chiseling a pole while polls close
Tuesday, November 5 2002
Gretchen left this morning for Brooklyn, taking Sally with her. Both of them had business down there. Sally's was an appointment with her veterinarian. Meanwhile, a homeslice named Ron spent his second day installing hardwood floors in the living and dining room area. Part of my hurry the other night with the oak pillar was to have it installed before the floors, and this strategy seemed to have paid off, except that I still needed to put in the other pillar. Luckily, at least for coordination with the installation of the floors, the process of putting down hardwood flooring is not a fast one and, as Ron told Gretchen, "shouldn't be rushed." All of the contractor types who have been out to our house to do work have been affable and wise to the area, but Ron is especially so. If you allow him to get into a conversation with you, next thing you know you're showing him the whole house, telling him what needs to be done in the various rooms.
My main task this morning was to unload my pickup truck. As I did so, this neighbor dog we've been calling Lila kept sneaking in through the door and causing havoc where Ron was trying to install the floors. Lila is sweet youngish dog who looks like a slightly stretched version of Sally, complete with white chest markings. In the sunlight you can make out some vague brownish Rottweiler patterns beneath her fur's overall blackness. Unfortunately, though, Lila spends her days both bored and lonely, and she has been finding our place a source of both excitement and companionship, both with Sally and with us. But she's a bit too much to take, following us around everywhere, nosing into our business at inopportune moments, and frightening the cats. None of the people in this neighborhood obey leash laws, and we think that's a great thing, but we do wish Lila was a little happier wherever it is she lives so she wouldn't hang around sapping so much of our energy, and (worse yet) causing us to have to shoo her away.
After the Lila crisis had been solved by blocking the pet door, I bought a bunch of electrical stuff at Lowes and went up to the master bedroom suite and began the process of wiring it. In my mind, wiring seems like a simple process that doesn't take all that much time, but in actuality it is a fairly slow process. Worse still, it requires all sorts of arduous finger movements that eventually tax the hands, and my hands are already in bad shape from all the tasks I require of them. Their skin is trashed from chemical exposure, injuries, repeated washing, and abrasions. I have no prints left on my fingertips and (consequently) everything I touch feels smooth. The one thing that is true about electrical wiring is that, as long as one follows color conventions, it's pretty much idiot proof. It's rare to do a bunch of wiring, flip on the circuit breaker, and find that things don't work as expected.
In the midst of my work Ron called my attention to someone at the door. To my horror, I saw it was a New York state trooper. Oh shit, what had I done? Had the cops traced the trash Gretchen had been illegally leaving beside the Staples dumpster? Had Gretchen turned up on a Lowes videotape stealing cabinet knobs? Happily, though, the trooper was investigating a crime that I actually knew nothing about. Someone had stolen a bike rack from someone's house, and he wanted to know if I'd seen any odd activity. Since the crime had taken place before I'd even moved to Hurley, I couldn't really help him. I told the cop that I was more used to the ways of criminals in Brooklyn, and that by comparison crime seemed rather light around here. He assured me (as a homeowner) that the bike rack theft was a very isolated incident and that I didn't have much to worry about. He then requested my birthdate for some reason, as if he couldn't believe a punk like me could be the owner of such a huge edifice.
Later on I made another push on the wall I'm replacing with pillars, the wall adjacent to the stairway. After inserting temporary supports, I removed the rest of the balloon-frame load-bearing wall. Then I had to fashion another native oak pillar, this time doing the work upstairs in the attic so as not to get sawdust in the living room. Because I didn't have to accommodate floor-to-ceiling wiring, I only had to make a groove reaching a third of the way down the pillar. Since I only had to install one electrical box, I could put in the extra work necessary to chisel out its mortise directly in the middle of the pillar. Since I'd gained some experience with the chisel and drill since the last pillar, I was confident enough to actually drill a conduit pipe for the top six or so inches of the pillar and then run the wire in a surface channel from there down to the mortised switch box. Doing all of this ended up being a lot of work. I was listening to public radio at the time, hearing the poll results trickle in. My work extend from the time when the polls started closing until the hour when things started looking grim for the Democrats. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling sick for our hapless nation. For some reason I'd expected more of this country's voters. I'd had confidence in their capacity to see through the Orwellian manipulations of Karl Rove and the Bush administration. I'd foolishly imagined that they had the capacity to see through the slickness of expensive corporate-sponored political ad campaigns. And, above all, I'd assumed that the people of Minnesota would find a way to sustain Wellstone's legacy in the aftermath of his untimely death.
By the way, I didn't vote today. I'm not registered to vote in New York and it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
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