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November 2012

November 2012

Day 3 - Cycles interrupted.

It is colder in the house when we wake up this morning. The family decides to go back to the mall to see a movie.

I can't do any computer work and the studio is mostly too cold. I eat some cheese that sat out a little too long and get a stomach ache. Later my head pounds with a migraine and I realize I haven't had coffee in two days. The whole bean 100% Kona coffee on the kitchen counter seem silly sitting next to the electric grinder. I meditate without much concentration and try to be more mindful of everything's impermanence.

When the family gets home they find me nearly incapacitated. There is a new problem. On the way home they see very long lines at the gas stations. South of us the gas pumps don't work so people are driving north and now there is no place in the area to buy gas. Our mobility lifeline is threatened. The situation seems much more serious and we decide it may be best if my mother-in-law leaves but we have to find the gas to be able to drive her to the airport.

Dinner is made from left over fridge food partially heated on the fire. Stress is at a record high. We don't know anyone who's power has been restored yet.

Day 4 - A turning point.

The house has gotten so cold that instead of making a fire we bail in the car to search for gas, ice and a warm breakfast. No gas. The ShopRite has ice and ground coffee that will work in the french press. One child needs slippers.

We get to the diner all grumpy, cold and hungry and we discover there is no credit card service and ATM won't work. All the data lines are down. This is why you need to carry cash in an emergency. Unfortunately we don't. In the most neighborly way, they let us give an IOU which we pay back the next day.

During breakfast we get a call from a friend to tell us her power came on late the night before. The first one we know with power back. She says her husband had just bought a generator and was on his way home when the lights came on. He was now planning on returning it. We jump at the chance and buy a generator from her since we have only heard that the stores were sold out. (He got his on an inside tip about an arriving shipment) In the process of buying the generator we get invited over for dinner. We eat barbeque ribs, turkey burgers and big salads.

Even if the house is cold when we get home, we go to bed warmer.

Day 5 - We settle into a routine.

Without electric lights, the night and day cycle is more prominent. We get up early, stoke the fire and prepare to install the generator. We have a couple of gallons of borrowed gas that were originally intended to run our generous neighbor's lawnmower.

When we get into the basement and crawlspace to examine our equipment we discover that we can't just turn on the generator and plug things in. The boiler junction box has to be interfaced to a 120V extension cord and the well pump needs a 220V line made of 10/3 or 12/3 to handle the amps.

We stand disillusioned on a lonely aisle at Lowe's, which is emptied of all the parts we came to get, until a kindly electrician from a nearby town takes us under his wing and helps us hack together a solution.

The solution works! After a few cautious hours we have heat and then running water. Everyone gets a shower, flushes a toilet, dishes are washed and bedrooms are warmed. All is good until the gas runs out after about 4 hours.


Day 6 - More power for more people.

We get a call from another family whose power was restored just that morning. They invite us over to hang out in the heat and have dinner. The kids have been out of school for five days and going stir crazy. A playdate is just what we need.

I spend the afternoon idly sketching in the kitchen and trying to teach the kids to draw. Football is on TV. Finally a chance to do the laundry. Clean socks!

In the afternoon we find out that the utility company has us scheduled us for repairs. Joy! Then we find it has suddenly taken us off the map as if the repair was done. Disappointment and then panic sets in. People are dispatched. No power has been restored and no one is on the repair site. Calls are made all afternoon to try and penetrate the Kafkaesque state-of-emergency type bureaucracy that is our utility company. Promises are made by supervisors but none are ever followed up. The best we can get is that the 'vast majority' of customers will be restored by the 11th - one week away.

We arrive home in time to use our newly acquired five gallons to heat the house for a few hours and take our showers.

Day 7 - Settled into our new cycle.

Up early. Build up the fire. Toast some bread on a long fork over the coals. Dress the kids and get them to school.

We get a full tank of gas in the car after an hour and a half wait. The airport run is made.

It is Monday morning so I move my drawing table down into the room by the fire, get a large sheet of paper from the studio and work all morning on a new drawing. With all the idle time of the last week, I easily drop into the flow and work as efficiently as ever. The composition and base colors are done by noon.

In the early afternoon we start to hear reports that subdivisions all around us are getting power and every moment we expect to be restored...but nothing happens. We start to worry we will be a special case. There are reports that a Nor' Easter storm is now expected to hit Wednesday and will bring snow and high wind. The temperatures are now below freeing at night.

When the kids get home from school it is almost dark so I fire up the generator and go pick up pizza, fried squid and teriyaki wings. It is now much easier to get gas.

We get fed, warm and showered and the kids are asleep in bed when just after 8pm, almost exactly seven days since it went off, the power comes back on, blinking lights and popping a fuse on the stove.

We are so quickly back into routine that within an hour emails have been checked and I am able to join a conference call in progress.

The week gave me a lot of time to think about how I use energy and what a future of energy shortages might look like. It also gave me a chance to compare the way I live now with how I might live with less.

An ordinary stack, a non-ordinary stack, and a ordinary stack.

One week I am in a routine, the next is shockingly weird, and the following is right back to routine.

For those of you keeping score at home, you may have noticed that I have not posted a drawing in over a week.

I unexpectedly spent last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, without power and with limited mobility. I was not able to scan and post my drawings even though I continued to draw every day.

I have uploaded the whole week's worth of drawings to the site along with a diary-like commentary. If you are interested in the saga, start by clicking here to read the last posting I wrote as the winds got stronger before the storm hit.

Then use the 'Next Drawing' buttons to move through all the drawings of the week.

Cosmic fractal cauliflower blooming?
Hurricane outage trauma releasing?
Post-election global shifting?
Or just another snowstorm?


[ Editor's note: Last month was mostly reserved for publishing the 'expansion drawings'. In the midst of all those expansions, another kind of drawing kept sneakily emerging in the flow. I put those cards aside but now it is time to review them. I call this set of work 'encounter drawings' because while they were drawn it felt as if I was interacting with an outside intelligence.

Even as the first figure of this first drawing emerged, I sensed a subtler voice was speaking. What is the message behind this work? This set is way offbeat but I'll do my best to read them. Here goes...]

The reptile alien, the human elf, and the computer on a cushion.

Because I was working on meditation practice a lot at the time, I thought all three figures seemed to be chanting, perhaps the word 'om'? Is this a diagram of the emergence of thought in the brain? Starting with the reptile sensory brain, moving through a human life and ending in an abstract realm? Or perhaps it could be a history of the evolution of consciousness; with awareness itself starting within our reptilian ancestors, moving into our era of homo sapiens, and in the distant future finding itself moving through the world embodied in silicone as spiritual software?

Encounter #2: The bald guy offers a drawing to the blonde in the long black dress.

Encounter #3: Eve seeks wisdom from her mother.

Encounter #4:

Three entities inhabit three stages of meditation.

- Beginning to sit. Seemingly separate pieces conflict.

- Intermediate calm. Ingredients coalescing.

- Self contained. Now awake and one pointed.

Encounter #5: The passage

1) Fragmented beginnings
2) Arising & passing into the dark night
3) Stream Entry

Encounter #6:

Seeing my self as the sum of my sensory input.

Encounter #7:

Catch of the day.


Rooted in earth,
Teasing out and canceling wavelengths,
Lucky green.

Constructively interfering wavelengths emerge from the ground.

More nothing than thing.


Through frost and fog I watch a soft winter sun slowly unfurling.

Valuing the quality of the individual experience.

...at all scales.



Sleeping inside. A diversion from the path.

Infrastructure, Enterprise, Individual

Leaving chaos on the road to a mirage.

My meditation exercise for today: color noting.

I sit quietly and assign a color to any stimulus that appears in my mind,

Seeing sensory landscapes aggregate.

All at once desperate, disparate, disconsolate,
And in due course flowing, connected, and deep.

Choppy or clear ocean,
I exist within the waves.