October 1st, 2006


Dear Diary

What's new?  I feel the old obligation to this Journal as I used to feel toward the paper ones I kept intermittently.  "Sorry," I would write on the new page, "I haven't been keeping up lately," and maybe proffer some excuse.  Strange symptom of the mind's capacity to project other selves into the world. This journal's different, because I know that in fact people are reading it.  However much I regarded the old journals as receptive other souls, I told them things I would not tell to another person, and I don't tell that kind of thing here.  A couple of those paper ones, full of those intimacies, got lost, I've never known where or how.  Now and then I think of them, perhaps existing somewhere, perhaps having been looked into by strangers (unlikely of course to have kept their attention; what was gripping or at least interesting to me, and to the journal as an interested friend, and maybe even scandalous and intriguing if it were the journals of a person of high standing in the world or someone in official position, wouldn't in fact be interesting to strangers.)

So anyway...

Dear Diary,

I bought myself a splitting maul at the orchard equipment company which is the only real business in my town (they even have a water tower!) to further split the cordwood I have bought to keep self and wife warm this winter -- children both at college.  Great heavy thing on a flaming yellow fiberglass handle (no wood ones available).  Their showroom full of specialized tools with wonderful names -- grape hoes, grafting knives, snaths, loppers, mattocks, and a shovel called a relic hunter, another called a ground shark.   I remember an old catalogue (1890s) with page after page of differnet shovels, back when all that earth-moving was done by hand, and the tool mattered.

I remembered, wielding it, of a day when my children were three or four, and I had film work to do, and them to care for (one undergoing a string of operations and body casts in her first years); and I was out splitting wood and thinking I 'll never have time to write another book.  ANd I conceived a plan of getting upat 4:30 AM and working for 2-3 hours every day before the children were up and duties commenced.  And I did, and continued for some time.  At first I tried to make coffee and a bit of breakfast without waking the gang, but that proved cimbersome and time-consuming, so I just sat there, pad on my knees and blanket around me.   What was hard turned out not to be the getting up, but the going to bed at nine (especially in summer, as RL Stevenson pints out.)

Today heavy rain, on the day of the Festival of the Hills, our local fall festival -- all rained out, no parade, a washout.  Oh well.  Next week is the same event, slightly more elaborate, at a slightly larger town next up the road; the sun will shine there.  Every year it rains on one of us, shines on the other, in a pretty fair rotation.

More to come (I always reassured my diaries of this, so they wouldn't feel slighted; and just as with other friends, sometimes there was, sometimes not.  They were forgiving.)

Relic hunters

Couple people asked about the Relic Hunter shovel.  All I know is what's in the catalogue they gave me with my maul -- they didn't have an example of this one.  Made by W.W. Manufacturing, part no. WWM36c (in this catalogue), it has a "T" handle, 27" overall length (very short!) with a slim curved but not spade-sharp blade, having six inches of teeth on the left side and (in caps) NO STEP PAD.  'Sall I know.  The Ground Shark is actually very similar, but longer (40") with a slimmer blade bearing however only 5" of teeth on one side; and it has a step pad.