Fire!: Building Relationship

That word you don’t want to yell in a crowded theatre! Danger aside, I think it’s our feeling that we can control fire that makes it so compelling to us humans. That, and how it warms us, and casts light into dark places, and is so colorful and active. I’m a closet pyromaniac, can you tell?

Oh yeah!

Fire is so mysterious and useful, but what about the relationship building aspect? I will tell you what I have learned. People will start talking about very interesting, personal things when sitting around a cozy fire. Maybe it’s because they know others won’t be looking at them when there’s a fire to look at. Staring at a fire also seems to hold space – talk gets interspersed with times of thought. It’s perfectly okay to just think for a while when sitting around a fire. If it’s night, it’s even safe to cry a bit if you need to and the fire will cover for you.

I just want to start something here, tonight!

I have sat around countless campfires with family and friends and it has become a special activity for me. I think the daughters would agree, as I see hints in their lives as adults. Prominent in Julia’s yard is the fire circle set up by her uncle for her wedding celebration (the one where it rained and made fire impossible). Prominent in Esther’s yard is her Solo stove that we sit around most every time I visit.

So inviting. Sit a spell.

And in my own practice of relationship building, I also have a Solo stove that serves as a gathering place. You’ve heard “where there’s smoke, there is fire” but the switch around is also true. “Where there is fire, there is smoke” and it’s so annoying when it keeps blowing in your face, following you around as the wind changes direction. My Solo stove is pretty helpful at keeping the smoke down. I love it, and sometimes sit outside in the evening, all alone, watching wood burn, and thinking. It’s that much better when I can get others to join me.

Build a fire, and they will come. Try it.

They did come, and it was a fine fire.

When I Don’t Have to Wait

It’s a strange, hard world out there. It’s time we fight back with a little fun. I have lots of thoughts on the subject and will be writing about it for the rest of October.

Everywhere we turn these days there is something to wait for. I wait in traffic, at the grocery store, for commercials to quit, for the spooling to stop, for food to be cooked, for my hair to dry, for sleep to come, for the headache to go away. What surprises me though, is that I find myself waiting for things I don’t have to wait for – out of habit, I guess. It is a habit I am setting out to conquer.

On this beautiful evening, calm, warm enough to sit outside, I’m not waiting to light a fire in my Solo Stove. Making fire (small and controlled) and watching the flames has always been fun for me so I followed the fun and started my fire. I knew I would love this little fire pit, but I can see that if I waited for others to come enjoy it with me, I would not be getting much use out of it. I do like to invite others to sit around the fire, but that usually involves some planning ahead. When it’s only me, I could be doing it any night when the weather is nice, even without a plan. Why wait?

Waiting can be a good thing, right? Why? Because I have to let the people in line before me go first (unless I want to get thrown out of the store…). Because the food tastes better when it’s cooked long enough. Because things work out better when I match my desires with right timing, right circumstances, right preparedness. I learn that patience is a good thing and I learn patience by having to wait.

But what about not waiting? You see, I’m learning that I won’t have much fun if I wait for it to happen by itself. I’ve spent my share of time feeling sorry for myself, wising I was having fun, being pitiful. I can decide to have fun, sometimes with others, but even when I’m alone. Often that is my only choice. I have a ready list of those things I enjoy doing, because everything in life goes better with fun mixed into it. It’s medicine really.

And honestly, fun is a huge part of my faith life, my life with God. I’m not sure I’ve ever read the word “fun” in the Bible, but I have seen “pleasure” and “enjoy”which are probably about the same thing. I can’t imagine the abundant life that God says he wants me to have, without it also being fun. I feel it in my heart, God is in favor of fun.

All this to say that it’s a good night out here on the patio. There’s work to do inside the house, which I’m not doing. I’m alone with my writing pad and my cup of tea, watching a warm, glowing fire. No guilt, no regrets. I’m having fun and fun is good. (Wish you were here…)

Still Burning

Still burning after three weeks.

Last month, on the 12th to be exact, I decided I would dispose of some old financial records that weren’t needed any more. I also had a stump in the backyard from a tree that was cut down this spring. It seemed to be a good idea to me to burn the papers and possibly the stump at the same time. I started the fire right on top of the stump and probably spent an hour getting rid of the paper. The stump was perhaps two feet in diameter and began to burn a little around the edges so I put some dry wood on it and kept it going.

It did eventually begin to burn all the way to the middle – over the next week! We would think it had gone out but a wisp of smoke would go skyward every time the irrigation would water it, so we knew there was still heat there. A couple of times I would find downed branches (we live surrounded by trees) and throw them on the stump and in an hour or so we would see flames again.

The stump itself was about two feet in diameter but the roots spread out quite a bit more. Today it began to flame again.

We had one really good rain and a couple shorter ones, and still the stump burned. It began to look different, kind of like a volcano that had blown its top. The husband was always looking out the glass doors to see if it was smoking. I was worried that the constant drift of smoke would get the neighbors upset, but maybe, like me, they kind of like the smell of a wood fire.

For the last week the fire has seemed to be out. The caldera, as the husband likes to call it, is huge, black and ashy and surrounded by its rim of large roots. We have been poking it and trying to see if we could make it level with the ground around it, but it was still needing an axe or a chain saw to break it up. As the irrigation ran this morning I was surprised to see it start smoking again. Something in there, underground, was still hot.

I have heard how important fire was to nomads who moved their camps frequently, how they would carry coals in special containers to have a fire starter when they needed it. The longevity of my burning stump must be something like that. Joe came today and cut what was left of the roots in pieces and set them on top of the hot area. Late this afternoon it flamed and our volcano is glowing hot again. I don’t know why fire and its attributes are so interesting to me, but there it is. Burning. Glowing. Fascinating.


Oh WordPress…

by going outside, I mean working outside...
by going outside, I mean working outside…

Today, having survived the  A to Z Challenge, I decided to ignore all my tech gadgets and go outside – for the whole day.  There was no checking the email every 10 minutes on the phone, no looking for likes and follows, no reading and commenting. It was a nice break.  Until a few minutes ago at the dinner table when the husband said “what happened to your Z post?” Blank look from me.  “It wasn’t on your site so I went to facebook and saw it, clicked, it came up for a moment and then disappeared, so what happened to it?” More blank look from me.  

I know I published the post yesterday, but sure enough, there it was back in draft form on WordPress. Now how did that happen?  I’m not going to cry much but when I decide I’m going to do something on time, it had better happen on time.  After making myself crazy getting 25 posts done and up on the exact day they are due, the last one comes in a day late? Nooooooo……. 

I’m ok, really. I had a great day. I got to play with fire. In fact I’m still burning brush at 7:30 pm and I started at 3. Living in an oak grove produces LOTS of downed branches which I have to clear off the lawn every week before I mow.  The pile was getting a little out of hand so I’m writing while keeping an eye on the blaze (we don’t want to burn down the neighborhood tonight…).

I am really good at starting fires, probably a little prideful about it even.  If I were on the reality show “Naked and Afraid” I would be the one to start the fire and keep it burning. Of course I would never be on the show because it’s a bit freaky and a really bad idea to be naked in places like the Amazon jungle.  What people will do to be on TV… 

I started this fire with papers that I got tired of trying to put through the shredder yesterday. I was cleaning old files and it was taking forever to shred things that I randomly decided should be shredded. I knew it would be quicker to burn them and it was.  However it was odd to look at the papers as I lit them up and see “keep for your records” in big type across the top.  My paranoid self said “wait, don’t do it!” and my other real self said “calm down, they’re from 1999, nobody has needed them yet – pretend they’re still back in the file.”  Paranoid self “but it says KEEP, it doesn’t say how long.”  Real self “shut up”. 

I used to be diligent about throwing away old records and keeping only ones 7 years back but lately I’ve just forgotten to do it.  No, actually I avoid doing it because I am paranoid that the husband someone is going to ask for something the day after I throw it away.  And the other reason I keep stuff is for necessary balance in the world. I’m balancing out my friend Karyn who throws it all out. She’s a financial adviser, for pete’s sake, and she says it’s all online when you need it. Well, I know what happens when I try to find something online at the last minute – forget that. Karyn also has a garage with nothing in it except her car and a row of steel shelves with labeled, see-through plastic bins. That’s just not right. My garage also balances out Karyn’s garage.

As I said, with all this great burning going on I’ve had a really good day and the brush pile is nearly gone. Hmmm… I think I need to go turn on the hose, ‘scuse me.    


now don't you go getting out of hand...
now don’t you go getting out of hand…