September 2020

tue sep 1
There’s an insect whose nests are about 2 feet long, and they look like a dirty sock swallowing a branch whole. They’re ugly and disgusting.
There seem to be a lot of them this year. The tree outside Mary’s bathroom window is full of them, and she would rather not see them while sitting on the pot.
“Honey,” she said (and I knew what was coming), “we really ought to cut down those nests and burn them.”
I kind of agree, so I dusted off my lineman’s boom, gave it some gas, and … couldn’t get it started.
I debugged it a little and decided that, since there was no fuel coming out, it had to be the fuel pump. I bought a new one and … couldn’t get it started.
I debugged it a little more. It had a sorta spark and it sorta sometimes ran, but only with starter fluid, so it had to be the carburetor. Which is a welded unit labeled ‘not field serviceable’ and costs $200 bucks. That didn’t stop me, and I soaked the whole carburetor in the most flammable liquid I could find and … still couldn’t get it started.
Huh. So I debugged some more and found an ‘open’ in the ignition coil’s secondary winding. These things go for $35 online, but delivery takes a week, so I headed for the scrap yard where I bought the boom, scavenged another coil for $10, put it in and … it started right up.
Only 3 weeks, it took me.

I cut down every last one of them and burned them in diesel.
Spider moths must DIE!

sat sep 5
Ella’s been living next door for about 3 weeks now and, as a pipecleaner for checking out the green house’s livability, it’s worked out pretty well. Everything more or less seems to work.
Then we raised the bar. For labor day weekend, occupancy jumped from one female to five. And after a night of binge eating and drunken bingo, every single one of them needed to take a shit and a shower. There were wet noises in the basement, and brown water backed up into the tub. Who you gonna call?
“We’ve got a problem,” she told me. I took a look and quickly deduced that, yes, the sewage was backed right up. We needed to call the septic guy and locate the septic tank. So Mary made the call while I dug under the deck, looking for the tank. Everyone else made themselves scarce. The best fix was to ream out the clean-out between the house and the tank, so I grabbed a couple buckets and a pipe wrench and backed out the fitting. With about 5 feet of ‘water’ pressing on a 3″ fitting,  a firehose of sewage doused me when it came loose. I got it pointed at a bucket, but it was too late and within  5 seconds, that bucket was full and the spare had floated out of reach. It was a wet, smelly mess.
I cleaned out the pipes with a garden hose and put it back together. Then we wet-vac’ed the basement and I took a shower. With scented soap.

tue sep 8
I stepped outside to take a leak this afternoon and, in the corner of my eye, a tree jiggled.
I tucked myself in, and took a better look. It was a bear. A big one. In a tree. Way high up. Eating my apples!

I snuck up on him and gave him a piece of my mind.

thu sep 10
The sewing machine broke, and I fixed it.
The wheel fell off the mowing deck, and I fixed it.
The throttle linkage on the #2 carburetor was bent, and I fixed it.
The coffee grinder broke, and I fixed it.
A bolt on the brush hog broke, and I fixed it.
A threaded hole in the #4 float bowl is stripped, and I can’t fix it. Sad.

The Crepe Ship Lollypop.
First prize.
Long story.

I’m doing a lot of sewing, making cushions for my re-bar deck chairs.
I couldn’t decide whether the stripes should go horizontally or vertically and – quite by accident – my first cushion had opposite stripes on opposite sides. Sometimes my best ideas are the ones that don’t even occur to me.

I’ve turned the basement into my own personal sweat shop.

sun sep 13
I haven’t worked much on C3PR.
You might say I’ve given C3PR a wide berth lately.
In fact, I covered C3PR up with a tarp and I haven’t touched it in months.
God damned thing pissed me off.
My ball tracker works pretty good, most of the time, but it is a struggle, and it’s never gonna be prime time if it doesn’t work twice as good, all the time. It was wearing me down, so I decided to give it a break. Work on something else for a while. Cogitate upon it.
So I got to thinking: Why is this so hard? What seems to be the problem?
And eventually, I got thinking about my lighting. I use yellowish-white LED strips to detect an orangeish ball against a greenish background. Scientifically, orange, yellow and green are ‘adjacent’ hues, so …
Hmmm, I thought to myself, maybe that’s why my camera thinks everything is yellowish. Maybe if I use wide-spectrum lighting, the slope of the hue at the edge of the ball will be crisper, and my algorithm won’t get so confused.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

sun sep 19
As climate catastrophes go, losing your tomato crop is small potatoes, but …
We’re in the throes of a cold spell, and frosts are forecast for the next four nights. Mary is berserk that her tomatoes, which are juuuuust about to ripen, are about to be wiped out by frost instead. She picked about 10 gallons of them – anything with any red on it – the night before the first frost warning (which was a false alarm). Three more nice days went by, and more and more of her tomatoes started blushing, so when the deep-freeze warning hit, she  picked everything with any red in it – again. And when it was clear, the next morning, that her plants were dead, she went out and picked the green ones that looked like they might have started turning red if only they’d lived another few days.
I know. You’re wondering: Once you pick them, what do you do with them? Well… you spread them out on cardboard and hope that more of them ripen than rot. Then you can them. You wouldn’t believe the things Mary can do with a can of tomatoes.

All but 4 of these ripened. There are 4x this many to go.
Next time I hear about my cider overkill, I’ll just say:
What about tomatoes?

My impressive collection of hazardous wastes.
Remember the good old days when you could dump it in the ditch and be done with it?

sun sep 20
At the top of my morning to-do list: “dump run”.  I scoured the house for cardboard before I left. There was a lot of it, and I threw it all out.
Next on my list was “cut up kindling”. This was primo stuff: matchstick thin, bone dry,  precision cut, organic, and highly flammable. The perfect gift for any friend with a wood stove! But I couldn’t find a box to put it in, because I just threw them all out!

I freed up a box by throwing something else out, put a red bow on it, and gave it away.

Third on my to-do list: Think of a birthday gift for Charon. Who, come to think of it, has a wood stove that needs kindling. Too bad I already gave that box away, huh?
Apparently, my to-do list is upside down.

fri sep 25
A few weeks ago, Celia and I had a little spat about a mirror in the bathroom next door. I’d mounted it high enough to see my own head, and she moved it down so a short person could use it as a full length mirror. I didn’t like it, but I let it go because, hey, she knows more about mirrors than I do.
Today I was working next door when nature called. I dropped trou, sat down, queued up a heave and … stopped cold. Staring right at me, directly in front of me, full length in the mirror, was Me. Pants around my ankles, pasty white skin on display, and junk dangling below the seat. It was not a pretty sight.
It is a bad place for a mirror.

sat sep 26
Mary said there was a leak in the basement. Again.
I ran the water and checked the pipes. They were dry. “I don’t see a leak,” I said.
Mary turned on the tub and pointed down the stairs, where a trap was overflowing.
Right. Wait. WTF? Didn’t we just fix this?
Apparently not. We did some debugging and some digging and, of course, worst came to worst.

Shit don’t flow uphill.

Long story short: we dug a ditch and replaced the pipe.

Celia is a pretty darn good manual laborer

wed sep 30
A year ago, I was awash in apples. This year, there are none to be had.
Sad. But kind of relieved, too, because … You know how I get carried away.

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