Five days, fifteen hours per, doing 55 in case the tires on the trailer blew - I was pulling 15 year old tires, always out in the weather and highly suspect, and I thought of so much to write about as I rolled the miles under.  I had South Dakota's entire tourism p.r. program revamped in my back-brain half way across; scrap the big crosses and the you-know-who loves you billboards along the verge; bring out the Amazing RoadKill Survivors Museum and Zoo:

see! two-legged predators wildly lurching in pursuit of amazingly agile two-legged prey in sets simulating their natural habitat;

touch! antelope on life support in the petting zoo section (suitable for younger viewers);

observe! the headless rattler being fed at 9, 12 and 3 daily by a trained veterinary nurse with a tiny funnel, and

feel! (for a small extra fee) the horrific impact of the viper's strike (via its Styrofoam prosthesis) as it slams into your flesh (electrically  induced);

visit! prairie dogs on dialysis;

help!! change Betty Deer's colostomy bag.

Ahhhhh!!! Such possibilities!  They would come from across the world for this - if it was marketed correctly.  South Dakota would bloom as a place to be seen.

The produce of a bent mind?  Is that what you think?  No, the plan fermented in my brain for hours, a  fever beyond aspirin's ministrations, beyond talk-show therapy, way past one-god's reach. That's what the plains are like - hours and hours of time to ponder as your eyes glaze over and your knees lock.  It's the counter-zen conflagration of actually being 'here and now', but hoping like hell that something will happen soon - just not the blow out. Small gods and large preserve us: not the blowout!

Every morning I slammed 3 Monster cans of coffee-flavored energy drinks, plus memory-enhancing ginseng, to get my clock wound anew from the sunrise moment, when the bats of hell head home, I among them.  Stuffing burritos thru the day I followed my neural ribbon of caffeine from gas station disaster to pump catastrophe.  Come dark I would be fading and falling into an overpriced motel to recover.  I really think five days of that was all I had in me.  My bank balance shared the assessment. 

Now I am in Tacoma, ten days in Tacoma, La Casa Nueva achieved, rested, my mind no longer red-lining on gadget-drinks and pseudopharm potions, and I have no desire to write at all. None; it was washed off me with the smell of hot engine oil and prairie dust, but I will forge ahead anyhow; that's the sort of trooper I am.

Between flying out of here for Maine in April and my return I was gone almost a month. An empty house is a dismal thing.  There is a negative energy to it that sucks at you.  Memories of the place it used to be fray at the enormity of the emptiness it has become. Each day I cleaned, arranged, prepped and wished - wished like prayer, the house into salable condition.  Michael-from-next-door was often about helping out.  I had offered to sell them the house for $125,000.  Compared to their rent-to-buy place next door, priced at $180,000, I thought mine a good offer.  While 160 was a bit smaller it gave them a lot more outside:  a garden, apple orchard, greenhouse, barn and separate tractor shed, and fenced acre for Labradoodle Rosie.  The idea wasn't flying with them; I labored on trying to get ready for a May First listing.

Then one morning Michael and Rebecca show up at the barn, where I was pushing things around pretending I was arranging, to announce they did want to buy the house.  I was so pleased. They said they would take over the rest of the fixing up. I could get out of town as soon as papers were drawn up and signed. 

To understand the deal you have to understand that I like these people very much; they were the perfect match for what I had envisioned:  a family moving in which would use everything the place was set up for.  The apple trees will blossom into a cider orchard with someone in charge who will use the press to squeeze the juice.  My 150 asparagus will now feed a family for the next 20 years.  The blackberry, blueberry and raspberry bushes, ditto.  All my garlic will get picked in August and used.  It is exciting to think of the three boys having all this to grow up with.  They already love the chickens, and goats will follow next year.  Rebecca wants goats;  Rebecca dreams of having goats.

The ForseyEngland part in this is for Pat and me to forgo any cash-out thoughts and carry the paper for 30 years. Keep it all simple; almost no cash on the line, just a transition into a new paradigm. This might sound crazy, but if it works right what they pay us each month will come close to offsetting our own mortgage here in Tacoma.  Very nifty.  I have no doubt that it will all work out.  My lawyer in the process was very skeptical, feeling I had put us at great financial risk on a whisper and a prayer.  Once he met Michael and Rebecca he called me and said he understood.

I feel that in one tiny corner all is well in the world.

The last couple of days in Auburn I was all about packing truck and trailer.  Having wildly given away gobs of stuff I began to see what of the remainder I could take.  Things got missed and left.  My lovely old heavy Baldor grinder with castings like a battle tank was one of them.  How many times a day do you find yourself turning to your grinder to do a little shaping and trimming?  Several, I warrant, if you are like me.

In Tacoma with no bench grinder and a deep need to see sparks fly I stumbled off, riddled with shame, to Harbor Freight. It is unbelievable to me what it is costing to replace things I just casually handed off or abandoned.  Hoping the quality of Chinese tools has improved I picked up a cheap 8" bench top.  Two different employees explained to me the advantage of the 2 year extended warranty.  The young lady said "If you even get a scratch on it and don't like the way it looks just bring it back and we give you a new one, no question asked."  I declined her offer.  At the cash register a young man gave me the same spiel, but said "Switch goes out, bearings go bad, motor quits.... just bring it in for a new replacement."  His offer did sound more tempting, but I again declined, so he gave it to me for free.  Even if their tools are not better their customer service is pretty good.  Given the tenuous state of Chinese electrics I was happy to be covered.

Saw a heavy, 100 #, and good looking tool grinder at HF yesterday.  Checked it out online and it is a copy of the $1300 Baldor tool grinder. (Copy as in they did manage to color between the lines but the quality would not be nearly the same.)  Was $175 at HF plus 25% off today; I bought it and will follow online advice to give it what tweaking is possible.

I have ordered a heavy duty variable speed controller to slow it down from 3450rpm; cooler and slower cutting will improve my grinding.  Replacing one of the green carbide-cutting wheels with an 80 grit aluminum oxide will allow me to tackle steel edges. The tables are supposed to be adjustable but are really sloppy. With them squared up and locked in tight I will get my angles using some homemade sharpening jigs; not having the wherewithal to do any machining I will make my jigs out of oak.  The main thing I want to sharpen is wood chisels;  I am not worth a damn grinding them freehand.  I read  reviews from multiple sources and the unit, given its price, when the modifications are done, is recommended.  Was pricing the old Baldor I forgot in the basement - sheesh!  depending on the model the things go for $300 and up; not even a tool grinder with tables.  The replacement cost of stuff is incredible.

Only other news, other than that Pat is on the train heading for the Bay Area to attend Amber's HS graduation, is that Sgt. Rock has become a permanent outside cat.  In Auburn she had claimed the basement as her ancilliary cat box, which was ok as I was the only one who used it.  Here she claimed the carpet downstairs around Zoe's door, then the upstairs bedroom began to smell, and now we find a closet she has tried to ruin the floor in.  The finish is eaten off the oak and the wood is all black.  Tacoma is a fairly mild place to live outside.  I have lots of hope for her.  She is a very young 13.

One other thing that caught my eye:  I was in line at the store, behind a one-legged man on Canadian crutches, and a boy of about 8 or 9 came over and squatted down on his haunches behind the man and peered up underneath him.  I could see he was quite fascinated.  I was either in a Fellini shoot or the boy had simply never seen a man with one leg before and could not fathom where the other had gone.  There was something of an absolute innocence in his interest.

I will go.  The letter will go.  All is well here, and I hope with all of you.  don and pat and creatures.

A Circle Completed