Thursday, April 30, 2009

Putting Down Roots

It has been a little while since I last posted here. My world has been busy. Springtime has brought mud season... many days of standing outside in knee-high "sh*t-kicker" boots .... rooting around with a shovel, trying to muck out ditches which have long since been filled in with silt; working a large chainsaw to fell more trees and make next year's firewood while clearing land for gardening (and hopefully making it less likely that said trees will fall on my house). Did I mention that the power lines to my house no longer consist of separate leads with some sections of bare copper threating to start a fire if the 3" gap between them were ever bridged? Many thanks to one of my roommates (a former lineman) who helped to make this possible.

Some of my friends haven't heard from me for months. I hope they don't think I've forgotten about them. May they understand that I am busy building something for myself and others. It is where I find the most peace.

Some days I stumble around the yard
, dragging brush and thinking about the past as I pile it up, piling up the past and putting it away again in the back of my mind. I go for long walks in the woods with my dog, trying to draw a line from there to here. Heh, it's been a wild ride. I didn't even realize it, but I'm standing taller and putting down roots. In the middle of rough times, a long-time dream happened simply by yielding to the gentler path and learning how to put the Ego back in His cage (Ok, so he still reaches out from between the bars and takes swipes at others, I'm not perfect).

My late ex doesn't pop into my head much anymore. He is still there, sometimes smiling and laughing (those are my favorite memories of him), sometimes I see him being angry, hurtful and vindictive. Sometimes I see myself being angry, hurtful and vindictive. Sometimes when I am wandering off the trail and my mind is blank, I look up and see him and/or other people from my past, standing there and looking happy, sometimes showing me where to go. I feel like I could reach out and touch them, but they disappear as fast as they came. The human mind is a strange thing. I wish I understood mine more.

These experiences
all came from somewhere, went somewhere, are currently going somewhere. Worrying excessively about the future and replaying the dark parts of the past is counterproductive though it seems like human nature to do so. Still trying to keep the past in perspective, examine it, learn from it, put it away and let it build a solid foundation for what is to come. Easier said than done sometimes.

Have I become calmer and wiser over the years? One likes to think so but is not yet fully convinced. I am now almost 30 and feel like it has been only a week since I was a teenager. Should I start planning to affect a mid-life crisis in a few more years so people don't think I am abnormal? No, I think it is sufficient to keep them convinced that I sit on a bit of controlled madness.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gun Attack!!!???

On Easter Sunday Pepper and I were driving back home after visiting my parents for Easter dinner. I was slowing down & coming to a stop at a light on a four-lane section of the road in downtown Claremont. The tan-colored pickup truck ahead of me was pitching to the left next to the other stopped vehicle at the light. It had a bunch of veteran-themed bumper stickers on it. The driver put his hand out the window, seeming to brandish something that he was pointing at the folks in the front seat of the darkly-colored jeep next to him. He was holding it and pointing it like a gun... I felt my face flush and get tingly... my heart felt like it jumped up behind my larynx. A rapid-fire series of thoughts went screaming through my head:

"HOLY CRAP!!! This is rural New England, this type of stuff does not happen here, especially not in broad daylight!!!!"

"I am about to witness a murder, memorize the make & model of the vehicle along with the plate number!!!"

"I should ram him, it might throw off his shot!" *heart pounding out of my chest*...

As I revved up the engine and got ready to let off the clutch, his hand turned slightly and I saw that it was not, in fact, a gun, but an eight-inch-long package of rolled candy which he was passing to the person on the passenger side of the vehicle next to him. He was holding it pinched between his thumb-joint and the knuckle of his index finger with the candy sitting parallel with his wrist and his hand clenched, thus looking like the barrel of a handgun.

When the light turned green, the truck pulled away and I realized that I was still staring at the back of it as it got to the next set of lights, with white-knuckled hands on the shifter and the wheel, my left foot quivering on the clutch. The person in the car in back of me began to honk his horn angrily because I was holding up traffic. I let off the clutch slowly and pulled ahead as my heart-rate began to slow down again.

It is extremely rare that I ever do something impulsive let alone an action with the potential to be life-altering. That driver will never know that he came within a split second of a damaged truck bed along with a probable case of whiplash and/or a broken arm that day. Even though I was erring with the welfare of others in mind, it would have been a very awkward apology as well as an unbelievable explanation to the police. It was one of those moments which felt like an hour compressed into a few seconds.

Moral of the story: it is generally a bad idea to pass things from vehicle to vehicle while in traffic, especially objects which can be mistaken for weapons. Oh yeah, and look before you leap.

Three cheers for the path not taken!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Chinese Bluegrass

Picked up off BoingBoing: Crazy-awesome fusion tune integrating traditional asian instruments into the bluegrass genre!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

House Of Escher

Yay! I'm FINALLY posting pictures of my country shack... only a year after promising to do so. It has been dubbed "The House Of Escher" because the varying angles of walls, floors & skewed frames/casings inside might loosely resemble a M.C. Escher painting. Keep in mind that the original structure (built in 1939) is the small section that you see the mudroom/entrance tacked onto on the front (on the left in the picture below), it is also the only part on a proper foundation. All the other rooms sit on a combination of piers, posts, blocks and a slab. Every single room is an add-on and every room is a different age. The house has settled at strange angles and the back half of it sits about a half-foot lower than the front half. Some of the additions were put on after it settled. You all think I'm nuts for taking this place on yet? If not, you will need no further convincing after I post pictures of the interior... I just need to edit out all the dust, grime, vermin, bat-skyte-crazy repairs/"upgrades" and general threats to public health... which I expect will leave a perfect void in place of the original photographs.

East side, the small pine tree has since been removed, and the weird collapsing wood-shelter/whatever-it-is attached on the far right is in the process of being torn off. Note the 3 separate chimneys: I was told that every room used to be heated by a separate woodstove. These will eventually be torn out and replaced with triple-wall metal stovepipe.

South side: again, this section on the front was the original structure, a tiny cabin, now it serves as the kitchen area.

West side.

North Side

Creative engineering/architectural marvel of the 21st century. A toolshed... with a long roof addition to serve as a woodshed... and the sun-porch which was apparently cut off from a mobile home... sitting on the side of it. I've since torn most of the tattered plastic off and enclosed the front of wood-storage area.

Late 70s/early 80s(?) model of mobile home which came with the property. This will be deconstructed at some point within the next year or two and many of the materials will be re-used to upgrade the main cottage as well as the tool shed.

Northwest side

Front yard facing south, dirt road in the background

Main yard facing southeast from the house. The planter is an old hot-water tank which was cut open and welded to angle-iron legs. Some of my friends think it is either hilarious or ugly. I am keeping it because I love to see low-brow junk recycled into something useful.

Main yard facing east from the house. The brick fireplace on the left has since been torn out and replaced with a stone fire pit.

Back part of the main yard facing north. The picnic table and everything you see in these photos came with the place. The random well-tile-turned-flower planter has since been emptied and put on the well: an engineering conquest I am proud of because I did all of it myself using a rope, breaker-bar lever and a come-along winch to move it fifty yards onto the well (and it weighs at least as much as three of me).

"Not so bad" you might be thinking? It is way shabbier and mind-bending up close. These photos were taken in the first week of moving in last year. Much has changed since then: Many trees cut down, a lot of equipment moved around... piles of pallets everywhere... but a lot of the junk has also been consolidated or eliminated. A work in progress for AT LEAST the next half decade I think.