Friday, May 10, 2013

Timber!



During the “Southeastern deluge” last weekend, half of a Bradford Pear tree in my backyard gave way beneath the weight of four inches of rain and 25+mph wind gusts. The weekend was miserable and as I was woken at 4am Sunday morning by the cracking and resounding thump of a falling tree, the promise of extra work during the upcoming week made the weekend a bit more miserable.

I crawled out of bed at the sound of the tree falling, grabbed a flashlight and sloshed around a slightly flooded backyard to survey the damage. After discovering which tree snapped I immediately became thankful for multiple things. The Bradford Pear in question was the one positioned adjacent to the chicken coup. The half of the tree that fell was the side facing the house, which meant that it fell away from the chicken coup. Now, usually I wouldn’t be too thrilled about part of a tree falling toward my house - especially since it fell toward my bedroom window - but the tree is far enough away from the house to do any damage. Also, again luckily, the front half fell with the wind at an angle toward a small stretch of woods that borders the right side of my property.  The only thing I was immediately concerned about was the chain link fence that lines the perimeter of the backyard, but it also made it through the ordeal unscathed. So that was two pluses checked off the list of possible casualties.

There is also a vegetable garden next to the tree, which did get clipped at the bottom-most edge but also escaped unscathed for the most part (just a little chicken wire fence damage, but that was easily straightened out). The only things that were damaged in the fall were the backside of another Bradford Pear, a regular pear tree and a bird feeder. Lucky really is about the only word I can continue to say about the whole ordeal. Daisy seemed to enjoy the fallen canopy of branches and thick, broad leaves as she weaved her way through the maze of limbs and slept beneath the curtain of leaves like a child beneath a blanket fort.

Yesterday, I finally finished the process of sawing away the seemingly infinite mass of limbs and small branches, and also sawed through the thickest part of the main branch dislodging it from the trunk. I took a picture of the resulting chainsaw massacre, but I wish I would have taken a picture or two of the fallen tree. There was also a new chainsaw bought for the occasion: a green 14” Poulan, which I affectionately named The Green Hornet. Hopefully I will not have to make use of The Green Hornet for a while, but if I do we will be ready to lumberjack like nobody’s business. 

Above is the aftermath of my chainsaw massacre. I swear, afterward I was covered in sweat, sawdust and victory. I felt like the lovechild of an Old Spice and Dr. Pepper 10 commercial.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Small A-Z Reflection and Catching Up



What does posting nearly every day for a month do to you? It made me emotionally exhausted. Personally, I think I went about it the wrong way. I allowed it to be too personal, which limited the source material in the end. There is something about publicly posting your every private detail nearly every day that caused me to make like a hermit crab and crawl into my shell, which I obviously did the last few days of the challenge. It was impossible for me to finish. I had enough. I’m not complaining so much as being honest. I enjoy the sharing aspect of blogging, but only when I have something to share other than my pitifully redundant private life. I would have talked more about my work but it is not only pitifully redundant, it is also painfully redundant. Moreover, I try to forget about my job as much as possible when I’m securely back at home. I’m not particularly fond of my job and the daily mental stress it entails is best left there and not rehashed here. Again, I’m not complaining so much as being honest. The challenge was great and I met a lot of fantastic people, but I will most likely not participate again.

So, what have I been up to lately? I have been writing just not publicly. The one thing I disliked most about the challenge was how demanding it was with my free time after work and on the weekends, especially concerning my outside writing projects. It was a tad easier to keep up with the challenge on my creative writing blog seeing as I was simply posting what I already do most days: composing a poem or some form of creative literature. It’s in my blood and it must be so. If I go a day without writing something, then too much nonsense settles in my head like coffee grinds in the bottom of a mug - easily ignored at first, but ever-present once the good is no longer around. I went to sleep far too many nights with the grinds of my day still persistently sticking at the base of my mind, dredging up nothing but ill-intended thoughts and self-deceits. Things have been better over the past week or so and I feel refreshed to a point - refreshed enough to write here again, anyway.

As I said before I have been playing the part of the hermit the past few weeks only leaving the house for work and essentials during the week. The weekends have allowed me to be a bit more adventurous. I recently indulged and purchased a new iPod touch for myself. I have only ever owned an iPod nano, so I thought it might be time to upgrade. I own a ton of music so the extra space was definitely needed. There are also quite a few new albums being released by some bands I really like, which helped tip the scale in the ongoing debate with myself on whether a new iPod was really necessary. The final verdict: of course it isn’t necessary, but sometimes a little retail therapy never hurts.

Since the purchase I have been enjoying a few new albums. The first of which was the Dawes album Stories Don’t End. A fine effort as always, but I will hold off on a final verdict until I give it a good second listening in which I sit in a dark room with headphones and completely immerse myself in the music. The next two new album purchases were Hanni El Khatib’s Head in the Dirt and Stillhouse’s The Great Reprise, both fantastic ventures. Head in the Dirt is a solid rock album, as pure and raw as the genre demands. The Great Reprise is nothing short of serene in its “swirled in a smooth, spring breeze” sound - the kind of music made for riding around on a warm day, windows down with nothing but the open road and an unknown blue horizon ahead.

In more recent events, I chopped wood today. The way I figure it, by chopping wood I accumulated at least two weeks worth of man points. I mean, what is more manly that chopping wood? Nothing, that’s what. Such is my life.

Monday, April 22, 2013

R is for Rockin' Out and S is for Submissions



It seems I’m getting good at slacking on my Saturday posts. I would apologize but, to be honest, the extra free day from blogging was incredibly refreshing. I love writing these little ditties for y’all, but it’s getting to the point where I’m like a blind squirrel and only finding an acorn from time to time. I feel like the quality of my posts has been lacking as of late, which tugs at my old literary heartstrings. I’m a quality over quantity guy, which is why I never partake in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s hard enough for me to sit down and plug away at either my novel or short story collection in my free time on the weekends. I can’t even begin to fathom composing an entire novel in one month. You guys can have at it. I’ll keep going the slow and steady route.

I better switch gears because if I keep going like this I will need to revise the “R” part of this posts’ title to “R is for run-around.” Apart from lying around beneath shade trees whistling along with the late-spring Robins nesting in Bradford Pear trees, I took a little time to ramble around my small town’s annual spring festival: The Azalea Festival. It has actually grown over the years and now includes a full-out children’s section with carnival rides, sideshow attractions, and local television personalities doing magic tricks. Scattered about down the rest of Main Street is lines of vendors beneath tailgate tents. The vendors ranged from local organizations selling home-cooked goodies for charity, local craftsmen selling everything from birdhouses to wooden porch swings, handmade jewelry, and local artists. There is also live musical entertainment, which usually bills washed-up country stars from the late 80’s; however, this year an up-and-coming band from Atlanta called The Deadfields (Check. These. Guys. Out.) surprised me - a big fan - by playing two sets Saturday afternoon. That’s where this little country boy could be found, rocking out to a great new band on the stage of Pickens County’s annual Azalea Festival. I swear, somewhere in the wibbly-wobbly span of time, space, and parallel universes teenage me is laughing at my expense. It’s cool, though, I had a great time and some much needed escape.

Now on to the “S” part of this double-dose of awesome post! I know, you guys are luckier than a polecat in a bee farm (and take it from me, that’s pretty darn lucky). I have a confession to make. I wasn’t completely lazy over the weekend. Yesterday I did a ton of yard work because apparently spring cleaning involves cleaning up after winter, that ole bugger. Afterward I trimmed some more monkey grass in a flower bed near the house and pulled weeds. Once all that fun was over and done with I began the arduous task of digging through my poems in order to submit them to various literary magazines/journals this week. That’s right; submissions have been chosen and sent on their merry little way into the great wide open. I hope the recipients treat them well. I also hope to write a lovely post on down the road about having a poem or two published. It would be a great development and a big morale booster, especially in terms of future submissions for my novel and short story collection. I need all the positive reinforcement I can get.

I hope everyone is having a fine start to the week and I hope I can be forgiven for making this post a two-for-one deal.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quiet Day



I designated today as a “quiet day.” The weather helped in finalizing the decision, but I had planned on making today a lazy day regardless. We had a long period of early-day rain, which kept me indoors. The only time I have been out-and-about today was early this morning when I went for my weekly coffee run at my favorite local café. I try to visit the café every weekend if time and life permits. I picked up one of their “Summer Flavor” specials, a favorite of mine, called Honeysuckle: a green tea chai with a shot of vanilla. It’s a delightfully light and flavorful warm drink for cool, spring/summer mornings in the South. After picking up the drink, I drove back home and settled in as the rain began to pour outside. The rhythm of the rain against the metal gutters above my bedroom window nearly put me to sleep it was so gloriously melodic and lovely - a cloud’s lullaby to a wearied soul.

I love listening to a bit of jazz on rainy mornings, so I listened to a little Dave Brubeck Quartet and then switched gears and listened to a contemporary band called Dawes. Dawes always seems to fit rainy mornings as well. After a morning of rain and music, I cooked a few sausages for breakfast and ate them with the end pieces of loaf bread. I’m one of those weird folks that love the end pieces of loaf bread and the crust. The obsession started when I was young. I can remember always raising a curious eyebrow at my other young-counterparts and their revulsion for loaf bread crust. So, to be different, I decided I would love bread crust…and I did. It didn’t even take a period of acclimation; I liked it from first bite. The obsession has not waned at all over the years, and at times I still find myself eating the crust from a sandwich first before actually eating the sandwich. I do this a lot with peanut butter sandwiches, another favorite of mine from childhood - comfort food, if you will.

The breakfast - or I should more accurately say brunch - led to a full belly and an even greater tendency toward napping as the rain once again increased. Not to mention I had a warm kitty in my lap, which escalated the sleepy situation a bit. I guess I should stop skirting around the obvious and say that I took an early afternoon nap. It wasn’t long, but it was refreshing nonetheless. This week has been long and emotionally arduous, so a little extra shut-eye and mental rest was a welcomed reprieve.

As the dreary day lagged along, I decided to do a little catching up on one of my favorite TV shows, Doctor Who. I have had some things going on the last few weekends and have yet to watch the first three episodes aired so far. I’m glad I did because the show is moving along gloriously as always. The episodes provided some great quotes, which I took full advantage of on my other blog ("Q" is for Quotes).

For dinner I went into “chef mode” and cooked spaghetti. Being a “quiet day,” I wanted to cook something simple and quick so I could settle back down to my TV shows and warm cat. This all leads me to now and also leads to the end of this rather monotonous post. I’m sorry I didn’t have anything more interesting to blog about, but quiet days are what they are and I couldn’t muster up any grander ideas for the letter “Q.” Hopefully tomorrow will present a more riveting post. I hope everyone is having a wonderfully relaxing Friday.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Please Pardon Yourself



I have been kind of a downer lately, so I apologize. I was hoping I would bypass one of my funks this month, but alas I’m too funky for my own good. Hopefully I can spare us all the melodrama and partake in pleasant posting.

In relation to my recent emotional mishaps, I recently had a night of “sad songs and cold beer.” I used to quarantine myself during my more stressful periods of graduate school and listen to sad songs, which mostly encompassed heart-wrenching country ballads and bluesy dips in whiskey soaked vocals that seem to coat the soul in a blanket of numbness. The healing was gradual but it was comprehensive. By the time the sun shone through the blinds of my bedroom, or whichever room I happened to wake up in, I was a reasonably rejuvenated man…after a cup of coffee.

“Ahem…no offense but what does any of this have to do with your P-theme?”

First of all, I’m a Southerner and telling me that you mean “no offense” in saying something is about like me “blessing your heart” when you do something stupid. You can’t pull the moss over my eyes and roll me down a hill backwards! (That’s something my grandfather used to say apparently…don’t ask.) Also, hold your horses; I’m getting to the point quick as a bluegrass fiddle.

Because of my recent funky mcfunk, I decided to have a “sad songs and cold beer” night. Most of the sad songs were presented courtesy of a fine bunch of North Carolina boys called, The Avett Brothers. There was a particular song (or maybe it was the beer) that sent me spinning like an auger on a fence post: “Please Pardon Yourself.” The song as a whole is fantastic and has long been a favorite of mine from their album, Mignonette. It is also one of the few favorites that I have yet to hear them perform live. Get on it, boys!

Anyway, there is a verse in the song that says, “The day will come, the sun will rise, and we’ll be fine.” As simplistic as that verse is, it really hit home and was something I needed to hear in the worst way. No matter the circumstances and no matter the problem, whether trivial or substantial, dawn will come and we’ll be fine because we have been given another day to grow from the experience. We have been given another opportunity to build upon attempted personal deconstruction. This may all feel like a mistake now, but one day these mistakes will lead to something worthwhile. I’m not fond of looking too far into the future because living in the future can be as suffocating as living in the past. But it is nice to know that a misstep or two (or three) in the present can be redeemed. All of this also reminds me of some verses from another Avett Brothers song, “A Gift for Melody Lane:”

Now, when your dreams start saying
"I can't come true, you'd be better off without me"
Don't let ‘em go
Don't let ‘em go

I refuse to let ‘em go, and I’m more than willing to pardon myself and let the sun rise on a new day.