For a Peek Inside

This tale was written years ago, filed, lost, found, lost again,  recovered again, and now posted here. For friends and relatives who often jump to conclusions, this is ancient history:
I am not sick.

medical emergency, doctor, hospital, testing, costThe small pick-up truck hurled along the winding, bumpy mountain highway, the tighter turns and bumpiest spots elicited increased groaning from him.  The driver looked away from the road just long enough to glance at him and ask, “Are you alright?”

He was curled up in the passenger seat clutching his belly.  He reached over and gently patted her arm, “Just ignore the screaming and wailing from this side and get us there as quickly – and safely – as you can.”

Eyes back on the road she steered through another curve and retorted, “If it gets too bad, I’ll just turn up the radio to drown you out.”

“Good girl.”  Continue reading “For a Peek Inside”

This Was My Locky Day

Today I took Mom to a doctor’s appointment in the Big City.  This building has 2 handicapped parking spaces just outside the main door to the parking lot – which is nice.  But they are not sized like handicapped spots: they’re just regular parking places with the blue and white wheelchair emblem painted on.  The one next to the curb was occupied, the other one was available.  I nosed in but stopped where I could get Mom’s door open and her wheelchair in place to get her out, then I’d pull in, shut it off, and lock it up.
As she was lifting herself from car to wheelchair the window slid down (power windows) and she mentioned it in case I’m blind or something (hey, it happens).  I raised the window and closed the door.
car door lockI rolled her up onto the patio outside the entryway and went to pull the car the rest of the way into the parking slot — but I found the doors locked.  And the keys are inside.  And the engine is running.  And I’m sort of blocking the driveway.  Oh Bother!

Continue reading “This Was My Locky Day”

The Baldface Encounter

home of baldface hornetsI killed a big Baldface hornet’s nest Wednesday evening.  It was just inches outside our play yard fence in a forsythia bush and was hidden from view until I trimmed the branches out of the fencing.  I deliberated on this killing.  I don’t kill just to kill.  They’d been there a while and have not been an issue … except once that I know of. Continue reading “The Baldface Encounter”

Adventures in Mechanicland

mechanicI took our pick-up truck to our mechanic shop yesterday morning because the check engine light has been coming on and the engine runs rough, especially in wet weather. It rained all last week, so it ran rough almost all the time.

I had them scan the computer: “multiple misfires”.

My pet theory has been that a spark plug wire was going bad. When it gets wet it arks to the block causing a misfire. What they said supported my suspicion. Continue reading “Adventures in Mechanicland”

Well, Here We Go Again

A couple of years ago, maybe a little longer, a tree root grew under the water line that runs from our water well to the pressure tank under my workshop: 80-some-odd feet distant.  As the root grew, it pushed upward on the water line.  This would not have been an issue had it happened most anywhere along that 80-some-odd foot span (in fact it probably has happened several times) but because it happened right next to the well head, which does not flex at all, the PVC water pipe fractured.

We didn’t know that at first.  The water line (and the well head for that matter) are underground.  It had been raining a lot, and the ground gets wet when it rains a lot.  But when the rains stopped and the ground refused to dry, I began to suspect something.

well repairI hired a plumber who specialized in well work to come see what was what.  The biggest problem was that I wasn’t even sure where our well head WAS.  The fella who installed it (long ago) cut off the head pipe below ground and buried it.  I had a rough idea, but that was all.  The plumber watched the way the water moved and found some burbling that indicated pay dirt — or pay mud.

He cut out a piece of the PVC and installed a flexible metal line between the PVC run and the well head so the line could “give” as tree roots bullied it.

Read More…

Dodging a Bullet

Guardian Angel_sighYes, I admit it:  I am sometimes gullible (aka: stupid).  Maybe “over-trusting” but I should know better by now.

An acquaintance of mine on Twitter posted an article explaining a utility he uses called FreeMind.  It’s an organizer, database, note-taker thing that seems really impressive and useful.  His computer runs on Linux exclusively.  I wondered if FreeMind had a windows version.  I did a search and found it on a number of software sites I did not recognize, so I avoided those.  I found FreeMind.com: (I think: or something similar) thought that should be the safest.  Downloaded the installer.  Ran the installer.

Icons started popping up all over my desktop and task bar.

WHAT THE HEY!?  Continue reading “Dodging a Bullet”

Things That Go “Tink, Tink, Tink” in the Night

Mom e-mailed me this morning to say that something had been tapping against the side of her house last night.  Of course it was on the outside of her bedroom wall: that makes it kind of hard to sleep.

It was windy last night.  Still is.  I pruned the pear trees yesterday (I found no partridges) to get the branches away from her house and help the trees grow safely.  These trees bear heavily and the branches break under the load if I let them get too long and spindly.  Those should not be the problem, but her Satellite TV and power wires are on that corner of the house.

Using the Guys Guidebook to Home Repairs adage of “If it moves and shouldn’t: use duct tape, if it should move and doesn’t: use WD40” I grabbed a roll of duct tape from the closet and went out the front door to head down the hill to Mom’s house. Continue reading “Things That Go “Tink, Tink, Tink” in the Night”

Running Water: An Oft-overlooked Convenience

It is often the little things in life, the things we tend to take for granted, that will make you sit up and take notice when they are no longer there. We flip a switch and a room lights up, we turn a knob and water flows, we twist a key and transportation is available to go most anywhere we desire.

But when the engine doesn’t start, or no water flows, or the room remains dark, is when we realize how much we have come to depend on these little “conveniences”.  Not all at once though … a brief power outage is a mere inconvenience, but extended power loss will teach you how much you rely on electricity.

waterWhen my wife and I got up on Thursday morning, we found we were without water: most likely the bitter cold had frozen a line somewhere. I found I had no water in the workshop either, and Mom was waterless as well. There is a point where the water line comes up out of the ground under the workshop to connect to the pressure tank that feeds well-water to all three buildings. I considered this to be the most likely freeze-point that would affect all three buildings. There is no heat tape on this because it is a strange, Rube Goldberg-like assemblage of assorted plumbing. I reasoned that if I were to inject heat into that area, the pipes may thaw out. A light bulb might do.

I went looking for some sort of portable lamp that had an incandescent bulb in it. It was a longer search than one would think because nearly all of my lights have been converted to CFL bulbs: those give off no heat and would be useless for this task. Finally, in the back of a closet in the workshop, I found a pair on small interior spotlights that Marie had bought at a garage sale some years ago. They were intended to provide illumination above the desk in my office but were never installed. One had a spotlight in it. Would it work? I plugged it into an outlet and pinched the roller switch: it lit up! I grabbed a 50-foot extension cord and headed outside.

150221 Shop Hatch

There is a hatch in the skirting under the mobile home that serves as my workshop that gives easy access to the plumbing in question. This is good, for “things” live down there: the dogs hear them scurrying about and are fascinated. I know the shop has a problem with mice, I keep D-Con packs in strategic places to deal with them. Once in a while I am in the yard and hear a “thump” as something bangs into the metal skirting from inside. I imagine a pair of young possum wrestling down there, but I have no way of knowing for sure. I have caught Copperheads crawling out from under there as well.  All manner of things *could* be down there and the last thing I want is to crawl in there and slither about in that tight, dark cavern.  Reaching in through a hatch is much more to my liking.

The story continues

What an Ice Surprise

For several days it has been very cold: down to 2° F. one morning.  We’ve had an ice storm followed by sleet and snow.  It’s warming up now: around 30° at the moment, and we are expecting a high in the upper 40s.  All that packed snow on top of the ice that has been kind of crunchy and easy to walk on when in single digit temperatures is now getting wet and SLICK!

Works great when not icy!
Works great when not icy!

I was just out playing with the dogs.  As we came in I was coming up the dog ramp.  I know it’s slick from the ice I could not scrape off, so I was being careful to hook the tread on my boots over the cleats.  But it wasn’t enough: I slipped, feet went flying and I went down, bounced off the ramp, slid between the wall and the ramp and ended up in the snow underneath the ramp.  Blondie rushed over and stuck her nose in my face, “Are you Okay? You’re not dead are you? Who will feed us if you’re dead?”

Fortunately I fell on my head, not something fragile.  I went in and Marie administered first aid.  It was bleeding a lot, but tuned out to be just a small cut right next to my eye socket.  I put pressure on it until it stopped bleeding and used ice to quell the swelling.  Marie says I may end up with a black eye, and the whole side of my face feels like someone smacked me with a 2×12, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

The ironic part is that Marie ordered me a pair of ice gripper things that attach to my boots to prevent just such a spill…they should arrive in the mail this afternoon. :-/

Do the Clothes Make the Man?

instant gratification, clothesI sent this cartoon to a relative of mine because he’s a runner and participates in marathons.  I thought he’d get a kick out of the poke at modern sports psychology.  He wrote back saying, “Sadly, I have entered a race, got the t-shirt, and then not actually ran in it. Just once though!  And I always felt guilty wearing the shirt!”  But it reminded me of a couple of stories from my own life.
Continue reading “Do the Clothes Make the Man?”