bigger stuff and more of it.
   I have made my living for the past forty years because of this desire for more.  I made houses bigger,
adding rooms and pushing out walls.  More room for more stuff.  My customers would have to work harder to pay me and pay for the added stuff they needed.  It is an engine.  Keep feeding it and it grows.
   Happiness has even been connected to material possessions, even Spirituality with eight story Mega-
Churches.  Bigger, taller, closer to God.
  It is the Garage Sale Season and it is pretty amazing.  I see fat people selling three exercising machines.
Three of them.  I see poor people with boxes of CD's or the old VHS tapes, hundreds of them originally purchased for five bucks each!  Falling apart furniture less than five years old is pretty common too.
Kitchen gadgets, small appliances are pretty common.  No one cleans a microwave any more when it is easier to just buy a new one.  Maybe a better color too.
   I look at all of this stuff.  There is seldom anything cool from grandma there.  This is stuff they worked for,
saved for or charged to their accounts and paid dearly for.  Something they needed.  Happiness on sale.
Now they are selling it by the pickup load, yard after yard, block by block, all over this town.
   Somehow or another all this seems to be okay.  It is expected that whatever we buy will be used up, sold or thrown away.  We get rid of our possessions like we were changing light bulbs.  The paint fades, it has a scratch, the color isn't right, it doesn't fit.  It isn't what I thought it was.  It doesn't make me happy!
   So we do it again!  We work hard, give our best third of the day to some job, come home tired and maybe think of the weekend and shopping!
   It is interesting though.  It is an engine with one cog broken.  No job, no buying.  No buying, no job.
I am going to get a bumper sticker for my truck:  "I would rather be fishing".

this website is free, you can join me HERE

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Create My Own World

The World is nuts around me.  There is some airline issue in Congress over 16 Million Dollars that is costing 25 Million Dollars a day to resolve, causing 70,000 people to be laid off, putting danger to the airline industry and its passengers.  Congress is on vacation and the bill will be over a Billion Dollars upon their return! This is so disgusting I don't even look into the details.
   I have my little 1/3 acre almost in the center of town and hide out here in a world of my own.
 Creating a New Entry to my Garden
   Today I will invite you to join me!

This was my Spring Project, creating a new Entry to my garden.  For years I had railroad ties as the border to my garden because they worked and it was all I could afford.
They are not good for the garden.  They leak creosote and after 20 years were pretty much rotting away.

I have made a hundred changes to my property in the forty years I've lived here. Some little and some big.  This Spring I made permanent concrete borders to my garden.

This next photo was taken yesterday of the same area.
The flowers like this new entry and the green beans
are growing up the new fence section.

There are two separate gates into my garden, a main gate
with an arch and a huge Trumpet Vine and on the
far left side a smaller gate.

 Lots of flowers at the Garden Entry

 Two more weeks and I will post another photo!
Everything is behind schedule this year.  We had a wet, cold Spring and the garden is just now playing "catch-up".  In about two weeks this Trumpet Vine Entry will be at its best with hundreds of deeply orange flowers which will last until October.  I picked my first tomato!  So there is hope.  Zucchini, of course, grows no matter what and I have been eating cucumbers and lots more from my garden!

 My Other Garden Entry
and this is my other garden Entry.  I have two because I like to build gates and I don't want people to feel trapped. If you should ever visit me there is always a way out.
More  of my Garden is always HERE

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am an Optimist!

It is true.  I have a tendency to look on the bright side and seek the positive.  I am not even against the
"Tea Baggers"!    Oh, there are elements to them I couldn't support but they know how to get a conversation going!  Like a dog with a bone, they won't let go!  This is not all bad at all.  There are issues we need to talk about.  We need to discover pro's and con's along the way.  I see all of this as an opportunity.
   I would like to see discussions more goal oriented because that is the way I am.  A little more honesty wouldn't hurt either.  I think there were other issues in the recent National Debt debacle, other conversations going on.  Six months of bickering, bringing the World to the brink of economic disaster and they managed to knock off a whopping 1% on the total bill.  My neighbor and I could have done better than that and we seldom agree on anything!
   There will be no sudden changes.  I think politicians don't really want us to know what is going on so they slip it to us slowly!  It is clear however that this 1% is hard on the backs of the poor and puts more pressure on the States.  You will see them tumble next and we will no longer be "United".
   The Gorilla in the room will be our military adventures and the price of  energy.  I certainly have a lot of questions about that!
   I remain an optimist in everything I do.  It is a benefit of 35 years as a Remodelling Contractor, knowing my job was never in tearing things down but rather in fixing them, improving them.  I had to have a Project Goal and a Daily Goal or I would get discouraged and lose my way and always I had to finish on time or I wouldn't make any money.
   The trick will be to keep this conversation going, maybe leave our hats at the front door.
   Always have a goal and work, with baby steps when necessary, in that direction.
 My Garden Entry
   I do that in my art, in my daily living, in my work, wherever I find myself.

More garden pics HERE

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Own Some Stocks...

I admit it.  I own a piece of America.  I am a very small part of the "Corporate World"
   Several years ago I thought it might be fun to buy into the Stock Market.  I am not talking a lot of money here, I am not that kind of guy.  But I had a good year that year and was willing to invest $5,000.
   I did a little research and now realize that I should have done a whole lot more.  I want to explore my reasoning with you, why I put it where I did.
   I could have put it into Apple Computer and bought their stocks at $200 a share.  That would be just 25 shares in a technology I knew nothing about.  It seemed like a lot of money in an already topped out market.
We had a chip manufacturing company in our city.  They came here with huge promises, lots of money and tremendous tax breaks.  They built the biggest building in our city and demanded 20% of our water and 20% of our electricity, a necessity in their operations.  Both were rerouted to them along with street improvements
and other infrastructure developments.  It was a huge project taking over three years to complete.
   I think they hired about 500 people and paid them good wages although the top management was from Korea.  The building sits vacant now with overgrown grass.  Streetlights that still work on roads that go nowhere.
   The computer business can change over night.  I think the whole operation moved to Thailand in one weekend.  The building sits empty as sort of a monument.  It has a huge parking lot.
   So that was all scary to me and I didn't want to invest in computers, although Apple sells for close to $400
a share today.  I could have doubled my money!  It is funny.  Apple Computer has more money than our Federal Government!
   I did look at Gold.  In tough times of economic insecurity Gold has been the standard of investors.  When all collapses around you gold always raises in value.  You can possess gold, take it with you.  Hide it in your underwear.  I think one needs to be a pessimist to invest in Gold.  I have faith we will get out of this economic mess and come to our senses.  I had images of being beaten and my gold stolen.  Nothing seemed "right" about that.  Betting on gold was betting on disaster and "winning" meant wanting things to get worse.
   I wanted to invest this paltry sum in something I believed in and knew a little about.  I wanted some potential of course.  This was a business venture and I wanted a profit.
   I couldn't invest in anything that damaged the Earth or frankly, anything that helped the Arab World gain more wealth.  If there is a God I would hate to sit at His knee and discuss how I destroyed His garden!
I had no interest in oil even if it trippled my assets.
   I wanted something that could be reused, recycled, regenerated, born again, over and over.  Something that cleaned up this planet.  I am thinking that if we ever get our act together we need to build.  Major Public Structures can put millions of people to work.  That is how the Pyramids were built or the Great Wall in China.  Our own infratructure, our roads and bridges have not been significantly improved since the 1960's.
You can't build anything without steel.
     More steel is created through recycling than through mining these days.  Refridgerators, bed springs, old toasters and automobiles and the stuff bought last week at Walmart gets recycled into new steel, becomes rebar and structural steel.  Maybe a bicycle.
   There is a Schnitzer Steel Yard in my town and I see the pile to be recycled gaining height every day and then it disappears, loaded up in box cars to the steel mill where it is melted down.
   This is a huge company with yards all over America, starting with a guy and his horse drawn cart in Alaska over a hundred years ago.  It is an American Story and I liked that.
   It has been a roller coaster, going from $25 to $50 to as much as $117 per share and now about back to $50.  It will grow with America or fall by the wayside with us.
   I choose to keep it.