Rain, snakes and Subarus
September 18, 2011 by Yugen
The snake in question
One of the main problems of living on the side of a valley largely composed of dirt is that when rain hits it really takes its toll. This week we were the recipients of some serious rain. We had two storms that came back to back, giving us just enough time in between to patch up a few paths before they got washed out again. There is a certain pleasure in sitting, listening to the rain falling, just being absorbed in the sound of the rain drops splashing on the roof and spilling out of the gutters. There is, at least, if you aren't in a position of responsibility in a place where an inordinate amount of things can go wrong during heavy rain. There are a number of drains around the buildings that if not checked, block very easily, causing water to build and seep and spill into the buildings. There are points in the paths and road that can also block and cause water to flow were it shouldn't causing damage that can take a long time to fix. There are countless windows in the numerous buildings that have the be checked to make sure they are closed. The shop has to be checked for any tools or materials left out, the vehicles checked for windows that have been left open. All in all a rain storm is a particularly busy time, both during and after. We spent most of the latter part of the week fixing roads and paths and one drain which wasn't flowing, and upon deeper inspection had a good reason not to, as the underground pipe leading to it had split open and the water was seeping into the surrounding dirt.
One casualty of the rains was a late-in-the-season rattle snake who was curled up under the Buddha Hall eaves, presumably having been flushed out from his previously dry and inhabitable home in the ground. He hung around for a few days and was still here on Thursday when we had a guest group coming in to stay. He looked like he meant business when I walked up to the dining hall, unaware of his presence, and he arched up, hissing and rattling in an almost Disney-esque display of snakeyness. It was decided that with his newly acquired refugee status, it was best to relocate him before he tried to hang his hat somewhere wholly unsuitable, such as the drain that he was dangerously close to. Joseph, one of our volunteers who has been spending a lot of time with us over the past few months, bravely volunteered to fill in the role of animal control and using the combined tools of a long pokey stick and a trash can, managed to capture the bemused reptile. The snake is now happily dwelling somewhere south of Yokoji.
Dave the mobile mechanic has been working hard this week replacing the engine in Roshi's Subaru. After many different unsuccessful attempts to track down a persistent oil leak, the engine finally gave out (possibly incidentally to the oil leak), making a horrific noise coming deep from within the bowels of the under-the-hood area. We bought another one, from a company that imports used Japanese engines with about 30-40k miles on them. The cost was cheaper than buying one from a junk yard in the States, with the guarantee that they come from low-mileage cars that weren't wrecks. The engine looked good, and it is now in and seems to be working well. We have been putting a lot of time and money in to auto repairs the last year. Many of our vehicles are now getting to the point where they need work, and without the money to replace them, and with the need to use them, we have no choice but to carry out the maintenance work. I sometimes fantasize about the day that we get the big donation, the game-changing $500,000 that we can put to use in what ever way we see fit. Part of it would go in to a new truck, and Roshi was talking about this earlier today as well in a parallel 'what if' kind of a way, a 4WD heavy duty diesel dump truck with a multi-angle snow plow rig on the front. A new, shiny vehicle that actually works all year round and doesn't require a quick prayer to the gods that make things run before jumping in the cab. I'd also pour some money in to the road, getting a few particularly gnarly areas paved which would take some of the hard work out of the winters. We could replace all of our old tools, build another house for the residents... the list goes on. So if you know of half a million that needs a good home, please feel free to send it our way!
Joseph sporting one of our T-shirts