The Long Way Home 10.27.23

One of my favorite lines written by the late Jimmy Buffett is, “Indecision may or may not be my problem.” 

But another problem, similar to indecision but different, is procrastination. That is my problem.

My friend Carl posted a funny picture on Facebook this weekend of an empty kiosk in a bookstore with a sign that says, “Please be patient. Our display on procrastination will be up soon.”

I’ve written about my dad before. He wouldn’t stand if he could sit and never sit if he could lie down.

As for getting things done around the house, he was a top-notch procrastinator. The only thing that ever got him moving with urgency was when the roots of the weeping willow, his favorite tree in the front yard, entered the sewer line to cause a backup that brought foul-smelling stuff flooding into our basement. 

Procrastination in action, or inaction, if you will. I learned well.

Despite his shortcomings, my dad passed on some practical knowledge. 

First, always know a good mechanic. The first car I bought for myself some fifty years ago was a used 1967 Ford Mustang. Purchased from my study hall teacher at Richfield High School, it was a genuine limited edition—brushed chrome center console between the seats and on the roof. But after spending several hours on my parents' gravel driveway replacing the starter motor on its awesome V8 engine, I truly appreciated knowing a good mechanic. The skills needed to maintain a vehicle missed me entirely.

Second, always know an excellent handyperson or tradesman. Dad had his brother, my Uncle Kenny, to lean on for things like repairing plumbing or appliances. Kenny was one of the first hundred employees at Control Data, but his talents in building and repair were legendary. 

As a young teen, I tried to help said uncle do a roof repair on Grandpa’s farmhouse. I must not have been much help because he told me that day that I’d never be a carpenter.  His comments slightly injured my pride, but being Fats Fernlund’s son, I learned the value of lesson two.

Back to procrastinating. 

We heat our humble abode with wood. The heat from a well-fired wood stove is hard to beat, but the romance ends there. It’s a lot of work, and I’ve been temperamentally conditioned to avoid physical labor since childhood.

Last fall, we bought several cords of birch firewood logs. Most of them sat all winter. We had enough cut and split for the 2022/23 winter, so about five cords were left to process this Spring.

Of course, Spring means bugs, so I put off the hard work of cutting, splitting, and stacking until Black Fly season was over. 

But then, it was too warm, I sweat too much, and I was working at my summer gig inspecting boats and educating skippers about invasive species. I figured I’d get it done in the fall.

Soon, summer moved into September, and I thought I’d get the handful of cords processed before the snow came. But it was still pretty warm in September, and I was still looking at boats four days a week, so let’s wait until October.

If my dad were proud of my ability to procrastinate, he’d be damn proud of me working as fast as I can to get enough firewood ready for this winter. I’m getting close, and I just might make it, cursing procrastination all the way.

On the other hand, I know a couple of good purveyors of processed firewood. I wonder where that lesson came from.