Thursday, February 2, 2012

They Do Not Quit



I learned to drive a snowplow last week.
Well, at least I learned what three of the levers do. Mostly.

Pushing the gear lever forward, backs the tractor. Pulling it back toward me puts the tractor in gear to go forward. This is apparently Japanese.
A 4-way compass-rose toggle raises, lowers, and articulates the bucket. Actually, I have only learned one point on this toggle: the NW quadrant simultaneously lowers and tucks the bucket, to lay it on the ground. Which is the most useful setting, really, as it doubles as a parking brake. All the other directions, I still have to tap it and see what it does before I push it the right direction.
Yet another lever, behind me, raises and lowers the rear snowplow, and has an odd little play of its own. There is also a throttle in case my right foot gets tired on the gas pedal.

Working these levers, one by one, I made some very wobbly stripes across the driveway. Then tidied them up into wobbly clear areas, and worked those wobbles down along the driveway into another pile. I kept at it until I could not feel my left foot, stalled, re-started, and parked the tractor. Then I went out with a snow shovel to hide the evidence. Snow shoveling warmed up my toes, but by then it was getting dark.

So approximately 20 linear feet of the banks along our 1/4 mile driveway are my doing, but I did leave it clearer than I found it.

When I awoke the next morning, the rest of the driveway was cleared into head-high banks, monuments to the ongoing artistry of Cap'n Ron Wisner, who gives the term 'disabled' a baffling irony. It's not that he is healthy, exactly; he often sprains or throws out various body parts running his snowplow. It's just that he Does Not Quit. And he is so tickled when he gets done accomplishing something tangible, tidy, and of real service to others, that I don't see him quitting anytime soon.

Ernie also Does Not Quit. After almost a year of baffled attempts, and increasingly simple advice from online friends, he triumphed this week over the lesser gods and demons of the Online Store. We now have working sales links for rocket stove plans, a cob oven booklet, and other assorted goodies at our website.

Paul Wheaton also Does Not Quit. He came to visit on his way across the frozen north, recorded a multi-hour rocket stove podcast and then held its publication until we got the online store working, with the happy result that a number of his Pod People offered enthusiastic advice for resolving all our remaining technical problems.

Well, not all our technical problems. Now we have some accounting to do, in order to properly report this new income.

Luckily, First Mate Janine Wisner happens to be a retired accountant.

It's been an exciting week at the Wisner homestead, all things considered.

-Ernie And Erica