Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 70: Water

For Wade, who spent many evenings this spring standing over a Mississippi catfish pond with a shotgun to watch for poachers when he should have been catching up on much-needed sleep.

Length of feather: 4"

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 69: Fire

Red is my favorite color, though I prefer a slightly darker, richer shade than this parrot feather. Perception of shades of color is a fascinating experience that is influenced by culture, physiology, psychology, context, experience, and so many other factors. Color is a 'quale' (plural 'qualia'). How red is this red? How hot is this particular hot? How painful is this particular pain? The answer is different for different individuals, in different times, and in different places. Qualia are difficult to articulate without the use of metaphor. They're difficult to remember accurately when the stimulus is removed (which is good). I find the concept of qualia fascinating.

Length of feather: 4"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 68: Mobile Bay Monster

For Mom and Dad

I took the following photo last weekend, while visiting Mom and Dad. We were walking on the Eastern shore of Mobile Bay, which is visible from their kitchen window. It's clearly a sweet, lovable monster, who belongs on Sesame Street and not in nightmares. I bet it sounds like a squeaky chew toy when it hops around. Love!

Length of feather:  11"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 67: Babydoll

For Chuck

Thank you for a lovely afternoon today. I love that you keep miniature horses, donkeys and babydoll sheep. If I were to honestly gush about how well that speaks of you, you might think I'm crazy. But then you do keep miniature horses, donkeys and babydoll sheep, so you understand exactly what that flavor of crazy is, don't you?

Length of feather: 4"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 66: Can't Kick the Paint Can

I spent most of today doing a different type of painting by assisting my landlord's family with the quick clean up and painting of a rental house that belongs to a colleague of theirs who is in New York. My labor will lower my rent costs this month, for which I am glad. I have plenty of professional experience as a house painter, which I did during many of the summers of my college and graduate work. One of my all-time favorite summers was spent in Hanover, New Hampshire. My 7AM-2PM hours were filled by my work with a crew that painted little white churches just over the border in Vermont. The youngest guys would hang out of the steeple from ropes. I learned to maneuver, adjust and be comfortable on a 50 foot ladder, though I was often put on window sash duty, since I was fast, neat and didn't need to use tape. Zip zip zip! Done!

Length of feather: 6"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 65: Cathedral Square

I am excited to announce that I'm now represented by Cathedral Square Art Gallery in downtown Mobile. Go enjoy a meal at Wintzell's Oyster House, on Dauphin Street (which has been serving great food there since 1938) and then walk across the street and see my work.

Length of feather: 5"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 64: Mini Monkey

It's a baby sock monkey, don't ya know. My great grandma Hartschuh used to make sock monkeys. I have vague memories of her kitchen. There was black and white tile on the floor and chrome on the kitchen table and chairs. She kept chickens, and I'm told that she kept her skin looking healthy and young by applying egg yolk like a mud mask once a week. It works. The vitamin rich yolk draws out dirt and oils as it dries, while feeding the skin the nutrients it needs to be its best. It's difficult to scrub off once it drys so I recommend applying it before you go in the shower where you can splash around and be vigorous with a wash cloth. It makes a mess if you wash it off at the sink.

Length of feather: 2"

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 61: Whose Sock Monkey Is This?

For Mary Rose

I was once hanging out with a bunch of musician friends at Mary Rose's house in Connecticut. We were playing Apples to Apples in the living room, and, right after one of my turns,  I ran to the kitchen to check the casserole in the oven. Someone had a sweet mini sock monkey key chain on the table and called out to ask "Whose sock monkey is this?" A few moments later Mary Rose stuck her head through the door with raised eyebrows wanting to know why I was yelling, "WHO SUCKS MONKEY ASS!!!" at the top of my lungs (a catch phrase that stuck with me for some time after that incident). When I see a sock monkey, I fondly think of Mary Rose.

Length of feather: 3"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 60: By the Power of Greyskull

Mr. Dilbone's Anatomy and Physiology was one of my favorite classes in high school. I took it my senior year, and by that point I had been taking classes such as microbiology and chemistry at the local community college for several years. I was handed a college textbook and allowed to not only create my own curriculum, but acted as a TA, assisting my fellow high school students as they worked through their own textbook. When the class was learning the circulatory system, I went to a local butcher and brought in a whole beef heart. Mr. Dilbone's wife was a cook in the school cafeteria and she made a beef stew after we had dissected it (taking care to keep it clean and cool). It was slightly tough but tasty, though there was far too much of it left since so many people in the class weren't willing to eat it. I remember taking home a large container of it, which I stuck in the basement freezer.  I enjoyed memorizing the names of the angles, arches, planes, and cavities of the bones of the human skeleton, which I did by sketching them over and over. The scapula was my favorite bone.

Length of feather: 3 1/2"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 59: Jefferson Street Rooster

This big, loud beauty lives on Jefferson Street in the Belhaven Heights neighborhood of Jackson, Mississippi. I adore exotic and lovely chickens. I've always enjoyed touring the poultry barn at county fairs and I would love to have a few chickens around for eggs and meat (mostly for eggs). I've never slaughtered a chicken, but it's a skill I feel I should learn. Having a full, first-hand understanding of the origin and processing of our food is important. If I'm not willing to kill a chicken, I don't deserve to eat chicken.

Length of feather: 3"

A handsome fellow, indeed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 58: Like Lipstick on a Pig

Madison, Mississippi is just a hop, skip, and jump North of Jackson. There are no movie theaters in Jackson proper, so on Saturday night Damen and I trekked up there to see Madagascar 3. We both love architecture and design and were again delighted by the the opportunity to relish in the horror of the tasteless architectural guidelines dictated by the city. After the film, we did a Google search to see if someone has created a blog or album dedicated to the tacky application of beige, brick, Corinthian pilasters and cupolas to every business in town. No one has, though there is an article from 2006 by Ali Greggs that was published by the Jackson Free Press that captures the atmosphere of the "vanilla city."

Before Damen headed back to Starkville on Sunday, we drove up there again and took photos of the buildings that make us cringe the most. I ended up with more than 100 photos, which didn't capture even half of the businesses that belong in the collection. I'll share just a few of my favorites. 

Here's Damen's drawn-out metaphor for the architecture: " I loved Hee Haw, and Roy Clark and Buck Owen are in my heart and memory. Imagine if, one day, you were watching Hee Haw, and Roy was dressed up like Henry the Eighth and Buck was dressed like a French King, and you're thinking "Man, this skit's expensive!" But they're acting like nothing's special, and you're watching the next week, and they're still dressed like that. And it keeps going, and you learn that the FCC made them dress like that because the government got the idea that Hee Haw just wasn't respectable enough, but somehow, the FCC got the wrong idea of what respectable WAS. I've seen CVS in nice towns, and Corinthian columns is NOT what real money puts on a pharmacy."

This is Damen's stand-out example. The art nouveau arch makes so little sense with the rest of the building, which features one of the town's highest concentration of Corinthian pilasters and ionic pillars on a single structure.

This is the one that I love to hate the most.
This! Is! Kroger!
So, can you purchase those Corinthian pilasters inside too?

Nice cupola, Best Buy.
Many gas stations in town feature Corinthian columns.
Finials make it extra classy; The art nouveau overhang tacked over the standard glass front is a nice touch; We can't forget the obligatory pilasters and fake stone blocks as well.
This is the BACK of the CVS: This pushes Damen's buttons full force. His reaction is hilarious.
And that's just a few. There's a whole town full of this stuff. Madison's official website states that it's purpose is to  "recall the grand pre-war Italianate architecture of the area," but in application it's just a big post-modern mess. Fascinating.

Length of feather: 2 1/2"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 57: Penguin Polka Party

When you're feeling down, try calling the Polka Penguin. He doesn't talk much, but he sure can play the accordion. He is one of the original cast members from Disney's Mary Poppins (1964). He had a hard time finding full-time work as an actor after that film, so he started a band, which he has been enjoying ever since. You can see his grandson in several recent films including Happy Feet (2006) and Madagascar 3 (2012).

Speaking of Disney, as recommended I picked up some cat food for the raccoon trap seeing as the anchovies were not a hit and I'm out of sardines. Within two hours, I caught a sweet little calico cat. Hhhhmmmm....

At the store I chose one of the cheapest, but also one of the most alluring brands of canned cat food. I picked up four cans of Aristocats, which came in two different fancy fish flavors. To the manufacturer's credit, trout is high on the ingredient list in the Flaked Trout Dinner (though I'd bet good money it's fish heads and left-over parts), and the Cod, Sole & Shrimp Dinner includes those named ingredients as well. Yet Disney is willing to put its name on a product that includes "animal digest."

I did a little research to find out what that is. It's a sort of pink slime extraordinaire. A broth of enzymes breaks down (digests) left-over parts of slaughtered animals including their undigested stomach contents, skin, and connective tissue. It often includes horses, roadkill, livestock that have died and are unfit for slaughter, pests like rats, and euthanized animals from shelters (which, keep in mind, includes cats). It's a cheap way for manufacturers to boost the protein level of the food (even though it may not be protein that can be metabolized by the cat). If I don't catch the raccoon in the next few days with this unnatural stuff, I'm going back to sardines and honeycomb. I'm not entirely happy feeding raccoon to the raccoon and cat to the cat. Soylent Green is people! People!

Length of feather: 2"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 56: Born To Be Wild

My favorite version of "Born to be Wild" is definitely the one by the Romanian band Fanfare Ciocarlia:

The tiny raccoon band that I'm building is determined to find a sound and style as unique as this (so far we have today's sousaphone, drums, and ukulele).

Length of feather: 1" (if that)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 55: It's a Sign

While going through several difficult transitions this past year in Starkville, I was living in an old mildewy mobile home on a farm South of town, partly to save money and mostly to not be found. Not even the post office, credit reporting agencies or IRS knew that address. Only 4-County Electric, my landlord, and three close friends knew where it was (I maintained a P.O. Box and had a well for water). I was off the grid and appreciated the privacy, which I needed. However, now that I'm here in Jackson I'm ready to be found. Look for the big, blue feather on State Street.

The blue feather actually has several significances. See if you can guess what they are. 

Length of feather: well, about 24", not that this is a typical example.

P.S. Tonight's raccoon trap bait: a sunburst of anchovies, Vienna sausages, and marshmallows (since I mentioned in yesterday's blog that there would be an update today). The trap has been moved to the back porch where the raccoon was seen climbing up one of the support pillars last night. Gotta catch her soon! The neighbors are sure she looks pregnant.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 54: While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

 For Kim.

I understand that Kim likes Jake Shimabukuro and I dig him too (Hey, MSU students, there's a Jake Shimabukuro DVD in the library that I ordered while I was the library representative for the music department. Go check it out!)

Tonight my real raccoon guest, Jules, gets smoked sardines and fresh corn in the trap. The corn is suspended with a string, hopefully making it harder to eat, thus tripping the trap at the right time. There will be an update on the state of the raccoon hunt tomorrow. Until then, familiarize yourself with the fabulous playing of Mr. Shimabukuro. This is the first video I saw of his playing and it continues to be one of my favorites.

Length of feather: 1"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 53: Are You Ready to Rock?!

For Jodie.

Jules the Raccoon did not eat the tapas last night so they were left out for today as well. It is 11PM and I see that Jules managed to eat everything on the plate without getting caught. I shall try again tomorrow and see if there are some more creative ways to make the trap work. There are still plenty of Vienna sausages and sardines in the fridge that I'm certainly not going to eat myself.

Today I had a meeting at the Mississippi Arts Commission and since visions of raccoons are dancing in my head, this is one of the little guys that I painted this morning. I think the raccoons may need to form a whole band. Rock on! More cowbell!

Length of Feather: 1"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 52: Tapas Tuesday

For Amy, for suggesting marshmallows.

It rained last night. A lot. I suspected that Jules the Raccoon might stay inside in the dry attic, but the neighbors tell me that when there was a break in the weather around 7PM, she was out on the roof poking around. Needless to say, she is not trapped (note: I keep switching genders for the poor thing from one blog to the next. It's going to have sexual identity issues to work through one day because of me. I should offer to pay for the therapy.).

It's Tuesday, and Tuesday is for Tapas. For raccoon dining pleasure I offer up the following plate of saltine cracker toppings:
1. Smoked sardines on a bed of chicken skin baked with sage and thyme
2. Vienna sausages finished with a white truffle infused olive oil
3. A broiled lemon topped with honeycomb
4. Peanut butter garnished with a chocolate filled strawberry marshmallow (These were next to the plain marshmallows at the store and the bag wasn't any more expensive. I'm not a big fan of marshmallows, but these are delicious.)

With the Vienna sausages in the mix I think we've got fish, chicken, pork and beef in this meal. Oh dear.

Length of feather: 2 1/2"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 51: Beef! It's What's for Dinner!

Last night's danish and shrimp were eaten, but the watermelon was unappreciated. The door on the trap did not get tripped (partially due to a piece of the watermelon that ended up wedged under the weighted food tray). I don't think it was anything other than the raccoon that ate the food. The trap is on the roof, so it wasn't a possum or armadillo. A cat would not have eaten the danish, and a squirrel would not have eaten the shrimp. I didn't hear any birds and I have no evidence of mice or rats on the premises.

On tonight's raccoon trap menu: left-over beef stew with a garnish of green onions and fresh parsley. After I set it out, I thought about the fact that raccoons don't actually eat cattle naturally. But they would if they could, right? "Hello, cow, you look delicious."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 50: Dine at Casa de Mapache. Delicioso!

The sardines on whole wheat pita that were mentioned two days ago, where not a hit, and last night the trap was taken up because of the rain. Today the landlord entrusted me with the cage. The raccoon has been sighted several times on the roof, so I crawled out of my bedroom window directly onto the rather flat part that is over the back porch (which is where he has been seen). I used garden twine to tie the trap to old shutter hardware on the house so that it can't roll off the roof in the event of a struggle.

In my attempt at a tasty raccoon meal, I have created the following plate:
  • 1 slice of cream cheese, raspberry danish (fresh this morning)
  • 1 shrimp in oyster sauce (left over from our very tasty meal at Mr. Chen's last night)
  • 3 slices of watermelon (a good melon; seeded.)
  • Served in a tin pie plate, with water in the bottom, since raccoons have the habit of washing their food when they eat.
I keep referring to the raccoon as a he, even though I realize its probably a female looking for a nesting place. I shall name him Jules.

Length of feather: 2 1/5"

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 49: Mini Me

This is a commission for a baby shower on Monday. People seem to be just crazy about owls. I get so many owl requests. Part of me gets it. Owls are cool. Part of me finds the owl craze a little strange, because when I go to the zoo so many of the animals, like the monkeys and meerkats and lizards and lions, are friendly and make a connection. But of all the animals, owls are the ones that look at you like you're a filthy rotten nuisance. Maybe that just means owls shouldn't be in zoos.

Length of feather: 1/4"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 48: It's a Trap!

We ended up not going with the donut plan, as outlined in yesterday's blog. Instead, the landlord has borrowed a trap, which he will return along with the caged Mr. Raccoon, who, I believe, is going to be turned into a raccoon barbeque. The trap has been set with sardines on whole wheat pita, which has been baking in the sun all afternoon so that it will be nice and stinky. I am pleased that they took the time to carefully lay out the fish on the pita in an attractive way. That little extra touch feels bittersweet and makes my heart swell a little as I contemplate the whole situation. It is a pretty decent last meal for our convicted/evicted friend.

Length of Feather: 2"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 47: I am not alone

I am not alone in the house. A raccoon has made a home in the attic above the back porch. He gets in through a hole in the poorly installed flashing that is not original to the core house. My plan is to lure him out with cheap day-old donuts, fattening him up until he rolls around the yard and eats out of my hand. I will dress him in a pink tutu and train him to ride a unicycle. He'll be a great money-making busking act in New Orleans, except for the fact that he will snarl at small children and reach out to scratch them with his little claws (especially when they are holding snacks or soda). This might simply mean he's better as a late-night Bourbon Street sort of act. I bet the drunken revelers will love him.

Length of Feather: 4"