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  • Today's mail included two pens.

    In my hand they carried some heft, some sense they were more than plastic or imitations of the materials projected. The weight is also the story.

    Only because of the happy accidents of an internet comment exchange, I found myself mailing a log of Arizona oak (cut from my own yard) to a lady in Windsor, Ontario returning to me in the form of these gorgeous pens.

    More than a year ago I had a medium sized oak cut down- it was one that was too close to my deck, blocking my view of the mountain. In the Arizona dry forest, trees that close to the house make for fire risk.

    In December, I had posted online a photo of this wood stacked up, planning next year to warm my house with it in my wood stove.

    Di weighed in with a comment. "I'm crying right now... as I look at some of the spalting in that gnarly wood, I'm seeing GREAT pen turning opportunities."

    What the heck is "spalting"? And why is my photo making someone cry?

    Over the last year or two Di and I had become flickr buddies, commenting frequently on each other's shared photos. She so gracious and frequent in remarks, we sometimes found we had taken similar photos in different places. Her handle perplexed me, was "windsordi" like "win-sor-dy". It did not strike me until months later that it was "Di from Windsor".

    This led me to boxing up one of those logs to mail to Canada. A log for Canada. Like they don't have trees up there.

    At the post office I expected questions when I wrote on the customs form that I was mailing a log to Canada.

    No one flinched.

    In case you ever face this situation, I can let you know it costs about $50 to send one split of dense oak from Arizona to Ontario.

    Today my wood returns this new format. Is it cliché to say there is some magic in the heft of these pens? It is an experience mine alone.

    And now my upcoming road trip has one absolute key destination point; I would route whatever path I took through Windsor Ontario, and bring Di a box of my Arizona oak.

    That would happen, indeed.

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    I am using Cowbird to share the story of a 15,000 mile road odyssey I took in 2011, which started with me quitting my job in March and setting out in June for a loop around the US and Canada. It's less of a day by day narrative and more of an attempt to tell a story of the story, with some amounts of imagined bits that emerge on looking at the media from the trip, including the more than 1400 images, videos, and audio files collected in my digital time capsule, the Storybox.
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