Entries from October 2009 ↓

Happy Halloween

I found this great shot of me and my sisters from Halloween on Wake Island. Obviously by the quality of the costumes this holiday wasn’t nearly as important to my parents as it was to us. My sisters were provided paper hats and rolled up aprons courtesy of the commisary where my father worked. I’m not even sure what they are supposed to be, perhaps junior lunch ladies. I was afforded even less effort, an old sheet, three hacked holes, a string around the waist and a cinch around my neck. I believe this was my costume for about 4 years in a row. The great thing was that I don’t recall caring about the quality of the costume as long as the pillow case was heavy with candy when we got home. I sometimes had to drag my bounty home….

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morning oaks

I don’t know how many times I have driven past this grove of Oaks on McGregor Drive between Aptos and Capitola and thought, I need to try and get a picture of this. As you drive this frontage road there is a bit of open space in the middle, what was once intended as Wingspread, a conference center, ( some vocal, local opposition ended that plan). Right past that is a street leading towards the ocean with houses hidden from the road amongst scrub Scotch Broom bushes, berry vines, poison oak, Oak trees and Eucalyptus. Just before this street is a small ravine studded with beautiful Oak trees all natural and tangled. Left alone and these Oaks have stretched up out of the ravine and formed a shapely canopy under which houses an amazing dance of branches. It seemed that no matter what time of day or what time of year, whenever I would drive past this ravine it would inspire me. When I say inspire I mean inspiration that comes from seeing a beautiful work of art, or a magnificent church, or anything that makes you believe.

So coming home from my Saturday morning coffee session with my friend Bill I finally stopped. I stopped because I had not only remembered to bring my camera but thought maybe the Aptos morning fog would work well with the Oaks. Now the Aptos fog for the uninitiated is unlike the quaint “cat’s feet” version of Carl Sandburg and more like a “London, Jack the Ripper, stay off the moors” type of fog. It will come in in the morning and break around next August… Anyway, here are a couple of shots I took. Still not doing any justice to the scene or the trees but at least I finally stopped.

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Lucca the literary critic

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So as I was walking back to where I parked my car in downtown Santa Cruz I had to pass the library. Although I am not really much of a reader of books, I love books. The smell, the ideas they hold, and the belief that books are a magical world I wish I was more a part of. Don’t misunderstand, I love to read, but mostly newspapers and periodicals. Basically because I think I was born with the attention span of a flea, jumping from one thing to another and have never had the focus to read books or novels. Anyway, I digress. I know that the downtown library sells used books in its foyer, so I like to make a quick pass to see if anything catches my eye. You see I like to collect books whether I intend to read them or not. Sometimes for funny titles, sometimes for funny images I think I can use elsewhere, sometimes for historic value that someone else might appreciate, or sometimes, as was the most recent case, just great cover art I found amusing and stimulating. I found this paperback and thought, “my God that is great cover art!”, and then I read the blurb on the back about how I should “watch in breathless wonder as the Masters get what they have coming to them…”. Well my friend, I knew then and there that I had to pony up the twenty five cents it would take to acquire this literary gem. I casually spun the paperback carousel a couple more times around pretending to still be looking but I knew I had uncovered my gold for the day and no further mining was required. This last tact is just a ruse to throw off anyone thinking I might be a common book grabber or worse, a reseller. No sir. No sir I state I am not. I am a connoisseur. A connoisseur of random ephemeral. And proud of it. I shoved my hand deep into the pocket of my jeans and pulled out my meager change and picked out a quarter and slammed it in the slot of the cash box the library leaves sitting on a cart. (I think I slammed it to make sure I had witnesses that I actually paid my quarter…..) So now I had my prize and headed home to share my plunder. I must admit, I have trained my family to accept my flights of folly when it comes to my art.

Here is where the story turns.

I forgot that my family now includes a dog. Our dog Lucca. Lucca Brasi is his full name, named after an assassin from the novel, “The Godfather” and also for the town in Italy we visited. He was a gift from our neighbors who “accidently” bred their yellow lab. Our son Colin dog sat for them whenever they went on vacation and they were generous enough to give us one of the litter. I had never had a dog before and now I do. I grew up watching my  sister Kathy, who was always the dog person. She was actually more than a dog person, she was a bonafide  animal person. I grew up watching all types of animals embrace her. Birds, cats, dogs, snakes, they all seemed to be able to sense her nurturing nature. But she was first and foremost a dog person.  And finally all these years later I have a dog and now I understand. Having a dog is different that a child or a spouse. Having a dog is like living with a lie detector. I never knew. My sister explained that a dog provides what you never knew you needed.

When I get home with my treasure and I immediately share it with my son Ian. He approves and agrees it will make an amusing addition to this blog, and I head out to my fortress of fun, (my studio behind the home ). As I sit at my desk Lucca likes comes out to join me, and usually in very close proximity. Many times my projects are interrupted by Lucca requesting attention. Lucca requests attention in multiple ways. He will bury his nose in my armpit, which makes me giggle. He will rise up on his hind legs and land his front paws on my shoulders…and proceed to lick my ears. He will bring me one of his toys and drop it at my feet and request we play fetch. Sometimes he can be down right adamant.

So imagine my surprise when I come home the following day and find that my dearest doggie, the doggie of my heart had found my new book so objectionable that he had taken it off my desk and torn it to shreds. When I walked out my back door my twenty five cent treasure was shredded and scattered between the back door and the door to my studio. It looked like scattered flower petals, like some romantic overture from my youngest. I quickly turned and looked at Lucca and stated his name in my most disappointed voice and he immediately assumed the guilty dog pose. Tucked tail, hunched shoulders, flat ears and sorrowful eyes. I’m not sure what he found so offensive about this particular book. Perhaps the title worried him and he thought it was an instruction manual? Anyway, no further discipline required, nothing more to be gained by extending the scolding. I let him know I appreciated his guilt but still loved him and gathered up my bits of book and put them in the trash.

As I sat down at my desk to check my e-mail Lucca stood at the door to my studio and waited until I peered around my monitor. With no further admonishment sensed Lucca came in, walked slowly over to my desk and stuck his nose in my armpit.

an ode to my willow

So we have an old willow tree in our front yard and the poor things trunk has been hollowed out by termites. It seems spindly and week and should probably be taken down but every spring it burgeons a fresh green canopy that me and the birds love and couldn’t imagine losing. The top canopy unfortunately also smothers the interior growth and you are left with a dangling tangle of brittle willow branches. So last Saturday we had a very brisk introduction to the fall season with cold strong winds on a clear night and in the morning the yard is showered with willow twigs. So of course I see this mess as a bounty, not a burden, and look for a way to play with all these sticks. It is a beautiful October day and I decide to spend a good portion of it gathering twigs and stacking them into the hollowed out trunk of the tree that produced them. I haven’t studied Zen but I have to imaging that this activity would have been appealing to those who have. The surrounding sounds of traffic seemed to fade, time was slow and the world was gentle. By the time my wife Amy got home I was almost done. Bless her heart she didn’t even question the activity and just got out of the car stating, “doing another Andrew?” Once again a reference to one of my art heroes, Andrew Goldsworthy, http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/ who’s nature produced sculpture can take your breath away. I hadn’t even realized how much time had passed so I took a break to put dinner in the oven and came back out to finish the sticks. Not sure if these pictures help explain the piece as it was as much an art work of process as it was of product.