Well there’s no dust on the Bible around here. Early July I found the following words to paint by in a pamphlet pressed between tear and face powder spattered pages and I’ve let it be my ever-loving guide all summer:
“The value of natural beauty to the human soul was what inspired the masterful landscape painter Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of painting. With his paintings, he wanted to put people back in touch with the Creator. He hoped his paintings would give a city-dwelling admirer a yearning for the outdoors where he too could discover what he had – that “in gazing on the pure creations of the Almighty he feels a calm religious tone steal through his mind, and when he has turned to mingle (again) with his fellow men, the chords which have been struck in that sweet communion cease not to vibrate”

“Maybe that’s why I admire Cole’s paintings and not Picasso’s” this idiot goes on “If we saw something like a Picasso in nature, we’d know at once it did not come from God’s Hands! Beauty may be nature’s most profound apologist for God.”
This from the rbc research writer and naturalist Dean Ohlman. Really. “Celebrating the Wonder of the Wilderness”, a booklet from RBC ministries. Further “Discovery Series” booklets are available from http://www.discoveryseiries.org/catalog. So I just beavered away and tried to act natural.

Been a quiet summer. I haven’t been online much. I was just sitting out looking at the moon tonight and listening to the river, the crickets, the occasional engine. Been a rainy couple months. I just painted. Last couple days it got hot enough the cicadas cried all afternoon and the paint dried in its trays so I started paying attention to email and tidying files. Gathered some notes I’d taken. Little show coming up in the fall I guess and by the end of August I’ll have twenty little pictures ready. I’ve been working more on things I’ve let lean for a year or so, working small and hunched, tiny brushes on wooden panels.

Went out dancing one night this summer, had some new shoes. Watched a lad dance like he’d never seen mtv and that was a treat. Molly tended bar so we arrived early, just at dusk. I wandered about with my camera for the lonesome quality of the main street. By the time I’d done my circuit the music had begun at the bar, one dj playing to a largely empty room, a couple of back packers, and a happily fat and pleasant middle aged couple of locals with fifties hairstyles,hers much dyed and lacquered into a beehive and his a modified jerry lewis black pompadour. She drank slings, he drank rye and coke. I stood at the bar. By the time the second dj had struck up her set the place had filled as much as it would for the night with friends. It was good, watching people dance, when they did, mostly just on their own as they leaned up from the pool table maybe or when a favorite kicked in. Place is right on the highway so you can stand out on the front balcony and watch the cars go by close below, the road stereos fading at fifty miles an hour down around that dead man’s curve on the way south out of town. The music in the bar was a welcome relief from the dull normal radio fare and gospel or thrash to which I’m subjected in my wanderings. I didn’t venture forth to the dance floor, for fear of breaking a hip. Best times are always out in the parking lot behind the hotel, smoky wariness and nervous laughter.

 I jog around the track with the dog most nights, panting while the moon comes up. Molly and I hit the road, take the scenery in. I consent to go for a drive with her once a week like some old man being taken out for an airing to rural haunts of his happy sensual youth. Bucking in the underbrush. That’s all right if you look like Paul Newman.
Maybe a little too quiet but I get a lot done.

 I have a friend in New Orleans, name of Alex, and the night Katrina hit I tapped him a goodnight and then I never heard a word until he surfaced about a month later in Baton Rouge. He never was one to talk about his troubles, not like me but you could picture it from the news anyway and he said he was running a chainsaw and clearing roads there, had finally got a machine online in a trailer, said he’d even put on a little weight. Last i heard from him he was back in New Orleans and the government had given them tarps to cover their open roofs for Christmas. He was gonna get a deck built on his house so he could get outside without having to stand in chemicals. I did a couple portraits of him I was supposed to send him but to tell you the truth the last year or so I couldn’t afford the cost of shipping, been that tight and that pricey, but it’ll happen. We had a good little Christmas morning or two I must say.

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