sat aug 1
The kids are gone. Whew.
I went without a bandage on my arm for most of the day, and it seemed to be OK.
I sharpened the lawn mower blades, made a lumber run into town, moved the pile of gravel, helped spread the rest of the mulch, moved the compost into the wire ring I’d welded up, moved the new lumber upstairs, pulled weeds, and roasted poblanos. I read until my kindle battery gave out. Mary made garden pesto for fish for dinner, and we watched the moon rise behind the trees.
I got not one, not two, but 3 packages in the mail: the lawn mower parts and the petcock. I installed the petcock, and this god damned thing better work this time or … or I’ll take another look at it.
sun aug 2
The cats had been spending a lot of time outside and have caught a lot of mice. We don’t want them to get too feral, so we kept them in for awhile after the kids left. In the litter box this morning: a turd with a tail.
Today I cooked chicken enchilada sauce. It’s going to be good.
I spent all day welding, and put in 33 pointed re-bar posts.
Mary vacuumed, mowed, and even string trimmed and fertilized. We went for a creemee.
I’m reading Dune on the front porch, and Lucy shows up with a mouse. After juggling it for awhile, she ate it whole. Head first, like a boa constrictor. Coming soon: another turd with a tail.
mon aug 3
criscolos came for dinner. Blueberry chili and soggy enchiladas. I don’t like this whole house tour / hors douvres /dinner / drink routine. I think you need to have an agenda and a group activity. I think Dave got it right.
tue aug 4
dropped off the motorcycle for inspection and Mary at work and came home and signed up for motorcycle safety course. Removed the lawn mower tire from the rim using brute force alone because I couldn’t think of a better way. Went next door and laid out some walls. The choice was to have crooked floors or crooked ceilings, and I picked ceilings. They look really bad, but you won’t see it when the sheetrock goes up. Quit early and picked up Mary and put in 3-phase plugs in the Hole. Dune, dirty rice and NCIS.
wed aug 5
I spent the morning working on the lawn mower and managed to get the engine assembled. It didn’t go smoothly, though, and at one point, I had the RTV gasket applied and was about to close it up when I realized I hadn’t put the piston in! It makes you wonder. I replaced the governor seal and the piston rings, installed the piston, closed it up, and torqued all the bolts. Turns out they’re done with the motorcycle, so I headed to S&S to pick it up, left my truck there, and drove the scenic route home. It runs a little differently every time I do anything to it, and this time, the idle speed was down to 1k (where it’s supposed to be) but it had reduced power at low rpm. Some day I’ll figure out how to adjust all the knobs. I got home, prepped to go next door, and laid out a few more walls. Very slow going, still trying to decide what should be crooked and what should not. I got 2nd-hand updates from Mary on Celia and Ella and we had munchiladas and a movie ‘Chocolat.’
thu aug 6
I spent pretty much the whole day working on the lawn mower. I patched the tire, put the wheel on, mounted the engine, the clutch, spliced wires, routed belts, mounted exhaust, put on the carburetor, put on the housing, connected hoses and linkages, filled with oil, rolled it outside and pulled the cord. It wouldn’t start. Not even a burp. Not even with starting fluid. Nothing. Everything had to be done twice, because I had to take everything apart at least twice because of out-of-order assembly. Read the fucking directions! I took the motorcycle into town to get more lawnmower parts.
Then I went next door to mess with the walls. I’m at a loss, as usual, about what to focus on next. Need to work on weather-tightness. Mary made me pick raspberries and tomatoes and she made a really fine flounder dinner, and 100% of the salad was from the garden.
fri aug 7
I messed with the lawn mower this morning. Good spark, but no compression. Zero. I need to see if there’s a valve adjustment for a rocker arm assembly. Very discouraged.
Since Mary is hot to mow the hillside next door, I took the tractor over there and managed to get it stuck on the hillside trying to back down in soft dirt. Had to brute-force remove it, brute force haul it down the slope, brute force put it back on, and then continue. Very disgusted.
So I worked upstairs next door, trying to stabilize the wall supporting the new roofline. Everything is crooked, and what’s not crooked is rotted out. The wall leans outward at 2.2 degrees (which is a LOT). Mary came by to see what’s up and caught me in the depths of a hard-earned bad mood. Sorry about that.
Grilled lamb and roasted peppers for dinner.
My cameras and frame grabber came and I unloaded the boxes and admired the hardware before starting to gather the driver software.
sat aug 8
I retrieved a sprayer from the barn and un-clogged the nozzle. Not sure whether what was in it was pesticide or herbicide, but I dumped it in the meadow downstream from the house and either the weeds or the wildlife are going to die. We headed for Woodstock for Bill’s 70th birthday. Their entire family was there, and it was a beautiful day. We detoured around Stowe to avoid the antique car parade, only to be caught in a motorcycle parade in Montpelier, and then we took back roads south, where we had to detour around yet another festival in Woodstock. The highlight of the picnic was watching Anthony grill the beef. Super-thick cuts of local organic beef, and he put them directly on top of the coals – no grill at all. Best beef I ever had.
sun aug 9
I worked on the lawn mower. Flailed away is more like it. I didn’t really expect anything I did to fix anything, but moving bolts around made me feel like I was trying. In the end, I fixated on hydraulic valve lifters, and will look for them tomorrow.
We went to the Stowe antique auto show, which was about over when we showed up, but we had a dog and fries and looked at the flea markets. And had a creemee.
Did not work next door.
Had a campfire and watched it get dark.
Began installing bitflow drivers. Most everything sorta works if you do it right.
mon aug 10
Took apart the lawn mower, looking for valve lifters. Found them, removed them, took them apart, bled them, and then re-assembled the whole thing. You could tell, when I tightened the rocker arms, that it was much better, and I had high hopes, but it still won’t start and still belches white smoke from the carburetor when I spin it, so it wasn’t the valve lifters after all. I’m still stumped.
Worked next door and am closer to finishing the south wall framing. Discussed closet plan with Mary. Nachos (delayed from last night) and fried pumpkin blossoms.
Re-visited bitflow drivers. Did not make much progress, but some of it looked familiar.
tue aug 11
Slow steady rain all day, like they say we need. I beg to differ.
I spent most of the morning on the staircase. I un-fluxed and welded pretty much a whole side and then maneuvered the whole assembly upside down using the tractor, a hoist, and a bunch of c-clamps. It’s pretty big.
I made enchilada sauce to go on the frozen spare tray I made the other day. Without spices, even cubanelles cooked down sweet.
And I flushed 3 bottles of hydrogen peroxide into the system, trying to get rid of the smell in the water.
Went downtown for plywood and groceries and unloaded the hard way onto the roof and then thru the wall to inside. The floor is wet from the rain, but not too bad. I need to fix the roof. Soon.
Ordered shoes from Zappos.
The enchiladas were delicious.
wed aug 12
Slow steady rain all morning, so I finished welding the staircase. Pretty impressive, even if parts of it aren’t pretty.
Next door is getting wet, so when it let up, I went to work trying to button up the addition. It is the very worst kind of rough carpentry, and it includes the rottenest corner in the whole house, and every single piece is custom/crooked. But if I can get it done, it’ll be a big deal. Just when my burned arm was finishing healing, my crowbar slipped and put a big gouge smack dab in the middle of the burn scar. Ouch!!
Struggled with bitflow: passwords for downloads and programs only run on windows. Slowly getting traction.
Beef stroganoff and Ella’s woes.
thu-fri aug 13-14
a couple hard days next door, patching the shed roof and fitting rafters.
Good progress reading bitflow documentation.
Instead of cooking burgers at home, we went to Grazer’s in Stowe and got seated in an echo-y room full of screaming kids.
sat aug 15
this morning, we moved the spiral staircase down to where it’ll go. It went pretty smoothly, with Mary stabilizing it and me driving the tractor. I spent an extra hour rotating it so it’s almost ready to set in place.
A lumber run and groceries, and then I moved 15 long 2×8’s up to the 2nd floor. I was dirty and beat, and cleaned up.
Trekked to burlington to Home Depot, Walmart, Starbucks, OutdoorGearExchange, and a birthday dinner for Marshall in a very loud restaurant. Good pasta and risotto.
mon aug 17
A brutal day. I knew it was going to be tough because it’s hot out and any hot day working on the roof next door is tough, but today was some kind of record. I started off slow by making a mount for my new cameras and then headed into town for some Advantech for the roof. We put them on top of the racks so they’d be easier to get onto the roof, and I had a close call nearly falling off when they slipped while maneuvering them onto the roof. I stripped the metal from the roof and got to work fitting it to the joists. Everything is crooked because the house is that way, so there was a lot of extra handling while cutting to fit. I managed to get dehydrated and even popped ligament in my elbow, but I got it all done, nailed home, and replaced the metal roofing on the edges. It looks much better.
I barely had the energy to walk back home, and spent the evening re-hydrating myself with anything liquid. Oh man. Getting old and sore.
Mary made her first pot of ratatouille of the season, using all ingredients from her garden. Delicious.
tue aug 18
Today I took the day off and, after yesterday, I deserved it.
I made a little progress with Bitflow on Windows and then decided I needed to take a long motorcycle ride. I headed down route 12 into Montpelier, which is teeming with attractive people, and then headed toward the dirt road that defeated me on my bicycle a few weeks back. The roads and hills seem a lot shorter from a motorcycle! My map stopped short of this region and I missed a turnoff and ended up at the Middlesex exit, where I figured out how to use GPS on my phone. It’s a marvel, as long as you have cell coverage. Then I worked my way over dirt roads back to Worcester, where I had ice cream. More back roads thru Calais, Woodbury and Hardwick, where I’d planned to stop for pizza, but Positive Pie was closed due to a fire. Headed to Mountain View in Hardwick, where the Pizza place was also closed, so I had more ice cream instead. What the Hell, it’s a hot day! Finally made it home after 95 miles.
Racoons had trashed Mary’s garden corn and she was pissed, so I dug up a motion-activated water sprayer I’d bought but never opened, and set it up to protect the area. All night long, Mary was muttering “Fuckers!” (next day: no more damage, so we might not need to blare rock music or get a dog after all).
wed aug 19
Lots of little chores today. I fixed the sink drain, which had come apart and soaked the rug and the floor. I tried on shoes from Zappo’s, only to find that the two I like don’t fit, and the one that fits best isn’t high enough, and the other one fits, but it’s ‘just’ a sneaker, and the whole point was to get some work shoes. I took ice out of the freezer, where it’s been accumulating and condensate has been spilling onto the floor.
I hauled the mower up to the garage, where I can work on it without smelling up the house. I’m at the hairy edge of giving up on it.
Next door, I cleaned up the fit of the sheathing and cut the holes for the windows, working very carefully and under a cloud of Motrin, because my left arm hurts pretty bad. So now I’ve got tendonitis in my right elbow, a popped ligament in my left elbow, a burn, a gouge atop the burn, and miscellaneous cuts and scrapes.
I wrote to Bitflow, who told me the card settings must match the camera settings. So I re-read the camera manual.
I got lost on the motorcycle in Johnson and then met Mary at the Oxbow for the free roasted corn MOCO & music event, where I had corn, jerk chicken and rice, cookies, and 2 beverages.
thu aug 20
This morning, Mary left early to pick up the kids for a couple days.
Yesterday, Mary handed me a post-it note with TJ’s Small Engine Repair’s number. A none-too subtle reminder that the lawn mower is still broke. And she’s right. So this morning, I tapped the number into my phone and then thought hard about what I was going to tell the guy. “Hello, TJ. I have a lawn mower that belched black smoke, so I power washed it, changed the oil, spark plug, oil filter, head gasket, piston rings and governor seal and then ground the valves, bled the lifters, and checked the spark, and now I can’t get it started.” I couldn’t bring myself to make the call, so I headed for Napa, looking for a tool to screw into the spark plug hole so I could pressurize the cylinder and thereby figure out, once and for all, where the compression is going. I tricked it out with a valve and a pneumatic fitting and pressurized it. Immediately, it was clear that 99% of the leakage was thru the rings. Damn. That’s the worst case scenario, but I need to save face. So I took the engine off the mower, took off the head and the oil pan, removed the piston and rings, and found that the new rings I’d put in had about a 1/2″ gap, compared to about 30 mils spec. Yup. That’s definitely a problem. So I put the old rings back in and then re-assembled the whole shebang. And all this time, I was showing Suri what’s inside an engine. I rode downtown to get a screw and some oil, and I don’t understand why oil has to be $5.59/qt. Tomorrow, I finish the job, and I’ll bet it runs this time.
Bbq chicken and corn on the cob with the kids.
Lucy is awol for 3+ days now, and we’re pretty sure something got her. I think BZ is taking it pretty hard.
fri aug 21
I spent the morning putting the lawn mower back together and moved it outside to fire it up. I’m telling you: Freshly assembled, it started on the very first pull, and ran great. So I dragged it back inside and installed all the belts and hooked up the clutch. A quick trip into town to get some handlebar tape and some pipe insulation for the pushbar, and I’m about ready to claim victory. Mary was in Burlington dropping off the kids, and I cleaned up and headed to Berlin for an evening of Motorcycle training. It turned out that road work at exit 10 closed off not one, but Both southbound exits, so I backtracked, intending to get onto Stowe street into Waterbury, but accidentally got myself Northbound on I-89 and was faced with either being 1/2 hour late for class or making an illegal U-turn on the freeway. I U-turned and made it to class on time. It was a pretty boring session, but necessary. I ate at Positive Pie in Barre and got home at 10:30, after Mary was already asleep. Worked on Bitflow.
sat aug 22
Mary set her alarm and nudged me out of bed at 6:10 am. I made lunch and gathered stuff and headed south. I got to ‘the range’ on time, and spent the day riding 15 miles in circles in a parking lot, doing progressively more difficult stuff on a Suzuki 250. Kind of fun. After 2:30, we went back to the classroom and I aced my written test. One more day to go, and I will be officially licenced. Dave and Laura dropped by for drinks on the deck, and Mary made delicious quinoa-stuffed poblanos and not-bad sockeye salmon. BZ is still lonely.
sun aug 23
Today, BZ nudged me out of bed at 6:02 am. I made lunch and gathered stuff and headed south. I got to ‘the range’ with time to spare for more motorcycle training. Today was harder. Double U-turns in the width of 2 parking spaces. Swerves. Obstacle avoidance. I kept making mental mistakes like forgetting to downshift during an emergency stop, and they docked me for easing off on the throttle when I got up to speed. But I passed, and somehow, it’s a big deal to me because it’s the end of a long journey since I came back from an auction with a rusty motorcycle hulk and a cardboard box full of parts. I celebrated with a Creemee. Good job.
mon aug 24
I put up the spiral staircase. What a job, maneuvering a kilo-lb object on end to within 1/8″ position over 3 bolt holes. I got it close once, but it fell over at the last minute. In the end, it took 3 hydraulic jacks, 8 clamps, 2 chains, the tractor, some duct tape, and the entire day before I got it seated. But it worked, and it’s a good looking unit. I deserved a creemee, but did not get one.
tue aug 25
I picked 5 gallons of weeds from the back drive.
Next door, I put in 45 deg trim where the wall meets the roof. This is way overkill for complexity, and not very strong, but it looks way better than what’s underneath. I framed the cutout for the bathroom window. I met with a builder, who seems capable, but vague.
Tough steaks and corn for dinner.
wed aug 26
I picked another 5 gallons of weeds from the back drive. Not sure if it’s related, but my elbows hurt something fierce. Trip to town for various errands, and then worked more on the bathroom window next door before I decided to clear off the debris from the roof. Pork chops for dinner and an ugly discussion on the back porch.
I’d bought 3 gallons of vinegar to kill weeds with and put them down in the shop. I came in later and the place smelled like ammonia. I couldn’t find the source, but I figured that even if the vinegar bottles are mis-labelled, at least I’ll still be able to kill the weeds.
thu aug 27
Dead silence in the house.
I dropped off a load of roofing steel for recycling in Stowe. They charged me $3.00.
I headed North and my low-on-gas light went on. I got gas and continued north.
I got windows at Home Depot and then headed south. No fooling around.
I got home, snacked, and then framed out the window-shaped holes in the high wall. With a chain saw. Took apart the turnbuckles and read for awhile. Separate suppers.
Today, I was down in the shop and BZ followed me. He wanted out, but I wouldn’t let him. So he sniffed his litter box and then turned his back on me and peed on the floor next to it. Ammonia mystery solved, but I really need to clean the litter box.
fri aug 28
Who you gonna call when you’re down a quart? Mary was supposed to drop her car off for work this morning, but her oil light went on on the way out of the garage, so I scared up some oil and a funnel and ‘fixed’ it. I hope I’m not graduating from small engines to big ones, because I don’t have the time.
For some reason, I can’t hear for shit lately, and I figured the microphone covers might be clogged from sweat and being in my pocket or toolbox half the time. So I replaced them and cleaned the contacts. Suddenly, it works a little better.
So I picked another bucket of weeds out of the driveway, had a grilled ham and cheese, and headed next door. Great weather to work in, and I fitted and installed 3 new windows. It’s coming along, but I really need to clean up the mess.
Then I got on the motorcycle and headed for the hills of Johnson, with a pit stop for a cookie at a farmer’s market. It was a good ride. Mary made a really good salad, and a really good fruit crisp.
sat aug 29
This morning, I picked another 5 gallons of weeds out of the driveway. By now, I’d say it’s about weeded and we’re about ready for vinegar. We’re thinking about buying a 5 gallon bucket of bulk acetic acid so we can mix up our own weed-killing brew, but I think it’s worth making sure it works as well as it appears to. “Don’t put anything on your driveway that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.” I went into town and made 5 stops.
I went next door and took out, I’m guessing, about 3000 nails from boards I want to save. One board had 42 nails in it. Some of the boards holding shingles had over 100. I’m saving the square nails and I need to come up with a plan for what to do with them. Then I ran chalk lines for the rafters and cut the first one.
Walking back home, I picked a couple plums and … today is the day. They are at the peak of ripeness, and ready to be picked. So I picked 5 gallons of plums, and they’re soaking overnight. Mary made a great shrimp dish and the full moon was hidden by clouds.
sun aug 30
So I took that 5 gallon bucket of plums and squoze the juice out of them. It was a pretty messy job and although I covered myself up with a napkin, about 1 plum in 10 squirted like a porn star, and I ended up having to hose off the porch, the furniture, and myself. It took me about 2 hours to get enough juice to make 7 sheets of fruit leather. Which takes forever to cure. We took the motorcycle into town and ate at Lost Nation, and then took a bunch of back roads home. Mary did not seem to be terrified, riding on the back.
I put All the King’s Men on my kindle, and it’s kind of a slog so far, but if it’s as good as they say, a slow start will be worth it.
mon aug 31
A pretty slow day. Started out with a bunch of chores prior to going on vacation. Changed cat litter, sprayed vinegar on the driveway, and the like.
Mary was hot to make a new and improved composting bin, with two tractor-loader-sized bays so we can add to one bay while the other ‘cooks’ and also be able to turn the piles with the tractor. So I hauled 2 tons of rocks and we set up some pallets. So far, she’s happy with it. The ice maker stopped making ice and the freezer still leaks. Not a good month for that to happen.