Saturday, January 17, 2004

Looks like today might be a bit warmer than yesterday. That wouldn't be hard to do, yesterday had very distinct arctic qualities. I think here on the home front we have a new kind of cabin fever. Here's an example. Furlinghetti, the black and white cat, walked past me to the folded up spare bed we have in the corner of the room. She started out reaching up, clinging to the bed covers and "murping". That's the sound she makes when talking to humans. Then she jumped up on the folded bed.... You know the kind, they just fold up like a book. Furball gets to the top and begins dancing about, shaking her head, and murping. Once she had my attention she put her head down in the corner of the bed where it meets the corner of the room, and stood on her head. She rolled over onto her back and then did the routine again. I watched for about five minutes at this strange act and then she jumped down, murped twice and ran down the hall way. Maybe she was bored, I just don't know.
My wife Margaret says I should try to think more about the positive aspects of my life. I seem much too aware of life's failures. I have been unable to do most of what I have tried to do lately. The drugs for my back make me forgetful and clumsy, so bringing in the eggs from the henhouse got as far as the kitchen counter before I dropped the basket, breaking all the eggs. Not a big deal since the last few days all the eggs have been frozen, but still, another failure.
Chronic pain can effect brain chemistry and make you depressed and clumsy and forgetful. The same kind of side effects the drugs for the pain offer. Kinda hard to be perky when your leg feels on fire, but I'm working on it.
I used to tell folks that inside your psyche there is a version of yourself that is the accumulated result of all those times you were told "No", or all the times your got your feelings hurt. That "terrible child" has tantrums and fits of vindictiveness. You need to find that terrible child and somehow metamorph them into the "wonderful child". You first have to accept them, really acknowlege what made that persona, and then listen to them and reward them for protecting you. Because that's what the terrible child is doing, being your mentalguard. That's a good thing. The terrible child is like those big statues in front of the temple. Awesome to look at with their swords of fire and toothsome mouths. The terrible child is the force that gives you the anger to fight back. But they need to be cared for and they need some limits. They can run around in your psyche, knocking things over and causing a mess. That's why we get forgetful, things are in a mess.
On the gatepost to the garden I have placed my first helmet. I used to be a Viking guy in the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism. That helmet was pretty clumsy and heavy, but it was a Viking-style helmet and I like it. I guess the head changes shape or something because after a couple of decades i couldn't fit my head into it. So now it sits on a gate post some 7 feet off the ground, glaring at those who would enter the garden. It has a little skullcap of snow now and looks vaguely like a Jewish robot head. There's actually a lot of the SCA around this place. There's two real swords propped up in the hallway and a couple of bladed iron maces. Janis is the throwing mace I bought from Kirby D. Wise, an armorer in the western edge of Arizona who used to show up at tournies with a station wagon filled with swords, helms and daggers. Once he brought this fantastic greatsword, actually a claymore. It had silver inlay and ironwood grip and you could wield it one handed. For a mace man it was a great toy, but the $900 price put it out of my range. I much prefer the bold thunk of the mace hitting its target. I taught my daughter Jess to throw Janis, one handed. We have this large left over stump of a hemlock tree and we place bottle caps in the bark and back off about 12 feet or so. I can hit the cap fairly often, but when Jess hits it, she nails it dead center. I remember one afternoon when she was practicing and this car pulled up with a kid who was sort of interested in her. She nailed the bottle cap and the kid backed out and drove away. Too much for him, I guess.
Further up the drive is our kiln shed. I built a two chambered wood-fired kiln, a style called noborigama. You can fire it in 12 hours to bisque temperature, or 18 hours for sculpture temp. I also have a small anagama kiln, a simple updraft design for masks and small vessels. I usually fire that in 8-12 hours. The brick lined pit is like a flattened bowl in the ground and aside from the solstice and equinox bonfires I use it to fire small pieces like bowls, figurines and pipes. Beyond that is the not yet completed sauna. I framed it in the country-Japanese style but getting the roof completed has been an issue. My back won't allow me to push plywood on to the frames. I guess I'll have to use boards. I have this cute little wood stove I plan to cover in slabs of soapstone for the heat inside. I'll have two or three benches at different heights and a good time will be had by all. The idea is that when you fire a kiln you can wind down in the sauna.
It's a nice place to be, but slow working when your back is so banged up. Two crushed vertebrae, a missing disc and arthritis. Makes me depressed too often, but at 53 I expect much more of me. My terrible child never misses a chance to scold me for not working harder, but when it's -30 with wind chill, there is no work to be done outside. So I sit inside and make exotic birdhouses. The idea is to try to bring in some money so I feel like I am not a bum, which is what my dear old daddy would have called me. I don't have a job, I stay at home and clean the house as best I can and make sure that Margaret comes home to a nice place and warm food. I had to quit my job three years ago when I decided that working for morons would make me crazy. Then my son Jon was thrown thru a windshield into a coma and I haven't gone back to work since.
Well, having posted one version of "Day one" and then deleted it, let's see if I like what I have so far. Time to spell check and publish.

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