Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Boat Stoves!

It's funny how the Law of Attraction works.............. Just this last week Sweet Pea and I really started getting the high vibrations going about finding just the perfect set of stoves for our boat. We were pretty specific......... I had been vibrating the want for a Dickinson Newport, wood burning, bulkhead stove to replace our Dickinson diesel heater, and vibrating for a new cast iron Navigator wood stove for the galley. Sweet Pea was even more specific on the galley stove. Her want was a brand new, never used, Navigator wood stove.............. well a few days ago I posted a Wanted ad on the Jefferson County Freecycle web message board requesting a cast iron galley stove and a bulkhead mounted wood stove (This is a Yahoo Group where you can post items that are free, no trading or selling). About twelve hours later, I had two messages in the in-box of my email. One was from a woman saying that she did not have a free stove, but she did have a brand new Navigator, cast iron, stove that she bought a few years ago at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, and then never installed in their boat. She offered it to me for about half the price of a new stove. The second email was from a guy who told me that he had just seen a Dickinson Newport, bulkhead stove, in a local antique mall (of all places!) . Well I dashed down to the antique mall when I got off work yesterday, found the stove, bought it and even got a 20% cash discount!. It looked like the stove had been burned a bit too hot and the main front door was warped a bit and the dampener was stuck. After a few hours of bending, adjusting and polishing, it was back to operational condition (with the exception of a door latch... missing... soon to be replaced). We will be meeting the woman with the Navigator stove on Sunday to purchase and pick it up. The Navigator stove is the Sardine model in plain black, cast iron.
We'll pull out our Dickinson Alaskan, diesel wall stove and the propane galley stove and put those up for sale. When all is said and done, the money we'll get from selling those two stoves should more than cover the cost of the two new stoves!
That's The Law of Attraction at work!

Here's the link to the Navigator Stove home page:
These are absolutely amazing and beautiful stoves. They were originally produced by the Lunenburg Foundry in Nova Scotia years and years ago for use in fishing boats. They were discontinued and the rights were recently obtained to start casting them again, by Navigator Stove up on Orcas Island. They also make some absolutely beautiful enameled stoves as well.................. be warned this website should have a "Stove Porn" rating of XXX !!!!!!!!

Here's a shot of the new Dickinson Newport, bulkhead mounted, solid fuel stove. Our new baby.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...........

Winter in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! Well it started snowing last night and by this morning we had about 2 1/2 inches on the ground with snow still falling. The National Weather Service is calling for 100% chance of snow through tonight with snow continuing for the next couple of days............ I guess it's safe to say that winter's still here!
The morning ride to work is always amazing when there's not a track or foot print in the snow. The sound of knobby tires crunching along the trail, blazing that first path in the snow is always great to hear. There's no sound like it. There is an amazing silence riding through the woods when the snow is falling. It is almost as if the entire world is just holding it's breath and watching. It's mornings like this that make it tough to turn off the path and head into work............ I'm counting the minutes until quiting time today! Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it's off to work I go..................

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Playa Table!

Well, the first step in our quest for Playa Simplification has just occurred! Our new roll-up table is here! WooooHoooo! Life just got easier.

We had been toying with the idea of buying a lightweight alluminum, roll-up camp table for some time and we figured that with this year's goal of lightening the travel load and simplification, we might as well get in and find one. We did quite a bit of looking and settled on one sold by The Sportsman's Guide. It arrived today and right out of the box, first try, it went together in about 3 minutes. It's very well built, and very sturdy: 48" x 26" x 26" tall, 16 lbs. and it comes with a nice nylon carry bag. The box says that's it's the sturdiest aluminum, roll-up table on the market, and I believe them. This thing is well made. Since the table is quite lightweight, and the winds can get pretty fierce on the Playa, our plan is to set the table up when we're ready to cook and then break it down and pack it away when we're done. We have two smaller "end table" size aluminum folding tables that have served us very well, and now we've finally got the whole set!

I would highly recomend The Sportsman's Guide to anyone looking for great outdoor and surplus gear . They carry a very large line of close-outs at a fraction of the retail price. Great prices, fantastic service, reliable and a no questions return policy. Give 'em a try. Here's the link:

While you're checking out the web page, be sure to get on their mailing list. The military surplus catalog's pretty darn fun, even if you don't order anything!

Here's the table on it's maiden voyage out in the front yard.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

From Playa to Paper...... A Burning Man Story.

Well here it is! I finally took the time to sit down and write the amazing story of how my art piece, "From The Seeds Of Fear" came about. This was a piece of art that was constructed of found materials while en route to Burning Man in 2006. So, without further delay, here's the story. Hope you enjoy it.

It happened one day, on the way to the Playa…

It’s funny how things work out.

After four years, it never ceases to amaze me how the Playa teaches us something new every year, whether we think we need the lesson or not. Sometimes those lessons hit us right square in the face and sometimes they slowly sink in over time, taking us by surprise when we least expect it.

Playa gifts are sometimes given, gifts you can touch, hold and feel, and sometimes they are experienced. These energetic gifts come from the Playa herself and give on a much deeper and energetic level, a level that approaches the mystical. I was given one of these gifts once…………. on the way to the Playa.

Planning for the Playa starts as soon as the dust begins to settle and the four wheels of the car hit the pavement. As the clear clean air of the open desert begins to fill our lungs, our minds turn toward next year’s journey. Ideas are formed, plans are hatched, dreams are dreamed………………Over the next year, some grow and fruit and others fade and dwindle, but in the end, a vision is formed and its essence is manifested on a distant desert at the end of a very long journey in a place called Black Rock City.

This year’s trip was shaping up nicely. A familiar current of comfort, comfort that comes from having made the trip several times before, was mixed with the spiced anticipation of adventure yet to be realized. As usual, the plans in my mind were turning out to be much larger than real life was going to allow. It never hurts to dream big. It was all coming together nicely. That is, until it all started to change.

Sometimes change happens in small steps and increments, and sometimes it just hits you like the old “one-two” punch. Wham! For a moment there I thought I was down for the count. Our daughter’s getting married this summer! Weddings take time, planning, and energy, lots of energy…………… there goes the art project. Next year.

That comfort that comes from knowing what to expect, that feeling that comes from always having your lover and partner along for the ride, that comfort that we just seem to always take for granted………. Well one day, you wake up and find that it’s about to exit, stage left! Bam! Part two, of the old “one-two”. After too many times to the Playa, she needs a break. I’ve been abandoned, left alone……… It’s up to me, go or stay. Wow! Plans change. I’m definitely down, but still not out for the count. That Playa spark is still glowing somewhere deep inside. I can feel it. I can also feel this new feeling. It’s not comfortable at all.

One day you know what to expect and the next, it’s a big, wide open world, with no safety net and no guarantees. You can imagine the implications……… go or stay, that is the question. Until you’ve actually made that choice, taken that first step, it’s all just theory and speculation. No plans, no art, no expectations…………. “Yes”……. The sound of that “Yes” echoed in my mind like a pebble dropped into a well. I had just started the journey.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step. For me, it started with just one word. The step came next. No art, no plans, no expectations, on my own. This would be a new trip, a new experience, a new Burning Man. A new plan formed out of the vacuum of the last. Or rather, it would be more correct to say, a new plan had been presented to me.

The plan. Let’s see, head out the door, hit the road, and see what happens……. No expectations, no plans, no obligations, no strings attached. I’ve heard it said so many times, “The Playa will provide”. This year I’d put it to the test.

Traveling alone gives the mind time to unwind, to stretch out a bit and shake off the conditioned mental chatter of daily life. As the miles unfold, and the scenery zips by, the internal conversations begin to unfold. Too bad about that art project, it would have been great. A huge tree woven from barbed wire, man’s fear. Leaves of green ribbons transcribed with the hopes of participants, tied on to turn the limbs green. It would have been a masterpiece. Alone on the road’s not all it’s cracked up to be………………… or maybe it’s something else.

Timing is everything, and my travel timing was off. I was making too good of time. It’s amazing how things like that can happen when traveling alone. The last oasis was coming up, Goose Lake, a garden of shade and green grass in the middle of the Oregon Desert. Time for a nap, a little lunch, and regrouping before the next big push.

The nap was great, and now for a bit of a walk to get the blood moving. As I reached the edge of the grass, it stood before me like an apparition, a vision. The ball of old barbed wire was huge! An entire fence pulled, discarded, abandoned. Well, I still had some time to spare, so why not see if the old art idea could have worked. Back to the car for snippers and gloves.

Twisting, snipping, winding, bending……… a small shrub emerged. It was perfect. It was a miniature of the tree I had envisioned in my mind. It would have worked! It would have been great! But what to do with this shrub………… I know, I’ll wire it to a piece of rebar in camp…….. Ghetto Art! Load it on top of the car and off I go.

Now my mind was really starting to whirl, and the creative energy had been reawakened! As I turned East and started up the long, steep grade over the mountains from Alturas to Cedarville, the car began to slow to a crawl. The temperature guage was climbing. The trailer, water and gear were starting to take their toll. Then it happened. I had this idea….. if I could find an old bleached white coyote skull and a few bones, I could put them at the base of the bush and work on the whole fear thing! My eyes were on high alert. No bones, just the bloated desert road kills of recent days past. The temperature guage hit the red zone. Time to pull over and let the rig cool.

Up ahead was a long, dirt pull off, along the side of a steep canyon slope. I could have stopped anywhere, but I stopped where I did. I got out, walked to the edge of the slope, stretched and looked down. I could feel the chills climb up the back of my neck. At my feet was a bleached white coyote skull, and few bones. Exactly what I had seen in my mind's eye! The sneaking feeling that some other power was at work here was beginning to creep into my mind. I picked up the bones and hit the road.

My mind was really going now, arcing and sparking at high speed. Another idea! If I only had an old galvanized bucket, I could plant the bush in it and call it “From The Seeds Of Fear”. Perfect! Now I just needed to find a bucket……in the middle of the desert.

As I crossed over the pass and started down the grade into the desert town of Cedarville, I was still without my bucket. I had a plan though. As I drove through town, I’d look for a bucket in the yards and along the roadways. I wouldn’t buy a bucket, but if I found one, I would just explain that I needed it for this amazing art project, and ask if I could have it. It had to work. Things were just falling into place on their own, so why not.

Two trips through town, back roads, main street, and one more time just for good measure. No bucket. Well, it was worth a try anyway. Too bad, it would have been great. The great expansive, and vacant desert drive was still ahead. Time to get back on track and get on my way. Too bad though, as it really was a good idea…………….

Two hours down the road and I still found myself watching for a bucket. The ember was still burning, it hadn’t quite died. Then it happened. Up ahead, a bucket on a post? In the middle of nowhere? Could it be? It was exactly the bucket I had seen in my mind, dents, bail and all, and there it was, upside down, on a post. More chills. There hadn’t been a pull off for miles and miles, but here was one, directly across from the bucket on the post………I was beginning to feel like I was the paintbrush, and someone, or something else, was doing the painting.

I needed rocks. Not just any rocks, but good desert rocks. I’d use them to fill the bucket and plant the bush. You would think that rocks would be easy to find in the desert. Well they’re not. Where there are good rocks, there are no pull offs. Were there’s a pull off, there’s just dirt……. and dirt just wouldn’t do.

The sun was sinking, and I was making the last few miles before rounding the bend and dropping down to the Playa. No rocks. I decided to pull off the road, make a sandwich, watch the sun set and enjoy the last bit of peace and tranquility before diving into Black Rock City. The large pull off ahead was perfect. Sandwich in hand, I crossed the road to find my perfect picnic spot. Which rock to sit on? Then it hit me! Rocks, long lines of perfect, black rocks, just the right size, just the right color. Perfect rocks! Black rocks! Just what I needed, black rocks from the Black Rock Desert. No wonder I couldn’t find any along the way, these were right here waiting for me.

As I unloaded my armful of rocks into the trailer, I had the sudden thought that all I needed now was an old, weathered piece of board to carve the name of the piece into. I’d place it at the base of the bucket. “From The Seeds Of Fear”. I turned, not even a step, and there it was at my feet, the perfect piece of wood! Perfect size, perfect shape, perfect color………..perfect!

That night as I sat in camp and finished burning the letters into the wood with my red hot nail, I had the thought that the Playa really does provide. As I looked at the finished art piece sitting before me on the open Playa, I had this thought: It wasn’t just my art. It was a collaboration between, the desert, the Playa and myself, and maybe it wasn’t what I had first envisioned, but it was perfect.

What is Burning Man? I don’t know for sure, but I do know what it isn’t. It’s not a place. It starts when you walk out that door and it ends, well I guess it never ends. It’s often not what you expect it to be. In that particular year, on that particular day, I found it along the way , and it was perfect.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Playa Art........... The Dream Wheel

To make art, or not to make art.......... for the Playa that is. With last year's trip "art-free", I think I'm starting to get the art itch again! The wheels, cogs and creative juices are starting to swirl and churn. I had the idea for building another prayer wheel after last year's Burning Man trip, and calling it "The Dream Wheel". With the announcement of this year's official theme of "The American Dream", it just seemed appropriate to dig out the concept sketches and notes and start the process of actually bringing the idea to manifestation and the Playa. I sat down this morning over espresso and eggs,and did a little sketching in the notebook. I think that a new plan and design is starting to come together.
This prayer wheel will definitely be a jump further away from the traditional Tibetan wheels and into the realm of true interactive art. What I'm envisioning is a smaller wheel, based on a five gallon oil or maple syrup drum, that will be mounted in or on, a frame that is a bit more "organic". Instead of having the traditional "Om Mani Padme Hum", symbols painted around it, I will start at the bottom of the wheel and start a long "sentence" of words like: love, hope, health, happiness, etc., written in all the languages of the world. This "sentence" will spiral around until it disappears into some painted clouds and sky. The clouds and sky will then blend into a darker layer of "the heavens", at the top of the drum. Mixed through this layer will be stars and heavenly bodies. Along the top of the drum, I'll have the "mail slots", just like the last one (for people to deposit their own written hopes, dreams and prayers). The prayer spool inside, will be wound with modern prayers and mantras of hope with sky and earth wheels painted with organic symbols and words....... it will definitely be constructed and will be in the same spirit of a traditional wheel, but will be of a more relevant, modern and artistic style.
The ideas are still forming and the sketches are ever changing, so it will be fun to see where this process ends up!

If anyone is interested in reading more about traditional Tibetan prayer wheels, I would highly recommend the book "Wheel Of Great Compassion" by Lorne Ladner. It is an amazing book that explores the history, lore and actual construction of these wheels and and how they fit into the Tibetan and the modern world.

Here's a picture of my prayer wheel that I took to Burning Man in 2005.
"The Wheel of Collective Consciousness"

I'll post more of my art musings and ideas on the project as the path unfolds.................. It's great to be back in the "art mode" again, no matter where it ends up taking me!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rethinking the Playa

With our Burning Man tickets on the way, it's time to get serious about re-imagining this year's trip.
It all started in the jeep on the way home from the Playa last year. After last year's week in Black Rock City, we both left feeling like it was time to change a few things. The last weekend of the burn sort of left us feeling a bit burned ourselves. The night the man burned, it really felt more than a bit like a huge, overpopulated, frat party. The energy was less Burning Man and more Spring Break at Cabo. The next morning I took a spin around the Playa and was stunned by the sheer volume of beer cans, pee spots and trash. As the sun rose and camps came down, the air started to fill with the acrid smoke of toxic burn platforms........... much more so than in years past.
Disillusionment. Where was that "true" burner energy? It seems to flourish right up to the burn, and then it hides out as the city comes crashing down..............................

After four burns, the time has come to rethink, re-engineer, and re-experience Burning Man. All the way home, the discussion kept coming back around to "how we will do it different" next year. Well, it's "Next Year", this year and we've come up with some basic goals for this year's trip:

  • Scale back the gear.
  • Travel lighter, with minimal bulk and weight.
  • No dome. Find a lighter, easier to set up, shade structure.
  • Leave before the burn and have another adventure en route home.

We are exploring options for a new shade structure. One that will go up quick and easy, will transport without roof racks on the jeep, and will provide daytime shade, but not necessarily dust storm protection. The parachute dome is a real chore and undertaking to set up and take down, and when all things are weighed and considered, too much for one or two people to deal with. So the dome's out this year!
In the years past, we've supplied a large infrastructure as well: tables, kitchen, evap pond, bath, etc. Well, this year we're going 'minimalist"...........we'll cook in the trailer, small roll-up camp table, filter and sprinkle gray water, mini bath............... we're even entertaining the idea of camping near, but outside, Hushville. In short, we're coming at this year's trip from a fresh new direction!
Stay tuned for more breaking news in this story as the count down continues............

Only 221 days to go!

BURNING MAN! 1/17/08

Burning Man on the mind and we're only a few weeks into the new year, with Winter still in the air. I can almost taste the Playa dust as I'm typing this!

Betsy called last week and we had a great coversation about Burning Man plans........... are we going, art plans, logistics, etc. Then we got a call from Jonathon. He was in town visiting! We got together for lunch at our house on Tuesday and to our surprise, Jonathon and Piper were at the door! Looks like Piper will be headed to the Playa this year as well!

Yesterday was TICKET DAY!!!! With Kristen on the home computer and me on the work computer, we tag teamed the Burning Man site and managed to score two level one tickets in record time! We entered the ticket sales page about a second after it opened and got right into the queue...........the site did a mini-crash and then Kristen was stuck. I logged back in and found myself with only 126 people ahead of me! All in all, it took about 20 minutes to get through the whole process. When I checked back with the ticket site later, all 10,000 level one tickets had been sold (about 5 hours later!). Glad we jumped in when we did!
Two tickets on their way............. and the countdown begins!

January 17, 2008

Well it's a new year and it's off to a roaring start! Where do I begin?............... let's see, how about this:
Four Bees, what's in a name.......... well it's not the name itself, but what it stands for.
Bikes, Boats, Babes, and Burning Man...........not in any particular order....... and about the "Babe" B, that would have to do with a certain wonderful burnin' fiddle babe that seems to accompany me on the other three B adventures. So with that bit of introduction out of the way, "On with the show, and away we go!".

So sit back and enjoy the ride :)