Tbt… Rob’s Bull Elk close encounter story😳…
Back in the winter of 1986 I was selling Skiwear and travelled all throughout British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan in my Toyota LE Van, sweet ride. One of my biggest customers and pals lived in Banff, so I was there a lot. Paula’s brother lived there as well, across the street from a small church. In front of the church was a small grassy yard with a low sturdy hedge. I was 22 and hyper, I rarely walked anywhere, always running, think Energizer Bunny. Btw, my Chinese Zodiac symbol is a rabbit 🐰, so it fits. Anyhoo, I was in town in the middle of winter and Banff is frigging freezing in winter. I had to get up early for a drive into Calgary. I got up around 4:30 am and left the house quickly to not wake anyone up. It was still dark, no moon, no stars and Misty. Romance was in the air. I crossed the street, walked arround to the passenger side of my Van, sweet ride. I was on the sidewalk inserting the key into the sliding side door to get my Ice Scraper, my back was to the church. The air was thick with frost, moist cold. Suddenly the moist air became warm on the back of my neck. It was almost soothing, then a sound entered my ears and the realization of something breathing heavy behind me entered my brain, like a whisper. The breathing continued, very calm and rhythmic, very relaxing if only my heart hadn’t begun to beat out of my chest.
I slowly, so slowly like the slowest Turtle, turned around, and there he was. I now call him Boris, the biggest Bull Elk on the planet. Our breathes were intermingling, our noses almost touching. As our eyes met, he had beautiful brown eyes, I noticed Boris had friends behind him. His lady friends, his Harem about 8 or 9 cows, laying in the grass looking at me and Boris with their beautiful brown eyes locked on me. Now Boris had a huge rack of antlers that seemed to reach to the heavens over my head, quite intimidating, my eyes came back to Boris’s beautiful brown Orbs. My face had begun to perspire, or it could have been the slow rhythmic moisture filled blasts from a pair of huge lungs caressing my freckled Ginger cheeks.
I decide to ease the tension, I slowly speak. ” Hey man” No response, more breathing. ” You are beautiful, I’m sorry to disturb you and your gals, but if you could just unpin me from your brown eyed death stare and let me drive on out of here, I’d really appreciate it” No response. Then all of a sudden a huge blast of hot giant pair of moisture filled lung air hit me right in the face. Bammm👊🏻
Boris almost smiled and winked as he slowly turned and walked away, like the coolest Mo Fo bull elk on the planet. I quickly jumped into the open side door. Locked the door and realized I had left my keys on the outside still in the lock. I was locked inside my frozen 1985 Toyota LE Van, sweet ride. 🤷‍♂️

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I Love This…

Last week I drove down to Cannon Beach, Oregon. The gallery there that sells my work asked me to participate in The annual Plein Air festival. The timing was good,a break was needed. I packed up my art supplies, camping gear and hit the road.

I was unsure how it would all go, Artwise, as my style of painting is very different from what would be expected from a Plein Air festival. Dragonfire Gallery wanted me to paint right in the courtyard out front of the gallery. I was a little nervous as I set up the area to start painting that first morning. I asked for help “Please don’t make me look foolish” were the exact words I said to the heavens.

I had been painting for less that two hours and had set the colors on my first piece, an abstract, kind of, sort of, landscape. People had been stopping to watch, then moving on. From behind me a little voice starts to ask me a couple of simple questions. I looked back quickly, for a flash and barely notice a little girl shyly standing there. My eyes and concentration were back on the painting. A few moments later I hear her say ” I like paintings with depth”.  She had me now, I turn around and really saw her, this adorable girl of about seven years old standing there watching me paint wearing the same colors in her clothing as I had just put down on my canvas. “What’s your name?” I ask her in awe…”Eilee, my name is Eilee”. I grabbed a sharpie and my still wet painting. “How do you spell Eilee?” I ask….”E I L E E” I quickly wrote ” Sunset For Eilee” on the back of the painting. We both smiled and in our our own ways felt jubilant.

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I painted like a house on fire for the rest of that day and the next. It was so much fun to talk to people and answer questions about my work. In the evenings I retreated to my campsite under the tall trees, lit a cooking fire, opened a bottle of wine and wearily thought about the work done, that day and all the days. Lots of work, thousands of hours, for about 18 years. I looked at the paint on my clothes, I looked at the paint still on my hands. Would I change anything? Did I have any regrets? Nope, I Love This…

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Small miracles and small boats…

For about seven years prior to my move to Ferndale, I always had a boat. I started with a small 2 man Zodiac, then bit by bit, I kept trading up. It was so much fun to search Craigslist for a bargain, Use them for my modest nautical adventures, spend free time cleaning them and fixing them up to sell. I finally got to my dream boat” Full Moon” was a 22′ Seasport Sportsman.

It was one of the saddest days of my life to have to let Her go. The times we all had on her were some of the best in our family history. In my boating life, she was The Love of My Life. There are times when I think of her my heart aches. Sound silly? Not, if you’ve ever had a boat addiction.

I’ve been on land for four years now. I think I’ve only been in my canoe once, since. Lately, I’ve been drawn to water. In my daily travels I’m stopping at the beach, even for a moment to just look out, breathe in the sea and listen to the birds. There is restorative power in and around The Sea.

Last week an older friend calls me while I’m at my local Chinese $5.75 lunch place. Her… “Rob! We want one of your paintings and we’d like for you to build us a small Pergola”.  Me… “Great”. Her… “We can’t pay you, but we have a brand new 4 man Zodiac and a motor”. At this point for a second I was disappointed, as I have bills to pay. Then quickly, my heart lifted. A sign?  Me…” Sounds like a Trade, done”. I hung up the phone, finished my lunch, opened the Fortune Cookie and was stunned to see this…

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Am I being guided back to The Sea? Maybe. Hope So… Here’s to miracles, however small slowly working their way back like a rising tide…

The Poetry of Knowing

Our home when we moved in was an almost brand new house in the middle of a hay field. The tall field grass brushed against the newly painted siding. The previous owners horse had chewed some of the boards on the back deck. The back of the house looked onto a tangled mess of Blackberry vines, overgrown Apple trees. At first we barely went back there, it was so difficult to move around. A sense of exploration into a wild place came over me when I began to climb through it all. But, evidence that it had once been a working Apple Orchard was obvious the more I visited. So, bit by bit my work to make a home in the country began. I dove into to the task of creating an idyllic nest and push back the Wild. The property was a blank canvas and I attacked it with virtually non-stop effort. Now, I’m getting to a point where I look around and begin to see the results and its shocking. I mean, I was so into the creation, with my head down to the effort, that now as I walk around with the Dogs, I’m being greeted every moment with a reward, a gift as opposed to another thing to add to my work list. It’s been a real struggle in so many ways over the last few years to live, to survive. But, the land and the work to do, steered me clear of an overwhelming feeling of doubt, anxiety and fear. I’m learning to Detatch, to disconnect from things I can’t control. I guess living close to nature, amongst other living things teaches you that. Animals have the gift of knowing exactly who they are and why they are here. With that knowledge and sense of they display Grace…It’s comforting being around creatures that display the poetry of knowing. Every so often you encounter a human that displays this and it’s inspiring. I guess that’s why we are so drawn to celebrities and sports figures. When they are doing what they do best it’s powerful to watch. They make living look so damn easy. When I started to paint, by necessity but not consciously I had to find work that would allow me an exit if my Art took off, or so I thought. For years, I worked by myself sawing wood, remodelling peoples houses, painting at night after looking after my family. The solitude was very beneficial and was not unlike clearing the weeds, pruning and clearing the vines of my property. I was clearing my inner landscape. I was gaining confidence in myself and my abilities to be a good human being. I have a ways to go, but my goal is to be like the Owls, Coyotes and Hawks I see everyday, there in the present and safe in the knowing of who they are and what that have to do. As the New Year approaches, I resolve to live even more true to myself and my life’s purpose…I Know!

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My Chair

I must be getting older, because I’ve come to a place in my life where I have a favorite chair. In the past a chair was something not appreciated and was usually just a convenient rest stop, as I ran around, with restless energy trying to build my life. But, now a chair means something more. It is a place to rest my weary bones, to stop, think, be still and most of all meditate.

Quietness, meditation, hearing the divine words clearly, can only be done from peace and stillness. My chair outside with the birds singing, the Hawks and Eagles flying overhead is the best seat in the house. There a few things more interesting to me than the words and music of Nature. The realization that my place here working my land, painting, walking the dogs, then plunking myself down is all connected. The animals have seemingly accepted my presence. Alfred the Red Tailed Hawk calmly sits in the old Alder as I walk on by. I’d like to think he nods a little. The Coyotes cruise by on the hunt for mice, they calmly keep one eye out for my movements as the rest of their focus is on getting a meal. I wonder what they think of me.

I found peace here and I try to emulate as best I can the confidence, calmness and inner knowing I see and feel in my animal neighbors. Qualities humans often lack, especially the closer they live to a city. I am learning everyday and the richness of stillness is feeding and filling my soul. My chair is just an inexpensive lawn chair, but its a vehicle for peace and inner wisdom…

chairWe are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”  Paulo Coelho   The alchemist

A Tale Of Two Falcons

In the summer of 2010 we were camping in our boat. There is a marine park on the southern tip of South Pender Island, in the Canadian Gulf Islands. We had stayed there a couple of times before and always enjoyed it, but we always felt the energy of the place to be a bit different. The marine park is surrounded by very steep cliffs. For about 200 years ships had been visiting the bay, because the steep cliffs offered them the chance to tie off one side of the ship and allow the outgoing tide to expose one side of the hull so the crew could scrape the barnacles and marine build up. The next day the ship would be turned and the process continued on the opposite side of the hull. The crew members would carve their initials and the boat name on the cliffs and many of the markings are still there today.

One thing about this place is the birds were always annoying, loud screeching sounds, non stop during daylight hours. We would often ask “What’s with these birds?” Well, the birds turned out to be Peregrine Falcons. Noble birds with the most annoying screech that’s like finger nails on a blackboard. One Sunday, late morning, our boat is anchored with the stern about 10 yards from shore. We are preparing lunch, listening to an interview on NPR with Pat Metheny. We hear the birds screeching, again, yet they seemed closer, more frantic. We all look up and see two Falcons traveling at high speed over us. These cliffs are about 100 feet high. Peregrins can fly 80 miles an hour. This pair was traveling very fast. All of a sudden the trailing bird seemed to find another gear, accelerated and clipped the lead bird. The lead bird turned too quick and hit the cliff. We watched it bounce countless times until it hit the beach 10 yards in front of us.  The second bird then went into a hairpin turn and landed on the fallen bird. For the next twenty minutes we had a front row seat to a Peregrine Falcon feasting on another Peregrine Falcon. It sat on a rock eating the fallen bird, faced bloodied and looking at us the whole time.

The deed was done and the Victor, flew away. I jumped into my kayak, landed on the beach and saw a mass of small feathers. I brushed them aside and found the bird’s wings still intact with the connecting bones. So, we’re talking wings, bones, no body. I lifted the wings and with my pocket knife cut through the sinew that held the wing bones together. I closed my eyes as I lifted the wings in each of my hands and I saw myself flying through mountain peaks at high speed. A very strong vision. I saw a temple in Egypt where a man was on the rooftop holding a Falcon in his arms. I opened my  eyes to the clear blue sky, saw my family sitting around our boat. Feeling grounded and strong I collected five small colorful feathers and the two wings. I paddled back to the boat. When I got in I carefully wrapped the feathers in aluminum foil and placed them on small shelf I had built over the sink. The wings were then wrapped in an old T shirt of mine and I stowed them under the V-berth.

We all talked about what we saw, the amazing, creepy, disturbing spectacle of nature that played out in front of us. None of us had an explanation of what happened. That night around two AM I awoke slightly, while in the ethereal half light of waking and drifting back to sleep, I could feel the boat gently shifting with a new westerly breeze. A small angel, very bright white appeared, followed by another, then another to a total of five. They asked for the feathers and in my dream state I offered the five feathers I had collected that day to them. They each slowly and carefully took the feathers, nodded and flew away. Not knowing or having experience in what I had seen, I drifted back to sleep. The next day, after waking and preparing breakfast for the crew I remembered the vision of the five and looked for the feathers. They were nowhere to be found, I began to be a little manic about finding them and asked my wife and daughter if the had seen the five I had wrapped in foil and placed in the shelf above the sink? We all looked throughout the boat and the feathers were gone. I guess I had really given them away!

The wings hung in my studio for a few years, I had strung them with a length of rawhide I had lying around. Every time I held them in my hands I could feel the sensation of flying through endless mountain ranges, countrysides and foreign lands. Later after we moved down to Ferndale, it was winter. We were unpacking boxes of household items, having moved to our new home, I uncovered the wings. Not knowing the laws of my new homeland I chose to start a fire. I said a prayer and asked God and my Angels to bless our new home with the protective, and expansive energy of the Falcon wings. I received a green light, with that the Falcon wings were tossed to the flames with the hope that the Four Winds would spread the ash throughout my land. P1070594

I got a thing about Blackberries

I always enjoyed eating Blackberries…We would collect them at our local park when the kids were small…my son called them “Baboos”, don’t ask me why he was 3 years old. We still call them “Baboos” for about a four week period. Really, the month of August is Baboo season. It’s all about blackberries. It’s the only time of the year that I enjoy being close to these vines. Seriously, our property, much like anywhere in Washington state is overrun with “Rubus Armeniacus”…Himalayan Blackberries. If I were to stop fighting them back during the winter and spring months and suddenly lay down in my field, having suffered a stroke or a heart attack from the battle. By summer my corpse or skeleton would be forgotten, lost and completely buried by the vines. In our climate they grow 6-9 feet a year. The front five acres of our property has a hundred year old farmhouse that contains untold mysteries, garbage and treasures beneath an awe inspiring growth of Blackberries. That battle looms large for another day. But, it’s August now and as I walk my dogs every morning and grab handfuls of berries to stuff in my mouth. As I enjoy the consecutive pieces of Blackberry pie after dinner, I can’t help feeling grateful. The sun is shining on me, the dogs are happy and I’m chowing down on this amazing fruit.

I looked up the health benefits of Blackberries the other night. It’s astounding, from what I’ve read, if a human ate two cups of Blackeberries everyday all our problems would be solved, health wise. Its weird and probably has a spiritual parallel with many things in life, that something so thorny, aggressive, aggravating, obtrusive, intrusive, destructive can for a short time in our life be so beneficial and good. We’ve got tons of Blackberries on our property and at this time of year I can only feel blessed… photob

Holocene Bon Iver

 

I recently bought the second Bon Iver CD…I’ve been listening to it constantly for the last two weeks. I texted my son Scott, to say…”I love the new Bon Iver Cd, especially the song “Holocene”…”Dad that song has been out for two years, it’s my all time favorite Bon Iver song”…Oh well I may be two years late, but, Scott and I know a good song when we hear one…
I never really care about the lyrics of a song..I’m always tuned into the feelings pouring out of the singer, the bass line, the harmonies…
This song is beautiful and the Video, takes me to a place I thinks we should all strive for. Being innocent, alone and in rapture, skipping stones with nature…

Yellow Cedar and The Day Job Part 2

For the last two years I began to be a bit weary or burned out by my day job. I guess my feelings that I should be further along with my Art sales had gotten the better of me. Feeling that the world would rather hang a big screen TV than a piece of Art added a bit of a chip on my shoulder while I spent my days sawing wood and working on people’s homes. I felt a shift this last month as I was working with my son and his friend on a series of outdoor Arbors for old clients of mine. I felt lighter and buoyed by the enthusiasm these two young men found in their work. They were excited by the challenge I presented them and grateful for the work provided. The boys love working with wood and it’s all new to them.

We are building three Arbors for my clients. Two in Western Red Cedar that have been stained a deep Brown color and one is in Alaskan Yellow Cedar, my all time favorite wood. Scott and Adam have begun to tease me about my obsession with this material. I just love everything about it, the color, the smell when you cut into it, the endless ribbon curls as I plane the edges, it’s just magnificent and I feel honored every time I get a chance to work with it.

Yesterday we came close to completing a Yellow Cedar Arbor, it turned out great. We did a cool fanned out effect on the top 2.5″ x 6″ beams. The boys left a bit early and I was alone for two hours while I was applying a coat of varnish. I left the job site weary, but happy with what we had done. It was beautiful and it felt good to know that we built something for these nice people that will last a very long time.

I got an email from  my clients this morning. It was a series of pictures of an Eagle perched on top to The Arbor feasting on a Rabbit this morning.ImageEveryone who has seen these pictures are amazed. I believe Eagles carry Big Time Medicine. I was over the moon with excitement to see that this magnificent animal chose the Arbor we made yesterday as a cool place to have a snack, this morning. It reassured me that my day job may not be so bad after all. I build things that will last, I put my heart into the work. It’s all I can do. God does the rest. He gave me a big sign today…Thank-You!

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