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March 6, 1999
a year ago

That Bright Thing In The Sky

Friday night was interesting. We actually got home pretty early, and John and I took all the Stuff in the car down to the house and picked up a couple of shovels, our boots, and Fezzik. Then we went up to the dirt road, where we'd left the Stoat and its 3/4 of a yard of gravel (yes, the trailer is pretty darned heavy duty), and moved it so that the trailer was next to the pot holes at the far end of the road and started shoveling.

It's very simple work, but hard. Just shove a bunch of gravel into the holes, stomp on them until they're compacted some, and then move on to the next pothole. My hands haven't been good, but this kind of work I can do by locking my wrists and just using my arms, back and legs to do the actual lifting. It strengthens all those muscles and builds a better support group of muscles for my hands when I do type, so, in the long run it's good for my hands. In the short run I'm really, really sore today.

We spent about two hours, filling in several dozen potholes in the road and down on our driveway. Fezzik orbited us and the trailer and the work, watching when he wanted to, wandering around when he was bored. A dog got loose from a neighbor and the two of them went tearing around the yards, the trees, kicking up water from the frog stream, and happily playful. The dog's owner, though, wasn't used to that, and tried to corner his dog. We caught Fezzik to let that happen unmolested by Fezzik's desire to just play. Poor pup. We introduced ourselves as the short timers we were, and he'd just moved into the house there a month or two ago. And as he went, it was near pitch dark out.

The last potholes were done by the light of the headlights of the Stoat. The Stoat is running beautifully after John's last repairs, even better than before it broke down. No more black smoke bombs, and no sudden belches of confusion from the engine. Just the normal, steady, clack clack clack of diesel engines everywhere. It's much happier about heavy loads and handles as much like a truck as ever before. It'll be really fun to use in Boulder.

Eventually, we finished, and the very last of the gravel leveled out the last of the holes in the driveway, it was pretty much perfect. We showered, stuck Fezzik into Doggy Jail and then went to Redmond Town Center for a movie and dinner. I was tired and wanted something fun.

We watched Mel Gibson's Payback. It is not a likable movie. The protagonist kind of goes out of his way to make himself unlikable. Those that are around him are even more unlikable, however, so it works in some sense. It is, however, a clear and pretty interesting movie, with some good clever bits, interesting puzzles solved in interesting and ruthless ways.

I think it's one in a line of movies about both protagonists and antagonists that are more practical than moral, where what works is really the bottom line. I have to admire that that is my attitude towards many things, and that includes things even at the line of Clinton. His policies do monetary practical good. It works. I don't really care about his socially acceptable morals, what I care about is his pragmatism relative to the things that affect my life. Maybe these movies are a reflection of what may well be called an age of pragmatism.

We slept well.

I woke up fairly early, though, as there was, of all things SUNSHINE in my bedroom. First time in months. Four to be exact. I woke up at 9 and couldn't get back to sleep. So, instead, I just lay out, naked, in the sunshine for a good hour while John ran off to get a pressure washer. Yum. Eventually I got up, made my list of things To Do and started in on them.

  • Laundry
  • Pack everything in the livingroom
  • Water the plants
  • Feed the Plants
  • Brush Fezzik
  • Drink fresh roasted Kona peaberry
  • Fold clothes
  • Dust all discovered surfaces

Fezzik was hard to catch and get to roll onto his side for his brushing, as he really didn't want us even close to his nasty hot spot, it was better today, less red, less seeping, but it was still very tender. But I finally got him down in the sunshine on the porch and then as I started to brush him he relaxed in the warmth and started to stretch with the brush strokes.

I also tried out my M600 Pelikan and the pen is just a dream. It's a smooth and beautiful writer, the barrel wide enough that it's easy on my hands and light enough that I could use it for a very, very long period if I wished to, interestingly enough, with the ink in it, the weight balanced the rest of it for very fine control. The ink flows, in the chamber, to be close to the point, not the far end of the shaft, so the weight balance is nicer for writing with the ink in it.

When it was 1 p.m. John came in, showered, changed, and I changed as well, and the two of us drove the pressure washer back to the rental agency and then we went to church for a memorial services for Gene Endicott, who died last week. I have to admit that I really didn't want to go to the memorial service. I wasn't really interested in getting that much more involved with the church anymore, but Gene was very special. I didn't agree with him much, he was far more conservative than I probably will ever be, but I respected him deeply anyway, and any kind of personality that is that way I had to pay my respects to. He was of high morality, of steadfast faith and solid beliefs. He disagreed politely and respected those that didn't agree with him, which is a rare and valuable thing these days. And I think I learned from him more about what it is to be both gentle and still have real, solid boundaries of what's Right and Wrong than I have from anyone that just agreed with me.

So I went and I don't regret it. The things I could have done in those hours, I could do any time. This was literally a once in a lifetime event, and I was glad to have been part of it and, in some ways, a part of his life.

Afterwards, we went to the reception with everyone, and then went to the doctor to get John checked out, while we wanted the hour to get him in, we slipped off to the grocery store and bought a hopeful set of groceries to put together an appetizer for the dinner we were to have that night. I say hopeful, as we planned for two appetizers, but ended up only having time for one as the doc took so long getting to John.

So in the end, when we got home, I ran upstairs, burst out of my dress, slammed on sweats that wouldn't mind cooking oil, then ran downstairs and started washing and hand-shredding oyster and shitake mushrooms, chopping shallots, and chopping, very finely, handfuls of fresh oregano and chive. Olive oil and butter went into a pan, were heated 'til they were hazelnut colored and then *hissssssss* into the pan went the mushrooms. Three minutes of stir frying, then a cover was applied and all the liquid comes sizzling out of the mushrooms. Another three minutes with the lid off and all the liquid is cooked off, then all the herbs are thrown in on top of the cooked mushrooms and the air fills with the fresh scent. High heat for a few more minutes, until the herbs are on just the edge of charring (the expensive restaurant verbiage for 'burnt'), and the whole mess goes into a bowl next to a bowl with goat cheese and on a tray of thinly sliced, chewy and densely textured French bread.

I had to do something nice. It was our last dinner with that group. It's a group that's been together for years and years, dinnering for the last five as folks left Data I/O and Synario. It's sharp, smart, and gourmet, and in the last few years, everyone has been having babies, other than John and I. Paul and Diedre brought Isabel tonight, and she was so cute it was nearly painful, but also really cool as they've been wanting a kid for a while. She was the entertainment for everyone for the evening, and did that job proud.

Kevin and Charlie, Dave and Linda's two boys, served dinner. They were paid for their waiters' duties and took their job pretty seriously. Linda had catered other things during the day and runs a small catering business, so the food that night was absolutely excellent. Beautiful prime ribs, restuffed baked potatoes, vegetable medley and a poached pear in chocolate sauce with chocolate almond biscotti for dessert. Really excellent food. After dinner we all sat around in the livingroom for a while and then Dave built 'one last bonfire for the Rosty's' outside.

The night outside was surprising. It was cold and clear and dry. The trees disappeared into the night sky, looking nearly as if they were holding up the sky, just like in the old Tsimshan legend, where all the animals and men put the sky up out of the way of knocking their heads by pushing it up with the lodge pole pines. The fire was lovely and hot and fierce once we got the coals going, and we all crowded around the firelight, faces flickering with the light, and we talked and talked and talked about old times and new, about adventures and peace, and about what it takes to realize that maybe enough was enough and that rich isn't the amount of money but really the amount of content one has with ones life.

I'm really going to miss that. I know that I'm really going to miss all of them.

Eventually someone looked at their watch, and we all suddenly found out that it was 2 a.m.. Oops. There was a general scramble to get back home to abandoned babysitters, and we hugged everyone and everyone wished us luck with our new adventure. I got pictures of everyone, with the digital camera, and I think that they'll turn out nicely.

Sometimes I feel somewhat odd capturing memories in bits, the images that should remember what once was. But this is no different than that, I guess. Journal in bits or pictures in bits, same bits, same memories.

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