The Sword Geek

It's all about the swords. Except when it isn't.

Once More Into the Shop, Dear Friends…

On July 9th, 2015 the shop burned down and seriously damaged our home. We moved to a rental in Fife, WA. while our home and shop were rebuilt, and finally in February we moved back into our home. The shop had been fully rebuilt and due to a tragic error on the part of the contractor (*snortgiggle*) wound up being fully insulated and drywalled. This meant it needed to be painted to protect the drywall from dust.  And of course to get all of our household goods moved in we needed to stage out of the shop, making it virtually impossible to get any work done until last Monday.

The shop was not ready for work; there were still boxes and boxes of books and other stuff, the benches from my van, an old stove, construction materials etc. but we needed income desperately and I was frankly going nuts to get started. I created a fantasy Dwarven hand-axe, and later in the week even got a sword-blade made.


On Friday the contractors finally finished the shop by installing the storage shelves in the clean-shop. Yesterday I planned to rearrange things, clear the clean shop and get to work on the sword-hilt. I did get the clean-shop mostly cleared and the items stored on the shelves but after lunch something was wrong; I didn’t want to start working on the sword hilt or any other project. Something was bugging me, and after lunch I figured out what and set to work. I moved things around, relocated several items to the clean-shop and cleared the floor of the ‘dirty’ shop as best I could. In the end there was nothing extraneous left in the shop except construction materials and the antique stove we have yet to find a satisfactory disposition for, and the stove was moved to the wall and thoroughly covered in plastic. Then I swept the floor, made sure all the cooling buckets were full of water, took out the trash and was at last satisfied with the results.

The problem, it turns out, was that I wasn’t willing to do things half-assed. Some of you might be surprised that I would ever do something half-assed, but the truth is the old shop was a disaster area. In the nearly seventeen years I worked in that shop we never got the place properly cleaned out. The wiring was jury-rigged. The clean-shop was divided off by a plastic tarp and never got properly divided from the grinding area. It was never clean either. There was a giant metal office desk in the middle of the shop that had been there since we moved in. One entire wall was covered with shelves loaded with storage, mostly things that we put there ‘temporarily’ when we moved in. We relied on dump runs to take care of the trash- which we didn’t do. The floor under the workbenches was full of trash and junk, the floor was covered with dust and extension cord and plug-strips were everywhere. I hated having people in because it was embarrassing, but there was never time, money or energy to get it cleaned up and to keep it up.

We moved in in the fall of 1998, and in 2000 I started a long, slow downhill slide into depression. In addition to chronic migraines (finally diagnosed) it was a daily struggle to do what needed to be done, and I often failed. Naturally I was in denial about the depression, which didn’t help. In fall 2011 the birds came home to roost. Thirty years of unacknowledged, untreated PTSD, of secrets and denial exploded. I suffered what I can only describe as an emotional collapse. Life as I knew it effectively ended. I couldn’t work for weeks at a time, and had trouble managing to do anything constructive.

Linda was a champion and a saint; she got me hooked up with the VA for health care. My PTSD was diagnosed and treated. Years of therapy commenced and I was prescribed the appropriate mood stabilizers etc. It took a couple years, but I was eventually awarded a fifty-percent disability for PTSD- which pays the mortgage each month and that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong; not needing to worry about the house payment is huge but it’s not enough.

Things got better. Friends rallied around and helped. I began to be able to work more and more and started dealing with the wreckage of my life. In the spring of 2015 I caught fire again and was, for the first time in a very long time, feeling seriously passionate about my work. Then the shop burned down.

I won’t say the last seven months haven’t been a bitch, but through it all our friends and family have been there for us. Our landlord at our temporary rental actually built a garage for me to work in and I was able to generate some income. Moving back in was fraught with problems and expenses, but again our friends rallied around to help, and our insurance from Allstate has treated us very well.

Now, for the first time in many years our house is beautiful. For the first time ever we were able to design our color schemes, tiling, layout etc. to be what we really wanted; to reflect our taste instead of expediency. The house and shop are properly wired and finished, logically and entirely to code. Almost every upgrade we couldn’t afford, every improvement we never got around to, was accomplished. It’s time for a fresh start; we have the unique opportunity to design our lives to suit us, and By God I am not going to go about it half-assed. Yeah we’re still going to have to make do as best we can here or there but if it within our power to do it right it’s going get done right.

Redesigning our life means a lot of changes; Linda is going to work (tomorrow) in a job that she genuinely wants to do; it doesn’t pay well but she’ll be back to doing the work she loves and has always wanted to get back to. On top of that it is a job that will give her time to write (she’s well into her first ‘solo’ novel) and help maintain the house and pursue other interests. I’ll be working in the shop– but only on projects that genuinely speak to me. Linda is going to help make sure that I have the materials and resources I need; no more making shift and making do. I’ll also be taking time to write on the several novels that are in-progress (the backlog has gotten ridiculous,) continue my political and social commentaries and maybe do more cartooning. Squeezed in amongst these efforts we’ll be working on our hobbies; things that we never had room for before or that were never quite enough of a priority.  And housework… what for too long has seemed like a nearly futile chore has become into a pleasure in our new home.

It’s a new beginning, and a new life; one designed by us, for us that reflects what we want and how we want to live. Of course it’s not all going to go our way, but then that’s life, isn’t it?

So time to get the dogs fed, get some breakfast and get into the shop. Time to look forward and create the life we want to live.

March 6, 2016 - Posted by | Podcast