Jun

14

of cozumel. cozumel smells, in short, but it is not always a bad thing. we’ve just gone through a long bout of flowering plants– bushes, trees, tomato plants, shrubs and everything suddenly brought to life, courtesy of the rains. it hasn’t rained like this at this time of the year in maybe 10 years, and it certainly had an effect. now, the rain itself often brings forth a smell, much like mildew, and it is one of the first smells i had of this island, a visceral one that oozed into the plane the first time i visited. the smell of the tropics– or at least, one of them– mold and rot, which happen quite a bit here. part of creation and destruction, a necessary one, but does it have to be so prevalent?? no, as it turns out. my morning walkabout turned into a veritable smorgasbord of aromas– there were flor de mayo and suchlike, but what i was assaulted by most was something that had the waft of lilac– waft, did i say? well, it was more like a wallop, very strong indeed, but it was coming from plants that were not lilacs. i’m not a local boy, nor someone who ever really learned all the flowers’ and plants’ names, but i coulda swore lilac. there are so many flowers that have little smell– my bougainvilleas, for instance. and then there is a mystery. every year around this time i get transported, like calvin’s magical transmogrifier, to another place. i am sure it is the smell from some sort of a tree, but i cannot tell which one. but there is THAT ONE PLACE where my mind rears back and sighs– “wild onions!!”.

edmonton alberta. early 60s. i had a good friend, a little dutch girl named joanne– but everyone called her “honey”. she and i built a little garden in a vacant lot and grew stuff. mostly overgrew them, to be honest– they’d all go to seed after a while, the radishes would get huge and tough, but we would lay back on the ground and look at the stars over the prairies– an enormous sky. i had my first kiss from joanne in that garden, which (like the fog in an old sherlock holmes flick) was bathed in the fragrance of onion plants, an aroma i have never forgotten. sigh. after a while honey moved away, i helped them move their stuff to their new house over by one of the huge water towers in the area, but that was it for our relationship– however, if you’re out there honey, i remember you.

now on to other stuff. as i wrote in my last blog, the brutal sanding process has begun. it’s no fun, and it hasn’t really got me itching to do it, and luckily or not, i have had distractions of late– diving, some important jewellery work, visiting friends and the like, but something has been looming on my radar like the unseen iceberg waiting to take my ship down to the bottom. the pallet problem.

when i bought this piece of stone about 20 years ago, the crane deposited it on the top of an old wood pallet. with another board to even the block out it has stood that way ever since. now, up in colorado it was no big deal– it’s dry up there and relatively pest free. but not cozumel– nossirreebob!! cozumel presents several buttloads of problems. tropical rain is one of them, and the ever present ROT (here’s where the english teach would give me extra points for versimilitude, hinting at this earlier on)– plus we have all this marvellous salt air. everything rots here– hell, stainless steel rots here, hard to believe. and then there was the army of termites that chose to invade my little studio. they kept on coming and coming, just like the battle of the little big horn. the platform that the sculpture sits on is made of zapote wood, the stuff they made the lintels over the doorways of the pyramids here out of– almost indestructible. but that poor pallet!! it seemed to take eons to get rid of the termites, and by then they had done a lot of damage. as i began to close in on finishing up my sculpture i came to realise that the pallet’s days were numbered– sooner or later, it was going to fall, and my dreams with it. i agonised with plans to remake it, but nothing i could conceive of was going to work. finally i spoke with my friend hector– he has done a lot of work for me, and all of it good. was there something we could do? we came up with a plan, and this morning we were going to put it into practise. unfortunately, it was the wrong plan.

he built a new pallet and brought it over this morning, and we discussed the job. finally we both had to agree that using some levers to prop the piece up and then sliding the pallet underneath wasn’t going to work. so, to quote the gumby brothers we came up with the “other” other plan.hector brought over a crew in the late morning and they constructed a framework around the sculpture and platform, then ran belts underneath and, finally, two sets of block and tackle were attached to the belts. it took quite some time, an interval in which i imagined every single thing that could go wrong. i was a little nervous, you could say– like linda blair was “a little upset” in the movie “the exorcist”. terrified.

but inevitably the moment came along and it was time to do the deed. it took all of about five minutes and was very low-key in spite of all my fears. voila’!! as they say– my sculpture had a new pallet. right here and now i wish to thank hector and his crew for their efforts– my heart may have stopped, but there is a smile upon my face.that’s him in the blue tshirt in the pic– thanks again, dude!!

Jun

14

a few days ago i wrote a friend, telling him that i felt like peter o’toole and omar sharif in “larry of the dunes (my personal title for one of my fave flicks, “lawrence of arabia”)”, trying to cross the endless-seeming nefud desert (the one that “cannot be crossed”)– and, hell– i’m really just beginning on this sucker!!
it’s been hot in cozumel lately– we skidded right from winter to summer without much of a stop. my time in the sculpture studio was brutal as the nefud, it seemed– and yet, how was i to know that it would get even worse? and even more puzzlingly, what would seem to have been a boon turned out to be more like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

perhaps a week and a half ago i finished up the sculpting portion of my decades-long endeavor, the big piece of marble in my currently passing time in my carport. i was both pysched and stunned at it happening, almost without my knowing– there it was, done. the last few weeks had been taken up in doing various “repairs” to the piece. really, the word “repairs” does not sit right with me, as most of what i was doing was to account for stuff that had been part of the original piece of stone. in great part this consisted of a line of quarry holes drilled along the bottom of the piece– after a line of holes had been drilled, it was possible to “snap” a piece of stone out of the quarry, leaving the block without any mini-cracks and fractures one associates with more violent methods of removal. there was also one hole that i called the “wild quarry hole”, one that ended up right in the middle of one of the figures’ biceps. this i had to “cap”.you can see the hole in the left pic, and the oval-shaped cap on the right. i had no idea what the hell i was doing, but it came out all right, despite the futuristic glue, which was whiff enough to drop a buzzard off a shitwagon at 50 paces (a tip of the do-rag to george carlin for that little line), took eons to set up, and then when it did at last harden, it made a noise like the bustup of a huge mass of ice, only it gave off a lot of heat. the final “repair” was an area of the stone that was crumbly as old cheese. i’d left it til the last, so what i would do afterwards would affect it the least, but when i went to actually cut the stone it was obvious that it wouldn’t withstand anything, let alone carving and finishing. it had to go. with my heart in my mouth i chopped the piece of crumbly crap out and then, over a period of a couple of weeks, i trued up the divot and cut a replacement piece of marble to fit. truly glacial stuff, unbelieveably slow.again with the glue, again with the smell and heat and waiting waiting waiting for it to set, but i got a decent bond. then i began to cut it away.i love carving hands, they are so very expressive, and this one came along well, even if it changed a bunch of things– i had to make it look like it was meant to be there, and this required my recutting several different areas. lots of tension.i haven’t taken any finished shots of the hand, as it is merely a part of the whole, but it looks very good. and suddenly it was finished. that’s when i looked up for a change, only to see the nefud in front of me, endless and heartless. the anvil of the sun, and the long process of sanding was finally ready to begin. when i began this blog over a month ago, i had intended to speak about the sanding process, how difficult and arduous it is–AND IT IS!! but… it came out much more like whining, my friends, and so i shall cut this one short here, only to get on with another much more interesting bit of stuff than whining. i am planning on finishing up my piece by the end of the year, and i still stand by that. more to come soon…. rance