Archive for art

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”



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”


Posted in Cooking Tips, Duke's Cooking Stories, Duke's Recipes, Handyman Tips with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by dukex

I like to think of myself as a “Retro” kind of a guy and also somewhat “Active.”  This mirror piece could could be seen as a reflection of my Retro-activeness.  People always ask me where I get all the items I use in my art. My answer is; I salvaged much of them over time.



For example in this work here I acquired the Mercury hubcap a couple of years back when my family and I were swimming in the Lewis River at Lewisville Park just north of  The City of Battle Ground, WA. We love to swim in the rivers here and find them to be very clean and refreshing.  Lewisville Park is wonderfully maintained.  A green and lushly forested place with many amenities.

We always bring snorkel masks and gear when swimming and spend a lot of time scouring the river floor looking for treasure.  The Mercury hubcap was one of those great finds.  It didn’t come easy though, we had to work for it. It was wedged in about two feet of swift water and only about 6% of it was showing.  We didn’t know what it was until we freed it from the two or more large river rocks which were teamed up and intent on keeping it for themselves. I tugged and pried at for about thirty minutes until my oldest and much stronger son Ryan worked at the task. I was certain it would be one of those “help me open the jar of pickles Son” moments.

After another thirty minutes he gave up.  Well, we can’t just swim away and leave this thing here.  It looked much too promising,  a real treasure I’m sure.

So I went back at it;  and after another hour was able to free it from it’s watery grave.   “Aah haaaa I yelled as I thrust it into the air along with an arch of river water trailing the motion as I waved it like a flag.

The people at the swim site did glance over at me for a second, then realizing it was just a crazy old pastey white guy with an enlarged, overly exposed belly, they quickly turned away.  I proudly sloshed my way up the bank and presented my trophy to my wife  like a proud Golden Retriever with a freshly bagged duck in its mouth.

She in all her beauty and wisdom said, “Nice, the trash can is over there.”  “Are you kidding” I quipped.  “This thing is awesome, I’m keeping it”.  To which she replied, “what are you going to do with that thing?’ “I’m not sure, but I’m keeping it, thank you very much.” And I did as you can see.

Mercury Hub Cap

Mercury Hubcap

Also in this piece is an old microphone which came from a Wire Recorder that was manufactured in 1945. That’s right, before CD’s, cassette tapes and even 8 tracks. I’m talking way back; even before reel to reel tape recorders there were Wire Recorders!  This was a home or office model and was quite portable for its time.

Of course I am much too young to have used one of these in it’s prime, but I purchased it back in 1970.  I was in the sixth grade and my buddy; let’s see… For the sake of this story I’ll call him John; John Ford (because that is his real name.)  John Ford and I went to the Ellsworth Elementary School annual rummage sale.

Somehow?  I can’t remember, we earned tickets through some kind of games.  While digging deep into the heaps and piles of rummage I came across the Wire Recorder. I was amazed and marveled at it’s clean lines and Commando Cody-like design.  It was complete with all necessary parts and even extra spools of wire for recording.  The price was a dollar but I only had six tickets valued at 10 cents each.  I really wanted the recorder so I talk my friend John into pitching in his four remaining tickets (we did stop off at the bake sale room first after all.)  He did so and we agreed to joint ownership of the grand device.

We took turns with it at our homes and recorded many prank phone calls and I’m sure some flatulent tones were captured as well.  I even had my friend Donnie Thornburg call my girlfriend at the time, while we recorded him telling her I wanted to break up. (Duke; you coward.) I do feel bad for that. (Sorry Janet.)

Old Mic from Wire Recorder

Old Mic from Wire Recorder

So let’s review… I got the Wire Recorder in 1970, dragged it through countless moves, in and out of damp basements and dusty attics and not least of all… into my third marriage.  Yikes!  Do you think it was worth it?  Anyhow last month I dug it out and sadly it no longer worked. So I gutted it, harvesting it’s more interesting parts.  Old radio tubes and of course the microphone.  John; John Ford; if you’re out there and want your portion of the Wire Recorder. I have divided it.  Remember its 60/40 in my favor.

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