Uncategorized

Sunday morning musing on Capitalism

coffee stirrersBehold the ubiquitous COFFEE STIRRER

Capitalists, among their many reasons and schemes for making a profit – struck gold with the coffee stirrer.  A search through recorded history shows many implements being used to stir things, including the sacred morning coffee.  The idea of a dedicated item being so universally accepted as THE instrument as a coffee stirrer, so incredibly cheap to make, the simplest to design with an incredibly huge profit margin, must warm the ice-cold cockles of any capitalist’s heart.

Like with most things man-made, there has been an evolution.   Perhaps it all started with sticks – mayhaps the ancients discovered using cinnamon sticks to flavor their morning joe and stirring in a dollop of goat’s cream to boot.  If they did, you can be certain that someone immediately started collecting the bark, rolling it and selling the sticks!

Come we now to our day and age.   Those alive during the time when the very icon of American industriousness and  mercantile spirit, McDonalds, switched from handing out a plastic spoon (120 Billion used in the U.S. of A alone each year and over 200,000, 000, 00 in India each year), to the renowned and infamous “McDonald’s coffee stirrer spoon”, or inevitably, “McSpoon”.

mcd spoons “McSpoons”

These have entered the annuls of history, and not quite a few noses as the then cocaine transporter of choice.  This despite the Corporate protest that McSpoon was never used for such a nefarious purpose….but they did stop producing  them, trying first to flatten the spoon part and then abandoning the concept altogether for the flatten’d straw served out today.

No matter the Corporate stance, the legend, and the actual product persist and thrive in popularity – and profit for fortunate few who stockpiled McSpoon, even though presumably, they were at least somewhat re-usable.

Witness, one of the pantheons of commerce, Ebay, from one of the several auctions going on today, including one currently at $142.00 for a pure silver and gold reproduction:

mcd ebay

In our house, we use two implements for stirring, I use an actual metal, or even plastic spoon and my bride carries on the simpler is better tradition by using a drinking straw- which I dutifully gather up and discard every day.  So we are doing our part to carry on the tradition of capitalism, or at least profit for someone else!

 

Uncategorized

An art blog with occasional art

This is not an ego piece – I’ve been asked why my blog captions “Art and Travel”, but there’s so little art on this blog – so as an effort to correct that, here’s five or six pieces I’ve recently completed and one that is in-progress.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Reflection of Fanny”        An old work trawler converted, and not all that well, to a pleasure craft, moored in a creek just off the ICW near Southport, NC.     This piece is 16X20″, and was created with Acrylic paint and ink on wooden stretched canvas.  Currently available to own from a gallery in Monroe, NC

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Shoreline”      20X16, acylic on wooden stretched canvas – available for purchase.   A piece from a photo taken on the bank of Tampa Bay, near the Town and Country area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Southern Storm”….20×16 Acrylic paint and ink on wooden stretched canvas.    Painted from a photo taken during a spring storm near Ft. Caswell, Oak Island, NC.   There are so few rocks in the area and these were likely dumped at their location during some construction project.    Piece is available to own.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Sailboat Reflections”    18X24, acrylic paint and ink on wooden stretched canvas.    Painted from a photo taken of an unremarkable sailboat tied in South Harbor Marina, Oak Island, NC.   This is a study for a larger piece underway and is available to own.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Water’s Edge 2”    16X20, acrylic on wooden stretched canvas….this is not a great photo of the piece, but it’s what I have..and as we all know, WHAT YOU HAVE IS WHAT YOU GOT.    Painted from a photo take three feet away from the first “Water’s Edge” and the two pieces are meant to be complimentary without forming a diptych.    It’s also available for purchase.

And finally……a piece being painted from a work of Raymond Gizzi, an excellent French impressionistic painter, and still underway –   a bit of departure for me, basing on another’s work, but Gizzi’s portrayal of a farmhouse in Provence puts me in mind of views in Ybor City, Florida.    I’ve recently taken a number of reference photos for future pieces there, primarily due to, just as in Key West, the chickens run free and prominently (no chickens in this piece, however.     This piece measures approximately 30″ X 18″ and is painted with acrylic paint and ink on some kind of construction board I had laying around in the pottery wheel studio.  Also, I don’t like the bicycle in Gizzi’s piece, so that’s not going to happen….maybe some chickens would be the thing………..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlaying with gross shadows underway here, to be way toned down.   I’ll make some effort to correct the perspective of the windows and wash out the shadow areas, but this is an impressionistic piece of an impressionistic piece….(just amusing myself here!)

…and voila! (which is French for – …..”and then I found out”, painting something to capture the spirit of another artist’s work is taxing – one doesn’t want unkind comparisons, even if it is my fault..<s>.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Provence Farmhouse by Raymond Gizzi

 

 

Uncategorized

The Road less traveled….again…still

Frost said it, “…and I took the road less traveled by, and that made all the difference..”.    So it was that while driving to Little Rock to pick up some new, old, tandem kayaks, I ended up searching for gas.   The new, old, Suburban, has a new, new, engine and the gas gauge shows a comforting level of gas for a long time – until it doesn’t.  When the gauge falls below 1/4 tank, it literally falls, like off a cliff.

I had been driving West to I-40 with Memphis about 45 minutes behind me when I glanced down and saw the fuel gauge on the bottom of “Empty” – not close, not on “Reserve” but the BIG E.   I checked Google for gas stations near me and the closest was 30 miles behind me, the truck stops on the Pacific side of West Memphis, AR.   Not really having a choice, I got off at the next exit, drove south 3 miles to Route AR-70 where Maps showed some small towns – and this was the road I found…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Not just an isolated mile or two, but miles of this tree-line avenue – swamps and flooded rice fields (?) on both sides and no stores of any kind until I passed through Biscoe and got to DeValls Bluff.     I had passed some scattered homes along the way and was fairly amazed at the, ah, collective passions of the residents, both literally and figuratively.   One house had at least 20 or more defunct toilets sitting in neat rows next the side of the home.   It also had two cars “up on blocks” and two Jon boats.   Two houses down (about a mile from the first, more cars on blocks than I could count were seen both inside and outside the sheet metal fence – and two Jon boats – one up on blocks.   I can confidently say that I didn’t see a single home without a flat-bottomed, square prowed Jon boat- a few with outboards and most with “go-devils” – big motors sitting on boats that look to small for them, and with 6′ long drive shafts projecting out the back to the propeller – handy if you’re running through the cypress in 5″ of water.

Fortunately DeValls Bluff, Pop. 619, had a Breaktime Store – a sort of downsized, decidedly countrifed QT or WaWa.  Three gas pumps, with Hi-Test at $2.49/gallon!!! and Y’all pay inside.  In fact, other than the brightly lit Beer joint downtown, Breaktime was the only store open that didn’t specialize in fishing gear, beer, and duck hunting supplies – with duck season obviously in full swing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Downtown DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, …the whole of it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“The Grasshopper” Beer and Social Center.

What DeValls may lack in shopping diversity, it more than made up for it in …Jon boats.   There were more Jon boats to be seen than tow vehicles – Jon boats behind small urban people movers, of course behind pick-up trucks and SUVs of every description – and quite a few sitting around  on unattached trailers and  “up on blocks”.  (How much repair can a jon boat need – unless driven by the less skilled with a fire breathing Go Devil on stern).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jon Boat duck hunters lined up waiting for their turn at the boat ramp.

 

DeValls Bluff is also home to the Prairie County Museum and theP1260005.JPG

The Minnow Farm.

What the photo doesn’t show is that this is a BIG operations – dozens of ponds seen along the road, big metal buildings with minnow breeding (?) and rearing containers and several minnow hauling tanker trucks parked in neat rows under canopies.

Having filled ALL the way up on $2.49/gallon, 93 Octane fire breathing fuel, I set off West again and was soon back on I-40 and 40 minutes later in Little Rock.  I picked up my new, old, kayaks the next morning and turned East, back towards home.   I’m a jon boat kind of guy myself, I have two of them at the moment, though none up on blocks and I’m going to come back to DeValls Bluff and for a couple of days, increase the population to 620- explore the Prairie Co. Museum and see if I can get a tour of the Minnow farm.

You never know what you’re going to learn on the road less traveled.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

io

Uncategorized

Raven’s Nest Remembrance

Raven’s Nest Dawn

The Bride and I traveled to Virginia to Smith Mountain Lake to visit Sister Sarah, (sorry no mules at all much less 2 for her).  Smith Mountain Lake, predictably, sits at the foot of Smith Mountain which is a survivor of the eon’s long erosion that has rounded and borne off much of the topography around it.   Seen from the bird’s eye view, SML looks like a leaf of False Aralia or maybe some variety of Cannabis.

sml-map-google

I wish  I could tell you that the area was named for some interesting reason, like it was the hereditary home of the Blacksmith’s Clan or some other tradesman’s guild, founded in the hollows and valleys of the mountain, but no.      Supposedly the two Smith brothers were wandering around the area in 1740  or so, noticed some really tall areas of rock and earth and came back out to the settlement to announce the find.

Daniel   “Hey y’all, we’uns back!”

Gideon   “You canin’t believe it, we stumbled on a mound-tain!”

Daniel   “Yeah, and it’s real tall and stuff”

Gideon    “We’uns named it,uh,  Smith Mountain!”

The local electrification folks proposed damming up the Roanoke River in the ‘20s, got in done in 1963 and by 1966 the lake was at full pool   The Roanoke River, source for SML was called by the Algonquin inhabitants, “The River of Death”    The beauty of the area might have been greatly enhanced by the mystery had the peak been named, “The Mountain of Death”.    But probably the tourism development folks would have had a much tougher job if the area had become known as “The Mountain of Death Lake”.  Or maybe not…….., adventure tourism being what it is today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                               The view from the Raven’s Nest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                               One of the locals drops by for a bite to eat.

Other than the pure enjoyment of Sarah’s company, our other excuse for visiting is the annual SML Wine Tasting Festival. So, after an excellent breakfast prepared by “Cookie”, Sarah’s nickname by our family, we left the Raven’s Nest, (my name for Sarah’s top level perch, since the dawn area was filled with Ravens and Crows), and off we went to the fete du vin.

I’ve been to wine tastings prior to, we all have pretty much, either at a vineyard or perhaps in a convention center or similar venue – but I’ll have to say, this was my first in a campground.  When Sister Sarah invited us to come up for the event, she mentioned it was being held this year, its 30th anniversary, in a “lakeside campground”.  Sounded good to me, my uniformed mental picture was of all the vintners set up in shaded lanes with perhaps an open meadow where the entertainment stage would be set up……..I was acutely wrong.    The campground was obviously for those of the bovine persuasion.   I suppose the turf, if it hadn’t been trampled by a couple of thousand people, might have made for a good pastoral scene, but as it was, it was just sub-mirey (?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

But what the hey, the Smith Mountain Lake Wine Tasting festival was a hit with the visitors anyway.   After paying the “Tasters” entry fee, one gets the coveted purple festival wrist band and also receives a cute little, emphasis on little, wine glass, nicely embossed with “SML Wine Tasting Festival’.  The glass, which might hold as much as three ounces, full to the brim, was carried from tent to tent to sample the wares   For the math savvy, a little computation might be in order.  On average at each Vineyard’s tent there would be 4-8 wines to taste, with each “taste” measuring perhaps an ounce.  Additionally, at some tents you could get a 6 oz. glass,  a 750 ml bottle or a 96 oz. pitcher, particularly of the very excellent Slushie mixes from three of four of the Vineyards.    Take the above, multiply by, say, 30 Vineyards and the sum total of ounces of wine potentially imbibed is impressive, or disgusting, depending on how many booths one actually visited, even if only visiting one time.   The highly sought, hard to come by, “Tasters” purple band, enabled one to visit, and taste, as many times as one desired/was physically capable of doing so.   Being staunch believers in AGTIM, (all good things in moderation), we sampled a few, bought some wine and slushie mixes to go and departed fairly early in the order of things.  Overall impression of the event:  worth going to, watch out for the heat index and subsequent dehydration brought on by alcohol!   Insider’s tip:  Check out the vintages from the venerable “Peaks of Otter” Vineyard.   The wines taste good, come in pretty cool bottles and have un-boring names like, “Raz Ma Taz Raspberry”.

 

Back at the Raven’s Nest, our kayaks awaited.

Smith Mountain Lake, at about 32 sq. miles of navigable water, is home to every imaginable type of watercraft on the weekends.  Sister Sarah has her own kayak and the Bride and I brought two more from Charlotte, lashed to the top of the Black Beast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Air temp was cooling, humidity was very good and a soft breeze was coming across the water from the SE.  In short, a great way to finish off a fun day with a little exercise.  Arriving back at our take out point, we were all saying what an excellent day and afternoon it had been on the water.

 

The Bride- CB                               Sister Sarah and Carrolle

 

The Lake thought otherwise.   The Bride, having negotiated several pretty substantial swells in a 10’ craft, fell pray to 2” of water trying to get out of the ‘yak successfully –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

It was a weird accident, totally unforeseeable.   Perhaps the lake should have really been named The Mountain of Death Lake after all.

 

Tomorrow:  Natural Bridge Caverns – a descent into darkness.

 

 

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister · Uncategorized

Coolifornia

I’ve traveled …. a lot.  Close to home – Canada and Mexico close to home.  Every state except Hawaii and North Dakota  Most of the banana republics of Central America and the Latin States of South America.   17 island nations of the Caribe, islands of French Polynesia, Great Britain and some places that I can’t even remember the names of, just vignettes of incidents that blend in my mind to make me thankful for the colors I’ve seen and experienced.

Among my very favorite places is California – swimmin’ pools and movies stars, right?  And it’s somewhat true – you can’t have that many folks in the entertainment industry in the same place without bumping into some – yesterday I rode the Air Train from rental car return into the air terminals at SFO with Eric Bana.  I recognized him and we chatted casually – he was on his way back to NY and I was returning to NC.  Thank goodness I didn’t try to address him by name since the only thing that popped into my mind was Liev  Schrieber.  For once I didn’t stick my foot in it, but my sense is that he would have thought it funny.

My California isn’t so much of the south, though I have family in and around San Diego and have spent some time around Laguna Beach,  but of the northern half, with family there too.  One most excellent summer, my father was free from work, (a supportive union was out on strike and he didn’t have to report for work until the ironworkers ended  their walkout}.  I’ve taken to calling it “The Summer of Creedence”.      We rode horses in the foothills of the Sierras, played endless games of pool in the garage, snuck drinks of Jug Wine (think Boone’s Farm in fake ceramic jugs) and endlessly listened to CCR’s Green River album, “…Walkin’ along the river road at night, Barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight….”, The Carpenters, and tried to grow up.  That California is pretty far removed from the LA/Valley scene, even in the names of the towns –  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Cool (really), Dew Drop, Secret Town, Yankee Jims and the everlasting Grass Valley.   During that summer, Grass Valley was the habitation and habitus of “them hippies”, according to my Dad and Uncle Buck – also affectionately known as “Uncle Blob”.    Grass Valley has retained its flavor with newer influences evolving the scene.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Freeway billboard along the 101

My Coolifornia has a few palms scattered here and there, but it’s a place of dry hills, sprinkled with Cedars and other relatives of the Sequoia, Live Oaks and the various Elms – American, Chinese, Siberian and the more uniquely named, Zelkova.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I-80 Rest Area scenery

Take time to visit my California – take I-80 north from San Francisco, get off this highway that wanders from two to six lanes, which does NOT improve traffic flow, at Auburn and enjoy the Old Town – think old Key West still with a gold rush flavor.  Head west and south out of town on Hwy. 49.   The road twists and turns, like the Blue Ridge, down canyons to the American River, with plenty of turnouts to enjoy the views – and take note of the various weeds, something far too many overlook when traveling – the Star Nettle and many others .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
California Star Nettle
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Along the Salmon Falls Rd near Pilot Hills, CA

 

Drop down across the American and climb the switch backs on the other riverbank.  Pass through Cool and wind your way through the opening land to Folsom.    And, holy cats, don’t fail to watch for reminders of California’s more recent past…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The Prison is still a major presence there with sprawling lands, bordered by the Johnny Cash Art trail and Folsom Lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
American River Gorge

Finally, for the painterly, this is a chance to visit Northern Italy without the bother of international travel – landscape, scenery and the lemony blue light.   I’ll be going back, all things staying equal, to Coolifornia, to visit, paint and again feel the wonder of my youth.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister · Uncategorized

Back in the U.S, back in the U.S., back in the USSR – (U Sleep Slightly on Return), and a Taste of Maine

Sorry, this is not about Moscow girls, Leningrad girls or JoJo, who hasn’t been on my mind.

First, indulge me in a comment on Airline Economy Class upgrades- some are nothing more than the vehicle to charge you more for a seat that has some, real or suggested, advantage –  “oh look, I’m four whole rows closer to the deplaning exit..” (but  you’re still in row 30 instead of 34).   But the airlines DO have some wicked cool names for your freedom to pay more for essentially the same, well, everything –  American Airlines can allow you to upgrade from Basic Economy to Premium Economy, United has Standard Economy to Premium Economy, Delta from Economy to Comfort, and so on.

Darth

However, one basic upgrade level I can recommend is Virgin Atlantic’s “Economy Delight”..( skyrockets in flight, economy delight…).   Yes, this whimsically named upgrade has some real benefits.  First, since if you are flying, say Boston-Heathrow – 5-1/2hrs and 7hrs on the return, the extra 3.5″ of leg room is great, especially compared to the 2″ additional on some other carriers.  Next, you board with Premium instead of the cattle call and have guaranteed overhead storage.  Seats are roomy with  excellent curved headrests and worth the $ spent.   As they say onboard – “Economy Delight – look for the Champagne coloured seats..”

vs seats

We flew LHR-BOS on Sunday, had our baggage collected & were in the rental car by 6 p.m and headed for Maine.  After traveling 4000 miles into the headwind, and inevitable delays on the taxiways of Beantown, the 90 minute drive up Rt. 1A and I-95 to our friend’s house in Maine was kein problem!  We would spend only that night, the next day and the following morning in Maine before driving back to Boston and flying back to North Carolina.

Maine is a world apart by almost any measure.  The year-round population of just over 1.3 million is almost exactly that of Charlotte and Raleigh, NC without their suburbs.   More than 75% of the state is wooded and 13% of homes are totally heated with wood.  In fact, Mainers are leading the way with decreasing dependence on oil for heating purposes, with almost 7% switching to wood between 2009 and 2014 alone.  Yet, far from Utopian, Maine has about the same per capita population of folks who are finding comfort, and hellish lives from Meth and Heroin.

For all that, after moving away 19 years ago, I would still like to live in Maine….from April through October.  I’m not lazy – I would just rather not spend every minute of free time shoveling snow, ice, slush and other various forms of increasingly solid water states for about 5 months out of the year.

I would rather again live right near the ocean, especially during the non-tourist times to walk on the beach in the morning, pick up hen clams after a storm and catch the “they’ah gonna be heah any day now”, stripers.            OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                         A crowded spring beach in Maine

And if you’re a water sport, you never know who you’re gonna catch a wave with…

MOOSEONBEACH

I’m back in NC now, back to some recreational and non-stop grass mowing, whacking away with paint on canvas and maybe throwing some mud on the pottery wheel.   But part of me is always traveling……..

MB

Travel and Art with Max Bowermeister · Uncategorized

Doc Martin and I…er, We

So let me start out with some gratuitously cute photos I took this morning of the sheep in the pasture immediately behind the barn we’re staying in.  These weren’t taken with a zoom – I put a patio chair out in the pasture to sit in while I worked on a painting of the barn from the rear and the sheep came up and encircled me…………….very peaceful!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, particularly if you are an American and you haven’t watched the Brit TV series, “Doc Martin”, you’ve missed out on a pleasure.   We drove the two hours from our lodging right outside Wincanton, Somerset, through Devon to Cornwall to visit Port Isaac.  The village, perched directly between two headlands jutting into the sea, stands in as Port Wenn on the Doc Martin series.   Carrolle began watching  the production first and I watched all seven series with her just to be companionable.   Then to prove how great a companion I am, I watched the entire seven seasons a second time…then eventually, a third time.  The series features great acting, spectacular scenery and some insight to a part of the U.K. that remains pretty fiercely independent.   Most of the directional and informational signs were printed in both English and Gaelic..   except for these, which were pretty much executed by different age groups in the Graphic style..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apparently, all the tourists who brought their dogs, and there were a bunch of them, have been something less than discriminating about the collection of their dog’s “poo”.

Before we actually got to Port Isaac, we stopped at the Cornish Arms in Pendoggett, Cornwall, for lunch.  We suspected, and rightly so, that the prices for the fare would be meaningfully less expensive than eight miles down the road at Port Isaac.  Besides the really good food – and I cannot highly enough recommend the Fish and Chips enough – big, meaty pieces of Cod, battered in snowflake light beer mix.   Besides the food, the real treasure was “the Maid” of the bar, Gemma.   Gemma was not only really personable, but entertaining as well.  She’s appeared as an extra on Doc Martin and has lived, so far, her entire life in Cornwall – where the appropriate greetings are, “Alright, me lover”, and “‘Ello there, me ‘andsome”.    If you are going to visit, practice, practice, practice.   There are videos on YouTube – according to Gemma, the one of the biggest thorns to the side of locals are the really bad, fake, Cornwall accents!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The Cornish Arms – Pendoggett, Cornwall

Besides the obligatory photos once we arrived in Port Isaac, Cb at Doc Martin’s Surgery, etc.   There are a lot of very interesting doorways, alleys and narrow streets – all of which I’m especially attracted to photographing..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The above and below are “streets” in Port Isaac 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And now for obligatory Doc Martin type shots……..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Port Isaac from the headland above the house that is the location of Doc Martin’s House.  Louisa’s “school” is visible directly across the harbor..large white building that looks like a church building.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Carrolle entering “Doc Martin’s Surgery”

And later in the day, we drove over to Tintagel, which is the mythic place of conception of King Arthur, or more accurately of soon to be Baby Arthur, but actually was a rocky outcropping sticking high and deep into the sea that has been inhabited since about 600 A.D.   In about the year 1230, the Earl of Cornwall, wanted to get a little swagger on and connected the building of castle at Tintagel with Arthur’s legend and the place has been popular, especially with authors of Arthur legend, conceivers of conspiracy theories and promoters of legend-plagiarized art ever since.   In any case, it is very cool and if you’re one of those folks who is trying to get in 10,000 steps a day, this is the place to do – wear your comfortable and rugged hiking shoes – its just a little bit of up and down!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
view from top of Tintagel
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Above and Below – Ruins of the 1230 castle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In short, there is a whole world of exploration to do in England’s Southwest coast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA