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Saturday, October 26, 1991

Tonight George & I had dinner on the back porch. The crickets sang, a small breeze ruffled the leaves and the stars & planets turned serenely in the variously hued deeply blue sky. It was so perfectly beautiful that I said to George that I felt I was on a movie set. Such perfection doesn’t exist in reality. Well, I guess it does.

We worked hard today. George got the windows in the top part of the shack framed and all the wood put on the outside of the south side. We reinforced almost all the rafters with extra 2x4’s. I put in a lot of nailers to attach the drywall to — didn’t quite finish.

I changed the cat litter this morning (I’m only including this so I can remember when I did it) — no dishes to wash this morning since we ate with Mary last night.

George blew paths in the yard clear of leaves — it was getting hard to see at night because there were a couple of inches of leaves everywhere. He also prepared the mailbox for its installation. It’s all ready to go now.

Jack, friend of Dan Smith’s, who we met at Mary’s one memorable night a few years ago, stopped by to see us with somebody named Bill. Luckily they came in a motorized vehicle so I had enough warning time to whip my shirt on before they stopped here. It was so warm today I was working barechested.

Tonight after the beautiful dinner on the back porch we went to Mary’s to get 15 gallons of water. We drank a beer with her & chatted a while. Now the kerosene lamps are lit, George is shelling beans for seed, and Snowy is prowling. The wind blows gently. Leaves fall from trees at intervals with the sound of soft applause.

Two new versions of “up shit creek without a paddle:” — “stark naked at a PMRC convention” and “Drunk at the hacienda when the posse arrives” — thought of when I was sawing and hammering.

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November 5, 1991

Yikes! It was 23° in the shack when we woke up this morning.

I had an early morning walk to the mailbox. Then I scouted the rocks road for fires (the smell is back) — dug the latrine out then wrote a note to my parents.

While I did that, George was busy stuffing, stuffing with insulation & fixing the screen vents over the windows. He must have done some good because the shack seems to be staying warmer tonight.

This afternoon we put drywall on the walls, a job that’s many times easier than putting it on the ceilings. We’ll continue drywalling tomorrow.

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Friday, November 15th, 1991

It’s our one-month anniversary here. Snowy & Sox came outside this morning while I did very little else — watching cats takes time. Snowy did fine, but Sox began getting the wanderlust shortly before lunch, so she had to go back inside. Friend is able to negotiate the ladder to & from the loft.

George put a porch on the shack. Snowy likes it & it will be a good place to put muddy boots.

This afternoon we gathered a large amount of wood from an oak tree that had fallen. George chain sawed it into short lengths. Then he did an amazing impression of a samurai as he split many large crotch pieces — the kind that Chris says you need a hydraulic log splitter to do.

It’s warm tonight but rainy. Before the rain Chris brought us the stuff Mary got for us in town. That was nice. I would have hated to carry 8 ft. long 4x4’s up the hill — not to mention all the groceries & hardware.

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Saturday, November 23rd, 1991

Today the sun came out. Not in the morning, which was nearly as dull as the weather of the past few days, but in the afternoon. The sunshine was warm & made me feel happy.

George & I worked on the privy. I feel privileged to be among those people who know that a privy is a luxury.

I keep experiencing “hereness” — the knowledge & awareness that I am alive now — I am here & nowhere else. One such moment occurred tonight. George was on the ladder. I looked up & saw him framed by light purple evening sky and black tree branches, felt the autumn chilliness on my face & my legs (no long johns) & joyfully knew that I am here.

We finished our bedtime snack of popcorn & are talking about getting a 50 lb. bag of it from Sam’s (guess we like it!)

Snowy & Friend are sleeping. Sox is out in the wind & full moon. – An item just remembered: This morning George came out to see if I wanted him to carry breakfast dishes from the camper to the shack. Snowy was sitting demurely by the path. George went to her to give her a pat. Suddenly, under his foot he heard a loud “Eek, eek!” Snowy had caught a mouse & had been playing with it before she ate it! Poor George, he stepped right on the mouse. What a way to greet the morning.

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Monday, December 16th, 1991

The momentous part of the day began at about 5 p.m. when Junior came to the shop to tell us that he had his truck ready to pull our truck up the hill. We went with him and saw his truck (which he’d vowed never to take back that far on the lane, we learned later) backed up — all the way down the hill, mind you — to our truck. He hooked us up with a chain & I started spinning my tires, but going nowhere. George was sitting in the back of Junior’s truck. He signaled for us to stop — the chain had come loose. Junior said oops! He’d had his truck in 2 wheel, not 4 wheel drive. He told me to put our truck in low. I said “There is no low. We have forward and backward.” Junior looked astonished. Then I told him that it’s a KOA truck He slapped his knee, laughed, and said “I hear you!” Well, we got chained up again and all took our places. Then we went, willy-nilly, sideways, bumpety bump up the hill. I couldn’t see where the ruts were & couldn’t really steer, just was pulled along behind Junior’s stalwart truck and a hanging-on-tightly George. George said I looked funny driving up the hill, steering wildly with big eyes and a wide-open mouth. I think he looked about the same riding up the hill, on the brink of being tossed from the truck bed into the tops of the pine trees.

George gave me filing lessons this afternoon. We’re making carving knives for wood carving.

Sox had trouble walking tonight. I hope that she’s healthy.

It’s cold tonight, but warm & lovely in here. Today is Beethoven day & we heard Eroica on the radio.

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Wednesday, February 26th, 1992

I stepped back & let George forge a bit today. He made a pastry crimp and a fork. I watched the fork making, so I can refer to it later when it’s my turn.

This normal language becomes boring. What to do about it ... How can sentences form themselves so they don’t plod from paragraph to paragraph? How can I leave that boring little circuit of vocabulary learned by the age of 10? The idea of forgoing use of the verb “to be” intrigues me, as a start. Maybe speaking a language other than ’Marican would slip the mind away from years of verbal grooves.

Life blows wild outside tonight. I was in the camper (“to be” again) when the door blew shut with a loud double bang. When I went down the path, leaves hopped by, looking like toads. A cat cries outside, but we can’t see her. Animals move and the wind blows.

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Wednesday, February 16, 1994

I finished the leaf racks this morning. I was thinking “This is a lot of work for not much money.” Then I thought of Nelda’s having to put up with Mrs. Parson’s nasty personality all day & night. I decided that blacksmithing wasn’t too much work after all.

George finished his “fruit bowl dreaming” bowl (it’s a pomegranate bowl, he says). It looks suave and spunky.

We went this afternoon, through the sunshine and warm air, to Mary’s where we unstuck the van, took the metal railing that was in it out, and packed it with boxes of things from the barn. We visited with Mary, who is all excited about getting a Bernina sewing machine, then drove the van up the hill.

George found a lot of his books & has been showing them to me tonight.

Sox went outside & helped George clear the garden of brush & small trees this morning. She looked nice sitting on logs with her fur glistening in the sunlight.

George got his first copy of Art in America.

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Tuesday, May 10, 1994

A bright blue day gave us an amazing show of the solar eclipse. At 12:15 I was in the shack fixing lunch. Suddenly the light began going dim, even though the sun was brightly shining. I went outside & all the leaf shadows on the ground were crescent shaped. George & I had lunch outside so we could watch the magic. It was like being in a different world. The light was dim, but blue & green, not gold & rose, like at twilight. The three dimensionality was diminished, too. We heard an owl hooting in the distance. Our shadows lost their hard edges & took on a grey edge comprised of thousands of crescents all together on top of each other. George punched a hole in a card & brought out a white-papered notebook to shine the sun’s light onto. We could see the image of the dark moon moving across the sun in the light that shone through the hole. Then we bent our fingers to make tiny spaces for the sun to shine through. The light came through as crescents there, too.

I am so amazed to realize that when we see sunlight, it is an infinite number of images of the sun, that we perceive things to look the way they do because of the shape of the sun.

I saw poplar saplings during the eclipse whose uppermost leaves looked as though they were made of bronze.

Sox joined us for a while outside, then she went in, sat on the table & looked through the window. After that Winstanley joined us & rolled around here & there in the yard.

A yellow rose is blooming on one of our rosebushes.

If the sun were square would we live in a cubist world?

Sunlight is not like light from a floodlamp.

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November 14, 1994


I got up early today and was working in the shop by 8. The pressure of having the deadlines looming is trying.

George got a lot done. He hung the door on the shed, put the blocking by the eaves and made a step from pine slabs, dirt and coal grit. His hinges look very nice in place.

Sox & Viva both spent a lot of time outside. It’s still very warm.

Viva is lying on this page, purring like crazy, and chewing on this pen!

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Monday, February 20, 1995


Last night I was outside at about 3:30. There was the strangest noise that I’ve ever heard. I think it was an animal song. It was a sequence of percussive thrumming followed by a voice sound that was very musical. It was faint & faraway.

This is the day that the first yellow crocuses started to bloom. George saw them first and pointed them out to me.

George heard a bunch of middle class ($60,000+ a year) white males on the radio complaining how they are being discriminated against by all the people of color and women who are getting all the jobs and have all the resources at their disposal. What percentage of the people who hear that are going to believe it? NPR needs to get a loud bullshit detector.

George said that he found some Situationist books & was looking at them. We started talking about desires – a big part of the Situationist thought, as I understand it, is the establishment of desires as a basis for reality. Sox was on George’s lap & George said to her, “Sox, as an animal who only goes by instinct, how is it that you have desires? You should be just as happy in a little cat cage as you are sitting on my lap.” I said, “Yes, that is exactly the perfect argument!* You’re so pithy!” George said, “Yeah, and my farts stink, too.”

*against all sorts of “civilizing” influences – schools, work, churches, meetings, etc.

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March 14, 1995, Tuesday

The moonlight is making everything blue outside. Viva looks like a fairy cat sitting on the porch step.

It was warm again today. George kicked Sox & Viva out of the shack this morning & sprayed the floor with Precor to kill flea eggs.

George made a stamping using the hydraulic press, a small sheet of copper, and a partly-formed brass jump ring. It gives us ideas for all kinds of things we could do.

My forge work today went really well. I finished forging the 2nd toilet paper holder & made 9 long, twisted S-hooks, plus two drive hooks & an S-hook. I believe I’ve learned much about forge work in the past year.

George showed me how to make a coin using very simple equipment. It’s exciting; I want to make some.

George went to get the mail tonight & came back with a knapsack and a bookbag full of books. I feel like the motto on Daria’s friend’s sweatshirt: “So many books, so little time.”

Daria’s cat, Ferrett, had three babies. Daria called Mary yesterday. That’s the best kind of grandchildren to have. They let you read books (at least sometimes) and don’t cost much to educate.

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March 15, 1995

George thought of a cartoon. Newt Gingrich is sitting under an apple tree. An apple falls on his head. He throws it away, cursing the commie artist welfare-mother hippies who are out to get him. Two birds are up at the top of the tree. One says to another, “Newt’s no Newton, is he?”

The day was beautiful. I saw Viva in the yard with a milkweed silk moored to her. It occurred to me that she looks like a milkweed fairy.

When I walked out the lane, two little grey birds flew alongside me, keeping to the bushes at the side of the road. It was fascinating to watch them fly a ways, the sun in their feathers creating a dynamic blur. Then they would perch on a branch from which they could keep their eyes on me while I walked by. They went with me for a long way. I heard crows, too.

There’s a deep purple iris reticulata that’s opened up in the yard.

The moon looked like green cheese for a bit tonight.

The radio said that the Russians almost exploded one of their nuclear facilities in a practice bombing run.

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Friday, March 24, 1995

I had a dream last night that Taj had a girlfriend who was a feminist. It’s Hans’ birthday, but I can’t remember what year he was born in. 1974? 1973?

We had a cool sunny day. The daffodils are at their most lavish.

We went out to the shop about 10 & began repairing the hood of my forge, a project requiring both forging and oxyacetalyne welding. I have fun doing stuff like that, although it’s nerve-wracking, too, since learning how to do new skills always puts me in a tizzy. But, I think the welds I made are my best ones yet.

George used some of the plastic he got from Daniel Smith Co and cut a block for printing with his linoleum-cutting tools. That was exciting to see. I hope I can make one sometime. (I hope I can make many more than one.)

There are bright stars in the dark, dark sky tonight. I go outside & forget to stop staring and come inside.

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Friday, April 7, 1995

I think Sox has had a good birthday. She had sardines for breakfast (not Viva’s and Winstanley’s favorite), cheese for lunch, & spaghetti for dinner. The weather was warm & somewhat sunny, so it was a good cat-going-out day. (Now I hear dogs barking outside & Viva’s out there; so I’m concerned, but Viva’s good at hiding. She’s probably under the shack.)

We started out this morning by working in the garden.* George mowed while I slowly dug one fence posthole. Then I went to work in the shop & George dug 3 holes. We put up the net & I took a break from blacksmithing long enough to help George move the fence-post logs into position in their holes.

I finally completed all the long s-hooks for the 4 big potracks & 7 leaf pot racks. I think I’ve thought of a simple jig to use for those.

George spent the afternoon bending hooks. We talked about some design ideas he has had. We’re trying to think of simple-to-make-knick-knacks that could retail for under $20. George pointed out that hardly ever do you see a blacksmith driving a new vehicle.

We had a nice spaghetti dinner when George returned from doing a battery run to Mary’s. Then, after dinner we were nauseated to learn that chairman Gingretch would be speaking on public radio tonight. Our radio went off fast.

*First we moved a lot of logs around.

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April 16, 1995

George and I went down in the eastern hollow this evening. We were accompanied by Winstanley. The whole hillside was covered with purple violets, yellow violets, wood anemones & all sorts of beautiful green plants. At the bottom of the hollow, there were large trillium plants and pawpaw trees. And there’s a huge tree with a nesting hawk in it. We saw the hawk.

George had a bit of time this afternoon to work on his Winifred project. I sat on the porch of the house, wrote a letter to Daria, and watched chipmunks under the white oak tree.


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