Monthly Archives: August 2014


Still needs extremities, but core and legs are getting close.

I started this awhile back and meant to get back to it after teaching last fall, but a new series of figures and 10 big trout took precedence. I’ve never done a “flayed anatomy” figure before, so I’ve been looking at the New Masters Academy video tutorial with Eric Michael Wilson. It is painstaking and academic, but an artist is no good without a functional brain- and applied knowledge is the kind that sticks. Memorizing anatomy slips in and out of my noodle, but this echorce is helping cement a lot of structural knowledge.

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Modular repetition, 3/D Form in relation to 2/D Shape, minimal structure, decontextualized, bare media; rebar reinforcement for concrete footings for the Trout. When doing structural work like this back in academia professors would lead their students by and talk about how my work had shifted strongly to conceptual concerns.


Bend twenty seven 36″ runs of rebar into 9.5″ circles, then weld the ends of the circles together. Add three runs of 36″ rebar with the circles welded at 0 / 12 / 24 inches (like a bar stool). It was such a warm & humid afternoon that the welder kept cycling to cool down.


This thankless little chore will all go in the ground, sleeved around the stainless steel poles upholding the trout, and immersed in concrete. Earlier in the summer I made the steel gate for the ranch rather than these, and now that I’m back I just wanted it off my plate.


A nice Charles Russel sunset looking North from the high meadows with Belt Mountain out on the Missouri plain.


The ranch is nestled a few thousand feet below the high meadows. Here you can just see the house and barn amid the pines and willows.


First up, moooving cows out of the yard & corral and back to pasture. They shattered the old/broken front gate, collapsed the wooden fence in two places, tore down the barb wire fence, and part of the corral. Way to go cows. After fixing most of that, it is time for yard chores: mowing, hedge trimming, tree pruning, brush cutting, etc.


When up last winter I measured for a new front gate frame, but lost the measurements. I usually set fence at hip, above the knee, and ankle- so I welded out the frame to fit that scheme back in Salt Lake. It lined up pretty well. Then it was off to Great Falls for 16′ lengths of split rail fit into my 6′ truck bed. Walt and I make the plan come together.


Dave dug two holes with his bobcat while we were in Glacier, and Walt & I set the two posts (one square and one round), drilled and set the gate supports, mounted the steel gate, and cut the split rail and bolted it in place. Here we are fitting the bottom rail.


Walt brings the final rail for its fitting.


“What do you think of that Walt?” “No good.” “Yeah, but other than that its fine right?”


The new multi-tool gets its chainsaw head added to top off the gate poles.


No more cows in the yard. Well, not through here… From the front it looks close to one continuous line of fence. If the truck was still with us I’d have brought in more split rail and continued the fence to the right- replacing the two log rails.


The ladies stay inside for a nice cup of coffee while us lads make the gate.


A bit of laundry is done by hand and let dry in our Solar-Powered Dryer. The old washing machine died when the house froze back in 2009.


The corral gate will soon be wrecked if I don’t fix it. It is kitty corner to the yard gate, and the cows had pressed through it as well.


The span-board had snapped long ago, and the old girl just gets muscled around. Here I have propped up the floating leg till the broken ends of the board met, and removed the lower portion of board for refitting.


A section of split-rail from the front gate will splint everything back together nicely.


Clamped in place, the split rail is ready for bolts and nails.


The traveling tool cache.


Bolts connect the rail to the upper portion of the shattered trans-board, and I nail the fence panels to the split rail.


Big lag-screws are ratcheted into the gate hinges, replacing old loose double-nailed triage.


Now she flys and hangs in the air as she should. Later I add an old cinder block at a slow angle that she slides up and can be lifted to a full stop, then chained in place. No more unintended rodeos.


The gate inspectors arrive for structural critique.


I pull the old front gate apart for these two long runs to add to the corral gate.


As dolled up as she can get. Later I’ll spray coat her with linseed oil to help protect the old dry wood.


While the cows were in the yard they slipped all over my newly built (last fall) hurricane door to the basement. It held up structurally, but they tore off the tar/sand roofing and stripped off screws holding the steel roofing down. Plus they left blowfish marks on the bedroom windows. We nearly had cows in the house it seems. Here Walt and I gather new rebuild media.


Metal roof sheeting is tucked away here and there, and we find pieces that will cut to fit. I make a water tight flap, and a new cap for both sides.


The top panel is later fit with hinges to open first and bar-bolt in place, then I bolt on a sturdy handle so it is easier/safer to open and close.


Walt and Kaye will fly back to Wichita, so they have their city duds on. Might be time for a nice group photo.


Stanley asks if we can shoot it again.


We had a nice Sunday brunch with my second cousin Holly and her husband Greg, and Holly’s mother Sereta who had lived at the ranch while a toddler. This pencil drawing of the ranch is in their living room, done by a talented nice of Sereta’s from a grainy old 35mm photo.


This feed grinder is at their place outside the town of Belt. It killed my great grandfather when he was in his 80s. The big polished steel spindle is a belt drive that connects to the tractor. The belt grabbed his sleeve and bashed his head against the steel while chewing up his arm. A piece of family history that I hadn’t known.


A bit of wrestling while napping for the mousers. We lost count at 10, they would display their kills for us and sometimes eat them and some would get away after a good batting around to die behind the furniture. The last few days there were no mice left, but still vigilant mouse patrol all night long.

This is the best method for scraping the house: a feller (my dad) a ladder and a tractor- back in the 1980’s. In the mid 1990’s it was me in the bucket, but without the ladder as my dad would place me on a high spot, then go tinker on the swather/bailer. That faithful old tractor is still in the machine shed, and would likely need some advanced tinkering to get running.


With the truck in repair limbo 300 miles away, we had a few extra unplanned days on our hands- so why not scrape and repaint the entire house?

sc0020f00cThis is the best method for scraping the house: a feller (my dad) a ladder and a tractor- back in the 1980’s. In the mid 1990’s it was me in the bucket, but without the ladder as my dad would place me on a high spot, then go tinker on the swather/bailer. That faithful old tractor is still in the machine shed, and would likely need some advanced tinkering to get running.


Its just that simple. Or is it?


That unfinished spot, way up there behind the tree: beehive.


House with new gate & paint. I had matched paint for the second floor windows and brought it out from SLC- but we ran out of time. We went to Belt to check business emails at their little bar and it didn’t work. We tried to check our phone messages, which is always out in MT, but the Indian tec support had no idea. So we drove home and there was a tall flat slab of stone in the middle of the lane on the highway, placed just so that it was impossible to go over or miss with a tire. It took out our right front tire and we pulled into a ranch driveway along with a big pickup pulling a large camper- he had tried going over it and it had flipped up into his engine and ripped off belts and who knows what else. Our spare was rusted in place. It was also flat. The camper had an air pump that plugs into a lighter. We limped home, and headed to Great Falls for a new tire. Make that 4 new tires, as it is an AWD sports car with past mid-life tires. It took 8 hours. They screwed up and had to fix their screw up. The didn’t do an alignment, though we told them to- and were grumpy about even looking at it on the rack. The manager gave them a lecture about how it was their fault the work was screwed up in the first place. Still 8 hours though, and no alignment. Great friggen Falls for you. But the truck’s parts were in, so the next day was 300 miles to pick up the truck and 300 miles back. (in repairing the fuel sender they cracked the fuel relay, which they would have known they did- says my go-to shop here in SLC after they found the problem) Then the next day was shut down the house and drive 600 miles home. We will have selective amnesia about this for years.


Comparison photo of the house from 2010. Not as bad as it looked this year, but getting ragged.


Dawn rainbow in our Global Warming forest.


Double rainbow. All the way.


Tiny yard bunnies are invisible if they hold really really still.


Bark beetle flies to screen.


Finch egg in bushes near creek in backyard.


Garter snake lives at footbridge.


It thought about raining tonight.


We had a John Carter moment of being on Mars.


The mini-aspens in their tiny grove where we scared up a pair of wood grouse.


20 minutes after sunset, twilight catches fire.


Grinnell Peak on Swiftcurrent lake at dawn from the porch of Many Glacier Hotel.


Our window overlooked the lake, and it was an amazing sunrise. By the time I decided to dash out with the camera, the light was nearly gone.


Grinnell Peak with reflection at sunset.


Blustery weather out on the deck of Many Glacier Hotel.


Directly behind you is a grizzly bear. No kidding.


Elizabeth and I head out for a little hike around the lakes and up toward the glacier. Lake Josephine is the next lake up from Swiftcurrent Lake, we are looking toward Grinnell glacier. We spotted a beaver heading into his dam near the lake’s inlet.


Amazing views for little effort.


Grinnell Lake, a lovely green/blue of glacial flur. The waterfalls cascading down the glacial headwall suss and roar on the breeze.


Elizabeth in Dr. Suess Beargrass. The trail was closed further up, as a ranger was setting charges for avalanche safety near the glacier. We heard a big detonation and rumbling debris on our way out.


E and I spent the afternoon tooling around the lake on a two-person kayak. This canoe told us to do it.


One of the windows that appear at sunset on the high ridges.


After a few days and nights at Many Glacier we drive over Going To The Sun and stop at Logan Pass.


Can I eat that?


It comes in pink, white, and yellow flavors. So tasty.


Kaye with Elizabeth at Logan Pass. 


Kaye and E on the boardwalk to Hidden Lake. Walt is snapping this off, as I am off hiking the Highline Trail.


The next bit of scenery is from the Highline Trail. It girdles the high end of alpine tundra around the Garden Wall. It stays up high for 7.6 miles, then I’ll drop the 2,200 feel in 4 mile “Loop Trail” (because you are right above the parking lot when the trail turns abruptly N for a mile or so to skirt a cliff face sending you for a loopy loop into the hot humid burned down forest) down to the Going To The Sun road- where Walt will drop off the truck for me while the troops all pile into E’s suby and tour the park and find lunch.


This pic shows the road below and the trail along the “Garden Wall” which is built up within the imagination as a narrow escarpment along a high cliff wall, but is not. Still, it turns back a good portion tourists, so let its reputation for terror remain.


The trail is mostly level and mellow with amazing views. The least work I have ever done for this kind of alpine immersion.


The trail was nearly empty, as forecasts had called for lightning, hail, and high winds. Instead it was perfectly still, humid, and warm.


The light & contrast at altitude makes me giddy.


Lake McDonald appears from behind the peaks as afternoon clouds spin from the blue over the mountain peaks.


Past this little outpost you can hike back over the divide to Many Glacier Hotel, go on to Canada, or shuffle off the mountain on the Loop Trail.


A look back before dropping down. I pass a pack-mule train with the old salty rider talking to his horse about how steamy the day is. He just dropped supplies up at the cabin, and is embarrassed that I caught him chatting with his horse.


We are heading toward the foot of that peak.


The burned forest is from 2002? and includes the entire far mountain side. The summer season is longer and hotter which weakens the trees, then they are infested with beetles that have tripled their breeding cycle, sphagnum moss explodes on the forest floor sponging up moisture and the treetops shrivel- then a lightning strike and boom! Plus, 150 glaciers in the park in 1910, and only 25 survive today. Tinderbox.


Hiking through the burn, with burn scar on the next hillside.


This forest will grow back when the glaciers return, which is to say never. It melts my head like the humidity steaming the valley.


An amazing little flower that I’ve never seen before.


Jazz hands & roots for Trail of the Cedars.

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“Take a daughter to nature” day. Or “Take your father to nature” day.


Shel Silverstein sat on the bench there to write “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. Walt figures prominently in the book.


This rainforest micro-climate is a tiny version of Olympic National Park in Washington State.


Cedars. Moss. Silver light through clouds. Rain misting through the canopy.


Greens of all variety.


Really really tall. Really tall. Gape-tall. Wowzer-tall.


The most magical stream ever is nothing compared to this little gem. Can you hear it fizzing? Can you breath how cool and pure the air is?

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We floated on a boat. We and our guide had the N Fork of the Flathead River all to ourselves because it sprinkled in the morning and scared off the tourons.


A bald eagle eyed us as we spun down the river.


Our water day continued on a blustery Lake McDonald. 4 foot swells and rain showers kept things lively.


Walt pokes his head from the cab to the open back where E and I sit: “Thank goodness for this little bit of weather or our tour would be a bit…” feigns yawn and ducks back inside.


The boat turns broadside to the waves/wind as we tack to shore, Walt is topside and the sea-dog catches himself cackling as others are thrown to the deck.


As we leave our B&B the truck does a new dying trick. This time I can’t resurrect her. A tow truck takes us into Evergreen outside of Kalispell, and the truck is stranded there for nearly two weeks as parts are ordered in by what must be pack mule. We all pile into the Subaru and head back to the ranch.


Bear grass. Because it is pretty great.