11 November 2021

Veteran’s Day

Today we take a break in our busy lives to give thought and honor to those who have served in our country’s military. Thank you all! I’m long enough in the tooth to have known members of our family who served in both World Wars, in Korea, in Vietnam, and on military and humanitarian missions around the world. We will remember your service and your sacrifices on behalf of our country.

Missing Lexi (in context)

Yes, we’re missing Lexi quite a lot. Thank y’all for the kind comments. We were really hoping she’d be here with us for this otherwise exciting (and tiring) time… two days after we said good bye to Lexi, we got in the car and the truck, and drove north.

Maine Bound

A busy week:

  • On that Thursday, we drove up (here) to Maine.
  • On the Friday, we closed on our new house, and we unloaded stuff from both vehicles.
  • On Saturday, I drove the F-150 back to Maryland
  • On Sunday, I did the final bits of packing and prepared for…
  • Monday, November 1, 18 years to the day after the moving van rolled in, the moving van rolled out, with all of our stuff.
  • Tuesday was the last long drive for a while, another 10 hours back up to Maine.
  • Wednesday was a day of unloading the pickup again, and preparing for…
  • Thursday, when the moving van arrived here, and they unloaded all our stuff.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of setting up, unpacking what’s needed, and trying to avoid buying things that we KNOW are still in a box somewhere and just need to be found. The main floor, which encompasses two bedrooms, one bath, a foyer/office, and the “great room” which is kitchen, dining and living rooms all together, is mostly in place. I had my home office mostly functional by Monday morning, which is when I continued to work, only more remotely than before.

The house is compatible with one-floor living, for the time when that is needed for us. Everything important is on the main level of the house, from two car garage, through the rest of the rooms described above. The house is laid out like a Pennsylvania bank barn, build into a slope, with the driveway, and main level of the house all on one level. The basement is a full walkout with two sliding doors out the back, and the second, BIGGER garage leading out level-ish on the down slope.

All the hobbies and stuff that requires people who can do stairs will be in the basement. When we can’t get there any more, we won’t need those hobbies anymore, either. Grin.

And now you know why I featured a picture of a dumpster a few weeks back – trash from the cleanup, stuff that we couldn’t donate or sell or use or even give away (very disappointing, really….)

Winding Down

Truth be told, we really wanted Lexi on this new adventure with us. I think she would have had fun up here. Once we’re settled, we’ll find another dog to rescue … but not this week.

Sad News

Good bye to Lexi

In September, Lexi was pretty sick, and a couple of rounds of antibiotics and anti-emetics appeared to have resolved her issues. But some odd numbers in the blood work were never explained nor could they be related to the gastric symptoms she’d been exhibiting.

She started up with further digestive issues again last week, and by the time we got her to the veterinarian on Tuesday, it became clear that she was a much sicker puppy than just some tummy trouble. Her platelet counts were way off, red cells way down, and while she was eating and drinking just fine, she was losing weight she couldn’t afford. By yesterday afternoon it was clear that she was failing rapidly.

In consultation with our vet of 15 years, we decided it was time to say goodbye to Lexi, and went over in the late afternoon to have our last cuddle with our little dog, and hold her while the vet eased her across the finish line.

Our chipuggle mutt, Alexis Kay: Gotcha date (adopted) March 27, 2010. Passed October 26, 2021. About 12 years old.

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, October 2021.

23 September 2021

Not Dead Yet

Nor am I likely to be, soon. It has been a long hiatus, and yes, there’s been a service outage here. I managed to fix it for my site, but both of Marcia’s are still incommunicado, and it’s very confusing as to why that is the case. Weirdly, the logging isn’t providing nearly what I expect to see, so I can’t tell why things aren’t working. Are the logs just being buffered because computers hate me? Maybe that’s it.

There’s big news in the offing, but the time is not yet ripe. Bear with us for a while longer.

Recent events: Roasting coffee (a Honduras), did our Fall cleaning and had a big yard sale before Fall even started, and waiting for the new Dr. Who series to drop.

1 Aug 2021

Long Time No See

Yes, yes. Everyone’s been busy, not just me. There are a couple of items of interest, but let’s start with the pretty one: A sunrise on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine.

Sunrise on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine

We went up for two weeks in mid-July. The drive each way was terrible – best part of 12 hours in both directions. North, we could never figure out why there was a horrendous backup from Massachusetts all the way up into Maine. The twelve miles of New Hampshire on route 95 alone took nearly 45 minutes. Whoo! But we had a lovely time, motored around the lake aboard Nancy’s party barge (aka pontoon boat), and caught a few bass. And when it’s pretty, it’s really, really pretty. Exhibit A: that sunrise shot I took at 04:41 AM, the morning we were departing for home.

Item of interest, the second: We’ve also been house hunting up in those parts. Like many parts of the country, housing inventory is in short supply, and the houses that do hit the market tend to go fast and for top dollar, with multiple bids. We went to see one the day after we arrived, having put in a sight-unseen backup offer (since one offer had already been accepted) on the house based on photos alone. Our backup offer was contingent on seeing the house and liking it in person. Sadly, we didn’t. It would have been close to top of our budget, and we had promised ourselves that for top of budget, the house and land had to be nigh-unto perfect. That one wasn’t, and we withdrew that backup offer. We saw several others, but none really fit our needs or our budget. There’s one that we are interested in, but waiting to see some paperwork to determine if a deal can be done. And that one won’t be available until next year, which is both good and bad. We’ll see what happens.

More news when it happens. I’ve got to go through the other pictures and find a few to share on a different day. I’m still catching up on chores – yesterday was yardwork, and that would have been today too, but for the rain. So house cleaning it is.

Be well.

30 May 2021

First Time This Year

Today is the first time this year (actually, probably since 2019) that we ate out at a restaurant … indoors. We went over to Mi Casita over in Gambrills, and had our fill of yummy Mexican cuisine. Today is also the first time this year that we celebrated our twenty third wedding anniversary. That’ll be the only one, too, but when one is only counting to “one”, it’s easy.

Lexi Being Cute

Because that’s what she does:

Lexi, the chipuggle mutt, napping on the sofa with one of her toys.
Lexi napping with one of her toys

Winding Down

Y’all. Care for our democracy. Be vocal about these voting restrictions being put in place at the state levels all over the country. Put your money and your time into candidates that are in favor of expanding voting rights, caring for all people, and putting country and citizens over party.

23 May 2021

A long gap

Well, it’s been nearly two months since we last chatted, sorry for the inconvenience (as the Creator said to his Creation (in the fifth (I think) book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy)). A fair bit has happened in the interim.

  • I am no longer a callow youth. I’m now less than four years away from 0x40. Yes, that’s right, I turned 0x3C this year. Admittedly, people make a big deal of turning 0x3C, but I don’t know why. After all, The Beatles didn’t write a song about that, they wrote “When I’m 0x40”.
  • I am fully vaccinated against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka COVID-19), via a two shot Pfizer regimen. I’ll note that, unlike some other folks I know, my second shot was followed by 12 hours of sore shoulder, followed by 36 hours of feeling pretty lousy. Frankly, it’s as sick as I’d felt in 5 years or so, and that was just my immune system letting me know it learned an awful lot from the first vaccination, thank you very much.
  • I completed my 14th year of employment with my current $FIRM. Still learning new things, still having (some) fun. So I’ve got that going for me. That tenure of employment almost reaches the median tenure for the firm, if that tells you anything.
  • We did a road trip up to Maine one Friday to take care of important family business… then drove back home the next day, because I had work obligations on the Sunday. Twenty hours of driving in two days is a lot, but this was totally worth it.

Ladders

I have four ladders.

  1. A 6 foot step ladder.
  2. A 12 foot folding aluminum ladder.
  3. A 24 foot fiberglass/aluminum extension ladder.
  4. A pull-down garage attic ladder that has two hinge points.

This is a story about the fourth ladder. A couple of weeks ago, I was putting some items up in the garage attic. Two or three trips up and down the ladder. All done, I came down the ladder and it failed on me as I reached the third step. The wood broke away from the metal hinges on the bottom section at the left and the ladder torqued to the right, trying to pitch me off.

The ladder failed in it’s nefarious plot, as I always retain at least two points of contact on short ladders (and three on tall). So I merely executed a rapid, controlled vertical descent, and incurred just a slight scratch on my left arm for my troubles. The ladder was… less well. However, I had other things to do, and no time to deal with making the repair-or-replace decision. So I bent the hinged area back to moderately straight, folded the ladder up, and put it out of my mind for a couple of weeks.

Today, after the shopping, it was time. So I placed one of the garbage totes in position to support the busticated ladder, and had a look:

The failure point on the broken attic ladder

You can see where the wooden side of the ladder catastrophically failed. However, there was also a missing nut, and one missing metal ‘L’ strap (another one is shown above sitting in the place where it, and the missing nut, should have been). All that being so, upon examination, I felt that I had the materials, tools, and skills to repair this $300 US ladder, in less time that it would take me to unmount the broken one, and mount a new one. So overall, this would be a net win.

Dis-assembled and laid out on the table saw extension.

At the point shown in the picture above, I was actually well along in the repair process. But this was the point at which I laid out all the old parts to ensure I had everything I needed to re-assemble the ladder. Shown above is the slightly brighter ‘L’ bracket I fabricated from a bit of strapping I had laying about. You’ll note the extra chamfered hole in that strap, not needed in this application, but not critical for its presence, either.

The same layout, but with freshly fabricated ladder sides

Because I had one unbroken ladder side, and they’re mirror images of each other, it was easy to use the one side as a template to replace both.

Why both? Because the wood is old and if one side was brittle enough to fracture like that, I expect the other side is too.

What about the rest of the ladder? Another good question. I thought about it, and frankly, it wouldn’t be hard, just time consuming. And its the uprights on the lowest section of the ladder that take the greatest strain and beating. So I made a decision to just replace those.

Fabrication itself wasn’t hard. I find myself wishing I actually had a T-bevel gauge. I always end up cobbling something together that can do the job (as I did this time), but a bevel gauge would be a better choice. It’s on my list.

Here’s what I used/did:

  • Spare dry pine in 1×4, of sufficient length to make the parts, plus spare if I screwed one up.
  • Miter saw for the ends.
  • Mocked up bevel gauge to mark the boundaries of the step slots.
  • 3/4″ bit in the router to make the step slots.
  • Clearance holes drilled for the #10 bar that goes under each step, and for the 1/4-20 hardware for the hinges.
  • A bit of light sanding, and a few passes with the block plane to ease the corners on all the long edges.
Ladder re-assembled, sturdy, and safe.

Re-assembly tool less than 10 minutes. I also checked/tightened all the rest of the hardware. Then I executed a brief test climb, and a couple of well-braced bounces on the ladder to ensure it is once again sturdy. All good.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Pantos, 55, of Richmond, Virginia, who died on Apr. 26, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, as the result of a non-combat related incident.

We also hope that all y’all are doing okay. It’s been a long string of stress-full years hereabouts, and the pandemic made it all worse. In this small part of the world, today things seem a bit better. The big deal now is to protect Democracy and throw and/or keep the Trumpublicans out of office. Seriously. Job One.

28 March 2021

Sprung

In our first week of spring, we had lows in the 30’s and highs in the 80’s. Fortunately, I’m using Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. I’ve managed a bit of yard work over a couple of weekends, and the first mowing of the (front) lawn was yesterday. Today? More rain… a nice follow-up to the 2.15″ of the moistness that visited us four days ago. (Sorry, California.)

Lexiversary

Lexi in her normal state of relaxation

This little cute chipuggle joined our household eleven years ago yesterday, having made a trip up to Maryland from a kill shelter in North Carolina the very day we brought her home. She’s now happy, spoiled, and wonderful.

Bird Condo

The bird condo I built, ready for occupation

The bird condo I built is now open for business, mounted on the fence line, below the oak tree at the base of the yard. It’ll be in shade much of the day, which is a good thing for not cooking baby birds.

Waiting for a shot

That’s what I’m doing, waiting for a vaccination. I’m told I’ll be able to sign up for an appointment a couple of weeks from now. Looking forward to that. Not least because we won’t have to get the alien nasal probing of a COVID-19 test prior to heading up to Maine, either for planned vacations, or on a whim… Yes, we’ll stay masked indoors in public for the next several months, at least. But a great stress will be relieved.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last several weeks, which is a good thing. The GOP, across the nation, are enacting voting rights restrictions among a plethora of other asshole moves. That’s not a good thing. Stay vigilant and motivated, folks. When they make it harder to vote, ensure that you jump through all the hoops needed to get to the poles and vote those jerks out of office and out of our lives. (I’m looking at the folks that sent Susan Collins back to the Senate for another six years, too… sigh.)

19 February 2021

Snow Day

Yep, we have ice and snow, but not anything like those folks that Ted Cruz abandoned when he went to vacation in Cancun. For one thing, after just a couple of days, we’re supposed to go above freezing for several hours today. Yesterday’s snow was a disappointment – we got a third of an inch of ice, instead of 4-6 inches of snow.

None of that stops folks around here from getting out in their cars and spinning about on the roadways, crunching into one another.

Lexi

Lexi usually goes upstairs to bed when we sit down to play a board game in the dining room.

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, settled in a chair in the dining room.
Lexi settled in the dining room

But last evening she broke with tradition, and settled in a chair next to me while we played Coldwater Crown (a fishing game). It’s got a lot more strategy to it than a game of Fish! Bass Lake

Woodshop

I’ve spent some time cleaning downstairs, both in the paint section, and dealing with the never-ending pile of scraps that I’m loath to toss. So I took a number of those scraps, and fabricated a bird condo.

Building a bird condo in the woodshop

It’s got room for four families of little tweet things, and the roof will be removable for cleaning, etc. I’ve still got a few coats of Spar Urethane to apply, to make it weather safe. But all the color coats on on and dry.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties since the last time we shared this time together.

Oh, hey – Marcia got her first dose of the Pfizer coronovirus vaccine the other week, and the second will be in early March. Yay!

Be well, be reasonably safe.

31 January 2021

Happy New Year, Belated

I’m counting from 20 January, with a tiny bit of hope in my heart.

Goings On

We’ve been staying busy, but some stuff has been going on.

Lexi being cute:
Lexi, the rescue dog, with her old stuffed bee (from our friend Linda Rose)
Lexi with her old stuffed bee (from Linda Rose)
I fabricated a new dog dish holder in the wood shop:
The new wooden dog dish holder I made in my woodshop for Lexi the rescue mutt.
The new dog dish holder I made for Lexi

The dog dish holder was a four day project. The actual cutting and assembly was a matter of a couple of hours. All the rest was staining, and coats of polyurethane, with drying and light sanding at intervals. It’s much nicer looking than the old one, and a couple of inches lower, which is good for a little dog.

I did the annual deep cleaning of the Behmor cofffee roaster:
Annual deep cleaning of the Behmor coffee roaster.

This is a two-to-three hour job, as I first do my normal inside-the-roaster cleaning that happens every 4-6 weeks. Then I dismantle a lot of panels and using a vacuum, compressed air, and a lot of cleaner, extract as much chaff dust and oily crap as I can, before reassembly. This isn’t much work to invest annually in a roaster that enters it’s twelfth year of service next month!

Winding down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester, 34, of Austin, Texas, who died on Jan. 20, 2021, in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in a non-combat related incident.