Sunday, August 31, 2008

artman's alphabet - F


I inherited this plant last summer and added him to the potted garden I keep out on my porch. I don't know what kind of plant he is so, if anyone recognizes him, I'd love to know.

What I do know is, he's a climbing vine and overnight, if I leave the broom out beside him after I've swept the porch, he reaches out and spirals a tentacle around the broom stick. If I carefully un-wrap his grip, by the next day he's found his way around it again.

The plant is consciously reaching for the broom handle!

A few days ago I noticed this brush of tiny pink flowers extending from the ends of not one, but two of the vine's tentacles that had braided together, as if in a long erotic embrace, to produce a new generation of, "possibilities".

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden is, literally, the last
undeveloped green acre in Old Town.
Please help us
keep it that way. Click the piggybank to make your donation.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I know I know, I'm cheating again. This is not a photograph but a digital illustration I drew earlier this year (in PhotoShop without using filters). It represents a spiritual state of mind that, hopefully, I am getting closer to.

Sukhavati is a story about Amitabha, the Buddha of immeasurable radiance, whose primary quality is compassion.

When he was on the threshold of illumination, Amitabha vowed that he would not accept illumination for himself unless, through his illumination, he could release all beings from the endless cycle of re-incarnation.

The Gods agreed and, when he did achieve his illumination, there appeared before him a great lotus pond where the jewel of illumination resided in the lotuses. Anyone devoted to Amitabha in their lifetime would no longer be committed to another re-incarnation but would instead be reborn in a closed lotus floating on Amitabha’s lotus pond called Sukavhati, the place of bliss.

Meditating in their lotuses the devotees would hear, on the rippling waters and in the air, only the mantra, "all is impermanent, all is without a self" until finally, they would realize that enlightened truth.

When they did, their lotuses would open and they would be sitting, themselves, as an enlightened Buddhas in meditation; only then to dissolve like a dew drop into the ocean of rapture and transcendence.

Framed & matted, Sukhavati, the finished work, measures 16" x 20". Museum quality prints are available.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

no sniveling!

This ancient establishment is, by far and away, the best bar for live Blues on our tropical coral rock. Every weekend and most weekdays from 5:30 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning you can hang in the open air across from the county courthouse, spread your wealth and do what you feel. But you best not be crying on your pretzels and popcorn 'cause there's only one rule at the Green Parrot Bar. . .
No sniveling!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

above the fray

These pines are about the tallest trees on this rock.
Someone told me they were called Norfolk Pines but I don't really know. All I do know is that they're really tall and, while I was pondering the top of this one, I thought how it must be nothing but airy and quiet up there.
I imagined how, if we were all just three inches tall, a community might survive up there; safely above the pundits, priests and politicians down on the ground, kicking up all that dust and ruckus to wage war, pick our pockets and sell us their particular brand of Jesus.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

at the end of the day

I'm guessing it was two years after I came to live in Key West before I saw my first proper sunset, (and by proper I mean, lounging out on the Gulf shore for the hour or two it takes to watch the day turn to dusk as the sun sinks into the sea).

You see, the second or third thing I did when I got to town was land a job in the at the Citizen (and for my out-of-towner readers, that's our local daily newspaper, the Key West Citizen). Anyway the gig was from 4pm - 12am so, I'd be inside while the sun took it's ride.

After I'd finally freed myself of that mess I thought, "living in Key West and not seeing sunsets was as take it all for granted as living in New York City and not visiting the Statue of Liberty." So from every angle I could think of: Mallory Square, Fort Zach, Sunset Key or a barstool at Schooner Wharf. . . I filled my head with sunsets.
"It's a beautiful time of day", I thought, "small wonder all these folks come down to see it."

Ever since I've made it a point, at least once or twice a week, to find my way to the west edge of our island at the end of the day.

click the cartoon to enlarge

Friday, August 22, 2008

mother nature

She wears the colors of paradise as easily as she wears her smile;
Her father is the sun and her mother, the moon.

She breathes deeply of the island air and exhales it's moments of magic;
Existing only of mind, she is the muse for our artistic souls.

Without her we are incomplete, within her we are one.
Beyond ego and avarice, she is why we are here.

Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden is, literally, the last undeveloped green acre in Old Town.
Please help us keep it that way. Click the piggybank to make your donation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

waning gibbous

After all the wind and rain we've had for these past few days, this morning's clear skies were good to see. Down here in the city at the end of the road, we've got some of the clearest, freshest air on the planet anyway. But this morning it's clarity was striking.

I shot this view of the waning gibbous, and a dozen more like it, without stepping off my porch in the heart of Old Town.

hmmm. . .
Say "It's a Waning Gibbous" five times in a row and doesn't it sound like a punch line from one of those ancient Monty Python sketches? You can almost here John Cleese. . .

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

tropical storm fay - VIDEO

Between all our sun filled days and clear summer nights, there are ocassional storm front "interludes", like we experienced yesterday. For my money, it's a small price to pay for living in paradise.

click the arrow to start video. run time 2:37

comfort zone

Well, yesterday was "Fay Day" and as most of us expected, she was a non-starter. Except for all the plant life on the rock singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus to the rain, it wasn't much to write home about.

But, I'll admit, it was kind of cool the day before the storm, after two years of not having to worry about it, to run out to Winn-Dixie and stock up on "emergency canned goods", like Progresso Soups and Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash, that I could squirrel away in my cupboard along with all those other "emergency canned goods" that I haven't had the need to reach for.

Now I know what you're thinking and you're right. . .
We've been lucky, storm-wise, for the past couple of years but I shouldn't take anything for granted. Well, I don't.
All those canned goods are stored up there with gallons of bottled water, jugs of propane, a Coleman stove and waxed wooden matches to get the fire started.
In the other cupboard are my back-up phone (because cordless phones don't work when the power is out), two flashlights, a lantern, batteries enough to keep them lit for more than a month and a crank up the dynamo Red Cross radio that gives me AM, FM, and NOAA.

But for all that it seems our luck has held yet again. As far as I've heard, there was no significant damage or loss of life and, with the possible exception of all the Miami media folks sitting outside La Concha all day in the rain, no one suffered much.

Being prepared is the thing. Whether our world goes to hell in a bucket because of a hurricane or an economic collapse or government stormtroopers come to meet us at midnight (the Patriot Act says it's legal for that to happen), if we know who we are, have what we need and are prepared to leave all the rest behind, we will survive.
Our faith in survival, is the comfort zone.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

artman's alphabet - E

click image to enlarge

shrimp boats - part 2

The boats are as tough and as crusty as their crews.

On the open ocean they trawl day after day with their huge nets deployed from the booms extended over the sides of the boats.

I don't know how much of a catch is a good catch but even on less profitable trips I'm guessing they count the catch by the ton.

With all the heavy machinery bolted to the decks and grinding away on a rolling tide, it's not unusual to hear local radio report another shrimper losing a body part or even his life.

I only spoke to a handful of them but, based on those conversations, the shrimpers seem to be a bit detached but very direct men of few words. From my perspective, it seems like a rough way to make a living. From their perspective, it's a way of life.

when wicked weather this way comes

I wouldn't have normally posted this but seeing as we've got Fay on the way it seemed, timely.

This is one of the collection of impressionist abstracts I've painted over the years and it's title is, "When Wicked Weather This Way Comes". Painted just after Hurricane Wilma came through, it is my impression of how the ominous darkening sky appeared as the storm front approached.

In case you're interested, the original painting is acrylic on canvas gallery wrap, measures 36" x 36" and is available for purchase.

Good Luck & Stay Safe everyone. . .

Saturday, August 16, 2008

shrimp boats - part 1

Stock Island, the next island north of Key West, is the industrial business end of the city. I got out there, not too long ago, to shoot the shrimpers.

This is what Key West looked like 30 or so years ago before the tourist economy kicked in, a pretty rough waterfront fishing town.

The shrimpers themselves are weathered old salts and, I'm told, They go out for days or a week at a time to do some really hard work.

When they get back to port , it figures they'd be sunburned, thirsty and pretty randy. (God knows, I would be. . .)

So after they've cashed-in their catches, I imagine them all heading into town where it's mostly every man for himself and hide the women!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I don't own a television and three years ago, that was a lifestyle choice. When the old one died and I dutifully troddled off to K-Mart to replace it but, as I was considering which model and what size I thought, "how much of this crap do you watch anyway?"

The answer came back, "not so much. . ."
An episode of The West Wing on Wednesday night, a dumbed down documentary on the History Channel every once in a while and, in the mornings, with the sound down and NPR on the radio simultaneously, FoxNews. . . (not for content but to catch the occasional long shot of short skirts, hose and heels twitching around in uncomfortable chairs - a hangover from my younger life in the corporate sector). But even though that was all I was "watching" I had to face the fact that even when I wasn't watching, the damned TV was on all the time, like a gloomy, inane soundtrack. So, to make a long story short, I left the store sans TV with a couple of hundred dollars that was destined to be better spent, over the next few weeks, at B.O's Fishwagon and Schooner Wharf.

Sure, there were a few weeks of withdrawal (mindless habits are hard to break) but after a while something wonderfully unexpected started to happen. . .
I was spending more time with my cat, my plants began to prosper and I got to painting and writing a lot more. My energetic focus was shifting more toward my world and away from the chaos the TV had been telling me was so important.

Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those folks with their head in the sand. I like being informed but I refuse to be inundated (and let's face it, TV is an avalanche of information). These days an hour of WLRN's Morning Edition gives me the broad stroke on what's happening in the world and if something catches my special interest, I can find it on-line or in print and read more about it. (I'm an educated older guy and I read quite a bit - no need for a Murdoch manipulated media interpretation).

Here's my point. . .
Everything - you, me, the moons of Mars and even Rupert Murdoch (though I doubt he'd believe it) are all connected. Nothing in the universe is anything but one total energy field. Every thought we think, every action we take, effects every other one of us and the realities we perceive.
So here's the picture. . .
Imagine the world at large is this palm tree. Governments, corporations, media outlets and organized religions flailing like palm fronds in a wind of special interest, greed, fear and negativity. Now imagine that you and your day to day reality are the stalk of seagrass. You might not like the way that damned tree wags in the wind up there and it might even scare you a bit. But what can you do, the thing is fifty feet tall and you're ten inches small. . .
You can change the focus of your thoughts and actions and, in the doing, change the energy field more to your liking.

Close, or at least moderate, the window through which the world at large reaches you - your TV. Draw your own conclusions, say yes to peace rather than no to war and when you cast a ballot, vote for something, not against something.
Get positive!
Sure, at first blush, my proposal seems a bit absurd but our ability to direct energy is scientific fact and there is far more seagrass on the planet than there are palm trees. (By the way, the "palm trees" know that and fear it.)
Our combined positive thoughts and positive actions can effect the energy field of which everything is a reflection. We can clean up the mess they've made and avoid the disasters they're planning. We can change the world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

great egret

I read somewhere that Great Egret, also known as White Heron, were discovered in the Keys by John James Audubon in the early 1800s while he was shooting all those species of birds so they'd sit still long enough for him to make his drawings.

Strange, I thought, that the National Audubon Society was founded, in part, to prevent the killing of birds. . .

Sunday, August 10, 2008

strained glass

Well, we're mid-way through hurricane season here in Cayo Hueso and this weekend my neighbors, Cathy and Bob and I did our annual inventory of the plywood protection we can screw in over our windows in the event something big blows through, (it turns out that 130mph winds can put a strain on glass).
We're in good nik here but, when I was downtown this afternoon, I got to wondering about these windows. . .
They belong to St. Paul's Episcopal on Duval. . .
Now, I've been here for a formidable storm or two or three and yes, I'm one of those nuts that goes out walking in them (honestly it's exhilarating!) but, through all those storms, I never noticed huge planks of plywood protecting these beautiful window works of art.
Still, they survive without a dent of damage and I thought, "it's a miracle!"

Well, no it isn't and, then again, yes it is. . .
Without the miracle of human imagination, those windows couldn't exist in the first place.
and. . .
Without the miracle of human imagination, there would be no plexiglas to protect them from the strain.

click on the cartoon to enlarge

These folks are good friends, great cooks and I'm happy to help them spread the word.
please click the logo to visit their website. . .

Saturday, August 9, 2008

cigar maker's cottage

On a secluded lane, a few blocks from my home, are a handful of old cottages where, in the early 1900's Cuban cigar makers were housed by the companies they worked for.
Hand rolled cigars were big business in Key West at that time and all these years later, there are still hundreds of these little cottages peppered in secret corners all over the city.
I've always admired the interesting angles on this particular one.

Friday, August 8, 2008

water, water

So I'm sitting with my feet in the pool, studying the texture of the water's surface.

Unexpectedly, the automatic pump came on creating a chaos of bubbles and ripples.

After I'd studied those for a while I wondered, "what would all those bubbles and ripples look like if I set my lens at 12X?"

This is the answer. (artists, go figure. . .)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

off the rock

If you're a thinking person living full time on an island that's barely 2 miles wide by 4 miles long, sooner or later "island fever" kicks in and your brain starts to feel a bit sautéed.
When that happens, most of us locals know, it's time to get
"off the rock".

Many hop in their cars and drive up to the mainland for a few days. (of course the price of gas is putting a crimp in that one, aye?) Others suffer the indignity of inspection, detection, infection, neglection and selection just to board a plane, fly north and be made crazy by the folks back home. (been there, done that too. . .)

So for me these days, wind and water is the way to go.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

pelican sunset

Sunset is a tourist attraction in Key West.
Every evening any number of artists, fire eaters, tight rope walking dogs and a guy named Clem, wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes, get together with hundreds of tourists on Mallory Square to watch the sun sink into the Gulf.
I used to participate in the mayhem until one evening I overheard a woman, her gaze fixed on the setting sun a hands breath above the horizon, ask her husband, "do you think this happens
every night?"

I made up my mind then and there that, at the end of the day, my life might be better served spending time with life forms that have a better grasp of what's going on around them.

other than that, this photograph has also been published as cover art for the book "Between Man and Woman Keys"
by Rosalind Brackenbury

Sunday, August 3, 2008

artman's alphabet - D

click image to enlarge

drunken sailor at key west bight - VIDEO

click arrow to play video. run time 3:12

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Every other day, after morning meditation, I go out to my terra cotta tiled porch, let loose the hose and water the 14 potted plants that live out there. It's a sort of therapy that keeps me in touch with the easy rhythm of life and the health of the plants serves as a barometer for how well, or not, I'm doing.
We've had a few close calls, especially in the summer months when too much sun and not enough water will send any life form to an early grave, but no one has died yet. Today I realized that a few more buds on my phalaenopsis orchid, the jewel in the crown of my humble garden, had opened.
Didn't that give me an optimistic feeling about things to come.