Thursday, June 29, 2017

Slowly Sinking into the Summer

At the moment of this writing (June 28th) we're having a wonderful cool wave, weather that would more typically reside up in Elkins, West Virginia, where Libby and I went to teach fiddle and guitar to aspiring adults back a few decades ago. It's noon and less than 80, and I'm tempted to go find a light sweat shirt. Before this break we were having something like the edge of a Gulf tropical storm, with a great deal of rain, humidity, lighting, and temps in the 90s. This more typical Piedmont NC summer weather apparently wreaked hell on many of the little civilizing details that make camping out in the Chatham County woods as we do a possibly reasonable solution to life in the 2000s. The land line phone has been disabled for more than a week now, offering only a nasty buzz for a dial tone, and no sign of a voice should it happen to ring at all. Our theory there is that the rings are from earnest technicians from Century Link, out in the “field” somewhere or other, testing the wires. When the rings happen, if we have the Dish on, it freezes the Dish Box and we have to reboot the whole shebang. Other than that, nothing changes. The internet was also out for about a week, but around midnight last night it sorta returned, with weak speeds but actually access to web mail and websites.

To make things substantially worse, we are down to one working truck, and that one has only high beams. The lowest mileage vehicle, a '99 S-10, has suddenly contracted a broken clutch pedal linkage. We've been able using the blinky internet to determine likely fixes—it's a connection just on the other side of the bottom of the dashboard judging by the symptoms. I had found a guy last week to come out and haul the poor dear in to his shop, but he never showed, and since the phone was out it might have been only that he could never call to be sure we were home. I keep thinking I can get under the steering wheel and pull the bolts that hold the under panel on, but when I get to the point of that contortion I end up aborting the process, plus there are a couple of bolts I'm not sure about removing—since I can't see entirely what the consequences are, and they seem to relate to the computer gizmo that the inspectors use to inspect the vehicle. So we sit. Libby reported last night that the dome light in the S-10 didn't come on like it should have. Sitting may be wearing the battery down.

On the other hand, early last week, before all the troubles really set in, I'd bought a good battery charger to get the Ford's new battery going so I could move it out of the way. The Ford has a dead short somewhere or other. I ain't lying in the high grass with the ticks to try to find it, not that I particularly know how to find a short anyways. I'd taken in the Ford's battery when it wouldn't crank at all, this being the second time that happened this year. We don't run the Ford much anyways, it's a fire-wood hauler, '91 150. The place I got the dead battery from just shrugged and gave me another one, so I knew that was good when the no-crank symptom returned. The charger worked great. The guy at the battery place said it's probably a dead short, but you can unhook the neg terminal when you're not running and keep the battery alive that way. So that's the near term plan for the Ford. Before you start, open the hood, slip the neg terminal on the post, then crank. Don't be making no jokes about Dog Patch.

So far the Toyota keeps running. But if you need lights it's high beams or nothing. That's likely a short in the switch, which is built into the steering column. I'm hopeful we can get a new switch and get the housing behind the wheel off and put the new one in. And not find out it's something down in the column, in the wiring. That's not where I want to go, and particularly when the Toyo is the only truck that's running.

I keep enjoying the cool breeze coming in the window here in the kitchen. I'm not thinking about climbing up on the roof to try to re-nail the ridge cap where I'm pretty sure the rain comes in when it blows from the north east. And don't get me started on the upper cabin roof, which was so damn shiny and new back in '79, the year Anna was born. After coming on 40 years it's needing some paint, or better, fresh tin. It's amazing how expensive tin has got in nearly 40 years, and how steep that upper roof looks these days.

It's been three weeks plus since the Old Vet died. The family had a really nice memorial gathering for him down in Tarboro, with a lot of his old friends and most of the living family turning out. Libby made some great cakes, there was punch and other tasty edibles. After the gathering the family went out to the cemetery and stood around Rudy and Lucille's shared gravesite and people talked about little moments they remembered from the family gatherings, from growing up in that little eastern NC town on the Tar River. We'd rented a car to do the trip with air conditioning. I drove it back to Chapel Hill, where it'd rented it, Monday morning, and cranked up the S-10 to get back home. I think that was the last time the pedal worked. Close damn call.

This weekend it's Fourth of July. I doubt it'll be less than 95, but maybe the rains will stay away and things will keep drying out. We're hoping by then the fleas will be gone at last. We gave all the kitties doses of that stuff that's supposed to kill fleas by making them sterile. It's clear the fleas know something's afoot. Tiny ones huddle on the floor, and jump on our legs if we happen to go too close to their huddles. The cats, meanwhile, are all sitting on tables and spending even more time than usual grooming. The Ezra Pound ditty keeps coming to mind, from his fuck you book called Pavannes and Divagations: “Lud us sing godam.” It was a parody of an ancient English song called “Summer is icomen in.” Pound substituted “winter” and added “godam.” I don't believe this is the book that includes his essay comparing Mussolini to Thomas Jefferson. That was earlier, in the heady times before fascism could no longer be viewed as primarily an attempt to rescue high art from the Communists and the Jews. I've searched the google for a photo of Pound in a baseball cap saying “Make Europe Great Again.” Apparently no photo exists. The photo above is from '49, Pound's mug shot. In late May, '45, Pound turned himself in to the US Army in immediate post-war Italy. He had been giving propaganda radio broadcasts for the Italian Government during the war, and had been charged by the United States with treason in 1943. As he was a noted poet in the pantheon—he'd advised Eliot on the Waste Land and published great long poetic tracts including the Pisan Cantos as he descended into what now passes as Republicanism—the US put him in a mental institution in Washington, DC, for a number of years, then finally let him return to Italy to live out his final days. He was featured on the cover of Life as an ancient geezer, wandering the Italian streets in a straw hat and beard and muttering that some of the lines in his great work, the Cantos, were “wrong.”

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