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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hog day afternoon

I am glad to be a part of the population who would rather spend an afternoon looking at farm animals than do a lot of other things. Also glad to have raised daughters who suggest such excursions.

It was a judgment error to let the crazy chicken stay in its spot on the page, but I had drawn her there in pencil before I drew the sheep scene. Using her as border accent seemed like a good idea at the time -- less so now.

As for the piglets, well ... There were two litters, and two gigantic sows. And I could've pulled up a stool and sat there for hours. A sign read, "Please do not pick up the piglets," which was good news, because it didn't say "please don't touch the piglets." So Lylah and I touched the piglets whenever they came close enough to the pen. I wondered whether the mothers would be upset, but they both looked too lazy or exhausted for petty protective instincts. The mothers' coats were course and almost oily feeling. The babies were softer, but their bodies, which looked plump and loaflike when they slept in little clumps, felt harder than they looked.

They hopped around the pen and took care of their mother's position as she ambled to the food trough. It seemed they had instinct enough, even at a week old, to give a thousand-pound object a wide berth even if that object was Mom.

Sorry about the scanning shadows, by the way.

Saturday, October 05, 2013


Years ago I used to write a regular newspaper feature on people and their collections. Among the memorable: a good-natured guy who collected urinals, a sweet woman with an awe-inspiring collection of interesting teapots, and the man in Westlake who became an expert in big mechanical music boxes.

Some of my ambitious colleagues regarded this as a waste of time and newsprint. (Newsroom types aren't shy about sharing their views.) I'll admit that this astonished me at first. I'd always loved feature stories, and in a way, the less event-oriented and the more personal-story oriented they were, the better. You can learn a lot about someone through the objects that attract him. Our stuff becomes, in a way, a portrait of our selves.

Eventually, even I tired of the series, though, because I started seeing a common theme. In many cases, folks who were really obsessive about certain types of collections were clearly -- even admittedly -- trying to fill some endless need. There was a difference between those who casually acquired interesting objects and the more hard-core types, who tended to have disciplined and impressive collections. The hard-core types began to seem, to me at least, a bit damaged. Every story started to sound the same.

Clearly, I'm a collector, too, though in neither a disciplined nor obsessive way. And I'd like to think that the stuff around my house says something good about the people who live here. I leave you to your own conclusions.