8 May 2022

On the Water

This weekend, we celebrated my birthday a few weeks late. Marcia had been unwell (no Covid, but no fun, either) and she’s now mostly much better, thanks for asking. The best part is that in the interval between birthday actual and birthday celebrated, we took delivery on our AlumaCraft 165S boat. We got it into the water on Friday, and took it out for some fishing both Saturday and Sunday. Note that I said fishing, and not catching – it’s pretty early in the season here yet, and we have lots to learn about fishing techniques/baits that vary with the seasons up here. I think that I had fish on the hook maybe three times, and boated approximately none of them. Marcia did a bit of fishing, but spent time re-rigging and getting gear setup for future trips. That’s time I should probably take, too… Here’s Marcia enjoying our new mode of transportation over the weekend:

Marcia at the helm of her one-boat fleet, our new Alumacraft 165s boat, setup for fishing.

It’s been asked, what will we name this boat. Not sure that I need to name a boat, if I’m going to be mocked for naming cars (which I totally didn’t do). But while “Bob” and “Baldrick”, and perhaps even “I have a cunning plan” are on the list, I’m voting for holding off on a naming ceremony for the first year, after which, if the fishing was good, we can name it nicely. If, however, a boat of our own that doesn’t improve our fishing capabilities is found to have been the result, then perhaps just “UPoS” on the transom will be sufficient (“Useless Piece of —-“).

Spring has (finally) sprung

The weather has finally reached the point where we can call is Spring. It’s been greening up for a while, and the daffodils have been up and out for a while. But the trees and shrubs are finally starting to leaf, the tulips are in bloom, and I’m going to have to mow the lawn for the first time this year, real soon now.

The front flower bed is in Spring bloom, daffodils and tulips in abundance.

The bit of lawn visible behind that flower bed doesn’t seem so bad, but other patches of the lawn have been unevenly fertilized by the dog over the last three months, such that the front yard now looks much like the result of an old man shaving: splotchy and uneven. My initial goal will be to make it flat.

4 April 2022

Springing

In the last few days I managed a variety of outdoor chores around the new homestead. This includes stuff that should have been done during the Fall cleanup, but weren’t since Lorraine was getting ready to move out, and we were not in, yet. By the time I got settled enough to do a small amount of yardwork, there was a tiny window of time before the snows started. So all I managed was to get the bulk of the leaves off the lawns, then.

Now a couple of the front beds have been raked out, and the leaves blown off into a holding area. Then yesterday, I raked out some more leaves around back, and fired up the Cub Cadet for the first time. Works like a champ. The chain-driven leaf collector does a sufficient job at picking up most of large piles of leaves, then I could drive them down to where I stockpiled the Fall accumulation. Eventually I’ll turn that stack over a few times a year and compost them.

Table saw component clamped and gluing back together after the move...
Fixing the table saw

In and around that, I did some more lower-garage cleanup and organization, as well as gluing up another bit of the table saw assembly that needed repair after the move. This one was sort of on me, as I had not fully disassembled a bracket from the top, and of course they moved it bracket-down, breaking out the end of the edge. It’ll be fine, though, once re-assembled.

Georgia, our american bulldog mix rescue mutt, loves lying in the sun on the bed in my home office.
Georgia likes the sun

Georgia likes napping in the sun, in my home office. But she’d rather not be disturbed by being photographed while in the act of napping.

13 March 2022

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the thirteenth falls on a Sunday this month. Sorry for the lag in posts, but settling into a new house and getting a new rescue mutt makes for a busy time.

Georgia (our American bulldog mix rescue dog) relaxing in a sunbeam on the futon sofa.
Georgia finds a sunny spot

Georgia is settling in pretty well. She’s testing a lot of boundaries, and it’ll be a few months of getting her expectations aligned with actual reality, we’re sure. We are doing formal training with this dog, as Marcia can’t walk her right now – Georgia would pull her over right away. But it’ll all work out. Hardest thing at the moment: finding her toys that she can’t destroy quickly that won’t instead destroy her teeth and gums.

Georgia and I took a walk up to the nearby (retired?) quarry last week. She had fun sniffing everything and trying to pull me over. I had fun looking at the rusty old gear, and trying to keep my feet on a mostly ice-based walking surface.

An old piece of equipment at the old nearby quarry
An old piece of equipment at the old nearby quarry

Chores

Maine remains a chore-filled place. Today, for example… Due to extraordinarily good planning on my part, I had to be up at 0630 on the morning of Daylight Stealing Time, to do production OS patching at work. Following that, I did the following activities today:

  • The bi-weekly cleaning of the pellet stove and the wood stove.
  • Shoveled the driveway by hand, since we only got about 2.5″ of snow yesterday afternoon into evening. The downside of not shoveling a light fall is that it partly melts, then turns into an ice rink. So it’s better to clear it quickly. And it’s faster by shovel than by machine, with a light fall.
  • Roasted coffee (the second pound of a tasty Guatemalan from Sweet Maria’s Coffee)
  • Fabricated a new wood rack for near the basement wood stove, to make it easier to manage for Marcia when she’s downstairs sewing, etc.
  • Used wedge and sledge to split some more of the large split wood into smaller split wood – more appropriate sizes for Marcia and our particular woodstove.

We’re about halfway through our regular stock of pellets for the stove. I’ll have to go out and pick up another load in about a week and a half. That batch might carry us right through into the warm (though I doubt it). I buy (25) forty pound bags of pellets at a time, and stock them into the upper garage, bringing a bag in to the house as needed. Here’s what three and a half weeks of heating for the house looks like in the back of the truck:

Pictured: Half a ton of hardwood pellets for our pellet stove, in 40 pound bags, sitting in the back of the F-150 truck.
Half a ton of pellets, bagged in the back of the F-150

As we start to ramp our days back up into 40+ degree Fahrenheit temperatures, the pellet stove shuts itself off for several hours in the middle of the day, so our consumption of pellets should go down by twenty or twenty five percent over the next month.

That’s all I’ve got for you at the moment. Time to go grab a shower, and get ready to start another week… Be well.

31 January 2022

Snow Day

Snow days are … different up here. It snowed 20″ or so in our immediate vicinity on Saturday. The roads seem to have been plowed and treated by 7 AM on Sunday (and the plows were keeping things clear enough on Saturday). No schools are closed or delayed this brightly chilly Monday morning that I can find.

I was up at 7 AM on Sunday morning. I got the coffee started on brew, and geared up. I moved the car back, shoveled out the front porch and a couple of feet in front of the garage doors by hand. Then I fired up the Cub Cadet snow thrower. It took a little under an hour to clear all the snow from our driveway and side parking pad.

Driveway cleared after 20" snow blizzard on 01/29/2022
Driveway cleared after 20″ blizzard on 01/29/2022

Then it was back to the shovel. I went around to the back and cleared the drifted snow from the two basement access slider doors, then cleared the stairs and the back upper deck, which had about 3 feet of snow drifted against the double slider there. All in, just under two hours to get all the snow I needed cleared. Then I took the [[SPOILER ALERT]] and chatted with our neighbor Myra, she had a plow coming so I didn’t need to help her out.

Things I noted – people tend to appropriately stay off the road, for the most part, up here when there’s an active snow event. And people mostly seem to know how to handle the snow and ice when they do drive. We went out and spent some time [[REDACTED]] yesterday. If I’d been out and about 12 hours after a major snow storm in Maryland, there’d have been cars off the road and in the ditches everywhere. I didn’t see a one, yesterday.

Spoiler Reveal

So, we actually got Georgia Aileen, our newest rescue pupper, on Jan 23, 2022.

Meet Georgia Aileen, our new mixed-breed rescue dog. She's a black on white American bulldog mix, about 35 pounds.
Meet Georgia Aileen

She got on a transport in a crate with a bunch of other dogs in South Carolina on the Saturday. We picked her up at a meeting point a few miles south of Portland, ME. She’s a sweetie with an intermittent habit of chewing things. She’s smart, acclimated quickly, and already hates winter up here. Grin.

Georgia, our rescue mutt, inspecting her yard via the paths I cleared for her in the front yard.
Georgia vs snow…

There will be much more about this new addition to our family as we get to know each other. I think she’d going to need some socialization trainings sooner than later.

The spoiler alert redaction above: Walking Georgia over to say hello to Myra.

The redaction above: Taking Georgia over to an enclosed mall area to spend some time walking about in a neutral space getting acclimated to her cousin (Nancy’s black lab, Raven).

13 January 2022

Broken Things Fixed

Of course, a Friday the thirteenth that happens to fall on a Thursday this month is the perfect time to fix some broken things. In this case, I fixed the broken 2FA bits on all of our sites. Better yet, I fixed up the broken sites – once again you can delve into the deeper history of this place, probably by starting at https://legacy.orbdesigns.com/bpages/metajour.html. Now I can do silly stuff like point you at what was going on twenty years ago today: https://legacy.orbdesigns.com/bpages/2002/z20020107.html#sunday. You’re welcome – I sure liked seeing a couple of pictures of our very first rescue dog, Sally.

Georgia Aileen

This is the name, I’m given to understand, of our next rescue dog. We’re signed up to adopt a young adult dog of uncertain heritage but robust health who was picked up as a stray in South Carolina. With luck, she’ll be ours in a few weeks. More when we know more.

Heating

Heating is a persistent topic, the further north you go. We have lots of options in this new-to-us house, but we’d held off on using the wood-fired choices until after cleaning and inspection, because we weren’t sure of the state of the flues and stoves. Both were cleaned and approved of, so last week we were able to spin up the basement wood stove, and the main floor pellet stove…

Our fully operational pellet stove, here in Maine.
Our fully operational pellet stove, here in Maine

The brand is Harman, and the maintenance dude says it’s one of the best on the market. We like it.

Winding Down

It’s tough, going through all the continuing waves of COVID, and we’re thinking of you and your families. Be sane, be safe, and take care of one another.

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.

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.

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.