Posts Tagged ‘Woods’

raindrops in the workshop

raindrops in the workshop

We have been looking for rain for a long time.  The forest is dry;  the bracken is yellow; the fire danger signs are up;  the bears are coming down from the mountains looking for food, and so are the deer and their accompanying predators, the mountain lions.

Every thing is coming down from up above.  And the rain is a relief.  But it’s coming down in some wrong places!

I knew the water problem would come up with fall weather.  We have a ditch dug, thanks to a nice person named Alfredo who works for my landlord.  Last winter my son dug out a ditch in front of the garage apron and filled it with gravel. But what about the water that comes down ON the apron and invites itself into my workshop area?

Seemed to me, working out there today, that a shed roof installed over the apron would be a plan:  something to direct the water into the driveway at least.  I rigged something just to see if it would work.  I spent probably two hours fussing around with long sticks and also with some left over shingles.  The picture shows the wonderful black plastic solution I came up with, using long sticks as springs propped against the supports in the garage doors, and such.  The shingles are now arranged shingle style on the apron, hoping the rain will decide to shed down into the driveway, but the apron is really quiet flat, not sloped.  I need a dam in my doorway!  And I need to put the stuff in the carport on stilts!  (I need to get rid of it.)

Well, I did get some work done in the shop today, but most of the progress was conducted in my studio where chips and leather scraps are on the floor and things are drying here and there.  It’s good to see some progress.  A vase I have been working on for several days (actually it started months ago with the basic repair of a large check in its side,) got its finishing touches today.  I have created a handle that is installed right over the epoxied and stained crack — quite an invention our of leather scraps and with little holes burned along a strip that I sewed with waxed linen thread and then affixed to the side of the vase with escutcheon pins and two strong leather supports.  The final move was to lace the stitched handle so it had a uniform shaped grip.  I think it’s quite handsome, really.  Not useful– just handsome.  One can put fake flowers in this, or dry weeds.  Or nothing.  It looks as if it has a history.  Well, it has!

Who knew where that tree grew, and how and why it was cut down,  and why the wood turner chose that particular shape, and why the wood decided to crack open just there?  Many hands have handled this piece of wood, including mine.  I know that other hands will come at the bowl outstretched to feel the smoothness of the satiny wood and to try out the handle.  They will look inside and ask if water can be put in there (no), and then they will have their inner dialog about whether they should part with a sum of money for something that is only decorative…but it’s so decorative, after all.  And it’s hand made.  And it’s smooth.    Someone will buy it and love it a lot.  Like I have.


Old Swimmer


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Before, After, and Later on at Mt. St. Helens


Today is the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.


Then and Now at the 9-11 World Trade Tower Site  Recently I watched a video in German about the eruption in 1980 of Mount St. Helens.  The photography is fabulous, but what sticks with me is the degree of devastation,  the widespread effects it had not only on the nearby states, but on the whole world, and ESPECIALLY what sticks with me is the image of a little rodent mole creature digging out and rebuilding.  The story is a victory story.

What I get from this video is the answer to “what can one do?”  One can do a lot.  Individuals, each doing what he can do well in his given corner can grow a whole new ecosystem in a barren place.

The much coverage of our 9/11 monstrosity event AND the progress report on what individuals have built so far from the chasm left after the collapse of the twin towers will, I hope, give the same hopeful after-memory to linger after the pomp and circumstance, the tears and mourning and remembrances are over.

I don’t have a TV in my quarters.  I could go upstairs to the part of the house occupied by my co-renter and watch her TV if I wanted, but I have plenty to do here without the constant invasion of media and my connection via internet is sufficient for me to keep in touch with world events.  This is how I keep my artistic sanity.  Not for everyone, but it works well for me.

So I am knowing through conversations with fellow travelers in my world that they are inundated with the sorrowful commemorative rites and are turning off their TV’s.  I hope they somehow get a message that we are still alive and able to function as long as we don’t stay focused on the debris all around us…as long as we begin by moving big boulders in front of our own front doors and making our paths clear to do our regular life duties.  This is what it will take.  Simple.  A matter of duty and regular daily work done with patience and hopefully, skill.

This is what I am hoping for this poor old world of ours…and for the relatively young, but still brash, country we live in.

I talk about the end times often, thinking in Bible Prophesy terms.  In the very large picture, I am expecting this,  and have hope because of remedies laid out long ago to help victors through the devastation to come.  But in the meantime, we are told to “occupy.”  And, like that little mole-like creature in the German YouTube video, I hope to be faithful and hopefully also skillful in my efforts to do my daily vocation(s).

Old Swimmer


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Just one bough of the Red Huckleberry bush outside my window.

Maybe it is too much coffee, but I think it’s more likely the weather.  September in the Pacific Northwest is often my most favorite month for clean air, brilliant sunshine and sparkling changes in the woods.

I tried sleeping several times today — after all it’s the day after the weekly huge project of setting up, running and taking down the Farmer’s Market booths.  Usually on Sunday I do a lot of catch-up sleeping.   But today my attention kept wandering out the window, no matter how good being prone felt.  I have the most wondrous forest outside my big bedroom windows, and today, as I tipped my head back on the pillow to see the upside-down view beyond the head of my bed,  the sunlight had just hit a bough of red huckleberries making them into translucent orbs of magical lights on the green bough.  I had to grab the camera and go out there.

Along with the huckleberries I took shots of what I consider KCQ’s tree… a giant sequoia that my cat, (Kitty Cat Quantum) climbed in terror in the early spring months and where he could not get down until an arborist, tree-climber expert came to rescue him!  There is no way to take a close=up shot of such a tall tree.

The tree soars well over a hundred feet into the air, and the cat was lodged about forty feet up where the branches begin.  He didn’t know how to get down.  (being mostly an indoor cat.)

Is it okay if I change my favorite time of the year to September?  It used to be April because that was the beginning of wonderful summer months of vacation and such.  But now I like September for other sorts of reasons.  The smell of the sun on drying leaves.  The amazing changes in the colors– different from one day to the next.  The possibility of snow.  The cleansing of rain.  The drama in the sky.  The thankfulness of the land for moisture after some dry weeks of late summer.  The changing of the guard in the wildlife.

My son said it’s quite possible that Elk will come down from the mountains and appear around here as the food becomes more scarce in the colder elevations.  I do know two cougars are lurking around this area– they have been seen.  It may well be that their regular prey are coming down — the deer and elk.

I saw two adult Mulies and a young deer leaping away over the lawn when I went out two mornings ago. Lovely to see.   A carpenter bee has made a perfectly round hole in the side of our house.  I will have to get some diatomaceous earth to put down that hole to rout out her eggs and keep our house from becoming an extensive apartment building for carpenter bees.

Someone came and dug a great trench on the watery side of the garage I use for a workshop.  It is going to save me from working in a flooded garage this winter.  Now I must figure out how to be warm in there.   There’s an old wood stove, but no stovepipe.  Insulation is needed.  Rubber padding on the floor.

It’s probably partly the old student in my getting ready for R & D …  something left over from school days.  But I think it’s just euphoria, with the air, and the sun, and the sky, and the possibilities.

I’d like to bottle this for future dreary months ahead.  But never mind.  I’ll click my heels today, even though the Phillies lost and I have a broken fingernail that I’m afraid to clip.  Such trivia!

Just LOOK at those Huckleberries!

Old Swimmer

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This image was unabashedly “lifted” from this excellent blog:  http://ruralchatter.blogspot.com/2008/08/public-service-announcement-about-feral.html  If it is copyrighted I will remove it, or arrange for special permissions.  What a classic photo!

I decided to re-post this entry that I made in another (anonymous) blog last year around this time.  This year I am living around 3000 miles away from where I was then, but I still find myself among the cats and birds and thermal phenomena of the perennial jungle.  I enjoyed reading this one again, and I hope others will too.  old swimmer 

This entry was originally written in Newfield,New Jersey, December 22nd, 2008

Coming in from my morning rounds I ripped off my gloves, ran to the kitchen sink, and turned on the cold water. I let it run to get really cold before putting my fingers under it. It felt SO GOOD. Warm. The pain stopped rather quickly and I was back to normal in about a minute’s time. 

Flickering through my mind-tapes was a memory of my father showing me how to treat my frostbitten toes many years ago. The pond in our Philadelphia area neighborhood had frozen very solid and I had been skating in my father’s old black, pointy toed, narrow and very floppy ice skates. They were way too narrow and long for my very wide and much smaller feet. The many socks packed into the wrong-shaped skates did little to protect my toes from the cold. Between the single digit temperature outside and the effects of strangulating socks cutting off blood circulation to my toes, and the fact that I skated way too long and then had to walk quite a long way to get home, my poor small feet had turned a deathly white and were — well, frosty!

Dad took one look and hurried me to the bathroom where he ran a tub of cold cold water. It did not look inviting, but he said it was what to do to save my feet from tissue damage!  He said I would be happy once I put my feet in. At first I didn’t feel much, and then it felt warm. Then my feet began to ache badly, thawing. Then they began to regain their normal color. Soon I could feel that the water was cold. He ran a small amount of warm water into the mix. And soon my feet felt normal again.

I did some damage that day that I still (some sixty-five years later) deal with sometimes when my circulation is poor or my feet get chilly. My toes turn white and they ache. And get numb. I massage when that begins to happen and it does help. But a little bit of damage really is there and will not change. Only because I didn’t come home soon enough,  when my feet were numb and I was having so much fun skating.

I am reminded that life skills are lore that even “Igluk” (our household nickname for the quintessential Cave Man) learned from his father. I don’t remember the Pennsylvania schools having a lesson in frostbite first aid. Surely Alaska will have such a class, but not suburban Philly. These bits of wisdom are taught at parents’ or mentors’ knees, very often in the presence of palpable pain!

My head is full of such vignettes that just rest in place somewhere in my brain’s “operating system”  like the knowledge of how to walk, or how to talk. Life-lore events make an indelible impression, like certain odors or fragrances (depending on how you like them) bring back whole environments and events. My father leaning over, explaining.  The sight of my white feet.  The pain.  The questions about “tissue damage” and the contemplation of the answers.

AND I DIGRESS:  (as so often happens)
Sitting here, with my mind on parental lessons, my eyes wandered out the window to my neighbor’s driveway where I happened to see the “resident” feral cat catch a meal. I m glad I don’t know what it is, but his companion (who will, I am quite certain, deliver kittens in maybe six or so weeks) came running hopefully over to see if this meal would be shared. No, it will not. The larger cat took his kill to the bushes where he sits now probably relishing the heat from some little recently live high-metabolism body.

So that cat watched his mother, no doubt, do what he just did to stave off the cold, including the business of NOT SHARING, which is why he is alive and his littermates are very likely not. Learning life skills at the “knee of his parent.”

In this desperate economic climate I read that people are arriving in droves at the SPCA and other shelters with their beloved house pets. They find they have come to a place in the budget where there is not enough to take proper care of extra mouths, and pets are, though loved, expendible. The SPCA is euthanizing record numbers of animals as lovely and trusting as my own two scruffy beloved terriers and my fat and spoiled cat. (who himself was rescued as a practically newborn kitten by me from under the shed one spring day.) People come in with broken hearts and leave the pets behind.

I am wondering whether that feral cat across the street will live through the winter. Possibly so. He is large and fat and very good at hunting. He doesn’t share. He may live another year, or maybe he has a lot of parasites that will catch up with him and cut his life short even with good weather. He will certainly live longer than the glossy little fellows at the SPCA whose humans have gone off in tears, leaving them peering out from cages wondering when their owners will return. Who has the better life?

I am reading a book that I’m having trouble staying with: I Am a Cat, a zenny classic translated from the work of Soseki Natsume.   It is really quite a wonderful book, but reminds me of Watership Down in that it goes on and on at a cat’s pace, which is not at all quick or particularly efficient. Like the rabbits in Watership Down, the Cat is a creature that does a lot of smelling of the roses on hs way to doing things, and the more so if he happens to have been tucked into a household which leaves food in a dish and has a good place to curl up without predators anywhere around.  I guess I will have to slow down and take this at a cat’s pace.  Happily it’s got chapters that stand alone, so one need not remember a “plot” but can just pick it up whenever and read a chapter.  END OF DIGRESSION

So, if there is a point to this blog, I guess it is that the stuff creatures, human and otherwise, learn by the way, as they are smelling the flowers, that becomes the stuff of survival and one’s MODE and CODE of life. If it’s good stuff, like warming frostbitten fingers in cold water so as not to damage the tissue, you live longer. If you aren’t paying attention, or don’t have a parental teacher, you don’t.

I was one of the lucky ones. I may be nuts, but I’m still alive, aren’t I?

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buzzardAcross the street, sitting on the old fashioned TV antenna high above the house, four vultures are waiting for the elevator…. (to read more, click here)

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