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Archive for September, 2009

By Barbara Rick

 
 
Envy*, THE DOCUMENTARY (the movie you wish you made)

 
 
 
We at Out of The Blue Films, Inc. want to spread our appreciation around, nice and thick, for ALL those who have in some way contributed to The Out of The Blue Films ENVY Contest at red Ravine. Whether you sent in work, considered it, or even just envied the idea from afar (you know who you are), thank you!!

To you who scraped your souls and held a magnifying glass up to your hidden agendas—brava!
 
We received inspired works of fiction, essays, haiku, poetry, drawings, photographs—even a comic sketch script that we think would make a really funny short film—from writers and artists around the world.

We are all 21st century pioneers in the wild west of social networking, in particular, using technology to not only create a conversation about new work but to help create the work itself! This is the hot topic at the flurry of film panels I’ve been attending the past couple of weeks up at The Toronto International Film Festival, here in NYC at Independent Film Week, and at pre-launch parties and screenings at the venerable New York Film Festival.

Michael Moore was even talking about it onstage a few nights ago at Lincoln Center in a Q&A following his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story. No ENVY on my part, by the way, nosiree. (Me: lying like rug.)
 
 
 
 

∞ ∞ ∞

 
 
 
And, now, the winner:
 
Jill L. Ferguson of San Carlos, California for her poem/prose Like Paul, a painterly snapshot of the disastrous effects of ENVY on a young and talented violinist. Jill receives 1st Prize in The Out of The Blue Films, Inc. ENVY Contest at red Ravine: an Amazon Kindle.
 
We fell in love with this line:
 

He held and released each tone picturing it hover like a bird in flight, closing his eyes into the sound.

 
You can find out more about Jill at her website and review books she has authored and co-authored at this Amazon link.

On Thursday, October 2, red Ravine will post Like Paul in its entirety, so please come back and read this winning entry.
 
 
 
 

∞ ∞ ∞

 
 
 
 
Our judges found much to love in all the entries; it was tough to narrow it down to a single winner.

We also wanted to include excerpts from a few honorable mentions:
 
 
 
Charis Fleming’s searing essay on a mother’s flash of ENVY at her breast-feeding adult daughter and grandchild.

I gaze at the duo, daughter and grandson, and I want more than anything to tell them both how left out I am feeling. I want them to know if it wasn’t for me, neither of them would exist as they are.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Eileen Malone’s poem Beloved Rival.

on and on we went, an abbreviation
of small black-winged envies
drunkenly sucking each other’s blood

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
By a fourth writer, who wishes to remain Anonymous, a short story about WWEM or the Woman Who Envies Me.

The woman in question is a known screenwriter and actor, a mother, a wife, the author of two successful books, a person of financial means and connections, and enjoys excellent health. Except for her ENVY. The beauty of this story, the lesson for me, lies in its mystery. It is quite clear that she envies me desperately (the symptoms are all there; I recognize them from my own inner life). If I could find her in a moment of quiescent spirit, I could try to ask her why. There is no doubt in my mind that the answer would educate me deeply. No doubt whatsoever.

 





Last but not least, Patricia Anders in Calabasas, California submitted an evocative drawing depicting ENVY.

This and each of the honorable mentions will be published wholly in separate posts next week.



∞ ∞ ∞





Please work with us at Out of The Blue Films, Inc. to broaden and deepen the connection seeded here on red Ravine.

Here are three things you can do to keep the conversation growing:

  1. “Fan” us at facebook.com/Outofthebluefilms and tinyurl.com/ENVYonfacebook and tell us how you’d like to get involved with Team ENVY.
  2. Follow us and bring your friends (!) to our pages on twitter: ENVYthedoc, brickdoc, OuttaTheBlu.
  3. Meet us at our new blog.envydoc.com.


There, and here at red Ravine, we’ll discuss some of the ways we might use some of the entries in the film, flash you glimpses of the film and our creative process, behind-the-scenes action (and procrastination), funding dramas and successes, as we march ever forward in the making of this multi-disciplinary mega-platform documentary film project which will tell the true story of ENVY. Asking you for input, ideas, and to share in the exhilaration of it, all along the way.

Thank you to ybonesy and QuoinMonkey for an amazing experiment in creative collaboration! Remember to check back later this week to see the full winning entry, and next week for the honorable mentions.

Gratitude to all!

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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By Bob Chrisman



I possess no physical evidence to offer in defense of my father. Family stories and my own fragmented memories comprise what little I know of him. Fifty-seven years have blurred much of what I remembered, but I will bear witness for him.

At a trial, the court clerk would instruct me to raise my right hand. “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” I would hesitate before I answered. I don’t know the “truth.” I only know my truth. But the court doesn’t want to hear my doubts. The only answer to the question is, “I do.”


BOB IMG_1781

My Father – 8 Months Old, circa 1914, Missouri, photo © 2009, Bob Chrisman. All rights reserved.



On February 28, 1914, my father, Len Chrisman, became the first child of H.T. and Annie Chrisman. In September of that same year, H.T.’s gall bladder ruptured. The resulting infection killed him. My father never knew his father, not even from stories, because his mother didn’t talk about the man.

Several men courted the Widow Chrisman. A local banker, my father’s favorite, asked her several times to marry him, but she refused.

When she remarried in 1920, she chose a widower, William Hecker, who had seven children. By all accounts, including some from his children, he was a very angry man. Mr. Hecker stipulated one condition for the marriage. “You must promise that you’ll never favor your son over my children.” She promised, and she never broke a promise.

BOB IMG_1780

My Father In His Baby Carriage, circa 1914, Missouri, photo © 2009, Bob Chrisman. All rights reserved.

My father rarely talked about the mother of his childhood. I remember him saying, “She married him because the children needed a mother. She felt sorry for them.”

The step-daughters resented her. Ruth, the oldest, had already married and left home. Fern and Gladys soon followed their oldest sister’s lead. The remaining daughter, Myrtle, who was my father’s age, loved both her new stepmother and stepbrother. The teenaged stepsons, Ralph and Glenn, took after their father. They hated my dad because he had been an only child with a mother all to himself. The remaining step-son, Everett, died in 1926. My father rarely spoke of him, except to say, “He died too young.”

Early in the marriage they lived in western Nebraska. One day the boys roped my dad and dragged him behind a horse through cactus patches. “I never cried. Mom pulled the needles out of my bottom and back with a pair of pliers. I didn’t cry then either. I never let them have that satisfaction.” His voice remained flat as he told the first part of the story, but cracked when he said. “You know, my own mother didn’t say anything to Dad Hecker or to the boys.”

A high school teacher offered to send him to college and pay his expenses. My father wanted to go. “Mom and Dad Hecker listened politely. The last thing he said was, ‘A brilliant mind like his shouldn’t go to waste.’”

BOB IMG_1782

Widow Chrisman & Her Son, circa early 1900s, Missouri, photo © 2009, Bob Chrisman. All rights reserved.


“Mom answered as soon as he finished, didn’t even take time to mull it over. ‘None of the other kids went to college. Len doesn’t need to go either.’ It wouldn’t have cost them anything. I left the room because I was so mad at her.”

Her decision doomed my dad to a lifetime of farm labor and blue collar jobs. He worked at a dairy. He worked in a foundry, a meat packing plant, and finally in a grain mill. He never fit in with his fellow workers. He read too much, thought too much.

My father met my mother in the mid-1930’s. She lived down the street from his parents. The two became friends. In the late 1930’s he traveled to Oregon to pick fruit because local jobs didn’t exist. His traveling companions were his future brothers-in law. He wrote letters to my mother. She saved them, called them “love letters” even though they contained no obvious expressions of love, other than “Love, Len.”


I asked my mother why she married him. At that time, he had been bedridden for five years. “Did you love him?”

She dodged the question. “I promised myself that I would marry someone like my dad.”

“Was Daddy like him?”

“No, he was nothing like my father. I felt sorry for Len. He needed me.” I cringed. My heart hurt. She hadn’t loved my father. I didn’t ask any more questions because I didn’t want to know the answers.


BOB IMG_1787

My Father Dressed For A Tom Thumb Wedding, circa early 1900's, Missouri, photo © 2009, Bob Chrisman. All rights reserved.


In 1942, my sister was born. My father loved her. She was his special child.

In 1943 his stepfather died, but not before he secured a promise from his wife to watch over Ralph. My father never understood why she agreed to put up with someone who had treated her so rudely, a man who cussed and swore about everything. Maybe she felt sorry for him because his vision was so severely impaired. Whatever the reason, she took care of him until her death 32 years later in 1975.

In 1952 I arrived. Unexplainably, my mother laid sole claim to me. She excluded my sister and father from taking care of me. I was her child. The possession of my life had begun.

For the first five years I slept next to my parents’ bed in a crib, then on a tiny rollaway bed. Our four-room house didn’t have any extra rooms. My father added two rooms, moved my sister to a new bedroom and moved me into her old room.

He lived his early life abandoned and betrayed by the people who loved him or should have loved him.  He had no protector, no father. Long after he died I complained to my mother about the kind of father he had been. “Don’t be so hard on him. He never learned to be a father because he never had one himself.” My father and I never had a chance to have a normal father-son relationship. That’s all the truth I know for now.




About Bob: Bob Chrisman is a Kansas City, Missouri writer who frequently writes memoir about his mother, her three sisters, and their influence on his life. This is Part II of a series of three about his father. Part I, My Father’s Witness, was published on red Ravine in August. Bob’s other red Ravine posts include Aunt Annie’s Scalloped Oysters, Hands, Growing Older, Goat Ranch, Stephenie Bit Me, Too, The Law Of Threes, and In Memoriam.

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ybonesy's bones, a shot of my pendants from the We Art the People Folk Festival, September 2009, photo © 2009 by Joel Deluxe, all rights reserved

ybonesy’s bones, ybonesy’s pendants displayed in black beans
at the We Art the People Folk Festival, September 2009,
photo © 2009 by Joel Deluxe. All rights reserved.

 
 


I’m having fun. Playing with the Scrabble and other game tile pendants I’ve been making, turning them into bigger and better things.

I’m nuts for milagros and medallions. I once bought a collection of Catholic medallions from Ecuador, one family’s history with First Holy Communions, praying for miracles, and visiting religious sites. There must have been almost 100 medals in the collection, and I took half of them and put them onto a silver chain. It’s still one of my favorite necklaces.

Last weekend I did something similar with my own pendants. I took a wide-linked, choker-length necklace and started adding Scrabble tile pendants to it. I had some milagros I’d picked up in Sedona, Arizona, a few years back at a garage sale whose owner had just closed down a retail store of Western kitcsh. I also made some charms with my doodles and with images from religious cards I’ve collected over the years. A mixing and matching of all sorts of doodads.
 
 
 

              

                                       

scrabble milagro (one and two), ybonesy’s pendants and charms
mixed with found milagros and charms to make a necklace,
photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
I have other ideas, too, for earrings and bracelets. I’m not sure where this will lead me. Jewelry is a tough business to compete in, and some of the tile pendants I’ve been using are vintage and hard to find. Plus, my primary passion is painting and doodling.

But I’m going with the momentum. It’s all art, it’s all learning, and it’s a heckuva lot of fun for now.
 
 



 

A sampling of pendants (made from existing and new doodles) for the milagro charm necklaces, images and photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





Show What?


In preparation for another art festival this Saturday, I’ve reflected on what worked well at last month’s event and what I wouldn’t mind leaving behind. Here is a list of my insights:

  • Lighten up. How these two words have presented themselves to me again and again! Don’t take the event so seriously as to think I have to do everything, now! It’s not my one shot at perfection. I don’t have to push myself to make just one more each of 13 different designs, just in case I sell out of them. Or to prepare for every possible scenario. What if I need to take orders? What if I run out pens? What if I changes my prices? GET OVER IT. None of it is life or death, and it sure ain’t worth staying up until 2 in the morning the night before wracking your brain as to what you’ve forgotten. Get done what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
  • Process matters. Inquiring minds want to know. Do you paint this small? Does it need a mold? What does this drawing mean? I loved it. Artists love talking about their work. Other vendors came by and wanted to know how I got my artwork on t-shirts. I explained the whole thing and left them with the phone number of the silk-screener. So what if next show everyone and their mother shows up with domed resin pendants and silk-screened t-shirts bearing original art? Nothing is original in today’s world. Plus, the more I give, the more I receive. Honest.
  • As with job interviews and blind dates, first impressions are everything. The display is what anyone sees first, so it should appeal to the senses. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. Black beans, 79¢ a pound. Fabric from Hobby Lobby, some odd dollars. Three wire frames painted in bright colors, also from Hobby Lobby, $14 each but on sale half off. (Photo by Joel Deluxe, priceless!)
  • Location times three. Not much needs to be said there, except, show up early to get a good spot.
  • Friends and mentors. It’s less scary to partner with a friend, plus you can watch each other’s booths and meet each other’s friends and talk up each other’s art. (And glom on to her when she gets invited to a by-invitation-only festival, and eat her fried chicken, and, and….) Also, I didn’t think up the black beans on my own; my sister came up with that after I told her I thought I needed a black background versus the oft-used white rice.
  • Let yourself get scared and discouraged. For a day, maybe two, but then move on. It’s natural to freak out, but get over it.
  • Practice. The only way I stay fresh, make new images, keep things moving forward, is to keep up my practices—writing and doodling.

 


Las Tres Mujeres, trio of three new pendants
(but only one new doodle), images and photos
© 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Can I be frank? I’m not fond of rules.

I loved the badges they handed out in Girl Scouts for doing things like embroidering (they looked so cool on your sash) but I hated embroidering. In places like Oregon, I admire how the traffic flows so well with those red-light-green-light on-ramps, but I reject the notion that I have to be told when to merge onto the freeway. (You should see me hoot and holler and sing “Oh Fair New Mexico!” when I run those on-ramp lights.)

And I absolutely cherish receiving blogging awards, but I struggle with the requirement that we link back to the person who thought up the award to begin with (who, in this case, we don’t even know) and then dole out exactly five awards to other bloggers.

So, I am going to rejoice in the fact that QuoinMonkey and I recently received The Superior Scribbler award from Sharon Lippincott (aka ritergal) over at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing—who, by the way, we’ve been following for over two years and who we enjoy immensely—but I’m not going to re-post the rules of the award nor do the linky-link thing nor bestow the award (I hate bestowing anything, unless it is a wart) to five bloggy friends.

(I sure hope this doesn’t land me in Blogger Award Jail, or worse, Blogger Award Solitary Confinement, where no awards are ever bestowed on me again, because, by golly, I’m a poor winner. Dang.)
 
But in the spirit of doing awards ybonesy-style with a big heap of QM thrown in, we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight fellow bloggers who scribble awfully well and photograph like the dickens and make us laugh and are just plain nice people:

  • First, Sharon-slash-ritergal is a Superior Scribbler. She wrote and published the story of her early life in New Mexico (you gotta love that!) and gave a blow-by-blow of how she did the publishing part. And at the end of almost every post, she includes a “Write Now” prompt, motivating readers to not just read her stuff but write their own.
  • Bo over at Seeded Earth has inspired us for a couple of years with her photographs, not to mention I got to meet her and Mr. Bo in person (and they are lovely people), but Bo recently redesigned her website, and man, she is rockin’. Role model, friend, fellow lover of nature, all-around wise soul.
  • Another photographer, Stevo at Asian Ramblings, wows us with the way he documents his life living as an expat in China, plus he’s a friend on Facebook, which means I get to hear what’s really going on in his head. Kidding.
  • If you’ve never visited Jules over at Thinking About…, you have missed some great book and film reviews and a most excellent chicken parmigiana recipe, which, by the way Jules, I made last week and had my family believing that I had been returned from an alien abduction with superior cooking skills. I have since shattered their dream.
  • Corina at Wasted Days and Wasted Nights is another person you must visit if you haven’t already. Her posts are often based on memoir, and what memories she has, not to mention she’s about to become a grandmother. And given that I grew up on Freddy Fender, I was hooked the moment I saw her blog title.
  • You’ll notice we’re drawn to photographers, which leads us to Robin at Life in the Bogs. Excellent photographer and finder of the perfect quote to go with the photograph (although that’s her other blog–Bountiful Healing) and on Bogs we get to share in Robin’s life and her love of nature, especially her ever-changing pond.
  • Heather, Heather, Heather. What can we say about Heather, except, my God, that is one freakin’ funny woman. And she is entering her hour, which is to say, she is the Queen of Hallo-Ween. So if you keep an eye on Anuvue Studio during the month of October, chances are you will see the transformation of her home into a full-blown folks-otta-be-paying-for-this-but-Heather-would-never-make-’em event. Oh, another stellar photographer to boot.

 

So these are the folks we’d like to shine a light on—today. Visit them, comment, relish, noogie, Snoopy dance, high-five. You won’t be sorry.

Oh, and we will do this again, hopefully not before too long, since there are others we’d like to point out and since ya shouldn’t need an award before it dawns on you that the blogging community you’ve been hanging with for a year, two years, some going on three years now—they’re awfully talented and pretty darned special.

Blog on!

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lifeline – the rio grande , C-41 print film, close up of the Rio
Grande River from the Gorge Bridge, outside Taos, New
Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.



rivers pour like words–
geological fault line
the length of my heart


gully, gulch, or wash?
the mighty Rio Grande
started as a rift


who can heal the gap?
lost key dangles from the bridge
steady leap of faith











flying – the rio grande (with lens flare), C-41 print film, longshot of the Rio Grande River from the Gorge Bridge, outside Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, September 19th, 2009

-haiku inspired by a Flickr comment on the approach

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), Are You River, Desert, Mountains, Ocean, Lake, City, Or None Of The Above?

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The rr‘s are rolled, a-rrrr-oyo. One of those words that we chronically mispronounce ’round here, like burro. Or burrito. Or the town where I live, which when I say it the way the Spaniards intended it to be said, has depth, like you’re digging down into the roots of the town. Co-rrrrrales.

And my name. My real name, not my pseudonym. Two rr‘s in the middle of a Spanish word are pronounced the same way as one r that is the first letter in a Spanish word.

I’m caught up in Spanish pronunciation these days. Some words come easily, like bosque. That’s another word the Spaniards left us that talks about the nature. And the Sandia Mountains, which are shaped like a sandia, or watermelon. Shaped like a big wedge of a watermelon, cut lengthwise, and at sunset, and sometimes at sunrise, blushing the same color as a watermelon.

I know what an arroyo is because I see them all the time, homes built right up the edge of arroyos, but even the developers aren’t greedy enough to build in the arroyos, although I bet a few have. But many will build right up the edge, which erodes over time, and widens. And then the house’s foundation moves underneath it and cracks.

Problem around here is that so much of the land is river valley, and even the land up on the mesas (another Spanish gift, “tables”) is mostly sand. It shifts and moves, like a snake, with the rains. What we call our monsoons. One year it rained for days straight, some claimed it was the 100-year floods, causing roads and driveways and yards in the sandhills of Corrales and Rio Rancho to wash out. After that, municipal government meetings were filled with faces of people who never showed up to meetings before, demanding that the roads be paved.

I think of cañoncitos and cañadas being a size or two up from arroyos, but that’s just my own odd way of thinking about them. I’m not sure to tell the truth. But in my world of categorizing natural landmarks, arroyos are a size small, cañoncitos a size medium, and cañadas a large. I wonder what the extra-large is.

Mostly I see the words Cañon and Cañada nowadays used in subdivisions. “The Chamisas at Cañoncito.” “The Greens of Las Cañadas.” Not much with the word arroyo, but that’s because it would be like calling something “The Manors at Ditch Way.”

When I was growing up the landmarks used in subdivisions seemed to be related to arbors and glens and farms. Since then, Spanish-sounding names have came into fashion, I guess.

Arroyo really is a sort of gente word. A word of the people. Like burro. A common word. I like how the Spaniards named things so they could remember the landmarks when they returned. Tijeras was an area shaped like scissors. And Socorro, which means “emergency,” was where they almost ran out of water and food and died. Las Cruces, the crosses. Albuquerque was named after a duke, but so many of the names around here originate from how something looked or what they held. Los Ritos—little rivers. Los Alamos—the cottonwoods.

Where we live now, it used to be lots of land and corrals. Farming and horses. Still some of that, although mostly it’s big houses and suburbia.

-related to Writing Topic post: Standing Your Ground — Arroyo, Gulch, Gully & Wash

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I’m at Arches National Park near the town of Moab, Utah. I don’t know if I’m looking at an arroyo or a wash. Is it both? We set up camp in a low-lying area surrounded by high boulders and pointy crops of red rock. The elevation reaches over 5500 feet.

I’m camping in the desert with photographers from RIT. They are strangers to me until this trip. I’m an MCAD student and see a flyer on the bulletin board for a summer exchange program. I make a plan for one man to swing by Minneapolis on his way to Albuquerque and pick me up. I meet him in a small town in Wisconsin, ride with him along the southern route through Iowa and Texas. We stop to chat with a friendly woman at an east Texas gas station that I would love to interview.

No time. We have to keep driving.

We visit and photograph a hot springs north of Jemez Springs, New Mexico — Spence Hot Springs. It’s a short hike across a foot log over the Jemez River, and up a wooded hill. Before that, I walked around Albuquerque and bought a pair of binoculars in a camera store. We stayed the first night in an old travel motel with a single squat room. Green linoleum floors, a refrigerator, a small stove. It smelled musty like decades of old sweat.

I don’t know what possessed me to sign up for the month trip. It was a time when I took more risks. I didn’t end up being friends with any of the RIT photographers. But the photographs – I’ll never forget pitching my borrowed Eureka! tent right on a ledge over Lake Powell. It wasn’t a smart move. I woke up in the middle of the night to tent stakes being ripped out of the ground by gale force canyon winds. Frightened, I quickly stirred, circled the green flaps and tried to pound the stakes back into the hard earth.

It was no use. I dragged my tent, with everything inside, further back into the grassy area. I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I went out to the edge of what used to be Glen Canyon (until they flooded her to make the lake) and took black and white photographs of the full moon. It was a lonely feeling. Yet the stars were so bright. The way they can only shine in New Mexico or Montana.

Arches Park. The wash. The arroyo. I’m back in Arches. Not long after we pitched our tents in the campsite, a thunderstorm approached. I was starting to get used to the afternoon rains, 108 degree daytime temperatures that dipped to freezing at dark, fierce lightening that cracked across the late night skies. But this storm was different.

The torrential rain hit suddenly and fast, pelting our sun burnt faces and skin. There were about 12 of us in various camping positions around the site. A flash flood rushed headlong down the cracks and gullies between outcropped rocks, sweeping into our campsite.

No time to think. I was taking a nap when my tent floor started filling with water. Unzipppppped the fly and poked my head out to chaos. Everyone was scrambling to get their camera equipment, clothes, and sleeping bags up off the ground and into the cars. Ankle deep water, rising to the knees. Then it was over.

The fire burned all night, flames licking sleeping bags, shirts, and cargo shorts perched on sticks in a circle around the heat. Eventually, we dried out. But I’ll never forget how quickly the arroyo filled with hot-blooded summer rains, scaring the living daylights out of me. A valuable lesson learned about the arroyo seco and the wash – dry to wet in the blink of an eye. If you are living on the land, beware.


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, September 18th, 2009

-Note: lost track of time when doing this practice. It ended somewhere between 15 -20 minutes, probably closer to 20.

-related to Writing Topic post: Standing Your Ground — Arroyo, Gulch, Gully & Wash

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the key, C-41 print film, up on the mesa top, outside
Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

frozen rusty lock
not knowing she has the key–
waits for the next turn

 








-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, September 17th, 2009

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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the desert is no lady, C-41 print film, driving across
New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Yesterday our blog friend from Seeded Earth was reading her journal from last October and posting snippets on Twitter. One journal entry caught Liz’s eye:

 

Is a wash different from an arroyo, or a gully, or a gulch? We drove over a wash (looks like a dry creek bed) called Car Wash. Really. True.

The entry reminded Liz of last May when we went to see Patricia Hampl and purchased the book Home Ground – Language for an American Landscape. She tweeted back to Bo that she would look up the words arroyo, gully, gulch and wash.

This morning when I got up, Liz was placing Post-it notes on those sections of the book before driving off to work. Curious, I thumbed through the bookmarks and started reading. Our Word Of The Day multiplied to four. I was so fascinated by the subtle differences that I was inspired to post excerpts from the Home Ground definitions on red Ravine.

 
So is a wash different from an arroyo, or a gully, or a gulch? Before you read the answer, what are your definitions? They are powerful, visual words that might even make good Writing Practices. Write one of the words at the top of your page — 10 minutes, Go!

 
_________________________________________________________________

 

arroyo

The Spanish word arroyo means “large creek.” Often steep-walled, an arroyo may be flat-bottomed sand or laden with boulders and gravel. Arroyuelo and arroyito are the diminutive forms and mean “rill” or “brook.” Arroyos are ephemeral streams, carrying water only briefly during such events as spring runoff of the summer monsoons. In the American Southwest the words arroyo and wash are sometimes used interchangeably, as are arroyo seco (meaning “dry”) and dry wash — though the English terms often describe shorter or abbreviated water courses stretching less than a mile and not necessarily part of a specific arroyo.

 -Arturo Longoria from his home ground, The Texas brushlands, Zapata County, Starr County, Texas

 
 
gulch

In the western United States, gulch is a word for a small ravine. Deeper than a gully, generally narrow and steep sided, shallower than a canyon. Miners often found gold or other minerals concentrated in a gulch’s swash channel. The Blue Cloud Gulch and the Old Dominion Gulch in Montana each yielded gold, silver, and copper for many years. Artifacts of ancient civilizations are also sometimes exposed in a gulch. In Grand Gulch, Utah, for instance, the Anasazi left their mark in red sandstone. In the profusion of gifts offered by gulches, none was more spectacular than the one discovered by a miner in New Mexico in 1987. He saw the tip of tusk in a gulch; the remains were later identified as those of a Columbian mammoth. Public and scientific interest brought about a full excavation of this site, now known as the Dry Gulch Mammoth Site, exposing a grail of bones.

 -Elizabeth Cox from her home ground, Chattanooga, Tennessee

 
 
gully

A channel worn in the earth by a torrent of water carving out a deep ditch is called a gully. Gully erosion happens after a rill, a high-velocity rush of water, has moved large amounts of soil along a depression or drainage line. As water wears away the land, the rill — the geomorphic feature — becomes a gully; cutting farther down, the headlong water makes a gulch, until the cellar doors open into a canyon. Geographers distinguish between gullies, washes, and arroyos on the one hand, and cañadas on the other, according to the materials involved. Cañadas — like cañoncitos — slice through bedrock. Arroyos and washes cut through flat layers of valley deposits; and gullies and gulches erode hill-slope materials.

 -Elizabeth Cox from her home ground, Chattanooga, Tennessee 

 
 
wash

The word wash is used to describe areas where subtle contours allow water to flow, or “wash,” from elevated sites to lower zones, like the bottoms of canyons or along gullies or next to ponds. Carrizo Wash in Arizona and Hunters Wash in New Mexico are examples of washes that run for many miles. A dry streambed or creek is often called a dry wash. In some areas of the American Southwest the words arroyo and arroyo seco are used interchangeably with wash and dry wash. In Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey writes: “Streambeds are usually dry. The dry wash, dry gulch, arroyo seco. Only after a storm do they carry water and then briefly–a few minutes, a couple of hours.”

 -Arturo Longoria from his home ground, The Texas brushlands, Zapata County, Starr County, Texas

 

-partial excerpts from Home Ground — Language for an American Landscape, published by Trinity University Press

 
_______________________________________________________________

 
-For more information on the Home Ground Project or to purchase your copy of Home Ground — Language for an American Landscape, important links can be found in the post and Comment conversation at Home Ground — Back In The Saddle. 

Gratitude to the writers of Home Ground, to Bo from Seeded Earth for asking the question, and to Liz for responding. Together they became the inspiration for this Writing Topic.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

-related to post: Midwest Poets & Writers — When Can You Call A Place Home?

 

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September Red Pepper, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2009,
all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








red pepper study
yellow, green, orange palette
god in the details








Pepper Study: Pepper Pot, Green Before Red, Pepper Leaves,
Hole In A Pepper Leaf, Red Pepper Green, 8 Faces Of A Pepper Stem,
Alone But Not Lonely
, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2009,
July 2009, all photos © QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






-posted on red Ravine, Monday, September 14th, 2009

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Just a quick note to let our readers know that the staff of Out of The Blue Films, Inc. is in the thick of reviewing submissions to the “ENVY Contest,” which closed on August 15. The lucky winner will receive a brand new Amazon Kindle, the reading wireless device that you hold in your hands like a book and that can carry in its memory thousands of books.

We will post information on red Ravine about the winning entry by the end of September. We’d like to thank all our readers who took interest in the topic, and especially those who entered the contest. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for ya (‘all).

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

red Ravine is not liable for any actions by Out of The Blue Films, Inc., nor the Film. red Ravine has no legal responsibility for any outcomes from the contest.

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The most wholesome, delicious potatoes I’ve tasted in a long time came from the Minnesota Garlic Festival this summer. It was pouring down rain when Liz and I ducked under a canopy that led to a small booth of farmer’s produce. On the table were two paper dishes of homegrown potatoes. One held a buttery Yukon Gold variety. The other, Russet baking potatoes about the size of a garlic, so clean and shorn it was hard to believe they emerged from under the Earth.

We came home with the baking potatoes, sliced them up, boiled them and served them with butter and pork chops a few days later. I’m a big potato lover. In fact, anything carbohydrate hits the spot. Potatoes remind me of Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl days but maybe that’s because I was watching a documentary on him at 2am Monday night because I couldn’t sleep.

Last night for dinner, we had a couple of steaks grilled on our new Grill It! from the Minnesota State Fair and microwaved Bob Evans mashed potatoes from Byerly’s. The last time I was at a Bob Evans was with my brother after he picked me up at the Baltimore airport. On the drive back to Harrisburg, we stopped at a Bob Evans and had dinner in between catching a few geocaches. I’m sure I must have ordered mashed potatoes.

I remember Granny’s mashed potatoes, my paternal grandmother who lived in Morristown, Tennessee. That woman could cook. I was probably in high school the last time I saw her. But it’s the holiday dinners at her home when I was a much younger child that I remember best. I don’t know if I’ve ever tasted mashed potatoes like that anywhere else in the world. She also canned her own green beans; she’d sit on the porch and snap them one by one into a glass bowl. Always served with butter. In the South, vegetables were always served dripping with real butter.

Mashed potatoes are comfort food to me. They are cheap and filling. You can buy the real deal or microwave them in tater tot form, bake them au gratin, shred them into hash browns, or scrub their skins with a vegetable brush and pop them into the oven or microwave to bake, then slather with butter and sour cream.

There is nothing as flexible as the iconic potato. And if you free associate the word “potato,” that tricky deadly Nightshade can take you all the way to Ireland, or sliding down the back steps of the political campaign of Dan Quayle. Now that’s a versatile tuber.

 

-related to Writing Topic post: I Found Potatoes In My Pantry (& They Scared The Hell Out Of Me)

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Potatoes are a heroic food. They emerge from the dirt, lumpy and misshapen. It is rare to find a perfectly round potato. They are the Salt of the Earth among vegetables. Not a diva or prince among them. If potatoes were people, they would be the peasants, toiling in the fields.

I love the potato, filling and hearty. There is little as satisfying as potato salad made with small red potatoes, mayonnaise, spicy mustard, dill, and hard-boiled eggs. Sure, the accoutrements add flavor, but it is the potato that takes the show.

And the mashed potato is a dish without compare. Wasn’t it just the other day that Dee was craving roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy? A meal that satisfies like no other, and while one may give credit to the turkey and the gravy, it is again the potato that keeps us going back to that ensemble again and again.

Jim says that the potato is most prone among vegetables to be affected by toxins in the environment, and I suppose in that way the potato is the toad among vegetables, warty and thin-skinned. And like the toad, the potato is an essential member of the ecosystem, a staple in the food pyramid, like corn or wheat or rice, and among all of those the potato takes you further, sustains you, keeps your tummy from grumbling overnight.

Mom was a fan of potatoes. She sliced them thin and fried them with garlic and onion, and we ate them greasy and salty with a piece of overdone meat and a salad. Or cubed in teeny tiny squares reminiscent of board game pieces, mixed with ground beef—filling for tacos.

The potatoes of my youth were always greasy, except for baked potatoes, although I don’t think Mom made those until after we were out of the house. Three fried Russets could feed a large family, whereas the same number of baked Russets feeds only three.

Jim buys his potatoes now during Growers Market season from the Johnstons. They are among the handful, maybe less, selling potatoes. They grow small red ones and one that is such a deep purple color it looks like a bruise, and I have to say I’ve never tasted as smooth and creamy a potato as theirs.

Tonight it’s turkey cutlets, which I’ll lightly bread and fry, and some of those bruised potatoes, which I hate to peel, but there’s nothing more appetizing than a cream-colored mashed potato (and with my girls, anything that resembles mashed prunes will be rejected outright). And gravy. To satisfy the need in all of us for heavier food, to keep us warm during cooling nights.

If I were to write a potato haiku, it would read:

Mister Potato
hero among veggies
Here to save the day




-Related to topic post I Found Potatoes In My Pantry (& They Scared The Hell Out Of Me) and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Flowering Onion, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, September 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It’s Labor Day, final day of the Minnesota State Fair, when the last of 12 Butter Queens will take her place in the Butter Booth at the Dairy Building. The Fair signifies the unofficial end of Summer (officially marked by shadows of the Fall Equinox). We spent 6 hours walking around the Fairgrounds last Friday.

The art in the juried show seemed of a higher caliber this year. We saw some great work in the Art Building, including the commemorative painting from artist Leo Stans displayed front and center.

In the food category, we bought a paring knife at Standing Buffalo Knives and a Grill It! in the Merchandise Building. As strange as the Grill It! looks (an engineer must have designed it), we made the best bacon ever for breakfast yesterday morning. But we weren’t as adventurous as usual when consuming Minnesota State Fair foods on-a-stick.

Liz and I are eating 8 leftover Tom Thumb Donuts as I type and trying to recall what else we had to eat last Friday. We split a Flowering Onion four ways with our friends, a bucket of fries with vinegar and ketchup, a Papa Pronto Pup from one of the original 1947 stands, two large cups of fresh squeezed lemonade (refills half price), and a few morsels of chicken from the Grill It! demonstrator.

We brought home Saint Agnes Baking Company’s blueberry lemon sourdough bread, named after the widowed Grandma Agnes Rod who began baking in the 1940′s. That might be all we consumed in the food department. Well, except for our personal best — Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks from Famous Dave’s.


Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks On-A-Stick, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, September 2009, all photos © 2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


These little morsels are pork cheeks marinated in garlic, herbs, spices, and honey served on-a-stick and grilled with peach chipotle glaze. Our friends really liked them. But we found them a little gamey. Though they were extremely tender, they tasted more like dark meat than the white pork I tend to eat. The peach glaze, however, was fantastic.

I did a little research and it seems that the pig cheeks are different than the jowls. I’m no expert, but I read that the pig jowl tends to be the actual fatty part that is almost like pork belly in its striation and normally does not include the pig cheek.

The pig cheeks are mostly from the side of the head, not from under the chin. The upper part is rather thin and mostly skin. The lower part is adjacent to the true jowl, so it is thicker than the upper part and has the same striations as the jowl.

Whether cheeks or jowls, I’m not much for consuming dicey parts of a pig. But I’m glad we tried them. My favorite times were when we stopped to chat with people like Stan Stokesbary of Standing Buffalo Knives who handcrafts knives out of old buzz saw blades. Or Ronald Kelsey who has part of his collection of 500 vintage seed bags displayed in the Horticulture Building.

How many pounds of seed are in a bushel? You’ll see the number on the bottom corner of each and every sack.

-posted on red Ravine, Happy Labor Day, Monday, September 7th, 2009

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!), MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats, On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair), Nightshot – Carousel, Mary In Minnesota, food on-a-stick haiku

-More photos from this year’s Fair in QuoinMonkey’s Minnesota State Fair Series

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Me, By Pham Luc, portrait of Roma, 26×36 inches, August 2009, image
© 2009 by Pham Luc, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
In a small travel agency that sits just around the corner from the Hanoi Cathedral, I wait as the owner, Tony Pham, fills out paperwork for my weekend tour. It is hot, unbearably hot in August in Hanoi, and in spite of the fan, I mop sweat from my neck.
 
On the wall behind Tony I see a painting of a red horse against a black background. It’s a small painting but it stands out. The horse wears a cinch around its barrel chest and sloping neck. It is regal, a dancing, prancing stallion.
 
“Who painted the horse,” I want to know.

Tony looks up from his papers. “Ah, he is a famous painter, mentor to my painting teacher.”

“You paint?” I interrupt.

“No, not really.”
 
He brushes off my question and points to the artist’s several other paintings hanging in the office. They are bold. Thick black lines contrast with deep, sometimes bright colors. Each piece moves with energy.

Tony tells me he has many more paintings in his home, that he’ll take me to meet the artist.

“Tomorrow afternoon,” he says.

“Tomorrow afternoon,” I repeat, and as I walk through the crowded streets back to my hotel, it dawns on me that Tony is an artist living as a businessman. No wonder his tours are so beautiful and magical.
 
 
 
 

* * *

 
 
 
Pham Luc’s home is built in the typical Vietnamese style. Narrow and tall, like a shoebox turned on its end. The bottom floor is a one-car garage, then three floors of living space above. It is the first Vietnamese home I’ve been in that hasn’t been converted to a restaurant or shop. I have a feeling it’s a lot nicer than most Vietnamese homes, yet it’s also simple. Some furniture and a lot of art. Besides the bed and sitting area, plus a kitchen and bathroom, the rest of the house, it seems, is dedicated to Pham Luc’s paintings. Making them and storing them.
 
Pham Luc is having tea when we arrive. He is a compact man, not so much small as solid, as if he is accustomed to physical labor. His hair is black-black, just a hint of gray at the temples, and he has thick eyebrows and a thick mustache that seem to go together. I have no idea how old he is. Later, when asked to guess, I put him at about 55. I am way off.

A Vietnamese collector of his works is also there, drinking tea with Pham Luc. After introductions, Tony and I walk up the two flights of stairs to rooms filled with paintings. One small room holds nothing but works on framed canvas. Tony flips through them, occasionally pulling out ones he especially admires. A young Vietnamese woman who speaks no English appears at the door. She helps Tony move the paintings around so we can get a better look.

Another room is filled with even bigger pieces, some almost as tall and wide as the walls themselves. These are painted with lacquer on black board. They seem massive and wet, as if dripping still with layers of gold and red and black.

We spend a good amount of time upstairs, looking at the paintings, talking about themes. Pham Luc paints rural scenes, festivals, women and babies, old women, nudes reclining. There is no air-conditioning and by now I am sweating so much that I have used up the tissues I brought with me. Pham Luc’s assistant notices that my face and neck are wet; she leaves and returns with a napkin. Her skin is dry. The Vietnamese, I have concluded, do not sweat.
 
 
 
 

* * *

 
 
 
I could have spent a century in those rooms, looking from one painting to the next, trying to see how they change. If not for the heat, I could have spent forever trying to guess what his emotional state was when he went from yellows, pinks, and lime greens (elated) to browns and grays and navy blue (depressed).

I gather that he paints his moods, that, yes, he has a fundamental style (in fact, the book he gave me of pieces spanning three decades of his work shows as much) but that nothing about him is static.
 
We drink green tea, strong and bitter, and I try to keep up with the men, as if the tea were bourbon. Pham Luc mentions that he does not drink beer, and I get the feeling that it was a decision he was forced to make—beer or art?, art or beer?—at some point in his career.

But hot tea comes in pot-fulls, brought out by the assistant who doesn’t sweat, always in the same small teapot that looks like it’s made of jade.
 
Somewhere along the line, Pham Luc tells me he would like to paint me. Tony translates: “He wants to paint you and give you the painting to take home.” A small photo album is produced, and in it I see images of beaming Westerners standing next to their Pham Luc portraits. It is something he sometimes does, I later learn from watching a CD he sends home with me, in order to delight his visitors.

I’m game. (Isn’t it game, after all, that got me here?) I stay where I’m sitting, still dressed in the black blouse and white linen slacks that I wore to my day’s appointments. I look away from Tony and the collector, towards a flat screen TV and more paintings leaning against walls. The assistant comes in with paints and a large canvas stapled to a wooden easel, which Pham Luc props against a chair. He squats in front of the canvas, paints by his side, and he works quietly and quickly.

I don’t look at what he’s doing, partly for the same reason I hate looking at photos of myself and partly to not break the pose. Every now and then I turn to Tony and the collector so that I can ask them questions. They speak in Vietnamese, but Tony translates.

I learn that there is a Pham Luc Collectors Club, that some collectors have thousands of Pham Luc paintings, that his works are owned by ambassadors and dignitaries and people all over the world, and that he has had exhibitions in France, Italy, The Netherlands, Canada. They tell me he will come to Boston in 2010 and, maybe could I go?

If I stay facing Tony and the collector too long, Pham Luc asks me to turn my head back the other way.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
My lips are fuller, cheekbones higher. I look French. I look beautiful, and it makes me feel beautiful to know he saw that in me. And for that I immediately love this compact man with the black mustache, and I love Vietnam even more than before, the North especially—erudite, intellectual, lovers of art.

He completed the painting in maybe 30 minutes, although now I can’t be sure. Looking back, time passed and I lost track of time. For example, I have no recollection of him smoking, although I have a photo of his pack of Camel cigarettes, the words SMOKING KILLS in block letters on the front. He must have lit up while I was there, I am sure of it, but I don’t recall being bothered by the smoke.

I do remember that after he finished the portrait and turned the canvas for us to see, we let out a collective gasp. Then Pham Luc walked to us, pointing to his arms and gesturing excitedly. The hair on his forearms stood on end; confused, I looked to Tony for translation.

“It’s good, it’s good,” Tony assured me, “it means the painting is great.”

For the moment, Pham Luc is pure energy.
 
Later, when I ask Tony in the taxi why Pham Luc would give me a painting, even after I pleaded to purchase it instead, he says it is because of the gift that I gave to Pham Luc. “He knows that now, after his visitors are gone, he will be able to paint.”
 
 
 

Pham Luc paints at night, during daytime, when awake at night, or even if he has just recovered between sicknesses and can sit up. The motivation behind his creation is like a karma, a curse of fate. If he can’t paint he will get sick and will be like a flu-infested chicken. Many times I saw him grubby in a mess of colors and lacquer as if haunted.
 
                    ~Dr. Nguyen Si Dung, from Painter Fạm Lực

 
 
 

* * *

 
 
 
It takes an hour, maybe two, for the painting to dry. We continue to sit and talk. At one point I look across to Pham Luc; he is holding a large white envelope close to his face, sketching a doodle of me. When he is done, he shows it to me. Another gift to take home. 

Later still, he walks over to a dresser and picks up a small piece of art done in lacquer on wood. I admire it, hand it back, and then Tony translates. “No, it’s for you.”

Then Pham Luc goes and gets two more and asks me to choose from among the three. They are nudes done in simple black lines on gold leaf. I like them all, but Tony and the collector have a strong opinion that I take one in particular, so I choose it.
 
We talk, drink more tea. Pham Luc gets up and again rummages around the room, notices behind one of the larger paintings a small, colorful portrait of himself on canvas. In the painting, he wears no shirt and holds a cigarette between his fingers. Again, he hands me the painting. A gift.

“Please,” I tell him, “please, it’s too much.”

He says something in Vietnamese, which Tony translates. “You are my friend, and I am his friend, so now you are his friend.”
 
I glance at the beautiful Roma on the large canvas that is still drying, and I marvel at my luck. Yes, luck! Karma, good fortune, call it whatever you want, but here I am sitting, talking, laughing, drinking tea, being painted, being feted with generosity and brilliance. I am a small thing basking in the light of a huge thing. Someone ordinary touched by someone extraordinary.
 
 
 

I am disabled but crazy about Pham Luc’s paintings. Many Vietnamese and foreign friends coming to my home to see my collection were amazed at the creations of Pham Luc. Many asked me why I collected so many paintings. I replied, “Each painting is a support for me to overcome handicap and integrate into life. His paintings give me confidence in life and aspiration to rise up. In my difficult times and in pain, I come to his paintings to seek consolation, sympathy and often find in them peace amidst the storms of life.”
 
                    ~Ngo Quang Tuan, from Painter Fạm Lực

 
 
 

* * *

 
 
 
Pham Luc was born in 1943 in the village of Hue. He was a soldier and painter in Vietnam’s People’s Army, documenting the scenes he saw. From the books and brochures I have about him, I understand he became a major in the army, but always he was a painter. He told me that the reason he is not married—he’s been divorced twice—is that his wives did not understand his need to constantly paint.
 
There is a painting upstairs in one of the rooms, of a woman with a rifle, behind her a water buffalo. The colors are muted but the overall effect is of activism. Pham Luc painted the piece in 1986, and Tony and I found it behind other, more recent works. Before I leave Pham Luc’s home, I ask the assistant to bring it down so that I might look at it again. There are many beautiful paintings here, but always my eyes go back to the woman with the rifle.

I buy the painting from Pham Luc. For a song.
 
 
 

He doesn’t need money. He spends all his money on charities, his children, and buying gold, silver, lacquer and colors. So what does he need? To build his fame? May be, but may be not. In fact, he is already very famous. Many people know him and admire him. Ambassadors in Hanoi buy his paintings and make friends with him. So the answer to his efforts lies in his passion. Because he can’t do otherwise.
 
                     ~Dr. Nguyen Si Dung, from Painter Fạm Lực

 
 
 

* * *

 
 
 

Sòn d âù, (I hope that spelling is correct), 32×24 inches, 1986, image © 1986-2009
by Pham Luc, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
I am deeply grateful to Tony Pham and to Pham Luc. The three hours I spent with the two of them that day in early August are among the best memories I have of Vietnam, of travel abroad, and of life experiences, period. In Tony, I found a kindred spirit, an artist inside his heart, and someone whose love of art infuses his daily work. In Pham Luc, I found kindness, happiness, and what it means to give of oneself.
 
 
 

He was born in a poor countryside in a deprived village in the Central region of Vietnam and used to be a soldier fighting in the wars. He lives and paints with qualities of a farmer and Uncle Ho soldier. These qualities have become his humane belongings. No wonder many people sympathize with, love, and are crazy for his art. He is so happy!
 
                    ~An Chuong, from Painter Fạm Lực

 
 
 
 

* * *

 
 
 
 

GALLERY 

 
These are works that I photographed during my visit. They are my favorites among the many that I saw that day. I do not have names, dates, nor sizes for any of the paintings. They all appear to be oil on canvas, and almost all of them are fairly large. They are reprinted here with the artist’s permission.

 
 
 
 
     
 
 
                                     
 
 
   
 
 
                                                           


                    


                            
 
 
 

LINKS




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Tom Thumb Donut Machine, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

No one leaves the Minnesota State Fair without a bag of Tom Thumb Donuts. I’ve gone a whole day, been dead on my feet, and made the trek back to the Tom Thumb stand to grab a 500 calorie bag of melt-in-your-mouth mini-donuts to eat on the long walk to the car.

I’m also mesmerized by the mini-donut making machine. It was invented in 1947 at the Ryan Aeronautical Company in California by a group of engineers who were sitting idle after the war. That year, they started greasing the wheel and each machine splashes out 90 deep-fried donuts per minute.

Tom Thumb Donuts was established a few years later in 1949. Do you know how Tom Thumb Donuts made it to the Minnesota State Fair?

 
According to a Chippewa Herald article by writer Tom Arneberg, John Desmond and his wife Janet brought Tom Thumb Donuts to the Minnesota State Fair in 1952. Then two boys in Desmond’s Minneapolis neighborhood, Ted Boecher and John Hanson, grew up working at the stand and took it over after John Desmond’s death.

Sadly, a few years later, Hanson died of a heart attack right in the main Tom Thumb booth next to Ye Olde Mill, leaving Ted Boecher to manage the stand.

 
Through 6 degrees of separation (and the framing of a Tom Thumb Donut bag kept in his kitchen), Tom Arneberg met manager Ted Boecher and he and his family were given a personal guided tour through the whole mini-donut making operation. Arneberg, a community columnist for the Chippewa Herald, wrote a piece in which he describes the whole experience, including his love for the Minnesota State Fair.

I found Arneberg’s column when researching the history of Tom Thumb Donuts to go with these photographs. You’ve got to read it to find out his personal best for bags of Tom Thumb Donuts eaten in one trip to the Minnesota State Fair!

What’s your personal best for your favorite State Fair food?

To jog your memory, this year’s whole list of Minnesota State Fair foods on-a-stick and a link to the FoodFinder (along with past State Fair posts) can be found at our annual red Ravine State Fair post MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Princesses & Butter Queens). We’ll be at the Fair this Friday. Maybe we’ll see you there!

 

     

Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You, Tom Thumb -
Light As A Feather
, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

-related to post: WRITING TOPIC – BAND-AIDS® & OTHER 1920’s INVENTIONS, the velveeta cheese of donuts haiku, Two Degrees Of Celebrity Sighting

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