Thursday, March 31, 2016

Emerging Badgers

I have a lovely smart phone holder made by my friend, the ceramic artist Jason Hooper. I'm thinking that mine is the only one with two badgers descending from the running glaze. Do you see?

If you're interested in seeing more of Jason's work, you can do so here:

e A r n i e

Friday, March 25, 2016

Broken to Beautiful

I see us becoming such a disposable society. It's easy to get sucked into the mindset; I mean, new things rock! Gifts! I love new things. I had a friend from Brazil who wanted new Christmas decorations every year. I've always thought that memories of things that you've had for years were nice; Christmas is all about nostalgia, after all. But, he wanted brand everything new every year. Trees, lights, d├ęcor... Plastic is fine; we won't be keeping it long, anyway. A different theme every season. We have starter homes, starter marriages, first car, this year's car, this year's fashion...

At the same time I see shabby chic everywhere. What can't you make out of recycled pallets? The odd thing is seeing the shabby chic things in trendy stores. Intentionally shabby? I believe they used the word 'Distressed' for it. It's crafty without having to take the time.

But, I digress. I like the idea of reusing things. Things that are broken have a special appeal to me. I've started thinking about it and it seems that 'Broken to Beautiful' has always been my way. Broken to Beautiful means not perfect. It doesn't mean 'make the best of something'; it means 'use it on purpose'. It means, Take something broken and make it into something nice. As the song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch says, "You take the pieces off the ground, and show this wicked town something beautiful and new." There are not that many new things here where I live. It's a fabulously old home with two acres of grass that is trying to take over the world, and my head spins thinking about trying to keep up with it all. Fortunately, Nameless has been here for 25 years, so he's good at it – I get to help. I'm learning to mow grass and to trim shrubs, and I'm learning that somebody my age really needs to be careful when mowing grass and trimming shrubs. (Tennis elbow is real and it doesn't go away easily.)

A small set of wooden steps rotted and Nameless moved it to the side of the building that they led into. He moved a set of cement steps into its place, and the other ones sat on the side, waiting to be demo'd and tossed out. I had today off, and I thought it would be nice to have flowers on it. So, I turned it around and propped up the bottom step. I suppose we might go back and secure it, but for the moment I'm pleased with the way it looks. I bought some new (new?) plants and flowers for it, moved a rosemary plant that has been struggling there and put it all together. I didn't buy any new pots yet; I reused some that we already had. I'm going to buy a couple, just because we don't have any small ones and I want some that size for the second step.

I have very little experience with flowers, so who knows if they will like it in this location or how long they'll live? But, for the moment I'm pleased with it. (Hopefully, the rosemary will grow enough to hide the electrical outlet.)

e A r n i e

Friday, March 18, 2016


So, I work. Like most Americans. "They" have been encouraging us, lately, to be creative. (I'm assuming that this ties in with coming up with creative solutions to problems.) However, I was off the day they delivered the tiny bins of playdough and everybody got to make a creation and post pictures of them on our company chat. But, I can do some pretty creative things with spreadsheets. I do things that God never intended, actually. I try to keep in mind the ideals of design. It needs to be easy to read, intuitive and I try to keep my formulas such that a person coming in after me would be able to follow what I was doing and carry on in my absence. This has as much to do with documentation as it does with designing spreadsheets, and I also try to make my documentation easy to follow and pleasing to the eye.

Another person who works in my office is a fidgety sort of person. She is always playing with a pen, knocking over a cup of coffee, running face-first into a wall or something to keep us amused. This afternoon she was playing with her Rubik's Cube – a miniature one that was left on all of our desks close to the time that the playdough was delivered – while she was talking with two other people, one of whom works in our department, the other works close-by. The one who works in our department didn't blink an eye as the cube fell apart in our coworker's hand. It was only a matter of time, really. The person from the nearby department was a little taken aback, claiming that he'd never seen one fall apart. (I mean, I've never seen it, either. That doesn't mean I was surprised to see it happen to her.)

Just this morning on the way to work I was listening to the soundtrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. One of my favorite lines from that musical – one that has inspired me since I first saw the movie – is:
That, when everything starts breaking down
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
Something beautiful and new*
So, that's what I did. I took the pieces off the ground (out of her hand, actually. They hadn't hit the ground yet.) and made an art installation. I finally got the opportunity to express my creativity in a purely aesthetic way at work. I didn't post a picture of it on our chat, mostly because that was so, like, three weeks ago. But, I'll post pictures here. For you, Gentle Reader. I call it Unrest, a collaboration.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

*Stephen Trask


e A r n i e, the Rather Earnest Painter