Tuesday, February 17, 2009

winter doldrums

It’s that time of year again, the neither/nor time of in between. It’s’ neither warm nor particularly cold. Winter seems to be winding down, but Spring hasn’t quite taken over yet. The ground is thawed enough that the sump pump is running, yet there are still the dregs of dirty gray snow lining the driveway where the sun doesn’t shine.

We can see the grass although it is far from green, looking mashed down and forlornly brownish. There are, of course, no buds on the trees yet, but the branches look to be a healthy reddish hue that comes just before the burst of life.

I want to go outside and start cleaning up the yard, picking up fallen branches and other detritus that somehow accumulates under the snow. But I know it is too early for that and I would simply be wasting my time. There is undoubtedly more snow in our winter’s endgame, so it is best to wait for yard cleanup until we are reasonably sure that the effort will be noticed.

Being stuck in the house at this time of year creates a lethargy that is hard to get past. I want to pick up a golf club and swing it with real intent, but t isn’t quite time for that yet. I’d like to inflate my bicycle’s tires and roll down the road for a bit, but the prospect of the resulting wind chill brings me to my senses. I want to fire up the lawnmower and attack the overgrown grass, but the grass hasn’t started to grow yet and certainly isn’t overgrown. The anticipation is nearly crippling. Even though I can’t get outside and do those things that can only be done outside, I still find it hard to get busy inside to make the time pass more quickly. I feel like I’m in the starting blocks waiting for the gun to sound and the race to start.

The weather tease we’ve had over the past couple weeks—mild temps and lots of sunshine—is actually worse than repeated snowfalls that winter should bring because we know that it can’t last. I think I would rather have a full blown snow bombardment twice a week to remind me that this is the winter season and it should be more white than gray/brown. I think I would prefer that the snowcover lasts until one glorious week of fast and furious thaw leading into a sudden blast of green all around. This transition period is not cutting it with me. I can see the appeal and beauty of hibernation. Maybe if I go take a nap I will awaken to the world I want to see. Spring can’t come soon enough

Friday, February 13, 2009

wall sculpture

In this wall sculpture I was trying to get a stark almost foreboding feeling to show what being alone must feel like. The rather stylized tree wraps around the lonely bird making it feel like escape will be difficult. A somewhat depressing exercise, I know, but a subject worth exploring.

The piece is 48" high. The tree is cedar, the little bird is maple. I have posted pictures of this and my other work in the "gallery" link on the sidebar if you want to see more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

too much food

We are, as a nation, being constantly bombarded with the unassailable fact that we are fat. Not just a little fat. Grossly obese. We have become a nation of fatties.

No where is this fat fact more apparent than in our restaurants, where we gather to stoke their bodies with all manner of unhealthy and fat laden foods in gigantic proportions. Yes, there are healthy choices to be made in most restaurants, but we seem to be genetically incapable of choosing those healthy alternatives. We naturally gravitate toward the saltiest or sweetest menu items. We almost always pick the greasiest and most cholesterol laden gut bombs that are there to entice us. Besides being fat, we are stupid.

Of course, we can’t lay the blame for our excess avoirdupois solely on the restaurants we choose to patronize. After all, we do have the choice to stay at home and feed ourselves properly nutritious meals.
We generally think of eating out as a treat, a reward for making it through another hard working day, or an occasion to celebrate one of life’s milestones. When we approach our dining experience in those terms it is easy to forgo the healthy and instead indulge ourselves with the forbidden. Once in awhile that may be ok, but as a general rule, we need to stop celebrating so much and start watching our diets more closely.

I am not opposed to eating out at all. We go out to eat two, sometimes three, times a week. But when we do, we are careful to select what we hope are the less harmful items on the menu. We don’t go to fancy places much. Our eating out is relegated to the “family” restaurant type of establishment. But it is in just that kind of place that we encounter the most egregious examples of portion abuse of unhealthy foods. Those kinds of restaurants want to appear to give their patrons the most for their money, which to them means lots and lots of heaping portions piled high to overflowing on the platter. And then the training we received as children kicks in. “You’re not getting away from the table until you clean your plate,” was the rule drilled into our heads by our well-meaning mothers. So we clean our plates and think we are being good little girls and boys who then deserve to have dessert.

Mary and I have found the best way to conquer the portion problem in the restaurants we patronize is to pretend there is only one of us there to eat. We order one meal and then split it between the two of us. Even then there seems to be more than enough to go around. Have you ever noticed that when you order, say, a chef’s salad you get an entire head of lettuce? There is generally enough lettuce and other ingredients involved in that enormous salad that two people could graze on it for several days and never suffer a hunger pang. We don’t mind that in some restaurants we get charged an “extra plate” fee when we declare that we are sharing one order. It is still cheaper doing that than undergoing gastric bypass surgery in the future.

I doubt that if restaurants were to start providing sensible portions of food at a reasonable price, their business would suffer. People would simply become accustomed to the new reality and continue to eat out. They just wouldn’t get as fat doing so. And an ancillary benefit to those more sensible portions would be the slimming down of our pets, who would get fewer treats of harmful people food from the paucity of doggy bags making it home. If you can’t think of the reform of our restaurants as being good for you, consider it a crusade sponsored by PETA to help ensure the health of our pets. While we get thinner our dogs get healthier too. Talk about win/win.

Friday, February 06, 2009

another cane

I finished this latest cane a couple weeks ago and have since used it almost exclusively. I made the handle quite thick and substantial to make it easier for my reluctant Parkinsons hands to grip.

The cane is made of Brazilian Cherry and Oak. The Cherry is a deep reddish brown color with a distinctive grain and is quite pretty. The shaft is Oak with Cherry stripes.

Next on the workshop bench are a couple sculptures that should be completed in the next few days. Then I have another box series planned and I started carving a chess set that will take a long time to complete. So many ideas, so little time.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

let there be light

My wife, Mary is fortunate in that anytime she wants a piece of furniture or some redecorating done around the house, she merely has to threaten to go out and buy what she wants. She uses that old psychological ploy knowing that I will insist on making whatever it is she wants. I feel used and manipulated. Nevertheless, she gets what she wants more often than not.

A couple weeks ago she started thinking out loud, within my hearing range, about how a new floor lamp was just what she needed to finish off a corner that she had just manipulated me into repainting. Not just any floor lamp--specifically a Craftsman style lamp. She was mumbling about what a good buy she had seen in some catalog and how she would order it the next day. Naturally all that was a scheme to get me to make her that lamp. She knows I hate to buy anything I am capable of making. The other part of her scheme is to insist that she needs that lamp RIGHT NOW so that I will jump right to it lest she makes good on her threat to buy. Man, am I easy.

So here it is. Fresh out of the workshop. Turned out well. She seems to be happy with it. But she has already started mumbling something about the bedrooms needing some work.....