Forget about Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Andrew Cuomo is now the acting President of the United States. Trump continues to think that the job of president is “reality show moderator in chief.”
Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, the governor of New York State and a former member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, has been doing a morning update every day this week with facts, figures, and reassuring stories about his own family. He has been showing us what humanity, decency, and competence look like. CNN, MSNBC and even Fox News are carrying Cuomo’s morning updates live nationwide.
Now that America has figured out that not only has Trump been lying to them for years but that the Republican Party and their trickle down economics for the past 40 years has been a scam, the country is turning it’s back on Trump and the GOP. Every time Trump speaks, the stock market goes down even more and faster. America now gets it.
In Brazil, the people are demanding that right wing president Jair Bolsonaro step down because he did the same thing Trump has done in failing to prepare for a crisis that was obviously coming and then lying to his people about it for months.
Soon we will see demands that Trump step down and let somebody who actually knows how to run a government replace him. It can’t come fast enough.
Since Thom posted the above, DT has shown just how little he either understands what leadership demands of a President in these unprecedented times and/or just does not care or has no capability to care about putting anyone else at moral risk.
Frankly, I think he just does not give a damn.
He could suggest the lifting of social distancing only if he has no idea whatsoever about the way Corona unfolds on a population not defending itself. He could not entertain that thought if his concern were not exclusively for his take from the economy before it gets the dirty gold lucre of his 1% cronies cleaned out of its fabric. Which it needs anyway.
And the rest of us, how do we feel about this now? How do we feel knowing that Turtleface Mitch and all his little Republiturtles minus the Only Republican Man, Mitt, made sure DT could stay in office and work his devilish evil on the rest ofd us without control, without penalty?
And the rest of us, how do we feel about DT finally flying the true colors of his murderous pirate flag? How would we feel if we were at war with a growing enemy, but whose growth we were finally beginning to hamper so that new weapons could be field tested, weapons that could stop and in some cases destroy this enemy? And then how would you feel if the Commander in Chief said that in two weeks, since we would have all our miracle weapons then, he would tell our army to stash their arms and go home? Having some new weapons-possibly- would render any more direct action unnecessary. The CiC would respond that all will be well in two weeks. He simply ignores or bullies down anyone pointing out the state of affairs in China, Italy, France, Germany, Britain, etc. The CiC would then talk about his recocvery plan when we do not even have a “stimulus” plan to hold us together until recovery. And that, with no mention at all of the enemy still in the field and growing?
If his actions did not constitute a national emergency, then what could?.
Would we not be fearful for our lives? Would we not be furious, redhot angry that we suddenly had no protection? Aand then add: the Commanders Senatorial lackeys had sandbagged and destroyed the only constitutional weapon against bad faith incompetence in a C i C. How could we find recourse when that CiC had subverted the Justice System and Courts so that they would do his bidding without even being asked? Where within our own now dead system would or could we turn to find a course of action?
And what recourse then does that leave us against a CiC whose reckless actions manifestly endanger our lives? How do we handle being faced with the choice of moral action: do we just let go and hope that the CiC and his lackeys will lfind a way to save the whole shebang, or to act and commit immoral actions in the pursuit of an assumption of otherwise unavoidable calamity? Do we assume the CiC just made a correctable error and in his sympathetic humanity will learn and make amends, or do we assume that the CiC cannot act for anyone else and this can be handlled with actions which could not include ones otherwise immoral and illegal?
What is the key to keeping our economy from tanking in ways that will make the Depression look easy?
In. what ways have the Chinese, Italians, Germans, been able to slow down CoVId19?
In China, officials could tell employees to stay home and gets medical care because everyone has it. That then is THE indispensable lever in restricting the spread of CoVid19. McKinsey agrees on that score. Their is also a NY Times articles this am in which a very well known economist in Chicago says the same thing.
It makes me livid and scares me to death. And I mean to death very seriously because I am exactly the person who is most vulnerable to this disease. Sadly there could now be countless others who find themselves tied to the rails with the train coming.
If its spread in the US is not restricted and it spreads fast, then many more people than in China will become infected. But unlike in China, Germany, etc., many will have to go to work sick, because they do not have a uniform comprehensive coverage and will lose i income and maybe their jobs if they stay home sick. It will spread fast as people work to have the funds to be treated for the infections that raise the speed and degree of spread.
Isn’t that just great….
So: Fast spread fueled by sick workers trying to stay employed,is a real possibility here.
What other proof does anyone need that the accursed “free market” health care system in the US is a moral obscenity and a conduit for precisely the colossal national economic and thus also security calamity that the cynical, stupid, senile Republican advocates for that obscenity desperately want to avoid?
We cannot cure or stop this virus. There will not be a magical sudden appearance of some wonder cure. This is not a movie. The only effective tool is restriction. And to restrict, people must stay away from work when sick.
They cannot in the USA. Just think of it: the country with the world class academic training in managing pandemics will not let itself have the key tool to do that: universal comprehansive healthcare so that employees can stay home to recover with no fear of loss of jobs or income.
And it could wreck our economy and then the world’s. The sky could easily fall and not just on Chicken Little.
We do not have a health care system. We have a health catastrophe system, one of the best health care systems that the 19th Century can offer, owned and managed by Scrooges, Skinflints, and Sadists economic bloodsuckers. They and their Republican puppets have been able for years to intimidate, distract, b.s. and smoke out any reasonable understanding of how their system sets up the country for disaster. Yes, the Germans have it right: die Dummheit stirbt nie aus— stupidity will never become extinct.
The CoVid19 virus is showing us unequivocally what decades of rational argument have been unable to establish: our patchwork, sieve-like, rusty, creaky healthcare “system” might as free be a Big Gun aimed right at all of our Hearts. It is time we turned that gun around, aimed it at the asset-sucking leaches and vampires who own the means that limit our health and safety, and run them out of town.
Give us a break! A big bad thing called CoVid19 Pandemic is sprinting around the corner for the US. And two things are striking about our national DT: first, he is trying to make us believe that this is good because he delayed it; second—have you seen the look on his face in briefings with Fauci? Like a little kid who has lost his mommy in a Super Mal-Mart.
The nonverbals, Donald, are saying that the verbals are lying—once again. And those of us who have studied nonverbals tend to like the rule of thumb about nonverbals: the truth can be read nonverbally. Much easier than sifting through wordsmithed propaganda.
DOn’t believe me? Ask any successful actor — no not Trump, I said successful. Or dogs: they know that they can tell a humans exact emotional state by observing the left side of the face.
Try it out:
When Donald came to the White House, his stable genius told him that he shoukd eliminate the Pandemic operation at CDC. One wonders, why?
Let’s see — what was DT’s really big initiative at that time? Maybe two: 1.,trying to use Ukraine to Trump up lies against Joe Biden and 2., The Wall. It cannot have been to save money for Ukraine because he was pressuring them by withholding the committed, promised foreign aid.
So that leaves The Wall. And how successful was this initiative? Reports from locals, border patrol, whomever all, ALL say effectively that DT might as well have put up a huge block of Swiss Emmenthaler cheese —the one with all the large holes -or a fence made from large hole sieve mesh.
And now that eternal liar is strutting around saying that keeping people out earlier in his three year long temper tantrum substitute for leading — keeping them out postponed our engagement with CoVid19. Or it was his blabbing, before the truth about our state of total lack of the crux of preparedness, test kits, hit the fan.
We could have been prepared, the Germans weteandtgeybwere not hiding their efforts or resources. Die ZEIT, the online German newspaper I read, reported early during the Wuhan crisis, that a researcher in Berlin, probably at the Robert Koch Institut, had developed a valid, reliable test.
The question is: why did we not license it and use it here?
Simple:. There were no fireman in the firehouse when the flames erupted in the neighboring town. DT had closed it down.
Throw this in also: Germany, where weeks long exposure to the virus has been slowed to between 200 and 300 cases as if today, has no academic program to train for some key aspects of pandemic research and management. In Hamburg there is a team working on testing anti-CoVid19 substances. The team leader is a very skilled and well known researcher. But to get up to speed, even with the Ph D or MD and all sorts of other sub specialties, she had to leave Germany to get training at the #1 place on this earth for that: Massachusetts General Hospital.
Did we engage Mass General for anything back when we could have slowed this thing down? We still are using our scant supply for only the most severe cases. We still cannot test anyone who might have the virus, and that means that we cannot stop, hinder, or even slow this plague in the US.
Another cute little fact is this: the broken humans in charge have no policy about compensation fir this who get this but cannot afford to stay home. And they are not even discussing it! So more people will get infected right when we desperately need to reduce the infection rate.
Healthcare by Scrooge, the social Darwinism version of charity: let them die then, are there no work house, let them wait until succor trickles down from what’s left over after the 1% takes all they want.
When you find yourself eating stockpiled dehydrated foods while DT and his buddies feed their greasy gluttony with steak, when you are, wondering whether your pipes will freeze because everyone at the power company is sick and our shaky, , patchwork grid just shorted out, when you are locked away in your room unable even to pet your dog o hug your wife, when your aching tooth will just have to rot in your mouth because the dentist either won’t see you or is closed:
REMEMBER this is the gift, entirely 1000%, of our very own Stable Genius, Donald J Trump more aptly labeled the American case of DT.
And also NEVER FORGET:
our DT from the Genius Stable was saved from having been put back in his stable stall with all the other horses asses by Moscow Mitch McConnell and the Senile Senate Simpletons minus One.
These are the Servants of Self who want to continue to keep healthcare in the Unknowing States a loaded weapon, these are the Servile Skinflints who hold that loaded weapon pointed directly at my, your and our children’s and grandchildren’s hearts.
Was there ever a better case of de facto treason of the greedy, by the soulless and for the vultures against The People?
Let’s herd ‘em all up, lasso the herd leaders and drive ‘em all back into the Genius Stable with the #1 horse’s ass, ol” DT.
Well the suit must have shrunk because it feels all too tight these days.
CoVid19 Knocking at our doors, and I fit the fatality profile a bit more exactly than I would like
Facing the fact of mortality — much more up close and personal this time around (but really: been there, done that already a couple times_
A man who has no concept of Presidential leadership and is derailing a bit more every time he tries to speak effectively
Senators and supporters who astoundingly still think the Emperor really doesn’t even need new clothes
The same man and Senators who increasingly raise the emergency alarm bell concern: have they been bought by some foreign, unfriendly potentate?
Deaths of friends,
Concerns about family , other older friends and the danger to them from CoVId19
Complete mishandling by so many ( but not Smerkonish, not Dr Faust at Harvard, not Dr Fauci of CDC) of the other CoVid19 virus, panic–
worn out from holding tight on rollercoaster with a lot more roll than coast
not up to snuff in staying in the moment and stopping the core of the concern, Thinking.
A couple days ago, I finally involuntarily just shut down. Flat out, boom: all engines off. For some time I just sat in the recliner and stared back and forth from carpet, tp the wall, to the Apple TV’s moving screensaver of the Arctic, and Santa Monica,and moving across the Pacific towards the US West Coast: numb.
Then it struck me that numb is not all that bad. in fact it was half way to good. I could escape the whirling mind if I did what Eckhart Tolle teaches: get aware of surroundings, appreciate, feel a warm comfort grow along wothj anticipatory awareness, and drop out of or just dismiss the persistent, troublesome Thinking..
I tried — again and again. I had to switch off thoughts over and over again, but I kept at it for a bit. I had heard the Dalai Lama say that he and all spiritually skillful people have all the same emotions that the rest of us do, but they let go of them faster. So I should try. And I’d heard and seen Ram Dass say: don’t work on the thoughts, let ’em go, just let ’em go. So I did — over and over.
Escape via Stopping the Gold Rush
It did not take long before I was starting to flog myself with unkind Thoughts about how I could not stop my unkind Thought Out of nowhere, i recalled that .I’d read a couple of Goethes poems so often that I stopped counting (Auf dem See, Wandrers Nachrtlied II aka Ein Gleiches), and. just loved them without really knowing why.. And as the icebergs slowly moved towards me on the Visio screen, it hit me: they took me to a place of being in the present, floating on the imagery that locked me into awareness in a present moment and thus restored union with nature — of appreciative attending to those word pictures and not entranced by the golden lure of thinking I can think it all out. Alone.
On the Lake
And I draw in fresh sustenance,
New blood from the untrammeled world:
How gracious and generous is nature,
Who holds me to her bosom!
The wave sways our boat
To the rhythm of the oars,
And mountains, nebulously reaching for heaven,
Meet our course.
Eye of mine, why are you downcast?
Golden dreams, have you returned?
Away dream, golden though you are:
Here, too, there are love and life.
A thousand hovering stars twinkle on the wave,
Soft mists drink the towering horizon around us,
The morning breeze flutters over the shaded bay,
And the lake reflects the ripening fruit.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) , written 1775
.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), 1775
Elena BlackthorneUnited States, WA, Seattlehttp://www.editred.com/Uploads/st_92043_Translation_of_Auf_dem_See
Follow the word images so that you can escape that maelstrom, yuour thinking. Imagine that: a Ph D, that quintessential example of the power of rational. thinking, has led me to a place of no thinking at all! An irony? perhaps, but in the end, a gift And as I was being in the moment, something passed an idea into the warm comfort: what about those winter times back up on the mountain– shift your focus to something that you like. Be grateful and express that – -convincingly for once.
Was someone or something watching me secretly? I had just finished reviewing many of the wintertime pictures I had taken in our mountain home between 1998 and 2017, when we moved..
Out of the Water and Down the Ski Slope
Heavens, how we miss our home. We put our backs and our souls into it — it looking so confidently and, for us, welcomingly down the ridge, oveer the edge and out into the cove far belowl What a treasure it gave us in living the Blue Ridge mountain life.
Today, we are in a small home that is functional and right sized for us and Roxy and Lutz, our two German Shepherds (#s 6 and p7 since 2001 when Bruno came to us). This house fits our ages, but our hearts ache for the beauty, adventure, peaceful coexistence with nature — of almost 20 years. It was and will always be home for both of us.
A wonder and also a fright at times was winter on the Ridge. It drew out of us special efforts, at times more courage than we really wanted to summon up, and for me, advengture in service. And that is because winter brought me, The Old Plowguy, outdoors on this:
Me on my Yamaha 660 Grizzly ATV with 5’ steel snow plow blade
For most of my years there, the Grizzly and I plowed the snow off our 1.6 miles of asphalt and gravel. Sometimes I did another stretch of about ½ mile (guess) on a second stretch of rough gravel road.
Over the years, the exhaustion of several hours muscling around 800 pounds of Grizzly and blade wore thin. Sometimes it was admittedlly dangerous. I plowed when the first snow fell at temperatures just above freezing, in order minimize the inevitable re-freeze ice pack forming under the second fall. If you were out and about on that day, you had to be back coming up the mountain by 3 PM. Otherwise, you would be trying to drive on an uphill icerink under slippery snow.
Meanwhile, I would be out there dodging those who thought that they could handle uphill icerinks in rear axle drive cars. Their cars would be found either stuck in the inside ditch, off on a turnout patch, or just abandoned all the way down by the mailboxes. I gave lots of folks an interesting ride going up the icerink on the atv. Griz never needed chains, but my passengers did not know that. I think they found the ride invigorating at least.
I found it tiring. The atv with blade is front heavy and in total weighed about 800 pounds. That means that the atv could easily become dangerous with the blade down, under power that is just a teen big too fast and without that sense for what the snow would permit that only experience could impart . Too much gas, too much speed, not having figured out where to dump the plowed load safely and all of a sudden the atv becomes a pendulum attached to the pinned down blade. That is 600+ lbs swinging across an icy road that is max 12 feet wide. And swinging towards a sheer drop of lots of vertical feet. You could easily wind up down that slope and have the atv come down on top of you.
It was hard work that took skill and experience. I would come home soaked through the underclothes and into the snowmobile suit I wore. And at temperatures sometimes near zero. Then the next day out I would go again to plow it all over again, but this time pushing a good depth of snow off of the thin ice underneath.
Somegtimes the first of the double snowfalls would start at dusk. So, avoiding the accumulation of two snowfalls occasionally meant nighttime plowing with no lights except the two and (later on) an led light bar on the front of the Grizzly.
That was what led me , Griz’s to our nighttime near catastrophic, amazing victory over mountain and weather.
To roll the tape back a bit first: The Grizzly was a wonderful machine. I got it out of self defense and used it with great pride and joy, When we first moved up on that ridge, there were no neighbors at all anywhere near at all. You have to understand: we moved from New Jersey where one neighbor’s house was almost close enough to touch, the other housed a guy who thought it really cool to run the truck engine he was building — right: building — outdoors at 7AM . Two houses away was the fire station, where rhe guys thought is just hunky-dory to sound the alarm at 3 am fire or not. And then there was the collection of unwanted large items. If you wanted to lose something, you just put it on the curb in front of your house and the five finger discount folks came by at night while you were either asleep or distracted by the fire siren and took it. There was no such thing as no neighbors nowhere to be seen or heard where we had lived in Joisey.
It all changed so fast. One day we were sleeping our last night in a Civil War house in Joisey: —one we liked despite all the intrusion of our all too up close and personal neighborhood. Two nights and some hundreds of miles later, we were trying to sleep in our new house up on the ridge at about 3000 feet. No friends, no dogs in the house, no way out in bad weather and lots of hints of Unseen Things in the woods just outside our windows.
OK, so we were no heroes. It was an adventure but also scary at times, occasionally ridiculously so. LIke seeing at night the two red eyes peering into our solarium from outside and not going away no matter what we did. We knew what the dangers in Joisey were, but here, in the woods, at night, there could be Things Unknown. And for nights on end we sat up scared stiff at the two red eyes staring, staring, boring in on use from the woods maybe 15 feet from our bedroom on the main floor..
We finally threw in the towel and moved the bedroom to upstairs. But there they were, thjose two red eyes had followed us and knew where we were higding out. What if now it could get in while we were upstairs asleep? That may have been when I cast off my Northeastern liberal refusal to have weapons in the house and bought a 12 gauge shotgun with buckshot at WalMart. And for what? It turned out that the red eyes were lights from the breaking glass sound detector we had ADT install on moving in. They were reflecting off the inside of the solarium windows which we could see from the main floor or upstairs.
After all, in Joisey, They could be coming to break in. Right? When we told the off duty Sheriff Deputy, who checked on our house after closing but before we moved in, that we had an alarm system installed (No Deutsche Schaeferhund dogs yet at that time), I thought he would have a heart attack laughing. And over time it was very clear: where we were and with the steep, narrow old logging road we had, having al alarm system was as useful an addition as a life saver vest would be for a fish.
There’s a lot more stories where that came from, but I digress – -which by the way I do very well. Back onto the trail here.
Ol’ Griz Saves Ol’ Greg
We moved into our house in December. Not too long after that, In our very first Blue Ridge winter, we had our first Blue Ridge snow and sleet storm. It started later in the afternoon and kept on coming and coming. We could see it filiing up the abojut 450 feet of our drive, from the windows of the library room over the garage.
Now you need to understand: I grew up in Michigan. Snow? So what! Walk miles back and forth to school in blizzards, deliver a Detroit newspaper from a one speed Roadmaster bike in the wintertime dark, in ice storms, in snow storms: the paperboy always delivered. And it was an article of growing manliness that you delivered never dismounting, never missing a porch throwing the rolled up papers. And I shoveled out our home drive and walks. So: I could shovel with the best of them, I had my monster snow thrower which I”d brought from NJ, I had the right gloves and winter clothes. Ice, sleet, freezing rain, fog on ice, snow? No problem, you can take the boy out of Michigan, but you cannot take the Michigan out of the boy. Yep, I know snow, can handle snow.
Except that in MIchigan the boy knew snow that was much more on relatively level land, the boy relied for any help on the neighbors all over the place. I was not used to dealing with snow on ice on slopes so steep that even some pro-plowers would not come up to help us out. And God, being the ever aware instructor that He She They is/are, made sure I got the right tools for mountains, a powerful awd atv with locking differential, and then learned fast how to use it. By the time we moved, I modeestly say with full confidence, I knew it all about atvs on snow. The boy had added to his snow management repertoire..
As I watched the ice-sleet-snow stuff cascade down onto our very long gravel drive, that knot of fear began to tie up my guts. The slush was piling up on the drive and would turn to ice overnight. And I had no way to remove it: my showthrower brought from New Jersey was very heavy, unwieldy on slopes, and would have simply slid down the drive and over the edge just across from the apron of our drive several hundred feet down a sharp incline. And no way could I have shoveled any of it away.
This was apparently God’s first immersion course lesson in mountain life. As a friend once said, if you just can’t live any more with a chainsaw in one hand and your atv keys in the other, it’s time to move off the mountain. I was just learning that you had to do that.
Next morning our drive had 3 inches of ice on it. Three inches of frozen slush,– that much, I’d never seen before. How on earth were we going to be able to get out? Our supplies would soon dwindle away and, Oh my Gawd, WE WILL STARVE UP HERE AND NOBODY WILL KNOW IT !
I wish I could find pictures I am almost certain I had taken. Living up there brought endless and unexpected just great photo ops: that camera had very quickly almost attached itself to me as a new appendage. Which was just fine by me and has bought me wonders of gratitude now.
Long story short, across the cove, which was several thousand yards away from us, mostly nearly straight down from the outside edge of the road at the bottom of our very long gravel drive, Bob B who was building a log house a stretch up the mountain from us. Bob had an atv with a plow. I had heard him buzzing alonmg down on the road. He had established himself as The Lone Plowguy for our scattered, “gently sloping” (real estate-ese for steep inclines) community.
So, holding onto trees and frozen tall vegetation, I’d managed to get down to the road without falling. After waiting for a long time and freezing my you-know-what off, I saw him and hailed him for help. He’d been plowing a bit where the ice was not that thick but his atv would not handle that drive. Someone had in the meanitme hired a guy on a backhoe with a blade to scrape uphill…. After ;more frozen waiting, we got in touch with him when he came up our way and asked for his help plowing me out. He said no. He could not plow that but with the forks on the backhoe bucket,he could rip up the drive to let the chunks then melt over time. So he ripped up the drive surface in to large ice chunks and the pushed them over the side.
No charge. Mountain folks, real mountain folks, help each other –they are a very cooperative clan of highly individual, skilled, economical and just wonderfully friendly folks. All they ask is that you be willing to listen for a half hour after you greet them with Hey Billy, how’r yew? I came to value that immensely.
No charge that is except for paying another guy a lot to come up and regrade the whole drive.
So right then and there I decided, I was going to have an atv at least as powerful as Bobs, and then split up the road for plowing with him. I got the atv all right, — actually more powerful than Bob’s, but Bob would not share plow duty. He wanted the Lone Plowguy role for himself. He moved away however very shortly and that’s how I and the Grizzly became The Lone Plowguy. And came to feel just like he did about sharing the plowing on My Mountain Road.
The big test for the Plowguy and his old pal, Griz, came one evening some years later, in a two stage snow+ice+sleet storm. The weather guys had reported the Lone Plowguys Nightmare: wet semi freezing heavy snow with sleet and some ice coming down in buckets, starting at about 5 pm and going till about 9. And then starting up again in the morning with colder air and snow, a number of inches.
If that froze at night and then got covered in the morning with newfallen snow, we were cooked. Under that white blanket would be an icerink on a narrow, downhill slope. Not even chains would get you down. And we had had our fill of Florida residents who thought, no problem, I’ll just stoke up the Sequoia, hop in with my coffee traveler, and lope on down to the road which I know will be clear. Snow and ice? No problem, we will “adjust” –was how they put it the first time they tried it.
It did not happen twice unless they were unusually stubborn and had had their brains fried by too much sun and too many Pina Coladas,.
I had gotten real tired of getting either a cell call or having some snow covered Floridian knock on my door, after having trudged up the Ski Slope and up our drive, in deep snow, to ask me to stoke up mmy Sequoia or the griz and help him get his Sequoia out of the ditch halfway down thje ski slope. Because they had no idea at all how to shift the Sequoia into all wheel drive that could back that SUV backwards up a greased telephone pole. And ofcourse always blocking the road. Always before I’d had a chance to plow it despite my frantic pleas to wait till I let them know the road was plowed (also because packed tire tracks are hard to plow up without ripping up the road itself).. And always seemingly at some inconvenieent hour.t.
So at 4 PM I began donning the long johns, the insulated undershirt, the snowmobile suit, the cloth inside helmet head cover, the snowmobile gloves, the yellow goggles for evening, and the tall insulated rubberized boots that kept the feet from freezing sitting on the metal runners of Griz. It was a lot of work, and then I trudged out of the house, across the yard in deep snow, and down the flagstone path in deep snow to the unheated shed where Griz awaited –sweating like a dray horse on a hot day even before putting the key into the Grizzlys off and on switch..
You checked Griz all over: were the bolts on the plow tight? the contacts on the electric motor that pivoted the plow snug and still waterproofed? How about the winch rope that attached the 3,000 pound lift weight rated winch to the hundred pound steel 5 foot snow blade? Was the tank full and did I have extra gas, a shovel, some gravel, a rope with clamps, an engineeers hammer and steel spikes, a winch rope repair kit, my coffee traveler, and an extra set of keys? Was the bluetooth headset inside my helmet working to call Nancy if I slid into the ditch? If I slid over the edge, I woild not have to worry to call because 800 pounds of atv wouild tumble onto me as we fell and, well, you can guess the rest.
It always took Griz a long time to start. The shed was not heated and Griz’ oil was often like molasses in January. It seemed that he always decided to start just when I was about to kick him and give up. I think the profanily gave that extra needed spark.
Well all of the above transpired on that fateful evening. I have to admit, I’d never before plowed the whole road in the dark with snow and sleet falling. Nonetheless, I got down our drive and just plowed a lane through the near freezing slush, down the ski slope part of the road down to R’s house, cleared the left hand turn so that it would be less to push coming back up, and , went down that slope to tke hairpin turnaround, and from there, now on asphalt. down the hill — plowing all the way, with occasional turns to the left to push the snowmound I had accumulated in front over the drop off. I once calculated that Griz and I moved of tons of snow in a typical plowing episode.
I pushed loads of wet snow carefully over and down the outside road edge, often very near 90 degree straight down to the cove. Yes, cautiously, to be sure, but also confidently as I had done it all so often before. The lights on the atv to my infinite relief really lit up the road well.
I went down to the mailboxes –turnd around and stopped to take the dusk picture of the single lane you saw abo ve.
And then started pushing the heavy load in short bursts uphill and again off to the side. Griz was lifting, pivoting and lowering that blade like a champ..
At the top of the rise coming up from the mail boxes, on the left, was a friend’s house, He had a very steep and angled drive which was hard to shovel off by hand. He’d also had abdominal surgery and I knew that he would not be able to cleaf that off at all. He and his wife were also German Shepherd dog people — as were we, they also were owned by a couple of those great dogs. So I thought, what the hell, I’ll just take a moment and scrape it off for him.
At the top of his drive, where I’d first gone to get a bit of gravity help to plow down the sides, I raised my blade to back up and there was a loud WHACK noise and the blade slammed down hard onto the asphalt.
At first, belileve it or not, I was embarrassed and hoped that nobody would come out and ask, what’s wrong? I had no idea. The Lone Plowguy is, by definition, always in charge, always prepared, always cool calm and collected. That must have been another Lone Plowguy. The only thoughts in my mind were: what the hell just happened and how can I finesse this in front of my admiring crowds (none of which were out there of course)?
A quick inspection showed that the winch rope had snapped,and backlashed its frayed, wound cold steel lines into a Gordian knot inside the winch housing.. Now why peojple call that wound steel cable a rope I will never know. I sure could not tie it together like rope. I do know that men like that term and that it is especially a favorite of men who pronounce [asphalt’] as “ash-fault”, and with just a little bit of arrogant authority. Anyway, in a panic to see if I could repair it, I found that I had all the repair tools I would need, but none of the right cable clamps. Moreover, my cell was not reaching home from there, so I could not get a ride and leave Griz on trhe road to –do what with tomorrow: the damned blade was down, the cable snarled on he winch, and the socalled wintry mix was coming down harder. And really, was I going to remove my gloves in freezing sleet to try to unwind gnarled steel winch cable (take that ash-fault snobs) inside a still installed winch housing? Was I nuts?
Slowly it dawned on me with a bit of a combined chill and thrill: I would have to drive up 1.6 miles of road, ascending somewhere near 1000 feet, pushing through very weighty and unwieldy semi-frozen snow and ice mounds i’d left along the inside of the road coming down, on ice that had formed under rhe slush, on Griz without his ice chains and with 100lbs of blade locked onto the ground uphill in front of me. I was scared stiff that at some point the pushback from the accumulating onto the pinned down blade would cause me on the Griz to pendulum and slide backwards over the outside edge of the road.
Griz was about to show me his mettle or at best, I’d have a very long walk back home without a flashlight on ice.
I locked the differenrtial, put griz inro gear and shoved the throttle, as WW2 fighter pilots said about going into war speed in emergencies, “balls to the wall.”, (plastic balls atop the two engine throttles all the way to the firewall — sorry alpha males and imaginaative females, but it had no physiological meaning),
All I can say is: wow. Old Griz did not even-grunt in pain.! My boy just dug his rubber claws into the pavement, leaned up into the slope, and wrestled, punched, pushed and slammed the snow all over the place all the way to rhe garage door at home and in record time. After about one minute riding with complete trust in Griz, I just leaned into the incline with him and we had just a unmatchable victory adventure up that dark little narrow old logging road, riding in complete harmonious mutual control.
Man did I love it: the Lone Plowguy Rode Again! It never got better than on that night.
In all this story telling, however, I have missed one part of my life with the Griz: the sense of thrill going up and down the slopes on a bright, cold morning, slopes in such pristine, clean, white blankets of snow. I wished old Griz could ferry me and my cameras but leave no tracks:the newfallen snow is so utterly soothingly beautiful.
Hail, from the Victors
Well there you are, now a sort of digital Tonto to my equally digital Lone Plowguy. But you know, as I’ve been immersed in writing this, figuring out how to get video into a block but mostly closely examining my pictrures and videos to see where I want them to fit in this narrative, there has been very little thought angst about the maelstrom of maladies swirling around us these days. Mostly I feel–have emotion–and it is the emotion we call gratitude, although I guess there is thought there too. Do I care? No. It is just great relief. Thanks for reading my sharing.