OM206 - Fern Fever

This week, Ken and John talk about:

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Ken having William Morris wallpaper in his office and bedroom (OM206)

Ken has always liked the fractal quality of ferns. He recently found two different William Morris wallpapers, one is called Seaweed with a tendril-like quality and another one called Bramble with blackberries on it, both very North-West-y. Last summer he ended up putting the Bramble wallpaper in his office, covering a lot of the battleship-grey between the shelves. John has not seen it yet, but he also doesn’t usually go there to make fun of Ken’s anime figures, he does that from afar. Ken put the Seaweed on up on the wall in the bedroom where John is not invited.

John glueing William Morris patterns to his guitar (OM206)

John moved to Seattle in 1991 and in the same year he found a William Morris calendar in a $0.99 store. He wasn’t familiar with the artist at that point, but he loved the images, bought the calendar and put it up on the wall. At the end of the year he couldn’t just dispose of these beautiful little patterns and he took out his scissors‚ cut different elemens out of the patterns he liked, and glued them to the front of his Yamaha FG-75 guitar, a parlor guitar size, which was the only guitar he owned at the time.

The guitar ended up with various William Morris patterns superimposed on one another, creating a jungle depth, covered with a layer of laquer. It was John’s main songwriting guitar until well into the late 1990s. He wrote three albums worth of songs on it. He was always very proud of his little collage work that he did.

Painted leather jackets during the Grunge era (OM206)

We don’t think of the Grunge-era in the 1990s as a period of decorative arts, but painted leather jackets was the one decorative art that was very prevalent during that time. You could paint your biker jacket with flowers or other elaborate patterns and some people in Seattle had made it their job to paint other people’s leather jackets. John didn’t have the guts to do that, mostly because he couldn’t decide on a pattern and he couldn’t commit to ruining his jacket with one pattern, kind of like he does not have any wallpaper in his house.

John having a ravine at his new house (OM206)

John just bought a new house that has its own ravine full of invasive species: He has some English Ivy, which was imported from England and popularized as a garden ornamentation in the Northwest in the mid-20th century and which became free from its garden bounds and is now kazooing our forests. There is also some English Holly and some English Laurel, and all of them are choking the ravine. John was talking to the local administrations in King County that have groups of people who combat invasive species as part of restoring salmon habitat.

The other day Ken was clearing out some blackberries in a park off a beautiful tree and some older guy was telling him they were going to chop down the tree because it was full with English Laurel. The idea that we need to try to restore native plants to Northwest environments that have been colonized by decorative plants is super-popular amongst certain University of Washington types. John is trying to get them to declare his ravine an endangered site and he wants to replace those invasive plants with big native ferns that will stabilize the sides of the creeks.

A lot of those plants have became established in the forests of the Northwest and are described as naturalized. John’s ravine also has stinging nettle, which is a terrible plant native to the Northwest. They are used as food and once you cook them they are no longer poisonous. Every time Ken and his kids go to gather nettles for pesto they all wear gloves but somebody still gets stung. They are awful!

John’s daughter getting burned by stinging nettles (OM206)

Not very long ago John was on a little trek and he had read som naturalists leading up to it, saying that if you get burned by stinging nettles there is an older style of fern called a Bracken Fern or a Dock Fern (?) that rather than having giant frans coming out from a central hub has a stalk with branches that look fern-like. If you get stinging nettles, then you have to find this fern that grows at the same places as the nettles do, grind up the leaves, and spread it on the nettle and it will cure the burning.

John and his daughter were out walking and she just reached down and was grazing her hand along these beauiful plants sprouting alongside of the trail, and all of a sudden her hand was on fire and she started screaming, staring at her hand, wondering what happened. John remembered the Bracken Fern and sure enough, it was there right at his feet and he grabbed it, started rubbing it between his hands, and spread it on his daughter’s hand and the relief was instant. She stopped crying, she looked in amazement at her once buring hand and then she looked up a John as though he were ultimate Davy Crockett.

SnapChat (OM206)

John was on SnapChat for about 9 months, but he is no longer there. He never understood the concept.

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