That Explains the Hat

by Calendar Hacksaw

Another season of mountain visits has drawn to a close for this weary old weekender, and now the nights and months grow impossibly long as I turn my face toward the reality that it could well be April or May, 2002 before the Twisted Sisters Ranch allows or demands my return.

The winter months do little for me except provide the much-needed opportunity to re-group and plan the next year's batch of disappointing, half-baked projects.

For those among us with limited budgets and even more limited skills, abilities and imagination, it is imperative that we balance our dreams with reality. Sure, a full bathroom with electric lights, a flush toilet and hot running water is probably the ideal, but a shovel and a fresh roll of single-ply might be kinder on the wallet. There's a lot to be said for "communing with nature," but this is neither the time nor place.

Take, for example, my "dream" for the 2001 season, just passed:

I like to wash up and comb my hair before venturing down to Twin Oaks on Sunday mornings; it seems to contribute to the general cheer at the store. Those signs on the front door at TOGS with the circle and the word "Calendar" in the middle with the red diagonal slash were kind of depressing.

But getting all dolled up requires a properly lit mirror. And the finest mirror in the world is of little value if the light source is located behind the user, rendering little more than a reflected silhouette on a glossy surface. No, the illumination must come from the sides, or above, between the subject and the mirror. Hanging candles from the ceiling won't suffice, especially after the last fire and all the commotion about the helicopter, Bambi-Bucket and all.

My normal practice has been to boil a quart or two of water for coffee, brew a few cups, pack the truck, and then use the leftover water or coffee to wash my face and wet down my hair enough for combing purposes. None of the mirrors in my cabin are capable of achieving the desired result, so I'm left with no alternative but to use the outside mirrors on the truck.

I have been in the habit of using the driver's side mirror for this purpose, but at that hour of the morning the sun is often rising right behind the mirror while I'm attempting this feat, and the results are dastardly. I had little choice, or though I thought. But then, I put my brain in gear and considered some alternatives.

Prudent thought would dictate that I motor on over to the big RV supply store and pick up a wall-mounted bathroom medicine cabinet equipped with 12 volt lights around the mirror; about $200.

Add to this a 12 volt deep cycle marine battery ($70), an 8' copper ground rod ($40), an inexpensive solar charger ($40), and I'd be combing my hair in no time at all, to the tune of about $350, plus labor. What's wrong with this picture?

Alternative #2 involved repositioning the truck so the mirror would catch some illumination from the sun, which seemed cheap and easy. I did the math on this possibility and came up with the following solution:

By positioning the truck sideways in the driveway, I could channel the sun's rays to suit my purpose. On the day in question, the sun rose at 7:05 a.m., at 104 on the SSE horizon. It would achieve a maximum azimuth of 43.6 at 180 south, but I had no time to wait for that.

I reasoned that if I jockeyed the truck around so it faced 222 SW, I could re-position the driver's side mirror to face 58 NW. Then, by tilting the mirror out to 72 and adding a bit of uptilt to accommodate my unusual height, everything would be all right.

But in order to accomplish this, I would have to turn the truck sideways in the "driveway;" no easy feat. This went okay, back and forth, to and fro, until I went over the edge and got stuck in the soft sand. Then I hiked a mile or so up to my neighbor's and he brought down his Toyota and some chain to pull me out. To his credit, he never asked why I was trying to turn my truck sideways in the driveway. There are certain questions men don't ask other men, and he was kind enough to sit quietly by, sipping a breakfast beer, while I doused my face and hair with lukewarm coffee.

There's a moral to this story, but it's difficult to pin down. I think it has something to do with the fact that two bad ideas don't add up to a good one, but I've never been proficient at math.

I think I'll just buy one of those stupid looking bicycle helmets and say "to hell with it."

Calendar Hacksaw combs his hair at, and wait until you hear what happened when he dumped four dozen live earthworms into the pit below the outhouse. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

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