Saturday, October 4, 2014

Getting Up Early

Getting Up Early

Seven months have passed since my last post.

Seven months ago my wife and I were managing a self-storage business, living on-site, in a small town in eastern Oregon. The work was interesting (for awhile), frustrating (often), but it provided for our living. Sharing the work with my wife allowed me several days off each week. I connected with a fishing buddy, learned to fish for salmon and sturgeon. I caught two salmon, a couple bass, and one huge monster of a sturgeon (a 7-foot long sturgeon is a monster in my book).

We had deep connections there with family and friends, but felt cut off from our grown children and our one grandchild, who all lived in southwestern Idaho. Many applications for work in Idaho returned unanswered, but we decided in early May to buy a camp trailer, move to our daughter's farmhouse in Meridian, Idaho, and see what might develop.

We submitted our resignation from the self-storage business, began packing and saying our goodbyes. On the very day on which we left town, I got a phone call from a company to which I'd sent an application many weeks prior. I scheduled an interview with the hiring manager for the next day. The meeting went well and they offered me the job immediately. I started work the next day as a door finisher for a building supply business in Boise.

A week later we found a house that fit our needs: within 20-30 minutes driving distance from our granddaughter, friendly and safe neighborhood, a garage (euphemism for wood shop), and within our budget. We closed the purchase and moved in a month later.

The work I do at the building supply business is identical with that which I did in my parent's business from 1990 to 1996. My parents began a building supply business in Ontario, Oregon in the early 70's, and all of us five kids worked there at different times, in different capacities. When I left in 1996 to work as a school administrator, I didn't think I'd ever return to the door-building business.

But I have.

The work is tough physically, and there is a stressful pressure each day to work fast without error. I'm unable to do either thing consistently. But I enjoy working with wood, and my experience allows me to work on non-typical, non-standard doors. The management is anxious to develop written procedures to standardize the work, and I absolutely thrive on that kind of project.

I now have much less time off, however. I must leave the house at 6:30 a.m. for work, and I'm completely exhausted when I return 9-10 hours later. I've been unable to write much, or play guitar, or go geocaching or putter in my garage/workshop.

And that discourages me frequently.

But this morning I did something different. Right now it's a Saturday morning, about 7:30 a.m. I've been up since 5:00 a.m. I finished up the writing of four posts to a Bible study blog (Isaiah Chapter Eleven, broken into four parts), and I'm writing a post to this blog for the first time in seven months.

Feels good.

Normally I'd sleep in on Saturday, finally getting dressed and ready to do something worthwhile by 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. But we all know how home chores, to-do-lists, meals and cleaning, and necessary obligations can eat up a day.

Writing must be pretty important to me, because when I'm able to post something coherent, even if no one else reads it, I feel good about the time spent doing it. I don't get that same feeling when I mow the lawn or fix the car or repair the broken chair. But the lawn, car and chair are still important. I want to do those things, but I also want the delight of writing.

Getting up early is probably the key.

photo credit: johnb/Derbys/UK. via photopin cc, image modified by cropping

Saturday, March 8, 2014



"You youngsters have it so easy!"

The old tumbler shook his head sadly and spat into his soda can. I laughed silently at his grumpy whine, and I got ready for him to settle into his typical reminiscing rant about the "good old days". I liked the old guy, but I'd heard his stories now for years, and they never changed.

"Ever' house has a fence a some sort, and yer tumbleweeds jest nat'rally get caught. You don't haf to no more'n step out yer front door and you got a dozen fresh tumbleweeds in nothin' flat. Hell's fire! A six-year old boy can grab more'n two or three by hisself an' still have time to play Nintendo all afternoon!"

He made another deposit into his can. I peeked around at the faces of the folks gathered round the campfire. A couple were rolling their eyes, but most were smiling and encouraging the old geezer to continue his song and dance. I didn't mind it myself. He might be exaggerating a bit, but he really was right. When we want a tumbleweed nowadays, there's almost always one in the yard, or up against a neighbor's fence. It wasn't always so easy, and the tumbler had a right to boast about the hard life he'd survived.

"Tumbleweeds in the old days had nothin' to stop'em once they got to goin'. Miles an' miles a flat land, no fences, no buildin's to speak of...nothin' for what to catch'em nor stop'em. A feller'd haf to push his horse mighty hard to keep up with'em, an' even so you'd only get maybe one or two at a time, an' you'd have miles an' miles to backtrack back to home a'fore you could enjoy the fruit a yer labor! But us tumblers knew how to do it right. We could catch hun'erds an' hun'erds in one day!"

My grandson's eyes opened wide, and he impulsively asked the old man how they could get so many.

"We boxed 'em, my boy! We'd yip an' holler an' slap our pots an' pans and the wind would start blowin' an' we'd chase those weeds right into a box canyon. The walls o' the canyon would close in an' the herd would bunch up an' slow down an' they'd come to the end a the canyon and pile up on each other an' stop. We'd have hun'erds an' hun'erds a 'em there, pantin' an' blowin an' stampin'. In one day we'd have enough weeds fer ever fam'ly in the town fer the whole week. The townsfolk would clap an' holler an' give us free drinks an' smile at us 'an the editor a the paper would print it up the next day like we was the troops comin' home an' then..."

The old man's story faded to an end. He stopped mid-sentence and let his words dry up as if the incoming tide of memories had just washed out the fragile story of his life.

I drained the last of my cold coffee and walked out of the fire's light to stand next to the creek. I listened to the water running over the rocks until the cold of the night drove me back to my tent.

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Tumbleweeds by Milt Reynolds is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.