Thursday, February 10, 2011

Amiable Keenness

photo copyright 2011 Seven Roads Gallery Inc.
Hell froze over last night.  I know. I was up at 2:15 am and heard the snap.It's still -20 at 7am.

I indulge in fantasy to pass the time. I travel with Bill Bryson in his book Notes From a Small Island.  Bryson grew up in Iowa, lived in England for a time and is a writer extraordinaire.  I first discovered Bryson when I discovered ,The Life and Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid-a humorous account of his boyhood in Iowa.  Mr. Bryson is a skilled writer with a dry wit and descriptive talent almost to the point of snottiness.  There are so many quotable phrases that I've reserved a space on the basement chalkboard for really good quips to inspire me as I slave away in the dungeon. More on that to come.

In between running to the Amish for supplies, I consider buying a tractor from a neighbor.  My knowledge of tractors is slim given that I've spent much of my adult life in a large city. The biggest farm implement I owned until I moved here was a front end roto-tiller.  I joke with the Amish Patriarch about farm machinery.  He owns and uses a horde of machines including one that is a carbon copy of my Ford pickup, sans chassis, rubber tires and all the associated get-up.  I've reached some sort of stage in our relationship that I can ask questions about their strictures against modern machinery. I see a hog scale in a Farm Tek catalog. 

"You can buy me one of those," he says, "And I'll butcher anything for free for life." The hog scale is basically a wire cage with a scale platform mounted on rubber tires on one end and a handle for portability on the other.

"You can't have it," I say, "Because it has rubber tires." 

"Hard rubber tires are OK," he tells me. 

Skirting a waltz with Amish blasphemy I retort, "Oh, in the Bible it says thou shalt not have rubber tires?"

I ask, "Has Bishop has okay-ed the use of hard rubber versus pneumatic tires?"  Not knowing when to quit I add, "Is that the 11th commandment?"

Wow, this person is incredibly patient with me, a dumb-ass English person.

Everyone except my wife is gaining weight because of a lack of exercise.  Mandy has lost her definition, the Pooch is roly-poly and I'm aghast at a recent picture of me and Mandy on the church pew in the front entry.  Upstairs Dawn stands in the hallway and asks," Do I look like I've lost weight?"

I hesitate for a split second, enough to get a kick boxing champion, leg thrust to my ample gut before I recover with, "Yeah, I really can see it."

When she points to her waist, I can see the change.  I want to add that familiarity makes me complacent.  My struggle with winter doldrums and snow and cold and snow and cold followed by cold and snow and the lack of social connections causes me to seek solace from isolation by cashing a check at the bank leaves me thick as a brick, but I keep my yap shut before I blunder into deep dookie.

Something as simple as choosing a nice restaurant for a Valentine's Day rendezvous becomes a calculus problem in how far one wants to travel divided by the amount of alcohol in the form of light beer I might imbibe in ratio to the 25% increase in the price of Valentine's Day specials over last year, prorated by determining which local bistro is supplied by Sysco food systems entrees, which one will be overrun by farmers in bib overalls or golden-agers with walkers and canes and the big question-Will my server be known locally as the Spaz, or wearing a hooded sweatshirt and according to Wisconsin law-be unable to hand me a light beer because she is underage?

Oh yeah, I forgot about the sauce pan of water on the stove. Oh, shit.

The wood furnace is growling for more wood. I'm in the 42nd consecutive day of basement reorganizing, including waterproofing areas previously ignored, vacuuming bird remains from under a shelf, removing a dessicated mouse from the floor joists, sweeping cobwebs from above the laundry lines and sweeping up mountains of cat litter from three litter boxes. The cat looks at me with that slunky look that says I want you to let me out but remain standing at at the back door so that when I discover that my ears freeze in a little over twenty seconds, you can let me back inside the breezeway. The dog yawns loudly which means, I want to go somewhere. My teeth are fuzzy.

Yeah thanks, Bryson.  I have an amiable keenness for getting the hell out of Dodge, booting up Travelocity for the best deal in airfare from MNPLS to PHX.


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