Nawab....

.... you know, I once spent an afternoon touring the Ashan Manzil..... and I didn't even have my pith helmet with me......... what an amazingly missed opportunity.....

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Essay......

.... I turned in my 2nd English essay last week, and I should get the grade back this coming Thursday....... but in case any of you were wondering how Freshman Life was treating me, here's something to chew on until I choose to write again...... this one is supposed to be a "classification/division" essay...



Sharpening
by Eric SWG


The wife and I eased back on our smoking considerably about a year ago. Now we only smoke occasionally in the garage, where lately I have taken to sharpening my fathers old axe while I enjoy my evening cigarette. When my father died back in 2001, I took a few of his old tools and some of his rough iron artwork as keepsakes and arranged them on the walls of my garage. They hang there now proudly, and they remind me of the kind of man that he was. When I examine my life and his, I see that there are three types of men in this world. There are men who sharpen, there are men who cut, and there are men who dont fit in.

Father was a cutter. A welder on the railroad by trade, his job was a hard and dirty one. He worked outdoors during all types of weather repairing engine burns, cracked rails, and broken frogs. He was a man who spent his life making a mark and leaving something tangible in his wake. He was never really that educated, having only squeezed through the fifth grade before beginning life as a farmhand, but he passed his youthful days creating toys for himself and his brother. He often told me stories of giving handmade bows and arrows to his brother so that they could play together. And as an adult, he continued to create. Be it a solid weld on the job or an anvil-beaten copper sculpture, he was always leaving something beautiful behind when he was finished. He cut. He bettered things. He built.

I remember helping him build the barn behind my mothers house. I remember the awe that I felt as a child, watching him measure, cut, and nail. That he knew such a skill as building a barn filled me with pride and wonder. In just a week, a plot of land dotted with scraggly pine trees was transformed by his toil into a 30 by 40 foot space of civilization. He had built a structure that still weathers the ravages of time and will likely be standing when I am dead and gone. I admire that ability to this day, and I seek out friends who reflect that ability to create something beautiful, something useful, where there was once nothingness. I admire it, and I wish that I could do it.

As for myself, I am a sharpener. I am a sharpener in the figurative and literal sense, and Dads axe bears the proof of the latter. But as for the former, I have lived a much different life than my father. I watch, and I listen. I read, and I dream. I listen to stories from my friends, and I give them a different perspective. I coax. I sharpen their view. I grease the proverbial skids and try to create an environment where others endeavors are more easily successful. I have only built one building in my life, and I was proud of it. But I built it with my fathers guiding hand. I think of that building every time I lay the file onto the steel of his old axe in my garage.

My brother is a man who doesnt fit in. The poet R.W. Service wrote a poem concerning this type of man. In the poem, he states that

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But theyre always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

That short stanza of poetry describes him perfectly. I have watched him work hard on a task for hours only to become distracted and steam off in a different direction. The task that he had begun remained unfinished. He is continually busy, but he never seems to end a day of toil with something completed to show for it.

There are three types of men in this world: There are those who do, there are those who imagine, and there are those who struggle. There are those who cut, there are those who sharpen the tools for the ones that do, and there are those who just dont fit in. Father was a cutter, and having been shaped by him, I am a sharpener. I am absolutely certain that my brother is a man who just doesnt fit in.

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Shelter.....

.... after the tornadoes passed through at the beginning of the week, the weather suddenly turned chilly... the balmy 70 degree days that had preceded the storm were swept away, and I received a frosty morning when I awoke.....the remnants of the twister stuck around for a few days too..... providing a swirl of icy wind to go along with the crisp temperatures every time I ventured outside for a smoke...

..... on the second day, I tired of shivering on the front porch and decided to dodge the wind by sneaking onto the deck out back.... the wind seemed to have a mind of its own though, and it changed directions continually.... in short, I was thwarted.... royally.... and any exit I tried was equally windswept..... finally, I decided to rest my bones by squatting down and leaning back against the house..... and in an instant, I was absolutely toasty...... by lowering my profile - so to speak - the monstrous honeysuckle vine that grows along my deck's southern railing totally blocked the frozen gusts..... but more importantly - much more importantly, with the wind held back by the vine, I could soak up the magnificent warmth of the sunshine on that cloudless day...

.... the feeling of the sun on my face immediately triggered memories of my hikes through Scotland.... years ago I used to go on a yearly springtime wander through the Grampian mountains alone..... I have written about a few of those trips here before, and I am sure that they are buried somewhere in the 8 years worth of archives..... but anyway, I'd spend three, four, or five days making my way from either Glen Clova or Glen Esk to the tiny town of Ballater....

... the mountains of Scotland are stark..... craggy boulders and low-slung heather are the norm, and trees are scarce above a certain altitude.... and where I walked there were no trees... hunkered down on my deck, I couldn't stop thinking about the little trick I'd do on those long, cold walks....

.... the heather that covered nearly all of the mountains was a knee-high, brushy shrub.... there were no leaves, per se, only tiny, colorful buds..... walking off of a trail and directly into the heather would give you a chance to prove your endurance - imagine an endless sea of shin-deep, interlocking shrubs... the trails that I followed were usually sheep trails, but occasionally I'd have to set off cross-country, following a map instead of the trail.... when this happened, the going became extremely tough and slow...... I was always dressed snugly for the frigid late-April weather, but wind would lash at my exposed face as I walked... and eventually, frozen, tired, and hating the heather, I'd sit for a rest.... I'd slide my pack off my back, take a sip or two of water, and then let myself fall back into the billowing heather that surrounded me..... and in that moment, the devilish, evil heather became a little slice of mountainside heaven....

..... with a Gore-Tex parka and Gore-Tex trousers - along with all of the fleece and polypro insulation - the stems of the heather were no match for my armor.... and the weight of my body pressed itself into the soft, pliable shrubs until I disappeared from view.... from view, from wind, from toil, from pain...... leaving only the bright, Scottish sunlight beaming straight down onto my tightly closed eyes and smiling mouth.. soft, soft, sweet smelling heather, and warm, renewing, reviving sunlight heating me from the outside in..... my half-frozen face would be as good as new again in a matter of minutes, and in the meantime I rested, massaged by the natural pillows underneath me.....

..... by blog has been dead now for a while, and I wouldn't really consider this a resurrection in any way, shape, or form....... but I just wanted to say that it has been a long, long time since I felt the sunshine on my face - and appreciated it fully..... too long, actually...... and a few days ago, I did.... I felt it, and I appreciated it...... and I loved it.....

.... I guess we all forget how important shelter is until we find ourselves without it..... even if we're just hiding from a biting wind and trying to smoke a butt... or seeking to find a cave away from all those other scary things that go bump in our collective nights......

... it felt good to have that memory.....

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Hola!.....

..... we might just have to start this little thing from the beginning again........

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