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Old 09-10-2019, 12:44 AM
vapros vapros is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: baton rouge, la
Posts: 3,270
Default Into the woods

I used to be a woodcarver. At age ten or eleven – this would have been during The War – I acquired an old life preserver. The flotation in it was balsa wood blocks sewed up in the pockets of a canvas vest. I suppose the canvas must have been waterproofed because I have no doubt the balsa would have soaked up water like a sponge. I became the owner of nine or ten sizeable blocks of wood and I had a pocket knife and I carved. Boy, did I carve! Forbidden in the house, I carved in the garage, in the company of two or three milk goats who were good company, indeed. Great animals and much impressed with my work. I don’t recall ever carving a goat.

So I became a great woodcarver? Not. But I did become a fan of those who do it better. Currently, I visit a website called Stinnett Sticks to watch videos of a bearded guy named Michael Stinnett creating beautiful walking sticks. His shop is in Canyon City, Oregon, but the carving is done somewhere else, in the mountains and the woods in beautiful scenery. Along with a fat little fox terrier named Molly he hikes around in the outback carrying a saw and cutting his blanks from downed trees, generally with the bark still on. Imagine this: a walking stick with a diamondback rattlesnake four feet long curled around it and climbing toward a chipmunk at the top. You must begin with a sizeable piece of lumber.

Every scale on the snake would be individually carved and hand painted, or every feather if he is making a bird, and all precisely true to life. I believe they are all for sale, but I imagine you would have to want it pretty bad. Here in south Louisiana competitions are held among the artists who carve duck decoys with similar care and artistry. I envy them all. Solitary labor, like the sign painters. I could do that.

While we are outdoors I would mention the name of Shawn James, whose videos can be found at a site called My Self Reliance. Shawn is in the Canadian Algonquin Park, which is just across Lake Ontario from western New York. I don’t know where he is from, but he sounds like maybe Virginia – he can say ‘aboot the hoose’. He is a writer, photographer, hunting and fishing guide and outdoorsman. I think he teaches survival classes and woodcraft, and has built more than one log cabin. ‘Off the grid’ seems to be a popular topic today – it means living in the woods and perhaps in the mountains. How many of us would love to do that?

Mr. James has a place there in the Park and he just seems to keep building. It’s a log cabin, no doubt about that, but he hauled in dimension lumber to build the roof. He camps out there, but I don’t think he is really roughing it. His cabin has a front porch to catch the sun and a big screened side porch to catch the breeze and see the sunset across a valley. There’s a kitchen inside and another one outside and his oven is in a mound of dirt, maybe like the Indians in Peru, and has an A-frame cover to keep the rain off of it. There’s an outhouse and a shed for the firewood and another for the kindling and another for his tools, etc. He builds everything with hand tools and materials found in the woods and has a three-year-old Golden Retriever named Cali for company. Shawn and Cali can dig in and survive blizzards or whatever might come. If you are a fan of camping or living in the outback you would enjoy seeing what they are doing.

From Baton Rouge I am appalled at the pictures of Minnesota and Michigan in the dead of winter when the snow is up to here and the temperature is down to there, and then I recall that there is a whole ‘nother country north of that and it boggles my mind. I’m told that it gets sort of chilly in Maine and New Hampshire also, but I have never been there. Could be only a rumor. And people live in those places, too. Can’t be all that cold.

I’m certain I have mentioned a guy named Shaun Attwood in this journal. He is a former drug kingpin and distributor of ecstasy in the Phoenix area, and has done some serious time in the American penal system. Weird-looking dude without a hair on his head, but a sharp individual. He is out of jail now, maybe deported back to England, where he does video monologues about life on the inside and the criminals and gangs one can meet there. Recently he has branched out into other subjects and is having a ball with the mess Jeffery Epstein left behind when he died in jail. We are a long way from seeing the end of that, and the media promises that big name people will be held accountable for their conduct – one being Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and the old queen’s second son. The royal family denies the reports of Andy’s frolicking with teenage girls, but Shaun tells us that they are circling the Bentleys in London. Since I gave up woodcarving I like to follow this kind of stuff.

There it is – a journal entry without any one-pocket news, because I don’t know any. I am curious to see how this one is received.
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