Friday, November 26, 2021

The new Thanksgiving

                                                      Summit oil on oil paper 16x12 inches

Well it was better than last year, no question! My extended northwest family was in several locations so John and I communed with my brother Mike and his wife Norma. It was great. I bought prepared food from New Seasons, our local grocer of higher principles and prices. Those of you who have cooked Thanksgiving dinner understand the immense amount of planning, shopping, standing to cook and exhaustive clean up it requires. And then, we expect our mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and aunts to stage it all again in a month for Christmas! I did it once and realized immediately this is bullshit. Reproducing the same traditional foods everyone loves that is. How did this even get started? Well, I want most of them too so I purchased them and they were good. Mike brought an enormous pecan pie from Costco and I could have wept it tasted so fine. The conversation was engaging and I was loving the four of us there together. 

The autumn before, it was just me and John and a room full of fear. No one would be vaccinated for at least another month. Every time he left for work at the hospital I worried about his exposure to the virus. Every day before the inauguration I worried what the outgoing insane president would do next. Talk about high anxiety!

The 'Summit' is Cook`s Butte,  718 feet in altitude. In winter you can see through gaps in the trees and survey the lower Willamette Valley. The view is expansive. The painting was an exercise of sorts. Even though I`ve returned to oil painting, I still want to work on paper. Arches makes one infused with a resin that prevents the acidic paint from damaging it. This was my first effort.

                                              Willamette Valley Study watercolor on paper

A long time collector of my work sent me this photo of a painting from 2003. I knew it was mine but didn`t remember it. I let him buy it without photographing it first. Unfortunately analog photography just messed up my mind and too many paintings got away before there was a record of them. I used professional grade slide film, my camera was adequate but I could not keep all the elements straight. Somehow when the world went digital, things started to make sense. With the finishing software like Photoshop, I could correct any flaws. A more proper archive commenced.

                                                     Entourage oil on canvas 20x16 inches

This and the drawing below are the last abstract pieces of late. I feel like it`s time to begin merging the two strains of work. I have lost my patience with being perpetually confused when painting without a subject but I definitely want my landscapes to look different with more emphasis on the painting process rather than my personal attitudes toward nature.

     Untitled watermedia on Yupo 14x11 inches

When the sun slips into its annual retreat in the Pacific Northwest, this salad fortifies the spirit until Spring. The idea is from Sicily, I learned of it working in a restaurant and I eat in all winter long. So simple too. When the good citrus from California arrives I peel and slice oranges. Some tangerines, tangelos or  sometime grapefruit are nice to include and then it`s tossed with a little olive oil and salt. Add some thinly sliced sweet onion such as a Walla Walla or Videlia, a similar small amount of shaved fresh fennel and some sliced or chopped Kalamata olives. It is oddly refreshing on a cold December day. The Sicilians would arrange everything beautifully in layers on a platter but I just gently mix it all up and eat it from the Tupperware.

 In other consumer news, look at this! A counter top ice maker! Of course many people have this done in their freezers automatically but we can`t have nice things like that. Our 100 year old kitchen doesn`t have space for the refrigerator I ''deserve'. 

 One more purchase I`m proud of. When we lost power for days last Feb., we ended up staying in a hotel. Because of covid, I wouldn`t ask any family or friends to shelter us. It was humiliating. We vowed that when the ordeal ended we would find a source of heat that didn`t require electricity. I wanted a heater that ran on natural gas, that didnt have a fan, and had to be lit manually. Took some research but I found one that is wall mounted and vents outside. Naturally we`ve lost power already and we were able to test it. It works well. We also bought a fancy big battery so we could have some light and charge our phones and it came with photovoltaic solar panels to recharge it! Now, I seriously need to prepare for the Big One. It`s coming, the Cascadia Subduction Zone  is 90 miles offshore and overdue for a slip type earthquake.

                                                                     Donald Maier

                                                                     Donald Maier

                                                                   Donald Maier

Donald Maier`s work confounds me. Because I like it so much, especially his southwestern paintings. He uses traditional transparent watercolor technique in a straightforward simple style. Look close and you`ll see his ordinary brushstrokes on top of loosely painted background washes. No tricks, revisions, angst or arrogance anywhere. Yet to me they are magic. Through the most basic means he is showing me the desert I`ve experienced. Landscapes I know and love. Is it his direct attitude or is he different? Does he have a natural link 'from the faraway nearby'? 

This opinion piece from last summer got some attention. He said what many of us felt but wouldn`t articulate. That seemed like an escalation of our already terminal divisions. But as the three day old news of the Omicron covid variant is already shaking the stock market, brace yourselves for this new version which seems quite unlike the others. If it is indeed serious, especially if the vaccine is an uncertain defense, the political/philosophical resistance to the common public wellbeing must be defeated. This virus will be among us forever if we can`t deny its spread. It may take a wartime mentality that I hope we will be ready for. Being anti-vax or anti-mask will be just too dangerous.

                                                                        George Booth

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