Tuesday, June 24, 2014

 Below is a portion of a conversation currently occurring in our office circles. For someone who struggles almost daily to inject a small bit of beauty into my life, I found the truth, the passion, and the elegance of this to be inspiring.

"The desert is beautiful, ParaĆ­so sin agua.
    It's our home, yeah? What have we done to it? Why?
    The way we treat our home, you'd think we hate it. We let wind blow it away.
    We run it over, pave it, let the rain cut it to pieces, toss junk in it.
    We build things here like we don't know where we are.
    It matters how we do things here. It's like no place else on earth.
    Put a house in the wrong place, the desert will eat it. You will pay.
    Put a road in wrong place, it will cost you an incredible amount of money.
    It's not forgiving of our greed, our wayward desires.
    Walk into in your street clothes and see if it forgives you.
    You'll hear about lots of emergencies, the economy, aliens, the government,
    terrorists; emergencies are how we talk to one another now.

    You can't stop the aliens or the terrorists yourself, the government is out
    of control, and what are you going to do about the economy?

    There is one thing you can do right now. You can take a shovel and a rake
    and do something meaningful in half an hour that will last for lifetimes.
    You can help put this place back in order.

    You can heal it. You can put the rain and the wind where they belong. You
    can treat this place like home, and it will love you for it.

    We are the sand whisperers. You are too.

    We love this place, we know it well. We care where the rain goes, how the
    land moves and why. We've put decades into understanding how all this works,
    and every day we live for it. It's who we are. It's why we are here.
    Call for help, we'll come."

One more reason to love the place I work.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Check out this Blog

I don't read newspapers anymore. I only read the "fiction" part of the New Yorker. I don't even read the Alibi, I just do the crossword puzzle in 5 min. stints while waiting for soccer practice to end. But I read blogs. I like blogs because they can offer really good perspectives into what people, normal people, are doing, thinking, living.

There are pretty-picture blogs, how-to blogs, medicinal blogs, irate and revolutionary blogs, travel blogs. There are all kinds of blogs out there. I don’t really care what a blog is about. I like to read well written thoughts. In fact, I prefer to read well written blogs about things I don’t know; blogs about compost are generally pretty boring.
My current favorite is http://shawndrawn.blogspot.com

Shawn Turner is an artist and a swimmer (and other things, too, of course) from the Sacramento CA area. I had the good fortune to swim with him this winter in the San Francisco Bay for the 24 hour Swim Relay (https://www.facebook.com/events/250072395142618/). 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend much time with him because, well, we were all swimming an insane amount (for me, anyway) in (admittedly welcomed) frigid waters.

 But I started to follow his posts and subsequently his blog after the event. Now I look forward to his bi-weekly observations. He writes about swimming with an artist’s eye; or about art from a swimmer’s perspective. But most of all he shows himself to be one of the rare people in this world that stops at various times to observe what’s occurring around him. 

What does this have to do with compost or Soilutions? A couple of things actually: in case you get bored with ill-written ramblings about something of which many of you are intimate—I offer an alternative; or, most of you have figured out that what makes this and any endeavor worthwhile is diversity.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

To Age is to Learn

Just recently I took up painting again. I will often go weeks without painting a thing. But when I do finally address a canvas, I have a fervent, slap-dash style that allows me to apply color passionately without much mind to technique. This method soothes me. Painting is a way for me to make sense of the world, my world, whether the physical or the emotional. There are always big splashes of color and lots of texture from the globs of paint.  But there is no definition in my paintings.
As a youngster, a car meant freedom, freedom to move fast around my environment, and maybe expand that environment. I’m not a gearhead; my first vehicle was a stock ’66 VW bug (cherry red, by the way). But I did get speeding tickets. And I did expand my environment. Again, there was no definition in my movement, just so long as I was moving, I was happy.
When I started at Soilutions, I worked in the yard. I didn’t care what I did, just as long as it was hard and new. I wanted to unroll hoses as fast as I could. I wanted to build a pile higher than the previous guy and load a truck more efficiently. I wasn’t sure why, and I certainly didn’t know what I was doing. I just wanted to absorb all the new sounds, smells and textures that abounded.
Now, I notice subtleties. By noticing subtleties I am beginning to learn.
Yesterday I changed the oil in my car.  I removed the drain plug, and the warm oil seeped onto my latex glove. I watched in awe as the first of it gushed out, splashing and spilling. The pressure decreased, the steady stream slowed to drops, then droplets. I thought each droplet represented a mile driven. While watching the last of the chocolate brown used oil drip from the drain pan, it occurred to me how things had changed. Like the oil, where I once gushed through my environment, I now drip slowly. I drip through the side roads.
At work, too, subtleties have proven very instructive. The timbre in a customer’s voice is useful in indicating their level of confidence. There is a minute olfactory difference between grass and manure. I try to notice the first cranes’ arrival.  And in doing so, I have learned to do my job to my satisfaction.
 I have grown better at what I do because I have paid attention to details. So in order for me to improve as a painter, I will need to slow down and let my brush slip slowly over the canvas. Let the brush define the subtle edge of rocks, trees and visages.