Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Weekend Update and Early Morning Atrocity...

Why Marj and I live on a Mountain: Saturday my amigo Mike Dobbs and I headed to Worcester MA for the Rock & Shock Show, a neat little horror and rock con where we got to meet and briefly talk to George Romero and Adrienne Barbeau, among others, and catch up with old cronies like Chris Golden, Dallas Mayer (aka Jack Ketchum), and Stan Wiater while picking up a few goodies (old pressbooks, a couple zines, and a hefty new dose of DVDs). The trip to and from Worcester was made amid the heaviest and steadiest downpour we've had since early summer; the night drive home was one of those delirious bouts of interminable hammering of rain and decreasing visibility where one is mucho thankful for the white lines on the tarmac all the way home. The short ten mile stretch on VT route 9 from the Interstate 91 exit to my door was the liveliest driving, with two foot-deep currents of water tearing across the road and a fair flash-run coming down 9 on the first climb. Still, easy drive, all in all, considering 8-to-10 inches of rain was falling.

Marj and I woke up to the news that down Guilford way was partially washed-out and nearby New Hampshire had suffered bigtime. Hinsdale, Keene, Unity and Alstead were hammered, washing out roadways and homes; at least three are dead (one in Unity, NH, and a father-and-son in Hoosick, NY, just the other side of the western VT border). Marj spent much of yesterday on the phone sorting out what she could of the damage done to the NH school district she works in (including devastated Alstead) and is into her second day off due to bridge and road washouts making the schools inaccessible.

Having spent a good chunk of 2004 researching and writing about the VT flood of 1927 (a detailed article on the surviving flood films, soon to be published in Green Mountain Cinema), the conditions were familiar: too much rain, saturated ground, nowhere for the water to go... in '27, the rains hit a little later (early November) when the ground was partially-frozen and saturated, resulting in the greatest natural disaster to hit my home state. There were subsequent floods (in 1936 and '38, both hurricane-related), but none as destructive as the 1927 flood. With those ancient images re-screening in my head, we've been scouring the newspapers and listening to local public radio, piecing together what we can of the storm's impact on our neighbors. Living as we do on a mountain, we're fine, but this may be a sign of a powerful winter to come... further climate extremes are inevitable, though as a country and culture we do nothing but fiddle, fiddle, fiddle.

Hey, I'm no better: I was off to a horror con while the rains came.

Early Morning Atrocity -- One of the facts of country living this time of year is that as the nights grow progressively cooler and the weather more extreme (rain, cold, etc.), the little critters who live outside head indoors. Since they don't pay rent and happily shit everywhere they and we eat, the hard fact of this time of year is that the mousetraps come out.

(No, our cat Sugar isn't a mouser -- never was; her sister Shadow and bro' PT were, but both Shadow and PT passed away last year at ripe old ages, leaving Sugar as the queen of the household who doesn't "do" mice -- Marj may be fretting over Martians depleting the cat population, but Sugar doesn't lift a paw to deplete the mouse population around here!)

When "Have-a-Hearts" fail (when they work, I release the little rodents deep in the woods miles from my home), it's time for the spine-snappers baited with peanut butter. We're already at the spine-snapper stage, as the "Have-a-Hearts" have only fed the little buggers with nary a capture.

This morn, as every morn this past week, I began by checking the traps. Ah, we got one -- but -- he was still alive. Though his back end was quite useless, his front end, shiny bright eyes and all, seemed confused but in no pain: he was cleaning his paws when I found him. He merely sniffed the air and seemed curious when I picked him up.

Ah, shit.

Well, out to the driveway and the cement block -- it was quick, I promise you.

Oh, ah, sorry.

Hope you already had your breakfast before you read this.

I hadn't.

If Sugar was holding up her end of the chores, I wouldn't be having to do this sort of wetwork.

Scanning, scanning, scanning... I'm finishing up prep for today's CCS class as I write this. Lost a lot of time this weekend on planned CCS prep while working with my stepson Mike Bleier on the soon-to-be computer office/library, which would have been done last November if our contractor hadn't stiffed us. So, I became a contractor-by-proxy once it became apparent by April that the fellow we'd contracted to do the job had skipped out on us; it's been a long haul, but the floor was poured in June. Since then, with my own occasional efforts and the considerable ongoing help of Mike and his friend Chad, early back-breaking efforts by my son Dan and his pal Andy, and a trio of pros (masons and Bob Anderson and his crew) when specialists were needed, we've managed to re-excavate, seal, tar, properly insulate and parge the outside of the foundation/room, repair the yard, get the interior framed, window in place, etc. Now we have a 8-inch thick 3 foot x 2 foot chunk of (now interior) concrete wall to (ahem) "remove" -- Mike and I drilled (30 holes), jackhammered, and sledgehammered late in the day Sunday, and managed to knock off about one small potato-chip bag worth of cement. Well, OK, we got a bit more off than that, and kicked up a fair amount of dust, but the wall stands. Sigh -- time to rent heavier equipment or call in a pro.

One way or another, the room will be done and shelving up by Thanksgiving; I badly need it, as my existing office/studio space is hopelessly crammed with my library on shelves, tables, and in stacks.

In the meantime, I pile through the stacks weekly and then prep for CCS class sessions on our kitchen counter, scanning, scanning, scanning... today's session, having covered pre-WW2 comic strips and the like: crash course on the pre-US-comicbook UK comics (half-penny weeklies, etc.); archetypes carried from the dime novels and pulps to comics; review of the birth of US comics books; Superman and Batman origins; and previews of the comicbook-derived movie serials. Lots of eye-candy this session, thanks to the scanner and my extensive collection and library.