Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Yesterday was the most painful day of my life, which is a testament to how sheltered I've been. I left my family on North Haven to return to Matinicus. You'd think I was headed to Afghanistan for how I felt. Once aboard my boat, though, I had a baseline sense of at least directing myself. The boat went where I pointed it. The crossing was a little rough with a dry and cold northwest wind ushering me down Hurricane Sound and across the the open water, but otherwise routine and comfortable. That brisk period of volition was as good as it got.

On stepping onto the island, I was greeted by a hundred reminders of how hard it is to function here, especially when flat broke. First, I could not unload my belongings because the tide would not be high enough for another 6 hours.

Then we're on to transportation. I set off up the road with a bike pump for the inevitable flats and a five gallon container of gas. Tom graciously allowed me to take his pickup to try to jump start the first dead vehicle, our car at the airstrip. The car did not want to come out of hybernation, and took a good half hour of charging from two trucks and another helpful soul, Rick before she'd awaken. In the meantime I went home to try and get the pickup truck running. The truck would not respond at all to jumper cables, so I decided to go through the house to open the barn and get the charger.

The house was indescribably saddening to walk through. Dirty, cold, dust sockets where this item or that plant had been taken away, kids' artwork hanging faded on the walls. I am here alone in extreme financial distress, under terrifying pressure to get my fishing business going and surrounded by echoes of happier times. It is unbearable.

I make my way through the barn and realize I took most of the extension cords to North Haven and that all my tools are on the boat and inaccessible until high tide tonight. Getting the charger to the dead vehicle becomes a major challenge, but in the end I cobble enough cords and outlet strips together to reach.

Each car eventually comes to life. Both also fail to restart after good long run times. I am panicked. Without vehicles, there is no way I can get my work done. There is no AAA or garage here. I don't know much about cars.

I keep trying to use one to jump the other. The Mazda must have lost all coolant and sends an angry plume of steam up. I stall the pickup in the road and it won't restart. I am beside myself.

I go back and bring Tom back to my place so he can have his truck back. We start tinkering and ripping parts of the battery lines out because they are hot, and the battery seems to have a fine, snappy charge, so it should be fine. The classic coffee can of bolts yields enough items to create a primitive and far superior battery connection. This victory should have been minor, but saved my life.

Amongst all the vehicular suffering, I tried to get the hot water heater going, but it just sucked air. It seemed as though the oil tank had enough, but I had to pump a few gallons from the nearly empty other tank. Then I bled the burner and it seemed fine. Now I have hot water to tackle the grime. I wash old dirty dishes and mop the kitchen floor. I will live after all.

Bless Tom for his truck and his clarity in helping rebuild the battery line. Bless Rick for getting my car so I could at least get it home. Bless Rex Crockett for getting me to the point that resuscitating a hot water burner was a routine matter instead of something where you have to find a burner tech for a service call. Bless Wanda and Clayton for supper.

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