Eleanor checks in
Tuesday, May 15 2007
I got up early and took Eleanor to the Hurley veterinarian for her cruciate ligament repair. It's always sad seeing her led away by strangers; there's nothing she hates more than being separated from the pack. Usually, at the minimum, she's alone with Sally. But here she was being abandoned to this unfriendly place reeking (to her nose at least) of stress, disease, and toxic chemicals.
I came home with a new storage solution. It was a large, low plastic basin on integral casters, perfect for filing stuff away into the deep spaces under the tables that line the sides of my laboratory. These tables frame sections where the ceiling slopes down to meet the floor. Though there is no human headroom in these places, they make for excellent storage. Unfortunately, though, the things farthest from the center of the room tend to be blocked by other, closer things. Hopefully, with a low, wheeled basin, I could pull a whole unit of storage out to the center as needed. This would work best for situations where a particular project called for parallel access to a wide range of formerly-stored objects. I decided to use my new storage solution to house the bulk of my copper and brass fittings, which (during most of my laboratory's history) have lain strewn near the center of the laboratory, just east of its axial "path." (Those of you familiar with the behavior of clutter are already familiar with how "paths" gradually form in rooms subjected to the gradual accumulation of things.)
My recent attention to the ceiling (the result of the expansion of the low-relief sculpture described in the preceding entry) made me aware of a slight leak in the laboratory roof beneath the southwestern support pillar of the solar deck. I saw that the drywall was slightly discolored at the crack where an oak post reaches through the laboratory to support the roof beneath that pillar. Of the four pillars that I have landed on the roof, this is the only one that likes to leak. The other pillars are all happy with the asphalt goop I set them in, but there's something about the particular phase of the shingles at the southwest pillar that is conducive to leaks. So today I decided to do something serious to end the problem. I had a roll of aluminum flashing, so I cut a piece of about ten by twelve inches and then cut out a 3.5 inch by 3.5 inch square into one side of it, folding up the resulting aluminum flaps. I then shoved this flashing under a row of shingles immediately uproof from the pillar, fitting the square cut around it from the top, covering the shingles around it. Owing to old asphalt that proved difficult to remove, the flashing didn't sit smoothly on the roof, so I used my trusty heat gun to liquify the high spots. As it cooled, the molten asphalt helped to hold the new flashing down, which was great because I didn't use any nails. To seal gaps where the flashing met the pillar and along either of its sides, I gooped in fresh new asphalt. Looking at the new arrangement (which looked surprisingly professional), I couldn't imagine a scenario where a raindrop could find its way to the base of the pillar, but raindrops can do amazing things using only surface tension, gravity, and the power of the wind.
In this blaag, I prefer to refer to the neighbors across the road as "the Fussies," because everything at their house and in their yard has to be a certain way, a way that cannot be achieved without paying someone to come out and make it that way in exchange for a certain amount of money. To take but one example, they don't trust their water because it comes out of the ground. So periodically they have a truck deliver plastic kegs of water that comes out of the ground from some more trustworthy location. Today a tide of Hispanic workers swept across their lawn and reversed whatever nascent aspects of Eastern forest succession had manifested over the course of the preceding week. For Gretchen and me, our lawn is something maintainable by a human-powered spool mower. The exercise we get is free, and so is the lawn maintenance. The Fussies across the street pay for their exercise twice: once by not ending up with a free mowed lawn, and a second time with their gym memberships.
While that wave of Mexican laborers was cresting upon the neighbors' lawn, I took my wheelbarrow a couple houses north on Dug Hill Road to Andrea's place. She's such an avid gardener that she orders dump trucks of mushroom dirt, and she said I could come and take some. I have a plot of nascent garden I've started in a low depression in the lawn, and the mushroom dirt was to increase the organic matter and nutrients of the Esopus Valley floodplain soil with which I'd filled that depression.
It turned out that Eleanor would be spending the night at the Hurley vet, so Sally began her first evening in three years spent without any other dogs.
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