28 January 2023

Mornings

We’re in the midst of the season where mornings aren’t very … welcoming. Some days, I’d rather just stay in bed until Spring. For example, in the days to come, we’re due for highs in the low single digits (F), and lows in the negative teens. That’s proper cold. When it does warm just a bit, it actually just screws things up further – the other day, two days after 15″ of snow…

Snow thrower, still more work to do clearing snow from the driveway.
Clearing snow from the driveway

… We had a further 3″ of snow over night … but then it warmed up enough to deliver a bit of rain, then a bit of ice, then a bit of rain, then back down to snow. That left me with a driveway covered with 3″ of something the consistency of a slushie. The snow thrower (and we have a pretty good one) wasn’t very happy – I had to stop and clear the throat and impellers a couple of times.

The payoff is that, often as not, I’m greeted with a spectacular sunrise out my home office window, just about the time I’m starting work each weekday. Like last Tuesday morning, with the sunrise colors echoed in the snow fields…

Sunrise in Maine, reds and oranges of the clouds reflecting in the snow on the fields to the east of the house.
Sunrise in Maine

Some things just don’t suck.

Keeping Warm

The other thing to do in the winter is to keep warm. Every three or four weeks, I head down to the lower garage, crank up some tunes, and start turning the firewood we bought into sizes manageable for Marcia and the Jøtul stove she uses to keep her sewing area in the basement warm.

This time of year, it’s about 35°F in the lower garage. I fire up the little propane heater I have, point the fan at me, and start splitting wood. Doesn’t take long before I’m down to a t-shirt, and the space is up to, oooh… 38°F or so.

Splitting wood with a wedge and a five pound sledge.
Splitting firewood

It takes about an hour and a half to split enough wood for the rack I built her, and stock it in.

Racked firewood in the basement
Racked firewood for the Jøtul stove (partially in view at lower left)

Depending on how many days she’s downstairs… well, it lasts as long as it lasts. To be fair, I have about a six week supply also already split and stacked under the basement stairs (out of view to the right of the rack pictured above), so that if needed, there’s wood available should I be busy or ill or whatever… but my preference is to stay ahead of the game.

Be well, care for each other, and stay warm!

19 January 2023

Disappointment

On Monday, this was supposed to be ~12″ of snow:

path through ice on the driveway
Disappointing precipitation

But instead we got a bit over an inch of mixed sleet and ice. Tuesday is trash/recycle day, so I chopped a path to the street (and cleared the boardwalk to the front door), and got the important bits out by the road. Later in the day, after Mr. Feeble Sun got a chance to lukewarm the surface, I cleared the rest of the driveway, making it safe for anyone visiting (and safe for our garage doors should someone have been unable to stop their vehicle on an icy driveway).

Tomorrow (Friday), we’re suppose to get ~7″ of snow? Any bets?

17 December 2022

Winter Days

Winter days are … often busier than summer days around here. But before we get to that level of fun, Marcia wanted our rescue dog Georgia in her winter coat, as most days around here struggle to get up to 0°centigrade. Georgia did fine in the coat, and then went to find Wolverine to put paid to the winter coat:

Georgia wearing a winter coat with the back fabric shredded and the filling leaking all over the place.

As I noted above, winter days are busy. Yesterday, I took off “work” early… so I could spend some quality afternoon time turning big pieces of fire wood into smaller pieces of firewood. The basement wood stove is a Jøtul 118, which is deep, with a small front firebox door. Therefore, larger cross section pieces of wood are hard to deal with. Sadly, than means that about 70% of the 2 cords we had delivered last year need further splitting. It takes me about an hour and a half to split and stack enough wood for Marcia to use for 3-4 weeks in that stove:

Splitting firewood into smaller cross sections with wedge and small sledge

Today, to ensure that I kept up the manual labor, we had the first serious snow of the season. The weather app says that we had 13+ inches between yesterday and today. Much of the early snow was wet and heavy:

First snow of the season, view out the front walk.

I cleared the first round with the snow thrower, then did two more passes during the day with a shovel, clearing 2-3 inches per pass:

Shoveling snow from the driveway, partially done.

Plus, I use the snow thrower to clear some dog outing tracks in the front yard, just to give her a place for me to bring her out on leash to do her business:

Cleared paths of snow for Georgia to use the front yard with more ease and interest.

That’s about all there is. Up early tomorrow for patching Linux boxen at work, then the big chore for tomorrow: cleaning the upstairs Harman pellet stove. Ciao!

4 December 2022

Woodshop

I’m continuing to slowly put the woodshop together, cleaning up stuff and building infrastructure and storage. The first “big” project was to build a new workbench, replacing the one I left behind in Maryland. This one incorporates the vise that Marcia got me for Christmas a good many years ago. The work surface is just about a quarter inch lower than the table saw, so it works well as a drop zone for longer outfeed work. Stainless steel bolts set at the bottom of the six legs are the leveling feet.

wooden workbench home built in the garage, roll-up door in the background, table saw in the foreground.
Home-built workbench

The next thing I built was a pegboard wall for accessible tool storage. In the basement in Maryland, I had lots of walls to work with. Not so much in this space. I built a 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired pegboard, 8′ x 4′, on locking wheels with a storage trough at the base on each side. It’s 2′ wide at the base, just enough to slide in between the two storage shelving racks. I was pretty happy with it, but added some features today: a handle for maneuvering it, a paper towel holder, and a pencil holder.

white pegboard tool storage rack, on mobile base.
Mobile pegboard tool storage monolith.

Dog

Geogia Aileen, our american bully mix rescue mutt, continues to get me out and about every day. Yesterday was cold, rainy, and miserable. Today, the lack of rain made it just cold, which is a lot less miserable, frankly. By the time I’m halfway through our walk, I’m shedding layers in hopes of not breaking into a sweat. Sweating on cold walk is a bad thing. Sometimes Georgia gets to be off leash for a while, and play by herself or with friends (once we’re well away from the road). As it was Sunday, she didn’t have to wear her bright orange hunter alert vest.

Black on white dog on gravel road.
Georgia Aileen on the gravel road heading up to the reservoir.

Health

Marcia and I continue to be reasonably healthy. A couple of months ago, I got my third covid booster shot (Pfizer bivalent) and my seasonal flu shot. A couple of weeks ago, I got the first of two shingles shots. And this last week, I got one of the once-every-ten-year procedures done, as one of those unpleasant but sane precautionary activities. No bad news, but they want me on a five year repeat schedule going forward.

Weather

It started to get cold, and the ponds around us started icing up. Then it got warmer again, and we got a bunch of rain, and the ice is all gone again. And while we got a dusting of snow a couple of weeks ago, that’s long gone and there’s no more in the short- or mid-term forecasts. Sigh. I like snow.

20 November 2022

Keeping Up

Such as it is. It’s a busy time of year. The last of the outdoor maintenance is getting done. Leaves are all up and composted … well, they were, then a new batch blew in from across the street, argh! Friday I took off a few hours early to get some maintenance done on the propane-powered home generator, an 11KW Generac. I did all the normal maintenance stuff, and ended up having to reset the controller to make everything work right again (remove battery connections, unplug controller, plug controller back in, restore battery connections, then redo all the setup wizard steps). Not hard, just a bit of drudge work at 37°F.

Generac home generator, top open and front panel off

Abandoning Twitter

I can’t bring myself to the point where I continue to provide content of any type on Twitter, supporting the new ownership of that firm. I’ve had accounts on CounterSocial (@bilborg) and Mastodon (@[email protected]) for a good long while, and I’ve managed to find most of the folks that I care about keeping up with over on those services. I’ve dropped my following count down to 2 folks while I try to figure out how else to keep up with them.

That’s all I’ve got queued up right now. WInding down after a pretty busy weekend. I’ve been making progress in the woodshop setup, more on that soon.

8 October 2022

Today’s Images

Howdy, folks.

Fall color on the trees, mirror pond
Moon over the ridge, after sunset

Going to go with pictures for the time being, since I’m too busy for most things.

We got out to California for a week last month, and got to see all the family that we haven’t since well before the covid struck. A really nice visit with everyone, bracketed by terrible long travel days with layovers longer than flight times.

Before traveling, we got the boat out of the water and put it in for the assorted minor warranty issues that surface during our first season with the watercraft. On our last weekend of fishing, Marcia and I both caught good-size bass:

Marcia with her 2# 9oz large mouth bass
Me and my 3# 3oz small mouth bass

Once back in town, work and assorted Fall chores started lining up, so we’re leaving the boat out until next Spring.

More when there’s more. Be well.

31 August 2022

Another Month

And so it goes. The best intentions and all that, but in the split between life, work, chores, fun on the boat, etc … I’ve not posted here. Sorry-ish. So what’s been going on…

August was a fairly wet month up here, compared to the first couple of months of Summer. I know you Californians will hate us for this, but just this morning, we had 1.25 inches of rain, bringing the month’s total up close to a nearly normal 3″. The weather is about to turn, though. The first night below 50F should be this week… Down in MD, that would have been a mid- to late-October event.

Work has been okay, but seriously busy. Busy is far better than the alternative, but requires a bit of a balancing act to prevent sliding onto the burnout train.

We’ve been out on the boat once or twice a week all summer, doing lots of fishing and a wee bit of catching of bass and other species of fish. Good fun, that, but there are a couple of issues to be addressed when we put the boat in for first service, next month.

We put a couple of tomato plants into the front garden where they flourished until the ground squirrels discovered how much they like tomatoes. We also learned that you need to treat our particular variety of peach tree with an antifungal … far too late to do anything about most of the fruit this season. Marcia did put up a dozen jars of preserves, but not the many quarts of preserved peaches we’d been hoping for. She also “canned” pickles and beets this year, so she has plenty of those (neither are in my list of preferred foods).

Georgia Aileen, the american bully mix rescue dog, has continued on her slow, slow path to becoming a civilized mutt. She’s still a real handful on a leash around other dogs, but even there, her behavior is so much improved over the start of her life with us… we’re very proud of her.

Be well, take care of each other, and get the new booster for covid variants as soon as you can, which may be as early as next week!

22 July 2022

More Garden

More garden surprises, but first, our front walk botanical garden:

Georgia looking down the front walk…

Right now, all the fun is happening at the end of the walk, where lilies and black-eyed susans are in full bloom, the lilies especially right now:

Lilies and black-eyed susans

Over at the far corner of the front yard, by the road, there are masses of saponaria:

Saponaria flowering in bulk…

Meantime, Marcia has been busily doing preservation work against a bushel of pickling cucumbers – this is the result of two days of work, more to come, I’m told…

Marcia vs. pickling cucumbers (the winner ISN’T in a jar!)

26 June 2020

Summer

So, Summer arrived this week, and we can tell. Just for context, Sunday night a week ago, it dropped into the low 40’s (F) overnight, cold enough that the pellet stove fired itself up. Seriously. Yesterday and today, however, we touched 90F, which made it pretty warm. Between the sun/heat, and weekend boaters, we did not go out this weekend on the boat, but we did make it out on last Monday (Juneteenth observed Federal holiday) and I took most of the day off on Thursday and we got out again. So, all in, three fishing days out of the last 8 days. Not too shabby. Some fish were caught:

My 2#9oz largemouth bass from Saturday 6/18/2022
Marcia’s 2#7oz largemouth bass, also caught on 6/18/2022

Yesterday the 25th, as I noted, a warm day… we went over to Nancy’s to hang out for a while, let the dogs play off leash outside, and after a bit, I went over to the boat to re-rig a couple of poles. Of course, instead, the first thing I did was sink a treble hook deep into the pad of my right pointer finger. Sigh. After some faffing about, we fetched some good diagonal cutters from the house, and I snipped the one offending hook off as close to the treble as I could. Then I could get a good grip on the external remnant of the hook with some needle nose pliars and … yanked my hand/finger straight down, allowing the hook/barb to exit my finger along precisely the path it went in. It was too small a hook to rotate around and spin it out of the finger point first. I cleaned it out with some peroxide, put a bandaid on it, and kept working. Still, no fun.

Georgia, on the other hand, was having great fun. Raven (Nancy’s black lab) and a friend’s dog Wheezey (a doodle of some kind) were all over the yard, playing, jumping into the lake after the tennis ball, etc. Well, Georgia won’t go in after the ball… yet. She’s also doing much better meeting dogs on leash, on our daily two mile walks. So much progress!

Not much else to report. Today was a cleaning/chore day. I replaced another ceiling mount fluorescent tube fixture with a better, brighter LED fixture, and got the upper garage blown clean, to boot.

Tomorrow, work and rain. Maybe fishing on Tuesday? Ciao.