Monday, October 27, 2014

Voting in Oregon

There are two interesting issues in the upcoming elections in Oregon.  Marijuana is on the Ballot.
Right now marijuana is about as common as litter on the streets, just absolutely everywhere. I think it may no longer be a crime to have a little of this weed; it is certainly not enforced anyway.  The ballot issue is to make it even More legal, possession and growing it.  As a certified expert on growing tomatoes I might even try a plant or two!  What is the Big Deal of making it legal?  TAXES.  I guess our politicians have learned from Colorado and Washington and want to get in on the action!  The downside of this is that marijuana is everywhere!  Yes, if the measure passes you will be able to find a shop, a large variety and even candy laced marijuana, but it will all be taxed.  On the way to the shop you are likely to pass six or more opportunities to purchase marijuana without the tax.  It is just way too easy to grow.  I am sure these tax issues will work themselves out, especially the government hates competition!
The other issue is GMO's, the gene altered food we eat.  Nothing so radical as to make it illegal as in much of Europe, the ballot only says they have to be labelled.  We want to know what we are eating.
You ARE what you eat!   It is weird that they (Monsato) have developed corn, soybeans and rice that are impervious to herbicides.  They can drench them in Roundup and kill the weeds but not the plant.
Gee, I wonder if we are ingesting any of these poisons?  Oh, no, corporate American wouldn't do that to us, would they?
Oh, we have the other issues, the Democrats and Republicans trying to know each other out, lie it will make a difference.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Last Supper!

Today is Thursday and just last Sunday it was 80 degrees in Eugene, Oregon!  This is way unusual and beginning the Monday after it was 80 degrees, it has been raining every sense.  More like "normal".  The good news is that I found hidden deep in foliage, a nice big pink tomato!  From saved and sent seeds from Germany! Thank you, Christine!  So, off I dash to the store and get some great bacon and made my "Last"  BLT of the season!  Unlike the first BLT, where I know there will be many more, this last one is eaten with a bit of sadness, knowing there won't be more for a whole other Season!  But, man I am telling you, it was good!
 this is all I do when saving seeds, nothing complicated.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stone Posts in Corvallis!

I was born in Eugene, Oregon but raised in Corvallis, a nearby city about 50 miles North.  There are hundreds of my Stone Posts in the Eugene area and some scattered about in Washington, California and Nevada.  I have made these for over 20 years but never got one in Corvallis until now.  I have other work there, lots of metal, railings and trellises but I am happy to get one of my "signature pieces" permanently installed.  It is like "Kilroy Was Here", yes, my Post, Jerry Carlin was here!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

This is really what life is all about!

Chili Rellenos, tomatoes and peppers from my garden. What a feast!
 about to go under the knife!
 Tomato slabs ready for the dryer!
BLT with thick slabs of tomato from the garden (Cherokee Purple)
 Abundance of Tomatoes and I discovered Tomato Jam!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flat Earth Society!

It is quite clear that the world is flat as I have seen the evidence first hand and there are even experiments one can do at home for those who are scientifically inclined.  Water will stay quite nicely on a cookie sheet and even, as you tip it a bit, will mimic the tides.  Put this same water or even a smaller portion,  on a ball and, of course, it falls directly off!  An idiot can see that.  I have seen the Sun, clearly rising in the East and setting in the West as it circles the Earth (This is very observable from any location on the Planet) plunge into the Pacific, clearly falling off the edge, or, at least, extinguishing itself in the salty Pacific!  No wonder early civilizations prayed for a rebirth, a new day and another Sun.  I still do.
   The Pacific is flat as an arrow, a dead straight line for the entire length of the horizon with no curvature at all.  Standing on a cliff edge on the Oregon Coast, the last bit of land on our great continent, one can see seagulls disappear into the horizon, eaten by the sun.
   The Oregon Coast has no private beaches (true!), every bit can be walked on, hiked, explored and for the entire 300 plus miles of coastline you will not find a single fence.  Also true.  They claim that there are more stars in the sky than the total of grains of sand from all of the beaches in the world.  Personally, I have not counted either and can't even imagine such a number.  I think only scientists would have that kind of time and that inclination.  I do know that there are millions of crab, Dungeness, and they are easy to catch.  We sailed under power on a boat without sails on a five hour fishing trip and went near to the edge of the World as one would care.  We saw squid and jellyfish and a big giant whale I, personally, would not have cared to catch!  It was bigger than our boat and would have had an easy time with us.  Away from the sight of land it was easy to understand how the world is mostly water and yes, the sea was a nice deep blue, the color of the sky.  We stopped here and there at secret spots the captain  was aware of and drifted in the ocean currents, 24 fishing lines dangling in the water.
A whole wall of hooks!  I suppose we caught the dumbest fish.  Not this time but on a different fishing expedition I remember catching a 48 inch Ling Cod weighing about 75 pounds and with a mouth so big I could actually put my head in it!  That was a stupid fish for sure.  I didn't really catch it honestly in the sense of hooking it.  I had caught a very small Sea Bass, probably less than eight inches, not even a fighter he was just sort of wiggling on the line.  I hardly knew he was there when all of a sudden the pole doubled over.  I kept the line tight and the pole up as best I could and just seemed to reel in that line forever.  20 feet in and it would go out 30 feet!  I knew it was a big fish.  The deckhand did the actual catching scooping the fish in a big net as I brought it close to the edge of the boat.  Didn't hook him once!  Not a single hook in its mouth.  The big fella was greedy and stupid and could have let go at any time.  He had a bite hold on the small Sea Bass and just wouldn't let go.  Not a fair catch but good eating, that's for sure!
   On this occasion I was with my two daughters and I suppose if truth be told they took me fishing. My baby is 30 years old and my first born 33, very much adult, independent and living thousands of miles from home.  I am lucky and honored at these visits.  For the same price they could have gone to Paris!
The fishing was good. Although not big ones, each daughter caught three and I was happy with the two I caught, even though I caught them both at the same time at the beginning of the trip.  I was happy to watch them fish, just to be such beautiful girls and catch them smiling and looking at the ocean.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It is all so complicated

White cop shooting an unarmed black teen.  I see the news, I read the stories and I am still of mixed emotions.  I hate to see any part of USA look so much like a war zone, hate to see the photos almost indiscernible from the military action in the MidEast.  Clearly the cop, for an instant, was not a police officer with training but an angry man exerting his power.   Pretty clearly too, the young man, at 6 feet four inches tall, was having a bad day.  Five minutes in any direction and this might not have happened.
I hate to think that nothing good will come of this.  Maybe it could be an opportunity to talk?  I wonder how many other areas of our country are sitting on the precipice, on a razor's edge to oblivion?
   I have a tendency to believe that we have been given the perfect world and seem to have a basic instinct to screw it all up!  We don't learn from history because we no longer read and any art to dialogue has long disappeared.  We let our emotions deal with issues even when from experience we know that is never a good thing.
   It is easy to blame this on one, maybe thuggy black kid, or the militarization of our police, but maybe there is a lot more to it.  any time you have a society of "them Vs us" you are asking for barricades, gated communities and particular laws to protect the privileged.  Having been in the construction industry for most of my life I have always thought that when a building permit for a million dollar house was issued it should come with a permit for a hundred thousand dollar house!  That's just my idea. I don't like gated communities and isolated cheap housing.  I like a mix.
    If the police had heavy munitions and were on my side I think that would be great!  But what happens when we disagree?  The police in my community wear cameras.  They are inexpensive and should be required of all police, everywhere.  It is a cheap way to solve a problem of what happened.  Personally, I would like to see the car cruising police to ride in pairs. I think an extra officer would supply a degree of safety and maybe an emotional foil.  I have long been a supporter of community police, officer's living in the areas they patrol.  Seems pretty nuts that in Ferguson there were only 3 black officers in an area 70% black.  How in the heck does that happen?  Seems to be enforcing a them Vs us and that is always a recipe for trouble.
    I can't end my blog today without talking about Education!  I wonder how all this might have been different had the kid who was shot been familiar with Shakespeare?  Or Plato, or Socrates? or any classical literature? or theater or dance? or the mechanical arts?  None of these are taught any more.
Just saying.  Has anyone ever thought about what we are losing?
    No government works without the consent of the governed.  Any community in America is pretty much limited to one cop per a thousand citizens.  The system only works when we agree to it.
Maybe it is time to sit down and discuss what we really want?  I think more "free stuff" isn't working and what we might really want is dignity, respect, some way to self satisfaction and, of course, a job!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

1st Show Ever!

I don't even remember the very first art show I participated in so many years ago.  I have done dozens and dozens of them, Home Shows, Gallery Events, Summer Exhibits and near Christmas time.  Making Art is the fun part but if you can't sell it the whole experience becomes tiresome and you run out of materials.  There is tons of anxiety to a first show.   Are you really ready?  Maybe forgotten some stuff?
Will anybody come?  and what will be their reaction?  It is a bit like being on stage and there are butterflies for sure.  But don't you wish you had bought the first Van Gogh?
    The Show is this Friday, an evening event with live music and festivities from 5pm until 9pm and all day Saturday from 9am until 5pm at Deterring Orchard near Harrisburg.  You can get fresh peaches at the same time!
   This will be my apprentices first show!  Her name is Sydnee Hale and she has an eye for Art and with the steady hand of a surgeon she is already a skilled welder.  A self proclaimed "perfectionist",
it will be worth a pleasant drive into the countryside to see her creations.  Her stand alone wall hangings would be great as a focus on a living room wall and strong enough to support the most vigorous of vines when mounted to an outside wall.  Her musical flowing bench is admired by all who have seen it and at five feet long is more than comfortable for three adults or a pile of children.  She has created three legged trellises 5, 6 and 7 feet tall that are whimsical, stylish and classical.
 Plant Stands for any sized pot, only $35.
    Most items on display are without that "artist tax" that established artists can demand and you will discover that if too late for this season in your garden, all of them would make wonderful artisan crafted and one of a kind Christmas gifts!
 4 and 5 foot "gallery pedestals" with feet and powder coated.
   With my support and encouragement this is Sydnee's show although I will have my photo album there,
 Made in Springfield Oregon from American Steel
seeking larger installation projects, nice substantial gated entries, rails and custom work.  My signature
 Wall Hanging or serious trellis
"Stone Posts" will be there, 5 and 6 foot concrete slated posts used as lamp posts and pedestrian gate posts.  There will be a six foot beauty there, made of sand slate and bone grout.  The only one in the world and worth the drive by itself!
 Double Curved, powder coated "silver vein"
   If you get a chance come visit us and although you may know me, say hello to Sydnee.  You will be impressed, I guarantee it!
Sydnee Hale, after the perfect picture!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Didn't Do It!

Seventeen year old girl!  Sounds like two cuss words in a row!  Not really, I have faith in the younger generation and having two daughters of my own I realize that girls can do anything a boy can do and sometimes better!  These are her benches, a crowning of her efforts of the summer working with me.  The pleasure has been mine and the learning and skills developed all hers and she is very good!
I have taught people welding before.  It is pretty easy, I can teach you to weld in five minutes but I can't teach enthusiasm or learning to deal with the dirt.  Welding is messy, dirty and noisy.  You have to want to do it or it just doesn't happen.  Like most learning in life.
It is fun to watch her.  She totally gets lost in her creations, all in a good way.  Focused and caring, each bend and weld better than the last.  She has made a lot this summer spending four or five hours every day at my shop, churning out trellises and plant stands, benches and garden art.
Next weekend is "The Art Show" and a 10' x 20' space I was talked into at the last show I did.  I have done so many of these over the years, probably a hundred!  This one will be hers and I will have nothing there, except maybe my apprentice herself!  That could be my best art ever!
Oh, I am sure she always had it in her, I just pushed and nudged and she fell right into it.
This whole experience reminds me of when I was a teacher and that question good teachers ponder.  Do you teach the student or do you teach the subject?  I never felt the subject was that important and my job was encouragement, providing a flashlight in the dark.  
What a great experience!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nice Place to Play

My backyard invites activity, always casting a spell of something going on.  It is a city lot about 100' x
160' and is almost equally divided diagonally by a drainage ditch that snakes throughout  the city.  When it was for sale in 1972 most people didn't like that feature, divided when they were after a flat lot with a manicured lawn.  I saw it as an advantage, a proper divisional "his and hers" or a more industrial farm side and a residential side, naturally and permanently divided.  I bought this little third acre for $8,275. (no typo there!) fifteen hundred down and $87 per month, two bedroom, nine hundred square feet built right on the ground.  A Real Fixer-Upper!  Over the years (42!) it has changed a lot, like a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon, pretty much unrecognizable  from its beginnings.
I saved 400 square feet of the original house so we would have a place to live as I added 2,000 square feet to it and the industrial side has transformed as well.
    The first structure I built was on that side, an 8' x 12' greenhouse, 40 years ago and still standing although it too has been remodelled a few times.  This triangle has been one huge tomato patch, a hundred and sixty feet all the way to the street.  The entire area has been a jungle gym with balance beams and climbing bars, tire swings and cheap throw away swimming pools.  A wonderland for my kids and their friends.  I think I was the first in this town to raise chickens and they kept the area clear of snails and pretty much weed free for years.  We have had two dogs over the years and this was heaven for them too.
   About 20 years ago I built a shop/studio and office at the back section of this area and I added a stone, concrete and steel bridge to cross the drainage ditch.  With my children I built the little garden pool, a plunge pool 3' deep and 14' x 8'.  I have had 20 kids in it at once!
My garden area is a little more formal now, its own raises bed really, about 40' x 40' and there are other little planting areas where I keep the blueberries, another section for raspberries and maybe 50 pots scattered around full of flowers here and there.
   A lot of it is concrete now, the area in front of the shop, behind the shop, from the pool to the greenhouse and at both ends of the slated bridge.  I did this years ago realizing that one day I would get older and wouldn't want to weed this entire section.  Glad I did.  I have lots of flower pots to distract from the concrete but this area I also use as a shop overflow and to display my finished work before it finds its permanent home.  This time of year there is a lot of activity, lots of railings, tables, garden benches, trellises and garden art all scattered around.  No one ever visits me and asked what I do!
   I took some photos this morning so I will show them to you in a minute.  One caught my eye and needs an explanation.  It is the watermelon 10 feet in the air.  Now you may ask, as I did, why on Earth would I do that?  The simple and truthful answer is that I have never seen this done before.  It appeared as a challenge to me.  If I am successful (difficult in Western Oregon!) and these are the 20 pound Simpson Melons, it will be like a coup to me!  15 gallons of really good compost soil, closer to the sun, no weeds to contend with and I climb the ladder every day and pamper it.  I planted a Borage next to it to attract the honeybees and that herb always does its job!  Much of what I have done and built has simply come to me as a challenge, something different.  Sometimes this works and, of course, sometimes it doesn't but the challenge is always there!  We shall see, I will keep you posted.  I don't think I have invented a method to grow melons commercially but maybe an additional space?  At least something to do.
Skinny dipping after 3!!!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Steel Jungle

My backyard, the area surrounding my shop and near my garden is a menagerie of steel, an obstacle course of completed works waiting to be picked up and installed at their forever home.  My pieces are available for adoption but they are forever mine.  I prefer a quick goodby, like giving away a loved puppy with no sadness or hesitation.  The more they linger here the more attached I become.
Today's tour of My Backyard!

 Borage to attract Honeybees! 
 Notice the Borage and Watermelon 10' in the air!
 Next week these projects will disappear and I will create new ones!