Sometimes I think my job is driving places. I travel for bonsai, and, though I have been flown in on a big jet airliner, like a rockstar, I kinda prefer the roadtrips, like good ol’ Willie.
Now, Mr. Nelson often has a driver so he can sit in the back of the coach and write songs, drink whisky, and commune with the cosmos with various strains of psychoactive long chain lipids. But he does takes his shifts behind the wheel.
I, not surprisingly as I’m a poor man, don’t have the drivers, so I must roll down the road alone.
Ambling past farms, the sun shining on the crop, be it corn, sorghum, soy. The wind gently swaying the leaves, suddenly, the rows line up and, for that split second, your eye is pulled far back into space, as though you’re in some psychedelic Disney cartoon or looking down the lines of parallel universe strings as they spin off into infinity.
The trucks! I know that many people complain about trucks, and even though there are some bad truck drivers, they are more often just trying to make their way down the road, like me. I like the trucks. Without these trucks, the dreams of millions of individuals, (like you, or you, yeah, you!) would wither and die. Whether you’re waiting for that one part to fix your Jeep, or the bolt of cloth for a wedding dress, or maybe just garlic to put in your spaghetti sauce for the Sunday afternoon family meal, you should thank the truck drivers.
And wow! The clouds!
If you follow my Instagram, I always post landscapes (I call them “views from the road at 80mph”) and they almost always have clouds.
Here’s my route. Yup, that says 12 and a half hours. They call me the Bonsai Roadwarrior. Hell, I’m even beginning to enjoy the challenge of going through ATLANTA.
I truly enjoy the mountains. This is Tennessee, I believe.
Kentucky! The slipperiest of the states. I’ll be staying in Covington, KY, for my first night. That’s just over the river from Cincinnati.
There are some perks to the traveling, mostly arriving. Here, at the end of that 13 hour trip, my room had this waiting for me. That’s Zach’s place, very comfortable. Zach is the guy in the first row with the glasses on his head. I was at the Cincy club this trip, second year in a row.
My subject this trip, well, besides bonsai, was Celtis lævigata, sugarberry or southern hackberry. My favorite deciduous tree.
That’s me hamming it up for the camera. I don’t take myself seriously, most of the time, and I try to make the audience laugh. If you’re not having fun, and learning, then why even show up? I did some carving…..…..some wiring…..
And it’s done. Evan is in the back calling those nice young men in their clean white coats to take me away…..…..to the Funny Farm, where life is beautiful, all the time……
This was the happy winner of the tree in the raffle.
This was a truncated trip this year, only one club, but I had a bunch of private sessions.
We had a good session the next day at Evan’s place with Zach, Darlene and him. Zack grew this tree from a cutting off of his beginner class tree (Cincy has an annual beginners class that has more than 30 participants in the class. If you’re just getting into bonsai, in the Ohio area, go to their Website or Facebook page for their schedule).
When I saw how well the ficus (a tiger bark variety) roots were clinging to the rock, in Ohio, in only about 3 years, I was flabbergasted (we need more old timey words like flabbergasted to come back into the vernacular. Yeet is very effective and dank is somewhat descriptive, but catywampus or finagled or gobstopped are way more colorful)
Darlene had asked me to bring her a gnarly and stumpy ficus. One that was short enough to fit on her indoor grow shelf she utilized in the frozen months of Ohio winters.
I think this liver bark is chonky (there’s a new, descriptive word) enough for her. Darlene is one of the moderators in a new Facebook group called Bonsai Beginners Society that is a place that newbies can go and not be hounded just because they are beginners. You know what I’m talking about.
We were gathered at Evan’s place, and one of Evan’s trees we worked on was a workshop tree from the class I led last year for the Cincy club. An American elm.
Being June, it was time for a haircut. We had a hell of a time but eventually we ran out of time. Zach’s wife came to get him.
But that meant it was dinner time. Evan and I went to the restaurant where they filmed to “count the toothpick” scene in the movie “Rainman”, PompiliosThat’s the Roadtrip in quilt form. Can you see the toothpicks?
The floor where the toothpicks fell and Raymond glances at them and counted them in a moment. How many toothpicks were on the floor?
And after dinner, it was electric Blues and bourbon, Kentucky style, watching Doug Hart and the Doug Hart Band. Damn he could play! He does have an album on iTunes btw.
Early (EARLY!) the next morning it was time for a hackberry workshop for the Cincy club. I supplied the material and handpicked each tree.
Not to brag, but I think everyone was pleased.
At least, I think so. I wasn’t run off the property. I know I had a ball. As I said, Hackberry is my favorite deciduous subject for bonsai, and I’d been itching to do a workshop on them for years.
After the workshop, some lunch. A visit to Cincy is not complete without a visit to the Hofbrau House. There’s something sublime in the combo of beer (sorry, bier) bratwurst and sauerkraut.
Then it was time for a quick trip to Toledo.
To sample Scotch….
….I mean, to work on some more bonsai trees…….
There will be a separate post on this visit…I worked on many different trees, using myriad techniques……
….it deserves its own post. Like, what is going to happen to this poor ficus?
And then down to Xenia and some relaxation with Deb and Bob. We worked on trees as well, had an amazing dinner of homemade chicken fettuccine Alfredo.
And I mean amazing. When the recipe reads like this:
“This was my son’s text to me to tell me how to make it. I added parenthesis. I think he used a lot more seasoning than I did. It’s barely even a recipe. Brown some (lots) minced garlic in oil, add heavy cream, stir in (a lot of) shredded Parmesan. Toward the end mix in your fixins (spinach, mushrooms, maybe some broccoli and chicken). Then toss with boiled pasta noodles. I use blackening seasoning on the chicken and cook it first then set it aside until I mix it back in. I use Cajun seasoning in the sauce. The key is using high quality pasta but I don’t remember what it’s called that I use”
…Then you know it’s gonna be good. I mean, “….lots…” is the perfect measurement.
And I’m not being facetious.
But all things must end, and it was time for me and my spider to go home.
On the road…If you or your club are looking for a bonsai demo, workshop, or styling session, just drop me an email.
I’m on my way!