Something’s up at the Mosquito Hill compound. Details in due time.
All is peaceful. The only sound is the whir of the Coke machine. A window pane rattles as the wind buffets one of the six garage doors. Suddenly, a klaxon blares out. There is a loud CLANG-CLANG-CLANG as the alarm sounds. All across town, men are awakened to the insistent BEEP BEEP of pagers.
All is again quiet in the building. After a few moments, there comes the thud and scrape of the first sleepy man trying to unlock the door. The building is filled with the sound of recently-awakened men stumbling inside. The air is filled with an urgent purpose, accompanied by the clomp of ill-fitting boots and the swish of fire-resistant coats.
There is the click of a switch, and the interior of the building is illuminated by flashing red and white lights. If anyone were listening, he would hear the soft whir of rotating beacons and the protesting ‘pwee-pwee’ of strobe lights, cold from days of non-use. No one is listening.
The walls of the building shake as the great, twelve-foot wide doors rumble up out of the way, and the air is filled with the clamor of “Low Oil” warning bells. With a ferocious roar, the Diesels come alive. The hiss of air brakes is the last sound to be heard before the scream of the siren drowns out all else. The deep bass of the air horn is added to the cacophony, as the trucks disappear down the street in a cloud of black smoke.
Eventually the sirens and horns fade away, and all is peaceful again. The building is left to itself, with only the few leaves blown through the open doors and a lingering smell of Diesel fuel to indicate that anyone has passed this way.
The engines left for the final time last Monday. For 83 years, this converted pool hall and bootstrapped garage served as the one and only firehouse in my hometown. I grew up in and around it. I served as a firefighter in it for thirty years.
It echoes inside now.
Leaves and Diesel fumes, and a piece of my heart.
After the tree incident last spring, I made plans to move and rebuild the garden railway. I broke ground last fall at the new site, but the weather caught up to me.
Today I started by lighting a fire. I have sworn vengeance on that damned pine, one stick at a time.
I then went to work dismantling the old railway. I could have finished today if I had broken out the chainsaw, but I am trying to salvage the remaining good wood. I want to reuse as much as possible in construction of the new railway. I would also like to do this in an orderly fashion and not make the yard any messier than it already is.
Timelapse courtesy of the Wyze cam in the backyard. I should be able to finish the job in one more afternoon, but I may not have an afternoon until next weekend.
I joke in my About page that I start many more blog posts than I finish. That has never been more true than lately. A few updates:
We lost Sebastian last month. After over two years of hospice, it finally became apparent that there was nothing more we could reasonably do for him. He spent his final months eating gourmet food, napping in front of the fire, and absorbing as much love as we could give him.
Sebby was the first of our feral kittens, and the last of his litter. He had 18 3/4 years with us, the longest of any in our colony thus far. We miss our cute little Old Man very much, and he’ll get a proper eulogy here eventually.
Last week I attended a firefighter’s funeral.
This one struck close to home. Captain Joel Barnes of the Berwick (ME) FD died in the line of duty on March 1st. He was 32 years old; one of 4 full-time firefighters in a small suburban department. The details of the fire are still being investigated, but reports are that he died shielding his partner when they were overrun by fire.
The Brothers from Maine and beyond gave him a fine sendoff, for whatever that may be worth. I hope we provided some comfort for his friends and family and the Berwick FD.
Mother Nature was uncooperative last Sunday. It was the coldest and wettest I have ever been in my uniform.
Somewhere in all this mess I had a birthday.
I won’t mention the exact date here. Mrs. Mack505 and Kiddo got me a new turntable for my stereo. It replaced the ratty old thrift store version I had been using.
I took some time for myself to go XC skiing.
Along the way I decided that I want to try to spend more time outdoors in the mountains this year. Mountain Mondays? Maybe.
I also took a spin up to the fire tower in Pawtuckaway State Park yesterday.
It was muddy, icy, windy, and great. I should spend more time at Pawtuckaway.
I forgot to take a digital photo of the actual fire tower, but I’ve been there before.
In other blog updates, I briefly activated an IFTTT recipe which used to import my Instagram photos to the blog. It created a number of new posts which did not contain photos. Something must have changed at IG. It’s turned off again until I can figure out why it won’t work.
Sunday is trash night at Mosquito Hill. As I was loading the cans into the truck this evening, an old friend texted me.
Sometimes when life imitates art it is beautiful. Often it’s poetic.
I’m not enjoying tonight’s poetry.
Different truck. No stars tonight. Same feeling of dread.
Thoughts and prayers for whatever they may be worth.
I have a favorite local coffee shop. It’s an odd little place located at the edge of a river. You have to drive through a marina to get there, and you often have to compete with trailers and grounded cabin cruisers for parking.
I would come here more often, but their hours of operation coincide with my work. They’re not hugely into the morning commuter crowd.
At mid-day, it’s a crowded place. They have good WiFi, so each table is occupied by one person with a laptop. They have their own branded (very good) coffee, multiple tea choices, and pastries served on actual plates.
This morning things are quiet. Early morning insomnia has me headed for Big Orange Home Improvement, but I will take the time to sit, sip my tea, and type. One other customer, an old man in a golf hat, sits in a corner doing today’s crossword in the paper. The staff chats with the regulars as they drop in for their to-go orders.
The late sunrise fades from pink to yellow. The bridge resumes its normal DOT green color as chunks of ice float past on the famous river, while the Muzak transitions from “Its 5 O’clock Somewhere” to “American Pie.” Its time to return my plate and get on with my day.
In the spirit of my tagline, here are some random musings on this New Year’s Eve.
I didn’t find 2018 especially memorable. This is a good thing. We tend to remember the tragedies.
We leave the year one cat poorer. Clarabel wasn’t old but wasn’t young either, and she was taken quickly by cancer. Extended family lost a cat to old age and a dog to tragedy. It’s no fun but it’s the price we pay for the joy they bring in their short lives.
All the horses are OK, and one is a national champion now. This is a vast improvement over past years.
The fleet has changed a bit. Much like with the cats our GMC left us suddenly in January being neither young nor old. It was taken too soon by rust and engine problems. Its replacement is the first Ford I have ever owned. Eleven and a half months in, we still love it.
My year old Civic left us in the spring, traded for a plug-in hybrid Honda Clarity. With my short commute I can go all week without ever starting the gas engine. I originally wanted a Tesla 3, but they proved more costly than advertised. The Honda allows me to drive on electricity most of the time with the ‘infinite’ range of gasoline when I need it.
Other things. . .
We got the VW bus back in the spring, but we did not get to camp in it this year. Somehow the calendar ran away from us. I planned a motorcycle adventure in the mountains and didn’t find the time for that either. I did get to ride in the DGR.
Kiddo and I hiked to Carter Notch Hut and stayed over. We have now been to both ends of the AMC hut system. Maybe 2019 will bring something in the middle.
The garden railway was destroyed by a falling tree in the spring. I’ve broken ground on a new line in another part of the yard and hope to finish it in the coming spring. I plan to immolate the corpse of that damned pine piece by piece in my firepit while I build the new line.
Kiddo and I have been regularly running trains at a friend’s HO model train layout. We’ve begun construction on our own empire and hope to drive the Golden Spike in the coming days.
In short, everyone is basically healthy and happy.
I never do well with resolutions, but here goes:
Mrs. Mack505 has challenged me to get back to photography in 2019. Specifically she has challenged me to make more prints in the darkroom I’ve ordered fresh chemicals, and I hope to average a print a week next year.
On the personal improvement front, my resolution is simple to make but difficult to keep: No more Dunkin Donuts croissants. They’re bad for me but yummy. I had my last one this morning.
And a final note:
At this writing, Hometown VFD is 5 calls short of setting an all-time record. There are 3 hours to go in this year. We did 10 calls in 32 hours over Christmas, so it’s not impossible. . .
We are almost ready for Christmas, but Hal isn’t quite sure about the train.
Spent the day slinging rocks for the garden railway relocation. It already has a name and a story; now it just needs to be built.