Monday, November 30, 2009

T-minus 25 and counting...



Happy December, y'all! My show season is over (thankfully!) and I'm staring at a momentarily wide-open plate in front of me. I've been adding lots to my flute website, things that needed to have been taken care of long before now, but better late than never.

I was watching "The Santa Claus" the other night when this particular song came on and, well, I can't get it out of my head. It's The Drifters version of White Christmas, and every year I've put the link to the cute cartoon video of Santa and his reindeer singing it. Alas, thanks to a copyright dispute (afterall these years of the video up online) the video is no longer available. *SIGH*

I was looking for other fun things...Elf bowling is quite old, and last year it was Elf Yourself...and since I've been coming up empty for blog stuff today, I figured I'd go get ready to do some massive cleaning and reorganizing before more rain comes tomorrow and the coldest air since last winter by week's end.

I will say it was funny to watch Molly have her first experience of thin ice coating the deck just a bit ago...not unlike the Bambi and Thumper scene on that frozen pond! Her long gangly legs went 90 ways to nowhere as she slipped and tumbled and twirled with a priceless expression on her face. She quickly learned how to handle it though...sorry, no pics!


I've spent the past couple of days really working on the website, and while it has many miles to go before I get it where I want, I've finally gotten stuff up that should have been long ago. There is a new page of "Art stuff" that I've wanted to put up, and will now be adding to it regularly. Too, most of the flutes have sound samples posted, as well, another 'needed' thing I've finally gotten around to doing. The link to the flute site is to the top left of this page, fyi.

Heading up and moving out, Saddle Pals...y'all be good now, y' hear?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

An Iroquois Thanksgiving prayer

If you know me well enough, you can imagine that while I have fond memories of Thanksgiving as a part of a wonderful, loving family, I have come to understand that what I was taught in elementary school, per the original Thanksgiving and it's meaning, was at best a glorified story with minimal truth to it. Simply a product of dominant culture and its Manifest Destiny through the ages, so I've learned to accept the situation for what it is. For our First Nations peoples, this is no holiday worth celebrating, for understandable reasons.


Being thankful at a special time is Good, though I would suggest that EVERY day should represent EVERY holiday and special thought wrapped up into One. And, so, I pass along to you an Iroquois Thanksgiving prayer/address that, for me, hits home as we all try to come to grips with what is our unavoidable Oneness...of which we all are, but few truly embrace. I welcome this time of Thanksgiving...given the rat-race pace and materialistic bent many live, this earthen Native perspective rings truths all of us would do well to hear...


-------------------------------------------------------------

"Ohenton Kariwahtekwen"

GREETINGS TO THE NATURAL WORLD

Iroquois Thanksgiving Address


Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life

continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and

harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we

bring our minds together as on as we give greetings and

thanks to each other as people.


We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives

us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we

walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to

care for us as she has from the beginning of them. To our

Mother, the Earth, we send greetings and thanks.


We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching

our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We

know its power in many forms waterfalls and rain, mists

and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send

greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.


We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They

were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also

give themselves to us a food. We are grateful that we can

still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send

our greetings and thanks.


Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as

the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They

sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together,

we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for

many generations to come.


With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food

Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of

time, the grains, vegetables, beans, and berries have helped

the people survive. Many other living things draw strength

from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one

and send them a greeting of thanks.


Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From

the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness.

They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy

there are still among us, those special few, who remember

how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we

send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the

keepers of the Medicines.


We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks

to all the Animal Life in the world. They have many things

to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give

up their lives so we may use the bodies as food for our

people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests.

We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.


We no turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many

families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses.

Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit,

beauty, and other useful things. Many people of the world

use a Tree as a symbols of peace and strength. With one mind,

we greet and thank the Tree life.


We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds

who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them

beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and

appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To

all the Birds from the smallest to the largest we send our

joyful greetings and thanks.


We are thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds.

We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh and

purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change

of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us

messages and a giving us strength.


With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four

Winds. Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder

Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they

bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our

minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our

Grandfathers, the Thunderers.


We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the

Sun. Each day without fail, he travels the sky from east to

west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of

all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and

thanks to our Brother, the Sun.


We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest

Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is

the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the

movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face, we

measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the

arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send

greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.


We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky

like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to

light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and

growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home.

With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings

and thanks to the Stars.


We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened

Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When

We forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way

were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send

greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.


Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit,

God, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of

Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on

this Mother Earth. For all the love that is around us, we

gather our mind together as one and send our choicest words

of greetings and thanks to the Creator.


Now our minds are one.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Something ornamental fer ya....


Here are some preliminary shots of some experimental stuff I was working on for this weekend's show...I had the idea of scroll sawing Poplar from Lowe's into a set number of designs for ornaments that are 4-5" tall.


Easier said than done....

I finally figured out that the edges needed to be painted FIRST, not realizing that, of course until I had painted the main surfaces of 80% of the pieces...20-20 hindsight goes a long way! Anyway, I sacrificed a regular sponge to a pair of scissors and cut up a dozen small pieces, arbitrarily selected compatible colors to sponge on a palette of colors on the main faces of the ornaments...still plenty of fun! If I do say so myself, the ornaments look a lot better in person than spread out on trash bags in these photos. All that's left to do is to take my mini drill press and put in the holes for hanging.

Click on any pics to enlarge, as always...first up are the howling wolf designs...


Next are the Pueblo Eagle designs from their pottery...


Bear energy comes in the form of Medicine Bear and Hunting Bear...Hunting Bear has a head that sticks straight ahead, where Medicine bear has a bowed head, like the ones below....the other are simply horse head designs that, due to breakage of bad design patterns, made for unique pieces!.....


Ya can't have Native Southwest degins without including Kokopelli! Between the stone-type patterns of brown and black, I decided to use turquoise and purple for some others...


I blogged yesterday that Molly (new puppy) helped me out and actually made her own ornament...I was really proud of her for her unique artistry, as seen below...


What more appropriate verbiage than "Molly's 1st Christmas" for the custom Kokopelli version?! As they always say, you can pretty much turn lemons into lemonade in most situations!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Apologies....


It's been a record-setting whole week since I've posted, which is highly unlike me. My schedule and travels have kept me on a different rhythm as I gear up for the last art show of the season for me, this Friday and Saturday in Franklin, NC. Instead of just flutes, of which I have some humdinger new ones, I've made some figurines from scrap wood, as well as an assortment of ornaments I scroll sawed out into Kokopellis, Medicine Bears, Pueblo Eagles, howling wolves, etc. Just m
aybe I'll get pics up of those tomorrow. When I do so, I'll also have a pic of Molly's first Christmas ornament she helped me make...she is one talented gal, that pup!

Alas, the only other pics I have to share at this time continue to be of that cute pup, so here are a couple of more gratuitous shots of the growing weed...stay tuned and thanks for your patience!.........







Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Something I saw...

My finger almost off.

It's been a few years since I last cut with a table saw, a very versatile tool that even with safety features and excellent protective techniques can become extremely dangerous in the blink of an eye. I used to rip boards for flutes with it, but totally changed over to the far more tame 14" band saw to handle that (and other) work.

I respect the table saw, but I have to admit it also scares me a bit. Aside from the possibility of consuming some flesh, kickback can send a piece of wood hurtling at damaging speeds into anything in its path, and that's equally unpleasant.

While the tool you're about to see has been out a while, I had only recently heard about it.

SawStop.

It ain't cheap, but neither is medical treatment for missing body parts. You don't have to be a tool person to appreciate this video of SawStop being put to the test, first with a hot dog and then with a perfectly fine human finger. You'll see what I mean...



SawStop demo

FYI - prices start ~$1,600 for a semi portable contractor saw to close to $3,000 for a fixed shop set-up. In select stores only. Dear Santa.....



Monday, November 16, 2009

Take your pick....

Here on a mild Carolina Monday, I have two video links for you. The first will make you smile and shout "AMEN!" if you're over 40....and the second I ran into by accident, and it will make you go "OUCH!" if you're any age...I'll explain...

"These better be good, Dad!..."

First up is one a friend forwarded that was cute...just a heads up, for any of you that have less than the fastest internet connections, hit the 'pause' button if the video plays faster than it is downloading, especially for the second video (high quality).


The next one is just a bit on the strange side...more like Andrews Sisters meet Cirque du Soleil. The song itself is a bit odd, titled "Solid Potato Salad". Uh, okay. These are the Ross Sisters, and in this 3:50 clip, they sing for less than a minute...then the "OUCH!"s begin. Makes you forget all about the odd words to begin with!





Friday, November 13, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Up, up, and awaaaaay....!"


It's been a tough week in the news department, given Fort Hood and other shoot-em-up scenes that took place daily. Gun advocates say people, not guns, kill people...cut that apple anyway you want, we still have a greatly screwed up situation within American society in particular when it comes to guns, how we get 'em, and how we use 'em.


To turn the tables, I felt led to float this "Fried Fridays" story by you...

You'll get a rise out it...

People getting high naturally...

Truly uplifting...

And I'm not just blowing hot air....

DATELINE: BURTON, OHIO

Ah, what love makes people do. The quintessential marriage proposal is oft a story told and retold through the years, probably getting embellished with a nice patina after a while. It's all good. Many want to make that moment truly unforgettable.

James Ng is a young Ohio pastor, and had found that 'one' he wanted to marry and grow old with. He invited Sonya Bostic to join him for an October 29 balloon ride...but not just any balloon ride.

Overlooking the pastoral Ohio countryside, James was all prepared to surprise Sonya with his marriage proposal, presenting her with a piece of highly compressed coal on a ring he'd hidden in his small camera bag. I have no doubt the jitters were abounding, especially given the nature of the outing. After all, there wasn't a whole lot between their feet and terra firma except hundreds of feet of free-falling freedom.

Before that magical moment arrived, the bent knee and all, James became a basket case...literally. At some point in the balloon ride, James saw his life flash before his eyes...

(cue theme song to "Chariots of Fire"...
play
the following action in ultra-slow motion...)

James accidentally dropped the camera bag overboard.

Not exactly the type of situation where you can turn the car around or retrace your steps. Not to waste a good balloon ride, James did the knee thing and proposed, pretty embarrassed explaining why he didn't have the ring at that moment.

It took a week of forays into West Branch State Park east of Akron, but, believe it or not, the couple did manage to find the camera bag...with the engagement ring safely tucked inside.

Another marriage proposal story for the ages...lest I forget, Sonya did say 'YES!', although you have to wonder if she didn't tag the affirmation with 'you idiot!' or 'Butterfingers!'

As an aside, you know why hot-air balloon rides continually get more expensive, don't you? Inflation.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gray Day #427




Okay, admitted hyperbole...but sunshine would be a good thing to have 'bout now. Most of you have seen the above footage on CNN of yet another road-closing rockslide in eastern TN. The I-40 clean-up near the TN border is bad enough, and here is yet another serious detour-maker. Gray Day #427 - meet Excedrin Headache #791.

Well, feeling slack for doing nothing but posting more Molly pics in new poses and a couple of more scrap-art pieces for the upcoming Thanksgiving show. The flame Maple Medicine Bear is especially gorgeous...too bad it wasn't thick enough for a flute!









Ciaou!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Enough, already...

The radar grab below tells only part of the story, as heavy rains are currently falling on the right side of the screen with Ida's remnants moving slowly toward the Southeast Atlantic coast. The large red splash is in the Appalachians, where flooding issues have and continue to be a problem, with growing concerns east as their heavy rain falls. (click pic to enlarge).



Forgive me if I posted the following video before...I can't remember and don't feel like searching, but it's appropriate for the gloppy slop outside. I think it was Rita that sent this (thanks!)...the poor video quality is fine since this is more about the audio...if you close your eyes you wouldn't know it's a choir singing a song without saying one word...using their bodies percussively to imitate rain....turn your speakers up and give a listen!


video


And now to leave you with a bit of weather humor....


Q. Why did God create economists?

A. To make weathermen look good!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

glub glub glub, y'all!

Well, just here in parts of the Southeast are we once again donning scuba gear to run to the store. Ol' Ida has been quite the thorn in forecasters' sides, and certainly proof that a system doesn't have to be a hurricane to carry a big punch. The I-40 rockslide jam will have to be a ghost town for several days...taking all this falling water with the new cracks and fissures, and it's a dangerous situation, so DOT has pulled out for the moment.

While the 'flu' is gone from my body, it took with it my energy and 'drive' in a big way. Slowly getting it back, slowly getting some flute and woodwork done, but not feeling like blogging, or at least anything more in depth than what I have today.

News this morning of new pending legislation to help protect consumers from bank credit card gouging practices is turning out to be exactly what I knew it would: an opportunity for banks to find other ways that are equally as draining on consumers to make their money. My analogy is that the banks have driven Rolls Royces for years, and are totally unwilling to scale down to something like a 700 series BMW. Banks call it smart business; I call it a greed factor that is starting to get a bit of a stench, especially since we bailed their @sses out of an abyss. The way I see it, the common man is hurting greatly, and financial insitutions have done precious little to help out. And now news of new banking screws that they'll retaliate with by tightening as soon as legislation is passed.

Which is why there's nothing better to do than post some pics of the new puppy Molly. Mercy is doing MUCH better with her, and it's cute to see them get along so much better...I just don't have pics of that improvement to pass on at the moment! So, here is the darling furball in all her loveable looks...



My art show season has the last one the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, at an indoor show in Franklin, NC ("Mistletoe Magic"). Given the time of year, and given the plethora of nice wood scraps that are too small or thin for flutes, I've been experimenting with making some Southwest motif ornaments with my scroll saw. Too, at shows people always ask about the decorative metal kokopellis I have on display, and decided to start making some test designs that I can have for sale along with the flutes. Certainly makes for a much lower price point, so my rainy day efforts are primarily coming up with some other designs.

With that said, it's time to go scrappin'!





Friday, November 06, 2009

"Fried Fridays: I'll Take 'Irony' for $600, Alex..."


Things ain't what they used to be.

Only last weekend was it Halloween, the trappings of which I escaped with flying colors this year. In thinking back to my childhood years in Columbus, Georgia, I marveled over the memories of trick-or-treating through the neighborhoods, the huge paper sacks full of sugary booty, the length of time we were out and alone, as in unsupervised...we were monsters on a mission, and we had the times of our lives.

Kissed that stuff goodbye many moons ago, sadly, given the psychos of this world.

Alas, Halloween still brings out the kid in many of us, and in the case of college-age kids the creativity factor escalates...

DATELINE: OXFORD, OHIO

I can remember back in my days at Chapel Hill one Halloween where a girl was dressed all in white as a plumber and her boyfriend was dressed as a urinal. Another woman was dressed as an Acme brick and the guy as a bricklay- uh, er, uh...a mason.

In fact, one of the funnier times was when I donned a gorilla costume and had a hey-day on Franklin Street with friends, 'bout scaring a cook half to death at the greasy spoon "Rathskeller" and getting one of the largest bananas I've ever seen delivered to me on a plate at a local ice cream parlor. I also remember walking on tables in the undergraduate library that evening and going ape on campus transit buses, but I digress...all that with no alcohol and an ultimate 5-pound weight loss by night's end, thanks to my sauna suit.

Gotta hand the ingenuity award to 20 year-old James P. Miller, though...he dressed up as a breathalyzer last weekend, complete with an appropriately placed blowing tube south of his Mason-Dixon line. I'm sure the anticipated jokes grew old quickly, but what does that matter when it comes to a good excuse for a party, eh?

Note to self: wearing a costume home after a party might not be advisable.

Not when you're a human breathalyzer.

Driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

Without headlights on.

With beer in the front seat and in the trunk.

And being underage for alcohol possession and consumption...

While dressed in his alcohol-based garb, ol' James was pulled over and blew his own 0.158 %, twice the legal 0.08%...the upside to this is he got his own memento from the night, a mugshot in his costume...


Don't worry, James. I'm sure it'll all 'blow over' soon enough. Or not. You might want to consider dressing as a priest next year before driving after your Halloween Communion festivities...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just a pic....

Been a week of trying to find my energy and drive after the flu left me alone. A residual cough seems to be behaving itself...the sunshine is back, and though a bit on the cool side at least the forecast is rain free for an upcoming weekend...imagine that!

And how can I resist posting a pic of the ever-precocious Molly and her side-flopping ears? (click to enlarge)


Spying a 'Fried Fridays' article I'm going to ponder for tomorrow...thought I'd throw this up since I've been lax this week in posting entries. Enjoy!


Monday, November 02, 2009

Hold that thought...


Just a short note this morning...have a crazy schedule today that takes me first to Greenville, SC for a short follow-up shoot for Michelin's truck division, then to Old Salem in Winston, NC to play flutes for an evening dinner crowd, then home. After a crazy October and after today, my schedule goes to zero, which will be welcoming and weird at the same time.


For those that do get one of the flus out there, one strange part is the fever keeps recurring, showing back up willy-nilly at about any time of day. And the best way I can tell it's back is because my eyes and sockets get to stinging a little bit and feeling really gritty. I remarked before the flu season got rolling that if I did get the flu I'd view it as an opportunity to jumpstart a weight-loss program. So far so good!

Thought you'd like to see what Molly helped me to do this past weekend, in hopes of feeling better...