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Thursday, 19 May 2011

The girl in ALCO was quite sure. We are on flood alert. All of us. Until Tuesday.

I didn’t argue. I thought the threat of inundation was concentrated on the lower Mississippi river, but what do I know? Only what NPR tells me – and that it’s unseasonably cold and cloudy in Cherry County. So maybe she’s right.  And this evening as I write this, we’re still twenty minutes from sundown but it’s almost dusk already. Outside, as I watered the lawn just now (yep, that’s a euphemism), the apple tree was still blooming, the grass had grown ever lusher, and the sky was a dark, menacing shade of grey. Rain fell steadily (that’s not a euphemism) and inside the house Chainsaw Phil scampered up and down the stairs trying to head off the leak (no comment!), which just now was plip-plipping into a bucket underneath the stuffed elk’s head.

I feel sorry for Phil. He comes all this way from England, lured by my talk of camping trips, canoeing, and steaks barbecued over a roaring fire, and what does he end up doing? Chores. Still, as he points out, at least we haven’t got bugs. He was dreading bugs, and even now is chasing a moth around the kitchen – or is it another of those hornets that are emerging, dopy, from their winter slumbers?

Today, after I’d shifted all my effects from the trailer back to the red house, we decided we needed some action. Now, if your need for action is so great that you drive to Gordon on a Wednesday afternoon, boy, you’re in trouble. But, improbable as it may seem, we managed to while away some hours there and come home reasonably well satisfied that it was time well spent.

Phil and I both have a history of serial house re-modelling. So we both like hardware stores; and once we were in that hardware frame of mind we found all kinds of things to interest us – and in my case, one ambitious project was soon taking shape.

But before I go on, let me assure my readers - whose ranks are swelling daily – that I will soon get back to Mari Sandoz, to ranch practice in the Sandhills, and to my observations on Nature. It’s just that the weather is cramping my style just now.

So there we were in the hardware store, ogling the knives and guns. Brits do this in the U.S. of A., simply because we rarely see guns at home, and almost never handle them. There aren’t many animals, or people, worth shooting; or so they tell me. As for knives, we are no longer allowed to possess – or rather to carry in a public place – a fixed blade longer than three inches. I recently had a dainty little knife with a four-inch blade, a souvenir of a Swedish holiday in 1977, confiscated by nasty, officious little security people as I boarded a train to France en route to a three-week hiking trip in the High Pyrenees. Good job I didn’t encounter any bears up there….

On the matter of guns – and before I swing us back to our home maintenance theme – Phil remarked, ‘Isn’t it odd that in a country with so many guns there aren’t fewer lawyers?’ I think it’s probably for the best that he’s going home next week.

So anyway, there we are in the hardware place and suddenly it occurs to me that the main entrance here at the red house has no screen door, just the hinges where one used to hang. ‘Got it,’ I said. ‘I’ll buy a screen door and we’ll rig it up.’ As it happened, they were out of stock, but the guy has ordered me one to arrive next week, meaning I shall have to hang it myself. But the thought of defeating the worst of the gnats, mosquitoes and deer flies has cheered me immensely, and the Chainsaw claims that he’s happy for me. I think he was hiding his disappointment that he won’t be able to orchestrate the hanging (of the screen-door). He likes things to be level.

No sooner had we got home than Phil, deprived of one choice project, decided to tackle another – the toilet.



The piece of porcelain-ware you see in the picture is the third such we have had inside thirty-six hours. First we had a leak, which Joe the wrangler and I sorted out by bringing down the upstairs cistern and fitting it in place of the original. This morning that started leaking, the result of a faulty gasket between cistern and bowl, we figured. So this evening the Chainsaw fitted a new gasket ($2.95 from the hardware place in Gordon) only to find that the cistern had a crack in it.



 That’s where the purple tube of adhesive came in, the “Amazing GOOP” with its sound advice “keep out of reach of children”. He completed the job an hour ago, and so far so good.

The other excitement in Gordon pales by comparison, I suppose. I bought some peat pots for my tomato plants, along with some potting compost; we visited the library, then loaded up the car with beer from the liquor store: Fat Tire, a dark one called 1554 from the same brewery, and a black lager by Sam Adams.

I forgot to mention that our trail-riders, when they took off, left us some excellent grub, including a cubic yard or so of ground moose meat, which we got stuck into this evening, served up with pinto beans and tortillas.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we plan a fossil hunt. But when Gordon is on flood alert – hey, anything can happen.