Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday Night

End of the week with a 3 day weekend ahead, let me just say YAHOO and hallelujah can I get an AMEN???

Not a big celebrator, I look forward to a quiet and early New Years eve tomorrow night.

3 days, maybe I can get some wheels turning and make forward, yes, forward progress on projects that have been fermenting.

Stay tuned for all the exciting details!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Art and Fun in the Mail!

So how FUN are these??? Scans of highlights from a surprise mail package received from none other than the fantastic artist and troublemaker herself Rachael from Art, Smart looking, Connecting and Troublemaking. She sent a treasure trove of art making stuff, one of her 'zines, a great book by fave artist Dan Price, a handmade sweet little Rachael pot with painterly underglazing, and a custom designed Mark's Mark Making Kit, complete with a challenge to draw with everything in it. Challenge accepted!

The photos above are of one of her wonderful articulating dolls she is creating these days, and the pic doesn't do it justice. It's about 14" tall fully extended, color-full like the tropics on acid, and moves like footloose hiphop fiend...I love it! The other shot is a composite of one of her Art Bars (read about them here) sans chocolate, cause we ate it for dessert. Enclosed in each is a reproduction of an original artwork, I got a Rachael.

At smallponderings, we're here to serve, and tonights service is a review of the Art Bar. To wit:

The Art Bar is made of 100% natural ingredients, Fair Trade supported and all organic. It is creamy Swiss milk chocolate, with just a hint of hazelnut in the background. They are sold for as a fundraiser to support arts education, so I give them 2 thumbs up for social conscience. Like I said, 100% all natural, and here's the thing 1000% omigod luscious chocolatey goodness. 2 big YUMS up! Buy them, savor them. Give them as gifts. Do it now.

So great big thanks to Rachael for her generous box of goodies, perfectly timed for me to play with during the holiday weekend. I hope everyone is warm and well where you are, and making trouble (as Rachael would say) of your own special kind.

Have a great evening!

Thursday morning

It is cold and rainy and dark this morning, it could be night for all the clues we have out the window. I'm sitting on a stool near the woodstove, and writing this on my laptop. The realization made me laugh out loud, and I thought maybe it'd be good for a giggle for any morning readers.

This combination of technologies is a pretty fair indication of my existence in general. A mess of extreme contradictions bundled up in a nondescript, slightly worn and frayed around the edges package.

Know thyself...

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Finally: Blogging Toshiko

On the way back from NYC we took a side trip to the farmlands of upstate NJ to visit one of our mutual artistic heroes, Toshiko Takaezu. (bio here).

Toshiko is a legend in American ceramics and well known as an artist and teacher. We've admired her work for years, and have studied her via video and any articles we could find, as well as online. Through the kindness of a gallery owner some years ago, and by virtue of our day jobs recently, we have handled some of her small pots, but have never seen more than 2 or three in a place. And never any of her larger works. So when we determined we'd be in the area, we called and asked if we could come visit and look at pots. A plan was made, directions given, the date determined.

As things are apt to happen, somehow communications got fouled up. We called from the road on the appointed day, and she was a bit frazzled and aggravated but told us to come anyway since we were so close. I think she cut us a break because of our connection with the school, where she taught in the late 60's and early 70's. We arrived to the snowy yard, got up to the house and were immediately instructed to remove shoes before entering. Toshiko is a wizened elderly woman in her early 80's but runs her home and studio with a firm grip. I liked her immediately- she was playing the role of Sensei, but with a twinkle in her eye. She gave us a little grief for the communication breakdown, we took it (even though I'm pretty sure it wasn't on our end!) then told us we came at a bad time. So not wanting to be an inconvenience, we said we'd leave immediately. "NO!" she said, you will stay for lunch. Others are coming. Go to the studio until they arrive." So we obeyed like any good lowly apprentice to a master would.

Of course her studio was fabulous! Work in progress (in her 80's and still makes stuff daily) and what must have been years of works on shelves, like a Toshiko encyclopedia. We were in awe, and clay heaven. We handled, fondled and caressed pots she had made over the years. All of these were table sized. And then we grabbed our shoes and went out into the snowy yard to look at big pieces.

All the large outside pieces are bronze castings of clay work. The tall ones are 10-12 feet high, and stand watch over her property. The bells are all cast bronze from the tops of some of her larger pieces, and hung on heavy wood torii-like sculptures. Her apprentice brought out a wooden striking hammer and we struck each one. They reminded me of the temple bells I had seen in Shinto temples in Japan years ago, and the tones of several rang thru you, a very physical experience. As we were in the yard, the other guests arrived in a big van: NJ Public TV. They were there to do a documentary interview with Toshiko. The day was becoming delightfully surreal.

Toshiko called us all in, and ordered us to the table, where she proceded to feed us to we about burst. She sat at the head of the table and held court...I wish I had recorded it. The Public TV folks were great, and by mid afternoon, we were all good friends, bonded by the common experience of lunching with the master. Never doubt the humor ability of an 80 year old woman, she has the life experience that can out joke and out-storytell the best of us. And all with an edge. I loved it!

The crew set up, and we readied to leave but not before a "tour" of the house and her collection of her own work. She had her apprentice take us to the front of the house and upstairs, where there were pots everywhere, big and small, a complete timeline of her work from the 50's to present day. It was incredible.

We came back down, K served as a sit-in for the crew to get lighting, sound and video adjusted (in HDTV, no less! her 10 minutes of fame.) Then we made a last trip down to the studio, where Toshiko loaded us up with donations for the school auctions for the next 2 years and a gift to the permanent collection, a beautiful large golden glazed piece that everyone drooled over. And finally, so graciously, she presented K and I each with a small teabowl, a very generous and unexpected gift indeed. We then hit the road for our long trip south, but full of stories to tell about the day we met, and ate, with Toshiko Takaezu.

(lots of photos, no order and no labels...its late and I'm slack!)

Writing in a fog

Wicked cold fog this evening. Not the least bit transparent, just a dense almost opaque gray. And quiet- the fog muffles all sound. While I am a boy of the sun, I can appreciate a day like this, "cloud hidden and whereabouts unknown." Perfect for reading old Chinese nature poetry by the fire. It reminds me a bit of my time in the Bay Area, where the fog could swallow you up in 30 minutes from a brilliant sunny day.

I'm remiss on blogging the completion of my trip. I have excuses, but won't give them. I'm thinking maybe tonight.

Last night about 2:30 am there was convention of screech and hoot owls. It sounded like they had surrounded the house. Maybe there was an owl convention or something. Their cacophony woke me up, and got the dogs to barking. I love it when the owls are going crazy, the noise they make is otherworldly. I sometimes see one in the dawn, but only hear them in the dusk. They are magnificent birds. I don't remember hearing so many of both types at the same time, usually its one or the other. Anybody have an idea of what that might mean?

Cobbling together a supper of leftovers, contemplating opening a bottle of wine to sip on. Much to do and say tonight, so I hesitate; with the lack of light, and my tendancy to early bedtimes, a glass of red might make the evening earlier than I want it to be. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Midday Repast...

Back on the job after the holiday weekend. The weather today is breezy and sunny, what passes for balmy here in the mountains this time of year (high 40's) and a welcome change from the wind and snow Christmas night and apres holiday.

Peanut butter and Glass Bee honey (thanks to our friends Gary and Mary Lynn). Home brewed coffee from my thermos. A bit of midday blog reading to catch up, and some gathering of my thoughts for coming posts. One more on the East Coast Adventure, then back to regular small ponderings of my mundane little world.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is gearing up for an excellent New Year. I think my guiding word for this coming year will be "focus". Imagine that.

Next thing you know I'll be working on clarity and brevity....

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning

Merry day, y'all!

A typical small ponderings celebration day, pretty low key. K's mother came yesterday and is spending the holiday with us, we had our hurricane refugee up yesterday afternoon and evening, we made dinner and watched movies until late. One of the big highlights of yesterday was the passing thru of a bluebird flock. About 20 bluebirds descended and were fluttering around the boxes, tweeting in the bare dogwood trees and basically bringing us some unexpected aviary Christmas cheer. Very odd, at this time of year to see them, and almost never in a flock. We'll chalk it up to being a minor Christmas miracle.

Today, we got up, had coffee. We don't do presents much and no decorating. Ok, only a bit, I'll have to post a pic to give everyone a laugh. K, her mom, and I each got one gift. Mine I have to say was the best: what do artist spouses give their artist spouse for Christmas? Art of course! And K found me a treausre, a hysterica welded l sculpture about 3 feet tall. Think a junkyard style big bird, and you get the idea. I love it! Cheap art, and funny. My girl knows me (also knowing it would inspire me to get out my welding stuff and get back to metal work!) Pics at 11...

So this afternoon I'll spend doing annual maintenance and recovery of MIL's iMac. This a holiday tradition. And some eating, hopefully some blogging and emailing to friends. A celebration just the way we like it. Eggnog or a rum and coke might be involved.

Hope everyone is having a great day, and surrouned by warmth and love. I treasure the friends I've made through this silly little window, and look forward to sharing the year ahead with you all.

HO HO HO and away we go!

Merry Christmas

To all!

It's officially Christmas here on the hilltop. I have a cat in my lap and dog at me feet and soon to go to bed. Santa might show up any minute now with lumps of coal, and I can use them in our woodstove.

Christmas eve was spent visiting and watching old movies. Catfish, slaw and hushpuppies for dinner, cooked outside just before the rain started. My annual non-traditional holiday feast. This was preceded by much snacking and drinking of spicy bloody marys. The result has been a day of little or no productivity, blogging or reading.

And tomorrow will be more of the same. Low-key, southern hilltop fun. We are so easily entertained.

Best wishes to everyone. Be warm, happy and healthy, and tell those you love that you love them. (say it out loud!)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Patient Pooch

I could be doing something important like blogging about meeting a great artist.

Or drinking eggnog and dressing up the dog.

You can see which I picked...

Have a great evening!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Continuing the NYC travelogue for those of you still reading along (I appreciate your stamina!) today we go to MOMA.

Starting the cold day with a short walk the a typical NY diner for breakfast. I find that breakfast is the food deal of the day almost anywhere- tank up and go all day. This was a good place, cheap and plentiful with fresh squeezed OJ! and yummy coffee. The morning was cold as all get out but we just walked it anyways, down to the good old subway and downtown.

The MOMA building is HUGE. Not as much as the major Euro Museums, but still. Bring your lunch, its an all day event. We got there just as the doors were opening, no lines, and through the generosity of our hosts, got to use their member card which saved on the hefty admission $. This was my second time there, (the first time I paid) Yes it's expensive, but worth it, especially if you've never been.

Besides the general collection, there were 3 big shows up: Pixar Animations (Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles) had a fabulous and detailed display of how those productions are made. I had no idea of all the real handwork art involved, like about 2-3 years worth from a lot of artists before the project gets to the CGI guys. Amazing, and beautiful work. Drawing, painting, pastels, modeling of all's crazy what has to happen to get the characters on the screen. I'm a sucker for Pixar and Dreamworks productions (loves me some talking animals!) so it was fun to see.

The second thing was a big installation on safety and security design. I was lukewarm about spending the time on it, but decided to have a quick look and then spent a couple of hours there. I was particularly intrigued by some of the shelter objects they had, and was reminded in general that every product has gone through a design stage, early on performed by creative people that take concepts and give them form. Something as simple as a foam earplug, to something as advanced as an open ocean survival almost always starts from a pencil drawing. I guess that's a good argument for every manufactured product having an element of art, commercial or otherwise. I wonder if all those drawers do non-commercial work in the wee hours? I like to think so.

The third exhibit was an overview of Elizabeth Murray's work. I like her work methods and philosophy, but I've never seen her work live. Video and print made me think it would appeal to me. But I have to say seeing it in person didn't do a lot for me, at least as a finished product. It was a bit much for my aesthetic. But technically, it rocked! The paintings are huge, bright and multi-dimensional. I wonder how I would have responded to them in another I write, I'm thinking the proximity of them to each other took away from the experience. Plus, I'd like to see one outside of a museum environment. I think coming across one as an unexpected splash would be cool.

The rest of the museum was given over to the permanent collection, a wonderful exhibit. (the design gallery was closed because a new show was being installed, so we missed furniture and fixtures). The collection reads like an art history book, every color and black and white plate you've ever seen come alive. It's thrilling to see masterpieces in real life. Some of it will literally take your breath away. Monet's Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond by itself is all consuming and nearly overwhelming in scale and beauty. Jackson Pollack's huge panels crash over you. The Van Gogh's, the Matisse's, the Picasso's of course are like being in the presence of art rock stars, as well as all the abstract expressionists and those that followed. Work of all types and sizes, big and small, loud and quiet, surround and saturate you. At the end of the day you have no doubt you were in the presence of Great Things.

Which leaves one full of art, but footsore, tired and hungry. So at closing time, its out into the cold and the New York rush hour (which now doesn't seem so bad compared to the craziness of the transportation strike) and back to the apartment to freshen up and rest feet for the jaunt to dinner.

And lo, what a dinner it was! Vietnamese in a beautiful little restaurant up in the area of 77th and 2nd avenue, a place that has an abundance of ethnic restaurants that all looked affordable (we'll definitely spend more time up there on the next visit) and had great potential. We sat and ate long and hard, everything was delicious! And the place itself was beautiful but not cheesey at all. And best of all, it was affordable for two poor artist travelers like ourselves.

(It occurs to me that I should mention this guidebook. It was recommended to us by friends, and I have to say it's worth its weight in gold. The Not for Tourists Guide to NYC I give it a 5 of 5 stars, and that's unusual for a travel guide. But its small, comprehensive, and intuitive to use. Every piece of info we got from it was extremely accurate. I've used Let's Go guides for years in Europe and America and this is equal to or better than the Let's Go series in every way.)

Summary: MoMA: go to it. Plan on all day. Drink it in. You'll be glad you did.

So that ends MOMA day. And we're coming up to the next leg of our trip. I have a short list of artists I'd love to meet, and I was able to spend time with one of those fine people the next day. And it's a story, for sure.

Until then, be well, be happy, be warm. Have a great evening!

Winter is here

Officially. So I change my background color to complement the season.

I'm thinking I'm the only blogger not blogging Christmas. What does this say about me? I'm not sure, but to be clear I actually do have a bit o' cheer to share, hopefully tonight.

I do have to say I'm not a big celebrator or holiday person in general, but I'm not too terribly Scrooge-y and actually have been enjoying this season for a change. But if you came to my little house on the hill, I would get failing marks for Holiday Activities. We don't decorate, do gifts, or make much of any fuss at all. I'm more the "Peace on Earth/Goodwill to Men and Women" type. And I like to cook and eat, but that's a daily thing. All the other I can take (or leave) as entertainment, but try to thrust me into the big river of Christmas chaos and I get a little weird. And, I don't like to limit my gift giving (such as it is) to the generally accepted holiday period. (this is why K and friends receive presies like in April or Oct or some other odd and unexpected time). I give when the mood hits.

So, enjoy your day. Tell me about it. Monkey do like shiny things!

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas,
Come this way!

(from the who's in whoville...see? I know things...)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Temporary Interruption...

So I was going to blog my MOMA visit tonight, but time got away from me and now i need to call it an evening.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful solstice evening wherever you are. As a child of the sun, I'm looking forward to the longer and brighter days to come.

MOMAblog tomorrow. G'night...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tues evening footnote

Just for the record, I could be pondering about something other than my recent Very Big Adventure, but it would only be politics or the state of the union or my newest art project. The former is too depressing, the latter probably not as interesting as NY stories. I'm not quite sure what this says about me except I need an editor...

Central Park and NYC walkabout...

Good thing we went last week. That town would be decidedly unfun if you couldn't get around...

So who gets up early in the morning on a weekday to go and walk in Central Park, when the air is about 10 degrees and a brisk little breeze is kicking up on a bright sunny day? Why, you intrepid ponderer of course!

I was a week late, but needed to go there to stand in memory of John Lennon. K needed to see the park. The night before from high about it showed as a huge dimly lit blank space in the middle of brightly lit chaos. On the ground there is nothing like it. You know its contrived, but so what? Green space in all that asphalt and concrete is really something, and it feels so huge.

We got off near the Dakota and walked in the opposite direction to enter the park and walk back. Lots of snow and ice on the ground, and it was COLD. But we were bundled up like weebles, and waddled long and far. Ending back up across from the Dakota at the Lennon "Imagine" mosaic with a few other people, quite sobering. I've read his biography, and of course listened to his music (Beatles and solo). I rather like him as a singer/songwriter, but understand he could be a difficult character. But who knows? I do know this: in the early 90's i went to a show of his artwork (drawings and paintings) put together boy Yoko and touring the US. I distinctly remembering standing amid them and realizing with no doubt, this was a man who completely loved his wife and son. No matter what else was going on with him, that was clear and definite. There was no mistaking; you could not make art with that much heart if you didn't. So I've respected him ever since.

We ended our Central Park walk and headed back to the sub, and rode down to Greenwich Village. I love the history and idea of the Village as a center of artistic progression. It was good to see it in all its funkiness. We dove into a little diner out of the cold, and ate. I had a big honkin' yummy New York Pastrami sammie with gobs of hot brown mustard, and fresh cut real potatoe french fries. Big time yums! We left there and wandered around the Village, making a big circle around Washington Square, MacDougal Street, Bleecker Street, it was very cold, not many people out. I would love to come back in the spring or fall when more would be happening, and weave in and out of the little shops, restaurants, bars and coffee houses. It seemed neighborly, and I hope to get back before it gets too gentrified.

Back down to the sub and stopped at the Chelsea neighborhood. Chelsea has over 200 galleries in a 4 block radius...I was immersed and saturated and happy as a clam when I went there in Feb and couldn't wait to get back. Chelsea is when I understood why NYC was (is?) the center of the art world. You could see anything and everything in every possible media all in one small easily walkable area. You could spend days there, and these galleries go from little temporary shoebox places to gigantic spaces hosting a 20' Calder mobile suspended over a David Smith sculpture.

Imagine my disappointment at finding most galleries closed for the holidays or in between shows. Oh well, it'll be something to look forward to on the next trip. So duck into a place for big lattes and warming up, then to the sub again, before rush hour. Next stop, Grand Central Station.

I find this place amazing in its hugeness and grandeur. It is the center of the train travel universe. (I can't imagine what it must be like now with the subways on strike!) Huge open galleries with vaulted ceilings, people scurrying all about, coming and going- pure energy of motion. Within the halls are store after store, and in one of the wings rows of vendor booths selling endless bright, shiny, or warm things. Hat and scarf booths were doing a booming business.

Next, for effect, down to the sub again, only to pop up a short time later in Times Square at night. Truly a spectacle. How do they turn a side of a 20 story building into a giant tv??? Crazy. Walked past many theaters, lines out of most of them; at $100 each for cheap tickets, those places are like gold mines. We went down and out a few streets to the edge of Hell's Kitchen and found a great burrito shop with giant yummy burritos for cheap, sat and ate and warmed up yet again, and left with leftovers wrapped for an impromptu breakfast. Strolled back in the cold night to Times Square, and then why not? walked up Broadway to the Radio City Music Hall and a second visit to the Rockefeller Center skating rink, where we had coffee and hot chocolate and watched the skaters go round. Clearly, I am a cheap date.

After that, back to the lux accomodations, crash into bed, and snore lightly into the night, for tomorrow we go to MOMA.

Hope everyone is well and that these posts are helping you all fall asleep easily....


long johns cold morning
requires extra coffee
before icy walking

Monday, December 19, 2005

New York Night

Warning: Hillbilly-like travelogue ahead...

So we got to NYC on the train in mid-afternoon. Weather was good but COLD. Amtrak is ok, but nothing like the sweet Euro or Japanese trains I've been on. (why can't we have a good, inexpensive point to point rail system in this country? oh never mind I know the answer...) Penn Station is where the trains come in, from there we caught the subway uptown. I love the NYC subway (how many people say that???) and am glad we were there before what looks like a certain strike. Anyways, Penn station is nothing special, big and sprawling, nothing to look at. A better station comes later.

The place we stayed was like something out of a movie. A beautiful classic 6 between Lexington and Park. Very gracious board members from the day job allowed us to stay with mice go to the city. I think we walked in awe around their place for a half hour. Books, original art, baby grand, everything perfectly placed and beautiful. And most surprisingly of all, very comfortable and not pretentious in the least. It was amazing. One block from the subway, a perfect base of touristy operations.

After freshening up we hit the streets. I am a master navigator and planner, and wanted to take advantage of the clear afternoon and evening. So we walked. Miles. Madison Ave, 5th Ave, gawking in the windows of American commerce at its best (worst?) New York pulls out all the stops at Christmas. Not being commercially oriented, and in fact generally aggressively opposed to being force fed advertising or come-hither pleas to spend and buy, I found to my surprise the whole thing to be enjoyable. It is so over the top its like its not real. Saks, Bloomingdales: Department stores of unbelievable size selling everything under the sun! It's crazy!. The Trump Tower- gaudier than you'd imagine, all pink marble and bright brass, truly a monument to bad taste. I was laughing out loud. The flagship Sony store (ok, I'm a gearhead and I really dug this place). Chestnuts roasting by corner vendors, everything decorated way past any reason. Elaborate store window displays (as an artist, I was pretty impressed by the craftsmanship, but distressed it was just a temporary installation to facilitate commerce). A jillion people, sights sounds smells...sensory overload.

We went to Rockefeller Center, and saw the oversize Christmas bush, famous the world over, and the skating rink, being Zambonied to Christmas tunes at the moment. In a fit of touristic lack of sensibility, we went to the observation platform. It had just opened, I don't know how many stories up, and it was worth every penny. I think you could see a thousand miles in every direction, the city lit from horizon to horizon. People sure can build stuff.

Back down, and now ice skaters in the rink, hundreds of them whirling and twirling and falling. A latte's worth of watching and then stroll down towards Central Park. So many shiny things all around. Cut across a few streets, and into a pizza palor dive for slices of NYC's finest and to sit a bit with the city cops and Bloomingdalies on their breaks, watching a Knicks game. Great pizza, good humor, fine vibe. Then the last few blocks back to the palatial apartment, greeted by the doorman by name no less (!!!) and in for the night. Blessed reclining, feet up. Planning the next day's adventure and drifting off to sleep.

We are so easily amused. This is good, because it's cost effective.

More tomorrow. Hope everyone has a great evening- are you guys getting ready for the holiday? We're not big celebrators, so the closer it gets, the quieter it gets around our house. Now, I'm off to walk in the cool twilight with Lucy and wait for the moon to blast over the ridge. It is going to be clear and cold tonight; the light show we'll have will be better than the city I think....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hot Dogs...

I love a good hot dog. I make no excuses for it, it's just something that suits me.

A good hot dog (street vended, New York style) is one of the only things I didn't partake of on last weeks M&K East Coast WinterTour 05. This mostly a climatological choice. It was too cold to eat street food. (I've never said such a thing before, normally having traveled in warmer climes...)

A unexpected day job work project pointed us north, so we decided to expand it and take in some sights. Somewhere along the line, the work thing became un-needed, but we went anyways since we had some plans and K has never been north. Of course we picked the coldest week so far this year, but, the subways were still running so it was a decent trade.

We're walkers. New York city is easy for us (no hills). So that's what we did. Drove to dc, spent the night, drove up to Princeton, took the train into the city (another K first) and spent a few days. Graciously hosted by some kind people that are on our board at the day job. A warm safe place to sleep, midtown, 1 block from the subway. Life is good.

So we subbed, and walked. Miles. It was great. The city was clear and COLD. K accuses me of having a masochistic streak, but watcha gonna do? Lots to see from the street level. Stimulating. (At some point I must stop accumulating inspiration and do something with what I have.) Bright lights, beautiful windows. You could see miles from atop the Rockefeller center, like a postcard. Madison and 5th avenue glitz and glamour, Greenwich Village down-to-earth funk, and Chelsea bridging the two. Food, and coffee- did I mention we walked a lot?

Times Square at night (a great, cheap burrito shop a few blocks away). Lit up like Las Vegas on steroids. About a billion people scurrying about. I don't like crowds, but find it easy to become invisible and enjoy the scene when its on this scale. I don't feel obligated to be a part of it...I just stand and the side and watch it go by, a river of humanity in all its variety. Garrison Keillor says Times Square is like the Grand Canyon of advertising. Perfect description. I shake my head in wonder.

We have a marginal income, so not hardly any money to go away and visit things. But we're fortunate in that we don't tend to be consumers of stuff. So we're content to walk, look, see. To be an artist of limited means living in New York would be too hard, depressing even. But to visit? It's like the wind blowing from another direction on a hot day. I should write a book: The Poor Guy's Guide to Visiting New York: Having Fun on Pennies a Day.

So I"m back on my mountain, pondering all the stuff I saw. I think I'm a bit visually overstimulated; it was good to walk the dog a while ago in the cool clear air, walking through the woods and the remainder of the snow that is lingering from the surprise early storm while we were gone. Later on, I'll talk about food (yes, there were ethnic foods, sushi, and martinis involved), the day long expedition to MOMA, doormen, ice skaters, and the bright lights of the city. Or not...I mean who needs another travelogue??? Oh yes, did I mention we walked a lot?

I hope everyone is well, and look forward to reconnecting with my blog friends after being unplugged for a week. Right now, I need a nap!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Returned to the Hills...

After a week long road trip, unplugged. Stories to tell, oh the places we've been!

Did you know there are places in this world that use more than 1 fork and the napkins are cloth! not paper???

Episodes begin tomorrow. Hope everyone is well. See you in a bit!

(E. Bond: got your messages just now, all is well.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Stay tuned, small ponderings will return with new episodes

The small ponder-er is going to unplug for a week, and absorb new experiences to share with the pondering public. This is not a hiatus, just a temporary pause in services to improve the style and content of the offerings.

Ok, maybe not improve but expand the subject range...

So, be warm, have fun, be nice to people, small children and all animals. Don't forget to make positive ripples, preferrably anonymous. Thanks for reading and look back here in about a week. I'll return with the proverbial bells on.

Off to gather and make new stories....

Friday, December 09, 2005

Momentary Lull the small ponderings universe. This not a bad thing, sometimes often presaging a burst in creative activity. Though I don't really have anything planned. I'm thinking it's time to really hone in on the installation project I've been skirting around for a couple of years. I have some clarity and definition about it of late, so maybe I'll use this space to float some ideas. Any of you guys know anything about how to find/apply for grants for funding such a project? My funding is my day job, and it only goes so far...

In other news, here's a great project someone did that really appeals to me- I love work that is startlingly out of context but very cool: The Park(ing) Project in San Francisco.

It's bright, sunny, windy, and frigidly cold here today. It'll be a good night for a humming woodstove, slippers and coffee. Maybe we'll indulge in a movie from the archives. Lots of life maintenance tomorrow, so gotta get inspired for that.

Have a great and warm evening. Sit by the fire with someone you love!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Tis the Season.."

I found a copy of this commentary by Jon Carroll, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle' Gate Page. It is my all time favorite holiday writing piece, and I read it often during the year as the concept applies universally. Given here in its entirety. Have a nice read and a great day!

"WE TAKE AS OUR text this year a quotation from Rabbi Schmelke as reprinted in the Street Spirit, an East Bay homeless newspaper sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee:

``When a poor man asks you for aid, do not use his faults as an excuse for not helping him. For then God will look for your offenses, and he is sure to find many of them. Keep in mind that a poor man's transgressions have been atoned for by his poverty while yours still remain with you.''

Whether you agree with the specific cosmology, the basic message is clear: Have a little humility in the face of want and need. There but for the grace of God go you.

In this joyous holiday season, there is want and need freely available in major shopping areas. There are human beings who are, quite frankly, seeking your money. Most of them are standing behind counters and offering you overpriced consumer goods, but some of them are squatting in doorways and offering you nothing at all.

Sometimes, even if you give them money, they don't say ``thank you.'' They don't make you feel good about yourself. They're too busy being cold.

Technically speaking, charity is not about feeling good. It's about need and want. The Untied Way is about need and want.

The Untied Way has no central office, no paid employees, no brochures or fund-raisers, no celebrity spokeshumans, no gala benefits. The Untied Way has only volunteers, has only one plan. It seeks to reach those people who require reaching.

When someone squats in a doorway and asks for money, it is a fair assumption that he or she requires reaching.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS: Go to your ATM and take out $100 in crisp $20 bills. The $100 figure is a suggestion only; $200 would be better and $40 would be splendid, too. What's one-five-hundredth of your annual gross income? Surely that's little enough to handle the need and want in your area.

Take these lovely bills and go to a busy area in your community. If your community does not have a busy area, downtown San Francisco is darned busy this time of year.

Walk along the street admiring whatever you choose to admire. When someone asks you for money, give that person a $20 bill. Repeat this process until all the 20s are gone. Voila and zip: the Untied Way.

NOW IT MAY BE that some of the people to whom you give money will spend it unwisely. They will not use it to update their resumes; they might not even put it toward the purchase of a better pair of shoes.

Some of the people experiencing need and want are also suffering from confusion. This confusion is often chemical. Sometimes the chemicals are ingested; sometimes they are produced naturally by the brain. Naturally, it would be better if they sought help. It would be better if you sought help sometimes, too, and you have not always done so.

Within the context of need and want, we owe people the dignity of their own confusion. We are not performing triage here, nor are we sitting on a golden throne. We are doing what we can. We are aware that it is not enough, and still we are doing it. That's the Untied Way.

Gratitude may not be apparent at all, or it may be embarrassing and overly effusive. It would be unwise to have an opinion about that. When a person is in a doorway, the concept of ``appropriate'' may be a little fuzzy.

You can be sure the money has gone to someone who needs it. You can be sure that your client will spend 100 percent of the donation on self-identified need areas. You can use the experience to meditate on the nature of charity, or the fragility of personal narrative, or anything else -- it's a little koan-in-a-box, just for this holiday season."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mid week update

After yesterdays lengthy ramble, I'm about out of my word quota for the week. But I thought it would be nice to thank and acknowledge everyone who's contributed to our little anonymous fundraiser. So thank you so much!

I won't go into details because I want to preserve the anonymity, but I can say that every bit donated has had a huge positive and immediate impact on the recipient. It has allowed the person to address immediate pressing needs, and has relieved some of the debilitating pressure of a short term financial crisis. Most importantly, I think your help has opened a door and allowed a glimmer of hope and light into a space that was getting bleak and dark. Thank you all a thousand times over.

The lines at Blogcabin are still open for anyone that still wants to toss a pebble and create a positive ripple.

Maybe one day someone will share the details of this story. Maybe not. But every one of you who gave a contribution should be proud of did a kind, generous, meaningful and thoughtful deed. This whole event has demonstrated what people, small people like ourselves can do. We can, through small actions and with limited resources, make a difference in someones life. It's a beginning.

I'm off to see if I can find an old article by the SF Gate Columnist Jon Carroll. It's timely, and I just thought about it today. If i can dig it up I'll link or post it. Good reading, for any day, but especially at this time of year.

Until then, thanks again. Toss, plop, ripple and change the world.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Expounding about Windmills and Ripples

Allrighty then, here we are at the scene of what may prove to be the most meandering ramble of the day.

I have a picture of Don Quixote in mind that is quite different from the one portrayed in the novel (as best as I can tell). My Don travels with his sidekick, doing his best to perform good deeds with noble intent. His perception of reality is a bit skewed, but so what?- he's trying to make the world as he sees it a better place, often in the face of all kinds of obstacles. He doesn't let the windmills of the world, nor his critics, nor the people that might greet him with derision deter him in pursuit of his ideal. I say good for him. Idealism is not a bad thing.

I have this theory, I'm sure its not original to the world but I like to claim it. I call it the "Ripple Theory of Positivity" It is very long, detailed and seemingly non-sensical to the casual observer. I shall spare any of you that have read this far the supporting data and calculations I have amassed over years of development. You'll have to trust me on this, or take it as an article of faith.

In summary the Ripple Theory of Positivity (hereafter known as RTofP) works like this: Picture if you will a calm, still pond. Take a pebble, toss it into the pond (not angrily throw, or try to skip, but just an easy toss, no big deal) and it will make a pleasing "plop in the water" sound, and from the point of entry, ripples will emanate. They grow larger and larger covering an increasing surface area, until they reach the far edges of the banks of the pond. If there are water grasses, they will ripple in conjunction, and in fact, vibrate the air around their stalks, sending invisible ripples out to who knows where, infinitely measurable. I call this evolution the "Ripple Effect" (hereafter known as RE).

Now, here's the tricky part because the RE can be generated by either a positive pebble plop (PPP) or a negative pebble plop (NPP). Studies indicate (sadly) that NPP seems to be the dominate generator of RE. But I believe in finite limits of all physical and metaphysical components of the universe, and Taoism postulates that everything has an equal but opposite twin. Therefore, I believe there is an equal amount of PPP available in the universe which will generate a POSITIVE RE! Thus, the logical proof of the RTofP!

So here's the thing: we can harness this energy via the RTofP, and use it to turn the tide of the times. You and everyone you know hold a metaphorical pebble in your hand. Is it a (+) pebble or a (-) pebble? Ah, here's the magic: each person gets to decide.

So I challenge everyone...decide your metaphorical pebble is a (+) and use it to generate a PPP. The process is simple: toss your metaphorical (+) pebble into the pond of humanity immediately adjacent to you (office, bus, school, gym, restaurant, etc). Do this by doing something very small but nice for someone, preferrably a stranger. This is the toss. The PPP is the immediate effect on the person receiving the deed (maybe unawares). This in turn should stimulate another positive ripple. You may never know if it does, but its an act of faith. Maybe positive ripples will affect all adjacent people. Maybe they in turn will decide their metaphorical pebble is a (+) and give it a toss. Because the ripples radiate outwards, the effect is exponential in growth. From one person being positively affected can end up generating ripples that positively effect thousands. And it could just keep on growing. If you doubt it, just look at the wide ranging effect a NPP has, and remember that PPP is equal and volume and energy.

It is way too easy in this day and time, this society and culture we live in, to be negative. We get so many messages from so many sources that make us feel bad or lacking...there are many systems that cultivate despair and crush hope. Optimism is frowned upon by pragmatic realists. I think there are people that are heavily invested in darkness, for there is money to be made there. I think the only appropriate response to that position is to pick your windmills and run at them full-on. Only with a fearless optimism, a willingness to consistently choose positivity over negativity, and the desire to cultivate hope for ourseleves and anyone we come in contact with can we begin to shine some light into all this darkness.

You're going to make a ripple, you can't move thru the universe without making waves. The pebbles are in your hand. Are they going to be positively charged, or negative? You decide...before you do, think about this: You can create ripples, but you are also touched by the ones every one else creates. So which do you want to feel wash over you?

If this feels all new and weird to you and you need to dip your toe in the water, toss a pebble here.

Have a great evening! Make those ripples count!

Tilting at Windmills, Or the Ripple Theory of Positivity

Think about that for a sec. I'll amplify tonight.

In the meantime, have you clicked to make a small donation to an anonymous but deserving stranger yet? There has been a trickle, I hear thru the grapevine; its making a small but wonderful difference. The difference between hope, and desperation.

Go ahead, you know you want to. The link awaits.

Remember, 100% of the donation goes to the cause. Meg is generously absorbing the paypal costs.

Thanks. More later.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday Morning Chance to Change the World

Good morning.

Up and about to go out to work? Just clicking for a quick read? Boy, life is good. Have you been over to Blogcabin? You know, you could skip the fancy coffee drink and pastry this morning, and donate just that little bit on Meg's paypal link to help a great cause for someone who really really needs it, and deserves a bit of cheer.

I'm just saying...

If you don't know the story, read below. And be careful out there: wintry mix all about.

But anything you give will make someones day warmer.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

"For the price of a pizza..."

(editors note: 9 pm Sunday- linkage figured out! Thanks Meg for the help! All the rest of you, read on and participate)

I read something once that started out with that was a prose piece on supporting the arts, but I don't have a copy of it and can't remember it in detail. However, I use that idea and even say those words frequently when trying to figure out the value of an effort.

So today I ask the question: what if you could positively, directly impact someone's life for the price of a pizza? I mean right now, if you took the price of a pizza, and gave it to someone in immediate need, how would that make you feel?

I want to give anyone that reads this a chance to find out. I've struggled with how to present plea, and decided to be deliberately vague, except to say that any donations you make go directly to someone who needs it much more desperately than any of us need a pizza, and that the funds are not for myself in any way, shape or form.

This culture we live in is not kind nor easy on small people with big hearts that make the world better by being in it. These are the type of people I look up to as role models and heros; they do their thing every day, do not play victim or complain, and meet challenges with grace and dignity. They are good examples of what a person can be; not perfect, but beautifully human and working to make their immediate world a friendlier and warmer place for everyone they come in contact with. So often they do this with little more than sheer determination- resources are few and far between. They often have no safety net. So where are they to turn when things go awry? And, generally, these people are not ones to seek out help. They believe in pulling their own load, and helping everyone else pull theirs whenever possible.

I know someone like this, and they need some help, NOW. A lot of us bloggers talk about the 'blogging community". I have made good friends this way, though never having met any of you face to face. Blogging is a good way to make connections, but the challenge we have is to manifest our thoughts and words physically. This is one small way. This is also an exercise in trust: you have to trust that I am not trying to take advantage of your generosity, you have to trust that any donation you make will matter, and you have to trust that more than just you will contribute. Do not underestimate the value of culmulative small contributions. They can, and I am certain in this case WILL prove to provide some hope. We can be our own safety net.

If you need any more proof of my sincerity, I'll make this offer: the first 5 people that donate $20 or more can send me an email, and I'll send you an original piece of ceramic art from my last firing, equal to or greater than a $20 retail value. I'll even pay the postage to ship to you. I'm an, not so much, but pots I got.

Meg at Blogcabin has agreed to play banker on this project. (I wasn't smart enough to figure out a blind link to the individual's paypal acct.) So take a chance: make a donation by cruising over to Blogcabin, and click on her "support the cabin via paypal" link in the left sidebar, and do your thing. She'll collect and forward all funds daily. For the price of a pizza, someone's life can be better tomorrow. Be part of the blogging community safety net.

Thank you!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Red Morning Alert

I wish you could all see the sky over the east ridge right now (7am). It is flaming red, not orange, not the salmon-y pre- sunrise reddish/orangish/yellow bleeding into the last bit of indigo night, but I full-on flaming fire engine red. I've never seen anything like that here. Incredible!

If the old saw "red sky at morning, sailors take warning..." is true, we're in for it today. But for now, I'll sit back with coffee and enjoy the show.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cat Friday! and The World Premiere

This is Puck, the Dotson Gallery Cat. He'll be keeping us company this weekend. I had to give up my usual window display spot, as he has claimed it for his own.

For the first time ever, a display of K's fiber art! Yes ladies and gentlemen, right her at small ponderings. The handbags are handknitted then felted and often have handmade sewn on buttons. The scarves are woven on one of the 3 looms living in our house, and the baskets of hats and scarves are crocheted. The sweater is multi-colored handknitted. She also hand-dyes some of the yarns she uses. Her favorite dye: KoolAid, in Grape, Fruit Punch, and Lime. No joke.

More pics late tomorrow...the clay section (my stuff) was still a little chaotic (no big surprise there!)

Have a great evening!

Friday Morning News from the Hills

The wind is roaring off the ridge like a freight train closing in, blasting everything with a solid wall of cold. The morning sun is bright but so brittle you'd think it would shatter. Wood stove stoked and running at full capacity, and the clothing word for the day is "layers".

How's your day beginning?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Putting out the Welcome Mat

In the news today, my friend Sam at Feral has moved to the Blogspot neighborhood and graced us with an inaugural poem. Please read and support her, you'll be happy if you do.

I rarely would point to my own comments section, but the Holy Pontiff of the Tent Show Revival has left a great little poem in the previous entry's comments section. I am honored and touched. Thank you Dr. Omed.

Meg at Blogcabin has a cold (wishing you a quick recovery!) but has still managed to post an absolute classic of an entry today. How does she do it? Read it, and send her some strong get well vibes.

K and I will be getting ready for the weekend show/sale tomorrow. I'll put up some photos after we set up (we'll be in a friends studio that has a much better location than ours) and you can see my stuff displayed, as well as the first web images of K's fiber work.

Need to go stoke the stove. Hope everyone else is warm and healthy and that Meg gets that way soon!

Have a great tomorrow!