Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Joy of Clutter

The other day, I was enjoying Librarian's blog.  I can't remember what it was about now but one sentence stuck with me about the fact that she loves nice uncluttered areas.  

It reminded me of various articles I'd read about how one's work spaces / living spaces reflect our states of mind.  

BAGMAN:  "Well ain't that just so sweet."

BUTLER: "Your jibe does not surprise me, coming from someone who lives in a refrigerator box."

BAGMAN:  "That's a lie and you know it!  I just happen to have one in my room."

In any case, since the state of my mind includes both Butler and Bagman  as residents, I can handle most any workspace, as long as the internet connection is fast.   But Butler and I enjoyed a really nice studio for about a year in 2009.

 I think even the Librarian would have approved.

BUTLER:  "You cropped out the ping pong table to the left where you piled mattes and frames. That was pretty messy."
In any case, shortly after this was taken, God blessed me with the unexpected role of helping my son and daughter raise their children.  If you have followed this blog at all, you have seen the joyful play...

BUTLER: "Endless irritating noise and constant cleaning up!"

BAGMAN:  "Rock and roll, baby!"

...where was I?   I guess I was just making the point that I'm really happy about the new life that is exploding within our walls -- and a third baby due in the Fall!!! --

BUTLER (irony dripping from both syllables):  "Whoopee."  

BAGMAN:  "Roll with it, Butthead!  At least the kids don't worry about whether the silverware drawer is correctly organized!"
...What was the point, I was making?   I think the point was that I gave up my studio for a children's room and moved into the small guest room, minus the ping pong table which went for a song in a yard sale.   One of these days I plan to straighten it out.  I dont mind small.  I even like tight places -- like the cockpit of my sports car. 

But this week, the kids are painting their room and the kids room and moving furniture and my studio is a handy temporary storage place during the refurnishing debacle. 

The above shot is a Photoshop Panorama of four individual shots...so actually the room looks considerably smaller than this.  I just thought I'd freak out the Librarian and others who like clean uncluttered spaces.   However, I'm hoping that I might lose some weight this week since I have to climb over a dresser to get to my computer.  

Hey -- as long as the Internet connection is fast, I'm a happy camper.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Poetry Jam - Forgetfulness

Golden Anniversary

Please, hand, before I forget again,
tell me of this gentleman
whose arm you rest upon,
with such familiarity. 

I try to trust you, hand, despite the way
you've grown transparent, disrobing your blue
arrangement of floral veins
over this tortured bed of knuckles. 

Your fingertips still send such delicate songs
of warmth and firmness in his wrist.
How did you know it would feel this way,
reaching out with palsied touch, 

that it would not pull away like others in this home?
How well your often clumsy grip
fits his forearm like a well worn nightgown
in calm and constant support. 

I think, dear hand, that whoever
had this man for a husband
must have been a very lucky woman.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spin - Drop - Rest

Very interesting group of words. How to illustrate them? Hmmnm.

BUTLER: "Do not worry yourself about it, sir. I have already chosen the three pictures from our archives and am ready to post them."

But two of them have been used before and I also shot some candids of Conner and Noah's new inflatable splash pool thing that I think might be made into a series of pictures illustrating spin and drop...

BUTLER: "But that goes against the rules! You have to find one picture to illustrate the theme. And if you can find one picture that illustrates all three you can put that in extra.

BAGMAN: "Spinning while bungee jumping asleep!! I can do that!"

I still like the series I shot this week because it is kind of cute.

BUTLER: "I don't like breaking rules."


Okay, I'll compromise. I'll post my series first as an unofficial entry and then you can put in your three old archive pictures. So here's what I've got for DROP.

BUTLER: "It's spin-drop-rest! You can't do drop first."

Since this is the unofficial entry, I can do what I want.


So Brian and Melody got this cute water-play thing for the kids and it had a little slide for Noah.
Probably too small for Conner but he was determined to try it out.

And he began to drop.
And, as Noah wisely gets out of his way, kept on dropping...
...and dropping
....and dropping.

However, undetered....

The courageous Conner climbs back on
And drops again.

This went on for a few more cycles until Conner decided it was time to spin.


BUTLER: "I object. The next sequence is not really spinning which I interpret as "rotating" around an axis. Like the Earth spinning around in space. What follows is more like "revolving".

But doesn't the moon spin around the Earth?

BUTLER: "I give up. Rotate, revolve, spin, circle...use fuzzy English if you want to."

Conner starts the spin cycle by sneaking up and attacking his brother and Dad with the squirt gun.
Grabbing his own weaponry, Dad begins spinning or revolving around the pool in a counter-clockwise fashion.
Chased by Conner...
He starts spinning around the water play thingy...
BUTLER: "Revolving around it...NOT spinning."
Symantics! They're having fun. In any case, at this point, Brian...
SPINS AROUND...(Are you happy now, Butler?) and hold his ground. And Conner decides to...

BUTLER: "How can he be resting with water being squirted on him.

Because he loves water.

BUTLER: "Are you finished? Can I post the official Scavenger Hunt Entry now?

by Butler




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How really dumb jokes get born

Or:  An attack of stream of consciousness...

So I'm still half asleep and taking the dogs for a walk down the street -- my first task at dawn --  to keep them from going potty in the house.   Daisy is in the lead as usual and Annabelle, the mop-dog, is much slower because her nose attaches itself to the ground and drags like dead weight.

When suddenly, 75 yards ahead, Daisy and I both see a racoon crossing the road.  We both get excited but it is long gone before we get there and Daisy can run back and forth smelling where it crossed. 

And by then, my mind has slipped like a broken clutch into a train of thought (which is like a stream of consciousness but more metallic) and goes like this:

"Why did the racoon cross the road?  Oh yes, that old joke about why the chicken crossed the road.  To get to the other side.  And then there was that follow up -- why did the something-or-other cross the road?  Rooster?  Dog?  But the answer was: to proove it wasn't chicken.  So what would a third follow up be?  I guess it would depend on what kind of animal the something-or-other was...Deer?  Hog?  Racoon?"

We walk a bit further and Daisy suddenly turns in two circles, squats, and I start pulling out the little blue plastic bags to collect what follows to make sure our pristine suburban  neighborhood is not fouled.  And while I am leaning over, my morning back aching, the train of thought suddenly clicks in again:

"Why did the chicken cross the road?   To get to the other side
Why did the female deer cross the road?   To prove she wasn't chicken?
Why did the buck cross the road?  Because he needed the doe  (the old baker joke)
Why didn't Harry Truman cross the road?  Because the buck stopped there.
Why did Chastity/Chaz Bono cross the road?  Because she wanted to be a true man."

And then the train of thought stopped. 

Thankfully.  This game could go on forever -- does anybody have the next one?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Poetry Jam - Fatherhood or honkey tonk

An interesting combination of themes, and, of course, I immediately felt I had to try and do both together.   Fathers are just such good subject matter for honkey tonk blues -- "A Boy Named Sue," etc.   It's been a busy week so my offering is pretty much thrown together from notes on scraps of paper.   And unfortunately there is no music to go with it.   I think the first part has the feel of sad honkey tonk but the last part is more like: "For he's a jolly good fellow which nobody can deny..."   

Also, I need to make a disclaimer.  This is not about my own Dad. 

 My Dad, the Hermit of Dismal Key

Well, sort of not.  Just like it is not about me...sort of not.  Both my Dad and myself were indeed raging alcoholics.  We were both assholes when we were drinking.  And we both eventually went to A.A.   He died sober several years ago and I hope to follow that example -- although preferably not in the too near future.

So the theme of the poem is accurate for both of us.  But to the best of my knowledge nobody named anything after either of us, neither of us had a truck, and we never knew anyone named Big Jim McGrew.  On the other hand,  I did keep a pail by my bed so some of the details fit.  It's all poetic license anyhow.   So, after way too much babble, here is the poem:


At the back end of town new the old train tracks
there's a place they call Lucky's where nobody looks back.
It was named for my father who went there every day,
in search of some kind of salvation, they say.

Whenever they called that he'd run out of luck,
I'd go bring him home in the back of my truck,
and roll him on the cot with a pail by his head
and spit when he moaned that he wished he was dead.

Now Big Jim McGraw would have granted that wish
'cause Dad dipped his spoon in that married man's dish
just one time too often.  So I knew Dad was dead
when Jim came to the door with a bruiser named Fred.

At the back end of town new the old train tracks
there's a place they call Lucky's where nobody looks back.
It was named for my father who went there every day,
in search of some kind of salvation, they say.

But instead they announced that they'd given up booze
and they wanted to share with my Dad the good news,
that a day at a time, his life could be freed
and, amazing to all, my old man agreed.

They lived the 12 Steps and then other's came too
and the town came to know then as men who were true.
Then they bought the old bar whose business was fleeting
and turned it into a clubhouse for meetings

Now twenty years later the old man passed away
and the whole town showed up with respects to pay
and every night down by the old railroad line
the A.A. is great and the coffee is fine.

At the back end of town new the old train tracks
there's a place they call Lucky's where nobody looks back.
It was named for my father who went there every day,
to share his salvation with others, they say.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Photo Shoot - Flowers

First of all, I'm sorry this is late...

BAGMAN:  "You're way too weird.  It's still Friday!"

Bagman and Butler have just woken up as I came breathlessly running into the studio after a crazy week of Barclay's graduation from medical school and grandchildren's flu -- but I'm rushing now and throwing up my first photoshoot offering for this week's theme without even running it by Bagman and Butler.

BUTLER: "Hey!  That's not a flower!  It's flour!"

BAGMAN:  "But what could smell sweeter than biscuits and honey!"

BUTLER: "Wait a minute now.  Stop.  Please don't tell me that you are going to do a photoshoot of flowers and never actually post a real flower!!"

BAGMAN:  "Hey, it's different.  I like different."

"Look, guys,"  I explain.  "Flowers are so easy to shoot and there are so many pictures in my archives and flowers are just naturally photogenic -- it doesn't really take a lot of imagination to..."

BUTLER:  "You're lying.  I can tell.  You don't want to show real flowers because you have seen some of the incredible work that the other shooters have done and you're actually avoiding the theme because you're too lazy to rise to the occasion and actually put the work in to really capture the colors and textures.  You're not being clever!  You're avoiding the challenge."

"Why would you think that?" I argue defensively while posting another picture.

Here's a picture of a flower that my grandfather drew
when he was first studying art.

BUTLER: "First of all, it's NOT a flower.  It's fruit.  And secondly you are changing the subject."
BAGMAN:  "I bet it would taste good on biscuits."
BUTLER: "You can't tell me you aren't avoiding the topic because you are!"

"How do you know?"

BUTLER:  "Because we are part of your mind.  We think the same thoughts you do."

"Then you realize that I am about to ignore you entirely.  It's late! I'm tired!  And this is what I've got!

We have flowers on hats that cover our tresses

Flowers on ties...

...and also on dresses.

We have flowers the ceramic humingbirds ate.

and flowers on Karen's grandmother's plates/

We have flowers on lamps that give us some light

and flowers on fridge magnets that keep pictures in sight.

We have flowers skillfully made out of shells

and flowers on spreads stuffed high up on shelves.

BUTLER: "You should quit if the best you can do is rhyme shells with shelves."

BAGMAN:  "Besides...the buiscuits are ready!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hmmm....what do I do now?

The picture above has nothing to do with what I was going to write about.  But it has been sitting in my "To Post" folder and I stuck it here for now particular reason.

BAGMAN:  "I think it fits -- exploring new and strange places.  Trying to figure out where you go from here."

BUTLER:  "Wrong.  No real logical connection at all."

Anyhow, it struck me the other day that I'm retired now.   Actually, I it didn't just strike me that I'm retired.  The retirement has been planned for a long time.  But it struck me that I've changed.

BUTLER: "You haven't changed. You just grew a beard."

BAGMAN:  "You're finally turning into Ernest Hemingway!  Yea!!"

But what struck me was that I'm clean shaven in my header so my header no longer looks like me.

BAGMAN:  "How would anyone know that?!  The Internet is full of imagination.  For all most of your followers really know, you could actually be a 37-year old Russian transvestite."

BUTLER:  "Nobody would believe that.  Mark's sincerity comes through.  He is who he is."

But I now have a beard.  Should I change my header?  I've had the same header since I first started over two years ago.  Since then most of the people I follow have completely redesigned their blogs several times.  

BAGMAN:  "But you have so much fun adding little things on the Friday Shootout..."

BUTLER: "He could do that with any new header as well."

But, I'm kind of fond of the header.  I realize it is really old but that also means it has recognition value.  In advertising they call that "branding."

BAGMAN:  "And on cattle ranches the cows aren't that fond of branding."

And I like the background -- the weird self-portrait I made of myself sometime in the 70's when I was really drunk.  But there are a couple of other weird pictures I could put in the background.  Hmmm...what do I do?   I suppose it wouldn't hurt to fool around with it a bit and see what happens.  Fiddle around with Photoshop and see what comes out, what people think...

BUTLER:  "Except you don't have time to fiddle around.  Now that you are retired, you are too busy most of the time.  In fact, you have to stop now and go finish painting the windows before it rains!"

Okay. But here's another photo that has nothing to do with anything...

BAGMAN: "At least you're finally taking the camera out of the case!"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poetry Jam Monday

The theme this week is thunder and lightening...

Cloud in waiting

From the periphery of such a creative cell
I wait, alone and swelling with moisture,
dark and heavy with longing,

while the flashing celebration over the plains
to the south, explode for someone else.
I count the seconds, time and distance

When will you come?
Needing your electric thrust
to blow me open from unfulfilled dreams,

Give me your exquisite heat, release my muse,
exploding outward my meaningless molecules
and creating the vacuum in which creation can arise.

Must arise. Coming together with thunderous clap
to fill that instant of perfect void
with every charged atom in perfect harmony

the heavenly exhale and inhale
that will rattle the windows
of mortals below.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Hometown Shootout -- Medical Professionals


This blog was half done on Thursday morning.  Barclay came in and wrote fascinating captions explaining each of the pictures, where they were taken, what their significance was -- and FREAKING BLOGSPOT.COM CRASHED!!!  When I retreived it this afternoon, the captions were all missing!  I know that Barclay would rewrite them -- but he's into so many projects that I hate to ask him.  If he does sometime rewrite them, I'll repost it.  But for now, I'll post what was one of my favorite blogs until the blogger crash.  Sob sob.  Anyhow - the first part that follows this angry whine is my part of the post.  After that are all Barclay's pictures.  But the real captions are missing.  I'll make a note of two from what I know of them -- which isn't much.


I'm so glad the topic this week is medical professionals because I've been able to convince a good friend to do a guest blog!   It is with great honor and sadness that I ask you to welcome, Dr. Barclay Stewart!

Ta DA!

Barclay is the one on the right.

It has been an honor to have him living with us when he came back to the Medical University of South Carolina to complete his studies after taking time off from his medical studies to pick up a Masters Degree in Public Health, Conflict and Humanitarian Aid at the University of London.  It's been wonderful listening to his thoughts, his tales of his trips to third world countries during those rare time when he was actually in the house -- most of the time, he has been doing rotations in the MUSC emergency room and other departments and teaching, lecturing, or writing scientific papers.  And it is sad because he will soon be leaving to begin a 7-year residency at the University of Washington Hospital System in Seattle.

For those of you have haven't followed my blogs, Barclay is a son of Karen's best friend since grammer school and I watched him grow up from a bright little kid to a man who, frankly, I am in awe of -- (he probably won't like reading that, but it is true).

Before going to the University of London, he spent a summer in Sudan, researching diseases whose names I won't pretend to remember, and looking for more effective ways to treat them.  I think what I admire more about him even more than his intelligence is his natural way of relating sincerely and patiently with everybody no matter what their age or education. 

But instead of gushing on forever, I need to turn this over to Barclay who has pulled a few of his pictures. 


Caption:  This is probably in the Sudan where he was doing research on the spread of diseases from animals to humans or humans to humans via animals or something...

Caption:  He called this picture the "Matriarchs" but I'll bet there was more of a story than that.

Caption:  Not the best obstetrics clinic in the world.

Caption:  Although the clinincs he and his colleagues set up in distant camps did research they also treated people.  Come to think of it, I'm betting Barclay didn't actually take this one because the out of focus figure in the background looking at the laptop looks like him to me.

Caption:  I remember him telling me that families in the bush would bring urine and stool samples for one of the research projects.  He noted in this picture that some of them tied ribbons and things to the bottles to make them look more...well, like gifts.

Caption:  Dosing pole -- One of the things he was doing was teaching villagers how to give the correct dose of medicines and they made these dosing poles so the person would stand next to it and the person dispensing the medicine would know what dose to give.

Caption:   I have no idea what this is about.  I sure wish Blogspot hadn't erased
Barclay's explanations.

Caption:  This one was pretty anyhow.

Caption:   Maybe this is a case where we might be glad his description uis missing since the basic jpeg name of this is "leprosy."  


Caption:  It is not all peace in Africa.  Although it seems most people accepted Barclay and his colleagues pretty well.  This guy, Barclay pointed out, kind of matched his AK-47 with his outfit.  The fasion of war.

Caption:  Here's a cute little kid posing next to a bullet hole.

Barclay and friends