Sunday, August 31, 2008

Morning After in America

I’m trying as hard as I can to ignore all this political hooha - we country folk have hogs to swill and hay to get in… alright, alright - but, I’ve got all the windows to caulk and the cat shit to get off the lawn… it’s the same idea. It’s a different world out here, and when I see all those swankers in their shiny suits and wide striped ties (when did wide ties come back? I’ve been out of the stores for too long…), I know that they don’t speak my language, nor I theirs.

But even I couldn't avoid some of the headlines recently and since we don’t have long now (it just seems like forever), I’ve got a few suggestions to help the campaigns. Firstly, Obama/Biden should be campaigning under the slogan, “Morning After in America” - riffing on the Bush comment that Wall St. got way drunk. Might as well give us the real story right up front -- we all have hell to pay. And that would leave the McCain group with “Hair of the Dog”. What we don’t know won’t hurt as it’s killing us.

Secondly, each winning campaign must vow not only to remove every last campaign sign, bulletin board and poster by one week after the election, but also to spend at least as much on social programs (aid to the poor, food kitchens, etc.) as they spent campaigning. And all the losing candidates are stuck rebuilding the bridges. It’s clear that they can afford it, and if that becomes the “loser’s task” each election, perhaps we’ll get fewer major millionaires in the race. Or maybe we just cycle them through: you pledge to give all your money to the general fund if you lose, and then you drop down to the level of the majority of the people you supposedly serve, and start again. If you’re a really good businesman, you might be able to afford to run twice in your life.

Okay, I can see there’s a fuzziness to my logic (it’s all the moss around here)… I’m happier at figuring out how long to boil the boysenberries to kill the mold than I am pondering the big questions like what slick theme song to follow X’s speech with, in order to ram home the message to the audience hindbrain, or whether to ban all the fat news correspondents from the campaign plane in order to save fuel. I don’t even want to know how much they are spending on the two conventions. It’s enough to know that I could live very comfortably on it for the rest of my life; heck, my whole town of 9,000 (no, it’s not Palin’s town, but just as rural) would be comfortable at least until the next election… why is it that recessions end up laying off all the steelworkers but hanging on to the marketing flacks? Because the Emperor’s New Clothes are made of the most expensive material there is - illusions ain’t cheap. But I’m sure that since both parties swear they’re the green party, they’re carefully packing up all those tall tales, sob stories and fun facts to recycle for 2012.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blogging to the Buzzsaw

My blogging has fallen to drought levels, and I apologize. I’ve had a contractor around the house for the several weeks, dealing with some repairs that I was smart enough to admit were beyond me. I’m very happy with the work so far, and I’m trying really hard to be patient with the building chaos right outside my office window. Amazing how my own peripatetic contruction process doesn’t bother me, but the random sounds of a circular saw 5 feet away throw my concentration right out the window (almost literally). Jokes are no bolder than a woodland creature and shy away at the least noise, unfortunately. I’ve started and stopped several blog pieces, and finally decided to post a note explaining the situation. Even though it is obvious that the builder wants to stretch this out into many repair jobs (and I admit the house needs them), the coming Oregon rainy season should put a decisive end to it sometime in September, so hopefully I’ll be able to mine my gold-encrusted depths for more riches soon. Meanwhile, I try to write at dawn or dusk, after he’s finished… with mixed results. More soon, I hope.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Weather or Not...

We’re having a bout of “newcomer’s weather” in our little town… that’s the unexpected, sometimes disastrous weather shifts that all the natives will solemnly tell me “ain’t the usual weather, no way”. On the one hand, it’s a relief to know that three days of 100 degree-plus baking followed by lightning, hail and rain that brings 57 degree days is not run of the mill. As one of my neighbors says, “Thankew, Jesus!” On the other hand, I am getting worn out creating an emergency greenhouse around the veggies -- this must be the sixth time this growing season! There is a part of me that is so sick of salad that I’m happy to see lettuce bolting, but it’s not only a waste but added work to turn it all under. These don’t just qualify as gourmet veggies -- I’m calling them “hand ripened”.

It’s not just the veggies, of course. I’m halfway through my summer fix-it projects (pump house roof is done, though I haven’t had the courage to look inside and see how it faired through yesterday’s rain), and the rain has dappled the wooden chairs left outside, the clothes on the line and the tools I carelessly lost in the waist-high weeds (which I won’t be able to weed-wack now until the rain stops). And the contractor I’ve hired to build me a new front porch has called in once for heat and now is telling me he’s not water-proof. (The good news on that is he is so much faster than I am, that even the two days he’s worked is more than the two weeks I’d put into the project).

Everyone swears this strange weather shouldn’t persist. So in the meantime, I’m investing in a lightening-rod hardhat, an insulated bathsuit and wellies, and going into high gear on the house painting job! More soon…

Friday, August 8, 2008

Running Wild

Today was errand day - with gas the same price as a good steak, I don’t go out until I have a pile of errands and then I just plow through them… by the end, I’m generally twitching, but that’s the price ya pay…

Errands usually means I have to drive to the next town over - the only things I can do in my little town is Post office, bank and library… and a trip of 15 miles means I’d better have a bunch to do there! So I gathered up books that hadn’t won the unpacking contest - if they’ve been in the garage for 8 months, I don’t need ’em - and added them to the truck, along with a Hefty bag full of packing peanuts (I saw a pawnshop advertising they had a need - great chance to get rid of them!) and then decided Today Was the Day: I’d get the scrap metal to the recycler. It was the water tank that put me over the top -- not only was it butt-ugly in a way that shrieked “Hick!!” but my neighbor had been ogling it, so it must be worth money. It also was a few pounds more than I’m used to lifting… and that truck bed seemed to have risen a couple inches. Even backing the truck as close as possible and trying to just lean it in and push, I was sweating and trembling when I got that sucker in - I punched the air: Yes! Then the metal cabinet that looked like it had been rejected by an auto repair shop, and the twist of steel pipe that the old guy had used as a front handrail, and an old coal scuttle (I think) and some scraps of pipe that I’d inherited-- and the old lawn mower. I had to rest up a bit after that…

Eventually, I was dressed for public and ready to go. I am at the age where I have to list my errands chronologically or I will forget one… and even so, I occasionally shoot past an item, grind more enamel from my teeth and have to go back… today wasn’t too bad -- though I ended up with errands that took me 2 towns over, and went through the gauntlet of fast food smells just at lunchtime. Another rough spot was when I dropped the donated books off at the Friends of the Library, and I found that paper covers were 25 cents, magazines a dime, and hardcovers 50 cents… and ended up with just about as many books as I’d dropped off. But better ones. That’s the important thing - right??

The scrap metal place was like landing on the moon. Not being a guy, I had never been to an auto scrapper, and I hesitated at the entrance. A girl who looked about high school age told me she’d weigh me in - just drive onto the scale. Like I ever, ever get anywhere near a scale?? Well, sacrifices must be made… She said my stuff was “shredder” stuff -- I tried to picture something like my paper shredder that could handle the water tank. Sitting on the scale-bridge, I could see beyond to the scrap heap -where crushed-car sculpture twisted around unidentified steel filigree two stories high, and a backhoe-type vehicle, waving a magnet the size of a manhole cover, was lifting tangles of metal bits -- like that desktop toy that was all the rage a few years ago. The girl was telling me I had to drive into that -- “All the way to the end; you’ll see some appliances” … my little truck could too easily be mistaken for scrap (so could I, for that matter)! Full of foreboding, I drove forward, skirted the monster magnet as fast as I could without taking out the front axle (this wasn’t a road; it was a slag heap only slightly flattened by the haulers). Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a spark, looked over - and it seemed like ancient gnomes hunched over alchemical fires! Still trying to steer, I risked another glance - guys with hoodies were bent over large metal hunks, either soldering on or cutting off bits. Never did find out…

I got back to the appliances (including -- I wanted to cry -- an antique 1920’s washer) and parked near the Tower of Toyota. To think that people stacked car pancakes as carelessly as I stack books! In the shadow of that unstable avalanche-in-waiting, I unloaded my scrap, trying hard not to twist my back. An ambulance would flatly refuse to pick me up here, I was sure. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about damaging anything else, so I could just let the junk fall out of the truck. I noted a very flattened egg beater was part of the “pavement”, as well as a car’s rear view mirror (the metal, anyway) and a hubcap, and some large bed springs -- all as flat as Swedish pancakes. I cringed for my tires, and eased my truck back out of the hellhole. Back on the scale, I learned I was 180 lbs lighter! I was floored -- I’d hoisted one hundred eighty pounds in and out of my truck?? No wonder my muscles were trembling like a 90-year-old’s! I felt very proud of myself in that moment. The thrill faded somewhat when I got my check for $13.45... I risked a multi-thousand-dollar injury for enough money to treat myself to a KFC banquet?? Okay, lesson learned. But at least the crap was gone from the yard.

I wasn’t finished with the rural aerobic session tho -- at Home Despot, I had to get fence-fixin’s… four concrete deck-blocks that had a carved space so that a 4x4 would sit upright in it… dang expensive, but it had a much better chance of becoming a fence that my planning to dig a hole and pour my own concrete! I sucked it up and got the 4x4’s and 2x4’s in order to get my side fence finished (I hope)…and one packet of roofing shingles to get the pump house roof redone (man, I‘d forgotten how heavy roofing shingles were!)…The truck sagged even more on the way home, so I’m guessing another 180 lbs. at least…? I certainly couldn’t blame it on the front seat full of books.

Anyway, it’s taken me most of the afternoon to unload the truck, and that’s a good day’s hauling… with luck, I’ll actually use all the stuff I bought before the rains come back…but even if I don’t, it’s still cheaper than a day at the gym.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I’m one step away from having bats in my belfrey… something twittery has taken up residence in my chimney. At first I thought it was bats, but the 2nd time I pulled out the dinner plate and looked, there were tiny feathers, and one pea-sized egg sitting among the cinders. The twittering is pretty constant these days, and I was beginning to fear a colony had taken up residence. Not sure what fires up the avian monologue - sometimes it seems to be my heavy steps on the wood floor, but other times I’m quietly typing up a blog post - maybe I have phantom editors? At other times it might be my cooking - tho I haven’t had poultry for dinner in weeks. It sounds like a particularly squeaky stationary bike is being ridden in my chimney! Or a demented hamster on a wheel…

Today I pulled off the dinner plate --okay, what else should I call it? That metal thing that looks like a fluted paper plate with some flower or landscape collaged on it, that covers the round hole that every old brick chimney seems to have? The thing with the twin wire “legs” that supposedly grip the sides of the hole but in reality spring off as soon as you pull it out, and at that point not even duct tape will keep the dang thing together?? Anyhoo, that’s the thing I removed and looked to see if perhaps the nest was blocking the chimney. I used a compact mirror (I always seem to get some sort of makeup with mirrors from a relative; I save them for looking under the house or up chimneys. The makeup just gets stale). There was some definitely irate twittering at that point, but no matter which way I angled it, I couldn’t see much… either they are tunneling in from another dimension (my chimney is channeling?), or the dark splodges of stuff I thought was creosote are actually disguised nests. I kind of feel like a monster scaring the phantom twitterer like that, but I just wanted to remind it whose house it is… these last days have had a distinct hint of Fall, and I want to be sure this squatter isn’t feeling too comfortable. I don’t mind it launching the fledglings and then heading South, provided they’re not stopping over through Thanksgiving. And now it seems like an even better idea to have a chimney sweep in before I start the first fire. Last thing I want is fireworks coming out the chimney.

I’m glad to be back on the blog, though Vista is still giving me about a dozen Line Errors every time I arrive on my own page, and I still can’t leave comments for almost every blog I enjoy reading (so guys, if you’re reading this, I’m not ignoring you!). According to Crooks and Liars, there was some glitch with sitetracking (but why now? why suddenly? And why did it only seem to be the left-leaning sites??), and gradually I’m finding I can load sites that crashed two days ago… it’s that kind of thing that’s really encouraging my hair to fall out. When I wonder why I just don’t have any time, I need to remember how many hours I spent trying to figure out why it was one site but not another, and then as a last ditch effort, working through eight pages of onlineVista tech support instructions of “what to do when a webpage won’t load” -- they don’t get that problem often, do they? (snark) And then, after it all, nothing I did had any effect…it was some pixels getting stuck in the internet tubes.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Might be Offline for a While

VISTA strikes again... If this post gets through, it'll be the only thing I've been able to do online since this afternoon... Internet Explorer has decided to block all my favorite sites and not allow me to post ANY comments on any other blog -- I just can't come up with a funny way to deal with this... ask me again after I finish this gallon of ice cream....