Two great covers

Time for a daily dose of country & western.

Let’s start with Iris DeMent covering Merle Haggard. I could listen to this tune about 100 times in a row.  Funny how some music does that to you, grabs you where it counts and won’t let go. Iris DeMent just hammers this one home, backed up by Marty Stuart and his very well-dressed band. The single snare drum is a beautiful touch.

Although Iris DeMent is not a prolific songwriter, I usually think about her as much as a songwriter as a performer, because she has written some great ones. However, as I listened to the last tune, I thought about this one, written by Harlan Howard and Bobby Braddock – God May Forgive you (but I won’t).


The Cellist of Sarajevo

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway came to me well-recommended. When I say came to me I mean just that – the book arrived by mail. I had asked for recommendations and here one arrived at my doorstep.

I asked for recommendations in an effort to read some books I might not otherwise read. That seemed like a reasonable strategy at the time. Yet when the book arrived, for some reason I don’t understand, I avoided reading it. And I continued to avoid reading it for some time.

Then one recent day I needed a book to read. I was about to go out to the 27th Street book box and shop, but my eyes fell on The Cellist of Sarajevo. Ah, I should read this one now. Then I remembered, oh yeah I don’t care for books set in wars any more than I care for war movies. Maybe that’s why I’ve been avoiding it.

I picked it up and flipped through it. OK, I’ll read the first chapter. OK, well I’ll give it one more chapter. And one more. At that point Mr. Galloway had sucked me right into this strange world, Sarajevo under seige, her inhabitants targets for shells and snipers.

What is bravery, what is cowardice? How would you behave? How would the situation change you? What happens to the human spirit in the face of senseless, arbitrary death and the destruction? The horror of the situation is humanized through the eyes of three characters, four if you count the cellist. Two are simply trying to survive, trying to cope. A third – Arrow – is a sniper. She works more or less on her own and picks off the soldiers in the hills, soldiers who are at the same time trying to target her. The Cellist hauls his instrument into the street and plays for 22 days, one day for each of the victims of a senseless massacre of people lined up for some bread.

Galloway doesn’t tell us much about the warring sides, the factions, who did what to whom. To his characters, there are only people in the city – targets – men in the hills, and some gangsters and their money thrown into the mix. We don’t learn much about the complexities of the conflict, nor about the ethnicity or religion of the combatants. Galloway strips all that down to the bone and puts us into this strange fishbowl with his characters.

Good book. Good read.


Check out the fantastic coyote photos at the Friends of Sam Smith Park blog. Our dog walker has seen them twice recently while out with the partners. She noted that one of them had a tracking collar as well.

Morning panorama

So this is March. I took this shot while walking the partners this morning down along the lake by the yacht club. It isn’t as cold as it has been and lots of dogs and their people were out and about. Still there is plenty of ice in the basin, except for one spot around the wrapped yacht where the water is kept moving.


It’s Drying Time Again

That was no typo in the title of this post. I did not mean It’s Cryin’ Time Again…

I’ve completed all the paintings for my April exhibition at Yumart and now it’s dryin’ time. Those of you who know my paintings know I use plenty of paint so I gave myself a deadline of the end of February to finish painting. Now the last of them has over a month for the oil paint to dry. That should be plenty of time to dry the surface, although in some of the thicker impasto areas, it will take a lot longer for them to thoroughly dry right through.

No Regrets 2015
No Regrets 2015

Some painters have no patience for the slow drying time of oil paints and either take measures to speed the drying or work with quick-drying media like acrylics. There have been times when I’ve worked with acrylics but these days I’ve been painting exclusively with oils.

I try to take advantage of the drying time. I work in sessions and during each session I work wet in wet but I usually take several days between bouts of painting so at the beginning of each session I’m working on a more or less dry surface. I also let paint dry on my palette because at different stages in the drying process that paint acts differently when I paint with it. I pay a lot of attention to surface quality, character and texture in my paintings.

Howard Hodgkin Powerhouse exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum

Howard Hodgkin

Looking for something to do this weekend – or next?  Take a few hours and explore the Aga Khan Museum which includes this stunning show.Aga Khan Feb 1

8 blistering works by Hodgkin +Visions Of Mughal India: The Collection of Howard Hodgkin

“In Indian painting I have found much that for me could be found nowhere else, but I cannot tell you what – I can only metaphorically wave my arms at the pictures – and say look!” – Howard HodgkinAga Khan Feb 2(directly above/below other works to discover while visiting the museum including – tile relief displays and a work from an Iranian 1550-1559 Folio ‘a Fal Nameh’ .  The ground floor of the museum showcases treasures from the permanent collection of the Aga Khan Museum. )   Aga Khan Feb3Aga Khan Feb 5The outdoor grounds of the museum also look promising when the plantings are unveiled and begin to bloom.

Stop by the cafe for fresh, delicate baklava before you leave this slice of paradise.

Iris DeMent

Iris DeMenta piano, a guitar, go ahead and go home, fluevog shoes, russian poetry in song, opening with mornin’ glory, chats about the weather, waitresses, clinking of plates, gospel and funeral songs. All seamlessly needle and threaded together by Iris DeMent last night.

Happy Birthday Memphis

Our lovely Landseer Memphis turns 6 today.

Memphis 2015
Memphis 2015
The mischievous pup
The mischievous pup
She's always loved the water
She’s always loved the water
with her pal Jacques
with her pal Jacques
Goofing around with Max
Goofing around with Max