Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Death of Creativity

These last two, and now three, days my right ankle has been sufficiently angry at me to prevent me from talking my usual morning walks.  Instead, I have tried to return to creative writing, posting little bits and pieces of stream-of-consciousness writing here.  As I read what I have written, the fog in my brain begins to lift and reveal the desolate landscape it has been attempting to hide.

I recall, now, the reason for drifting away from writing.  I am more of a creative walker than a creative writer.  Until my ankle decides to cooperate, though, I cannot do much of either.  So, instead, I'll use this long-ignored piece of literary real estate and the meager supply mental building materials to fashion at least a temporary shelter for my random thoughts.  If the words I write are like all of the others I have allowed to flow from my fingers to the screen in front of me, they will inadequately represent what's going on inside my brain, but that may be for the best, knowing what I know about that.

Yesterday, I visited an acquaintance who is developing into a friend.  He's a guy who was fired from his job as an association executive after putting up with as much of the bullshit his board sent his way as he possibly could. Finally, he stopped allowing himself to be brow-beat; as a consequence, he was fired.  It's a strange "firing," though, as they require him to go in one afternoon a week to keep the place afloat.  His contract was written in such a way as to permit his employer to require him to be at the association's disposal during the time he was collecting severance pay; his severance provision provides for one year's pay, so he is in the odd position of having to work for the people who fired him if he wants to collect severance.  Of course, he wants to collect severance.

The purpose of my visit was not to discuss his job, though.  It was to see his woodworking shop, which he has told me about.  He uses his garage as his shop, but his wife insists on parking her car in the garage at night, so he has to move his tools and equipment each day he works in his shop.  Cleverly, he has put wheels on every piece of equipment so it's easy to move them when required.  On one piece of equipment, a wood lathe, the wheels raised its height to the point that it was uncomfortable using it.  He built a wooden platform to stand on to use the lathe; it, too, is on wheels so he can move it easily.

I am in awe of his equipment and tools: lathe, drill press, drum sander, router (with an exceptional router table that allows him to move the router up and down from on top of the table, instead of underneath), and an incredible assortment of clamps, calipers, and specialty tools of all sorts.

His main woodworking hobby is making writing pens by turning wood and, to a lesser extent, acrylic blocks.  I had never used a lathe until yesterday when I went to visit.  After showing me around the shop, he offered to make a pen for me and I readily accepted the offer. From several pieces he offered, I selected a piece of raw wenge wood, a coarse textured, porous dark brown African wood.  We went through the entire process: cutting the wood into two pieces appropriate to the length of the top and bottom pieces of the pen, boring a hole in the center of each piece, gluing and inserting the metal tube into the pieces of wood, placing the wood into mandrels designed to fit into the wood lathe, turning and shaping the wood, sanding and polishing and waxing the turned pieces, and finally fitting the pieces of the pens together to create the final product.  It was fascinating.  If I had the space and the money to buy the equipment, I would do it today.  I really enjoyed using the lathe, learning about the use of progressively finer grits of sandpaper to smooth the turned wood tubes, and seeing and using the equipment to put the pens together.  I admire the guy for his focus; he assembled his exceptionally well-equipped shop over a long period of time, working to build a shop that would allow him to build damn-near anything made from wood.

I have neither the space nor the money to do that, but I do have the desire.  I may explore what I can do to get to at least the point of creating a smaller version of what he has created, something that will get me to an entry-level position of woodworking.

After that little adventure, I spent the remainder of the day doing odds and ends around the house.  That included removing the blackened skins from roasted Hatch chiles, removing the seeds from the peppers, and preparing a bunch of them for later use on green chile hamburgers.  I also chopped quite a number of peppers and attempted to make a Hatch version of chile con queso, using only the chiles, a can of chopped tomatoes, a block of Velveeta cheese and some cumin and garlic salt.  The outcome was a bit disappointing. The flavor was OK but the queso was, and remains, too soupy, certainly not worthy of the work I put into it.  I do like to experiment with such stuff, though, so all was not lost; I consider it a learning experience.

Let's see, what other useless crap can I write about?  Well, my one flirtation with real creativity yesterday came as I was writing a comment on a friend's Facebook page, responding to a post about the current insanity involving the insistence that religion has a place in politics. I wrote:
"I thought, years ago, we had developed as a country far beyond the point at which anyone seriously thought religion had any legitimate (I hate to use that word) place in government. Apparently, there were seeds of stupidity sprouting all over without me realizing it until I was choking on divine kudzu."

1 comment:

YourFireAnt said...

Fascinating, Kneeblood. I have an image of that man sawing and planing away at various wooden articles whilst skateboarding down the avenue.

What a guy!


Now for a rereading....