September 24th, 2008


Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway

I've finished reading a nice book of short stories. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, the Finca Vigia Edition. I enjoyed reading all seventy stories. They seemed real as if drawn from his life and many probably were. Some were tales from a childhood in Michigan, some from Africa, many from Spain. Many about wartime. My three favorites were: Fathers and Sons, a man driving through open country silently reminiscing about his youth and his father while having a dialog with his young son, Black Ass At the Crossroads, a taut war story about soldiers manning an ambush, and The Strange Country, a fragile, tender affair between a man and the adult daughter of his ex-wife. Roughly a third of the stories were written in first person. I'd read and enjoyed several of EH's novels, but can't recall ever reading his short stories before.

It's my bad

I know it's my fault; I wish I could blame someone else.

Months ago, I parked my old John Deere tractor next to a dirt-moving project I planned to do. A month later, when I got around to starting the project, the tractor wouldn't start. The battery was dead. You have to realize this tractor doesn't get much use these days. I bought it over twenty years ago when we first moved to the country. It has accessories: a front end loader and a back hoe, making it a very useful tool while we were building our home. I'd planned to use it for a few years then sell it. Except our house took more than a few years to build; in fact, we're still working on it. Meanwhile, the tractor sat in our back yard waiting my occasional use and rusting away.

The battery was dead, so I found my battery charger and charged it. Several days later, well maybe a week, I decided to move the tractor. It started fine, but the hydraulics wouldn't work. No hydraulics meant I couldn't raise the back hoe or the front end loader; they anchored the tractor to the earth. I knew what was wrong. It happens every five years or so. There's a fine mesh screen that cleans debris from the hydraulic fluid as it circulates through the tractor, back hoe, and front end loader. The screen was so clogged fluid couldn't flow. I needed to crawl under the tractor and unbolt a piece, remove the screen, clean and return it.

I come to the part that was my fault. I'd parked in a low spot, a mud hole after a rain.

So I've been waiting a month for the hole to be dry enough to make me want to crawl into it. Weeds had grown up around the tractor. My Weedeater took care of them. I knew there were numerous 6 and 8-legged critters under the tractor so after weeding, I sprayed with insecticide. It was still a bit muddy, but I crawled under anyway. Before I could remove the filter, I had to drain the hydraulic fluid into a bucket, Naturally the bucket I chose was too small, so I had to rush around and find another one. That meant several more crawls in the mud.

I've cleaned the screen and re-installed it. Now all I have to do is go buy new hydraulic fluid. Then, maybe, I can move some dirt.