world as it should be
Thursday, April 1 2010
The weather turned conclusively warm again, and when our houseguest Ray started a load of laundry and headed off to the gym (he does that sort of thing), I thought it might be nice to have a clothes line ready for hanging the clothes by the time the load was finished. Last summer I'd bought clothesline and two plastic pulleys specifically for this project, but never got around to it.
So I installed a pulley on the outside wall of the house near the northwest corner of the east deck. As for the other end of the clothes line, I installed the second pulley about 30 feet to the east on one of the tall White Pines between the house and the septic field. Since those trees are all downhill from the house and the east deck is about ten feet above the ground (and because I wanted the clothesline to be roughly horizontal), I had to use a ladder to get as high into that pine as I could. The pulley ended up being about 25 feet above the ground, and still it was lower than the one I'd attached to the house.
Ray was still gone when I finished the project, so I hung his laundry on it myself. The pulley system worked well, although the weight of the laundry forced the new line to stretch more than expected, lowering some clothes nearly to the point where they touched blackberry brambles reaching up from the ground (east of the house is an overgrown no man's land). Also, I noticed that the weight of the laundry caused it to want to pull itself out to the middle (lowest part) of the line, and after I had a significant mass of wet laundry on the line, I had to fight to hold it still as I added more clothes. Perhaps a brake is in order, although this problem will probably go away once I take up some of the accumulated slack.
It was maybe 11:30 when Ray came back from work and I was watching a dismal Frontline about the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake (Gretchen was down in the city). "Have you seen the moon?" Ray called up the stairs. So I looked out the bedroom window, and there it was, a big golden orb rising above the distant New England ridges to the east. I grabbed my telescope and set it up on the east deck, where it was still warm enough to drink beers and eat Pringles Extreme Screamin' Dill Pickle potato chips. Both Ray and I were able to get a good look at it, a barren alien planet all shot to hell and criss-crossed with rays of ejecta from its overlapping craters. The moon is close enough to see with cheap optics, but what you're seeing could just as easily be in some distant galaxy.
When I wasn't looking through the telescope, I noticed that when I looked at the moon with my glasses on, it looked like a perfect coherent sphere. But when I took them off, it smudged out into a horizontal oval with translucent lobes on either side. This was the effect of my eye's natural astigmatism. In just a couple weeks I've become so accustomed to looking at the world as it should be (through my glasses) that the subtle aberrations that I see when I am glassless are enough of an alarm to send me looking for optical correction.
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