Naomi Neal, Kathryn Stresak, Dorian Gomberg, Ed Vlcek, and Brad Krautwurst are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Internship/Mentorship (SIM) Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.
I have never read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In fact, I had to check with Google to make sure that I even had that title right (I didn't). Even so, growing up in the American cultural landscape, my immediate association with fence-painting is the title character's tricky evasion of the job.
Having spent the most productive part of last week working with Gary and his team on the repair and re-painting of a fence--coincidentally, the fence of the house I stay in here--I think I can understand some of the reasons why Sawyer might want to avoid such a task. Painting a fence is not exactly "hard" work in the way that building a concrete wall is hard, but it does require patience, and a lot of time. Patience, unfortunately, is not one of my strong suits. But, like a muscle or a pair of stiff new jeans, my patience becomes stronger and more comfortable with practice.
So, even if I felt myself a little tested at times--really, how was I supposed to get primer into such deep, narrow spaces between the boards?--I did grow in terms of patience through the experience, and acquired some new skills to boot. For example: using a brush to paint corners and edges before returning with a roller to cover the flat part of the surface, is called "cutting in." News to me! Of course, mastering the physical, mechanical doing of it is far more important than learning terminology, interesting though it may be to a language-hound like myself. And for me, the doing is far from perfected, but I'm happy to settle for making progress.
Another big part of last week was my search for clay. As of this moment, I've started construction of my cob oven (for details, you'll just have to wait for next week's post!) but last week it seemed like less and less of a sure thing with every passing day. One of the main ingredients in cob, the adobe-like mixture which I'll use to form the body of the oven, is river clay. All the online instructional guides to which I'm referring suggest that this is a particularly abundant material, and waste zero time explaining to readers just where such clay might be found. So I asked around. And, as is unfortunately somewhat characteristic of problem-solving at Tryon, everyone with whom I spoke had a totally reasonable, helpful answer--and all of them conflicted with one another. Is there clay in the typically-sandy local soil? Maybe. At one river, a few miles north. No, just across the street. No, not at all. Everywhere you look.
So I decided to buy clay from a landscape supply company, though that was no walk in the park, either--it's not one of the more routinely-stocked items around here. But I've found some, and the oven project is underway, so all the frantic searching finally came to fruition.
In conclusion, please enjoy this photo of a frog that hopped out of my watering can last Wednesday. It had bright yellow hind legs (might have been a Hyla versicolor) but was seemingly somewhat shy about them, since it wouldn't let me get them in the picture: