A good day, a really good day. Nothing special, no events. Yet full of good stuff. It started early, very early. I’ve noticed the last few nights how much ankle power is coming back as I toss and turn while I sleep. It took me a month to be able to roll over on onto my belly last year- an hour long maneuver. Now I’ve noticed I’m rolling with ease and starting to be able to plant my ankle upright when I’m laying in bed to prop up my leg. At five thirty I woke to pee and should have gone right back to sleep.
I took a puff of my vape and rolled back over and starting playing with my leg. While laying on my side, I took long strides with my left leg as if I was running and stretching out to jump a hurdle. Now, that was the motion, but not the speed. My legs yearn for a good run. It would feel so good to stretch everything, yet I don’t think I’ll ever have that much control over the spasms to let my leg move that fast. At some point I rolled back over for another puff of my vape and a quick peek at my phone.
I stayed in bed- and on the phone- until seven then was downstairs by seven thirty. I’ve got all my radio’s plugged back in now and set to scan and monitor a few of the local ‘active’ VHF frequencies. There is steady group on most weekdays at eight am. Just a group of four or five gentleman in the Ann Arbor area. Then throughout the day, a few calls here and there. Nothing to make me reach for my mic, yet it is nice to have the spontaneous voices interrupting the Q one oh six radio station from time to time.
After an hour or two standing at my computer, I was ready to get outside. Yesterday was beautiful, yet I still stayed inside. It is finally the weather to be able to get outside and do stuff- yard stuff- radio stuff- house stuff- antenna stuff. And this year- tada- I can finally go outside and do some things! After getting my HF radio setup the other day using the vertical antenna- the antenna I installed last year to use at my bedside on this side of the house. I really wanted to get my horizontal endfed antenna back up- that is the one I took with me on the road.
However, to do so meant climbing the tower. At best, perfectly planned I’d only have to climb it once. Just gather everything in one trip.. it didn’t work that well. One trip up to hang the balun and gently unreel the seventy feet of thin eighteen gauge wire, avoiding any kinks. It took twenty minutes or so, then- what I found to be the hardest part- I had to move across my roof to the front to drop the wire. Usually I would just stand and walk across- my roof isn’t that steep.
Yet not now- here alone with no spotter- no way I was going to stand, I had better plan than that before I climbed up the tower. I would just butt shimmy across. Easy enough. As I said, my roof isn’t very steep at all- maybe thirty degrees? (Not sure what roofing ‘slope’ that is, but it’s not much.) As I sat with my legs out in front of me and angled down, my left leg got very confused. The spasms that I get in my leg are position dependent. If I’m standing upright, my leg and knee spasm and lock straight out- very helpful to keep me upright. It will even keep me moving, using my left leg like wooden peg leg. If I’m sitting or laying down, it’s the opposite, my toe, knee and ankle all want rise up into a fetal position.
Today I learned, with my legs out at thirty degree angle on a roof, my left leg will alternate- freaking out for two or three seconds in either direction. Stiffing out and not finding ground, pulling and jerking in, then spasming back out in the quest for a foothold. To cross the twenty foot roof probably took ten minutes or more- very carefully. One small movement at a time, all but ignoring my left leg- it was just along for the ride at that point. Once I made the conscious decision that I would get across with three limbs, my leg relaxed and went limp for the most part- like it was just closing it’s eyes until this no ground thing was over.
By the time I got back to the back side of the roof to climb down the tower, I realized I hadn’t brought he coax up with me.. or the counterpoise.. there would be more trips. I went down slowly, very slowly. The first climb up (climbing a tower is easy, just big steps) I tried a two steps with my left- the first one was good, the second one the muscle trembled as I extended it and almost gave out. The rest I took with my right leg. Once down on the ground, I found the counterpoise and the coax and untangled them from the grass, and laid them nicely to pull up on my next trip.
Oh, but that would be a minute- my legs needed an on the ground task for a while. I tended a few more things outside, then headed in. Feeling good- just wanting something to delay the next climb- I remembered I have a few Jackson Coffee Company punch cards all filled up. I grabbed one and headed downtown. No cane, the last two days I’ve been stepping pretty good without it for short trips. I parked just around the corner and walked up and into the smell of the roasting beans.
A snickers latte, the perfect drink for a day like this. Cane or no cane, I couldn’t not take a walk around downtown. Just a quick trip around the burrito bar and up Michigan Ave. Past City Hall and around the corner, then back down cortland to my car. A short walk and the drink was gone too, it was delicious. I sat in my car for a minute thinking if I had any more errands while I was out, but none. I really wanted to get back and finish my antenna.
I think I forgot what coffee can do. I’ve been on just a cup or two of tea for months. Yet a burst of energy did it ever deliver. I pulled out the forty foot fiberglass mast, reinstalled it by climbing out onto the porch roof. Again taking my time and sitting there for a while, as I had to gently unravel (again) the aforementioned wire now on this side of the house and thread it through the eyelet at the top of the mast. The mast erected, I tied the end of the wire to a spool of very strong fishing line. Then climbed back into the house and reassembled the window (I can only climb through if I remove the hung window frames.)
Down to the front yard to pull the fishing line taut to the end of the fence. As thin as the wire and the line are, they can’t really be seen at all, only the mast that sticks up from the house. Altogether, there is a forty meter vertical (that also tunes all the way up to six meters,) the just now installed seventy foot endfed wire (balun at forty feet, wire up to center at fifty feet on fiberglass mast, then back down to thirty feet.) In the back in the tower of course, at the top is a seventeen foot vhf/uhf attenna- I use that for my digipeater. Lower is a digital TV antenna, the endfed balun, and a UHF yagi. To the right in the photo is my ‘little tower’ with a gp-six clone antenna, also vhf/uft for my scanning radio. Not a bad little antenna farm for a small lot in the City.
Now with two HF antennas and a radio that can handle two feeds simultaneously, it is just the click of a button on the radio to switch back and forth for optimum reception. There is nothing better to enable direct testing of two different antenna’s. I think I can even configure it to listen on one and transmit on the other if I wanted to.
In other news, as it is now apparent that I am going to maintain the homestead here in Michigan- it was time to get Internet back. My iPhone hotspot has worked well for months, yet it is tedious. A few days to wait for a Comcast package and it will be back on- kind of. It will be slower than before- I got the smallest plan- yet also at least twice if not three times faster than what I’ve been used to on the hotspot. And- and likely the reasoning I’m mentioning this- for once Comcast did me a solid on the pricing.
Yes, Comcast will always have superior service- that is a byproduct of their service: cable. Coax delivers superior broadband (until you can get fiber.) But their prices suck. I cancelled three months ago. Now I’m new. I’m a new customer. Ha, as their customer for decades I just had to pay more. As “New”, I’ve got a forty five dollar a month plan that should get knocked down to ten per month after an ACP benefit is applied.
Oh, Internet. I can not even put into words — and I know, there is food insecurity, water, people in need of the most basic things– yet, having to go the last four and half months without a high-speed tap into the digital world, oh my, it was rough. Some days driving for hours with no bars, just hoping the map stayed loaded and hoping there would be bars by bedtime for a post. Finding the way to hold my phone out the car window to speed a photo to upload. Videos that took hours to send and then a few than I never bothered with.
Bouncing devices and data limits no more. Now all wifi again- the high speed will permeate my walls and radiate life into… okay, now I’m just getting dramatic. I’m happy to get Internet again (as I look to my left at a tethered phone to this laptop.. like a chain.) And as I was reviewing my bills list, I realized I did not max out all my credit cards. My very first card, a capital one with an eight fifty limit with an empty balance had expired last year. They had sent me an updated one to activate, yet for a card I didn’t carry, I never bothered to activate it and eventually it was lost and forgotten.
Until now. Now I was able to call them up and order a replacement card, expedited. So tomorrow I will have a budget for necessary things. Oh, I am not good with money. Never was before and it’s hopeless now. I need to win a lawsuit and setup a trust fund for myself that pays my mortgage and gives me a food and radio allowance. That would work.. now the detail to achieve…
My favorite thing about today is that erecting the endfed was a rather large project, with multiple hard steps, and I got it all done. Not a step a day, rather this morning I said, I want that antenna setup and I planned all the steps- and thought twice, then a third time about the climb- and followed all the way through. By the end I probably went up and down the tower five or six times. Once I went all the way up only to drop the coax and had to climb down to grab it and go back up again. Then did it again with the counterpoise wire.
It was almost like a walk. The first bit hurts until you warm up a little- the same with climbing a tower too I guess. The last few trips I was using both legs evenly- not trusting my left leg a darn bit until I had my knee locked in place, but for a short tower I was able to easily free climb it. And it felt good to get a little bit of altitude. A little height. Some perspective.
It was good to get down to the coffee shop too. Going in public is still hard, I don’t want to fall or slip or stumble in someones way. Yet, especially taking smaller steps, I felt really good today- and without the cane too, so that is good. Hopefully I didn’t over due it on my ankle, yet if I did, that is tomorrows problem, today has none.
Time to rest.