Sunday, April 26, 2009

wall sculpture

This wall sculpture is based on Picasso's "The Dream" from 1932. I thought it lent itself to an interpretation in wood. I made it from a variety of woods and veneers. It is 24" x 28".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

life's lessons

I don’t claim to be wise. Or even particularly knowledgeable. I don’t have all the answers to all, or even any, of life’s questions. But I do have a modest share of common sense. And over my 61 years I think I have arrived at a few simple conclusions and guidelines to achieving a successful and mostly happy and, certainly, a contented life.

Some simple measures for good health and reasonable longevity, and thus avoiding the burdensome weight of dependence on others, are to stay away from smoking, drinking, and the use of drugs. Eat responsibly by avoiding fatty foods and chemically enhanced manufactured foods, and consume a good share of wholesome fruits and vegetables, grains and fish. Leave something on your plate and forget dessert.

Seek holistic medical care rather than the panacea of costly and often ineffective pharmaceuticals. Exercise everyday as a way of not just maintaining bodily health, but also to reduce stress and enhance your mental outlook.

Seek work. Work hard. Do more than expected. Be efficient and look for ways to make your work more efficient. Don’t complain. Be a team player and advance the team’s goals rather than your own. You will find that you will be promoted, even put in charge. Stay humble. The descent is always faster than the rise.

No matter how gifted, intelligent, creative, erudite and special you think you are, admit that there is always someone better than you.

Be attentive to your personal grooming. Shave, bathe, and wear clean clothes. Try to stay stylish so as to appear confident and up to date in all things.

Be cheerful. Have a ready smile for all you encounter no matter their station in life. Laugh a lot. Especially at yourself.

Suffer in silence. Don’t whine or seek sympathy.

Save. Invest conservatively. Don’t gamble. Live within or below your means and you will never want for anything essential.

Read and study things of substance. Satisfy your curiosity. Constantly seek to acquire new skills.

Volunteer when you can and occasionally when you should despite the apparent hardship.

Share your toys, your tools, your expertise. Always leave some for the next guy. Give more than you take.

Remember that opinions are the currency of the self -important, worthless until sought. Save yours for another day.

Find a partner, a husband or wife, who loves you and whom you love who shares your outlook and values. Realize that that partner is truly your better half.

Teach your children the values you treasure. Teach by example not by preaching. And when the time comes to let them go, allow your children the freedom to find their way just as you did.

If you do these things, or at least make the attempt, you will own your life and be remembered for that ownership.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

once again

I love these beautiful spring days when the temperature hovers around 70 in the newly brightened sunshine. You can almost see the buds popping on all the trees, imagining them making popcorn sounds as they appear. The shrubs all have that faint greenish tinge that shimmers in the sunshine. The little reddish shoots of the Peonies seem so fragile and tender in their first tentative appearance, but the Daylillies are far more aggressive, standing several inches high already. With a little rain over the next few days the grass will need its first cutting and the Hostas should poke through the mulch. The overall fecund smell of the season promises an overall greening of the landscape before we even realize it’s happening. The Mourning Doves have returned to their nesting place in the Barberry and a pair of cardinals are industriously building a nest in the evergreen on the side of the deck.

This past week we ventured north to the lake cottage to get that place opened for the coming warm season. We had driven there about six weeks ago just to check on the place and had to don boots and wield snow shovels just to get into the driveway where a good foot of snow still lingered. That was hard to recall this week with the grass greening up and the lake shimmering iceless. It seemed too soon to hear the raucous full-throated croaking frogs in the wetland across the road, but they were already celebrating spring with their joyous chorus. The ducks had returned as well and were busy sticking their tail feathers in the air as they dove for goodies beneath the surface. The resident otter swam by in the early evening on his way to reinhabiting his hidden lair somewhere along the shoreline.

Everything seems to be in order one more time. No matter what the world is experiencing, springtime is inevitable and heartening in its constancy from year to year. Whatever else seems to be garnering our attention, you can’t help but feel hope in the yearly renewal that is Spring.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

latest work

I finally have a few things to show for all my practice on the new lathe I've been learning to use for the past month. I've done many more pieces than these, but I like these well enough to keep. I'm sure that as I keep working at it I will have many more keepers.
This is a twig vase made from oak and purpleheart. It is 7" high.

This is a little twig pot that is made of maple and padauk. It is 3.5" high

Another twig vase that is maple and padauk. This one is 5" high.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the intinerant vet

As I’ve noted here in the past, my daughter the veterinarian and PhD aspirant, frequently travels to Namibia, Africa to continue research that involves chasing zebras around the African plains. Her typical stay there is usually around 6 weeks, during which she lives and works at a game park and lab in Etosha. Once there, the work is long and tiring. But even those long days pale in comparison to the lengthy journey it takes to get there in the first place. Traveling from her home in Oakland and her lab at Berkeley to her final destination in Etosha, Namibia typically takes the better part of three days on various flights and then hours of ground travel across Namibia.

That she is able to maintain a sense of humor about the arduous travel it takes to get her there is remarkable I think. This time around she is flying through Frankfurt and then to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then to Windhoek, Namibia before riding for 5 or so hours across Namibia to Etosha. She is an astute observer of all around her and isn’t shy about sharing her observations. Following are two of her emails from the past couple days while she makes her way to the land of zebras. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Tuesday, April 7

Things I learned (or was reminded of) in the last 12 hours:

There is a Hells Angels chapter in Luxembourg, and it may be populated by scary Germanic-unhinged type folk, if the fellow on the plane wearing his vest was any indication.

One should never eat breaded fried "chicken" pieces in spicy brown sauce if it's offered on a plane.

Children's voices really carry.

United is really cutting corners now. No toothbrush, no socks, and only one freaking movie that starts when they tell you it's going to start (unlike all the international carriers that give you a choice of 12-40 movies that you can start and stop at any time).

This recession is nice in that it means that fewer people are flying, which in turn means that there are more open seats next to me, which in turn means that I can attempt to sleep lying down by squinching into a ball over 2.5 seats.

The wireless in Frankfurt airport is sometimes free, and sometimes not. Or maybe I hallucinated the free bit.

My husband is always in meetings whenever I am online, and is thus unable to chat with me.

The chair-benches in the Frankfurt airport are surprisingly comfortable for napping. A bank of three chairs does nicely.

Cups of hot water are not free.

I could be on a plane to Tehran right now, if I had heeded the frantic last-minute call of the flight attendant who woke me up to try to get me on that plane.

The Frankfurt airport apparently completely runs on hydrogen and solar power and on the dreams of German children, as I can't find a single outlet in which to plug my laptop.

The cleaning crew here rides bikes around the airport, and has a jolly good time doing so.

Germans are not a friendly people, and do not suffer fools gladly. They think that most people are fools.

The German language is silly, because I cannot understand it.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009
More things I have learned (or rediscovered):

The food on South African Airways is SO much better than that on United. Ditto for the service, the movies, the drinks, the bathrooms, the socks, and the toothbrushes.

Four year olds should not stay awake all night having a crying fit like a newborn.

The heavier your backpack, the longer you will have to keep it on your shoulders as you stand on a crowded tram waiting for it to move.

It's still odd to meet Afrikaans guys named Francois.

One of my bags will always come out on the baggage carousel way ahead of the other, leading me to believe that my other bag probably isn't coming, and making me lament what I will be missing from it.

Given the chance, I will always spill my ginger ale.

It's fun to be bumped up randomly to business class, even for a 1.5 hour flight. They give you real dishes and real glasses and even a table cloth!

There are three roads in Namibia.

For some reason, short South African Airways flights always show clips on the televisions from a Quebecois comedy festival. Does this have anything to do with the Afrikaans guys named Francois?

Everyone's money is prettier than ours.

There are frequent flights from South Africa to places like Kinshasa and Libreville. Really, does anyone want to go to those places? And, if so, is that wise?

White people do not walk in southern Africa.


Monday, April 06, 2009

still here

I've been a negligent blogger of late. There just doesn't seem to be enough time to do everything that needs doing. So one of the first casualties of that time crunch is the old blog. Admittedly, the lack of time is a flimsy excuse to cover the fact that there are priorities right now that are stacked on top of the blog.

The greatest time sucking activitiy these days is my determination to learn to use my new lathe. I spend hours in the workshop practicing the skills required to become not just proficient, but masterful. I have a long way to go to achieve that goal, but trying is the fun part. I get to make mistakes and learn from them and get to make successful turnings and wonder at the beauty of an object made well. What could be better than that. When I finally create something I am proud of, I will share it with you here.