Saturday, December 31, 2016

PROTECTION ISLAND







Perhaps Protection Island doesn't completely live up to its name.

Top to bottom: animal remains, seafaring remains, once-rooted-to-terra-firma-but-no-longer flora remains.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

PROTECTION ISLAND


The Wife and TWT headed out in the midst of storm to hike around Protection Island at Ocean Shores. Initially, it was just to walk about in the wind and (sideways) rain, but then we decided to see if we could discover any snowy owls and/or their nests.


Occasionally, we had to stop because we were blinded by the rain. Or we had to move from the windward side of the island to the leeward side so that we could see and/or shelter from the weather.


But the beauty of the island in the storm, and the hypnotic pull of the wind and waves kept us going. We didn't see any snowy owls, but we saw snowy plovers, loons, cormorants, coots, crows, sandpipers, and plenty of gulls.


The Wife weathers the storm.


Troy's Work Table looks west, toward the future and whatever frontier remains.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

OCEAN TALES


The ocean is one of my favorite places of energy and renewal. The ebb and flow of the tides provides me with comfort. The waxing and waning of the waves provides me space and time to reflect upon the concepts of silence and repetition. It is where I am provided stories of the creatures and objects that find themselves (cast) upon its shores.


The ocean is a place of form and beauty. Decay and new life. A tangle of kelp quickly becomes a series of toys and weapons for the kids who accompany me on my walk. Likewise it is shelter for sand fleas and microorganisms, food for many creatures, something to be swept back out to sea with the next high tide.


I try to convince the kids that this mostly buried log is a beached whale, but they are too old for such stories. At one time, I would have been able to keep the ruse up for quite some time, but these kids are losing their innocence. They are becoming hardened by the world, and perhaps hardened to the world.


But one story they do like, even though still unconvinced of its verity, is that of the sea potato. I spun a tale about the "sea potatoes" that littered the beach—ovoid chunks of sod scattered across the sand after a storm had torn them away from some other beach and deposited them where we stood. So these sea potatoes are manifestations of erosion. Erosion of a beach and erosion of a truth. Once covered in sea foam, their true origin, their true form is a bit more hidden and more malleable.


This is the log that the kids will remember for quite some time. Initially, it was a perch for the kids to stand upon as the waves lightly lapped at its seaward edge. But the nipping soon became a large bite that pushed the log from beneath their feet and sent them into waist-water with an unexpectedly large wave. As they clung to the log after being thrown into the air, and scrambled from their cold and wet beach baptism, they looked back upon the log that tried to snake its way back to the sea from whence it came.


Then we departed. Wet. Laughing. The salted air filled with chatter, as though we were seabirds. Only the sea foam pushed up onto the shore by the waves to remain. Pushed up onto the shore by the waves—again and again and again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

WESTERN LIGHT, WANING LIGHT


Western light.


Waning light. Ocean Shores, Washington.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

CHRISTMAS CHOWDER


"Clam or Cod?" 
—Mrs. Hussey to Ishmael and Queequeg in chapter 15, "Chowder," of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

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The Wife made fish chowder "casserole" for Christmas Eve dinner. There was not only chowder but also 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry India-Style Red Ale. Additionally, there was the traditional household reading (whenever we eat chowder) of chapter 15 of Moby-Dick for those gathered.

We laughed with Ishmael and Queequeg as they ate chowder and "ordered" extra bowls when Mrs. Hussey was otherwise occupied. We laughed at the absurdity of a cow wearing fish-head slippers while walking along the beach eating the remains of fish, and therefore, providing salted milk. And we enjoyed our own chowder.

Friday, December 23, 2016

HEAD of a POET


For the past few weeks, I've been haunted by "Head of a Tramp," 1896, by László Mednyánszky. It's a painting I discovered while seeking out images for a work project. I knew that it needed to be translated into chalk, but wasn't sure what its final form would look like. Then I started seeing the painted head in my dreams and it began to transform.


I asked The Child to photograph me in a post mimicking Mednyánszky's painting. I laid out a concrete board with photocopies of the painting and the photograph as references and started placing down colors of chalk that I felt would contrast well against the tan and beige of the concrete panel.


My original plan was to make the coloring fairly realistic, so I laid down complimentary colors for skin tones, in order to build upon them and obtain shadows and shading. However, I was intrigued by the purplish-blue skin, green-and-black patches around the eyes, and bright green lips, so I left them alongside the more realistic colors of the the hair and clothing.

I'm rather happy with the Fauvist flavoring of this piece.

Perhaps now this tramp and his poet doppelgänger can stop haunting my dreams.

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"Head of a Poet (Self Portrait)" by Troy's Work Table. Indoor chalking for Friday 23 December 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastels on concrete board.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

BLUE DAWN SKY


Blue dawn sky is the hope after the darkness of the Longest Night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

LONGEST NIGHT (and SHORTEST DAY)

Longest Night is a personal holy day for me. I know, because I return to it again and again, in image and word and reflection.

It wrings poetry out of a "me" already exhausted by the physical dark of the season and the cultural busyness of the purported holy days.

This year, I'm caught up in reading the prophet Zechariah and the seer John of Patmos (scribe of the Revelation of Jesus Christ), as well as The Divine Invasion by Philip K. Dick.



we can hear the clatter of the hooves
     of the steeds of the Lord’s horsemen

red white sorrel sickly green pelts
     blood and flame dripping from their nostrils

their sordid breath salting the earth
     that they bend upon and trample

can you taste the stars?
     they sing of wormwood and gall



paint your face in lampblack and gray ash
    in ochre clay and in blood-stained clay

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Apparently, the darkness has influenced my muse to tend toward the apocalyptic again in my poetry. But I follow where she leads. Hopefully, I make it out without too many scars.

Friday, December 16, 2016

ODIN and FENRIS


One-eyed Odin and Fenris nap in the waning winter sunshine.

YGGDRASIL the HAND


Yggdrasil the Hand reaches for the fruit of the horizon-hugging sun as The Dog and TWT stroll along the deserted Riverwalk Trail.

CHRISTMAS at the CONSERVATORY


Today was both a day of wandering and a true Troy's Work Table day—filled with books, art, and beer. And plants.

I visited the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Tacoma's Wright Park. With all of the glass and the temperature below freezing outside, even with portable heaters running full blast the temperature inside the greenhouse was only 60ºF. But it was beautiful with all of the ornaments and lights, the poinsettia, and the amaryllis, in addition to all of the tropical plants.

THE RED HOT


Today was both a day of wandering and a true Troy's Work Table day—filled with books, art, and beer.

The Tacoma Dog at The Red Hot is a local version of the classic Chicago Dog. In Pierce County, this is the best hot dog around. The skin of the hot dog has a bit of resistance on each bite and the various flavors—hot dog, yellow mustard, pickle spear, sports peppers, tomato wedges, celery salt, onion, poppy seed bun—blend together for a near-heavenly experience.

I had a pint of 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry India Red Ale to accompany the hot dog. The biscuity malts and strawberry jam hops of the beer were a great partner for the hot dog. I've had Toaster Pastry many times in cans, but never on tap. It was a nice treat on a cold day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

WHITE HOLD


These hands don't clap in glory. But they'll hold the white disc of the sinking sun.

Monday, December 12, 2016

BLUE BAR


Bars of sky. Slate upon silver upon cerulean. White pressing in.

Threat of snow. Rain certain. Ice.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

CLOUD DREAMS


Twilight winter walk snow dreams of clouds.

SNOW DREAMS


Sunrise autumn clouds dream of snow.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

ROOT of JESSE


This "Root of Jesse" is the result of a welcome "collision" of different areas of my life.

It is a piece for my job, because I needed a representation of the "root of Jesse" mentioned in Isaiah 11:10, but the "artwork" of the same I found online was mostly of extremely poor quality. So I made my own.

It is a portrait of Advent waiting.

It is a representation of hope in the face of overwhelming odds against that same hope.

It is a play on The Metamorphosis of Plants by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which I've now read four times in the past couple of weeks.

It is a culmination of another reading of Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer and the (environmental) weirdness that lies therein.

It is in the style of the underworld pieces collected in my Chthonic coloring book.

It is inspired in part by a study of tree trunks by artist Ivan Shishkin.

It brought me great joy this past week, which was a gift of its own.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

OXBOW


A neighbor hangs constellations and illuminates the night.

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Tonight, I am a bit of a flâneur. I had a destination and planned on returning from where I departed, but I took streets I don’t normally walk and oxbowed from the most direct route.

I am bundled up in a sweatshirt, coat, and knit cap, over and in addition to my athletic pants and T-shirt. I resemble the homeless guys who wander these same streets, except that I’m domesticated by the dog on the other end of the leash I hold.

The doors of houses in the neighborhood are adorned with Seahawks banners and University of Washington wreaths. Front room windows are filled with television sets that are like altars, with the priests and priestesses of sitcoms and game shows enacting rites and rituals of the culture for those who gather in front of them. The colored light spills out into the streets, all of it thick, rich, and saturated in the fall twilight, where the same light would be brighter, cleaner, crisper if it were a summer evening.

As I near home, I am drawn like a moth toward the amber light of my own porch, a beacon in the blue and purple shadows.

Monday, November 28, 2016

YGGDRASIL


Yggdrasil, world tree, crown of the Nine Worlds, both beauty and bane of existence—seen here in black walnut avatar, with attendant crow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

RE-MEMBERING AREA X (WHITBY)


"Re-membering Area X (Whitby)" by Troy's Work Table. Nighttime carport chalking for Friday 25 November 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastels.

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Whitby Allen is a jack-of-all-trades in the science division of the Southern Reach, the agency responsible for studying, visiting, and containing Area X, which is a pristine wilderness that took over the Forgotten Coast. During that takeover, Area X apparently killed the 1,500 or so inhabitants of the original area. Or did it?

Anyway, Whitby is one of the long-time "survivors" of the bureaucracy of the Southern Reach. Whitby has been involved with the doings of the director of the Southern Reach prior to Control's arrival as director. Whitby was involved with the release of the white rabbits at the border of Area X to see what happens to creatures when they cross that border. Whitby has notions about Area X, which he has written up as a thesis on its "terroir." Whitby may be a bit unhinged.

I know about Whitby. Sometimes I am Whitby.

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"Re-membering Area X (Whitby)" is built upon "The Joker," which is built upon "Slow Burn," which is built upon "King of Crowns"...

Yes, I was feeling a bit like Whitby today.

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View more photos of "Re-membering Area X (Whitby)" and the other chalk art pieces of "The Build" HERE.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

THANKFUL


Thankful for wiener dog pillows.

(Although The Dog doesn't seem too fond of being one.)

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Thankful for turkey butts stuffed with aromatics—onions and fresh herbs.

Heading into the oven for round 1, for initial crisping of the skin.

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Thankful for turkey salon treatment—foil and color.

Heading into the oven for round 2, for a couple of hours of heating up the carcass and letting the juices and flavors find their way into the meat.

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Thankful for Duvel Belgian Golden Ale to accompany turkey dinner.

Ten years ago, I had my first Thanksgiving Duvel. I wasn't fond of it.

Five years ago, I was still drinking Duvel for Thanksgiving. I tolerated it, rather than enjoyed it.

This year, and my eleventh time with Duvel as my Thanksgiving ale of choice, I can definitely say that I have "come around" and look forward to its pairing with turkey and cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and rolls.

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Thankful for New Belgium + Ben Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale with pumpkin pie and snickerdoodles?

The desserts are excellent, but the beer is a strange one.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, an American Golden Ale by New Belgium Brewing Company and Ben and Jerry's.

12 ounce bottle served in Lagunitas mason jar pint glass.

6.0% abv.

+

The pour is a clear honey yellow, with virtually no head.

The nose is very light and of both roasted malts and chocolate.

The tongue is a bit of hay and a bit of biscuit, and then is "all out" chocolate chip cookie dough.

The mouthfeel is mostly medium, although it leans toward being thin. Due to the flavors and the connection to Ben and Jerry's, and therefore ice cream, I keep thinking the mouthfeel should be thicker.

If this were a stout, then these flavors might work better for me. But since it is a golden ale, and the flavors taste artificial, it doesn't quite work.

This beer isn't bad, but its weird enough (in an off-putting way) that I wouldn't want it again.


Monday, November 21, 2016

TRAUMA



"Months from now you will wake sore and bruised, as if your body cannot forget what happened, and this is the only way it can express the trauma."

—pages 396-397, Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer, as found in Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

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"[A] wild hope: that everything beneath you will be inert, normal, even if at the outer boundary of what that word means."

—page 397, Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer, as found in Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

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These quotes are from a novel of weird fiction, speculative fiction. What would have been called, in an earlier age, science fiction.

The quotes are about an encounter with monsters in the shadows, creatures of indeterminate origin and intent, many of which were encountered in the first book of the trilogy and are now being anticipated again in the third book.

But, ultimately, these lines could be about many things, about many encounters with what is unknown and therefore feared.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

HARRY POTTER



In the fall of 1998, I vowed to never read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

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I guess I need to be more careful about making such absolute statements.

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At the time, I was a bookseller. I hated the Harry Potter books and their fans because of the slobbering mania of the latter. They made our bookseller day-to-day lives hell for a stretch of years, but more so near the release of each new novel.

I remember one release party where I was trying to roll a cart of boxes of books from the receiving room through the parking lot, flanked by three or four booksellers acting as "bodyguards" and we were literally mobbed by kids and their parents. We had to shout at them to get back and threaten them with no sale of books before they would part and allow us to get inside the front of the store with the books. It was fervor and madness like I had never seen for a product. A book, yes, but still a product.

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Eighteen years later I have asked The Child to read the first Harry Potter book to me. Yes, this is a bit of semantics, but it does allow me to honor my vow while finally engaging the text.

(By the way, The Child, a devout fan of the series, having read all of the books multiple times, was more than happy to oblige.)

(Also "by the way," I've seen the film adaptation of this book, so I am familiar with the storyline.)

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It is not as bad as I had feared, nor is it as good as I had hoped it could be. But it's an honest, enjoyable tale.

The story is lively and moves along quickly. Some of the descriptions are downright awful, though. For example, Rowling describes the half-giant Hagrid as twice as tall as a man and five times as wide, with hands the size of garbage can lids and feet the size of baby dolphins. That description is laughable. But such awkward metaphor usage hasn't stopped me from enjoying the book. And The Child is obviously enjoying sharing a beloved book with me. So on we read.

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After this, I may even read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on my own!

BETTER ANGELS

Jeder Engel ist schrecklich. Und dennoch, weh mir, / ansing ich euch, fast tödliche Vögel der Seele, / wissend um euch.

—from "Die Zweite Elegie," Duineser Elegie, 1912-1922, by Rainer Maria Rilke

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Every Angel is terrible. Still though, alas! / I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul, / knowing about you.

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1939, translation by J. B. Leishman and Stephen Spender

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Every angel’s terrifying. Almost deadly birds / of my soul, I know what you are, but, oh / I still sing to you!

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1977, translation by A. Poulin, Jr.

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Every angel terrifies. Still, though I know / how almost-deadly you are, you birds of the soul, / I call out to you.

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1981, translation by Gary Miranda

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Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas, / I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul, / knowing about you.

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1982, translation by Stephen Mitchell

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Scarcely had I turned from my window, heavy of heart as only a near and certain joy makes us, when I felt an 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.

—from "A Christmas Angel," Berlin Childhood circa 1900, 1932, by Walter Benjamin, translation by Carl Skoggard (2010)

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I am loath to close. 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 battlefield 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 "First Inaugural Address," 1861, by President Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 18, 2016

PUMPKIN BUTTER


Today was a day in the kitchen. A day to unwind and relax.

TWT cooked up pumpkin butter (top) for snacking on and chicken masala (bottom) for work lunches next week, as well as sweet pepper steak salads for dinner and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

RESEARCH


This morning, I headed into the stacks of the Tioga Library at University of Washington Tacoma to seek out books on Goethe and Rilke. I didn't quite find what I was looking for, but I did discover a couple of gems that build upon my recent reading of The Metamorphosis of Plants by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

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My first discovery was The Great Naturalists, edited by Robert Huxley. There were a few references to Goethe, which were helpful, but my primary attraction to this tome turned out to be an introduction to the work of naturalist and painter Maria Sibylla Merian. And that introduction led to an afternoon of "thumbing through" an electronic version of her Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705).

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My second discovery was an article—"Vegetable Genius: Plant Metamorphosis as a Figure for Thinking and Relating to the Natural World in Post-Kantian German Thought" by Elaine P. Miller—in Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, edited by Bruce V. Foltz and Robert Frodeman. I ran out of time and didn't get to finish the complete article, but will be returning to take more extensive notes. But the notes I did manage to take helped to guide a re-reading of Goethe's essay on plant metamorphosis.

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This was the most alive I've felt in a long time, in the sense of feeling great joy in the act of reading and researching, while simply being alone. Maybe it's time to go back to school? Or maybe it's just time for a new set of poems? Either way, it is definitely time to set aside a few hours here and there to sit in the library with books and read and take notes.

SIX YEARS LATER


Two days shy of six years ago, I bought a bottle of The Dissident (2010) from my favorite bottle shop, 99 Bottles.

A lot has changed in those six years.

For instance, 99 Bottles will be closing after ten years of business. They lost sales once "big box" wine and beer stores were allowed into Washington state and able to operate under different rules than the small bottle shops.

So this bottle is bittersweet. I am drinking it to celebrate a staycation of books, art, and beer, even as I mourn the loss of the wonderful small business that provided me with that bottle.

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The Dissident (2010), an Sour Brown Ale (brewed with cherries) by by Deschutes Brewery.

22 ounce bottle served in tulip glass.

11.4% abv.

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The pour is a clear ruby red body and a thin, off-white head (1/8” or so).

The nose is lemon juice, fruity sourness, cherries, hint of yeast.

The tongue is fruity sourness, cherries, lemon juice, green apples, tart cranberry. There are hints of beef broth, yeast, and dark bread in the background. And beneath all of that (especially as it warms) there are flavors of brown sugar and iced tea.

The mouthfeel is medium. The drink is warm and pleasant. The finish is long and lingering, sour and lessening in strength of sourness over time.

This is so good. Excellent. I could just drink this and drink this.

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The Wife made her "Dr. Pepper Ribs" for dinner, and this was the perfect accompanying beer. The sour notes of the beer played well with the slightly sweet flavors of the rib sauce and the meat.

Heavenly!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

XPA HARVEST ALE


XPA Harvest Ale, an American Pale Ale by Maritime Pacific Brewing Company.

On tap, served in 21 ounce tankard.

5.5% abv.

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The pour is a clear orange body capped with a finger-thick white head.

The nose is a bit of butterscotch and caramel and viney bitterness.

The tongue is hoppy, viney bitterness and citrus peel, with butterscotch/caramel malts in the background.

The mouthfeel is thick. The flavors are crisp and clean.

This is somewhere between a pale ale and an IPA, but the fresh hops and beautiful bitterness lean it more toward IPA for me.

Excellent!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

CHICAGO DOGS


I am going to a party where the beverages and dessert are provided.

I'm bringing these Chicago hot dog "mini bites" I created. They include all of the components of a traditional Chicago dog—bun, steamed all-beef dog, yellow mustard, relish, onions, tomato wedge, pickle spear, (sports) pepper, and celery salt—in a muffin cup.

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Update. They taste just like full-size Chicago dogs, so the proportions were good. And they pair nicely with an India Pale Ale; I know because I ate them alongside two different IPAs—Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry India-style Red Ale.

They were a hit with those who were gathered.

MAP 2016

Today, the full version of "Map 2016" went up on a bulletin board.

I included "I Spy" cards so that the piece was interactive.

For example...

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I SPY...

Two states without abbreviations.

One state in two parts.

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DE • Delaware
HI • Hawaii

MI • Michigan

Monday, November 14, 2016

SPHYNX


"The Sphynx" by Troy's Work Table.

Palette-knife-applied sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels, and charcoal pencil on 18" x 24" concrete board.

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Happy 165th birthday to the American edition of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, published on this day in 1851.

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"The Pequod's whale being decapitated and the body stripped, the head was hoisted against the ship's side—about half way out of the sea, so that it might yet in great part be buoyed up by its native element. And there with the strained craft steeply leaning over to it, by reason of the enormous downward drag from the lower mast-head, and every yard-arm on that side projecting like a crane over the waves; there, that blood-dripping head hung to the Pequod's waist like the giant Holofernes's from the girdle of Judith."

"It was a black and hooded head; and hanging there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx's in the desert. 'Speak, thou vast and venerable head,' muttered Ahab, 'which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid this world's foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went; hast slept by many a sailor's side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw'st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw'st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed—while swift lightnings shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!'"

—from chapter 70, "The Sphynx," of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville