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I only iron my shirts on days I’m meeting with somebody.  It makes me look better than my ordinary shambling ‘n’ shuffling appearance, and gives me time to focus on my clothes.  I usually wake up when the cats demand feeding, and dress myself practically in the dark.  But dealing with a hot iron demands that I pay attention in a well lit room to what I am doing, lest I burn the shirt, my hand, or the cat.

To my dismay and discovery, I find stains, rips and flaws while ironing that I do not notice while pulling clothes off the hanger n the predawn dark.  This is useful, because it tells me what needs patching or dry-cleaning better than a comprehensive survey of all my clothes.  I don’ t have time for that.

Walking on a trial through the woods, next to a stream, tells me things about the condition and threats to that stream that I would never get passing over a bridge at 30 MPH.  The undercut tree roots, the milky water, the tiny fish.  

Repairing my bike, I only see problems when I listen to the bearings and pluck the spokes.  At a glance, it looks like a bike.  Up close, I see how to make it a better bike.  Sometimes the problems I find are puzzling, like adjusting the disc brakes.  Again, on observation and reflection, the solution becomes apparent.

Lately, I have been wrestling with a chapter on history.  The further I look, the more I find.  The trick in writing it is to keep the revelation and surprise without becoming bogged down in the details.  The rips are the important things, not the fabric.

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