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.

2018: Studio Deitrick

Due to a very fundamental misunderstanding with Dad we spent most of the summer of 1987 without a studio. “Useful studio space” was one of the deal-breaker conditions  to be met before we assumed house-sitting duties while my folks served a mission in Nova Scotia, but evidently there was a generation gap in the definition of the word “useful” and we were left to work out of an unfinished/unheated garage. Nevertheless I had clients to service, so after squeezing my drawing table into my old loft bedroom, I divided my long Alaskan days between marker renderings and carpentry, taking care of both my clients and construction chores.

It was a happy day in mid-August when Lori and I nailed the final bit of trim, hung the last of the curtains in the windows, and had an impromptu party sipping New York Seltzer, eating poppy-seed muffins from the Soldotna Safeway and listening to the Peter Gabriel blockbuster album SO.  I was feeling great relief at having the wherewithal to go into full production, but there seemed to be another intangible presence dancing along with us to “Your Eyes”.

For the preceding three months it felt like a member of our family was missing, and it was only after three sets of verbal volleyball that we figured out  what had been missing:  Studio Deitrick.  The studio had become a part of our lives in the same way writers described the Starship Enterprise as being as much a character as Kirk, Scotty or Uhura in Classic Star Trek.   For years most of our life revolved around that particular kitchen of the mind – no matter what else was happening, we all eventually congregated in the studio. In addition to serving as delivery room to countless works of art, our children grew up in our studios, we entertained in them, and all my prep time for thirty years of college teaching happened in Studio Deitrick.

…but then something happened in the early summer of 2015 and Studio Deitrick went away. Even though the house we bought had a very similar floor plan to our previous rental, there was no room for a studio as such and I was left to cram what I could into an extension off the back of the kitchen…and when I was done  nothing clicked. Oh, I got the room into a semblance of order but there was no magic and it remained nothing more than a converted breakfast nook …and the three years I spent in there were the three least productive years of my life.

It was only after we started making changes when I lost my contract with Nashville State that the Studio came back into existence. As we sat in the sitting room that we’d organized from the old studio space it just felt capital-letter R Right. When we trudged up to the new studio in the old bonus room it felt capital-letter/bold, underscore/Italic R “right” – the strongest impression of “rightness” any of our studios have felt since leaving Sterling in 1989.

That extra member of our family has come home.

It still has that vibe now. No doubt the resemblance to my loft bedroom back on the ranch has a lot to do with the feeling, but even on the worst days when that flight of stairs seems a thousand feet long, I continue to feel a calmness of certainty when I sit down at my desk.

Does that mean that our troubles are over and all of our challenges are being solved?

No…but for the first time in years I feel hope.

1981: Lieutenant Moonlight!

This week’s selection for ReRun Saturday. It’s been interesting working with so many veterans at Nashville State – among other things I’ve learned that I was far from being only soldier trying to reconcile two vastly different worlds…

David R. Deitrick, Designer

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(Boy, that sounds like a Golden Age superhero titles, doesn’t it? Flyer’s helmet and goggles, short cape, boots and a half-moon logo on my chest.)

Ah, but it is not to be. Rather than fighting criminals or “Ratzis” the subject of today’s post has to do with the amount of freelance art work I did while serving in the Army – and it started the summer before my last year of undergraduate study.

Actually, it had been an issue since the day I signed up for ROTC. I knew that there would be a built-in conflict between the two career fields and I would bounce back and forth between planning for a career in the active army and a career in the design field combined with duty in the reserves. I would like to note that it never was a question of whether or not I would serve, but when…

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Music: Reasons for Waiting (Reconsidered)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iybAyDFrhhI

 Schadenfreude has never had any appeal to me. I’m convinced that taking “shameful joy” in another person’s failure is both pointless and petty, but there is one failure for which I will be forever thankful.   Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame gave up learning to play the guitar when he became convinced that he’d never play as well as Eric Clapton and I applaud that set-back for two reasons:

  • We’ve already got an Eric Clapton.
  • Without Anderson’s skill with the flute we’d never have had “Reasons for Waiting”.

1972

Room-mate Roulette is just one of the challenges a college freshman encounters, but it may be the most crucial. The stress involved in learning to mesh with a complete stranger can have a major effect on both your academic career not to mention your entire life so I’d assumed that careful thought and preparation went into room assignments…so please forgive me for being disturbed when I learned that the selection process was only slightly more sophisticated than a dart game.

Unfortunately I had to go throw the dart board twice. The first assignment worked out well : I drew an upperclassman whose part-time job and interest in the outdoors essentially gave me a private room. Unfortunately he dropped out mid-year and I had to go through the room assignment game a second time and ended up with Scott, a fellow freshman with a heavier footprint requiring  more accommodation and coordination, especially in the following areas:

  • Getting up in the morning
  • Turning in at night
  • House-cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Setting the thermostat
  • Female visitors
  • Post-fart courtesy

…and so on. Music was one of the hardest points to negotiate –  Scott favored hard rock (Grand Funk Railroad/Quicksilver Messenger Service/ Led Zeppelin)  while I preferred progressive rock and acoustic groups (Moody Blues/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/America) Playback volume was sticky issue until we agreed on a head-phone truce which unintentionally kept us from mixing our music  and appreciating what the other guy listened to.

It took the simple act of Scott turning over in bed one February morning to change all that. The sun was just peeking over the Alaska Range to the south and was bathing the morning sky with orange, magenta and purple while a train crawled along the track on the other side of the parking lot, building up speed for the day-long run to Anchorage, the exhaust from its diesels adding to the wisps of ice-fog that had come up from the Chena River. As I was taking this all in I was mug-in-hand, leaning on our chest-high window sill with my toes tucked under the heat register when somehow in the process of waking up Scott pulled the headset cord out of his stereo and the first notes of possibly the most beautiful song in rock music poured out into our little basement dorm room.

The soft acoustic introduction of  Jethro Tull’s Reasons For Waiting  leads into a flute solo so beautiful that my eyes welled up — then Ian Anderson started to sing in his slightly wavering tenor:

What a sight for my eyes
To see you in sleep.
Could it stop the sun rise
Hearing you weep?

 Writing under the pseudonym Stendhal, 19th Century French Novelist Marie-Henri Beyle observed that viewers can be overwhelmed by the sight of an art masterpiece and sent into a state of distress much like a panic attack. What I felt at this particular moment was probably a low-grade Stendhal incident: the music, the view, the warmth from the hot chocolate, being in love – I couldn’t catch my breath

Oh –  I  didn’t mention that I had recently fallen in love? My Best Friend and I had spent the first semester playing at being in love – making those first tentative moves: holding hands, sneaking a kiss, whispering endearments hardly understood, but it wasn’t until the separation at Christmas Break that the relationship really found its depth.

We were in capital “L” Love.

You’re not seen, you’re not heard
But I stand by my word.
Came a thousand miles
Just to catch you while you’re smiling.

Notes from the flute become frenzied and erratic but then acoustic guitar steps back in for just a moment to restore the orderly flow of musical notes.

What a day for laughter
And walking at night.
Me following after, your hand holding tight.
And the memory stays clear with the song that you hear.
If I can but make
The words awake the feeling
.

Again the flute become frenzied but just at the point of discomfort, the song explodes into a cascade of violins with Anderson’s flute weaving a thread of notes in an around the strings as they underlie the final verse

What a reason for waiting
And dreaming of dreams.
So here’s hoping you’ve faith in impossible schemes,
That are born in the sigh of the wind blowing by
While the dimming light brings the end to a night of loving.

I’d spent most of the previous evening curled up on the couch with my Best Friend watching television, but by the middle of Night Gallery she’d fallen asleep tucked up against the left side of my chest.  As the closing credits ran I looked over at her snuggled up against me and suddenly Stukas started to fly interdiction against my central pump. I’d never really looked at anyone sleeping much less a beautiful blonde and I just marveled at the soft, open look to her features.

Fast forward to the next morning: that memory from the night before combined with scenic beauty, the music –  h*ll even the mug of hot chocolate –  all combined to create one of the most heart-flutteringly joyful moments of my life,  an instant of gestalt wherein the beauty of the moment outshined the factors creating it. I wanted to break the channel-selector off my life  and stay in that moment forever. In my short eighteen years of life I had never felt anything like that particular four minutes and seven seconds.

…and forty-seven years later just thinking about that moment still makes me smile.

1964 Bike Ride to Mike’s House

This week’s Saturday re-run. One of the things I haven’t written much about is how different that stretch of highway looks now. There were some major changes made in the early 1990s; between that construction and the way the trees have grown back you can hardly recognize the old landmarks.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

I threw exactly one tantrum as a kid. I was normally pretty placid – an old man in a child’s body – but in the spring of 1964 when my dad announced that we were moving from Anchorage down to the Kenai Peninsula something snapped. I can remember screaming and yelling that I didn’t want to go, I wasn’t going to go and that we were all going to be eaten by bears. I was surprised that my parents let us rant like that (my older sister Robin was pitching a fit as well) but there were no spankings or shakings. They let us go on and on until exhaustion – then calmly moved us the following August to a small ranch in Sterling.

We had moved as a family many times before so why was this time so much more traumatic? There were several reasons, mostly social in nature…

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Thank You India

Earlier this year I wrote 2018: Bubble Wrap – a post concerning the personal fallout from the death of an old friend and mentor. When first published the post received  moderate  attention so I filed it away as one of my average efforts….but a week or two later  I learned that my  assumption was wrong. Something in that post  must have touched a collective nerve because the readership climbed very quickly, bringing about the following developments

  • FA large number of initial views on 2018: Bubble Wrap.
  • A large number of comments and “likes” on that particular post.
  • A sharp increase in “second-viewers” – readers who came to my page looking for the Bubble Wrap post but then stayed to read some of my other work.
  • A sharp increase in registered followers

As expected most of the readers have been my countrymen – readers from the United States. What was not expected was the nationality of the second-largest sub-group in this surge of readers. One would  assume that they would be from Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom, but in fact India is the home of the second largest group of people reading my blog.

It was a total surprise, and my first thought was trying to figure out what I’d said that would be of the slightest interest to  people living on other side of the planet. I grew up on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and while my training in military intelligence left me with a bit more knowledge of the Indian subcontinent than most Americans, I am still mystified by so much interest in my work coming about in a country on the opposite side of the globe.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to express my thanks for this interest and thought maybe I could find a way to express myself in Hindi or Urdu but as I started research I had visions of committing some terrible social blunder through miscommunication. There are innocent terms used in North America can take on very different meanings in other languages – for example, payday is what we call the day wages are disbursed  but “payday” is also a homonym for “fart” in some Latin American countries. I’ve known of American hipsters getting tattoos based on (mistranslated) Chinese or Japanese characters that were later found to have ” undesirable” connotations.

Besides – how do you say “thank you” to an entire continent? It’s like having a blue whale for a pet. The relationship might mean something to you, but I doubt the whale would be aware of your existence much less develop any sort of fondness.

Maybe the answer is intrinsically undefined and is a more personal matter. Despite my Teutonic surname most of my ancestors came from the British Isles – and not just England but Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.  Military service runs several generations back in my family – I could possibly have had an ancestor stationed on the Northwest Frontier but as far as I can tell the regiments don’t match up…and it might not be the most politically correct idea at this point in time.

There’s always the chance that connection comes from a time even further back than the Raj.  I’ve recently discovered the music of Archie Jay & her bag-piping lady snake charmers and (all musical puns aside) it strikes a resonant chord. My family has always kept in touch with its Celtic roots and years ago before Mean Old Mr. Asthma literally took the wind out of my sails, I was a passable piper. Even to this day I can squeak out “Amazing Grace” and “Cock of the North” on my chanter so it should be no surprise that  the first time I heard Miss Jay and her team of snake-charming lady bag-pipers a chill went up my spine as the tears went down my cheeks. It felt familiar yet alien so maybe that amorphous  connection happened millennia in the past before the great Indo-European migrations split us up into Celts, Aryans and the countless other subgroups that wandered all over the globe.

…all of which is a much deeper subject than I can handle for now. Please keep reading, liking, sharing and recommending to your friends.  If you’ll excuse me, I have to go try and put a collar on a whale.

Requiem For An Almost-Mom

Re-run Saturday. It’s hard to believe that three years have passed by since Sister Smith passed away.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

For the last four or five days I have been running through a wide range of emotions – primarily those clustered at the sad/lost/frustrated point in the continuum. I’ve found myself wasting time at my desk puttering at pointless tasks like making copies, stacking papers and sorting tubes of paint while getting easily distracted….

(Paint. Hmmmmm. This could either be the beginning of a great analogy or just another a flash of attention-deficit disorder…)

As a student I was surprised to find that painting entails a lot of chemistry. Mixing colors is not always a straightforward proposition wherein blue plus red always equals purple. For one thing colors are not “pure” hues but can lean towards one side of the mix more than another. Sap Green is a very warm green that looks closer to the yellow side than the blue while Viridian is a cool green favoring blue over…

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1963: Ejection Seat

This week’s entry in the “Run It Again” sweepstakes. One nice development: I found a Steve Canyon lunchbox on eBay just like the one I took to school for a good part of the year this story is set in….

David R. Deitrick, Designer

Forget “Fast and Furious”

Forget “Iran-Contra”

Forget anything y you may know about arms trading, illicit or otherwise. They all pale when compared to the rampant weapons dealings of Woodland Park Elementary School in the early sixties. More weapons (albeit toy weapons) changed hands during that year than at any other time in history. I personally went through two Mattel Tommy-bursts, a Marx Gung-Ho tripod machine gun, two Monkey Division weapons (bazooka and mortar) and a host of other off-brand toy firearms including what looked like an M1 carbine hybrid with a pistol grip that shot gold-painted wooden bullets….that I wouldn’t mind having a functional version of as an adult.

It was a very different political and social climate then. It had been less than twenty years since the USA had kicked Hitler’s and Tojo’s collective a**, the country was coasting off the red-hot economy of the Fifties and it…

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1966: Super-Ball

(You’d never guess by the size of my waistline but I fight a daily losing battle with perfectionism. I like to go back and edit/improve/tweak old posts, like this one first posted a little over four years ago.)

David R. Deitrick, Designer

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One unique aspect about growing up in Alaska was the sense of cultural disconnection we had to deal with – a disconnection that was even wider because we didn’t know it was there. I spent my young adulthood thinking that my youth and adolescence were just like everyone else’s – just colder and darker. There were in fact large communication and social gaps that made life on the Last Frontier more like life on another planet. For example, there were no same-day network news programs on television until I was a senior in high school and even then they weren’t simultaneous broadcasts. The early evening news was videotaped in Seattle then put on an airliner to Anchorage, where it was broadcast after 10 at night. It made watching the Super Bowl problematic; the game was broadcast live on radio so you were faced with either knowing the score beforehand as…

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1972: Transition From Black & White

The more things change the more they stay the same. In this case the  “same” part was the fact that It was autumn and I was standing with a pretty girl in the waiting line in front of the campus cinema. The changed part? Twelve months earlier I had been taking Molly Dunham to see Castle Keep showing at the University of Alaska student cinema. Now I was taking my Best Friend to see The Wizard of Oz at the Manwaring Center at the Ricks College student cinema.

Also changed? I was really, really not-happy. Not necessarily “unhappy” but there were several places I’d rather be than Rexburg, Idaho.  I had spent the previous academic year at a state school with no real restrictions and my transfer to a faith-based conservative school with precise dress, grooming and conduct codes was something that would have not happened had I not been following my Best Friend, who’d chosen to attend Ricks long before she met me.

The dress and grooming standards weren’t the only drawback though. Up to this point my life had been spent on the Left Coast – California, Alaska and a brief interlude in Washington State. Going to school at Ricks College was like living in an Archie comic and whenever we were on the road I kept looking for signs that read “Welcome to Idaho – Please set your clocks back twenty years”.  People were nice enough but quirky.

However, that quirky behavior wasn’t all bad.  Going out at night was a lot less stressful that it had often been at home when any kind of weekend evening activity could involve navigating around people in various degrees of chemically-induced mental/emotional impairment. That impairment took different forms depending on the chemical involved; if weed was involved people were laid back and pleasant, but if there’d been some heavy-duty drinking, chances were someone would eventually start swinging. As sweet as she was my Best Friend was clueless to these kinds of situations and was baffled at my change in demeanor when walking from the car to wherever we were going. One minute I would be making my usual bad puns but once I was out the door I was as taciturn and alert as John Wayne in Fort Apache (“I don’t like it Cookie. The Indian drums have stopped and it’s too quiet out there!”).

I’d had to deal with some ugly situations with drunks interfering with other dates and there was no way I was going to let something like that happen to my Best Friend, so going to and from most of our activities were more like tactics exercises than anything else. I expected the situation to be much the same in Idaho but fortunately during the few weeks we’d been in Rexburg had been pretty peaceful and pleasant.

…including this particular trip to watch Judy Garland prance around with Munchkins at the student cinema on the third floor of the Manwaring student center. We arrived early but there was already a number of students waiting in line down the hallway. The hallway was a bit unusual:  To accommodate rooms of various size and configuration doors leading off this hallway were set back in varying depths with some of the doors flush with the wall and others inset anywhere from six inches to two feet. We’d parked ourselves in front of one of these inset mini-alcoves when the door at the end of the hallway crashed open and a very cowboyish-looking guy walked in. As he moved down the hall and past the line of people waiting for the movie he brushed shoulders with another young man standing a couple of spaces ahead of us.

AH-OOGAH!

My inner alarm system kicked in at what I figured to be an imminent fight. As the adrenaline started pumping I turned and swept my Best Friend into the alcove behind us, then stood in front with my hands up, ready to push the combatants away if the inevitable fight started to move in our direction.

Then something completely unexpected happened.

“Sorry – I warn’t watching whar I was going” said the cowboy.

“No problem” said the brushee.

“David, what is going on?” said my Best Friend, her muffled voice echoing from the alcove behind me.

I was totally bewildered as the two shook hands and the cowboy kept walking down the hall. I could feel little mental fuses and circuit breakers in my brain burn out and pop. The situation had resolved itself in a manner completely foreign to my experience  – Instincts kicked in and I started to loudly berate the young man in the line ahead of us.

“What are you doing you >expletive deleted<?”

 “He just ran RIGHT into you!  And your girlfriend too!”

 “Kick his a**!”

 A slender hand reached around, grabbed the front of my overcoat and gently pulled me around and away from the others in the line. While she straightened my lapel and brushed non-existent dust off my shoulders my Best Friend quietly said:

David, we’re not in Fairbanks anymore. Things are different here and different doesn’t always mean bad…or worse.”

 …which completely shut me up.

 …and I stayed quiet because I had a lot to think about. The parallel between what had happened outside and what was happening on the screen was sledge-hammer obvious.  I’d come from an environment that was just as black-and-white as the scenes in Kansas up on the screen and I while I wasn’t ready to say that Idaho was “color” in comparison to my home in Alaska, I was finding that “quirky-but-nice” might be just nice.