Life has been interesting -- as in the Chinese curse -- since the last time I posted. About a week ago I was getting some drywall up in the new extension and girding my loins for the last anemometer tower lower of my two year campaign.
That much was routine -- I raise and lower these towers each summer, crunching the data in the fall and winter. What was not routine was that this was the weather, which has seen us with on-and-off torrential rain for much of July. We seem to get a few days calm weather then a serious period of rain, often several inches, much of which is subtropical. It's not the weirdest weather, but it is unusual. July is usually hot and humid in Maine, with thunderstorms every so often, but not that much precipitation. We managed to get the tower down safely enough, but not without getting wet a few times, as well as stuck in the mud of the farmer's field where the tower had been sitting. I was pretty tired by the end of last week's work on anemometer towers. The experience was just a bit too interesting. In fact, it took me a few days to recover from how interesting it all was.
Then there was, and is, the slight problem of the Nissan pick-em-up truck transmission leak. This leak sprung while on a trip to get a new lawnmower.
(I finally broke down and decided to get one. I hadn't mown the lawn in several weeks, because the old ones had both quit. This sounds terribly untidy, but it wasn't actually that bad around here because the sheep do most of our mowing for us. But I'd had enough of our shaggy front lawn, as well as the many thistles that had sprouted. It would be important to get these before they matured and the thistle seed flew.)
So, off to Newport I went, except to realize along the way that I was having slight transmission trouble -- the truck having a hard time pulling off from junctions and revving high in first gear. Recognizing the symptoms, I put in a quart of transmission fluid, but in an act of pure denial like any alcoholic or climate denier, I managed to convince myself that the pool of oil under the truck when I parked up at WalMart to look at lawnmowers couldn't possibly be from my truck.
I guess I wasn't interested.
That was my biggest mistake. My second biggest mistake was not having my cell phone.
Accordingly, when the transmission finally quit completely, having lost all it's oil, I not only had a broken-down truck on a blind bend on the side of a road in the middle of Nowhere, Maine (or at least in the middle of Dixmont, which is much the same thing), but I also had a brand new lawn mower still in the box, and no way to call home. Interesting problem.
People are generally honest in this part of the world. The climate and lifestyle require dependence on your friends and neighbors, so Mainers, for the most part, are inclined to be decent to said friends and neighbors. We're also less impacted by youth culture and urban fashion than the rest of the world, both of which tend to tilt society towards criminality. If I'd broken down in Sheffield, or even on a farm road outside Sheffield, that lawnmower box would have been gone in a trice. In Maine it was probably safe.
Even so, I managed to fit the mower box in the truck cab, at some cost to my back. Then I hoofed it about a mile or so to the Dixmont Corner store, where I bought several bottles of transmission fluid and called Aimee. She came to get me, we poured the oil in the truck, made it back to the Dixmont store, and then went home and called AAA, who called a tow truck driver, who towed the truck home.
All's well that ends well, except I need to find the leak if I can and pronto, since our new roof for the extension will be ready to pick up tomorrow and I need the truck for that. Fixing the truck will be today's job. It will probably be interesting.
The next interesting thing that happened was a search. Although my team, being composed of college students, is stood down for the summer, I remain part of the Maine SAR system, and when a second system-wide call-out for a missing elderly woman was initiated Sunday, our resources were getting thin, so team or no, I went to the call out. Technically I wasn't required to, but I felt I should.
Arriving at the command post, a Maine Warden's Service truck in the driveway of the summer cabin where the victim had been staying, I found some very tired Wardens, many of whom had been up all night. I was assigned to go with one, Warden Tripp from Deer Isle, and drive the roads that marked the southern boundary of the search area. As we were just getting done with one of the roads, we received a cell-phone call from the CP asking us to go collect the victim, who had been found by a Warden searching the lake shore by boat.
It was as we were driving back and I was chatting with the victim and gently ascertaining how affected she was from staying out all night that I discovered that she was a famous academic in my field, author or co-author of several books I use in class. Small world! I'm not going to mention her name since I'm sure she prefers her privacy, but this was quite the coincidence and everyone on scene commented on it.
Even so, the weekends exceitement was all too interesting, and I was glad to get the Land Rover home early Sunday afternoon, and get back to routine stuff like taking the trash and recycling to the transfer station, and mowing the lawn with the new mower.
None of that was very interesting.