Monday, February 28, 2022

Endings and Beginnings

 Endings and Beginnings

It's Sunday afternoon, clear, bright, and tired. The day is slouching into those limbo hours. Too late to start anything, too early for dinner. My energy level is close to zero, and I'm droning through a bleak, empty mood. Boredom isn't having nothing to do. Boredom is not being able to make yourself want to do anything.

Mary and I spent most of last week getting the house and grounds ready for yesterday. We worked hard. Yesterday was the memorial service for Mary's brother, Randy. We hosted the reception, and dinner. I have very little family: two brothers, a niece, and a nephew, and that's it. Mary comes from a big clan, and most all of them were in town. We had more than twenty five people coming to the house for the gathering. Fortunately, one of the relatives couldn't attend, so he contributed the food. For once, I didn't have to cook.

 I had to wait for a delivery, so Mary left for the service before I did. That was a break. I was dreading going to the service. I'm damn near phobic about masks. I simply will not put one of those filthy things on my face. Period. End of discussion. And I knew they were required. When I walked into the church, some woman tried to buttonhole me at the door. She held up a box of face rags like she was offering me a sacrament. I held up my thumb and first two fingers in the gesture I always see Jesus making on icons, and just shook my head, and took a seat in the last pew. 

I don't care for the woman pastor at the church. I've heard her before. Listening to her is a lot like drinking warm flat beer. She spoke about Jesus "preparing a place for us" in the afterlife. I found her neither convincing nor compelling. Then Randy's friend took the pulpit, and treated us all to a half hour eulogy, and the neverending slide show, before giving up the podium. Mary had spent a lot of time preparing. I never got to hear her. I left the service early to pick up the food order, and set up the kitchen for serving.

We had over five hundred bucks worth of Italian food, and pizza from one of the best restaurants in town. Lots of stuff in those big aluminum foil trays in wire frames with the canned Sterno to keep it hot.

 I don't like Italian at all, but it was Randy's favorite. And it may seem cold to say it, but, truth to tell,  I didn't  like Randy much, either. It wasn't a matter of conflict, or insult; just personalities too far, and too wide apart on the spectrum. He, and the whole family are doctrinaire liberals. They had Biden yard signs. Randy and I were pretty close to being polar opposites.

He was a good man, just a year younger than I. He was a better man than I am by most any measure. He worked hard,  sometimes keeping two jobs to keep the family going. He raised five good kids. He was a scout troop leader, and active in the Methodist church. He had just retired after over thirty years as a music teacher when he was diagnosed with some form of leukemia. The bone marrow transplant didn't help. Medicine gave him three years of sickness and misery, and then he died. 

The service ran late. It was half past five before anyone arrived. It was already evening, and it was getting dark, and cold. That's So Cal for you. Last week it was shirtsleeve weather at eight at night, and this week the days barely reached seventy before plunging down into  the forties. We have lights in the gazebo, and we put lanterns on the tables. Those who came from out of state found it pleasant. The younger folks can handle the cold.

 A funeral reception is a party without joy. You see smiling, and hear a lot of talking, even laughter. But it's all infused with that very strange giddy euphoria that our hearts generate to keep the shock, and grief from crushing everything. Nonetheless, all told, it was a great success, despite the chill weather.

I got to bed late, woke up this morning exhausted, and spent the day cleaning up. Which brings me back to this early Sunday evening.

 Tomorrow I'll roll out a new project. Something black. With stripes. Last week I was talking about the odd little rules we make up for ourselves, and then have to deliberately break. 


 Some months ago I was thinking of doing a project based on the fender ornament from an antique Whizzer motorized Schwinn. Worse than just thinking about it, I said I was going to do it. But neither of the stones I had for the project were workable, so I did other stuff. But I said I was going to do the fender bomb. That made it a rule, a promise that I have to keep.

Who says? Well...uh... not sure, but...

So I decided that the fender bomb would be the next project after the red stone. But I really don't want to do that project; I want to take on the big black stone.

 Cut to the chase. I gave myself permission to  take on the big black stone, instead. 

The thing  spoke to me at the stone yard. Here I am. Check out  the blade. Your work is almost half done before you even start... 

 It's embarrassing how liberating it felt to allow myself to break my own rule. Feels like I'm getting away with something. 

So here we go.

Monday, February 21, 2022



I've had good feedback on the stone. I sent a couple of pics to the folks at Art City where I bought the alabaster last September. They posted the photos on their Instagram page, and over fifty people have clicked a "like" on the pics I must be doing something right.

I'm already getting antsy to start work again.  I have plans for the first three (going left to right) of the four remaining pieces of Anza Borrego stone.

I'm still kicking ideas around for the big white rock (#3). Odd how we make up little rules for ourselves that can be harder to break than the rules imposed by some outside authority. 

"This is forbidden. That is banned."

 "Fuck you, I'm doin' it anyway."

But somehow a little rule popped into in my head, and told me I have to start the white stone, (second from the left) next. I really kind of want to start the black stone in the middle. But the rule in my head says, "No. First the white, then the black, then the long stone at the far left, and finally the big white one."

But whether I obey my own rules or not, I'm stuck between projects. Next Saturday is the memorial for Mary's brother, and we're hosting the reception. Big group coming. Lots of work to do this week. No joy in any of it. This is a U.T.O.L. a universal task of life. We meet these obligations with prayer and whatever grace we can bring to the occasion.

Then it's back to work.


Thursday, February 17, 2022

Sangre de Anza


Sangre de Anza


We've had one of those little false summers that often pop up in the middle of February. The last several days have been warm and clear, and I took advantage of the shirtsleeve weather to get a lot of work done. The transition from shaping to finishing happens so gradually that it's easy forget that you're on the home stretch. Suddenly I'm working with smaller, and smaller tools. Then I'm sanding. Start out with 80 grit to take out tool marks, then 150 grit to even it all out. Then do it again with finer grit on each pass. I was getting close to home by Monday afternoon. I got the plastic cover over the table, and made ready for the messy, messy business of wet sanding. 

Our little false summer ended abruptly Tuesday. The day after Valentines day was cold, and gray, and windy with bouts of spitting rain. Le'mme tell ya', I was doing some serious rubbing with the rag. By afternoon my fingers felt like stumps. But finally it came time to break out the magic in a can: Simichrome. By the end of the day the stone was in the living room. But no matter how thorough I try to be on the initial polishing run, I always, and always find a zillion little spots that escaped my attention. It took another full day, Wednesday, to get them all worked out.

But this is Thursday morning. It's done. I made the submission to the Made in California show, in Brea even though that meant I had to start an Instagram account. (just what I wanted. more anti-social media... *sigh* )

I'll put more pictures in it later.


But anyway. Here's the goods. Remember where we started.


Add a bunch of work:


That's all for now.

I'm takin' a bit of a break.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Almost there (almost)

 Almost there (almost)

Another very brief post this week. Got way too much stuff going on here at the suburban hermitage. Last week  I mentioned that the project was close enough to completion that I could see just what the finished piece was going to look like. In fact, I wrote that down Monday morning. It took until Tuesday to find out I was mistaken. I was shaping in the lens that separates the two halves of the snout like bowl in the front of the piece, and noticed a pinpoint of light along the edge.


 I took it too thin. That meant an instant change of plans. One nice thing about inventing a shape, is that there is room to compensate for mistakes. The artist can always invoke the Pee Wee Herman clause: "Yeah, well, I meant to do that." Not so, with a figurative piece. If the stone cracks, and the nose falls off of a bust, you're screwed. 

But I'm being melodramatic. Yeah, I unexpectedly cut all the way through the thin section of stone. But it was a thin section that was going to be cut away anyhow.

Sun. 2/13/22 

I  started finishing on Friday. Like everything else in this project, it's hard. As in difficult. Because the stone is very hard. And very soft. And there is a whole  mess of tight, awkward corners, and spaces I can barely reach with a fingertip. This is fun, right? Deadline for submissions for the Brea show is Friday, the 18th. I won't have the project finished by then. There's just too much stuff going on this week. But I should be able to sneak a photo for  the submission. If the polishing isn't completely done, I can fake it with some olive oil just to get the picture. Of course, that'll be a mess to clean up.

I'll get a photo or two taken when the sun comes up.

Next week we'll have the finished piece. Good. My fingers need a break.

Monday, February 7, 2022



We started with this


It's Friday night, February the fourth. Insert here obligatory comment on time going just too damn fast. It's going too damn fast. Day's over. I'm so tired I'm seeing things. No pictures this week. I know that there are zillions of followers who wait for the Monday morning rock show, but this week y'all are just gonna' have to keep waiting. Next pics will be of the finished piece. Maybe next week. We'll see.

This is the best and the worst of times when it comes to working through a big project. On the one hand, I'm very happy with the work I've done. I'm close enough to the end that I can see exactly what the finished piece is going to look like. That puts me close enough to the end of this project that I want to hurry up. I'm excited about seeing it all polished up, and on the shelf.

On the other hand, I'm tired. I've been hard at work on this thing since sometime in the last week of September. I need a break, yet I just want to push it through and be done with it. And, like I mentioned last week, I'm kind of locked in on the idea that I *must* have this thing done in time, and entered for consideration in that art show in Brea. I'll rest once this thing begins its long career of collecting dust.

Sunday, 2/6/21

Or until I crap out. Today was the Cyclone Coaster antique and classic bike ride. Our monthly event, The So Cal RatRod Ride,  got its start in this group. We'll celebrate ten years of our event in March. But like I mentioned, I'm burned out. There's a reason for retiring the old farts, and this is it. The pattern seems to be about ten days straight of work, and then collapse, and I'm on my ass for a couple of days. But it's also a sign of  my obsessive nature when it comes to, well, most everything. 

Monday, 2/7/22

I seem to have two modes: total laser beam focus, and a maniacal drive to work, or indifference. The drive has been driving me. I did not sleep much Saturday night, and Sunday was a burn out day. I should have stayed home and flopped, but I needed to get out of the yard, see my friends, and get some recreation. By the end of the cruise I was dangerously tired. The drive home seemed never-ending, and by the time I got here I was just plain feeling sick. Hungry. Dehydrated. Sore. But Mary had dinner for me. A bottle of kombucha put some fluid back in my system. Buddy the Cat needed a hug, and a hold. I hit the sack early, and this morning I'm recalled to life. Ready to grind.