On the Hood

Is a car just a means of transportation, or is it something more: a statement, a totem? Cars started becoming popular just a hundred years or so ago. There were lots of competing companies, but how to distinguish one from another? Body styles were based on coaches, but these things had motors, motors needed cooling and as it is right up there in front, the radiator cap became the perfect place to differentiate the brand.

The engine on this highly modified Ford is obviously a replacement, but a useful and decorative radiator cap is part of the original beast.

And from there the practical gave way to the exuberant and symbolic. This is also from Ford and features a racing greyhound, to suggest that this car is fast (and it probably could go 50 mph at least).

The radiator is no longer exposed in slightly later cars, so now the signifier has transformed into a hood ornament. This stylized woman is taking a leap into the future.

But why let the ladies have all the fun? This hood ornament is a man (I think?), perhaps he is faster than a speeding bullet.

But there is no need to get completely literal, it’s hard to say just what this represents, but whatever it is, it’s fast.

But there is still room for the literal, this car boasts a rocket as it’s mascot (note to designers: this is an airplane), and one can “blast off” down the road.

But what caused the demise of these symbols? Why if one is struck by a car with a fixed hood ornament, one could be injured (yes, they are missing the obvious). So these were finally outlawed except for ornaments that are on an elastic tether so that they bend on impact (I’m looking at you Mercedes and Jaguar). But they still exist as testament to the art of automotive styling in these decorative details.

Low Art

Cars are just a thing to get one from place to place for most people. But sometimes one develops an emotional attachment to a car; the first car, the car one had fun in with friends, your daddy’s car, the car one regrets selling. But selling the car is not the end, one can always buy the same model from somewhere and then the art begins.

This is the classic dream of many car aficionados, the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. This one is especially desirable as it is a convertible, a symbol of the freedom of the open road. In tomato red with those gorgeous fins it is a spectacular car. It was further customized to be a low rider and it has a trunk full of hydraulics.

Chrome details on many vintage cars are beautiful, but the custom work of plating and engraving on the tiniest details make these cars truly amazing.

This 1955 Bel Air (which is a desirable car, but not like the ’57) also boasts a fantastic paint job, they sure didn’t come off the assembly line like this. These two also show the hydraulics in action.

Even the mundane parts of the engine have been chromed, plated and engraved in a gorgeous way!

The places that these owners find to detail are amazing. The ordinary bumper, the thing that prevents other cars from dinging one another are engraved on these cars. The show was set at a local art museum and these certainly are works of art and love. (And these artists are much better than the artist whose work was a pile of clothes). I hope that this is an annual event, (and of course I want one for my very own).


We all have an Arcadia in our minds, the perfect place of abundance. As a city person it is easy to imagine the joys of a bucolic existence. Delicious things growing effortlessly, that only require picking. The reality of this lifestyle is somewhat different. This area features a short growing season, and this was complicated by a late spring and plenty of hailstorms. So the harvest is only just happening now. We were going south, and so we joined the others in looking what the hard work of these local farmers had produced.

I love the taste of vine ripened tomatoes and my favorite way to eat them is to pick and immediately devour. Supermarket tomatoes look like the real thing, and are often quite beautiful and uniform. These beauties are the sort that can only be purchased at a farm, their essence is too fragile to be available at a supermarket.

This farm does grow many sorts of vegetables, but it is famous for various kinds of chilis. I’m not sure of the actual name, I just called them “pequenos” and they are small, but mighty.

These sacks hold about 2 bushels of green chili each, just waiting to be roasted. The smell of roasting chilis is a sign that autumn is coming, but these chilis will keep a body warm throughout the winter months.

The bounty of summer continues with dried peppers. This is the old way of preserving the harvest, and it is still delicious.

I love that these families are preserving the traditions of farming and are also looking for ways to bring year-round income from their harvest. These are jars of chili flavored olive oil. I bought some delicious garlic and chili flavored dill pickles that they had made. Farming seems idyllic, if one’s fantasy is working like a dog for the growing season. But we city people only see the blessings of farm life, not the hardships. And I thank them for it.


The clock is ticking down on summer, yet it is still summertime, except in our friendly local shops.

The pre-season has already started (who cares?), but it isn’t actually football season until next week. But in case one can’t wait, there are things to purchase that declares one’s allegiance to local-ish teams.

Halloween is just around the corner, if by corner, one means two months from now. The candy already on display is being guarded by this dragon, protecting it from summertime camping gear.

And still these puny seasons pale before the juggernaut that is the Christmas season. These expensive holiday decorations are harbingers of the season to come. Fortunately the creeping plague of Christmas music has not yet started (but it will be here sooner than one likes).

This is the true symbol of summer, the backyard barbeque. Pictured here is my brother’s attempt to turn hamburgers into charcoal. But there is no easy way to merchandise this symbol, so I have provided an image.

Enjoy the last bits of summer!

Farmer’s Market

One of the great pleasures of summer is going to an open-air farmer’s market. Sunshine, blue skies, and fresh produce, with finding a parking place the only negative. The locations change from time to time, but this one in a city park has been around for a while.

Oh yeah, it’s located in a funky older part of town (it’s gentrified, but not too much).

This tent features pickles of various sorts that are made by actual farmers from south of here. They are delicious and I have some in the refrigerator right now.

I’m not sure if sprouting seeds counts as farming, but one can also purchase such things here.

Yeah, I guess he would be considered a farmer of sorts. One can also find persons selling fancy dog biscuits, soap, juice drinks, pasta, crafts and other sorts of miscellaneous items.

But surely the best reason to go over to the market is this! Fresh from the tree and grown on the other side of the mountains these are fabulously delicious. The season will soon be over and I will have to wait an entire year for this succulent treat. (Note: store peaches look exactly like this, but they are a fraud, and do not taste the same.) So enjoy the bounty of summer while it lasts, and I will eat a peach just for you.

Art Day

There is a local (maybe it’s everywhere?) tradition of having the first Friday of the month as an “art day”. Galleries stay open late, sometimes they have drinks and nibbles (always guaranteed to bring in folks) and various art shows have openings. And on this day, there was one at the local museum, so there I was. There are the superstars of art, they rake in the bucks for the least doodle, the 1% of the 1%. Then there is everybody else.

I was standing in line to get my drink (no nibbles) and looked up at the Chihuly overhead. This museum has three such pieces. I would rank him as a superstar of art because he not only sells pieces, he doesn’t even make these himself. Individual bits are made by the assistants, and the artist directs how they are put together (pretty sweet deal). However, today’s artist is a local.

So besides creating art for the wall, he also creates practical art in these decorated skateboard decks. Perhaps they will be more interesting once they have seen use, or maybe they will remain pristine.

This artist is versatile, if you don’t want to wreck your skateboard, you can have a full size version of the art.

The artist was there with a bunch of friends and we chatted for a bit. He had also made an art vending machine, instead of bubble gum one could get a tiny Xeroxed ‘zine for 50 cents. And there were embroidered ball caps for $40. I wished him lots of sales (and I took home a ‘zine).

Besides art there was also music. Mostly the groups around town that I have heard play oldies, but these guys were playing original (at least I thought it was original) music described as “alternative and neo soul” to an invisible crowd.

Art is about ultimately about inspiration and creation, and this takes a variety of forms, independent of money. Sometimes it even can be found right outside our windows.

Fair Art

Every year I make at least one piece of art for a juried show. The first show that I ever entered was a local quilt show. I had made a piece that I really liked, and those judges hated every thing about it, even the back. I was encouraged by a friend to enter it in this juried show. I was accepted and got a really great hang space, and I have been entering this show ever since.

So this was the original idea for one piece. I started it in a workshop where everyone else was making self portraits. This idea is interesting, but too complicated, I was going for super simple.

This is more better, but it needed to have another house for the sake of symmetry (oh curse the need for symmetry. I was sick of it at this point).

So this is how it ended up. Am I happy with it? Not exactly, the background is boring and the lines could be stronger, but it took a lot of effort to quilt around each bit, so it’s done.

And this was the second piece. I had wanted to do a portrait of the elusive blue heron for a while. I often see them flying around at dusk and I have never been able to photograph one, I just have to enjoy it in the moment. So these were sample backgrounds.

I started off trying for realism, but that seemed rather dull, so things did get a bit abstract.

This is how it ended up, and of course I would like to change bits, and add more. But, the deadline for submission was up, so off it went. And to my good fortune both pieces were juried in, so that’s the end of anxiety and second-guessing until next year (or perhaps sooner).

Art Fair

So there is an organization that sponsors art fairs in the region, and whoever they are, decided that our city needed one too. It was a lovely, hot summer day, and I had decided that I needed a bit of culture, so there I was (also, it was a free event, my favorite kind). It was held on the grounds of a private school, which was built as a replica of the Trianon (nothing pretentious in that, is there?).

The fair was itself consisted of a series of white tents, each holding a hopeful artist and their wares waiting for some interest from prospective buyers. (I was not there to buy, I don’t even have any wall space left to hang things.) Many of the folks were slowly strolling along the grounds of this school, as the artists sat in the shade and watched us pass.

The art is original, in that it is painted by hand, but I suspect that if these paintings were sold a similar version would take it’s place.

There was a lovely green lawn between the rows of booths set up along the paths, and this dog was there enjoying chasing a frisbee, oblivious to the goings-on.

I must say that the class of 1990 cheesed out in their parting gift to the school (really? a rock plus a sign). I at least, did not find it especially inspirational, however, art is in the eye of the beholder. So perhaps this was a perfect piece for a hot day, strolling amongst the works on offer.


Well it only took four forevers to get this site back in shape and secure, but it was done, albeit with a lot of fumbling and cursing. There have been lots of improvements in technology, yet there is still plenty of room for user error.

So what’s been happening here in the summertime?

The start of summer is always marked by the Air Force Academy graduation. I have never bothered to watch the air show, but I found myself in a position to catch this and it was fantastic. I could also see the freeway, where they blocked off all traffic so that the President could travel unhindered. It’s always a nuisance when politicians bother to show up.

Summer always means lots of music of all kinds, this was bluegrass played at a church (did you guess this?). Why were we inside on a summer’s day?

Oh yeah, there are often thunderstorms that roll in, and this year there have been quite a lot.

After a slow start to summer, everything has started to bloom, like this, our state flower (yes, it’s official by proclamation of some governor. There is also an official state dinosaur and two official songs).

Jazz in the garden at a different church.

Classic rock at a bar.

And funk at a shopping center. What all of these music venues have in common (besides me) is that they are appealing to old people (also me). I decided that’s because young people might get rowdy and want to stay up late, while us oldies just wish to enjoy some tunes and go home to bed early.

Summers are lovely, and this one is already half gone, so I had better check the schedule to see who is playing next.


It’s been quite a while since the last post. I have been working to upgrade whatever needed upgrading and as I am computer illiterate and busy with other things this has taken a bit of time. But life goes on and I have been doing things like this:

Yes, I went to a four day writer’s workshop (and I know that you are thinking “it’s about time”.) This service dog was at the first workshop prepping for his debut as the star of a series of children’s books. The series could be titled “What a good boi”.

A number of the published authors at this fest were also selling their books. I liked this title because it made me think “What would stop a Canadian Werewolf? Not silver bullets, but perhaps maple syrup or poutine,” and where would one find this in New York?

And what kind of conference does not have a bar? This is where the important business of any conference is done.

Part of every conference is mealtime with a speaker. One enters a large noisy room, full of tables and chooses a place to sit, hopefully with persons one knows or wants to know. This conference requires presenters to each host a table so that one may have informal discussions over a meal. But at this point I was sick of talking to people and there was an empty table. So I took a place setting and made my own ‘pariah table’. I was joined by another introvert and we commiserated about speaking so much to strangers.

So was the conference worth it? I did get to hang out with my friend the writer, I spoke to a few souls, I ate hotel food and I spent a lot of time driving back and forth. Did I learn anything? Yes, my preferred way of punctuation is wrong and at least one editor would reject it on that basis (not that I am submitting anything). And I am not interested in selling anything, just writing this little blog mainly for myself. And you.

random bits of life