Commies in Chapel Hill!

Ok, ok, I’m back.  The visit with son Andrew turned into a road trip to the mountains, so admittedly I’ve been shirking.  The trip was great though, with leaves turning nicely above about 4000 ft on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  On this trip we covered the highest section which included a stop at 6053 ft above sea level. 

The following picture is an example of why you should never let other people use your camera.  They always take better pictures!

This shot was taken at the half-way point of a trip on the Great Smokie Mountains Railway.  The sign indicates we are at an entrance to the Appalachian Trail, which we walked a little while waiting for the train to head back.  The shot at the top of the post shows the Blue Ridge Mountains living up to their name.  That’s enough of the slide show.  The trip did have its unexpected developments, like an after dark arrival at a cabin in the woods on which the The Princess quickly wielded her veto power.  And on the way home, a flipped tractor-trailer caused a two-hour stand still on I-40.  This led to the usual, “I have to go potty” (from the author)!  Glad that’s over.  We got home Tuesday night at 11:00pm and put Andrew on the train back to NYC Wednesday morning. 

A couple of house keeping items.  As promised, Andrew added a few items to the web page during his visit.  On the home page you’ll now see along the right side, the Pony Cost-o-Meter where we’ll be tracking the cumulative cost of restoring The Pony.  As of this posting you’ll see I’ve spent $291, which includes the initial $50 cost of The Pony, $50 for towing it to Gene’s,  and $191 for new valves, valve guides and a carburetor rebuild kit.  Cost of degreaser, penetrating oil, lubricants, etc. will not be included,  got to draw the line somewhere, and since its my Cost-o-Meter I get to make up the rules.

Also, you will now see a new page tab at the top called “Pony Tech.”  Believe it or not, this new page was added at the suggestion of The Princess.  She felt that some readers would appreciate a “key” to the parts sometimes referred to in my posts.  So on the Pony Tech page I’ve included two engine diagrams, one showing external parts and the other, internal parts (each including names of all the parts). 

In tractor news, proving once again that timing is everything, about two hours after driving Andrew to the Amtrak station in Durham, the new valve train parts I ordered arrived, thus necessitating a return trip to “The Bull City.”  By the way, the little red Oytota finds its way to the machine shop all by itself now.  Buster, the machinist who’s been messing with The Pony’s engine, accepted the new valve guides and valves, typically underwhelmed.  The process will now go as follows:
1.  Buster will install the new valve guides.
2.  Engine will somehow make its way to another machine shop in Raleigh.
3.  The other shop will install new valve seats.
4.  The engine will come back to Buster for final adjustments to make sure the new valves fit properly in their seats (“Setzen Sie sich!”).
5.  I will pay money for these magically restorative engine procedures (Pony Cost-o-Meter spiking ominously).

I asked Buster when the work will all be done (a “woman’s follow-up question”), and got the kind of answer such a question deserves, “Ohhh, last of next week…maybe.”  I’ll keep you posted, but meanwhile I’ll be starting to work on the carburetor rebuild.

Now what’s this about commies?  Last night The Princess pawed through her massive collection of earrings and selected a suitable pair for our night at UNC’s Memorial Hall for a concert by the Mariinsky Orchestra, fka “The Kirov,” during the Soviet era.  This reference to The Princess’ earrings reminds me of a little story about her jewelery collection.

The Princess has way more than just earrings.  For many years she has been collecting antique mourning jewelry.  Most of this disgusting stuff is made from gold (a pretty nice thing) and human hair (yuck).  She’s got so much of it (and of course modern jewelry too) that it became an issue when we moved to Philadelphia from Indiana.  Our drive out was to take two days, and The Princess was worried about traveling overnight with her “collection.”  Now don’t get the wrong idea, this stuff is only valuable  in The Princess’ mind; we are not wealthy people.  But to alleviate The Princess’ concern we decided to have the jewelry moved by an armored car service. 

As it happens, on the first floor of the high-rise condo building we were moving into there was a bank branch, so the bank had the same building address as we did.  When the armored truck arrived at the building, the driver tried to deliver “The Princess Jewels” to the bank, but the bank would not accept the package saying it had no authorization to do so.  This got everyone scurrying around trying to find a home for the jewels.  We finally got a call from a very nervous desk man at the condo building asking if we would authorize an armored car delivery.  We quickly alleviated his concern by coming down to accept the package, but the whole armored car thing instigated by The Princess caused us to be viewed with heightened interest in the building for sometime thereafter.

But I digress, the orchestra is full of people with names like Vostokov, Shirokov, Litvinov, Mokhov, Bliznetsov, Kharitonov, Vorontsov and well, you get the idea (all very suspicious).  Spell check was so suspicious that it questioned every one of these.  The music they played, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and No. 4, were incredible pieces, very melodic, but at the same time full of drama.  Symphony No. 4 includes a part for a soprano (wow, she was a dish) in the fourth movement. 

The orchestra played so sweetly and the soprano so expressively that I think I figured out what these commies were up to.  I think they have moved on to a new, post-cold war tactic.  Remember the song that Roberta Flack made popular a long time ago, “Killing Me Softly with a Song?”  I tell you, I think these people decided on a sneak music attack; they sure “killed” me.

Thanks for reading.

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