I'm in Milwaukee, heading to Fargo today. I am driving Gutless the Car which has been not exactly rallying but at least functioning. Tonight I stay in Fargo ND and I should be in Seattle by the weekend, barring disaster. I have put a few sporadic updates on notlost.org which is a beta site my friends are testing. You can read my amusing gas station anecdote there.
So my car, otherwise known as Gutless [not to be confused with Chet the truck] has been acting up somewhat lately; running hot, which is not tough to do in this zillion degree heat. So, I screwed around long enough that it was too late to take it to the shop and, emboldened by my recent tune-up success, I decided to mess with it myself. Drain and flush radiator and install new thermostat. Got a thermostat, gasket, and some antifreeze, brought out all possible tools that I could ever need, got some advice from the inTARnet and set off. So far, it seems to have worked. The car still turns over. The radiator seems a bit on the glucky side, but the car is twenty-three years old. Here are some things that I learned:
The roofer arrived wearing loafers and fixed all my problems for $75. He was about sixty and had a homemade Born to Raise Hell tattoo on his arm. I find myself in the odd position of praying for rain. I went through the standard apologies I give to repair people about how I shouldn't have let it get this bad, and how I was hoping he could do anything at all, and how the place is sort of falling down but I really like it.... and he stopped me and said "Well of course. It's your home" and the way he said "home" made me realize that he understood what I meant and everything would be okay. I used the extra roofing cement to fix my shoes.
I bought plane tickets to San Francisco to get my ass to Burning Man and then to Fray Day. Next week I head to Ohio and then to Seattle and then back, all by car if I can swing it. Need a ride partway? It's an odd kickoff to the Virgo Month of Leisure, all this scooting around. I'll be in San Fran for my birthday, which will be weird, but it will surely beat the heck out of being in Boulder which is where I was last year.
I told a guy I work for that I'd be incommunicado for a few weeks, travelling from Vermont to Seattle. I got this response: "I am a little confused by your message. Where exactly are you located? Seattle, or Vermont?" And, since I seem to get some variant or another of this question a lot lately, and in response to another request for stories, I wrote up my response.
Dave is doing a G8 weblog this weekend covering the protests in Genoa which is where I found these pictures of the protester that was killed and run over by a jeep yesterday. The pictures are fairly graphic, be warned. Every time I write about protests, I feel that I have to explicitly state that while I personally am not a protestor that breaks windows and lights fires, I can see very good reasons to do both of those things. I do not believe that only governments and their police and armies are the ones who have the right to disrupt the social order, or enjoy the whitewashed concept of "collateral damage." Yes, this is a complicated position, I think all political positions are similarly complicated, if they're thought through enough.
I am reading a book about Constance de Markievicz and her [armed] fight for an independent Ireland and suffrage for women, and I wonder how long it would have taken for women to get the vote if they'd merely asked nicely for it.
Your President Bush had the nerve to quote Dorothy Day [noted socialist and founder of the Catholic Worker] in a speech the other day. Her surviving kin, who live in Vermont, < a href=http://rutlandherald.nybor.com/Editorial/Article/26711.html>had this response.
I got home from the dump this morning and I had a package slip in my mailbox. Instead of telling me that I had to come to the post office, the note just said "In Grandma's Toyota." Sure enough, that's where it was. I love rural mail delivery.
Cleaning house because my friends came to pick up the things I have been storing in my house and barn for the past two years. They took some stuff. I went to the Salvation Army to drop some stuff off. The dumpster was overflowing. I rummaged, until they chased me away. Yesterday I went for a long walk. Obsessive list making to follow:
things they took that I miss: blankets, bed made from pipes, lamps, punching bag, bookshelves, Peanuts books, second lacrosse stick, extra futons
things that were in the dumpster: bivy sack that I thought was a body bag, well-fitting ratty fur coat of indeterminate animal, twenty or so gauze curtains, ten or so velvet curtains with old fashioned hardware, six green shiny curtains, six roundish glasses, cooling rack, AmeriCorps Vermont bag, moisturizer that claims to be "relaxing" but is actually just "sticky"
After heading into town to shop at the farmer's market, I had a headache, and so did my houseguest. I swear, if I find that it was emissions from my truck causing it, I will dig a hole in the backyard, climb in, and eat grubs for sustenance. This modern world is clearly out to get me.
Today is the birthday of Jessamyn West, the writer who shares her name with me and for whom I get email occasionally despite the fact that she's been dead for over a decade. She wrote this:
"People just don't think of writing seriously. If I had been going off to teach all day, it would have been different. They wouldn't interrupt your work if you were employed at a grocery store. That's considered serious business. It's because you work at home. People think they can interrupt writing."
Uncanny, no? A friend of mine went to Jessamyn West Park for me in Yorba Linda California and took these pictures of the park I have never been to. Jessamyn West was an inspiration to me for her strong female characters and general good nature in her autobiographical writings. She was also my pen pal when I was in fifth and sixth grade and had an assignment to write to someone famous. She tolerated my eleven year old's questions with grace and kindness.
Tune in tomorrow when we return to our regularly scheduled Jessamyn including special irregular feature: Guess What I Found in the Trash?
And if you'd like a very slighly less oblique account of what I was up to last week, you can peek here.
The latest gruesome chapter in my gardening fiasco is that I took the sunflower seedlings that were germinating in little pots in my house and transplanted them lovingly to my outdoor 3x3 scrap of dirt where the squash plant and the other plant I can't remember are doing nicely. As I slept, something came in and ate every last leaf off of the twenty or so seedlings that were out there. They are stems on their way to a long and painful death. I may stomp on them just to put them out of their non-photosynthetic misery, and to work out some aggression about my whole lack-of-gardening ability.
And the third bird this week flew into the house, through the front door no less. There are 40 acres of no doors and one door here, where do the birds decide to go...? I have now chased out one pigeon, captured one small brown bird, and outsmarted one barn swallow.
Making s'mores on the grill is fun, but microwaving marshmallows is also big fun. What to do? Make way too many s'mores [any more than about two is really too many if you want to stay awake] and then save them and microwave them the next day!
Commentary on my lost week:
so-called friend: eww, you slept with someone who uses tables for page layout purposes. gross.
More on that later.
Okay. I painted a big slogan on the inside of the milking shed. The story behind it is that it's the same slogan my Mom painted on the wall of our basement when her and my Dad were fixing it up when I was a kid. I had always liked it and just assumed the quote came from somewhere. Once I painted it, I wanted to check the origin out. A search on Google netted this page on some MOO someplace. So, there's the quote. And, it's in someone's basement. And, that person's name is West..... Somehow, the basement from my childhood made its way onto someone's MOO! As did my Dad's office. Strange.
I am missing a pair of overalls. But, the line I refer to has more to do with this joke I heard. Standup comedian is discussing the aftermath of a breakup with his girlfriend. Talks about how you sit around your house smoking, watching bad movies, and drinking beer in your underwear while the piles of TV dinner trays and take-out containers pile up around you. Then one day, as if by magic, you get up, look around, rarin' to go and say "Where's my pants?".
Not like I'm recovering from some bad breakup, but I'm having a where's-my-pants day. Juiced half a watermelon [more trouble than it's worth], inflated my car tire with the cigarette-lighter-run air compressor [now if I only had a battery charger that ran off of air....] and am ripping apart my barn, tossing stuff into trash bags because tomorrow is Dump Day and my guests are gone.
The Yale librarians came up for the Fourth and brought more food than we could eat. Added to the food that the folks from the weekend before brought [and did not eat all of] and I have a fridge stuffed with edibles and drinkables: pounds of BBQ chicken, sixteen Gardenburgers or their kissing cousins, Polish sausage, a half-rack of various beer, two half-bottles of wine, a half dozen oranges, the other half of the watermelon, five pound of carrots, five pounds of apples, potato salad, two dozen English muffins [those I can manage] and buns buns buns. Keep in mind that I am one medium sized pers on, live alone, eat about 1.5 meals per day and have three friends within one hour's drive from here. You do the math.
My favorite scenario is the one where I hollow out the half watermelon and turn it into a helmet, juice the entire contents of the fridge and freezer, mix it with gasoline and paint FREEDOM in the road in eight foot high letters, then set it on fire. This is what Independece Day means to me.
I came down to my kitchen and it looked like there had been a massacre. I had been making beet juice yesterday and put off cleaning up. There was magenta-red slop everywhere and a big knife covered in the same ooze. Beet carrot apple celery ginger juice is good, and it makes your pee a funny color.
Lee posted some pictures of his take on his Vermont trip. Good in case you need a view of the place that is not being promoted by the insufferable hype machine that is jessamyn.com, inc.
Yesterday I went to an auction specifically because they had a card catalog for sale. I figured who else on the planet wanted it? Well, after sitting out under a gaily striped tent for several hours watching people blow insane amounts of money for the same types of things I have out in my barn, I learned the answer: the guy next to me. My highest bid was $110, he got it for $120. I am still hoping to be able to scare one up from some library that is unloading them. Ideas?
High points of the auction were watching a 102 year old woman outbid some dealer guy for a silver tea set [she may or may not have been a shill for another dealer, but everyone applauded anyhow] and watching the auction staff heft a huge cast iron cauldron above their heads in an unexpected display of brawn.
I removed the placeholder. I got some rest. The party was a really good time. Juxtaposition of my friends with my other friends always results in interesting combinations and conversations. Similar to last year's party, I wound up with a ton of leftover beer and an extra cooler. The extra cooler from last year is due to get picked up on the actual 4th, tomorrow.
Highlights of the party [some with illustrations]