Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where I am

At the top of the map there, you can see I-20 running west to east. If you kept going west, a little out of the section here, you'd get to Dallas. If you kept going east on I-20, you'd get to Shreveport, Louisiana, a little faster than you'd get to Dallas from Tyler.

Thanks to GoogleMaps.

About That Knife

I said I’d be making a sheath for the knife you can see a couple of posts back. I did it. I wanted it lean and black and shiny and elegant, with nothing on it that would distract from the beautiful handle. There are technical flaws in it. It’s the first I’ve made in six months, and there are things I’ve forgotten. The places where the stitches are out of a straight line are all I see when I look at it. (Yeah, I know.) It's got a loop on the back that'll fit any belt that's not more than 2" wide. I made it for a right-hander, but if you wanted to buy it and you're left-handed, I'd make another one.

The thing I got really right is the FIT. You put a welt between the front and back, where they’re sewn together. It gives space inside for the knife. It also holds the knife. The inside of the welt, that you can’t see, is cut to match the line of the blade. You can turn this one upside-down, hold it by the tip so you’re not touching the blade, and it doesn’t slip a bit. It still slides in and out easily when you’re doing it on purpose. But it’s never gonna slip out by accident and get lost in the woods anywhere.

“Therefore are thou happy.” -- Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet, telling Romeo what he had to be happy about when he was pining over Rosaline. One of my favourite quotations.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Well, I never promised I’d do this every day. It’s been an intense week, including a headcold. It meant it was really a good thing I didn’t try to fly back to Ontario last week. It’s tiring, a day with three flights and the first taking off at 6:30 in the morning. We have to leave here at 4:30 to get me there on time, and the only way THAT’s ever gonna happen is if we stay up all night. And I’d have been at my most contagious and least socially-acceptable with the coughing and runny nose, right during the visitation. My son said, “Yeah, it’s a good thing. A lot of Papa’s old school teacher friends came, and, well … they’re OLD.” Yeah, that lowered immune system thing.

Here, in this little spot in Texas, we aim to live a spiritual life. The premise is, “God’s in charge,” and a key point is that God’s got all the sex/love/relationship stuff and all the money, so there’s no point wasting a lot of time and energy worrying about them. (Some of you will know that’s not exactly how that statement goes, but we’re G-Rated here.) For physical and spiritual reasons, we eat according to a plan. There are some things that are not on the list, and what is on the list is on the list in measured quantities. Lots of people look at the plan and think it’s going to be torture. I did, for 19 years. But it’s not. It’s kept us healthy, made us healthy. Me, beyond my wildest dreams – I haven’t had a shot of insulin since January 21st, 2007, and I was on four a day before that. And I’m wearing size 8 jeans for the first time in my life, and they slide without a belt. Not enough for a size 6, but I never thought I’d get here.

What makes the plan bearable in the long term is that we both see it as a gift from God. The plan is; the ability not just to stick with it but to love it is; the food is. And we both have a sense that the planning and preparation and eating is devotional, or a spiritual discipline.

That picture up there is a salad I’ve been making at least twice a week for the last month. Often more. It’s a cucumber and tomato raita. You start by putting a big paper towel in a sieve over a bowl and dumping a quart of plain yoghurt (we use whole milk yoghurt) into it, and letting it drain in the fridge for anywhere from two to 24 hours. Peel, seed and dice a cucumber into pieces about the size of a dried chickpea. Toss it with a little salt, and put it in the sieve over the bowl (take the yoghurt out first) and let it sit while you do the rest of the stuff. Cut up three Roma tomatoes into bits the same size as the cucumber. Chop up the leaves from half a bunch of cilantro. Mix the tomatoes and cilantro and yoghurt up with a teaspoon or so of roasted, ground cumin seeds (coffee grinder works great for that). Squeeze handsful of the cucumbers as hard as you can in your fist over the sink, mix them in with all the other stuff. Put it in the fridge for an hour or so if you can stand to wait that long, and VIOLA! You have a stringed instrument, and a great salad. Serves 2. It tastes good, it’s good for us, and I always feel like the food is really CLEAN and there’s something more than physical nourishment going on.

We talked about it this afternoon. I said I’d be happy to make one today, but I used the last of the cucumbers and tomatoes when I made it yesterday. Bob went to the store and got 2 cucumbers, a lot of tomatoes and some more cilantro, cuz we’ve got a full quart of yoghurt. When he came back he said it was too bad we didn’t have a Cuisinart or something, to chop up the vegetables. I don’t think it’s that much trouble to do the vegetables, and I said so.

But I thought about it some more while I made the salad just now, and we talked about it for a couple of minutes. Once, when I was living elsewhere with other people, I was dicing up vegetables for soup, and The Voice in my head said, “The gifts of God for the people of God,” just like the priest does about the bread and wine at communion. I realized it was true – I was preparing gifts from God – potatoes, carrots, onions – for people of God – my family. Made the daily task holy. I have that same sense, making the raita. I said tonight, “Preparing this specific food is always spiritual for me. I wouldn’t use a machine for the vegetables if we had one.”

There’s more than that to it. The salad is in a bowl that my friend Deborah Doran made – it’s beautiful, and it was a trick getting it 1,300 miles in one piece. That picture above is a set of knives and choppers that are now hanging on the kitchen wall. (And a dragon that appeared in the sawblade after the knives were cut out of it. Dragons appear unexpectedly like that – it’s their way.) I use the big, round-bladed one with the green linen micarta handle in the top right corner to chop up the cilantro, or garlic, ginger and/or jalapenos, if that’s what I’m doing. It just rocks on the board and cuts them up perfectly. I was using the smaller rounded knife on the bottom for the cucumbers and tomatoes. And below here is a picture of some things on the cutting board. I used that wooden spatula to mix the salad.

Those things are important, because we made them. Bob made those knives. Every once in a while we drive around to the junk barns and stores around here and buy up old, round sawmill blades, or cross-cut saw blades, and once a disc off a harrow. Then he cuts out blades with a plasma cutter, anneals and hardens them, makes the handles. See the handles? Those are all made of micarta, which is layers of fabric held together with a resin. The dark green one was a purchased block of Micarta. The multicoloured ones: we made that block of micarta last spring. Layered different coloured fabrics that we soaked one at a time in Bondo, and clamped them between boards that have pinto beans glued onto them, and that’s what makes the swirls. It’s messy and fun and you have to work fast and don’t know what you’ll get.

That spatula, the wooden one, is one I made a few weeks ago. The first in a series. I like wooden cooking utensils and there aren’t any here, but there’s lots of wood, and lots of tools to make things with. Lots of time too, and an attitude that you don’t know what you like doing or are good at unless you try it. It’s hard to screw up here. The second one of these I made is much too thin, and it will inevitably break – but I’m using it til it does, and being careful with it, and next time I won’t make the same mistake. Next time, I’m making one with a slot in the middle, and I’m going to mail it to Roo in New Jersey, cuz she wants one.

All of this makes making the raita more special, and more about the wonders of the world. Something to be grateful for. You’ll have to make the intuitive leap on that one – the best I can tell you about why, is, it puts love into the task. It makes the salad taste better. It makes the food preparation an act of love and devotion and spiritual gift, rather than drudgery.

It doesn’t only apply to cooking. Attitude is everything. Vacuuming the carpets and cleaning the toilet can be drudgery. It’s not though, when I’m aware that I’m making the place and life more peaceful and pleasant, for myself or for someone else. It’s a way to bring a little serenity, maybe even joy, into the world. Doesn’t even matter if someone else notices that it’s been done: they’ll notice the effect. I used to cook stews and breads and things that cooked a long time and smelled good, on very snowy days, because it made the house a better place to walk into, as soon as someone walked in the door. One of you reading this hangs her clothes on the line instead of using the dryer – it’s an act of good stewardship of the Creation, and so a spiritual discipline too.

I’ve started a new one today. I knit, for joy, and for serenity, and because I can’t smoke cigarettes or eat potato chips or ice cream while I do it. Well, that was why I started – now it’s mostly the joy and serenity. In the last year, I’ve started using (and paying a little extra for) wooden knitting needles. You have to go out of the way to get them. Most stores that have knitting needles at all have plastic or aluminum ones. And I’m less and less able to use acrylic yarns – I don’t like the feel. I use wool, alpaca, mohair, cotton, bamboo yarns. I’ve got a project in my head that I’ll want silk for. They feel better to me. I bought those needles, but I can and will make myself needles here. Bob made me a set of four short fat ones last year for something I made. The picture below is wool that came today, to make mittens and a hat for someone I like a lot. She doesn’t know, and won’t til she gets them. The wool is special – it’ll go in the washer with cold water, but not in the dryer. It’s all very fine – 7.5 stitches in an inch. That’s a lot of knitting. But I’ll think of her while I’m doing it, and say some prayers for her and other people; and be grateful for her and the project itself. The days are still fine enough in east Texas now that I’ll do a lot of the knitting in the hammock too. And fight off the Tiger-kitten sometimes. That all makes it better. It makes it all spiritual gift.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keith Allan: June 16th, 1930 - October 17th, 2009

That’s a picture of my Dad and his dog, Jake, taken in the summer of 2008. We were in his back yard. The garden was a little weedy – it had really been my stepmother’s province, and she died in April 2007. Dad didn’t have the heart or the knees to take it on himself. He missed her very much. There were landscape gardeners, who came and did the lawns and the flower beds, but it’s not the same.

It’s hard to know what to say. Dad graduated from university the year I was born. He went to teacher’s college, and his first year teaching high school physics (and sometimes math) was the year I started kindergarten. 1960-61. There was me and my sister by then; my brother was born in the spring of 1962. Dad taught at Dundas District High School in Dundas, Ontario first, then moved to Parkside High School when it opened a couple of years later. His department head there, Nick Kinach, became one of his best friends. The Kinachs had a cottage in Muskoka, and we went there sometimes as guests. When I was in high school, and the cottage next to Nick and Rita’s came up for sale, Dad heard about it first, and bought it. When I was in high school I used to go up there with kids from the band. Something went wrong (usually some things went wrong) every time, and my parents must have wanted to kill us, but they said, "Yes," again the next year.

In 1967, Dad started teaching in the Halton Board of Education, at Nelson High School, until Lord Elgin opened. In 1976 he and my mother separated. Dad met Judy, and loved her, and they were married 30 years. Her death was unexpected, and almost instant one Saturday in April. She was twelve years younger than he was. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.

I went to Parkside High School, fortunately after Dad had switched boards. But many of the same staff were there. I’d go to the office for aspirin, and the secretary would say, “Can you take aspirin? Your FATHER can’t take aspirin.” It was one of the things that kept me from getting into more trouble than I did, I think. I had too many teachers he was still in touch with.

Dad loved teaching, and he’d meet people in the supermarket and places, who’d ask if he remembered them – they’d been in his class in 1973. I used to take a taxi to church in Dundas, and one of the regular Sunday mornings had had my Dad for high school physics in Dundas, so in the first half of the ‘60’s, and he always asked about him.

Last year I was talking to my sister about something one day, and whether I’d tell Dad about it. She said, “He’s been worried about you since the minute he knew you were going to be born. You might as well give him something to worry about.”

This past summer, I was unemployed and income-less, in Hamilton, Ontario. I tried very hard to find a job, applied for lots of things. I was interviewed once. There were good friends who put work my way whenever they could, and it helped a lot. Kept me in groceries. And I needed to ask Dad for help, so I could pay rent, and he did help. I told him in August that I’d had plans all summer to go to Iowa for a wedding Labour Day, and I was going to stay with a friend for a while after that, and then go out to western Canada. I’ve wanted to for a long time anyway, and I wasn’t getting work in southern Ontario. There are people out west who’ll help me find a job, and I had a little capital to move with.

Dad has had liver and heart problems for a few years now. He told me this summer his doctor had told him 20 years ago he needed a knee replacement, and Dad had turned it down. He regretted that decision now. And there was arthritis elsewhere too – he’d had to have his university graduation ring cut off this spring. I’d gone away in February, and the day before I left, he said, “I could die tomorrow, or it could be ten years. And I’m ready.” When I left in September, I knew I wouldn’t see him again.

The long weekend, I wrote him a letter from here in Texas. Most of it was happy, chatty stuff about being in Iowa in early September, and then coming to Texas on a Greyhound bus. Usually I put pictures in, but I hadn’t had any printed yet. Dad didn’t use his computer any more – I think it was mostly my stepmother who’d done the communication by e-mail anyway. At the end of the letter, I told him how grateful I was for his help this summer, and told him I hadn’t wanted to be a source of worry to him when he was sick, and I knew I had been, and I was sorry.

My sister called Sunday morning. Dad passed around midnight, Eastern Time. She wasn’t sure if it was legally Saturday or Sunday. Eventually I said, “I know this is dumb, but did he get my letter?” No. She’d been picking up the mail and she was sure. The next day I called back and asked her, if it came in time, could she put the letter in the box with Dad. Cremation was Monday and the letter arrived Tuesday, but she said she’ll turn the letter into ashes and put them in with Dad’s. His will be mixed with Judy’s before they’re scattered. I’m sure he knows by now what the letter said anyway.

There’s no service. Dad didn’t want one; didn’t want anything. There will be a visitation at the funeral home tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got a million feelings right now, and I can’t identify most of them, but there’s one I’m sure of: for his sake, I’m glad he’s done.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And here's those kittens ...

Except, you can really see them this time. Yasmin was out in the long grass and they were ALL peeping away like crazy when I went and got them. She heard them, and came running back, and was in the nest before I got her babies back to her.

I checked up on them, a couple of hours later. They are all silent, in that little nest spot. Either nursing or asleep. It’s a good idea to let sleeping kittens lie.

Here's that knife ...

Here’s that knife. It’s got the stabilized buckeye burl, black buffalo horn, and red jasper. The fittings are brass, and the pommel is hand-cast. Be a great knife in a tackle-box. There will be a black leather sheath for it, but I haven’t made it yet. I’m hoping to finish the project I’m knitting by bedtime tonight (I gotta see what movies we have here), and then I’ll do some leather work.

You can see more pictures of it at http://bobwilson.us/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=142&zenid=35f85d4bf713306b33207f98c68e46de

And you can cruise the whole website to see more interesting stuff, some of which I made.

Phew! Saved a life today

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A little about rhythm of life here, for Saturday morning. We’re going to do this the way it says in Genesis – “the evening and the morning”. There’s a lot of cats. In the afternoon yesterday, Cheyenne and Aubrey were here. Cheyenne played teacher and made homework sheets and math tests on my computer, and Aubrey jumped on my bed, wore my reading glasses all the time she was here, and we looked at my earrings. Any that were on loops rather than posts, she hung on the hem of her teeshirt. Grandaddy Bob brought in one of the four-day old kittens – an orange one, that was under the kitchen again. That’s not where Yasmin’s got the rest. We put her back where we found her though, and hoped Yasmin would come back and get her. She’s abandoned them before – that’s how I got Yeshua last year.

We both worked on projects last night. We looked at the materials available for knife handles together, and some of the blades. The blades we looked at were commercial ones – Bob was just looking for a place to get started, using what’s here already. I went out the back and picked an emerald-green Dymondwood slab (a dyed, laminated wood product) and black linen micarta to go with, with brass for the metal parts. There was a lovely block of greenish stabilized buckeye burl, and a small piece of red jasper, and that’s in end stages now, with brass pieces. Desert Ironwood’s beautiful, hard and greenish – there was a small piece of fossilized walrus jawbone left over from something else, and the colours are really good together. We put a piece of copper rod beside it, and decided that’s what to use with it. Then he decided that would be better with a big blade, so he’s using one he cut out of an old sawmill blade, that we annealed in the kiln last fall. And finally, we’d been looking at a piece of malachite/azurite composite, and wondering what it would be good with. Well, there’s a piece of bone left, I think it’s moose, and the deep blue stone looks fabulous with it. There’s enough nickel/silver left for one knife of that, for sure, and probably enough bone for two. There’s a green stone, I don’t know what it is, that I think would go well with the white and blue, and there will be fine black spacers between each different colour. So, after that, Bob went outside and put together the handle for buckeye burl knife, and started grinding two of the sawmill knife blades for something else.

While he was out doing that, inside the house was quiet. I took my knitting on the sofa, made a pot of Madagascar vanilla tea, took the smoke detector off the wall and buried it in the sofa cushions, lit some sage, and took my knitting and the tea on the sofa, with as many of the lights off as I could manage and still knit. Lovely, lovely. I was there for a couple of hours and got VERY happy. Then Bob came in and we agreed that both of us had said we’d cook vegetables yesterday, and neither of us had, so we finished the chicken curry, because it has vegetables already in it. After that, I made Chocolate Cream Tea, and took a mug of that to bed with my knitting, and listened to Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, the one from the last night of the Proms in 2006, with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting, on YouTube. Superb. Bob came and listened to the last two movements with me.

It was cold last night. There was two inches in the rain gauge, after about nine hours of rain – no lightning, but lots of wind. The hydro went out for an hour Thursday night around 10:30, and again later, while everyone was asleep. In the first one, we just went out in the hammocks and listened to the night sounds – crickets, maybe cicadas, tree frogs, a dog a couple of farms over, a train going through Arp. It was beautiful. Clear still too, and lots of stars, when the wind blew the branches apart enough to see the sky. I was sorry when the lights and mechanical sounds (AC, etc.) came back. It was 90F here on Thursday afternoon, and it’s mid-afternoon Saturday now, and not quite 60. The night and the ceramic tile floors over crawl space were cold. This is the way my bed looks just before I get in it. I took this a couple of nights ago, so the book’s different, but you get my drift.

This morning I woke up. Only Yeshua was in – Tiger’d been trying to climb on top of my dresser in the night again, so she got to go sleep on the roof. I cuddled Yeshua for a while, got up for necessary biological purposes, and plunged the toilet. Opened the door to the cat-feeding enclosure outside. (It’s in a huge old cage for something else, so we can close it at night and keep the ‘coons and possums out.) Came back to bed for a while and read. By then, Tiger was sitting in the crotch of the tree outside my bedroom, looking in at my bed and mewing piteously. I couldn’t stand it, so I got up and let her in.

We’d bought bacon ends and collard, mustard and turnip greens the other day, and I’m going to cook them soon. This morning I thought a Western Omelette would be a good breakfast, so I started bacon and onions on very low heat, and thought I’d shower while they cooked, but I got the second shower, and the onions charred just a little. Then I put the eggs in, and some pepper jack on top and put the lid on and let it cook slow, like a frittata. There was enough coffee let in a pot in the fridge for about two mugsful, and I didn’t want it cold today, so I heated them in the microwave, and got berries ready for Bob, and that was breakfast. It’s time to make more coffee.

During breakfast, I could still hear that kitten under the kitchen. So I went and found her. Lying on your tummy on the wet ground, wiggling far enough to reach under the house for a kitten, in Texas fire-ant country, is a BRAVE thing to do. The stings on my ankle from last week aren’t quite healed yet. I got her out, and Yasmin walked past, so I tried to interest her. She sniffed the kitten and walked away, and I tried again, and she did it again. But I followed her, and found where she went in a little culvert-y thing, and put the orange kitten in on top of the others she was nursing. I was a little worried, but then I looked again, and the kitten was nursing too, and Yasmin was cleaning her.

We’d agreed Monday we do NOT want another house cat, and we weren’t rescuing any kittens. This morning I told Bob I’d put her back, and he said,
”We can get kitten formula and raise her by eyedropper again, if we have to,” But I don’t WANT to. It really ties you down. And then, you bond to them. Yeshua’s very bonded to me, who was his Mom in all senses from the time he was a week old. It’s not just biological bonding. Other cats grow up and are perfectly happy to abandon their mothers. Yeshua always knows where I am, when I’m here, and he stays close. If we have to eye-dropper feed that little one, she and I are going to have a terrible time giving each other up later – I hope Yasmin keeps her in the nest.

I'm going out to knit in the hammock now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's been going on

There’s so much life going on, it’s hard to find time to blog about it.

I spent the summer in Hamilton, Ontario. I had some financial and some legal things to take care of – the legal depended on the financial. Life is what it is, and the money moved on the day I was leaving Hamilton, so none of the legal things is even begun at this point. There was nothing I could do about that this summer, and it was frustrating. There were other things I couldn’t do anything about either – I tried applying for jobs, all kinds of jobs. Receptionist, shoe sales, Tim’s, housekeeping/dining room staff in retirement homes … There’s a lot of things I’m good at, and I learn other things fast, and I’m not too proud to clean toilets. Done it for income before. I was lucky – I have friends who had occasional, temporary work available, retail, filing, child care – they knew I needed work and sent it my way when they could. My dad helped some with finances too. And when it all looked like traveling to Iowa for the wedding Labour Day weekend, and then getting here, were going to be impossible, some lovely, lovely friends lent me money.

And I was lucky about housing. My sister Jane and niece Tegan met me at the airport at the end of April, and I stayed with Jane's family for several weeks. Friends were going to England for a month. I’ve cat-sat for them before, many times, and they asked if I’d stay in their condo, look after the cat, and pick up the mail, etc. It was great. First time in years I’ve lived anyplace where I didn’t have to think twice about what I did (or didn’t) have ON when I woke up in the night and had to dash across the hall to the bathroom. Luxurious, to have a whole place, with multiple rooms, to myself, and to have a cat I like, who’d come in and sleep with me.

My nephew had rented, in May, a place in west Hamilton to live in for the university school year, but he couldn’t live there until September, because of his summer job. I found that out Mother’s Day. So I lived in his place, and (eventually) covered the summer rent. He got it in time to buy textbooks, anyway. It was student housing – a place where several students have bedrooms and they share the kitchen and bath. But for most of the summer, there were no other students there. Just me, and the owner’s mother, and the two of us got along fine. Her cat slept with me too.

The summer was odd, in that I made contact with a lot of people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Decades. FaceBook helped with that. I’m in touch now with people I’ve known since elementary school. We all went to middle and high school together too, but some of them are people I really never talked to after we left the small elementary school. So – people I haven’t talked to since 1967, or 1974, or a little later. I had meals with some, and coffee with some, and phone calls with some – that was all great. A lot of fun.

It was all tiring though. It is very tiring to have four months and two purposes, and not be able to make any progress with either. It’s very tiring to be broke all the time. To know you have work tomorrow, and wonder if you have enough change for bus fare to get there and home again. There weren’t days when there were no meals, but there were days at a time when I ate the same thing. I’d look at protein at the supermarket with an eye to how many servings I could get for the amount of money I had, and I’d buy cabbage, because I can eat it raw or cooked, and I like it, and they sell it by the each, instead of by the pound. So, you always buy the biggest cabbage, cuz a four-pounder and a siz-pounder cost the same. There was surplus bounty from other people’s gardens, and meals with other people sometimes – that helped a lot. There were a couple of people over the course of the summer who’d slip me twenty bucks once in a while, a friend who sent $5 in a card from Saskatchewan, and it arrived on one of those days I didn’t know how I’d get to work tomorrow. Really lovely.

Mark Twain said, “Lack of money is the root of all evil.” Well, maybe. It’s just grindingly tiring though. Feels like everything has to be evaluated. Can I go have coffee with so-and-so Thursday afternoon? No. Because, it’s not just coffee, it’s bus tickets, and anyway, there isn’t enough to go somewhere for coffee. Coloured pencils for drawing? Nope. Want to start a new knitting project? Nope.

Then there was the time I got sick. It was a middle-ear infection, but it felt like a three-week long hangover. I got up Friday morning, rolled over in bed, and it made me so dizzy I threw up. The stairs kept shifting as I was trying to find my way down them to the bathroom. Eating was impossible. Hell, I didn’t even want to; sips of water were impossible. My brother-in-law drove me to the on-call doc on Saturday afternoon, and she prescribed something for vertigo, a cortisone inhaler to reduce the swelling in there, and some pain killers if I needed them, and fortunately, it was one of those times I could just take the prescriptions to the drug store and buy them. But it was over a week before I left the house again. Another friend brought me SF ginger ale and crackers, bless her. I could hold those down, most of the time, and I needed to, because the anti-vertigo drug causes nausea. How does that WORK? What help is THAT? I stopped taking it as soon as I could. I hate being sick when I’m living alone too – between Saturday when my BIL took me to the doctor, and Thursday, when I had another doctor’s appointment, I saw the friend who brought the crackers, and that’s it. She didn’t stay either, and who could blame her? I didn’t want to share it around.

Now, I’m here in Texas. I’m blogging, but not as much as I thought I’d be. And it’s because I’m tired. I got here exhausted. Well, there’d been a 20-hour trip on a Greyhound bus to get here from Des Moines. That wasn’t too bad. The seats are roomier and more comfortable than planes, and there are stops every couple of hours so you can stretch your legs, buy diet Cokes and bags of wasabi soy-roasted almonds. (Don’t knock ‘em if you haven’t tried ‘em.) When I get tired, I work my way backwards through lonely and angry, and I’ll get hit with crying jags out of the blue.

So, here, we’re in the Central Time Zone, but we’re really living on Hawai’i time. We stay up late,and sleep in late. There’s tools for wood- and metal-working; there’s the computers to play with; there’s cameras. My beautiful, beautiful cats are here. There are little girls – my hosts’ great-granddaughters, 8 and 4, and we see them often after school. My honorary grandkids. We have made a home for little witch dolls I knit, out of cardboard boxes, chopsticks, a plastic bowl, and glue. The oldest one’s written a book, and is illustrating it with my (new) coloured pencils. I knit sometimes, read sometimes, cook a lot, because I like it. I nap A LOT. I lie in the hammock and look at birds and the trees A LOT. I’ve been making wooden spatulas because I want them, and it’s fun and noisy. Today we went for a long walk in the woods, got lost, and I took about 40 pictures of mushrooms growing in the forest floor. We got home, and the four-year old saw us coming down the driveway and ran to meet us, to get scooped up for a hug and (slightly sweaty) kiss. Then I weighed out and nuked leftovers from last night’s good supper, for our lunch, sharing treats with all four cats – they got some fish, some chicken bones, and some pieces of a cheese that is too full of carbs for human consumption. I showered and read in bed with the littlest cat til I woke up. I finished today’s wooden spatula, which is too thin, and it’ll break soon, but that’s okay. I’ll just make another. And now I’m going to go put the third meal together. Might be a good night for scrambled eggs with onions, jalapenos, and pepper jack cheese in them.

I’ll try to post about the rhythm of life here in the next few days, with pictures. And my Mushroom Series will get published here soon too.