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I see so many cat prints in concrete that I found this human print refreshing. Cats are supposed to be careful. They pussyfoot, they freak if the furniture is rearranged, and they are generally very wary unless living with humans. Why then are they walking on every patch of freshly poured concrete? Is it on purpose?

This calls for a haiku:

Will this amaze them

In a hundred million years

When cats rule the world?

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Isaiah 9:2, King James. Having attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah some weeks ago, this verse was stuck in my head. I hope it is now released. I find it particularly interesting to consider that it, in isolation, allows a secular interpretation as a metaphor describing the acquisition of a moral sense.

A4 watercolor paper, Noodler’s inks, Pilot Parrallel (2.4 mm) and Rotring pens. Note the last image is not rotoscoped in violation of this blog’s convention.

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This is at the Bon Marché in central Paris. I was very impressed and would have liked to skip work to watch some of the installation. I keep imaging it takes five people at once, all trained in advanced physics, or maybe she has some clever cardboard shuttles and temporary stays. The next day when I came to look, there was a manifestation and rain and I detoured. The riot police had paddywagons to arrest hundreds, so I thought I had better not risk my liberty with an unintended legal entanglement in a foreign country.

The artist is well known and resides in Berlin.

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Visiting Paul on Bliss, we saw galettes des rois on sale for epiphany. They looked quite good, and we decided to buy one to honor the tradition. The galette came in a pretty bag. I then noticed they also were selling small galettes and enquired. They said they did not have a king inside. We bought one anyway. Walking home, pondering our deficit of kings, I had an epiphany: the bakers are small-scale anarchists.

They were the best commercial galettes I have had, and the big one had two kings with lettering on their backs, a USA and a CHL (Chilean?).

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New Year’s morning, basking by the rubbish bin just outside the Medical Gate, this cat seems to be recovering from a rough night.

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Along with some diverse coins, I made a set of 25 California State quarter rings (daughter is going on a school road trip). US quarters are the easiest coin I have tried, probably because of the copper interior (I have not tried gold). The most difficult have been steel and nickel-brass: they are hard. Normal brass is fine. I used only hand tools and a Bunsen burner, and my fingers still hurt. The nylon mallet and the mandrel are essential. The mini-sledge and the big punch were most satisfying. I am saving the punched centers in case I can think of something interesting. The Leyte Gulf landing is my favorite: MacArthur’s quote, “I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples,” is still visible on the now interior reverse.

For information, search YouTube for “coin ring” or “coin ring making.” Apparently, there is an entire industry. With specialized equipment, a few minutes will produce very fine rings. I tried some US quarters without annealing to avoid losing the polish, and it was fine, though they were a bit stiffer. Numista.com has comprehensive coin information including composition. Amazon sells all sorts of useful tools and materials (including rolls of specific, uncirculated quarters). And it is not illegal in the US!

 

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Up in the mountains, calm, quiet, warm and cozy. This is the first time I prefer not to use the Oxford comma: the cadence would be poor.

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Greetings for the New Year

Winter arrives with its own demise

As the cold deepens the day lengthens

The new year starts when the old departs

This year, I made and sent cards for the first time in many years. Watercolor paper, Noodler’s inks, and Pilot parallel and Rotrong pens.

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Christmas greetings! It was 25 years ago today that I first came to Lebanon. Many things have changed, some beyond recognition (the airport) some for the worse (electricity, power, pollution, corruption, etc), some for the better (the number of Syrian army checkpoints have been reduced from 15 to zero between the airport and Beit Meri, ruins of the war are now rare), and some not at all (traffic, we will eat our Christmas Eve supper at the same table). Then, my Dutch grandmother-in-law from Amsterdam came with us. We saw a Caracalla show at the forum and hit the notorious nasty pothole in Mansourieh, got two flat tires, and managed to find someone who had a working phone line and let us use it in the middle of the night to call my father-in-law, who came to get us yet insisted we get the car back. Of course, Mercedes do not carry two spares, but he brought a pump and the tires were fine: it was the rims that were bent would not keep the air in the tubeless tires. We found a metal pylon and pounded the rims into shape and reinflated and made it home quite late. My grandmother-in-law was perfectly comfortable throughout. Having raised five children through World War II in Amsterdam probably prepared her well for flat tires, even double flats, and in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.

The card is like the previous: Windsor & Newton A5 smooth watercolor paper 130gsm, Pilot parallel pens, Noodler’s inks. Outlining is ToonCamera, not ink.

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I tried to make it a bit creepy in response to recent, excessive exposure to loud, insistent, commercialized, Christmas music. It seems it is always the worst of US culture that is embraced abroad, and unsurprisingly, the commercialization of religious holidays is increasing to noxious levels in Beirut. Of course, we are far behind the US, but the worse, the faster. Starbucks, grade inflation, Santa hats, texting while driving, immodestly comfortable clothing in public, and anti-immigrant sentiment. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for peanut butter without sugar and hydrogenated fats, taco trucks, and high-quality craft beer (meeting Oregon standards). Oops, and voracious reading, hobbies, and liberal arts higher education. So, ’tis the season to wear ear plugs.

A5 watercolor paper, Pilot parallel pens, Noodler’s inks.