Posts Tagged ‘Turvey’s Corner 63050’

Zwischen den Zeiten

May 28, 2020

Good day, blogging friends. It was a long drive home yesterday and I was wiped out when I hit the sack last night. Waking early this morning, I immediately went about a number of tasks that needed to be done in the house, but Hank and Randy were on my mind, and the following story played out as I worked. Finally sitting down to the computer I spilled it out, so here’s how it’s looking at this time. Thanks always for reading, and thank you so much, all of you who have been posting comments. I’m thrilled that people are actually reading this. I managed a little time today to work on the accompanying watercolor as well, so here it is, still in progress . . .

8 x 10″ watercolor in progress

The night seemed to grow quieter in response to Randy’s remark on having plenty to chew as he sounded the religious depths of his life. The coffee was doing its work, soothing his tired spirit as he gazed into the fire, watching the yellow-orange sparks drift and disappear into the night sky. Pulling an index card from his field pack, he read to Hank what he had written on it:

The understanding of history is an uninterrupted conversation between the wisdom of yesterday and the wisdom of tomorrow.

“This is from the preface of the first edition of Barth’s commentary on Romans. I wrote it on an index card and kept it in my study carrel at the seminary where I could look up at it every day while studying. Finally, I decided to memorize it and keep it as a sort of mantra. Once I quit seminary, I decided to begin keeping a journal, and the card is now a bookmark. I’m forced to confront it every time I open the journal to write something. More than ever, I’m feeling a connection with the past—past writers anyway—and I’m trying to join my ideas to theirs to see if I can come to some kind of understanding of what’s going on in my life.”

As he listened, Hank felt an inner stirring of something unresolved. “You know—I think I’m going to start keeping a journal. I’ve never met anyone before you who actually did this, though I’m always reading about writers from the past who kept journals as a lifestyle—Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Twain. Nobody I know does that today, except now you. Soon as we get back to town, I’m gonna pick up a spiral or something and start volume one. I really believe we’re gonna find plenty to write about on this little adventure of ours.”

Randy reached for the urn and poured a second cup of the cowboy coffee, tasting better as the night unfolded. “Sometimes I wish I had started the journal earlier in life, but frankly I don’t really think I had anything worth recording till the stuff of the past year ruptured my plans. I’ve been struggling lately for something to read that makes me feel there is some kind of hope. On the bus yesterday, I found this from Barth’s Romans:

He is the hidden abyss; but He is also the hidden home at the beginning and end of all our journeyings.

“You know, Hank, I had this fairytale image of God planted in my consciousness from the time I was five years old when my folks made me go to church. The image really didn’t change much from those years till last year, even though my intellect allegedly grew in all other areas of life. When things started falling apart last year, I found myself questioning everything including whether God actually was there. I really feel this quote from Barth nails it—God is like an abyss, hidden. But I’m actually feeling like I’ve found a home in this life, some kind of refuge, though I am now on the road and without an address.”

Hank sat up straight. “Randy, the two of us are on parallel tracks. For both of us, a past life has crumbled and something new is trying to emerge.”

Randy nodded with enthusiasm. “Hank, I believe we’re living between two worlds, between two eras, Zwischen den Zeiten as Brother Barth would have said. The Jews between the Testaments conceived a rupture between the present evil age and the age to come, the ‘olam ha-ze and the ‘olam ha-ba. We now dwell in a Zeitgeist that I have no use for. I want to know the Arcadia I believe Thoreau found at Walden. The Indians that roamed these plains must have felt this about the land before the Europeans came and took possession of it. Every time I encounter a barbed wire fence, I want to cut it with wire cutters. You know, from Mexico to Canada, cowboys used to run cattle without barriers save for gorges and rivers and of course the Indians.”

Hank nodded in agreement. “I like the sound of that.”

“Hank my friend, your collect call may as well have been John the Baptist crying out like a voice in the wilderness. I was so ready for a new direction. Thanks for reaching out and bringing me here.”

Ten more minutes passed with neither of the two speaking. The coffee’s buzz had worn off and lethargy was taking over.

Randi pulled his sleeping bag from the straps that held it to the field pack, unrolled it, pulled off his boots and crawled inside. Hank did the same.

“Good night old Friend.”

“Good night Pal.”


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.

Black Medicine under the Night Skies

May 26, 2020
8 x 10″ watercolor barely underway

Good morning, blog reading friends. Right now, I’m sitting up in bed with my Cowboy Coffee (my usual morning ritual). I’m going to have to go on the road again, so this story will be paused for a short while.

For any of you new readers, let me introduce this. I have begun a series of short stories and watercolor illustrations I am calling Turvey’s Corner 63050. The zip code is invented, falling between the two Missouri towns of my youth (High Ridge 63049 and House Springs 63051, four miles apart along State Highway 30 west of St. Louis). The stories are loosely based on details from my past life along with my friend since second grade Wayne White (another blogger as well-

I can honestly say I don’t have a clearcut plan for this cycle. I just feel compelled to write these stories and make these paintings. Perhaps someday they could mature into a book, but for the meantime they are doing my soul a world of good. If you find anything of value in reading them, then that pleases me as well. Thank you for your interest.


The pair of wandering mendicants finally reconnected yesterday in Lubbock as Randy disembarked from the Greyhound bus and spotted Hank at a nearby bench waiting for him, his backpack at his feet. Now, twenty-four hours later, they were on the caprock beneath the night skies, drinking cowboy coffee by the fire.

“Hank my friend, how in the world do you make coffee taste this good on an open fire? I’ve drunk bad coffee more times than I care to remember, you know, the stuff that burns in your chest for hours after drinking? This is really good stuff. And you cooked it in an open urn. No percolating. And it’s really smooth stuff. How do you pull this off?”

“You can thank old Lizzie Allen at the freight depot in Sweetwater. I dropped by there last year on my way out here, got a bite to eat, and this recipe for the best coffee I’ve ever made. I’ll show you how to do it. I think we should brand and market this, call it Paezhuta Sapa.

“What in hell is that?”

“Black Medicine. It’s what the Ogalala Sioux called it a long time ago.”

“Well, if you put it on a label, I think ‘Black Medicine’ will market better than whatever that other name was. Do you even know how to spell it?”

“No. But I like how it sounds.”

“When did you learn about the Sioux?”

“Oh, I’ve just been picking up stuff here and there since I came out this way. You know, I never had any interest in Native American life before. Cowboy and Indian movies were my only exposure growing up, and that Hollywood crap wore off by the time I was in junior high. But I never had an interest in the real culture of these first Americans until I watched something on Dick Cavett a couple of years back.”

“I never watched late night television. Native American stuff on Cavett?”

“He interviewed John Neihardt, the one who wrote Black Elk Speaks a long time ago. It just came out with a third edition because everybody was buying and reading it. I picked it up in paperback at Waldenbooks at South County but never read it. The only reason I brought it with me out here was because of my interest in the history of Turvey’s Corner. You know it was Osage Indians who murdered the first inhabitants of our town. Once I decided to come out this way, I decided I would try to find out more about the pre-history of this country.”

“Were you always interested in history?”

“Not really. In fact, in school I wasn’t interested much in anything, to tell you the truth.”

“That’s certainly true of me. But you always made better grades than I, and seemed to be with the program.”

“Nah. I just gamed the system, did enough work to pass.”

“Well, look at us now. Real success stories, yeah?”

“Might be. Why don’t we raise a cup of Black Medicine to the stars and chant awhile?”

“So. What exactly is your angle on this Native American quest? Reverend Elton said you were on a vision quest.”

“Frankly, I’m not too sure what that is, exactly. All I can say for now is that I have a genuine interest in their religious perspective, grounded more in their observations of nature. Church back home never really did it for me, and my friends on college campuses were getting stirred up by the Jesus People. I just thought I would get away from Turvey’s Corner and St. Louis to see what was out here under the open skies. See if I can glean words with more meaning than ‘Far out'”.

Randy laughed out loud, took another draw from his coffee cup, and looked up into the stars as Hank continued:

“Of course I don’t have all the religious background that you have. What are you now, by the way, a recycled theologian?”

“More of a re-tooled one, actually. I hadn’t given much thought to Native American religions, but I cannot honestly say that church life ever really penetrated to my inner life. College and seminary opened me up in ways that I’m thankful. But I have far more questions than answers when it comes to religion. I’m grateful that they taught me Greek and I packed my New Testament along with me. I’ve done a little translating on the bus along the way. But I’m also getting a lot from this theologian Karl Barth. I brought along one of his books, and now the Reverend has given me a second one. So I’ve got plenty to chew while we’re out here.”

Resuming the Hank Chapter for Turvey’s Corner

March 31, 2020
Hank on the Road

There was only one firm spot in my world at that moment, one solid, endurable thought: I did not wish to go on the way I had been going.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World

This new painting has been in my blood for days, and finally I have a start on it. It marks the continuation of my work on the Turvey’s Corner 63050 series I began in 1999. The subject focuses on Hank as he leaves Turvey’s Corner in search of meaning for his previously sheltered, uneventful life. The quote above from Peter London could well have been authored by Hank himself late that night in the filling station when he decided he was leaving town in the morning.

Hank is my alter ego. I left home in 1972 to enter college, in that day feeling just as lost and rootless, and I never returned to my hometown to live. Hank, according to my Turvey’s Corner series, leaves home after a short time studying at the community college and working nights in the filling station. As he hitchhikes along Route 66 he senses a Presence watching over him. High on the hill overlooking him, I am going to place an Osage warrior on an Appaloosa mount. Osage Indians massacred the first settlers of Turvey’s Corner in March 1800. The spirit watching over him now is the spirit of the Native American, of Homer, of John Muir, of any wandering mendicant seeking a place to anchor his life.

As the coronavirus continues to keep us close to home, I am pleased to have a sense of purpose in working on my art. One day I am confident that I will re-enter our community, and when I do, I intend to have a large body of new work to put in my galleries and festival booths. If there is any upside to this Shelter-at-Home lifestyle, it is the freedom to pursue my art with no appointments or expectations binding me.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Constructing my own Narrative

June 21, 2019

church hotel 2

“Early Sunday Stroll” No. 3 of the Turvey’s Corner 63050 Series

There was no culture, you know, in Spoon River,

And I burned with shame and held my peace.

                                . . . and pray for another

Birth in the world, with all of Spoon River

Rooted out of my soul.

Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

For the past week, I have spent every day chipping away at this watercolor of the view along Palestine’s N. Queen Street that passes between the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Redlands Hotel (the Gallery at Redlands is on the first floor of the historic hotel).  Along with my painting has come a surge of reading and writing.

Earlier this year I purchased Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. This book encourages the recently retired to compose their memoirs. While working on mine, I decided to re-shape the narratives of my memories into fiction stories to accompany the paintings I am working on for my new project Turvey’s Corner 63050. This series is my own autobiography in paintings and reworked fiction narratives. The painting above is the third of this new series.

While working on my stories, and reading for inspiration, I struck gold this week, mostly from Rich Karlgaard’s Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement , Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology and Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond. 

Karlgaard wrote that late bloomers are natural storytellers. He added: “In our personal lives, we think in stories, talk in stories, communicate in stories, and dream in stories.”

It’s safe to say that the default mode of human cognition is narrative. We instinctively make reason out of chaos and assign causality to all the random events that make up our lives. Stories help us do that. . . . We impose a narrative structure on otherwise random sequences of events until they cohere in a way that makes sense to us and that we can manage.

Reading these words set off a firestorm of creative eros within me and I found myself pouring out my memories on the pages of my journal and then reshaping them into fiction narratives. Opening the Spoon River Anthology, I  began reading the lengthy Introduction by John E. Hallwas and found with delight the following testimony of the editor who discovered Masters and published his work in his own magazine:

But it was left to Edgar Lee Masters to take all this, or as much of it as suited his purposes, and fuse it and shape it into an artistic creation. . . . He saw and knew his Spoon River so well that when he came to write it out of himself, with his personality added to what he saw and knew, he wrote the life of man everywhere, or at least everywhere in America.

William Marion Reedy, Reedy’s Mirror, November 20, 1914

For the past twenty-four hours, I have found it difficult deciding between painting and reading Spoon River Anthology. So much of the testimony matches up with experiences I have known growing up in my part of the midwest. In the weeks ahead, I hope to continue adding stories and paintings to the blog as I probe this new venture. While working on this, I feel the presence of others looking over my shoulder and affirming my efforts, namely the great writers Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner and Garrison Keillor. Hazel also watches . . .


Hazel, my favorite Jack Russell Terrier, overseeing the blog

Number 1

No. 1 in the Series


No. 2 in the Series

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.