All posts by The Log of The Grey Goose

I am self taught in a variety of things. I suppose you could call me an autodidact. If I need to know how to do something I read about it to learn. I am: Well I have been all that I can be, at least so far Retired USAF Survival Instructor (1957-1961) Retired USA Drill Sergeant/Operations (1962-1978) Retired from the Evergreen State College Admissions: Records Clerk / Library: Conservator (1978-2003) I am a visual artist (Bookbinder/Conservator) a poet & writer. I consider myself a Medieval Postmodernist in my thinking about the visual art that I create.

Among the silken spider webs

The past does not leave us.

Pull upon a loose spider silk

Dangling in the breeze from

The dim corners of your room,

 

Memories and visions past will appear.

They reside feyly stacked in dusty corners  

Of these old groaning and leaning walls

Within our cedar sided-cabin here

 

Among the misty rainforest of our hearts.

Our memories lay, waiting for the pulling,

Tangled among the silken spider webs, as

We count the days and knots for the remembering.

 

With a gentle pulling on these stacked and jumbled,

Silken electric lines wrapped warmly about

Our beating hearts, we will reveal some few things

Residing in the corners of these from our musty chambers.

After the flurry

My writing seems slowed

After the flurry of the past weeks

The coolness in the air tempers it.

 

The clusters of maple seeds

Are clumped high in the maples

Waiting the rains and Pacific winds

To push them from summer branches

 

A swirling and twirling dance

As they spiral toward the ground

The days are becoming cooler

 

Shorter and the darkness earlier

My blood seems to be thickening

No longer thrumming with the

Heat of the summer sun

 

Thoughts once quickened

Want to slumber into the coolness

Of autumn and on into winter

 

My head filled with languid images

Of cool rivers over hot rocks

The runoff of glaciers from

Grey mountains in the distance

 

Image

Tell the beads

Circuit riding the Oort’s

ministering the ghosts and specters,

lost and wandering the starry æther

looking for misplaced and forgotten souls,

corporeal bodies languishing.

I find the old Dutchman and his crew,

him on his knees shooting knuckle~bones

with the devil while behind his back clenched

in his fist, fingers crossed, his rosary dangles.

I pace the ecliptic reciting, singing

matins, sext and vespers.

Tolling the hours of days

telling the beads and knots.

Penance rides, nay slips my fingers

soon will come compline.

Random Musings II

At the VA Canteen, American Lake, Tacoma, WA

I keep a Moleskin© journal for observations & thoughts while I visit the Canteen at American Lake in Tacoma, WA while I wait for my various appointments. The antics and characters I see are a motley assortment of old soldiers from every branch of service & a few old Merchant Marines from WW II. I try to listen to their banter and sometimes ask to sit with them to hear what they have to say. I don’t have to prompt them, you can’t stop them. They seem needy and lonely and love to tell their stories. Especially when I tell them I have been collecting stories from the Spanish-American War to the present. There will be a few of them in the blog when I get to that time in my history.

An aside: My wife was once sitting outside smoking her cigarette was approached by two old gentlemen who began talking to her. Suddenly one of them asked her “Have you ever met a Merchant Marine Captain”? and pointed to his pal. Laughter from all.

These writings are some of the more poignant of my observations. A lot of the old men just come here to the Canteen to hang out and tell stories seeking company or solace, recognition.  I know a few of them that I have been in various clinics with. Chuck who is homeless and disabled has a job cleaning tables and dumping trash cans. He is in my diabetes group. Walks around with a spiffy tie and a squirt bottle of cleaning fluid dangling from his back pocket. When our group meets one of us has to go get him as he is sortta’ shy. Then there is John who is severely disabled. He was in a class with me called “Living well with chronic disabilities”. I got to meet his wife, Posey. He has braces on his hands, arms, neck, legs and other parts. Pushing his walker. I like these two for despite their infirmaries they manage to laugh at the world and themselves. My kind of comrades.

These are directly from my journal and will be changed only for clarity.

May 2010 ¶Grey beards all. Forlorn and lonely. No longer the tramp of booted feet or voices raised in cadence call & refrain. Hugging their paper cups of cooling bitter coffee. Outside they smoke solitary, eyes watering in the sunlight, eyes watching warily everything & everyone. Talking to anyone that will pretend to listen to their complaints and infirmaries. They were once young & strong now old and broken, beat down.

January 2013 ¶Icy roads slippery this morning, glad for the six cement blocks in the truck bed. Here for a blood draw and peeing in a plastic bottle. The waiting room this snowy day subdued and morose as we wait for our number to be called. The TV flickers in the storm.

October 2013 ¶At the VA Canteen once again today. Waiting for the dermatologist. The itching is now keeping me awake in my nightly fitful sleeping. I awake some mornings with bloody fingers, sheets & blankets. ¶The visions of the drive and this day enrapturing me and my wonky mind. Fall has arrived w/a torrent of leaves. Covering the roads, stopping drains, creating vast lakes of murky water. The leaves abound w/the colors of autumn, curbs, & sidewalks strewn with gold & browns. A feast for the eyes as crows caper about outside the Canteen begging bits & pieces from old vets snacks.

January 2014 ¶At the VA Canteen this morning early, 8 AM & I’m still sleepy only four hours last night. The Canteen, institutional beige w/30 or so tables. Only about three tables have more than one old vet. There are six of us solitaires. Today this seems to be the saddest place I have ever visited. Old men & a few women, sitting solitary. A lonely prayer over their plastic plates of sour SOS on biscuits or over easy eggs w/the obligatory hash browns or grits. They are all living solitary inside their heads stuffed full of PTSD memories, flash backs tempered a bit by time. Still jerking awake in the darkness of their sweating nights dreams. Her at the VA Hospital trying to find silence & solace w/doctors, nurses & drugs. I suppose I am one of them, too.

And so it goes…

Shadow 2

 

 

 

 

 

About my art

This is the thinking that drives the process of the development of and  about my art. There are always drawings and copious notes before a single object or word is worked. It sometimes feels as though I am sliding on the slope of the mantic and magical 

6X9X1.25~(text block) Over boards of leather, wood, copper/brass perhaps on five raised cords on walnut boards , waxed colored cord, papers: Frankfurt cream & white, Ingres antique: colors ~ rhythm of the patron, brass edges treated with ammonia and heat, end papers of silk and Moriki w/paste paper, animal or other gilded on cover.

A sense of ceremony ~ A Journey of Ritual Gestures

A painted object (book/box/other object [altered book]) (sparse yet rich in detail) Not exactly minimal yet not overwhelmed with detail – elegant & rich visually interactive and manipulative .A collaboration of three or four artists of various backgrounds perhaps (Printers/printmakers/bookmakers/writers) w/prints, collages, writings, etc on various surfaces of various related themes Papers torn & mutilated printing of images and text overlaid Interlinear text and objects. Some hand painting i.e., illuminated text and uncial  Silk, papyrus, hand-made papers, metal, wood, glass/Plexiglas

Build in some aromatic herbs or add some essential oils for a hint of scent & mystery Text re: ceremony & ritual gestures (visual & word images) Box/book or both ~ painted and textured. Carved fittings of Woods (purple heart / maple / cedar / other aromatics) Bone & antler Metal / fiber Combination of all the above Images (hand carved) (think stylized) Birds (goose/crane/crow/etc) Animal (coyote/fox/bear/Orcas/etc) (Snail?)

We each occupy a particular space on/in this world. As we travel the precession of the equinoxes that space travels with us. It carries our allotment of air, our shadows, our psyches and our inner selves. It is constantly changing and evolving into something newer and more complex. We have rituals, gestures and ceremonies that both constrain our lives and expand them. We interact both visually and aural with our environments that we inhabit at a particular time. We are actually aware of our existence in only 3 to 7 seconds of time. After that it is either past or future. Our awareness and existence  is constantly mutating, but we are only aware in that miniscule window of time.

 So: what is time to you? What is space, to you? Are the two different and if so how? How can you express this visually and with words? Are you willing to share these emotions and feelings and do you think you can adequately express them in your medium or another’s or a combination of both? Do the rhythms of the seasons, the sun & moon, the stars have any effect on you? How do you interact with nature and the creatures of nature? Does what you do in your public and/or private life shape how you interact within your kinship and/or social group? Are there rituals and ritual gestures that are similar across our diversity. What has survived the millenniums to today that we use in our lives for communication and communion? (ritual bonfires, drums of skin and bone, primal dance, story telling through speech and gestures?) Do the stars out along the milky way inspire and provoke you?

 And with that: I once read that the word “book” actually is predated by the Scandinavian word for bark (bok). Food for thought, that. Then in a midden out among the wilds of Rome’s far flung empire, along Hadrian’s Wall, archeologists found small shavings of wood with messages and letters to and from Rome. (Oh Aeneas, I so long for your rough swordsman’s caress upon my silky breasts!) and other things. Which leads us to the thoughts about time, once again. Think of the time it took messages and dispatches to reach the outer edges of the empire. And think about how, now, we are so linked via electronics. Almost instant and constant communication. Is it really worth it? Have we enriched our lives? Do we / Can we need step aside to breathe and be human? Can we afford to? Admittedly this is evolution in process, even though we aren’t equipped to realize or actualize it.

Which brings me back to the original questions. What should this object be? How big? What kind of textures would be unique and pleasant? Images need to be coordinated and juxtaposed. Writings need to be refined and reduced, redacted. Most importantly can I do something like this or must needs I enlist help with this dream?

Monad Dreams

I am currently working on this book

HPIM0225

nihil obstadt

Random Musings

This is a test!    >Well, my friends today I am going public with this.  It is only a trial at this time & will change in the oh so short future.  I will put all the photos in one place, the poetry in another and the wordy bumpkins ramblings in another.  So far I am extremely pleased with this (Well, WordPress’s fine product, too).  I am still learning all the in’s & out’s of it, but soon will have that mastered (well, at least figured out to do simple things).  It’s hard on this old man’s brain as I thought I would not take on another challenge.  Sigh, not to be. It’s in my nature, soul & heart to write for others.  Taking up the gauntlet after it has been thrown in my face is what got me to where I am now.  So why stop?

I have been wanting to do something like this ever since I retired.  I have made a commitment to the Survival School Instructors & the SERE folks to document some of the times that I and a few others lived through.  Not to mention a whole bunch of friends that I have annoyed, too.

I started a Facebook page in the hopes of using that as a platform for these things.  Not to be. Facebook is a bit ephemeral and arbitrary.  Things don’t last.  At least WordPress will see to it that it lasts.

As an aside, when I worked at the evergreen state college (the lower case dates me) I realized it was a bureaucracy just like many others.  The founders sort of knew this but neglected to tell  the faculty & staff.  The rank & file of the staff doing the drudge work that made the college go were tired and did not smile much.  So I decided to change that & started littering in-boxes with a weekly poem or prose piece designed to be humorous and up-lifting.  It seemed to work, imagine that.

A couple of my student interns (now good friends) found some of my writings in my studio, took them and wanted to publish all of them in the college’s literary journal (Slightly West).  As I had helped get the journal started I put my foot down and they only published three instead of all nine. Then they started dragging me to poetry readings around the sound. (Puget Sound).  The writings were about my growing up out here on the western edge of this wonderful republic.  I had traveled the west extensively in my youth with my rambling & eclectic family and was documenting it for my children.  Imagine my surprise when I found out other folks wanted to hear about it too.  My writing style is a bit wonky as some of the things are in poetry format as it was an exercise in being concise for me.  Some got converted to prose but many remain poetical.  I write in the style called “Language Poetry” which is designed to make the reader become involved with the poem.  Seeing the light in some stranger’s eyes as he says to me “Hey! I had something like that happen to me too. Let me tell you…”.  It makes me happy to share & I welcome feedback and your stories too.  My infobahn address is included at the bottom of the blog if you want to reach me for any reason.

Nihil Obstat >  John/Pick (the nick-name will be explained later)   jxby75@gmail.com

Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits

I remember in the late fifty’s, about nineteen-fifty seven, coming down from the old Skyline Trail that runs along the backbone of the Sierras into an abandoned CCC camp, the cabin, half rock walls, half-timber, steep pitched slate roof and sleeping in the open. That night I got the soft rocks. Waiting for our supply truck that came the next morning loaded with our small boxes of meager mid-trek re-supplies, mail, cans of hash and Spam, dried apples, rice, hard cheese and fresh socks to replace the ones with holes, clean underwear, soap. The cabin was on the west side of Lake Tahoe up in a box canyon locked tight for the winter, even though it was spring, almost summer, the winters Sierra snow was mostly gone, wildflowers just blooming.

I was a fledgling Air Force Survival Instructor learning my craft. Trekking down the ridge crest of the Sierras, Richardson lake down to Echo Lake a two month walk, learning to eat the flora and fauna, critters. Wild onion, watercress, camas roots, rose hips, porcupine, bat, mule deer, squirrels and badgers, bugs and worms, skunk cabbage, manzanita tea. We were opening up the old trails, building bridges, cutting storm-downed trees, snags and re-building old walls, shoring up the trail following old blaze marks on the trees. A small part of our civic duty along with learning our survival lessons.

We washed and shaved in the icy creek and slept there another night, rising before the dawn. Breakfasting on fresh eggs, my venison salami and three-day old baking powder biscuits, then started the vertical climb back up to the crest. The trail was cut from the living rock, just enough room for a man with a loaded pack to stand upright, slightly hunched over, one foot almost in the air, able to look straight down to the waiting jumbled talus. Just about three and a half miles up to gain about a mile of altitude, a bold sign at the trail head proclaimed “Caution! Impassable for horses and mules!”. Not us Sherpa’s loaded with axes and saws, white gas for our stoves and cans of our food, friends food, their feet too blistered to come down. All this was before freeze-dried stroganoff and instant water, carbon fiber back packs, micro- fibers, packaged tours and guides, global positioning satellites. All we had was worn and cast-off Army surplus World War II 10th mountain equipment, wool and down and old Forest Service fire fighting stuff and twenty-five year old hand drawn CCC maps.

It was close to noon when we crested the ridge, hearts pounding, sweat pouring, panting, legs and knees trembling and stopped to eat, there on the millennial crest, among the fossils of trilobites, the old Paleozoic sea-shore. Some of my home-made venison jerky and a wonderful can of ice-cold peaches, a biscuit, a handful of walnuts and raisins and deep gulps from the cold snow-fed stream. Resting and looking back down at Independence Lake and across Lake Tahoe to Mount Rose, the eastern edge of California.

That day in the Sierra the morning fog was just lifting, burning off in spots, we could almost see across the rocky lake that filled the Desolation Valley Wilderness Area, as we set off towards the other side, traveling cairn to cairn among the stunted pines of the alpine heights and scarlet snow flowers, dandelions. Where it took us days to get there, it now takes only hours. The area now a vast highway of off-road vehicles, pick-up campers and hordes of day hikers, high impact sportsmen and their litter. No longer pristine, just trampled and abused fragile alpine meadows. I suppose we are partly responsible, clearing trails and all.

The next morning, after I put my tiny tea-pot on the fire to bubble, I cast a line from my sleeping bag into the river. The fly didn’t even hit the water, a three-pound rainbow gobbled it as I jumped up with a whoop in my altogether to land it standing crotch deep in the icy stream, my scrotum sucked up into my belly, shivering and back into the sleeping bag, to gut and rolled in my last egg and some cornmeal, dropped sizzling in my tin frying pan, eating with rare pleasure, a mug of my tea and biscuits again. A feeling of great joy and that all was right, one with the earth.