Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Winter's Stove

Winter’s Stove

    Winter’s Stove
     Almost fifty years ago, the stove came to us from Adam and Eve, not directly but through Nellie over in Kiowa, the once frontier town where cowboys gathered and Indians raised deadly hell protecting their homeground.  It seems the stove had been around this short-grass prairie hangout for many years for on the cast iron side stood the year 1885. No doubt, it rode the rails on the now long-gone tracks and then headed overland on a horse drawn wagon as it wound its way to some far ranging ranch. Who knows what families sat comfortable around the stove as it glowed from the fragrant Ponderosa, and the more subtle but exotic Cottonwood.
     The stories we were told back then, back those fifty years ago, would certainly let one’s mind see wandering Native Americans drop by some isolated, almost desolate ranch house to sit there in warmth while outside the autumn chill crept in.
     When Adam and Eve purchased the stove remains a mystery, but we first saw it proudly sitting in the middle of their small home, there on the dusty Main Street in Elizabeth Colorado those many years ago. The wood smoke lifted from the stack and drifted over the town casting about the sweet and alluring sent of the local pines, the fragrance of the Wild West.
       In the early fall the wild Sunflowers bloomed along with the Chamisa and sage, adding another subtle odor to the surrounding grasslands and community.
     One day, as they say, the stove had moseyed out of town and been replaced by a more convenient, less aesthetic gas stove. Some said, this was due to the aging couple’s accumulating years, and to neighborly fears of uncontrolled fire. Still, Adam and Eve lived their peaceful life as they had which included moving about their modest home quite naked. The community simply said little other than to give the couple the moniker we all knew. Not long later the duo, brother and sister it was learned, moved to the springs, newer, younger, more modest occupants with curtains moved in and that tick of time disappeared into the prairie night like the last of the buffalo, which ironically occurred about the time the stove arrived in Colorado.
     It turned out Nellie in Kiowa got the stove and quickly put it up for sale as a token to the past, an antique of sorts, but still pristine and useful,  one waiting for newly-arrived pilgrims that might once more heat a home with all the Ponderosa now going to ground. So, with wild eyes on visions of the old west, and a good nose for a subtle but penetrating warmth, the stove became ours, and with it stories of our own, and imagined stories of its wandering life on the short-grass prairie. .
     This is the same stove that to this day is the center of our living room and in a winter way, the center of or lives as it was for others years ago.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Shameless Self Promotion of My Books

 I have not used this site to promote much of anything but what the hell. You see, I have put together  two books in the last couple of years and, while we have tried to do the book store thing, they are a fading breed, so we are now full gear into using the interweb, minus Amazon so far, to see if we can reach  those interested in reading work from Wisconsin writers. Our website right here explains everything---including an option to purchase at below retail prices. We are talking a great Christmas present. .

Presently we re looking for writers for the next edition that will be completed this winter. Please pass this on to writers in your circles. The site now has videos and some snippets of our work.

In addition to the written word, the books contains numerous plates of fine art, many by Ann Herzog Wright. Here is but a small snippet of my work after a day on the lake, drifting aimlessly, no I was after trout but this happened on the way home.

Please pass this site on.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Revolution Watch-----Is Donald Trump a Black Swan?

I'm back on the blog after a lapse of some time but the winter is moving in and my mind is adrift with fear and loathing.

Is Donald Trump a Black Swan?

The other day one of Trump’s less than-intelligent-sons made mention that his father was a Black Swan. That took a few folks back but the comment only lasted a moment in the news cycle, but it did strike me as odd. The term Black Swan is taken from a book called The Black Swan by Taleb. Its premise was that in history, many changes have come about by a radically unanticipated event, an event that may have very disturbing consequences. Previously, it was thought the all the swans in the world were white! That black one in Australia was oddly catastrophic in the ornithology world—and did offer for a nice metaphor. 

The one I remember best was the scene where there was a group of Native Americans standing on the eastern shore of the US, looking out and seeing a tall ship owned by Columbus. Initially they may have thought, “Oh look dude, there is a really big canoe maybe build by those pesky Iroquois.” Not really giving it much thought, they went back to weed the pumpkins. As it turned out, that was one hell of a Black Swan because in short order, most of the natives were dead or dying, or fighting, or just flat-ass running off. Life changed.

There were others mentioned and I suspect the killing of Archduke Ferdinand was one as it gave us a war and an accompanied pile of real dead people.
So is Trump the Buffoon, or as my son calls him Cheeto Mussolini, a Black Swan as his ill-informed Jr. suggested in a speech?

So I am thinking to myself, self, It is well known that the way we are living, that is the consuming yahoos we are, say me driving 200 miles to go fishing, or the guy next door driving 400 miles with his Tundra Super Conquistador pulling a $30,000 bass boat powered by 2 250 HP Honda Blasters, (or was it to Merlin aircraft engines?) has to at some point, go away.  This we intuitively know because fossil fuels, particularly that oil stuff, is a finite resource and to top it off it is giving off CO2, which is now warming the earth faster than Trump can rework his silly, wombat imitated comb-over.

These activities simply have to change, and we, that would be we Amurkins, have to at least get down to European consumption levels of one half (1/2) of our present gluttony. It is also known Dick Cheney was right when he said, “We can not do anything about the climate change because it will hurt the economy.” Well, shit, he was right and the economy as defined by everyone from Charles Buchannan to Milton Freidman—oh, and even Keynes, requires never ending exponential growth and that ain’t gonna fly in a finite world.

Because of this truth, it immediately seems reasonable to think that if we want to rectify the CO2 and other dandy greenhouse gasses, say methane that comes out of our bungs—particularly Trump, then we have to get rid of the GDP growth as well as population growth. The graph here shows that the only decrease in emissions we have had in recent years was in 2008 during the great recession. Jesus, there is a message I can even see.

So, while we are carrying on about changing light bulbs, making wind generators, and having fewer steaks, in Sconnie talk, it don’t mean jack because we still have this growth issue. I mean, how the hell are we going to off-set another million people every 4.5 days? We ain’t.

Here is where we get back to the Black Swan. One has to see that the only drop-off we’ve had in emissions was during an economic downturn like the great recession of ’08, and actually the fall of Russia when they went to consuming ethanol (vodka) and no gasoline.   

What this means, from my backwoods point of view, is we need a freaking recession/depression of some note, and then sure as hell the emissions will drop off in noticeable fashion.

Now if The Cheeto guy is a true Black Swan, he may be the trigger to get us where we actually need to go. This would also make Eric (The Red) Trump correct in his statement and also explain why his comment dropped of the news most pronto. In other words, do you suppose  The Trumpster may actually do some heinous, or not heinous thing that will trigger a collapse? Does this mean we vote for Trump to get a correction of climate change---or is there a humane way to get where we need to go?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Wood Envy and More

Woodpile Envy---Maybe Jealousy.

Is it jealousy, or maybe just green envy that rattles my cage when I see a well-constructed woodpile? Jealously has a personality weakness connotation and I don’t really find myself wanting to push someone’s pile over but rather stop and admire---then maybe twitch with envy, thinking everyone should have one of these---particularly me. I have always burned wood but don’t recall ever being serious about stacking, then again I lived in the dry west and I do not recall an indigenous, wood stacker culture.

Here in industrious Wisconsin the situation is different. If a person casts a wonder eye, it is easy to spot some rather impressive monuments to man’s relationship to wood---and work.

Rick, the Pendleton-clad woodman, boasts a rectangular style, meaning a conventional stack all laid out in parallel rows as if trying to make a statement of organization and convention. He clearly has a solid fixation with one-hundred eighty and ninety degree alignments, and featuring piles to a height of 4.5 feet, but extending lengthwise some 20-30 feet and 10 feet deep. This method would allow one to calculate cubic feet and thus the cordage---thereby pleasing the Chicago School of Economics and mathematicians studying fractals. What is most admirable is the precision of the presentation. Each corner is cross stacked but the interiors are laid on each other horizontally creating a wonderful texture. It is a thing of beauty but rather hidden in the forest and I am sure makes a nice chipmunk condo.  Placed by the road it would be  a hazard and might create admiration crashes.

Jim, in an act cleaning up his woods of windfall, prefers yurt shaped piles with the pieces being stacked on their ends or on some occasions horizontally. The top has a taper of maybe 25 degrees and makes the entire effort look like a Mongolian yurt---even though he is decidedly Irish. The master works of log lugging range in size from 6’- 12’ feet in diameter with a fluctuating edge similar to me after a couple of fine local brews. One standout pile incorporated an upright, and live,  oak as if he needed some natural assistance.

 I ran into another dramatic style north of town sitting ever-so comfortable up on the hillside next to the road. This endeavor was conical with each piece of hard wood laid against the side in a flawless manner until the finished work was a perfect teepee. However, the biggest surprise was  hundred yards up the road and to the south, where there in a field was maybe six pieces of piled, yet to be pilfered, artworks. One of them so large it could be seen from space---say from Nelsonville. All were perfect in effort with the final precipice making the perfect tepee. For the life of me, it didn’t seem possible that a man on foot could assemble this. A ladder had to be used which did beg some questions, like how many person-hours had to go into this prize? There had to be 10 cords in this mound all of it placed in the most deliberate artistic way.

Like I said, I have woodpile envy, maybe some jealousy, so questions had to be asked as to why folks do this.  Considering the extra work, there has to be a profound motive. Yes, some people like to be organized, they enjoy having things in place so they are easy to find and use. This may account for some of the efforts. Others are a practical sort who have concluded, maybe by some distant tradition, that by doing it a particular way will encourage drying as the water will run off in a very organized way not promoting fungal growth.

Still, there has to be something else. Each one of these three have an aesthetic touch and that is why I marvel. They are immensely appealing and I am sure every passer-by notes the effort. Still, everyone of these individuals, and this includes me with my scatter schizoid piles loves doing the work, they love being outside, embracing the weather and probably making note that cutting and storing wood warms them multiple times.  This includes cutting, loading in the truck, then unloading, splitting, hauling, stacking, toting inside and ultimately cleaning the house from the messes (which very well may be done by someone else.)

The final kiss is the smell of wild wood, drifting smoke, and of course, that radiant heat.
So, the admission here is envy got the best of me, not in a big way, but some and I had to prove my worth. After all, most of the above merits appeal to me. I thought possibly I could take it the next step, a one small step for mankind, and make a holz hausen I had seen while researching woodpile aficionados.

In a fit of labor, and a couple of glorious fall days, the hausen formed with my pride-and-joy of bark shingles. For this winter, I am full of myself, maybe not up to the others but watch out next year.