Sunday, September 21, 2008

A backhanded slap from Ike

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 14, Meg and I were up at the studio. The wind kept picking up, so we decided to head for home (about 4 miles away).
These winds were the remnants of Hurricane Ike.

We came upon a small tree across the road. I was content to watch, while Meg dragged it out of the way.
About half way to home, we came across a tree that was too big to move, so we went back to the studio for a chainsaw. (focus!)
Things had gotten worse, since we'd passed this way. Before it was over, there were trees across the wires in several places, with the wires on the ground or out in the road.
The wind had knocked over our port-o-lette at the studio. (thank goodness, that's not my job....)

The wind just kept getting worse. Our second attempt to get home had a lot more obstacles, and I had to clear a path for Meg to drive the car through.

It took a long time just to get back to our original obstacle. By that time, we were joined by 3 guys in a pick-up truck. They're looking around because there are limbs and leaves flying around and trees falling over in the 80 mph gusts.

I'm glad they showed up. We were able to make some pretty good progress.

Stuff is crashing all around us, and it's pretty hard to tell where it's safe to stand.

We were less than a mile from home when Gordon Mitchell joined us with a bigger (and sharper) saw. Surely, this is the last tree between us and home.

Did I say "last tree"?

More reinforcements - Paul Mitchell was cutting his way from his house to his brother Gordon's. In short order, we were joined by other neighbors, Steve McMillan, Bobby Ball and Larry Severs. There aren't many people who live in the Yellowbank area, and we watch out for each other - a country version of social security.

Hot Mail. We were without power from all the trees across the lines.

Why not make the most of it? Meg roasted hot dogs and we played 'candlelight chess'. The player with the black pieces had the unfair advantage of stealth.

Wednesday morning, I cleared the road back to the studio and found that we had power. When I came home, I saw this beautiful sight. Very, very happy - a shower, and then a bath, too! 3 days without power was long enough.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Denver Mineral Show 2008

Friday, September 12, I was able to attend the Denver Mineral Show. When you first come into the show, you find yourself in a huge room filled with retail dealers and their selection of rocks for sale. There is a room to the right, almost as big, with rock club set-ups, educational displays and other dealers.
A space to the left of the great room, almost as big, had 4 hallways with rooms for dealers. Beyond that, another great hall with mostly fossil dealers. And further on, a hall of unknown size for wholesale dealers only - off limits to anyone but approved dealers.

Going down the center of the main room was double rows of cases, such as this. They held 'top end' mineral specimens, with the theme of Colorado finds. You can see gold, red rhodochrosite, green Amazonite, etc. etc.
There was case after case of exquisite specimens.
I was looking at stuff from personal collections (display only) that was better than what I'd seen in museums.
I particularly liked this display of green Amazonite and Smokey Quartz. The pictures at the back show the mine with the machinery and jack hammers. The picture 2nd from the left, shows someone harvesting the crystals from an opened pocket.
One of the dealers had this crystal 'flower' for sale.
These pyrite concretions caught my eye. The black and white 'Chrysanthemum' stones from China are pretty cool, too.

The green Fluorite specimen on the left is "eye candy". But, I thought the $40,000.00 asking price was a little unrealistic. In fact, I was in a constant state of "sticker shock", as specimens like I've bought for $20 were listed from $80 to $200 everywhere in the show. I was hoping to find some nice pieces to upgrade my collection, but I walked out of the show with almost all of my cash still in my pocket.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Release" dedication in Oak Harbor, Washington

My stone and earthworks sculpture "Release" was dedicated in Ft. Nugent park on Friday August 29th at 1 p.m. All of the photos in this posting were taken by K.C. Pohtilla. Thank you, K.C. for sending me a cd with these images and for permission to post them.

The Parks Department had brought out some tables, small tent pavilions and had set up a PA system. It was a pretty good turn out for the event ( and the weather held, just long enough).

Mayor Jim Slowik was the first speaker. He pointed out many of the officials and individuals who were in attendance, including a state senator. He also discussed the City's role in creating the percent-for-art program.

Nora O'Connell-Balda (the person on the left) was the second speaker. She described the Art Commission and its role in this project. The person on the right is Karla Freund. I've mentioned her hospitality in previous postings. I really enjoyed the time that I spent with her and her husband Carl - great people!

The next speaker was Erica Schumacher. From my point of view, she was the driving force behind this project. Erica has a background with art training, and I'm trying to talk her into pursuing art as a full-time career (come on in, Erica. The water's fine!).

And then... it was my turn. I'm not a public speaker, but I lived through it.
My speech was over and ..."Hip Hip Hooray!"

Hank Nydem and Doug from the Parks Department unveiled the sculpture.

'Rockie', Erica's kid was the first one to 'lay claim' to the piece.

The sculpture received the 'seal of approval'.

Cake and punch were being served under the white tent. Meanwhile, the sculpture was still undergoing the approval process.

We were finally able to get the sculpture for some photo ops. I think that it's obvious that Erica and I are happy with making this project a reality.

Denver Trip, September 9-13

Here's a brief posting of some of the highlights from my Denver trip last week. I will make a separate posting for the Denver mineral show, which was the highlight of the trip.

In western Kansas, I came upon an installation of wind generators. You can see one of the old style of windmills that were used to pump water, at the bottom of the picture. I thought that this was a great contrast: the old and the new.

Behind the new highway fence, you can see some of the old rock posts that were used over 100 years ago in the region around Hays, Kansas.

This abandoned old house is a masterful example of the stonework with the native Kansas limestone.

Skipping ahead 2 days and 600 miles, this is the entrance to Big Thompson canyon that leads up to Estes Park and Rocky Mt. National Park.

Half way to Estes Park was the trail head for the Round Mountain trail. It's located across from the old power plant.

At first, I started up Sheep Mt., but better sense prevailed and I turned around. I realized that I'd started too late to make the 10 mile round trip.

I still managed to make it fairly high up. I'd started at the road level, which you can barely make out in the picture.

I finished the day out with the drive up to Estes Park. The granite formations are awesome and these pictures don't give a sense of the scale and beauty that's in Big Thompson Canyon. I highly recommend the drive, if you get a chance.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wallace Falls

I'll post the events of Friday in a later posting.

Saturday, I left Oak Harbor with a heavy heart. It's a beautiful place with great people - it'd gotten to me, in the short week that I was there. I had some time to kill before my 11:00 p.m. flight for home, so I decided to explore other parts of the region. Meg had researched the web for some likely ways to spend a day, and found some pictures of Wallace Falls that looked promising.

A good sign.

I wasn't sure how much of the 5.5 mile trail that I wanted to tackle.

The first thing that impressed me, was how much moss was growing on the trees. It was a lush and vibrant shade of green.

Once across the foot bridge over the North fork of the Wallace River, the path takes a steep ascent toward the falls.

As you climb the trail, there are occasional breaks in the trees that let you see out across the river valley.

The first stop is the lower falls.

The middle falls is spectacular!

Keep taking the path up and up, and you will come to an overlook at the top of the middle falls.

The last bit of the trail that leads to the upper falls is very steep, and it is less traveled. I thought it was worth the effort - And the way back is all downhill! Wallace Falls was definitely a magical place to visit.

I used the rest of the day to visit the Olympia Sculpture Park in Seattle. Generally, I was unimpressed, but I thought these black granite eye benches were pretty cool.

I missed my shot! The guy in the orange shirt (behind the woman in blue), lifted his shirt over his head, and pointed his arms up in imitation of the orange cone. Pretty funny, guess you had to be there.