Thursday, December 31, 2015


Sea grass and sky. Point Brown Jetty, Ocean Shores, Washington. Late afternoon, 12/29/2015.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Point Brown Jetty, Ocean Shores, Washington. Late afternoon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Giant Pacific octopus in the North Pacific Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's Zoo Lights.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Star-marked jellyfish "skin" in the North Pacific Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's Zoo Lights.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


A bloom of moon jellies in the North Pacific Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's Zoo Lights.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Glass floats in the North Pacific Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's Zoo Lights.

Friday, December 25, 2015


An icon of an American Christmas—a taco from the family "taco bar" dinner. It is ground beef, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, and salsa in a Doritos taco shell. The shell wasn't horrible, but it wasn't necessarily good, either. It conflicted a bit with some of the other flavors rather than complementing them.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


I've been thinking a lot lately about what my personal holy days and rituals entail.

One of those days is definitely the Longest Night, with its key ritual being a time to reflect upon the darkness.

Another of those days is Christmas Eve, with its key ritual being an afternoon walk in the "woods." This year, as in many prior, it was spent walking along Puyallup's Riverwalk Trail, listening to bird song—jays, juncos, chickadees, crows, thrushes, ducks—and watching the naked deciduous trees reach toward the gray heavens.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Chestnut tree, Pacific Bonsai Museum, dusk, the night before the longest night.


"[W]hen you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you."

—from Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, page 5 of the hardcover Area X: The Southern Reach edition.


"They shall name it No Kingdom There,
   and all its princes shall be nothing.
Thorns shall grow over its strongholds,
   nettles and thistles in its fortresses.
It shall be the haunt of jackals,
   an abode for ostriches.
Wildcats shall meet with hyenas,
   goat-demons shall call to each other;
there too Lilith shall repose,
   and find a place to rest.
There shall the owl nest
   and lay and hatch and brood in its shadow;
there too the buzzards shall gather,
   each one with its mate."

—Isaiah 34:12-15, New Revised Standard Version.


"They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate."

—Isaiah 34:12-15, King James Version.


"Jackals preying, sleepless ravens,
vultures, viper on the prowl.

  Foreclosed, foresworn the human.
Law and order your vaunt?
No; chaos—
ghosts, demons, satyrs
coupling, encamping
the corridors of darkness."

—poetic paraphrase of Isaiah 34:11-15, page 90 of Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears by Daniel Berrigan.


"Moreover, in the understanding of the great bard, nature becomes the revealer of nature. No creature is blind, he avers. No phenomenon is a dead end. Each leads beyond itself—even the ghosts and haunts that prowl our dreams and reveal to us or conceal from us that our moral darkness is hardly uninhabited."

—commentary on poetic paraphrase of Isaiah 34:11-15, page 91 of Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears by Daniel Berrigan.


The angels love their ranks, their hierarchies, their beloved order. We humans, made just a bit lower than gods, seem to love our chaos, our tumult, our churning darkness.


And here I sit on the longest evening of the year, the winter solstice, having just marked the moment when the light starts to return, when the Day is parted from the Night.


The world is filled, as it has always been, with warfare and conflict, natural disasters, death and destruction. Yet there is a part that is set aside, pulled like pitch or taffy from the main body, to ferment and foment into something new. A tithe of difference.


And here I sit in the dark, dim light keeping the full darkness at bay, though barely. I try to remember the light. The good. The quiet. It is difficult.


I remind myself: try not to succumb to the darkness, the desolation, the despair. Walk a path bordered in luminaries. Place the metal dish upon the humus and loam. Place the glass shade upon the dish. Place a small candle in the shade. Pause in prayer. Light the candle.


Move along to the next lamp.


And the next.


And the next, with steady and sure footing.


Longest night 2007.

Longest night 2012.

Longest night 2013.

Longest night 2014 A.

Longest night 2014 B. 


(If there is anything that comes close to being a personal holy day for me, this day/night, winter solstice, is it.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015


One of the trees viewed by flashlight at the Pacific Bonsai Museum's Bonsai Solstice.


The Pacific Bonsai Museum illuminated the edges of its paths in luminaries this evening and invited the public to visit with their flashlights. TWT, The Wife, and The Child headed into the dark, followed the paths, and were promptly deluged with rain that started once we at the outside exhibits. But this being the Pacific Northwest, we did what any native does, we continued on in the wet, cold, and dark as though it wasn't really raining.

It was fun running about in the rain with flashlights blazing, trying to read the exhibit placards. There was an indoor conservatory of tropical bonsai that provided a refuge from the rain, as well as a tent set up with outdoor heaters and hot beverages—coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

There was something mystical and holy about shining light upon these miniature tree forms as we approach the longest night of the year, trying to make out their shapes and scientific classifications and general names in the dark.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


TWT's plate of "ninjabread" cookies.


The Child's karate dojo held its annual Christmas party.

In addition to a potluck feast that could put many Lutheran churches to shame, there were games and entertainment and time to chat with one's table mates.

The Child and TWT spent time making "ninjabread" cookies. There were some obstacles along the way, such as the original gingerbread being too sticky for the cutters and the sugar cookie dough we made as a substitute spreading out quite a bit when baking. But we ended up with four plates of karate figures and mostly had fun making them.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Tonight was the Post Defiance Winter Reading, one of my favorite events of the Christmas holiday season.

This time, it was 35 people—friends, neighbors, strangers—with some connection to Tacoma's culture, art, and literary website Post Defiance, gathering in a private home filled with Christmas decorations and reading winter and/or holiday themed stories, poems, and essays to one another.

Three people read original work. The rest of the evening readings included (but were not limited to) the following works: "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen; "February" by Margaret Atwood; an excerpt from The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; an excerpt from Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World by Kathleen Jamie; an excerpt from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; "Storm Home" by Garrison Keillor; "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service; and much more.

I read "Tonrat the Watchmaker Bestows His Wishes on Her/Me" by dg nanouk okpik from her poetry collection Corpse Whale and children's picture book Polar Bear Night written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Stephen Savage.

In addition to time for readings, we ate and drank and conversed.

It was a magical night.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

—from the First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln, delivered on March 4, 1861.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Detail of "Annunciation" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 11 December 2015.


It's the time of angels.

It's Advent so it's the time of Annunciation. Christian tradition says the angel Gabriel to Mary.

It's the end of the year and, at times, it feels like the end of the world, so it's a time of Apocalypse. Christian tradition would have the angel Michael appearing to battle the forces of darkness and evil.

The cherubim and seraphim of the Jewish prophets, who then make an encore in the Revelation to John of Patmos.

There is Walter Benjamin's angel of history. And his Christmas angel. Paul Klee's Angelus Novus. The angelic orders/hierarchies of Rilke. The "better angels of our nature" of Lincoln. Pop cultural references. Mystical appearances to the saints. "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."

It's a time for angels.

"Be not afraid."


View more pictures of "Annunciation" HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


"How many times does an angel fall?"

—from "" by David Bowie, as found on the album (Blackstar).


"Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel."

—from "Golden Years" by David Bowie, as found on the album Station to Station.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Angelus Novus by Paul Klee. India ink, colored chalk, and brown wash on paper. 1920.


My wing is ready to fly
I would rather turn back
For had I stayed mortal time
I would have had little luck.
—Gerhard Scholem, “Angelic Greetings”

"There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm."

—Thesis IX, On the Concept of History, by Walter Benjamin, translation by Dennis Redmond.


And then there is another angel...


"I turned from my window, heavy of heart as only a near and certain joy makes us, when I felt and alien presence in the room. It was nothing more than a stirring of the air, so that the words which formed themselves on my lips were like the creases suddenly thrown off a limp sail before a fresh breeze. 'Once more each year / the Christ child dwells / on Earth below / midst weal and woe'—with these words did the angel who had begun to take form in them evaporate. I did not stay any longer in the empty room."

—from "A Christmas Angel" by Walter Benjamin, as found in Berlin Childhood Circa 1900, translation by Carl Skoggard.

Friday, December 04, 2015


"Behold a Pale Horse" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 04 December 2015.


"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."
—Revelation 6:8 (KJV)

Or as the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates it: "a pale green horse."


I had three paintings I was using as reference. I had reproductions of two in front of me and the other I was imagining as I remember it.


1. "A noble Danish horse in its splendid livery." Mixed media on paper. By Icelandic artist Sölvi Helgason.

There is no livery here. This horse runs free, treading over skulls and bones.


2. María Luisa Mounted on Marcial. Oil on canvas, 1799. By Spanish artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes.

Likewise, there is no rider here—neither María Luisa nor Death—and no saddle and no rein.


3. The Burning Stable. Oil on canvas. By German artist Adolf Schreyer.

This is the one I had to imagine. My horse captures nothing of the Schreyer painting. This painting of his is part of the permanent collection of the Frye Art Museum and the horses in the painting are trying to flee a fire in the barn, bursting forth from the stable and threatening to flee the canvas as they come at the viewer. But its one of the few paintings I can see without having to be in its presence. It is so visceral, so alive. (Although I always make an effort to view it for a few minutes if it is on display when I am at the Frye.)


For me, this feels of a piece with my other "death ritual" chalkings. Although the reference is Christian, I can imagine the pale green horse riding through the carnage of the Battle of the Nine Rivers—Revelation traded for Ragnorök.


View more photographs of "Behold a Pale Horse" HERE.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


"Death Ritual IV: Svartalfheim" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Saturday 28 November 2015.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, holly, western hemlock cones, tempera paint.


The fourth chalk art "death ritual" ties together the various themes that have run through the others.


The bog bodies of prehistoric Denmark that have been recovered from peat bogs as natural mummies were likely victims of ritual sacrifice tied to Germanic paganism or even Norse fertility gods Frey and Freya. Tollund Man (above left) still had a noose around his neck. Grauballe Man (above right) had his throat slit before being thrown into the bog.


The skin of the bog people turns black during natural mummification due to tanning from the various factors that contribute to mummification in the peat bog. The dark skin reminded me of the Svartálfar, the black elves, of the Norse Nine Worlds.


After wandering about a Puget Sound peat bog, West Hylebos Wetlands Park, in order to figure out what type of vegetation grew there, I was ready to start the chalking.


The holly is from the neighbor's holly tree growing into my yard. The alder and western hemlock cones are from tree fall along the Riverwalk Trail. I didn't want to disturb any of the vegetation in the actual peat bog.


I also wanted to leave holly berries on the trees for the birds, so I painted them onto the concrete with a Q-Tip "brush" and red tempera paint. (Plus it was another "connection point" to other "death ritual" pieces, in particular; and to the use of tempera paint in mummification rituals, in general.)


You can view more pictures of "Death Ritual IV" HERE.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Licorice fern at West Hylebos Wetlands Park.


That moment when you realize that you may have become a protagonist in an H.P. Lovecraft story—wandering around a peat bog by yourself looking for a particular type of berry for use in a chalk art "death ritual" that you are becoming somewhat adept at, even though it is an obscure and "arcane" art. Oh, and you know where to find the berry, but not when, and you may very well be too early. And you keep "feeling" something following you about in the bog.


And maybe I did find the berries. I'm not sure if the red berries I found are snowberries that haven't turned white yet, or nightshade berries, or something else. It's likely they are nightshade and then they would have worked well with the "death ritual" art. But, alas, I opted for alder cones and western hemlock cones instead, as well as holly (although that is from home).

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


"The black thing in her brain and the dark water on the page were the same thing, a form of knowledge. This is how myths work. They are things, creatures, stories, inhabiting the mind. They cannot be explained and do not explain; they are neither creeds nor allegories. The black was now in the thin child's head and was part of the way she took in every new thing she encountered."

 —pages 147-148, Ragnarök: The End of the Gods  by A.S. Byatt

Sunday, November 22, 2015


"Death Ritual III: Muspelheim" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Sunday 22 November 2015.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels, brick, red lava rock, hazelnut leaves, tempera paint.


The Child has been studying mummification in school. So I decided to play along and do a bit of research. While The Child's class has primarily focused on Egyptian mummies, and artificial mummies at that, I've decided to explore both artificial and natural mummies throughout the world and from various cultures.


I've also taken the oftentimes conflicting myths of the Norse and conflated them with some of these other cultures. The former seem well suited to play within some of these other stories and rituals.


The Chinchorro mummies of the Atacama Desert consist of both natural and artificial mummies. The arid climate tended to preserve bodies and then the Chinchorro people eventually started to create artificial mummies and play upon what nature had started.


The Chinchorro would coat faces of the dead in clay, in addition to creating clay masks for the mummies. I took some liberties with the coloring of the masks, especially that of Surtr, in order to capture some of the color palette I imagine filling Muspelheim.


I realized that the branches and leaves in "Death Ritual II: Ginnungagap" were "roots" of the world tree Yggsrasil that appeared in that particular realm of the Nine Worlds in that form. That meant that there needed to be a root of Muspelheim that appeared in this chalk piece. So the fiery leaves, weighted down by red lava rock seemed appropriate.


I also learned that tempera paint was commonly used in many cultures during mummification, so I decided that it should be part of this ritual as it was in "Death Ritual II."


I had a lot of fun making the "chalk mat" that Surtr's mask lies upon.


View more pictures of "Death Ritual III: Muspelheim" HERE.

Friday, November 20, 2015


"Death Ritual II: Ginnungagap" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 20 November 2015.

Sidewalk chalk, homemade sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels, black walnut branches, paper leaves, sidewalk chalk paint, tempera paint.


Ginnungagap is the primordial void in Norse mythology. Eventually it filled with ice in which the world was frozen. The "first being," a giant named Ymir, was licked out of the ice by the true first being, a cow named Auðumbla. Or, alternately, Ymir emerged from the ice first and then Auðumbla.

Either way, Ymir was sustained by milk from Auðumbla.


Ymir was a creature of giant size. At some point as other beings are freed from the ice or born of Ymir in strange ways, the gods appear on the scene, whereupon Odin and his two brothers kill Ymir and create the earth and cosmos.


Ymir is "gone" as a being but his body is present in the foundation of all that we know and see of the material world. Auðumbla isn't mentioned again.


The Ymir I drew in chalk is based upon the Qilakitsoq mummies, especially that of a six-month old infant who was freeze-dried by the cold and found atop the adult mummies at the location.

I liked the idea of Ymir as a giant baby, with his head as large or larger than the cow's.


I drew Auðumbla based upon online photos of mummified cows.


The Child's class at school has been studying the cultural notions surrounding mummies, primarily Egyptian. They have also "mummified" apples using ancient techniques as a science experiment. So there have been plenty of discussions about mummies at home recently.


"Death Ritual" felt like the first of its kind as I created it, so it was "natural" to have a death ritual related to beginnings as the next in the series.


I am glad to have Ymir and Auðumbla out of me, as I was starting to dream about them.


It was 34ºF in the carport while I chalked and my hands were like blocks of ice toward the end. I had trouble making my fingers work my pruning shears when cutting the walnut branches and trying to place the paper leaves upon them.


View more pictures of "Death Ritual II: Ginnungagap" HERE.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


"Death Ritual" by Troy's Work Table. Nighttime carport chalking for Wednesday 18 November 2015.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, walnut ink.


Lawrence Weschler calls them convergences. The various stories of death rituals that are swirling around me could no longer be ignored, especially after I sketched out a rough draft of this piece in pencil and dreamed about laying it out on concrete.


Studying Flemish and Dutch vanitas paintings of the seventeenth century.

The Child studying mummification in ancient Egypt. The Child reading about mummification in early South American cultures.

A fellow writer talking about experiencing death rituals among the Toraja people of Sulawesi, Indonesia during travels this summer.

The longed for death in battle by Vikings in order to be one of those selected for Valhalla.

Goya's "Los desastres de la guerra" series of etchings and aquatints.


The Wife commented that the figure and chair remind her of an electric chair—another form of death ritual.


It was interesting to add the walnut ink as "blood" beneath the animal heads. There was something ritualistic in its own right about using a turkey baster to apply the ink to the concrete "canvas."


The carrion crow as scavenger and spirit..


The offering of fruits.


View more pictures of "Death Ritual" HERE.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The rain continues. The river rises. Puyallup. Saturday 14 November 2015.


"So it is a return to blank pages, which is like a new sail: perfect for a strong wind and clear skies."

—from "The Blank Page: Or, The Death of a Novel" by Ada Ludenow, as found at Hagengard Studio

"An interesting thing about self-publishing that I hadn’t considered: sometimes you have to actually reject yourself."

"So I’m done with it. I’ll be focusing on starting over, which is something I want to do in other parts of my life as well. Professionally, personally and artistically I am at a nexus. I know I’m not starting over all from scratch and there are things I’ve learned in the last ten or so years that I will keep with me."

—from "Letting the Light In" by David Mecklenburg, as found at Ontological Property

Any writer would do well to visit and read both of the above blog posts, the first from an author's "alter ego" and Muse, the second from the author himself.

The pieces are about the Janus faces of beginnings and endings (and new beginnings). They are about failure and acceptance. They are about imagination and reimagination. They are about salvage and stories.

I know David well. He is a fellow writer and a fellow artist. He is also, in a way, a mentor to me. I can say that David and I have "grown up together" as writers and he has influenced me and my writing in ways that neither he nor I could have imagined as we swam off together as small fish after a writing workshop a few years ago. There were indeed other fish that swam with us in Les sardines, but David's voice is the one that I relate to the most. And he and I, of those nine fish, are the two who have put the most energy into trying to publish our own work after most of the school had swam off to pursue other things. We have both continued to try and get our work and our writing out into the world for others to read, for others to explore. We have each built small vanity presses, kingdoms of words, and "gone to battle" alongside one another in an attempt to get our works onto the shelves (digital and brick-and-mortar) of bookstores and into the hands of readers.

So, while these pieces are bittersweet, and, in some sense, difficult for me to read, I understand the need to let this novel go and to mine it for the words and phrases and stories that can enjoy new life in other shapes and forms.

The two pieces/posts are brave! (So click the above links and read them!)

They come after much reflection and a willingness to move on, to continue to explore and reinvent, and for that I commend David and Ada on their decision.

And since I seem to find myself in a "Northern"/Norse way once more, I add my own voice in solidarity. Thinking a lot lately of Ragnarök lately, I know that there is a new world that comes after the destruction.

So, here, I reprint the untitled epilogue to my collection of poems, All the Heroes are Dead and Buried, as a tribute to new beginnings, to a new world, as a blessing upon David and Ada and the new work they will create together.

Loki's world
wolf world
jötun world

now gone

cold ice sun
shining upon

a new world
a world of
man and woman

Friday, November 13, 2015


Detail of "Cornucopia" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 13 November 2015.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk.


Cornucopia. Horn of plenty. Trumpets of war. The four horses of the apocalypse—famine, war, pestilence, death. The monsters of Goya. The void. Strange fruits. The upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving. Unharvested crops rotting in the fields.


There were numerous weird influences on this creature, but the most prominent was its sibling creature, the Autumnal Walker.


And the spots of moisture and dark concrete, as well as the chalk shadows of prior pieces in the background, just add to the texture of the piece's "canvas."


View more pictures of "Cornucopia" HERE.


This morning was gray and gloom once the dark started to fade. Sunrise arrived like a dead salmon on the rising riverbank. So I posted yesterday's sunrise here instead.

North Hill of Puyallup, Washington. Thursday 12 November 2015.

Monday, November 09, 2015


A slice of black walnut tree and a slice of storming sky. Puyallup. Dusk. Sunday 08 November 2015.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Saturday, November 07, 2015


"Men may well be unhappy, atrociously unhappy, but they resist with all their strength the thing that could change their fate: they want children, and children similar to them, in order to dig their own grave and perpetuate the conditions for unhappiness. When you suggest that they accomplish a mutation, advance along another path, you come to expect ferocious rejection."

 —page 185, The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq


Toaster Pastry, an India-Style Red Ale by 21st Amendment Brewery.

19.2 ounce can served in tulip glass.

7.6% alcohol by volume.

The pour is a light ruby red body, almost an intense pink, with a finger-thick tan head.

The nose is “fuzzy” and strawberry. Behind that I smell some graham cracker maltiness and piney resin and floweriness.

The tongue is bitter pine resin, orange peel, strawberry fruit, biscuity malts.

The mouthfeel is medium. The finish is longish—the pine lasting quite some time, and orange peel peeking through here and there, but all of the bitterness slowly and eventually replaced by strawberry. And there is a warming quality from the higher alcohol content.

As it warms, the flavors become more complex and shift about a bit, which is rather welcome.

This is really good stuff. Excellent and inviting. I don’t really see this as being a “toaster pastry” beer, but it contains all the elements that would go into such breakfast fare.

It’s like an amber/red ale meets an IPA and manages to mix and maintain the best of each style.


I paired it with some sea-salted dark chocolate and some Tillamook cheddar cheese. The chocolate was an okay match, but the cheddar was a great pairing. This is a great cheese ale.

Friday, November 06, 2015


"Forerunner (Bring Me the Head of C-3PO)" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 06 November 2015.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk, homemade sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels.


Sometimes, I'm not quite sure from where particular inspirations come. I kept "seeing" the head of C-3PO, but thinking of the story of Salome demanding the head of John the Baptist as a gift from her (step)father Herod. Anyway, it helps to explain the title.


I'm sure Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens being on the horizon and quickly approaching is another reason that C-3PO is showing up in my mind.


View more pictures of "Forerunner" HERE.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


"Autumnal Walker" by Troy's Work Table. Nighttime carport chalking. Tuesday 03 November 2015.

Charcoal, sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels.


First, I missed chalking last Friday. I was working with kids. And when I got home later in the day, it was raining so much that the carport was mostly flooded.


Second, I liked how chalking at night made the "canvas" in the photograph darker and a bit stormy. It reminds me of Goya's black paintings and I am very fine with such.


Third, I'm not quite sure from whence this creature crawled. I was marveling over some of the changing leaves on trees at my workplace, but I'm not quite sure how they ended married to an animal body modeled after big cats. But, there it is.


View more pictures of "Autumnal Walker" HERE.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


It's been more than seven years since my grandfather died. I stopped by his house today and walked around his yard in the rain.

Many things have changed. The garden is gone. Most of the flowers are also gone. The fir trees that he once sold for Christmas have grown to sizes and shapes that won't work as Christmas trees any longer. The deck in the back has been fixed up and stained again.

But some things are the same. Especially the ducks. They still fly on the side of the barn. Eternal flight. Heading toward the sun.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


No standard pumpkins for us. Instead, we decided to carve various winter squash.

A sketch for our butternut squash. Green and silver tempera paint and "ghosty" holes.

Ghost butternut squash.

Bob the (butternut) ghost by Troy's Work Table; Squishy the (carnival) werewolf by The Child; and John the (sweet meat) frog spirit, which was a joint effort.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


"Dad in Green, High School" by Troy's Work Table. Pencil and colored pencil.


What started as some after work nighttime doodling soon turned into what looks to me like my father from pictures when he was younger. There was no source picture that I worked from and I wasn't intending to draw my dad, but there he is.

Monday, October 26, 2015


"Some naive artists do not seek professional instruction but just begin painting, often with impressive results...Others acquire some technical know-how, and if they are lucky in their choice of teachers, their imagination doesn't suffer."

—page 8, Naive and Fantastic Art in Iceland by Adalsteinn Ingólfsson.


My friend and fellow writer Dave gave me a copy of this book as a gift and it is absolutely stunning. There are eleven Icelandic artists featured and their art, although different in approach and execution, is all without academic or artistic training behind it. These pieces of art are beautiful visions of their creators—personal and powerful.


My favorite featured artists are Karl Einarsson Dunganon, Sölvi Helgason, and Thórdur Valdimarsson (as Kíkó Korríró).


Dunganon's works feature a limited color palette of brick red, orange, blue-green, umber, golden yellow, and black, all with white outlines. Most feature strangely elongated animals and human figures, perhaps mythological creatures. And if they aren't the creatures of an established mythology, then they definitely figure as the characters of one for Dunganon.


Helgason's pieces are filled with intricate handwritten text, human figures with multiple eyes, fluid lines and forms, soft pencil and pen textures, and scatological "humor."


Valdimarsson's mixed media drawings are vibrant and chaotic, filled with wild and bold colors, dark outlines to contain the color, and a dynamism that threatens to leap off the page. Many of the pieces make me feel like I'm going to be bitten at any moment!


I think I sense a few near future chalk art pieces that are influenced by these three artists.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


"Whatever its sources, Goya's stocky little martyr-of-the-people* is one of the most vivid human "presences" in all art. In an age of unremitting war and cruelty, when the value of human life seems to be at the deepest discount in human history, when our culture is saturated with endless images of torment, brutality, and death, he continues to haunt us."

—page 314, Goya by Robert Hughes


"[W]ith this painting, the modern image of war as anonymous killing is born, and a long tradition of killing as ennobled spectacle comes to its overdue end."

—page 317, Goya by Robert Hughes


*referring to the central figure in Goya's 1814 oil painting, **El Tres de Mayo de 1808 en Madrid o Los fusilamentos en la montaña del Príncipe Pío (The Third of May, 1808, or The Executions on Príncipe Pío Hill). [detail above]


"The landscape of the Desastres* is perhaps the first realization, in graphic art, of the landscapes that would become so ominously familiar to Europeans a century later: the almost featureless deserts of mud, shell holes, and blasted trees into which trench warfare had turned the once bountiful fields of Flanders and the Somme Valley. This is no accident, since Goya's landscape is also the first representation in art of Mother Nature plowed up and dismembered by the fury of artillery bombardment against fixed positions."

—page 295, Goya by Robert Hughes


* Desastres de la guerra (The Disasters of War) is a series of etchings and aquatint prints that Goya made between 1810 and 1820.


"How much of the fighting Goya watched isn't known. He did see what was left behind: stripped torsos and bloody human limbs stuck on tree branches like fragments of marble sculpture, this and more, enough for his purpose. He kept no journal of his thoughts but he registered a prodigious flowering of rage, not hastily in a sketchbook; later, after he had time to absorb the meaning, hunched over copper plates."

—page 175, Francisco Goya: A Life by Evan S. Connell

Saturday, October 24, 2015


"[I]t is, on the whole, brutality that is predominant among the ex-Communists—in comparison, Balzacian society, which emerged from the decomposition of royalty, seems a miracle of charity and gentleness. It is good to distrust doctrines preaching fraternity."

—pages 72–73, The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq


"All in all, I was harking back to the ancient Greeks. When you get old, you always hark back to the ancient Greeks."

—page 61, The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq

Friday, October 23, 2015


"Tash" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 23 October 2015.


Three influences/inspirations: C. S. Lewis, Francisco Goya, and the Fauvists.


Lewis is the foremost influence, since his character Tash, the anti-Aslan, from The Last Battle (book seven of The Chronicles of Narnia) is what this chalk creature is modeled upon. Vulture-like head. Four arms raised above its head. Although rather than the gaunt, translucent, ephemeral, and soon-to-be-fleeting creature of Lewis's book, this Tash is well-sated by the evil of its adherents.


A while back, I read in Goya by Robert Hughes that Dali borrowed Saturn's strangely shaped leg in Goya's Saturno devorando a su hijo (Saturn Devouring His Son, 1820-1824) for his own 1936 painting Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of a Civil War). So I decided to borrow it as well, although in a closer approximation to Goya than the plastic and elongated rendition that Dali executed. I also tried to capture some of the spirit of Goya's Los desastres de la guerra (The Disasters of War) series of etchings and aquatints, which seems fair for what is the Narnian equivalent of the Antichrist.


I wanted the colors to be bright blue and purple as though gaudy bruises, highlighted by bright oranges and red for the head, so I borrowed the palette of les Fauves ("the wild beasts") and let my chalk speak.


My two favorite pieces are small details, but the most satisfying for me. The first is the deadness of Tash's eye, which really speaks to me. The second is the small colored "berries" adorning his crown feathers.


Some chalk pieces just don't quite work the way I want them to. Some are fine. And some, like this piece, keep calling to me, even after I'm done with them.

I did a preliminary sketch of Tash in pencil and colored pencil on paper. More often than not, I usually like my pencil sketch better than the chalk that follows. But not this time. I think chalk Tash sings to me more richly than pencil Tash.


View more pictures of "Tash" HERE.

Friday, October 16, 2015


"Yggdrasil" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 16 October 2015.


I wanted to draw Yggdrasil as weary of the nine worlds that it connects. And I didn't want them to be roots, but branches and leaves that weigh the tree down. It may have something to do with constantly raking up leaves and walnuts and twigs and windfall branches from my black walnut tree these past few weeks. (And I've got a few more to go.)


Anyway, I didn't want the "nice" little tree "chart" that I usually see drawn out for the nine Norse worlds and the tree that unites them. I wanted it to be rough and ugly, disheveled and ungainly.


Detail of Yggdrasil: wizened and world weary.


When I was drawing the "face" of Yggdrasil, I put down a layer of charcoal and got some vertical grooves going in it. Then I added the brown chalk and rubbed it in. When I was done, I noticed that a small mouth of charcoal dust had formed. I didn't plan it; it simply appeared of its own accord. So I let it stay and decided not to outline or highlight it other than what formed around it during its creation.


View more pictures of "Yggdrasil" HERE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


And the "hidden" theme of the list is—



Pitch Perfect was the movie I was supposed to look for at the library for The Wife. But I kept thinking of Pitch Black.


When I found the Library of America edition of Nabokov for which I was searching, the notes for Ada, or Ardor were written by Vivian Darkbloom (an anagram of Vladimir Nabokov).


Compass made me think of The Golden Compass, the first novel in the His Dark Materials series.


And chocolate: I don't like milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the better.

Friday, October 09, 2015


"Octopus X (after Sargent)" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 09 October 2015.


"Octopus X" is modeled after Madame X, a portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau by John Singer Sargent.

Madame Gautreau was apparently the late nineteenth century equivalent of Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian and Sargent's painting of her was considered somewhat scandalous. But his painting is so rich and alive and it has been haunting me.


When I first imagined Madame X as a human avatar of the Mother Octopus, I kept thinking that perhaps some Disney animator had this painting in mind when drawing Ursula for The Little Mermaid.


Anyway, I liked the idea of the dress form remaining intact as the ink cloud column that Mother Octopus produces and rises above. And there you have her: Octopus X.


(Yesterday was World Octopus Day!)


You can view more pictures of "Octopus X" HERE.

Thursday, October 08, 2015


Today is National Poetry Day 2015 in Great Britain. The theme is "light."


I'm not British, but I thought I would participate anyway. I've decided to share some of the poets who have been lights in my life. In other words, they've influenced me in some way as a reader and a writer.


This list is by no means exhaustive nor is it ranked in any way. It's also in no particular order.


The list is by poet, followed by one of collections or poems of the poet that have been a light for me.


Homer • The Odyssey

Alice Oswald • Memorial: A Version of Homer's Iliad

John of Patmos • The Book of Revelation

The Psalmists • The Psalms

Emily Dickinson • The Complete Poems

T. S. Eliot • The Waste Land

Victoria Chang • The Boss

Alta Ifland • Voice of Ice/Voix de Glace

Katie Ford • Deposition

William Kupinse • Fallow

dg nanouk okpik • Corpse Whale 

Nate Marshall • Wild Hundreds

Anne Carson • Autobiography of Red

Marvin Bell • Ardor

Robinson Jeffers • Rock and Hawk

Diana Khoi Nguyen • "Buzkashi"

Kathleen Flenniken • Plume

Greta Wrolstad • "Notes on Sea & Shore"

Mark Jarman • Questions for Ecclesiastes

Scott Cairns • Philokalia

Don Marquis • Archy and Mehitabel

William Shakespeare • Sonnets

Walt Whitman • Leaves of Grass

Caroline Knox • Nine Worthies

Michael Robbins • Alien vs. Predator

Carol Ann Duffy • The Bees

Edgar Allan Poe • Complete Poems

W. H. Auden • Poems 1927-1931

Evan S. Connell • Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel

Friday, October 02, 2015


"Yojo's Dream" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 02 October 2015.


Yojo, Queequeg's idol in Moby-Dick: Of what does a small wooden idol dream?

Being one of the moai of Rapa Nui? Perhaps.


View more pictures of "Yojo's Dream" HERE.

Friday, September 25, 2015


"The Lament of Samuel (144,000)" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 25 September 2015.


King Saul seeks out a witch to conjure forth his deceased prophet and confidant from the shadows of Sheol, against the laws that he himself declared. Some Christian denominations, with  unable to understand the symbolic significance of the number, literally believe that 144,000 people will be sealed and taken to the throne of God. People raised from the dead.


Samuel laments being pulled (temporarily) from darkness to light. Samuel moans and asks to be left alone.


View more pictures of "The Lament of Samuel (144,000)" HERE.

Friday, September 18, 2015


"Lion of Judah" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 18 September 2015.


Three colors of white light—red, blue, green. Three persons of the Lion of Judah. Three-in-One.


View more pictures of "The Lion of Judah" HERE.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


"Phoenix" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Saturday 12 September 2015.


I had to get a chalk drawing of one of my chicken friends out of my head and onto the concrete, so I did. It's a Golden Phoenix rooster.


"Christ Pantocrator" by Troy's Work Table. Commissioned chalk art for Mountain View Lutheran Church. Saturday 12 September 2015.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I visited chicken friends at the Washington State Fair today. The great thing about the first day's admission being free before noon, my having the day off, and my family being unable to attend with me is that I can spend an hour in the poultry barn and just hang out with the various roosters and hens without any pressure to move along to another barn or another exhibit.

These were my ten favorite friends.

[1] Black Old English rooster.

[2] Brown-red Old English rooster.

[3] Barred Plymouth Rock rooster.

[4] Single-comb Rhode Island Red hen.

[5] White Orpington rooster.

[6] Silver spangled Hamburg rooster.

[7] Golden Phoenix rooster.

[8] Golden Sebright rooster.

[9] Silver Sebright rooster.

[10] Black-breasted red Modern Game hen.


My friend Dave reminded me of a quote by Warner Herzog: "Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic, and nightmarish creatures in the world."

I have to respectfully disagree, however, for I would rather hang out with a chicken than many members of my own species.