How to Live here. Firewood.

You will need about 3 cubic meters of firewood for a winter. Of course it depends on the wood. I generally have about 30% apple wood, which is the best you can get. If there is more alder or willow, you better add at least one cubic meter. 40 cm long is the absolute limit in length. 16″. 20 cm, 8″, is the limit in diameter. If you decide to buy firewood, then get birch or black alder, 4 cubic meters. Get it in the spring.

Cut the trees down in February and just let them lay until the ground firms up and you can drive the tractor and trailer to collect the firewood cut to length. This will make certain the tree has the smallest amount of sap in it, and that it will not collect more if the ground firms up late. The wood, if it will be burned the following fall/winter- must be either split or a portion of it skinned. I use the small carving axe for this, it works well. Keep it very very sharp. Just skin the full length of the piece- it only needs to be a full inch wide, or so. Otherwise it will not dry out for two years.

A five inch apple log, with the right settings on the stove, will last all night, easily.

Shocked into silence was becoming a regular theme. The first time was at the Hotel the night after leaving home at age 16- when the entire basis of the relationship to date-sex- was cancelled. Instead of responding with shocked silence I should have gone home, back to friends and family. Kids don’t know what to do. Some kids may, this one did not. The next was the third abortion. I should have expected that, I guess. I spoke to no one about it, ever. The next was her leaving me for Arnold Blattel, whom I supposed was a friend. I wasn’t learning about love. Again I should have abandoned her at this point and I feel certain I did not pursue her out of love, but out of a sense of ownership, perhaps. Like property had been stolen from me. But I did not talk about it to friends or family. I don’t know why. I foolishly faced these issues alone. I do not think I handled it well. Without her the farm was a horrible place and I left it not long after. I moved back with the folks. She moved in with hers. In my desire to be with her I would sleep with her even though she did not hide the fact she was sleeping with Arnold still. SO this is what marriage is like. One night I almost did the right thing, and said I was leaving, but I was weak and when she became afraid and promised to stop seeing Arnold I gave in. We got back together, rented a house on the SE side of Cedar Rapids, and got jobs downtown. She at a swanky place that dresses the waitresses sexy and I got a job as a Limo driver for the Five Season’s hotel.

Skipping over some territory, I want to dispense with the third abortion, about three years after the second. We married. We were living on my grandfather’s farm in central Iowa. I was working as a carpenter, she as a waitress in a Pizza Hut. I had acquired some farm animals, and a dog, I was rebuilding a 1959 VW beetle under the tremendous Burr Oak tree in the yard. I guess I was pretty well happy. She got pregnant again, and I thought that since now we were married an all it looks like we might be having a child. The next day I brought home flowers. That was when she told me she wasn’t having a baby. It was now legal to get an abortion in Iowa so she did not need to fly to New York. I guess I was a little stunned. It made no sense. So I did not think about it. Regardless of the more practical reasons that one could assign, I guess, to the earlier abortions, namely my being a minor I think this may have had another reason. I think, though I do not know, that she may have been unsure of the parentage. A clue that might leave one to believe this was not long after she informed me that she had been having sex with a person I considered a friend, that she intended on continuing this, and that she was leaving me. The farm suddenly became a very lonely place.

First Jobs.

On the third day after running away from home we ended up with the VW Microbus breaking down in Billings Montana.  We got the car to a shop and found a place to rent.  We both got jobs at the JB’s Big Boy restaurant in Billings.  She as a waitress me as a dishwasher.  The manager gave me a ten cent an hour raise my first night because I guess I worked hard, or well, or who knows. So I was making $1.75 per hour.  This was 1973. Waitresses wages were far lower, perhaps around 75 cents, but they more than made up for this  with tips.  Back then 25 cents was a good tip, and one dollar was WOW.  We had plenty of money.  The car repair was expensive but completed quickly. Everything went on quite well in most respects for a couple of months.  There was a regular customer who sat at the counter and drank coffee every day around 10AM. The waitresses liked him because he would always leave a 25 cent tip for a 25 cent cup of coffee.  He offered me 2.50 per hour to come and work for him as a carpenter.  I was anxious to do this and left the restaurant the next day, which I should not have done.  I should have given them two weeks notice, but I was only sixteen and did not know any better. It was easy to lie about my age back in those days.  I just lied. It was never a problem. The only drawback for me during this time was that I was still struggling with the reason she cut off the frequent sex that had defined our relationship up to when we left home. I blamed myself.  I did everything I could think of to make her happy, thinking I had done something to make her feelings towards me change. It was only years later that I found out she had never had any serious feelings for me anyway.  It would be five or six years but one afternoon she informed me that her goal, back when I was fourteen, was to lose her virginity, and had it not been me she would have used anyone handy. That has to be another post.

Sometimes wonder.

I sometimes wonder what it might have been like to continue growing up with my classmates, many of whom I had been in school with since Kindergarten.  I wonder about continuing in sports.  I think about what it might have been like to have dates, possibly to have fallen in love. To have loved and lost.  To have carried on and found the true one… perhaps I would have messed it up, anyway. But perhaps not. I never had the chance. Instead I was made a father repeatedly and participated unwittingly in abortions… I doubt my kids know they have three siblings which never saw the light of day.  A 14 year old cannot grasp abortions. Nor can a 15 year old. That is how I spent those years. Beer, sex, abortions. There was never any love- just dependence.  Adults should not have sex with children.


It was not a love relationship.  What does a 14 year old know about that.  I depended on her for beer and sex, two things many 14 year olds would very much like to have but it simply is not available. It was to me. That was the relationship in my mind.  I became dependent on her.  Many young kids want to run away from home, but they do not have the means.  I did.  Doing this I placed myself at a much greater level of dependence. Once you are away from home you rely on the adult.  Here was the point at which I should have turned around and gone home… the night we left- the sex was turned off like a light switch. I remember to this day laying there- right next to her and feeling a million miles away. I could not understand what had happened. I was too young I guess.  I left my home and friends, and lost the relationship I was dependent on in the same moment.

The fun part….

She would take me out to drive-in movies.  We would get a 12-pack of beer on the way.  Usually Schlitz. Drink, make-out, have sex. This was the summer of my 14th year.  We went to see “Little Big Man” 6 times. I never saw the movie till about 30 years later, when out of curiosity I watched it online.  One time we were so out of it that we suddenly realized several drive-in employees were standing outside the car with flashlights, both of us buck naked.  They wanted us to leave so they could go home. Most of these employees went to the same school I was going to and she had been going to. Like I said… this was the summer of my 14th year.

Nobody wants to know.

I have tried to discuss this at various times with various family members, but no one wants to hear it.  I have mentioned the “everything is all right” conversational guidelines imposed by my family.  It does not seem to be optional- My attempts to break this rule were met universally with staunch resistance.  So I figured… if I cannot tell anyone- I will tell everyone.  I have to do something with the story- it appears I have two choices: keep it inside and let it eat my guts out, or let it out so perhaps it will become harmless. To me in any event.  I fear it is going to be disjointed and fragmental.  I tried writing it down in book form but could not do it without being blocked by my horrible inadequacy as a writer.  As a different aspect or memory surfaces I try to log in and record it.  The story spans many years.

Yes it was fun.

But I did have fun.  A 14 year old supplied with all the booze and sex he could ask for and then some more he had no idea to imagine?  Yes I had fun.  But it was more an obsession. Everything else was tossed aside. Friends of my own age. Any interaction with my family other than hostility. High School. Sports. Everything became when will I get to see her again, have more beer, have more sex.  I think this is one of the reasons it was made a crime.  Perhaps THE reason.  It is not that an adult will force the child to have sex, it is because the child doesn’t know how to say no to an adult, doesn’t know how to see the consequences.