Second Time Around

The second time I went through the fifth grade I took an orchestra  class.  I was really into the Bach Cello Suites by Yo-Yo Ma  so it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor.   My real goal was to collect enough new skills to convert into money or whatever so I didn’t have to have a day job.  I certainly wasn’t learning much from the school, which unfortunately found itself in a backward little town of 37,000 in far west Texas.   It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but then a lot of it was out of my hands at that point.  

Late in the school year, as Spring was just beginning to hint at the next season (what I liked to call “hell”), everyone was restless.  Teachers, students, janitors, lunch man, everybody wanted out.  I found myself near the end of the day standing at the front of the cafeteria stage with a stack of folders raised high, aiming for the large gray pouf of hair of the so-called teacher sitting in front, but facing away, of me.  Various eyes went wide, mouths opened.  Got a few chuckles, an outright laugh, not great.  I pulled a faux-menacing face just at the exact moment that CORNELIUS!!@# rang through the cafeteria.  I immediately dropped my arms, turned as ooos slowly rose up like a fright of ghosts in a Halloween special.  The principal, with whom I like to think I had a passing decent relationship , had sidled in unannounced and silent.   Come here this instant.  Trademarked sheepish grin in place, I dropped the folders on the boards and hopped down to jog over.  He simply crooked a finger and walked out.  I glanced back to see a  puzzled look on the face attached to the pouf.  I shrugged and turned to follow.  

I settled into the chair with a  calculated slouch as he looked at me with that face that principals have.  I looked back.  I wasn’t going to do it, it was just for a laugh.  Tensions are running high these days you know.  He sighed and shook his head disapprovingly, Do you think it’s appropriate to even joke like you’re going to hit a teacher?  The disappointment in his voice, the inflection, oh.  The guilt.  It was three empty folders and all the music had been passed out and besides, she has the padding.  It would have been like a stiff breeze regardless, I wasn’t gonna to do it.  Whether or not you were gonna do it is not at issue here, Mr. Cornelius.  We do not live in a society where there is any place for threatening violence, to anybody especially not your teacher whom you should have respect for!  I sometimes wondered if he had ever done any acting, he had a pretty decent range.  As he went on I checked out to concoct a backstory:  domineering mother, milquetoasty father, pushing him into engineering or something when he just wants the stage, the adoration of crowds, the shared dressing rooms.  Twenty years later, his dreams forgotten or repressed.  Poor guy.  What do you have to say for yourself?  Brought me back to the moment, which made me raise the eyebrow.  I’m not sure what more I could say, frankly I think you’re overreacting.  What punishment do you believe is appropriate?  None, there was no malice aforethought and no ultimate intent to harm, let’s forget it.  Shaking his head, shall I get your parents on the phone?  How do you think they’d react?  I was getting a little tired of all this, my sympathy evaporating.  Regardless of anything else I was still a ten year old bale of energy, wires crossing and wrapping around a core like a vibrating rubber band ball.  I daresay they’ll find you’re being quite trivial and would likely be rather annoyed at your intrusion into whatever they find themselves up to at this hour.  He squinted his eyes and  (I think?) clucked.  He made some sound and his jaw moved, Let’s just see then, and reached for the phone.  I gave my eyebrows a lift and settled my face into my palm.  I liked the fourth-grade principal much better, we had a great relationship.  She took me to get ice cream once.   This one began to swivel and mid-swivel said, Yes hello Mr Cornelius this is Mr. Smith at Parker.. yes, fine thank you.  I’m sorry for disturbing you, but we have an issue with your son.  Yes, yes, quite.  Right eyebrow firmly in place as he brought father up to speed.  Ha, yes, I am quite aware of that.  Yes, I agree one hundred per-yes…  Well thank you but.  Yes, absolutely.  He listened intently for at least thirty seconds,  looked at me from beneath dark, hooded brows.  I shrugged my tried to warn you shoulders at him. Of course, thank you for you time he said, and slowly returned the receiver.  Where will you be next year?  as he scratched the pad in front of him.  Pease, I said.  He nodded slowly as he finished and handed me the pass.  Could you please try to be more considerate in the future?  Absolutely I said as I smiled warmly.  Take care now, and turned to leave.  


Just So

// series here

Some days in the morning when the sky was still a dull gray he would stir in the same bed, with the same sheets and the same cat perched near his head in that half sleep between dreams and consciousness and he would be in the past.  She would be beside him, beautiful in that unique way sleep seemed to bring. He loved the time in between and sometimes he would be in his bed and other times still have a foot in the dream; he remembered that he could do anything and that this was his world to command.  He would try to fly but the world would not cooperate, try to run but he could only crawl.  When he came nearer consciousness he would lie in bed on such days for a longer time than normal and think his inchoate nothing-and-everything thoughts until the curtains caught the itinerant sun a fiery yellow.

Later after he fed and watered the smaller animals he walked toward the stables where three horses lived and that was connected to a large corral made of jangly mesquite.  The beasts were large and young and whickered as he approached pulling carrots from his back pocket.  Sometimes he would bring apples but carrots were better and they had very large eyes besides.  He tied one of the paints to a post and began to brush the loose hair from her body, variously whispering or singing softly.  After padding and saddling he mounted up and felt the unique exhilaration of commanding a two thousand pound ungulate into the wild.  For a while in past years he had entertained the notion of learning to ride bareback but the thought of being pitched into that same wild was less than appealing.  For all the things he had built and all the resources he kept a broken leg could still be a death sentence in this world, and though he’d entertained that notion as well on more than one occasion he was not ready to leave it just yet.  

They meandered slowly down a well-travelled path on a slight incline for some time until it became too steep and resorted to switchbacks down the rocky brown hills.  They moved slowly and cautiously taking a great deal of care but it was a path she knew well.  After some time it exited onto a cracked bitumen black as pitch that was more or less level in either direction but clogged with hulking carcasses of cars long abandoned.  He picked a path through to the opposite side and took her into a lope down the verge, being careful to avoid any of the larger pieces of debris they came across. They rode for a good bit of time and the sun was approaching its zenith when they came upon an unexplored offshoot which was of a lighter asphalt.  He alighted and took the map from his pocket to spread against her flank. After finding his bearings and forming a general plan he mounted once more and set off.  There were fewer vehicular corpses on this stretch but after several steep bends downward he came upon a caravan of several large trucks of a sort he was far too familiar.  He stopped well away from it for the horse’s sake and jumped to the ground and hobbled her with a generous length of leather he kept attached to the saddle; she wandered to the brush for a snack.  One of the trucks was a flatbed type and displayed several dozen corpses where they had fallen, chained still to rails on either side.  What used to be skin had turned to leather in the dry air or had sloughed downward as if melted. Farther on more corpses of those that had kept the previous were scattered about; at least one had lost his head and most appeared to have been shot and to have fallen into a pool of black.  He knelt next to one who had been taken by a shotgun, his head and upper body either nonexistent or impossibly mangled.  His right hand sported a bracelet made of molars and about his waist hung a short club wrapped tightly about the barrel with razor wire to form a crude morningstar.  Crude but effective, he thought, for the metal was coated darkly.  

As they slowly walked up the road away from the scene the man considered the history of human brutality up to that point and the consistency with which it had manifest.  In his previous life the only violence he had encountered was in movies and books and news a world away, but even in that world he knew that violence crept into places both light and dark he was fortunate to never come across.  His ancestors had come to this portion of the globe and would eventually destroy the peaceful peoples they found here and though slavery didn’t originate in America it was certainly made what it became here.  He considered not for the first time that for the most part humanity in general had gotten what amounted to a fair shake after all was said and done, and perhaps the dust things were returning to was simply recompense.  He told the horse it was all academic at this point, but then he laughed aloud because even that wasn’t true.


Only Man

// series here

The paintbrush seemed to vibrate in his hand.  He was halfway done but not near the end.  His forehead twitched even as his face squirmed to fix it to make it stop.  You must act man.  He couldn’t not stop.  Couldn’t stop.  Wasn’t even sure.

The paint wasn’t the right shade, the wall wasn’t the right smoothness for such lines. Nothing was right.  He took a sip quickly.  It was helping and hurting; would put him to sleep but nothing else.  He put the glass down with more force than he’d intended, and was amazed it didn’t shatter.  He looked at his friends in the room, staring at him, worried.  It’s not them making you feel this way.  No, it’s just you. Just you.  

He stood there for more time than he knew.  Looking at the sharp lines on the wall; not sharp enough.  Swaying slightly. Just you.  He felt like he should laugh but couldn’t even bring that to happen.  He was scared, he realized.  It wasn’t exactly a new emotion, but it surprised him. It was never in the front of his brain. It lurked in the shadows and worked him slowly.  His face twitched as he considered this.

After a time the worst of it passed.  Just you. He couldn’t stop saying it in his crowded mind.

Methods, Techniques, and Pathways

I luckily happened upon a stack of old Fine Woodworking magazines from the 80s a few years ago, and I’m slowly going through them here and there.  I came across an excellent article by one Ian Kirby (“Designing a Bed | From paper to prototype” from the July/August 1986 (No. 59) issue).  I’ve since learned that Ian Kirby amounts to what could be called a legend.

In the article he had an excellent diagram of the design process, and it inspired me to create my own version (naturally).  Here it is:

Designery 01 _ 07062015


It’s quite the inspiration; method is always interesting, but designing stuff can get complicated.  Defining and finding methods, techniques, and pathways (his words) to solutions is quite helpful.

I wish I could share it with him, but I couldn’t find a way to do that.

What a World

// ‘entire’ series here

He was pinching suckers from long rows of tomato plants when one of the dogs bounded off suddenly.  He looked up sharply with twenty other faces as she, then they, bounded off.  Squirrel.  He turned back to his plants and made a face, searching.  Never finished, he thought as he rocked forward on his stool to look under the leaves.  After more moments and more faces he stood, slung his stool, and grabbed his tool bucket towards the pole beans across the yard. Two seasons ago he had constructed a continuous A-frame into a large spiral, 30 feet across.  After walking in circles he unslung his stool, the legs snapping into position, and set it down at the exact center.  He sat for a long while, head in hand, breathing the clean air, trying to center himself.  The cats had taken a liking to his pole bean hideaway and were variously capering or lounging about.  It was one of his favorite spots, surrounded by a green sea of tendrils ever grasping upward.  They have no idea, he said to himself.   Eyes to leaf, branch and stem, to root and to earth.  

He came to and worked for a time, stringing new string and watching the cats be cats.  As he worked he whistled a song about a world that didn’t exist, that he had long ago forgotten the words to.  As he finished he looked up and thought that it must be around noon, so he made for the house and his lunch.  First though he stopped into the east storage building, the dimness of the interior making him squint.  As he walked past row after row of canned and jarred foods, he felt a familiar feeling in his chest.  He stood still and tried to close his eyes, tried to center but the fluttering wouldn’t stop. He let it wash over him, accepted and embraced it.  After so many moments he opened his eyes, focused on details.  The cold steel of the shelving, punched with holes. The texture of the lids, the texture of the cement.  His chest began to untighten.  The feeling came and went, sometimes stronger and sometimes less strong.  But it was always there.  Steeling himself, he raised his gaze and continued on, seeing easily a jar each of peaches and okra, and a small sack of flour.  Arms full, he went out and opened the house door with some difficulty.  He invited everyone in for lunch.

That afternoon he worked in his studio in ones and zeros on a way to improve his foot-operated door-opener.  The current version was made of wood, more a prototype than anything but it had gotten job done.  Until it didn’t, of course, and split from the elements.  He worked for hours, going back and forth from the digital side to the physical in the large space.  From ones and zeroes to solid aluminum, precisely figured to gear in just the right way with just the right amount of resistance.  As he finished one component of the assembly after another, he neatly laid them on his worktable in order of assembly.  When he was done the sun was about to give up, but he finished the installation before it broke the horizon.  He closed the door, stepped back, and stepped on the pedal.  The door swung open, hung there for a few moments, then closed slowly and latched.  Just so, he thought.


RIP Mad Men



By Matthew Weiner.

Chair Flower

Chair Flower 01 _ 05162015

See the actual here. 

Only Man 03

// ‘entire’ series here


They couldn’t stop laughing, bending variously forward and backward with hands over their faces.  It was the kind of laugh that brought tears to your eyes, that hurt your sides but felt good.  He reached over and grabbed his glass and held it up to the warm lights above, watching the orange brown bend and swirl.  They sat for a while, coming down off the high.  He took a sip, slowly losing himself in his thoughts.  Smiling, remembering.  Do you… his friend started, making a face and leaning forward… are you scared? He finished quietly. It wasn’t the first time he’d considered who had the better end of this deal, but he didn’t have an answer.  Yeah, he said, making eye contact then looking away.  It’s hard to get your head around.  My mind keeps… it’s hard to think. He smiled again, uncomfortably.  He didn’t have to reciprocate the question.

After a fair amount of time he got up to leave and hugged his friend, thanking him.  He went to open the door, bitter cold sweeping in and mingling with the hazy warm smoke from the room.  The guards at the door turned, one giving him a half grin despite the painful lines on his face.  He must have been in there longer than he’d realized, because they were different pair than what he started with.  Ready?  He nodded sheepishly and pulled his coat tighter.

They walked through a series of open walkways and as ever he could hear the wailing of the fences.  He tried to put it out of his mind, had gotten good at that.  Good at that, Christ.  Is your wife doing better? He asked the guard on his left.  About the same, he said, shaking his head.  I mean it comes and goes a bit, but getting better?  It doesn’t get better you know?  He knew.  They passed a guarded checkpoint into the warm air of the residence wing.  The lights seems to get brighter every day, he thought, squinting. There wasn’t much that wasn’t well lit in this place, but it seemed excessively so here.  Oh, what a world. He had grown accustomed to this place, but he didn’t especially like it.  Simultaneously wanting it to end and dreading that idea was a constant battle.  The train isn’t coming any faster, he thought.  His words.  He was happy they let him drink and smoke though.  With the constant poking and prodding they certainly could force him not to if they chose.  As much of a crutch as it always had been, it was now even more useful in helping him forget.  Not forget, he corrected himself, ignore.  For a time.

Such thoughts went through his mind abstractly, had been with him so long they were part of him.  His companions were quiet, thinking their own.  As they made their way deeper into the building, down and down, more and more became quiet until all that existed was the steady percussion of their heels, the vibration of some mechanical unit, and the bright hum of the fluorescent lights.  There is ever too much time to think, he thought.  Is that irony?

When they arrived at his unit he thanked them, went inside and was greeted with his customary gift of kisses and arm scratches.  He sat for a while with her until she calmed down, until she sat down herself half in and half out of his lap.  The supposed help they allowed him was a double edged sword, as always.  His eyes were wet as he rubbed her neck like she liked, grinning that beautiful grin of hers.

Oh what a world.


Spec logo funtimes.

Sacrificial Pic

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Temaki Sushi

I completed the branding for Temaki Sushi in Fort Worth a few years back as they were just opening.  I wanted to share a few of the options I presented, along with the final. Erin worked on the interior design and did an absolutely fantastic job – we’ll post some photographs shortly as well.

01 02 03 04 05And here is the final:



I was very happy with it.  Everyone in their right mind needs to check out Temaki on West Magnolia, it is a great place with wonderful food!