The Labors of Sisyphus

We got tired of driving out into the country on beautiful, hot, Spring days looking at property, and decided Monday should be a day of rest. But first we got some plants at the nursery. One to fill a “hole” along the property line so the silly neighbor-pooch would stop looking up and yapping-yapping-yapping. And some ground-cover with pretty orange flowers (anything but pink!). Stopped for the “small” (but really quite filling) Greek salad at Wally’s and a glass of local take-the-edge-off chardonnay. The hangover subsides.
And then on the way home with the load from the Front Yard Nursery, while driving past the street-side outcropping I noticed that with all the spring-cleaning yard-work, the hillside retaining logs had shifted adrift. Oops! We also have rocks for that particular Sisyphean task, but here’s a new dimension in holding back the ocean and tides: erosion demands its pound of flesh in splinters and steel.
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Underneath the house gathering rust was a small collection of “construction nails” used to build the concrete forms – many with nails still in them. Nails which I removed so they would fit into the pipe-sections that were pounded into the through-holes in the retaining wall logs… And now I needed them since the logs had come adrift and slid partly down the hill.
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And with a bit of lifting and pounding (some of the logs were nailed together with big-ass nails) and shifting we got them back into place. Now I have no more giant earth stakes to pound into the ground. I guess I can get more, but they are handy – and now I’m really glad I bought that handy little 8-lb. sledge. Phew!
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We’ll do the planting and burlap and re-seeding tomorrow in the AM before it gets too hot.

On another note the big Klipsch speakers are being pushed around by the big soulless diode-driven Yamaha 7.1 surround amp with 90-watts per channel. It’s neat that with all that power you can turn them down to a whisper. Next I’ll hook-up the Sansui-snowflake to the NHT Model-2’s, and I’ll bet they perform well too. Need to get some exotic baddabinga-bongo-bongo rainforest depleting wood-veneer to re-cover the Klipsch mid 70’s toasted-oak – it would be a slick dress-up. And some short hairpin legs, the pedestal stand was hokey in construction and looks.

Precious Snowflakes

We are not, sadly, not even to some parents who should at least begin that way. Nor are we all the same. We each have an unequal distribution of gifts, just starting with gender which presupposes a difference in upper-body strength. But don’t tell that to a 11 year old boy who just had his ass kicked by a girl. Maybe that is a memory-test.
There is much we can overcome, but it helps to be wired with a certain propensity for those things towards which we reach. Some reaches are beyond the reacher. Some are gifted musically, some linguistically, some physically, some politically, some artistically, some intellectually, some with “Beauty” and others with animal-magnetism.
And some have a heady cocktail mix of that which makes everything a turbulent frustrating struggle, while others travel with ease and an un-furrowed brow on still waters. The best thing about this country is we are not separated by Hereditary Titles of Nobility but by actual inherited physical differences, and those are legitimate.
So we each get to struggle, and in some kinds of struggle the athletes will win out over the intellectuals, and in other struggles the advantage is reversed. I’ve always been able to draw pictures, since I was small, to help make a memory-point, or explain an idea that words did not complete, but the same fluid-fingers are totally useless at music. So “creativity” is also unequally distributed. I find it odd that some people cannot draw a simple landscape-view or a person’s face, but other people can plot the financial outcomes of nations and the strategy of war, which I cannot.
At sports I was pretty fast and strong but not the fastest and strongest, pretty agile but not the most agile. Some sports, like basketball, are completely beyond me and hold no interest whatsoever – the enthusiasm for “March Madness” defies any and all of my comprehension, I never played much basketball since we lived overseas. I got stronger because I had to defeat my older and bigger brother – and I did.
My own physical tendency is to individual things where competition is not really central, because I’m not really interested in how well (or better) other people do the same thing – they are not me. I like to snorkel, but I’m a good swimmer and a lot of people have problems with open-water, or just water itself. Like shooting. I enjoy shooting competitively, but not because of the competition or any thought of “winning,” but because of the structure and organization that enables me to gauge my own personal progress. Some people care about winning and losing and keeping score. What color is that again? Like racing Enduros. I started riding late in life and “raced” as a C-Senior. Because I was persistent and showed-up at enough events I got the semblance of “Sponsorship.” But “Mistakes were made” and the color of that was purple – as in bruises and broken ribs, and the permanently bent finger. Before it was just a do-it-all hand, now it’s perfectly curved to grip a throttle or a gun.

Stuck on Stoopid

Somehow I have always been completely unable to do something (like hold a job, or work, or…anything) for money alone. I absolutely will drown like a startled turkey looking-up in the rain, unless I have a mental engagement that activates my creative-side. My commercial wiring is defective. That does explain the years of working in Theater for about $1.25/hour. Or else the paint fumes and exposure to analine dyes. Seriously. And it explains the years working as a temp just doing engineering block-diagrams – at least it was marginally creative, while also exploitative.
I can’t run numbers in my head (and out my mouth) the way some people do. Numbers don’t add-up to me. What color are they? So likewise I couldn’t get my sh*t together and go and sell cars like my buddy Baxter when I was unemployed, because I simply didn’t understand at a fundamental level HOW to do that. He did, he could – besides he sells lasers/medical/dental equipment. He can SELL stuff.
I hear someone going off with money-numbers and shit and my brain begins a fandango. Like I hear the clerk/salesman begin, “You raelly need to buy the extended warranty because seven percent of two-fifty will GRAY ANODIZED CARBON-FIBER net you back an aggregate YELLOW-ORANGE return over a PAISLEY BROWN-BEAR percentage of CABBAGE and COLESLAW when you invest RHUBARB with PURPLE RAIN SLICKER and a RED WHEELBARROW thirty-percent OF MY BUTT ITCHES. Be sure THE SUN COMES UP LIKE THUNDER OUT OF CHINA ‘CROST THE BAY…” Really. My head for figures is spastic, and the financial reward everybody else knows how to achieve – I’m just stupid. Excuse me I have to go make something out of clay now, or find some crayons to eat.
I am good at offering-up FREE stuff that gets ignored because nobody wants it anyhow. Sorta how my career tanked. I guess I could have worked the retail grind for a paycheck and shot most of that on gas while commuting at horribly odd hours. And then I would never have been able to do the kitchen renovation and design work because my mind would have been as empty, flat, and hot as an iron. I know that’s how most people get-by and I don’t mean to belittle anybody, but typically even then, when I write-down my skills and resume-stuff for a “Big” employer on an application, I get pushed to a back-burner and they hire a younger person anyhow, someone they can train. I would starve in a candy store because I don’t like candy.
So we cancelled the house that needed a roof and too many other stupid things – and cancelled on the dumbass people who misrepresented and were not forthcoming. Our (my) hearts were not in it, and *I* was gonna have to live there after all – but not after I was reminded what a corrosive and Fascist little enclave a HOA becomes, and THAT was one of the horrible things of the decrepit BayAryans that we had just escaped.
No dirtbikes? No guns or shootin’ I bet either. I’m not getting on the HOA Board AGAIN just to fight that nonsense and the drooling low-forehead people who perpetuate it.
Other opportunities will arise, and we will find a place for the Klipsch speakers to rock again. Or I will starve.

The Value of Failure

It’s good to be rejected and lose-out. You learn. You learn a lot, a whole damn lot – about yourself and about other people. That hot cheerleader babe who seemed so sweet but who went and humiliated you at lunch in front of the Football Captain – now you really know she’s not so nice. All that work helping her in American Lit. was for naught. But now the Football Captain (who knew he was a virgin?) will smack her when he gets a strange and unpleasant rash below the waistline. Later when she runs into a bridge-abutment while texting on her iPhone, at least it wasn’t you in the car. You learned.
If your name is not Hercules or Gilgamesh, when things don’t turn out so well your measure as a person isn’t necessarily how much and with mighty effort you bent the force of Heaven to your Iron Will (shades of Nietzsche), so much as how fast you let go of that stupid lever before it sliced-off your arm. Hercules could stitch himself back together – but maybe your poor First-Aid recollection and the fact you left the tourniquet in the truck, fifty-fleeting yards away, your odds otherwise diminish.
Pain is a good teacher, often the only one for many of us, that’s why God gave us fire and hammers. And that’s why thick-headed Alpha Males strut through the underbrush smacking each other with their antlers, or on TV wearing helmets and shoulder pads. We get to watch and learn vicariously. They get the not-so-nice but hot-hot cheerleaders, and brain damage. Meanwhile the other girls, the nice ones with a sense of kindness, the ones who don’t insist on being special, are just glad the flaming bitches went away. They don’t represent. Brute to bruté. And NotClauswitz is also NotHefner, so no worries.
Not everybody is wired-up the same way, and it’s not all about status and hierarchy. History get’s written-down by whoever remembers anything, so a good memory is more important than you might think. Brain-damage doesn’t help, or the biggest pile of skulls. The first President of California during the Bear Flag Republic’s 27-day effort, William B. Ide, was a guy who nobody even remembers and they’re not even sure where he’s actually buried.
Not everybody can go Isosceles with a 1911, or else Glocks and Weaver wouldn’t exist. Some still go tea-cup Weaver, but at least they got a gun. Some want to die on a mountain of brass. I can’t afford a mountain, but I would like a view out over the far-horizon.

Boom and Bust

The history of the Gold Country is replete with tales of boom and bust, of peak-moments of crazy-fabulous riches followed by troughs of fire, depression, failed-crops, and broken dreams. In other words, the prospective house needs a whole new roof, entirely new attic ducting, and an electrical make-over. There’s some witches-brew of mis-wiring; the light/fan in the master-bedroom trips the GFI in the master bath, but then the fan continues to operate. One GFI circuit in a front bedroom trips a circuit on the other-side of the house out on the deck. Another GFI circuit in the kitchen is un-tripped by itself but is tripped by the non-GFI outlet on the other side of the sink. The carpet smells of smoke, and walls need patching – that’s trivial and cosmetic, but/and there’s no vent-stack for the stove/range. Venting into the attic is not a recommended procedure as I understand it. The vent-stack could be fixed at the time of the re-roofing, but the full inspection report and termite-report and will come tomorrow. And no dirtbike riding, too noisy! Pbbth! Other than that the HOA is pretty un-intrusive! I’m gonna go have a beer.

Getting Better

High gray skies with a low-lying layer white cumulus in between the top-cover and the ground. Interesting muddle today. So we went down to the Evil City of Sleazeballs and Gov. Slimsuckers: Sack-O-Tomatos. It’s been a week since our last visit, and about three-weeks since our neighbor went into the Hospital, but she of the double brain aneurysm is visibly better than last time, and less at a loss for words. Therapy is keeping her busy, and last-time she complained saying, “I’m sorry I can’t be more articulate.” – but that right there was a good word-choice and a good sign. Today she was wearing her jogging shoes and it was other stuff to complain about, and we can tell she’s anxious to be out of the smelly facility and back home. I pointed to her shoes and told her she should make a break for it! She laughed.
Wednesday is septic-pumping at the new “other place,” and Thursday is the Inspection (and with that, Termite). I need to have a couple checks ready for the guys. State Farm declined to cover us because the zip-code is “high fire-danger” – but there are plenty of other homes out there, and this-here zip-code is also “high fire danger.” So…we got pointed to a broker who found a couple of mainstream biggies who will cover: both Travelers and Hartford. We’ll probably move our vehicles and all the rest to one of those…so bye-bye Snake Farm after thirty years. Things are looking up! Soon we’ll be measuring walls and painting at The Remote High-Chaparral Chalet, elevation about 3,100 ft.

Dappled Light

Grey and white clouds march across and fill the horizon to the Mt. Hamilton range, flat on the bottom, all at the same height, casting shadows across the valley floor while creating brilliant blues in the skies between them.
Blessed rain is forecast but blessed-little is expected to actually touch-down, and in the meanwhile the sky-scape is brilliant. We planted and watered, Sunday is drip-line day.
UPDATE: And the rain came down! From around midnight to the pre-dawn morning, and the cold came with it. Brrr! Snow at Tahoe, but not enough to save the season for Sierra at Taho resort which is closing today for the year.

Sacred and Profane

I leave it up to you to decide which is which. Two hours up, and two hours back with a brief visit to Chico sandwiched between 220 miles of driving – but the folks up there are awful nice and the so-clean vintage Sansui receiver fits my needs well.
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The speaker boxes are a bit rough and I removed the little foot/stands (one kinda removed itself). The look like somebody left them out on the lawn for a week after a summer party, so we knocked the price back a smidge and I have a little wood-shop project to attend-to. Maybe strip and re-veneer? I left them out in the garage but they sounded soooo good running out an even less powerful (and less well-kept) vintage Kenwood receiver. The speaker-guy was a genuine lust-for-life jolly fellow and nobody can fault that. Then speaker grille fabric had a generous sampling of dog fur, but that’s nothing – they are impossible to break and will last forever.
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The receiver-dude was not a hipster, clean and neatly pressed he drove a Culligan truck – and had a collection of even more vintage amps and receivers, and also a variety-collection of the same Klipsch speakers. Who knew a quiet mid-level College burg could hide such talent? But the town is the world HQ of Sierra Nevada Brewing and its’ founder and owner/operator is a Chico-college dropout who went on to bigger and better things and has an endowed chair in the science of brew-making at the school. They have a lab where they use a mass-spectrometer to analyze the stages and content of the esters in the brewing process. Not too shabby.

Vintage

Going up to Chico tomorrow for a (2-HOUR) drive to see a man about a late 70’s Sansui MONSTER receiver. Lights and wavy-wand meters that go back and forth. I’m really not an Audiophile guy, my ears are tin – but/and like a ’78 Bianchi all-Campy Nuevo Record — blah-blah — it’s something I would have simply been totally unable to afford at the time as a lawnmower pusher-guy and campus food-service pot-washer. And I was a good pot-washer, and a better student than my dormitory-mates who were simply trust-fund babies awaiting their turn at the next elite enterprise job-slot. I had to work. But I was still just a chump.
My affluent College-Contemporaries bitched about the relative ~and~ competitive merits of their exotic turntables. And then here comes me: THE Doofus: scratch-scratch. I was not a very popular,, thumb-fingered guy. But all that techno-electron tail-sniffing left me in awe, because I didn’t even have a circular piece of vinyl for which to spin. I was between worlds and never had records to begin with (Records? Not even my own Immigration and Naturalization papers). People with enviable “collections” – serious the round black damn things weighed a tonne, too much, and took up too much space, but mainly they also cost too much. Stuff I did not have I also did not rally miss, because I knew at any time I could be gone and they would still be butt-sniffing. So I went to Vienna with nothing musical. Maybe I was lucky to be a fool – I was footloose and fancy free in more ways than I even knew.
But now I’m going up to look at a sound-machine of epic proportions, to drive a couple crazy speakers for the now-other house — up in the piney woods, because I have walls to paint and floors to fix, and a whole new project in which to live…….

The Center Cannot Hold

IMGP2105W. B. Yeats in 1919, the atmosphere of post-war Europe.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The middle finger always goes. Between moving rocks and yardwork this must be the fifth pair of leather gloves, nearly as many “Mechanix” type synthetics have also fallen by the wayside.
Also to the gray-goatee’d fake-factory spandex $3000 bicyclists taking up the middle of the narrow country road, yes YOU bastard Yuppie Boomers, I wave with my whole hand because the display of a single finger does not express enough contempt.