Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cleared For Takeoff

The presence of a few twigs on the front porch coincided with the breezy part of spring, during which the local elms give up detritus stored through the winter when things are just not attended to by the Branch Manager.

Then we realized the robins were back. Likely it's the same pair that tried this last year and then, experiencing our coming and going and violating their construction zone, moved twenty feet west to the identical light fixture on the front of the garage. We enjoyed their courtship and shared effort in the construction. That fixture being lower allowed us to easily hold a camera up and snap the eggs, the hatch, the supersonic growth and the eventual launches.

This year, the garage was not attractive to the birds so we blocked off the front door and let Mother Nature nurture.

One half an eggshell appeared on the lawn. We feared the starlings had raided. But Linda's artfully held camera revealed at least 4 hatchlings. Now they're ready to go, all five of them! The image above was taken just before writing this on Thursday May 28. The alpha baby was wanting to do some demo flapping for the photographer, but a watchful parent dived at me. I found myself encouraged to get the heck away.

When I head home for lunch today I expect to see one or two gone. Not that I'm an expert on birds. Or on kids.

But I recall Peter Guy's first day, first grade, as I watched him walk away from me, down the sidewalk.

I remember saying goodbye to Joel, dormitory Freshman, after we unloaded his stuff at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. LiAndra shoehorned into her little red car, off to Iowa. Joe and Sarah, married and gone to fashion their own life and family.

All of them fledged and flew.

"Empty nest" is apt. A little sad, a little prideful, a moment in life when you hear that otherwise inaudible click and know that things have changed at this very moment.

Linda and I will enjoy reclaiming the use of the front door and our mailman will appreciate free access to the mailbox. Life will return to normal.

I just wish those little birds would send a postcard every now and then. Living mostly in a two dimensional world, we could learn from those who live in three.

Friday morning postscript #1: Alpha Baby Robin popped from the nest last evening and spent at least an hour hopping around the yard. Parents were always within sight, sometimes on the ground, sometimes perched above. At dark we lost track of both.

This morning, four still left in the next, enjoying the roominess. Parents still bringing groceries at an exhausting pace.

Monday Morning postscript: By Saturday evening all 5 were gone. Linda and I were fortunate to see flight #1 of Gamma Robin, from the nest, straight line to the Ponderosa, about 20' as the, er, robin flies. The parents stayed attentive throughout the major exodus, not only keeping track of the boots on the ground but also the in-training class still doing wing-flapping calisthenics in the gradually uncrowded nest.

I've added an image of one of the adolescents, could be Gamma, or Delta, or even Epsilon. Instinctively, when they're on the ground, they stay around cover, as this one was, close to the flower bed. From the back they look pretty drab, but on the front the speckled breast is charming. I had no luck getting close enough for that kind of shot. Besides, one could only imagine the hullaballoo over publishing such an image.

We're enjoying using the front door again, but a little sad that the drama is over.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Introduction to the Ed Goode Six String Barker Project

He bought his Barker Bass used, so I never really got to know him until his writings--terse, direct, entertaining, well spoken--showed up on the Barker Bass forum and elsewhere, always with kind and enthusiastic tidbits about his relationship with this vertical bass. I started paying attention to Ed Goode

Then the hammer. He wanted a six string. He is one of an elite crew, the Extended Range Bassists, who have used the bass as a vehicle to explore not only new sonic territory but to challenge conventions of building the very instrument. Stew McKinsey comes to mind, as do others such as Gregory Bruce Campbell.

One of the builders who consistently rises to the top in this realm is fellow Oregonian Fred Bolton who consistently pushes himself and his designs into admirable results.

So with a confluence of gently unrelenting pressure from Ed and inspiration from players and builders, I figured out a way that I could sidle into this genre of instrument without a full-on retooling away from the heart and soul of the company--the four and five string Barker basses.

Ed leapt at the opportunity, which required him to furnish me with a 6 string bass guitar of his liking. From that, to reduce the process to a mere line, I have the components to produce exactly what he is looking for: The Good Stuff of a Barker with Much More String!

In the images above you'll see the very rare wood which will grace the front of this bass: quilted fir. I had just a few boards to select from, and this one wins because of consistency of pattern and color match. Both sides are shown. The board will be resawn and bookmatched for the front of the bass. Also note how the colors in the fir bring out the reds and browns in the rosewood fingerboard.

From time to time I'll bring you up to date here on this process, which will be interwoven with another effort in the shop which, in a sense, heads quite the other direction but is driven by enthusiasm equal to that of Ed. Soon you'll meet Craig.

Without these two bassists, this could have been Just Another Summer.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Trashformations, Part Last

This is 60% of the products of 5 years participation. Missing are the wood tower which blew over after several years in the front yard, and the whirligig on massive bearings, driven by wind onto family size pizza pans (sold to a neighbor).

What you see here are Java Jeeves, the coffee butler; Her Royal Bugness, Queen Noreen; and this year's piece, One Thing Leads To Another. All are installed at the Redmond Oregon Public Library.

If you have any comments, know they're always welcome. If you have questions about any of these works, fire away. I like to answer.

I try to keep the subject matter moving on this blog, but since Trashformations is really about Earth Day and all that, it seemed right to, ahem, reuse the topic a couple of times.

New stuff next week. Though it may be made from old stuff....