The Smell of Sawdust

My Paw Paw Kelly (grandfather) liked to work with wood. He had a workshop in a shed beyond the swing set and the garden. He would make fanciful things mostly. My favorite was a little girl in a red dress sitting on a swing. He hung her in the front yard from a tree, and she always made me feel welcomed whenever we visited his bosky home.

Like Paw Paw (and my creative Maw Maw), I’ve always found working with my hands interesting. I like to learn new things and shape something into something else. Sewing, painting, photography, gardening, woodworking, writing, and so on: they all stem from a need to make.

Humans are awesome that way. But, sometimes we make without conscious planning. We gather our materials without wondering about where they came from or how they are created.

My friend Silas Kyler made it his mission to remind us. He took his passion for woodworking and turned it into a beautiful documentary called Felled and a how-to book called The Art and Craft of Wood: A Practical Guide to Harvesting, Choosing, Reclaiming, Preparing, Crafting, and Building with Raw Wood. Both offer a glimpse into craftsmanship from start to finish and a real plea to look at the possibilities in things we take for granted. Like the Lorax, Silas and his colleagues “speak for the trees” and speak through them.

Like my grandfather, they are carrying on a tradition as old as civilization.

I love that smell of sawdust, it evokes so many memories… and possibilities.

One Minute of Spring

Even the smallest of gardens holds a little magic.

A Dash of Salt

I took the youngest kiddo out to the Salt River today to see the result of the water releases from Granite Reef Dam. We saw hummingbirds, bees, cormorants, and burrowing owls. And water, lots of water.

Continue reading

Dog Paddling

Writers tend to be introverts. Many authors are introverts who’ve learned to talk to strangers. I’m a writer now, but I want to be an author. This isn’t going to be easy.

Continue reading

Small Town Moments

Western Rest Stop

I grew up in a small town in North Texas and I can honestly say that there are some aspects of living in the big city that make me long for a grassy front yard and a strong old tree to climb. Daily glare from the black top can put me in a somber mood at times. Yet, Phoenix is no ordinary city; it’s several cities. Living in Laveen has certainly satisfied my need to be closer to simpler, natural aspects of life. I can remember attending the community parade near the old Greenville courthouse as a child; one in particular with my Pa Pa (Grandpa), mother, and sisters. The parade was fun to watch but what sticks out in my mind is wandering the downtown area, my Pa Pa carrying my little sister on his shoulders and just being in the pure and beautiful day. Such precious moments bring a few tears to my eyes. I really do miss that sweet man.

Continue reading

Solstice Memories

Welcome to the holidays in the desert, where the trees change color in December, the ground is as dry as a cow skull against a cactus, and the temperature doesn’t get much lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit on any given night. This is my favorite time of year. I am from a colder climate, and even though I’ve lived in Arizona most of my life, there’s just something about stepping out into cooler weather that lifts my soul. I live for communion with nature! It is a part of my spirit that I cannot deny. So, on the winter solstice this year, I found myself with a few extra hours alone, and decided that instead of doing laundry and sitting in front of the television, I was going to make good use of it.

Continue reading

Ghoul-d Fun

Yesterday my family spent the morning at a place that was hot, dusty, crowded, and smelled of animal dung. We LOVED it. Why, on this green earth, do you ask, would anyone ever love a place like that? Well, to put it frankly, we aren’t wusses, and we also have a soft spot for our local zoo. The Phoenix Zoo is not for the faint of heart, I won’t lie to you there. From the months of April to November, it is hot in Phoenix. The zoo is lush and leafy, so there is some relief there, but nothing can shield you from the cruel desert sun. NOTHING! I have come away with sunburns on many occasions, despite my best efforts. I should note, however, that I am whiter than a stripe on a skunk’s tail. But I’m getting sidetracked…

Continue reading