Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

Caprock Enchantment

April 10, 2020

Good morning, friends. West Texas temperatures are dropping, and it appears that we will experience some winter weather over Easter. This morning I finished a first draft of my continuing Hank saga and wanted to post it before starting my next painting to illustrate it. I anticipate some changes to the story while painting, but decided to let you in on a sneak preview. Thanks always for reading.

Hank felt rested tonight. After packing his gear to depart Dallas this morning, he made a last-minute decision to invest some of his money in a bus ticket. Hopping a Greyhound at the downtown terminal, he rolled westward for hours, dozing in his seat most of the way. Getting out in Abilene, he then thumbed a pair of rides further west on Interstate 20, getting out where state highway 84 branched northward into the caprock escarpment. Once the territory began taking on the look of western movies, Hank decided to get out where there were no towns, trek off the highway several miles, following an arroyo back between a pair of plateaus. Dropping his backpack, taking off his hat and gazing across the afternoon terrain, Hank welcomed the caress of the cooling west winds in his face. He was glad he decided to leave his suitcase with Uncle Leo. The backpack carried all he needed for travel, and Dallas, for the meantime, could be his homing site. Leo seemed lonely, and Hank felt a need to check in with him from time to time.

October was cool in west Texas, but not yet cold. Hank decided this narrow place nested between two cliffs would make a nice bedroom for the night. Time to make a fire. Gathering clumps of dried grasses, he fashioned a small bowl and lined the bottom with cotton balls soaked in Vaseline that he kept stored in 35mm film cannisters in one of his backpack pouches. Then we walked about, gathering small sticks and dried branches and a larger chunk of wood that may have once been a fence post. Hank was glad he had packed a hatchet left behind by old Philosopher Bob back home. He made quick work, chopping the fence post down to several chunks.

While Hank was wandering and gathering, his mind continued to recall snatches of conversation from yesterday’s time with Reverend Elton. Conversion. Hank was startled that the minister regarded him as thoughtful, perhaps philosophical. As a parting gift of goodwill, Elton handed Hank a small volume of Emerson’s essays and encouraged him to read them thoughtfully while on the road. Before falling asleep on the bus, Hank read the following from Emerson’s Nature:

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.

The fact is this: Hank has always been alone. But reading the Emerson passage made him realize for the first time that solitude was not a scourge when he was on the road or under the stars; it was a scourge in Turvey’s Corner, where he felt that he had never fit, not at school, not at the gas station, not at church, not even at gatherings among friends. Hank was solitary, and now it was alright.

Laying his gatherings down in a pile beside the nest, Hank opened one of the pouches of his backpack and drew out a magnesium rod. Bending over the nest and striking the rod with his Bowie knife, he watched sparks shower into the nest until the cotton balls combusted. Blowing on the small flame while sheltering it with his hat from the west Texas evening winds, he kept feeding dried grasses, then the small twigs, and then carefully stacked the chunks of fence post.

The minister’s voice again was in Hank’s ears: “Hank, I really believe that you are about to embark on a life-changing odyssey. I don’t know if you’ve read or taken an interest in Homer’s Odyssey. It might mean more to you when you’re thirty than twenty-one. At any rate, Odysseus, after being away from home ten years because of that bloody war, spent the next ten years of his life on an odyssey, a journey if you please, trying to find his way back home, to Ithaca. High school students don’t generally find the work very relevant, but the older we get, the more we realize that our life is a journey seeking our genuine home, the center of the self. It is a journey of self-discovery. I believe all humans have that restlessness in their souls, but few act on it. It seems to me that you are now acting on it; you are setting out on a journey away from your temporal home into a land of dizzying freedom, with no one to talk to but yourself, and whatever great minds from the past you care to visit through their writings. Away from the clatter of meaningless gossip you hear among your daily peers, you now can enter the great Silence of the West, gaze into the stars at night, and with no appointments or deadlines, determine just exactly who you are and what you want from life. My advice to you is, don’t come back till you reach Ithaca.”

Once the fire was well underway, Hank pulled out his canteen and coffee pot, poured in the water along with the ground coffee, placed the pot on a flat stone in the fire and waited for the mixture to come to a rolling boil. He also fished out a can of Beanie Weenies picked up at a small grocery in Abilene, poured the contents into a camping pan, and set it in the ashes to warm. After ten minutes, he then poured a little canteen water down the spout and around the inner edges of the coffeepot to settle the grounds to the bottom.

Under the chandelier of stars in the west Texas sky, Hank tasted the best coffee he had ever brewed, and sat back in the darkness, listening to coyotes yipping in the distance. Though several miles from highway 84, he could still barely hear the noise of an occasional truck droning along. Solitude. Supper was finally ready.

In the embrace of the caprock night, Hank continued pondering the ideas brought forward by Pastor Elton.

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I’m feeling a genuine renewal, working daily on this Hank story and finding new ideas to paint. Today I plan to begin the 8 x 10″ watercolor illustrating the draft of the story posted today. I hope you are enjoying the story, and look forward to sharing the painting as it takes shape.

When you get the chance, please check out my website at http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Pursuing the Muse

February 21, 2020

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Watercolor in 8 x 10″ wooden frame–$100

Artistic inspiration has to be carried over a long distance to reach expression, and it may easily shrivel, or even perish on the way from the eye to the paper.

Abraham Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

The day’s proposed schedule has been fractured beyond recognition. I awoke a little after five, my head stirring with ideas for painting, and actually hit the studio running. But a number of distractions entered, and though I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do, I feel a good sense of accomplishment as I prepare to enter the weekend.

I decided to frame the coffee cup I sketched in watercolor yesterday, and am happy with the results. I also completed my application for Palestine’s Dogwood Festival coming up late in March–a number of artists will be displaying under a large tent for the VIP party in advance of the actual festival and I slipped in my application just under deadline.

I also have been notified that a book is coming out in June featuring my artwork on its cover. The publisher and I have been in correspondence over this matter for nearly a year and I am excited to learn I will have a copy of this book in hand soon.

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I have a few more paintings in progress now in the hopper and hope to be posting images of them soon.

Thanks for reading.

Shultz reduced

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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Moving Through the Darkness

February 21, 2020

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For this is the truth about our soul, he thought. Our self, who fish-like inhabits deep seas and plies among obscurities threading her way between the boles of giant weeds, over sun-flickered spaces and on and on into gloom, cold, deep, inscrutable; suddenly she shoots to the surface and sports on the wind-wrinkled waves; that it, has a positive need to brush, scrape, kindle herself, gossiping.

Virginian Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

In my pre-dawn reading, I shuddered over this passage from Virginia Woolf. The exquisite beauty in her arrangement of words as she shapes ideas continually arrests me. I simply close the book, stare into the distance and wonder how on earth she managed to weave such beauty in language during deep and utter sadness throughout much of her life.

I recall the words from the C. S. Lewis film Shadowlands: “We read to know that we are not alone.” As I read this passage comparing the soul to a fish navigating its solitary odyssey below the surface of the waves, I thought of this past week spent away from public events. Preparations for my solo show and then speaking at the event sapped most of my energy, and so this quiet restoration has been soothing. Though spending hours alone, I don’t fee lonely; these gentle minds of lovely souls from the past continue to connect with me through their creations.

The Woolf quote explores the fish meandering about in dark obscurity and occasionally popping to the surface to rub against the school and engage in gossip. In context, Woolf described a solitary man forced into a social gathering around drinks. In my own life, I know that rhythm of solitude and society dynamics, and I still enjoy its richness. But I found another idea while my reading of Woolf was taking place alongside that of Heidegger.

In the midst of being as a whole an open place occurs. . . . Only this clearing grants and guarantees to us humans a passage to those beings that we ourselves are not, and access to the being that we ourselves are. (“On the Origin of the Work of Art”)

I am stirred by the imagery from Woolf of the fish gliding among the weeds, occasionally entering “sun-flickered spaces”. In Heidegger’s writings, I recall the image of a wanderer picking his way through thick woods and occasionally coming to a clearing. Heidegger’s word for clearing is the German Lichtung and is sometimes translated “lighting.” So, my thoughts this morning move along two different trains: the soul gliding silently in the darkness of solitude while occasionally stepping into the light of a social encounter, and then the soul moving silently among the darkness of thought, waiting for the moment of clarity when light enters, giving shape and clarity to an idea.

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All this just to say . . . during my quiet week I have been groping about in the darkness, searching for an idea for new art, new work, new play. Finally some things are beginning to take shape and now I am happy to add drawing and painting to my reading and journaling.

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While French-pressing coffee this morning, I found myself staring at this lovely mug I purchased last December from Randy Brodnax. While admiring its organic form and earth-tone colors, the idea formed to experiment with a composition juxtaposing the mug with a precision drawing such as found on a drafting table. By the time the coffee was ready, I had decided “Why not?” and found myself tinkering with this combination watercolor and drawing. Now I am interested in re-visiting coffee-related themes in my art. Going back over my file, I excavated this watercolor sketch done in my garage several winters ago.

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While working on the coffee themes, I also pulled a stack of my attempted sketches from last summer’s visits to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. Stretching a fresh 9 x 12″ sheet of 90-lb cold press watercolor paper, I played with this Grand Canyon composition.

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I feel that I am finally swimming out of the darkness and enjoying some time playing in the light.

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.

A Life Measured with Coffee Spoons

September 9, 2019

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The Place Becomes the Book

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
The entire weekend has been a blissful one that I kept intending to blog, and now Monday morning finds me still contentedly submerged in projects as deadlines near. The T. S. Eliot line occurred to me as I was reading Jack Kerouac this morning (my God, Visions of Cody, to me, is On the Road on steroids, or more likely benzadrine). I have come to love the stream-of-consciousness style of writing I find in James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, but WOW! Reading Visions of Cody leaves me short of breath. I try to imagine the author reading this before an audience, unable to pour out even one-tenth of a sentence in one long breath. The interior narrative just surges on and on with unabated intensity, filling the reader’s inner eye with city images that just won’t stop. I find myself pouring cup after cup of coffee as I continue to read and imagine with amazement.

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Happily Buried in my Upcoming Presentation

Life for me has been measured out the past seventy-two hours in coffee spoons as I have divided time between reading for my own enrichment, scribbling in my journal, drawing in its margins, working on a public presentation coming up in a week, and experimenting further in watercolor.

On Monday evening, September 16, I will make a two-hour presentation before the Society of Watercolor Artists in Fort Worth at the University of Texas Health Science Center. My friend Cindy Thomas has plans to film the event for a project we began several months ago, and the days now find me buried in the editing of computer images and a manuscript I have been working on since last March. My project will be in three parts–comments on the creative process, followed by a watercolor demonstration and finally the unveiling of a watercolor series that has consumed me for decades (I really hope this will become a book of images and stories one day).

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Experimenting

My demonstration Monday night will center on some techniques I discovered and developed while trying to paint evergreens in colorful South Fork, Colorado two summers ago. I am still refreshed with the memories of the spectacular morning scene presented to me, along with the birds and critters that visited me as I painted. My artist friends started calling me Saint Francis.

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I am looking forward to a good time when I share my experiences and ideas with the Society.

Another warm memory from my weekend was the renewal of friendship with a student of mine from my earliest years of high school teaching. She now is a teacher, has a lovely family and has invited me to give art lessons to her daughter who is consumed with drawing and experimenting with visual expression. We had our first session yesterday and her drawings were stunning with imagination and enthusiasm. And, to add further seasoning to the recipe, her dog visited me and later chose to nap at my feet while we worked.

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Thank you, Joanna, for a heart-warming day!

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It’s time to get back to the 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.

Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen

February 3, 2019

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Breakfast at the Dairy Queen in Palestine, Texas

Enjoying my weekend in Palestine and The Redlands Hotel, I was tipped off yesterday by Jean (owner of the hotel) to try out the local Dairy Queen for breakfast. This morning when I arrived and ordered the “country breakfast,” the counter girl asked me how I wanted my eggs. “Over easy?” I hesitatingly offered. And what to drink? “Coffee.” She handed me a real mug! And, a short while later, this was brought to me, on a real plate with real silverware.

I do not take meals at the Dairy Queen, but I still recall that the one outside Archer City, Texas serves breakfast this way, as a real American diner would. When I returned to The Gallery at Redlands, I decided that I need to acquire a copy of Larry McMurtry’s Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen. I understand that this collection of essays, autobiographical in nature, contain the author’s lament at the demise of story telling in American culture, and ways in which small American towns have been drained of their local charm. Though I live in Arlington, I have found far more of a fascinating world and culture in Palestine, Texas. I am truly blessed, granted time to spend in The Gallery at Redlands and reside in The Redlands Hotel and enjoy the music and camaraderie of Kevin and Marc at Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. As I write this, I am finishing a watercolor commission for a local author (I know of two authors that live in this vicinity), and the community is awash in musicians. Many of us have the same thing in common–growing up in small towns, working and raising families in large cities, then returning to these small towns to enjoy life at a lovelier pace.

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I Should Finish this One Today

After I finish this painting, I intend to read Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Storyteller.” And who knows–I may just pick up a copy of McMurtry’s collection and see what I can glean from the reading.

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 and Walt Whitman

November 2, 2018
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In The Gallery at Redlands, Working on Whitman Collages & Greeting Cards

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, 
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, 
Strong and content I travel the open road. 
Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”
Yesterday, after class, I set off for Palestine to work in my gallery and make preparations for the weekend Genny Wood Art Show & Sale. After the two-hour drive through the country, enjoying the bright sun and 60-degree weather, and filled with the ecstasies of Kerouac’s odyssey, I decided upon reaching Palestine to spend some time outdoors. I had spent too much time the past few weeks chasing deadlines. Finding a park bench beneath an enormous shade tree, I sat in the cool, took a cleansing breath, and opened my volume of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.  Reading Kerouac’s On the Road yesterday prompted me to look up Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” today. He published this poem the year after his Leaves of Grass took flight, and the adrenaline was apparently still surging through his creative consciousness. My heart floods with good sentiments every time I read verses such as this from Whitman’s hand.
After five years of reading rave reviews of his Leaves of Grass (some of which he published anonymously himself!), he felt the time had come to publish a second edition of this collection of poems. There was only one problem–he had reached ebb tide and his creative surge had faltered. Perhaps he was still too young (first edition came out when he was thirty-seven) to realize that creative output is cyclical. At any rate, he was feeling morose and second-guessing whether or not he had genuine talent or was just over-sold with that first edition.
While walking pensively one evening along the seashore, he composed a poem that reflected his sagging sentiments of the time: “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life”–
O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth, 
Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my mouth, 
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am, 
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d, 
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows, 
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written, 
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.
Whitman’s second edition of Leaves of Grass contains a number of troubled verses replete with his second-guessing. As we all know, he got over it eventually. The surge returned, and the collection of twelve poems grew to over five hundred, as he remained prolific throughout his life.
This is why I read so much biography–I want to learn all I can from these creative heroes about the dynamics of creative eros, including those barren times when the winds of inspiration have stilled, and how they addressed the problem.  At this very moment I am tired, exhausted. But not depressed, not panicky. I am confident that quality time for creating will offer itself up to me again, and that I will be ready to answer the bell. But for now, the appointments are joined end-to-end, it is the high season for art festivals and shows, the semester at the university is entering its final stretch run, and there is much demanded from me. I thank God that I am (semi) retired, have my health, and at least don’t have to answer to a Monday-Friday, 40-hour a week job. Life is much better now, and at least I can find the time to sit beneath a shade tree, read, reflect, and think about where I am going next. I have never been happier, even when tired.
Today I am packing up the Gallery to take to the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale at the Bullard First United Methodist Church Family Life Center. Today I will enjoy seeing my artist friends again as we set up, and the show will run all day Saturday. Below are a pair of photos of my booth from last year. I am hoping to make a much better display this year. Among my offerings will be collages of my creative heroes, including Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac.
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Last Year’s Display at the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale

Smooth Rock 93.5 FM is humming along in fine fashion as I write this. I cannot describe how much I enjoy my new “roommates” as they broadcast out of this gallery, looking out their “Window to the World.” The Redlands Hotel is decorating for Christmas and yesterday began bringing decorations into the gallery and studio. The “Kevin and Marc in the Morning” show broadcasts live from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. You can stream it on your computer, and even get the app for your android or I-phone.

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“Kevin & Marc in the Morning”–Smooth Rock 93.5 FM

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.

 

I Live in Two Worlds

October 31, 2018

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Cutting, Tearing and Pasting

And at 4 in the morning wrote 500-words again, with the admonition to “Keep it moving.” Thank God for work!

Jack Kerouac, Journal entry , Friday, April 29, 1949

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Shakespeare and Descartes

While meeting with my artist friends last night over dinner, we discussed new directions we are taking with our art. I resolved yesterday that I was bringing collage back into my body of work. I have been restricted to watercolor in recent years because of the higher-end art festivals requiring us to display a single, unified genre. I understand that. And my “signature” is in the body of watercolors I have put together over the years. But during those years, I have never ceased to pursue academic subjects in my reading, drawing and collage endeavors. And so, this weekend, at the Genny Wood Art Show & Sale in Bullard, Texas, I am adding an extra bin to my booth which will feature collages of Shakespeare, Kerouac, Tillich, T. S. Eliot, and a host of luminaries in the fields of literature, philosophy and theology.

It has been a joy in the studio recently, tearing and cutting papers and materials and combining drawing and watercolor and manuscript fragments into my compositions. I am able to live in my two worlds as I make art while at the same time reading, journaling and pursuing new ideas from my heroes of literature. Jack Kerouac has held my attention the past few days, so today I will turn my attention to collages bearing his images.

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.

Coffee House Musings

October 22, 2018

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Collage Building in a Local Coffeehouse

After a few hours of scribbling in my journal, and concluding that nothing I wrote this morning was worthy of a blog, I then went into my computer files to look over years of writing that I have preserved, and found a story I wrote years ago about my late Uncle Paul. I revised it thoroughly, and decided to put it up on the blog. I hope some of you will find something positive in it, as the story continues to take on new meaning for me.

Uncle Paul’s Legacy

Boarding Amtrak on a chilly October afternoon in Fort Worth, I embarked on the sixteen-hour journey to St. Louis to pay tribute to my Uncle Paul who had recently passed away.  He was ninety-one.  His ashes would be interred at the Indian Creek Cemetery in rural Jackson, Missouri.  There was a memorial scheduled at a local funeral home. Sitting in coach and rolling late into the night, my heart began to overflow with vignettes of Paul’s legacy.

Uncle Paul was one of thirteen siblings born to tenant farmer parents in southeast Missouri.  Educated in a one-room schoolhouse until he was old enough to work the fields, Paul did the things farm boys did in those days until World War II came calling.  Finishing his service, he chose not to return to his humble southeast Missouri roots, and instead moved to the West Coast in search of a better life.

Paul landed a position with Greyhound Lines, and stayed with the company twenty-five years, promoting to supervisory status, and choosing to work night shifts so he could have sufficient quiet and space to pursue his real interests—writing and story-telling.

Extending the Mark Twain/Will Rogers tradition, Paul developed a love of humor and stories covering country life.  He carefully researched the history of rural Jackson, Missouri, recorded his personal memories, listened in on the reminiscences of others who grew up there, and carefully committed these stories to print after telling and re-telling them to anyone who would listen.

Growing up, all I knew was that Uncle Paul was special.  On the rare occasions that he made the excursion from California to Southeast Missouri, all the Tripps would gather to greet him, and sit in the living rooms until late at night, drinking beer, listening and laughing as he spun his humorous tales and smoked his White Owl cigars.  Personally, I felt that I was re-living the days when people gathered to listen to and laugh at the humor of Mark Twain.

By the time I grew into my teens, the Uncle Paul events had transferred from the indoor parlors to wiener roasts along the banks of Indian Creek.  My Uncle Bus and Aunt Bea lived in a ramshackle house on the banks of the creek, and Paul chose to roost with them every time he came home.  There was one problem–Bea and Bus were early risers and preferred retiring to bed early.  They came to resent these all-night parties.  As the years wore on, they began leveling their protests, but Paul had a tin ear.

I still recall the day Aunt Bea put her foot down and swore there would not be a wiener-roast this time.  “We’re turnin’ in early tonight—no wiener-roast.”  By mid-afternoon, cars began pulling into the driveway.

–Why’s everyone comin’ here?

–The wiener-roast.

–Oh no!  There ain’t no wiener-roast tonight!  I said so.  Where’s Paul?

–At the store buyin’ wieners and buns.

–No, no!  We’re not havin’ a wiener-roast!

Children were dragging up driftwood and tree limbs from creekside for the bonfire.

–Stop draggin’ that stuff up here!  There ain’t no wiener-roast tonight!

Coolers of beer were hauled out of car trunks.  Folding lawn chairs appeared, arranged in ranks around the pile of timber.

Get that shit outta here! There ain’t gonna be no wiener-roast!  Do it somewhere else!  We’re goin’ to bed!

Paul squirted lighter fluid on the timbers, produced a match, and the blaze went up.  Bea yawned.  Bus mumbled that it was getting dark and time for bed.  People dragged up chairs.  Children cut tree limbs to support wieners and marshmallows for the roast.  The guitars came out.  Music filled the air.  Beer bottles clanked. The wiener roast was on.  And soon Paul would be holding court.

Around 2:00 in the morning, all grew quiet.  Having had his fill of cold beer, Paul was out of stories.  People were dozing in their lawn chairs, having pulled blankets and sleeping bags over them.  The guitars had stopped.  Scattered, intermittent conversations were still softly emerging.  At one point, Paul turned to me.  I was seventeen and in awe of him.  “You have a good vocabulary,” he observed.  I was startled.  “You should write.  There aren’t enough people writing these days.  People want stories.  You can provide them.  You have a good vocabulary.  You should write.”

Drawing out his wallet, Paul removed a folded piece of paper.  That strange lighter-fluid smell emanated from the slick paper as he unfolded a “Xerox copy” (remember how those smelled in the mid-1970s?) of a check in the amount of $75 he had been paid by a West-Coast magazine for one of his stories.  “There’s money in this,” Paul mumbled, “but you’re too good to write this kind of stuff.”  Looking up from the check, I could not contain my amazement: “Seventy-five dollars for a funny story?”  “Not funny; a scrounge story.  I wrote it in one night in the office while on shift at Greyhound. You know—the story of the boy coming out of the country and screwing the high-society girl.”

I knew Paul was full of stories.  I knew he had the gift to deliver humor before a live audience.  What I didn’t know was that Paul wrote stories for porno magazines and collected good sums of money over the years.  “You don’t need that,” he advised me, “You have much more going for you.  You should write, and write about things that matter.”

That night beside the fire I experienced a teachable moment.  Forty-three years later, as Amtrak carried me back to Fort Worth late in the night, I continued to think about that intimate conversation.  Relatives that took Paul with a grain of salt remarked that he was only about himself, his stories, his need for an audience, his practice of holding court.  But I remember the night Paul turned his attention on me for a few minutes and delivered a life-transforming Word, an Oracle.  Paul, I never forgot that moment.  Thank you for your compliment, for your encouragement.  I love to write.  I have found ways to weave this passion into my teaching profession, am proud to have been published a few times, still enjoy keeping an old-fashioned journal and now love to weave words and put them on a blog.  And I am grateful to have readers the same way you were grateful to have listeners.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Morning Coffee with Jack Kerouac

October 18, 2018

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Road Trip Memories

There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road: the Original Scroll

These words drifted through my consciousness last night as I made the two-hour late-night drive back home from Tyler, Texas, through the driving rain (really, I’m fed up with rain that has lasted a solid week down here). I was honored to jury the 66th Annual Palette of Roses Art Show, and did that Monday morning. Last night was the awards reception, and I was invited to present the awards and be available for a couple of hours to offer critique for any artist requesting it.

Judging does not come easily for me, probably because I have had my share of competitions, and know the vulnerability and angst accompanying judgment passed on my own work. So when the time comes for me to do the judging, I worry over the second-guessing, not only on my part, but on the part of the artists who do not agree with my decisions. But last night’s group was gracious and I thoroughly enjoyed every conversation. There were 251 entries to the show, and many awards covering many categories. And, for the entire two hours, I spoke with one artist after another, explaining my decisions on works I had chosen, and offering my perspectives on any piece brought before me. These conversations I always find invigorating, and I regret that I could not have spent an entire day, or even an entire week, with this enthusiastic and highly-skilled group of artistic spirits. Driving home was spiritually uplifting as I recalled every word passed throughout the evening.

Kerouac’s iconic life on the road also flooded my thoughts as I drove through the night, so I rose early this morning to spend time over his pages before going to my 9:30 class. I confess that I did not read On the Road until around 2004, though I had been aware of the book for a couple of decades. Since then I have read it through twice, and have had it read to me during my travels (I purchased the 10-CD audio book) countless times. The book will never go stale for me.

I was asked in conversation yesterday when I retired, and I had to think about it, the time since that day has been such a blur. It was May 2017. And I never would have imagined what would follow–seventeen months of a life on the road. I believe I had always fantasized about such a life, feeling like a wandering mendicant. Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama–the art life took me across all these states to participate in plein air painting, to conduct workshops, to participate in art festivals, to display and sell my work in an art museum, and to enjoy life in all its fullness. Though I have spent little time in my home, I have not felt homeless or detached in any way. Rather, I have felt at home in the world, appreciating every friend made and every conversation shared.

I suppose it is time to re-insert Kerouac into my traveling backpack of books.

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 Proust

October 17, 2018

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He began, always, with the sustained tremolos of the violin part which for several bars was heard alone, filling the whole foreground; until suddenly it seemed to draw aside, and–as in those interiors by Pieter de Hooch which are deepened by the narrow frame of a half-opened door, in the far distance, of a different colour, velvety with the radiance of some intervening light–the little phrase appeared, dancing, pastoral, interpolated, episodic, belonging to another world.

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

Rising to a cold, dark, rainy morning for the fourth day in a row, I could have harbored a sourpuss outlook on life, but I had an appointment to meet a student of mine whom I last saw eleven years ago (teachers know how rich and delightful it is to “catch up” with the lives of those who touched us profoundly in the classroom long ago). Jake was a true lover of literature and ideas while a senior in high school, and happily, that hasn’t diminished for him at all. When he was in my class, we were both reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Kerouac’s mention of Proust meant little to me at that time, but a long-time teacher friend of mine alerted me to Proust’s delicious way of describing sensations in his famous novel.

Returning home, I opened my volume to the bookmark where I last read (I wonder if I will ever complete my reading of the three-volume work!) and stopped with the passage posted above. I had to close the book and sigh deeply a few moments. Music has flooded my soul with joy for as long as I can recall. In fact, I have scores of “Proustian recollections” associated with particular songs when they are played. They transport me immediately out of my present environment and re-position me in a warm, primal state for a few moments. I always wish the moment would remain, but of course, it never does. Nevertheless, I am grateful for that visitation.

I am a YouTube junkie, and as I read and blog, I always have music playing–the type that doesn’t distract from thinking. In fact, as I compose this, I have “Relaxing Background Guitar Music – meditate, focus, study, think” playing, and the effect is hypnotic. I honestly believe music and literature and visual art keep me from ever feeling alone, though I live and travel alone.

Thanks for reading

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.