justin's deer stand
The phone rang while I was sanding some blocks of wood, six of them, three inches by three inches by half an inch. Found them at a building site in the mounds of leftover wood. They had been cut exactly the same length from perhaps six boards cutting the ends off them. I didn't have any reason to pick them up except I thought they were beautiful. They are yellow pine with wide grain and the ends had interesting grain patterns. I kept them for I can't guess how many years thinking of wanting to do something with them one day. As I sit here and write, it somehow evolved that I doodle by stacking smooth roundish rocks on a three inch square pedestal, another piece cut off the end of a 4x4. I couldn't have cut a better square by intent. Carpenters are good at what they do. Covered it with a coat of tung oil and it's beautiful. At first I stacked the rocks to see how many I could balance. Four came easy and five became a challenge. Then six. I felt like going after seven would require intent to develop the skill. I only want to do it for play, for doodling. I accept six as high as I can go. Now I arrange them by colors and shapes. I look for an arrangement not made before. It has become play. A pile of a dozen or so rocks are available to pick through for each new arrangement. It exercises my aesthetic sense in a pleasing way. A few weeks ago I found the six blocks of wood while looking for something else and brought them out to be a pedestal the same height as the other, though in six levels. I looked at them every day, arranged them in vertical stacks with one flat on the top to stack rocks on. Writing, I gaze at the rocks on my left like I gaze at the donkey meadow out the window to the right. The six blocks are now part of the collection. I'd look at them and think I wanted to sand them down to flawless and smooth as glass and put tung oil on them. It's done now. The tung oil is drying. As each coat dries several days I'll add another until they're right. I want the grain in them to stand out as the artwork on them like glaze drawings on pottery. I want them exactly as found with their inner beauty accented.
ronnie left, justin right
I'm looking at the rocks and blocks of wood now with an eye to make drawings of different rock arrangements and the wood block arrangements with the rocks. I reminded self during the three hours of using an electric palm sander with three grades of sandpaper, this is play, not work. I relaxed into it and lost sense of time passing for awhile. I've read that our left side is governed by right brain. This is a good toy to occupy right brain while left brain looks for sentences. For right hand doodling I have a matchbox toy copy of a nascar Monte Carlo with Caterpillar on it, CAT on the hood. Found it in a Roses store, cat's name is Caterpillar. I bought it. It's been on a shelf until I took it down one day to look at it up close. They are near perfect miniatures of the real deal. To my eye, the race cars are the most beautiful cars going. I'd like for Detroit or Tokyo to make new cars with the maker of all the parts in a car, big and bold and colorful names and logos. Along the side of the toy car: 96 Caterpillar. The paint on my car is so bad it would not hurt to take spray cans to it and paint CATFISH along both sides. Paint it like New York subways. It feels like a seed got planted. Hmmm. I could do that, and it's legal. Maybe I'd better check with a lawyer first. I'm a little too paranoid about highway patrol to want to draw that much attention to myself. May as well put a target on each door. They'd say, there goes that grumpy old bastard cynic that writes about us having quotas. I think I'll just leave it like it is. The way they look at it, anyway, is like they want to arrest me for driving something unfit to be on a NC state road. What only mechanics know, it has one of the best Detroit engines made. They didn't make them long. It's a v6 Buick that doesn't wear out. It's 21 years old and does not burn oil. Anything I want it to do, it is ready to go. It's my old man car, the kind I look just right getting out of with a cane. First time I passed somebody in it, the G-force of passing gear threw me back in the seat, jerked the steering wheel out of my hands. I had to recover right now like a soccer player knocked down full gallop. I got ahold of that wheel fast. Next time passing gear was needed I held on. A cardinal is whistling outside the open door.
justin on ladder
Come down out of your head, it's saying. Thunder is rolling in the gloaming, overcast, rain will arrive about the time it's dark. Maybe. Maybe not. I'm wondering if the sun going down brings the temperature down in the clouds and makes it rain. It so often rains soon after dark, I tend to associate them. That's about as close to how it is as a John Wayne movie. Coming down out of my head, sitting on an upside down 5gallon bucket with an extension cord snaking out the door. Comfortable place. Birds in the trees above jeering at me to go back in the house so they can get back to feeding. I'd been sanding around an hour when the phone rang. It was Justin. He and his brother-in-law Ronnie were on their way to Air Bellows, accent on the first syllable (air) like the movie Goodfellas. They'd be putting up Justin's hunting stand. Asked me to come on up and see them. Good time to take a break from my right hand buzzing continually. Might have been good for circulation, too, but enough's enough. It wasn't all that bad, but still good to get in motion and be a little bit social. Hadn't seen Justin in a few weeks and Ronnie in several. They are good hunters. Conscientious hunters. They like the deer to drop straight down and not feel a thing. No adrenaline in the blood. They compete in archery tournaments on weekend mornings early. They're not looking to be champions. Winning gas money for the drive from county to county is plenty good. They use the tournaments to practice and they have targets in their back yards. They're both so good they can call robinhooding an arrow before they pull the string. They quit doing it, the arrows they shoot are too expensive to tear up. The arrows go so fast I can't see them. The string launches the arrow and I hear it pop when it hits the target soon after. I love to watch them practice the day before a tournament. They're honing their skill. Ronnie's brother, Gail, is with Justin's sister Sheena. Gail is side by side with Justin and Ronnie in their skill. Sheena is good in a tournament too. So is Ronnie's wife, Amanda. Justin's wife can't leave the kids or she would too. She's so busy with her work she doesn't need one more thing.
gettin er done
Justin had constructed the foundation and floor at home. They were digging holes for each of the four legs when I arrived. It was a big square table with a plywood top. They placed the legs into the holes, measuring the depth and using a four-foot long level to finish fine levelling. He had constructed the frames for all four sides at home using screws, took it apart and loaded everything into the back of his big white pickup with beautifully rumbling pipes. He stood the first wall up, screwed it to the floor, put the second wall up, screwed it to first wall and floor. All the way around everything fit, holes lined up just right. Two cordless drills; one with a Philips screw bit and the other a drill bit. Justin did everything; it was in his head, he had the vision and knew step-by-step how to do it. He needed Ronnie to hold a wall upright while he drilled in the powerful screws about four inches long and coated blue, possibly rust resistant. Justin wants to be able to take it apart when he wants to move it and put it up in the next place in a day or two. He wants it to last a long time. Next step, he will cut plywood walls and make a plywood door. He has painted the inside of the framework black already. He will paint the inside of the plywood flat black and the outside a medium-light gray. He wants me to paint forest scenes on the walls all the way around it. A new summer project. Make a cube mural in the woods, no windows, the only opening a vertical rectangle to see down the channel to the bait pile. It came out of the blue when he said he wanted the walls painted like the woods around it. I said, Hail Yeah. Rebel Yell. Their style of hunting seems to us of another generation something like cheating. These are people who keep full-time jobs, kids in school and pre-school, wives with jobs. They don't have time to go stalking and creeping about. They can do that and they love it. Their lives now are structured by schedules. They go hunting before work and/or after work. They have big box freezers in the basement where they pack the butchered parts. Home eats well year round from daddy's hunting. Justin put $150 in this stand.
looking down the channel to the bait pile on right