salvage

The trap is set, Spring has sprung, but frost keeps the jaws at bay.

Where has the pleasant weather gone?  I spent most of yesterday afternoon processing a downed tree in River Front Park a block from my house, and now I’m sat at my computer with the windows shut and a blanket across my knees.  Between the cyclical returns to discomforting cold and the eighteen inches of snow we got a week ago this Spring has been a strange one.  But remember, there’s no such thing as climate change.  Just because our weather patterns are frenetic and warped, the ocean is acidifying, and the global temperature is rising, doesn’t mean we’ve had any impact on the environment.  Those scientist in the 97% are all paid by the chem-trail, Illuminati, fake news Mexicans.

Fake News Mexicans would be a great name for a band or a sports team.  Like the Bad News Bears, but with less childhood profanity and more Harlem Globetrotters-esque antics.  That’d be especially good if it were a band, not enough musicians slum dunk on cartoonish villains.

I should be at kung fu, but my foot is throbbing.  I’ve not had much gout since breaking down and accepting medication, so i imagine this to be the late showing effects of something I did yesterday.

There’s an old tree in the park that’s been dead for a year.  Its decline was slow, and I’d had hopes it would recover, but all through summer last year it refused to bloom.  Without leaves, and thus without a way to feed itself, I knew it’d be dead by  spring.  The city marked it for removal last fall, but otherwise left it to wither all winter.  Each time I walked under it it seemed more attenuated.  It began to creak like old bones and the sway in some of it’s largest branches gave me pause.  I wouldn’t linger underneath it.

Two weeks ago, before the squall, a week after another heavy limb had fallen, that ponderous trunk snapped.  It fell, twenty feet long and two hundred  pounds, across the walking path.  There it sat until the snow came.  There it remained as the snow covered it.  It only moved when the city plowed parts of the walk for a St. Patrick’s Day charity run.  I didn’t see them do it, I was busy, sleeping, then in the day’s parade, but I recognized the mound of dirty snow ending a clean swathe as the work of a snowplow.

I walked past it several times, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I thought of it early enough to begin processing the wood.  I’m a nocturnal person, but I feared carrying a bag of cutting tools into a public park would get me more attention than I’d like.  I had several of the smaller branches off within a few minutes.  The section from my pictures took me perhaps three quarters of an hour.  The remaining two and a half hours were spent trying to detached the widest section of the trunk.  I cut at it from every direction, and by the end the only thing that seemed to be holding it together was an invisible stubbornness.  Perhaps I’d cut too many times and created a hinge, thus preventing the tree from snapping off easily.  Maybe I just didn’t cut far enough through wood which has demonstrated with clarity its continued resilience.  Maybe my butter knife sharp tools had just worn me out too quickly for me to continue.  I had to give up, and propped the tree using a set of Y shaped branches so that its weight would continue to stress the cuts I had made.

And there it remains.  My own limbs had locked up several times while I worked.  I’d achieved the rarity of a triceps cramp, along with the much more common set along my serratus, back, shoulders, and legs.  I’d also begun a blister on my now too soft hand.  I gave up for fear of not being able to make kung fu today, and worried I’d already done too much to my arms and shoulders.

Such was not the case.  I woke up feeling fairly fine.  I made it just about out of bed before a pain in my foot shouted for attention.  I ignored it and tried to stretch out.  To no avail.  Perhaps it was resting a log on my foot, perhaps it was a nocturnal cramp.  Maybe I done just kicked myself in my sleep.  One cannot say.  Regardless of the cause, I’m stuck seated for the foreseeable future.

I don’t really mind it.  It gives me time to think and time to write without the worry that I should be doing something else.  Ailments, at the very least, give me an excuse to relax, so in a way, I’m happy for them.

I’m sure the log will be there tomorrow.  I’m certain my sifu and the school will be.

For today, rest and writing, reading and relaxation.  There are worse ways to spend one’s time.

Plants, Horror, and Plant Themed Horrors

There’s a story I’ve been kicking around for the last few months, picking up and dropping nearly as quickly, with long bouts in-between of the piece serving no purpose beyond anchoring my my monthly hard drive defrags.

I’ve made, to myself, half a dozen vows to heavily edit, but this week was the first time I kept any of those promises.

Twenty-nine printed pages, just shy of nine thousand words, and its biggest problem seems to be a lack of detail.  It isn’t so sparse as a lot of my writing, but it has the same issues with clarity and phrasing, things that I’m thankful for the elapsed time in addressing now.  I might not have seen them if I’d still remembered what my intent was when I wrote the sections in question; as it is now, I’ve no idea what I meant.

That un-assuradeness is good.  I hate editing, as I’ve so often said, but not because I despise improving my work, or that I hate reading, but because I feel constrained.  By not knowing what I meant I can’t be wrong in my interpretation.  Rather than having to choose to depart from a completed section, thus to make past plot points and strung phrases surplus to requirement, I have the more enjoyable task of bridging two deemingly unconnected sections.

The point when I can read through edits and the feeling is like spreading stain on wood, or butter on toast, each pass unifying and connecting the veneer until it all seems one cohesive piece, is my favorite working point.  It took marking up that physical copy over the course of monday afternoon to even get far enough along to know how to begin working the piece proper.  I hadn’t realized how much work it needed, no wonder I was so reticent to work on it previously.

“Kalanchoe” (working title) is enough “underway” to be considered “well.”  I may even have it finished in time for Halloween submission rounds.


I’ve been working through the salvaged wood in my basement and my most recent project is a decorative shelf for Mary.

The finished piece will have three tiny shelves set on a decorative backboard, which is in turn raised and mounted onto a beveled piece of plywood by way of a denuded apple branch.

To make the backboard I selected a plank of pallet wood with two shattered ends where it was ripped from its securing nails.  I cut the board in half to create two shorter sections, then turned them so that the frayed ends face opposite directions.  After some light grinding, I glued the two together with a strip of walnut sandwiched between them.

It was at this point I stopped, assured I’d need a block plane to finish the piece.  This notion was in turn halted by the dichotomy of available tools.  On one hand are the decently made tools of first world origins, on the other were the tools of dubious quality.  The price difference isn’t merely noticeable, it’s on orders of magnitude.  I don’t buy things from China, not things I will eat or rely on for great periods of time.  It’s in many ways a wonderful country, the source of a great many of my favorite things, but until it cleans up its issues with human rights violations and fills the sucking void where it’s consumer protections ought to be, I’ll stick to appreciating its culture, food, and martial arts, leaving its products to disuse.

There’s a used tool shop I like to go to, but it is only open on saturday’s.  Fortunately I recalled this before I bought anything online.  Unfortunately, I remembered the shop last saturday, about fifty minutes before it was set to close, while seated with Kalanchoe in hand about twenty minutes of driving and several hours of editing away.  At the time I couldn’t imagine waiting a whole week to get to the next step of the project, but it’s now wedneday and I’ve thus far avoided amazon’s tempting.

Part of that comes from youtube, where I watched a video of a man using a (the world’s sharpest) chisel to do all of the cutting, shaping, and smoothing for several kinds of joints.  I used my own rather less Hitori Honzo-esque chisel and was able to knock down most of the extra walnut.  The palm sander took care of the rest.

Perhaps tonight I’ll get the last few passes done so that I can begin the next phase, that is of finishing the base and shaping the apple branch to fit the base and backboard together.