April Adventure: Guerilla Gardening

Needs:
Gardening tools
Hardy plants indigenous to your area
Trash Bag for collecting weeds and garbage
Gardening gloves
Potting soil, compost, fill dirt, rocks, etc.
Stealth
Gather your stock-pile of horticulture weapons.
You’ll be attacking enemy grounds of weeds and barren soil on this adventure.
  Find a plot in your neighborhood or perhaps a business area
  deeply in need of love and care. Make a plan of how you’d
  “xeriscape” this space. What fill dirt will you need to buy?
  What plants? Will this endeavor last with out your constant care this season?
Under cover of night take a crew of friends and go to get to work. Weed, prep the dirt, plant your plants, then get out of there quickly!
As spring turns to summer the once
eye-sore for the community will be seen
now as a beautiful asset to the
neighborhood. It will be transformative
and you’ll own the satisfaction of being
the culprits who made it happen.

 

“Bright”: an Interview and Polaroid Gallery by Jarred Reno

Jared Reno is an artist that we’ve worked with a few times. Did you see the Kickstarter video that led you to buying this Almanac? He was the director. Below is an interview and a gallery of portraits he did.

Jared’s Bio: My great-great grandfather was a Vaudeville escape artist known as The Great Reno. I am also an artist, just not quite that bad-ass. I specialize in film and polaroid photography. I tend to let the edges of light and dark lead the focus of the viewer. I am part of a generation that is looking to the past and clinging to well-intentioned art, process & craftsmanship which can easily be overlooked in this day and digital age.

We are honored he has produced a “Polaroid Gallery” titled Bright this month. You can find more of Jarrod’s work at www.jarrodreno.com

Interview with Jarred Reno:

Do you have a favorite photo you’ve taken? (I’m cheating, I’ve heard this story and LOVE it):

There was a day that I was home with Olive, our oldest but at the time she was maybe 2 years old. She wasn’t feeling well that day and I had been sititing on the couch with her just relaxing and noticed that the light was just pretty amazing coming in from a window. I had also just gotten a really special pack of Polaroid film, it was made with left over chemicals from the Polaroid warehouse when they shut down, this film, after the photo was taken would fade to black within 12-24 hours unless you cut open the polaroid and let it dry out to stop the development. So anyhow Olive was leaning up against a window and for just a second looked right at me, she had a very somber look about her. I hit the shutter and the Polaroid popped out and me and Olive sat there and watched it develop. After about 2 minutes it was fully developed and as I sat there looking at it, knowing that this shot because of this special film, will fade to complete black within the next 12 hours. I realized that I had a choice to make.

Do I cut the polaroid open to stop the chemicals so I can share it with other people?

Its a moment from my precious daughters life I’d be able to look back on for the rest of my life?

Or do I let it fade away and be one of two people that saw and experienced this moment captured?

My eyes filled up tears from the overwhelming feeling I got while looking at it and realizing some important things. To me it was the purest photo I’ve ever taken, I feel like everything that should have been captured, was. And honestly by ‘chance.’ She could have blinked or turned away.

I was soooo torn…. It just looked amazingly beautiful in my hands. The darks so dark, the detail so detailed, the light so perfect, her face, her eyes were speaking to my heart and I had no words to describe it. If I stopped the development I’d be able to show people and hopefully pass on something good in that…. if this thing fades to black… will it just be a waste? will I regret it? Tess, my wife wouldn’t even be able to see it.

This film illustrated something amazing to me. My daughters life, as is ours, is fleeting, something I’ve alway known in my head but now fully realized and felt it in my heart. Our moments in life are fleeting. To most of us, we have moments we wish we could re-live. I bet anything that those moments were FULL of LOVE and emotion. I bet anything! Not to put aside moments of sadness/pain because those are just as important in life and as in art!

I captured a true moment with true emotion. Olive was sick that morning, she was somber and that was shown in the photograph. The image made me FEEL. What I realized was…. the POLAROID in itself was not important and is not eternal, but the MOMENT itself was important and eternal.

The point was the moment! Not capturing it for later. But experiencing it while it happend! I felt so grateful!

We need to seriously stop and experience moments.

So, I let the polaroid fade and found so much joy in letting it go knowing that the moment was what was important and its something I’ll always have:) WOW. Though, I did scan it multiple times over the course of its fading and with getting these printed off and mounted in succession I hope for it to have an impact.

How do you attempt to bring a fresh artistry to portraits? Meaning, your pictures look very unique. What’s your approach that you think makes them such? Do you have guiding principles?

Light. That is the first thing I look for. I’m drawn to where light begins to fall off into shadows or where beams of direct light cut through shadows. It makes for interesting photos. Light reveals shape and dimension… I’m constantly looking for interesting light and that is the basis for all my photos. 2nd, is creating a mood, most of the time I like a quiet, introspective mood in my photos, it creates a bit of mystery, a look into someones spirit.

Where did the passion for photographing people/ weddings come from?

Growing up I’ve always loved sifting through thousands of photos that my parents had taken throughout their lives. I love it. I love seeing and feeling emotions from the past. That is what sparked my desire to shoot portrature and weddings specifically. People and relationships are what life is about and to highlight humanity and beauty is an amazing and important thing.

Why do you choose to use older equipment when camera technology has come leaps and bounds?

I started out with old cameras. When Olive was born I knew it was time to get a camera and just happened to have a really old Polaroid camera on my shelf and figured out that it worked. I loved the sense of timelessness it gave. The toned down colors and the soft focus. It felt more real than sharp digital cameras. It also made me slow down and be really precise with my photography, its expensive to shoot polaroid and film. Ive had a lot of practice anticipating moments and reacting when I need to by pressing the shutter button. I think through shots more than if I shot digital. I love that it forces me to be intentional. Also, the cameras look, feel and sound awesome. Each one of them is so different from the others.

What’s your favorite vintage piece of equipment you have?

Thats hard to say… Polaroid wise is my Polaroid 195 which is from the ’60s but was their professional model. Its amazing. Film-wise is my Mamiya RZ67 which shoots medium format film and gives such an amazing depth and clarity to photos. Its definitly the foundation of my gear

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Recommended Iceland Music Exports

I am thrilled anytime someone whose taste I trust gives me a music recommendation. So I try to share my discoveries as well (and hopefully I’ve built up some trust with you. Ha).

While in Iceland I found the following 3 musical groups. And I’ve been listening to them ever since the trip. They are great finds, breaking up my usual listening patterns and bringing freshness and inspiration to my own writing.

The first, and best, of the music discovered is a young artist named Asgeir (pronounced Ous-geear). The entire album is unreal – listenable and beautiful. It’s a mystical, more hopeful and danceable Bon Iver. Here’s a link to a weird video, but a great song. The album is “In the Silence”.
 http://asgeirmusic.com/#

While printing our May Almanac covers yesterday, I listened to this next artist. Olafur Arnolds creates ambient, spacious landscapes with piano and strings – then he sneaks in electronic drums. Can I say it feels subtle yet epic? I felt like I was in a movie by the end of the printing time.
http://olafurarnalds.com/

Lastly, is the dirty and creative sound of Hjaltalin (I have no idea how to pronounce it correctly. Even after asking several times…) It’s a garage band kind of sound with a little bit of Icelandic soul. And a little creepy.
http://www.hjaltalinmusic.com/

Enjoy these exports. Hope they enrich your music experiences.

Tim
Giants & Pilgrims

For a Laugh

In honor of the pranks of April Fool’s Day and the joy of Easter we put some comedy in our April paper Almanac that was out this month. Enjoy some jokes done in the manor of their famous archetypes below.

If you’d like to share some jokes that you know, post them in the comments.

KNOCK, KNOCK JOKES

Knock, Knock
Who’s there?
To
To who?
It’s to whom.

Knock, Knock
Who’s there?
Control freak. Now YOU say control freak who.

PUNS
Did you hear about the short clairvoyant who escaped from prison?
She’s a small medium at large.

CHICKEN CROSSING ROAD
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because it doesn’t recognize the roads existence.
Its behavior is instinctual and random.

TWIST
What’s blue and smells like red paint?
Blue paint.

WALKS INTO A BAR
A grasshopper walks into a bar. The barman looks at him and says,
‘Did you know there’s a drink named after you?’
‘Really?’ says the grasshopper. ‘There’s a drink called Jeremy?’

“Like the Morning” One-Take Video

Our featured painting and song this month is “Held/ Like the Morning”. You can hear the album version of the song  here. The piece Betony created as companion for the song is seen above, a video of us singing it together while Bet is in process in her studio is below. We caught the moment with this one-take video.

 

Giants & Pilgrims One-Take Video “Hold You Closer” from Tim Coons on Vimeo.

Like the Morning
Giants & Pilgrims

G bm dm A
When they tell you, get your head down

G bm dm A
I will tell you, keep your head up

G D   G D
And I will hold you closer, I will hold you close

Take your questions by the millions
Put your coat on, steal your kisses

G                              G/F#  A    D    D/C#  bm
When you’ve come undone or turn and run
G             D                A
I’ll be the one with the morning

In your best parades or worst of days
I’ll be the same, like the morning
Roll your fists up, let your words cut
In defenses throwing each punch

If your head should lie or you need a guide
I will reply like the morning
when confetti rains or your heart breaks
I will stay like the morning

Disappointment or “Missing the Northern Lights”

Picture by Betony Coons at Reykjavik Art Museum.

Betony and my first day in Reykjavik, Iceland was a long and incredible one. We arrived in the country at 6 AM with no sleep on the red-eye and saw amazing sights all day.

By nightfall we were shot. We asked the college students staying at our Air B & B, “Please, PLEASE, wake us if you see the northern lights! We’re in room 6!” as they occupied the hot tub out back.

The northern lights showed up. They got drunk and never woke us.

It was the only time the northern lights were visible the rest of our stay.

Here’s the thing about disappointment. It stays with you. The rest of the trip was unreal and wondrous. I’ve shown pictures in a previous post and you can see it. The time was fulfilling and centering for Betony and my marriage. I hate it, but this disappointment of missing the northern lights has stayed with me. I’m still working on shaking it. It is not a tragedy at all, by any means. It’s just a disappointment; it’s just hopes and dreams not turning out the way you’d really wanted it.

For me, I’d traveled half-way across the world with a longing for this wonder (ever since I was little). It’s one of the reasons we chose the destination. And I can’t get this out of my head: as I sleep and they are dancing in the sky outside my bedroom. And I am asleep. And they are right outside…

What a terrible story I’m telling myself. How ungrateful I sound. What a strange thing that in the midst of the special experiences of the whole trip, this stays with me like a splinter, tarnishing the memories.

The rest of the week I stayed up each night, listening to music and walking through our landscape; waiting, watching. I kept hoping the sky would clear and the aurora would show.

Why has it been such a lasting sting?

As I’ve processed it with Betony, it began to be this strange “mid-life crisis metaphor” for me. The meaning was quite despairing: I’ve missed the northern lights. I will never see them before I die. And I will never get to such and such place with my music before I die. And I will never have such and such experience with my wife before I die. And so on. It wasn’t really about missing the aurora borealis. It was about getting older and all the things I’d never do, achieve, experience. ALL the disappointments.

Again, what a terrible story I’m telling myself.

So what do you do when these types of disappointments occur? How do you move on; let go? The miracles of a Resurrection Sunday have happened and they resonate within your memory. Yet you still can’t let go of the shock and pain of Good Friday. People are telling you get over it, move on.

And you try, but there’s this wound. And anytime anyone mentions it a deep sadness is triggered and a sick feeling in your stomach appears.

And so,

I’m continuing to focus on the wondrous and miraculous I’ve experienced; the Sunday mornings. And I’m continuing to fight against the larger despair of the “mid-life crisis metaphor” meanings. I want to leave them and head towards hope and the truth of the great moments I’ve had. I’m being intentional, reading through journals, reclaiming memories.

Somewhere within me I know if I don’t keep heading towards Sunday it’ll effect my ability to hope. How many of you know just what I’m talking about? I’m worried it’ll embitter me towards future adventures, making me callused, not trusting to dream.

But for now let me be honest in this post that sits deep in Good Friday, at the risk of sounding quite ungrateful, and say,
“It’s certainly not easy.”

 

 

 

April Recipe: Tomato and Basil Quiche

Photo: Elaine Williamson, Betony’s Mom and chef ex·tra·or·di·naire. 

From Tim:

My wife is an incredible and serious cook. She reads cookbooks in bed and sometimes has dreams of new recipes. Seriously.

I only have one complaint. She enjoys exploring new culinary adventures so much she rarely repeats a recipe.
I know, poor me.

But there is one dish she comes back to consistently. It’s her mother’s tomato and basil quiche; a rich and wonderful comfort food. It works for breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe even a midnight snack. 

So for our featured April recipe enjoy this versatile, spring dish. One worth returning to.

 

Tomato Basil Quiche

1 pie crust, unbaked

(homemade is best, but store bought is ok in a pinch)

3/4 of a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drain off juice

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. dried basil or 1 Tbs. fresh, chopped

1 1/2 C. to 2 C. half n’ half or light cream

1 1/2 C. grated sharp cheddar

3 eggs

1 Tbs. dried parsley

 

Saute the onions in the olive oil until soft. Add the diced tomatoes and the basil and simmer until almost all the liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Spread this mixture on top of the pie crust. Beat the eggs and stir in the cheese, half n’ half, the parsley, and some salt and pepper. Pour over the tomato mixture.

Bake in 350° oven for 50 minutes – or until middle is set.
Let set 5-7 minutes before slicing.

Serve with crusty bread and roasted asparagus for a delicious spring dinner.

 

Spring Playlist: April Showers

This month is a great time to gather and listen to songs about rain. Wonderful music has been dedicated to these themes of storm clouds and pouring skies. Here’s a collection  featured for April.

For an even more expansive list check out Betony Coons’ spotify. It’s 35 + songs that were found by crowd-sourcing (posing the question on Facebook, “What are great songs involving rain”?)

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head • Burt Bacharach & B.J. Thomas
No Rain • Blind Melon
Singing in the Rain • Gene Kelly
Thunder Rolls • Garth Brooks
Little April Showers • from Bambi
Umbrella • Rihanna
Somewhere Over the Rainbow • Judy Garland
Riders on the Storm • The Doors
It Never Rains in Southern California • Albert Hammond & M. Hazelwood
Shelter From the Storm • Bob Dylan
November Rain • Guns N’ Roses
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
Holy Sunlight • Steve Doupolous

Betony’s Almanac Painting “Held”: Process & Story

In the Giants & Pilgrims painting series is a piece called “Held”; a primary image of a woman curled-up surrounded by elements of earth and garden . Below is artist Betony Coons’ process pictures alongside some bits of story and meaning, giving why she created the piece.

IMG_5927
From Betony:

I saved the creation of this piece for last. I think I was nervous about it. I don’t paint people very often, and I had a very clear picture of what I wanted.

I have had two miscarriages the last two years. Each were very difficult in their own way, but through the process, I discovered strength I didn’t know I had and felt “held” by those around me, mourning with us.

For me, this painting is my processing of those experiences. I knew I wanted to paint a curled up figure, in a sort of fetal position, but I didn’t want it to be sad. I wanted her to feel strong. The piece is about movement, history leading into new voyages and journeys forward. Water is portrayed as moving us towards the next adventure; holding on to the mystery and beauty of life.

My favorite part of the piece is the darkness in the center with the little flecks of gold leaf. To me, it speaks of this mystery and beauty.
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