Category: Words

My Stars

January 12th, 2013 — 8:19pm

If I don’t write down that the best part of my today was a snowmobiler saying, “Well, my stars,” with no apparent sarcasm, cynicism, or irony, I’ll forget and it’ll be lost.

“My stars.”

A phrase from my childhood in the thumb of Michigan.  People said that there.  I said that there.  I’m gonna start saying it again.  I am.

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far·ri·er (fr-r) n. One who shoes horses.

January 12th, 2013 — 3:38pm

A scene in the novel I’m working on got me interested in welding.

How is a portable welder powered?  Off a generator?  A propane tank?  A really long extension cord?

If you wanted to make an arc weld, would you hold the metal you’re welding with tongs?  (I pictured a pair of tongs my dad used when he was heating horseshoes to shape on the anvil.)

Would an iron ring rust through if hanging out in the elements for sixty years?  (I actually didn’t think of this question.  I was describing the scene in which a rusted ring had caused a sign to break, and Jack Johnson said, with a infinitesimal smile, “The ring wouldn’t rust through.”)

My eyebrows probably shot up.  Oh.  Oh, oh, oh.  Good point.

Then Mary Alice Johnson laughed and said, “The sign would rot before the iron rusted.”

Wow.  Yep.   Very, very likely.   So, back to the writing board.  (Gary thinks it’d depend on the thickness and grade of the iron, and whether the sign was painted or raw.  He’s got good points, but too late, the rusted ring is already gone.)

All this led to Jack bringing in an iron ring for me to see.

A forge welded ring from Jack Johnson’s dad’s logging camp days.  It might’ve been used as an evener on draft horse harnesses, or on a jammer.  Jack also said something about pups that had nothing to do with young dogs; it had to do with winching logs up onto the top of a load.  This is probably hot rolled mild steel, but could really be anything.  They used whatever they had on hand at camp.  (Jack said.)

Jack also shared this YouTube video with  me of blacksmiths making chain.  I found it fascinating and delightful, partly because I love to make things and see things being made.  Partly because I like art and this looks like art–an art–to me.  I like to see people doing something well; this is that, too.

Also, my dad was a blacksmith, or more accurately a farrier, someone who shoes horses.  I used to turn the crank on the forge for him, which I loved to do.  I loved the smell of the coal burning and the sound of the hammer on the anvil:  tung, tung, tung.  I thought I’d end up a farrier too.   Sometimes wish I would’ve but there aren’t enough years in a life to do every fascinating thing.

Because I like words so much, I was pleased to confirm that farrier comes from the Latin word ferrum, for iron.

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