Wednesday, November 5, 2014

That's the kind of Wood I want to be

 Autumn came and I got to see it this year! The mountains put on a show just for me. 

Me, my mom and my sister (left to right)

Well, this is awkward. I decided to post some update pics of myself to help you remember who I was in case you forgot... who I was. Not to mention, it's been a while since I posted any pics of me or my family on here. 

Also, I'm posting pictures of our Halloween costumes, because we didn't get to show off our costumes to too many peoples. And the people that did see us, were very boring. No interesting responses were garnered, except the fact that people I met didn't know who I was, and thought I was a boy. It was the first time ever I've been so disguised, that my identity was indiscernible. So I feel, in a way, my costume was, a success.

We had a party for my sister's kids, and that was fun. But deep down the dressing up is what I like most about Halloween. 
 I am worried that there may come a time when such needless things will cease to exist, and no one will remember the days in which we all dressed up for pure illogical reasons.
No matter how old I get, I always have a delicious desire to dress up. And judging by how many grown ups I see dressed up during Halloween, I think there's a lot of other people with the same great pleasure. Maybe it's the league of the creatives, or the Mad-hatter's club, where we all wish to be something far more interesting than what we are.

First off, my sister Bessie dressed up as a bird. She went through great lengths to stick feathers on her eyelashes, hair face, and costume.

 Next, my brother let us dress him up in a costume my mom and sister made for the play, Sleeping beauty. He even let me paint his face.

This was a balloon my mom put out, with a glow stick in it. It shrunk in the cold, and everywhere we touched it, it shrunk even more. I thought it had a lot of personality.

This was my costume. A plastic army man. I saw this awesome idea on the internet, and I had to see if I could duplicate it. I made the hand grenade out of a balloon, then spray painted it. I made the binoculars out a paper towel roll, and some old purse straps. I used some old netting for the top of the army hat. I got plastic gloves and spray painted those. Then I bought a green shirt at the thrift store. I spray painted some baggy pants. I cut out some cardboard for the bottoms of my boots, and spray painted those. I got a squirt gun, and spray painted that. Overall, I used almost four cans of green spray paint for everything. It's the first year I've actually dressed up in something non feminine. Nobody recognized me.

So, I'll state the obvious.
I have been so along away from this blog, and even writing, that returning gives me that painful sort of twinge of both guilt, and relief.  Guilt for having been so long away. And relief to be at my writing canvas again. Life has been going by so fast, and I've been living it so much so, I've hardly had time to write about it. 

Sometimes, when I'd think of writing, even more life would happen. And life has a way of meshing you into it.
Things like....a clogged sink, that clogs somehow everything else.....

 A sink you try to unclog, only to discover that now the toilet is clogged. And then you try to unclog the toilet, and the sink floods over with water. Then you try to unclog that, and the tub fills up with stuff from the netherworld. And then the toilet joins in the fun.

All about you reeks with poo, and stink, and water, and blackened leaves that somehow have found their way into the pipes. And there you are, holding a plunger as water bubbles up out of the sink. 

 These are the things that keep me awake at night. The nightmare bathroom from heck. Where spiders, scorpions and beetles, and crickets lurk. 

This bathroom=scariest thing on earth. I should seriously put up a sign, (Bathroom spook ally for Halloween) I'd open the door, shove em in, and turn off the light.  Booooo.....

 I'd make a fortune. 

You wouldn't believe the trouble we went through to get that bathroom's colon working again. Three people holding plungers over the tub, the sink and the toilet later, and my brother doing some sort of rain dance on the roof with a hose pushing water down a pipe, (the mysterious blow hole on top of the roof) And us, with water all over the floor, so deep you could go scuba diving, and every towel in the house mucking the floor, and there you stand amid the wreckage, wondering deep ponderful things....

Thins like...Do things like this only happen to me? Who has such an old house that you can only unplug the pipes from the roof, with a hose? Who has a house where the toilet-bowl, is connected to the tub, and the sink? 

Seriously? I don't know. This is one of my life's mysteries I will never have an answer to.

Sigh. Someday. In the great by and by. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll have all my questioned answered.  
So, before I go on, be warned. This is a very random, very long post. And spending so much time with me may cause you to start being as random as I am. Maybe your own sinks will start to clog. Maybe your toilet will bubble over. Maybe your tub start to fill with black liquid, bearing a very similar resemblance to a witches cauldron.

Now that I've cleared that up, and you know the ricks, as you may have noticed, I've changed my blog a bit. I'm still planning on moving stuff around and organizing the page better. I'm also thinking about re-editing the first book in my fantasy series, and updating its cover as well. So betwixt all my writing projects, things are in the flux as usual. 

Tonight we have a music program to put on. Tomorrow my sister and I are going to look at a Marimba someone is selling for a lot cheaper than what they normally cost. Before, the thought of ever buying one was always just a distant dream. But because of the crazy reduced price, and because we are die hard creatives, we're probably going to buy it. Why? Because we want to make music with it. You could call it a bucket list item. Something we've always wanted. Next on the list, someday, soon, I'm hoping to save my pennies to create a home recording studio.
Telling you all this seems kind of odd. Like I'm bearing my thoughts to the whole of cyberspace. Like showing off the bubbling caldron of our bathroom. It's like I'm letting you into a small part of my soul or something, clogs, caldron and all.

And here I stand. Very human. Living in a old house with "crappy" plumbing. And me telling you my woes. Oh well. I let my armor fall the time, revealing some gaping hole in my being. In hopes that it may bring us closer together, that my human-ness may connect to the "clogged plumbing" of your "own house." 
Most of the time I'm glad I share these stories. Sometimes, "the other times" when I share, and instead of getting the "me too," response. The person pokes their finger in the soft spot, and says, "yeah, you do seem to have a very apparent flaw, you should really fix that. I never have that problem." 

That's where sharing sometimes causing me to twinge. Being vulnerable is well, freighting. But being alone is far more freighting, so I continue to share.

Here I am. In the raw. Vulnerable, human. Cloggs and all. Very me, whatever I am. Not perfect in any way. My fingers are cold, so I'm having to retype many words as they come out just because I keep on hitting the wrong keys. Outside, the trees cling to the few golden leaves left on them, backbit by the sun, made vivid by the contrasting blue sky.

I have taken nearly a month off of writing anything. I've probably already said that. But it's true. And it's really weird. The approaching cold and the reality of winter coming once again, gave me new motivation to take advantage of the mild fall weather, and enjoy as much of being outside as I possibly could. 

The thought of coming cold really caused a shift in the goings on at my house. There's a lot to think about. Winterizing the animals. Clearing off and burning the tumble weeds that have taken over. Widening our ice skating rink, (that is a story unto itself) and a dozen other things.

 Last year my sister and I installed a wood burning stove into our front room, not fully realizing the reality of work that would be involved with such a venture. Who knew that such a quaint little stove, so lovely in the winter, could be such a tyrant as well. I now have a love hate relationship with it. The cast iron beast sits ready, always waiting, always hungry, and never full. And us, a slave to its hunger.

Last year we made a big family wood chopping event. We had three strong men running chainsaws, five or six girls, and lots of extra hands to make the lifting light. We got most of our wood hauled in one day, along with another families.

This year was not the same at all. *shakes head, sadly* Instead of a big family outing, it was more like a foursome trek of struggle and spartan endurance. Instead of one day of chopping wood, it was many days of chopping, gathering, hauling, unloading, resting, and doing it over again.

We had my brother. 
My sister and myself. 
And my mom to referee, and help carry what wood she could.
That was it. No one else. 
 Some logs were so heavy I thought I couldn't take another step.
Some days we would come home utterly exhausted, and black from head to toe with from the charcoal covered wood. I thought it strange that we were harvesting wood from the same canyon whose forests had been stripped by fire only several summers ago. From the ashes, and the blackened bark, oak trees grew around their dead trunks.
Nature was still triumphant. Its renewed life, was resilient proof that no fire, no matter how big, no matter how devastating could destroy the roots, the seeds, the mountain, or even the trees. 

Standing amid a forest of ancient, blackened pillars, silent, and massive, I knew that life, like the untapped energy inside the wood, existed still. Their outstretched branches outlined the sky, like jagged lightning. Even in death, these trees would bring warmth, and comfort into our home. The smoke from their fire would float out from our chimney, and remind passersby of the mountains, of camping, of warmth. No, I do not believe trees ever truly die. Even their dead wood lives on to speak of the forest.

I was thinking, wouldn't it be interesting if trees burned a year for each tree ring they had? If we could harness the energy of each tree ring, for each year, and the amount of sun fused inside their bark, one tree would be enough to keep a household warm for thousands of years. An ancient tree would never stop burning.
 Such muses are mine to ponder.  Truly, chopping wood, was an earthy, exhausting experience. Both pleasant, and painful. But there was something fulfilling about it. Chopping wood was something so basic, that even though it was hard, and sometimes miserable, it made me feel like a tree myself, like I was apart of nature. I had to dig my feet deep into the ground, to hold the wood up. Working so hard, I learned to breathe in and out. I had no thought except the task in front of me. In the mountains we had no phones, no thought of anything really, but breathing, lifting, surviving the next log thrown at our feet. It's almost as if we were part of nature itself.

And sometimes, it's kind of nice. Nice, not to think too much. Nice, not to worry too much.

Ah, but....but....when we finally finished harvesting the wood, I was glad. There comes a time when one is tired of feeling like a tree, and glad to be back home. Glad to be back to being a discernible person. Glad to wash off the dirt, grime, and become one with the tub.
My sister


My dirty toes. (The socks have holes because I chopped them to fit into my toe shoes)

But the funny thing is, even when you do get the wood home, you still have to unload it, chop it some more, and then load it back in the truck to stack elsewhere. All in all, I can't believe that our fore-bearers ever settled in such a woodless desert place as where we live. I can't even imagine chopping enough wood, much less hauling enough wood back from the mountains to cook with, and keep yourself warm through the winter.  All in all I'm proud of ourselves. Proud that were still alive. 
Contrasting last year's wood chopping event with this year was a stark reminder that nothing is ever the same twice, even if you wish it was.

Nope. Nothing is ever the same. The first day we went out to chop wood, my brother started out with the intention of going to the same place we went to chop wood last year. But the road had changed since we had been there last. It was washed out in several places. It was one of those roads you just hold your breath on, and close your eyes, and wait for the agony to be over. There was such an awful rut in part of the road, we had to get out and stack rocks in it for about 15-20 minutes just to make sure we could get back over the fissure.  Eventually, we came to a point where there was such a terrible lake in the middle of the road, we had no choice but to go back down the mountain to a totally new place.

It was a good reminder that nothing can be the same twice. If it is, it's probably fake, or stale, or bad, or plastic. One cool-shaded mountain path may be pleasant in the summer sun, but come back a few weeks later, when the shadows are different, and the weather has changed, and that same beautiful path may be cast in frigid shadows, and you have no choice but to move on to different paths. 
True story. :) 

It's a good reminder to Carpe Diem--to seize the day. In life, such pleasant paths may only be beautiful in the moment we are walking on them, while the sun is shining. We cannot always walk the same path again, and expect the same warm feelings we once had. Seasons go, and come, and we do to. Living on a farm has taught me that life is fragile, and that the line that separates us from life and death is very thin.

Whether we are chopping wood, or just trying to recapture the past. Trying to hold onto what was is not a pleasant path to go down. It's full of ruts, and pot, holes, and washed out places that keep you from going forward. 

Live in the now.
Right now. 
Be it cold or hot. Live and feel the earthy, nowness of each passing day, each new season, and the pain, and pleasure it brings. Sink your feet deeply into the earth, and lift your hands to the sky to embrace the day.

As the seasons change, we drop the leaves of yesterday, and welcome, with naked branches, outstretched to the season of today.
We gather our friends about us in summer or winter, they are the fuel that keeps us warm. And the love we give is what keeps truly keeps us alive. 
No one can foresee all the winter storms of tomorrow, or close all their windows to the cold winds that may someday blow in. No one can pile enough wood on their hearth to keep them from freezing from loneliness, or buy a big enough coat to keep the isolating temperatures of indifference from chilling their souls. 

Yet, still we humans worry about keeping ourselves warm in the winter, and all the time, the frost that truly freezes us is something of our own creation, the things we say and do, or don't do.

How do you prepare for a arctic storm where real human compassion is in short supply? Where we ice each other in by our lack of humanity? 

In our preparing for the winters of life, maybe we are forgetting the most important thing of all---to ignite the good we see in ourselves, and others. To fan the sparks of light and truth all around us with encouragement, and love. With such warmth surrounding us, we need not fear the winter. With each new year, with each season, let us soak up the sun of laughter, of love, of beauty, and let that be the energy by which our lives are fueled with. If one log can burn on the fire and keep us warm for many hours, how much more could a single kind word keep a lonely soul lit with purpose, and hope? We carry with us the potential and power to light up the whole world by a word, by a idea, by our lives, by our touch. 

Each day is one more ring to our lives, each year, another cycle, and another coating gets added to our trunks. We are the solar panels of Gods creation, taking in the good and the bad making our life experience into whatever we choose to make of it. And we, the growing trees of now, will someday be dead and gone, fuel for someone else fire, the light we absorbed will be apparent in the years to come. Like the masters of old, the light they took in still burns in our homes, Beethoven, Handel, Edison, Gorge Washington, their warmth burns on igniting other sparks, keeping a cold world from freezing over.

Harvesting wood, I've learned that not all wood burns the same. Some wood gives off much more smoke than heat.
Other wood burns cold. 
Some wood burns fast, and hot.
Other wood is rotten, and spongy, and very light, this wood is often cast aside.  
Other wood, the good wood worth keeping, is very heavy, dense, and strong. It is the wood that keeps you warm the longest, it burns for hours, and gives off the most heat, and warmth.

That's the kind of wood that's worth working for. That's the kind of wood that's worth keeping. It takes longer to chop, and it's a lot heavier to carry. But it's worth it because it keeps you warm the very longest.

That's the kind of wood I want to be. 

These videos below were some inspirational videos that spoke to me, and moved me. I hope you will get just as much enjoyment out of them as I did.

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