January 17, 2021
Once again I'm finding it hard to string events together into a smooth narrative, so I'm not going to bother. It's all lists this week but I'll go back to the old format if and when it makes sense.
Things I Did
- Spent a sunny Saturday morning hanging out with RM and JS and helping them reassemble a backhoe.
- Installed a new key-switch in Punkin so it's impossible to kick start without the keys. Also glued on some reflectors for safety.
- Met with Santa to sign a bill of sale for Punkin. Afterwards we hung out on the porch and he told me some good travel stories, one about the time he got stopped at the border coming back from Canada. "They probably thought you were smuggling a bunch of stuff from the North Pole," I said, which made him laugh. He told me about how he ran for mayor twice, one time losing by only eight votes, and how he was glad he didn't get the job because he would have hated sitting in all those meetings. The pandemic has been tough for Santa, since there were no lines of children waiting to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. He said it's made him realize how much he'd been getting out of being able to share the Christmas spirit with people. Despite the hard year, he did get to celebrate New Years Day on the beach at Ocracoke with a glass of champagne like he has every year for 30-some years.
- Rode across Jordan Lake on a warm and sunny day and and saw lots of people riding motorcycles and fishing from their boats. The weather makes such a huge difference, especially now when there aren't any public indoor social spaces.
- Stayed at a hotel in Cary for blood work and a colonoscopy to check into my ulcerative colitis. It's been acting up lately, and I figured I should probably take care of that before touring round the country. The 24 hours of preparation were unpleasant (although not as unpleasant as the first time I did it about eight years ago), but there were some bright spots like hanging out with my friend AA who drove me there and back, the friendly nurses who liked my new tattoo (one said hers would say "compassion"), and the fact that the doctor didn't find anything unexpected. Well, except that my vitamin D levels were low and I need to take supplements, but that was pretty predictable in retrospect given how the weather's been. Gosh I hate medical stuff but it does feel good to have gotten it over with.
- Helped rebuild a bridge at the BH Farm workday and caught up with SE and KC. I really enjoyed the low-precision carpentry, figuring out clever ways to extract the nails from the reclaimed lumber we were using and measuring the boards so SE could cut them in half with a chainsaw. It's been a long time since I swung a hammer, so my forearm got tired and I bent a nail or two, but the end result was quite nice. Then a hearty outdoor lunch was served which finished just before it started to rain and snow.
- Assembled and tested my new four pound titanium wood stove, which folds down to the size of a laptop, including the nine-foot long roll-up chimney. It was pricey but it does put out some serious heat, and if it allows me to stay in a tent when I would otherwise need to find a hotel or AirBnB, I think it'll earn its keep pretty quickly.
- Helped RM and SF deliver and install a 450 pound cast iron wood stove in SF's sweet off-grid house, which used to be an optometrist's office in Pittsboro before being moved out to the woods. He'd finished it out beautifully inside, with a warm, woody, handmade, artistic sensibility that I thoroughly enjoyed. Afterwards I saw the tiny shed where Punkin spent a couple years, and was amazed that SF hung onto it for so long considering how much of his space it was taking up. But I'm really glad he did.
- Got a fortune cookie which read: "Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid." Workin' on it.
Things I Learned
- In much of Colorado it's illegal to harvest rainwater on your own land.
- Pizza Hut's personal pan pizza tastes exactly the same as it did when I last had one as a kid, but it seems much smaller now.
- The Honda Gold Wing Retriever is a motorcycle modified to tow cars. If a breakdown causes a traffic jam, it can weave through the stopped cars, lower the towing rig it carries on its back, lift the front of the car, and save the day.
- During the Vietnam War, U.S. airplanes used a device known as the "black crow" which could detect the electrical noise from a spark plug and target bombs and guns at trucks beneath the jungle canopy. I learned this and a whole lot more from a book called A Short Ride in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle in which Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent rides a Honda C90 named Pink Panther 2000 miles through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It's a great adventure story but also underscores how atrocious the Vietnam conflict was. We dropped insane quantities of explosives and chemical weapons on all three countries and they're still suffering the consequences to this day.
- Stars between the spidery black branches of a tree.
- Ducks paddling on a bright green pond.
- Lying on dry springy pine needles in the sun and inhaling their subtle resinous scent.
- Doing physical work with people I like.
- Full sun breaking through the clouds while it was snowing. I've never seen anything quite like it.
- The crescent moon reflected in the pond, one moon pointing up and the other one down.
- Little green shoots pushing out of the ground under my washtub.