Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Jobs

I’m late.  Most years by mid-June a list of the summer projects has been posted under a magnet on the refrigerator, the shop cleaned and the sawhorses set-up.  Last summer I missed the ritual when I spent the summer mostly painting over smoking damage from a renter.  So three weeks ago, late for me, I finally began on this summer’s list. I found myself delighted to be among old tools and pleasing tasks. 

Clamps are among my favorite implements.  I seem to use them often.  I have large ones for repairing chairs and smaller ones, like this one in the photo that I was using to hold together a re-glued leg. Flipping the little stool over I had realized from the dark green paint on the bottom that it had military origins.  Walla Walla hosted a large air base during WWII.  I’m imagining that this stool could have been a mechanic’s one since its two-inch thick maple seat has saw nicks and deep oil stains. I’m curious how this little stool with its gorgeous thick maple seat came into being.  Who during the war designed it and designated its use?  How many were made?  Where are they all now?  The stool was obviously made with some pride.  I’m glad it still has a life now as a table next to the smaller of my claw foot tubs.  It is nice for holding a book, an iced drink or a candle.  One day it may be a shop stool again.  That would be fine. 

The leg that I was repairing had been previously screwed together and I was just reinforcing the break with some glue before retightening the screws. I sanded the seat for almost an hour having to go fairly deep to eradicate the oil.  I left the slightest trace as a historical marker.    

Back and forth to the refinishing cabinet for supplies was pleasing; it was familiar work with precisely the tools to do the work.  Scrappers, masks, stripper, steel wool, wrap to cover the stripping fluid while it worked, dental tools and those clamps. 

My jobs this summer have included stripping, repainting and varnishing the stool and also a bathtub seat.  I finished stripping white lead paint off of old shelving for the kitchen cabinets and sanded, stained and varnished them.  I took off the old paint from a couple of doorknobs to put into the freshly painted antique doors upstairs.

The work was transformative and reflective.   The kind of work that opens doors.      

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Joy Ride

From where I live I can see the cumulus clouds building up over the Blues.  My view is a narrow one from the house, not like this sweeping one, but the clouds lean down my street and sometimes, when the urge is too strong, I have to head out for a ride.  I’ve been cloistered at home with the light from my computer screen glowing late into the evenings or smothering projects in the shop with paint stripper for a few weeks now.  I haven’t written on the blog or even added to my memoir.  Not a word.

So I called to Pup and we headed off.  I promised her a walk somewhere, but she loves the ride getting there.  Here she was in this photo listening to the slither of a snake or the rustling of a field mouse.  The trip last night up the North Fork of the Walla Walla River gave her smells of goats and cows and a deer.  She stood between the seats watching or hanging her head out as the good smells came.  

It’s harvest time in the valley.  The dust was back lite by sun rays as the tractors came in from the fields to park for the night.  Wheat trucks loaded rushed by me.

The hawk on the gate looked for the final meal of the night in the short stubble and a coyote ran along a ridgeline. 

This was no ordinary ride.  It was a joy ride.  How one celebrates when one’s world flips around is something one doesn’t always plan.  Earlier in the day I yelled “Whoop!” as I submitted an application for a writer’s residency.  The shouted “whoop” rose above me and dissipated through the walls out into the valley.  I guess that when I went for the ride later I was just following the syllables, pulled along in the wake of their projection in a southern course.  I used to be a retired elder and now, flip, I am a writer.  Or so, I now suppose.        

I stopped a moment at an old pioneer cemetery.  Here I know are the graves of whole families who seemed to die all at once.  I’ll take joy where I can find it.  I’m sure that I’ll carry it with me when it will be my time to go.  When I think of dying I think of how much I shall miss this gloriously beautiful world, so I try to catch its images and maybe in the next world I’ll reconstruct its essence.  

The North Fork is a dead end, but no matter.  The light on the barbed wire, the old cottonwood trees and the folds of the hills proffered slices of views.  Pleasing ones.  Later while I waited for the pup to poop in the dark at a park near home, I figured out how to use another aspect of a photo application.  Another joy.  Applying for that writer’s residency may be a dead end, but the road there has given me insights into my capacities and dreams out on the horizon.