Monday, November 21, 2022

Cold Midweek

 Cold Midweek


 I didn't bother with getting a post up last week.

Mundane stuff kept me from getting any work done. Many small deterrents in the path. Lots of time fiddled away, and just a couple hours here and there spent on the stone. Not much accomplished. And the last stage in the project is a slow one anyway. It's all about getting measurements just right, lines squared where they need to be squared, getting one side no higher than the other. It's tedious, exacting stuff, and it doesn't produce anything dramatic to show for the effort. Bit by bit, I pushed closer to finishing day. 

And yesterday I got there:


Something seems to have come over me in these last few days. Suddenly I've just lost interest in the internet. Somehow, I just can't get focused on anything having to do with politics, or current events. It's altogether too easy to get caught up in the news. It's easier yet, to unlock the keyboard, and throw a comment at a news story just like you'd throw a rock at an enemy. But the rock never strikes the enemy, and the throwing is a wasted effort. I have yet to see any comment on the internet change anything in the real world. And it takes vigilance to avoid the temptation. So I'm being vigilant in ignoring the news.

 It was a week ago last Saturday that we had the monthly So Cal RatRod Ride. It was just Troy, Penny, Dave, and me. Jim was under the weather, and didn't make it. We haven't had guests for a while now, and our monthly cruise has become more of a family gathering than an event. And we're OK with that. Most of the group rides are centered on bar hopping, and the group spends as much, or more time  hanging out as they do riding. We don't do bar hopping. We gather to smoke a little weed, and ride. Most of the group rides have several people with portable stereo systems sharing their music with everyone within a half mile radius. Most people spend their entire day enveloped in fields of distraction. Cell phone. Blue tooth. Always a text message, always a call waiting, always and always music in the background, because silence is solitude. Solitude is looking within. Looking within is scary if there's nothing in there to see. We ride quiet. Time on the bicycle is time away from the dealings of everyday life. I don't want heavy metal, rap, reggae, or any obscene ghetto noise while I'm riding. I don't even want the worn out oldies I've been hearing since high school. Bike time is for the wind, and maybe some casual chat while we're rolling. Mostly it's for quiet. We saw sting rays in the water at the wetlands jetty bridge. That was the event. (photo Penny Stocker)

So this week it's Thanksgiving. We're going small this year instead of doing a big gathering. I'll take a day or two to work out little finishing details on the stone, and then start taking a look at the next project.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Cold Wet Monday

 Cold Wet Monday

So it's Monday, and it's cold and rainy. Not much of a post this week, because not much has happened. I've been stalled for progress, beset by relatively small annoyances that have kept me miserable in small to moderate ways. Last week it was a tooth infection. It got painful on Monday, and Tuesday I got in for a check up. Dentist gave me amoxicillin, but it took until Thursday before the pain cleared up. I don't know how much work I'll be able to do today.


  Last two days I've been dealing with the allergy fit which is the worst. I get this runny nose, that just will not stop. I wanted to go to Cyclone Coaster Sunday, but I couldn't get across the room without a snot rag in hand. (I know- gross) Can't do anything because the nose just drips like a leaky faucet. The only thing that stops it is to take both benadryl and sudafed, but that combination leaves me feeling like total shit.
Even so, I did get some work done on the stone. I'm getting close to the home stretch, and the burn to finish is heating up. I could easily get into a run of all day hard work sessions until it's on the shelf, but today and tomorrow we have rain.  The pictures up today are from a couple days ago. Now, I'm working on the base. The last thing will be rounding out the inside of the big ring. The work gets slower, as the end gets close. I may hold off posting any new photos until the whole thing is complete.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Catching Up With Stuff

 Catching Up With Stuff


Now how's that for a catchy title? No doubt it foreshadows all kinds of action and suspense. But sorry, no chase scene, no near death experience, no sudden fame or fortune. No disasters either, except for a toothache. That's bad enough.  It's Monday night, the 31st. Halloween. Mary is in the living room handing out candy to the Trick or Treaters. She tossed both cats and me back here, and closed the hallway door, so the cats wouldn't run out  when she opened the front door to hand out candy. Buddy the Cat is sitting under the monitor, and I have to pick up his tail, and hind leg to use the keyboard. It's awkward. 

Tue. Early am:

 Sunday I brought my stones, and the graphic home from the Art Gallery. It was quite an honor to be picked for the show, and I got a lot of good feedback on my work. It's hard to see our own work objectively, because we're too close to it to get any perspective. Seeing all my stuff on display in a real gallery setting was refreshing. Now I'm eager to get back to work. And I will. As soon as I get this toothache taken care of. Which will happen some six hours from now, as I sit here. I'm counting. 

Sunday afternoon we had our friends over for a small party and BBQ.  The party was pretty tame. I didn't get buzzed, and nobody drank too much, barfed in the street, or anything. Show's over, back on your head, and all that. 

I got back to work on the pearlstone project, and made decent progress. I'll have pictures down below in just a bit. I got an email "Call For Artists" from a gallery not far from here. I got one from them last year, and it ended up costing me sixty bucks in entry fees. I emailed back, and said, "Don't bother me again."

I waited to post these pics. I'll make no comment.


Won a prize.


Won a prize.


Won a prize. 

And so it goes. 'Tis a fickle business, this art stuff.
Anyway, Here's where we are with the new project.

 I had enough clearance around the torpedo that I could begin shaping it. 


It's slow work, as always. Every stroke on one side needs to be matched with one on the other. Ultimately I want a dull point on either end.

I'll get there...


Wednesday, October 26, 2022


A Blast From the Past 


Thursday, 10/26/ 2006

My sense of time is still wrecked. I know that today is Thursday, and that this whole thing went down on Monday, but all the time between is either compressed or expanded beyond recognition. 

It's easier to think in terms of distance. Colima Road, Whittier Boulevard, and Hacienda Boulevard form a triangle over steep hills that would make a great all day hike. That was the plan.

I noticed it was 9:11 when I left the house heading west down Whittier Boulevard toward Colima. Whittier hospital is on the corner of Whittier Boulevard, and Colima Road, about a mile and a half from my house, and I was about half way there when I started feeling tightness in my chest. Under normal circumstances, three quarters of a mile is not much distance, but within a hundred yards the first sensation of pressure turned to pain.

 It began to hurt. Bad. Angina was cranking up like feedback from a microphone shoved into a loudspeaker. Everything went into slow motion. I was walking in a cloud of pain that grew thicker and heavier with every step. I could see the hospital emergency room across the parking lot receding like one of those weird nightmares where you want to run but you're mired in glue and can't move. All I could do was stay fixed on that goal and force my legs to keep going. Somehow I just couldn't get enough air. I don't know how I made it up the steps, but I shoved my way through the door, and collapsed in the waiting room."I think I'm having heart trouble here".

Suddenly I was in the hands of people whose business is to save lives. I was poked with needles, stuck with patches, clipped to wires, and hooked to incomprehensibly sophisticated machines. I was processed, admitted, and wheeled upstairs. In the next forty eight hours I'd get to see high tech magic worthy of a science fiction novel. But mostly I lay on my back and waited and wondered what would happen next.

Doctors came and went. I found myself sleepless at three in the morning watching the sign of the cross form in the ceiling tiles. Holy cow, I thought, this is straight out of some some cornball religious testimonial. I should expect to see an angel any minute. But there was no epiphany, no luminous moment. Nor did I feel inclined to bargain with God- get me through this and I promise to reform my wayward ways. I tried to get a prayer out, but I couldn't concentrate. The best I could do was- "It's in your hands. Whatever you want. I'm OK with it." or something like that. 

The next day was the stress test which had me howling with pain in just over four minutes. Six hours later I had the angiogram, and the cardiologist put a stainless steel stent in one of the coronary arteries. It was 95% blocked. That's the one they call The Widowmaker. Five percent more and I wouldn't be writing this. There was no damage to my heart. Much to be grateful for.

Mary brought me home Wednesday afternoon. I've noticed this before in times of crisis. There's a weird giddiness- an almost surreal euphoria that kicks in to sustain you through the worst. That euphoria was draining off fast, and exhaustion was rushing in to take its place. My wife picked up the pills I'll be taking for the rest of my life. Four hundred bucks, and we have no insurance. It struck me then that we are now pretty much ruined financially.  

We got take out Chinese food for dinner. I climbed into bed with my wife, held on to her, and only then did it hit me what had happened. I broke down and bawled like a little kid. But it's Friday morning now. Now I'm OK, and I know that somehow this will all work out. I said a while back that there was no epiphany, no luminous moment, but I don't mean to imply that nothing happened. Only now does it occur to me that maybe I didn't need one. I guess I really have acquired some faith. Throughout the whole thing I was scared, but not terrified. I knew, somehow, that even if I didn't make it I'd still be OK. 




Monday, October 17, 2022



My photos came out awful. These were taken by our good friend Linda Oberholtzer. 

She came with her father, Yoshio Nakamura, who is, among other things, a  WWII veteran, and an outstanding artist himself. 
 With Yoshio Nakamura
I left the Canon SLR at home, and brought the little compact.  The LED lights in the gallery are bright, but set to a warm yellow. Cell phone cameras compensate for this just fine, and the Digital Rebel does OK with a little tweaking in Photoshop, but the older compact camera needs a white balance setting, which I did not make.  So all my pics are uselessly yellow, and P/shop didn't help much. Light should be light, but LED lights are like artificial flavors, or recorded sound. There is something, well, artificial about them. I took pictures of the other artists, and their work, but none of pics I took came out worth a damn. Bummer. I'll try to get some photos later on from some of the other people who were there, and get a post up later this week.


 My work was very well received. It is all kinds of cool hearing people tell you how much they like what you've done.  Of course, nobody is going to walk up  and say, "Y'know, this stuff is really mediocre. Why don't you get into something you'd be good at." Nonetheless, when you hear enough people slinging adjectives, and calling your work amazing, you get the suspicion that maybe they aren't just BS'ing to be nice. Maybe I really am one of the real guys. Humility is a difficult virtue to cultivate. On the one hand, no one likes a braggart. On the other hand, the "aww, shucks, it ain't nothin" bit is every bit as annoying.  
The point of balance is knowing how good you are, and how good you aren't. If you're a world's champion, it's no brag to say so. If you're a participation trophy recipient, it's cheating to call yourself a "prize-winning" anything.
I had the opportunity to meet with William Ohanesian, who did a documentary film on Turnbull Canyon Road, which snakes over the Whittier Hills. Turnbull Canyon is where many of Pete Hampton's paintings were done. There are many legends, and spooky stories about the canyon, and the road. William came to the reception to meet with me, and talk about Pete Hampton's art, and the work I did with The Lost Canyon, and Lost Era projects. The folks from the Whittier Museum and Historical Society are also interested in this work. His visit gave me a chance to duck out into the parking lot for a while so I could show him the Lost Era book, and the catalogue. William seems like a great guy, and we hit it off right from the gate. I'm looking forward to meeting with him again very soon. Mary and I will be going to see the film next Saturday at the museum.

It is odd how very exhausting these events can be. All I had to do was put on clean clothes, remember my hearing aids, stand around for photos, and talk to the visitors. The reception ran for three hours. 
Harriett Foley, one of my favorite people. (This gal is a trip, and a half!)
Add an extra hour to help Mary and Harriett clean up, and we were on our way over to California Grill for dinner. Our friend, Holly joined us.
 California Grill used to be a favorite stop for Mary and me. They had a London Broil served rare with red wine gravy that just gave your taste buds orgasms. Times have changed, and not for the better. The London Broil is now a pot roast with gravy. The meat was microwaved, and the gravy came from a mix.  Holly just got a calamari appetizer. The tab for two meals with wine, plus the appetizer just barely ducked the hundred dollar mark, but I can't blame them for the prices. It's like everything else in this age and time. Sometimes I get very angry about it all; other times it just makes me sad.
We got home around nine thirty. We were both of us just dizzy tired and stumbled into bed. Joys of post-middle age. Sunday was cold, and gray, and wet, a perfect day to just flop and reflect on the Good. And despite everything, we have much, so much to be grateful for. I have been so richly blessed.