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Blue Magazine Shelf

Blue magazine shelf

A couple years ago before I knew I was going to be remodeling a house and moving, I had designed and cut wood for a little magazine shelf for the bathroom. As we are getting projects completed and making space in the garage for more permanent functionality, I dug out the parts. Luckily it was a design that could also fit in the new bathroom space, so I decided I'd finish the project. More sanding was needed; then I stained the parts; assembled it with glue, clamps, and finishing nails; and protected it with a semi-gloss top coat.

Blue magazine shelf

Tadjer the cat is saying, "what do you mean you made something that I can't climb on?"

Blue magazine shelf

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Old Man of the Mountain

We walked in mostly silence, my tension and irritation growing with the thought of needing to talk about what bothered me and it not being fully formed as words. I spotted an interesting small boulder in the mostly dry creek bed, slightly fish shaped, dark on it's bottom half and speckled with lichens on it's top half, with a horizontal white line segmenting the two regions. I wondered if that was somehow a waterline and climbed down to take a photo, glad for the distraction and a brief separation between him and I. If the line on the rock was a symbol of that separation, I was the dark base, normally submerged but vulnerably exposed.

Creek rock with lichen

I climbed back up the bank and we walked along together for a while. Eyeing the hay stuffed burlap tubes that lined the path and slopes for erosion control, he said, "Is that what vampires are made of?" I saw the burlap snakes were held in place by wooden stakes and immediately picked up his joke.

"That's what vampires turn into after being staked," I playfully corrected.

I noted a small change in how I felt. My thoughts having been redirected to fantasy, my heart felt a little lighter and my mood lifted just a bit. I found it interesting that it was so simple to shift my mood if I was moved to my imaginative brain. I ran part of the way up the trail but my energy level could not support the exertion so hiked the rest of the way up the rocky hill trail out of breath and heart beating too fast. Almost at the top, not feeling well enough to finish the climb, I turned back. At the bottom of the hill I sat on a bench, looking at the sky, trees, and bright green moss enlivened by the recent rain. After a moment of stillness the birds came back to life around me and hopped around in the tree limbs above and on the ground around me. A fantastic oak framed the sun low in the west.

Sun setting behind oak tree

He eventually came down from the hill, where he had paused to look out over the view, at the sun descending behind glowing clouds on the western horizon. He sat beside me. I told him how I was feeling moody and hormonal, probably hadn't had enough time to myself over the past holiday week, and that it felt awkward trying to make time together when I probably needed time to myself. He listened and seemed to understand without resistance or defensiveness.


I got up to more closely inspect two trees leaning at a 45 degree angle that were blanketed with happy moss. When I turned back around, he had wrapped usnea around his beard, hooked over his ears. It hung down toward his navel like the beard on the Old Man of the Mountain from the Betty Boop film.

"I'm the old man of the woods," he bleated in a gravely voice, "I live in this here forest to get away from all you whipper snappers driving machines and all that ruckus. Eat yer foods in yer fancy plastic bags and drink out of plastic tubes connected to your back."

We laughed big belly laughs. I tried to get some photos of him before the delicate moist usnea beard fell apart and we walked back to the car.

It's days like that I need to hold close in memory. I can not have enough appreciation for the amazing partner I have. He's patient and nonjudgemental of how I feel and he knows the subtle tricks to transforming the energy of a situation. Alchemy of emotion.

Rick with usnea beard

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