Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Other Side of Egon Schiele

Another favorite artist, whose work I looked for while on my grazing day in Chapel Hill, is Egon Schiele. Most people, if they know his work at all, know the portrait shown here. Much of his work, however, due to the models he used (most were prostitutes) has a sad, exhibitionist feeling. There are dozens of paintings and sketches that I would not include here.

Often the figures are also emaciated, due to the difficult times in Germany and Austria when they were painted. He lived hard, played hard, was depressed in a very depressed era, and it shows in his disturbing collection of work, particularly the self portaits. The figures seem exhausted, starved, used up, jaded, lost. Some look like concentration camp escapees. Fingers are often knotted together, in convulsed contrast to the resigned exhaustion showing in so many of the faces.

But he also created some unique landscapes, like this one of a mountain rapids. This is an oil painting - most of his work is in charcoal and gouache, an opaque watercolor medium that is more often used for sketches than for more "serious" artwork. His handling of the gouache, and his touch on the paper, are unique, sensitive, and, like Matisse, able to capture a lot with very little. Even this oil, however, shows his love for line and contour. He had to caress the edges of every stone, every wavelet. Often his drawings of figures have this same sense of touch, so they are intimate and intensely, almost embarrassingly personal. Erotic. For instance, being heterosexual, myself, I find his self portraits and portraits of men distressingly sensuous.

His sketches of buildings, towns, farms, though infrequent (he preferred to draw the human form) also show his gift for the sense of touch, and for contour. They look as if he put his charcoal or pen on the paper and never lifted it. Everything is folded and flip flopped this way and that by his curious, exploring line as it ran along roof edges and along walls.

This style seems particularly appropriate for capturing the accumulated piles of steeply pitches roofs that make up the towns he drew. Lines are also used for the shadows, and his edgy, nervous touch is expressed in the very quality of the marks. If you look for more of his work, you'll find townscapes, where he used gouache to fill in these sketches. The brush strokes also show the man's personality, like the textured surfaces of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh.

Even this drawing from the inside of his room is powerful to me. I apologize for the quality of this image, but maybe you can see what drew me to take a photo of it. I would also have been fascinated to sketch these rectangles, with their interesting porportions and divisions. The circle created by the swinging hook would have seduced me to get out a pencil, as well. But the most notable thing about this drawing, to me, is that the only color is in the pitifully tiny scrap of outside which is visible through the transom window. The bars over the transom finish this image's emotional setting.

Finally, I was struck by the simple, sensitive beauty of this nude. There is a girlish innocence captured in this sketch - something unusual for Schiele, who tends more often to capture the hard bony edges and hard used expressions of tired female bodies. So often his subjects are either looking hard at the viewer, or they have thousand mile stares. Here the young woman seems to be looking, without sexual intent, at someone outside the interaction of the artist and his subject. There is a hint of other life, positive life. Sadly that might be what makes this sketch stand out of Egon Schiele's beautifully drawn, lost world.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #33 <<<<

Often the best things have layers. Wedding cakes, onions, lasagna, successful chicken farms... (pardonne moi)... It is enticing to find depths and overlapping images, ideas, sounds. Things reflect, reference, allude, parallel, echo, and cause deja vu. It is frolic for the mind. So Etienne et moi post this photo and allow you the pleasure of deciding meanings for the layers. What is going on here?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chickens, Aw Chickens...

Chickens, aw chickens,
They go up in a balloon.
Chickens, aw chickens,
They get high behind the moon.

I have had a thing about chickens, more of a choice than the sheep have been, that goes back a long way. If I sit down with a child to paint at a kitchen table, I am likely to end up with a rooster. The Polish roster, above, is from my imagination, but the others here are based on photos. Chickens look lots of different ways.

These are parts of a painting I've been working on, and have decided to quit. I think they will make four fabulous CD covers for my own mixed compilations, and that's how it will be. Like Grizzlies in Central Park, which also graces three CDs, some paintings just don't work out. No sweat - they can be enjoyed in other ways.

* snatch I recall from a song sung by an odd folk group at the old Ninth Street Bakery in Durham, NC - the REALLY old location, not where Elmo's Diner is now... I really wish I could remember the rest of that song. The chickens got away with more and more outrageous things.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #32 <<<< There is not enough light in the winter, and already the people of this house are acting strangely. The cats spend more time in the sun spots, sleeping or blinking, soaking it up like a sponge. One cat, Mademoiselle Santolina, in this photo with the white bib, spends more time sleeping on top of Moomin Light's monitor, where it is warmer than the rest of the house. (Sometimes she falls off, tumbling over the keyboard, the desk chair and onto the floor. After a few moments of blinking surprise, she walks off with her savoir faire intact - only a cat can do this. If un grenouille were to tumble petite buttocks over broad chin during a clumsy hop, he would not recover - he would sulk and look as if he had swallowed a beetle shined with shoe polish.) The people wear faces that say "Je regrette," as they look towards the setting sun, or view the clock and cluck their tongues when the sun dips behind the forest. The boxes of light will be brought from storage, and set up for las femmes of this house, to extend their time for absorbing photons. Steve says these boxes come all the way from Alaska, where they know about cold and darkness.

But for now the air of desperation is kept at bay when the sun is still summery bright. Window seats are usually occupied. Strolls are timed to catch the sun's last kiss. It may be hot, but it is barely light enough for some.

Au revoir,


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pictures Don't Usually Make Me Freak

But I was setting up my next painting, using Flickr, as usual, for random lines and shapes to push the blank paper into somewhere new, when I found this. It's not this photo that's the freak-out - it's the two that follow in the photostream, and the photographer's narration.

The subject must be either insane or have absolutely no sense of his own mortality. I could not believe what I was seeing. I'm glad I was not there to see it in person - my imagination is way too vivid.

Back to the painting...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Last Grandparent

My grandmother, Edith Emery, passed away last night. We've been expecting it for several weeks. She was nearly 92, and had an infection that was not responding to antibiotics. She's had major memory issues and has been in a nursing facility for several years. I heard the news this morning at work - Dearest called me to let me know. Nana was an award winning painter many years ago, and her canvases are spread out through the family. She is part of the legacy I'm continuing, and I feel her paint in my veins sometimes when I wield a brush. Especially a large brush.

As usual, for me, the news was just news. The weather gets more emotional response. That's a sure sign to me that the feelings are going to be strong, and I can't handle them right now. So I went on with my 100 mph day, with presentations done over the phone and web, due diligence performed about some major decisions (one looking great, one that I'm glad I dug deeper as it would have been a disaster - pulling back from the edge of the cliff), layoffs happening in the corporate office, calls from colleagues who were leaving (one angry, one elated), it all meant nothing much. Waving hands in front of my eyes, "Hey! Anyone in there???" No one home.

I had a terrible craving for Indian food. I went out alone for lunch at Tandoor, a buffet where I can get a goat curry. Watch out for all the weird bones - on my plate they looked like a casting of knuckles to predict some arcane future. They had an eggplant dish so flavorful and exotic that it was like eating small planets whole. I went back for seconds of the goat. I savored every mouthful.

In the car I considered how Earth hatched life, and life has evolved in response to stimuli. Eventually creatures emerged that can choose their environment, their stimulus. Finally humans arrived on the scene, and we not only choose, we create stimuli. I've been listening to albums suggested by DCup, which I bought on my Chapel Hill day out. The soundtrack to Garden State was soothing and interesting from the start. Gradually some tracks were no longer interesting enough, though, after several repeat plays, and I skipped them. I grinned and blew past the Cary Brothers singing Blue Eyes. I skipped the piece with the repetitive sitar opening. The others held up well enough. Then two days ago I put on some Modest Mouse. This is such weird stuff that I actually got an upset stomach listening to one particularly disturbing piece on the way to work Monday. I realized, as I found three or four tracks that I like (but I have no idea WHY I like them) that all of these Mouse tunes are jangling and firing nerve endings in my mental world - combinations of them that are quite unfamiliar. I realized that while listening to some music I zone out and drift off mentally - but this made me hyper aware of everything around me. Colors were more intense - things seemed more 3-D. I had found some man-made stimuli that was having a unique and new effect on me. Like the Indian food, which I hated the first time I tried it years ago (I couldn't finish the meal) and later came to crave. Like coffee, that is the most overwhelmingly complex chemical humans ingest, and which is an acquired taste and a lifetime gustatory love affair. We are repelled and drawn by new sensations. Pain and ecstasy are near neighbors, and the boundary can shift moving towns and cities into new territory.

On the way home, with my daughter and a friend in the back seat, chattering away, I had to share the news of Nana's passing. We had just listened to the Summer Obsession's opening number 8 AM, turned up loud, filling the car, with me singing along at the top of my lungs, the car rolling accompaniment. And telling that news, after the emotional flush of the song, and all that stimulation, in the quiet that followed, suddenly the feelings of loss hit me a quick jab. The first of many, and I closed up again immediately, but I know what I'm in for later.

At home I clowned in front of the bathroom mirror, cigar posturing with my biggest brushes. Inappropriately large emotions bringing out odd responses from me. I wonder if our family clown Uncle Jack, Nana's younger son, my Dad's brother, will also goof around in response to this news. I have almost never felt anything in common with my Uncle Jack, we're very different, but I think I get him a little more (and love him a little more) after tonight. The brushes reminded me of Nana, and her artistic world, her color choices, her chosen stimuli, which she shared with others. I went to my art table and painted a Polish rooster on a piece I've have had around for months, that I'm not sure I will finish. The composition doesn't do a thing for me, but I'm getting some rooster practice. I love roosters - they press a lot of buttons for me, though I have no idea why. Like Modest Mouse, or Indian food, I keep returning to find out why.

And someday, hopefully soon, the dam will break inside and I'll know what my Nana's death really means to me. Since she lived in FL and NY, I have not seen her often the last half of my life, and I always felt I had more in common with the other grandparents. We lost Nana's husband of over 75 years, my Magyar grandfather, the family patriarch, this last January, and I think I've been waiting for Nana's passing to feel ANY of it. I can tell they both meant more to me than I could realize. Too much stimulus - too many emotions for now. Later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Books books books

Appendix de Grenouille #31

Dcup posted some of the Politits household books and invited the entire blogging famille. It began with my tres innocent display of a few books of Steve's, from his poetry shelf. Steve took more photos of moi and other household volumes that same day, and he wishes them posted post haste. So, voila.

Ici c'est moi with the guides of the field. Quel dommage, there will be no reference to moi even in the volume on reptiles and amphibians; I am a European in North America. In this house the dining room has no table or chairs and is called the library because it holds the majorite of the book cases and two computers. Here it is that Moomin Light writes her famous blog. This particular shelf is important because Steve and the oldest son prefer to know the names of everything they see. Oui, everything. The smallest moth, the most irresistible small gnat morsel.

Children's books are all over the house, in nearly every room, in fact, but mostly where small hands can reach them. This is a house where sometimes one hears the question, "Reading dinner?"

Classics are ubiquitous (the word is almost French), but the greatest concentration are on this shelf. This is the shelf tres intellectuelle. The grand book about America, by my countryman, de Tocqueville, is mentioned frequently, as is the famous play by another citoyen, Edmund Rostand, here in two copies, en Anglaise, et en Francais: Cyrano de Bergerac. At age 17 Steve thought perhaps he was Cyrano. Homer, Virgil, Tolstoy, Hugo, Montaigne, Barzun, (three more Frenchmen), Pushkin, Gogol, Defoe, Cervantes (the longest paragraphs Steve has ever read), the shelf descending with grace to Austen, Dumas, Oscar Wilde, C S Lewis, and finally Grisham (Skipping Christmas on tape, therapy for Steve), Graham (Poldark) and others not so classic.

But, perhaps not so shocking, more of the library is held by fantasy and science fiction. This is one and a half among three or four shelves the same. Le Guin, Williams, Heinlein, Zahn, Feist, Tolkein, Niven et Pournelle, Blalock, Card, Beagle, Donaldson, McKillip, Bear, Goodkind, Adams (certainement!), Bradbury, Crowley (author of one of Steve's favorites, Little Big), Zettel...

And at the last, here we have Steve's favorite encyclopedie, the 1958 Brittanica (but it is a French word, encyclopedie - how can the favorite be from Angleterre?). He jokes that this is the encyclopedie for those who already know. For example, here I sit on the page about star fishes, but would you find them under stars or fishes? Non. Rather you would find them under echinoderma. You do not know this? Then you cannot find out. And sea shells? But of course it is mollusca. It is a club exclusive. C'est un beau geste. It makes Steve feel smarter than he is.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I mentioned in my last couple of painting posts that I am trying to get as free with the paint as I was in the abstracts, even when I have a subject. I'm not there yet with this painting, but this is on that road. And I'm excited by how this came out, and , better yet, how much fun it was to paint. I've been exchanging some e-mail about painting and "letting go" with Linda at Vulture Peak Muse (many thanks!). That, combined with her post about Oaxacan carvings, and everyone else's encouragement, inspired this guy. I can't wait to hang him up in my office and see how he looks there. I'll probably lock my door at night, though - this is the first one I've been afraid might disappear. He is the usual 19 x 19 - so it's a lot of orange, and a lot of toad. Click for a larger view.

Of course I have to thank my model, as well. From a bug walk a year ago (more photos in that post). He was gorgeous in his own right, but I took some liberties exaggerating the parts of his shape that tickle me the most. I've loved toads a long time - and frogs (but of course, Grenouille).

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #30 <<<< There is nothing like a day out with friends to change the mood. Late summer sun, mademoiselles to lighten the conversation with their feminine "quacking" (as you say here in America), and the big smile of a fellow swimmer. After the Olympics and the inspiration of Monsieur Phelpps, one can be poetic about the water, but I still believe it looks best from above, and from a comfortable spot on the shore - or on the head of an amiable poisson.

And with the natatory races finished, we now have only the other race to view. All the more reason for time on the water, where it is most unwise to bring a television, or even a radio. If anything of substance were to be decided at the conventions, like alternative energy sources, then it might pay to tune in. But since all that gas is going to be allowed, simplement, into the atmosphere without being used to create energy first, we believe it might be best to turn the head, and the nose. Mind already made up, we shall turn up at the finish, to do our part - but in the meantime, the light is lovely on the water, and las femmes are charming.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chapel Hill Graze - Art on Campus

During my day long graze around Chapel Hill, I wandered campus. I particularly spent time at the Ackland Art Museum (more in another post) and around Haines, the art building. Outside Haines are various student and faculty artworks. This one was new. A greenhouse with some odd plants inside.

On closer inspection the plants turn out to be in artificial pots, and made of bronze. Tomato plants that never need water, and don't need the protection of the greenhouse. It's an odd inside/outside play that brought a grin to my face. The greenhouse doesn't have an entrance - another weird thing you notice, thinking about taking care of plants that would outlast all of us without care of any kind.

Then I looked even more closely, because those tomatoes didn't look quite right. Wait - what was the title of this work? Killer Tomatos. Suddenly the lack of a door on the greenhouse seems like a really good idea...

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #29 <<<<
Here I am with mon ami Professeur Vergrenouille, the famous paleontologiste. We are day dreaming pleasantly about life millions of years ago, when this fossil still flew and when our cousin Eryops ruled the swamp. It was a different experience gastronomique. Eating a creature like this one must have been like catching a biplane in your teeth, complete with mechanical crunch and screech and the smell of petrol, yet to be created by the decay of those same ancestors. We live in reduced times, a petite epoquette.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Abstract 18

As promised, here is the other abstract. This one is 18 x 24, mixed media, also. I threw paint around and moved fast and furiously. The movement and shapes emerged, like waves. Then the colors needed more and more until I got the intensity and flourescence I was looking for. I just pushed until I satisfied my sweet tooth.

Again, the photo loses the subtlety of many translucent layers, and the more gradual changes of color. There are yellows and aquas, in particular, that bring the lightest areas to life in the original. Here they are just whited out.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #28 <<<< Etienne (what I call Steve when I am most homesick) lets me sit in the ice box with the Grey Poupon. There I can reminisce of fields of bright yellow mutarde, blowing gently in the breeze, and recall the sweet sight of bright red cocquelicot growing on the hillsides. This day there was also a jar of cornichons, the sour little minnow of the pickle world.

Sigh. This part of Caroline is tres jolie, but some days I miss La France.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Abstract 17

What little time I've had in the evenings has been spent throwing paint around. I've completed two mixed media abstracts that capture some of the power that color holds for me. This one is 19 x 19 - the one I'll post tomorrow or Saturday is 18 x 24. I let go and literally threw paint in the early stages of this one. From there it was a joy to just keep turning up the color volume, the contrasts, and the visual motion in these. I was not in doubt about what I wanted to do next on this one.

Click on the image to see a much larger version. Both this one and the next suffer serious loss of subtlety in the photos. The camera loses all the overlapping layers, especially in the next one, and the colors are flattened. It's one reason why originals are so much better than reproductions. But you can get the general idea and about 90% of the color intensity in this photo.

What I WANT is to paint this freely, but not abstracts. I have to somehow bring this level of freedom (and greater freedom yet - I'm still not letting go enough) to paintings with subjects. That's what I want to paint. Maybe the next two won't stay abstract...

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #27 <<<< When I visit mon ami Senor Pesce in the winter, it is easier to see his eyes and mouth. In the summer, we converse through the screen of his lush purslane hair. Here you can barely see a little of his tail behind me.

As you might imagine, grenouille et poisson have much in common. Especially if neither likes the water. Steve's oldest, when he was tres petit, used to call these flowers buttercup coppers. La famille still does.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our Old Romantic Beauty Spot

I had a quick business trip to Charleston last week. I met the others right on East Bay Street, was done by 5:00, arranged to meet my business colleague for dinner at 7:30, and hit the streets with my camera. It had rained all the way down, and it was still cloudy most of my walk, but this town doesn't take bad pictures in any weather. All around me were other people with cameras.

I walked over to our favorite cafe for a glass of wine - something I had to do alone. I think I will only take my dearest and my family to this spot - it's that personal. But that doesn't mean I can't tell all of you to visit it. Quite authentic French food - not fancy, just the best. I advise a Rendezvous Tray for Two - cheeses, pates, sausicon, breads, fruit, olives, cornichons, mustards, and the wine pairing of their choice (our first was a Bergerac - a name full of literary and romantic memories for us). It's on Broad Street, near the Four Corners of the Law, if you want to look for it.

But even more personal, and full of memories for us, is Adgers Wharf. Twenty five years ago, when we first went to Charleston as a young married couple, the waterfront was a mass of rotting piers, black mud, and oily water. But there was one wharf you could walk out on, and the view over the river, and back towards the town, was refreshing - especially for a pair of introverts looking for a quiet place to talk and recharge batteries after a morning in the streets.

Now the wharf is still there, but the area is clean, full of green rushes at the shore, and the waterfront has been made into a park edged with palmettos, live oaks, and multi-million dollar condos. The piers are gone, and so are the pelicans and cormorants that used to fight over them. The sense of "all of Charleston" spread out behind you is lost due to the expensive multi-storied buildings.

But the overall effect of the park is beautiful, children play in two large fountains, there is a new wharf on the other end of the park with swinging benches, and the area is now even more of a trysting place for romantic strolls and kissing couples.

Here we are, over twenty years ago, on Adgers Wharf, using the timer on our new camera for the first time. This was the mid eighties, glasses were larger and hair was longer (though I was on the back end of that fashion). Berets were never in style, however. It's the same beret in recent photos of me, and they still aren't. (Neither, really, are bow ties - but I love to wear them, too, and I wore one to my meeting on East Bay Street.) To the left of us is the Coast Guard rescue station, which is still there - with the same boats, I believe.

The important things don't change.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille # 26 <<<< Though our romances are as short as Printemps, and we do not stay together like Steve and his cheri (who have endured long enough to inspire music, oui, a national anthem of their own), our longing for l'amour is legendary. We male grenouilles fill the spring nights with our chansons d'amour. In Charleston, Steve heard the tres loud chorus of pining Rain Frogs, singing from every fountain and manicured lawn beside the grande maisons of East Bay Street. As early as Februare the sounds of the deep urges of tiny cousins, the Spring Peepers, fill the night and bringing hope to winter weary Southerners. Our l'amour may not be long, but it is well sung, passionate, and remembered with melancholy sweetness.

Au revoir,


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day Out to Myself - Grazing Chapel Hill

I spent a day off in Chapel Hill, about a week ago, grazing. The best move I made was to leave off the fancy breakfast in Carrboro (grabbing instead a heavy and delicious sausage biscuit at the BP station in Calvander, on the way into town) and instead ditching my car at the mall east of town and catching the bus. As soon as the bus was hauling me and my backpack away, I knew I'd made the right move - I felt stringless. I didn't even have a way to know what time it was.

I grazed the library poetry shelves, first. Davis Library, at my alma mater, is a big ugly pile of bricks - but it has a familiar smell of old books that put a big silly grin on my face as soon as I walked in, and the place seemed completely unchanged since I'd last been there. I found the right section of the eighth floor by looking up Kenneth Rexroth. I now think Rexroth was more poetical than his work was - but a number of his poems I loved at age nineteen still bring back sharp memories of my first months of longing separation from dear wife (then dear girlfriend), the letters I wrote nearly every day, and the intoxicating emotions when we were reunited at holidays.

Here was my haul from the browse of one shelf - and this kept me busy for over an hour of buffet style poetry grazing. I started with the Sandburg, in honor of Mathman and DCup. The Chicago poems, written between 1912 and 1916. I wonder how much of Chicago's self image was coined by some of the words in the opening and title poem...

CHICAGO - by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Those of you who know Chicago - how much of this still fits? I've only been once, very briefly, and I didn't get into the heart of town or to the lake. It felt like a bustling, real place. Living large. There must be so much more...

OR this one by Sandburg, called Happiness

I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile, as though I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Desplaines river.
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #27 <<<< I challenged you readers to show your bookshelves. Here are some of ours. While I am, personally, too petite to read these, Steve reads some of them aloud, and I hear of the contents. Most of this shelf is poetry - there are more behind these (St. Vincent Millay, Frost, MacLeish, both Brownings...) all favorites of Steve's. As I mentioned in that prior post, none of these books like to swim. There are more poetry books in other places, as well - in the bedside table, on the art table, where I live. Nearest to moi is the Collected Poems of Michael Longley, from a friend who manages the college press that published it. It is one of her personal favorites, and Steve spends time with it, as well - particularly poems like Flight Feathers. To which we both reply tempus fugit.

Au revoir,


Friday, August 15, 2008

Kickin' Ass, Apparently

I got home tonight and Moomin Light told me that she and I had both been awarded the Kick Ass Blogger award by DCup. What fun to go read her blog, Politits, and see our names there together. It gives me that lovely corny romantic feeling I enjoy more than almost anything.

So we've both been kickin' ass and my foot ain't even sore. Cool!

Here are the criteria for giving the award.

Do you know any bloggers that kick ass?

Maybe they’ve got incredible, original content. Or they’re overflowing with creativity. Is it someone that helps you become a better blogger? Or a bloggy friend you know you can count on? Or maybe it’s someone who simply inspires you to be a better person… or someone else who sends you to the floor, laughing your ass off.

Whatever the reason may be, I’m sure you know at least a couple of bloggers that kick ass. Well… why not tell ‘em so?

The rules to this are as follows:

1) Choose five other bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers"
2) Let them know that they have received an award.
3) Link back to both the person who awarded you and also to
4) Visit the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky and leave a comment.

So - my choices for the Kick Ass blogger award are going to be challenging, since Politits, Liberality, and OKJimm's Eggroll Emporium are all out of the running because they were all part of the recent chain. Moomin Light is also out of the running for the same reason. I also want to avoid awarding blogs Moomin Light may be planning to recognize. But others also have content I must visit for the unique viewpoint and the kick ass creativity. Here are the first five that came to mind, in no particular order.

Crackskullbob Squarespace
- The highly creative and irreverent blog of sketch fiend Wally Torta (aka Sparky Donatello). I've probably been visiting Sparky's space as long as any other blog but Moomin Light's. I knew it before it was Crackskullbob's. We've even visited a restaurant in Norfolk after seeing countless Torta sketches of it, and we weren't disappointed. Don't be confused by the split personality with Ruben... read back far enough and you'll get the whole story.

The Pagan Sphinx - A fellow art lover and INFP, featuring the Friday Nudes, posts about museums and artists, other thoughts about life, education, politics, social issues, and everything else. I feel a kinship with this gentle lady, and I love reading her blog.

G.D.Gearino - Words Assembled Well
- a well crafted daily piece by a journalist "retired" from the Raleigh News and Observer. Straight shooting opinions and reporting, "links gone wild," a local point of view with a wider frame of mind. I can't decide whether I like the writing, the well researched content, or the humor best. G.D. also provides a window into the world of journalism.

Adventures Ink - While the posts aren't frequent, the content is like waiting for a monthly illustrated serial. Personal, uniquely illustrated stories from her life, and the life and thoughts of Crow. I keep going back between posts to look at the drawings again and again.

Reiter's Block
- Deeply considered and intelligently written essays on social issues, faith, writing, poetry, and more. Jendi is a published poet, working on several writing projects including a novel. She is also the Vice President of Winning Writers. I look forward to her posts about theology, the unique viewpoint and verse of her penpal poet in prison, and excerpts of her upcoming books.

I can't wait to see their choices! And whom Moomin Light picks, as well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lynchburg Trip 2 - With Family

We took Saturday to drive up to Poplar Forest, Jefferson's other home - the one he didn't tell guests about, and where he went several times a year, after 1810, to escape the guests that were always with him at Monticello. Fame has always deprived people of privacy. The barn-like extension, to the right, is just a temporary structure built around the reconstruction they are doing on the small wing that was torn down in the late 1800s. The whole house is basically the one story (with work rooms and storage beneath) built using one of the famous Jefferson obsessions - the octagon. This one is much smaller than Monticello, a mere 50 foot square would contain the house.

Then we drove into Lynchburg. Dear wife will post much more on this than I (over at Moomin Light). I just want to post a few photos and say how much we liked Lynchburg, how much we did not see, and how much we would like to go back for more. Oldest Son and I want to go back with cameras and spend an entire day shooting around the hilly stacked-up downtown.

We spent some time on Percival Island, in the middle of the James River. I took this photo that I'm pleased with, and which, happily, is postable because it does not show youngest son's face.

The dolphin fountain is in the area that serves as a farmer's market. I love this strange Greek idea of how dolphins should be depicted - so like Aristotle's science (don't actually do any experiments, or see how things ACTUALLY look... THAT wouldn't be any fun.)

The light at the end of the day - one of my things... And what better to catch the lovely light than a bookstore?

After the long drive home (about two hours), my dearest and I walked up and down the street once to re-warm our leg muscles so we could go in and stretch out (growing older is not much fun on the physical side of things...). This warm sight greeted us as we came back down the street. I love where we live. And can you see why cats in windows get into my artwork?

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #25 <<<<

While I enjoy an occasional swim with Madame Nature, I prefer to know where all of the water has been, and where all of it is now. My grand-maman was carried off by a water snake, and our family has since been tres cautious in H2O. Steve comments that I do not like getting wet - oui, it is so. But that is not from aquaphobie, but rather a preference for the towel and the parasol over the pool. A good book much prefers the towel to the pool, as well, and I agree with most of the books in my library. Is this not so with you, also? Perhaps we can see some photos of the books in your libraries and see with how many you would disagree and throw into the pool?

Au revoir,


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Multilegged Morning

Infrequent rumbles, and the wind in the tulip poplar, woke me early. The main theme was introduced, with hard rain and gently percussive hail. By the long second movement of the sonata, composed mostly of wind and intermittent bored thunder, we were both awake. "I'm not impressed," my dearest said, "if I'm giving up our Sunday morning walk, I don't want to water plants for at least two days." The third movement reintroduced the original theme, with distant growling rising on larger gusts and then a downpour that granted my true love's wish. The gutters overflowed and the downspout sang with the force of water. Then a gentle shower persisted, and lulled us into a drowsy conversation that lasted half an hour.

When we did finally take our walk it was later than usual, but cooler, and fresh. While walking down the furthest, gloomiest street of our usual route, we were surprised to see a large tarantula approaching over the cul de sac.

It turned out to be this large crayfish. We see them in streams, if we look for them, but we never see them on land. It was crossing the pavement, going up hill, a long way from the stream and heading in a direction without water for over a mile. We decided to put it back in a culvert nearby, and I quickly popped it onto my handkerchief and bundled it up.

Several times on the remaining walk, deep in conversation about other things, I would feel movement in my hand and look down to find the menacing front half of the crustacean hanging from a gap in the cloth, waving its sharp claws around for something to grab. I had to rewrap it. I expected at any moment to feel it pinch my fingers through the thin cotton, but our conversation totally distracted me several more times.

We decided it needed to be in the larger stream it probably came from, and that I would best put it in a bucket until I could carry it there. So we took it home, where it refreshed its gills in rain barrel water and amused the cats and our children. After breakfast (scrambled eggs with cheddar, ricotta, and much basil, wrapped in flour tortillas) I drove it to a dead end road outside our neighborhood, trekked the bucket through a tenth of a mile of wet woods, and dumped it back in the stream, probably less than a tenth of a mile from where it crawled out. It vanished instantly in the murky water, which had been stirred by the rain to the color of weak coffee with cream.

(The first cat picture is of Tamlin, who never actually got interested in the crayfish. The second is of his sister, Lina, who is into everything, and would surely have learned a lesson if the water had not intervened.)

>>>> Appendix de Grenouille #24 <<<< Like you readers, the family Grenouille has brutal origins. This distant ancestral cousin, eryops, was sixty centimeters long (if your feet are grand, perhaps two of them - if petite, then three or four). He dreamed beneath the swamp water and waited for breakfast to swim by, like a floating buffet minus rude garcons.

This looks perhaps une rendezvous dangereuse? My cousin's response to this creature would have reminded Steve of Aristotle's practical syllogism. Crunchy food is good. Here is crunchy food. Crunch, crunch. The spirit of my cousin lives today in Louisiana. There the logique has been updated with cauldrons at a rolling boil, fiddle music, and something stronger to drink than swamp water, but the response to this armor plated warrior remains crunchy, with or without a good sauce. I am non plussed. Let him return to the stream from which he came. I have more civil things to eat, and I am proud to wear my flesh, without fear, on the outside of my bones. Et vous?

Au revoir,