My Log Cabin in Alaska

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chains vs Walls

     A while back I was chatting with someone at the local library. The conversation centered around children’s books, topics of interest, animals, Alaska, and ultimately sled dogs. Now, I can’t claim to have a gift for reading people, but I did become aware of a shadow which crossed this lovely lady’s face. I don’t know if I was just feeling my Cheerios that day, or if it was the heat (Texas can be dreadful in the summer) or if it was just the effects of the chili I had eaten earlier that day, but I made the decision to push the matter - just to see what might happen. I cocked my head, ever so slightly to the side, pressed a half grin to my lips and said, as lightly as I could with my gravely voice, “You obviously don’t approve.”
     “I just think the whole business is cruel.” She commented without a smile on her perfectly made up face, which was nicely framed by her well coiffed, Clairol blond hair.
     Of course, I assumed she was referring to the long miles of running in harness over frozen tundra and steep mountainsides. I wisely began to explain that these dogs are not couch ornaments, but well trained, perfectly fed athletes.
     She cut me off, with a shadow of a scowl, and retorted, “It’s the chains! They tie those poor dogs up with short chains, outside in all weather. I think it’s cruel and should be stopped.”
     My face flushed in a sudden wave of real anger at her truly odd answer, or maybe it was just that pesky chili again. I took a deep slow breath and struggled to regain my composure. Yea, it happens, rare, but true. For a moment I had no words. My head spun with a dozen arguments to defend a sport and lifestyle that I love and admire. As my head began to clear I remembered a quote on a Harley Biker’s t-shirt, “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand”
      My eyes met hers. Her gaze was steady and her lips were set. I knew she was ready for a debate, very likely with factoids from any number of animal rights groups, none of whom had even a clue about working animals, neither dogs nor horses. My eyes dropped to her salon sculptured French nails resting lightly on her computer keyboard and her soft, milk white hands. She had a pretty ring on her index finger, but no wedding band. Not quite self conscious, just observant, I looked down at my own hands, old, weathered, calloused and yes, dirty, cracked nails. I fingered my own cherished wedding band and I grinned. No, she surely would not understand and no amount of explanation would help. Again I met her eyes and gently (well she probably only heard the gravelly) I said, “Well, that’s your opinion, I suppose, and you have a right to state it.”
      I suppressed the urge to repeat any of the off colored remarks I could remember about opinions and concluded my business at her desk. Come to think of it, I bet she was a vegetarian, too!
     Now, you are probably set for a lengthy discussion involving the sport of mushing, but that conversation will just have to wait. The issue here is chains vs. walls or fences. Bottom line, that woman was wrong on many levels. Chains are far less constricting, far less stressful, far less dangerous than fences or walls.
     Our example is a pack of dogs, working dogs, not pets, the only thing that matters is going down the trail, and going in front of every other dog. And, for a group of anything, not just dogs, the only thing that matters in that group, is ‘who is boss’. If the group is together and not supervised there is a risk to valuable muscle, fur, and training as that group figures out who is in charge. Lots of blood will be shed to decide that one. (Think I’m kidding, just look at the group dynamics in your own office!)
     The next thing on the agenda is going down the trail and the biggest obstacle is the fence. If you own a dog you know that there are two ways your dog will get on the other side of that fence, climb or dig, and if you tell me that your dog has never escaped, I will laugh! Now, try that with a dozen highly trained athletic dogs, and you have a problem! But, you put them on their own chains, next to their best friends, and you have happy dogs, provided you do your part and keep them clean, fed, and exercised. First, they know who is boss, you are. Next, they know their boundaries, the end of the chain. Finally, they see no obstacle to maneuver past (they can’t see the chain) all they see is the wide open space you have provided.
     I climb into my big pickup truck and my eyes again rest on my wedding band, my own personal collar. Love and pride well up in my soul and fill my eyes with emotion that trickles down my cheek. Well, I do have an advantage here, my hubby made my ring in his shop and each time I look at it I can almost breath in the essence that makes up the man to whom I gave my life.
     It is the velvet chain that attaches me to this relationship. He has allowed me the freedom of going where I wish and doing what makes me happy. The freedom of learning new things, and trying new adventures. The joy of taking a risk and either finding success or learning how to try again. He provides for me and protects me, but he does not control me. No walls, no fences. I did break free of the suffocating, controlling walls of a previous relationship. That one was not freedom, not comfort, not protection, just control, just fences. I could not see the world from where I was in that relationship I could only see the walls, the control, and I escaped.
     Yes, this gentle, velvet chain which binds me now, also allows me the freedom I crave. And just so you know, those dogs that can pull a loaded sled for hundreds of miles, if you think that the chain and the collar can hold them, think again! They do make the choice to stay on the chains, because they love the life they live, and because they can see farther than a wall or a fence that might hold them captive.

I would love to hear your own opinion, just click that little 'comment' button down there and share! Do you prefer chains, or walls?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

DIY Dilemma

I do it my self!

It is one of the first things you will hear from a precocious toddler, and probably one of the last things you will hear from anyone else. Sadly I am one of those from the latter group. If someone else can do it, I can too! And I want to do it, and I want to do it my way. Now, class, can anyone tell me what is wrong with that picture. Maybe this clue will help. You know the two guys on that cool cable show where they try to disprove various claims of how things work (and they like to blow things up, too) What is the first thing they say at the beginning of every show. “Don’t try this at home, we are professionals and we have had years to practice, a team to help us, and we have all the tools and safety gear in place already. We are the professionals.

See my hackles raise up in defense, my pupils dilate and my blood pressure raise at the thought of a challenge? And see me sitting here in the unemployment line and still without a published work? I guess that is how it works in the real world. I look in the mirror and I see a roaring lion, and I suppose that is a good thing, I have a good self image, but do I have a realistic image. Time to do one of those self diagnosis test things that computer do to make sure that all their parts are working correctly. 1. Do I have the knowledge, 2. Do I have the skills, 3. Do I have the tools, 4. Do I have the experience, 5. Do I have the support or financial backing, 6. Do I have the space and time, 7. Do I have the stamina to see this thing through to the end. And something tells me that I only have a small part of that ‘prep’ list that I need to check off before I can even begin my next DIY project (or consider that my next book is finished and ready for the publisher).

Am I being true to myself now, or am I showing my age? Maybe I am just now, finally, getting to the point where I am mature enough to admit that sometimes I cannot do it all myself and that I do need to follow a prescribed set of guidelines. (see the other self screaming in the background ‘but what about Einstein!) In order to be on the cutting edge of anything, you must know the basics so well that you can, are able to, push the envelope. You cannot push the envelope until you truly know what that envelope is. How can I say it better? I saw a special on TV about a guy who did trick diving (swimming pool diving) The one thing he made sure he told his audience was that you must know how to do it right before you can safely do it wrong.

That does not mean that anyone who desires to set off on their own should not be encouraged to do so, Nay! I concede and fully understand that one must have that extra energy it takes to create something that has not been created before. One must have the courage to step out on a limb and take a risk with something wild and new. And if the desire and idea is there, then the courage must be there as well. But if one wishes to DIY, one needs the education and background even more than the mainstream group who is willing to follow the guidelines without a challenge. Otherwise one’s project, whether it is a hand built log cabin in the woods, a cool car restoration project, or the next ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Hunger Games’ series, will look like a ramshackle mess, unfinished and uninspiring, and alas, unsold.

So how does that concept fit in with the pre-planning and teamwork thing, and how does it fit in with my own DIY personality? I have no idea, I am still working on that one myself!

Any words of encouragement or new ideas to share? Click on that Comment button down there and share them!