Archive for August, 2010

Grind to the Finish

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I finished rows 5 and 6 today and got a few pieces of firewood on row 7. That used up all the logs on the trailer, so around 4:30 I headed out to the woods for my (probably) last load. I have to admit I’m amazed at how close I came to felling just the right amount of wood this year. I cleaned up what I had down, and cut down just a few more trees to finish up the load. I pulled into the yard after 7:00, and we still had our sit on the dock. Alice made a fabulous supper and a smoothie for dessert. I cleaned up the kitchen a bit, and put on the backpack and did a little over a mile tonight. It has been a long physical day. Tomorrow should be the day I finish the woodpile! I told Alice there would be ice cream, and she suggested potato chips. Why not?


Friday, August 13th, 2010

I didn’t sleep well last night, and this morning, the headache blossomed. In preparing to write this story, I did a Google Image search on “headache.” There were many many pages of images, but none expressed what I knew to be the truth. It is interesting that I feel confident I would have known the correct image if I would have seen it, but really none of them came close. The interesting questions is, what is the correct image? What does one of Ted’s headaches look like?

I can tell you that a Merck product called Maxalt does the job for me. Instead of suffering through a day or more of pain and general out-of-itness, I can get rid of most of each (the results seem to vary.) With rest and Maxalt, I had a fairly normal day. I did not do my situps and pushups this morning, nor did I do my backpack hike after supper. I did not make a single speck of sawdust all day. Hopefully today’s investment will reap a fairly normal day for tomorrow. I am close enough on the woodpile that I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m anticipating standing in full sunlight in the next few days.

The Clothesline Paradox

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

pins1.jpgThis looked so sweet to me I took a picture. Alice can’t hold clothespins and pin like most of us do, so she improvised this method for hanging clothes. I think she looks a lot like the Frito Bandito with his cartridge belts crisscrossing his chest.

It reminded me of the clothesline paradox. When you look at the statistics of energy consumption in this country, solar gets a tiny slice. Today when Alice did the laundry, she had two choices when the load came out of the washer. She could have piled them in the dryer and dried them with propane, or hung them outside on the clothesline. clothesline.jpgUsing the first method, her consumption of fossil fuels would have been noted and duly reported in the energy consumption statistics. She instead decided to use solar energy to dry the clothes, and her choice was not entered into any statistics anywhere. One wonders how much solar we really use if proper account were taken.

On the firewood front, I cleaned off the trailer and completed row 4, and started row 5. At about 4:30 I drove the rig out to the woods and started stacking logs on the forks. It wasn’t until after 6:30 that I drove back with another load of logs. It was hot out there, so I moved very deliberately. Still I made a mistake when I put the hookaroon on the dozer, and it slipped off and I drove over it. rack.jpgI’d call it a testament to its sturdiness that is didn’t break with 6 tons of dozer. I was so tired when I came in that I asked Alice if we could skip our sit on the dock tonight, and move straight into supper, which we did. After supper I did put the backpack on and did the whole 2 miles. The first 10 steps were the hardest. Once I got going I was ok. I figure it will be plenty hot in the Grand Canyon, and I’ll be plenty tired some days, so I might as well condition for the real thing.

No Pictures

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I usually decide what to write when I pull out my camera and see what pictures I’ve taken. This evening the viewfinder said, “No Image.” I guess that means nothing of consequence happened today.

Yesterday was taken up driving to Escanaba to pick up the television. I had taken it down there because it was the closest repair shop (only 150 miles.) This was 3 weeks ago. The thing weighs about 200# and is bulky to boot, so getting it out of the livingroom and into the truck, and then back again was a challenge for the two of us. I was glad I had my transmission jack. This device makes it easy to raise and lower heavy things in confined spaces. It did the trick both directions. Everything is hooked up and seems to work fine.

Today was our in-town day. We had a nice breakfast at the Soumi Restaurant, and then Alice went to work and I did the errands. This morning I was done by 10:30, but Alice didn’t finish until 11:00, so I had a sit in the car with the radio until she was ready. Once we got home and got things organized, we had lunch, and I worked on the woodpile some more. There are racks for 8 single cords outside, and I finished filling the 3rd one today, and started on the 4th. I think I’ll finish number 4 and start on 5 with the load of logs I have on the trailer. Then 2 more good loads should finish the job for this year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d like to do after the woodpile monkey is off my back. There are a lot of projects, but one I’d like to roll up my sleeves with is the Avion Truck Camper that has been sitting in the driveway for a few years now. I have set myself a goal to have it ready for a trip next summer. We’ll see how it goes.

Pizza Gravity

Monday, August 9th, 2010

alicepaint1.jpgYou may not think that food can have a gravitational field, but we learned otherwise tonight. It was a busy day and a hot day. Alice concentrated on her painting projects, which included work on the front porch today (I shudder to think what this house would look like if it weren’t for her constant caring upkeep.) I cut up the last two logs on the trailer. One of them split easily. The other not so easily. I’m talking multiple wedges, numerous non-productive whacks with heavy iron, and liters of sweat. Eventually everything was split and stacked.

forks11.jpgAfter lunch and a nap, Franco and I loaded up the Scout and pulled the empty trailer out to the woods. The first fork load of logs is shown here. I went back and got a second equally large load of logs and loaded that on the trailer. It was so hot out there that I had to sit down several times and take it easy. It was so hot that I only threw the stick for Franco a half dozen times in the 2 1/2 hours we were out there. That, my friends, is hot.

forks.jpgOnce home with the load I backed it up to the woodpile and went inside to the cool house. After a short rest and a change of clothes, we headed out to the dock. It was closing in on 7:00 by this time. I had burned some serious calories out there and I was hungry. As we often do on our way out to the dock, we talked over the possibilities for supper.

You may not know this, but we are beholding to the planet Jupiter in our solar system for sweeping up many of the possibly destructive asteroids and comets before they can hit earth. Imagine these objects speeding through space and encountering Jupiter’s gravity. Some are deflected out of the solar system, some into the sun, and every now and then, one is embraced by Jupiter and crashes into the planet. As we were talking over some possibilities for supper, most of the ideas were not embraced by our planet. Then the subject of pizza came up. “We could slice up some Brandywine tomatoes and sweet onions with a little extra cheese,” Alice suggested. The planet reached out and grabbed that pizza idea.

brandwine.jpgWe were both hungry, but I think I was more than Alice. Once the pizza seed was planted, I had a difficult time concentrating on the dock sit. Eventually after a short time, I asked if we could cut it short and go in and make supper.

How was the pizza? I think Alice summed it up best, “That was the best pizza I’ve had in my life!” Hear hear.

A Charming Encounter

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Today I got back to work on the logs on the trailer. I finished stacking the first single cord, and put a roof over the second one. Before I had a chance to put much in that one, I got a first responder call that took up some time. After the call, I had to run back to the firehall, so I stopped back home on the way and picked up two gas cans. After I finished at the hall, I stopped at Karvakko’s to fill the gas cans for the Scout (the Scout stalled today because it ran out of gas.) While I was inside paying for the gas, I was shooting the breeze with Wrangler Brandstrom. A guy walked up to me, looked me in the eye, and held out his hand. I held out my hand and he shook it warmly while looking up into my face. He didn’t say much, but I could tell he was pretty moved by shaking my hand. After he left I asked Wrangler who he was, and we figured out that he was the guy that called me for a first responder run about a week ago. I figured out that this man wasn’t very articulate, but that he was sincerely grateful for my helping his buddy the other day. I got a lump in my throat after I figured out what had happened.

alicehelping.jpgOnce home from that one I had some lunch and a nap, and then went back to work on the firewood. I enlisted Alice’s help stacking the smaller pieces, with the promise that the satisfaction she would gain from watching the woodpile grow would more than compensate her for the stiff back she’ll have tomorrow. Trooper that she is, she helped out. We’ll see if the equation balances after tomorrow comes.

growing.jpgWe finished all but two logs on the trailer when we decided it was time to walk out for a sit on our dock. We got all the way out there and were walking to the dock with the camp chairs when the pager went off again. I sprinted back to the house, grabbed my radios, and headed off to the new incident. Luckily when I got there, the situation had resolved itself so I was able to come back almost right away. Our dock sit was not in the cards for today, however. It was getting along to 7:00, so we decided to work on supper instead. After supper Franco and I did our two mile backpack hike.

I think I’ll always remember that nice man at the store shaking my hand today.

Functional Prototype

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

prototype.jpgToday I finished welding and painting all the brackets, and Alice had enough of the 2x3s painted that I could put one together and try it out for fit. It worked perfectly! Tomorrow I should be able to put another one together and then start loading firewood into the racks again. I have not enjoyed this delay. Once I start on the firewood I don’t like to interrupt it for anything, but this time I felt I had no choice. While the bottoms and uprights of this system functioned well, the roof supports were crap. Now I feel I have something solid I can depend on.

We were lucky to get a call from the Krumms that several of our young friends (Steve’s age) were visiting, so we walked over and spent a very nice hour or so with them. It has been said you’ll grow old unless you make young friends, and I’d say we are lucky in that regard.

After the visit, we had a nice dock sit, some supper, and a 1 1/2 mile backpack walk. I barely made it out the door tonight, but once I got going I felt good enough to get at least a mile and a half of the usual 2 miles done. The hike in the Grand Canyon is in a little over 2 months now, so it is full speed ahead on the conditioning.

First Tomato (sort of)

Friday, August 6th, 2010

tomato.jpgI noticed that first hint of red among the tomato plants today. Before supper Alice and I walked out to the greenhouse for a closer inspection. The tomato shown in the picture is a first of sorts… it is the first one we picked this year. After picking it, we determined it was not yet ripe enough for eating, but I have to say that feeling a nice warm 2010 tomato in my hands was a highlight of my day. And it was a Brandywine to boot. I’ve heard they are delicious, but have never tasted one. You can bet I’ll gloat on these pages if it tastes good.

grinding.jpgAlice and I spent most of the productive part of our day in the garage again. We got a bunch more brackets built and more painting of the wooden supports done. I have to say we make a very effective team when we work together on a project. If we make similar progress tomorrow, we should finish building and painting the brackets, and get them attached to their wooden supports. Then I can resume work on the woodpile, which has been the goal all along.

RIP Victorinox

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

On our walk after supper, I was doing the math about the years I’ve carried my Swiss Army Knife. As near as I can tell, I’ve had one in my pocket for about 40 years. Well, about a week ago mine disappeared. This is not unusual because of the cargo pants I’ve been buying at Walmart. The front pockets on the jeans I normally wear are loose inside the pants, but for some reason, the makers of these cargo pants decided to run the pocket along a seam inside the trouser legs. This means when I sit or lay down, the pockets can empty. When the knife has gone missing before, I usually looked around where I had taken my last nap, and there it would be. This time I did the usual search, and could not find it. I suspect it fell out of my pocket when I got off the dozer in the woods. I looked there too, but no luck.

Several years ago, I purchased a Leatherman Wave, mostly on Steve’s recommendation. I carried it in a pouch I used for years at my job in the Scene Shop at Michigan Tech. Since then it has been sitting in my drawer. Once it was clear the old knife was gone, I had to decide whether or not to replace it. I decided to carry the Leatherman instead. In my opinion, it is a far superior tool, and today I made up my mind to replace the 40 year habit knife with the Leatherman. RIP Victorinox. You were a great tool that got me out of many a jam.

Today Alice and I went into town early for a breakfast at the Suomi, and then on to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new lake lab on the waterfront on campus. I’m glad we went. We were supporting the folks in the Biology Department that worked hard to bring this about, and we enjoyed talking to several of the people there. After they started taking pictures of guys in suits sticking gold painted shovels into a pile of sand, we snuck out and did our errands.

brackets.jpgOne thing I had to buy was enough steel strap to fabricate the brackets for the outdoor woodpile project. I calculated I needed 50′ of strap, which I bought at Ripley Products in Hancock, and bungeed onto the car rack. We ran out other errands, and the last stop was at the hardware at Festival Foods so I could buy a Fein Multimaster tool kit. I’ve been looking at these for months now, and finally decided to get one today. I haven’t even gotten it out of the box yet… that is how busy we’ve been today.

carrying.jpgAfter we got home and got organized, I started making the 2x4s needed for the project. I hauled in several planks from the woodpile in back of the garage. These are spruce planks I milled with my sawmill years ago. Even though they are dry, they are heavy. If you could see this picture clearly enough, you’d see a grimace as the plank settled into my shoulder.

Once in the garage I set them on my miter saw table,squared them off and cut them to length. Then I ripped them to 3″ wide on the tablesaw, and moved them over to the painting department.sawing.jpg Alice graciously agreed to prime them for me. I needed 16 for this project. The old system I had depended on flimsy 2x2s to hold up the sheet metal that keeps the wood dry. This new system uses spruce 2x3s; much stronger than before.

Once the wood was cut and being painted, I could concentrate on the brackets. I had some 2 1/2″ square tube set aside for a project that never materialized. I set up the metal-cutting bandsaw and cut it into chunks 2″ long. I also cut up the steel strap I bought today into 16″ lengths. Once cut, each piece of steel had to have its sharp edges ground off, and several holes drilled. alicepaint.jpgThen they moved to the welding table where they took their final form. The three shown in the earlier picture still need to have some grinding done, and then will be painted with Rustoleum primer before they are finished. The way things are going, I should have a couple ready tomorrow so I can resume processing next year’s firewood.

They Don’t Always Go According To Plan

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

My plan this morning was to get out to the woods first thing in the cool of the morning to get another load of logs for the firewood project. It seemed simple enough as a concept, but in execution, it proved troublesome. About the time I was ready to saddle up and head out there, my pager went off for a first responder call. Of course I can’t talk about the incident, but I can tell you it took far longer than usual, and that it affected me strongly. Still I managed to slide back into the household flow, and by about 5:00 I was on my way out to the woods with my buddy.

frank.jpgFranco is happy to ride in the back of the Scout when we go out to the woods. Alice says he looks so cute back there that she wanted some pictures, and this one is my favorite. We had a deadline because I had an important fire department meeting tonight. We worked pretty steadily and got a load out in time for me to head to the firehall. As we were moving logs onto the forks of the dozer, I disturbed a bee’s nest, and fortunately no one got stung this time, and it didn’t stop me from moving all but one of the logs onto the dozer.

Last night’s post had a paragraph about some road copper I found, one of which was a piece of quartz that looked like it was dipped in molten copper. While I had a spare moment today, I did a google search to see if I could learn more about this phenomenon, and was directed to several sites that sell crystals for their healing power! It got me to thinking that this specimen might have some monetary value among the folks that believe this sort of thing. The dilemma I’m suffering from is whether I would be supporting this silliness by selling the thing to them (assuming they would want it.) What do you think?