Okay, THAT Was an Interesting Day

“Once there was a way to get back homeward…” (Beatles)

According to plan (whose fecking plan??) I made a mad solo dash up to Troy at 7:30 arriving 10 am, and spent just over an hour:

  • Ran more water from the well
  • Put a few more cranks on the jack in the basement — we’ve raised the beam about 1/4-inch so far
  • Scraped out some squirrel crap from one beam and tested a portable steam cleaner as an alternative to the brute-force solution of power-washing:IMG_2951

    We figure once dry this is good enough to cover with Killz.

  • Loaded up tools and lumber for the repair of the back door at my sister-in-law’s at Buxton.

The squirrel poop is an interesting problem. It has to be scraped manually regardless. But it looks as if the steam cleaner does an okay job. Probably would be even better if preceded by some scrubbing with bleach and a stiff bristle brush. But would take 3-5 days.

Compared with the power-washing concept, which would take and hour or two (still, after scraping and scrubbing), and require special handling for all the slurry and risk getting water in our electric and furnace.

Power-washing is the clear answer if we’re contractors on the clock, and working in a truly gutted house with nothing to be damaged.

But we’re leaning toward the more labor-intensive portable steam cleaner. It’s not that our time is worth less — but it’s work that can stretch out beyond the point that we’re in the camper — even beyond the point that we make further improvements to the lower floors.

It got a little more interesting on my way back south. Perhaps because I had packed up supplies from my own property, I felt for the first time as if the Troy property was “home base,” and that I was on my way down to Gloria’s for a visit and to help out with a project. I suddenly flashed to the future, with the idea of going to visit Buxton every couple of weeks, for dinner or for a child’s birthday or for a summer outing…. It felt good.

The Meta-Meta of White Male Privilege

My niece Nora (16) had raised the (recurrent and constant) problem of her overweight school backpack. She’s concerned (rightly) with the effect on her spine.

I came in on the tail end of the conversation, and without hesitation delivered the paternal lecture “what you gotta do is… empty the backpack, go through everything, remove what you don’t actually need on a day-to-day basis….”

Which was fine, and certainly one dimension of any solution.

But afterwards, it dawned on me what a prick! My first and only response was not to sympathize, not to ask what she had done heretofore to mitigate the problem, not to blame the school, or society, or whatever, but to lay the task of solving this problem squarely at her own feet.

What I said, in effect, was: This is a problem of your making. I can fix it, and my fix is for YOU to change your behavior.

When I bemoaned my patriarchal stance to Marsh later, she was not terribly convinced. My position was reasonable, Nora’s mother had suggested the same thing, Nora herself had tried that exercise already earlier in the term. And Nora refuses to use a school locker, exacerbating the problem. I was somewhat mollified.

Thinking about it some more (on my 5-hour drive today), I took the meta one step further. I imagined this retort: “It’s perfectly reasonable for me to suggest that she solve her own problem. I’m not asking anything of her that I wouldn’t do myself. In fact, it’s a part of my sincerely-held personal ethic: every problem is susceptible to my own personal efforts, without recourse to friends, networks, allies, or persons in authority.”

Aye, but there’s the rub: who but a white male can rely so thoroughly on the ability to solve his own problems? For whom but a white male is the world an oyster?