January 20, 2004
I bought a cord of wood on Sunday from Ed H. who delivered it late in the afternoon. Ed is an oldtime Creeker (slang for a Cave Creek resident) and has been selling wood out here ever since we’ve been here (1986). Today he has a cute, young female assistant, and as the two of them unloaded and stacked juniper and cedar logs against our adobe fence, I talked to Ed about the firewood business.
Evidently, today it’s illegal to build a wood burning fireplace in a new house (although you can still build an outdoor fireplace, which seems goofy). Several of Ed’s friends have tried to cheat on this new law. They built a real fireplace with a propane hookup (which is legal), then after inspection, they ripped out the propane and built real fires. Ed said one of his friends got caught doing this. I didn’t ask what happened to him, but I imagined him in that new prison out by Buckeye holding several guards hostage and yelling at a negotiator, “Just bring me a pair of wood tongs Copper and no one gets hurt!”
In the early eighties I could buy a cord of wood for about $100. Today it’s $270, but Ed is still driving his olive green army truck with the hydrolic lift. He appears to be wearing the same t-shirt and maybe got his hair cut twice in that time. So, I asked him where all the money is going? Ed said he’s been buying stuff on e-Bay, and I thought to myself, “Yep, that’ll do it.”
I gave Ed the new issue of True West, he took off his gloves, we shook hands and he said, “See you in two years.” That’s about how long it takes to go through a cord of wood in Arizona. As I’ve often commented, by the time I go out to split the wood and bring it in, I’m too warm to have a fire. Ha.
But it was cool enough on Monday, so I built a fire in my pot-bellied stove and started working up some Maniac images for the May cover. I’m rusty and I hate it when I ruin the first two or three scratchboards (@ $29 a sheet!), but I must keep going. I always promise myself I’ll never get rusty again, but at age 57 that kind of pronouncement is a joke and I know it.
“The next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is.”
—Mary Pettibone Poole
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