Friday, October 12, 2012

planet Earth






Enviroartist was born in 1990 with the help of an over sized oil painting; illustrating the environmental problems around the globe. We had countess challenges, planet Earth has an enormous surface when you compare it to your living room; however, we managed to cover the entire globe with human debris, thousands of pollutants and toxic substances. An over sized oil painting needed to represent the over sized problem. With no formal training or any background in fine arts, it was an interesting challenge. I am a biology and physical education teacher and in my teenage years, I always looked at painters and artists as a strange, eccentric group of people. The popular saying, never say never must be true. The firs time I had felt the urge to pick up the paintbrush was in 1989, while I was watching the Bob Ross show on TV. He was teaching people how to paint oil paintings. His artistry was pure stress relief, calming and awe-inspiring. Mountains, lakes, pine trees, and endless sky were captured on the canvas in thirty minutes. The step-by-step instructions made it seem like anyone can do it, even some macho guys with limited thinking about artists. This is the one of my first landscapes and some of my modern paintings. These were my warm-up paintings. The real inspiration for a painting came in a form of a vision. The vision was powerful, short, and disturbing. I have never imagined an oil painting that looks like a Mayan prediction for the end of the world. I never really wanted to paint a painting like that; this was something I had to do. It took seven days, four to five hours a day to complete the painting; I even purchased the copyright for it. The copyright title say’s Mother Earth. I have just realized as I am writing this introduction, that when David Suzuki had sent me an autographed picture and a quote to support the next Enviroartist contest, he has written: “For mother earth” next to his signature. After two decades, the circle had been closed. First, I just wanted to illustrate the complexity of global environmental problems; however, that was not enough. I have always believed that it does not matter what kind of hardships or challenges you face, you can always find a way to solve the problem. It may seem impossible first, just like eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I would never hurt or eat an elephant, but that is my motto. I am going to take small bites out of these mountainous environmental problems and will ask you to do the same. I know you have an idea that would fit on a sticky note and has the potential to improve environmental conditions. Please send it to me. I will make a focused effort to implement it. Thank you for reading my story, now I have to go and water my tomato plants that I started from seeds, all hundred and fifty of them. They are organic, from organic seeds and growing in compost. I do not use any fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or additives. Pictures are coming soon…  

patchy piglets

Hi, my name is Attila Farkas.
 
When I was six years old, the only form of environmental degradation I had known was hair coloring for piglets.
t was 1967 and we lived on a small farm in Hungary, my brother was three years old when he decided that he should try his skills as a hairdresser for piglets.

Our twelve piglets were three months old at the time and ran free in our large back yard in the company of chickens, chickens, turkeys and other farm animals. The piglets were all healthy, strong, playful, and white.

There is a Hungarian proverb that says: Variety is pleasurable. My brother wanted patchy piglets. He had a good imagination and some unconventional tools. He had brought a small bucket of corn to entice the piglets to move closer to an open barrel of tar from their usual feeding grounds. It was an old technique to use hot tar under hardwood floors as an adhesive. We had some leftover tar in the barrel, so when the piglets came closer to it to enjoy the corn, Peter took advantage of the opportunity.

He dipped a piece of wood into the tar and used it as a primitive brush to paint some black patches on the white piglets. The piglets didn’t mind the hair coloring, maybe because the wood had pleasantly tickled their skin. 

My parents had a good laugh, no one got hurt, and the piglets never complained about the incident or considered suing my brother for defecating their image.

Countless things had changed since then… Including the way a look at the tar like substance that littered the Florida coastline, after last years disastrous spill. 

When I lived in New Jersey, we used to go to on a family vacation to an island off the North Carolina coast, called Emerald Island. In 2002, a job transfer brought us closer to my brother in Canada and further away from one of my favourite spots on the globe.

It is 2010 and I haven’t seen the ocean in eight years…

I had missed it to a point where I had cravings for the sultry mist that the crashing waves perspired from all the work they had to do, turning over millions of seashells. I had missed standing on the shore, listening to the rhythm of the waves and looking out in the distance; after four or five rows of crashers discovering where the light algae green water had transitioned into cobalt blue. 

Hermit crabs hurrying away from your footsteps carrying their borrowed home. The warm afternoon waves of the high tide washing bubbles and clean foam around your feet. If you stay in one spot long enough, the waves steal a handful of sand away from right under your feet and you feel like sinking into the sand and becoming one with the shore. I love collecting seashells or strange shaped driftwood; I even like the seagulls, always searching for food or try to get a bite sized fish out of my bait bucket.

I had promised my kids that we’ll go to the ocean together and enjoy its beauty, experience its treasures as a family should. I had promised a clean, wonderful environment, teaming with life: dolphins, mullets, crabs, seashells, pelicans and white sea herons searching the shores.

We had planned our vacation from June 20th-27th on Emerald Isle, in North Carolina.

I remember the kids started packing a suitcase in the middle of winter, they were so excited to go.

After the news about the Deepwater Horizon disaster I’ve checked the progress of the spill and the predictions, praying that it will not reach the North Carolina coastline before we get there. I wanted more than anything, that my kids experience the clean, undisturbed ocean before the spill gets into the Gulf. 

I prayed and prayed for clean ocean, clean beaches, and edible fish and crabs to catch. My kids had every right to experience beautiful beaches, crystal clear, warm water and hundreds of finger mullets swimming by them in the shallows. It is interesting to read about it in books and see it on TV, but the ocean only becomes one with you if you stand in it and let the rushing waves steal enough sand from under you until you become a human stilt. 

My prayers were answered, the spill has never reached the Carolina coast, but I don’t have any illusions about the global affect of this man-made disaster. Scientists had recently discover large dead-zones in the Golf, where the toxins have accumulated from the flood of black death that was gushing out from the hole. The whole that we have punched into the Earth in a location that is not in our total control.

I remember the frustration, anger, disappointment I had felt when I watched the public display of poisoning our ocean by BP. After three weeks I had sent an e-mail to the white house recommending to remove BP from the decision making process and ask for international help in addition to putting the navy in charge. I have seen engineers and scientists providing solutions that fell on deaf ears. My solution was to guide a gigantic steel pipe, the size of a family home and the walls thick enough to withstand the pressure over the oil well and fill it up with large steel baring balls and rocks. I’m sure there were more sophisticated solutions, but it was painfully frustrating to wait for other people to solve this disaster that was affecting my ocean. It was affecting our ocean. 

I teach my kids to be resilient, creative, and never give up. I believe that if there is a problem or challenge you can always find a solution or improvement. 

Today, I see problems and solutions everywhere. I focus on solutions, instead of gloom and doom, but I don’t close my eyes and cover my ears when I discover the problems. 

I also believe that an eight year old may have a solution to a problem that we adults just cannot fathom. That’s why I’m asking everyone for a solution that fits on a sticky note. It is fabulously titled, my sticky note campaign. 

Simply write your best idea to clean up our environment on a sticky note and mail it to me.

I will post it on this large size painting, until it is all covered with solutions. 

I will select the best ones and take practical steps to make sure that they become reality.

Please send me a sticky note with your picture and a permission stating that I can post your picture and your sticky note on my site and in other publications.

Thank you for your help keeping our oceans, rivers, air, and food cleaner.


Attila Farkas

The new evolutionary order!



The new evolutionary order!
Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Mammals, Fisherman.

Is it a miracle of evolution that the two legged creature landed at the end of the list? Not only human, but also a fisherman. Or someone made a mistake and fisherman are not exactly the Crown jewels of history?
It depends on whom you ask. If you ask another angler, he will tell you that all fisherman are good people.
On the other hand…
If you ask Maria, my friend’s wife she might list fisherman closer to the prime mates.
She’d refused to learn the mysterious science of worm digging, fish cleaning and other vital skills like biting through the fishing lines with your teeth. She will never, ever touch the fish, dead or alive and keeping worms in her refrigerator = sleeping on the couch. For a week.
Last time my friend kept a dozen or so night crawlers in a yogurt container and put it way in a back behind the ready whip can that she has not used since she started dieting. But some genius decided to write an article about rewarding yourself as a part of dieting and she read it. Whipped cream covered strawberries was her reward after aerobic class. The aluminum foil covered yogurt container looked suspicious. She opened it. She screamed. Long and loud.
There are all kinds of newspapers, beer bottles and pair less socks lying around the couch. Steve lives there now. In the basement.
If you are a real fisherman I know you've done your share of prehistoric crimes.
Not sure if you are a real fishermen?
Hear is an un-complete list:
-You've read somewhere that large catfish are attracted to chicken guts. The butcher in the supermarket is your friend. He gave you four pounds. You left it on the sundeck in a plastic bag. Where the cat found it. Irresistible. She decided that the only place she can enjoy such a delicacy is in the living-room. On the  Persian rug. Where your wife found the cat in the middle of enhancing the colors of the antique treasure with the bloody red patterns of chicken guts. This was four years ago. And she still remembers the smell. Of course she needs to share this information with the whole family, just before Thanksgiving dinner. Every year. It’s become a tradition.
No, this is not the worst…
Remember that rookie cop? His first case was in the city park and it started like a horror story…
There were no lights at the north end of the park, only what the moon provided and even that’s started to fade as the darkening clouds brought the promise of rain.
John Rhode has just finished his shift patrolling the streets of Seattle on a Bicycle and decided to go through the park on the way home. He pedaled in a steady pace on the sidewalk that was only four feet wide and the overhanging bushes made him to ride in a  zigzag . He put his flashlight in a socket on the crowbar and that gave him enough light to see thirty feet ahead.  Grotesque shadows danced on the rough surface of the sidewalk as the light browsed through the leaves, twigs and branches of trees. They looked like long fingered bony hands trying to grab the wheels…
The wind became stronger and the cool air has carried the smell of rain. The night symphony of frogs and crickets became quiet as the first  heavy raindrops started to fall.
He’s just picked up some speed to get home before the storm when he saw the slow moving light off the road, deep inside the park. The light disappeared for a while than it’ has danced against the darkness without moving in any direction. Who would stay in a park in the middle of a storm. With a flashlight. .. It was suspicious. He’s stopped and leaned the bicycle against a tree. He turned off his flashlight, closed his eyes for a few seconds until they adjusted to the darkness. Very quietly radioed for backup, than with small careful steps sneaked closer to the light. He drew his gun and loaded a round into the chamber. He was maybe thirty feet from the scene when a dried twig broke under his feet, with a sound of a small cannon. He quickly stepped behind a large pine tree, froze. and held his breath .
The other stopped too. The flashlight searched through the woods  than a few seconds later the mysterious person continued its work despite the rain.
The officer used the cover of the trees to go closer. He saw a shadow of a man and a shovel. The smell of freshly turned earth was unmistakable. He raised his gun and drew a breath of air before stepping out from behind the tree.
Meanwhile Bill Callahan has repeatedly whipped the sweat off his forehead and wished that he hadn't drank four bottles of beer before he decided to dig for worms. He was on his hands and knees, this way his beer belly wasn't in the way and he was poking at the ground with a tiny shovel. When he turned the rich soil he grabbed the mother of all worms the slimy creature must have been ten inches long. He proudly placed it on top of the others in a used milk carton., when his ears were bombarded with a human scream:
“Hands up! Don’t move!!!”
Bill’s whole body’s jerked upwards from the eardrum-splitting noise of the warning shot. He jumped backwards as if an electric shock threw him up in the air. He threw the milk carton and the flashlight up in the air with the scream of a tortured prisoner jumped backwards right in the middle of a n overgrown rosebush.  Either the dozens of thorns that wanted to become a part of his body or the charging canines that arrived with the backup were to blame but the four beers found their way out of his body though his pants.
Now three policemen were pointing their guns at him and the scene looked like a sitcom in the rose bushes.
When the officers had realized what happened it was too late. The embarrassment was already a future police report.
At this point the mother of all earth worms has parachuted down from the trees and landed on Bills baseball hat. It started to crawl through the letters that summed up the situation: I’d rather be fishing!

Three wishes


Three wishes

We all dream about winning the lottery and some of us fantasize about catching a goldfish that will grant us three wishes after we release it back into the water. You memorize your three wishes and sometimes debate over which one is most important. You also know that your chances are very slim if any of them will ever come true. The closest I came to the goldfish version of the fairy-tale was at Lake Simcoe near the  Spirit Catcher. It was September 28, 2012, Friday afternoon around six o'clock when I drove to the lake with my youngest son Thomas. We threw our lines in and tried to catch one of the tagged perch that was valued from five hundred to ten thousand dollars. I have been fishing for decades and was always excited to prepare the fishing rod for the first cast. I was indifferent this time. I felt that I had an obligation to go and take my son even if fishing was the last thing on my mind on that day. The festival was running from September 21 to September 30 and just as we decided that the entire family should enter the contest, my wife Judit became ill on September 22. First, we thought it was just the flu and it will go away but the illness quickly progressed into an advanced stage of cellulitis, a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. She has received treatment and intravenous antibiotics for about a week and was hardly out of the woods when she decided that even being in the hospital couldn't hold us back from registering for the event. I was scheduled to work for ten hours a day at the same time when the tournament was running and had no chance to take any time off except for hospital visits. Fishing was a luxury, I could not even think about it; all I had on my mind all day is how to help my wife to get better and to take care of my kids. We don’t have any family nearby and even the kids stayed home from school to help, the entire family was in battle mode. We had to beat the disease. As soon as I went home, I have prepared meals for the next day and cleaned as much as I could. The first meal I made was chicken soup, schnitzel, mashed potatoes, and salad. Something must have been in the chicken soup or the medication because despite all of the problems my wife has decided to enter our family into the contest. She filled out the registration forms in between intravenous treatments. Her decision did not make any sense to me and I let her know about it in no uncertain terms. I didn’t think that she was thinking straight.
I drove to Lake Simcoe after work, where my youngest son, Thomas joined me for the shortest fishing trip we ever had. The contest was over for Friday at seven o’clock that evening. We had an hour to catch a tagged perch and I was still not in the mood for fishing. I looked miserable, I felt miserable, but I baited my size two pickerel rig with worms and threw my line in. Thomas was fishing next to me and in fifteen minutes, we have pulled out two sunfish, a bass and three perch without tags. When I threw my line in again, I felt an unusually aggressive strike and set the hook. When I reeled in the fish and noticed the inch-long orange tag on it, I was so surprised that I did not believe my eyes for a few seconds. The fish was not much longer than the tag, about 5 inches, just a baby. I felt sorry for it to wear a tag at such a young age. Several anglers were fishing around the same spot and I had the feeling that they were sight fishing for the tagged perch. That yellow tag was visible in the clear water, which was only 10 feet deep at the spot. I didn't want scream about my catch and give away the location where the tagged fish was caught, just in case there is another one. I really wanted my kids to catch one. Especially, Peter, he was fishing the whole week, almost every afternoon. He had the best chance to catch a tagged perch. The other reason I stayed quiet because I didn't want to disappoint the other anglers and let them know that I pulled out the tagged fish that they were after the whole afternoon.
I took the fish off the hook and was holding it in my left hand; I knew I would need my right arm to pack up as fast as I could.
“Thomas lets pack up and go,” I said to my son in a stern voice.
“But why daddy we just came?” he complained. We had no time to fish all week and now we are packing up after fifteen minutes. That’s just plain crazy.
Let's go let's go let's go! I said even more decisively with the tagged fish in my hand. The bait bucket filled with water was eight feet down by the pier and I needed to put the fish in water as soon as possible. I could not put the fish down or pull up the bucket with one hand.
“Can we stay a bit longer?” asked Thomas.
“No, we have to leave right now!” I said and I have already had my backpack loaded. I grabbed the extra fishing rods.
“Pull up the bait bucket,” I said to Thomas. The fish was out of water for about a minute at this point. We had to act fast. You cannot enter a dead fish to win a prize. My son reluctantly followed my command. The fish bucket must have weighed ten pounds with all the water and a dozen fish in it. The bucket was on a thin rope and was difficult to pull out but he did it in a few seconds, which seemed like hours, while the fish was flopping around in my hand. When the yellow bucket was on the rocks, I quickly opened the lid and put the perch into the water. The fish was so small that Thomas didn't even notice when it slid into the bucket.
“Can we stay longer?” He pleaded again and it was time to convince him with a reason that would justify this panic-stricken departure.
“Come on, let's go fast!” I said,” I know where the tagged perch is.” Of course, I knew where it was. It was already in my bucket. I had made the announcement with such a conviction that he believed me and we started running toward the blue doors of the Cadet’s building, where you had to report your catch.
“I caught a tagged perch Thomas,” I said as I was speeding up my steps. “It’s in the bucket.”
“Really?” he asked with a tone of voice that revealed, he was questioning my sanity. He was fishing right next to me the whole time and I landed the fish in a second. Everything happened so fast, that he never even saw the tagged fish and now we are running. Nothing made sense to him. We fell into the cadets building, out of breath, surprised, confused and happy. I was convinced that you have to fish the whole week, preferably from six in the morning to seven in the evening to have the slightest chance of catching and deserving a tagged fish. In other words, you have to work for it hard.
I had spent about fifteen minutes and somehow didn’t think that I deserved my prize.
“I caught a tagged perch.” I made the announcement and reached into the bucket to retrieve my prized possession.
“Let’s see if it's this year's tag,” said Bruce one of the organizers and the person who had tagged all the fish. I carefully lifted the perch, which fit into the palm of my hand.
“You caught it?” asked Bruce looking at Thomas. Judging by the size of the fish it made perfect sense that probably the smaller person caught the tiny fish. Thomas looked at me and I would have loved nothing more than to say that he caught the fish but the truth was…
“I caught it,” I said to Bruce.
 Isn't it exciting?” He asked with the biggest smile on his face.
“It is amazing”. I answered and held the fish gently so the organizers can take pictures of us and our lucky catch. It was frisky as I was holding it in both hands, forming a cup. It was a good sign; I knew it is going to survive this adventure when we release it back into the lake. I could just imagine the stories she will tell for her kids and grandkids about the day that she was caught and released. Bruce had removed the tag, we snapped a few quick pictures and then I put the fish it back into the water. Its mouth opened and closed again just before I have released it, near the spirit catcher, but I didn't pay attention. Even if it was ready to grant me the other two wishes, I was satisfied that my only and reluctant wish has been granted. I had caught a five hundred dollar tagged perch.
My wife is getting better and I shared the prize with everyone in my family. Erika has invested in a new guitar Thomas is enjoying a new DSI and Peter, of course, bought more fishing stuff. Judit and I are currently deciding how to spend our share. She definitely deserves hers. She had convinced me against all odds to enter the contest and to prove that fishing is more than just a hobby or sport. It can bring you joy and happiness to you and to your family and if you listen carefully, you might discover that your other wishes can come true too. I would like to send out a heartfelt thank you to the organizers of the Barrie Fall Fishing Festival especially to Bruce and Mike for entertaining and encouraging my kids throughout the event. You bet that we will be on the water again next year to collect more prizes. The bar is set high; everyone wants to catch a tagged perch. I will see you on the water. The jumbos are moving in…