A Time and A Season for Everything

“May you live in interesting times”. 

It’s allegedly an old Chinese saying and has been alternately described as a blessing or a curse, but in this case it’s more of an observation. This past year has been interesting but I managed to survive and learn a little bit. I’ve inched up the scale on my  cripple-ometer but the new upstairs studio continues to be a blessing and losing my job at the college has turned out to be a much better development than I anticipated, if for nothing else than all the URI’s (upper respiratory infections) I’m NOT getting.

My blog-world has changed for the better as well with many more followers and some genuine friendships into the bargain so I’d like to extend a gift of sorts in return

The four symbols below were developed as a feature of a deck of cards designed in grad school years ago.  Instead of the traditional heart/club/diamond/spade designations I divided my deck into winter/spring/summer/autumn suits. I also designed the royalty figures (king/queen/jack) to age from suit to suit – spring: youth, summer: adolescence . autumn: adulthood and winter: elderly. (I’ll show the art another time.)

The images from those new suits can be found below and I’m sharing with you all today as tattoo patterns – if you read this blog you’re welcome to use them in that manner. Some of the solid black areas have washed out a bit (perils of using designers’ markers on unfamiliar vellum)  but they’re still great patterns to work from. There’s no need for any kind of payment – all I ask is that you keep karma in mind when you do use them i.e. don’t steal credit for their creation, don’t take unfair advantage using them for profit and don’t use them for something other than tattoo art.

I’d be happy to answer any questions and I’d love to see photos as long as they’re in good taste. I’d rather not have to explain a tramp-stamp to my grandson.

CeltWinterLogo

CeltAutumnLogoCeltSummerLogoCeltSpringLogo

It’s a Year

As I have written before I am beset with several autoimmune disorders, the cumulative effect being chronic severe pain in most of my joints, and while I welcome the chance to lay down at night and take the  load off those aching joints I dread mornings. Mornings are not my friend and when my Beautiful Saxon Princess wishes me a good morning I usually respond with “It’s a morning…”

That’s similar  to what I am feeling this New Year’s Eve. When asked about 2018 the best I can say is “It was a year”. The trip through life this year has been like taking a little sip of water out of a fire hydrant and I feel like a horse that has been ridden hard and put in the barn wet . I really dislike that diving-Stuka feeling I get in my stomach when alternately counting up setbacks and perils so for now my plan is to do my best to be kind, considerate  thoughtful – and to pray/meditate/generate “positive waves Moriarity” that 2019 is a better year for all of us.

Class Portrait

When NSCC kicked me to the curb last summer my Beautiful Saxon Princess told me that the only thing that had  changed was  the size of my classes. –  before I had anywhere from  25 to 30 students but now I just have one – my grandson Jayden.

I couldn’t agree more. Jayden is just the latest in a succession of kids growing up in my studio. We had a great day in the studio today learning about sculpture and sculpting tools and as  we were finishing up BSP decided to take pictures.

Initial shot

TheGuys2

Attitude Adjustment

TheGuys1

Final version….

TheGuys3

 

2018: I Wish I’d Written That.

It takes a certain level of hubris to “live out loud”1 as a columnist or blogger – you have to have a fair amount of confidence in your ability to crunch words in an effective and entertaining way.  I do a pretty fair job, but there are times when I’m taken down a notch or two –  humbling moments that involve me coming up against a passage in someone else’s work that just so FREAKING GOOD it knocks me back on my literary fourth-point-of-contact

…passages like the following:

  1. “Gentlemen, we’ve got a date with destiny, and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster
  2. “Mists soft and transparent as excuses flapped across pastures the color of crap-table felt”
  3. “She had that mistreated and neglected look, like an encyclopedia that had been owned by stupid people”.
  4. “I’m not saying it’s been too windy, but there’s a witch’s feet sticking out from under the house and everything’s in color:
  5. “He’s so dense – this morning after formation I caught  him sitting  in the cab of his deuce-and-a-half  trying to read an M&M”

Recognize any of them?

I’ll share the sources in a day or two.

 


 

A phrase shamelessly horked from superstar columnist Anna Quindlen.

2018: Pushing the Envelope

Much has been said and even more has been written about the “bulletproof” mindset of an eighteen-year old. Granted, there are variations in terminology ranging from “Hey y’all – look at this!” to the more basic “Hold my beer”, but ultimately it can all be traced back to the “It-can’t-happen-to-me” mindset that gives us fighter pilots and cage fighters.

I wish I could say age eventually corrects such dysfunctional thinking but even in my crippled state my inner paratrooper lurks, though at sixty-five living on the edge is more likely to involved hooking one too many plastic grocery bags through my fingers than flying through thunderstorm cells or diving without calculating decompression times before hand. Pushing the envelope usually involves handling actual envelopes while paying  bills rather than test pilots consulting performance charts and the limits indicted by lines on graphs (which is where the expression came from!)

In my case there is one situation when my ego has most definitely been checked at the door : when I first get up – or more precisely try to get up in the morning .  Morning is not my friend and when I first stir in the morning there is a fair amount of weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and crying-like-a-hungry-puppy coming from the general direction of my over-sized papa-bear chair.

(I started to write “crying like a little girl” but that would be unfair as I wasn’t even close to being as stoic as a little girl would have been)

I keep telling myself that I can still win, that pushups and miles will defeat the disease-dragons I fight each day, but to be coldly honest there is a day coming when I won’t be able to ignore the pain and stand up.

A day coming when I won’t be able to take that next breath.

…but until that day arrives I will keep adding plastic bags to my grip on grocery day.

 

James Albert Smith (1933-2018)

Like so many other rites of passage, the whole idea of “talking trash” to peers didn’t occur to me until fifth grade at Woodland Park Elementary School, located in the wilds of deepest, darkest Spenard (Alaska). Central to the art of verbal dueling was developing a good defense, even if it was something as simple as “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”, when you were receiving fire, as in  “You were such an ugly baby your mom fed you with a slingshot”. I figured that the anxiety brought on by “words” would ease off as I got older but unfortunately there have always been statements that could definitely shake me up:

  1. “Surface winds on the DZ have dropped momentarily to light and variable.”
  2. I’m sure it’s just a mole.”
  3. “We have some questions about some of the deductions on your Schedule C.”
  4. “I’m going to raise my sons the same way I’ve watched you raise yours.”

That last comment was the most worrisome, and when my friend Delton spoke those words to me I slept poorly for a week, convinced that one or all of his boys would end up in an asylum or jail based on some faulty parenting technique he’d observed me practicing. I always wondered if Brother Smith’s chuckle-in-response was covering up a similar reaction when I made the same statement years ago.

That’s because no other man (including my own father) had as much influence on my growth as a parent as did James Albert Smith. He continued to laugh the idea off, maintaining that he’d never done anything that remarkable while raising his kids, but he never caught on to the fact that it wasn’t the things that he did, but the things that he didn’t do that made all the difference in the world.

He didn’t get a caribou

Growing up on the Kenai Peninsula I was surrounded by hard men – carpenters, mechanics, roustabouts and commercial fisherman who were veterans of World War 2 or the Korean conflict. A moose hunt  with them was more like combat reconnaissance patrol than a hunting trip. I couldn’t help but inwardly smirk as I watched Jim casually load up his boys on a fall morning in 1971, one rifle for the three of them and all of them in street shoes, however as I listened to them interact upon their return later that day I realized that the trip had less to do with steaks and more to do with forging bonds between a father and his sons, that he was spending more time teaching than hunting.

He couldn’t grow corn.

I witnessed Jim’s efforts at vegetable gardening in a sub-Arctic environment over the course of three summers and it never ceased to amaze me that corn stalks always took up a  fair amount of space in his plot. It didn’t seem to matter that the growing season is too short, the soil too wet and daytime temperatures don’t stay warm enough for corn to thrive. It wasn’t until that third summer that I finally tumbled to the fact that his attempts had less to do with having fresh corn-on-the-cob for dinner and more to do with giving a little bit of Davis County ambiance to help his homesick sweetheart cope with the cold and dark  winters so far away from home.

He didn’t kick my fourth-point-of-contact

I have it on good authority that I can be somewhat of a dumb-a** at times, and I was in that mode of thinking when I once caused a great deal of distress for one of his children. At the time I was literally living on the other side of the continent and figured I was home free from any sort of parental retribution. I wasn’t prepared for the flinty stare he met me with when we finally did meet up in person two months later, a flinty stare which lasted all of twelve seconds before he broke into his trademark grin, slapped me on the shoulder and started quizzing me about “those fancy new graphic design classes you’ve been taking”.

It was truly amazing watching him in parental mode.  My own parents were firm believers in the percussive discipline school of child rearing and while my presence no doubt had a tempering effect on his conduct I was always impressed with the positive, low key manner with which he  counseled and corrected his kids…and when I told him that I was trying to adapt those traits into my own parenting style he just brushed off the statement and changed the topic of conversation to a short story he was working on.1Despite time and distance the warmth never wavered – he was the only person I’ve ever known who had a grin that could be heard on the phone.  He was always interested in what I did, though to the very end he kept urging me to switch from design to copywriting2.  When I recently shared with him an illustration I created for The Friend his reaction was to tell me that my work was the best part of the magazine, a comment that meant more to me than all the other certificates and ribbons I’ve been awarded in my entire career.

I just hope when this life is over he’ll say the same thing about my parenting skills.

___________________________________________________________________________

Notes

  1. The plot involved father and son cobbling together a hovercraft out of the wreckage of a plane they’d crashed in.
  2. Writers ae usually paid better and are selected more often as supervisors

What I Look Like Now…updated

DRD2018

Taken earlier in the year. It’s amazing the way a person’s appearance can change with age – I remember watching a J. Edgar Hoover biopic miniseries years ago and taking issue with the way they used two different actors to portray him at different stages of life. Now I see current photos of friends from long ago and some of them don’t even look like the same person.

It’s hard to look at my own image and be subjective enough to make a determination. There have been some definite changes:

  • I’m a bit better-padded a lot more padded now.
  • My hairline has receded a bit
  • I finally got my front teeth fixed
  • I have that  big-a** scar to the left of my nose, a legacy of basal cell carcinoma

Things that are the same

  • My squint
  • My smile
  • I started going grey in my twenties so hair color can be a constant
  • …and while we’re talking about hair – it  could still scare a comb to death

Title Page: “Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup

2018-08-01 DJKSS CoverTitlePage

Title page for the aforementioned book I’m writing for my grandchildren. As you can see here and in other images from the book the linework and type are not perfect – and there’s a reason for that. I’m producing this in the “old-school” manner much like we did forty years ago. I’m using my computer strictly as a stat camera/typositor – all the drawings are done with pencil, pen and template as is the line work and graphic devices. I’m placing the type by hand and designing “by eye”.

You’ll also occasionally see stray construction lines that I’ve left in.

Some people dress in period costume and live in restored villages as a means of “living history”. This project it my way of doing so as well.

2018 Stargirl (color version)

2018-09-02 StargirlColorI was surprised to find that I posted the original B/W version of this image in mid-2016. I apologize – my goal was to follow up with color versions as soon as possible. Twenty-eight months does not fall  into the ASAP category.

I’ve been schooled in this subject quite often as of late: setting realistic goals. I thought I was doing better  but as I was limping back to the car after a marathon copy session at Office Max I had to admit that there is still room for improvement. As I said the other day, no matter how many push-ups I try to do, no matter how far I try to walk at the end of the day I am still 65 – and a disabled 65 at that.

I also makes me thankful that we live where we do. The hurricane is a day’s drive to the east of us but the fluctuating barometric pressure still takes a toll on my arthritic joints.

I’d rather not think about how miserable I’d be right now if we lived along I-95 instead of I-24.