Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Hardly no time to think, much less write. A lot of work, a little reading, a little sleep. The wheel goes round...

So just to keep the lines open I thought I'd pass on bits of reading. We'll call it OPP (Other People's Ponderings).

"The object of art is not to make saleable pictures. It is to save yourself. The point of being an artist is that you may live." -Sherwood Anderson

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wisdom where you find it

"One grows tired of the hoax of up
and down. Jesus descended into a universe
of neither perfect lines, squares, nor circles."

- Harrison and Kooser, Braided Creek

Start where you are, work with what you have...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Outside and inside...

Feeling the way it looks...

Small Ponderings Status Report

Day job work is increasingly demanding of time, energy and patience. Making stuff time is fragmented and the work is scattered. Weather is all over the place, springlike changes to winterlike in a flash. Body not reacting fast enough, always a bit behind the curve, still in late winter hibernation mode it seems.

Humor in need of repair, a rapid perspective change is necessary and critical. I'm working on that.

New camera is great fun, though I haven't had the time I'd like to put into it. An audiopost is imminent (today maybe?), does reading from a book qualify as a legitimate posting? I think it will, at least here.

Making headway on a new and exciting mixed media project, slow but sure. Needing to redefine my sense of time. The ticking clock and running meter make me crazy.

My theory of evolution: Stuff happens, things change. Adapt or perish.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Woke this morning to a brief and unexpected spring-like thunderstorm. Startling in that nothing frozen was involved and the air smells different, changed. I suspect this is a temporary condition of things; spring weather in the mountains is an unsettled adventure and we're still on the tail end of winter.

Being up, awake and having the house
fairly quiet allows me slow time for coffee, a couple of Harrison and Kooser poems, and catching up on blog reading.

From Braided Creek:

So much to live for
Each rope rings
a different bell.

And this jewel stumbled on, so good I have to share it, via The Coddled Egg.

These are not bad words to start the day with...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A ramble which defies a title...

I sat down to write a post this morning, cause I had a few minutes before the sun rose, and my head is pretty clear, but then I realized I had nothing much to say...

Well, that's not exactly true, I have plenty to say, I just don't know how to say it in a manner that suits me or looks pleasing to my eye.

A thousand years ago in another lifetime, I had dreams of being a photo-journalist. Pictures that suggested the sublime buried in the ordinary and everyday, supported by short, pithy phrasing and words beneath them, like candles or torches illuminating hidden messages- picture/poems or poem/pictures or something else entirely. I actually made a good many, black and white photos taken on an antique camera, that I hand developed and printed in a little ghetto darkroom I built up from cast off, broken, found and repaired equipment. To this day I still dream of doing that.

More than that, these days I wonder how to recapture/revive that arrogance of youth, where nothing seemed impossible and that whether you "could" or not had no bearing on whether you "did" or not. Because in the end, the doing is what matters.

So, I write, I draw, I paint, I take pictures, I make videos, record sound, build odd little objects, make things out of clay, stack rocks...none of it matters much or is significant to anyone but me, which on the surface seems self-indulgent and maybe it is. But I need to do these things as much as I need to eat and sleep, and I'm a better person for it.

An artist friend/mentor came by to seem me yesterday at work. He's a story himself. I should tell it here someday (if I haven't already.) A well respected artist and teacher, but contrary to the accepted norm of his peer group, he's an inspiration. He defies categorization and this sometimes disturbs people (collectors, galleries, academics). He makes stuff according to his inclination at the time and has done so for over 30 years.. He has a fairly big studio, ceramics oriented, that served as a printmaking studio this fall and winter. Him: "I spent last week cleaning up my studio, moved everything either out, or up against the walls, I need the floorspace...you should come by..." Me: "done printing?" Him: "yeah, I'm going to start a painting series- 50 canvases, big, abstract" Me: "how big?" Him: "like 5 FEET by 8 FEET each..., that's why i needed to clean up, I need the floor space, I'll lay the canvases out on the floor, sit and middle of them, and work on them on the floor..."

This guy follows where his muse leads, and doesn't worry about it too much. He's content to DO. Is this something that is learned from experience? I don't know, but I plan to find out. So I'm going to take a walk, go to work, come home this evening and make up some poems, take some pictures, maybe draw and write or do any number of other things and not think or worry too much about it, and see what happens.

I guess I had something to say after all...

Monday, February 19, 2007

"...Good will come."

Morning comes clear and cold, it'll be a crunchy walk today, bundled up in about 7 layers, but no wind and for that I am thankful.

Spent a good part of the weekend fumbling around with the latest project, ideas firing and being fired at a rapid rate, remembering it's all evolution and progress doesn't need to be linear or upward. I learn by experience, absorbtion, trial and error and accumulating results that some might interpret as failures, but it's all about having faith and building and remembering that in some cultures foundations made from compacted rubble are desirable.

Work with what you have, and if it's rubble, well, ok then.

Seeking out some "how-to" advice from the fauxpress I mentioned that I was stuck working on form at the moment because I'm not making content that was "good" enough. Part of the response was this:

Forget "good" - just make content. Good will come.

Now, I've said that to others myself a lot. Why is it that I can't remember my own lessons? Who knows? Of course just because I don't do it doesn't mean it's not great advice.

I'll pare it down a bit to use in the coming days:

Just make.

The dawn sun has the snow tinged with a pink color, time to go walk and greet the day. Hope yours rises bright and warm. I hear tell that Spring will come, eventually.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Black beans to follow

It occurred to me at the moment I took this picture that my last combination of food and camera didn't work so well...

I have a new camera and have been working to become friends with it. I'm very excited, and will expand it's use while exercising greater care in the environments I place it in.

Time has flown by this week and that's always a disturbance to me but I'm about done worrying about it. I've been running at a frentic pace, day job and my real work, the day job is what it is the real work is GOOD. Learning many things, putting together a quite exciting project with a co-conspirator that has potential to not only be fun and bring some people together, but also to result in some very cool and unexpected things. I've been working non-stop for about the last 2 days on that, researching, writing, testing, planning...getting close and ready to be doing. Very tired, in that noisy synapses firing constantly sort of way, full of possibilities.

Snow is falling lightly, not like up north but it's been godawful cold, single digits in the morning, windy, middle 20's during the day. Right now the woodstove is going pretty strong, I have a hunk of pork roasting in the oven, and rice to make, then tortillas, food from warmer climes. Maybe a dvd after supper, and then when it's quiet, some coffee and work into the wee hours cultivating the possibility of magic happening in an unexpectedly delightful way. All we can do is hope, and work towards that with a smile, some ease, and no expectations. It'll be fun to see what happens.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What I'm good at, part 2 (or: why you shouldn't carry your camera in the same backpack as your fish soup)

I'm good at cleaning things up: failures, messes, mistakes. In fact, I have a wealth of experience in the field.

"The good ones don't make mistakes, the great ones recover from them..."

By this measurement, I should be incredibly great by now.

To answer the question "why?" in the title, let me just say: there is always the possibility of container transport failure, liquids and electronics rarely play well together, and there are more little places for said delectable liquids to get inside the guts of said camera than one can access and clean out in 45 minutes...

the operation is still underway, success unknown but if you notice a marked decrease in photos to the blog, there's an explanation...

Now, i gotta go wash this backpack. Oh, that's another thing I'm good at:


What I'm good at

Well, good being a relative term, like it always is. "good, compared to what?" Maybe the problem is in the word, or the comparison. I think we're conditioned to compare, judge, critique and I wonder if that does us more harm than good? It seems to establish a relative value/validity of a person, object or effort instead of taking things on their own merits. But that's a whole 'nuther post.

If you read my little blog much, you can see a recurring pattern of dissatisfaction and frustration with the stuff I make, and the tendency to be looking way outside for answers to the questions I have about processes and methods. That's because as an artist (if we need a label to work with) it's distressing to not have a compositional skill as adept as one would like to get their point, message or idea across. I get stuck on that a lot.

Running up against that wall yet again, I got frustrated with myself, then thought "well this is crazy, beating myself up for my perceived deficiencies, I'd work hard with anyone else to help get them through it and help them recognize you can't possibly be good at everything and that's ok..." I figured if I'd do that for other people and help them build on their strengths, why don't I do that for myself? So, I did.

It began, like many other things, with a list, which I intended to scan and post. Except for the list grew too long for the scanner, mostly due to the "what I'm not good at" column. In the middle of all that pondering, I was working on something for someone else, and the bulb came on, suddenly and brightly: I finally recognized what I'm good at.

I'm not a really proficient artist/craftsman/writer/maker by most any accepted measurement. But I LOVE to make stuff. And I do. And what I'm good at is figuring out how to do things, and then, how to get them done. I'm able to do this by harnessing my obsessive/compulsive drives and using them for good instead of evil.

I may not be able to write and/or illustrate a book, but if you can, I can figure out and show you how to publish it in numerous alternative ways. I may not make the perfectly tight and well crafted videos I see in my head, but if you do, I can get them up on the web, on your ipod, rss and xml to the world. I don't take the worlds greatest photos, but I can show you how to use the power of photoshop and flickr and a dozen other things to get your work out there. Want to do a gallery show? I can put one of those together from nothing, on the cheap, all DIY and it would be a success (if success is measured by doing it and having fun). Podcasting anyone? My content may not be much to talk about (no pun intended) but if yours is, I can help you bring your voice to the world in any number of ways. Want to build a house? I can do that. Want to grow your own food? I can do that too. Saw wood and build warming fires? Uh huh. Want to learn double entry accounting and run your own business? Yep. Make silkscreen tshirts with pithy little quotes? Yep. Lay brick, weld steel, refinish wood floors? Yep, yep, yep....Need your transmission repaired? Go to a mechanic, I can't do EVERYTHING.

What I'm good at: I know how to do things. And if I don't, I'm really good at figuring them out.

I'm pretty proud of that.

I'm a good behind the scenes kinda guy. I was trying to relate this to the arena of art/making. Cause you know, like anything else, the stars are the ones that get noticed, in the spotlight and on the stage. But you know, there's a whole lot of folks that have to be very good at what they do to make that happen. So I think what I'm good at is being one of those folks. I'm a good encourager, teacher, and producer. I'm a wide ranging generalist so there's always something going on that interests me. I count myself lucky in that while I may be frustrated or dissatisfied, I'm rarely ever bored.

So the next time I'm griping about my lack of compositional talent, I'll give equal time to the fact that if I ever develop that to the point I want to, I'll already know how and what to do with it. Cause I'm good at doing stuff.

Oh, and did I say:


Monday, February 12, 2007

No, I haven't sailed off the edge of the map...

My workdays have changed, the load a bit heavier, the hill a bit steeper, so by the time I sit down for the evening I'm pretty much fried, stick a fork in me I'm done. But never fear, I have posts to posts and words to read and write, and will carve out some time out to do so in a very little bit.

Of course, I guess I could use the audio posting, I mean that's what it's for, but I do enjoy the linearity of writing sometimes (is that a word or did I make it up?) and why I think my writing is any more linear than my speaking is beyond me...

Clearly, tired. More later is definitely a good idea.

In the meantime, I encourage you to meander on over to the folks in my sidebar links; they all have been putting up some REALLY good stuff lately. Here at Small Ponderings we recognize fine work and aspire to doing some ourselves, very soon.

Friday, February 09, 2007

"The Web is linking people..."

This is what I've been trying to say, expressed much more eloquently and elegantly than I'm able to...

via I Make Things

I love me the Web!

The Lines are Open

Tell us a story. Say hi to the gang. Jump in the pool, come in under the Tent. Leave us some words of sage wisdom. Gather 'round the woodstove and introduce youself. We're all friends here at Small Ponderings!

(come on, you know you want to, don't be shy...)

Here's how...

Audio Ponderings #6

Gabcast! Audio Ponderings #6

Audio Ponderings #5

Gabcast! Audio Ponderings #5

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stuff in progress

part of something larger...

I wrote that and immediately wondered isn't everything part of something larger ?

I think yes.

Have a great evening!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


my time

before the world wakes up

sound hidden in the dark

light creeping up in the east

brings with it


Monday, February 05, 2007

Seemingly random things coming to a single point

Reading a blogpost. Watching a 1 minute video. Writing a note of encouragement to someone. An unexpected but much welcomed phone call. A walk on an icy cold winter morning.

And suddenly, the connections between these separate experiences become clear, form and patterns become evident, and a bit of focus and wisdom is gained, the same way a previously invisible spiderweb is illuminated by morning sunlight.

It was always there, you just couldn't see it.

I've been wrestling with why a lot of the stuff I make (writing, video, sound, drawing, painting, objects...you know, things...) doesn't suit me when they're done. Rarely do I like anything I finish as much as when I first envisioned it or came up with the concept. It very often feels for lack of a better word, lacking. It's been making me a little crazy.

Add to that, I know I'm a passing good teacher, a pretty fair motivator, and an excellent observer, encourager and cultivator of other peoples skills and talents. I'm also fairly adept and conversant in a lot of areas technical and creative. So if I possess all these abilities, insights and skills, why can't I manifest and fully realize them in my own stuff?

Well, I'll tell you why: because at some point, most every time I work on something of my own, by myself, I lose perspective. Then the thing actually becomes a "thing", external. As soon as that happens the threads of authenticity, honesty, truth and personality begin to unravel.

I realized that whenever I'm working with someone on their stuff, I'm always trying to get them to be selfish, to own and invest in the thing they're trying to do, to be audacious and arrogant and fearless, completely independent of external influences, rules, and definitions. I'm very good at convincing folks to do that, and the result is often pretty amazing. What people can do when they believe in themselves and confidently forge ahead, trusting their intutions and inclinations, is extraordinary. The result may or may not be marketable, it may not meet the accepted standards of beauty but it will resonate with the truth and spirit of the maker. Maybe someone, maybe many someones, will respond to that, or maybe they won't and what does it matter? We should do our work from our heart and offer it up for the universe to do with it as it will. The things we create are not precious; that we are willing to make and do, is.
The things we make are bridges enabling connections.

And that's what I crave, the ability to consistently build that bridge (not that it will ever be used or crossed, but that the possibility exists). And to do that, I need to get out of my own way, empty my head and quiet my internal critics, and work on pieces from the heart from start to finish. Make up and follow my own rules and definitions. Trust my inclinations and intuitions and processes. Invest my soul and spirit and skills into realizing whatever vision I have of a thing at that moment, and know that unexplained, unjustified and unapologetic, it is exactly what it was supposed to be and an accurate reflection of who I am and what I was thinking at that time.

So easy to see outside, so hard to see inside. But better late than never.

Have a great evening!

Tools for Better Living (first in a series)

Yes, implying a series to actually follow. At Small Ponderings, we work hard to bring you something of value in each and every posting...

I'm working on yet another "epiphany" posting (haven't finished it yet, needs more than lunctime to do it) but came across this (via pouringdown.tv) while eating and shivering at my desk and it's way too good not to share:

Click to play

Best advice I've gotten all day! And timely too!

Have a great day, more later if I don't perish on the tundra..

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why Our Stories Matter

and good reasons for sharing them...

via Wooster Collective

I like the primal elements involved in this project: firepit, food, drink, people gathering and telling stories...active, not passively digesting prepackaged "entertainment" designed as a vehicle to sell something.

Make you own: environment and entertainment.

Have a great day!

(ed. note: I must confess my fondness for firepits, indoor and outdoor hearths, woodstoves, real fireplaces...these are naturally the center of a home, the heart, I wonder if that's where hearth comes from, i'll have to look it up...anyways, don't be surprised if a rash of images of these things appear in the near future...)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Addendum to the Cirkus Tent Project Instructions

Here at Small Ponderings our technical experts rigorously test tools and procedures before we release them into the wild. This is not a Beta site folks, for better or worse it's LIVE and IN COLOR and open mic'ed all the way. We may not be good at editing, but tool use? Now that's something we're reasonably proficient at.


Read the note, follow the directions, listen to the lady, mash the buttons in the right order, and you will be on the air, without fail (he says with some degree of certainty...) no need to do test posts. And if you're inclined to do a test post, then I will shuffle it off to the side (thus, the fact that the next podcast will be labeled #4)

Now, dial up, and tell us your stories and/or suggest ways I can better tell mine.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Welcome to the Big Tent of the Wandering Cirkus Of Absurd Art and Performance

Where anything is possible...

If you listened to the last podcast you're reading this looking for info on how to play along (YAY!). So, I'm actually posting it in a timely manner. Here's the access numbers to call:

Dial the number that works for you, and you'll get a nice lady giving out simple instructions. You'll be asked for a channel number, use this one:

channel number= 7119 (press the # key after entering)

Then you'll be asked for a password, use this one:

password= 1234 (press the # key after entering)

Then you'll press 1 to record, and say what's on your mind, press the # key when you're done, and then 2 to publish.

If I did everything right (a 50/50 possibility) your entry will be immediately posted to the blogsite and your commentary will be part of the Cirkus!

I want to hear your stories, and the ways you tell them, and how you think I could communicate mine better (with any media). If there's a lot of response to this, I may make it into something else; remember, I don't have original ideas but I can alter the hell out of an existing thing or situation and make something completely different from it, which could be great fun. And be forewarned that I may draft some of you to participate in the alteration should it occur (you know who you are!)

I'm so excited about this! My first "make your own media" collaborative project. Let the fun begin!

Have a great evening!

(oh yeah, if something doesn't work, leave me a note in comments so i can fix it. I don't mind the processes being transparent, it's all part of the the thing...)

I like making stuff!

Audio Ponderings #4

Gabcast! Audio Ponderings #4