B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Crap that I feel like revealing about my life

UrbanSeens Gallery Show at Spellerberg Projects

without comments

As some people know, I have an upcoming gallery show in Lockhart, Texas, April 1st at Spellerberg Projects, 103 S Main St, Lockhart TX.

UrbanSeens Opening Reception

UrbanSeens invitation

I’d be honored if you attended, but I realize many people have other things to do, like washing their individual hairs in a custom built sink, or alphabetizing their sock drawer. So I forgive you in advance if you don’t make the opening. Or the 30 or so other days in April when the gallery will have my images on display without strangers gawking and pushing each other to gain a better view.

If you actually cannot make it to Texas on such short notice, the prints I’ve chosen to display are also available to view at Flickr, or at a dedicated photoblog I created for the occasion – UrbanSeens.com  (still a work in progress at this time)

Hope to see you there, or there, or there…

As an aside, deciding what images to display and print was a crazily complicated process. I’ve been taking photographs for a long time, decades in fact, and while I consider myself more adept these days, photos taken when I was first seriously exploring the photographic medium have a certain nostalgic gravity. Also as I scrolled through the nearly 13,000 photos processed and uploaded to Flickr (12,903 at this moment not to mention the nearly 100,000 total photos in my Lightroom catalog), I kept finding images I liked or wanted to include, but could not. Maybe in the next show? Or I could print them just for you?

Flickr Stats 2017-03-16 at 11.09.58 PM
Flickr Stats 3-2017.PNG

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Self Portrait with Z Wine

without comments

There is a new-to-me plugin that exports photos from Lightroom to a WordPress blog. It seems the plugin won’t automatically create a new post, but it does simplify adding images to the WordPress Media Gallery.

Self Portrait with Z Wine

testing the Lightroom/WordPress plugin

Written by Seth Anderson

January 25th, 2017 at 11:08 am

Breath Is A Poem

without comments

Beginning Of A New Age
Beginning Of A New Age. 

There is no art without time.

Most art is appreciated in discrete chunks of time; a sunset, a cat’s meow, a lover’s smile, a perfect chord progression;

An oil painting hanging in a museum, a play, a famous film, a piece of music, a poem recited in sonorous tones, a perfect meal, incandescent sex; part of the beauty is that art ends, eventually.

Is there any art that avoids time? Transcends moments? Of course you can stare at the moon slowly sinking over the ocean for hours, but that isn’t the same.

Every breath is a moment, every breath is a poem. And then they end.

Every breath is a poem. Every breath is a moment. And then they stop.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with

Christmas Request

without comments

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/625/23510428129_dc73773e18_n.jpg
I may have mentioned this before, but maybe not publicly (including automatically posting to Facebook, et al), but my Christmas wish list is this: donate something to someone who needs it more than you do. Whether you give your change from the coffee shop plus a banana to a street beggar, or whether you send a few dollars to a food bank like Feeding America,  ((sending $50 to Feeding America will help provide 550 meals)) whatever you feel is appropriate for your situation. I’d suggest to avoid donating to The Salvation Army as I think they are an anti-gay rights organization, but if you want to, that’s your decision, I’m sure the Salvation Army does some good for some people. Planned Parenthood always needs money, or if you are low on cash, maybe just volunteer to ladle glop at a local soup kitchen for an hour or two. You get the idea.

Thanks for helping.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 21st, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Personal

Tagged with

The Silence of Vinyl Records

without comments

C.R.E.A.M.

Silence rules everything around me…

Recently, I was alone for an afternoon, without any pressing tasks to complete, so I decided to pull out my turntable1 and listen to a few records. I listen to music all the time, and have a vast, horder-esque iTunes library, but I’m often too lazy to play records. I sat in a room I call The Lounge, and spun a half dozen LPs. Some I only wanted to hear a song or two from, some I listened to in their entirety, both sides. 

Such a different experience, as I’m sure you’d concur. I won’t go into the debate here over sound fidelity, and warmth, and all that. In honesty, I don’t want to give up the convenience of being able to walk around with hundreds of my favorite albums in my pocket, or the ability to instantly play a song in my car. Vinyl does wear out, and there is that crackling, popping sound that does not exist in digital versions. 

The vinyl experience is different in other ways. I didn’t realize when I purchased my turntable, but it doesn’t have an automatic shut-off feature. In other words, I need to be actively listening or else the album will continue to spin for hours, wearing out the turntable’s needle. I’ve incorporated this negative feature into my ritual of listening to records. I put the needle down on the song I want to hear2, sit down holding the album jacket, study the cover art, read the liner notes, and listen with my full attention. I have the option of listening via3 desk top speakers, or a4 headphone amplifier with comfortable over-the-ear headphones.5

Curating playlists on my Mac is one of my hobbies, creating mixes of songs and albums based on topics and phrases, or genres, or concepts, or years, or events; but that means the music never stops playing. In contrast, when a record is finished, there is silence. Silence until the next LP is selected, or until the current record gets flipped over. I guess one could say listening to a CD would be similar, but my first (and only!) CD player was a six disc shuffler – again, when music was on, it kept going and going, filling up the nooks and crannies of available aural space.

I was surprised at how significant the empty spaces were, especially on a quiet afternoon. 

These are the records I played6

of Montreal - the past is a grotesque animal
of Montreal – the past is a grotesque animal

Otis Rush - Blind Pig records
Otis Rush – Blind Pig records

Leo Kottke, Ice Water
Leo Kottke, Ice Water

Songs of Kristofferson
Songs of Kristofferson

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

Otis Rush - Tops
Otis Rush – Tops

Footnotes:
  1. an Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable []
  2. or the beginning of the LP, of course []
  3. an Audioengine []
  4. Schiit Magni []
  5. Beyer Dynamic DT-880 []
  6. there might have been one or two more that I didn’t think to photograph []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 16th, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Music,Personal

Tagged with ,

Earworm Theater – Jayhawks “Blue”

without comments

 This morning’s edition of Earworm Theatre is Blue from the Jayhawks 1995 album, Tomorrow the Green Grass.1

On a semi-regular basis, I wake up with a song or piece of music playing in my head, echoing in my brain. The song won’t leave until I play it, which depending on how my morning goes, could be an hour or so. The earworm occurs not nightly, not weekly, but several times a year. Frequently, but not always, a song I haven’t heard in a while, often with lyrics that have some resonance to something that happened recently. My subconscious trying to be helpful, in other words. This morning’s edition, Blue, was more about melody however, since I couldn’t even remember the lyrics unaided. I love how the chorus and bridge are harmonized. My voice cracks when I try to hit those kind of high notes…

Youtube “Official” video

Here are the lyrics, for reference, since I looked them up…

Where have all my friends gone
They’ve all disappeared
Turned around maybe one day
You’re all that was there
Stood by on believing
Stood by on my own
Always thought I was someone
Turned out I was wrong

And you brought me through
And you made me feel so blue
Why don’t you stay behind
So blue
Why don’t you stop
And look at what’s going down

If I had an old woman
She’d never sell me a lie
It’s hard to sing with someone
Who won’t sing with you
Give all of my mercy
Give all of my heart
Never thought that i’d miss you
That i’d miss you so much

And you brought me through
And you made me feel so blue
Why don’t you stay behind
So blue
Why don’t you stop
And look at what’s going down

All my life (staying while)
I’m waiting for (staying while)
Someone I could (waiting around)
Show the door (now that I’m blue)
But nothing seems to change
(That I’m blue from now on)
You come back that month

So blue
Why don’t you stay behind
So blue
Why don’t you
Why don’t you stay behind
So blue
Why don’t you
Why don’t you stay behind
So blue
Why don’t you stop
And look at what’s down

but my subconscious wasn’t trying to send me a coded message, I don’t think, but rather a way of harmonizing. Or something, lines of communication between conscious brain and subconscious brain are notoriously fickle. 

I did hear Blue recently; I was singing it to one of my cats, who wouldn’t harmonize with me:

It's Hard To Sing With Someone Who Won't Sing With You
It’s Hard To Sing With Someone Who Won’t Sing With You

and for your amusement, here is a very young Jon Stewart introducing a live version of Blue, circa 1995

Footnotes:
  1. and yes, I know theater ≠ theatre. Blame my Canadian public schooling… []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 28th, 2015 at 9:04 am

Posted in Music,Personal

Tagged with ,

Searching for the Right Coffee Word

without comments

There has to be a word, in some language, maybe Dutch or Swedish, for a coffee related snafu I encounter on a regular basis. I’m probably not the only coffee drinker who when bleary-eyed in the morning, grinds too many coffee beans into the grinder, but then decides to use it all anyway, making the coffee stronger than humanly possible. Or nearly. If I was a more cautious person, I’d only use the correct number of teaspoons to match the amount of water I’m boiling, but I’m not that person, instead I shrug, and dump it all in my coffee cone.

Pour Over Coffee
Pour Over Coffee

A day without coffee is not a day, is it?

On a related note, I’ve been drinking coffee every morning for at least 30 years, thus I’ve tried all sorts of methods and machines for the process of making coffee. I am happy with my current, rather low-tech setup – a ceramic cone, unbleached Number 6 paper filter, a hot water boiling machine, and a thermos to hold the brewing coffee in. I have invested in a nice burr grinder (KitchenAid I believe), purchase coffee beans as needed in small quantities so they stay fresh, grind, boil and pour. I have enough high-tech devices in my life, having a low-tech coffee making procedure suits me just fine. I enjoy the ritual, as it requires multiple steps, I can’t walk away too far while in the process, and I must remain “in the moment”. Perfect.

Morning Coffee Ritual
Morning Coffee Ritual

Coffee from El Mirador - Cauca, Columbia
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia

Papua New Guinea Namugo Smallholder coffee bean - Bridgeport Coffee
Papua New Guinea Namugo Smallholder coffee bean – Bridgeport Coffee

About 1250 ml of water
About 1250 ml of water

Chant of the Bottomless Cup

Chant of the Bottomless Cup

Round of Coffee
Round of Coffee

Primo
Primo

Jabez Burns and Sons - Coffee Roasters
Jabez Burns and Sons – Coffee Roasters

Coffee Beans

Coffee Beans

Colleen Drinks Coffee
Colleen Drinks Coffee

Morning Coffee
Morning Coffee

Seemed Easier Than Just Waiting Around
Seemed Easier Than Just Waiting Around

Written by Seth Anderson

October 13th, 2015 at 7:45 am

Posted in Food and Drink,Personal

Tagged with

Cowboy Junkies – The Trinity Session

without comments

Cowboy Junkies Trinity Session
Cowboy_Junkies_Trinity_Session- cover

A few moments ago, the Cowboy Junkies best album1 came on my stereo, The Trinity Session, and I listened to it intently for the first time in a long time. Such a timeless LP, and of course, hearing the album triggered a bit of reverie down my own memory lanes and paths. I recall many late nights putting this album on my turntable, and being enveloped by its mood, as I drank red wine with some people who have since faded from my life.

Per Wikipedia, The Trinity Session was released in 1988, but I don’t think I purchased a copy2 until 1989 or even 1990. I’ve never been enthusiastic towards opiate-induced dream stupors, but I’ve been around enough people who were, and the slow-placed, languorous tempo of the Trinity Session evokes a similar state of blissful melancholy.

Thom Jurek writes:

The Trinity Session was recorded in one night using one microphone, a DAT recorder, and the wonderful acoustics of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. Interestingly, it’s the album that broke the Cowboy Junkies in the United States for their version of “Sweet Jane,” which included the lost verse. It’s far from the best cut here, though. There are other covers, such as Margo Timmins’ a cappella read of the traditional “Mining for Gold,” a heroin-slow version of Hank Williams’ classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Dreaming My Dreams With You” (canonized by Waylon Jennings), and a radical take of the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin’ After Midnight” that closes the disc. Those few who had heard the band’s previous album, Whites Off Earth Now!!, were aware that, along with Low, the Cowboy Junkies were the only band at the time capable of playing slower than Neil Young and Crazy Horse — and without the ear-threatening volume. The Timmins family — Margo, guitarist and songwriter Michael, drummer Peter, and backing vocalist and guitarist John — along with bassist Alan Anton and a few pals playing pedal steel, accordion, and harmonica, paced everything to crawl.

(click here to continue reading The Trinity Session – Cowboy Junkies | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic.)

The lyrics and instrumentation of the album were lifted from the classic country groups the band was exposed to, and the song “200 More Miles” was written in reference to their life on the road.

As they had on Whites, the band wanted to record live with one stereo microphone direct to tape—it is stated on the album cover that the recording was made on 2-track RDAT using one single Calrec Ambisonic Microphone.

Peter Moore was enlisted and suggested the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto for its natural reverb. To better persuade the officials of the historic church, the band claimed to be The Timmins Family Singers and said they were recording a Christmas special for radio. The session began on the morning of 27 November 1987. The group first recorded the songs with the fewest instruments and then the songs with gradually more complex arrangements. In this way Moore and the band were able to solve acoustic problems one by one. To better balance Margo Timmins’s vocals against the electric guitars and drums, she was recorded through a PA system that had been left behind by a previous group. By making subtle changes in volume and placement relative to the microphone over six hours, Moore and the band had finally reached the distinctive sound of the album by the time the last of the guest musicians arrived at the church.

The band was unable to rehearse with most of the guest musicians before the day of the session. Considering the method of recording and time constraints, this could have been disastrous for the numbers which required seven or more musicians, but after paying a security guard twenty-five dollars for an extra two hours, the band was able to finish, and even recorded the final song of the session, “Misguided Angel”, in a single take.

Contrary to popular myth, the album was not entirely recorded in one day. In the hustle of the first recording session, the band forgot to record “Mining for Gold”. Margo and Moore recorded the song a few days later during the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s lunch break.

Sleeve notes state that the recording was not mixed, overdubbed or edited in any way.

(click here to continue reading The Trinity Session – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Michael Timmins adds more detail of the album’s genesis:

We had spent the past year touring Whites Off Earth Now!! around Canada and the United States, grabbing gigs wherever and whenever they were offered. We had sold an incredible (by the Canadian indy standards of the time) 3,000 copies of Whites and had taken the little money that we had made from touring and placed it all back in the band. With a pocketful of change and the inspiration from our travels we began to conceptualize our next recording.

While touring Whites we had spent a lot of time in the Southern States, especially Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. For some reason the club owners down there took a liking to what we were doing so we spent a lot of time crossing the kudzu choked highways that ran through the heart of the old Confederacy. Those were the days when having to spend a night in a hotel room would mean the difference between eating the next day or paying for the gas to get us to the next town, so we spent a lot of our time sleeping on the floors of friendly promoters, fans, waitresses and bartenders. One of the best part about being “billeted” was that each night we were exposed to a new record collection and each night we’d discover a new album or a new band or a whole new type of music that was springing up in some buried underground scene somewhere in America.

(click here to continue reading COWBOY JUNKIES | The Trinity Session.)

Footnotes:
  1. that I’ve heard, at least []
  2. used, from Waterloo Records, I believe []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 1st, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Music,Personal

Tagged with ,

Untitled Abstraction, Austin Visit, and So On

without comments

Untitled Abstraction
Untitled Abstraction

I went to Austin last weekend for the occasion of my mom’s retirement party from Seton – she had worked there 30 years, give or take. She didn’t know I was going to show up, the look on her face when I walked into the conference room was wondrous. The rest of the weekend was mostly filled with eating good food and drinking just enough wine, coffee and other beverages at various locations around town, including my cousin’s S.P. building in Lockhart. There was a birthday celebration at Barton Springs, I hadn’t been there in many, many years. A good time was had, I really should visit more frequently.

My folks are on a declutter kick, trying to keep only things that are important, space permitting. The top image above (Untitled Abstraction) was hanging on the guest bedroom wall, and so I claimed it. Allegedly, I drew this cubist-inspired image when I was seven or eight years old. I don’t actually remember  doing so, especially since I’ve never been much of a sketch artist or painter, but I trust the drawing as being something I created, despite a lack of a letter of authenticity extant. Now it hangs in my house. [Edit] Doh! False information, my brother actually is the artists! Ha.

The Shadow Investigates Barton Springs
The Shadow Investigates Barton Springs

Torchy's Future Location on South Congress
Torchy’s Future Location on South Congress, former home of Dan’s Hamburgers, then Fran’s Hamburgers

The Next Whole Earth Catalog

The Next Whole Earth Catalog

Never Handle Grounded Bats
Never Handle Grounded Bats

Zoey at Kreuz Market Texas BBQ
Zoey at Kreuz Market Texas BBQ

No Sauce. No Fork. Kreuz Market #bbq #Lockhart
No Sauce. No Fork. Kreuz Market, Lockhart

Slicing Brisket - Kreuz Market - Lockhart
Slicing Brisket – Kreuz Market – Lockhart

Variations On An Unstated Theme
Variations On An Unstated Theme

Under the Interstate
Under the Interstate

Yurtistan Panorama
Yurtistan Panorama

Topo Chico
Topo Chico

Semi wild Italian Arugula in Lower Yurtistan
Semi wild Italian Arugula in Lower Yurtistan

letter jacket
letter jacket – Travis High School Academic Achievement Letter Jacket including a now-defunct mascot.

Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)
Two-Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)

Embiggen photos by double clicking, naturally

Written by Seth Anderson

August 28th, 2015 at 10:15 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with

Let’s Extol the Art of Clutter

without comments

Smelling the new Shelves
These shelves are overflowing now, btw…

Let us pause a moment to extol the art of clutter. And it isn’t even a Slate Pitch!

Dominique Browning writes:

Entire companies are being built on the backs of a neurosis that makes us believe that the process of shedding is complicated to the point of paralyzing.

It is all pointless and misguided, and it is time to liberate ourselves from the propaganda of divestment.

I would like to submit an entirely different agenda, one that is built on love, cherishing and timelessness. One that acknowledges that in living, we accumulate. We admire. We desire. We love. We collect. We display.

And over the course of a lifetime, we forage, root and rummage around in our stuff, because that is part of what it means to be human. We treasure.

Why on earth would we get rid of our wonderful things?

It is time to celebrate the gentle art of clutter. We live, and we pick up things along the way: the detritus of adventure; the vessels of mealtimes; the books and music of a life of the mind; the pleasures of our daily romps through the senses.

(click here to continue reading Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter – NYTimes.com.)

If you’ve ever been in my house, you’ll know that I have things everywhere: piles of books, magazines, newspapers, stacks of compact discs and DVDs, artwork in process of being hung, not to mention the more permanent items already displayed, plus cat toys, file folders for the projects de jure, notebooks full of scribbles and diagrams, shelves of vitamins and herbs, bottles of wine and spirits, both empty and partially full, electronic flotsam and jetsam, and all the little snippets and objects of a life lived. Some might consider it clutter, but we’re ok with it, mostly. We vacuum, dust, and clean at least once a week, so it isn’t that it is dirty and disgusting in here, just not spartan. We are not minimalists, we are maximalists. Sorry, Leo! I love you, cuz, but I’m on the other side of the spectrum… 


“Oh, You wanted to *work* at your desk?”

When fashion icons like Iris Apfel agree with me, I’m even more ok with not following the de-clutter trend. 

Similarly, people seem to be obsessed with decluttering their homes these days, but you’re known for keeping your house filled with all sorts of treasures. Why? I love clutter. I think being totally minimal shows a lack of history and soul, and I find it sort of pitiful. I think it’s wonderful to have stuff and live with memories and things you enjoy.

(click here to continue reading Iris Apfel Doesn’t Do Normcore – NYTimes.com.)

That is not to say I don’t need to throw out things, and in fact, I do get rid of things on a semi-regular basis. I rarely save magazines after I’ve finished reading them, (digital excerpts an exception of course, as anyone who is on my email list can attest) I donate clothes to Goodwill or elsewhere whenever I stop wearing them. I don’t have problem discarding objects just because I once used them, I only keep a small portion of talismans of my history. I’m only saying I don’t need your advice on what I should keep. And my house will never look like a yoga studio, sleek, spartan and empty.

kthxbai…

Onward Thru The Fog! Oat Willie's
Onward Thru The Fog! Oat Willie’s

There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.

Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.

Some birds even press their warm bodies against their stuff as they are making their nests, molding them to the shape of their breasts, so that they feel like … home.

A home that is uniquely theirs, and uniquely beloved.

(click here to continue reading Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter – NYTimes.com.)

Nesting
Nesting

Written by Seth Anderson

June 3rd, 2015 at 9:39 am

Cars Down Memory Lane

without comments

Stereo Sanctity
Stereo Sanctity

Funny how memory works.1 A song by The Cars came on the iTunes shuffler, and I remembered the first time I heard that band when I was 13 or 14, traveling with my uncle Phil up to Frostpocket. We stopped in Atlanta because there was some Amnesty International exhibit on the death penalty and/or the Cambodian Killing Fields (as far as I can remember). We stayed with my aunt Megan, and her boyfriend at the time, Mark (whose last name I forget)2 for three days, one of those I was alone in their apartment, looking at their records, and found the Cars album, put it on the turntable…

Looking at the cover,  I’m pretty sure it was the album, Panorama. 

Greg Prato writes:

For their third album, 1980’s Panorama, the Cars decided to challenge their fans with an album unlike its predecessors. Whereas The Cars and Candy-O were both comprised of instantly catchy and distinctly tuneful songs, Panorama was much darker and not as obvious — an attempt at breaking away from the expected winning formula

(click here to continue reading Panorama – The Cars | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic.)

The Cars - Panorama

The Cars – Panorama

 I’m not even sure I liked the album at the time – I don’t recall purchasing it when I got home, not until much, much later when I became a musical pack rat.

Footnotes:
  1. I posted a version of this rumination to Facebook already, sorry if you follow me there and this is a duplicate []
  2. Mark Benson I’ve been told []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 23rd, 2014 at 7:37 am

Posted in Music,Personal

Tagged with ,

zor zor it’s my birthday

with 2 comments

zor zor it's my birthday

Graffiti, Lincoln Park somewhere near Fullerton.

I’m old enough that I don’t want presents from people, unless they are genuine surprises, I find it much better to buy my own presents. I’m torn between purchasing myself a NAS drive to replace a Drobo that I don’t really like, or a quality, direct-drive USB-enabled vinyl turntable. I also considered getting a zoom lens, but I wouldn’t use it that often, so it’s lower on my list.

I’ve heard good things about Synology, such as this machine or similar:

and this Audio-Technica turntable looks pretty nice:

My quick thought is that the NAS drive is a more practical purchase – I do need a better storage device for backups; the turntable would mean I’d have to have space for some vinyl records in an already bursting-to-the-gills office.

Hmmm. What do you think?

Written by Seth Anderson

April 7th, 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , , ,

Sursum Vestri Culus – a rough sketch of the flag for Upper Yurtistan

with one comment

Sursum Vestri Culus – a rough sketch of the flag for Upper Yurtistan

The flag colors:

Upper Yurtistan

courtesy of the Minister of Color and Rhetoric

and the treaty establishing its boundaries:

Treaty of The Expansion of Upper Yurtistan

Treaty of The Expansion of Upper Yurtistan
Honoria with Her Adobe Bag
Honoria, Minister of Color and Rhetoric
Minister of Design and The Future, Blue
Minister of Design and The Future, Blue

Yurtistan Yellow
Yurtistan Yellow

Upper Yurtistan
Upper Yurtistan

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Update, added the whole SMS discussion of the proper phrase. You know, for posterity.

sursum vestri culus 1 2013-08-21 08.57.50

sursum vestri culus 2 2013-08-21 08.57.55

sursum vestri culus 3- 2013-08-21 08.58.01

 

sursum vestri culus 4-2013-08-21 08.58.09

 

Written by Seth Anderson

February 21st, 2014 at 11:47 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , ,

I’ll Be Out of Touch for a Bit

without comments

Whether I'm Right Or Wrong
Whether I’m Right Or Wrong

Just in case you are trying to reach me in the next couple weeks – I’ll probably be unable to respond to you as I’ll be out in the boonies of central Ontario. Frostpocket, if you’ve heard mention of it. Near Mikisew Provincial Park if you haven’t. 

Ragnarokr

Ragnarokr 

Frostpocket

Frostpocket (click to embiggen)

Here’s a Google satellite Map of the area. There isn’t electricity, running water, nor an indoor toilet to be found on these 100 acres of mostly undeveloped land, so I’ll be a bit out of my comfort zone. I have a solar shower, if it is sunny enough to warm up, I may be able to take a shower every day or three. My dad and uncle have already arrived up there a couple days ago, presumedly smoothing over some of the roughest patches, but I won’t know the true status until I arrive. No matter, it will be fun to (almost) escape civilization for a brief moment. 

I should be back, fully connected to the grid in about ten days if all goes well.

If you need to contact me more urgently, try the usual channels. In our hyper-connected world, even South River might have a WiFi enabled coffee shop! Or not. If you are waiting for me to make a move on Words With Friends, you might have to wait, AT&T’s international data plan is a real ripoff…

FP back porch
Frostpocket back porch, circa 1994

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Seth Anderson

August 29th, 2013 at 6:58 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with ,

Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack

without comments

Sugar Maple
Sugar Maple

Reading this article in the NYT recently, made me think…

Forty years ago, Mr. Morse would snowshoe into the forest with his father to collect sap from galvanized buckets and load them onto a tractor. The farm has not changed much since then, but the winters have. So has the maple syrup ritual itself.

Scientists say the tapping season — the narrow window of freezing nights and daytime temperatures over 40 degrees needed to convert starch to sugar and get sap flowing — is on average five days shorter than it was 50 years ago. But technology developed over the past decade and improved in recent years offers maple farmers like Mr. Morse a way to offset the effects of climate change with high-tech tactics that are far from natural.

Today, five miles of pressurized blue tubing spider webs down the hillside at Morse Farm, pulling sap from thousands of trees and spitting it into tubs like an immense, inverse IV machine. Modern vacuum pumps are powerful enough to suck the air out of a stainless steel dairy tank and implode it, and they help producers pull in twice as much sap as before.

(click here to continue reading Maple Syrup Takes Turn Toward Technology – NYTimes.com.)

Forty years ago? That would be in the 1970s, and as it happened, I witnessed first hand such production at my family’s 100 acre spread called Frostpocket. I put out a call for some photos of it, and so far, have received three.

Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack
Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack, originally uploaded by swanksalot. [scanned from a print, and slightly retouched in Photoshop]

The site of the Frostpocket Maple Sugar shack (photo taken a few years after we moved away)

As part of our family history, partially excerpted from:
www.ragnarokr.org/index.php?title=The_workshop,_the_sugar…

In the spring of 1974 George tapped a few maple trees around his house and made five gallons of maple syrup. His evaporator was an old-fashioned flat steel pan that had been given to him by Wilfred. The next year George surveyed the hillside between Randy’s house site and south of the log cabin and found places for 288 taps. That spring he had the help of Greg Sperry and Bie Engelen, who had wintered over in the cabin, and of Colleen, who was pregnant with Katie.

George placed the old flat pan outdoors near his house and carried the sap to the pan in the old fashioned way, in buckets. The first run of sap was on April 7 followed by runs on April 15 and 16, April 20 and 21 and on April 22 and 23. Colleen pulled a muscle while carrying buckets of sap through the deep snow and her doctor ordered her to stop. She devoted her time to curing and smoking last year’s hams and starting tomato plants for the garden while George and Bie continued working in the bush until the weather turned warm and the sap stopped running. George made 25 gallons of syrup that year, much of which was amber or dark. George sold some of the syrup and used the rest at home as a sweetener. In the fall of 1975 a shed was built in the flats below the log cabin and the evaporator pan moved there. A large quantity of standing dead balsam fir trees were cut from the edges of the clearing and stacked near the shed for use as firewood the following spring.

Frostpocket Maple Syrup - Washing the hoses
Frostpocket Maple Syrup – Washing the hoses [scanned from a print, modestly tweaked in Photoshop]

Per my dad: “homemade tubing washer, taken about 1978.”

The eroded granite hills of the Eagle Lake Uplands are an ideal environment for the rock or sugar maple and the sugar maple is the dominant tree on the stony hilltops of Machar Township. The first generation of pioneers placed a high value on maple sugar and brought sugaring off equipment with them when they settled the township in the 1880s. By the 1970s there were half dozen maple syrup producers in the Uplands community.

Frostpocket Maple Syrup - remnants
Frostpocket Maple Syrup – remnants [scanned from a photo print, and slightly tweaked in Photoshop]

The boiler where we made maple syrup, after about ten years of neglect.

For the 1977 sugar season, George designed a system of dump stations to reduce the effort needed to collect the sap. Gathering the sap from the sap buckets and hauling it to the evaporator is the most laborious part of making maple syrup. At least once a day when the sap is running, every bucket has to be emptied and the sap delivered to the evaporator and boiled to syrup as quickly as possible. On a warm day any delay might result in a finished product that is “dark”.

George Shovelling Snow - Frostpocket
George Shovelling Snow – Frostpocket

If the sap is left in the buckets overnight and the temperature stays warm throughout the night the sap may begin to ferment and will spoil. The spoiled sap can still be boiled into syrup but is will be very dark, have an after taste and be difficult or impossible to sell. Furthermore the spoiled sap will contaminate the buckets, tubing and storage tanks making any syrup produced thereafter more likely to be dark.

Most modern sugar bushes use a system of tubes that moves the sap directly from each tap to the evaporator house without the use of buckets. In January or February 1977 George and Philip set up 22 dump stations connected by black plastic PVC tubing to one of two storage tanks. One storage tank was mounted next to the evaporator in the sugarhouse. The other was a transfer tank located in a low spot between the log cabin and George’s house.

The men used a gas-driven gear pump to move the sap from the transfer tank to the storage tank in the sugarhouse. The sap was collected from the buckets hanging from each tap in the usual way but instead of carrying the sap to the evaporator, it was carried to the nearest dump station. From the dump station the sap flowed by gravity through the tubing to one of the storage tanks. Whenever the storage tank was partially full, George would build a fire under the evaporator and began to boil the sap into syrup. As the level in the evaporator dropped he would open a valve to move sap from the storage tank into the evaporator.

The old flat evaporator made syrup in batches. When all of the syrup in the pan was ready, George poured the finished syrup into retail containers and then sealed the cans. In 1977 he purchased a more modern evaporator that had partitions built into it. The sap continuously entered at one end of the pan and moved slowly to the other end where it was taken off as syrup.

George always made the syrup while Philip and Debbie emptied the sap buckets and carried the sap to the dump stations. When the storage tank was near empty the sap in the transfer tank was pumped over to the storage tank and George continued to make syrup until both tanks were empty. After a good run the evaporator was kept boiling until late into the night.

and to quote myselffrom 2010:

Maple syrup season was always my favorite time of year as a kid: spring meant snow was beginning to melt, plus there was lot of opportunity to play in mud as I walked the mile home from where the school bus dropped me off. I didn’t participate much in the actual maple harvesting process, but it does have an evocative smell which I can still recall after all these intervening years.

Written by swanksalot

April 6th, 2013 at 9:14 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with , ,