D.R.E.A.M. Big Kid Coloring Book

Posted in art, Duke's Stories with tags on August 19, 2016 by dukex

Cover book cover back Colored art 1



Do All Shoes go to Heaven? …only if they have a soul.

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories on September 6, 2015 by dukex


The fact is, we are dust. We eat dust, we form objects from dust and we burn dust for power. We have figured out how to make things from dust like shoes to protect and separate us from dust.  Powered flight and space travel are made possible through dust. And when we are all finished, we shall return to dust, it will be a homecoming of sorts. This tragic bit of truth was not given us through science, but from scripture.

Genesis 3:19

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Later confirmed through the lyrics of Joni Mitchel’s in her song “Woodstock” “We are star-dust… billion year old carbon.”

Perhaps the scriptural notations about dust and death were simply a matter of observation? At any rate the fact remains that dust rules and for that reason I will be spelling dust with a capital “D” here on out.

For most of us, this life is a desperate situation. It is a sobering thought that we assume form, thrive for a spell and then cease to exist. Our only hope is to leave a mark. a scratch on the fabric of time and space. We’ve seen it done in the past.

Antaeus stone monuments, great buildings and unspeakable art haunt us with the fact the we will never accomplish such greatness. Unless carved in stone, even written accounts of greatness will not last either. In fact stones are just a large version of Dust pulling together for a time and then cycling back into the Dust from whence it came. In this world of struggle and constant paddling just to keep our heads above the Dust, Not even our posterity can guarantee a testimony of our existence.


This may be the reason the, “Kilroy was here” method of tagging is so popular.  The leaving of a mark for others to see once we are gone. Much of it today is done with a can of spray-paint.The rattle can added high levels of color and design to our markings but can not match the simplest of drawings and spattered hand silhouettes on ancient cave walls. I speculate the cave art of our ancestors was done for simple joy and not left as an “I was once here”. for the generations to come. It is very rare these days to come across a marker that shares the simple beauty of a cave drawing.


In the high desert of Central Oregon, between Redmond and Bend there stands on the east side of highway 97 a dead tree. Not so unusual for sure, but this tree is decorated with fleeting attempts of timeless recognition. There is no plaque out front giving explanation of its purpose or qualifications for participation. If I were asked to name it, I would call it “The Tree of DASH, Dust Activated Soul Hanger.


I have driven by it many times as I traveled for work and was entertained by its whimsy. At a quick glance I surmised it was a place where the young and those who longed to leave a mark, expressed themselves.

It wasn’t until I stopped there at 3 a.m. to take pictures in the dark of the clear desert night, I was moved by its majesty of purpose.

It was thought-provoking to say the least. I stood there looking up at the bottom of shoes stranded between heaven and earth, trying with all their might to escape the bonds of Dust even a slow motion struggle with the universal power of gravity,


More thoughts came. Thoughts of souls, not soles, as they pass through the gates of time and the physical.  I wanted to assign it the title of monument. Clearly i could see the countless victims of the despicable practice of Lynching, Each shoe bottom accounting for a thousand lives hanging before me. My heart ached.  Then my gaze reached beyond the branches and all the way to the moon and I wondered if the reason for the moon was to stand as a witness to what takes place in the dark. And beyond that the stars waited patiently while the heavens called, urging the souls to come hither and find refuge from the Dust..The Dust that makes War and love possible, Dust that grows into trees to bare fruit and to hang from.  Offering escape from the Dust which buries the dreadful and blemished as well as the beautiful.


To those who collectively created this “Tree of DASH” I say ,”Thank You!” Your attempted expression of being has worked for me. I get it. Your shoes mean much more than the “You” but stands for us all. We are here.We do exist and even tho we will some day return to dust. We did matter, we did… We did what Dust can not do without us,


074 On the ground lay the wounded soles who fell from the heavens…

Trinkets, Stones and Bones

Posted in Duke's Stories, poems with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2015 by dukex

What is the value of a dirty Cat-eye marble or a half melted toy army man? If you think Zero$$$ you could be right. Unless of course these items had a story projected on them by the one who possesses them. Their value may increase depending on where they are found or who owned them in the past. There is no shortage of trinkets, stones or bones so they can’t be more valued because of their rarity. Yet as family and friends we are compelled to collect such items and  pile them in delicate and loving arraignments along road-sides across America.

When I was walking in the early spring I came across this  sacred monument and was moved by its simple reverence.

074A sad memorial to the loss of children along the shore-line at the mouth of the Columbia river.


078Faces of toys and trusted friends that in the past had a comforting smile stitched on them, now were faded and drawn down by years of rain.  To me these object represented extreme expense and were placed here by broken hearts and trembling hands. Here lies what was once a Dollar store toy to help a restless child make it to the next stop on a day of errands now stands guard over a Geo-location that staged an event which, for someone, changed the world.

I’ve been paying more attention to such places lately and now see them more often.  Many are just a blur on the side of the road  where they denote a spot where at once, time stood still and trails ended. Some are kept fresh like a celebrity grave-site and others fade rapidly. Few grow and expand into more.044While I was speeding along traveling for an out-of-town job, something caught my eye. Brakes were activated and some gravel did spray. Looking out my window I could see what looked like a parade of colorful flags blowing back and forth, waving me to come closer. When my feet hit the gravel I noticed some coins mixed in and reached down to collect them, thinking it was my lucky day,  I poked the coins into my pocket with my other change. I then climbed the small grade through the scrub brush and empty beer bottles.045I was halted at the gate by a centennial that look me up and down before my entrance was granted. I was thrilled with its many trinkets and I started to see things that to someone, were once objects of great personal value.

048Somehow this seemed to be more than a one-time memorial. This area is part of the great Yakima Nation. But now suffers the installment of a paved highway and speed limit signs that stoically holler their commands. 055

001I’m not sure how much time I stood there and gazed at all the trinkets, stones and bones?  I did notice more coins on the ground and as I bent to pick them up something spoke to my soul. I realized this is not a place where one comes and takes things, no it’s a place where things must be brought and left. I was genuinely moved and before I slipped through the barbed wire I reached into my pocket and pulled out all the money I had and tossed it back. In doing so I felt I had added to the validity of the place and moment. I hope this is more than a Native American marker and now belongs to all who seek it’s offerings. I considered asking the local people  what this place is about, but I don’t think I really want to. I know what it means to me and think of it often, imagining fanciful reasons that had led to its establishment.

Today I was reminded of this place again. It happened when I was traveling through my old home town, The Dalles Oregon. When passing, I often like to drive through my old neighborhood. This time I had remembered that my brother Darrel suggested I stop and visit our old family friend and babysitter. Her name is Francis Lee and she had two boys. Bobby and Jimmy Lee. Jimmy Lee was Darrel’s best friend when we still lived there. Bobby and Jimmy both died way to young (Jimmy at age 19 passed due to complications of  Muscular Dystrophy). Francis is a longtime widow and still lives in the same home.  Because of Muscular Dystrophy Jimmy wore leg braces for a time and then was bound to a wheelchair. As kids we would take Jimmy into the back lot and spend hours setting up toy army men and wage battles with the carpenter ants as if they were an alien race from outer space.

Visiting was pleasant and I asked her about her new kitchen and if the laundry room was still downstairs. She said yes and joked about how she throws the dirty clothes down to the bottom of the stairs, when the pile builds up to a load she goes down and picks them up to be washed. She told me how she has a garden now in the back lot and she spends a good deal of time there during the growing season, and then she said something that pulled at my heart and clarified my thoughts on how seemingly unimportant objects can be a marker for the life of a loved one.

She said,”Every so often when I’m out in the garden turning the soil…  …a marble or an army man will pop up.”

Once cheep toys to be trodden under foot, now trinkets of peace and comfort.

I didn’t ask to see the jar of her precious trinkets, but I knew she had it…

We hugged and I took her picture.    Francis

Coming Soon:  “The Tree of Dash”


Unnecessary Miracles….

Posted in poems, Video with tags , on November 12, 2014 by dukex




What if…

there are only so many miracles on this earth?

Like the beat of your heart,

from the time of your birth…

…and since I’m asking,

what about bombs,

unlimited with endless supply?

Or will they banned from the clouds and  the sky?

Today I watched a video on the book of the faces..

…in it I saw the horror of races,

Right there.. …in the spot where a bomb reached its zenith,

was a pile of rubble, with someone  beneath it.

Apropos would be an”X” on that spot,

for the treasure below was the life of a Tot.

As the story goes,

heard from below…

…a crying, muted, in whispers of woe.

The men in the video were broken

and hurt,

yet bare hands and bloody fingers,

tore at the dirt,

The large stones in the pile seemed to just rise from their hearts,

then the ground once clenched…

…now twain-ed apart.

Forever it seamed as they scrambled and drilled,

for it wouldn’t be long ’till the infant was killed.

In a flurry of dust an elbow appeared,

next was a shoulder,

then a forehead ,ear.

Tiny and lifeless was the lips of this child,

while strangers shared their breath,

gently and mild.

Next came a pick-ax for leverage and pull,

hastened by fear the clustered hands culled.

From the breath he revived….

… and with the hands of a doll he rubbed grit from his eyes.

Came then was a miracle,

The boy is alert,

clothed in confusion,

cement dust and dirt.

Men crying to heaven was not at all odd.

For this we are thankful, they did cheer to God.

There are men who make bombs and drop them on us…

…and those who scratch rubble, as they spit and they cuss,

If miracles are numbered and there’s only so few.  Then bombs will deplete them…

…this they tragically do.

So I call to the sky,  “Take back all your bombs!”

We’ll stop all our pleading in prayers and songs.

Then no more will miracles be wasted and lost,

and destruction and death will not be the cost…









On Your Knees

Posted in art, Cooking Tips, Duke's Stories, Duke's Cooking Stories, Duke's Recipes, Handyman Tips, Kitchen Shop Tools, poems with tags , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by dukex

Cookies and Milk

Fabby Freak…

Posted in art with tags , , , , on September 8, 2011 by dukex

Complete process can be seen at this link. “Lord of the Things”

…of Mermaids; The making…

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories on January 18, 2011 by dukex

50 inches x 39 inches




New Post… …Old pics

Posted in art with tags , , on November 23, 2010 by dukex

“Driven To Create”

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by dukex

In this realm, nearly all creatures build in some measure.  Some for shelter and nesting, some build high-tech chambers of metamorphosis. The examples are endless.  Even without “thumbs” these marvelous creatures make the most elaborate of vessels and the greatest of cities. Many have said that it is the inclusion of the thumb that make humans different.  With this added feature we somehow gain an increased advantage.  We realize as in the afore-mentioned examples much can be done with a claw, a beak or a special gland.

It is the drive to create that sets Homo sapiens apart.  We build our nest alright but we do it with style and pizzazz.   The wondrous non-human species of earth can only build. They do what has been done before, deviating very little from their instinct.

History tells us of people who were driven to build.  Then there are those who are driven to create.  And within that spectrum we see a division with this drive to create combined with genius.   Leonardo da Vinci comes to mind. When this unique combination happens humanity is inspired.

As a commercial carpenter I am compelled to build with the expectation of clean lines and durable function but I am also driven to create.  With a small measure of recognition and much removed from the genius end of the creative spectrum I find joy in the things I create.  I plead guilty to the lack of clean lines, balanced presentation or durability. The joy comes in the making and in the sharing.

I reject the notion that the “Thumb” sets us apart from the other builders around us. I believe if we were born without thumbs, we would have created them…


Duke DesRochers



“Teasing Tilly”

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories on September 27, 2010 by dukex

This work is dedicated to a girl that I went to school with in 1965. Tilly is her name and she was terribly shy and was an easy mark for bullies.

I regret to admit that I partook in that wicked practice of

“Teasing Tilly”.

I beg her forgiveness…

I would like to
invite all friends and their guest to my latest showing of art. It is Oct
1st 2010. From 5pm to 9pm at “Angst Gallery” 1015 Main
Street, Vancouver, WA 98660 360.253.1742


Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories on April 8, 2010 by dukex

If  the eyes are the window into the soul…  …then the mirror is the only hope for our time…

My Mother taught me

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories on March 25, 2010 by dukex

I think that loving Thy neighbor is not meant to be easy, and will require sacrifice… My Mother taught me that every person in this world is equal in the eyes of God and should not be excluded because they are not like most people. I learned it when I was a boy in the 1960’s. She let the young hippie kids who were on the streets and passing through town with no food or place to sleep, camp in our backyard. Even though we had very little food, she cooked up a big pot of oatmeal. It was manna to my taste. I’m sure all the church going crowd turned their noses up at her. I know Reta June West DesRochers (My Mom) would have supported Obama because of her Christ-like love for the oppressed.

… a certain Liberal Democrat, Or “What don’t you get about what Jesus is trying to teach you in Luke 10: 25-37

Posted in art on March 1, 2010 by dukex

It’s time to get political; personally I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the so called Christian Right and the same old hypocrisy that plague the self-righteous of the world. You all may remember what your Mothers taught you while she spoon fed you with pure love. It’s a little quoted thing called “The Golden Rule”. Does it ring a bell? Well for those who have been able to delete this valuable lesson from their memory, here is a brief description. Do to others (people) the things you would wish done to you, (your-self.) The following is a well known scripture from the New Testament, (bible). I have, as you will see; changed some of the words to help Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh more fully understand…

25 ¶ And, behold, a certain Corporation stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain American went down from Jersey to Queens, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain Tea Bagger that way: and when he saw him,

(he could not tell if the wounded man was  a real American., so…)

he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Republican, when he was at the place, came and looked on him,( and saw no American Flag pin and after all he thought, “If I help this man it will cost me the money I plan to spend on my War Machine!”) and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Liberal Democrat, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, (and put him in  his own car,) and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Not asking for his Health Insurance card.)

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out (some cash), and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. (“Single Payer Health Care”)

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Nuff Said…

Mirror Madness

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , on January 30, 2010 by dukex

If you find an old mirror, take a closer look. Lean in and you will find ripples and waves. Many have scrapes, dullness and blisters. Do not throw it away! The scars in a mirror are from years of reflecting the intensity of life. Now that you have leaned in and saw its flaws, it will not forget you…

I am a Christmas Clam… Are you one too?

Posted in Duke's Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by dukex

I guess It’s no great revelation when I say the reason most Bloggers blog is because we really want to know if there are more people out there in the world that are just like us. Many blogs follow popular hobbies, sports, politics, and entertainment including an endless list of topics. The people who pen the most popular blogs do; in my opinion, not need the social affirmation that the small blogger like myself seek. Blogs can sell, persuade and convert. Bloggers can induce anger, sympathy and send a readers endorphin glands into a tailspin. Today I just want to know; is there anyone who thinks like me?

In my everyday life, I find many things in common with my work mates and neighbors. I did find one difference. The difference is that I love Christmas Music. I mean I really, really love it. I can fool around in my studio all day long, listening to those familiar carols, and be as happy as a Christmas Clam. Not the clam in the dip at the party table, but a Grandpa clam under the sand at the beach, with it’s family gathered around the Christmas tree with a roaring fire and Christmas music on the Ipod dock.

The other day at work, I started to sing “Silver Bells” and was quickly shut down by a fellow worker. “Oh man; he said don’t start with the Christmas music, I can’t take it”.

In the first part of November, I was driving back home to Battle Ground WA from a job in Spokane WA. (About a six hour drive) While scanning the local radio stations I was thrilled to find an all Christmas Music format. It truly made a portion of my lonely drive pleasant and reflective.

Because of so many family parties to satisfy at Thanksgiving this year, we had a complete Thanksgiving dinner at our home on Saturday; the week after. We called it “Thanksmas”. We also got our Christmas tree on that Saturday. My wife and the Grand kids decorated it beautifully. A few days latter, I realized we had not watered it. So with my Dishnetwork set to an all Christmas Music channel; I filled a picture of water and commenced to crawl under the tree.  It being a good-sized tree I had to stick my face into the branches and stretch my arm to hit the well. The song that was playing at the time was “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (one of my personal faves)

The very moment I inhaled the sweet Douglas fir fumes I was instantly intoxicated with Christmas endorphins. You know how it is described; that when a person dies they some times see their life flash before their eyes? Well that is what happened to me; except it was scenes of Christmases past, the smell of a new can of Lincoln Logs or the smooth shiny cold feel of a fresh box of Legos. Cold only because they had just come from Santa’s sleigh which was surely parked on our snowy roof. I lay there paralyzed as the song echoed into my childhood. Water spilling down my arm; I nudged my face deeper into the welcoming branches and drew in a larger, deeper breath.  Ahhhh… I exhaled and remembered colorfully lit Nativity scenes with solemn statues in poses of amazement and rows and rows of neighborhoods decked out with twinkling lights.

At the age of 52, it is hared to hold on to those moments and so I was rudely jerked back to the here and now. The music was still on but the song had changed. I thought to myself; “Man, I am a Happy Clam”.

So, am I the only Christmas Clam on the beach?

Tell the truth.

Do you love Christmas Music too?

Karma Apples from Heaven

Posted in art, poems, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by dukex

Mirror mirror 001 (Small)

Do you believe in Karma?  You know the “Reap what you Sow;” approach to life. Many people do. My ex-mother-in-law would say in a threatening tone,” What goes around; comes around!”  NBC had a popular sitcom called “My Name Is Earl;” which lampooned what to some is a very deep and personal belief. Whenever I think about Karma, it sometimes makes me shutter to my very core. I admit I have done a few good things thus far in my life, but it’s the, “Bad Things”… that haunt me.  You may know what I’m talking about?  The stuff you do while you’re still learning about yourself and others; what’s good, what’s bad and what’s just plain stupid.  It scares me because I should have known better… and yet, I still did what I did.

I believe it was 1967 and I was in my eleventh year. In our neighborhood, just one block west and two blocks north was a nursing home.  In those days we kids called it “The Old Folks Home.” It was a grand old building with gilded trim and majestic adornments.  It was not unusual for us on a hot summer day to find ourselves passing by the old Folks Home.  Having exhausted all adventurous activities for the time being. We would stop in and visit with the residents there.  We were joyfully welcomed by most and spent time listening to tales of the good old days. In the lobby was an old soda cooler; it opened like a chest and the bottles hung in rows, like little solders suspended in a magical cold mist.  A nickel would get a freckle faced towheaded boy 12 ounce of refreshing Orange Crush.  Gulping it down would give relief from the tart atmosphere that can stew in an old structure that was without a modern cooling and ventilation system. The patrons there were always kind to me and I felt close to many of them. I cannot believe it was I, who perpetrated such an offense against them.

Across the street from the Old Folks Home was a failing fence, the usual tall grass and then a sandy field with a sparse carpet of wispy shorter grasses; And of course at least one ancient, twisted and water starved apple tree.  We kids spent many a hot summer afternoon digging underground forts in the soft sand.  Our handy work produced a structure featuring a sun bleached plywood and plank roof with hand scooped shelves into the submerged dirt walls for holding our candles supplying needed interior illumination.  Once the roof was in position and the candles lit; our sand pit became a cool (as in groovy and cool as in cold) dark Gothic refuge.  You could taste the dirt with each earthy breath.  This particular time we had gathered a good pile of the sour and bug blemished apples as a cache of surely needed ammo.  A bunker like ours could easily be attacked from neighborhood foes.  The war ripened fruit would be well suited to repel any advance from the enemy.Mirror mirror 008 (Small)

There we sat, with our eyes peering through strategically placed gaps in the forts construction. Watching and waiting.  Cars zoomed by. Candles flickered. Blades of grass bowed in submission to the wind gust while sand peppered our anxious watchful eyes.  Nothing…  I was selected as a scout, then commanded to go out, observe, return and report.  I nimbly crept up to ground level while doing the classic Army Man crawl.  Clearly, I was an expert at this maneuver.  I made my way through the rounded dunes; I popped my head up quickly and then back down hard.  This method insured I would not be captured by the enemy.  All was quiet; all except some movement from the direction of the road.  A mad lizard like scramble and my chin was now resting on a fence board. I reached up and parted the tall grass, fully expecting to see a large contingent of enemy forces bearing down on or stronghold.  Alas there was nothing. Not even a cootie-infested girl who like to force dolls on us and into our underground fort. Nothing that is except family members across the street helping their old folks out of a car and into wheelchairs.  Rats! I crawled back on my belly and slid down into the fort.  I commenced to give my report while I scooped the sand from my pockets and dusted out my bellybutton.  Hopes of an all out war dashed.  But you guessed it. There was one kid. I honestly cannot remember who for sure; was one of those, “If you’ve been given lemons, then make lemonade” kind of people and with excited eyes said, “Ya know we have all these apples and we really can’t leave them, the skunks will get in tonight and sabotage our fort.”  “I say we attack!

Without hesitation, we loaded up our arms and army crawled over to the fence. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about what can happen to people under the spell of a mob mentality. It is true what they say about being caught up in the movement of the event. There we were taking aim and letting fly a barrage of hot weapons of apple destruction.

The ground around our target erupted in an applesauce hell. Many a round found its mark as their objections began to be screamed. The Old Folks looked around to see the source of the fruity offensive. A simultaneous retreat was achieved as we all Army Man scrambled into our fort hoping to escape the return carnage. We had dabbled war and now our hands were filthy dirty with its spoils. My heart pounded in the silence we all shared, waiting for the inevitable counter attack. It never came.Mirror mirror 013

This is why I worry. If Karma is real then I should expect to be attacked. In my later years. When vulnerable, helpless and fully engulfed in the angst of old age. To be spattered with something sweet and sickly-smelly. Fully deserving of it. However, is that necessary? I quickly realized the error of my ways that day of apples from heaven. What I am hoping for is perhaps the Old Folks we bombed did something rotten when they were kids and Karma sent me there to administer their dose, with apples…. If not, then Karma is endless, those who deliver Justice will have Justice served on them, and the kids who smack me will get theirs, and so on, Apples from Heaven… Endless, Karma Apples. And so too it goes in war…

Me? I’ll keep my gaze upward.

About The Art
This is my latest work and is titled
“Doll Cross”
It is 85in. tall and about 50in at the widest part.
It took me about a week to complete.
It has nothing to do with the story
“Karma Apples from Heaven”.
I just took the opportunity to show it
off with this story.
It is currently being shown at
ANGST Gallery
1015 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660 360.253.1742 Leah.AngstGallery@gmail.com
Wednesday to Saturday, Noon to 5:00 pm or by Appointment



Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by dukex
The Aquarium

The Aquarium

“9 Blakely Way.”  That was the address of our home back in 1957;  the year I was born.  No NW, SW or Southeast just, “9 Blakely Way.”  We lived in a small housing project built from the 30’s to the 40’s which was on the outskirts of The Dalles Oregon.  It was a time of paper boys and the milkman, yes and Service Stations with .25 cent a gallon gas.  Common; was Mom charging groceries on a tab at the market and Dad working a couple of nights a week cleaning up the butcher shop to pay the bill.

Our home phone number was 6-9414; that’s right, just 5 digits, no area codes or mandatory prefixes.  Looking back I can honestly say it was a simpler time.  I was born the last of six children and I admit I was a bit of a momma’s boy.  All of the others had a time when they were the baby, but it only lasted until the next uninvited child came along, but me, I didn’t have that problem.  No one came after me…

This meant I spent a lot of time hanging with my Mother and her other stay at home mom friends.  I was a curious sort in my pre-school years and would ask questions like,” Do trees have blood?”

I learned at a young age that there were treasures to be had if a boy would keep his eyes peeled and on the ground.  It happened when I was walking the neighborhood.  Something shiny caught my eye. It was a glorious silver dollar. It filled my hand out to the very edges of its span.  It was embossed with stunning detail.  Man it was beautiful.   I wanted to keep it for ever!  goonies-022

Until later that day, when the older kid two doors down informed me that I could have his Nestles Chocolate can full of marbles in exchange for my object of delight; the silver dollar. I jumped at the deal and made it home to show my mom what great glassy jewels I had leveraged for a mere dollar.  In the early 60’s a person could get a lot for a dollar and my mother being a sharp girl, pointed this out. She further instructed me to return the treasures and get the coin back. I did so reluctantly.

Upon returning home she loaded me into the car and we went to the market where I was unleashed on the candy section. I could truly see the wisdom in her actions and the events of that day only added to my awe of her position of greatness and knowledge of life.


Remembering this; from then on, when traveling by foot I always kept one eye on the ground. You never know what you might find. In my travels however the treasures seamed to be few and far between. Oh sure there were plenty of sticks, rocks and lizards to be had and I did revel in shinier, more magic ones.  Sometimes my attention would be drawn to a particular stick or rock. I would pick them up and after surmising that they were of no particular worth and not possessing any magical powers.  I would drop them back to the ground.

As I walked away I imagined the object pleading with me not to just leave them there. The stick would reason with me that by picking it up I had gotten it’s hopes up.  Perhaps it had dreamed of coming home with me, maybe even finding a nice cozy place in my room on the headboard of my bed or in a dresser drawer.

Needless to say I was an easy mark and often fell pray to their pleadings. This also translated into a personal theory that objects may very well have feelings, perhaps objects could dream, long for a “Someday;”  What if they could feel disappointment and pain like me?  What if that rock I just tossed into the creek couldn’t swim?  Maybe it was laying next to its Mother rock and because of me it may never see her again? This could get very complicated. What about my reckless shuffle across the field?  Did I disrupt the lives of many a happy object?  You’ve got to get a grip here Dukie!goonies-026

OK, so let me think? Maybe objects do have feelings and maybe they don’t, I’m not sure. Many objects did seem to speak to me in their own way. But maybe that was just the imagination of a goofy little boy; who by the way sported an endless bad haircut?

Well at any rate I do know this; by looking at this world which is so bejeweled with endless objects of interest and delight; having an appreciation and reverence for that which was left here by the hand of God or fashioned by mankind, a person could develop a peculiar kinship with “Things.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the guys whose a slave to his car or boat (I wish I had a boat). I don’t spend hours polishing and waxing anything. In fact it’s just the opposite; I need to take better care of the things I have. Instead of being enslaved by the objects of my life, I like to think of myself as their Master. Maybe even the Lord of what I possess, heh… maybe even, like… the lord of my things. That’s it! I am “The Lord of My Things. No wait, try this. “Lord of the Things”. I like it!  I am “Lord of the Things”. More like a “Junk Whisperer,” really.goonies-041

I want to believe the past few years of my artistic endeavors have reflected my close relationship with the objects of this realm. Thus far I have found it to be a natural and rewarding approach.

Have you listened…?  Then heard the whisper…?  If so you know what I’m talking about.








Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2009 by dukex


This piece is a tribute to the 1985 adventure movie, “The Goonies.”

Back in 2003 my family and I took a trip to the Oregon coast and when we passed through Astoria we stopped to see the infamous Goonie House.

We walked up the drive like the sign that welcomed all the “Faithful Goonies” asked.

At the top of the driveway we meet the woman who lived there and she invited us in to see the new renovation of the interior. She was very kind and well versed on the home.

I noticed on our way out the old kitchen cabinets on the side of the house and asked if she was sending them to the dump?

When she said that she was; I asked if I could have them?  They were graciously given to me and I strapped them to the top of my 1988 Chevy Suburban.

Well they spent the next few years under plastic behind my barn and when we moved the only thing that wasn’t too water damaged was a cupboard door. I saved it for another two years and finally did this wall hanging.



My Recent Art Attack

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2009 by dukex

The Pixie MonolithOK, I’m sorry!  To the great multitude of my blog followers, I am truly sorry.  It has been a very long time since I’ve posted anything and I know many of you were worried about me.

The rumors are true;  I did have an Art Attack.  It all started very suddenly and I wasn’t able to call for help for months. My body is showing the signs of the wear and tear that such a major event can have on someone.  For example. My belly is sticking out as far as it ever has and all my t-shirts are stained with paint and globs of glue.

One day I even found a screw behind my ear. I spent many long hours, hunkered down in my garage under hot lights with the fumes of thinners and spray paint.

I lived only on Diet Coke and sunflower seeds.

The radio was switched back and forth from classical, classical to classical rock. My fingers had large balls of gluey sawdust at the tips, like when you’re breading fish; I guess you could call them “Liquid Nail, Hush Puppies.”

The Mad frenzy of production which accompanied my Art Attack resulted in the completion of several works. It had the therapeutic affects of a good artery scrapping.  Aside from the belly protrusion, I feel great.

I hope this puts to rest all the chatter about my whereabouts and concerns about my health. I had an Art attack, and I survived. I am posting photos of the bits and pieces of junk that were removed from my being.

P.S. I promise to take better care of myself.The Pixie MonolithThe Pixie Monolith

The Pixie Monolith (back)The Pixie MonolithThe Pixie monolith

Welcome To Christmas, Welcome To America

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by dukex

american-flag-2aI was Working the broiler end of the dinner line at the plush Maxi’s Restaurant. A popular up, up and upper scale hot spot in the Red Lion Hotel located at Jantzen beach on the Columbia River in Portland Oregon. This was a very busy and challenging place to work as a cook, or any other position for that matter. We all worked hard, especially the people in the dish-room.

The kitchen was a grand masterpiece of planning and engineering. In addition to all the latest industrial cookware it had the square footage to match. The main kitchen was centered between Maxi’s hot and cold lines and the coffee shop area with its short order line. The adequate banquet prep and dish up area was located off one end of the setup while the dish room was at the other.

It was the early 80’s and we the crew had just been swamped by the thanksgiving holiday. (Where do all these people come from? Don’t they have homes to have their Thanksgiving holiday in?)

The days were busily slipping by and soon it would be Christmas. You don’t really know Christmas until you’ve worked one at a large hotel.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s the USA was the beneficiaries of several waves of immigrants whose families were suppressed and in real danger from their own governments. Many of these hard working people found employment in the food industry. I was really impressed with them; Men and women who back in their home countries were doctors and held other positions which I considered to be highly skilled. Now they were happy to be scrubbing potatoes and washing dishes.

They quickly earned the respect of me and many of my co-workers. I was always curious about them and their former life in Vietnam or Cambodia. They talked freely of the good things and seemed to be understandably guarded about the horrors they had seen and lived. I respected them for the positive attitudes they displayed. I never once heard a complaint that was common to the hard work and long hours that go hand in hand with the food service industry.

As I had mentioned earlier, Christmas was coming. I was feeling the sprit of giving and love. Prep work for the dinner rush meant many an afternoon shoulder to shoulder at the sink peeling and de-veining large shrimp with the help of a dishwasher/prep cook named Dohn. I really enjoyed this quiet time with my belly up to the stainless steel sink while the faucet trickled water over the thawing blocks of shrimp.

Much of our conversation was about the up coming holiday. I noticed that Dohn was not in the same zone I was about Christmas and so I asked him about his plans for that day.

Now I’m not sure if he knew or even believed what it was all about but he was courteous and gave a real effort to converse with me in spite of his limited English.

One of my many questions for Dohn was, did he have a Christmas tree yet? To which he replied that he did not. He went on to explain that he, his wife and three small children could not afford the $10 price tag for a tree. Ten dollars for a Christmas tree makes me pine for the 1980’s.

So being that I was in the Christmas Spirit and wanting to hug and kiss just about everyone I saw, I offered to provide one for them. It took some persuasion on my part, but Dohn agreed. He gave me the address to his home and a time when I could drop it by. It turned out that his family lived only a few blocks from my home and I kept the appointed time without much effort on my part.

While I was untying the tree from the roof of my car Dohn saw me from the window and came out to greet and help me with the tree. On the way to the front door he invited me in. Curious little hands and faces festooned the door and gave way to his lovely wife’s smile. I was warmly greeted and directed into their home. Things were being said to me I’m sure but I was in a state of amazement at the time so I can’t remember what.

The front room had exactly nothing in it. No couch, no big easy chair, no TV, no coffee table, nothing. I dragged the tree to one corner and leaned it up to the wall. They all urged me into the kitchen where there were some furnishings. A small kitchen table with one chair. Now, you can probably guess that they insisted that I sit in the one chair and be comfortable.

The next few moments were that of gratitude expressed in English and Cambodian. In my shock I was able to ask about his family and about how they came to America. He shared with me some of the many challenges they experienced in the past few years. Meanwhile in my mind I was asking myself a couple of questions. “Why did I bring them a stupid tree? What are they going to do with it; they had no lights, no garlands, no ornaments and defiantly no gifts from Santa or anyone else for that matter. The tree really is no good to them except to chop and burn in the fireplace.

After a pleasant time with Dohns family around the kitchen table I explained that I had to go, and we said our good byes.

That night at home I told my wife about what I had seen and she and I agreed we had to do more than just a tree with no lights. We got together with our friends from church and discovered there were many people who wanted to give to Dohn and his family. So the call went out and soon folks were showing up at our door with so many wonderful gifts and household items. After a couple days I made another appointment to visit with Dohn at his home again.

This time I was not alone. We had three cars and two trucks behind us. I knocked at the door and when it opened a precession of strangers began to enter with armfuls of items he and his family desperately needed.

A couch and a loveseat, an old easy chair, coffee table and a book shelf and TV. For the kitchen a complete dinette set with matching chairs, boxes and boxes of canned goods along with a turkey, a ham and all the fixings. The bedrooms were set with bunk beds and dressers. While the tree… The tree was covered with lights and propped by neatly wrapped gifts, covered in ribbons and fanciful bows.

I can hardly describe the scene without getting more than a little choked up. The children’s faces were all ramped up and their eyes were glazed over in disbelief. Dohn and his wife were conflicted between the blessing of this Christmas gift and their humility.

Few words were spoken while hands were grasped and arms draped around one another.

Many years have passed since the night we shared in that wonderful Christmas. I often wonder about Dohn and his family. I am sure he has been in a position to reach out and help someone in kind.

I do know this for sure. Anytime we reach out to help, and by so doing, lift a fellow human being, we ourselves are elevated.

Welcome to Christmas Dohn, Welcome to America…

Astronauts And Moon Pies

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2008 by dukex


If Only I Listened To Mom

If Only I Listened To Mom


I am a humble Renaissance Man. Inventive and creative ideas are thrust at me like stones from outer space. Fortunately I am able to shield my brain quite effectively with a large screen plasma TV. 


Heh, I wish I had a plasma TV. I only have your standard 32in. table monster. “Large Screen Plasma TV” does make for a better read, don’t ya think? Anyhow; I am happily and completely married to my dear, lovely wife Patsy. We have 8 kids and 4 grand children between us. (Mostly the grand kids are between us on the couch).


Growing up I always had a dream of becoming a Food Network Star. My Mother, bless her heart had a different vision for me. Astronaut. That’s right she was under the impression that I should be going to the moon and other daring missions in space.


I do believe this all started when I was in the third grade. One afternoon she and I were at the food market shopping for the family dinner needs, when we ran into my third grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, really that was her name.


Mother and she exchanged the usual pleasantries when my mom followed up with this question, “So how is Duke doing in school?” She was very pleased when Mrs. Smith replied with, “He’s taking up space”.


Sorry mom, I never made it to the moon. I did eat a Moon Pie once though.


I love and miss you.

Insatiable… …a Lust Poem

Posted in Duke's Cooking Stories with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by dukex

i nsatable

I see you standing on the corner,

I’m watching every move you make.

Your pants are made of leather

And your fingernails are fake.

You sport a gold ring in your navel,

A swear word on your lips.

You lay the money on the table

And put your hands upon your hips.

Acting out the script,

You really nailed the role


bloodied up the pages

When you paper-cut my soul.

Please take me to your leader,

And authorize my fate.

Hot cauterized my bleeder

My needs you satiate.

Your hair is all on fire

Still you draw a fleshy breath

I hear the voices of the choir

As they sing me to my death.

You put your arms around me

Then you give my soul a squeeze

The fumes rise off your body

And it drops me to my knees.

They say there is a cost

That I would have to pay

I must die upon your cross,

Then you’ll come out to play.

From the inside of my shirt

Where I used to keep your locket,

And as I watch you flirt,

I pull a spike out of my pocket…