Scenes and Musings in Port Angeles

If you come to visit Port Angeles, you will be captivated by its beauty.  If you stay for a while, you will get a more realistic look.  This is a artist book about the Port Angeles that is growing in my heart.

Scenes and Musings in Port Angeles
Scenes and Musings in Port Angeles

1.

Here’s how it happens.

The clouds sink under the mountains
to the south.
Venus hums above.
A red copter circles the sea
to the north,
and tankers shoot the harbor to light.
A solstice breeze questions
the darkness
between the trees.  The town below
circles like a frost dog
to begin its sleep.

On the bluff above bag-piper sings vespers,
a little ragged
but sad and sweet.

2.

Grey frigid noon.

A gathering of crows
warms the highest branches.
Then they scatter, an episode worthy of Hitchcock.

Below,
a creek of newly melted snow
rampages.  Its teeth bite the sky.
It shouts escape from its cement captivity,
gallops bridge under bridge under bridge,
barely notices the cable-bound timber
that lines its course.

These water-dense logs
provide a homeless shelter
where,
hidden from vigilantes,
nights of cold rest
imprint the sand.

The crows spy
an orange syringe in the rocks.
The belted kingfisher hovers,
dives.
The creek surges into the sea,
mane and tail.

3.

Downtown you will find a great whale.

Its skin — an iridescent bubble —
undulates in the early breeze,
head draped over warehouses,
tail sunk into deep harbor.
One immense bone — a chiseled,
polished, stone vertebra — anchors
our whale to the cropped lawn and regulated roses
in the city park.

One sleepless woman watches
and remembers a time before the whale fed itself
to crabs and smoke-eyed ravens.
Her twisted fingers speak of cold
and the the hunger of small birds.

She watches the morning children
emerge from SUV belts and tumble
into the park.
Untutored by memory
they climb,
leap,
shout,
measure their thin edges
to the convex and concave
of the whale’s vertebra.
Affixed to the present, they grin into dad’s camera
through a neural canal.

 

Scenes and Musings in PA is a book of my observations made in the town of Port Angeles, WA on the northern slopes of  the Olympic Peninsula.
The Whale is based on a sculpture by Alex Anderson at the Valley Creek Estuary Park.
The horse draws its inspiration from poems by Pablo Neruda.
The anonymous bag-piper really did play, magically and alone, on the bluff above downtown PA as described.


I made the drawings on a Wacom tablet, directly into Photoshop.  We are very lucky to have an active figure drawing group not very far from Port Angeles.

Photos, drawings, writings, design, printing and binding, and paste paper by me. (The binding is a double dos-a-dos construction with a slip cover.) And Oola stole the old map of Port Angeles from the web.

Spring is pumping like a hurdy-gurdy here, and the first salmon berries are poking their pink goodbyes to Winter.

You can enlarge any image by clicking on it.

Northern HWY 101

Mother Killdeer on her four eggs
Mother Killdeer on her four eggs

There is city park in Port Angeles where HWY 101 (under the guise of Front St.) runs by Wildcard Guitars and Dove Studio.  Each evening for the past couple of weeks I have been checking in on Mother Killdeer — much to her consternation I must admit — just to see how she and her 4 eggs are doing.  She and her mate have chosen this spot next to the gravel parking lot and next to this water sprinkler for a nest.  What an eye they have for protective coloration!  She stays so still, you would think the sprinkler would move first.  And the eggs are so big. (and every mother out there says, Ouch! that must have hurt.)

But it is time to go to the SF Bay Area to visit family and do a couple of art errands.  Oola and I will travel on HWY 101 (mostly).  So we say  goodby to the Killdeers and head out early on the next adventure.

On the first morning in the Olympic National Park it looks like

Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

the lake is having as much trouble waking up as we are.

rubybeach
Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

The wind picks up, and soon we are on the Pacific Coast.  We make a stop at rugged Ruby Beach where abundant wildflowers are whipped about on the bluff.

A few hours later we are in Cape Disappointment State Park.  It is located where the Columbia River meets at the Pacific Ocean.  And you will remember from your history, this is where Lewis and Clark and company completed their contract.  I wanted to camp where they camped.  And, if signs can be believed, I did.

Cape Disappointment lighthouse
Cape Disappointment lighthouse

It was named Cape Disappointment by an English fur trader/merchant of dubious reputation, John Meares.  There is a wicked sandbar at the mouth of the river.  It looks like the waves are breaking way out in the ocean.  Because of this dangerous feature, Captain Mears could not enter the Columbia River and gave the area this name.  A lighthouse was built on the 200ft bluff to warn other seamen of the danger entering the River.

In 1805 Lewis and Clark showed up and wondered how the peaceful Pacific could be so wild.  They camped here, but the weather was so miserable they relocated to the south side of the River.

Artist Maya Lin started her Confluence Project here.  I stood here maya-lin
to try to understand the geography of the place and to take photos, not realizing the importance of the art I was standing on.

columbiariver
Columbia River, Baker Bay, from the Maya Lin viewing platform

Of course, people come to Cape Disappointment for many reasons.

lncbeachsurfer
Oola boogie boarding

This one looked pretty cold and dangerous to me!

Being keen to see family, I decided to cross over to Interstate 5 where we passed this magnificent site:

mtshastatop
Mount Shasta

On into California participating in fun-and-death with impatient 18wheelers.  The time saved was much too stressful.

 

After good family visits it was time to do the errands.  BUY ART SUPPLIES! One of the places on my list was

dharma1
Dharma Trading Company in San Rafael

the place to find everything needed to add color to fiber.  In my case I needed to pick up a large roll of paper-backed silk for inkjet printing.  When the warp and weft are straight it makes wonderful hangings.  New project in the works…. printing some of my “discovered figures”, photos, and street rubbings on this luscious fabric.  Then doing everything possible to contrast its beauty with violence.  Don’t ask why.  I don’t know yet.

Up the California coast on 101 this time.  Precious stops in Coastal Redwood groves.  I don’t know of anything more quieting than just BEING in a grove of these trees, tallest on the planet.  Something in their bark just seems to neutralize all the poisons.

redwood4
California Coastal Redwoods
redwoodtwins
And these are not even old growth!

My sources tell me that Lewis and Clark and Co. did not like fresh fish, like salmon.  Sick of the weather on the north side of the Columbia and sick of being hungry and sick, they took the advice of local Indians who told them that there were elk on the southern shore of the River.  When the weather cleared enough for the company to trust their boats to the waters they came upon herds of this.

elk-car
Roosevelt Elk stopping traffic.
cresentcity-dolos
Municipal Art?

In Crescent City I had to stop the car for this 40 ton concrete work of sculpture.  I had to find out about it.  As it turns out, these “dolosse” are used all over the world to to strengthen breakwaters.  Who knew?  (Mr. Wildcard did.)

Dolos
Breakwater reinforcement in Cape Town, South Africa

Their name means something like “knuckle bones” in Afrikaans.  They were developed South Africa in the 1960s to protect jetties by dissipating the energy of incoming water rather than blocking it.  Genius.  Does Life imitate Art or what?!

copcar3
Plymouth

Another “arresting” sight on the side of the road!

summercamp
Path to the Elwah River and the site of the dam that is no more.

Getting close to home, where it almost always smells like summer camp.

Finally home, and after a hunny smooch, a trip over to check on Ms. Killdeer.  As I suspected might happen, the eggs have hatched.  Three nestlings running about catching bugs, but it seems that a crow made a meal of the fourth.

killdeerbabies3
Three hatchlings.  The twins seem to think they are posing for Diane Arbus.

killdeerbabies1

Wildcard Guitars, PA

Wildcard Guitar Workshop
The business corner of the old workshop.

Four years ago Oola and I traveled to the tiny luthier shop of Wildcard Guitars in Oakland, CA.  Since then Wildcard (Steve Card) has moved to Port Angeles, WA ( where the world is clean, quiet, friendly, affordable, spacious, polite, smart, beautiful, uncrowded, capable, curious…) and he opened his shop there.  Here’s a peek.

Wildcard Guitars storefront
Wildcard Guitars storefront
Wildcardguitar's show room
One corner of  Wildcard Guitar’s show room/Pickin’ Parlour with a couch and magazines for weary guitar widows.
The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce welcomes Wildcard Guitars to PA
The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce welcomes Wildcard Guitars to PA

Here’s the other side of the show room, with Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce doing a ribbon cutting.  Oola was fascinated by those big sharp scissors.  No one seemed to mind.

Wildcard Guitars flowers in the display window.
Wildcard Guitars flowers in the display window.

One of Steve’s Canadian neighbors brought by a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne in welcome.  The champagne was soon polished off, but the flowers seem to catch the eyes of passersby, so Steve continues the habit.  People like their flowers here.  Hard to grow tomatoes though.

Moving right along, there is much more room for Steve to work.

Wildcard workshop, north side
Wildcard workshop, north side
Wildcard guitars workshop, north side
Wildcard workshop, south side

Wildcard workshop, South side

Above is a neck and fingerboard for a new commission.  You see the slot carved out for the truss rod.

Humidity room with Go Bars for gluing
Inside the humidity room

Because of the rain and humidity Steve built an 8ft. x 8ft. “box” inside his workshop to keep his wood from distorting, and to get good glue joints.  He demonstrated how the Go Bars might be used to glue a bridge to a guitar top (you have to imagine the top).

Steve has so much space now he calls it “Palatial!”.

If you ever travel to the area, you can find the Wildcard shop at

111 N. Oak St
Port Angeles, WA 98362

http://www.wildcardguitars.net

Call for an appointment and Steve will be sure to greet you in person.

(360) 504 2961
wildcardguitars@gmail.com

Webster’s Woods at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

On the slope rising from the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains there is a circular home called the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.  I use the word “home” advisedly because it is the place where once lived Esther and Charles Webster.  Now, thanks to Esther, it is the home for much beautiful art.

Port Angeles Fine Art Center
Port Angeles Fine Art Center

Surrounding the Art Center is Webster’s Woods, a special place to mosey and reflect.

Oola and I visited on a winter afternoon, and she really liked the address.  This has become one of our new favorite places. (Please click on any image to enlarge; they are well worth it.)

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

One of the reasons I like this place is that, with few exceptions, I could not find the names of the artists.  The whole area seems more an expression of a community than of any single person.  It seems that each year, artists add new work, much of which returns to the environment over time.

There is a foot path — kinda — and you can roam it from any direction.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

Questions of monumentality and ego are absent — except by their absence.  This is about the earth, the people, and time.

You might meet others like yourself on the path.

quartet

Always there is a straggler, or maybe the rear guard, or maybe just a dreamer — about to be swallowed up.

quartet2

You will find wonderful work disintegrating into time and the earth.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods
detail in Webster's Woods
detail in Webster’s Woods

I have seen blue ball sculpture before, but THESE blue balls are talking about a relationship with the trees — over time and through growth; and through stress when the wind blows from the Strait to the Mountains.

blueballs
Webster’s Woods

You may pass something by — Oola found these — only to discover later that they are beads hammered into the fallen tree.  This is my favorite of all that I saw in the woods that day.

redberries

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

We found an open dell, and this elegiac group.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

We found sound wood, and the chance for communal performance.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

We found evidence that we had arrived at the correct conclusion from the wrong direction.

Webster's Woods
Webster’s Woods

I read that there will be more installations this summer.  Definitely we’ll be back.  I hope you get to visit, too.

PAFAC
1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362

pafac@olypen.com
360-457-3532

On Ediz Hook Road

After a week of unpacking and of dealing with pass-the-buck bureaucracy worthy of a Russian novel, the Mysterious One and I made a quick decision to investigate that spit of land north of us called the Ediz Hook Reservation for Native Birds.  Didn’t see a whole lot of birds but we did see this looking south over the harbor to the mainland and our neighbor, Olympic National Park.

Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge

Looking north, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada IS there.

Canada across the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Canada across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

And there were a few hardy people with their boats.  Cheryl didn’t have a boat with her, but she had a delightful pet ferret on a leash.  She made me think about what Cecilia Gallerani might do with her time when she wasn’t posing for da Vinci or waiting on Ludivico.

Cheryl and her ferret
Cheryl and her ferret
Lady with Ermine
Lady with Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci

 

Heading South on Amtrak

Corbels
Corbels

You are looking at some lovingly restored, turn of the (19th) century corbels spaced on the corners of the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak station. How do I know they are “corbels”? Because the sign says they are “corbels”. Actually the word jangled a hardly-ever-used synapse formed in my art history days. So dusty was the memory that I had to look it up. According to the Apple dictionary a corbel is a projection jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it. — Makes sense. Another useless bit of information revitalized.

Two things about this little gem of a railroad station: It is run by volunteers, people who really love trains. They seem to love helping clueless travelers like me. And they seem to love things like cheering, describing to each other, and counting aloud how many cars on a freight train from Canada.

Two things I have noticed in my short stay in Washington: Maybe it is the influence of the neighboring Canadians, but the people we have met have been kind and generous.

For example, the Mysterious One – who is a little short of his sell-by date — and a friend of similar vintage were unloading some heavy particle board sheets in the alley by our back door and causing a blockage in the thoroughfare. A “youngster” drove up in a pickup truck. Now, where we come from there would have been some honking, maybe a rude finger or two, and scornful disapproval. But this young man got out of his truck and asked to help load the wood. He made himself useful, then he drove on.

I had similar experiences. And while shopping for our supplies, we received info and assistance from all ages and colors of knowledgeable sales clerks. Nary a surly one among them. We were amazed!

We have heard funny turns of phrases. One that stuck was by a man who disapproved of the design of a car. “It looks like an upside-down up”, he said.

So, the people, while generally conservative in this area, seem to be people we will like and want to work with. But all is not choruses of angels, even in Port Angeles. There is homelessness and heroin addiction in my new neighborhood. And the seagulls aim with devastating accuracy.

pigeons on a roof
pigeons on a roof

I climb aboard and begin the trek home, with plenty of time to ponder the imponderables, like why do all the pigeons sit atop one house and avoid all other roofs in the neighborhood on this rainy day?

PS  At the moment of this posting the train is stopped. I hear the conductor announcing “we have the situation under control”. That is comforting, I guess. There are people with walkie-talkies. HMMMMM.

What the Hay-L is That?

This mysterious collection of guitar pieces limped through the door begging for help.  Wildcard of Wildcard Guitars checked it out and was asked “What the Hayl is that?”  “Should we just turn this into a 6-string guitar”? But the Wildcard noticed that the neck was off center and tipped. The instrument was well-made of Brazilian Rosewood (a rare commodity now) with good materials all around.  It deserved respect.

broken guitar
Stringed instrument with broken back on the driver’s side.

neck You see a white wired LED light that Oola gave to Wildcard so he could see what’s going on inside. He could see that there were broken braces inside. At this stage Wildcard was involved with detective work:  “How did this happen and how can I reverse the process?”  “What are the weaknesses of the design and how much modification/reinforcement can I ethically do and still represent this as an antique?” So Wildcard sent some photos off to Gregg Miner of the Harpguitar Foundation.  Gregg is a collector, player, promoter, scholar, and maven of Harp guitar — The guy to ask.  And he said “It’s a Dahlman theorbo guitar,  and it will be worth it.” The Wildcard explained to Oola that Theorbo means there are extra bass strings on the guitar. Wildcard didn’t know what would support the extra strings.  He thought the brace might be made out of wood, but Gregg showed him that in reality a stainless steel tube was the historically correct replacement.

Two head stocks
Two head stocks? Uncentered, tilted to driver’s side, Chewed up inlay, broken binding.  What the hayl IS that?

In the middle of this repair, the Wildcard was called away to Port Angeles, Washington, to find a place for his new workshop.  He found this space, a couple of blocks from the ferry to Victoria BC.111oak The bottom three lower windows on the left will be the new Wildcard Guitar pickin’ parlour.  The three window cluster next to the center door will be Dove Studio. Once back in West Oakland, the Wildcard resumed his repair. Body-back repaired Here the broken pieces are replaced and glued, and the binding restored and replaced. stainless steel tube Here it is with its stainless steel reinforcing tube. with strings, ready to go Here it is finished with strings, ready to play.  Its sound has a shimmering quality because of the sympathetic bass strings. This is a guitar from the time of Debussy and the sound is reminiscent of the music of that period. This instrument was used as the bass in the mandolin orchestras which were popular at the turn of the 20th century. Classical music was played on this type of instrument.  Segovia played and recorded the same music on 6-string guitars.  Segovia became famous because of the recordings.  And today, Oola notes, most guitars are of the 6-string variety.

Mickie Zekley
Mickie Zekley

Here’s Mickie Zekley, owner of Lark in the Morning.  (The WildCard and I used to love visiting his shop of odd musical instruments in San Francisco.)  Here he is in the WildCard shop with his newly restored theorbo guitar.  You can hear  him playing 30 seconds of his own composition at https://vimeo.com/111315643.  The clip gives a good idea of what this instrument sounds like.