Sunday, July 19, 2009

chop wood, carry water . . .

mow the lawn.











With this.










In a fit of some sadistic whim, I asked for this mower. A simple push mower. It begs your full attention on the task at hand which would be . . . well, mowing the lawn, by golly. One has to get Zen (or a beer and forget the whole matter) in order to do work like this. On the one hand, I'm perfectly suited for work that's easyily laid out, no confusion, no complications. It's the paperwork and tallying numbers that generally have me glazing over like a donut. Those tasks frustrate and annoy me. Ask me to mow lawn, do dishes, vacuum carpet or even chop wood and I'm perfectly in my element. On the other hand, it's hard work.

I get a good workout at least. Saves money at the local exercise centers. And it reminds me that humans are meant to use their bodies. I remember watching Frontier House on PBS years ago. I thought it was the neatest show since Carol Burnett. At one point, one of the participants was concerned about his rapid and very apparent weight loss. The doctor on site for the shoot, checked him out and declared him healthy as a horse. His weight loss was due to Real Work ~ cutting cords of wood to survive the winter, raising or hunting animals to eat, plowing the earth for food, cutting hay with a scythe (no wonder Death looks so svelt). Using his body. Not pampering it and then heading for the squash court three times a week at minimum or working the weight training circuit . . . just physical work.

I like technology. We go way back ~ not quite to the wheel, but I appreciate appliances that make life easier and free up time: dishwasher, the washer, the dryer (I keep forgetting to use the sun), vacuum cleaner. But some tasks are done just as well with a little elbow grease and attention. That attention does away with multi-tasking; something humans suffer too much of. The push mower acted as a source of meditation for me. I learned that the first pass requires more dumping of clippings than the second, cross-wise pass. I learned that my arm muscles, where one's "bat wings" might develop, were doing work. I learned that push mowing isn't about getting the perfect cut lawn ~ it keeps the grass from getting over grown. That's a good enough goal.

It's Miller time. Becks, actually, but let's not get technical.



On to other Work:

Some summer sun art I'm inflicting on the local populace at my corner garden . . .



And the really good, dry-stack, no-cement rock wall all made from rocks cultivated on our land.



We do know how to grow rocks.






Anyone know what kind of rock this is? I literally dug it out of the wall before it got buried in the center. I think there's mica. Maybe the matrix is a quartz?







I like rocks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This is what summer's all about

I don't like required summer reading as furnished by school. I do like summer reading though. When I went to school (slightly post-Jurassic), we didn't get required summer reading lists. It might have turned me off to reading altogether if I weren't already such a voracious reader by the tender age of 15. It was my favorite time of year to do Absolutely Nothing whenever possible. (Yes, I got bored as well. I wasn't quite the avid knitter yet.) I had plenty of time to read whatever the hell I wanted to ~ The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Catcher in the Rye, anything from Vonnegut (I should revisit that fellow). Not required, merely admired.


Following in my literary-engulfing footsteps is Bennie reading one of the Twilight series (not required, but we've read all the Harry Potter books and Because of Winn Dixie was easily swallowed in DVD format). Piwaqit seems to absorbing the book along with her. The boys are playing on the X-Box 360 until their eyes bleed. Banging my head on the wall would be easier than getting Tom to read his required Catcher in the Rye and Black Boy. Ian can skate one book on the list by going to see Much Ado About Nothing, but still needs to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Required reading just kills the interest in reading. And I don't subscribe to this theory that children "loose their skills" during summer vacation. The skills aren't lost when they get back to school, they just aren't bloody interested in going over old ground. I'm certain we all retain what's necessary in life ~ public education just doesn't like they're not considered "necessary."

But enough of that. Look at the lawn!

All photos taken from the comfort of the aluminum folding lounger.

Directly east.









Southeast.

Northeast.
And Lord Vader digging the rays.

Friday, July 10, 2009

feeling O'Keeffe-ish



Before I leave for the morning constitutional walk, here's a snap of the beaver skull in progress. As usual, I don't quite know where this painting will go, but the beginnings are tentative at best. I can tell when I've gotten rusty, but that's not what matters. What matters is that I show up at the easel and lose myself for a time ~ even if it's only 15 minutes. I don't know what kind of time I'll have today as my nephew and neice will be here later. My brother and I are trading kids. Tom and his girlfriend, Claire (technically not my child), will be sailing on the Hudson with him while Liam and Fiona hang out here at the lake. I'll see if I can fit in yoga, chicken feeding and then painting before launch.

I haven't touched the Icelandic sock in days and I'm still choking down Lonesome Dove.

And today, I walk without the dogs. Sometimes I just want to take my Self for a walk. At least I won't need a leash . . . I think.



Thursday, July 09, 2009

lacking in ambition

Yesterday got busier than I expected. Ian had an itch since the beginning of summer vacation to get to a laser tag arena down at the Palisades Mall. I'd never been to the Palisades Mall and so we made it a family outing of capitalist proportions. The mall is huge. A shopping Mecca. I haven't shopped in a mall since perhaps the late 80's when I was just feeding me, Dirk and any number of animals. Discretionary funds were abundant then. Now discretionary funds is weighed between hamburger meat or sneakers for any one of the continuously sprouting off-spring.

While Dirk, Ian and Bennie laser tagged to their hearts' content, I made my way to Barnes & Noble to purchase bulbs for my Itty Bitty Book Light (purchased in the 80's), three books by Terry Pratchett and to replace a lost copy of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I'd say I'm set for my summer reading, however, I am challenging myself this summer by reading Lonesome Dove. I'm familiar with the mini-series aired years ago, but I've been told the book is something to read. The characters are rich with color, they all have issues and it's keeping my interest more than I expected. I'll be happy to return to Sci-Fi soon enough though. It's my literary home right now.

In the meantime, I'm knitting these:
The cuff of these socks is a mohair/something I don't remember blend and the foot is 4-ply Icelandic. Both are from the Stash which I'm trying to use as much as possible (the Sheep & Wool is coming up soon ~ 2nd weekend of October). I'm enjoying the texture. I hope the 4-ply will make for a sturdier heel this winter. Darning feels like a step backwards.


The painting on my easel is still in progress, but not image-worthy at this point. Perhaps the next post.
Today, I may lounge on the hammock, the glider or the beach and read some more Lonesome Dove. I need to recover from spending 5 hours in a mall.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

It's been busy 'round here

This could be the second quiet day in a row. I'm working toward that anyway. We've had a couple of the clans from both sides of the family in for various visits and barbeques/parties. Now, back to the business of doing (nearly) absolutely nothing. I was ready for summer recess two weeks before school ended. I was ready for lazy days by the lake. Last year, my summer was harassed by summer school. It took much berating this year, but we've avoided a repeat on that affair.

Yesterday being the first relatively relative-free day, I was able to start a small oil painting. Judging by the dust on the tubes, I guess I haven't done an oil in a long while. A beaver skull was discovered in my skullduggery bag, along with some bones ~ various bits and parts ~ from a deer that had died on our property a few years ago. The beaver is propped on a part of the easel and the painting has been started. I got to 3/4 of the background when I was pulled away from the fun by some urgent paperwork.

That got me to thinking about an Artist's Retreat. I think I'd love one. Just me, literally, alone in a small cabin, middle of nowhere with electricity and running water (let's not get crazy here). All the basic needs met, but no TV, phone or, shudder the thought, computer. These things distract me more than I ever realized. Especially the computer. (An example is this very moment. I could be painting after having walked the dog, but computer time is like a drug.) Having those distractions removed for a time, what amazing visions would I create?

Maybe instead of a Retreat, I could try out a Technology Fast.

Nah! That's just crazy talk!