How Not to Hit Your Child With a Sledgehammer

Railroad ties make a good retaining wall. Heavy and thick, they’re impregnated with creosote so they’re nearly rot-proof. Peg them together with 3/8″ rebar and they’ll be there 20 years later (according to this picture. Neighborhood has sure run down since I lived there.)

The process is to lay down the first layer of ties, drill holes where the pins will go through, lay down the next layer, drill, and repeat. Somehow, I kept performing the miracle of drilling the holes exactly where they needed to be. Stupid confidence sometimes turns into wild good luck.

I’d finished the fronts of the walls, tied into the sides next to the steps. I do not remember why (trauma, perhaps) but as I neared the end, I asked my teenage son Tristan to come help.

“Here, hold this,” I said, with a 3-foot chunk of rebar placed in the top of the hole in the railroad tie.

… more … “How Not to Hit Your Child With a Sledgehammer”

Life is a Forest, Not a Tree

It’s easy to get caught up in what has to get done today, this week, this month.

We spend less time on what we want for this year. Or before my children are grown.

Or in my life.

When you’re 82, you won’t remember or care about today’s missed deadline, spilled milk, harsh words.

You will care if you loved and were loved. You will care if big dreams came true.

Today’s tree matters, to be sure. But you’re planting an entire forest. When it’s grown, a few imperfect trees won’t even be visible and wouldn’t matter if they were.