I WAS HOPING to write earlier but thought it was best to wait and see if the ebola got me. I just catch snippets of the news but I feel pretty fortunate to not be among the millions of Americans who fell under that scythe. Even some missing blonde women got it. Oh, well, whatever sells the soap suds, because when the sponsors drop out we won’t get any daily bugaboo at all. My theory is I didn’t get swept up in the pandemic because I’ve been working outdoors in this fresh autumn air.
Been knocking up a new storage shed lately, got the roof on it Friday, last good roofing day of 2014. It snowed that night. Got the house wrap on the building Sunday, just in time for yesterday’s deluge. It’s awkward handling a heavy 9-foot roll and a hammer stapler at the same time so Jonny dropped by to lend a hand. Jonny is S.O. 2 to D2, just for I.D. purposes. Some of you remember that, others may need the full verisimilitude vis-à-vis the juxtaposition and whatever.
Today looks to be drying out, temps in the mid-30s. I’ll be building soffits and nailing up siding after I push the button on this.
Motorcycle parts are in, picked them up yesterday at Ocean State Harley. Piggy will be back on the road just in time to get salted. But she’s a tough old iron, proud of her patina. And all riding is good riding, you just have to suit up for it.
The 2015 Road Glide calls my name every time I walk by. I tell it to call back in 2018 or so, when the iron piggy’s worn out again.
First-year redesign of a real mile-eater. Gorgeous! I’d have it looking like hell in no time.
I had help with the concrete, forgot to say. Larry Stanley came by to assist with the footings & rebar, and John Ross helped me pour the sonotubes one Sunday morning. The carpentry end of things has been a mostly solo effort, often after dark, by headlamp. The daylight ends so early this time of year. I’ve seen this photo before but just happened to notice, on the window sill, a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
With dawn, further evidence comes to light in a tangle of electric cord and pneumatic hose. Anybody using a nail gun and chop saw around here? Will call myself down to HR, write myself up, encourage full compliance with policy. Aw, who am I kidding, this is the policy. Just imagine if Larry, Chuck and John were here. That was the original plan, an old-fashioned community-type raising. We’d grow our beards but shave our mustaches, Amish style. That would have been great fun camaraderie-wise (working together, I mean, not the Amish deal), but I wonder if my building would be up by now? The only thing slower than one guy who doesn’t work this hard every day is four guys who don’t work this hard every day.
But up it went, all plumb & square, one-armed-paperhanger style. Had a few adventures, as on November 6, during an all-day rain, up on a slippery plank trying to place 4 by 8 sheets of wet plywood and get a nail in each before gravity intervenes.
Raymond from across the street came over to help me lift the stick walls up off the deck and get a first course of plywood nailed to them. He didn’t wear the Elvis suit but I still said, Thank you, thank you very much. No, Ray hasn’t left the building but he is a hoot, one of the guys who makes neighborhood living interesting. I like living on a street where a visitor from out of town can say, Hey, is that a guy in an Elvis suit? And while you’re pouring the coffee, you look up real cool & nonchalant-like and say, “Well, yeah, unless you think it’s the real Elvis.”
It would have been a lot easier to nail plywood to the walls down on the deck, one wall at a time, then lift, but they’d be heavy and nobody would be around to help me lift them. So I built just the sticks on the deck, all four walls at once, and Ray came over and helped me stand them up. Then we placed the first course of plywood, and that extra set of hands was a huge help. You can place a sheet by yourself and get a nail in it but try placing it level and getting a nail in it. Once the first course is up you know the next one’s got to be level, so I’m back to working solo at that point. Dunno where I would have been without the King.
I put up the rafters and sheathed the roof myself. Don’t really want anybody up on the scaffolding with me, given that my planks are turning into compost. They’re long overdue for a one-way ride to the dump. In the meantime, I use the iffy-est ones down low. Good thinking.
This little project has reminded me that if the writing thing doesn’t work out, I can always make a living as a builder. Got a truck, all the tools, my health. Not afraid of falling off high places. Just of landing, mostly. The only difference between me and the young framers? They know all the shortcuts, are 10X faster at it, go at it all day and then go out partying. I make an Aleve sandwich, stand coma-like under a hot shower, put on my Popeye pajamas.
This little pooch came up from Louisiana, a rescue pup rescued by D2. He’s said to be a cross between a border collie and a chihuahua, assuming that’s possible. I got my first look at him Sunday.
Actual conversation a few days ago, while the bride and I are making breakfast. I’m frying eggs, she’s frying bacon. She informs me that Jenna thinks the nameless little dog looks like a Seymour. Given that there’s only one surname that properly goes with Seymour, I free-associate on that. Here’s how it goes:
“She’s thinking of naming him Seymour.”
“Seymour Butz? He’s a dog, why doesn’t she name him Smellmore?”
“I heard you the first time. I know what you’re saying. Smellmore’s not a name!”
“It is if you name him it.”
As it turns out, she named him Linus. Good dog, Linus. Smart, calm, and not a barker.
Here’s something from the CRS Department. I learn recently that I’m credited in a book entitled Skiing In China.
I have never skied, never had any interest in skiing, don’t plan on ever having any interest in skiing. Never been to China. If I ever get to China it won’t be for the skiing. I have no recollection of having met the author, but he thanks me for all my help, and thanks a newspaper I worked for in the early 80s. I apparently rendered some assistance as, “Tony DePaul, Bangor Daily News.” Well. Okay. If you say so.
I’m not much into radio, haven’t owned a vehicle with a radio in it since 1983, but lately I’ve discovered WDOM, Providence College radio, 91.3 FM. I always learn something there. It’s where I get my cool alternative Kiwis, like The Naked and Famous; and Hozier, boy wonder of Ireland. He’s wet behind the ears but has the soul of a poet, could be the next Van Morrison. This station always makes me smile because it’s so charming to hear kids running it. The world is all new to them.
It’s what Terence Mann was talking about in Field of Dreams, “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.”
One day I hear these radio kids posing trivia questions among themselves. Name the lead vocalist in U2. A young woman declares the question “so obscure!” I love it. And so the poser of this stumper tells the kids the answer “rhymes with ono.” Which it doesn’t. He pronounces his ono clue as in Yoko Ono, which you know they’ve never heard of her, either. So now I’m waiting for someone to call the U2 frontman Bone-o.
You can have your nostalgia for whatever (the Fab Four, to me the quaintly Drab Four) but then was then and now is now. I find it all so wonderful and refreshing and hopeful to see life going on right under our noses, erased and rewritten and erased again.
Final blab worth mentioning, for maybe your experience was akin to mine: On November 4, I overcame inertia and a general disinterest and was among the one in three who did our civic duty; you know, the key privilege that, despite our serial misadventures, has occasionally been at stake. Let’s just assume Kriegsmarine U-853, lying off Block Island, wasn’t here to do exit polling. So given that there are actual and meaningful things Americans have gotten shot for, drowned for, blown up for, fucked up in the head for, I voted. The Permanent Campaign Cycle is a bore and a turn-off, and it wouldn’t exist if media shareholders lost money on it. But I haven’t missed a vote yet. It just seems wrong.
The thing that actually got me walking down the street to the polls was that I wanted to support a couple of bond issues for our local schools. Property taxes are high, to be sure, but people supported the schools when our kids were enrolled, now we support the schools when somebody else’s kids are coming up. The social compact in action.
And I don’t mind politicians, per se. In general, I like them. In my newspaper days, I met quite a few good ones. Honorable people who do their best in a corrosive system. The good ones really do stand out when you get to know them as people and not caricatures.
And then there are the ones who give caricatures a bad name. Here are my notations next to the latter, on the sample ballot I downloaded and carried to the polls in my back pocket:
Both parties represented. And one independent.
The race for governor was painful. My candidate won. Or the one I voted for won, let’s say it that way. I see her more as the candidate of various and sometimes anonymous Super Citizens. They gave abundantly. I won’t say generously because it’s not about that. Dirty Enron money from Dallas made it into a Super PAC boosting our new governor, but, presto chango, there’s no need to actually touch the money anymore. Make your media buys, everybody’s happy, and the next campaign starts the morning after.
After 74 governors, all the way back to 1775 and seafaring Captain Nicholas Cooke, Rhode Island finally has a woman at the helm. That counts for something, and it’s about time. I just wish it was a woman I could have voted for wholeheartedly, as in 1994, 1998 and 2002. I do wish her the best at figuring out how to serve two masters.
Old newspaper pal, Scott Mackay, was an ever-reliable part of my information stream. Scotty’s hip to the kayfabe, one of the three most astute political reporters I know. I keep up with his on-line reports nowadays. Wrote to him on the morning after the debate:
“Good report, compadre. You have more patience than I do, paying such close attention to this hold-yer-nose affair. I can’t be enthusiastic about any of the three, but Raimondo won my vote last night. I hate that she’s spending so many millions in legal bribes to spin around in the big leather chair. Our actual policymakers in the financial sector, thy will be done, one nation under mammon, baby. But she answered the questions, what a concept. How many times did Fung pull into the pits to change his dodgeball sneakers? I lost count. I like his story, scion of hardworking immigrants, voted for him two or three times for mayor but he lost me in the primary debate this time, sounded ginned-up on all the usual radio & cable nonsense. Healy, well, he’s got the patent on screw-you authenticity with the mop & the beard, but I don’t exactly know what he’s selling. Sort of a D on this one, kind of an R on that one. Weed in moderation, son, the brain’s a fragile thing. Anyway, glad to know you’re keeping the steely eye on this trio, Scotty. And glad it’s you & not me.”
Tony DePaul, November 18, 2014, Cranston, Rhode Island