Sunday, January 8, 2017


Me: Is that...?
BQ: Our snowblower dangling from the clothesline like a butchered hog? Yes. Yes it is.
Me: Intentionally?
BQ: Not this time.

The BHE accidentally got tangled in one of the lead lines we use to take the cats out in the backyard and the blower got sucked right up! I thought my hair in the vacuum brush was bad - this was epic!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thanks, You've Helped Enough

When you have cancer, there are two really obnoxious ways people try to help. The first by telling you you your cancer was caused by something stupid like childhood trauma, or a vitamin deficiency, or lizard spit. Even if your friend is a hot dog eating, cigarette smoking, alcoholic, telling them what you think caused their cancer DOESN'T HELP, so just keep it to yourself.

The other super annoying thing people do is offer the latest in alternative "cures" and treatments. (My personal favorite was the "Baking Soda Cure".) When I told my brother Lon about this, he started sending me these hilarious texts. He may not have cured my cancer, but he kept me laughing...

This was especially funny because I've been gluten free for about 20 years.

Then when he got injured doing stunt work I got to return the favor....

I love my family.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Art Is Our Salvation

2016 is finally over and, like most folks, I’ve been reflecting on what a bizarre year it’s been. Setting aside the inevitable naughty and nice lists, the place my meditations consistently come back to is the concept of Chaos, that relentless howling wind tearing at our peace of mind. If fear is the opposite of love, then chaos is most certainly the opposite of peace.

2016 has shown us the face of chaos in all of its gibbering glory. From an election full of such hateful rhetoric it’s scaring the pants off of even my most non-political friends, to unimaginable world-wide wars, bombings and acts of desperate terrorism brought to us in living color via the internet. Sound-bites and headlines that make no sense, yet are accepted as truths. The deaths of family, some in their right time, some unexpected, and the deaths of musicians, writers and actors have left us reeling.

Thinking about the year I had an insight as to why we cherish our artists and why we take their passing so hard. I was also struck by how many artists were unwilling to perform for the upcoming inauguration and my epiphany crystalized.

Art is how we as a species tame the chaotic thoughts and emotions of our imperfect humanity. Art is how we conquer fear and birth inspiration and hope. Art, and its cousins science, mathematics, philosophy, and logic, give us a matrix where we can sort our pinball thoughts and feelings and give rest to our screeching animal hindbrains. Art shows us the ways we can feel empathy and gives us permission to laugh at ourselves. Art tells us we aren’t alone.

Our artists have spent years perfecting their craft and learning how to connect with us by understanding us. Artists open their hearts to all that is good and all that is messed up in living life as a human being. They take that stew of humanity and distill it into something we can understand and give it back in a story or poem or painting. Every time we create, we set chaos back, and for that reason alone I believe art will be our salvation. We should sing at the top of our lungs, dance to exhaustion and play music until our fingers bleed. We should paint and draw and weave and sew and sculpt and knit and write write write all the beautiful poems and stories as if our lives depended on it, because they do. In that place of creation we transform Chaos to its beautiful form of Peace and in peace we find our true selves.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Woman’s Choice

You accuse me of “voting with my vagina” and to that I say, Damn straight!
This vote was decided the year I wanted to take shop class, But my vagina was told to learn to cook, Learn to sew, Learn to take care of a home.
This is a vote shaped with the job rejections (and 70% salary) Determined by the very existence of my vagina.
A vote earned with every dollar spent on birth control and health care For my uninsured vagina.
Today I cast a vote with catcalls fresh in my ears, Every abuse, humiliation and torment still aching and raw. And yet I’m still being asked why I didn’t just hold my legs together. My vagina survived… and remembers.
This vote is made with the strength and courage it takes to push another human being into this world and feed her with my body while my vagina still bleeds. Here is a vote for every single time I was told I threw, fought, cried like a vagina As if that was something weak and unworthy.
This vagina has survived pain, felt shame, And shared pleasure. It has carried a lifetime of secrets and memory, And knows exactly what it wants. Sarah Gowan - November 2016

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Visit to the Barnes

Yesterday we visited the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia and I have to say it was one of the most appalling museum experiences I've ever had. First, try to find your way into the building - the place looks like Fort Knox and is about as welcoming. What initially looks like the front door is actually a loading dock. We made our way around police barricade tape and finally found a sign that said "Tickets". The ticket kiosk guy looked at us like we were nuts and pointed us to the main building to buy tickets.

Inside, we were asked if we had reservations. Reservations? Nothing on the website said anything about reservations.
::big sigh::  "Well, it's OK for today, but next time you really should make reservations." 
Uh, OK. Whatever....

We were given cryptic directions to check our coats downstairs and the gallery upstairs and also there's a mezzanine. We grabbed a couple of guide maps and thought we'd figure it out from there. Uh right. the guide maps might as well be blank squares, the information was that unhelpful.

Downstairs we were told we had to put all our stuff in lockers. No coats. No bags. No umbrellas. No Cameras. No phones.  The coat check lady was very nice and helped us figure out how the locks worked, but we were already pretty frustrated.

Back upstairs we first went to the ornamental iron exhibit. OK, that was very cool - extremely well laid out, well labeled and very interesting. We did our best to ignore the security guards pacing around (you'd think they were guarding the crown jewels) and admired the door knockers and engraved boxes.

On to the main galleries. We passed through a security checkpoint where our tickets are scanned and we're told, "No photos, No touching, Don't cross the dark line." We were offered free audio tour devices, but declined them. We should have taken them.

Because in the Barnes there are NO LABELS, except for teeney little brass plates with the artist's last name affixed to the truly hideous frames. All well and good, but if you lean over the dark line to read the microscopic label, the security guards yell at you to GET BACK, YOU ARE OVER THE DARK LINE. Never mind that some paintings simply can't be seen without crossing the force field of security summons.
Dark Lines
The galleries are small and very crowded with both art and visitors. I was also a little creeped out by everyone walking around with headphones on - Children of the Corn on a Field Trip.

It was wonderful to see the paintings, and appreciate the unusual exhibition style, but I really didn't feel like I could take my time and relax. There were so many ways the museum could make its visitors feel welcome, but it's almost as if they deliberately chose to cultivate a manner of elitism just this side of hostility. Even the bathroom fixtures were non-intuitive, Euro-design that mocked my failed attempts to flush, wash and dry. So, if you don't mind being treated like a petty criminal with no class at all, by all means visit the Barnes and check out the Picassos. I'll be at the Art Museum on Free Sundays with the rest of the fun Philly crowd.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tears. Breath. Rage. Stone.

Tears. Breath. Rage. Stone.

The perfect image clutched in my hand
I coax it to paper,
and sob as it burrows deeper into my fist.
I resort to a squall of words.

My chest rises and falls, my heart pounds
The tattoo of a life still lived.

Salt. Wind. Flame. Bone.

My friend offered to hold my anger for me
Until I could take it up again.
A lifetime later and I still gasp with the wonder
and relief
of a burden shared.

Infant. Daughter. Mother. Crone.

I offer this pebble from a shaking hand,
Secret handshake, we know who we are.
Veins racing with memory, I offer this tiny thing
For you to drop from your aching hand and stand upon.

Sarah Gowan, 10/15/2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

2003 Martin HD-28 for Sale

I'm selling my 2003 Martin HD-28. All original hardware, some light surface scratches and dings, but no cracks or warping. Includes a brand new LR Baggs Anthem SL Acoustic Pick-up and original (also slightly worn, but structurally sound) case.

Asking $2000 +shipping
contact Sarah Gowan

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Pope-a-Potties

I had to do a video drive-by of the Pope-a-Potties. They are stacked 4
deep along this row. Thankfully I work for a guy who thinks this is as
hilarious as I do...

The Pope-a-Potties - Sapsis Rigging, Inc.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Great-Uncle's Recollection of the 1915 Hurricane in Texas

This is the recollection of my great-uncle Goob Newton about the hurricane of 1915. He was born Jan 3, 1898 and was 17 when it happened. Cote Plummer refers to Catish H. Plummer, a tugboat captain who received a gold medal for rescuing people from the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. By 1915 he had gotten pretty good at surviving hurricanes and his son Carlyle was also on the scene. Here is how my uncle told the story to my grandmother in 1988 or so…

I was there at the big hurricane at Sabine Pass in August 1915.

It was business as usual at the Ross Parson home on this early morning in August 1915. Mrs. Nina cooking breakfast, Ross still sleeping. I was milking the cow, Friday the Mexican co-worker was feeding the 8 mules. About 5 o’clock a passenger train come racing by at full speed with bells ringing and whistle tied down. Ross came out of the house and said get on the saddle horse and go see what all the excitement was about. I got on the saddle mare and raced up town and asked Mr. Adams  what was the train there for. He said tell Ross to get his bunch and get on the train for Port Arthur as there was a storm that would hit in less than two hours that would be worse than the Galveston storm of 1900.

I went back and told the news to Ross.  He said you and Friday get on the saddle horse and mule and take the stock to Big Hill. I told Ross I was working for him, but not anymore as I didn’t know the way to Big Hill and beside those people up  town were scared to death and I was too. He told Friday to go ahead and go to Big Hill. The last we saw Friday he went west.

About daylight Captain Cote Plummer came up in a big car and told Ross to get his bunch and load in as the storm was near.  We drove to Adam’s store where we picked up 4 axes, 2 brooms, and a roll of rope. On we went to Sabine where Captain Cote lived and it was across the street from the new schoolhouse that had just been completed. As we walked upon the porch someone said look across the prairie and there was waves that looked to be 6 to 8 feet high. We ran in the house and Captain Cote told me and Ross to help him scuttle the house.  I went in one room and saw a fine rug on the floor.  By the time I went to ask what to do about the rug Captain Cote and Ross had all the rooms scuttled. I went back and chopped my hole and rug too. By this time the pressure was so great from the Gulf that it was knocking the paper from the ceiling. We immediately went upstairs as the house was two stories and built on stilts about 10 feet off the ground and said to be put together with bolts instead of nails.

We carried axe, nails, rope and broom, which came in handy later. By nightfall the water had reached the second floor level. We were all in one room upstairs and about 9 o’clock that night a big crashing noise cam in the house and Captain Cote said it probably was a floating house come against our house. As he raised a window and called out that sea yell and sure enough a man answered him from the roof top.

He tied the rope around the bedstead and rolled it out the window. He said, “Newton, you being the youngest, follow that rope and see if you can find the man.”  Out I went, Captain Cote giving that long loud scream, the man answering him. I was able to get to the man and give him my rope.  We both made it back to the house. Just as we got back, the glass front door blew out. Someone grabbed a mattress and slats. The men held it up to the door while Captain Coteput the nails into the slats to hold the mattress in place. It was said later that the wind velocity was better than 100 miles per hour.
By daylight we were standing in about one foot of water, so Captain Cote told us all to get ready, we had to swim to the school house which was about 200 yards. He said, “I’ll carry the Ross baby and Newton will carry my poodle dog.” I had never swam in anything but White Oak Creek.  Why, a one-inch wave looked like a tidal wave to me. All went well till I hit my first 6 foot wave. Me and the poodle dog liked to have drowned. By the time I got my breath I had lost the dog and was sure I would lose my life, but I began to gain confidence as I saw the rest going on. After so long I made the trip.

To my disappointment I found out that Captain Cote had located his poodle by his field glasses that he always carried on his shoulders. He said, “Boy, go get my dog.”  Off I went and after due time I came back with that poodle.

The two story building in the background is the schoolhouse.
The following day, which was Tuesday, a young man whose name was Johnson and I would go out of the schoolhouse and ride the horses and cattle to the fire escape and send them up into the auditorium. We had it full. By this time Captain Carlyle Plummer told us we had to put the cattle back out to sea as the floor was about to cave in and we all would drown. We immediately did it.  Captain Carlyle Plummer  was a son to Captain Cote Plummer and both were tugboat captains.  He had gone to the schoolhouse earlier along with about 140 other people.

Wednesday something happened that stayed with me these past 88 plus years. It made me a different person. A lady that I never saw before or afterwards came up to me and asked if I had anything to eat today. I told her I hadn’t had a bit  to eat since last Sunday. She went and got me a pork and bean sandwich and a glass of water. I inhaled that sandwich and that was all the food I had until the following Monday night when I got to Kirbyville.

Thursday Friday and Saturday was about the same, just twiddle your thumbs and watch the water recede. Sunday about noon Captain Cote said all that wanted to swim or wade to his tugboat he would try to get us to Port Arthur.  I couldn’t speak for the rest, but I was one quick volunteer. So the Parsons and myself along with many more got aboard. As we passed where Ross’ house stood, it was gone and a huge oil tanker was high and dry there. On to Port Arthur. We went only to find Procter Street knee-deep in water. We had to wade out to catch the Interurban (train) to Beaumont. To this day we don’t know who paid the fare as none of us had a red cent.

We arrived in Beaumont about 5 o’clock Sunday and registered at the Gowling Hotel. Ross said he would go to the bank Monday and get some money and pay me my wages. Monday morning Ross came by and gave me my monthly salary. That was the last time I ever saw the Parson family.

I checked out of the hotel, went across the street to [Bowser’s] Store and bought myself pants, shirt, socks, shoes – a complete set of clothing as I only had on a pair of short pants. Later that day I went to the Santa Fe Depot and caught the train to Kirbyville. After detouring to Kountze due to a washed out bridge, we got into Kirbyville at 9 o’clock that night.

Miss Woods, of whom I had lived with for the past three years, and said she had me some chicken and dumplings, my favorite dish. I went home with her and ate so much that they had to get the doctor to pump my stomach out. Remember I had nothing to eat the week before but a pork and bean sandwich. The next day I was O.K.

Thirty-six years later I took my wife Audie to show her the place I spent that horrible week.  I’ve never been back since. I like the high hill country of Newton County.

  --L.M. “Goob” Newton