Posts Tagged ‘growing’

Certain things happen over and over again, even if you don’t want them to.  Or even if you want them to, they happen very often at the most surprising time– or at least sooner than you would like.  Or later.  Like weather does.

  • Last Spring and This Winter

What you see in the large image is what the shop looked like about 10 weeks after we moved to this remote cabin about 800 feet up in the Olympic National Forest foothills.  A perfect spot for making art and carving bowls.  The boxes you see in there are unpacked items that had not yet found a good place to land, and the mess in the carport was stuff left from the previous tenant(s) who have enjoyed this property over its forty some years of existence.  The picnic table is sitting at that odd angle with its nearest side missing its bench board, because of the many times the driveway there has been badly flooded with run-off from the high mountains over to the left.  In rainy seasons, endless water comes from those hillsides, and in spring snow melt makes it even more dramatic.  The picnic table just kept sinking and sinking, and its big bolts rusted out and the wood expanded and contracted and then split, leaving the bench on the ground and rusty bolts sticking up at people contemplating finding a seat.   I find this table indispensable for outdoor carving and other messy projects.  I am indebted to the landlord for refusing to move that table (as if anyone could move it without simply sawing it up and burning it in the fire pit.) He knew how handy it always had been.

As you see, July turned into January of the following year, and the records will show that we had a record breaking winter storm during the first part of January which dumped well over a foot of snow all over the place.. over our trees (some of the well over 100 feet and with limbs stretching well over fifteen feet laterally, with lots of good surface footage to collect heavy loads of snow), and piled up an extra-huge layer of white on the picnic table.  Attatched to the building there are tarps to direct the wet or frozen material from the eaves to somewhere outside the unsealed base of the building.  The floors are not graded, and water likes to run inside. It is a garage, after all, most people think!

I have been maintaining two moats that go abreast of the building– the one of the left is currently a swiftly running river which, by human design, skirts the underpinnings of the building and sends the rushing water off into the woods as it slopes down behind.  On the right side is a smaller moat leading from the flood-prone graveled area to a groove dug around the periphery of the carport, which also (if debris is kept clear) moves toward the back of the building and then down the gorge to the right.  I have no idea where it goes from there, but am just happy to see it not staying near my shop for any length of time.

The cycle of seasons is clearly a life-principle that reminds us mortals that there are systems that we don’t control.  And the same sorts of things happen in all realms of life, for better or worse.

The repeat of relationship dysfunctions insists on reappearing time and time again.  Even through generations, things happen a certain way because they ALWAYS happened that way in a given family.  Opening one’s eyes to see the patterns is very difficult.  And while it is  difficult to understand the pattern as regards other people in an “off” relationship, it is nearly impossible to get any objectivity as to one’s own patterns within the cycle.

Dance of Anger is a helpful book.  Case studies on close relationships that are awry– and the story of how certain people approached mending this.

I am by nature a person who abandons things I cannot solve.  Really.  No wonder I have several really special friends who have accused me of being disloyal and abandoning them.  Well, it was out of self-preservation.  How did I get into these relationships?  Out of caring for the good things in these worthwhile and excellent people.  But I can not weather the storms that arise in these particular close relationships– not with the tools I currently have.  How long would it take to teach a 74 year old woman new tricks?

Actually, I have had professional counsel that leaving these relationships alone was a good move– because the gyrations of keeping them alive was going to make me nuts. I was told that the other party, in each case, was one that needed therapy also, and that was not something I could do for them.  And they would not.  One of the very serious mistakes I have made over and over again is choosing just the kinds of interesting folks who will get into this interplay with me– and it’s likely because it is a pattern that I grew up with and thought was normal.  I thought it was just natural to be bullheaded and to have close relatives who were also bullheaded and self-absorbed.  (Not a good combo if two such ones try to collaborate without some professional coaching.)

So, I need reworking — but I’m too tired now to do it. (the bullheaded part of me is insisting that that is true, and my aches say amen.)

I hope others will get smart soon and find out soon enough what is causing a disagreeable and disheartening demise of good friendships and other relationships.  Identifying the pattern is the biggest part of stopping the cycle.

It can, happily, work the other way.  I like the way bread teaches you how to handle it so that the loaf comes out smelling and tasting exactly perfect– a win win. You make mistakes, but you adjust…and you read about yeast and flour and heat and timing and try again.  In a while, you wonder how you didn’t make a good loaf of bread!  You forget the clumbsies you committed because you and the bread have created a cooperative give and take that works for both of you and produces something special.

May the readers of this enjoy mostly good cycles and learn to make the most of them.  Like all that snow in the small picture above… it makes the green happen next spring.  And the table gets lower and lower.  Soon a bench will be moot.

old swimmer


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   Judy and I enjoy a swim the summer were putting up 3 Americas! 2001

Judith Wray, a wonderful and amazingly productive art friend, sent me an email today featuring a toolbox that is famous and wonderful.  This set off a series of things including this bit about my father.  Judy said, POST IT.  So here it is.

From my friend Judy Wray I got this email reference..sent just for me to enjoy!

H. O. Studley Masonic Tool Chest      <click on this link to see amazing tool box


The look of tool chests can tell us much about workers and workplaces. While their purpose is to organize, carry, and protect tools, this chest also suggests what a worker thinks of himself and how society measures the value of his work.

Judy asked if I got it, and I replied.  Judy responded by saying I should post the following to my blog.  I hope others enjoy the story of my father and his special love of tools.  And of me!  …


Yes, indeed, I did look at the fabulous tool chest, and then I forwarded it to my son David.  He will love it too.

One does wonder, though, whether someone who works from a tightly packed chest like that puts the tools away each time they are used and then “finds” them again, or whether, maybe, there is an occasional moment of “mess” on the workbench with a lot of chaos and tools here and there while something is being made.

I recognize the special devotion to the tools, and I get it from my father, who spent much more time designing places for all his tools in his basement workshop than he spent using said tools.  It is one of my pungent memories, all those leather pockets for a zillion specific awls, and bits, and gears and calipers and files, (on and on and on) that he kept and showed me how to use.

I was about four when I first learned about nails and hammers, and how not to hit your fingers.  Also about what I called (to his delight) “hole nails.”  These were screws, of course, with the slot in the head for turning…but they were “hole nails” for a time back in those days.

He had an old post office fixture at the end with maybe 150 cubbyholes into which he fitted wood cigar boxes labeled things like WASHERS and FINISH NAILS and POLISHING WHEELS and JUNK.  I loved to go through them all and see what was what.  Always very carefully and with the joyful oversight of my Dad who called me “Shorty” (because we were a duo and I was the short one.)

My Dad was a semi-reclusive guy (and I am like him often, in this way) who loved to tuck himself into his armchair with the foot stool, with his big supply of cigarettes and Scotch and his newspaper and hunker down for hours with TV running sports, or news, or westerns.  The livingroom was always stuffy with the layer of second-hand smoke.  My children later would come make swirls in the smoke layer.  (their poor lungs).

He was one of my best friends, although he and I had philosophical differences, and some pretty touchy issues that we disagreed vehemently about.  We were open-faced with each other, and did a lot of “admitting/confessing” and apologizing between us over the years.

By the time he died on December 14 in the 1970’s I had done my serious grieving…while watching him slowly run down in a local nursing home.  My mother and I visited him, one of us at least, each day to feed him dinner, and to bring him his prescribed dose of Scotch and Soda (Dr. Metz carefully wrote that out as an order so we could bring it in to him each day.)  He was a double amputee (both legs) and blind during those years…and used to say he was “one of the lucky ones” simply because he got a visit each day, and most of the others in that nursing home got no visitors ever at all.

When he closed his eyes the last time, I told him to “go find Jesus, and He’ll show you the way.”  A tear came down, through his coma, and I took that to mean either that he DID IT, or that he was frustrated by my last ditch effort to get him to believe.  I won’t know til I get there.

But I whispered to him…”Dad, this is what you wanted for Christmas…rest and go.”  And he did.

That night we had planned for the whole family (my five and my mother) to go to the Pacific NW Ballet’s Nutcracker.  We asked ourselves what we should do.  We decided we would be missing Dad no matter where we were sitting, and that he would say…go to the ballet!  So we did.  What a night.   I remember, it was Maurice Sendak’s fabulous costumes and sets, and the ballet was wonderful.  One of the children in the ballet was a neighbor of ours.  Dad would have been delighted…but he would have sat out the event and preferred to nestle down in his chair with his smokes and his drink and his paper.  He would have looked up with a smile and a cocked eyebrow as we came back, and asked, “Well, Shorty, how was the ballet?”

I was blessed with some really fine people in my life.  I am so grateful.

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Its been a couple of years now since I began this business.  I went from a wonky little donated canopy that needed a stick inserted to keep it from sagging to double Swiss Gear canopies (yes two!).  There were some disappointing others in between.  These are working out fine, but I am taking a LOT of care to keep them in shape– not forcing anything when putting them up or down.

You learn every week.  You find out that people don’t like to enter a booth that doesn’t have an easy exit.  Well, they will enter if they are VERY attracted by what you are selling,  but most people will not make the venture if they are worried about getting trapped by efforts at salesmanship or by geography.

Sociological studies abound, and so do nuts and bolts wisdom.  Yes, you should always use weights on your booth (even if the sponsors don’t mandate it.)  Booths have been known to suddenly take off like Mary Poppins and wreck a lot of things..including other booths and PEOPLE!  I figured out that putting a nice fresh folded burlap blanket over my bottles of water made the booth look a little less po-dunk.  It took me until last week to figure that one out!  Why so long???

Why two booths?  I had the opportunity to show in two places at once.  My previous booth had died a sudden death (yes, I forced it and bent it, and plastic parts broke…don’t get a booth with plastic parts..)  and I had just ordered one when the opportunity came up, so I ordered a twin!  It turned out fine, since I did nearly sell out at the new venue.  Gobbled up my earnings,  but it was good because now I can either spread out at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, or send a helper out with the extra booth to another venue.

Sunny weather is great– you can move things out where people will want to touch them.  With wood product, this is particularly helpful…the wood people are often tactile people, and they come in with hands feeling as well as with eyes looking.  A fellow vendor made me a great stand for a featured item, as you can see.  I gave him a free shopping trip through my booth so he could choose something in return.  This does happen in fairs and Farmer’s Markets.  It’s an informal swap meet…or gifts between friends.

There is a community that happens in a regular market.  You find friends among your fellow vendors who are really extra wonderful… being in a venture together makes good bonds, usually.  Also you see “regulars” who come and watch you grow and change.  I get wood people coming in who want me to come drag their burls from their yards.  They want to know if I will carve them a horse.  And they come back and buy things now and then.  They bring their friends.  We have a nice chat–an extension on our last chat.  “How’s your husband?”  “When is your wedding date?”  “Did you have a good time in Coeur d’Alene?”

I take all this stuff to the market in the back of my Odyssey.  I have no idea how such a nice spread gets into a sleek mini-van.  But it does.  Like a jigsaw puzzle.  Every week it gets a little more sophisticated…the packing technique.  Not only how do you get it in there,  but how do you want it to unload next time you have to unload it?  Which items go on top?

It’s a long day, but even though it takes this old swimmer a day or so to recover from the effort, it’s very rewarding in terms of human interaction,  and the learning curve is about right for a senior citizen to stave off Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia.

Old Swimmer

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Into the Unknown


Here is one two year old little fellow who is “taking his Dad on a tour” of his new school.  I am not so sure that he is not really intent on taking his Dad away from the new school!

Ivan is my step grandson, and this photo is from images of his introduction to day school.  What a huge event in the life of a person who has only had some 700 or 800 days of history “on the outside.”  Think of what it would be like to suddenly spend a whole long day of the few days of your life being immersed (body, mind, soul)  in a place totally foreign, with strangers in charge and with nothing familiar around you!    Except for the presence of parents, this would be unbearable.  Huge.

All the photos are poignant; the sheer delight at a little playground playhouse — like a birthday party;  the complete misery at the moment of being handed over to some strange smiling (and strange smelling, because they are not Mommy) ladies who seemed perfectly immune to your needs to be back in your safe parental arms.  Mommy and Daddy seeming suddenly lacking in empathy with resolute smiles on their faces.  The various faces of little ivan are  a study of all the expressions in the book, and none of them is manufactured, like the parental smiles — they are genuine expressions of a small person on a huge personal odyssey.

Being “in on” this event through family photos brings to my mind a lot of similar history: my own childrens’ passages; my own passages.  We humans die a little and also learn to live a little more on these complex occasions.  The day after a “big step”, when we have gone back to “normal” life, we will find out that the trauma we experienced yesterday is not over, but is going to happen again today.  This adds a new dimension to our discomfort.  It’s a very present “bogeyman” that looms outside our safe place.  And our parents that we trusted are still smiling that new way and saying the new school is a good thing!  What a lot to undertake when you are two years old and filled with something very like dread!

We grow.  We have learned that falling down makes our knees hurt and then they get better,  that being left in the hands of strangers is not fatal, that Mom and Dad love you even when they are tired and cranky to you,  that getting a D on a test at school is remediable,  that being broke isn’t terminal,  that losing a loved one isn’t either,  and that dying is a fact of life that is universal, and therefore doesn’t single one out.  All these things are learned by hard things happening to us!  Guess that’s what they explained to us about what happened in The Garden of Eden!  Darn that Eve.

Anyway, here is an older woman, writing this,  who keeps stepping out of the comfortable into the unknown.  Nowadays, at 70, it’s not so scarey.  Uncomfortable but not scarey.  I remember nursery school.  I hated it.  But I remember it, and I’m glad I went.

Old Swimmer

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