Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scrap, Sweet Dreams and Stardust

I'm a bit late on doing my Perseid meteor shower update.

Monday was a day that can only be described as beyond hectic. Checked the Internet, ran all over the farm, loaded the dump truck, took it to the scrap yard. Which is 60 miles round trip in a 30 year old truck that rides like a bucking bronco. Believe me, I don't need to go to the gym to get a workout.

For those of you who have never enjoyed a trip to a scrap yard... I can only tell you that it's not worth writing about, but I will.

It used to be pretty boring, drive up, weigh in, dump the scrap, weigh out. Now, it's drive up, "Ve vill see your papers!", show ID to the scale operator, who runs it through the computer. Then drive over to get inspected by the Scrap Yard Inspector; "Where did you get the scrap? What city? Have you and the scrap been separated since you loaded it on the truck? Was anyone seen to approach the scrap? Has anyone offered you scrap today?" I explain that I have a scrap-sniffing dog on the farm and that he has raised his leg in approval, giving his mark of acceptance. It's that stain on the right rear tire.

Mr. Serious Scrap Yard Inspector will not tolerate ANY jocularity or attempts thereof. "Where did you get the truck, what year is it, make and model?" I answer all the pertinent questions. He notes that there are a couple of tires still on the rusty bicycles, mixed in with about 2,000 pounds of clean steel. "I don't like to pay for plastic or rubber tires, next time, cut the tires off." I resist the urge to snap off a "Jawhol, mein fuhrer!" and just nod at him. Give a clown a clipboard and you'll have a full-fledged tyrant by the end of the week. I hope he hasn't seen that "Patton" movie.

After I dumped the scrap, it's back to the interrogation area, uh, scales and office, where I'm weighed out, then get to sign ze papers and give my thumb print to the nice lady. I've been through less security at a major airport. Who knew that junk was a high security item?

Dump trucks ride even worse when they are unloaded, it's their heavy-duty springs. It's kinda like being thrown around by one of those angry rodeo bulls, but it doesn't stop after 8 seconds. I've got the bruises to prove it.

Hard to admit, but I would rather go to the scrap yard than go grocery shopping. Which was next on my list. After a shower to get that manly fragrance of 'Eau du Junk' off my body, it was into the big town. I usually buzz-saw through the grocery. Little old ladies see me bearing down on them and run their carts into neatly stacked boxes of crackers, trying to get out of my way. Busted cardboard and crumbs everywhere.

This attracts the grocery cops, you know, those old geezers who wander from aisle to aisle, looking lost, minutely inspecting jars of phlegm oil and buttered Yak hooves. All the while giving me sidelong glances through their tri-focals.

Just to raise their blood pressure, I'll shove something back on the shelf, take off and whip around a corner on two wheels, with only one hand on the cart. That always gets them foaming at the mouth. By the time they get their Dr. Scholl's in gear, I'm two aisles away.

Once I've accumulated the essentials of life; beer, chips and dog food, I head for the checkout. Where it's ID time again. I think some of these people do this so that they know where all the beer is hidden in the county. I would like to think that the single women are doing it to follow me home, but that's just a fantasy.

Back at my humble abode, I take a break. Pop in a one dollar DVD. A Roger Corman classic, "The Fast and The Furious". Lots of old sports cars being raced on country roads without rollbars. Ralph Nader would have a heart attack. After studying this classic, it's back to work, on my writing this time.

About 1 AM, I head for the sack. Plan on grabbing about a four hour nap, get up, watch the meteor shower, breakfast, do some work until it gets too hot, then nap, do some writing, etc.

I'm dreaming, it's one of those strange dreams, more disjointed than usual, plus I've never noticed it before, but there's a smell.

Now, I've had dreams where people spoke French. Which my high school French teacher told us was a sign that we were learning the language. Which made sense, since I was living in a French-speaking country at the time. I couldn't understand them in the dreams either. I have dreams in color and they have strange sequences of events. The smell thing is gets to be overpowering.

That's when I wake up and realize that it smells like skunk. Now, if I had the air-conditioner running, it might not have been too bad. The windows were all open and a couple of fans were moving the air around in the house. What they were doing is sucking the stench into the house and blowing it right at me. I jumped up, got dressed, grabbed my small, 18 "D" cell flashlight and ran outside.

You don't want to run outside at night in the country without a good flashlight. Mine is about the size of a baseball bat and weighs a little less than a nice, heavy lead pipe. You can use it to drive a golf ball a quarter of a mile. It's got a beam on it that's good for signalling UFOs and at close distances will fry bacon or blind a bat. Handy, but not overkill.

Unfortunately, it's pretty much useless against a skunk. Who can spray you from a distance, then take off for the creek. While you smell like, well, skunk piss. There is no cologne equivalent. It makes "Eau du Junk" smell like a bracing, manly fragrance.

I was lucky, the skunk had hosed down my dogs and taken off. The dogs wanted me to appreciate their new-found odor, but I declined and headed for my truck. Might as well kick back and watch the meteor shower. It was almost 4AM anyway. All that stardust, flaming across the sky. I was so tired, I didn't think to make a wish.

Even so, the Perseid meteor shower was pretty good this year. I didn't get to use the method that I wrote about earlier, due to lack of time. Still, it was a good show from the truck interior. Just before the false dawn, I nodded off, woke up after about an hour and went into the house. Which still stunk of skunk.

I turned the fans around, so they would blow the aroma outside. Then I wandered back out to the dogs. Who looked at me, as if I didn't know what I was doing.

They were right.

I went back into the house and got their breakfast. Mine could wait.

There's something about skunk that just kills the taste buds, much less the desire to eat.

Now that's an idea!

The skunk diet.

Also good for keeping you wide awake.

Not sold in stores.

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