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My Big Red Couch

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How much for shipping?

I didn't even know Anchorage was for sale. Did anybody tell Krista's boyfriend?

Maybe that's why the listing is for concrete fasteners. Its a trick to make us buy concrete fasteners to keep Anchorage in place? Naaaah. That would never work. We've got earthquakes .

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mmmmmm, Entrails!

As if the previously posted knitted digestive tract weren't enough there's more.

I don't know when knitting gore came in vogue but its here and I was on it months ago. Now go knit yourself up a nice cozy liver to snuggle with.

More beutiful art made with kintting can be found here. Special thanks to Erika, via Krista.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

12oz Sugar Free Vanilla Breve

12oz Sugar Free Vanilla Breve, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Some days a cup of coffee is more than just a cup of coffee. For instance, the day he met her.

It was a Tuesday and it is vivid for him because of her. She was in line a few people before him and she ordered a something something something with a shot of something and a sprikle of this or that and all four others in line rolled their eyes. She was complicated.

By the time he ordered and got his drink she was still at the condiment stand mixing and adding and adjusting and altering her drink till it was just so. He merely wanted a stir stick.

"What was that you ordered?" He didn't wait for an answer and immediately introduced himself, offering her his hand. She turned and left.

She lingered in his thoughts all day and the next day she was there at the espresso stand again. Ordering that something something something.

And soon they met.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dream Home

Dream Home, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Once upon a time a boy met a girl and, while they may have appeared to be a man and a woman, they were still very much children. The man asked for the woman's hand, which she gave and they started collecting things. Amongst their first possesions came a house. Then the furnishings, first as block and board shelves and a card table, then kit built book cases and a do-it-yourself, Sears ordered, bolt together picnic table and finally a proper bookcase and a real dining set.

But with suburbia comes responsibility: taxes and bills and upgrades and remodeling and lawn care and maintenance.

One day the boy and the girl came home to a smoking hole in the ground.

All their responsibilities had succumbed to a faulty part in an electrical gizmo assembled by a slave laborer in a foreign land barely able to care for himself, let alone his family. And that slave laborer had not known the joy of being fresh from college with a block and board bookshelf and card table. And that no wage worker had no use for a kit built book case and no clue what a do-it-yourself, Sears ordered, bolt together picnic table was. And a proper proper bookcase and a real dining set were unimaginable to him.

The boy and the girl were devastated. The life they had accumulated was a smoldering hole in the ground. They moved to a motel with the clothes on their backs and their separate vehicles and began contemplating the reaccumulation.

After weeks and weeks of discussion and tears the girl was inconsolable. One day the boy came back to what passed as their home early and left this present and this note.

Fitting (top)

Fitting (top), originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Copper welded to copper, greening with age. Theres a valve off to the left and a drain plug on the bottom and the purpose of a big old piece of pipe on the garage's second level is beyond me.

The surface came from the factory roughed up but theres also a smoothness to it. It must be that its cast brass rather than smooth copper tubing?

The building is not that old and this pipe, while in the open air gets minimal exposure. The oxidization will keep going until some maintenance guy comes along with a wire brush and some solvent.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Barrels, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Is that bottled up democracy in there? 1781. Five years after the revolution. It was a good year. I scarcely remember it.

Barrels worry me. Ever since The Return of the Living Dead (1985) and the broken open barrels of brain eating zombies I have shied away from them. Ooh. Look. That one on the right is all rusty and ready to hatch like the first Alien from Kane's chest on the Nostromo. But there's no such thing as zombies or aliens. Is there?

Certainly nobody has ever put anything dangerous in a 55 gallon drum. Not in suburbia. Not in my neighborhood. Not staggering, dragging one leg behind you, arms outstretched moaning "brains" distance from my office desk. They wouldn't.

Mmmmm. Brains.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Hiatus, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sun Setting Through Snow

Sun Setting Through Snow, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

The comings and goings of the sun and moon and constellations are something I have taken for granted most of my life. Of late I have paid more attention. I am tuning myself to the earth's rhythms. Synching myself to her core. Its nice to keep tabs on what the moon is doing, knowing which phase we're headed into and what to expect on a cold and starry night. As a far northerner I have always been accutely aware of the solstices and paid some attention to the equinoxes but not they seem more important.

They, and I'm not quite sure who they are but, they say "with age comes wisdom." I don't think thats necessarily true. I think with age comes awareness. I am at an age where the sun setting is important to me. I am at an age where the sun rising is even more important. Yes, this is me mourning the passing of my youth. I declare myself officially aged. I won't be old till my ashes rise from the funeral pyre but I can be aged (and I'm not talking wine and chesse aged).

I am an adult now. I have bred and need to see them through to adulthood. I have obligations, financial, moral and societal and as an adult I aim to keep them.

I am aware of what I can control that matters, what I can control that doesn't matter and what I cannot control. I will make changes where I can when it is necessary and I will lay still when it is necessary and I have the opportunity.

For years I have embraced "economy of motion." Something I came up with that involves a combination of the path of least resistance and doing what needs to be done. Not lazy but leisurely. Not excessive but certainly hedonistic.

Just yesterday I learned that the Indian Vedic phylosophy emphasises "economy of effort." They stole my idea thousands of years before I was born. Who'd have thunk it?

The snow falls and I cannot stop it from falling, nor do I want to. I will praise the sun for shining down on me every day and I will thank the sun when it rises for shining on me on the morrow.

I sit here as the sun sets and the snow falls and I am as in the moment as I can be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Abandoned, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Professionally I wander. I go places, however urban they might appear from the outside, that haven't seen people in years. I go to back yards and back lots and the wilds of the city. Sometimes only to define their boundaries other times as a preparation to taming them.

A lot of people have just walked away from their stuff. A lot of stuff has been abandoned in place.

This old truck was something once. It was ore that became iron. It was iron that was forged and formed into steel. It was steel that was welded and bolted to become truck. It was truck which hauled.

Did it drive to Alaska or was it shipped? Was it a happy young couple planning on starting a family when they arrived or some barron of commerce adding to his industrial fleet? Was it used for chores or just getting around or industry and development? Did someone learn to drive behind its wheel? How many someones?

I come across and abandoned truck and I ask it, "Truck. What stories do you have to tell me?" It sits in stony silence as it slowly melts away.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Silenced?, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

What does it take to get some peace and quiet around here? Do I have to, um, well, I guess that's not going to work.

My ass is sore. You've been chewing on it since the moment I walked in.

No, I'm not going to clean up in the kitchen right now. No, I'm not going to take out the garbage right now. No, I'm not going to clean off the dining room table right now. No! No! NO!

No, YOU be quiet. I've got this roll of masking tape. DON'T make me use it. Is that a dare? Is that right? You don't think so? Guess again little missy.

Now where did I put those handcuffs?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cold Play

Cold Play, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Every kid anywhere in the world will tell you that nothing beats recess on a well equiped playground. Any kid in Alaska will tell you that it sucks getting cold on said well equiped playground.

I spent years on the playgrounds in Valdez as a kid. I remember all the time spent playing King of the Hill, even with the kid with the broken arm. I remember the snow being piled so high that the swings had to be swung over the top rail to shorten them just to swing and you had to almost duck to get under that top rail because the chains had been shortened so much.

On the park strip in Valdez we had a two story rocket shaped spiral slide. If we weren't sliding down it into the inevitable slab of ice that formed at the bottom then we were climbing up it, our own personal Everest. The bigger kids would scale the exterior while the smaller kids would slide down. Many a day I spent morning, lunch and afternoon recess on that slide and many off those days, when I hadn't worn snow pants, my ass was frozen but I don't ever remember complaining about it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Happy Green Frog

Happy Green Frog, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

I think I could be a happy green frog. Happy Green Frog has been in our house for a few years now. I'm not sure where he came from, or how, or why, but he's here and he's been around. Whether its kids throwing him or dogs chewing on him Happy is always, well, happy.

I think I could learn a lot from Happy Green Frog. He doesn't seem to get too upset when he's held underwater in the bathtub, squeezed (to make bubbles) and released (to suck water up his butt to be squirted back out). From this I could learn patience. He doesn't seem to mind being chewed on by Mimi the Merciless (although his paint is starting to wear). From this i could learn to take an ass chewing (hopefully not so literally). Most of the time he just sits and watches with that grin on your face.

Oh little green budha of suburbia how I admire your resolve.

My new mantra: "I am one with the Happy Green Frog."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Relic of an Ice Age That Hasn't Happened

Petroglyph, if the beer hasn't rendered me illiterate, is the word that describes something left by an ancient for us to interpret now, whenever now may be.

This petroglyph has been rendered in ice and, while I'm not certain where I should go with the interpretation, I know it was left for me. Well, maybe it was left for me and a few thousand otheres, because it is in town square, right in front of everybody, but it has some special significance to me. Or should it?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Round House; Square House

Round House; Square House, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Intrinsically I think most true Alaskans have a bit of McGuyver in them. Take what you've got and make it work. My next door neighbor at the office, for example, started with a quonset hut that has grown into a ciropractic clinic. It probably has been a dozen other things in its life but it certainly started as a quonset and has grown.

Alaskan architecture is a lot like that. It starts as something and morphs into something else until somebody, often times the government, comes along and says enough is enough and the whole thing comes crashing down with the assistance of heavy machinery.

So I'm looking out the window this afternoon, just looking for something my camera will take to, and the arched portion of my neighbor's structure caught my eye. By gosh there's a quonset next door and until my camera pointed it out I hadn't noticed. And like most Alaskan quonsets it had a series of growths; a room added here, another added there, an arctic entry slapped on for good measure, you get the picture. And I wonder what its like to live in an arched structure. I can't see it being easy to hang a picture. I can't see it being easy to hang anything.

Someday I will have to spend some time in a quonset. Someday I have to know.

Volcanos Rule

Augustine volcano has erupted at 3:45, 8:50 and 11:20 am today. Its just down the street from here (about 180 miles southwest of Anchorage).

Go take a look for yourself here:Alaska Volcano Observatory - Augustine - Eruption Page

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Driven Snow

Driven Snow, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

I chased a train today. I've never chased a train before. I've read a story sometime last winter about a guy who chased a train across Pittsburgh while the Steelers were playing in a playoff game and it was compelling. I don't know if it was that story or some primal instinct kicking in.

I was on the 76th Avenue and my intension was to nab a picture of a special Quonset Hut I know about and as I was approaching Old Seward Highway I saw the engines streak across the overpass down towards King Street. LIke a whippet after a rabbit at the track the race was on.

I turned down Old Seward and, waiting for the light at Dimond, was able to grab a few snaps down 84th as the train flew by. By the time I got to O'Malley it was well ahead of me. I managed to spot the last few cars and by the time I got to Huffman she was nowhere in sight.

I cut over to the highway and hoped I would catch her going across the Potter Flats as I came down the hill at Rabbit Creek Road but she had me beat.

Coming across the flats the road was such a piece of crap that, if not for my camera's image stabilizer, my pictures were nearly unsalvageable. There was traffic and I had to watch my speed but I did grab this of the freighter as she blew past the Potter Section House.

But I was obsessed. I wanted more, as I often do with my pictures. I kept going. Past the weigh station. Past McHugh Creek. Past Beluga Point.

Finally, with Indian just around the next corner, I was ahead of her and sitting still I got a few shots and satisfied my taste for rabbit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Job

The Job, originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Yeah kid, I've been there.

I've had the job that nobody else wanted. I've wandered back and forth, an endless figure eight, undulating with the traffic as the light cycles from green to yellow to red, in a silly outfit, a corporate mascott, holding a sign, carrying a banner. I have danced the dance of the minimum wage sidewalk billboard. I've been there.

I've done a lot of jobs that are less than desireable. I've shoveled rocks. I've shoveled shit. I've shoveled fast food onto the paper coated plastic trays of the masses. I've been there.

I've mopped floors and I've scrubbed toilets and I've polish brass fittings and cleaned the corporate icon with a toothbrush.

Yeah. I've been there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

POTD Mosaic

POTD Mosaic
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

If you're a follower of my blog and kinda weirded out by my sudden shift to fictionish writings heres why.

My only voiced New Years Resolution was to take a photo and write about it every day. I call it the Picture of the Day (POTD). Yesterday was day 9 of the new year and here are my first 9 snaps. The pictures for this project and many more photos that I took and love, can be found at Flickr: Photos from Bearded Jon

I will probably add assorted weirdness, the weirdness you know and love, from time to time but my focus for the start of the year "in my free time" is doing this POTD words and pictures thing.

Morning Star

Morning Star
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

"Look, Daddy, look!"
"What is it baby?"
"A star Daddy. A star."
We knelt side by side on the couch gazing out the living room window.
"How far away is it," she asked?
"Far, far away."
"Farther than Neverland?"
"Neverland is in California," I said cynically. Luckily this went right over her head. "Its much farther away than Neverland. Its past the moon and past the sun and, gosh, just way out there."

We snuggled a little closer and she took my hand. We sat side by side sqeezing each others hands as the sky brightened, growing ever softer shades of blue, transissioning from indigo to pale in a seemingly endless moment.

"Can we go there, Daddy?"
"Someday baby. Someday."

And then the star was gone.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

"The trick is to age gracefully," he told me.

We were sitting on a park bench and what passed for a conversation was me listening as he talked.

"Take that fence over there, for instance. It's been standing there for God knows how long and its still doing its job. It may not be all that to look at but its keeping out what needs to be out and keeping in what needs to be in."

He paused to pull a pack of White Owl cigars from inside his overcoat. With a rattle of celophane he offered me one by shaking the pack my direction. I shook my head to decline. He took the shaken cigar in his lips and returned the package inside.

He fumbled in a waist pocket and pulled out a handfull of stuff, shaking most of it back into the pocket until he cradled a wooden match in his hand. He struck the match on a bolt in the bench. It did not light. He struck again and this time flame burst out. He cupped the match with the other hand and raised it to the cigar which he chased with the match as it bobbed in his mouth.

"Damned filthy habit," he mumbled around the cigar as he tossed the match into the snow. He took a few puffs then inhaled. Pulling the cigar from his mouth he leaned his head back and lowered his hands to his lap, keeping the cigar hand on top and away from his overcoat.

He rested this way for a moment with his eyes closed. "Look at me." he said. "I'm just like that fence post. Sure I may have a few years on me and I'm not as pretty as I used to be but I keep doing what I'm supposed to do."

"Don't get old," he said. "Age."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bday Raven

Bday Raven
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Annually, dreaded by some cherished by others, the birth day comes. It is an inevitability and, as the saying goes, "Birthdays are good for you. The more you have the longer you live."

I have been born and died a multitude of times. I will be born and die a thousand times more. I am an old soul.

What do you get the birthday girl who has everything? The unexpected.

I surprised her with my presence on her porch railing. She was going for her morning coffee and there I was with nothing on but a smile. I cocked my head, cawed "happy birthday," and flew off. My job was done.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

4 Strings

4 Strings
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Some called him clumsy. Others inept. He was musically inclined and desperate to make music but no instrument ever took to him, not that he hadn't tried. He started, like many of us, with a recorder in 4th grade then progressed to last chair trumpet in the band. But he wanted to rock.

The guitar had too many strings and his hands just couldn't make sense of all the places his fingers needed to be. The bass had fewer strings yet remained illusive with his desire to strum to keep the rhythm going. Drums? He could have but he couldn't bring himself to buy a set.

He had resigned himself to appreciating and collecting music. He spent hours at the local CD store, keeping up with the new arrivals and pouring over the magazines as soon as they arrived in his mailbox. His collection of CDs and records was voluminous. He had become a dedicated audiophile.

On Saturdays he would pick a thrift store, rotating through a different one each Saturday of the month, cruising the vinyl bin for forgotten treasures.

What passed for listenable to some boggled his mind. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Temple on the Mount. Seals & Croft. Boz Scaggs. Somewhere between Liberace and Debbie Boone something caught his eye.

A ukulele hung on a hook on the wall and swayed gently in the breeze from a section of used fans blowing fresh air in to keep the used clothing from making the room uninhabitable.

He walked over and pulled it down. He held it. He turned it over and over again. It looked ok although he didn't know what he was looking at. He tucked it between his belly and forearm and strummed.


It sounded ok although he didn't really know what it was to sound like.

"I'll take it," he said to himself.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

When traveling by container make sure you pack an extra few days food just in case you aren't relesed on time, er, just in case you are delayed.

The ticky thing is once you're sealed inside you're, well, sealed inside. You can't get out. Look at that hasp. Look at those rivets. You're not getting through there with a cordless drill.

Portable living at its finest. Just think, you arrange and load your furnishings. Throw in your portable toilet some romen noodles and a few cases of beer and you're good until your next port of call.

The Modular Shipping Container. The Future of Travel!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

nICE Landscape

nICE Landscape
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

The rainbow on the surface caught his attention first. "How did that happen," he wondered aloud? There was no response from the blind and nearly deaf dog at his side.

Had the cold gotten to him? Was this the beginning of a hypothermic end? Is this a halucination? A miracle? A dream?

The rainbow began to pulse. The blue would intensify. Then the green. Then the red. Pulsing. Blue. Green. Red.

"What the hell is that," he again asked the dog? He stood still and squinted at the landscape before him. The dog stood too and squinted out of habit more than anything.

The rainbow faded and a light, not unlike the rising sun, began to rise over the horizon. But it was not the sun for the sun would not rise again for several more days but the light did brighten and form a ball just over the horizon.

With the light came a warmth. This was not heat, but a sense of calm. The dog began to bark. Not an angry or alarmed bark but a happy bark. A playful bark. The dog barked then began to howl. The man began to howl too. This was not unusual. As far back as he could remember he had howled with his dogs. He howled at first for the sheer fun of it but inevitably it became a bonding ritual.

The light grew bigger as did the calm. He and the dog both stopped howling as the light drew within a few yards. It was a steady light with well defined edges. The light was telling him something. The light said stay.

The dog nuzzled his hand and he pet her on the head. She nuzzled a little more insistently. He knelt down and she licked his face. Then she began to walk away.

Go to the light girl. It's ok. Go to the light.

... of the Day (follow-up)

It wasn't the middle of the night but I did remember my other "... of the Day" topic.

Politically Correct Handicapped Joke of the Day (it's funny; read on). Actually, it's a two-fer. One of my sister-in-laws works in deaf education and several years ago I came up with this one:

"If a deaf child swears does his (or her) mother wash their hands out with soap?" I told you it was funny and it isn't degrading to anybody, is it?

So, the other day, with 4 adults and 4 children crowded around and in the vicinity of the dinner table, every one of us using proper table manners (except the two year olds) I came up with this one:

"Do deaf kids get in trouble at dinner for talking with their hands full?"

Thank you. Thank you very much. I'll be here all year. Put your cash in the tip jar.

Is it a wonder I never got into stand-up?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

... of the Day

Day 4 and I'm totally on top of my New Years resolution to take a photo a day and write about it. But the other "... of the Day" schemes of mine have gone neglected so for your enjoyment (or not) here are a couple other "... of the Day"s for you:

Mindless (or Possibly Mindful) Quote (from Under the Fez) of the Day

Trouble is like the back seat of a Minivan; it's easy to get into and hard to get out of. - Bearded Jon

I had another "... of the Day" but it's slipped my mind. Damnit. I know I'll wake up in the middle of the night (not just to go pee) and be pissed off at forgetting.

Good night.


Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Cold angry steel covered with snow. She is a relic of days gone by. A dinosaur waiting for her return to the road.

Waiting. Waiting for years. Waiting for the day the fuel will course through her rubber veins and her engine will roar to life. Waiting for her accelerator to be pressed to the floor and her body will rock from the torque. Waiting for her seats to shake from her idling growl and her windows to rattle from the resonance as she winds up to a scream.

The day will come. It will. But not today. Today she rests. Biding time. Rests and watches. Watching the men come and go from the Body Shop. Watching the diners come and go from the restaurant. Watching the patrons come and go from the Barber Shop.

Watching and learning. Learning the travels of man. Their modes of transportation and operation, learning their patterns and schedules and inclinations, learning their flaws and their faults and their weaknesses. Waiting to take back the road and be heard.

She shall be heard. She shall be felt. She shall take back the road. She shall roam the earth again. She shall.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Anchor Dawn

Anchor Dawn
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

Pre-dawn with a glow in the sky yet not enough light for any detail. An impending end to darkness that has not gone. Missing my morning coffee I had only the pre-dawn to keep me company as I made my way across town, encased in glass and steel on leather seats, nearly frozen in their unheated low-end model luxury.

Silent, save for the running engine. Silence, savored after eight days with too many kids and too many adults shouting after them. There is no getting caught singing at the top of my lungs by a neigbhor at a stoplight today. Today my voice belongs to an external silence that is building my inner silence.

The sun. Today it will come. Today it will be seen, unlike so many recent days. Winter had arrived and with winter comes sun and cold and longer days which lead to Spring.

When Spring comes there will be no more pre-dawn for several months. The sun will linger in the sky and flirt at the horizon but never set enough to bring this dark lightness. Dim. Never dark.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Coffee Time

Coffee Time
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

It's not on the periodic table but one of the basic elements in my world is coffee. For me, a day without coffee is like a day without, um, well, not so good of a day. Yes, I have had days without coffee (my first 7300 days at least) but... that's not true.

I was 17 or 18 when I had my first sip of coffee. This was the first time I was ever seduced. I was in Homer, Alaska on a field trip and this girl I had been lusting after made herself a cup of coffee at the airport when we were getting ready to fly home. She offered me a sip. I took it. "Is it good," she asked? I nodded yes. "Do you know why?" I shook my head no. "Because my lips were on it." She had me at "Is it good?" But I digress.

Coffee is daily in my existence now. This is my "Ode to Coffee." It's coffee time. Now go out and get yourself some.

My Three Loves

My Three Loves
Originally uploaded by Bearded Jon.

For 2006 I have resolved to find meaning through the combination of the written word and the my Canon S1 IS. Maybe daily life, maybe family life, maybe some fiction based on what I see.

My Three Loves (Family)

We started the first morning of the new year with laughter. This lasted till around noon when the mix of cousins caused the first scream with tears chaser and that got the kids passing the whine (no misspelling).

All in all the year started well with love and happiness throughout our household... upstairs (I won't infringe upon anybody elses story, told or not).

Health and happiness to you and yours in the new year.

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