Wendesday Woodworking – More work in the Artium

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the atrium this week.  Still working on the storage unit.  That’s proving to be more time-consuming than I thought.  Second project is some lattice-work we decided to do.  We’ve had problems in the past with small animals (cats mostly) climbing over the wall of the atrium and sleeping in there.  The idea was to build a lattice thing that would stop them from getting in and as an extra benefit we could use it to keep our kittens in the atrium if we wanted to.

Using this as an excuse, I’ve bought this fancy air compressor and brad nailer.  Homedepot had these on sale this week so I nabbed one.  The version they had also included a finish nailer and a stapler.  Here’s my new toy:

My new air compressor and brad nailer

My new air compressor and brad nailer

It’s an impressive time saver.  I was able to build this in a couple of hours:

Lattice work to keep the critters out of our atrium.

Lattice work to keep the critters out of our atrium.

Hard to tell from the picture but it’s seven feet wide and about four feet at its high point.

And here is the progress on the storage unit:

Current state of the storage unit.

Current state of the storage unit.

I know it doesn’t look much different from last week’s picture but it took all weekend to get it to look like this.  Hopefully the next picture I get to take will be more impressive.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop

Andrew

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Time and a Poem

Thanksgiving Day

It’s that time again
to decide whether I
follow convention and either list
all I am grateful for
or rail against the insincerity of those who do.

It’s that time again in our digital world
to be for or against
to be lightness and sweet
or be dark and despair.

Can I, this old analog man
who was taught to see the world’s continuum,
be allowed to see the world in all its shades?

Can I be allowed to say,
I am grateful for life, wife and love
but fear the world is spinning wrong?

The future looks bright
except for that dark cloud
that known point it time when…

At this happy time of family
friends and memories
allow me to simply say:
I am grateful for the life I have been given
until that day when I must give it back.

 

It’s one of those weeks where I struggle with time.  I wish I could do more, but I can’t.  There is a mixture of things I want to do, things I have to do and things I might do creating a frustration in my soul since I can’t get them all done.

If I were to list all my problems, this would become a very depressing post.  I guess it’s partly because of the time of year – the days are getting shorter, I leave work after dark and the cold is settling in.  I have a list of things to do: building things, writing things and taking care of needed things.  All are in conflict with each other it seems.

While my creative soul wishes to write and build, there is a part of my soul that wants to pull the drapes closed and light a fire in the hearth. Then put my feet up and read a book in the warmth of home – just be alive and breath.

I’ve tried, a little, to put the fuzzy slippers on and plop in front of the TV.  I managed a whole evening of it this week.  While I know I needed a bit of rest, I didn’t feel that rested afterwards – instead I felt that I spent two hours for nothing.  I wasn’t entertained or distracted and did not feel rested afterwards.  My brain kept going over my list: 18 poems for the book, a Sunday blog post, read that programming book for work, the storage unit, the lattice-work for the atrium, cleaning the shop, creating the new church website, my office is a mess, the kittens need tending, and oh no, next week is Thanksgiving.

Sigh…

Some times the question isn’t, “What am I going to do?” but rather it’s, “What I am not going to do?”  I need to say out loud – somethings aren’t getting done.  Some doors need to be closed.

Our society seems bent on not closing doors, after all you can be anything you want to be.  Right?  Sure.  I’d like to be an astronaut.  Can we make that happen?  How about a poet astronaut?  While waiting for the blast-off I’ll scribble little poems on my flight plan and I’ll become NASA’s poet laureate while flying too and from the moon.

Not realistic.  Interesting day-dream but not going to happen.  Keeping all our options open isn’t as freeing as we think.  Sometimes it leads to frustration as we don’t have the time to do it all or sometimes if we pick one thing, it naturally excludes something else.  If I decide to join the Democratic party I am automatically closing the door on being a Republican.  Perhaps that’s too simplistic, but you get the idea.

I’ve chosen to be a woodworker but I do know how to do metal work.  I have chosen to not have a metal workshop with welders, lathes, taps, dies, and the like because I’d rather focus my time on shaping wood.  I close the door in one place to allow time and energy to be spent where I want it – with the wood shop.

Well, what’s not going to get done is any more work on this essay.  I need to move on to my poetry.  Shop projects this week won’t get much time spent on them and sadly, my desk isn’t likely to get much cleaner this week.

But it is Thanksgiving week and we have family coming over so I just might close down this computer and lock the shop door.

Perhaps a pair of comfy slippers, a glass of wine and a feast with family and friends is the most important way to spend this week.

Till next week,
or perhaps the week after that,
Andrew

Posted in General, Poems | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Wendesday Woodworking – Atrium Storage Part 2

I’ve been working hard on the atrium storage project and now it looks like this:

Well, the pieces are smaller.

Well, the pieces are smaller.

It’s a surprising large amount of work to cut down 4 x 8 sheets of MDF.  The sheets are likely heavier than a middle-aged man should be lifting on his own but I managed to drag, flop and shove them into the table saw.  So far I’ve got the pieces ripped to width and am starting to build out the frames for the shelves.  The clamps are on the 1/4″ plywood because it all started to warp on me and it was the quickest way to stop the warping.

In tool news, I decided to indulge myself and I bought an air compressor with a brad nailer, a finish nailer and a stapler – one of those Porter-Cable combo things and no I didn’t research, just went to Home Depot, grabbed, paid and ran.  I tried it out last night and it works great (after I closed the drain valve and put the 18 gauge brads in the brad nailer and not the 16 gauge finish nails).  Plus I got an impact driver to drive them pesky screws in with. A Ryobi, yes another drive by tool purchase without clear thought as to what I was doing.

My tendonitis started to bother me again during this build and I recall the physical therapist told me that using a screw driver and swinging a hammer weren’t the best things for my arm.  She encouraged me to use more power tools. Hum… Well then – the tools are a justified medical expense…

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop,

Andrew

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Following the Energy

Follow the energy.

That’s the advice I most often give to writers.  Sometimes I even follow it myself.  The last few weeks, I’ve been following it to places I never thought I’d go.  First place is poetry and second is revisiting my cancer experiences.

If I step back from my life and look at it from the outside, I find a few interesting things to note.  My early taste in fiction was always science fiction – exclusively.  I didn’t read anything outside that genre.  If it didn’t have space ships or ray guns, I didn’t read or watch it.  Over time I picked up a taste for fantasy works like The Lord of the Rings.  I would have claimed at the time to have no interest in poetry or literature.

I wanted to be a science fiction writer and even tried to write a few pieces (and even attended a handful of writer’s workshops and conventions).  I gave it a shot and I’ve been rejected by some of the best magazines in the business.  And rightly so, the stories were terrible.  I never wrote many and always seemed to have trouble coming up with ideas – suffering greatly from what some would call writer’s block.

Likely that “block” was due to the fact that I hadn’t figured out the writing process that now works for me.

A key to that process is writing energy.  It’s hard to explain what that means, but it’s a combination of discipline, being inspired, being mentally ready and emotionally willing to take on a writing project.  It’s also about turning off logical responses and following a feeling, an image or creative spark.  When I look at work I’ve done that others call good, I can almost always recall there being something in my soul that drove me to write it.  There was an energy to the words that just had to come out.

Yes, not a satisfying explanation but it’s the best I’ve got.

In my early desire to become a writer, I did a few things like attending workshops, reading writing books and eventually I went back to school and completed a degree in English.  All the time thinking these activities would help me write good science fiction stories.

I learned a lot.  Not only about writing and language but also about what it takes to write consistently and to overcome the block of my early writing attempts.  I’ve found that the discipline of writing these blog entries once a week to be a great help.  One of my early writing teachers told our workshop, “Writers write,” pointing out that you can’t get good at writing if you don’t ever put words to paper.  I’ve found that just forcing myself to write something – even if it isn’t the next best-selling novel – helps me push my abilities just a little further.

As I learned more, I discovered that there was more to writing and story telling than my early aspirations had dreamed of.  These days I rarely read science fiction and am more likely to read Shakespeare or something from the 19th century.  My interests and tastes have expanded and now I find myself more interested in just telling a story.

I’ve also discovered a taste for the abstract and the condensed language of poems.  I love images.  I like a piece of writing that builds a picture in my brain.  Poetry often does that.  Perhaps it’s more than that – it’s about telling a story, building an image, creating an emotion, sharing a feeling – that’s become of interest to me.  We all have stories to tell and the best stories are the ones we can feel in our soul – the ones that move us to feel and long to understand.

Perhaps.

These thoughts have been spinning in my subconscious for a while and I think are part of the reason why lately my writing energies have turned to poetry.  In a poem I can quickly build an image or share a feeling – something I find difficult in prose.  Last week I spent a little time reviewing my blog and discovered that over the last year I’ve been posting more and more poetry.  My view of the world must be changing.

Which brings me to where my writing is today.  It’s likely I’ll be shifting away from these essays to more verse.  It’s also why the book I decided to write now has 18 poems with notes for 19 more.  I could write a well researched book on cancer, with facts, figures, case studies and all manner of helpful stuff .

But that’s not where my ‘energy’ is.  I’ve written about my prostate cancer here many times and from time to time I think I am done with that story, but I am not.  There is an energy that won’t dissipate – somehow I want to make you

Feel the stunning blow of that call
see the long hallways
understand the fear
and know the uncertainty.

I want you to feel
the guarded joy of remission
the hopeful fear that all is done.

I want you know why
I still cry.

Till next week,
Andrew

Posted in Prostate Cancer, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments