Author Archive

A Warm Pandemic Day at Old Orchard Beach

May 2, 2020
Thought we’d take a drive through Old Orchard today. See how the little beach town looks with no people around on a warm and sunny Saturday in May. Got stuck in traffic on Grand Ave.
Pretty much the same crowd you’d expect in early May of any year. Plenty of people from away, classic cars. Too cold yet for girls in bikinis. You had to look close to see any effects of the pandemic. The restaurants were doing well, a lot of people inside although little signs said only carry out. Everywhere you looked there were naked faces in little groups. Had to be less than 1% wearing masks, mostly the firemen in uniform standing around in a gaggle talking by the flag.
I guess OOB is this little bubble in southern Maine that has been untouched by the virus. Maybe its the healthy ions in the beach air. Then again those NY license plates don’t bode well for the rest of the spring.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Good Neighbors in Time.

May 2, 2020

The beadwork below focuses on the Chinese Year of the Horse. The snake and the goat precede and follow the horse in the Chinese Zodiac. This is the second post on past beading ideas I have been revisiting.

 

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 1. Loom weaving by Mike Smetzer

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 1.

The first version in this series is the most realistic, but trying to present a goat with just a few beads in the background of the scene proved problematic. For this I would need smaller beads or a larger loom.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 2. Loom weaving by Mike Smetzer.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 2.

For the second bead weaving I went for a very abstract reference to the goat, which doubled as snow on the mountains. I also replaced the little shrubs with trees and refined the shape of the horse. The goat in this version might seem too abstract. The horse definitely lost presence because of the darkness of three trees right behind it.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 3. Loom weaving by Mike Smetzer.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 3.

The third version hits what I think is the right level of abstraction with a goat head, although at the expense of the mountains. The horse works much better distanced from the trees.

The fourth version plays down the goat head by just using its horns and brings back small mountains and trees on the skyline. It abstracts the stream of time by making it run straight to the horizon. The full belly of the snake is also a bit submerged here to avoid having it float above the water like a swan.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 4. Loom weaving by Mike Smetzer.

The Horse Jumping Between the Snake and the Goat. Number 4.

 

“Snake in an Egg” Bead Weavings: Pentagram, Octagon with Spirals

May 2, 2020

 

So here I am sitting in self-isolation, wondering when I can go back to my day job. Not surprisingly this has led me to bring out writing and art projects I have not been able to finish while working full-time. I have decided most recently to revisit some old beading projects from a few years ago.

 

White & green water snake in an egg. Beadwork by Mike Smetzer.

White & green water snake in an egg.

Green & gold water snake in an egg. Beadwork by Mike Smetzer.

Green & gold water snake in an egg.

 

These two water snakes were designs for the last Chinese Year of the Water Snake. Chinese astrology has twelve animal signs, so the snake comes around every twelve years. But every two years the element associated with the year changes. Chinese astrology has five elements, so it turns out that there are five different years of the snake, each associated with a different element. As a result of these overlapping progressions, the Year of the Water Snake comes around only once every sixty years. In times past, for the great majority of people, it would be a once in a life time event. For me today, it means if I want a design for each of these years, I’d better get busy.

These designs were woven on a home-made loom using Miyuki 8/0 seed beads. The “snake in an egg” is the featured part of a design for a larger hanging. I like the idea of the little snake being in the egg ready to emerge at the start of its new year. Both snakes are meant to show depth as they spiral toward the viewer. The first snake is looped into an irregular pentagram. The second loops into an irregular octagon.

Obviously these designs are very different in style. The white and green snake is freer, more energetic, younger, and more emotional. Perhaps a bit frightening. The green and gold snake is stylized, controlled, older, and more reflective. It is like a mandala. I like both snakes. I have different moods.

A post to follow presents designs that depict not only the wood horse but also that reference the snake it follows and the goat it precedes.

 

THE BEST FRIEND YOU CAN FIND, a Free Speculative-Fiction Title on Kindle

April 23, 2020

 

The Best Friend You Can Find is my second  title published under the pen name Berwyd Stone. It consists of the title story and “Little Booper Becomes a Man.”

The two short stories in this pair both fall under the umbrella of Speculative Fiction. Both also deal with a main character who is coming of age, but neither is the heart-warming, made-for-television tale you might expect from that genre.

“The Best Friend You Can Find” is a fairytale takeoff on “The Ugly Duckling.” It is set on a little farm in Maine but quickly goes in a very different and much darker direction than the original.

“Little Booper Becomes a Man” is Magical Realism or Slipstream. It involves fear, courage, and the best of parental intentions.

Like the other books I have published on Kindle, this new book is listed at the minimum price of 99¢.

If anyone is interested, The Best Friend You Can Find and my previous SF title Bringing Home Our Dead are available free, Thursday and Friday, April 23-24.

You do not need a Kindle device. Books can be read on a PC, Mac or phone. These book can be reached by clicking on the images below.

 

 

Book cover for The Best Friend You Can Find by Berwyd StoneBook cover for Bringing Home Our Dead by Berwyd Stone

Bringing Home Our Dead, Free SF Story on Kindle

April 19, 2020

 

Bringing Home Our Dead is my first Speculative Fiction title published under my new pen name Berwyd Stone.

Bringing Home is a Science Fiction story of about 4000 words. It begins with a rescue and recovery team arriving at their destination in an alternate world of the past. The thoughts and flashbacks of the team’s intuitive Paul reveal past personal losses which have left him with an intense need to bring home the dead. A mission that the team hopes will be a quick in and out is immediately beset by unexpected problems.

Like the other books I have published on Kindle, this new book is listed at the minimum price of 99¢.

If anyone is interested, Bringing Home Our Dead is available free, Sunday and Monday, April 19-20.

You do not need a Kindle device. The books can be read on a PC, Mac or phone. This book can be reached by clicking on the image below

 

Book cover for Bringing Home Our Dead by Berwyd Stone

Story’s Opening

That morning, the rescue and recovery team’s hired truck left the dry wadi they had been following and wound up a trail to the top of a rocky ridge. Far off on the shrubby plains below they saw the skyline of the city called Tel-on-the-Plains.

“I don’t see any vehicles on the plains,” said Stan.

“No,” said Paul, “and by the end of the twentieth century, Tel must have had an electric line.”

Their driver stopped so his brother could climb up to man the machine gun mounted behind the truck’s cab.

Paul and his teammates were riding under a canvas in the truck’s bed. They were tired and sore from two days of bad shocks and the desert heat. The four men strapped on their sidearms as the driver let out the clutch and the truck descended onto the plains.

“I want this to be quick in and quick out!” announced Stan.

Paul looked closely at Stan. Not just his jaw was set. All the muscles in his body were tight. Stan reminded him of the drawn whipcord on a crossbow. He remembered the ones their escorts had used during the team’s mission to Genoa. Stan was intent on his goal and eager to act. He had always been that way, even when they were cadets.

Steve, the team’s linguist, looked old and tired. He was. This was his last mission before retirement. He was also sad, with the sadness of a man who has lost too many friends over too many years.

The fourth man, Andrew, was new to the team. He had been transferred into Rescue and Recovery from Personnel Records, to cover losses. He was a big guy and very fit, but the way he pulled in his arms and legs said he did not want to be there. He already had the start of a twitching tick below his left eye.

While his teammates studied the distant city, Paul closed his eyes to relax.

 

# # #

 

It was late November and just after dark. Paul’s parents led him, each taking a hand into the boarded-up house where his grandmother was waiting.

“You will be safe here,” his father told him.

The house had no electricity, no heat. Paul’s grandmother patted his head. Paul knew from her touch she was sick.

“We will come back when we can,” Paul’s mother told him. “No matter what happens, we love you, Paul.” His mother and father both hugged him goodbye, then hurried out to their car.

“I still have some food,” his grandmother reassured him.

Paul watched his parents’ car slip away through the dark with its lights off. He knew he would never see them, never again.

 

# # #

 

Spirit Door: A New Kindle Book of Poetry Free

April 16, 2020

 

Spirit Door is a collection of thirteen poems plus an essay on creativity. The focus is on spiritual awareness.

Like the other books I have published on Kindle, this new book is listed at the minimum price of 99¢.

If anyone is interested, Spirit Door and my seven previous Kindle books are all available free, Thursday and Friday, April 16-17.

You do not need a Kindle device. The books can be read on a PC, Mac or phone. This book can be reached by clicking on the image below or with my earlier books on

my Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/mikesmetzer

 

 

Book cover of Spirit Door by Mike Smetzer

Mitt Romney’s Vote for Impeachment

February 6, 2020

 

I’m not a great fan of Mitt Romney, but it is obvious he is the only Republican with integrity left in the Senate. Mitt’s one-man stand compares with Obama’s opposing the stupidity of Baby Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Actually it shows even more courage.

As the pathos of the Trump lunacy continues, this vote may earn Mitt massive amounts of credit going into whatever plans he has for the future. That is what happened for Obama.

One thing is for certain: Now that the Republicans in the Senate have endorsed Trump’s abuse of power, it will only grow. Whatever disasters follow are entirely on the heads of those Republican Senators who voted against impeachment. They knew he was guilty, they know more disasters are coming, but they chose to protect their political futures instead of protecting their country. I would like to say it doesn’t get any worse than this, but I think they have jumped on a slide twisting down into the dark and no one knows how far it will go before they reach bottom.

Tree of Life: A Mosaic Bead Painting

June 27, 2019

 

“Tree of Life” is a photograph of a mosaic bead painting. It uses mixed media with gold coral, glass beads, and the mineral unakite on white cotton fabric. The elevation of these materials above the background produces a relief mosaic. The composition here is like that used in botanical illustration with the tree suspended in the center against a textured white background. The painting itself is temporary art, with the elements laid in flat or bunched, and unsecured, on the cotton fabric.

The wood of the tree is made of gold coral. The larger glass beads are jewel tone. The ground is made of undrilled natural chips of the unakite. The leaves are green seed beads. The white fabric is a towel.

 

Tree of Life. Bead painting by Mike Smetzer.

Tree of Life

Photos & Photo Poems Now Available on Fine Art America

June 24, 2019

 

I have been focusing recently on making my artwork and poem art available on Fine Art America. These are my first four images.

 

Still Life Of A Necklace Made From Wood Squares, Glass Pearls And A Shell Feather. Necklace and photo by Mike Smetzer.

Still Life Of A Necklace Made From Wood Squares, Glass Pearls And A Shell Feather.

 

Still Life of a Necklace” is a photograph of a necklace I made for Vera several years ago. It is presented here as a still life. The central feature is a white feather made of shell. The secondary features are the square wooden beads, which are spaced with pink and burgundy glass pearls. The background is black pastel paper.

 

Poem Spirit Door Over Lapis Spiral In Bed Of Tourmaline. Poetry, Photo and Mosaic by Mike Smetzer.

Poem “Spirit Door” Over Lapis Spiral In Bed Of Tourmaline.

 

“Spirit Door” explores the feelings I had about the back door of our cottage in Missouri. The poem was first published on this blog.

“Lapis Spiral in Bed of Tourmaline” is a still-life photograph of a bead mosaic. It was created as a strung spiral of lapis lazuli beads. Around the lapis are tourmaline pebbles bunched loosely against the spiral. All the stones are natural. The lapis beads have been organized with the highest lapis content toward the center. The outer beads have other minerals such as quartz and iron pyrite and are intended as a transition to the mixed colors of the tourmaline pebbles.

 

Lapis Spiral in a Bed of Tourmaline Pebbles. Photo and mosaic by Mike Smetzer.

Lapis Spiral in a Bed of Tourmaline Pebbles.

 

 

Poem Sunday Morning, January 1, Over Marble And Serpentine Mosaic Of Cross. Poetry, photo, and mosaic by Mike Smetzer.

Poem Sunday Morning, January 1, Over Marble And Serpentine Mosaic Of Cross

 

“Sunday Morning, January 1” is a simple poem set in a kitchen where the speaker is looking out the window while having breakfast and listening to hymns on the radio. It was first published in Mostly Maine.

The visual background is a wall-like mosaic of green/black serpentine rectangles surrounding a cross of brown marble rectangles that have lines like wood. All stones are natural.

Lapis Spiral in a Bed of Tourmaline Pebbles

June 3, 2019

 

Lapis Spiral in a Bed of Tourmaline Pebbles. Photo by Mike Smetzer.

Lapis Spiral in a Bed of Tourmaline Pebbles.

 

Stringing and mosaic. All the beads are natural rather than dyed.

The lapis lazuli beads spiral out from pure lapis near the center to lapis with obvious inclusions in the middle to beads that are mostly inclusions with a little bit of lapis mixed in. The outer beads have a corduroy blue color rather than a rich lapis blue, but they also have some pleasant iron pyrite sparkle. Despite their limitations as gemstones,  the outer beads are visually interesting, especially as a transition to the tourmaline pebbles.

The tourmaline pebbles are small-to-large in size. Although drilled for stringing, they are bunched loosely here.