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April 25, 1999
a year ago


I thought, today, about just stopping with the journal. I mean. I started this thing because I was depressed, and I needed some mechanism by which to celebrate the days. Something that made it so that I had to be conscious of the good things in the day, because I was falling into depressions, falling into negative thinking loops, thinking, without any kind of damper, in circles of despair. The journal provided something of a damper. The effort slowing the thoughts and reflecting the times when I would repeat myself. Showing me what I could do, what I could love what lights there were rather than wading through my days with my head down and blind to everything but the wrongness.

I am no longer depressed, and recently I started to feel like this journal is nothing more than a laundry list of 'What Happened today?'

But the latter is mostly because I've gotten lazy, I think. The former may well, as John pointed out, be because I have this outlet, have this forum, and have this way of listing, yeah, listing, the good things about each day. So, yeah, it isn't what some people want to read, but I guess I'm not writing this for them so much as to fulfill a need that I have.

I tried, tonight, to just not do this; and I couldn't. My brain spun and whirled and wouldn't let me sleep until I sat down and wrote, with a quill, with a sore right hand, the thoughts and feelings and events of the day.

When I woke up, John was already starting to brew beer. This is, on the most part, a good thing, a comforting thing even. We have enough stability now, to let yeast just sit for a week or so in malt barley and make alcohol. Stability and stillness and the setup to do it right. The only negative was that it meant that we weren't going out for breakfast, as it usually takes some watching from John to do. So he ate the leftover pancakes from last week while I rummaged about and reheated the phad thai from Thursday. I'm still mildly Chinese in my regard for breakfast. Food is food. When you eat it shouldn't change what you want to eat.

The house soon filled with the scent of sweet barley malt, thick and dark and nearly viscous, then the herbal sharpness of hops. It was fun to watch the hops moving with the bubbling liquid, like some erupting, green landscape that moved with a life of its own. John rambled about contentedly, doing all the little things that needed doing. Giant tea-bags of malt sat in giant funnels over the five gallon carboy, and eventually, John had a huge jug of dark liquid filled with grain sugars. He then added the live yeast cultures and set it up in the bathroom by the laundry sink.

As he was working through all that I started working through a book that he'd found for me about ten speed bicycles. It is somewhat dated, but the basics were good, for maintenance, and simple understanding of the tradeoff of cost, performance, and strength. That was still applicable, I think, today. Also the basic physics of what goes into a frame and how it's built was still really cool. I kept hoping up and going out into the garage to test what I'd learned on the four bikes out there. Two mountain bikes and two road touring bikes, one of the touring bikes I'd had through college, bought it on sale at a bike shop because it was a model that was two years old; and I found that it was built more for racing durability than most of the other bikes we owned. Four cross wheel in the back, extra stiff frame, five arm steel crank, reinforced handlebars with touring configuration, and ultralight tires all showed me that it had been a darned good buy back then.

One amusing thing was that, for my whole life, I'd thought that the 22 inch frame on that bike was too big for me. Though I'd always enjoyed riding that bike more than most, I had thought that because the crossbar was high enough to be right at my crotch when my feet were on the ground, I'd always thought it was the wrong frame for me. Instead, it turns out that the frame measurement actually does perfectly match my leg height needs. There's something in the book about the length between the head of the femur and the floor minus some odd inches actually equals the height from cross bar to crank axle; but that that is the real way to measure the frame of a road bike. It turns out that my ideal frame height would be 22 and a half inches, but 22 is about as close as they come with mass-produced bikes, anyway.

The things one learns.

When John was done with his brewing, he went off to look at a Land Rover, with my encouragement. It was an old puppy that might be gutted to make an electronic car, one of the things I've been fascinated by has been electric Land Rovers. Lots of torque to those engines and the workability of a Land Rover engine compartment means that the conversion is actually doable.

While he was gone, and the earth was still damp from all the rain and snow, I tackled the dandelions. Dandelions really ought to be renamed something like 'hydra' or something. They just keep coming back and they come back in more profusion than anything that might have produced them. Cut down a few hundred of the weed and there will be another hundred in a few weeks time. As a kid, I always loved going out and digging up the dandelions because they were easy to identify and always good to kill. Now, as an adult, I feel guilty about killing off the thing that is 'different' in the yard. But then I rationalize that the darned things aren't even nearly endangered and they keep coming back.

There didn't seem that many of them, when I started. Scattered here and there through the green of the lawn. But there's nearly an acres of haygrass lawn, and here and there multiplied alarmingly. To the point that by the time John came back from his little investigation, I'd filled two-thirds of a full-sized garbage can with dandelion carcasses, seven buckets filled with the leafy critters. Yi.

Fezzik followed me around as I was doing stuff. Just lying on the lawn to watch all around me, or back into the garage every time I emptied my bucket.

Around four I made dinner. An impromptu conflagration of things from the Fridge. I roasted the marinating pork and the odd ribs I'd cut off from the rest of the meat with the two sausages we'd bought from Whole Foods. Boiled some potatoes to make mashed potatoes and at the last moment, I put in the last of the whipping cream Cathie'd bought weeks ago and a handful of chopped green onions to give it more flavor. Nuked some veggies and that was that. We had the sausages and the ribs. The lamb and mint sausage was rich with the lamb taste, but the mint balanced it out with the high end sharp sweetness of mint. The ribs were tender and sweet with the typical char shu taste. So the sauce, while it wasn't as red as the commercial stuff, really did lend the taste I wanted. The potatoes were creamy and yummy. It really worked out well.

Early dinner without lunch, but we then looked at movie theaters, and finally settled on finding a vid store in Niwot.

The drive to Niwot was cool. The world here is finally turning green with all the water of the last three weeks. The farms are blushing green with rows and rows and rows of fine seedlings, they look like plush green corduroy. The trees are starting to bud and leaf in new, pale green a color that looks like Dragon's Well tastes. The sky, which had been a lace of snow when we woke up, was now clear blue and sunny with a few fluffy white clouds sailing serenely over us. There were, however, huge, black, menacing thunderheads to the south and the west. Entire systems that we could see from the ground. At least, here, you could see the weather coming.

We found Good Will Hunting and borrowed it and brought it home to watch it. I liked it. I wasn't ecstatic about it, but I really liked what they made out of the story. Robin Williams was really keen in his relatively minor role, I think and did really good stuff with it. The 'It's not your fault' scene brought back interesting memories of bravado and complete crashing destruction of old defenses. That echoed hard in my head.

I really tried to go to sleep without writing, but it didn't work. Finally got up and set quill to paper, and wrote with a sore right hand. The quill's very light, very easy to manipulate, and the one I used had an extra-thick barrel, so it was actually better than using some of my heavier, slenderer pens. And I'm at the point where it's nearly distinguishable from a fountain pen, when I want it to be. If I keep dipping regularly and keep a light pressure on the downstrokes, it's pretty much mechanically regular. If I don't, I get something more interesting, so I usually don't. But with a really sore hand, it was easiest to write very lightly. By the time I'd dumped my thoughts it was past midnight.

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