Friday, December 11, 2009

Oi, what a day!

Poor M. He came home to some really bad sh*t.

He's spent all summer building his very cool but enormously expensive concrete dome, installing a solar-powered pump in his well, a cistern, and a boatload of buried water pipe. He's pretty close to broke, but that was okay because a deal he'd been involved with for months was going to result in a check *any* *day* *now.*

It's been going to result in a check any day now for months. W and I were...well, not convinced. So no sooner do we get home from our entertaining but disastrous trip to the city, but he finally gets word that the fellow who owes him money is in bankruptcy and every dime he allegedly owns is in escrow. M is, to use a legal term, screwed.

Since he was planning to winter in the city anyway, this causes him to move his timetable forward to, like, yesterday. He spent the evening before packing, got some sleep, and woke up to the sound of water slowly flushing 'cross his chamber floor.

Now, a word about the barn apartment. Technically, it's heated. We installed a "free" furnace a friend had given us, which is capable of generating sufficiently gigantic numbers of BTUs to melt the entire structure into big tin puddles. What we didn't know at the time is that the fan on the "free" furnace pulls like 50 amps, which means it's impossible to run the thing for more than a few minutes at a time before the entire gulch's power system gets the vapors and collapses on its fainting couch. So in reality, the barn apartment is not heated. Last night it got really, really cold. A pipe burst under the sink in the barn apartment (I'm guessing he didn't set the faucet on "drip" - vitally important) and water was freaking everywhere. We closed the valve, emptied the water heater, sopped up water, sighed heavily. (Guess who gets to fix that.) Then after things settled down he went to the dome to put tools away. Got to the site, attempted to throw the pickup in reverse to back up to the dome, and...the clutch pedal went to the floor. He walked back to my place with the news, and we hiked to the truck together.

"Yup," I said, "hydraulic trouble. Either the master or the slave cylinder has taken a dump. Nothing we can do here. Sorry, dude, you've a ride to the shop in your future."

So we hiked back to get the Jeep and a tow strap. But it's winter, and in winter the Jeep's battery goes on vacation to Cabo San Lucas. Wowwowwooowwoooooowtictictictic...

I told him the "bad luck with machines" force was strong with him today, and asked him to please stay away from the power system.

Put the jump box on the Jeep, get it running, let it warm up, drive to the pickup. For a wonder nothing bad happens while we tow the pickup the 15 miles through windy, up-and-down "roads" and out to the shop in town. Drive back, wait for the estimate. Good news, I was right: The clutch slave cylinder crapped out. Bad news: It's inside the transaxle. $850, please. For a guy with maybe $500 to his name, this could have gone better.

Oddly, M is now more determined than ever to get the hell out of here. I just don't understand his attitude: Clearly he is resisting the will of the Desert Gods, who wish him to stay. He borrows money for the repair. Incredibly, the guys at the local shop ("Our motto: It'll take at least a week") agree to fix the truck that very day, and then actually do. But by now it's like six in the evening, far too late to head for the city.

Yeah, says me. M, on the other hand, is glancing fearfully about for falling asteroids: He wants GONE.

And - sigh - gone he is. Hope he made it. I'll miss him through the winter; he's a good friend. Though, I confess, I won't miss his high energy levels. It's hibernatin' time.

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