Sculptors have bone yards. We met an artist in England who threw his pieces into the river behind his small studio. An amazing human in Oakland, eighty-something Andree, has her decades of work scattered in her back yard and makes more each day. Stephen De Staebler had the most forlorn, lonely, and literal bone yard in Berkeley. Janey spent some time studying with him and said he was a lovely man. I first saw his work in SF having recently arrived as an art snob from the East Coast. Cruising through the old SF MOMA, I did a double take. “Whoa! Who’s that?”
Took the ol’ purple town-bike out for a spin
beneath today’s five-star, mid-January blue skies. I had to stop for a pic and think about the small joyous things we do just because – like this flock of bird houses along the bike trail, and how, somewhere nearby there’s probably a kid and their mom or maybe a friend painting a bird house to add to this tree.
There are places like this in Death Valley, and maybe you’ve been to them: Crank Junction, Marble Bath. Really gives one pause, especially Marble Bath. To get to it you likely drive your 4×4 loaded with water and provisions (There’s nothing within 100 miles.) way too fast on packed-sand roads, then slow and pull off at a little-known gap in the sage and rocks and crawl your vehicle as far as you deem safe. There, you get out and hike in the heat up through a narrow wash, traverse around some huge solitary rocks and make one final, short steep push to your destination. It’s a cast iron bathtub buried to its rim and filled with what have to be 10,000 blue marbles. Wendel Moyer, desert explorer, research chemist and mountaineer enlisted the help of a few strong friends and placed it there in the early nineties. Why? For the joy of it, and just because.
So the government holds…
the day after thousands of self-described patriots gathered at the feet of their leader and were given their marching orders. Following their march, hundreds of what are likely WWF fans broke into the central halls of our republic but hadn’t really given much thought as to what to do next. So they posed at federally-elected leaders’ desks, stole what they could carry and what they couldn’t carry they broke. On their way out, they grinned large into the news cameras likely making the DOJ’s job a lot easier tracking them down. This morning, and a couple thousand miles away, Lucy (the dog) and I watched the sun rise just south of Mt. Diablo, USA.
If there is a place where you find yourself fully aware,
not quite feeling lost, but a place unfamiliar, it may look something like this. In dreams it sometimes comes. Shadows out of time with the rhythm and sky and water, shoreline and trees and something wrong with all of that. Her father – a cop. And you are late on the river road, and you thought the turn off was just ahead.
Years ago I heard an interview with Yann Martel
in which he said he’d written “Life of Pi” on a sailboat. We boarded that boat and sat at his desk at Banff Center, the boat propped up in the forest beneath a pavilion and assigned as a workspace for resident writers. Yes, written on a boat. We were at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in the Alberta Rockies. My wife, Janey, and her sis Tyler were at the center for a six-week artists residency and I had flown up with their mom, Jean, for a three-day writers’ workshop. Jean and I enjoyed readings and discussions with heady authors, editors, translators and poets while Tyler and Janey were painting and sculpting twelve hours a day. Mornings, Jean and I went down for coffee in the contemporary high-ceilinged, endless-view-of-snow-capped-Rockies coffee shop. While we chatted I overheard the conversation from the next table. Obviously there was an international math conference in attendance. What I heard and could understand were numbers and the word, “Tangent.” Janey, her sis and I also worked in a sensuously spectacular hike above Lake Louise in nine-degrees F. The cold was starting to get to us as we approached a warming hut. Up the steps, we stomped off our boots and opened the door. It was packed with fellow hikers hugging a wood stove. We repaired to the porch and the risen direct sunlight to warm. Love the Banff Center experience!
It’s a 1950 Chevrolet
the way a ’50 Chevy looks if it’s been cared for. Not at all like the one my dad showed up with. It had just been traded in at the garage where he worked and appeared to have been inhabited by small rodents and a family of sheep for the past decade – black paint faded to an unmapped location between shades-of-grey and Buster Brown, glass pitted, Korean-war-era tires cracked and bald, the seats ridden hard and put away wet, and everything that could corrode corroded. But it ran. It could be mine for twenty-five bucks, and I could think of nothing else but painting those wheels red. Then, Dad mentioned registration, license, insurance, inspection, gas prices, repairs and maintenance. I bought my first motorbike instead.
I’m on the elliptical trainer,
headphones tuned to the Pointer Sisters station for the past twenty years, and, at the end of my workout, I’m thinking three-minute cool down, and a new voice comes on. I check the phone and it says, “Bonnie Tyler.” It’s in hyper overdrive, and this isn’t what I had in mind for a cool down, and I’m thinking “Meatloaf.” Turns out her writer/producer, Jim Steinman, also wrote and produced for “Meatloaf.” Tyler has two of the best-selling singles of all time. Welsh singer. Not a household name.
Winter approaching and it’s a beautiful sight—
thistle husks bristle tall and crisp. On the other side of winter’s rains, fallen seeds will come alive, tendrils rise and lush green stalks offer up bulbs as big as your hand and burst open with the most seductive eye-shadow you’ve seen. It’s unearthly, the violet blue that unfolds from those fists. Today as I approached on a bike, I stopped for a pic. For years, my running gate has been slowed with the allure of this patch. Just up the hill from here is where Janey and I harvested pasture patties in fifteen large black garbage bags and stored them in our garage. Another story.
They’re nearly exoskeletons,
these well worn, snug-fitting gloves with their double density leather, petroleum-based palm pads and carbon fiber armor at likely impact points. Following crashes, the folks at Z Leathers who made these gloves ask that riders send their gloves back to them so they can see how the gloves fared whilst the rider was (hopefully) skidding along on their butt or (hopefully not) tumbling ass over tin cups. This particular pair never got stressed to that point, but with tens-of-thousands of miles behind them on the Guzzi and the Ducati, they’re well broken in and can probably start either bike by themselves without me in them.