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Monday, February 16, 2015



Went out in the morning to take carrots and hay to the donkeys in two degree air and a quarter inch of fine, dry, slick, crystalline snow. Rhododendron leaves were hanging straight down curled up tight as green pencils. Donkeys danced and squealed, brayed, bumped each other, snorted. They took the carrots like they'd not had anything yet to eat, remains of yesterday's hay covered with snow. They stood in their shed waiting to hear the Ice Cream Man's footsteps in his barn. By the time I reached the window where I could see them, they were walking out of their den and stood at the fence looking at me through the window. They were cold to the bone. I could see it in the way they slam-danced when I went out the door. It was different from usual; their movements were tighter, fluid, though not warm fluid. In motion by force of habit, too excited to stand still. They may be able to take it, thick hair makes a good blanket; below ten degrees is cold even wrapped in a polar sleeping bag. Both had a good mood about them. Donkeys are, indeed, rugged. I threw hay over the fence for them and returned to my barn. Made some Ethiopian coffee, settled in, read a few pages of Chris Hedges, and called Carole. Mostly I talked about my new project, an outdoor sculpture, explained it and the construction in detail, visualizing as I talked, She helped with some questions, was encouraging, as always. An hour of talking about it, I visualized the process of construction, building the big outdoor one and the small model, while we talked, back and forth, not just one way. Talked with Justin yesterday, told him I need his help on an art project. I really do need his help. It will take some carpentry skills I can do a rough version of, but he can do right.

new project

An hour of talking with Carole about it, feeling like Christo and Jean-Claude, a minor likeness, collaborating in the conception, walking through the process in our minds' eyes, making aesthetic and construction decisions together, I built it in my mind. It was done. Now is the time to start. We got off the phone and I started setting up the small plywood board handy for a table top on the footstool. Found a strip of some fir standing in a corner, just the right length for the three lengths of wood. Put a new blade on the hand-jigsaw, fir is some hard wood for driving nails in, sawing or drilling. The wood for the project itself will be square. The wood for the model is rectangular, eliminating making an exact replica at the beginning. Didn't want to make the model exact. Let it be itself. The bigger one to be made on the same principle, not exact. Needed two stove bolts, four eye-screws, two small s-hooks, string and a rock, all of which could be found in a collection of bolts, screws, nails and so forth. Looked around at rocks I have laying about and found a white one like the big one I want to use. Got out the drill and the extension cord, ready to go. A puzzle where I make the parts as well as put them together. Justin dropped by to use his pickup to bring six bales of hay from the barn to the donkey feeding station. I went out to assess the path to the barn hoping the snow would allow me to pull the car down in the hole and get out. I saw  his truck at the barn and felt blessed. We stacked the hay and put the tarp over it.. He came to the house for a cigarette and I told him the project, showed him the model and asked for some counsel on using treated wood. He said treated wood costs about a tenth of untreated. He said the hardware stores in this area, forty mile radius, have to special order untreated wood.  He said the treated wood takes three or four months to dry out, to let the moisture from the treatment escape the wood or no paint will stick to it. He said it will reject the finish put on before the drying process is completed.

new project

It's looking like the first one will go up raw, treated wood. The blue-green tint of the treated wood, is, after all, what it is. I'll buy the wood this week or next and start the drying process. It looks like June before the wood is ready for finishing. Thought I might buy wood to make two of the objects, put one together right away and save the other to put together later using paint. I might want to make two, anyway. The first one will have to be raw wood. I actually like it better for the unfinished aspect of it. We talked at length about securing it to the ground, considering the time or two a year a big wind comes through, the rock could start swinging and swing the construction out of balance, collapsing it. He suggested putting each of the three legs a foot or more into the ground. Great plan. However, I added I'm not sure about digging holes in a lawn to be refilled when the thing has had its day. I brought up driving a length of re-bar a couple feet long into the ground at each foot. He suggested drilling holes in the end of each one to drive the re-bar through. He knows somebody who can cut and shape the re-bar to specs. Bringing his mind into the project is a practical step. As I knew he would, he appreciated the mechanics of the thing and sees exactly what I want. I feel a little bit like Ai Weiwei, hiring craftsmen to make his art objects he doesn't have the skills or knowledge to make himself. Justin answered in a short time my questions about the construction and how to do things, like cut the notches, I can only do approximately, and he can do exact. He will make the construction's mechanics artful. The joint where two pieces of wood fit together will be a tight fit, and the angle of the holes drilled for the bolts will be right.

justin puts on his winter over-hauls

I like associations with my friends where we help each other as needed. I've known Justin all his life, we've been friends since he was a child, like I'm friends with his girl, Vada, now. He knows I can be trusted with his baby girl from all the times I baby-sat with him and his sister, Sheena, and being his adult friend all the way through his childhood. He needs help with something I can do, he's got it. I need help with something he can do, I've got it. No questions of why, just when. He won't let me pay him for this. We don't accept pay for helping each other. I have full confidence the finished product will be done right by somebody with a good mind and experience with carpentry. He could build an entire house by himself, though would do it like a contractor, hiring helpers for specific jobs. If I make two, which I think I will, if one or both are sold and I make a modest amount of money for them, I'll give it to Justin. I'm in balance with my fixed income, and it's not so easy for him and Crystal with a house, day-care, jobs, utility expenses, insurance, vehicles, on and on. All problems are solved toward the project. It's now a matter of when the snow clears and the temperature rises above freezing. He will go with me to select the wood. Justin has known me an artist, painter, all along his way. He is having fun with the idea of helping me construct an art object. It's important for me and it's important for him, each in our own ways. When it comes to naming the artist, I'll use both our names, a collaboration. I like the idea of making two. I know I can move one of them on right away. The second one will be painted. Original idea was to paint it. Then I liked raw wood better. May put the second one up at home. Now that I've committed my mind to the first one raw, I like it even better with the bluish tint in the raw wood impervious to the ground and rain. Won't even sand it. Use it straight off the lumber rack. I feel like a surfer who found a good wave, standing up on the board, flowing with the groove. .

here comes the snow


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