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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

I think I’m in what they used to call the dog days of summer. It got up to 95 yesterday and seems to be heading the same way today, but I think we’ve lost the humidity which made it so uncomfortable last week. If the heat’s having any effect on me, other than inducing a kind of lethargy, it’s on my appetite, which is certainly diminishing at the moment. I’m eating smaller meals, with less starch (or do I mean carbohydrates?). I haven’t much energy either for the task I should be tackling, writing up the text for the Old Jules Trail website which the Chainsaw is working on. At the moment, though, I know he is engrossed with another project, for our mutual friend Greg. It’s about the man who wrote Lassie, and it’s full of surprises. Greg’s only been working on this for thirteen years. I hope to be talking about it before too long.
Anyway, dog days or not, I put in a good day’s work yesterday - my contribution to the old place’s refurbishment. Some time within the next few weeks the red house will acquire a new roof. With luck, that should extend its life towards its centennial.

It’s been a while since I tackled an outside paint job, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a nice simple one like this. I’m only doing the what used to be the back, but now serves as the front of the house – or, as I prefer to call it, the north face. And I’m only doing the stone-work, so no fiddly bits. I started by spraying the ground at the base of the wall with insecticide. Had to. That’s a regular breeding ground for the little blighters, and if one or two dragon-flies died in the process, well, we’ll call it collateral damage. After I’d hosed it down, I took a wire brush to the wall, knocking off all the loose flaky stuff, the growths of moss and algae, let it dry off, then applied a sealing compound to the bare patches. Today I shall start painting, using the largest brush Bomgaars could provide – which wasn’t very big.

The most tiring part of the whole day was mid-afternoon when I went up on the top to phone home. It takes me seven or eight minutes to get up to my favourite cedar tree, where I have a signal and a patch of shade. But when I texted A. to say I was in position – so that she could call me back – I got a reply saying that I was ‘unavailable’. I realised what it was: I was out of call minutes. I may as well go on record and say that it seems a wonderful scam – perhaps the most  heinous of the  mobile phone era - this business whereby the companies claim the right to clock up time spent on calls received against your monthly allowance. Especially when they neglect to mention it as they watch you sign the agreement. 

So I scampered back down the hill to get my wallet, and back up to call 611 and hurl more funds into US Cellular’s maw, sweating furiously and dreaming up cruel and unusual punishments for whoever runs the company.

I’d been talking to A for some time when I chanced to look up into the branches of the cedar and realised I was being watched – by a very quiet, very still porcupine.

By the time I got back down here the sun was behind the ash tree and I was able to sit out in a patch of shade with a cold beer and admire my handiwork. Not for the first time, I wished I could find some music on the radio other than NPR’s endless line-up of classics. So I dug out the little stack of cheap second-hand CDs I bought in Lincoln. Dire Straits, Van Morrison, the Squeeze, Del Shannon... I moved the player to the open window, turned the volume up to full and put on The Who.

You may not want to dwell on the image, but there I was, teeth missing, beer in hand, trouser spattered with paint, singing along to “My Generation”… ‘Why don’t you all…. H-H-Hade away!’

Right, as my beloved likes to say when she decides it’s time for action… Breakfast. And then to work. Tomorrow expect a review of Lonesome Dove, which I should finish watching tonight.

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