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Now, I’m pissed.

September 3, 2013 1 comment

Warning: this post contains very strong language.

It’s been a while since I posted to the blog, mostly because I didn’t have anything to say.  Now, I do.  This is a photograph I took last year:

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

This is a natural root formation along the McKenzie River trail.  It has been here for hundreds of years.  Thousands of people have stopped along the trail to marvel at its beauty and all have shown the sense and courtesy to leave it alone.  Until now.

Today, my wife and I took the dog up to the trail for a Labor Day family outing and I discovered this (DJ took this photo with here cell phone):

2013-09-02 14.08.33Now, I’m pissed.  No, let me rephrase that.  I’m fucking livid.

JP, whoever the fuck you are, I hope you’re reading this.  You are a colossal piece of shit.  You hear me?  You are a miserable, festering pile of human waste.  You have forever destroyed a spectacular natural work of art.  No one will ever be able to enjoy the beauty of this root formation without having to stare at the disgusting ass wipe you left behind.  You deserve to spend the rest of your pathetic life living in a cold, colorless world where neighborhood gang bangers tag your stupid pickup once a week.

Fuck you, asshole.

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Get ’em while they’re hot!

August 29, 2012 Leave a comment

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Here There Be Dragons ready-made poster in 24×36 available at http://www.mitchelder.com/purchase.html

The Trek

August 11, 2012 2 comments

The Trek

    On the morning of August 7, I began my yearly trek to the holy place where I meet my maker. Having overloaded my Ford Taurus with the necessary equipment and supplies, I hit the road, breathing a sigh of relief as I passed the sign indicating I was leaving city limits and the trappings of civilization. I was on my way at last, headed for “God’s Country” (or Goddess), and my eagerly awaited communion with the Creator.

    Proceeding east along highway 126, I began the process of de-stressing. By the time I reached the tiny community of Vida, I found that I could actually breathe through my nose again, which rarely happens for me in town. I knew I was on the right track and better things were in store during the coming week. This might not seem like much to some, but for the person who feels like he tries to breathe with cotton balls shoved up his nose most of the time, it is huge.

    As I turned from 126 on to Aufderheid Forest Drive, my sense of exhilaration grew stronger. Dead ahead and just a mere twenty miles up the road was my destination, Frissell Crossing Campground. I have driven this stretch of road so many times over the years that I think I could probably do it while I sleep. But for the sake of expediency, I chose to keep my eyes open and take in some of its beauty as I drove. As an aside, it seems that the place got its name from the fact that over a century ago an old sheep herder by the name of Frissell, forded the South Fork of the McKenzie at this very spot.

    I soon struck camp. All was in order and it was time to let my hair down and my beard grow. I sat with my back to an enormous fir tree, letting the rushing whitewater stream take with it all the worries and cares and stress of my everyday existence, feeling them wash away with the flow of the pristine waters. I pictured these burdens flowing downstream, eventually to end up where the river meets the sea. The purification process had begun, and with it the much needed healing of body, mind and spirit.

    By late evening the other members of the expedition had all arrived and made camp. So here I was, in the midst of such natural beauty, among family and friends. By this time some of the “curmudgeon’ I have been blessed with had gone downstream as well and I was ready to welcome all with open arms. No man is an island, not even Mr. Curmudgeon with a capital K. Part of the magic of this wonderful place lies in the fact that I have around me those that I care for the most; my 82 year old father, my grown children and their children.

    The time had come to undertake a ritual that needed to be done without the distractions of others. I began my yearly solo hike on the Ollallie Trail into the Three Sisters Wilderness to a small stream known as Bull Creek. Here I sat on a moss covered boulder and opened my spirit to those of the trees, the water, the sky and the rocks. I heard their voices and let them hear mine. I felt my connection to the Earth Mother and my responsibility to live in harmony with the spirits of all things. I don’t know how long I sat there in silence, absorbing the truths of my own lifestyle and its impact on Mother Earth. I was one the universe..

    I spent a wonderful four days in paradise, but all good things must end. Begrudgingly, I made the return trip to reality, or the Twilight Zone, as I prefer to call it. Even now, the experience is just a memory; one among many such memories accumulated over the years. And true to form, some of the curmudgeon wafted out of the river somewhere around Leaburg, attaching itself firmly to my psyche. I shall endeavor to keep it under control. But even now I look forward to another visit to my favorite haunt before summers end and a refresher course from the earth. Unless I completely miss my guess, those around me will be thankful for a second retreat, even if they are unable to accompany me.


Here There Be Dragons

July 29, 2012 8 comments

I went up to the upper McKenzie River this past Wednesday and spent some time along the river trail taking some photographs with my 4×5.  I haven’t had the film processed yet but I do have some images I took with my Nikon.  I use my D200 as a light meter and to get shots when I don’t have time to set up my big camera.  Sometimes the light changes so fast I don’t have time to get my 4×5 setup.  But until I get my film back and scanned, I have this:

Root formation along the McKenzie River Trail.

New photos

July 19, 2012 5 comments

I finally got out with my 4×5 and took some photographs.  Unfortunately, my film was old (it’s been in my fridge for three years) and the images didn’t come out as clean as I had hoped.  So, I had to ugly them up a bit to make them work.  Thanks to SkeletalMess for the textural layers.Image

Clearwater Falls, Cascade Range, Oregon

Image

Stump Lake, Cascade Range, Oregon

Creative Recharging

April 27, 2012 6 comments

Everyday we are surrounded by a gaggle of people who want a little piece of us: our kids, our spouse, our boss, our pets, and our friends – an exercise in herding cats. At some point, we have to withdraw and recharge. This is important. Sometimes our ability to sequester ourselves in a womb of solitude protected from the demands of others can mean the difference between sanity and lunacy. I know.

Some years back I had a job that kept me on call 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. I was responsible for the uptime on a centralized mainframe computer system supporting a major military installation. The military operated non-stop, therefore the computer operated non-stop, therefore I operated non-stop. Fourteen to sixteen hour days were typical, including weekends. I averaged at least one telephone call per night between the hours of midnight and five A.M. On average, two of these trouble calls per week would require me to get out of bed and drive out to the shop to fix a problem. It was exhausting. No, let me rephrase that, it was killing me.

The frustration, stress, anxiety and depression were driving me inexorably to a final dance with my revolver. There was only one thing in my life at that time that was powerful enough to keep me interested in life: my piano. Having a creative outlet save my life.

Human beings create. That’s what we do. We use our imagination and the gift of opposable thumbs to make things. This compulsion to create is what sets us apart from the other animals and our nearest competitors, the Neanderthals.

Somewhere between 20-30 thousand years ago, Homo sapiens ventured deep into caves to create art. They did this at great risk to themselves. In areas where even today access is difficult with the latest technology, they spent hours of precious time investing in the act of creation. So far as we can determine, our Neanderthal cousins did not do this. Only we did. It is what makes us who we are. It is what makes us uniquely human.

In addition to other foundations of culture – supernatural beliefs, burial rituals, rites of passage, and language, we humans developed art for art’s sake. Art historians and anthropologists do not know, exactly, why early humans created these paintings, but I think I do.

They did it in order to create something beautiful and harmonious, something elegant and timely, and something that could transport them away from the short, brutish lives they lived. Whether your daily existence is kill or be killed or a constant battle to separate oneself from the relentless demands of a modern career, the call of art creation springs from the same well of desire: a need to fully experience our humanity.

We live in a world where humans move through the quotidian more as machines than people, more as automatons than fragile souls. Our time is pressed upon. Our personal strength is sapped by others – vampires of time, energy and creativity. That’s why it’s vital to spend time each and every day doing something creative for our self. It is how we connect with our true nature, our core humanity.

There is a reason why art is used as therapy for PTSD victims. It works. We now know that creative endeavors such as art and music build new neural connections in the brain allowing us to see the world differently. Art helps us to gain a new perspective on our worn out paradigms. It allows us to escape into something that belongs only to us. It is time well spent engaging in our personal space, learning about ourselves, exploring our own ideas without interference from others. And it may be that engaging in the creation of art for art’s sake is a very real evolutionary artifact that developed to help us cope with reality, connect with our true nature, and imagine our way to a better future.

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