It is the season, winter appears to have set in and once again my firewood accumulating has fallen short. In my defense I did much better this year but a combination of loosing the use of my borrowed trailer and not getting the air tight heater installed upstairs in time have created a small issue.  Once the air tight is installed I anticipate the amount of firewood required in the house will drop by no less than 30% and I am getting close.  I am still waiting for my helpers to have enough time to come out and physically drag it into the kitchen (it is likely a little over 500 lbs.). once that is done it will likely take 4 or 5 days to fabricate the pieces needed to make it functional and to hook it up.

The photo on the left is the pile for the studio, next is the pile positioned to be brought in for the not yet installed air tight, and the last two photos are what was set aside for the basement furnace. Since I have relied on the furnace to heat the house most of those two piles are gone.

Although I have used 2/3rds of the wood that I had set aside for the basement furnace, if push comes to shove I can steal from the pile beside the studio to keep going.  This will ultimately mean that I will run out for the studio and also means I will have to carry each piece in and down the stairs, not something I am looking forward too. In order to avoid this I am running an online auction in the hopes of raising enough to buy a cheap used pick up or if that fails a trailer that my mini van can pull. The trailer is problematic in that the van can only haul so much weight and having the truck would at least triple the capacity. Either way hopefully I will have this issue solved before Christmas.

On another firewood note, I spent yesterday doing what is probably the most boring and menial of task, stuffing small boxes with sawdust.  I burn almost anything that gives of heat from my used paper towels which I stuff into empty cigar boxes, to my sunflower seed shells and cigar buts which I put in the paper lunch bags after I use the bags to make poor mans microwave popcorn. Back to sawdust stuffing, I use old milk cartons, cereal boxes, or any other boxes that fit into the stove and pack them with sawdust and if I have any a bit of used oil and then use them for fire starters. They work great. The other thing that works great is old leather, shoes, gloves, and old harness leather.  I often acquire old harness that has has seen better days and use the metal off of it for my art and then burn the leather to keep warm while I make my art.

Subsistence living is a challenge and full of problems that require unusual solutions, it is in fact both the attraction and the pain of this lifestyle.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world but once in a while it would be nice to just turn the thermostat up and forget about starting a fire.

Just another day and a few notes from the life of an old hermit artist trying to get by and live the balance of his existence doing what he loves. Below is the link to the auction, there is a donation option if you are so inclined. I have tried a few times to put a donation option on the blog in the hopes that those that enjoy my ramblings could kick in a dollar or two but the technology seems to evade me.  There have been a few that have actually taken it upon themselves to help out and for them I am forever grateful.  Either way the blog will continue as long as my donated computer survives, the next purchase on the list is a lap, but for now all is good.

Take care out there, life is good and live each moment of it.



Where To Go From Here

Once again I sit at the keyboard having been 5 days without cigars, 3 days without bread and milk and now 2 days without coffee. I am truly tired and frustrated, I have gone 7 months without creating and I want to scream.  Sales this year haven’t even covered the costs of going to shows let on helped to defray the costs of the studio.  I have agreed to one more show this year but am not sure that I can save up enough gas money to get to it and am not sure if I can take one more stint of sitting around listening to people tell me how much they like my work but just can’t afford it right now.  If I make it to this show it will be the last one, I am done, I no longer have the energy or drive to deal with this.  I will be pulling my work back from all but three galleries (actually 2 galleries and a service station).  I have often wondered about folk artists that end up hermits, just creating their art in a void, and what process brought them to this.  I am pretty sure that the path I have taken to get there is different than most but it appears the destination was the same.

I believe this qualifies as the shortest blog ever and probably the most pointless.  Over the last 2 weeks I have kept away from social media and for the most part kept my phone turned off, I believe this will continue.  Having said that I believe that late November I will do an online auction to try and clear out some pieces and maybe get together a bit of cash.

I am tired and am no longer interested in the crap involved in pretending I am an artist.  I am a hack with a welder and proud of it.  I will continue to build but am no longer interested in promoting my work.  I will keep this blog going but for the most part will try to get back to the day to day existence of a subsistence life style and will try to keep the whining to a minimum.


Naked and Gay in My Kitchen

It has been an odd evening, so first we will address the question that is going through the minds of my family and friends.  No, this is not my coming out blog, as far as I know I am still straight and have no immediate intention of changing at this late point in my life.  The thought process originated from a reply to comment that I had made on a Face Book post several weeks ago.  The reply just showed up tonight and it was a rather upset young woman who vehemently disagreed on position on allowing refuges into Canada, just to be clear I am pro refugee.  Now everyone is entitled to their opinion and is free to express it but in this case it was odd in that she was from Mississippi and not on my friend list or was on any of my friends lists either.  But even more bizarre was that she suggested I was gay, well not actually gay, but a rather unsavory phrase used to disparage those who have different sexual preferences.   I have no idea how my sexual preferences would have anything to do with my opinion on refugees unless she assumed that I was liberal and just figured all liberals were gay and love Muslims.  Secondly calling me gay is not an insult, it is like calling me a woman,  neither are negative they are just  incorrect.  I found the whole thing somewhat befuddling,  I am afraid if you want to besmirch my character you are going to have do much better.  Maybe you could call me a conservative, that would hurt.


Now on to the naked part, it is even more fun than the plebeian revue of my Face Book comment.  It was hot today, when it is hot fat old men suffer and when I am finished with my outside work for the day and get inside my overly warm house I chose to dress for the weather.  Now as the picture proves there is nothing sexy or erotic about overweight 60 year old men. On that note I would suggest that if you are planning a surprise visit on an evening following a particular hot day you may want to reconsider.  If calling ahead doesn’t work at least have the sense not to knock on the door and immediately walk in.  Now quite honestly I could care less and to be even more honest watching the poor woman trying to escape while shielding her eyes and running into walls was more than a little amusing.  So if fat old men is your thing I guess you can give it a shot, but would probably suggest seeking professional help, you have a problem.


And so ends this blog, since I published late at night I hope you had a chance to have breakfast before seeing the lead photo.  Life is good, enjoy it and be who you are even if it includes being naked in the kitchen.


Free Thinkers I have known

Sitting at my computer this morning trying to work my way through the intricacies of online banking and online call centers my mind wondered off in the direction of the people I have known that have achieved a degree of peace in their lives.  From there it took a hard right turn towards the small handful of truly free thinkers that I have had a pleasure of knowing over my life time. This is a strange group of men and women and even though most were to a great degree tortured souls, most found great peace in the midst of all the confusion.  As I am writing this I am questioning the use of the term “free thinkers”, it is almost to pedestrian. To me it so often invokes the vision of long haired hippie girls with flowers in their hair and of beatnik type men living in solitude in a New York loft.  It has been my experience that those who advertise themselves as sages are often creating a fantasy rather than living the life.


The single thing that seemed to set the truly free and well thought out people that I have met is that at first meeting they seemed for the most part unremarkable.  Seldom giving any attention to style and trend, most giving only passing acknowledgement to social graces, and every one of them, bar none, had some spiritual attachment to life.  The truth is most were Christian, that I believe is likely because I live in a predominantly Christian country, a couple were Muslim, and several were agnostic or some form of eclectic belief pattern.  Regardless of their beliefs everyone of them was able to come to terms that it was a belief system and they could be wrong.  That last sentence rang true through out their entire existence, they were able to be wrong, embrace it and move on.  In the first sentence of this paragraph I suggest that they seemed unremarkable, the operative term here is seemed.


Unlike the pseudo intellectuals you run into of social media whose knowledge comes from a quick google of the subject and a search for an opinion that matches theirs, or worse, the intellectual misfits that get all of their knowledge from memes on social media,  true thinkers actually have read a book and when they use google they take the time to read and understand the opposing views as well.  They seldom use quotes and when they do they are used in context, usually because they have taken it from the source rather than some online site such as brainyquote.com which exists only to make the uneducated or just plain lazy look intelligent.


Although most of the free and true thinkers that I have had the pleasure of meeting do use social media it is seldom their soap box, if there is an issue they want to address they address it head on, if someone is hungry they feed them.  The most common thread is I may not be able to change the world but I can change the world around me.  Over all on the outside them seem to lack flash and charisma but under what is often a drab exterior there lies a soul that is larger than the body holding it and an intellect sharper than any knife you will ever find.  These are people that are not encumbered by religious, political, or social restraints but most importantly feel no need to show the world how they are not encumbered by these things.  They are not the center of attention, they are not madly standing on the street corner (or on social media) screaming at the world.  They are quietly teaching those that are willing to learn, while taking every opportunity to learn more themselves.  They cautiously embrace change while hanging on to the lessons and the cultures of the past, they are not in fear of the future because they have made peace with what ever God they worship and are prepared to face whatever may come.  They are judgmental, they will judge you on what you say and most importantly on what you do but never on your race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other equally bigoted data.

I have meet very few people of this stature and have found them in the oddest of places, from a deacon in a charismatic Baptist church to a house wife in suburbia and many places in between.  These are special souls and if you are not paying attention you will miss them, they don’t seek your attention or approval but if you ask they will help.  As I have said, I have had the privilege to have meet and to have been educated by several of these people. They are out there and if you get past the fakes and the charlatans there are still truly free thinkers left of our planet.  People that not only have many of the answers but live them in their daily existence.


Check around, find one of these people, and after that they will start magically appearing in your life and you will find both your life and understating of it will improve.  Be brave out there and surround yourself with people from who you can learn but never forget to bring people into your life who also are seeking to improve their lives.


And So the Summer Goes

It has been just a little over two months since the last blog.  A lot of this is to do with not working in the studio, it seems that if my hands aren’t creating my mind seems to stagnate as well.  The problem with the studio is the tired old issue of not enough cash to keep the bills paid and buy food while at the same time as trying to keep up to the costs of creating art. Once created it sometimes takes years to sell and often takes time to get paid for after it sells.  In order to get enough new work together for my spring show I basically used up all the consumables (cut off discs, welding rods, welding gases, paint, etc.) and with the show being only moderately successful I was left with the choice of keeping the power hooked up and the phone connected or replenish the shop.  As a result since the end of April I have only created four small commissioned pieces of which only one has been paid for thus far.  So it appears the studio will stay on shut down for a little longer.


The good news is I do have a weekend show the beginning of August in Manitou assuming I can put enough money together to plate the van and renew my drivers licence so I can get there.  The other good news is during this break from the studio I have had an opportunity to do some stuff around the yard including getting a washing machine working by stealing parts from three other machines and few unrelated bits and pieces.  I managed to get almost all my laundry caught up.002

I got some salvaged steps fitted on to the back of my storage trailer.



I learned how to make stewed rhubarb and drain of the juice to use it to sweeten my home made iced tea.  I also managed to get some reading done and got a little bit done on the renovations.  The truth is I spent a lot of time questioning if I wanted, or was able to carry on with my art and my lifestyle as it is.  Over the last year my health has suffered from my diet, it appears that you cannot subsist well if you don’t keep at least a somewhat balanced diet.  I have also noticed that when my protein intake drops my incidents of depression increase in length and intensity.  So this is the area that is going to be addressed first and the rest will have to take its place in line.


At the end of the day, other than my children, my art is really all I have and am not sure that I am able to give that up.  So I guess I just bored you silly with another one of my circular conversations with myself.  I guess that is why it is called Ramblings of a Mad Artist.

Be good to each other and I promise the next blog will be a little more upbeat.  Ten more days until CPP cheque and I can get away from the white rice and canned veggie diet (and get some ketchup).


And the Show is Over

To quote Bugs Bunny  “and that’s all folks”, it is done, my annual 15 minutes of being a medium size fish in a very small pond has once again passed.  I spend most of the year preparing for this 3 week show, take the best I have to offer and hope that at least a few people accept it.  And if I do say so my self I was very happy with what I was able to present this year, I was also very happy with the amount of people that took the time to come out and view it. But it is over.

Post show blues, I believe, are a common thing amongst artists and for me it is an odd mixture of relief, disappointment and guilt. It is a great relief to have survived the necessary social interaction that I so fear, the stress that builds up to even coming in to set up the show is often overwhelming.  My daughter brought me to the city on Thursday so that I could do a close down meet and greet that evening and then pull the show down on Friday.  Once we had the work loaded in the trailer and the van she suggested that we stop for lunch before she drove me home.  I just couldn’t do it, I was almost physically ill, I needed to get out of the city and back to the place were I belong.  Fortunately on the highway home there is a little Gas and Convenience shop that serves absolutely terrific home cooked to go meals and has a couple of tables if you choose to stop and eat there.  The added benefit is owned by a wonderful couple and is very much in my comfort zone, we had a great lunch, visited with the staff and the owner and some my world started to return.  The stress will slowly drain over the next week or so, I will sleep 12 to 14 hours a day for a few days and spend most of the rest of the time watching TV and reading and will become me again soon.

The disappointment arises from finding out I am not as famous as I like to believe I am and that there wasn’t line ups at the door to see my work.  No not really, I actually have little desire for fame and notoriety, I do wish that more people would notice and purchase my work but have no desire to be well known (that may be a bit of a white lie but I keep telling it to myself and and keeping the story).  The disappointment was, this year, as in the last three, sales just didn’t make the mark.  This year was a significant improvement over last year but still fell far short of what was needed to keep this going. There was enough to cover some of the bills but the cut off date for the power bill is still looming for next week with nearly $700 still owing and I still need to fill all my welding tanks and purchase rods and grinding discs and the like to keep the studio open.  This leads directly to the third and last emotion of the list.

Guilt, firstly my children take major time out of their lives to make this show work for me.  This year it was my youngest daughter Amy who spent the entire show running me around, setting up, tearing down, and all the odd little things that just seem to need to be done.  She did all this with with a 2 year old and a 2 month old in tow, and I am the one that complains about being stressed.  Both my children have always been the strength that has kept me going and with out them I would be completely lost. The other sector that keeps me going is that small group of artists and supporters that turn out every time and often drive many miles to show their support.  For the most part they are also the largest purchasers of my work and without them I would likely starve.  The biggest origin of guilt is my absolute incompetency with money.  The power bill should have been the first paid but I was sure that the sales would build and instead of that I paid several other bills first and as much as I hate to admit it spent some of the money less than wisely (read cigars), now I have several justifications for this but the truth is most of my calamities are of my own making and then I am reaching out try to find a way to continue on.  This part of what I am and in 40 years it has remained consistent and somehow I always find my way past whatever problem I create, will it change, not likely, will I continue to feel bad about it, for sure.

For all practical purposes my studio will be closed for a bit, I have lots of work that needs doing on the house and yard for now. But until I can cover the bills and refill the consumables that I need to create there will be little or no art for the time being. It quote my ever understanding landlord “it is what it is” so for now I will concentrate on trying to get the power bill paid and put together a bit of cash for the other stuff and will once again carry on.

Thanks to all who take the time top read my ramblings, this blog was originally intended to give people an insight into the life of one artist and the path I chose.  I do try not to look for sympathy although often when I read my own blogs that seems to be what they do.  In spite of the difficulties (especially the self inflicted ones) I live a life that I choose and would not exchange it for any thing.  Be good to one another, we are people of one planet and all deserve to be treated with love and kindness.


An Introverts Hell

I dislike crowds as defined by me as being gatherings of three or more people, my first response is to find a quiet corner and ride it out.  It is so bad that I lose one or two nights sleep when I have to make a trip to the city.  I do not necessarily dislike people, in fact I enjoy most people and look forward to conversation, but I don’t do small talk well. The problem is once a year I do a large solo show of may art and this entails having either an opening or a meet and greet session, I both love and hate these with passion.

I am just through this years meet and greet and it was a success, there was a great turn out and I was elated to see all the people that showed up.  There were people there I hadn’t seen for decades, people that I had only met online, and people that I had never met at all. It was great to see them all and I truly wish I had had more time with each quest. Conversely I spent three hours in a room full of people all most all of which had come specifically to see me. Now I am sure that every one understands that and understands that my position in that evening was to smile promote my art and be the floating host selling may art. That would be everyone but me.  I felt guilty that I couldn’t extend the attention to every person in the room who took time out of there busy lives to come to this event that they deserved.  It is my sincere hope that over the next year there will be a time when we can meet and spend more relaxed time.

I did make it through the night, thanks to the support of my children and several close friends that always have my back.  Without these people I would have been a pool of nerves hiding in the corner singing Tower of Song under my breath.  At the end of the day I went to spend the night at my daughters house and got to sit up with her and chat until 4 in the morning, probably one of my favorite things to do in the world.

I did make it through this and am grateful to all who attended, given another day I will have recharged and be back to my quiet introverted self.  I am at home with my coffee and cigars and looking forward to visits form my old friends and any new ones that would like to make the trek out to my world. Again thanks to all that came out and made the event a success and I do hope to see you again soon.
Take care of yourselves, love your friends and family and be kind to those that need it, until later  ric.