Fred the Studio Juniper

the studio Juniper

No, I’m not into bonsai trees, and I’m not Japanese.  If you think about it, “Klauss” has more than a touch of German in it.  Bet you never heard stories about some guy named Hans from Bavaria gushing over a 3″ pine tree and pruning it with tweezers in hopes of one day achieving a perfect miniatureization of the grand soaring behemoths that grow so proudly just outside his door.  Point is, I love the outdoors and the trees which each play their part in creating the forests;  never would I have the desire to shrink that awesomeness down and attempt to bring it into a little Mike-made environment.

Well, at least not until I met Fred.

Our first meeting was less than proper and did nothing to encourage his trust in me.  Actually, I should say that I nearly destroyed him while yanking weeds out of the decorative stones between the sidewalk and building where I work.  It wasn’t until later that I rescued him from my bucket-o-weeds after noticing that he obviously didn’t fit in with the pile of lower-life flora.  Kind of a cute thing, I thought;  and despite looking thin and scraggly, he still had enough of his delicate root system to go on living – if I would just give him the chance.

Since I’m a sucker for pleas of help from just about anyone or anything, this young juniper soon found a new home, lovingly crafted in a few seconds from a styrofoam cup and a handful of dirt.  Of course you can’t just leave a coffee cup with a sprig sticking out of it sitting on the sidewalk and expect it to survive.  So after finishing my outside work and washing off the crud and sweat, I picked up my new friend and headed upstairs to the recording studio where the balance of my day would be spent editing.

As soon as I set the cup down on the desk, it came to me:  “Fred.”  “Fred the studio juniper!”

It wasn’t like he spoke to me through his little pointy green needles, and it definitely wasn’t the voice of God.  But somehow I knew that little guy was Fred, and that he would be there with me during those long hours of screaming guitars, racing drums, and off-pitch vocals that I am responsible to coax, and yes, sometimes “fake” back into a passible semblence of musical gloriousness.  But does Fred even like music?  Does he have two ears or does he listen in mono?  Would subharmonic frequencies scare him?  Only one way to find out I suppose, so I shared my bottle of water with him and then left him to settle-in while I began working my way through the latest tracks that needed to become a smooth rendition of the past Sunday’s praise and worship.

As it turns out, Fred has acclimated well to the studio environment and has even been observed dancing in his cup when things get pumping.  He’s made some new friends, including Pastor Roger, who was formally introduced just a few days ago, and even Sheriff Taylor who was in the studio cutting some PSA’s recently.  Fred has been asking repeatedly about getting to meet the guys from Big Daddy Weave when they do a concert here in October, and I keep reassuring him that I’ll introduce him if the guys end up in the studio.  Me thinks he might be getting a little big for his cup – ?!?

Some of you are so hung up on the idea of a tiny tree named Fred (and with good reason) that you’re missing the point of this post.  Let me explain the name thing so we can get on to the only valid point in this long ramble. My kids will tell you that for some unknown reason, even to me, any little creature we find that needs a name will inevitably be called “Fred.”  In those ever-increasing occurrences when I can’t remember someone’s name, they become “Fred.”  Why, I don’t know. That’s just what comes to me.  It’s simple enough to fit any thing or person in need of a name. (Now if your name really is Fred, and if my glaringly honest explanation of my “Fred-ism” offends you, please share your indignation by commenting below.  I promise to respond maturely and without calling you Fred – since the use of that name seems to upset you.)

So why have I befriended a plant and elevated it to such noble status?  I haven’t really, and yes, reality still rings true in the crazy space between my ears.  Truth is, this almost-weed has become a visible daily reminder to me, a lesson that I think may be worth sharing with others. Quite simply, the lesson is that too often we overlook the small joys in life, placed there by a heavenly father who not only understands what we’re going through, but who knows what we need to make it through.  All the wonders of this world, no matter how great or small, remind me that if God has his hand on them, then how much more does He have His hand on me!  The beauty of a tender young juniper pushing it’s way up through a bed of rocks to reach for the sun above speaks reassurance to my spirit when I feel like the weight of the world is pushing me down.

Take time to notice the small things around you that most folks rush hurriedly by.  Some of the most insignificant objects, animals, and even people who we pass every day are bursting with amazing design and unique purpose – We just need to take the time to notice and appreciate the inspiration that’s all around us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Fred is asking for a drink … and a little more bass.

-Mike

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Categories: daily chatter, mixin it up- church audio | 1 Comment

Don’t cook like a caveman!

For those of you who enjoy the quiet serenity of the woods and some hearty trail food after a day’s worth of pinecones and moss beneath your hiking shoes, this post’s for you!

But if you’re one of those “I’d rather nuke my pre-packaged processed junk food in the comfort of my air-conditioned palace while I’m playin X-Box” kind of people, then this post won’t interest you.  Or probably any of your friends.  Yeah, the ones you’ve never met, but talk smack to all night long on your little headset while pretending to destroy their imaginary world and kill off their little make-believe characters.  But maybe I shouldn’t be so tough on those of you who live your lives vicariously through pixelated war-lords;  hey, at  least your thumbs are getting some exercise, right?!?

Back to the topic at hand – food prep while out in the woods.  As I’ve discovered for myself,  cooking on the ground can be a pain.  God provides lots of rocks for whatever we choose to use them for, but I’ve yet to find one that’s as flat as my kitchen countertop.  Thus, your stove and pots will tip and teeter until finally dumping themselves in the dirt.  (If I had included the out-takes from this video, my point would be well proven.)  The other option is just to set all your stuff on the ground, resulting in dirt and leaves sticking to anything that’s moist, and ensuring an almost instant path for the ants to ravenge more than their fair share of your dinner.

These used to be the only two options.  Until now.

Introducing the “Tree Shelf.”

I’ve seen a few versions of this idea posted in various forums and on YouTube, but I wasn’t satisfied with the design or functionality of them.  So I set out to see if I could come up with something better.  The ideal tree shelf should be lightweight, compact to carry, quick & easy to set up, and sturdy once it’s in place.  Here’s the result of a little time in the shop and some scrap metal . . .

There obviously needs to be further field testing to ensure the design will work reliably time after time.  Such extensive field testing can consume hours and hours of time.  Oh, the predicament I’ve put myself in . . . guess I’d better get busy!

-Mike

Categories: daily chatter, hammock camping | 2 Comments

The sun’ll come out . . . sometime?

After a busy week at work getting ready for the Katinas concert (which I must say went off without a hitch), I was looking forward to half a day off on Sunday afternoon.  I envisioned myself using part of that half a day off to get outside, preferably in the woods – maybe hiking or geocaching, or maybe trying to find and explore some abandoned structures, cloaked from view by trees, yet clearly visible through the amazing eye of Google Earth.  For me, nature offers an escape from the rat-race of life, and I always look forward to these moments, however brief, when I can get away and breathe in the relaxing smells and sounds and sights of the world as it ought to be – no schedules, no worries.  Ahhhhhh…

So why then does my one half a day off have to be cold and rainy?  After all, this is the first weekend in May!  How do you spend a cold rainy Sunday afternoon?  Well, not doing what I had planned, that’s how.

But all was not lost.  My wife must have sensed my dispair,  (or she got tired of my whining and pacing) and suggested that we could go for a drive in the bus.  It may not seem like a big deal to most folks, but this simple activity of meandering around some back country roads in our old`73 VW is indeed on our top-ten list of things my wife and I both enjoy.  (Ok, so we don’t really have ten things on our list yet, but we’re working on it.  Even polar-opposites can find some common inerests.)

I reminded her that it might be a cold ride, since I had to disconnect one of the bus’s heat exchanger control valves a few weeks ago when it gave up the ghost after forty years of road grime, abusive mechanics, and hippie smoke.  For those of you who don’t know a heat exchanger from a blinker fluid reservoir, let me simply say that on an old Volkswagen with an air-cooled engine, it’s the thing that sends warm air into the vehicle so condensation won’t freeze on the hippie’s bongs.  For those of you who don’t know a bong from a ….. Oh, nevermind!

Despite my wife’s insistance that I’m a packrat, there are times when that tendency is beneficial.  Since these control valves are no longer in production, a working replacement can be hard to come by.  Except that I remembered I had a pair of spares in my shed – yes, that place where packrats chuck their junk until the day it is called upon – that glorious moment when it becomes suddenly valuable again.  Today was that day.  Twenty minutes under the bus, and we had heat again.  Well, as much heat as you’ll get from one of these German wonders.  But it was all we needed to spend some simple time together, enjoying what was left of our half a day off.

Categories: daily chatter, VW bus adventures | 4 Comments

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