Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Life at the Ranch Part 1 (with photos)

National Weather Service is broadcast everywhere. “60 mile an hour winds and it’s about 16 miles north of Gerlach.” We deduced that JB’s warning us about this now meant the wind would be picking up in about 10 minutes here at the ranch and we’d better all get our stuff tied down for the afternoon. It had been perfectly calm and sunny until that moment. He was hoping it was wrong but like a good clock, the information was accurate. Out here the weather is not just a subject for small talk.

The Black Rock Desert hosts the world famous Burning Man, in which 50,000 people come to camp and party. This alkali lake bed is the biggest expanse of flatness on Earth. Iveson Ranch is about 7 miles from the edge of it in a lush canyon. Burners always seem to be here.

I’m here because storage units  are being converted into living spaces. What I’m painting on these storage boxes with this enamel paint is acid woodgrain®. It’s alot of paint and the colors are from cream sickle to candy. I’m learning to line them sharply and draw shapes out more. Sharp edges but first I’ll build up some texture layers.

Burners are an interesting breed. They’re modern day hippies, often going by names like Pixie or Ocean, but the new twist is that they wear utility pouches, headlamps and goggles. They’re usually work oriented people occupied by creative projects that revolve around partying. The good times endeavor does not diminish the fact that the work is serious and complex requiring organization and money. There are also desert rats here, some guys that mine gold but know construction.There’s a big white bus that looks like a ship called the Serpent Princess parked just near my painted boxes and they’ve been playing the best music while constructing a dance floor above the roof of it. This is the funnest summer camp ever!

I’ve been 4 times to the burn, which makes me a burner I guess. But I’d never call myself that. When asked if I’m a burner I usually say no. I feel like a tourist next to these guys but I’ve helped build and maintain more than one camp. A sign camp once. Another time I camp I helped build was called Simple Camp, named right on the spot, though it wasn’t so simple. sprawling areas of shade. I wore a plaid skirt and when people said “nice kilt” I would reply “God dammit It’s not a kilt, it’s a skirt!”

The wind came so I put lids on my paints and secured brushes and rags. We broke down my table and latched the doors of the barn. I had to weather the storm out so right now I’m relaxing in our accommodations.

The walls are orange in here which is mild mannered in relation to the outside of this unit. I painted the outside in hot colors. This was number 3 or so. It’s nice to be able to stay in one of these. We’ve got 3 beds, 3 windows and a door and this is quite a comfortable place to stay. It’s a luxurious way to camp really. We’re surrounded by steel. This is glamping.

The view stretches past the pastures for 3 ridges to the West, all continually varied in color. JB fixes these storage units up with nice livable interiors for burners or ranch hands to stay in. We don’t need air conditioning but it’s hooked up in here. I can’t imagine what oceans this thing has crossed in a past life, now it lives here in this desert. You hear of these things falling off ships like giant dominoes. They’re not. They’re substantial.

My dad is staying here this week with me. He came to visit in town so we both came up here for this job. He always fixes stuff and builds and makes improvements to his surroundings like Bob Villa. This works out extremely well here. The ranch needs people like him. He’s been helping alot. He’s not the only carpenter here, but he is the best carpenter here. My dad can beat up your dad!

There are two deer 20 yards from me right now thru my window by the fruit trees. This canyon is to be a natural preserve so there’s a no shooting policy here. It’s a haven for wildlife and this is one reason it’s a special place. A mountain lion was spotted here last week. It was drinking from the little pond in front. It was a little mountain lion (the size of a St. Bernard) and they tell me that means that momma’s close by.

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