Blog Archive


Not So Great Expectations

August 01, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Today in Portland it’s in the nineties, but summers aren’t always warm, or even dry. When our son CJ was small we wanted to abandon dreary Portland for a few days. We decided to head east to Sun River in central Oregon. I made a few calls to secure lodging and discovered we weren’t the only ones trying to flee the bad weather. Sun River was completely booked…except for one condo. I asked the leasing agent why this one unit wasn’t rented and was told it was due to the railroad tracks butting up against the property.      Like everyone else, I didn’t want to rent a unit that backed up to railroad tracks. I could only imagine how annoying a train would be, blowing its whistle and rat ...

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August 04, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
A mirror is handy to have in my studio because it allows me to see my work in reverse. I find this useful because after long concentration my eyes often go dead to what I’m painting and a mirror reveals the flaws. Yesterday while painting I reached for the small mirror on the taboret beside my easel. It slipped through my fingers and hit the concrete of our garage floor, shattering into many pieces. Looking down at the glinting shards, my first thought was, “Uh-oh, seven years of bad luck.”      I thought this in spite of the fact that I consider myself too intelligent to fall for superstition, which I consider the realm of the uneducated and under evolved. I’ve been known to pick up pennies, bu ...

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August 06, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The last time I felt this much shame I was thirteen and busily abusing myself after finding a discarded copy of Playboy in a trashcan on my walk to school. That was a long time ago and I’d assumed I was beyond debasing myself, but I was wrong. I blame Mrs. Chatterbox for what happened; she’s the one who brought it to my attention. Of course I knew about it, but I’d resisted temptation. I’m generally a strong-willed person who seldom succumbs to peer pressure, but on this occasion I proved too weak to resist.      “You know you want to,” Mrs. Chatterbox said, like a siren luring me to the rocks.      “No I don’t! I’ve resisted this long and I& ...

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Madame X

August 08, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
“Shameful!”      “A disgrace!”      “The artist should be whipped!”      The painter John Singer Sargent had no idea his portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau, known for her artful appearance, would become the talk of Paris at the Salon of 1884. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting her portrait, but instead of praise critics dished out nothing but ridicule. Scorn for his portrait was so intense that Sargent left Paris and reestablished his studio in London. Looking at this painting, it’s hard to experience the whiff of naughtiness that enraged people, why they thought it obscene, especially in Paris, a city that had seen i ...

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Perfectly Clear

August 11, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One day my fifth grade teacher walked up to my desk and asked me why I squinted when I looked at the blackboard. Until then I had no idea I was a squinter. It must have been a rhetorical question because she must have known why I squinted. She sent me to the nurse’s office and I was given a note to take home to my parents. The note suggested I might need corrective lenses and my eyes should be checked as soon as possible.      A few weeks after visiting an optometrist I showed up at school with new glasses. I didn’t mind the jokes about being a four-eye because I was fascinated by the newfound clarity of all that I beheld. It was as if a fog had lifted and the world was suddenly clear, richer in details a ...

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The Bomb Shelter Game

August 13, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    This was among the first posts on my original site. I’ve listed it under favorites on my new blog but it hasn’t received any comments. I thought it might be fun to rerun it in case you missed it.   ********************   Back in 1967 when I was a junior in high school, Mr. Farrington, our social studies teacher, came up with an interesting idea that made us all stop thinking about our raging hormones to focus on something nearly as important—survival. The Soviet Union hadn’t crumbled yet and nuclear annihilation remained a distinct possibility, so engaging in a life and death struggle for survival, even if it was only a game, was far more interesting than the usual drivel we were expos ...

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The Waltzing Bandit

August 15, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
“The Waltzing Bandit? That’s a stupid name for a crook.”      “Maybe so, but he buried stolen gold around here,” I said.      We were spending the day at Alum Rock Park in the Diablo Range foothills on the east side of San Jose. I’d brought along my best friend Ricky Delgado. Ricky’s dad was a drunk and currently incarcerated on the Farm, a.k.a. the county jail.      “Did he really steal the gold or did he dance for it?”      “Very funny!” But Ricky had a point. It was a stupid name. My mother, the history buff, had been the one to tell me about this Waltzing Bandit.    & ...

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The Cement Boat

August 18, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
An excerpt from my memoir The Kid in the Kaleidoscope:   ************************************************             When I was a kid my dad often took me and my older brother David to the Cement Boat. Originally designed as a cargo transport in 1918, the Cement Boat missed action in World War I. She was made with a material not recognized for its floating capacity—cement—and how she managed to float is still beyond me. During the Great Depression she was run aground at Seacliff Beach near Santa Cruz and a pier constructed so people could fish from her.      We would get up long before the crack of dawn to drive through the Santa Cruz Mountain ...

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Picture of the Week #4

August 20, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                      Artists often set aside paintings in progress for a variety of reasons. Perhaps other commissions got in the way, the subject of a portrait might have died, or the artist didn’t have the technical skill to finish it. I was heavily under the influence of Rembrandt when I began this painting of fantasy characters in 1985. I recently found it in my garage and decided the time had come for me to finish it.            Several neighbors walking past my garage while I was working on this picture said it reminded them of something from Game of Thrones, which I knew nothing about back in ‘85. I’ve always ...

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

August 22, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
            Have you ever wondered about the biggest bell in the world? Most people would say it’s in Moscow, weighing in at 445,166 pounds. The Tsar Bell was commissioned by the niece of Peter the Great. It broke during casting and has never been rung. But it’s possible the Tsar Bell will soon lose it’s ranking as the world’s largest. The new contender for the title might be resting under twenty-five feet of mud at the bottom of a river.      Tsar Bell, Moscow      The Dhammazedi Bell has long fascinated those captivated by lost treasure. It was cast around 1484 by order of King Dhammazedi in what is now Myanmar. The bell was a gift to the ...

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Process of Elimination

August 25, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Everything associated with babies is usually considered cute and adorable, including the elimination of body waste. Call it what you will: potty, or doody, boom boom or poopy, but at some point in life the cozy euphemisms no longer apply. When is that all-important moment when snuggly slang metastasizes into a clinical word like stool?      As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local police department and several of her co-workers are having babies. Conversations are circulating about potty training rituals and cloth diapers versus disposable. Mrs. C. relates these discussions because I work at home and socialize so little I’ll listen to just about anything.      Mrs. C. had jus ...

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The Appendix Couch

August 27, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
During the summer break before my sophomore year of high school I woke one night with a terrible pain in my side. I should have figured it was my appendix since the Hayes appendix isn’t worth a damn and all male members of my family have had theirs out, my brother when he was only two, but for some reason my appendix wasn’t suspected of being the problem.      When I couldn’t stop moaning my dad took me to the hospital. I sat in the waiting room for a long time and was eventually sent home and told to give myself an enema, which I later learned was not a good thing to do if you happen to have an inflamed appendix.      After more bouts of agony my dad rushed me back to the emerge ...

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Justifying The "B" Word

August 29, 2014 :: written in: All Blog Posts
First posted 11/07/12   Yes, I admit it; in a moment of weakness I looked my son’s godmother in the face and called her the “B” word. Horrible I know, but don’t condemn me until you know the facts.      Our son’s godparents (I’ll refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. G.) are psychologists and a delightful couple. They live in Sacramento and are our oldest and dearest friends—the reason we selected them to be our son’s godparents. They’d agreed to raise little CJ should tragedy make him an orphan. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were visiting them a few weeks before our first trip to Hawaii. Mrs. C. and I hadn’t traveled anywhere since our son was born and we were bubblin ...

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