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Winter doldrums
Drift from a Driftless Place
JOHN GIBBS finished up his western adventures at a Farm-n-Fleet in Las Vegas, browsing the hat section. He'd been on the lookout for a good cowboy hat, and no surprise, he found his dream chapeau in the Wild, Wild West.

GAYS MILLS - Doldrums. An interesting word, always in the plural, that most of us don’t utter in the course of a day, week, month, or maybe even a year. It refers to areas of the ocean near the equator where there is little wind, not so good if you’re in a sailing ship. It also refers to a period of little activity. To be ‘in the doldrums’ is to be in low spirits.

We’re a long way from any ocean or the equator but we can still be in the doldrums and that’s where I find myself these days. Between the pandemic, a year old now, the Polar Vortex that has blasted us and lasted for longer than necessary, the impeachment goings on for those that have been caught up in that event, etc. it’s easy to be in low spirits.

I count myself lucky that I’ve had a major distraction to being cooped up at home: I go to another home, a home where I can channel my energies. I own a rental house in Gays Mills that became vacant recently and it is getting some long overdue attention. I tell people that I’m in rehab and it’s not far from the truth. The house is getting a pretty thorough going over between renters and that has given me a much needed focus.

Thankfully, I have some help with the job or it would be a lonely endeavor.

I am a ‘friend in need’ and my friend Hans Gill has been crucial in helping me get through the project of whipping the house into shape. Or should I say projects: in an old house simple projects easily lead to other complications. Example: one of our first tasks was to trap and relocate a stray cat that was living in the house. 

Besides being a very handy individual and having every tool needed for such a fix up, Hans is an artist and a very creative person. And, he’s a great teacher. I have learned much from Hans, most of it by watching him and learning by doing.

We haven’t found anything yet that we couldn’t handle: Spackling small nail holes in walls, dry walling larger holes, and complete walls in some cases. Priming and painting, replacing woodwork, upgrading heat distribution in the house, improving electrical things. The more we get done, the more we see to do and are encouraged to do. 

We’re working up to our biggest challenge: plumbing. This house was raised after a recent flood and the bathroom floor and the toilet on it is sinking. Yep. We’re not sure why until we dig into it, but this thing needs to be remedied. There is no basement due to the raising and the crawl space below is shallow, tight and filled with pipes, vents, water lines, and other plumbing. So we will be attacking this re-do from the top, tearing up the floor to see what we can do. We’re waiting until the Polar Vortex backs off before we begin this major project.

Hans and I are both 75. We pace ourselves and work a few hours most days of the week and are glad to have a common goal. It’s a great form of therapy for these winter doldrums.