Sunday Morning Coffee with Steve Wozniak

September 23, 2018

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Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me–they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an invention’s design  without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other  committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee. If you’re that rare engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone.

Steve Wozniak, quoted in Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of  Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Temperatures this morning in west Texas hovered in the fifties, and I felt deep gratitude for the autumn snap in the air. This summer in Texas has been so bloody hot, that I feared I might not know cool temperatures till November. Part of today’s relaxation involved fishing in a local park, all the while marveling at how chilly and invigorating the air felt around me. I have also been laughing my way through my second reading of Garrison Keillor’s WLT: A Radio Romance, enjoying the chapter episodes and thinking with gladness over the episodes I’ve enjoyed the past year and a half in the Redlands Hotel and Gallery, and musing over what to expect when Smooth Rock 93.5 FM moves in and sets up its broadcasts. The team of Kevin Harris and Marc Mitchell offer some amazing color to our future in downtown Palestine, Texas. I look forward to returning to The Redlands soon.

Most of what I have been up to the past two days I cannot weave into a meaningful blog just yet; I have been going through countless drafts of essays composed over the past five or so years and stored on files. A renewed passion for writing has come over me, extending far beyond daily journal jottings. Quiet moments in coffee shops have provided an enriching atmosphere for musing and writing. Hopefully, some meaningful topics will emerge and I’ll gladly send them out.

Throughout today, the two posts above have flooded my imagination. Creativity has always been a solitary activity for me, and I do not wish to disparage others’ theories involving creative collaboration. But I will say this–throughout my career of teaching in public schools, there was always this push for teachers to be more “creative” in the classroom by stimulating “collaborative learning.” In all honesty, I never found success in that experiment. Rather, I only noticed “teams” allowing the “alpha member” to do all the work creating, with the team sharing in the spoils of the grade. But that’s just my perspective. Throughout my life, I have been on the side expressed by Wozniak and Steinbeck, that creativity comes from the individual, not the committee. And I am convinced that my push to create emanated naturally from the way I have lived out my life as one who spends a great deal of his time alone and quiet.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

 

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Morning Coffee with Dave & Thoreau

September 22, 2018

dave & henry

I learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live that life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Thirty years ago, I would not say I was suicidal, not even close. But there was that stretch of months when trying to go to sleep at night, that I really didn’t care if I woke to see a new morning. Life then was not good from a number of angles, and I really didn’t have anything to anticipate with gladness as one day stumbled into the next. I had not yet signed a contract to begin work as a full-time public school teacher, and was supporting myself by doing adjunct work at Texas Christian University and full-time work as a campus police dispatcher. I did not own a car in those days. I worked long hours at two jobs, and either walked or took a city bus to where I needed to go.

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Early Sunday Morning, by Edward Hopper

Walking to campus one sunny autumn Sunday morning, I crossed Berry Street, and looking at the row of store fronts that were closed on Sunday, my recollection of this Edward Hopper painting came to mind. I went straight to the campus library, and checked out a book of his paintings, and, as Sunday would be a very slow day with only two campus police officers on duty to patrol the entire university, I was guaranteed eight hours of mostly radio silence. I read the entire book, scribbled out pages of musings in my journal, and the more I looked at Hopper’s solitary paintings, the more I thought of my life at that time. I was conflicted with those emotions that the theologian Paul Tillich identified as “loneliness and solitude”, the cross as well as the glory of being human.

Crossing Berry Street again at the end of my shift, and on my way back home, I mused over how this Fort Worth street on Sunday looked very much like Hopper’s New York street from 1930–shuttered and silent. And the twin sensations of “loss” and “presence” filled my soul to the extent that once I returned to my apartment, I took out my journal and began pouring out the feelings that had surged through my consciousness on this particular day.

It was on that Sunday that I determined I would turn my life around. I had no idea what waited before me in the years ahead, but I bound myself with a promise that I would not allow anything to strip me of my dreams, of my ideas. Two years later, as a high school teacher, when I finally got around to reading Thoreau’s Walden for the first time, I came across the text posted at the top of this blog, and realized that it was time to put some foundations beneath my dreams. I decided to stick with public school teaching, but would also take out my sketchbook, my paints and my brushes, keep filling the journal with daily musings, and seek a quality of life that would transcend the trappings of a daily job. If I would be privileged to live that long, I would retire one day with sufficient benefits to pay my bills, and continue this search for meaning without the albatross of a 40-plus hour work week dragging me down.

Life has never been better for me than it is now. The days are filled with gods, as Emerson once wrote. There is time to read, time to reflect, time to write, and even time to put out a blog of my sentiments. There is time to paint, time to travel, and time to spend with precious friends. And, as teaching has always been my passion, I am afforded the privilege of doing that, but in a reduced capacity. No longer do I have those five day work weeks with hours beginning at 7:35 and extending till 3:30, and then having to take all that work home with me and stay with planning, preparation and grading till bed time so I can repeat the next day. I did it for twenty-eight years, and complained plenty, but I loved the classroom dynamics that made the drudge part tolerable. But now, life is so much fuller and I fully love this daily gift of exploration and possibility.

I am sad that Thoreau only lived to be forty-four. Now, twenty years past that point, I am thankful to have been given those extra years as a bonus, and promise not to take days for granted as I did when I was younger. Building foundations beneath the castles of dreams has turned out to be a rewarding task.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave & Garrison Keillor

September 21, 2018

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 Smooth Rock 93.5 KBPC FM, moving in to The Gallery at Redlands

“Boys,” he said, “the days of radio are numbered. Old Price is trying to tell us.”

            The boys laughed. Radio? In decline? This was 1937. When you were in radio, you owned the world. Men moved aside for you, beautiful women smiled up at you, doors opened, and as you slipped through, you heard people whisper your name.

Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance

West Texas is a dark, rainy, cool 66 degrees this morning as I set up my “office” in Tova Coffee House, a relaxing atmosphere for reading, blogging, catching up on correspondence and monitoring my college classes online. Spending as much time on the road as I do, I am happy with the convenience of technology that allows me to go online and take care of things that need tending while I am away from home. Also, I have the exciting errand of delivering more of my art work to Art for Goodness Sake, a gallery in Lubbock that carries my work. I am also picking up paintings in Amarillo from Ian Watson, a student of mine from many years past, now an artist gaining traction in galleries. We are adding his work to Art for Goodness Sake as well as The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine. A funny coincidence is that Ian Watson has recently obtained a position with a radio station in Amarillo. I laugh because both of us are artists preparing to share time and space with radio personalities.

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Enjoying a Bottomless Cup of Coffee at Tova Coffee House

Just before retiring to bed last evening, I received a text message from Jean Mollard, owner of The Redlands Hotel in Palestine, Texas. She sent the photo posted above of our gallery window with the newly-installed TV screen featuring Smooth Rock 93.5. Behind the screen you can also see the silhouettes of microphones in the broadcast booth. The last word I received was that the station would send out its first broadcast October 1. I have already met the DJ Kevin Harris, and have become friends on Facebook with Marc Mitchell. The energy of these men has already inflated my expectations of good times to come when radio finally arrives in The Gallery at Redlands. The link to the radio website is posted below:

https://www.smoothrock935.com/

I read Garrison Keillor’s WLT when it first came out in 1991, and laughed out loud as I always do when reading or listening to Keillor. The novel involves a radio station that opened in a sandwich shop in the Ogden Hotel at 12th and LaSalle in downtown Minneapolis (the call letters WLT stand for “with lettuce and tomato”). The hilarious stories revolve around the radio station and everyday hotel, cafe and general business life in the city. As the station evolves with the changing times, the stories only get funnier. I highly recommend the reading of this book for anyone fond of radio romance. Because of the imminent arrival of Smooth Rock 93.5 and the fertile ideas shared by DJ Kevin Harris, I have decided to re-read this volume. I always laughed at the idea of a radio station beginning with a single microphone in a hotel sandwich shop. Now I meet radio personalities who are thrilled to operate out of an historic hotel built in 1914, their broadcast booth looking out the window of an art gallery (they are referring to it as “The Window to the World” and the window display, besides the TV screen and a pair of my easel paintings will feature an old-fashioned ON THE AIR flashing image).

My personal radio memories are as follows: Television did not come into our home till I was six years old. Before then, the radio was always playing, and I listened to the programs as well as the music played in those days. Once television arrived in our home, radio life declined till I reached the fourth grade and got my first transistor radio (a 3 transistor!), and began listening to The Beatles on KXOK 630AM, and to St. Louis Cardinal ballgames. Recently, I acquired an LP of the old KXOK radio jingles and ads that I heard as a child, and enjoy spinning it on the turntable. And thanks to YouTube, I have recently had the pleasure of listening to documentaries of that now-defunct station and its heyday of the 50’s and 60’s.

My own personal radio involvement is sharply limited. In college days while in the ministry, I occasionally played guitar, sang and delivered short sermons and devotionals on small-town radio stations in north Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, and later north Texas. That was the late 1970’s. And then, a few years ago, I was afforded the luxury of a two-hour interview on an Internet radio broadcast. I still have the Podcast and enjoy replaying it from time to time. The subject then was my Artist-in-Residency for Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. I was given the opportunity of being interviewed and answering call-in questions about my stay on the island in the Laguna Madre where I did my plein air watercolors, kept a journal, and continued sending out my blog.

I avoid like the plague most AM talk-radio stations, particularly the ones I refer to as “hate radio” with all their wild-eyed political ranting. But with all my time spent on the road, I still love flipping the dial of FM radio stations and particularly enjoy the ones revolving around a DJ with genuine personality. Such formats seem harder to find. Never in my wildest dream could I have imagined a station with my favorite musical genre moving into the same gallery where I enjoy working most weekends. This is a genuine gift, and my gratitude is undying. Art and music in the same working space. Who could have asked for a better working environment?

Sunday morning railyard

Smooth Rock 93.5–“Window to the World”

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave & Anthony

September 20, 2018

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The creative person is constantly seeking to discover himself, to remodel his own identity, and to find meaning in the universe through what he creates. He finds this a valuable integrating process which, like meditation or prayer, has little to do with other people, but which has its own separate validity. His most significant moments are those in which he attains some new insight, or makes some new discovery; and these moments are chiefly, if not invariably, those in which he is alone.

Anthony Storr, Solitude: A Return to the Self

I have returned to this volume Solitude since I began teaching in 1988, the same year it was published. Between Storr, Paul Tillich and Henry David Thoreau, I felt in that year that I had encountered genuine soul mates, solitary men who knew how to appreciate this gift. This particular book has been a real comfort, because it addressed frankly the concerns I knew throughout my childhood. Because I did not live in a subdivision, I had no neighbors with whom I could play. Our church was four miles away, and all my church friends went to a different public school than I. And as for my years in the classroom, I never had a “crowd” with which to associate, and because I was alone, I just assumed there was something wrong with my character. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, offers a word I could have used while growing up, that it is alright to be alone, we do not have to thrust ourselves into the limelight.

At any rate, I survived the internal stigma of growing up and not having much company around me. Once I arrived at the university, I found circles of friends, and appreciated all the gifts that arrived with personalities, but by then, my lifestyle was pretty well established and I continued to live the way I do now–enjoying people, but not feeling panicked when I go home to be alone, or while spending hours on the road with no company except my own thoughts.

On a different note, I printed up nearly one hundred greeting cards yesterday. The supply at Boss Cleaners was running rather low, so this morning I will punch up that inventory. Among the cards are over a dozen different Christmas card designs as well. My two newest ones, completed yesterday, are posted below.

card

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Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee in the Christmas Spirit

September 19, 2018

christmasz

Printing Christmas Cards for the Stores and Galleries

When the early morning light quietly

grows above the mountains. . . .

            The world’s darkening never reaches

                        to the light of Being.

            We are too late for the gods and too

                        early for Being. Being’s poem,

                        just begun, is man.

            To head toward a star—this only.

            To think is to confine yourself to a

                        single thought that one day stands

                        still like a star in the world’s sky.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

Yesterday’s reading stayed with me, it appears. I awoke early this morning with these words from Heidegger on my mind. Of course, mountain images stir up my Colorado memories, and then as my thoughts turned toward colder weather ahead, Christmas filled my imagination. I suddenly decided, even before breakfast, to get on my computer, dig out my boxes of Hallmark card stock and begin printing off Christmas cards. Every year I get caught by the holidays, and lack the sufficient time to print my deep inventory of Christmas images.

My greeting cards are blank inside with a text on the back. They are 5 x 7″ and come with envelope in a plastic sealed bag. I sell them for $5 each or 5 for $20. This year I have a dry cleaners that is selling my greeting cards hand-over-fist!  It is Boss Cleaners in southwest Arlington, near my home, and the proprietor has been asking if I had Christmas cards to add to my inventory. So, in reality I have Kim to thank for my getting ahead of the curve this holiday season.

While printing, folding and packaging throughout this morning, I have dialed up Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas album on YouTube, and the house has been filled with Christmas warmth, even in September. I cannot describe the calm and peace that floods my being when music such as this plays throughout the house and I look at my watercolors of Christmas subjects. And of course, the French-pressed coffee is always divine!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Heidegger

September 18, 2018

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When through a rent in the rain-clouded

sky a ray of the sun suddenly glides

over the gloom of the meadows. . . .

            We never come to thoughts. They come

            to us.

            That is the proper hour of discourse.

            Discourse cheers us to companionable

                        reflection. Such reflection neither

                        parades polemical opinions nor does it

                        tolerate complaisant agreement. The sail

                        of thinking keeps trimmed hard to the

                        wind of the matter.

            From such companionship a few perhaps

                        may rise to be journeymen in the

                        craft of thinking. So that one of them,

                        unforeseen, may become a master.

Martin Heidegger, “The Thinker as Poet”

The outer trappings of this morning would appear pedestrian plain to many. I awoke at 6 instead of 7:00 and got up anyway. With my college class not beginning till 9:25, I drove on over to Texas Wesleyan, through the stacked rush-hour freeway traffic. The construction on campus created a long, circuitous pedestrian route from my Jeep to the Polytechnic United Methodist Church where, on the second floor, my department is headquartered (and the copy machine). Then it was a longer, even more serpentine route threading around “campus construction central” to access the university library. But the morning sun was a painter’s plein air delight as it washed across the campus. Birds filled the air with song, and cool breezes whispered around the corners of every building. As I walked, all I could think of was Martin Heidegger’s poetic rhapsodies of life at his mountain cabin. Arriving finally at the library with a full hour of leisure before strolling onward to class, I found a table near a window, drew out of my bag a Heidegger volume that I love to pack along with me on such occasions, and settled into the bliss of reading and journal scribbling.

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For those familiar with the work of Heidegger, his magnum opus, Being and Time, I have not successfully mined, even though I have take more than a half-dozen stabs at that obdurate text over the years. And I haven’t given up on the idea of mastering the thought of the tome. But such an endeavor would be a labor of love extending over months and perhaps years. I believe the work to be worth the effort, and that is why I still have it as one of my life’s goals.

But the fact is, my lifetime Odyssey of the Mind runs exactly counter to that of Martin Heidegger. From his days as a university student, he worked his way through theology (as did I), but his work in philosophy plunged deeply into Aristotle and medieval logic and metaphysics, and then to mathematics. Being in Time came out in 1927, landing him a prominent position at the University of Freiburg, and ultimately to the rectorship. But in the 1930’s he went through what scholars refer to as “the turn.” Moving away from the more technical machinery of philosophy, Heidegger turned to literature, poetry and the arts.

My Odyssey is the complete opposite. I was always weak (and uninterested) in logical, linear disciplines of thought, and wasn’t called on to teach courses in Logic until I was past fifty. Now, in these later years, with more time, I choose to grapple with linear thought and more difficult texts, and perhaps I will one day scale the mountain of Being and Time. But for the present, I thoroughly enjoy the more lyrical of Heidegger’s lectures, essays and creative writing pieces. And this morning, over coffee, I felt refreshed by his words in “The Thinker as Poet.”

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee with Dave & Donald Judd

September 17, 2018

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Home Again, at my Desk

He likes to sit and drink and think.

Donald Judd’s intern, quoted in Texas Highways

I have only visited Marfa, Texas twice, and feel the urge to make up for lost time. Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation made a profound impact on me the first time I visited, long before I launched into the business of making art. I posted this quote about him because it describes my favorite mode of being. In the days of my Marfa visitation, I was cultivating what I had always heard referred to as “the Life of the Mind” but was shy to talk or write about it. I am no longer shy about this; I have wished to live a life of the mind for as long as I can remember, and now, being semi-retired, have much more time for contemplation than my friends think that I do. Yes, I am always on the go, and have already had two hours of “windshield time” this morning, waking up in the gorgeous Redlands Hotel and heading back to my Arlington home.

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My Gorgeous Redlands Hotel Lodgings Sunday

The two-hour excursion from Palestine to Arlington this morning took me through glowing gold sun-drenched pasture lands. The clouds cast perfect carpets of cold shadows across the warm acreage as I drove along, and I kept wishing I could just pull the Jeep over and set up an easel. Unfortunately, I have two appointments today that cannot be broken, so I had to get back to my home town. I thought of the lines from Robert Frost: The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep . . .

The weekend was grand, and I have already written about meeting the DJ for smoothrock93.5 who will be moving in to share space with me soon at The Gallery at Redlands. The Redlands Hotel is ecstatic about his arrival, and yesterday cable was being put in place for the technology that will be arriving soon. In all my gallery experiences, nothing has compared to this. The Gallery at Redlands overwhelmed me in March 2017 with its opening, providing a place for me to display and sell my work. And the Redlands Hotel has treated me like family, providing lodging for me on weekends when I come to work in the gallery. Yesterday was different, as Jean and Mike stayed and worked into the night at the Hotel, and I felt comfortable keeping the gallery open till after 9 p.m. I managed to accomplish several tasks during those hours.

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Working Late into the Night

The Texas Highways article did not specify what Donald Judd  was inclined to drink while thinking, but coffee remains my preferred beverage, especially French-pressed coffee as is my morning custom. And I consider it a life luxury when I have time to be still and ponder the things that matter most to me. I am hoping to get into the studio today and pursue some watercolor activity. But it is Monday, and that means a pile of homework to grade from three college classes that came due last night online. So, we’ll see . . .

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

Morning Coffee in the Wilderness

September 16, 2018

Crockett

Morning Coffee in my Favorite Location

Take notes, on paper. Five hundred years later, Leonardo’s notebooks are around to astonish and inspire us. Fifty years from now, our own notebooks, if we work up the initiative to start writing them, will be around to astonish and inspire our grandchildren, unlike our tweets and Facebook posts.

Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci

My mind still swirls from the events of the past couple of days. Spending time on a friend’s farm (without Wi-Fii) gave me quiet and space for reflection, which is always a luxury for me. And while there, I met a cuddly little Shih-tzu friend that I hated to leave behind. Leaving the city behind is always a soothing respite for me.

Bailey

Saturday, when I finally arrived at The Gallery at Redlands in Palestine, Texas, I found a film crew inside the gallery rolling tape for future publication. As I stated in earlier posts, Smooth Rock 93.5 FM will be broadcasting from the gallery, probably by October 1. The antenna is being installed atop the historic Redlands Hotel as I write this, and cable is being fed to the gallery’s broadcast booth. I finally got to meet Kevin Harris, the DJ for the station (wearing the red “We Are Texans” Tshirt below). What an inspiration he was in conversation, overflowing with energy and ideas of what he wishes to bring to his broadcasts! The Redlands Hotel has surged with new life since the Red Fire Grille (across the lobby) changed hands and the new owners put in a beautiful bar, and the hotel owners tore out the offices and opened up a spacious lobby. Now a radio station is coming in, with offices on the second floor, and a broadcast booth preparing to set up in this gallery. Kevin shared at length the ideas he has for the broadcast format, and I will be sharing those details as he gets closer to launch.

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redlands gathering

Amberly Russell, Kevin Harris, Rich Baur and Luke Walker

The other three individuals were on location to continue filming their next video. Last April, they won the film competition at Thin Line (a film, music and photo fest) in Denton, Texas with their film documentary titled A Piece of Texas. Their work provides material for the magazine Texas Highways. This trio has been traveling around the state, interviewing and featuring on film the smaller cities too often overshadowed by the booming urban centers. This weekend they have been filming Palestine, visiting its sites and meeting different personalities.  They reached out to me as well, spending time in the gallery looking at the art and asking questions. The young men are musicians, and I greatly enjoyed visiting with them and learning of their work. They returned to the gallery later in the evening and we had the pleasure of visiting further. What I found so inspiring about them was their interest in discussing their art, and the processes involved in creating. They were enthusiastic in discussing how artists, musicians and writers are on parallel plains when engaged in the creative task–beginning with nothing and pouring something into that space that comes from the creator’s consciousness.

Below is the link to their award-winning documentary, A Piece of Texas, complete with the song they composed and recorded.

piece of texas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDVHz2R3XAQ

leonardo

Back in the Gallery at Redlands

It is a quiet Sunday in the gallery. I have plenty of reading to pursue for class, but since it isn’t until Tuesday, I am in the mood to read for  pure pleasure. I have returned to a Leonardo da Vinci biography by Walter Isaacson that I have already read in its entirety, and am enjoying the experience now of  re-visiting portions of the book that I have underllined for additional scrutiny. The quote posted above captures my fancy. My personal journals extend back to 1985 and I enjoy the occasions of going back to re-read things I scribbled long ago. On my weekend journey, I randomly packed a stack of  them to look over and ponder during some quiet moments, should they arrive. And now they have finally arrived. In an age of digitalization, I still enjoy writing things out longhand in notebooks and returning to them at later times to remind myself of matters that were important enough to record throughout my Odyssey.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Dave

September 16, 2018

morning coffee wednesday

Lingering over the Gospel of Mark

My walks, that autumn, were all the more delightful because I used to take them after long hours spent over a book. When I was tired of reading, after a whole morning in the house, I would throw my plaid across my shoulders and set out; my body, which in a long spell of enforced immobility had stored up an accumulation of vital energy, now felt the need, like a spinning-top wound up and let go, to expend it in every direction.

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

I am posting this blog a day late, because I found myself in a place without Wi-Fii all day, and failed to finish this piece before I left for parts unknown. I am back into my Proust reading, delighting in many of his meditations. The one posted above fits me to a tee, not only because the autumn is approaching (I’ve enjoyed temperatures in the 70’s for several days now), but because my work has me spending many hours at the desk reading and writing, and I purposefully get up and take long walks to enable the reading material to compost better in my consciousness. Nietzsche once wrote the admonition to trust no thoughts not born in the open air while walking.

Christmas card number 2

One of my Earlier Christmas Cards coming back out this Season

I am also preparing to put out a line of Christmas cards very soon. I have festivals resuming in October, and by that time plan to have a good inventory of them ready to sell.

Thanks for reading.

Morning Coffee with Dave & Qohelet

September 13, 2018

qohelet

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

Yesterday, I graded essays from the course on Classical Judaism that I teach online. The students were to contrast the tone and genre of biblical texts from Exodus (where Moses gave the Law) and Ecclesiastes (where the Preacher assessed that life was meaningless). The responses from many of the students induced me to return to Ecclesiastes for awhile this morning. This book has held my attention since I first was directed to it when approaching the New Year back in 1973. Since then, I have always read from the text in winter time as the New Year drew close. And it has been a comfort to me in ways I have difficulty explaining. This a meditation from an aged sage who appears dissatisfied with all his worldly accomplishments. As he draws near to the end, he sees all this acts as empty, or meaningless. “Qohelet” is the Hebrew word that titles this Book, and has often been translated “Preacher”.

I’ll go ahead and drop the other shoe–though the author throughout the meditation calls life on earth “vanity”, he nevertheless concludes on a more positive note. No doubt many will insert the opinion that the conclusion was written by another hand, to take the sting out of the text, but that is another issue. Throughout the book, the author’s refrain is translated “vanity” in the King James Version. “Empty” is the author’s thrust. And in his concluding words, he urges the reader to fear God and keep his commandments, for that is what makes a person “whole.” This is why I like to read to the end. For the duration of the Book, the aged author hammers home that life has been empty, but concludes with a solution to what can make life whole.

The college-age students still assume that there is much life lying ahead of them, and I enjoy their perspectives when they grapple with readings such as this. With my own perspective drawn from a considerable distance down the road, I find myself looking both ways, in the fashion of Janus, the Roman god looking backward and forward simultaneously. Throughout yesterday and this morning, I have thought about this Odyssey I have experienced over sixty years, and have also looked ahead, resolving not to live with regrets. It goes without saying that I have encountered things that have created memories I would rather not have. But I cannot change that. On the positive side, life has overflowed with abundant gifts, providing memories that make me feel positive.

Gratitude flows from the depth of my being for the years I have been given, and I am even happier that it is not over yet. Today I meet yet another college class within the hour, and I am still glowing with warm sentiments over the encounter we had just two days ago. In fact, I have been anticipating for forty-eight hours the next time I get to see them and wrestle with these issues in Logic. Who would ever have thought that a professor and students could enjoy a period, studying Logic? Life at this age is still filled with the unanticipated, and I appreciate that as well.

Two days ago, I began work on new Christmas cards for the season approaching. Here is a photo of how two of them are coming along (they will be cut apart, making two 5 x 7″ cards). For three days in a row, I have relished time in the studio to experiment in watercolor, and that has been a gift as well.

qohelet 2

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.