Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 10 (5/31/09)
It was another quick evening run. It was really quite cold. The temp was 61 but seemed much colder because of the wind blowing off the lake. Everything I had built last night was still up. I didn’t spend much time building. Eileen was along and we had put in a big day already. I did rebuild a couple of my favorite tie builds and a couple of cairns. In spite of the weather the trail was busy with families out on walks. I am going to try to get out more this week and try to keep things from getting knocked down.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fort Build

Day 9
It probably goes with out saying at this point that everything was down. Hopefully, after school is done things will settle down. I have never had a problem with the tie builds on the north side before. Perhaps I will have to try going south for awhile. It is amazing how fast everything is growing up. It seems way ahead of last year considering that I didn’t even start until after school was out. Maybe the tall grass will save some of them. I didn’t get out until after dinner so it was getting pretty late but I managed to build a new tie build. I had actually been thinking about it for quite awhile. I call it “Fort build”. I have often contemplated how much what I do is like children building forts so I took it to its logical conclusion. I put it across from an old couple’s house thinking maybe they will keep it safe. For all I know they could be the ones knocking them down but I doubt it. They seem very nice. It isn’t really finished but it was starting to get dark and I wanted to set up a couple of others before I went home.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Weekend

Day 8 (5/24/09)
It is the Sunday of Memorial weekend. I went out quite early so there were not a lot of people out. Again things had been destroyed. The one uplifting exception was that “Tripod” was still standing. I spent a little time rebuilding but our son and his wife were visiting for the weekend. I am carful not to use the term home for the weekend because it is no longer his home and more and more I question whether it will ever seem like my home. I find as I get older there seems to be a widening chasm between my perspective and that of the general community. Yesterday, I was approached while out on a walk with my daughter-in-law and there dogs by a “Concerned Citizen” (Jerk) who, “as a veteran”, was concerned that my flag was too frayed. I agree that it had been out all winter and was getting a little ragged around the edges. Once a year I go to Menards and buy a new one and to be honest I haven’t made it there yet. I also do not have a huge problem with a slightly tattered flag. To me some of the most important flags in history have been ragged. There is a certain poetry to a tattered flag. It represents something that has endured hardship but is still standing, much like our country. I guess what upsets me, however, is this persons need to meddle in my business. This is the second time that a “Concerned Citizen” has felt the need to point out an issue with my flag. The first time it was because I was flying a Norwegian flag under the U.S. flag. It turns out that when flying the flags of two or more nations they are to be on separate halyards at the same height. I used to enjoy flying the flag and, although I am not a person given to the excessive adulation of inanimate objects, I always tried to follow the proper flag etiquette as I knew it. Now, I am to the point where I just want to take it down. I will never understand people who feel the need to inflict there opinions on others. Well back to the business at hand, inflicting my sculptures on others. Today I rebuilt “Boat works” and “Dangler” and a couple of cairns. I must admit it gets a little old rebuilding every time I go out. Perhaps during the summer, when I am out there all the time, I can spend less time rebuilding and more time creating new.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I did not get out tonight and ordinarily would not be doing an entry except that many people have been asking the same questions about how we got started building and what if any are the rules and purpose. To be honest it started quite simply on my first day off from school last summer. Here is my first entry in my journal.
"I decided today that my summer project is going to be to construct stone towers on my morning bike rides and document them. They will be of various sizes and complexity. Part of the project will be to try to create them with out being noticed and see if in conversation anybody ever asks about them. Another part of the project will be to take a look at human nature and see if people will knock them down, leave them or start to make structures of there own. I figure I should be able to tell the difference between what nature destroys and what human nature destroys. Finally, I would like to try to get a hundred standing by the end of the summer."
It is said that artists spend their lives breaking all the rules and then imposing a new set of even more rigid rules on themselves. It is certainly true with this venture. At first there was no need for rules because I was only going to build stone towers with stones I found along the trail, like Eileen and I had seen in Norway. I didn’t even know what they were called. It wasn’t until midsummer that I realized that there was only so far you could go with stones, especially when people destroyed them as quickly as you built them. So I built my first tie build. At this point I needed to update the rules to fit the circumstances. I decided that the builds could only be built with materials that were found in the immediate area and that other then a simple multi tool for cutting string and wire no tools would be used. Even the string and wire have to come from the location. I also have a rule that I do not impede the natural demise of the material in any way. Finally, it pretty much goes without saying that no natural objects were hurt in the development of my art, except the occasional grass being stepped down.
When we first started, it was just between Eileen and I and a few close friends. Although more people now know who is building them, I still prefer doing it while people aren’t watching. I think there is something mystical about them just appearing even if you know who is doing it. The journals were to be for my eyes only. As things started to get more interesting however more and more people were brought into the circle. If you are reading this you are probably a friend or at least a friend of a friend. I apologize in advance for the general lack of writing skills. There is a reason I am a art teacher. I have no idea where this will go this summer. It could be downright boring. I hope that answers some of the questions as to why a grown man is running around building sculptures while no one is watching.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 7

Day 7 (5/17/09)
In fear of sounding like a broken record, everything was down again. Somebody had gone to a great deal of trouble to eliminate every sculpture between Cedar Grove and Oostburg. I hope they got wet feet. I even had to put “Dangler” back up before I could put Andrea’s note back. I am glad Eileen hadn’t gone along. The sight of devastation bothers her more then me, not take I enjoy it. At first it is always kind of depressing when you see things knocked over. I hadn’t really expected, when I started building a year ago’ that they would get destroyed so often. I knew wind and weather and even the vibration from trains would tip over some of the rock towers but I hadn’t really counted on so much human destruction. This year there seems to be more complete destruction where they have gone the entire length of the trail ruining everything they come across. A sensible person would probably have quit a long time ago but I have never been accused of being sensible. There is a certain catharsis to rebuilding and once you have replaced one the rest go easier. As I have said before, I can’t let the bastards win.
I got some pictures of Trilliums tonight. I have decided that one of my goals for the summer is to photograph and identify the seasonal flowers and berries. On that note, I found out that the yellow flowers in my last entry were Cow Slips. I saw my first Cedar Wax Wings tonight. We might have seen some one other time but didn’t get a good look at them. We always laugh at how the birds keep flying down the trail in front of us. It never seems to occur to them to fly back around us until they have flown way out of their way.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dolmen Project (Year Two) Confessions of a Guerilla Artist

Day 6 (5/14/09)
It is a Thursday night so we didn’t have a great deal of time, but the weather was so great we had to make a quick run. Most everything was still at least partially up. The highlight of the trip came when we got to the build we call the “Dangler”. Under the top rock was a note in a bag. At first I assumed it was the return of our “religious critic” from last summer. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a letter from, what I assume was, a young lady named Andrea. It was a story about here family trip to Milwaukee to see the Titanic Exhibit. My favorite part of Andrea’s note is her comment in the lower left hand corner, “I decided to leave this so you learn something about me so it isn’t lost”. In her youthful innocence she may have very well struck a universal chord. Who doesn’t want to show the world a little part of themselves so it isn’t lost? It had been left on the eighth. I brought it home to read and sign it and will return it on Saturday as she requested.
It is amazing how fast everything is growing up on the trail. Already it is getting harder to find stones but I am sure we will make due. There is still a lot of water so we couldn’t get to some of the build sites but it makes me excited about summer.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day 5 (5/2/09)
Today was a beautiful day. It was a little windy, especially on the way home but otherwise great. For some reason there were not a lot of people on the trail. We thought everybody would be out enjoying the day. There were enough that we couldn’t do any large involved builds but we found some "windows of opportunity" to make some nice small ones. There are some rides that are all about the builds and then there are days, like today, where it is just great to be alive and on the trail. The spring flowers were just starting to bloom. Tomorrow, I will have to get some photos. The birds were all busy starting new families. There is still quite a bit of water from all the rain so some areas are out of reach but it added to the over all appeal of the day.