Just wanted to start off the new post with a photo I captured. I am mesmerized with this amazing image from a few years back, taken in our Beloved Bandon-by-the-Sea.
Just wanted to start off the new post with a photo I captured. I am mesmerized with this amazing image from a few years back, taken in our Beloved Bandon-by-the-Sea.
This whole concept of making art, specifically painting, while listening to music and enjoying a glass of wine with others in a bright fun creative setting, is pretty ingenious. Shaking a little bit while you nervously touch the brush to the paint and then to the canvas is a huge rush… well for me it was at least. After that first moment, I believe it is addicting!
Mary and I were very pleased with our works! Until recently, the main outlets for my creative energy have always been sewing, beading, quilting or crochet. When my kids were tiny, I first attempted to take a painting class… watercolors to be exact. My Great Aunt was an accomplished paint artist and she told me immediately, “Oh no, that is the most difficult type of painting. Try acrylics first.” Well, as with so many things in my life, not only did I think to myself, “Heck, I LOVE the way watercolors look and who cares if it is the hardest type of painting to learn,” but also, I sadly never finished that class… Afterall, I was a busy young mommy, raising kids, gardening, canning and learning to cook and sew. I did manage to begin my collection painting books though…
In my closets today, I have bins full of art supplies. Bins full of paints, brushes, tissue papers, painting and craft books, beads, rubber stamps, scrapbooking supplies, and I also have bins full of yarn, fabric and sewing supplies. These bins contain some of my most amazing treasures…. These bins contain my valuable meditative and creative outlet opportunities. They are always there within reach, whispering to me… but only when my mind will allow me to go off and play and explore these magical bins do I ever open them up. Yeah, I am constantly dealing with that control thing.
At our Sip and Paint class, we all created paintings similar to the photo of MY treasure, Purple Night, above. I am happy to say I LOVE my painting with the four funny top-notch birds on a branch representing my sweet TOP NOTCH amazing kids.
I encourage everyone to make time to explore and play with your art supplies and create beautiful things. Your Soul will thank you. Facebook has these classes near Medford called “Sip and Paint” and then there are also classes in Redding called “Canvas and Cocktails.” More and more of these types of painting classes are popping up every day, everywhere! I plan to go again, often as possible, and I really want to explore a lot of different types of art instruction in the near future…
Whatever you do, take time to create, play and have FUN! –MFain, Editor
Today seems like a good day for reflection… We are nearing the completion this spring of 7 complete years of happy little Jefferson Backroads Publishing… April will officially start our exciting 8th year, promising to be full of fun new ideas and local Old School American treats…
“Who knows where the time goes?” Yes, this is such a heart-wrenching and hauntingly beautiful song title from my childhood, thanks to the beautiful rendition by Judy Collins. I honestly and sincerely cannot listen to it to this day without crying… it is just so thought provoking, deeply beautiful and extraordinary.
Attaching a few photos from this day’s NICE long early winter snow storm seems fitting… It was snowing at first light and the snow continues still… My 16 year old barn cat is snug, fluffy and warm in her beloved outdoor wild world and my little delicate doggy is happy to be up against a toasty indoor stove. Both these sweet little girls have a few years under their belts… how DOES the time fly by so fast?
I have piles of fabric and materials scattered all around my home as we speak, sparkling for my imagination and enticing my creative dreams to emerge from the iron, sewing machine and scissors… Why not find a piece of fabric with some similar cool colorful designs and create some “memory squares” for your kids or grand kids to play memory games with?
This Autumn I became a lot more interested in feeding and watering our wild song birds and other local birds… now it is a new passion of mine. I have two superb windows in my creative workshop and both are loaded with views of hundreds of tiny birds, seed filled bird feeders and trees and bushes for them to flock to and rest in. I am on a new treasure hunt of natural material bird feeders and even have a couple ideas in my crazy brain for bird feeders I am going to build.
Trial and error has proven to me also that my heart-warming collection of wind-chimes don’t bother the birds unless there happens to be a hurricane blowing through our mountains… and so I have intertwined stunning wind-chimes with the bird feeders. What more could I ever ask for?
I love each of our four magically distinct seasons. There is always something for me to happily do or learn or create.
Story by Hank Nelson of Wasilla, Alaska
New Alaskan 1989
Reprinted with Permission
From the beginning, O.K. Joe was born to be a logger. It is academic now but there was a time in Joe’s youth when his fate might have been otherwise. Joseph Otteson Knutsen was born into a very wealthy Bostonian family. His mother, Elizabeth, was a pianist of some worth and her husband, Knute, was a first-rate baritone. Elizabeth Knutsen gave Joe his long name hoping it might inspire him to become a world renowned musician, but he did not have an ounce of musical ability. Merely singing “Happy Birthday” was a social embarrassment. What did interest young Joe was the life of a lumberjack. Two summers spent with Uncle Fritz in a Maine logging camp took care of that. It was only a matter of time until Alaska… the last frontier for tramp loggers… lured Joe north.
In Ketchikan, Joe hired out and hitched a ride on a float plane to a logging camp. Tom Moran, the camp boss, wise to the ways of tramp loggers, met Joe at the dock. Joe stepped off the plane wearing a sheepish grin and clutching a gray duffel bag. “Whatcha got there, friend?” Tom inquired. “Now don’t tell me it’s a sack of Christmas bells I hear tinkling. What’s the name?”
“Joseph Otteson Knu. . .”
“Hold it, hold it,” he said, lifting up his hand. “Ya got anything shorter’n that?”
“Okay, Joe. Let’s have’er.” Tom snapped his fingers.
Joe held the duffle bag close to his heart. Tom pointed to the plane. He was about to speak to the pilot, when Joe gave in.
“Okay… here it is. Just a stiff one or two for after work.”
The camp boss looked into Joe’s duffle bag and then back at Joe. “Looks like you brought enough with you this trip for a good many stiff ones! Okay, Joe, report to the bull cook and… THESE will be waiting for you at the office. You can pick ‘cm up at the end of the job.” Those who witnessed the event remembered. From that day Joseph Otteson Knutsen was simply known as O.K. Joe.
Now it was several years later and Joe was at another camp on Prince of Wales Island. Each day the snow line was creeping, inch by inch, down the flanks of the mountains. The countryside seemed laden and expectant, waiting only for nature’s command to begin winter. O.K. Joe started thinking of things like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and shutdown! The weeks passed. The snow came and drove the loggers from timberland. O.K. Joe and his brethren flew to town to begin waiting for the spring startup.
O.K. Joe walked along the sidewalk on his way to the mission. The sky was sullen gray. It was morning and Ketchikan was coming to life. The prospect of a long, inactive winter chilled him. Christmas and getting together with everyone for the traditional dinner at the mission was the lone, bright spot for Joe. He had done this each Christmas for the past 10 years, and looked forward to the occasion. However, this year would be different. Word had come to him that his old pal, J.C. Carlson, had been killed in an automobile accident up north. J.C. had always played his fiddle at the Christmas dinner. He would be missed.
Christmas was less than a week away but he was not in a holiday mood. He was flat broke! His last paycheck and bonus checks were gone. They had filtered through his fingers like dry sand. Even his unemployment compensation, usually a breeze, had hit a snag and was delayed. Being broke at Christmas time was pure misery. Joe decided he’d volunteer to help the mission gather toys and clothing for distribution before Christmas. The holiday season was in full swing. Displays and Christmas decorations adorned the shopping mall. Sounds of Christmas carols playing over loudspeakers added to the festive mood, but the gleaming gifts on display might just as well have been from a different world. They were for other folks who could afford them.
O.K. Joe walked on past to the downtown area, past the saloons and Pawnshops. Then he saw it! Ahead of him, crumbled up, lying on the middle of the sidewalk, was a bill! Instinctively, Joe quickly glanced around. Without losing stride, he bent down and scooped up the money. He walked quickly down the street and pushed the bill deeper into the pocket of his trousers. No one rushed up to him. Joe stopped, then carefully withdrew the money. It was a new crisp twenty dollar bill.
Now that he was unexpectedly prosperous his mind explored avenues of possibilities. What O.K. Joe wanted most was a stiff drink, but he knew what the first drink would lead to… and twenty dollars would not go far. A bottle of cheap wine would be more like it. As he toyed with these alternatives, he reminded himself of his vow to stay sober during the Christmas season. O.K. Joe had been the recipient of a gift, for whatever the reason. Somehow, it didn’t seem right to squander it. He stuffed it back into his pocket. The sooner he was out of town, out of temptation’s way, the better off he’d be.
O.K. Joe began walking then he stopped abruptly. He couldn’t believe his eyes! There behind the plate glass window of Klever Mueslix’s Pawn Shop was J.C. Carlson’s violin with a “For Sale” sign on it. He opened the pawnshop door. A tinkling bell, attached to the top of the front door, summoned the proprietor. His grim face reflected a “don’t bother me unless it concerns business” attitude. “What can I do for you?” he mumbled, as a man who had posed the same question a million times before. His eyes sized up O.K. Joe. To Klever Mueslix, he looked like a man down on his luck and about to ask a favor. He braced himself.
O.K. Joe cleared his voice. “I was just wondering about the fiddle you got propped up in the window.”
“You interested in buyin’ it?”
“No… I was just wonderin’ about the guy who left it here. It’s just like the one a friend of mine, J.C. Carlson, owned. I never thought I’d see his fiddle in a pawnshop.”
“Look, I don’t ask questions. People come in wantin’ money… for one reason or another. They fill out a form that makes it legal, in case it’s stolen goods, and I give ’em the dough. When sixty days is over I got a legal right to sell it. Could be the ‘fella’s name was Carlson. I don’t ask questions and I don’t run a charity.”
Later Joe spoke to Father O’Cain and told him about the fiddle. O’Cain nodded and added, “Yes, Mueslix is a hard man. He’s successful and owns a lot of property, but I’m afraid there isn’t a whole lot of charity in the man.” There were still nearly two days left before Christmas. O.K. Joe thought hard about J.C.’s fiddle. It had meant a lot to him. It wouldn’t be right if a stranger bought it; Maybe he could talk to Klever and work a deal. Joe walked down the avenue, along the waterfront. The sun had come out and though its orb was low, Joe welcomed its cool warmness.
Klever was not happy to see him. “Look here, your buddy’s already been here twice today an’ I’ll tell you the same thing I told him, I’m not running a charity. I’m running a business. Two hundred in cash or no deal! Saavy?”
O.K. Joe swallowed hard. “J.C. Carlson alive! You seen him this morning?”
“Didn’t I just tell you? Sure, I saw him. He was in twice, like I said.
“Well. I’ll be. ..Merry Christmas, Mr. Mueslix!”
Down by the waterfront, J.C. Carlson sat on the edge of the dock, his legs dangling. He was gazing across the water. O.K. Joe couldn’t believe it. He was alive!
“Hey, J.C., where in the world did you come from?”
J.C. swung his head around and smiled. “What’s the matter, Joe? Think you seen a ghost?”
“As a matter of fact, that isn’t too far from the truth. The guys at the mission said you’d been killed in a car wreck last spring near Tok Junction.”
J. C. laughed. “No, sir. I’m all here. Wait a minute, I’ll pinch myself to make sure. Yep. . .it’s me alright.”
“What happened, J.C.?”
“I was hitchhiking. Caught a ride up north, little ways out of town, we hit a moose… broadside. Driver got a broken jaw and me, a few bruises. The moose got the worst of it. We landed in a patch of muskeg ”
O.K. Joe shook his head. “You sure were lucky you didn’t get hurt worse.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Joe. Maybe the Big Boss is saving me for something He wants me to do.” He was quiet for a minute. “You know, I’ve been thinking, Joe, ever think much about God ‘n’ stuff like that?”
“Sure, I guess so, J.C., same as everyone else, but I ain’t too keen on religion. I’ll tell you one thing though, there’s got to be a reason for the ways things work out sometimes.”
Joe changed the subject. “Do you want to go and have a talk with Mueslix about your fiddle? I could put down twenty dollars and maybe he would hold it until we
figure something out.”
“I appreciate it, Joe, you wanting to help and all, but Mueslix expects the whole thing paid in full. You know I really hated to part with that old fiddle, swore I never would. It belonged to my Daddy. He had rambling fever when I was a kid. Just left one day. I went back home once. She held me, Maw did, the day I said goodbye. I could have stayed but Alaska is home. We’ll probably both die here with our corks on.” They laughed. Old horses want to die in their traces, miners with their picks and shovels in hand, fishermen making their last seine, golfers on the last hole; it seems frivolous, but that’s how O.K. and J.C. wanted it, to die with their boots on. Joe remembered the time a tree uprooted and almost killed him. A log could up-end, a widow-maker drop out of a tree, or a line could snap in two. A man just never knew… it was probably a good thing or he wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
The hours leading to Christmas Eve passed swiftly. They busied themselves making deliveries for the mission. It was after dark when the last truckload was delivered. Heading back, O.K. drove slowly by the main entrance of the mall. He saw the Salvation Army volunteer ringing the bell. It happened fast. Joe opened the door of the truck and quickly dropped the twenty dollar bill in the kettle.
Christmas dawned clear and crisp. The morning passed swiftly. The dining hall began to fill. Camaraderie and good tidings permeated the room. Joe could smell aromas of baked turkeys and hams, dressing, gravy and pies. When everything was ready Father O’Cain cleared his voice and asked for a moment of silence. Just as he was about to bless the food, the main entrance door opened and Klever Mueslix stepped inside. He removed his hat and nodded. “I didn’t mean to intrude, but I wanted to drop this here fiddle off for Mr. Carlson.”
For a moment, J.C. was speechless. “Thank you, Mr. Mueslix. I… I don’t know just what to say, ‘cept thanks.” Klever looked around the table. He fidgeted nervously with the brim of his hat. “Well… this being Christmas, I knew you all gathered here each year and figured you’d need some music.” As Klever turned to leave, Father O’Cain said, “We’d be pleased, Mr. Mueslix, if you’d stay and have dinner with us. We’ve plenty and you’re welcome.”
O.K, Joe placed his hand on Klevees shoulder. “Here, I’ll grab an extra chair and you can squeeze in between me and J.C.”
Father O’Cain gave the blessing. He looked at J.C. and smiled. “Do you have .a song for us, Mr. Carlson?’
J.C. stood up and walked to the head table. He took the fiddle out of an old case battered by years of travel. J.C. hadn’t played for a long time. He picked it up and tucked it beneath his chin. The bow scraped across the strings, striking a few hesitant notes. He began playing “Amazing Grace”. The first few notes were discordant and ragged. Then the music became bolder. The single instrument became symphonic, filling the room with reverence. J.C. finished, then gently placed the violin on the table. His gnarled fingers, bruised by years of harsh contact with countless chokers, lovingly caressed the curves of the silent wood.
“J.C., that was beautiful,” Joe said in a voice choked with emotion. “Guess that shows how an old fiddle can sound in the hands of a master?”
“No,” J.C. replied,”only when it’s been blessed by the MASTER’S Hand.”
Photo of Hank Nelson from the 1960s.
Note about the Author:
Tough fingers that pull the trigger of a chain saw daily are equally at home gently stroking the keys of a typewriter. Hank Nelson, faller at Coffman Cove, loves the people of his trade and in particular that disappearing unique breed of man, the tramp logger. This Christmas story is fiction but the characters and circumstances represent a compilation “of those I’ve met during the couple of decades God has blessed me to travel the timber harvesting circuit from Oregon to Alaska.” Multi-talented Nelson describes himself as a writer, editor, musician and maker of stumps.
My, my, my. You are in for a real treat with this amazing upcoming 2nd Annual Jefferson State FLIXX Fest… I have always wondered about film festivals… Ashland, Oregon has one every year and although I think the concept sounds MARVELOUS and I have still never attended it, I certainly know film festivals exist.
I finally experienced my first ever film festival in September, 2015. It was the 1st Annual Jefferson State FLIXX Fest held in the town of Fort Jones, Siskiyou County, California. We’re talking way up at the Oregon border, in rugged, gorgeous, extreme northern California. I will shout from our mountain tops: LAST YEAR’S FLIXX FEST WAS BEYOND PHENOMENAL!!
I learned a lot in a few days, viewing a select group of independent films that were chosen to be featured in that first ever FLIXX Fest. I was treated to films with depth… films with heart and soul… films that made me THINK! … films that made me laugh and films that made me cry, with both joy and sadness… Above all else, I was entertained. My wick of interest has been lit by these cool independent people teaching me about life and enlightening me about new concepts. I have been transformed through their unique and creative films, pondering concepts that I had no awareness of before, and this flame burns to explore more film festivals.
I was incredibly blessed to have already made acquaintance with the group of individuals who put on this film festival, earlier in 2015. I was invited to embed their Official Program inside our September Jefferson Backroads Publication and we ran with it. This gave the film festival attendees something additional to read between films. Lots of local history, events and businesses frost the pages of Jefferson Backroads each month and the joining of it all just delighted every one of us! It was one of the coolest projects I have ever been a part of. Scroll down on our Publication Page at www.jeffersonbackroads.com and download the September 2015 edition of Jefferson Backroads to see the first FLIXX fest program, if you like.
I am grateful to be publishing their 2nd Annual Official Program in our upcoming September edition and I am here to say IT IS GORGEOUS!! Created by their extremely talented graphics design team, it will blow your minds. I could not be more proud or more honored to share their amazingness with you: the delightful readers of our happy little local publications.
Check out their website at www.flixxfest.org and click around on the Schedule and Films tabs. You will be able to read some amazing film descriptions to get a taste of what is coming our way the long weekend of September 21-25, 2016 at their festival. Many other events and activities are going on in Siskiyou County the same weekend such as the Montague Hot Air Balloon Fair, McCloud Bike-Toberfest and Yreka’s Sizzling September Car Show, so start planning and making reservations now if you want to secure your FLIXX Fest tickets.
See you at The FLIXX FEST!! It’s going to be another phenomenal year… I KNOW IT!
You know that feeling you get when you walk into a home and all the decor and neat items the people have displayed are so cool you just can’t get enough? Well it happened to me again last week. I was honored to have been invited to the home of Gerry and Marlene Ludlow and what I found there was downright exciting!
First let me say that you can gaze upon, marvel at and even purchase some of the truly amazing items these two have created at the Siskiyou County Fiber Arts Show, being held at the Snow Creek Studio in Mt. Shasta City.
As individuals, Gerry and Marlene have many unique artistic skills and talents. As the perfect peanut butter and jelly team, their combined efforts deliver creations that are out of this world! Their whimsical hand-crafted, hand-painted wooden “boxes” (above) are just one example of their joint talents. He builds the boxes and they both take turns painting in fun imaginative styles! Their boxes even have names! Cute fun adorable names! Some of the wooden boxes are more elegant in their old world craftsmanship and are perfect for holding your precious treasures.
The first items I saw and fell in love with that Gerry creates in his perfect wood shop are his hand-crafted wooden knitting needles. These are stunning! I bought a set and I don’t even KNIT! I have always been a crocheter from wayyy back but the smooth and perfect feel of these creative wooden tools is impossible to resist. You can choose a set of these heirlooms for your very own at Weston’s Quilting and Crafts in Mt. Shasta City along with delicious yarns, threads and fibers…
Continuing on through their gallery, I mean their home, I found a delightful work of art that Marlene created. It is so unique! Hand-painted face, leather nose, perfectly placed rovings for its fur, patchwork fabric background, oh my! This is a one of a kind!
Everywhere I looked in their home I saw something else to ooooh and ahhhh about. He makes gorgeous musical dulcimers, she hand paints fish on the walls of their gorgeous ocean themed, hand-made thick ceramic tiled bathroom, and they both built the most incredible solid 4×4 foot wooden coffee table with hand carved branches and leaves surrounding it and decorating the many drawers!
Below is a wooden cabinet the two of them built and painted. Makes me smile just thinking of their sweet artistic realm!
My hat is off to Gerry and Marlene for sharing their beautiful works of art. The love and attention to detail that pour out of their partnered creations, surrounding them each day in their perfectly unique artistic styles is solid and so very inspiring.
I hope you take the time to go see the Fiber Arts Show at Snow Creek Studio and witness all the magic for yourself! Create cool stuff… and enjoy your summer!