Saturday, November 30, 2013

The idiocy of rural life

So, I had one main project on my punch list for yesterday, which was to replace the battery in my tractor. Nothing is easy, of course. The nuts on the cable ends were rusted and one of the terminal clamps just broke in half when I tried to turn the nut. I somehow cut the back of my thumb and you would not believe how much blood came out of that tiny slice. I found  I couldn't cut off the old cable end with my lineman's pliers so I had to walk down to the barn for the bolt cutters. The new cable end had too big a clamp for the cable so I had to find a piece of copper to shim it with. The dealer didn't have the right battery in stock so we had to figure out a way to get the one he did have to fit in the hold-down bracket.

I could go on but you get the idea. It's always like that. Hofstadter's law: Everything takes longer than you expect, even after taking into account Hofstadter's law. This creates an infinite regress and proves that you can never accomplish anything, but as it turns out I did finally get the battery installed and the tractor started right up. This shows that what is logically impossible can happen anyway.

 But the background to this silly story is that on Wednesday, my mother fell in her bathroom and wound up with a compressed fracture of the L5 vertebra, along with awful looking bruises. This is the second time in about 18 months she's had a disastrous fall.  She lives about an hour away -- my sister is there now but she's going back home tomorrow morning. I'll go tomorrow and look in on her, but of course I have to go back to work on Monday. So, it's coming to some sort of a decision point. I don't know what we're going to do but whatever it is, she won't like it. I'll probably come to that point myself in 20 or 30 years. I may have to stop supplying myself with firewood and repairing my own tractor some time before that. Our reward for self-knowledge and intelligent understanding of the world is that we know the bad news about the human condition.

So be it.


  1. Really sorry to read about your mom. These are tough decisions. My mom is in an assisted living facility right now, but I often wonder how long she'll want to stay there. There is a certain loneliness in those places that cannot be fully assuaged by companions at the dinner table. We are a species conforming to the painful conventions of the modern world.

    I know Roger will commiserate with the technical aspects of this post. It reminded me a bit of this post that I read almost a year ago written by a local farmer. I thought you might enjoy it:

  2. everything is connected to everything else. good job on the tractor.