Knives and Fire

Remember my tale of three bamboo?  At the end I mentioned going to Andy and Bax to get a machete in case my bamboo REALLY got outta control.  As in, became sentient and started chasing me and my trusty pooch around the yard.

Well that got me thinkin, see.  About a couple things.

One, is I actually did go to Andy and Bax once and buy a machete.  No clue what happened to it.  I think maybe there were blackberries, and I’m not the kind of girl who can just break out the little pruning shears.  No, I have to go all big time and get a machete, and pretend I’m in the amazon.  I think there may have been some camping usage too.   And of course that one time when that burglar broke in…

Ok, I’m kidding about the camping.

No no, ok I was kidding about the burglar.  But if there had been a burglar, he or she would have been SORRY.  Or at least immensely entertained.

So yes, I have a thing for knives.  And fire.  I like having reasons to use them.  Purely lawful, sane reasons, of course!  Like whacking through underbrush.  Chopping and burning large pieces of wood into smaller ones for various warmth/building/artistic reasons.  (I actually got paid to do that last one once!  Oh, the awesome.  I love movie set work.)  Keeping warm.  Carving a wooden life size kodiak bear.

Ok ok, I was kidding about the bear.  I think.

Really, perhaps now you understand the sheer beauty that is my very own fire pit.  I get to chop up wood.  I get to burn it.  And no one gets hurt.  Mostly.

Which leads me to the story I’d like to regale you with today:

“Knife Safety Class with Morgan, Senior Girl Scout Camp Counselor, Camp Arrowhead, 199…(um)…1995.  Stevenson(ish), Washington.”

I taught a knife safety class to my unit one day, late in the afternoon, before it was time to march back to base camp for dinner.  My unit was camped further than nearly all the other units, since it was one of the oldest.  Our little camp was about a mile hike away from Home Base.  The class went as follows.

First, I demonstrated knife safety with a swiss army knife.  Always hand it to people handle first.  Always pay attention.  Face the blade away from you when collapsing it.  All good, everyone’s paying attention.  A little bit on sharpening blades.

Next, we take a look at the humble camping axe.  Good for chopping small branches and such for firewood.  Use both hands when possible.  Know where you’re aiming for, make sure your hands and feet are out of the way.  Not something the campers would be asked to do, except in emergencies.  Got it?  Good.  Moving on…

Now, being one of the older units, as well as one of the furthest out, we had a wood chopping axe.  Big, long handle, kinda old.  So me and my obsession with large knives is patently unable to resist.  Yes, I’m going to demonstrate to 11-13 year old girls the proper way to chop wood.  Because they need to know this.

I know, I think I mentioned a couple posts ago that I am occasionally a dumbass.  Save it.

So, place the wood on the chopping log.  Up, over the head goes the axe.  Down comes the axe…

On my foot.



OM-MF-G FUCKING OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am proud to say that I did not swear audibly in front of my young, impressionable charges.  The preceding statements were all inside my head.  What can I say, I handle crisis, and pain, pretty well.  But oh lord did that ever hurt.

It was at this point that I noticed my entire unit, as well as my junior counselor, staring at me with wide eyes, and a hush had fallen over the campsite.

So I extract myself from the fetal position I was working towards, and with a big smile say “It’s all good!  I’m ok.  Good boots, you know.”

Luckily, the boots did hold, and I sustained nothing more than a gruesome-looking bruise on the top of my foot.

The moral of this story?

Don’t be a dumbass.  And take your own damn advice.  Knives are DANGEROUS!

Although, I’m still thinking of going to get that machete.  Burglars, you know.

A Tale of Three Bamboo

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

For some reason, even though that first line from A Tale of Two Cities resonated in my young brain so loudly, I just couldn’t get into that book.  Never did.  I’m sure I read that first page at least a dozen times.  Maybe I should try again.  But this, dear interwebs, is A Tale of Three Bamboo.  Or is it Bamboos?  Whatever.  Our story opens…

The I mean Bamboo

The I mean Bamboo

Despite numerous warnings that I was insane to even contemplate the idea, I planted bamboo in my backyard.  And not even the relatively safe kind, i.e. ‘clumping’ bamboo.  No, I planted the ravenous, crawl into your house in the middle of the night and kill your pets kind of bamboo.  The Day of the Triffids bamboo: timber bamboo.

(Side note: OMG!  The BBC is going to film a new version of Day of the Triffids! W00t, I say.  Wewt even.)

But on the other hand, this is the same kind of bamboo they make floors out of.  And utensils.  Gorgeous ones!  Or at least that was the counter argument in my head when I was rationalizing this step in my Eternal Project.  Seriously, everyone I talked to thought I was insane:

“And then, I’m gonna plant some bamboo along the fence here…”

“You’re going to plant bamboo?”

“Yeah.  The big kind.  Timber.  Black, and Tiger.  They’re so pretty!”

“You’re going to…plant.  Bamboo.  Willingly.  In your backyard.”

“Um, yeah.  Pretty much.”

“Do you KNOW what bamboo does??”

“Yes…I’ve taken precautionary steps.”

“Yes but…it’s crazy!  It gets into EVERYTHING!”

“Yes, I know.  Like I said, I’ve taken steps.  Two sides are going to be surrounded in concrete, for starters!”

“Well…I still think you’re crazy for even considering it.”

“Thanks.  Your concern is duly noted.”

That’s how most of my conversations went.

But I did it.  It’s done.  And so far, all my pets are still here.  Or, well, they didn’t die of bamboo related injuries, at least.

I can’t say the same for my poor bamboo though.

I did my research, you know.  Like I said, I surrounded the planting area on two sides with concrete.  The other two sides, a foot and a half deep bamboo barrier, especially made for the task.  I planted them in little mounds, so the runners would be easy to spot.  I fertilized only the top six inches of soil or so, so the runners would stay close to the surface and be easy to maintain.  I check all the runners twice a year, and trim the ones that are heading in the wrong directions.

I did not, however, protect them from my dog.

I started with 3 bamboo.  Two black and one tiger, just like I wanted.  (Interestingly, both are classified as  Phyllostachys nigra.) Jessie and I drove waaaay out to Hillsboro to the Bamboo Garden Nursery (Yes, Jessie and I did meet Oggie the Bamboo Dog).  We were driven around the woods in a golf cart by the nice and helpful bamboo guy, who helped us pick out two black bamboo and one tiger bamboo. We carefully drove them home, planted according to directions, watered and carefully watched over my new charges.  Well, watched them except while I was at work.

I guess Jessie was still in her destructive stage, because it wasn’t long before one of the black bamboo was ripped out of the ground.  And replanted.  And ripped out again.  And replanted again.  And ripped out AGAIN.  And replanted, but by this time, it was becoming clear that the poor thing had met its match.  Eventually I had to admit that the plant was dead, and had now become a doggy chew toy.

Now, I have a fence around my bamboo.  They’re probably safe at this point, but I’m not taking any chances.  I have since replaced the unfortunate black bamboo with some free golden timber bamboo that I found on craigslist.  One of my favorite things to do around this time is to look for all the new little bamboo shoots popping out of the ground, letting me know that my mission of creating a privacy screen between me and my neighbors is coming to fruition.

So far….nothing.


Grow faster, bamboo!  FASTER!

Apparently my endless reserves of patience do not extend to plants.  Or actually, weather.  Because you know once the weather warms up for a couple weeks, those bamboo are going to be all crazy in yo face growing fiends.  Unkillable.  Unstoppable.  With poisonous whip-like stingers.

Hmm…perhaps I should get a really big machete.  You know, just in case.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to go to Andy and Bax!

Stay tuned for the next chapter, wherein my bamboo start growing at a rate of 2.65 feet a minute for the entire summer, and I next complain that they’re growing too damn fast.  Yay, gardening!