Day 2 of Just Write – Stove Cleaning, Dog Cones, and Stringed Instruments

A guitar-playing son, a resting girl cat, and an alert boy dog

Well, hello there, WordPress page! I love seeing your peaceful blank slate that awaits new words.

Here we are on day 2 of my “Just Write Challenge”. Since I’m the only one being challenged, I am sure I will succeed no matter how long or short my run time ends up being.

Today, I will make this blog page less blank by talking about my morning. Who knows, maybe someone will read it and relate. That’s always in my mind when I write. I love stumbling across words of others that make me nod inwardly with recognition of some of its notes.

Last night, I planned to clean the wood cookstove today. Our wood is pretty wet, due to so much rain this past summer and also because of our still-incomplete pallet woodshed. As a result of the wet wood, I have to clean the stove once every week or two, which means waiting till it cools enough to take the heavy iron plates off the cooktop so I can remove the creosote.

But when I woke up, the stove was too warm. Coals were in the firebox and the heat-activated fan was still spinning. It’s a sunny day, though, so although it is around the freezing point outside, there’s enough sunlight through the windows and stored heat in the house to wait for the stove to cool down and we won’t all have to put on ski pants and parkas in the meantime – which we would have to do on some days if we were in the basement where there is no heat and no insulation.

I am taking this time to enjoy WordPress, waiting for the stove to cool down. I sit at my desk with a red-with-white-snowflake woolly scarf around my neck; my hair piled into a bun on top of my head with a wooden hair fork; all-black clothing of cotton 3/4 sleeve top, weird bootcut yoga pants with a short skirt attached, and Uggs slipper boots (with dog and cat hair adding a splash of colour to all this black); and a camo apron, in readiness for the stove cleaning. I didn’t actually think about it when I chose what to wear this morning, but black is wise for stove-cleaning day, for less chance of soot stains showing up.

My beloved wood cookstove

This classy cookstove might make it look like we are wealthy and live in a fancy house, but, truth be known, the stove was a huge investment for us, we are relatively poor in this country, and our house is far from fancy. This stove is hands-down the most beautiful non-breathing item in it. The coveted spot to sit for our family members is in a wooden rocking chair in front of that stove. If our kitchen were huge, I’d set up a bunch of rocking chairs around the stove for everyone. (I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, too. One can dream, eh?)

My kitchen is crowded. And that’s okay. I am so grateful for the house we have. I’ve lived in far less.

One more little blip of my morning is the picture I posted at the top of this blog entry. You will see a long-haired chihuahua puppy in a kennel, a grey striped cat on top of the kennel, and one of my sons in the top left preparing to practice his guitar.

Why the cone on the dog’s head, and why is he in a kennel? Well, this little guy is my oldest daughter’s dog. My “grand-dog”, if you will. They are staying with us for a few weeks. The puppy, Pedro, has a bit of mange on his face, and so putting a cone on helps him not scratch the itchy spots down to bare skin.

Pedro is only seven months old and too young to trust having free roam of the house without finding a secret new potty spot on say a closet floor or behind the couch. So, unless he is within reach of a human family member, he hangs out in his comfortably appointed kennel, right in the heart of the home yet cordoned off so he has a sense of being in his own little cave where none of the four cats or the Pom-Chi can bother him while he gets his beauty sleep.

And, ahh, my son’s guitar playing. I dearly love the sound of stringed instruments, especially when played right in my own house. I wish I could play like him, but, alas, I can only strum a few chords. Maybe someday in a new body…
“…with the music of stringed instruments
and with melody on the harp.
Your mighty deeds, O Lord, make me glad;
because of what you have done, I sing for joy.” (Psalm 92:3-5, TLB)

Ramble session done for this day. Off I go to pursue other things.


Peace, Love, and John Deere

It was the perfect June morning, still spring but on the cusp of summer, the air warm but not yet sweltering. Most mosquitoes used what little sense they had to remain asleep or unborn at that hour, except for the real go-getters eager to fill their beaks. The sun’s rays were fingers that elicited a symphony of scent: wild roses whispered in sweetly perfumed voices of full bloom all down the country lane, wafting out from beneath pine and spruce trees that sang their own songs of toasted aroma. A variety of birds blended in some audible notes of cheer.

And then a woman appeared in faded denim cut-off jeans and a loose pale lilac T-shirt, chugging along on a John Deere lawn tractor. She wasn’t mowing anything. She couldn’t if she wanted to, for the mower assembly was broken. Nothing but rocky asphalt was beneath the tires.

Chugga-lugga-luggin’ at a top speed of five miles per hour, she traversed six acres down the road, vaguely hoping the cop who lived nearby in the other direction wasn’t on duty. His kids are friends with some of her kids, so maybe he’d look the other way and say nothing if he saw her.

But maybe driving a lawn tractor on a public street isn’t a crime in that small community.

She parked the tractor on the grass by the driveway of her neighbour, shut it off, and walked into his garage.

“Helloooo!” she called out.

“Oh, good, you brought it,” said the neighbourhood mechanic.

“Yep, rode it over!” she said.

“Ya didn’t!” said his buddy from the other side of the garage, walking over to look into the yard.

“Oh, you DID!” he added, laughing.

Well, really, she saw no point in hooking up the utility trailer, setting up a ramp to it, and driving the tractor on, when she could save thirty minutes and drive over in five.

“Only at the 108 can we do that, eh!” she said, giggling.

“Annnd I just realized I forgot the cable that fell out of it,” she said.

“I’ll run home and get it,” she called out as she headed swiftly back down the driveway.

Around one corner and then another, she ran into a couple of neighbour guys sitting in lawn chairs. One chuckled, “What’d ya do, drive the tractor down the road and break it, so now you gotta walk home?”

She laughed, “No, the mower assembly has a broken cable, so I brought it down to Barry to fix. But I forgot the cable, so I gotta go grab it.”

I guess not a lot of people drive their lawn tractors on our roads, as when she returned a few minutes later with the cable in her hands, another neighbour called out from her front steps with a laugh in her voice, “Did you just ride by on your tractor?”

She laughed and said, “Yes, I did. I felt like the guy in that Adam Sandler movie, Waterboy, who rides his lawn tractor to town.”

Amidst more exchanged words and a few giggles, she showed the cable she’d just fetched, bid her neighbour a good day, and carried on.

After dropping off the cable, she ran home, did a few chores in the house, and an hour and forty dollars later, her tractor was ready. She ran down to retrieve it and buzzed on back home, dropping the mower into action when she reached her own acre of grass.

As she mowed, she wrote books in her mind. Some of the chapters might end up in print. Some might just be descriptive narratives like this here – mindless stories that are easier to recount than events that happened twenty and more years ago.

Oh, and no cops saw her, by the way. In fact, no vehicles drove by at all. Aside from a few fumes from the tractor, nothing polluted the fresh blue air that day, and for a rare twenty-four hours, all was well in her world.