Monday, August 17, 2009

Conditional indestructibility

The quotation marks sparked my imagination, but surely if something is "indestructible" than nothing I would think to do with that thing would end in it's destruction.

"Do you guys sell axes?" That was my question to the clerk at the Home Depot. It occurred to me that anyone who lives in a tipi needs an axe, a perfect tool for cutting up all of that wood I loaded up from the farm of the nice lady I met through Freecycle.

"yeah, go over to garden" she points the way, "take the second right."

I should have been tipped off right away, any store that requires it's patrons to wear shoes, isn't the kind of store I need to be shopping in, but I followed her direction, shoes and all, to the garden section where I was faced with a few different options. A bit overwhelming as I had never chosen and axe before. This one looks, not sharp enough. Too short. What about this one? OH and it has an "indestructible" handle! Perfect. So I slung it over my shoulder Paul Bunyan style and made my way back to the tipi.

I've made quite the turn around in my fire starting abilities in the past few days. I went from half an aerosol can of air freshener, to one small strip of paper. It's all about the patients of blowing on the coals. As long as you have that one red coal, you've got a fire, just keep blowing!

I looked up a simple bread recipe today at work and I thought I'd give it a shot. I've had great success on my first three cooking sessions in the tipi, so i was feeling ambitious. The fire was still burning from the potatoes I cooked for dinner. I mixed the ingredients with special attention to precise amounts: A lot of flour, a fair amount of oil, enough water to make it nice and homogenized and a little butter.

I oiled the pan, placed the dough in the pan, then put the pan over the fire. I've been planning on obtaining some sort of grill to go over the open fire to create a more stable platform for my pots and pan, as opposed to placing them directly on the fire, but I haven't gotten around to getting a grill yet, no big deal. When I placed the pan I notice it is slanted. The logs in the fire are not even. I leave it for a little while then realize one side is cooking much faster than the other, so I attempt to rotate it. The logs are burning through, and one looks like it might soon break which would cause my bread dough to fall out of the pan into the fire.

I look around trying to find something that may make a suitable grill. I think to my self: I have some bricks, all I need are a couple long pole type objects that can be placed over the fire, using the bricks on each side of the poles to hold them above the fire, then place the pan on top of the two poles. I think the criteria for the poles over in my head, it needs to be something strong, something able to with stand intense heat, it needs to be......indestructible. The axe handle! of course! So I grab my axe and the ice axe that is right next to it which I was using to strip wood chips off of my logs to use as tinder and kindling for my fire. I will place the handles of the two axes across the fire, resting on the bricks, and put the pan on the handles. I'm not sure how the ice axe handle will hold up, but the other axe? well it is "indestructible" no problem.

I set up my make shift grill and put the bread back over the fire. Things are looking up. The fire isn't quite high enough, but I blow on the coals and the fire gets hotter and higher. I take a knife to the pan in an attempt to even out some of the dough that doesn't appear to be cooking. after a few minutes of tinkering I look underneath the pot to my make shift grill and notice the "indestructible" handle to my axes is melting. The yellow handle is turning into velveta cheese right before my eyes. Apparently heat is not contained within the quotation marks of "indestructible." The bread is almost done so I figure I'll just see what happens to the handle. I think of it has a field test.

As the handle drips into the fire I find that it is not only destructible, but it is down right flammable. Flames begin to shoot up over the pan. reaching about 3 feet into the air, not good considering my fire ring is only a few feet away from EVERYTHING in my 14 foot tipi. I grab a couple towels, take the pan off the fire, try to pick the axe up, only to find that the actual handle is on fire, and standing it up right only makes the flames shoot higher. Careful not to knock any of the wood or coals out of the fire ring, I keep hold of the burning axe handle with my right hand, reach for my water bottle on the floor behind me with my left hand and extinguish the flaming handle. catastrophe averted.

Oh, you're wondering how the bread turned out? Well parts were dough and soupy while others were charred and black, averaged together it was a nice golden brown...perfect! That's breakfast tomorrow.

So I learned something today that I didn't know yesterday, and I didn't die in the process, that's the definition of success, no?


  1. Was there any fine print defining indestructible? Maybe you should contact an attorney? Also, considering this incident maybe you should look into getting renter's insurance for your tee pee? Can you get that for a tee pee?

  2. Hey Josh,

    Just letting you know that I'm an admirer of your pursuit to live life unconventionally.

    Looking forward to your winter blog postings.

  3. Wow Josh, I'm speachless your entire post is about you making bread that neraly burned down your current residence. I'm not sure what is more interesting that fact that you live in a tipi or THE FACT THAT YOU LIVE IN A TIPI. I can't deny the fact that residing in a tipi is a brazen transition and I conmend you. Jut hang in there because I'll be damn to live in a tipi for six months. Be Safe It's dangerous out there!

  4.'re awesome, brother. John Haley posted the link to your blog on my facebook wall and I will most definitely be checking in on you.

    As Micah said, you're entire blog was about making bread over an uncooperative fire...but it was fascinating. You really are a great writer.

    Enjoy the simple life, man, there's nothing wrong with it.

  5. my dear friend josh,

    though i am most certainly not a blog follower, or even an advocate for blog-writing, i will bite my tongue for you. this is great! i'm glad you're writing and not writing constantly, as so many many bloggers have a tendency to do.

    you rock, your adventures rock, and being your friend rocks. i'm officially a follower, way to go you.
    much joy,

  6. Hey, Steph Knisley has some friends who used to live in a tee pee in here in Montana. She said she'd try to get them to talk to you and pass some tips along.

  7. John,

    Renters insurance? More like home owners insurance! I'm looking into the feasibility of tapping into some of that $8,000 first time home owners tax credit Obama is offering.


    Thanks for the support. Winter should be an interesting time...


    yeah, I planned to maybe right about something else, but the bread was as far as I got.


    I think YOU are awesome my friend. I look forward to the surprise package.


    I'm glad you're still my friend even though I'm a blogger. Can we do our secret handshake when we hangout this weekend?

  8. I love this post, my favorite yet...and I can't wait to keep reading (though it'll be from Richmond, Va. and not Montana).

  9. Alysa,

    Thanks. You will be sorely missed around these parts!