Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meaningful Production

It's been quite a spring and early summer. Matters that were put in motion over three months ago have yet to see resolution. It's work related. I won't go into it. I will simply say the actions and decisions of those entrusted with power are far too often detached from a balanced view and are never devoid of personal bias. Objectivity is a museum piece, locked away in an opaque box. The shell of the word lives on to be thrown around freely in a token gesture of authenticity.

I like to shift focus to other means of production -- industry of the cottage variety, if you will -- the real business that should matter most but is frequently usurped by the need to achieve and consume and "better one's situation." The reality of two young humans in our home, growing and learning and developing leaps and bounds every day humbles me when I truly stop to consider it. It puts to shame all the professional development initiatives and training sessions. It translates dictionaries of corporate speak into sheer gibberish.

A couple of months ago we built Sylvia her own workbench. She no longer has to balance precariously atop a stool to use the big bench. Like most things, I overbuilt it. But considering Willa has already begun to pound on it too, this bench will see at least 10 years worth of nail holes and glue spills. Sylvia has already grown to appreciate the front vise.

Productivity of the meaningful variety takes on many forms. This was the first family paddle where Sylvia tried to contribute to moving the canoe along. Mostly we all appreciated the blooming lotus flowers and families of ducks moving quickly by for safety.

The subtle curves of a canoe's bilge are naturally suited to children. If I were able to sit on the bottom of the boat and comfortably settle into the rocking motion while others did all the work I think I'd be happy as a clam. By the time we got back to the car, both kids had been lulled to sleep.

One vastly underrated means of production is flying a kite. This we attempted to do one Sunday not long ago. It transformed into a patient study of the wind which would lightly gust for 30 seconds then die again. Sylvia didn't mind. She'd let out 6 feet of string and run all the way across the field and back. Willa gave it a try, too, with limited success and many technical difficulties.

Kiting is hugely satisfying. I've taken to occasionally carrying my small parafoil with me to and from work. A couple of evening stop-offs to test the wind, sit in the grass and watch the daylight wane have been just the ticket for countering the trappings of conventional industry.

Untangling knotted kite string is pleasant when juxtaposed with fixing problems created by others or attempting to right some larger issue that, in reality, truly doesn't matter to one's overall well being. As the breeze picks up and the string uncoils I'm reminded of my cue to simply breathe out and release matters into the blue.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Running Toilet

Our downstairs toilet mostly behaves. But I have learned to listen. Listen for the water refilling the tank; I've learned the duration of a tank fill by means of a mental stopwatch. It has become most precise.

Our downstairs toilet mostly behaves. Believe me, I've tried slow depressions of the lever, leaning to one side, making a ju-ju grimace and hoping for the best. There is no rhyme. There is no reason.

Our downstairs toilet mostly behaves. It is a finicky, if altogether non-personified, beast. The chain is the culprit. It has a weak link. Yet, I am weaker. That much is apparent.

Our downstairs toilet mostly behaves. When I am here, to hear, I can catch it. Lift the lid and correct that dastardly link -- the last before the flapper. Tonight I thought, Why use a chain at all? Why not a single filament of something reliable like kevlar core fly line backing? Or bailing twine? Or dental floss. Links bind. Why?

Our downstairs toilet mostly behaves. Its chain is defective. But the chain is bound. It is smarter than me. So, I listen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Welcome Back/Learning to Fly

Hello, friends. I can take the good natured ribbing when I run into folks at parties and such and they tell me I need to update my blog. I suppose I hadn't realized it's been nearly a month and a half. However, when I received an email from my father-in-law last week checking in to see if everything is okay, I thought, "Self, you really need to spew some words onto the screen."

There's much material available but little time it seems to get it up on the interweb. Although there have been trips and travels and lots of good riding, here are a few snippets that have warmed my heart over the past couple of months.

Sylvia is now officially ripping it up on two wheels, completely unsupported or aided in any way. I'd forgotten how amazing it is to watch someone learn how to ride a bike. There's not just the physical challenges that are overcome, but the greater notion of freedom and independence that person will experience through pedaling. We've been working on dropping curbs, but she's not quite up for that yet.

We enjoyed our first ride together -- one mile up to the neighborhood store where Sylvia got to pick out the fruity drink of her choice. The way home is about halfway downhill. It had not occurred to me that she was less than confident with her coaster brake, preferring instead the foot-down technique that is less effective but highly theatrical. Dad, who had been following, decided it prudent to instead ride in front of Sylvia so the Big Dummy could be used as a net should she roll toward an intersection at terminal velocity.
Sylvia asks to ride constantly. We're lucky to have a parking lot up the alley. We just wheel the bikes up and ride circles together. Round and round and round ...
Meanwhile, back at the ranch ... We finally got around to putting finish on the beautiful porch swing that Sabra built and gave to us for Chistmas. The front porch seems complete again. I can occasionally be seen relaxing in it. That's rare for me to sit in one place for long, but the swing has a certain allure. It whispers, "Sit here a while. Get a little rhythm going. All those to-do's will still be there when you're done."
Riding in circles, talking to porch swings, yielding to the urge to take it easy. Maybe I'm just getting old.