Saturday, November 20, 2010

Road Trip

It's hard to justify a road trip of 130 miles(round trip) for one package of Frontline for cats. The weather and a phone call from Dawn were the deciding factors. "Go have a good time," she says. The cold, dreary, damp day precluded whatever outside work I'd fall into. Jorge reminded me that a tractor with a front end loader could save me seven truck loads of shoveling. "My neighbor doesn't have a bucket on his tractor." "Doesn't have a front end loader?" Jorge adds in surprise. "What kind of farmer is he? " In defense of the neighbor, his tractor mainly hauls large round hay bales for his horse herd. He has a scraper blade and borrows another neighbor's mower attachment. Another neighbor with a front end loader comes over once a year to scrape his corrals clean of detritus. I briefly consider asking my neighbor if his buddy would haul manure with his tractor. I'm not opposed to paying him or doing a trade, it's just that rumor has it that the 70 year old guy is in his cups by noon. Alcohol plays a large part in numbing the lonely lives of people live in this area.

My library angel used to own a family bar in town. I make the distinction because they served food and had entertainment on weekends. If one drank too much, they'd see you got home safely or made other arrangements. She told me on the phone last evening as I stood in the cornfield behind our house watching Mandy run through the swamp in the river bottom, that hunting season was a busy time. After the early morning shift sitting in the woods, deer hunters would pass the time until dusk in the tavern. She said they served food which after a time became a financial burden. The food was an attempt to keep a stomach full with something other than alcohol. While the majority of hunters are an upstanding safe bunch, there are always the crazies who about shooting road signs and cows.

Jorge and I walk into the building supplies store in central Lacrosse. We chuckle as I recount one trip in which Jorge was really sick. Unknowingly, he had fluid build up in the lining around his heart. The pressure around his heart was causing him discomfort. He didn't want to stay home ailing, so he thought a road trip would relieve some of his trouble. Now, we can laugh about the woman coming up to him as he reclined on a bench outside the grocery store thinking he was a homeless person sauced up on cheap wine. "Are you all right sir?" A subtle factor in her questioning was that Jorge is black.

The Frontline for cats is two dollars cheaper than the price at Wal-Mart(which was out of stock). Jorge tells me that there's a barbecue restaurant that opened up in the renovated train station. As luck would have it, we're near the train station. After a delicious barbecue lunch in which we decide to return in the future for their rib dinners, I smuggle out a baked potato wedge for Mandy in the car. Then we head to the grocery store on the north end of town. My bill for wine was larger than the grocery bill. I explain to Jorge who decided out of the blue one day that he wasn't going to drink alcohol, that if you buy four there's a discount in the price. Besides, the other chief reason for stopping by the grocery store is their boneless pork loin ends which I grind for sausage. Pork prices are still strong and the loin ends are $1.69 per pound. I pass on the pork loin because our local grocery has a weekly special on pork shoulder at $1.39. Mandy gets a nice bone to chew.

On the way home we take a shortcut down the interstate highway. I calculate the savings on windshield washer, Frontline, wine and groceries and figure I come out just about even with gas down four cents a gallon. The chance to get away and a new restaurant are an added bonus.

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