The sandbox drawings are done, as is the prototype which is fully made and currently being tested by my granddaughter who is putting it through its paces with daily testing on the deck outside. My potatoes are doing really well, both in the ground and in the growing boxes I made. I am hoping to grow fifty percent of my needs for the year. I did buy some seed potatoes but I also saved my best from last year’s to sow this season. Peas and courgettes (zucchini), runner beans and much more are spouting through and my tomato plants are the sports from last year’s crop where we let the seeds drop into the compost. Each year this happens and it has been successful.
Last week I posted on the successes of making projects for WWMC and YouTube, as well as the challenges of filming myself in my own isolation. I am enjoying spending even more time than ever making and that includes things I never thought I would ever need to make; I will fill you in in the future. but perhaps think of how we do things to adapt our attitude to life. I was thinking about isolation as everyone else has had to think. Some people have self-isolated for years and decades because, well, they just enjoy their own company and have never really needed to be with others and they never feel lonely at all. Others, on the other hand, are totally gregarious and have a deep need simply to be with other people even if they actually live isolated lives within the context of crowded places like the tube, London City, a factory of five thousand, and such. For some of us, perhaps most, it’s a world where we dip in and out of crowds and we are happiest that way. In my world of making it is mostly necessary self-isolation, otherwise, I might really get very little done. There is still a degree of dipping in and out of social intercourse, chit chat and such, that’s nice though and it’s this I think that most people enjoy at going to work with others that online cannot achieve.
I think there is much more to making than a cleverly authored and contrived book on manual working as a subject; where some writer/journalist/scholar spends a decade or two in academic realms and then discovers a plumber somewhere earns more than he does and decides to follow the patterns of the working-manually man who digs ditches or mines coal, cuts down trees and makes guitars. Suddenly we end up reading about the world of working manually as if he or she has some kind of special insights for us to glean from without realising he’s more on vacation from a more academic realm and somehow dips into the world we already know all there is to know about it because we do it.
Hand work, making things with our hands, has, is, the multidimensional world of realness. A tree falls to the floor of the forest, a man pulls it, loads it, slabs it and makes from it. The forest fills in the gap left open as the sun’s light filters down from the hitherto closed canopy to the open earth inside the green-tinged dome. Opened canopies self heal with new life stretching from the earth and the understory revitalises life there. Don’t you love the realness of working life itself? I do. Working is not a story book of entertaining but how we thrive in impossible conditions to change what was to something else, something better, cleaner, purer.
My world of hand-made deindustrialises that British work called the Industrial Revolution as best it can. I don’t need miniaturised industrial processes to clog up the arteries of my world any more than I need that excess level of cholesterol in my body tissues to clog my veins and arteries. I make a simple garden box and fill it with compost to grow my food in and I made. I plant potatoes and they grow; I grow and I grow potatoes. I feel better for seeing green shoots emerge within a frame I put together and built from pallets at the end of my garden and sanity comes to me in a form that no therapist can give to me and no authored book on what it is to work manually could ever give to me. I was taught to work by men and by my mother. So too that row of dug earth now filled with more green leaves that show me where my hands dropped in my home grown potato seeds two and three weeks ago.
And here we are a week on and my hands took more wood given to me by a scotsman living in North Wales as a thank you for a class I gave to him as an exchange in friendship. A non-taxable exchange that cannot be bought or sullied by interpretation and sold in a book or even a blog post. I reshape the wood with a handsaw and a rasp, a spokeshave and a plane and I, little ol’ me, make what was not into a new what is.
It’s a plane handle, yes, but it’s a plane handle with attitude and a handle I can handle my plane with for even greater levels of control and then too of perfected workmanship. It dispels the myths and mysteries of complex, politicised world strategists where newscasters and politicians flex their verbal muscles with highest crowing like roosters in a hen coop when a cockfight breaks out to establish who has the most clout and supremacy. In making I make sense and in making sense I find peace and in peace I sow seeds that set others free from the pandemic that preceded the thing we call the coronavirus by decades and decades of abuse.
So I made videos for the first time and things went mightily wrong as did woodworking for woodworkers working wood for their first time, but I did not give up when I filmed for a whole day and all the lights were on to say that the sound was indeed recording and I that evening I found that no sound had been recorded at all and I had to redo hours of work by remaking the whole of it. I am not the broadcaster or the politician plying words that can be rephrased, restructured, or whatever. In my world of real, I must start over because once the chisel cut is made and the plane stroke changes the colour I cannot just say ‘whoops!’ And this week and last week and now for six weeks, I made.
I made a garden and dug soil (I almost said ‘dirt‘, which I learned from living in the US, but someone in the US corrected me ‘cos I said it in a vid), planted spuds, and grew some peas and such. My fava beans arrive this week which I am truly grateful for and I will save some seeds from those because they are non-hybrids. Don’t you just love the potency and perpetuity of things just like that? I mean non-hybrid seeds. I mean, I am talking making and growing and cooking and, well, just living life and not this pre-pandemic thing called ‘living the dream‘. Loving realness and making it your own is critical to simply being well. It creates it’s very own sanity. If I didn’t have my now precious garden I would grow a pea in blotting paper in a glass jar just to see the root go down between the glass and the leaves turn green as they pop out of the top of the jar. This one thing alone made me want to grow food. The seed in an ill-equipped woodworking workshop in a school I totally hated made me want to work wood for fifty-five years and the result of which is a lived life without ever knowing boredom except in airports.