"Open Mike," my Sunday feature in which I gab on more than usual, is sometimes a day late. Like for instance this week.
Eclipsed eclipse: I was very disappointed last night. I had a vision of sitting on the balcony and watching the Super Blood Moon eclipse over the towering trees, and the day had been clear and lovely. But clouds moved in at exactly the wrong time and I couldn't see a thing. Rats.
Dew Drop Inn: This weekend I enjoyed a visit from my artist second cousin Elizabeth Claire Rose (check out her website) and her husband Eric. They moved to Pennsylvania from Montana two years ago. Eric worked ski patrol and wilderness rescue and was a wildland firefighter (he points out that it's not always forests that burn) in Montana; now he's a brain-trauma rehab nurse. Elizabeth and Eric were my fifth set of visitors since I moved in here on August 19th, which is more visitors than I'd get in any given year in Wisconsin. They are dynamic young people, accomplished and interesting, and I really enjoyed reacquainting. We had a campfire out back at the fire pit.
Intaglio etching by Elizabeth Claire Rose
My little stretch of East Lake Road is four miles from end to end, which means if I start at the house and go to one end and then the other and then back home again, I've gone eight miles. I biked that the other day and saw nine human beings the entire way, comma, yikes. That's only slightly better than one human-sighting per mile. At night you can hear the coyote howling out on the bluff; from the sound of that spooky nocturnal chorus I think there might be more coyote around here than human beings. Say what you like about Upstate New York, pro or con, one thing for sure is that there just aren't a whole lot of people here.
I might need every visitor I can get, is what I'm saying.
Big announcement! Tune in Wednesday of this week for some exciting photographic news from a good Friend-o'-TOP. You know him well, and he's back in a big way.
Puffer: I'm not a big fan of Nike, but I am a fan of its advertising agency. (Or agencies.) The company's latest ad amplifies on its "just do it" mantra in a nice way. It seems to say that just being in the race is a victory.
It's a sentiment I can get behind. Last Winter I went to the YMCA in Corning and did some sprints around their indoor track. Big mistake. Afterwards, my knees hurt so badly and for so long I thought I'd done permanent damage. Only then did I dive in and read up on re-entry running, and everyone says that when you're older and haven't run in a long time it takes a long, long time to strengthen your legs and bones enough to run and that you've got to take it slow, slow, slow.
So I started walking every day, sometimes twice a day, eventually adding very short sections of very gentle jogging. Again and again I'd feel my oats and overdo it (I like speed—a sprint is my reward), then get right back into it after laying off for a couple of days for recovery.
I'm happy to say all that groundwork has started to pay off. I'm now up to two miles a day, with more jogging than walking (pushing 60, I subscribe wholeheartedly to Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method)—I'd say I walk no more than a third of my distance, sometimes more like a quarter. Yes, it's an open question how long my knees will hold out, but I'm hyper-conscious of my body as I run, and my form, and I'm in it for the long haul, so I'll be careful and continue taking it easy. It's certainly nice to huff and puff every day—feels great. I like running.
Print Offer: ...Coming right up. I'll let you know in advance about the date it starts, so you won't miss it. This one's a single print, a sweet treat.
Printer: I've taken the plunge and purchased an Epson P600 printer. Ctein's advice was enigmatic: "You're going to like the P600 for black-and-white printing better than any other inkjet printer on the market now. Whether you should buy it is another question," quoth the hirsute Gandalf-y Dumbledore-ish one. That was it. No further elaboration. Shall I cast rune-stones and scrutinize them for signs as to what he meant? No, no...tea leaves, it should be, of course.
If anything at all significant comes of this you will hearing more about it in coming days and weeks and wintry months; if nothing does, then you won't. Either way I won't gab on about it here. (You know, "just do it.") I purchased the P600, a box of 11x17-inch Canson Baryta Photographique paper (which features on the front of the box a photograph of a man who is worried about the high cost of the paper inside), and...well, a box. To put the prints in. I have high hopes, good spirits, and optimism.
Trubba: Mike got himself in trubba again yesterday. (I seem to be getting myself in trouble a lot lately.) This time, I said, "I could come up with a whole long list, a learning program if you will, of very specific exercises to help people to see better with a camera." This disappointed a number of people. Reader Ernest J. Zarate held my feet to the fire, writing, "Why offer that you have all this knowledge and skill, just to say, 'Well, I possess this knowledge, but, no, I refuse to share it with you'? It boils down to: you could, but you deign not to. What? Are the very people who support TOP via the mechanisms you've set up for that purpose not worthy?"
Um, ouch! That smarted.
Of course you are worthy. But what I had in mind would have to be a book. It's not top-o'-the-head knowledge. And, about researching and writing and illustrating a book, I feel somewhat the same way I feel when people suggest that I travel, or lecture, or teach courses, or visit foreign countries, or do personal appearances. Namely, that if I were doing all that, I would not be doing this. Most people who care one way or the other don't want to endure my silence for eight months while I go write a book. I blog, and that's what most people want me to do. Y'see how that goes? I could do all sorts of other things, but then I would not be writing TOP. I joke that my ankle is chained to the leg of the [sit-stand] desk, but really, that's as it ought to be.
You've got me right where you want me.
Right where I should be.
Mere decor: I've never decorated a house before, really. Turns out it's kind of fun. I only have about nine pieces of furniture to buy, and I'm not going overboard of course, but I feel like I'm getting everything just about the way I want it. It's like the house itself is a minor work of art: you envision, then reify. All about proportion and appropriateness. It's very satisfying the way it all seems to be coming together.
I can't find the comment in which a reader recommended Horning Chair Shop, a Mennonite furniture maker near here, but if it was you and you're reading this, thank you. They're very nice people up there—the shop is at a farm—and make solid, wholesome furniture. They will eventually be building me a game table and a couch.
What's your sign? Oh, and take a look at the sketch for the sign out front:
For some reason I'm very jazzed about the sign.
More anon, as ever. À votre santé.
"Open Mike" is the detectably more self-centered than usual weekly editorial page of TOP.
Original contents copyright 2015 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
David Philips: "We had clear skies in Massachussetts last night and though you can see countless eclipse photos today I'll show you my sequence anyway:
"I also started running recently and though I only have 60% of your years the walk-run method made it possible for me to get into it without hating it. I still haven't learned to love running on roads but now that I'm able to run a few miles without stopping I've started going into the woods. There's something special about running through the forest."
Geoff Wittig: "Coyotes are one of the distinctive features of rural New York these days. They're so canny and elusive you rarely actually see them, but at night they're frequently heard. I listened to them for a while last night while shooting the eclipse, which was beautifully visible just 30 miles west of Keuka Lake as the crow flies (sorry!).
"Our local coyotes are actually quite different from the Western variety, as they're much bigger (up to 70 lbs) and sometimes hunt cooperatively, both ascribed to their possession of up to 20% wolf DNA. I really like them, as I find their nighttime 'singing' pleasantly haunting, and they've cut down on the numbers of racoons, which around here are more nuisance than 'Disney cute.' A lot of the older locals despise coyotes, sort of a lingering legacy of the urge to exterminate every predator not on two legs, I think."
Rodger Kingston: "I love your Sunday OT Features, no matter what day of the week they appear. With regard to Jeff Galloway's 'run-walk-run' training program, nothing new there. When I was in Marine Basic Training over 50 years ago, that was how we did forced marches, except they called the components 'march' and 'quick time' (with a third component, 'collapse,' often showing up at the end)."
benny_pea: "Any chance of finding out where one might get a copy of that etching? It really is rather beautiful...."
Mike replies: Elizabeth sells them in limited editions of usually somewhat fewer than 30. You should contact her, but might get a belated reply, as they are hiking in the Adirondacks. She charges in the range of $200–$500, so they're not expensive.
Scott L.: "Re 'I'm not a big fan of Nike, but I am a fan of its advertising agency,' The Onion said it best many years ago in an article called 'Nike to Cease Manufacturing Products': 'Citing creative confinement and a desire to focus exclusively on what it does best, the Nike Corporation announced Monday it will cease manufacturing athletic shoes and other sports-related merchandise in order to devote itself fully to the creation of state-of-the-art television advertisements. "The last few years, it became impossible to maintain our high standards of advertising while faced with the daily distractions of making sneakers," said Phil Knight, Nike founder and CEO. "By discontinuing our entire product line, we will ensure that Nike remains the world's leader in the field of incredibly cool TV commercials well into the 21st century."'"
Roberto: "Epson P600 and Canson Baryta? Did the same and very happy with it. I suggest you buy also a box of matte paper, like the Canson Rag Photographique (you need to use the matte black for something anyway). I got it in the Canson Discovery Pack and I'm quite impressed."
Jim Freeman: "The decor in the dining room looks somewhat Eggleston-like, probably just a coincidence. Your joy with the move to New Yawk comes through in nearly every post."
Joel Becker: "I love the outdoor sign, but please, please leave '.com' off of it. It looked bad in 1999, and it looks bad now. If you want to specify the web address (as opposed to the entity name), put it at the bottom sized to fit in one line."
Mike replies: Really? I don't have that sense. What do other people think of the ".com" on the sign? There's still time to change it.
David Dyer-Bennet: "You may have the extra 't's people keep leaving in my last name!"