Saturday, September 4, 2010

Oh Noes!

And the Japanese Army was no match for Godzilla, again.

Meanwhile, Mothra Stewart surveyed the carnage from a distance, estimating how best to convert used mortar shell casings into beautiful, gift quality vases.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Study In Failure

Behind the Curtain, 2010

A miasma of color! Really, a failed shot, and I could have deleted it from the camera, but then I thought, you know, I've always been partial toward the failed shot, the mistake, falling in the lake with a camera photograph. That sort of thing. I only wish there had been a blurry baby doll in there somewhere.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Arcane Irony

Man in Doggles, 2010

Out of simple curiosity I looked up (googled) the most common last names in the USA. Mine registers at the tail end of the 300s. But that's not what I found so interesting. At numbers 932 & 933 are the surnames "Sweet" followed by "Justice". It sounds like the title of a novel that Jonathan Franzen wouldn't write, doesn't it? Sometimes you just have to step back and admire the universe. It either has a great sense of humor, or none at all. I'll stick with the former as I prefer to laugh than cry.
Anyway, MK's surname didn't even make the top 1,000 list. And indeed plus furthermore, the only family name of hers to make the list at all was her paternal grandmother's maiden name, squeaking in the final ten. No Smiths, Johnsons, Taylors or Browns littering her history.
Whenever I start thinking of names, I always remember the line from Buffy The Vampire Slayer (tv show, not the movie): "Nothing in this world names itself." Everything is identified by something someone else has placed upon it. My grandmother lobbied HARD when I was born for me to be named Helen, after her. My parents refused. Would my life have been any different had I been Helen instead of Jennifer? If I'd had an uncommon name for my generation instead of the most common one. I don't know, and really, I think the commonness of my name suits me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NASA In Decline

Dismantling, 2010

The space program used to mean something. Now it seems like all we've got is China and oil.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beagle On The Table

Bela, Table, 2010

The dog is the only one who thinks this is appropriate. I'll admit, it allows her the perfect vantage point for looking out the big dining room window, but still.


caterpillar, 2010

This guy nearly got squashed in the garage. Don't know what it morphs into after the chrysalis phase.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Read and Seen

I hate lists, but they're irresistible. So, without further ado, here is a list of books I read this summer and movies I watched:
Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell - It's stark, it's bleak, it's like Antigone with a less dire ending. I can't honestly say that I enjoyed the book, but it stuck with me, and the story is so powerful you can hardly believe it's being told.

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich - I've read Erdrich from the get-go with 'Love Medicine'. Nobody weaves a story bolstered on rich character studies quite the way that she does. In that manner 'Shadow Tag' shares a commonality with her entire oeuvre. But, then 'ST' departs from that familiar ground and forges on like a tenderfoot through an impenetrable woods. The husband and wife are at the center of the novel, like twin suns blotting out the shadows of their three children orbiting around them in a constant, contentious glare. Things do not end well.

Monkeewrench by PJ Tracy - This book had been on my shelf FOREVER, so I picked it up and read it. I have nothing kind to say about it. Not only was every single character a cliche, but they were the same cliche. It was ridiculous, and not in a fun, wild ride sort of way. More like a morass of tedium heaped on a tar pit of idiocy. Usually I won't even bother to finish a book that I despise as much as this one, but I wanted to hone my anger at the book. Read at your own peril!

Dead Snow - Nazi zombies reanimated in the hinterlands of Norway! Gory and gruesome, but not without a typical zombie movie sense of humor. I really enjoyed this.

Toy Story 3 - I'd read the reviews, so I was expecting something a little darker than the previous movies in the trilogy, but was still surprised and a little delighted by the character of Big Baby. Big Baby could be given her/his own movie, which would be something, I imagine, completely inappropriate for children, but fun for adults!
All of that aside, there's plenty of fun in the film, especially at Barbie and Ken's expense. And the ending is wonderful!

The Kids Are All Right - Possibly one of the most authentic films I've ever seen. At no time does the script, director, or actors shrink away from honestly portraying the complications of love, life and family. It's so genuine that it's a shock to the system, and to some lesbians in the blogosphere, a shock to the sensibilities. I'm not in that camp. If you take the movie as a whole, and examine closely the outcome from all of their actions, you see that the core family remains intact, with the children turning back to their Moms, and the Moms turning back to each other. None of this is ever done in a contrived way, but feels like a natural progression, completely organic. Movie making, and script writing, doesn't get any more pure than this. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who loves movies!

I would love to know what everyone else has read and seen this summer, if you care to share!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heat and Exhaustion

Robin, 2010

How hot is it? This full grown robin was hopping around the yard in the sweltering heat (93F+) and finally collapsed. It did move off when I approached, but it definitely was not in good condition.


Basics, 2010

I have finally succumbed to the siren song of the digital camera. I sort of miss film, and all of the technical stuff that goes with using a rangefinder or SLR, but digital is just so freakin' easy!
I know that I'll go back to film at some point, I'm not the sort that can simply abandon an old love for a new one without proper closure, but until then, I'm taking a lot of pics and re-deconstructing the CRAP out of 'em!

Other Son of Motherboard

Other Son of Motherboard, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Like, The Weather

Asiatic Dayflower, 2010

This little blossom lives only one day, blooming early in the morning and then withering away in the afternoon.

Free Pumpkins, Sweet!

Pumpkin Plant 2010

Ever wonder what happens to that Halloween pumpkin that you kick off the porch and allow to rot in the bushes?

Monday, August 9, 2010

One-Handed Frog

Frog 2010

Deck Cleaning 101

Deck 2010

Here I am surveying the deck before our attempts to power wash it. The deck is of indeterminate age, but two things are clear: 1. It is still sound. 2. The wood had never been stained or protected in any way.
So and therefore, before MK and I could apply the stain and wood protector, we would have to remove all of the fungi growing on it. We figured that this would easy using her dad's power washer, but the green mold/mildew/moss (who knows what that shit is?) proved to be deeply imbedded in the wood grain. That left only one solution: scrubbing the deck by hand with a stiff bristled brush and a solution I mixed up of comet cleanser, bleach, and laundry detergeant. And water (two gallons of water, 2C of bleach, 1/2C comet, 1C laundry soap). That did work, but holy cow. I don't ever want to do that again!

Fly by Night

Pittsburgh North Shore, Night Vision, 2010


Smokey, 2010

The mystery has been solved! Smokey, the black squirrel we watch from our side porch everyday, is a female, and apparently, a mama to boot. I'll be honest, I'm more than a little fascinated by this eastern grey squirrel subgroup. You hardly ever see them, and when you do spot one, it's all: Look! A black squirrel!
Anyway, pretty much about the same time every afternoon, around 3pm, Smokey lopes through the neighbor's yard, crosses the street, and goes up a maple tree to munch on seed pods. Bela, MK, and I watch these goings on utterly transfixed. My ultimate goal, and evil plan, is to find Smokey's nest and spirit away one of her kits (pups?) and keep it as a pet. I have it all figured out. We'll reconstruct our entire house to make it squirrel friendly, like one giant habitrail for squirrel pleasure. We, or just I, will study the squirrel to learn the intricate minutiae of squirrel behavior. I will be like the Jane Goodall of squirrels! My squirrel work will be the subject of intense scrutiny by academics the world over! And not just psychiatrists, either!
Yes, I can see it now. We'll start off with one squirrel, but we'll soon gather more squirrels, until our home is like a hive, or hot bed, of squirrel activity. I know that after we have a few dozen squirrels MK's stance on 'no squirrels in the house' will soften and she'll see things my way. Especially after The Journal of Squirrel Inquiry publishes my as yet unknown findings.
Dream big, I always say, when I'm awake.
Seriously though, in theory, I would love to have a pet squirrel. It's the 'in practice' part that mucks things up!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Topsail Island, NC 2010

Since my father died my mother has been something of a lost soul. So, MK and I took her with us on vacation. Dear lord in heaven. I can break this week down in Scrabble game wins: MK - 4, Me - 3, Mom - 1. My mother is competitive, crazily so. If it wasn't so much fun to trounce her at Scrabble, we'd probably let her take an extra game here and there just to quiet the whining and bemoaning. But no. Or, but HELL no!
I got a lot of pics on vacation, including a terrapin roadkill, but mostly the best shots are fairly innocuous things end up being disturbing when I group them together...which is what will be posted tomorrow!

Busy Summer

Airman Jake and Me

The entire family traveled to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to witness our man-child's graduation from basic training. A mother has never been more proud of the issue of her womb than I was/am!
When Jake finishes his technical training he'll be moving in with MK and me and starting college.
In other news: The new house in the north hills is fabulous! It's a lot of work, mostly yard work since the people who owned it previously let it all go wild for at least a decade, probably longer. MK and I have plenty to do there, but there are constant signs of progress to keep us encouraged.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Tale of Stuff

Hummingbird Nest Eggs

In a Norway Maple tree at my mom's house there is a wee green daub of a hummingbird's nest and in it are two M&M sized eggs. MK and I stopped down on Memorial Day prior to the cookout to see the nest and hopefully see the bird sitting on the eggs. The hummingbird is pretty skittish, so you have to be quiet and not move around much and just hope she'll come in.
Finally, after waiting around the momma bird alit on the nest...Only to have my mother emerge from the house with her new clanging wind chimes. Such an unholy cacophony of clattering tubes! MK and I both shot mom a look of utter shock. Now, really, right this instant you have to bring out the wind chimes?
The bird flew off and didn't return the rest of the time we were there.
At least we got a few shots of the nest and the eggs!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Still Here

Church, 2010

Yes, I've been away. Not away, away, just away from the computer and blogging. Spring brings a lot of work along with the better weather, and after a long harsh winter, it's good to be outside toiling about the yard and garden.
I also saw a down turn in my financial situation, so I've been doing a bunch of different things to earn extra cash, not the least of wish is taking on a part-time job mowing lawns. Or, more precisely, one huge ass lawn. I have mastered the fine art of using a zero-radius riding mower, or as I call it, zero tolerance since the slightest touch on the steering levels veer you wildly off course. But I'm not complaining, it's actually a pretty sweet gig and pays better than what you'd expect.
And, in preparations for my impending move in with MK this summer in our new house, I've been selling stuff I no longer want or need on ebay. I'd been toying with the idea of selling of my Buffy The Vampire Slayer collection of collectibles for quite sometime and finally took the plunge. Turns out the economy is not so bad when it comes to BtVS!
Also, I was part of a poetry reading/art exhibit last weekend and one of my prints sold, so that threw extra cash into the mix as well. Basically I'm saving up for a trip this summer to Texas to see Reichter graduate from his Air Force training, and MK and I want to stay a day or two extra to see the sites around San Antonio. It's not likely that we'll be back to TX anytime soon, so we want to make the most of it while we're there.
There in a nutshell is what I've been up to: Making money and working on prints. I like it best when those two things overlap :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Marty On His House

Oncoming Storm

It was raining this morning when I got up, which was just as well because I had a lot of indoor work to get done. In the livingroom there's an old cedar chest that I'd put a bunch of photos in back in 2005 and then promptly forgot all about them.
My former-former house sat on a hillside overlooking a hollow and them more hillsides. The thing was, when a storm was rolling in I could see it for miles before it finally hit. The eeriness of it, the stillness in the air before the wind picked up, all so tangible.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Here, Hold This

Here, Hold This

Junior, my sister, learned the other day that her boyfriend of 9 years has been serial cheating on her for quite some time now. Basically with any woman that he can pick up. I never liked him, but I have a very low tolerance for male bullshit, and D-man is a champion bullshitter. I don't mind an unreliable narrator, but I prefer that he not live with my sister.
Still and yet, this might not be the end of their relationship as D-man has suggested that they go to counseling. Yeah, like that's going to work. I know that couples therapy can work, and in theory should be effective most of the time, but the stumbling block that trips up most people in this instance is honesty. Can a bullshit, skank ass liar cheater be honest enough with himself and everyone else to actually get the help they need and mend their relationship with their partner? I have low hopes on this one. Low, low hopes. I don't know. I've never understood why someone stays with a cheater, or indeed why someone cheats. When I was a kid my Dad ran around with cheap barfly floozies, and the suffering this caused at home scarred us all. It's probably why I'm so harsh on cheaters. They just don't take the time to stop and think about how their actions impact all of the other people in their life.
Ah well, as I've said before, always, people are just gonna do what people are gonna do. We're idiots that way.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

6 fast Years

Graffiti Scream 2

In my neverending quest to remain irrelevant, if not irreverent, I would like to dedicate today to my #1 Swee-Tea, MK. Six years ago today she took a chance on a rudderless goof who seldom combs her hair and wears her sons' cast off pullovers. Somehow MK believes that she's the winner in this relationship, but I know the truth, and the score. Giving foot rubs can't tilt the scales that much in my favor.
Which reminds me of a funny story. One morning a couple of weeks ago my nephew Adam and I were visiting Dad at the nursing home, mom was there too. Mom was pretty exhausted and had been on her feet waaaay too much, making them swollen and sore. I offered to give her a foot rub and in a flash her feet were in my lap. About halfway through the first foot mom said, 'You know, there are erotic zones on your feet.' These are words no child wants to hear from a parent in this situation, or under any circumstances. I stopped what I was doing and looked at Adam, who stood there gape-mouthed and wide eyed.
Suddenly, as if a guttering candle managed one final bright flame, Mom added, 'But not MY feet, so keep rubbing them, please.' Then Adam and I burst out laughing like crazy people. Mom tried to get me to promise not to tell the story, which was just silly on her part. The evening after Dad passed and the entire family gathered at Mom's for dinner and support, I told the story. I only wish I'd taken the time to craft a diorama to illustrate the shock and horror that Adam and I both experienced. As it was he and I both played it out as best we could without mock ups or pie charts. Then, after everyone stopped laughing and teasing Mom, Mom turned to MK and asked, 'MK, you don't have any erotic zones, do you?' It's really difficult to make MK blush, but blush she did. Furiously.
Oh, Mother, that sweet, clueless woman.
Happy Anniversary, MK! Now, let's find those 'erotic zones' ;)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Full Worm Moon

Full Worm Moon

Such a lovely name, that Full Worm Moon. Glad that I got a peak at it last night! The photo is not mine.

Monday, March 29, 2010


At 2:45am on Friday (3/26/10) morning my father finally succumbed to the cancer that had been slowly killing him for ten years. Mom called me at 2am from the nursing home and my sister and I got there just as he was being pronounced deceased. Shortly thereafter my brothers and their wives arrived.
Owing that Dad left his body to science, the nurses placed bags of ice around him and opened the window (it was gently snowing outside). A very strange experience while we comforted Mom and each other.
Every one of us had a complicated, if not conflicted, relationship with Dad. He was not an easy man to love or to be around. The biggest mark he left on me is that it is nearly impossible to say something cruel or cutting to me and have me be hurt in the least. That part of me just got toughened up as a child. Kind of like being desensitized after repeated nerve damage. I don't know.
Anyway, he's gone now, in a way. But there's a legacy that remains in each of his children. Especially my brothers, one of whom Dad took a swing at when Dad finally went into the nursing facility. If Mom's smart she won't have any of us give the eulogy at his memorial service and instead tap someone who didn't know him very well or one of his old drinking buddies.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Am Right There

Oh, Who Cares #1

Lichen, possibly edible, probably poisonous, grows on the stone wall right beneath a niche where some birds nest.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Whitey's One Trick

Whitey Showing Off, 2010

It's a little freaky how cats can just lift a back leg straight up in the air so that they can groom/clean their unmentionables. I don't want to even think what would happen to civilization if humans could do this. We wouldn't have civilization. We just wouldn't.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hey Zeus On Velvet

Hideous Lamp, 2010

I really don't know why the crushed velvet lamp shade doesn't have a painting of Elvis baptizing the baby Jesus on it. The whole thing is ruined for me now because for some reason, in my brain, there is an expectation that will never be actualized. Life is so fucking hard.

Just a Ghoul, Looking For Love

Shervin Iranshahr, Scorched...and then torn

The other day I picked up an artist's announcement card at a coffee shop, folded it neatly and stuffed it in my pocket. Later I checked out his website online, bookmarked it, and tore up the card. The torn pieces laid on top of a box of extra staples for a week or so, until I was bored and taped some of them back together. I have zero fine motor skills, as evidenced here. Still, his work is fun, in a ghoulish way(check out his website!), and maybe this haphazard miasma of mine adds some disposable, post post modern element. Yeah, I'll stick with that!

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Do These Things Happen?

Sneaking Home Naked, 2006

Let's say that you went out with your friends one evening and you got really trashed at some bar along the riverfront and then suddenly (possibly magically) you're naked, but you do have a can of black spray paint in your possession. What do you do? I suppose it makes perfect sense to take breaks from the mad dashes between bushes and stop at a cement barrier to record your zany adventure!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

As Time Goes By

People Who Are Now Dead, Kissing 1928

People and their hormones, it's like lemmings off a cliff. I have no idea who these people are in the picture, or what the 'S' stands for on the man's tank top. I'm willing to venture that it doesn't stand for Superman, particularly since the character hadn't been conjured yet.
I'm still rooting through my grandfather's old photographs, obviously.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beagle Poetry

This poem is from Bela's perspective. In my mind she has a thick southern Italian accent. Anyway, we were out walking Bela the other evening and just as she was getting ready to do her business a man rounded the corner walking two large dogs. Bela hates other dogs, is suspicious of them and their intentions, so of course she couldn't leave herself vulnerable by taking a dump and instead dragged us down the street post haste. The first line of the poem is just the offhand comment that I made at the time. MK noted that it sounded like the beginning of a horrible poem, so this is all her fault.

My ass is full of bitter turds
each one an homage to your face
I have feasted on the moldy cheese of your love
and now suffer for all eternity on the shores of Garbage Island

Friday, February 26, 2010

Back By Popular Demand: More Snow!

It's snowing again. We're only supposed to get about 8" so it shouldn't be too bad.
This is a pic of the garage and carport. The garage is really an old stable/carriage house, finished off inside really nicely. But we don't use that space for anything other than storage, which is kind of a waste. It would make the perfect studio.
And now I am off to Pittsburgh to check on MK's place and some impending sale related stuff. Hopefully the roads aren't too bad. Wait, have I even mentioned that MK's condo sold? MK's condo sold. The home inspection went fine, except for a tiny bit of ice jam related minor water seepage in one area of the basement. A guy from a basement water seepage company is coming today to access the situation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Riding With Bela

For her own safety, and my sanity, when we travel Bela is kenneled up. Don't be fooled by how pathetic she looks here! Beagles milk their ability to look utterly forlorn and wretched for all that it's worth. She's the most shameless beggar in the kitchen, it's positively scandalous. She points that noble-domed head at me, lowers her big limpid eyes and the next thing I know I'm frying her an egg. It's like I've been hypnotized by the dog, my mind and will are that weak. "Ignore my rolls of fat, look into my eyes, I starve..."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Tired of me posting about snow/winter yet? Yeah, me too. There's nothing to be gained railing about the weather because I have no control over it. It just keeps happening, regardless of how I feel about it. I'm powerless, which just makes me want to load up the shotgun and go out and shoot the weather. That sort of behavior is frowned up in this neighborhood so instead I'm just skulking around and muttering profanities, and posting my continued disgust on the interweb.
You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Ode To Winter

Roof Flavored Icicles

Nothing quite as numbing as the dead of winter in the dead of night. The snow's been slowly melting for days, forming ice dams in the gutters and downspouts that feed the perilous icicles that hang from, what seem to be, precarious heights. What we can reach, we knock down. Human nature dictates that we do so, in all things. The fallen ice explodes like shattering glass, catching light in impossible ways. Then, the boredom of winter continues to slouch toward entropy.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Godzilla Approaches The Porch

This is why I have a shotgun at the ready.

Too Clever


This tagger is almost too clever. It took me a minute to figure it out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's Do Lunch

Frozen Kinzua Reservoir, 1988

Total guess at the date. That's my sister-in-law, my friend Phyllis who had the discount facelift last year, and my brother. I'm meeting Phyllis for lunch tomorrow, and since MK reminded me that this is the first time I've seen her since the plastic surgery (we mostly talk on the phone), I should be prepared. Actually, with Phyllis there is no way to be prepared. Everything has to be dealt with as it comes, in the moment, on the fly, like dodgeball.
I'm really looking forward to lunch, and finding out what's going on with Phyllis since her retirement from the planetarium. Her planetarium stories were a riot! Once, she had this co-worker who was let go, who snuck back into the planetarium and lived there for a time, making a nest for herself in one of the big storage drawers. Secruity finally stumbled upon her when she made a late night bathroom run. If only she'd purchased my Home Catheter Kit(patent pending), she could still be holed up there, feasting from the vending machines and taking sponge baths at the water cooler.

UPDATE: Phyllis looked great! She looked 20 yrs younger, which was what she wanted, so I'm happy for her. I would never choose to have elective cosmetic surgery, but I respect her decision in this matter.
One thing that I wasn't prepared for though: Phyllis has taken to wearing a wig. A wig that is not at all like her natural hair. I guess she just wants to do herself over.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Man

Jeff, Lake Erie, 1928

My mother's father, back in the day.

Battle of Lake Erie

Brig Niagara, 1928

Just going through some of my grandfather's old photographs. He was something, that one.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oakmont, Here We Come!

Oakmont Country Club

A few years ago, while on vacation in a cabin in the woods with limited television reception originating out of Buffalo, NY recieved by a rooftop antenna, MK and I watched the LPGA US Open. To offer full disclosure, I do not golf and almost never watch it on tv. But on this particular afternoon I left it on as sort of background noise. Soon, we were glued to the action, despite ourselves. Ever since then, we follow the US Women's Open, but only that particular event. Odd, isn't it? But for us it's synonymous with relaxing and vacation. Even edge of your seat action is more cathartic than coronary.
The 2010 LPGA US Open is going to be held at Oakmont Country Club, outside of Pittsburgh. For Valentine's Day MK procured for me, and herself, any-day passes so that we can see in person all that specialness that is women's golf! MK's a fan of Lorena Ochoa, ranked #4 in the world but a former #1 player. I'm partial to Cristie Kerr, for no other reason than she looks a lot like my sci-fi crush, Gillian Anderson/Special Agent Dana Scully. Not that Kerr is any slouch, she finished 2009 ranked #3 and she won the US Open in 2007.
There are a lot of great players on the tour that I am not familiar with at all, but in the months leading up to the July tournament I intend to get myself acclimated with who's who so that I'm not standing there like some nose picking idiot in the gallery. There's always the reisk that I'll be that person anyway, but I'm going to do my best to make sure that I'm not!

The Observer

Unbeknownst to the penguin, it is being hunted by the stealthy polar bear. The one-eyed duck is merely an observer to this brutal dance.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bela Turns 2

Bela and Reichter

Tomorrow is Bela's second birthday! When we first got her at the end of March in 2008 she was endearing, adorable, and a holy terror. She was immediately nicknamed 'Hurricane' for how quickly she could sweep into a room and destroy everything in her path with her flying needle teeth of fury. She's toned down her wrathful storm status since then, becoming Tropical Depression Bela. The most accurate nickname she's got is Nebbie. She nebs into everything, just in case there's something that might be broadly construed as edible involved. Like that time she jumped up on a chair and got a hold of a magic marker off the desk. She ate it, and then pooped purple for two days. That made poop patrol exciting for me!
Happy Birthday, Bela! You complete our family.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crazy From the Snow

Master Paddler

I can't wait to get back out on the lake again! I'll try not to fall in this time when getting in the kayak.

Of Inertia and Beagles

MK and Bela