The first signs of spring. The magic when everything starts to come to life, even if it’s unnoticeable to most people. It’s time to start my plan for the year. This bud’s for you.
My recent move is going mostly according to plan. The local hobby shop is a bit sparse, so they weren’t hiring. I did secure a low-cost apartment which has pretty much become my studio. One chair, one table, and a whole lot of hopes and dreams. But I’m not out here in the middle of nowhere just to be in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to carve out a humble life close enough to my property that I could get out there and get some work done through every moment that presents itself.
My in-town business is pretty common. I haven’t been here five minutes, and already people are offering “furnishings” for my “apartment.” It’s hard to explain to people that there is a reason I don’t have a lot of stuff, and that it’s by my own choosing. I have no desire to furnish the place with a bunch of useless junk that will sit around and collect dust. I don’t NEED modern accomodations. The nice couch, the generic wall art, the matching set of plates and bowls, a random assortment of pots and pans, etc. Just need a place to wash the woods off before I go to my future day-job.
The day-job idea doesn’t seem that glamorous, I know. But surprisingly little about my life is filled with glitz and glamor. There’s nothing particularly special about being a writer, except that I’m doing something that I love every single day. I live simply and humbly, and all I really have are my words. I plan on hanging some of my own art in the apartment, and possibly my canvas book covers, so they can be on display when I’m not using them for signings and such. I bought a cheap folding table and a chair as my only “furniture.” I’m fine sleeping on the floor, or in my 10 degree sleeping bag in the cabin. It’s actually better for my back. And I need to focus all of my energy on my words and my woods, not on which color the apartment needs to be painted.
I’ve also found a good spot to mingle with the locals. I’m not a closet author that shuts himself off from the world. I like meaningful conversations at the local watering hole, sampling bits and pieces of everyone else’s life. Sometimes I stumble across quirks in certain people that can translate to a character in a story, or interesting dialogue exchanges that lead to story ideas. Plus, it’s nice to have a couple friends when you are new in town, and I’ve found a local group of pool and dart players that are accepting me slowly into their tribe. Opportunities for self-discovery lie everywhere, not just in books.
That’s part of why I want to take a day-job again, even if it’s only part time. You meet a lot of people by being out in the world. You get invited to stuff, and some of those events could be opportunities to put out my book table and engage with local readers. In the end, every life experience can be a win if you craft it that way. This is more than money to make ends meet, it’s about exploring another social dimension in my daily life. And I think I miss some of my barfly buddies from Opelousas, as well.
Yesterday, another part of my plan bore fruit. I took the cover image for this post on one of the apple trees. The little fuzzy buds are peeking out of the wood. From a distance, all of them look like sticks, but up close, five of my fruit trees are showing signs of life. The first year after transplant is the hardest time for trees. Once they survive their first winter, they should be good to grow, so this made me super happy. Still no conclusive word from my peach tree.
I still need to wait on them to get big enough to put fruit out of the reach of deer, so I can enjoy some of it, but everything in good time. I’ll need to do some soil samples this year as well. Because of all the cedars, most of the ground is slightly acidic, and lucky for me, this is easy to fix with ashes from the leftover brush from clearing cedar trees.
The picture just above was a proud moment for me. The moment I finished writing for the morning (the first draft of Operation Raindrop 5 is complete at over 20k words, finally). I went out to the property intent on finishing up the framing for the roof of my pole barn. It’s a tiny little thing by local standards, about 360 square feet, but it should be enough to keep my tools and such out of the weather. Keeping the critters out will be another problem, but I’ll make sure anything they can tear up is put away where they can’t get to it.
I spent most of the day crawling around on the roof, sawing boards, lining things up, more measuring, more sawing, but it’s finally done and ready for tin. I will likely tin the walls too, and I’ll be closing up the back (the side facing the camera). I was going to build a greenhouse directly onto it, but now I’m looking at other solutions for that, and sealing it up will make the entire structure more sturdy, so there will be a wall there of some kind. Next step is ordering the tin and hauling that heavy shit out there.
Now, all you carpenters out there, try not to pick on me too much. It’s my first one. It’s almost entirely 2×4 and 4×4 construction. I thought the framing would take a lot more than it actually did, so I have plenty of 2×4 leftover. Once the roof is on, I’ll have to make a place inside to stack all of this extra lumber, and I went ahead and did the slats on the roof with 2x4s instead of buying 1x6s.
I bought 2 pounds of screws yesterday, and even though a bunch of the framing was already done, a little less than half, I used up every one of them. I ran the generator (powering the saw and my cordless battery charger) out of whatever gas was left in the tank, finished what I set out to do, and turned every muscle from the waist down into a quivering, whining, lump of tenderized meat.
I know well that soreness is normal. I’ve been away for months on limited activity. In the near future, I’ll work on arms by running the chainsaw, now that my legs are sufficiently worn out. There will be a little pain for the first couple weeks, but after that, I should get my strength back. Most people pay to go to a gym, all I have to do is make a trip out to the woods for dirt work.
After finishing, I did a good bit of walking too. I love seeing the little plants beginning to sprout up after a long winter. I even found a patch of wild garlic on top of the hill, which I typically only see down in the hollow. I think my mullein is still holding stalks of seed too, so I may collect some and just scatter them about. I absolutely love everything about that plant. An oil infusion of the flowers is good for ear-aches, the stalks make good torches, and the leaves can even be smoked as a soothing tobacco substitute, which might help me kick this smoking habit. The giant velvet leaves are good for a number of other things as well 😉 Unless you have a skin allergy, which I don’t.
Speaking of skin allergies. I need to get together with my neighbor so that I can better identify the nettle species in the area. Apparently, they don’t sting me, so I can’t use that as an indicator. It’s really weird, because they give everyone I know rashes and painful irritation, but they don’t seem to bother me at all. Maybe they like me. 🙂
Anyway, that’s the update. Figured I would put this out, so everyone knows what I’m up to. Writing all morning, but doing a lot of other stuff too. Always working, always building, and trying to make this little dream of mine become a reality.