The Art of Lyme Disease

As part of our bucolic Pennsylvanian environment we have many deer traipsing across our property throughout the year. These pleasant little groups, especially when they have the fawns with them, are nice to see, although, despite the best attempts of Disney, they do have a few annoying, and even darker traits.

The most direct impact they have is their relentless browsing on many things in our garden. We have had many plants, both vegetables and flowers taken, and much damage done to young trees and shrubs too by these marauding hordes. In their defense, it’s understandable as to them we are nothing more than a provider of a herbivorous smorgasbord from which to dine, but it’s bloody annoying nevertheless.  

That being said, these hoofed visitors are generally harmless to us, though, with two notable exceptions. Firstly, they have a tendency to leap out in front of traffic, so injuring or killing not only themselves but many drivers who hit them and, secondly, they are a significant part of the lifecycle for the parasite that causes the Lyme disease that is so prevalent in our area.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the spirochete parasite Borellia burdorferi which is carried by the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, and delivered when the tick is having a good blood meal on a human being. This little payload can cause a classic “bullseye” rash of concentric red rings on the skin as the infection spreads, although it does not occur in all cases. Once infected the victim exhibits flu-like symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle aches and generally feeling unwell. If it is diagnosed quickly enough then one or two 28-day treatment cycles of oral doxycycline should take care of it, although there can be long term effects which include joint pain, arthritis and neuropathies.

The weird thing, from my perspective, is that a person does not obtain immunity from the infectious agent, but can be reinfected. I know this as I have been immunologically diagnosed with this twice in 3 years so far.

So, as I sat here over the weekend I thought I’d create some “Lyme inspired” artwork, in the style of those pop art posters. Lyme Disease – the gift that keeps on giving!

Lyme1

Lyme3

Lyme2

Richard

Artful rescuing and repurposing an idea

Many months ago I created a roughly square ceramic plate on which I was going to use some creative glaze. After drying this was put in the kiln to bisque fire but unfortunately it cracked badly, possibly due to another piece of work being placed on it during firing, so creating some heat stress. I was disappointed but at least the plate was intact so I left it on the shelf in the studio. I would bring it down once in a while to think about what to do and then usually put it back again.

Then a few months ago I decided it was taking up too much space and I should experiment with some more glazes and finally use this piece. So, I dipped one half in assad black glaze and the other in white and then fired it, as this was my favorite combo at that time for several pieces I had created.

When I took the plate from the kiln I was immediately struck by the vision of a dark sky being torn asunder by a tornado tearing across the plain, with mountains in the distance.

A few more weeks passed and I thought why not add the most iconic red shoes to this scene as a finishing touch!

170505_Inspiration.jpg

It would be great to hear of others’ stories of saving or reusing damaged pieces of art to create a totally new piece.

~Richard

May Day, Kitchener redux and Voting.

May Day Celebration isn’t a big thing in the USA. We don’t celebrate it as the start of Spring and there’s certainly no National Holiday for us on what is largely International Worker’s Day in many countries in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, it usually just passes us by as a regular working day. This year, though,  many are talking to the streets, mainly protesting the current state of affairs in the government and the recent policies of the US Executive.

I find all this latter day engagement in the system fascinating. It is interesting to see just how much politics is being talked about these days compared to only a few short years back. This is a good thing as perhaps more people are finally taking active interest in the way they are being governed.

170501_KitchenerVOTE.jpg

That being said, my point today is to highlight the still pathetic engagement that voters generally have in our Western democracies. It is staggering that we pontificate about installing democracies onto other cultures, rightly or wrongly, and belittle anyone who does not espouse our values and yet, when it comes around to election time quite often fewer than half of eligible voters actually turn up to the polls to actually make their mark in the box.

The next big election in my little transatlantic world is in the UK next month and I could not but help create this poster based on one of the many (in)famous WWI recruiting posters put out with Lord Kitchener’s prominent mustachioed visage.

My perspective – get out there and do your democratic duty by casting your vote – even if it means writing in someone else’s name because you don’t like any candidates. If you don’t make this small effort what right do you have to even comment on our government?

~Richard

Easter Egg Redux

I have had such a busy last few weeks that I totally forgot to post this blog entry that should have been uploaded on Easter Sunday! Back in the UK it’s a tradition to give chocolate Easter Eggs as gifts on Easter Sunday. Over here in the USA they have been very hard to come by and only recently have I started to see a few more of these for sale. As an aside, I find this odd, as it’s unusual for confectionery manufacturers to miss a new marketing opportunity, but there you go.

Last year I managed to get a mold and make a chocolate egg for my wife, as detailed here. This year I thought I’d do something a little different so I used the same mold but instead made a ceramic two part egg and glazed it in white with blue and yellow highlights, in the style of a faux Faberge Egg. As a finishing touch I filled with some of her favorite chocolates, Wilbur Buds, from Lititz, PA.

170428_LateEaster1

170428_LateEaster2

~Richard

Help! There are too many themes…

I cannot be the only blogger here who is having difficulty deciding which WordPress theme best suits my blog. They say that choice is good, but, to be honest, there are simply too many to review and pick from.

170423_Themes.jpg

I have spent quite some time going through myriad styles that are offered me, some look good, others just don’t work the way I want them to. It is all so time consuming and tedious after a while. I would like to get a great theme and just stick with it – I am told having a “recognizable identity” is the thing to do on social media if I am to make anything useful from it. Given the rambling nature of my this blog, then at least I should try to have a consistent ”feel” to the page. Underlying all this though remains the point that this was really set up to try to promote my art for sale, so I do need to make sure that there some good images placed in prominent positions on the posts, without compromising page load speed.

So, that being said, you are now looking at the current iteration as of 24-Apr-2017. I would appreciate any feedback on the current blog layout (called Baskerville 2) – is it appealing or appalling? Is easy to use, or a pain to stroll though? Is it fast enough or does it drag when loading?

Please let me know.

~Richard

St. George’s Day and a lesson from the French?

Last year I wrote this post relating to the patron saint of England, St. George. One year on and as Britain is stumbling forward through its self-inflicted exit from the European Union, I see little change in the mood of Little Britain, at least from what I read in the media.

Today, on the “other side of the channel” as we tend to call it, we saw the potential for a change in Europe as Emmanuel Macron finally gave Marine Le Pen a good run for her money and established that the center left candidate may actually stand a chance to win in a two-horse race for the Presidency for La Republique. Perhaps we will see a tide change and just maybe this will have a knock-on effect on the results of the snap election that Prime Minister Theresa May has called back in the UK. After all it may not be so much about St. George killing the dragon anymore but rather that the slumbering dragon, in the form of the disenfranchised populace who weren’t motivated to cast their democratic vote last time, will actually see that their opinions do count and turn up at the polling stations to make their mark.

Perhaps it is time for the dragon to roar…

170423_StGeorge.jpg
~Richard

A Story – Keyhole Figures

It was only a brief vision, but it left him stone cold nonetheless. They had said that early in the morning, when the place was quiet that strange things happened near that door. He had been doing his regular rounds but was a little delayed when he passed the space. Maybe only ten minutes but it made all the difference. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and and a deadening silence as he passed. Glancing over his left shoulder as he walked down the incline he saw the figures quite clearly. A young woman in a shawl and a small boy. They just stared at him as if they were expecting him to be someone else. Their gazes bored into him with longing. He blinked and they were gone, but he shivered and quickened his pace. He made up the ten minutes by the time he reached the end of his rounds. He would definitely not be late again…

170422_KeyholeDoorStory

~Richard

SATOR Square Magic

It has been a few days since my last post, mainly due to the beautiful weather we are having and the fact that I have spent so much time outside in the garden planting, weeding and fixing things. By the time I get inside and grab a beer I really haven’t had the mental resilience to sit down at the keyboard and compose anything.

Today, though, I finished my self-imposed “chores” early and managed to get some time to create a new art piece. It is based on the SATOR square and follows on from several ceramic works I made earlier in the year. I thought I had written about those pieces earlier, but it would appear that I had not.

So, I’ll start off with a brief history of the SATOR square (aka ROTAS square). This is a unique five-line text in Latin and is the ONLY palindromic sentence that can be read in any direction: left to right,right to left, down to up, up to down, and even in serpentine fashion line by line, and still have the same meaning. It is a feature of Latin that allows this word order to be acceptable.

170418_SATOR_WoodSticks

Now, the sentence itself is a bit trite and has been assigned the meaning “The farmer, Arepo, uses a plough for his work” but the point is that it is a meaningful statement. Now to the he fun part. Back in the olden days it was thought that the devil could be confounded by palindromes since he would be unable to corrupt them by saying them backwards. The SATOR square, being palindromic in so many ways, was thought to be very strong magic and was often used as a protective symbol.

170418_SATOR_Ceramic

And couldn’t we all do with a  little protective magic these days?

~Richard

Haiku: Late to NaPoWriMo

~ Late to NaPoWriMo ~

Every year National Poetry Month creeps up on me and I don’t notice it. Finally, a chance for a haiku today…

 

April, halfway through

Before I see the verses

It’s NaPoWriMo!

160405_Haiku
~Richard 

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