Friday, September 28, 2007

Sometimes It’s Good to Have a Fifth Wheel

I’m in Jerome Creek right now, and it’s a bit weird. It rained today, and so I didn’t go riding. What? Hello? If it’s raining tomorrow I’ll suck it up and ride anyway, but it was really raining pretty hard today. I can’t be that sad about it, though, because it’s been a dry summer and rain is definitely welcome. At least by the people who live here all the time.

I’m driving a rented Chevy Trailblazer right now (they discontinued the shorter name Blazer, which maybe implied “inferno” a bit too much, a couple years back. But that’s what this is.) It’s fine, you know. It’s not the 4-Runner, but it can’t be expected to be. It’s brand new, so I was hopeful that the stereo would have an iPod jack in it, but it doesn’t. It also doesn’t have a cassette player, of course—it’s one of those inconvenient middle designs—so I can’t use my old cassette adaptor. Ian picked me out some CDs from L&S’s collection before I hit the road, though, so I wasn’t bereft of entertainment.

I started with a recording of Godspell, then went on to Paul Simon, and then had a go at some Black Eyed Peas. And then I went with silence for the rest of the journey.

Right now I’m listening to my iPod’s “Alternative and Punk” genre, which is perfect for solitary introspection and cooking. I don’t know why I never listened to them before, since Ian’s owned the CDs for who knows how long, but I’ve really come to love the Decemberists in the last month or so. They’re just really awesome.

K was here last night but left this morning to join A in Seattle visiting relatives. We were strolling around this morning, me gathering the current information on feeding and whatnot for the animals, and we stopped by the Trailblazer.

“That looks like a pretty flat tire,” observed King.

“Wow. It sure does,” I replied.

“Did you notice anything on the way here?”

“Nope, I really didn’t.”

The right rear tire was completely flat. We discussed how to get it fixed and decided on just throwing it in the back of the farm pick-up (King was going to be driving the lighter weight, long-distance pick-up west) and I would take it in to Moscow to get it repaired. I would then bring it back and put it on and, before heading back to Seattle, drive the Trailblazer to Moscow to make sure I’d got the tire on well (assuming I’d gotten it on well enough to make it the 40 or so miles without being flung into a ditch). Then I remembered that the thing was rented, and that perhaps Enterprise would rather just deal with it themselves, in their own way, a way that didn’t involve farm trucks and city slickers replacing tires. I have changed tires before—Dad was a mechanic, and he felt that, if we were going to drive, we needed to be able to change our tires and our oil ourselves. But the last time I did that was probably almost 20 years ago.

Anyway, a charming elderly man came out and put on the spare (his wife came along and was also charming); I drove into Moscow with an exclamation point blinking at me from the control panel (it didn’t seem to be listed under “warning lights” in the owner’s manual but I assumed it had something to do with the spare—either being gone from its home, or a weird size compared to the other tires) and dropped off the car at the tire place. It was repaired and put back together within 15 minutes—culprit was a Philips head screwdriver. I hadn’t driven far enough on it to ruin the tire, which was good. The exclamation point also disappeared.

The only other time I’ve ever had a flat tire, it was coming out to visit K&A. This was about 15 years ago, and I was driving an old Ford Bronco (one of the big ones) back to Garfield that someone had borrowed from some friends of K&A’s. At the rest area at the intersection between Highway 26 and Highway 395, 60 miles from Ritzville (the nearest town), someone pointed out to me that one of my tires was low. He offered to put on the spare for me, but when we found the spare, it was flat too. So I called AAA and they sent out a tow truck from Ritzville. The guy brought an air compressor and pumped up the spare, which then showed a weird knot in the sidewall. He said “Well, I’m not sure it’ll get you all the way to Pullman. You’d better come up to Ritzville and get it checked out at the garage.” So I did.

I kid you not—when I pulled into Ritzville an hour later, there was no one around, and a tumbleweed tumbled slowly across the street in front of me. I laughed a trifle hysterically, then found the garage. They told me it’d probably last me another three hours, but probably not much beyond that. With that comforting thought, I continued on my way. I made it, and it only took me five hours longer than usual.

With the rain came the cold today, as I found when I woke up from my nap on the couch, stiff and a little groggy. I thought “split wood and warm yourself twice,” so out I went to the woodpile to make some kindling, so that I could then make a fire. Hard physical labor is perhaps not the first thing one should attempt upon first waking, particularly if one is cold and stiff, and I had some trouble getting the ax to work right. I just wasn’t getting any force into my swings, and the wood wasn’t splitting. I finally got one piece to crack, and then, knowing I shouldn’t, I held it in place with my left hand and raised the ax in my right hand.

When the ax came down, it didn’t, in fact, cut off my thumb. But it did cut it. Just a little. And it woke me up, so that after I had put on a bandaid and headed back outside, I was able to split the rest of the kindling just fine, thank you. And now the fire is lovely and warm. When I was cleaning garlic for dinner the pointy end of the skin of one clove punched a teeny hole in the pad of my right thumb. I thought “By the pricking of my thumbs; Something wicked this way comes,” as I watched the bead of blood well up. But I don’t think anything wicked is really coming. My accidents have rendered me for the time being the opposite of “all thumbs”, which is, I’ve discovered, for all practical purposes the same thing.


Gregory said...

Be careful with your thumbs, Calin! They're the reason you get to tell the horses what to do and not the reverse.

And surely it was a Phillip-head *screw*, not a whole *screwdriver* in your tire?

CMT said...

No, it actually was a Phillips-head screwdriver--about 3 1/2 inches worth if the tire guy was correct--minus only the handle. I have no idea why the tire wasn't completely destroyed, but it wasn't. Someone's watching out for me indeed!