I’ve been working late nights, as usual. All day I find myself taking care of household and nursery chores and then only get to work on my trees at night. I get maybe four, five hours sleep, if that. And I’m tired. Then I ask myself,

“You did good today, didn’t you?”

I usually did do good. And I relish the fatigue.

Amazingly, there are some that are only tired from doing nothing.

You’ve seen this tree before, several times. Here’s the Weird and wacky post from last year.

Structurally, it is weird. The first branch on the right actually begins on the left….

The base is mostly on the right but it too twists around itself and looks bigger than it is.

It almost crouches and then springs up like a whirling dervish.

Mad movement that makes the tree unique.

Let’s see about some denuding (sounds like you’re putting clothes back on, not removing leaves, don’t it?)

Whoops, dropped a leaf into my beer.

It’s been attributed to Ben Franklin as saying,

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria”

My beer seems to have bonsai in it, too.

Imagine a multi-lane crosswalk, like they have in Tokyo or New York City, full of people, everyone going somewhere important, maybe to work or to lunch, a place to go to make their life, their living. That’s an amazing thing to imagine right now.

That’s how I’m seeing this tree.

Society, a free society, that is, is made of people doing things that may seem random or selfish. Chaotic. Individualistic.

You may think that one guy traveling in one direction, going fast, and another, moving slowly in a definitely different direction, might be counter to a harmonious reality. But in the end, everything works out. Chaos has its own order. The heavens, though vast and infinite in their randomness, follow orbits and organize into solar systems, galaxies, the universe. As many tributaries and broken riverbanks, or switchbacks and doglegs a river has, it eventually flows into the sea.

I think it’s time in the trees development for a good pot now. It’s evolved passed its crackpot origins…..

The new pot I’ve chosen is a Taiko Earth container….

Made by Rob Addonizio.

I would repot it now but….I need my sleep.

I’m tired, you know.

And tomorrow is the Central Florida Bonsai Club’s monthly byot workshop.

And that means If I repot it there, it can be a teaching opportunity as well.

If you were there you’d have heard me expounding on the advisability of a late season repot and all that.

I’m really just slip potting it, meaning moving it from one pot to another.

The pots are about the same size so it should be fine.

Now, before I tie it in and add soil, I’m thinking this aerial root is superfluous.

And I like this one better, as it’s a little further out on the branch.

So the one goes, t’other stays.

Here’s Teeco. This was the first workshop we’ve had since 2020 began. It was fun seeing some friends.

Jorge, below, and Judy hiding behind the tree on the right.

Daniel. I call him Dan, and he says his grandmother would be rolling in her grave if she heard me calling him that.

These are some of my good friends in bonsai.

Good friends are hard to find. Especially in Art, and in an Art like bonsai, that can be turned into a business. Get some trees, some pots, some tools, come up with a name, and hang out your sign.

Here’s something to think about:

A line I recently discovered,

“I find it hard to destroy, for meat, the oxen of the sun.”

Now, what the hell does that mean? In the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey, there is an invocation to the Muses. That line is a paraphrasing of part of it.

Oxen were sacred, to be preserved for sacrifice to the gods. But the line means more than just that. It means that the joys and heights that the practice of Art take is must be reserved for the Art’s sake. To cheapen it and do it for business first, is the sin (the sacrifice of the ox was for the god’s, but they did eat it after. To not eat it would be a waste).

The last post had me working a tree I had won the bid on in an auction. I could have flipped that tree four times, doubling and tripling my purchase price, without me even touching a branch (yes, I had four offers) but I didn’t buy the tree for that purpose. I saw a tree that was awesome, with provenance, that needed to be brought to its next level. That is the only reason I bought it, in respect to the tree.

For me, the Art, and the tree, are more important than the business.

“It’s just business”

It’s amazing how many times I’ve heard this in bonsai.

I’ve lost more friends than I care to think about (like I am right now) when friends begin to take this attitude.

I’m a quiet guy in person. I don’t need to hear myself talk, I don’t need to be the life of the party, and my opinion is often just my own, the room doesn’t need to know it.

Being quiet, people tend to tell me things, because I am also a good listener. I am not thinking of the next thing to say, I’m really listening. Now, early on, a friend gave me the advice to never get into the bonsai business because it ruins the enjoyment of working on trees.

So I took it to heart. I do charge for tools, trees and service, but most often than not, I short my time, charge less than the going rate, give things away for free, and generally appreciate the work and art, the people and trees, more than the cash.

I figured most people in this business were more like me. Until I realized that my friend (colleague now) really told me this to keep me out of the way and lessen his competition.

It’s just business, you know.

Another friend uses that line often, and I understand he has an operation to run, but I helped him when it was a small operation and I stood by him, as a friend, when his reputation was being questioned, even though it put me in place of opposition to some of those gatekeepers I’ve talked about before. I stood for him and he didn’t stand for me later, when they came for me. Because it would have hurt his business.

I’m not really bitter about it, just more guarded now to whom I become friends with.

To me it’s not business, its friendship.

I don’t destroy, for meat, the oxen of the sun.

The World is people, after all.

I think it’s time to wire.

It’s getting heady and thick on this raging ocean I’m sailing on, in my own Odyssey. Back to gathering wood and carrying water.

William Blake said,

“Eternity is in love with the creations of time”

The Muses speak to us all, but only a rare few listen for, often, in listening, it leads to madness.

The Muses probably don’t exist.

So who are they, then, these Muses?

They are you.

Me.

Us.

They are the voices in our heads…….who are, right now, telling me the tree is too tall and lacks taper.

“Chop it!” They are whispering. Is it madness?

Better listen, the voices do get mad when they’re ignored.

Doing what you’re told doesn’t guarantee success, but doing right often does. Read that again.

The difference is between doing what you’re taught and applying what you’ve learned.

It’s hard to forget what you know, to see with open eyes. But it’s possible.

Just remember what you know, then forget.

This tree isn’t for everyone.

And neither am I.

You notice it’s night again. Seems like it gets dark sooner every day.

As St. Willie sings,

“When the evenin’ sun goes down
You will find me hangin’ ’round
Oh, the night life, it ain’t no good life
But it’s my life
Many people just like me
Dreamin’ of old used-to-be’s
Oh, the night life, it ain’t no good life
Ah, but it’s my life
Listen to the blues that they’re playin’
Listen what the blues are sayin’
Life is just another scene
In this old world of broken dreams
Oh, the night life, it ain’t no good life
But it’s my life
Oh, the night life ain’t no good life
Oh, but it’s my life
Yeah, it’s my life
Yeah. Time for another shot and chaser.

As was said by the philosopher Carrie in that amazingly erudite tv show, Sex and the City

“I’d rather be someone’s shot of whiskey than everyone’s cup of tea”

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