Thursday, July 29, 2021

Update on Lou

Lou has been less than thrilled with the quality of the medical care he’s getting in Silver City. Confusion, unresponsiveness, changing personnel. So he arranged to get a second opinion. After some false starts (including learning the oncologist in Deming is a quack who has been fined millions of dollars), he was finally connected with a very competent oncologist in Las Cruces. Sometimes it’s true that bigger cities have better doctors.

Lou had a bad spell last week. Body aches, joint pains, headaches, shortness of breath, exhaustion, loss of appetite, weight loss. He shared that with the Las Cruces oncologist who said his lung tumors aren’t large enough to be causing breathing problems. They talked about the heart problems that led to the discovery of the lung cancer. The oncologist, with the caveat she wasn’t a cardiologist, thought his current symptoms were more likely to be heart-related. She ordered some tests.

On the brighter side, she concurred with the radiologist that the cancer hasn’t grown or spread since the previous scans.

Growing up

This fledgling dove sat for about a half hour on a rock just a few feet from the van as I puttered around the place. It seemed to be panting a little as if its first flight tuckered it out. Or maybe it was thinking, “So this is my life now, huh? I vote for going back to the nest. But I'd have to actually fly there. Crap.”

Shortly after I had put the camera away, a dove parent joined the youth, probably cooing words of encouragement, or maybe scolding it. The elder dove left and a few minutes later the fledgling flew off, with all the grace of a toddler learning to walk.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Good evening

It seems like the past few months here we’ve had either no clouds or overcast at sunset, so the evening sky hasn’t been very interesting. Or I haven’t been paying enough attention. But this evening was camera-worthy.

Sunday, July 25, 2021


Either I’m turning into a yeti or I’ve been doing some sanding. Or both.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Shoo, fly! Don't bother me!

You know it’s fly season when all the stores are sold out of flying insect spray. And fly traps. And swatters. And zappers. 

They’ve been driving me nuts. No matter how many I execute there are always more. (Why can’t it be the flies that are dying off instead of the honey bees?) 

I don’t understand why flies congregate in the Rolling Steel Tent. There’s not anything here for them except a cranky old man who’ll try to kill them. And he doesn’t taste good, even by fly standards. 

Meanwhile, about a hundred yards away, there’s a pasture filled with nice, fresh, warm-from-the-cow dung like Mama used to make. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet over there. It’s free! Go get it!

But there’s no reasoning with flies. I think their diet of poo has addled their tiny brains. So I’ve had to take extreme measures. I bought a screened room, a Clam.

The non-rolling, non-steel tent

I don’t know whether I’ll be schlepping the Clam around when i travel. It takes up a bit of room in the van. And when you get a screened room, the next thing you know you’ve somehow acquired a rug and furniture and fairy lights and the other “necessities” of outdoor living to haul around too.

Friday, July 16, 2021


I usually grumble about any rain, anytime, anywhere. But we really need it. So I’m happy we’re having enough rain to actually form puddles instead of the water immediately disappearing into the parched earth. That means the soil is starting to recover.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

What do I see?

I really like the perforated vinyl I had installed on the Rolling Steel Tent’s rear windows all these years ago. It blocks some of the sunlight and (under the right conditions) provides privacy. 

But when it rains (like today) water is trapped in all the little holes, turning the view into a blur. That’s not helpful when I’m driving.

Up close, though, each dot of trapped water acts like a lens. It’s sort of like looking through and insect eye, I suppose, but without the proper neurological connections to make sense of the bigger picture. There’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

This is what happens when I stay in one place for several months

I try not to clutter my life. And I try not to clutter the Rolling Steel Tent with unnecessary things. I’m not 100% successful. The problem is I’ve always liked to make things.

Lou is also a maker of things, but on a much grander, more complex scale. Boats, airplanes, travel trailers, houses… That’s why he has a workshop.

Lou plays guitar rather well. He used to make them and even had a guitar shop for a while. I play guitar rather poorly, and a couple of decades ago I tried my hand at making them.

So, after months of hanging at Lou’s place, my desire to build something finally overwhelmed my desire for an uncluttered life. I’ve taken on a project.

I bought a used beginner’s electric guitar at a pawn shop for $75. I’m going to reshape it and probably upgrade a few things. I see it primarily as a design and woodworking experiment. I’ll be doing some luthier stuff, like fixing the nut and fretwork, but that’s not the main thrust.

I could go sort of Jet Age, Googie (not Google) inspired

Or maybe Art Deco

The iconoclast in me toyed with the idea of hacking up a guitar with almost sacred status, like a Les Paul. It’s always fun to piss of the purists (in any fanatical subculture). But even cheap versions of revered guitars are beyond my budget.

So now the challenge is to turn a crappy guitar into something lustworthy. And different. At least I’ll satisfy my urge to make something.

Monday, July 12, 2021

More darkness

As I’ve mentioned before, Lou has graciously supplied me with shore power. However, the electricity went out this evening, perhaps knocked out by the approaching thunderstorm. 

It feels a little like being back in Charlotte where the power was constantly going out, despite being the headquarters of Duke Energy. I’ve been in developing countries with more reliable power.

So now I’m running on the Rolling Steel Tent’s solar-fed batteries and Lou is scrounging double-A’s for his portable amp so he can play guitar by candlelight.

UPDATE: Power was back after a couple of hours. We’re all sittin’ pretty now.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Lost in the dark

Last night I had been watching The Toe Bro videos which inspired me to check on my nails. Yeah, it was time to trim them again. So I got my box of grooming necessities, removed the small bag I believed the clippers were in, and… The clippers weren’t there. 

The box

The bag

Maybe they were in one of the four other boxes. Nope. In the catch-all tray on the counter? Nope. In the mailbox I use for medications and wash cloths? Nope. The one for underwear? Nope. The one for socks? Nope. Ergh. I turned on a few more lights and checked everything again. Still nope nope nope. Sigh. Where had I misplaced them?

I searched again this afternoon. I got my box of grooming necessities, removed the small bag I believed the clippers were in, and… there they were. Nestled among some Q-tips. Things are easier to find in daylight.

The clippers

The hub of happiness

Since I haven’t been doing much wandering the past few months I haven’t been spending a lot on gasoline. I’ve used some of the gas money for small improvements, such as the converter in yesterday’s post. Here’s another one.

I’ve written before about the Rolling Steel’s hubcaps and how they’re held on by plastic thingies pretending to be lug nuts. They get old, crack, and cease doing their job. One had abandoned ship long ago.

I finally got a replacement set. I chose black because they look bad-assed, thus disguising the fact I am not.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Inverter reverter subverter diverter converter thing

As long as I have shore power here at Lou’s place I might as well exploit it as much as I can, thereby extending the careers of my batteries a little. 

My only major appliance not using shore power (other than the fridge) is my 12-Volt fan. Hmmmm… Is there a way…?

Why, yes there is. A 120V AC-to-12V DC transformer. As the packaging says:

Suit for car devices which its rated power less than this power adapter such like car vacuum cleaner, car air compressor, car fridge/warmer, car washer car fan, car air purifier, car mp3, car mug and so on.

You don’t get perfect English translations at this price. But the gizmo works. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Lou's radiology report

There were two pages of mostly Latin. At the end, the summary essentially said things are stable, that existing tumors haven’t grown, and that there are no new spots. So that’s good news.

Monday, July 5, 2021

That weird minivan thing

I first saw one of these Vehicle Production Group MV-1’s in Southern California a few years ago and thought the ugly thing had been imported from China. Or maybe North Korea. But it’s a wheelchair vehicle designed and manufactured in the US from 2011 to 2016 by AM General — the HUMMV folks. It was originally envisioned as a taxi.

It’s a body-on-frame design, first based on the Chevrolet S-10 pickup, then on the Ford Crown Victoria, with a Roush designed frame in there somewhere. Early versions have V-8s and later ones have V-6s. There are also compressed natural gas versions. The taxis were rather utilitarian, but they were gussied up when they were marketed to the general public.

It’s a little larger than an ordinary minivan. For example, compared to the current Dodge Grand Caravan, the wheelbase is about 10 inches longer, it’s an inch wider and 6 inches taller.

They’re starting to show up on the used market. So if you want something slightly larger than a minivan, with military contractor toughness and the hope of taxi fleet longevity, and if you don’t care about looks, this might be what you’re looking for.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Preliminary results

Lou had a comprehensive PET scan on Wednesday. Not only did they want to check the status of his lung cancer, they wanted to see if it had spread anywhere else.

Today he went in to get the results. Well, the radiologist’s report wasn’t ready, but the oncologist gave his opinion of what he saw: no new growth, and one spot seemed slightly smaller. 

So, unless the radiologist sees something the oncologist missed, the situation has at least not gotten worse. That’s a degree of good news and a bit of a load of Lou’s mind.