Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wide Swath & More Coffee

Compared to January it's balmy outside. Two days ago the back of my neck was wet with sweat sitting in my leather recliner watching episodes of Glee on DVD. Compared to that humid, muggy evening it's frigid of late. Perfect strangers pass by muttering, "Man it's cold." I slip on my usual uniform of shorts and a T-shirt to head up the hill for milk. When I open the car door, high hilltop wind whips leaves around and blows a chilly blast in my face. The Amish Patriarch is dressed for winter with jacket. long pants and hat. They started butchering chickens at 7 am. I waste no time in walking across breaker rock in the short driveway to the house. Mandy's leashed because of a so-called chicken killing event. The Mom comes out when I'm jawing with Dad to report that the dog killed a baby chick behind the house. Earlier, talking gossip with the Patriarch, I made note that my pup found another chicken head to devour. She's always unearthing chicken feet, heads, rabbit faces and old bones she's buried fore curing. I thought nothing of it.

As an experiment, after the fact, the Patriarch takes my leashed dog out behind the house where they're raising another batch of meat birds. I drop off the milk jug and follow. The dog shows no interest in the chickens, nose to the ground savoring manure and other shit. I take her off the leash to allow her maximum freedom. She walks by a scrawny half grown bird missing most of the feathers on its chest. Patriarch and I walk back to the house puzzled. In observations at our place, I've never seen Mandy kill, maim or or catch anything bigger than a moth. No so for the Panther. I've reported seeing the cat and dog standing by the maples in the back yard. Next to them is a dead squirrel. I'd swear that the cat had a smirk on his face. The Pooch(cat) brings a large, dead field mouse to the back door. This isn't easy because of the new addition. The back door is blocked with two new side doors forming a breezeway. Both doors are closed. Smart cat runs through the open garage door to get to the back door to impress us with his hunting skills.

In the week before the Labor Day holiday it rained 4.5 inches overnight Monday swelling the river and flooding pastures. Then it threatens rain. Because I'm the Gopher for our new construction I keep a close eye on the clouds to the north. The lumber yard is eight miles away. My truck is hard to start once it warms up. I plan trips carefully. Johann the carpenter adds a surprise or two. We're about to start with the cement siding to the back of the breezeway. He makes a partial cut in a short piece of left over siding I squirreled away. Sparks fly from my chop saw. Although he says he's worked on cement siding previous to now, he doesn't have a clue about the proper blade for cutting siding. The lumber yard is out of fiber cement blades and I'm off on yet another goose chase for a blade in the next larger town. The dog loves it because it means RIDE.

I get to the sister lumberyard 20 minutes away. There's no blade set aside. Johann gives me the impression that I'm supposed to get a blade for the chop saw. The guy at the lumber yard who took the call is off on a delivery. The man in charge doesn't know his cell phone number. He calls another employee. We walk to the shelf lined with saw blades. There's no blade with my name on it on the counter. Cut to the chase. The blade I'm supposed to get is for a skill saw. 7 1/4 blade. I point to one labeled for fiber cement board. The counter guy says ,"That's the one." It lasts for three hours before it too, sending sparks flying.

In three phone calls and a long wait on hold while I drive back roads from yet another gopher run for a diamond tooth blade from the agri-center guaranteed to cut cement board, I argue with the counter guy from the sister lumberyard about a faulty blade. When I tell him that the whole business is causing me to lose confidence in their lumberyard AND we've got a big project going. The message is clear. In a lowered voice he tells me he'll refund my money. All I wanted in the first place is an admission the blade was crap and to send it back to the company.

The money ticker passed $1000 two weeks ago. Four windows, two steel clad doors, three sets of door knobs, brass hinges, a french door, 2X4's , OSB siding, green treated lumber-the list is longer. Trim boards, more OSB, more cement siding, torque screws, nails, special concrete fasteners and the cost is inching towards $1300. It all started with old window caulk falling out of a recycled window I jury-rigged to form a dog pen for the puppy. Rather than repair the window, I decided to cut the crap. Build it right the first time. My dream was to have an uninterrupted night of sleep with the dog curled up inside her dog house in a secure pen. Right.

The sight of mosquitoes drawing blood on her nose, eyes and ears thwarts a restful night's sleep in a large cattle fenced back yard with an insulated, carpeted dog house. At three am I hear her whimper. Now I have to step into the breezeway naked to open the outside door of the breezeway. She heads to the driveway to pee while I go back inside to go to the bathroom. When I return, she's sitting on her dog bed inside the breezeway. I tap the outside door closed, open the door to the back yard dog pen. With a sigh of relief over the time and money spent go back upstairs to bed. The cat is smart to figure out there's no dog to thwart him from being an alarm clock. He goes to work walking across my back at seven, purring and nuzzling my face. Cat house in the yard? Naw.