Pitch and hatchet

Fireplace with a fire burning and logs stacked all around.
Someday, when I build my mansion, I may add a fireplace just like this. Thanks to volunteer contributor “Coffee” and Pixabay for this image.

Three or four years ago my husband acquired three large fir trees worth of wood. Last month, because of a change in the backyard for the dogs, we now have better access to the firewood from the backdoor. I’m a wimp. If I have to go out in the rain with a bad back and haul firewood in one armload at a time, I won’t do it. But now, there’s a ramp and covered wood storage right there! New hobby!

The wood is fairly old, and some of it is soft and starting to rot. It must be burned! It must! I’m not “wasting it when we might need it some day, I’m using it up before it goes bad! Yes, yes, that’s it! So, I get my little trundle cart (we have a WOOD CART now! It’s amazing!) and roll it down the ramp (slippery, be careful), open the gate (close it again so the dogs don’t wander the neighborhood), load up the cart (it holds more than five armloads, and I can do that even in the rain), roll it back up the ramp (dogs, gate, slippery), into the house, and light a fire!

Wait, what? You mean there’s a method to lighting a fire? It’s not just throw in wood and light a match?

Now, when I was a child, we had a fireplace. I loved to watch the flames. (I still do, but now they’re in metal box, so no more lying on the couch staring into the fire. I have to kneel by the open door to watch the flames, but that’s ok, because I have more to get done these days anyway.) Mom taught me how to build a fire, over and over, fireplace, campfire, fireplace, campfire. I thought I had it down. I applied all those lessons.

Nothing. I’d get about twenty minutes of smoke, and then pfffpht. Another little pile of wood bits, more paper, another match. Cardboard, leftover candle wax, another match. A whole candle, three pine cones, more paper, and five more matches. Smoke, smoke, smoke.

Turns out, building a fire in a big metal box is different. Airflow is key. So is good wood. I made hub do it, so if he didn’t, I was fireless all day. I kept trying. One day hub says, Oh, you should use the good wood, not that stuff.

Wait, what? There’s good wood? YES. Turns out, it’s absolutely LOADED with pitch, the fire-builder’s stuff of dreams. So this morning I lived the dream. I got down on my garden kneeling pad (no carpet by the firebox), hefted the ax (smallish, but I keep asking for a hatchet, and if I don’t get one for Christmas, I will go hatchet shopping, don’t think I won’t), and split off a strip of kindling. What’s this? This honey-colored, satin-finished hard stuff? Why, it’s pitch! Dreamy fire-builder’s gold. One particular piece of wood (they pop up occasionally in the wood pile, placed there, I’m sure, by the beneficent wood-pile spirits) had loads of the stuff. I hefted that ax, cutting off the tiniest strips I could manage, laying them gently in my fire-starter-storage basket (with handle). Two strips seemed to be pure pitch (WOWZA) so I made hub chop those up into little two-inch sections with his pruning shears, which are quite up to snuff for such things.

And the smell! Or I should say, scent or fragrance. Astringent, sharp, crisp, nose-hair-curling, turpentine-like, fir-y pitch. Just delightful. Fire crackling, nose hairs curling, I stared into the flames. Ahhhhhh.

And because of the pitch, the good wood, and proper airflow…it only took one match.

Midlist to Mad Money

Through RWA I recently found a marvelous workshop by Kristen Painter and Roxanne St. Claire called Midlist to Mad Money. It talks about a way to indie publish your stories that helps readers stay interested once they find you. It’s chock full of great information from two successful romance authors. If you get a chance, I recommend taking the time to go through it.

I haven’t read any Roxanne St. Claire, and I’ve only read a couple of Kristen Painter’s stories from her traditional publishing days, but their books are now on my very long To Be Read list. Here are a couple of their most recent covers!

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Classic Car Addiction Day

Oh, wait, that’s not actually what it is. According to the Internet, July 14th is, among other things, National Collector Car Appreciation Day. The thing is, around here, it’s more of a daily addiction.

I’ve been around a changing variety of old cars all my life. My dad buys and sells old cars almost like a pro, and when I was little my mom got herself a classic Mustang (though it was almost new at the time.) My hub sees classic cars as the cheapest way to go, because he can fix them himself. He does an amazing job of that, but they can still get really expensive. The are also beautiful to look at when they’re in good shape, and it’s fun to think about all they might have seen. Decades of hauling people and stuff!

So, we have–get ready–five classic Fords. There’s that ’67 Mustang of my mom’s which has endured several teenagers and is awaiting a new engine. Hub’s daily driver/workhorse (’65), his heavy-duty truck (’64), and two older model trucks that are currently just driveway decorations but sill someday do the daily and heavy work instead of the ones we have. Classic cars everywhere you look at my house.

They’re so BIG, and expensive and time consuming and sometimes they even cause physical damage to their humans. How could we continue to love these old cars if it wasn’t an addiction?

1953 Ford Custom, banana yellow with high chrome and white seats and sidewalls
1953 Ford Custom. Photo taken at Oregon car show on Independence Day, 2017

So, when I was making our July 4th plans to attend a local small town Firehouse Pancake Breakfast, I asked Hub what he wanted to do.

“Is there a car show somewhere?”

Why, yes, there is, not more than two shakes from the Firehouse! It was a lovely show, too, lots of nice cars, several models I’d never seen before or hadn’t seen in years, and one whole block full of MG’s.

I found a new favorite in the lineup. It’s a ’53, called a “Custom” and yes, you guessed it, it’s a Ford.

What’s your favorite classic car?

Grrrr…

I am completely and totally happy with the way that an old paragraph came out. I was introducing a fun magical character, and the situation was perfect for her introduction. The story has changed enough that the passage no longer works, so I have to change it. Wah! Blubber, blubber! It was perrrrfect!

Grrrrr…

Here is a quilt I recently…

Quilt made with blue and green fabrics, squares within squares.
All Squares Quilt

…finished for one of my kids. Like many quilters, I have some projects that have been languishing, er, waiting patiently, to be finished for a long time. This one started about five or six years ago. I dragged said kid along to various quilt shops to hunt for fabrics. I designed this based on a beautiful watercolor illustration by Gail de Marken in the must-read book The Quiltmaker’s Gift Small image of the cover of the book The Quiltmaker's Giftby Jeff Brumbeau. I designed it so it could be made from 10-inch squares of fabric (hellooo precuts), as many as you like. I was going to quilt it with a Triforce in each block, but my kid saved me and decided she’d rather have bubble-circles, which my favorite long-arm quilter lady could do. I finished the top last summer, had it quilted in the fall, and gave it to her over Christmas break. Long time coming, but she loves it. Now she’s doing some quilting of her own and planning the next one she wants me to make for her. She might get it in about, oh, ten years. Heh.