Day 540: Balazs of Glory

As Laetitia unlocked the ornate wooden door of the Emerald Victorian and started a pot of coffee brewing, she was in a good mood. This was another almost-day-off. She sat in a large, overstuffed chair in the library waiting for the sound of exploding steam to signal the end of the brewing process. As she looked at the paneled wall, she saw something she hadn’t noticed before. Hanging on the wall was a framed image of a circular image silkscreened in black on white glossy paper. As Laetitia looked more closely, she saw that it contained a cryptic message: “Transcend the Bullshit.” She went into the kitchen, came back with a steaming cup of coffee, punched the phrase into the Mind’s Eye computer, and found that Pacific Northwest artist Harold Balazs (pronounced “blaze”), created the image in the 1970s. The phrase is a favorite of his. The image is also found near the top of a large outdoor sculpture he did in Spokane called the “Lantern.”

Laetitia wondered why she hadn’t seen the silkscreen print before. She spent an hour or two in the library every day. Was it there before today? She had no idea what went on at the Emerald Victorian after she left. It was always spotlessly clean, and obviously someone came in daily and left a packet of freshly roasted coffee beans. She thought the materials in the library changed from time to time, but she wasn’t sure.

What is Balazs trying to tell us when he uses this slightly rude phrase, “Transcend the Bullshit?” Several bloggers attempted to describe what it meant to them, but to Laetitia the phrase seemed to defy definition. It is about trying to rise above the soul-numbing aspects of adult life? Is it about seeking truth? Is it what scientists try to achieve when they peer-review articles submitted to journals? Was it what journalists tried to achieve when they used to verify information before publishing it? On a personal level, is it any different from Joseph Campbell’s exhortation, “Follow your bliss,” or Jesus’ advice to his disciples in Verse 6 of the Gospel of Thomas: “Do not lie; and that which you hate, do not do?” Laetitia still had to write a limerick so she did, posted it, and went out to enjoy the rest of the day.

The art paragon Harold Balazs
Made designs that encrypted a phrase
Telling our human species
“Transcend bovine feces,”
Well, not quite, for I paraphrase.

Day 133: Mossyrock Tabletalk

En route to Oregon, the Mind’s Eye tour group stopped at the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument and viewed the area devastated by the eruption in 1981. They stopped for lunch in Mossyrock, Washington. A bicycle tour group from nearby Centralia was having lunch in the same café, and Laetitia overheard a conversation that she thought would make a good limerick, which she presented at dinner that evening.

When a lady who lived in Centralia
On a bicycle tour of Australia
Said, “My fanny’s tired out”
Wild laughter broke out
For there fanny means genitalia.

Day 132: Rainier Sans Brassiere

Mount Rainier, the towering 14,000-foot mountain of volcanic origin, is one of Washington State’s best-known landmarks. On a clear day it can be seen from the Seattle/Tacoma urban area. Laetitia and her group viewed the glaciers and waterfalls and went hiking among the lush wildflowers supported by the rich lava- and pumice-rich volcanic soil in Mount Rainier National Park. Later they stopped at the town of Rainier for a late lunch. Some local gossip from one of their waiters provided material for a limerick.

An old lady who lived in Rainier
Who in wild youth had burned her brassiere
Gave the men great delight
As she jiggled in sight
Drawing crowds from the bars far and near.

Day 131: Bland Date

With yesterday’s limerick in mind, Laetitia and her group actually did go to Humptulips on the way to the Olympic Peninsula. It is a small town of about 200 inhabitants on the banks of the Humptulips River. The name apparently is derived from a word in the language of the local Native American tribe that means “hard to pole,” probably referring to the difficulty of poling a watercraft through the wetlands of the area.

They visited Olympic National Park and the Quinault Rainforest. The group found a sense of awe at the towering, moss-covered fir trees and the abundance of ferns. Some of these temperate rainforest areas receive more than 200 inches of rain each year. The group also enjoyed seeing the hanging glaciers, deep valleys, lush meadows, and abundant wildlife of the Olympics.

They spent the evening on the coast at the town of Queets. Walking about town, Laetitia heard some gossip that led to the limerick of the day.

A randy old fellow from Queets
Often lured ladies between his sheets
But they found him so bland
On such a one-night-stand
That there never were any repeats.