Dienstag, 29. März 2011

My old home by the lake

 On a recent hike I passed by the old house I lived in for 34 years. I grew up there, I loved my first girlfriend there, I laughed, and I cried, and I had the impression that this castle was invincible.
 But now the shutters are closed, and it is left to rot.
Only but recently it has seen some care. I am glad, for I am still connected to this place. It is a strong and peaceful place. It has made me, and it keeps me strong, for I know I have riches others do not have. I have a home in my head and my heart due to the time I spent there.

And I leave it, and pass by, but I feel it in my heart, This is wonderful.

Forging a Bowie-my first "big" one

 I am normally not overly fond of big blades like bowie knives, and I think that one george Washington Sears (Nessmuk) or John Palliser are absolutely right in preferring lighter, thinner, shorter blades. Also, I cannot see why I should make knives making exclusively sense as a fighter. So I was not quite enthusiastic when a friend of Volker´s, Holger, wanted to forge a bowie for western reenactment for his birthday, and on his party at the Bethaus in Witten. He wanted to pay me for it, and I had a use for some cash;-), so I am a whore, too, sometimes;-). Got some Mercedes leaf spring from Henry´s, a friend of mine and making a living by selling old cars. he always has some wreckage around and is no stranger to some hammer bashing, too. 
Got the leaf spring, some one metre twenty long, and packed it in my backpack, Then it was ride my bike with the thing protruding out of my rucksack to Witten. The lane was quite crowded, and I got some really queer looks, I can tell you;-).

When I came to Volker´s smithy, there were already birthday guests, all dressed up. Had a cuppa coffee (thanks, Volker and Sylvia and Jochen!!!!) amidst all the guests. There was a lady in the chamber practicing the accordeon, and I loved her music. We had some talk and it turned out she was a studied musician who lost here eyesight only but recently and is now legally blind. It was quite a difficult time for her, but it turned out her musical ability actually ifr not profited, but changed. She cannot read the partitures anymore. She has to feel, and do it intuitively. Without knowing the facts, I found her music enchanting. We talked a lot about art in general, and the way it profits from feeling it, from intuition, not simple craft, and our conversation inspired me a lot. Sometimes you pass by people, and they influence you, simply by their presence. I do not even know her name, but I have a very great respect for this person.

I then met another old smith, Mielenko bednasch, A Russian blacksmith. he his over 75 years old and still takes orders. He showed me some of his works, and I was simply amazed. I will feature him in a separate post soon.

It was under these impressions that I started to forge my first fighting knife, quite a contrast at first look, but I believe that fighting implements should be (or shall be) not just fighting implements, not just tools to kill, but, as the Japanese have a saying, be a "one sword of life, one sword of death". This is the reason, in my opinion, that any warrior shall learn how to take the sword in hand to defend the crop he has sowed or to defend the weak. And, this is more important, if danger is warded off, he has to put the sword in its place on the wall and resume sowing his seeds, resume his art, and care for life, and heal. Every warrior should be able to heal, and to create, to counterweigh the destruction he has to inflict upon the aggressor. I believe weapons are the last means to protect the weak or oneself. If taken to hand, a warrior should not hesitate to destroy his enemy utterly, not as long as the bat of an eyelid should his reflection take, ere he kills. If he has to detsroy, he shall do it utterly, so that danger will never rise again. But if he destroys, he should build anew also. For any life he has taken he should plant new life, and resume to plough. Or to play music, or to heal, or to create in general.

Holger came, and I had some talk with him, and I showed him how to use the sledge, and he forged part of the edge alone. I corrected some of the dents, and forged the hind part of the edge. The blade came out a bit like the "Musso bowie", and I gave it some balancing. I just let it cool during annealing and played it some in my hand and I closed my eyes. I did some grinding and some more forging, keeping in mind the weight of the bolster and the scales and the drillings and fittings. It was agreat help to me closing my eyes while playing it. I then edge-quenched it and did the final grind. It now has a whippy feel to it, like a sword would, and it is an evil slasher as is. But then weapons shall be evil. It was a very mind - consuming work, and I did not sleep well that night.

I then gave it to Holger and tested it on nails and with a file, let it smash on a concrete floor from a height of 1,5 m, slammed it over a round piece of wood with the broad side up and put it in a vice, hitting the handle with a 1,5 kg hammer. Holger was impressed that it shaved ("just as it should", he said) and looked quite satisfied with his birthday present;-).

Then it was straight to the kitchen, where I delved deep into the delicious dishes Jochen, the cook of the Bethaus was not tiring to offer me. It was lamb in a delicious wine sauce, a cabbage porridge and potatoes in roasted with rosemary, seven different kinds of cheese, and table water as a drink, and coffee, and soft drinks and all I could dream of. I was very grateful, for it was a delicious experience. We had some good natured talk along my mealk, and Jochen and I discussed a great variety of things philosophical and biographical. It was late in the night, about 1 o´clock, when I left and rode home over a completely deserted bike lane. I had many things to think over, some violent, some gentle, some mundane, some philosophical, some hopeless, and some hopeful. I guess this is the stuff life is- simply and obviously made of.

Freitag, 25. März 2011

Withering the ursurper´s throne

I saw a flaming circle in the sky,
A hundred thousand people burn and cry,
I saw the wave withdraw away,
A hundred thousand corpses unburied
By earth and fire, by stone and mire
Borne away.

Sakura season no watchers will find,
Empty the temples, empty the huts,
Raped and torn both maiden and slut,
From mountains of soot echoes no laughter.

Doom is the season cast upon the land,
After the rain, after the storm
No calm will follow.
And still they fight in every land
For words and deeds long done.

With gun in hand, with sword and pen,
With clubs and axes from money forged,
With flint, with bone,
With claw  and tooth and broken stone.

Then let there be war, if it can´t be peace.
The wolf broke free,
Deep down the growl arises;
The dwarves´cord´s askew.
Will doom be and succeed
To make the world anew?

The warlord, he, one-handed,
Descends upon the earth.
Cursed is the seed of mankind,
Cursed this generation´s birth.
And wind blows hard,
And waves arise,
The earth it shakes in fever.

The thrones of gods they claimed
Are  not made to sit on longer,
For the greedy, for the maimed
By grey clawed maggots`envy.

Beyond the ruins stands a tree
With burned and ravaged leaves.
But in a gentle, silent breeze
A simple cherry blossom falls.

Foraging / Dayhike with philosophy on top;-)

On wednesday I had a day off and made for the hills again. The weather was great, sun was shining and it was some 26 degrees C in the sunshine. I walked over the hill behind my home and was bound to collect some edibles, for this month is a somewhat meagre one again;-). Lesser Celandine (Pilewort, german: Scharbockskraut) is in blossom, and I got some for salad, and some roots for binding sauces and dressings. Lesser Celandine is rich with Vitamin C, hence the German name "Scharbocks-Kraut", scorbut-herb, for it was used as a remedy against scorbut in ancient times. After blossom, the leaves should not be used any more, for they get bitter and are under suspicion of being poisonous. The roots can be used still.

They are great as a nourishing implement, although you have to get a lot of them, being so small. Shot no photo, but they are like little, bug-like balls and not easily mistaken.
I walked for some hours on end towards my favourite lake. This is the view from atop the hill.

Collected some birch sap, but as it was, it was cool from the dew, and soooo refreshing, I drank it up for the most part, sitting on my favourite stump, which has a live birch protruding out of it.;-) Like an armchair, actually. I basked in the sun for an hour or so, had some more swigs of birch sap. Then I continued on my way.
Some more impressions on the way.

This is the woodbine sprouting. I have yet to try bushcraft basketry and this would be my material of choice.
I especially liked these woods for their light, yet twilit atmosphere. There is a certain heavy peace to them, breathing ever so slowly, so that your own heart beats slower there. There were birds singing and enjoying the warm weather like me. Again I did some stumpsitting and sunbasking;-). I did not sleep, but my conscience drifted away slowly, and I felt as if the blood of the trees ran through my veins, slowly and patient. My eyes drooped, and some strange calm took possession of my soul, ever so gently. It was like a green light shining behind my eyes. It is very hard to describe, for words are not made for this. My interpreting just stopped, my worries and ambitions subsided. I certainly heard the birds still, and saw the trees, and was aware where I was, even when I was, and why, but it did not matter. I felt like a part of it all, of sun and trees and life and death. Sounds esoteric, eh? It is. But then words are not made for this. The secret is, that there is nothing semantic to this feeling. It happens in a state of mind, where our constant construction of the world slowly and gently is faded out, where all of our mechanisms of interpretation fail. Because of the fact, that sign and significance might still be not identical, but that does not matter any more. because there is little, but slow and thorough movement, our everyday hectic vectorial orientation in a subsemantic complex subsides. There is a healing effect to this. The experinece, for being self-referred (autotelic) and solitary in a peaceful surrounding creates a side-effect of "Flow" (Cziksentmihalyi 2008). The phenomenon has been only recently researched in a study (transcendent experiences in forest environments:
Won Sop Shin,1 Poung Sik Yeoun,1 Rhi Wha Yoo,2 and Chang Seob Shin1(2009):
Forest experience and psychological health benefits: the state of the art and future prospect in Korea

and many more;-). I personally hold in high esteem Wolfgang Hogrebe. As a first read you can perceive the essay "Mantics and Semantics" (1994, 1995, 2006). )

I often critisize the society we live in as insane. This society is often characterized as "rapidfire society", concerning the rapidity of information flow we all are confronted with. This leads to a somewhat onesided balance in the individual. Semantics are all that is asked from the individual, but mantics cannot be switched off. There are many millions of bits our brain perceives in everyday situations. A mentally normal individual filters this information by only processing and interpreting a small part of it. Now, in modern society, it is demanded, that many more informations are processed, at once. And the problem might not even be the mass of the informations to be semantically interpreted, but the impossiblity to train the mind to it and the connection between life-essentiality of interpretation and the resulting stress without a positive reinforcement as a bargain.(after the model: Don´t be slow, do not dream / rest etc or you´ll lose your job, plus the fact that no positive reinforcement is given by executives, but more requirements still ). The system is complex.

Flow can transcend this vicious cycle (or system even), and might be the reason this is entirely dissolved in forest environments, giving recreation and happiness and a healing effect to the individual by breaking the conctant need for (semantic) informational processing. 

After this much healing trance;-) I went on and came across this birch offering me its bark for tinder. Boy, do I need a tinder pouch, for it vanished in the depths of my rucksack. Found on the cheese afterwards;-) but no harm done, cheese was cleaned, and the bark still in order;-). Have to make myself a pouch, though.
Still more scenery to be mantically processed;-).
Found this dead tinder conk and took part of it home for tinder. I even heard it say you can make sheaths, caps, and bags from it. I´ll keep you informed!

The sun was sinking, and provided for magic moments under the forests roof again. I saw some roe deer and some wild pigs, and something in the distance that might have been a badger. As usual, my clumsy fingers did mess up with the camera, so no pics of any wildstock whatsoever;-). I walked for some seven hours on end, and was beginning to feel a bit fatigued. Had some cheese and bread with birchbark on;-) and some apples, an onion and the last swig from my birchsap bottle, drank some tea, and on I went. It was becoming colder, as the sun sank. I came to the road after another hour´s walking and took the bus home.

Mittwoch, 23. März 2011

The day the world did not end at all;-)- Work in the garden with kai and Levin

On Saturday I got up early and made for the hills.
 At lunchtime, we were dated at Kai´s to go to the garden by car, so I figured it would be great to have a small hike beforehand. Packed my hatchets and all the stuff and some food and drink and went into the woods behind my flat.
The sun was shining ever so beautifully- and I took it in like someone starving would food. Strange, for in winter I coveted the dark and the twilight, but now that the sun´s out, I realize I missed it! Strange thing, we humans. (Did I mention that before? Forgot....;-)) 

Does anyone see the crow? There´s one in the picture, but I hid it thoroughly;-).

This is a pond I came across, full of toad´s and newt´s spawn already! Then I visited my mother, had a cuppa coffee with her and a chat and went on to Kai´s. There we talked a huge pile of rubbish while waiting for Levin to arrive and, when he arrived, some even more huge pile of garbage. Kai showed me his projects, some spoons, knives and stuff and showed me his first welds he did as a locksmith´s apprentice for Railion Corporation, too. Seems he is becoming a decent human being after all, I am disappointed (NOT!;-)). Toodled around  a bit on his guitar (kids will be kids, I guess), and then it was off to the garden. All a mess, as you can see... That´s Kai, looking for some work;-).

 We always bring along someone less brutish, makes people shy away from us a little less;-): This is Levin, the Kevin.;-). Levin is a highly talented poet writing on Weideland Blog, and no stranger to some real hard working either.
 Didn´t I say you should NEVER give edged tools to this guy? Did I not warn you? And what was it you did? Give edged tools to this lunatic?;-)

Was plain good fun bringing out my little beast. I enjoy it thoroughly, and I have to forge one size bigger. It made short terms with the apple wood.

 This is Levin cleaning up. Still quite a heap of sticks. Have to get some for incense, and the rest will be burned.
 The first ladybug, Levin discovered on this crocus flower. I like this picture quite a lot.

The  car crammed full with logs and sticks. We looked after the tools and had some rest in the sun, packed our things, locked up the garden, and went to Kai´s home again. There it was some chopping and preparing carving wood. Kai and myself made a spoon, and we had some real hard  time trying to remove the rotten handle from the hatchets. We found two for Kai and one for Levin and will restore them together and fit some new handles to them. 
After that, I made for the hills again and walked home content with a nice day with nice people.  

Progress on the little Hadseax blade

One step at a time;-). I now polished the blade a bit and did some etching. Towards the tip you can see that I only forged the tip moderately to obtain the straight lines of the pattern. I like the effect on the topmost picture, near the tang there´s a structure that looks like a dragonship vessel on sea to me...;-)

I am still about it which handle it shall get. I would very much like some wood from an old dragonship, as Jake Powning once did with a sword (Vidhirhrafn). But I think I have some esoteric materials lying around still...;-)

Or maybe it will just be the old stag antler...I am still contemplating;-).

Mittwoch, 16. März 2011

Getting sweaty and blistered-clearing an allotment

 Two of my best friends are moving to the North and have an allotment they have to give up and asked me if I could clear the fallen apple tree from the garden and fetch the tools for myself. Now this was an opportunity I could not say no to, what with bringing out the edged tools and gertting some quality wood for some other great friends of mine (Hi, Kai! Look foward to Saturday;-)) and myself and the prospect of finding some old tools didn´t hinder my joy also.;-).
 Those are my Gränsfors and homemade hatchet, and a saw I found at the allotment, plus well, what remained of the tree after Fimbulmyrk had one of his (its?) fits...;-)
 Tools I found: Two hatchets for Kai, an old and well-preserved hacksaw, drills, vices, a poker, a hand drill, tool steel, a hook, bronze plate, some 7" nails, some files and lathe heads.
 Three sticks, the top one is apple, the lower ones are rose. I have never worked with rosewood before, but look forward to it a lot!
 If I had the money, I would rent this allotment for sure, everything was blooming and sprouting.

I went home quite finished after some 10 hours of work with a light hatchet, but with a great peace in my mind. It was a great day in silence amidst the spring...

I will return there to chop the smaller branches  and to smell the roses before I have to give the key back. On Saturday, the mad bassssssstard Kai;-) and myself will go and fetch the wood for his parents´home. I´ll keep you informed!;-)

Nettle soup with Mie noodles

 Went for a ride and packed my cotton bags to see
if the herbs are there, especially pilewort, sorrel, dandelion and nettles. The others still need some time, but nettles I found. Took some two handfuls.
I mildly roasted some bacon in cubes, and some garlic and onions, finely chopped, in butter. Then I took them all out and added some oatmeal. With heat very low and constant stirring, I made a Béchamel sauce which I reduced a little. I then added 1/2 pint of white wine and 250 ml of boiling water, while stirring constantly. I then added the noodles, the bacon, garlic, and onions, and let it cook. When the noodles were nearly done, I added the nettles and turned the heat off. Rounded it off with a bit of muskate powder, salt and pepper.
Enjoyed it a lot... but then I am a little weird at times.

No to any nuclear power whatsoever.

I want you to spare a thought and a moment of silence for the victims of the Tsunami and the recklessness of man, i.e. nuclear power facilities. Those people died in vain. Greedy business men killed them, interpreting the open market in a way that does not satisfy the needs of the people but lets them develop ever new ones. These are satisfied by the market, to which energy providers belong as well.

I must not hate them, for the law of the universe will look after them. But it is difficult.

I hope the injured will survive, and the dead will find peace.

And I hope that earth will recover. In time, say 1.000 years (then radiation will be about half as strong).

I decisively say no to nuclear power.

Now there are many people laughing and mocking at me and pointing their fingers for that. Look at him, they say, he wants no nuclear power, but how shall we live without electricity? How shall he fare? He will die!

Maybe they are disppointed a bit by the fact that I am not dying witout a fridge, or a TV, or a personal computer.

I will substitute all my lighting in my home to LEDs. (there are four energy-saving light bulbs all in all in my flat). I will purchase a solar mat to drive my computer and the hifi.I will remove any standby function on any electric supplement I own or dispose of it if not possible. I will obstain from full baths, preferring a shower. I will heat my water on the oven, not the water boiler. I will look to achieve my heating by a stove, not a gas heating system. That will take time, because I can´t afford it, and homemade solutions are not legal in Germany.

Korpiklaani - Beer Beer live @ paganfest oberhausen 2011: Not so silent and solitary, but great fun!;-)

Now the crazy crew around Kai and his girlfriend (me and Levin) boarded the moshmobile;-) and made for Oberhausen on Saturday, 12th of March. It was the first metal concert I have been to for quite a decade, and it showed...;-). We had some quality food by Kai´s mother (thanks a lot, was great and tasty!) and quite a bit of booze and some really strange joking. We met some friendly people and saw both very attractive girls and... something, well... something;-). Would not be fair to state that in public... and the folk know what I mean. Had something against our hearing capapility, and .... Korpiklaani, the absolutely "mad mongers" (quote from one metalhead). It was my favourite of the evening, even though those other bands were not actually bad, either... well, for the most part...;-). Would not be fair to state that in public, too, and it´s not fair at all, for the band in question simply did not get their soundcheck wired, being somewhat difficult to mix.

Anyway, it was strange, that all the noise and wild partying gave me something not very different from that which I get in silence and solitude. There were lots of guys in extremely scrawny leather, most with a look of menace in their eyes. But when you talked to them, they were respectful and even polite! Some kind of a reality check. I daresay it´s because everyone has got the knuckles tight, and most are aware of that. It´s a hard community, and for this fact noone wants to get their face rearranged to the designs of someone else;-). For that simple fact, it might be, that most treat each other with respect.

Strange solution, but a solution still.

Anyway, we met some friends of Kai´s and Marie´s, (his girlfriend) and spent some quality time there.

It was nine hours of noise and party, and when I came home, I was all finished, but somehow with a kind of strength in my heart that wasn´t there before. And something to think about.

Ville Sorvila from Moonsorrow said one sentence that nearly made me quit the event:

"The world ended yesterday."

With the catastrophe of Japan in mind, this conveyed a little too much meaning to my liking. I can rectify my decadent amusement in the face of desaster by many excuses, as we all can.

There have been many desasters in my life, personally as well as globally. Some things made me carry on:

the woods, friends, love, fire, steel, books, writing and listening to this hard, dreamful, noisy music.

Many texts deal with exactly that: To carry on in the middle of desaster. To stand as long as one can. To find hope even in the utmost destruction.

I hope that the people in Japan find this hope, and that we all can find this hope. And the power to carry on and to show that there are alternative ways of living that do not necessarily detsroy the habitat. And metal music gives me a part of this power, with every sawing, biting, itching, aching chord and growl and scream. That´s not for everyone. But all of my readers have something that gives them this power. It might be simple things, a bird fluttering, a flower. It might be a way of living, a simple cup of coffee in the wild. It might be listening to the words of a preacher, or an imam, or a philosopher or even a guru.

It does not matter, as long as it makes you carry on.

For me, there was a kind of katharsis effect, as Korpiklaani followed up with all the humppa tunes and wild violin and drum lines and Jonne Järvelä´s voice and half of a forest built on stage. It was much more lively, and I did not hear the words "Odhinn", "Valhalla" or "Thor" once, which was a bit inflationary with all the other bands. It was unique, and it made me feel alive, not depressed.

And it´s a tiny part of my hope, that life will find its way, somehow, when I can feel alive even in the face of the catastrophe.

Freitag, 11. März 2011

Another Spring hike

Today the road went ever on and on again;-) and I decided to do some walking into the hills again and to look after my saptappingsystem;-).
The sun was shining, and it was quite warm. Along the creek I went. Birds were singing again, and I saw the sorrel sprouting. I had some and took some with me for salad.
Besides The creek the wild pigs were having an apparently great time turning everything upside down;-)

Woe and alas;-), the lake was still frozen! It is a predam of the larger dam, and quite shadowy, and that might havbe done the trick. And the nights down here are pretty damn cold still. 
Nearing my refuge in the woods. Those are some cliffs I like very much. As a kid, we build shelters and even fortresses and mines into the cliffs. They are still there, and I walked on the traces of my childhood.
Well, that´s an old well;-). I often wonder if there are secrets to be dug out of it, having found many great tools and even two rusty (and non-functional) 98K carbines in the lake, when the dam had to be repaired...;-).
In this tree I saw a pair of bluetits flirting and fluttering around, and singing ever so sweet.
But suddenly, it went all BANG! and two rare animals indeed came crushing down the slope like an avalanche. This blue - tit wanted to flirt with me, but I wouldn´t.;-) It´s Martin, a.ka. enemy, uumm, eminem;-) a moron from our team;-).
Martin, lost in the woods and looking for a line;-).
And Bastian, apparently enjoying himself for smashing my joys of solitude.;-)
Okay, I admit it, at first I was not very amused. But who am I to claim all the woods for myself? Wanted to do some stump-sitting, did that, too, and even had my cuppa, and a chat"on top". Had a funny time with those chaps. Then I made on and even got some solitude in. No harm done, eh?;-) But funny, how you meet people in the middle of nowhere, and how funny one gets when doing too much stump-sitting;-).

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

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