Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Nobody else, I was sure, ever let their tools get so dull. Embarrassed to bring them to the sharpener, I prepared a fib -- "I bought these at a garage sale" -- in case the sharpener said, "Whee doggie. I've never in my life seen garden tools in such a deplorable condition." I wasn't sure whether the weed whip, my favorite, with its double-edged and serrated blade, could even be honed. I never knew anyone who cleaned or sharpened garden tools; Demetrius left his crusted with clay and soil. Also needing treatment were two lopping shears and a very old pair of hedge shears with wooden handles. The hedge shears were already here, rusted stiff, blades blackened with time and handles sticky with dust, when I moved in long ago. I wondered whether they could be salvaged. In the garage when I moved here was also a scythe, an actual scythe, but I think it's gone.
The sharpener sharpened and spiffed up all four and covered the freshly honed edges with paper, a courtesy unexpected and appreciated. Here they are back home, and out I go because I like cold weather for doing the heavy work of cutting.
Monday, October 14, 2019
In September I spent three days caulking a historic single-pane window real nice (with "antique white"), but this one is 1969 in an aluminum frame and it rained yesterday and it'll rain tomorrow so instead of having fun I got the stepladder and drop cloths, plastic bags, nitrile gloves, wet rags and caulking gun and worked quick and dirty. Nearly every inch of this 85-year-old house needs caulking. Aproned and teetering and reaching overhead and messing up, I do it about every 10 years. This time I noticed caulk technology has changed; now soap and water will get it out of your hair and off your gloves and pants.
Inner critic: Your caulking stinks.
Me: Shut up. It's better than yours.
Inner critic: Should have cut the the tube a narrower tip --
Me: I didn't see you lending a hand.
Inner critic: Slow and steady. Don't smooth beads with your finger; use a craft stick! What a mess! Don't you have a sponge? Don't poke at that, it's almost dry! Now it's worse!
Me: The caulk didn't fill it up the first time.
Inner critic: It would have, if you'd been patient --
Me: Cram it.
The photo is AFTER I caulked and while it's curing. Yes, it's hoosier, but it looks a lot like the art downtown at the Pulitzer. In the right light.
Monday, September 23, 2019
The instructor ignored me and advised us all to work with weights and to up the poundage every time we got good at it. Don't get old, get strong.
She's right, but strength, I secretly think, is secondary. Priority goes to keeping a somewhat youthful shape, and especially knees not draped with crepe-y flesh. So, telling myself it's about knee strength, I started with the "quad" weight machine and related exercises. The "quads" are the long, tough vertical muscles in front of the thighs.
Two weeks, three weeks: The crepe went away! Now that's motivation!
Coincidentally, this is the season the quite common and ordinary Russula mushrooms, such as the one pictured (about 3" in diameter), muscle their way out of the soil, displacing it if they have to. It takes Russulas about two days to fight their way to standing and you can watch their progress. They lift with their stems and caps more earth than I can with a shovel from this tough, packed, weed-choked soil. They get scarred. They don't quit. What inspires them? Maybe they wanted to be up in time for the autumn equinox. Happy equinox today!
Sunday, September 22, 2019
But ye know not the day and hour a tree will fall. I have learned that trees groan and whine before falling -- the way metal whines when it's fatigued and set to give way. If in the woods if I hear that, I make myself scarce because to be killed in the woods by a falling tree is just too ironic, although Demetrius liked to stand there hoping to see the spectacle.
The shagbark hickory pictured, as long as I've known it, gradually offered up all its limbs to storms and winds. Its indwelling tree nymph moved out, and now the tree is really, really dead. Plenty of dead trees are standing on the property waiting to keel over, but only this shagbark hickory, should it fall, threatens the dwelling. Having its carcass cut down will cost less than being forced to move should the tree -- northwest of the house, where the winter storms come from -- tip over and crush the roof. Arrangements have been made. I took its photo and informed the tree nymph, who has since found a new place.
I hope and believe that the earthly body of this tree will one day sprout delicious mushrooms. Amen.
Saturday, August 31, 2019
This is Late Summer. It won't be autumn until September 21. Yet I've begun having soup at every meal, stockpiling what I "feel" is enough coffee and examined the fleece bathrobe to see if one more year might be wangled out of it. Trees in the understory are faintly yellowing. I don't want to be this way. (And in December, in winter's grip, I always light the firebowl and think, "This isn't so bad after all!") Several work projects require other people to make the next move and I'm waiting. I've waited for a couple of years on some of them. Wish progress were as constant as the changing phases of the moon. Here's the August 2019 full moon. May it be so: September 2019 will be greatest month of our lives.
Monday, August 26, 2019
With old furniture and a ton of books, scrapbooks, yearbooks, etc. hauled or thrown away and by moving a few pieces, I enjoyed the airiness of a non-furnished living room, but it should have, like, seating. What type? Where to put it? I was getting ahead of myself. I listed on my whiteboard my priorities: Warmth. Light. Clarity. Secondarily: Fun (twice over!), welcome/hospitality, wanting to stay here all year, and consciousness -- meaning setting the room up for gladness and ease.
Choosing according to priorities and not budget, style, or whim, I began to change. I sit erect now (forced to, by a new office chair), wear my hair off my face, have pencils and pens nearby. Bureau-drawer dividers -- $2! -- and a box for gym clothes saved time. Why had such items never crossed my mind? The gorgeous Divine Fireplace has never worked and never will, a daily disappointment. So why in all these years hadn't I sought an alternative? New windows the landlord wouldn't pay for, and I couldn't pay for, but indoor storm windows could offer light and insulation in winter. Did that meet my priorities? Yes. Should I invest in them, given that the house isn't mine? They're custom-made, so not returnable. But how do I want the rest of my life to go? The Divine Cabin needs five. I bought two, and we shall see.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
|Things are different up north.|
|Ashland County, WI|
I remembered the place was at a crossroads and we drove 15 miles up the main highway but did not find it. The motel keeper gave directions and we drove four miles out of town on a nearly exact copy of a road not a mile from the Divine Cabin, one I nicknamed "Memory Lane" because it matches my ancient memory. "I am imprinted! I am!" I breathed. My grandfather's tavern, built of stone around 1930, still operates under the original name, "Maple Grove." Contrast this with a bar called "The Ripsaw" we passed in a godforsaken dust-bunny of a town half an hour to the south -- northern WI was once all sawmills and turpentine. Now it's all fishing lakes and taverns. In our grandfather's tavern at a crossroads I drank a beer in the same dark and thickly varnished interior, the stovepipe in the wall gone, though, and two flat TVs tuned to sports.
On this late Sunday afternoon there were three other customers. My very Christian sister and brother-in-law, who never drink, were clearly uncomfortable -- brother-in-law, age 61, ordering Pepsi for them both, confessed he did not know how to sit at a bar or when to pay. So we stayed only the length of my beer -- having driven several hours that day -- and I took a few snaps with my sister. I said to the bartender, a man slightly younger than we who looked as if he'd enjoyed a lot of good rock 'n' roll music, "Our grandfather used to own this place."
"What was his name?"
I told him and said our uncle had later owned and run the tavern, and he said, "I used to work with Dorothy (our aunt, who long survived our uncle) at La Croix," manufacturers of the world's finest fishing rods, its factory and factory store in the next town over. Outside of La Croix a machine vends bait. I said I would take its picture for my blog. My sister, who left the workforce in the 1990s to stay home and be a mother, asked "What's a blog?"
In the pouring rain I did not try to photograph the tavern's unique exterior, but we briefly slowed to look up a gravel drive at the farmhouse where we'd slept a couple of times -- I remember waking to see frost on the window's inside -- and the house, barn, and silo sat as we'd left them a half-century before. Brother-in-law was willing to drive up to the house (because it didn't serve alcohol?) but I told him strangers shouldn't do that. I didn't feel I could ask my sister and brother-in-law to return the next morning, after the rainclouds cleared, to take exterior snaps of the bar, because now I wanted the favor of seeing the local lake I'd never seen, where my mother said she had taken visitors out in a boat to fish. (She'd told my sister that, but I never heard it.) We went. There I took a picture and said to the pretty lake, "Hi, Mom. Thanks. We have not forgotten you."