July 2016

Value

How You Measure Value

Do you remember when your washing machine lasted 25 years and longer? Does it matter to you that the cultivating of obsolesce actually costs us more in dollars, in time, in the manufacture of waste, and in the accumulation of objects that just aren't worthy of our investment or even contact with our senses?

"Spark joy" is current in the vernacular but the thinking, that items ought to create delight, does have merit and short-lived commodities that spark discontent, via their poor quality or uninspired design, is an unfortunate business practice.

Some people are of the opinion that our work, and that of other artists and artisans, is "costly". That pronouncement reflects more on how we measure value as a culture than the worth of particular goods and services. You see, the last time I had a washing machine go motionless after only a few years of use, the repair person said I shouldn't call him again, that manufacturers had told him that they build their machines to work for only six years, "Just buy a new machine”, was his pronouncement.

One of our goals at METAL is to cherish and uphold longevity of product. It is best for our clients, it is best for the environment, it is best for us as designers and makers because it feeds the interest and satisfaction in the well built. If anything should befall something we've made in future generations we hope a repair person will say, "This is worthy of restoration. It was made so well, I'd hate to see it abandoned."

Much thought goes into our communication, our designs, and our fabrication and all of that actually preserves resources, builds relationships, and encourages the value of our time in association with people and with objects. “The reward of a thing well done is having done it”, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, and that is a maxim that we can live with and a practice that we feel serves more than our partnership.

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Of Things that go Thud, a Story and Verse

Whitefish Dinner

I was sitting on my cottage floor when I heard a loud and disruptive scrambling and a shrill squawking from the vicinity of my roof. A decibel level that can be appreciated only if you know what living in small wooden quarters, akin to a shipping crate, can do to sound waves.

I opened my front door, and stepped out beyond the overhang, whereupon something dropped from above, narrowly missing my head, and implanted itself in the ground with an eerie thud. I saw a large raptor fly off. There before me, lips down, tail up, like a new breed of forest growth, was a fish. Maybe just short of 12 inches of fish. While it took a moment for me to wrap my nearly concussed head around the scene I moved to grab the fish. It was still alive and flip-flopping (precursor of the political kind) as I placed it in a horizontal position.

Thinking it would be a mercy to relieve the fish of suffering, and pondering whether dinner had been delivered when neither food nor much else in rural Wyoming is (and suppressing the errant question of whether this counts as fishing without a license), I asserted myself (let's not dwell on the details, its entrails were protruding as consequence of being airlifted via a set of lethal talons).

It seems that an osprey and a rival were in a tussle, as I saw the osprey return some hours later clearly in search of its prematurely released catch. I must have intruded at a pivotal moment and the fish dove to earth, the osprey finally relaxing its grip in the face of one too many insurgents.

This fish tale resonates as the most symbolic of its sort in a while. There is the snowshoe hare that was hopping into my house one March, the wild tom turkey that perches atop our truck cabs and rooftops, the hummingbird that comes to get me when he wants the feeders freshened. Those are just a few stories for another day’s musings but they strike me as more entertainment than emblem.

People who are not residents of this relatively young and unpopulated geography doubt me when I talk about the wilds of Wyoming and the concentration of astounding events that can fill the seasons.

From my vantage point, twixt earth and sky, the allegorical interferences are ceaseless.

The Osprey and the Whitefish

A tussle and a fish dives
from above
headfirst into the ground
narrowly missing my head.

What does the Osprey learn?
That fish on land vanish
more completely than in sea?

What do I learn?
That marvels appear, fly in, or even descend,
with impressive frequency?

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