Wood and Chisel

Chisel revealed his tears

The Crying Man

“You need wood and a chisel,” Bo told me.  We headed to his backyard, which is where we always went when I visited.

Bo knew better than I did about the trials I would face in my near future.  He also knew a way to prevent me from going insane that summer.

I’d made a habit of visiting Bo when he wasn’t working.  He was definitely one of my favorite people.

Bo was a psychiatric nurse.  He had tired of the, “nine-to-fivers,”  and was instead traveling the country, teaching triage nurses how to, “be nicer,” to the psychiatric patients seeking help in hospital emergency rooms.   Humor was his magic in communication.

“I don’t know how to carve,” I told Bo.  I didn’t and truly thought he was joking.

“Oh, but you do! You do! Let me prove it to you.”

Bo was enthusiastic about life.  He lived every moment like it was the last one.

He’d created a wonderland in his backyard.  There were hills and wooden bridges, an old shed with a cute little deck perched above a small, but deep round fish pond.  The two short tree trunks for seats made the set up look very much like a hobbit house.

There was a sign on the front of the shed that read, “Bo Acres.”  He lived on almost two acres of land in a nice older neighborhood, not too far from downtown.

“Bo Acres” was a realistic fantasy land designed to nurture good mental health.

In the center of his backyard was a piece of wood at least five feet in diameter and three feet deep.  It was huge!  He didn’t know what he was making for the longest time.  A very large bowl perhaps?  A coffee table?

“I can’t carve wood Bo,” I told him again.  “I don’t even know how to use a chisel,” I added.

Bo laughed.  “That’s impossible!” he declared.  We walked over to the massive piece of wood.  For a few minutes I watched him work.  He talked about holding the chisel at an angle so that you didn’t take away large chunks of wood.  I was scared of destroying that wood, but he laughed about that too.

“Ha!  Miss prim and proper lady!” Bo said.  He had many nicknames for me, but they all had the same feel to them, which I liked.

He handed me the chisel and mallet.  “It would take you a long time to do any damage to that wood,” he said, still laughing and carrying on the way he did. It was a wonderful way that made people feel good.  “Believe me, you’ll be doing me a favor with every bit of wood you take off,” he reassured me.

The first few times I brought the mallet down, I either missed the chisel altogether or hit it in a way that made nothing more than a slight scratch on the wood.  Finally, Bo stood behind me, holding and guiding my hands as I held the chisel and mallet.  After a few minutes, I saw a perfect thin shaving of wood peel away.

It was a good feeling.  Secretly, I’ve always wished I could do something artistic with my hands.  I was quite pleased with myself.

“There!  You see!  That’s it!” Bo said with great satisfaction.  ” Now let’s get you a good chunk of wood.”

He stood in his yard with a big smile waving as I pulled out of his driveway, the same as he always did.  From my rear-view mirror, I saw him  still standing there waiting until I was out of sight.  I saw too, the chunk of Oak lying under the rear window above the backseat in my car.  I knew, on some level, that my world had changed.

Bo had helped me the only way he knew how, which was to give me something to take my mind off the terrible circumstances in my life.

An older heavy mallet.

MALLET

 The mallet in the above image is very much like the one I used that summer.

Sometimes you gotta make your own therapy.

New mallet & my first chisel.

The mallet above is a new lightweight one. 

still visible after all these yearsBo wrote my name on the chisel.  Barely visible are the last few letters.

The face I carved is The Crying Man.   He holds a year’s worth of pain and tears.  Maybe one day I’ll write that story. 

Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s Blog.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. “Crying Man” is simply beautiful.

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  2. Beautiful story, Michelle, beautifully told!

    I think finding something creative to do is the only way to stay sane when you have chronic illness. Even if you only work on it a few minutes at a time, those are minutes you are not focused on how bad you feel, and you are focused on the future – the future of what you are creating!

    It’s slightly funny, because I’m fighting a migraine, and was staring at a bowl of beads I want to string with a pendant, struggling to focus through the pounding. I decided to come see what you’d written instead, only to find this – giving me further inspiration to get this necklace pieced together, migraine or no migraine!
    Thank you so much! Many hugs!

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    • Hiya Ash,

      So sorry you are having those darn migraines! I hope that clears up soon.

      Yeah, the last time I used the chisel, boy was my arm hurting later. It didn’t hurt, while I did it so I kept on for hours. I paid a big price. It did however get my poor fingers moving, which had been so sore from having cut them on a kitchen knob in Jan, 2010. (They are still sore from that cut!) You’re right, if I do it only for five minutes it sure is good therapy.

      I want to take a class on how to make jewelry. I almost took one here recently, but didn’t make it in time for registration. I’m not visually talented, but I would love to learn to make things with my hands. I don’t think I can chisel wood long enough to ever get much accomplished. I have a some nice stones I’d like to make into jewelry though.

      One day, I wish I could make and sell crafts. I think it would be so fun to go to fairs/festivals, set up a booth and sell my goods. I used to help my mom do this when she made handbags. She hated the festivals and the crowds though, so I had a terrible time in the end. The negative energy stressed me and I felt guilty for her unhappiness. (That’s a problem I have and she doesn’t try to help ease it any, believe me!). She even hated the farmer’s reunion we have every August! I couldn’t believe it. Such nice folks. Homemade ice cream made by an antique steam engine. Horses, cows, and anything good about country living all comes to life at this festival. Good and simple that is. Plus, we sold enough bags to pay for the booth and for her to buy my brother a beautiful hand crafted knife. I thought it was a success, but she was terribly unhappy, so that is the last time I tried helping her sell handbags.

      I hope today is a better day for you and those mean migraines are gone.
      Take good care of yourself!
      hugs and doggy kisses for you…

      PS I’ve been thinking of the mountains ever since you told me about sitting on your front porch listening to the Cardinals. Oh, how I miss those hills Ash. I really do. I wish I had the energy to move. I would. I miss the rivers and creeks, the cool weather, the little spots up high where I could get away from the heat, the magnificent flora and the simple natural beauty of the land.

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  3. Bo sounded to be one very good friend Michelle.. You know what, not only did you start to carve that day, but you started to chip away at all that is within you. You said you have a story of all the pain that you chipped away a whole years worth.. well as I see it you have swapped your chisel to that of a pen, and keyboard, for you are now chipping away here telling us snippets of your past and as you do Michelle you are learning to let it go, as the past comes to the fore and you start to let yourself heal… I am so proud that you can write your pain and your healing path is well on the way… you may not see it but I do… One step, one Chip at a time… We may not see the whole sculpture within the first attempts and cuts to the wood, but over time more and more is revealed.. Your talent for writing Michelle.. astounds me.. so loved reading this… May your healing Begin from within. Love Dreamwalker xxx

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    • Hi Dreamwalker, My comments are out of order. You’re right, I did swap the chisel for a keyboard.

      The Crying Man’s story is very long. I had to delete most of it. It is a very sad sad tale. Nearly unbearable for me, so I figured it would make people too sad. I deleted the parts that explain why he is the Crying Man.

      Yes, it was one long year. I guess about the hardest year of my life. I didn’t know each day if my son would be alive and that went on for a year, every single day and night.

      When I finally got him some medical help, my body crashed like never before. I didn’t know what to think. I stayed with a friend while my son was in the hospital. I would go everyday to see him, taking the dogs and they would let him come outside where we could walk the grounds. Then I’d drive back to my friend’s who would often have to help me walk to the bed.

      Such hard times those were. I had to leave that house and go to another friend’s; another hard long story. I slept on the floor of his house under construction, not such a good thing, until my son got out of the hospital. Then I went back to the mountains and my beloved rondette, moved my things to an apartment in the flatter land of our state. I have never really accepted or found myself at peace with this. It is hot here. Humid and hot. Lots of shiny cars. It may be my homeland, but I sure don’t feel at home anymore.

      Thank you for complimenting my writing. Honestly, I don’t think I’m very good at it. I write too much. I get lost in my direction. I don’t even know what I’m writing most of the time until it’s finished. I suck at titles. Oh, I could go on and on about that, lol.

      I need to write you via email. I have some things to tell you. I’m sorry it is taking me so long.

      Also, I’m going to have to write down that at 2pm my time, you are drumming. I forgot yesterday until it was 7pm here, and then remembered. Maybe today I will remember.

      I hope today is a good day for you. I don’t like Mondays anymore I’ve noticed. I’m so reminded of all the things I need to do. Yet, my brain is too fatigued to make decisions.

      Doctor says I’m sweating so much due to menopause. Almost put me on HRT. I’m thinking about going on it. I know people say all sorts of things, but my doc said I’m one of the few patients who must decide if I want quality in my life now, or if I am willing to suffer with the night sweats keeping me up most nights, hoping to make twenty years from now better. If I could get relief for a little while, that would be good.

      He told me to use black cohosh, which I’ve used before, without seeing much of a change, but that was before I was involved with a very cruel person. My life has not gotten back to normal since that. I haven’t yet gained the weight I lost as a result of that time. It was terribly traumatizing and made my body really sick, not to mention my mind and spirit.

      It is hard to accept that some people are so cruel and perhaps, do not have the capacity for love. I know and love a person like this. I guess, I learned through having been involved with that man, what NPD really means and that I’ve been no stranger to it all along, but I think you must have detected this long ago about me.

      I hope today is easier than most Mondays. I hope I can get a few things done. I also hope Your day is going well.

      I’m very glad we are friends :)!
      Love, Michelle.

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      • Hi Michelle, just dropping in dear friend, I can see why you have suffered so much and carry that with you, Sorry I have only just got back to you .. HRT hummmm well I suffer with hot sweats but I just suffered in silence … and rode it out.. as a friend of mine took HRT and she smoked and she was only in her early 50’s and had a stroke… luckily she recovered but the Drs here in the UK said it was due to HRT and they took certain brands off the market… as there is more confirmed side effects.. I have a friend who is a nurse and they tried to put her on it too… But she refused saying that there are many side effects Drs do not tell us about..
        I hope you find a good alternative but I know there are herbal remedies so maybe you could find out more about alternatives… But I know you have to give them at least 4 weeks or longer to get into your system….

        Love to you and I hope that you are feeling a little better….. Dreamwalker xox

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        • Hi Dreamwalker,

          I was trying to remember to drum at 2pm, but forgot. Having a hard time with my memory! Really hard time. Thanks for your understanding my friend.

          Yes, my doctor said he uses HRT only as a last resort for people with my history, which is a high family history of breast cancer, but that it was a very small risk.

          I asked about side-effects of HRT. He didn’t tell me much about those. He said he’s been working with women for decades and that I am on the top of the list for those suffering the most. I’m sure stress and nutrition, along with other illnesses add to the severity of my symptoms.

          Still, after this rather long visit with him, he said for me to try Black Cohosh. I’ve used it in the past, but perhaps didn’t give it a real “college try.”

          I never thought I would even consider HRT, but that’s the story of my life Dreamwalker. Anything I think I would never face or choose seems to present itself to me eventually.

          I’m using a formula right now with Black Cohosh and Soy protein. Also I have a cream. Doc said just use one thing at a time, but I haven’t made it to health food store yet to buy the B’ Cohosh without the soy.

          I didn’t know it could increase your risk of stroke, but it totally makes sense. Just like smoking and taking birth control! Guess I’ll be sticking to the Black Cohosh and Soy.

          Peace and Blessings…
          Love, Michelle.

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  4. Bo sounds like a good friend to have. And Bo’s property sounds like a wonderful place.
    I’m trying hard this year to create some memories with my kids and make the outside of this place look like I had something to do with it. 😉 The area around my first home was full of quirky and wonderful things that I loved dearly. Back then I was able to do that stuff on my own. I’ve always had sort of whimsical tastes I suppose. But this is the first year that I’ve really made an conscious effort at doing things outside around this house that I like. Thankfully I have help, in my husband and parents & kids, I couldn’t do them on my own. There is so much more I would like to do if I had the ability/money/etc. But I’ve had fun this year planning little projects on a nearly zero budget. 🙂
    Your carving is neat, and emotionally moving at the same time. My grandfather and great uncle used to carve things. My husband carved me a walking stick, that I use when I need it.

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed seeing your carving and hearing your interesting story!

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    • Hi Deb, For sure, Bo is a good friend to have. I’ve not seen him in a long time though. I had to move from the mountains and return to the Piedmont of NC for medical reasons. I miss Bo and those hills!

      It’s so nice to imagine you doing creative things in your yard.
      I would love to see some photos of what you are creating!

      I have a walking stick too. A forest ranger carved it for me once. He was so nice. I was camping with my two dogs and he thought it amazing that a woman would do that, but I assured him that I knew he would do his job and protect me. He never made one pass at me, brought me firewood and the last day, gave me that stick.

      I hope you enjoy your summer being creative. My best efforts this year are the few herbs and beautiful lettuce I’m tending to in containers on my porch.

      Thanks so much for reading. This post was first very long. It should have been a three part post, but I was afraid to label it part 1, cuz then I’d be committed to part 2 and 3! Plus, the rest of it was so sad, I just couldn’t put it out there.

      Peace and many blessings,
      Michelle.

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