I got this YouTube from my favorite culture junkie monkey, Annie. C'mon! Just click on it and it'll start playing. Instant gratification. If you're an art historian, art lover or art blogger, you'll love this video. Actually, you can be anything you want to be and still love it. Sorry I had to link it, but YouTube is throwing a snit and won't post the proper size. Hey, it's either that or blame the dog, and you know we're not going to go there.
Once upon a time, a friend and I wrote a book. We had lost touch, and it was a way of reconnecting. This was back in the mid-90s when email was relatively new and, at least for us, an untried medium. Rose was new to it and I lured her in over our heads by suggesting, "Hey, let's write a book! No outline, no deadline. We'll take turns writing the chapters. It'll be cool; we'll have to write it to find out what happens next." She sent back this wry reply, "You go first."
Two days later, I emailed four pages back to her. I know it was four because neither of us trusted computers, so we both printed out every word of what would turn out to be something more than (we lost count) 300 pages. Two piles; one in Mill Valley and one in Boulder. Finally, to see if our imaginations had been equally sick, we each made a comparative map. They became the front and back covers. We then cut the book loose after almost two years and fifty chapters. Though I pity the once-and-future editor, the book turned out to be wickedly funny, phantasmagorical and full of completely unforgettable characters.
If either one of us didn't like the way the story was heading, she could take a new direction with her chapter. Rose loved monkey wrenches and would abruptly strike oil or kill off a character. For example, I had written a too-long chapter about building a gorgeous barn which turned out to be a treatise on timber framing and decorative roofing. The next chapter was Rose's coup-d'etat; she burned the barn to the ground. I was so upset, she snailmailed me a card. On the front was the famous haiku written in 1688 by the samurai, Masahide. "Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon."
From the beginning, we called the book, "Serendipity". We had so much fun writing it we could've gone on forever, but life turned out to be shorter than that. Rose died of cancer two years later. Let that be a lesson.
Epilogue: That card with the haiku is in my studio; I look at it every day. A couple of days ago, I was prompted to do this pastel. She likes it. So do I.
Here's the first hour's evidence of what eventually became 24 hours of this weird combination of concrete and glue. It weighed a ton and stuck to everything, including the electrical and phone wires. Last night, the landscape looked lunar, breaking tree limbs sounded like cannon fire, and the lights flickered like candles. This morning, a wire somewhere snapped, and we went off the grid. It was enough to forestall breakfast, forego a warm shower and convince me I'm not a pioneer. But it's springtime, so now it's sunny and warming and over. Except for the mud.
Up at the ranch last weekend, I took some pictures, quick, before spring springs. I love the way its winter-bare bones look. Before the cottonwoods and willows leaf out, the view goes further up the river and deeper into the trees. It's always a peaceful place, but for this moment before the trees and the river fill up with birds and critters, it seems suspended in a quiet waiting. When the snow melts and higher water comes to the river, everything living thing follows, and life gets loud.
The ranch is right at the foot of the mountains and is surrounded by protected land. Wildlife enjoys that protection and is abundant. Everybody's there and everybody's welcome. Some are shy, and some have no shame. For example, this very impressive 16-inch pile of plum pits begs the ago-old question, "Does a bear shit in the woods?"
The answer is, "No, he shits anywhere he wants to, including in our yard."
Here are some observations: 1) this scat is old and has had all winter to decompose, meaning it was much bigger last fall and its producer is a bigbear, and 2) the white tape is the high-voltage electric fence. It's about four feet off the ground and packs enough of a wallop to keep the one-ton cows and their piles away from the house. It didn't seem to impress the bear at all. I mean, did he even notice it?
Now that spring is here, that big ol' bear is waking up.
In 1974, Phillipe Petit took a walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center on a cable 1450 feet above the street. His film, "Man On Wire", released in 2008, tells the story of this breathtaking event and is as artfully made as as any documentary I've ever seen. In another words, it is art. I highly recommend seeing it.
It's warmer than cold outside the studio, and the fat-flaked soaking snow that falls in March is here. The mud is thickening out in the alley, bits of grass are greening up, the first leaves of the daylilies are poking through and the periwinkles are bravely blinking little blue-violet flowers. Spring is a determined season.
Meanwhile, here inside the studio I've been stashing wishful thinking, imagining how good this weather would feel in July. I'm determined beyond reason.
Many of you may not have watched the Oscars last Sunday. In spite of your absence, viewership was up over 20% from last year. That's 20% more pairs of eyeballs and ears which found out that "The Cove" did indeed win the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Yay! Or, as dolphins would squeal, EEEEEeeeee!!! Slap one big flipper for all the whales and dolphins who hopefully won't wind up as sushi in some Japanese bento box!
It gets better. According to the NY Times and LA Times, "The Cove" will premiere this summer on Animal Planet. Also, two episodes for a full series, tentatively called, "Dolphin Warriors" have already been completed and will be aired this coming fall on the same network. Though the Japanese government continues to claim that cultural precedence allows the them to continue with the slaughter of both whales and dolphins, the publicity brought to bear by "The Cove" will hopefully make that difficult at best. Whaling already defies international law, and the brutal dolphin harvest will undoubtedly be added as an offense. Which, at least in my eyes, makes further argument for humans to perhaps forego eating meat of any type. But that's for another post on another day...
Actually, Mary's dog still lives in my studio, and I've loved having the little guy around. It's hard to let him go, but I called her to tell her about this post and blew my cover. I've been avoiding haggling with her over the price; she's an accountant, and I'm me.
In advance, I'll apologize for being a little slow on the uptake of social media. Apparently, this video has already gone viral. But in case you're like me and ride the small bus, you probably haven't seen it yet. So consider it to be my gift to you -- just because it's Friday, and we've been doing the best we can all week long.
I am Sam Hannaway, and I share this blog with the dogs in my life. Being creative soothes my soul, so I write when I have something to say, paint when words don't cut it and try to follow the dogs' advice with grace. They say to keep it simple.