Showing posts with label Domestica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Domestica. Show all posts

Aug 10, 2015

The Softer Side

A no-mow zone in the front yard for many years has become about 2,000 square feet of "evolving prairie" or something like that. This creates a lot of trees some consider junk,  mainly cottonwood and willow, but I like them.

You also get some impressive wildflowers when the weather is lush.  I love the kind of flowers I don't have to plant, water, weed, pick, or put in fussy-cute vases.

Apr 20, 2014

Resurrection Day, 2014

Religious feast days can be difficult for non-celebrants, particularly apostates living among the faithful. Even hard-logic skeptics, however, can surely find room for a sliver of poetry, a sense of renewal.


Without ambition to play St. Francis, I have nevertheless created a local congregation of happier birds. It happened this way:

For three or fours years a simple auto tow-bar lived in the large-project pile. The intent, finally fulfilled on Wednesday,  was to bolt on a spike-studded timber, creating a tractor-drawn groomer for the gravel lane which might also serve as a dethatcher for the unruly grass and weeds which make up the Camp Jiggleview grounds. It works better than expected.

The was no aim to fatten the the robins, but that unintended consequence occurred, Oh those lovely little worms and grubs and other tasties, all freshly exposed for easy hunting. The tweets are deafening but wasted, of course, on a no-account man.


Part of my Easter pleasure has for years been dinner with the incomparable C's. Sometimes I contribute wine, sometimes the regionally famous baked beans a la Jiggleview. This is a bean year, speaking of the Boston Marathon.

May it pass without new drama, although we can depend on our electric media to resurrect every tear, every fear, every snippet of 2013 Oh-My-God! tape.

In the 1980s it occurred to all sentient humans that people running down the street for hours had decidedly limited news value and entertainment potential.

The same thought penetrated teevee producers' skulls about 20 years later. As much as they may personally abhor violence, it is not lost on them than a bomb here and there does wonders for the Neilsons.


Happy Easter, Friends.

Apr 12, 2014

Nothing Runs Like a Deere and Murdering Endangered Turtles

The two-tractor fleet has raised steam and stands ready to sortie at the command of Higher.

It is an annual event, a spring tuneup and oil change combined with this-and-that small rehabs and upgrades. The process brought no real trouble. Both 318s popped off quickly with a battery boost. The  mower version did choose shortly thereafter to reject its ancient battery. Down-home fixes to flush out the sulfate no longer worked. A trip to Arnold Motor Supply and $80.37 solved the problem.

The baby bulldozer -- same model with a blade instead of a  mower deck --  was more tractable and wanted only a few body bolts tightened. I was grateful enough to do a polish job on the plastic hood. That looked so nice Ms. Mower got a similar beauty treatment with Turtle Wax that has hidden in the shed since an  auction during, probably, the Clinton Administration.

Leaving only the trim mower still untouched, a $99.97 WalMart special which has run an amazing number of years for an obvious throwaway machine. It will get its share of attention, but no polish. When a guy gets fussy about pretty push mowers -- in  fact, about much "trimming" at all -- he enters the danger zone for Spandex, cross Nike trainers,  and a cute cement skunk under one of the river birches.

it all took some time, so I wasn't able to write my essay on the Bundy Ranch travesty and the federal government decision to murder the desert tortoises it has been using as an excuse to steal Mr. Bundy's cattle.  Never mind. Joel did it.

Feb 14, 2014

Sic transit cellulose, so you just lay in a lot of it

And while I had the 3-volt Nikon Cockroach in hand, I decided it would be pleasant to record the main stash of propane substitute here at Camp Jiggleview, of which I am commandant. For mid-February, it is nearly ideal, well-plundered but still sufficient to warm us for the remainder of this winter and, mayhap, early in the next.

Jan 25, 2014

Mid-Winter Symphony; Minor Chords

1. The disasters continue.  The 15-year-old Sunbeam quit this morning. An emergency trip to WalMart for replacement. Naah. ...  Head for Starbucks? Likewise,  and besides, there isn't one in a hundred miles (another good reason to live here) . ...  Go without coffee? Unthinkable. ... Dump a handful of grounds in a two-quart pan and let 'er boil? Bingo.

 2. Someone is stealing firewood in New Hampshire.  (Live Cold or Steal). A propane dealer in Nebraska is advising customers to burn wood. My Senator Grassley has written a courageous letter to the FTC, requesting public servants there to be on watch for propane price-gouging and other immoralities.

3. The Great of Room of the quarters here at Camp Jiggleview, of which In am Commandant,  is 76 degrees courtesy of a slow  oaken fire, boiling Folgers, and a little watery January sunshine beaming in through the big south window.

4. Today and early tomorrow won't be too bad, then comes a howling three-day-dirge -- the highest temperature to be zero  and the low 19 below. Winds will turn a small Kia into a viable box kite.

5.  During the coming week the average daily high advances one more degree, to 27, and the average low from 7 to 8. For the remainder of my mortal days I shall  defecate on statistics.

Jan 24, 2014

The Renaissance Libertarian Shivers

It is a little chillier than I like here in the Commandant's Quarters this morning, too cold for comfortable showering.

That happens from time to time in wicked cold weather when I don't take proper care of my wood burner. It runs far less efficiently when it wants its ashes hauled, and that chore is overdue.

The ordinary solution is technology.  A lazy twist of the propane dial quickly brings things up to a toasty 77 or so. That's exactly what occurred about 5 a.m., despite yesterday's news that propane had spiked to a painful $3 per gallon. Making my regular morning news scan about 5:05 a.m, I learned that the going price is suddenly  $5. I madly twisted the dial the other way, killing the main flame and the pilot.

I turned on some electricity  (expensive, but cheaper than propane at the going Adam Smith-determined price),  stirred the coals, and put on a hat. As I type, the mercury is 70 and rising. Propane sellers weep.

I've modified the daily tactical plan. First light will find a clean firebox and a  hearth full of special emergency high-output cellulose -- thinner splits of oak and even a piece or two of old cedar fence post. Take that propane hustlers.

An hour later the Command Thermodynamic Production and  Control Center will be ready for normal fueling with big billets of hard wood. I shal then resume the grace of normal life, a breakfast of organic,  free-range eggs shirred with hummingbird tongues and Benedictine in preparation for rigorous fencing practice to a background of Vivaldi.

So it's no real problem, just a flurry of inconvenience. That's offset by a timely object lesson in the extreme ludditarian and free-market positions I've been ranting about lately.

(a) The cure for $5 propane is $5 propane. The more people who turn off the valve, the quicker the cure works. (b) Implementing (a) requires an alternative. In this case it is wood and, to a small extent, grid watts. Beyond that, there is the Knipco heater. Further yet (power failure?) the old Kerosun still works and doesn't need electricity.

So I'm several steps away from spending my days in bed, huddled under a blanket, whining about the evil forces of capitalism making me miserable, dreaming of going on network teevee, telling the world of my misery which, of course, ain't my fault no how.


Footnote 1: If I did decide to tell it to the cameras, I could blame Obama. Or Goldwater. But I suppose Bush would get me the most nods of statist agreement, and a guy can't go wrong reaching for a high Neilson rating.

Footnote 2:  I hope I'm not alarming my family. If worse comes to worst, there's enough gas in the tank to make it to mid-March, at least, when the sun shines warmer and the Invisible Hand tells the propane industry: too much. That gas was sold to me some 13 months ago at c.$1.25 per gallon.

Footnote 3: Betcha my state and local regulators secretly love it. A 300-gallon propane fill at $5 would render unto them $105 in sales tax. Do that enough times and you can build all sorts of neat new bicycle trails and sincere people to adminster them.

Jan 18, 2014

A warmup; anarchy; a little light porn for desert rats

Assemble the trumpet chorus of tall vestals in flowing white gowns.  We need to rehearse for the big day tomorrow.

At the coordinates of Camp Jiggleview, of which I am Commandant,  winter is being put to rout. Statistically anyway. On January 19, the average daily high advances. From 25 to 26. Ta da.

As soon as the girls are in good tune, if will come time to unpack my spring fashion ensemble, even to the Speedo in anarchy black.


Anarchy could be a lot of fun, and I have a soft spot in my heart for anarchists, even somewhat dreamy ones like John Zerzan. The internet persona he projects is one of a nice, very thoughtful,  guy who dead centers some of our post-modernist (what the Hell does that mean? dunno.)  ills.

He's part of the anarcho-primitivist school, yearning for a return to the hunter-gatherer system of economics.That makes him a romanticist Luddite, just like me when my reality connections are a little corroded. In some of my nicer fantasies I battle the sabre-tooth tiger approaching my woman in our cave.  She looks a lot like Kim Novak. I always win.

Philosophically, the dream breaks down the next morning when my clan huddles to plan the death of a nice, juicy, mammoth. Quite naturally, I am the leader -- in 20th Century terms the Minister of Plenty. There goes the egalitarianism that Zerzanites like so much.

There are probably some serious Zerzan students among the readers. I've been only vaguely aware of him and his work, but something  triggered a net wander this morning. I think I'll read more of his stuff. He seems too smart to have fallen completely for the serene glamour of the noble savage, and he makes a decent point or two about the dehumanizing effect of this and that in the digital age.


Also before I hie myself off to work, I need to pacify my buddy John of the GMA, a commendable man but also a dude always grumping about the aesthetics of my WWCO selections -- most recently Twiggy of London. He wonders why I didn't choose Whatzername. I'll tell you why, Pardner. Because my apology to Bernanke had substance enough only for an A-Cup.  Anything larger would have been a waste of good silk and wire.

But since you insist:


Jan 5, 2014

Applied science

My high-speed internet has become low-speed internet. Fortunately I understand and can explain the process. As temperatures approach absolute zero on the Gore/Kelvin scale, internet molecules slow way down and lose interest in feeling one another up.

Dec 30, 2013

I never ask my house sitter to tidy up the mess I leave her because

I just thank her, stroke her Alsatian (hoping he's not in one of his moods) and carry on. Day One is ordinarily dedicated to sloth. On Day Two, which would be today, a period known as "remedial housekeeping" begins.

Having eaten and drunk perishables down to near-zero levels before leaving,  I clean the refrigerator.  While I'm at it I scrub down cupboards and commodes, freeing my further attention for picking crap up and putting it where it belongs, or where it might logically belong in a home routinely titivated by, say, Donna Reed.

Ordinarily I would continue with the finer touches -- moistening Q-tips in disinfectant in order to clean those nasty floor corners, and perhaps repolishing  the silver eating utensils.

Unfortunately, I face an emergency. My portion of the northern plains is the X-ring for another gift from Alberta, so Martha Stewartage must wait until my ashes are hauled and the ready magazine near the fireplace is fully stocked with wood.

How cold will it be? I prefer not to say because some vulgarians among my dear readers might be moved to impure comments about rolling monkey balls and witches' equippage.

I prefer to keep it classy.

Nov 4, 2013

Cottonwood boles at 20 paces

Just a place holder here. I'm fully occupied reducing logs to firewood. The splitter works like a dream, even if it looks hardly at all like a product from The Sharper Image.

I'm pleased to have it, but I fear the wood will not burn so brightly. It will lack the seasoning sweat, the hand-splitter vulgarities hurled at knots and school marms, the indefinable charm of nature put to good use without the intervening stink of gas and oil. Still, as I say, it's a good thing to own for a man approaching the years of his maturity.

I'll be back before long, and among the first orders of business I intend to challenge Rand Paul to a duel.

Nov 1, 2013

A place to unload

I generally avoid posting my most sincere, deep-seated, passionate and personal  feelings on the Internet. In the first place, they're private. In the second, almost no one gives a crap.

I make an exception this morning beause I am powerless to hold it in. To wit:

I really hate installing a new toilet.

Oct 29, 2013


The concrete picnic table on the Utulei beach was ugly and uncomfortable, so uncongenial that it simply had to be a relic of United States Navy rule over  American Samoa. Nevertheless, I began my working days there, in company with island society, Governor Coleman; his indispensable sidekick and my best island friend, Pete Fanene (RIP);  a few traditional chiefs; and assorted bureaucrats, hangers-on and suck-ups of high station and low.  The caste system notwithstanding, traditional Polynesia presents itself as a rather egalitarian community.

Gossip circulated. Hangovers were nursed with canned papaya juice and styrofoam cups of lukewarm Nescafe. The governor would hint at what he was thinking about today. His listeners often enough responded with what he should be thinking about when he eases himself into the executive chair behind his acre of desk.

Further description is unnecessary for the reader familiar with the regular morning coffee-shop klatch in every small town and city neighborhood in America. Only the local color differed, palm trees instead of utility poles, coral sand under foot rather than potholed tar, and nearly all the men wearing skirts.


The main island of Tutuila lies a little more than 14 degrees south of the Equator, firmly in the realm of the southeast trade winds. Which is to report that it is year-around mild on the skin of a palagi who grew up in the continental roaring 40s,  a thousand miles and more from any tempering ocean, where avoiding frostbite was a primary concern for months of every year.

So it took me a while to become accustomed to the occasional picnic-table observation, "cold this morning" as the Samoan man gathered his lava lava closer about his knees and buttoned his aloha shirt to the neck.  Lord yes, it must be down to 67 or 68 degrees. Mighty unusual weather for July in the other hemisphere. But near the end of that year-long contract I did get used to it and would agree in classic Heartland understatement, "Yep. A bit  nippy."


The pleasant recollections dropped full force on me this morning as I tempered the oak fire with a sprinkle of water and threw open some windows and doors to get the temperature of my quarters back down to something under 85.

(Friends complain that my place is often overheated, and perhaps it is. If I feel like defending myself I use the excuse that my blood was thinned by too many hundreds of  mornings breakfasting in jungle shade to music of mynah birds.)

But 85 degrees in here is excessive, and even New Dog Libby got grouchy, abandoning the foot of my bed for the cooler wood floor of the kitchen.

I blame a new-found feeling of wealth, untold riches. You see:

The jury-rigged log splitter functions as designed! (A writer is allowed one exclamation point per 10,000 words, and I make no apology for employing this month's quota here.)

It works better, in fact, and in the remaining 10 minutes of daylight after beta testing was completed yesterday, I laid in perhaps four days worth of old cured burr oak, perfectly sized for my small firebox.

By hand, that would be the labor of a couple of hours or more at the added expense of an ibuprofen or two and the occasional wound dressing. The mechanical ease of letting Archimedes'  thinking meet my fuel processing needs leads to the rich feeling that I have won a significant battle over the fossil-fuel thugs who enjoy impoverishing humans such as I, citizens who wish merely to retain an acceptable core body temperature even as the winter Alberta wind eyes our homes with evil intent.


And to think they laughed when I sat down to play the hydraulics.

Oct 26, 2013

Packrattery to the rescue; interim report

Its engine died a few years go, and the  old home-made log splitter* has been a yard decoration ever since while I refined bulky cellulose into fuel with a six-pound maul.

Then, last week, my buddy from down the road, a man who owns an International Harvester M**, stopped by to wonder if we could jury-rig "my"*** splitter to his hydraulics. In theory, a lot of screwing around and head-scratching, but no conceptual problem, just run new hoses from the M's hydraulic pump to the splitter valve.

For one of the few times in my life, "in practice" seems to be hand-in glove with "in theory," better, in fact.  For less money than I expected and after only one trip to the farm supply store for hoses,  I have test-fitted all of the new  plumbing. Result:  we're just a few dabs of pipe-thread compound away from beta testing.

(Or, as the NASA Apollo 13 engineer said, "Looks okay to me, Percival. Let's give her a whirl.")

Packrattery? Yes, because it both dishonorable and a pain in the butt to keep running to town. A man is supposed to have the junk he needs..

There were sundry needful items in the box labeled "misc iron pipe stuff" that worked, topped by a lucky find elsewhere.  I absolutely had to have a 3/4 to 1/2 reducing ell. None in the aforementioned box, but in desperation I checked another one labeled "odd brass crap."  Eureka. (We don't intend to operate it submerged in salt water, so galvanic corrosion should be a minor annoyance at worst.)

If it works I'll post a picture of a big  new woodpile. If it doesn't, I'll deny having written this post.


*Built in the 60s or 70s by my pals K and B, based on a humongous I-beam salvaged from a road grader and allegedly including parts from a B-29.

**For my urban friends, that's a tractor, the cat's meow of high tech agriculture when introduced in 1939.

***Actually, title still rests with the builders, but I have hopes of negotiating a relatively long-term lease.

Sep 28, 2013

Waiting for the varnish to dry

Turning rough oak planks into an acceptable floor has its interesting challenges. They end about the time your patience with sanding exhausts itself -- or when you get tired of blowing through sanding belts at two bucks a crack. But the project  really loses all charm after the first coat of fake varnish ("polyurethane," which I believe is Latin for "the product of many urethrae").

The instructions are clear: Wait six hours, then recoat. Then wait six more hours and recoat, a step I ignored. Then wait 24 hours , at which point the floor is ready for "light use."   Try explaining "light use" to a frisky lab bitch. She won't get it, so get her out of town.

What I understand is these days called a "bio-break" became necessary en route.  We took it  down a long lane to nowhere, amidst the autumn brome, hard by the handsome grain which will soon -- by order of the commissars in Washington -- be distilled into motor fuel as a sound and healthy alternative to sour mash bourbon and prime beef.

En route where?

Ingham Lake, about 40 miles distant, a quiet little water said to harbor lunker northerns. You couldn't prove it by my catch, one runt bullhead, released. New Dog Libby seemed to enjoy things, however, specially steel-eyed, tail-up stalking.

The prey:

"I love it when my human spills cheese curls. Also when he understands that even spent pyrotechnics have their uses."

And that is how you spend 36 hours waiting for your varnish to dry.

Sep 18, 2013

I hear voices, too.

Nagging, insistent, they keep yammering, "Write. You're supposed to a writer, so make with some words."

Unfortunately, that's just one voice. Another lately assaults, "Finish the damned floor!"

It has been  half-carpet, half oak for years. Finally the carpet became too toxic even for my relaxed housekeeping standards. Replacing it would have been cheap and easy, but I've come to detest the stuff, especially when sharing a home with a high-shed lab. Besides, I've accumulated a some planking, and I always overestimate how long ambition will endure for any given project. So:

That was Monday. There's been a little progress since, three more planks laid (exhausting the oak inventory), all pegs driven, and 40-grit rough sanding. But between me and elegance lies another series of sandings from 60 grit  down to the (xxx) level of smoothness.*  Then, of course, the miracle varnish, whatever seems most miraculous when I go shopping. And is on sale.

It occurs to me that this report is so far devoid of any public service. Because I really care, let me correct that with a graphic depiction of an invention for tightening the seams between the strips of renewable, natural, recyclable, material. (Another way to describe all that is "not quite straight.")

You screw the block to the old floor and drive wedges to jam the new board tight. Works well, but I believe I am unable to receive a patent.

When it's all done I'll return to keeping an eagle eye on the state of the Republic. No, wait. There's another voice: "Big northerns are biting over at Ingham Lake. Load up the dog and the camper. Go fishing. Go fishing." 

Damned old voices.


*A professional would go to about 120 grit or even finer. Jimmy the Tweak has learned of the project and established an  over-under of 81. Bet the under. I mean, Hell, I'm  just going to walk on it.

Aug 31, 2013

Sometimes I worry about me.

Who's the hippie chick of "Clouds Got in My Way?"  Can't remember and don't care enough to look it up.

But I'm like that, God save me. Jake could have been comforting me with a slight adaptation, "A Focus is a Sometime Thing."


I was up, coffeed, and ambitious at sunrise. Goal-oriented, ya might say. Get that durned shop straightened up for Phase Two of the kitchen beautification project  and, at a decent hour when the neighbors are up, put the screaming diamond blade to the slate.  For 30 minutes I was Mr. Achievement. Hell, Babbitt would have approached me about joining Rotary.

Then I got to the cluttered bench where I usually do crude metal work. In a far corner, on top of some chain hooks, shone the Combat Commander hammer with strut.  I was happier than Betty Furness with a really white wash. Been looking for it ever since I brought the new Commanderish project home, looking in all the wrong places, like the room where I keep gun parts.

A true Rotarian would have smiled, pocketed the hammer assembly, and continued methodically accomplishing the Main Thing, checking off the shop titivation achievements one-by-one on his carefully prioritized list.

Damned clouds. Two minutes later I was at the gun room bench with the Commander parts spread out. It seemed wrong because the other half of my attention was locked on the ugly holes in the kitchen wall. But what pretty steel parts...

I was the starving donkey between two hay stacks. Clearly a decision was called for. So I came in and wrote it up for the furshlugginer internet.

Aug 13, 2013

Travis McGee said...

"A truly lazy man is always misunderstood." I qualify in spirit and even grammatically under all three modifiers and the object of the verb. No problem. I'm used to it.

It's when I break the pattern that my fellow Smugleye-On-Lake-ites really get confused. I half-expected someone to call in a dustoff  at sunrise when they spotted me stacking firewood and titivating the grounds for all I was worth.

Everything before eight was quiet work, then noisy gear was deployed  -- the little blade tractor,  leaf blower, power washer.  Aside from the firewood and general pretty-up, the driveway is graded; the mailbox approach is rut-free and somewhat leveled, and the moss and grime has been blasted from the seldom-used but highly visible guest-cabin deck. There's more, but I'd sure hate to be accused of bragging.

It's amazing how much a man can accomplish  before 10:30 a.m. with a drastically reduced cable television input. And when he decides that Blogger has no authority to demand that he write something every day, before breakfast.

Aug 1, 2013

I got the power, Baby

So you wanna go for a ride in my shiny wheels?


It's about a magic power washer, a cheapish one from a big box, about seven years old.  I used it for a few years.  In 2010 or '11 It developed a bad leak somewhere in the important machinery, shrouded in a plastic that would have frustrated Houdini.  No pressure. Trashed. I gave it up for lost and stashed it away. I kept meaning to haul it to the landfill.

This afternoon I got to feeling shame over the appearance of two of the Camp Jiggleview VEE-hicles, the command mini-van and the mobile assault wagon  carrying my Texsun field headquarters.

Generally, since the death of the washer, I've been counting on precipitation to keep them titivated. It hasn't rained in a month, and some wags have been writing undignified notes on the windshields.

For no logical reason I decided, what the Hell, to hook up the old washer and see what happened. I suppose I figured I'd make a quick guess about the problem and devote 30  minutes, no more, to an attempted fix. My confidence level was zero, and the plan was mostly an excuse to put off a tedious hand-wash.

There is something going on around here, and maybe it's true that all is better when you ignore reality and count on Barry's unicorns to breathe well-being into a man and all he owns.  Hook up the hose, plug it in. Instant power washing, as though it was new, and still going strong when I shut down after an hour.


I have a Remington 12-gauge 1900 double that has been driving me nuts for two years. Can't make it go bang -- or even click -- despite by-the-book assembly of good parts. I am going to set it exactly where the power washer was and wait two years. I'll let you know

Jul 29, 2013

The Hayseed Gun Market: Yep, another country auction

I didn't go for the firearms; nothing there I cared to own.  My goal was to steal* a power washer. I failed.

Nevertheless, I stuck around and recorded hammer prices for those of you keeping track.

--Thunder Hawk black powder rifle (straight line; plastic stock) $60

--Another one $75

--Hawes SA .22/.22mag, vg/exc $240

--Browning Buck Mark .22  as NIB  $400

--Ruger 77, .308 Winchester - laminated wood stock, as new, $440

--Howa 1500  .270 Winchester, fancy laminated stock, cheap scope, as new $525

--Ruger GP 100, .357, scope, as new, $610

--Ruger Super BH, .44 mag., stainless, straight optical scope.  as new, $700

--Another one, identical but with magic battery driven Buck Rogers scope, $700

Two 26.5 mm flare pistols (ComBlock? Didn't look closely) @$100


I did leave a very few dollars with the clerk, biting on four nice new chairs for the commandant's conference table. The old ones were becoming matted with chocolate lab hair beyond the capacity of any vacuum cleaner. The new ones are, OEM,  in a better color, about like chocolate lab hair. Besides they're slightly smaller and on better casters and lend my headquarters a gracile, elegant, air,  not to mention smelling much less like a wet chocolate lab.


*Since Eric Holder reads my stuff, looking for a way to jail me, by "steal" I mean "get it cheaply."  It's like, y'know, Eric, a figure of speech.

Jul 17, 2013

Holy Shorts

For once in my life I'm ahead of the prep curve for a little trip later next week.

--The camper is open and airing out nicely.

--The forgotten stuff in the camper refrigerator is in the trash. It, too, is open to the summer breeze so that I need not wear breathing equipment as I perform the straight-bleach procedure.

-- House-sitter Carrie and her Magic Alsatian are firmly engaged. (Yes, magic. He makes undesirable people disappear.)

-- A seldom used camper locker incubates .22 rimfire ammunition, about 220 rounds in those nice old Winchester plastic boxes.  Or maybe I forgot it. Anyway, it picked up a skim of that nasty white oxidation. All is tumbling in corn-cob kibbles as we speak. When shiny it will be repackaged against the possibility that I am ambushed on a lonely road by a reinforced company of the 82nd Airborne.  Note to self: Clean and oil the Ruger Standard before departure.  (The TMR Legal Review Section advises me to warn you against tumbling live rounds. Freeken lawyers.)

--Most important, I have deployed resources from the almost-rag bag. Tees and other of my delicate underthings which, with luck, have exactly one wearing left despite rents and tears and long-retired elastic.   Not meaning to preach,  but this is perhaps the most vital travel advice you'll ever receive.  Throw them away dirty. You'll be traveling lighter on the  trip home...

-- ... Unless of course you stop at out-of-the-way flea markets and swap meets and thrift stores, picking up miscellaneous interesting stuff as you continue your eternal quest for that $12 Artillery Luger.  (I, of course, would never indulge in that sort of nonsense.)