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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Tyranny Of The Urgent

The RRR responds to numerous (one) calls asking why he has not blogged since the sermon of almost two weeks ago. We are looking at the overwhelming assault of spring business and also my occasional descents into depression over the juggernaut of health problems. Hepatitis C reminds me for some reason of the old Indian, not a chief, really, but the head of a family clan in the mountains by Lookout Mountain close to Livingston Montana. Livingston was to become a major railroad terminal and repair shop for the west, but it had to start with one track. When it got as far as the Yellowstone River valley, the old Indian came down out of the hills and sat cross legged on a hill top watching the engine sitting on the track puffing as it built up steam. Some cowboys from the ranch where the tribe lived asked him, “well, what do you think of it chief?”.

“It will never start.”, he replied.

With a long whistle that echoed off the mountains the train chugged forward and down the track as the old man watched expressionless. When it was out of sight, he stood and wrapped his blanket around his shoulders.

“They will never stop it.” he said.

And he walked back into the mountains. The old Indian was right, and I fear Hep C carries the same inevitability and devastating change with it.

I will attempt to run the clock backwards to the last blog. Wednesday I attacked the tree brought down by a “williwaw”. That being a short tornado like blast of wind which rips up out of valleys and over hills. They are well known to sailors and you can read about their effects in one of my favorite books, Sailing Alone Around The World, by Joshua Slocum. In reality it was several trees, three green ash of which two were a foot through at the butt, a smaller ash and a mulberry. The chain saw has sat untouched, tuned, or sharpened for almost four years. I left it on the shelf and took down grandpa's ax. It is a Keen Kutter, the head made in the 1940's. (old joke: Grandpa only used one ax all his life; he just bought it eight new handles and two new heads). Back when we heated with wood I put a fiberglass handle on it. I filed the edge and walked out to the tangle of downed trees. Mrs. RRR was along and felt I could be more efficient with a chainsaw. She was right but I needed to ax. And I was able to stay ahead of her dragging limbs to the burn pile. For the first half hour I just gnawed away at the limbs like a beaver with false teeth, but like riding a bicycle, it came back. There is a slow delightful rhythm to chopping hardwood. When it's right, its right. The downward swing from the right meets the previous one from the left and a chip the size of your hand flies and you let the “chips fall where they may” in case you wondered where that expression came from. I also found that green ash is the most fibrous obnoxious wood to cut that there is. Small pieces make delightful wood carving chunks the Boy Scouts call “Tiki Wood”, but otherwise, forget it. Burns well when dried, though. By 1 p.m., the sun was straight overhead (daylight savings time) and the mess was a brush pile and several trunks ready to be hauled to the pile with the tractor, using a “log” chain, and now you know whey they are called that.

Mrs. RRR had sweet potatoes baking in tin foil in the crock pot. She fried Alaskan whiting fillets in butter, made her own tartar sauce, cooked beets from last year's garden, and we had frozen fruit for dessert. I read our devotional books and the Bible aloud while she cleaned up the dishes. Then we laid down on the living room floor for a nap before going back out. We were both fatigued. I am so weakened and out of shape from four or five year long boughts of chemo-therapy over the last ten years, a few hours of wood chopping had left me stumbling and shaking.

After our nap I took my two hour post meal blood sugar, 117, and went to bring the Cub Cadet back to life. For no particular reason the drive belt to the blades had jumped off. I fussed with it and got it back on and it jumped off again. I fussed and adjusted again and it stayed on. Dues to be paid, I suppose. Then I mowed the lawn while Mrs. RRR hoed the garden. When I finished that she took the push mower and did the trimming while I took the ax and trimmed the branches too big to toss up on the brush pile and did a little more hoeing. By then we ran out of steam by mutual consent. We had old fashioned oatmeal with raisins, real cream and maple syrup. Then some of Mrs. RRR's homemade yogurt with banana and strawberry slices. And at last to bed.

That's one day, Ranger Readers. I can't do the last two weeks in that detail. Let's suffice it to say that the Green Hornet is at last running and not leaking oil from anywhere. Mrs. RRR's brother, his wife and daughters visited and we had a wonderful time. I taught Management of Aggressive Behavior at the county hospital and worked adolescent psych at the private one. The garden is planted and up. Sweet corn, green beans, beats and the tomatoes. Oh the tomatoes. We had seventeen we started from seed, each in its own cage, then Elder Raymond from the chapel gave us more. I had a few of the old wooden cages left I'd built a decade ago and then... noticed a goodly part of a roll of concrete reinforcing wire. It makes the best tomato cages there are. You cut off ten full sections with the end wires from the eleventh, twist hooks in the end wires, cut off the bottom horizontal wire to have something to stick in the ground, pull it into a cylinder and squeeze down the hooks to hold it together. Held down in the wind wired to a fence post, they are secure, deer proof and easy to reach in and pick tomatoes out of. Now I have 30. I will never need that many tomatoes, but they work great for pole beans, cucumbers, etc. You can even grow melons and squash in them if you hang the fruit is little hammocks made from old pantyhose.

That's enough. Hang in there Dear Readers.


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