Archive for Personal Shit


pergola If the studio was “Project 2013″, the the pergola is “Project 2014″. Hopefully we will be able to add a storage shed in 2015.

The pergola took precedence over the shed, as our house is very small, especially when compared with the behemoth in New Jersey.

We downgraded from three bedrooms, two living rooms, a dining room, a cavernous kitchen, a sun room, a laundry room and two baths with a jacuzzi to one living room, a kitchen, one bath and one and a half bedrooms (you would have to see it to understand what I mean…)

The weather here is ideal for eight months of the year to relax outside. Beside the awesome view and clear blue skies – no more clouds until next summer – there is a constant desert breeze. We have two months of winter where I actually have to wear long sleeve shirts outside; and we have two months of brutal heat.

The pergola serves as a wonderful living area, a nice place to sit and chill. The WiFi reaches out here, and Monsoon rains have given new life to the grass in the back yard. Our lawn is an annual death and resurrection story. The peach-faced love birds populate the desert willows behind the house, and I just saw a yellow-throated Vireo who was too elusive for a photo-op.

We will likely have to invest in a patio heater for the winter when the temps might dip to the 50’s in the evenings. The misting system and a swamp cooler will extend our outdoor season through all but the hottest summer days. The end result is more than worth the two weekends of 100° + degree temperatures where my clothes were saturated as if I had taken a dip in a swimming pool when Mike and I were building this thing. Now I can sit back, light up a cheap cigar and enjoy an ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon, as I chill out before my afternoon nap, before heading into work tonight.

Finish line

Pergola completedWhew! Complete – well, almost. I have the soffet on the house side to install – not that anybody would see it – but it will add eight more inches of protection from the afternoon sun as it sets in the west and peeks over the roof of the house.

The blinds are really inexpensive ones from The Home Depot – plastic made to look like bamboo. The 120″ one cost something like $28. We could have gone for the exensive bamboo ones, but the desert sun would rot the cords on those as quickly as it will these, and both serve the purpose of blocking the sun. The pergola is really comfortable amd even more so that Fall has arrived and our temps are only in the 90’s.

Last Saturday, the day I had planned to use to place the finishing touches on the project, gave us weather that caused a change in plans. A major Pacific Coast storm front managed to invade the Sonoran Desert, covering the East Valley in a deluge of much needed precipitation.

The video is not all that exciting – unless you live in an aread deprived of this sort of weather event.  It rained from early afternoon throughout the evening, and the ground is still saturated. Overnight, grass sprung up in the back yard, and I have to mow every two or three days now. Read more

I have a Fetish

Zuni FetishNo, it is not a phallic symbol.  It is a rattle snake fetish. A Zuni fetish to be exact, carved by an artist from a well-known Zuni family.

Zuni fetishes are small figurines carved from stone, representing animals with healing and protective powers.

Zuni mythology divides the earth into six sides – the east, west, north and south, as well as up and down. Each direction is represented by color and an animal. Each animal has a personality, and purpose. Some give health, others luck in the hunt, others a fertile harvest. White is the color for up, while black is the color for down, not that down is considered evil as we generally understand it. Read more

Pergola Update

PergolaOur house is rather on the small side – 900 square-feet. Which is fine; two people, two dogs and a cat don’t really need more than that. Our studio/workshop is 16’x24′, more than ample.

However, with cramped quarters itis easy to get cabin fever. Yes, cabin fever in AZ… with the heat (even a dry heat) it is easy to hibernate indoors during the summer months. Read more

Purple Sage

purple sageMonsoon season is just about over – we might have a few more rain storms, but it is unlikely to be anything major.

Monsoon came in like a lamb, and then walloped the East Valley. We had enough rain to awaken the grass in the back yard out of dormancy. Over night the yard went from dirt to a lush green.

The purple sage in the front yard is in full blossom, and we are enjoying it while it lasts. In a few days the flowers will be gone and it will be a green bush once more.


Pergola in the worksYesterday I began phase one of the next big project in our back yard. The patio area is rather confined, so we decided to expand.

Liz and I rented a two-man auger from Home Depot, and Mike and I sunk six holes.The job took an hour – we spent more time picking up the equipment than actually digging the holes.

We sunk six 4×4 posts, and secured them each with a 60-pound sack of Quikcrete.  Next weekend, weather permitting I will add the cross-beams. This space will add quite a bit of usable living space for 10 months of the year.


Cottontail[edited 9/9/14]
We have a temporary houseguest – a baby cottontail courtesy of our cat.

I had doubts that he/she would survive the first hour, as it was hyperventilating after I chased the feline down and extracted him from her mouth.

There were no visible wounds, and the cat was carrying it by the scruff of the neck; rabbits will die from stress.

He survived the night, and is relaxed when Liz or I hold him. He is more than able to be on his own, although now that he has been in close contact with humans, he will have to be released far from civilization. His fear of humans and animals such as our dogs are his only chance of survival.

However, right now he appears unable to move his back legs enough to stand or hop,and has been having trouble with a front leg now and then. As hardy as these little suckers are, able to survive the harsh climes of the desert, they have very fragile systems.

Judging from his size, he is probably about 5-weeks old. He is very alert, resting well in a dark crate we fixed up for him, and is pooping out little healthy turds and peeing like a champ – so other than the use of his legs he appears to be healthy.

He drinks a little from an eyedropper – and the girl from the wildlife rescue shelter told us not to worry too much about water, he will get his hydration from the food. He doesn’t like celery leaf, but is munching away on the pieces of carrot, a real treat after his natural diet of dried grass and desert weeds.

At this point, I am not too optimistic that we can save him – that is unless he begins to use his legs. But at least he will be as comfortable as possible – abandoning him in the desert if he is paralyzed would be a sure death sentence.

[Edit - 9/9/14]

The poor little fellow passed shortly after I posted this column. He died quietly and I hope comfortably in the dark cubby we made for him.

Blast from the Past

beer04This is an old one from the archives. Atlantic City Beer Festival, 2007 I think. It was near the end of Inferno Newspaper‘s seven-year run.

I showed my press credentials at the door, and Liz and I got in for free. And we got VIP treatment at the booths, with a lot of freebies.

Inferno started life as an underground arts newspaper, and evolved into a politcal/current events publication that raised eyebrows and ire.

I have toyed with the idea of starting a newspaper like Inferno in Apache Junction. The concept for the masthead is OUTSIDER. Distribution, and ad sales are the two main hitches in my plan. I don’t have the energy to be a sales person in addition to being artistic director and editor in chief. Not to mention, layout and graphics…

There are not too many things I miss about New Jersey, but the one thing I do miss is the sense of community that my artist and creative friends shared. Inferno was a project that was created out of a desire to share, and everyone contributed out of generosity, not out of greed.  Nobody got paid, and I laid out more money from my wallet than I ever got in return.  In the few years that I did end up in the black, I never did earn a return that was even close to minimum wage. I devoted at least 40 hours a week to the rag, and my best year rewarded me with $2,000, plus or minus…

So I have to wonder why I would even entertain the notion of doing it again.

Writer’s Block

captains2Or rather, Painter’s Block…

I have not been in the studio in eight months.  In the beginning of the year, the excuse was getting used to working nights. This summer, it is the fact that the studio is 110ºF.

The truth is, I have no creative drive – possibly due to a combination of the above.  However, I don’t even have that much of a creative drive to write.

Perhaps with cooler weather, and some paid days off in my future, I will tap into some reserve.

Captain’s is a little dive bar that Liz, Mike and I hit for a few cold beers after auction night.  It looks like it might be possible inspiration for a new American Bar Series painting. Captain’s is “My Kinda Place”… you know – that ubiquitous bar song from last decade that made you want to throw the cue ball into the jukebox with excessive force. Read more


cucci-smithGrowing up at home, my mother used to rearrange the furniture on a regular basis, or at least that is how it seems. Maybe it wasn’t as often as my memory seems to believe.

It was always a trial for my dad, who was constantly stubbing his toes or slamming his shin into an end table or sofa that was not there eight hours ago. Of course, if my father had his way, there would have been no change in the house at all, and funriture would have been bolted to the floor.

Anyway – I have spent the better part of the last week rearraning Jill Cucci-Smith’s website. I talked her into abandoning her static site in favor of a more dynamic blog format. My first mistake was in installing WordPress into a sub-directory so that we could maintain her old website until we got up to speed. Read more