Sunday, October 30, 2005

Post-few days with my son

I took 3 vacation days last week and had my son for 5 days now. We had such a good time together. One afternoon we went to Burger King and they have this "finger football" setup in the store. Several tables have a playing field attached and they give you placemats with a pattern for making the little triangular football. JP had never done this before and it has been probably more than 35 years for me. So we played for, oh gosh, probably 45 minutes.

Then I thought "he likes it so much that I'm going to make him a little table for playing finger football." So we went to Lowe's and bought 4 table legs and the plates to attach them to a board and some green spray paint. I had some scrap MDF in the shop so I made a board 12" x 24". I attached the legs, but took them off and applied several coats of paint. The legs are a little too long. I would like to play sitting down, but the legs require one to kneel. So in the next few days I will paint white lines on the "field" and shorten the legs. He LOVES his table, and it was so simple!!

Today I bought some nuts and bolts to attach a seat slider mechanism in my Jeep CJ. The passenger's side slider was missing. I picked up a replacement cheap on Ebay. It took some time to install, plus I had to drill 2 holes in the seat mounting bracket. I'm not used to drilling metal. But I got it done. Could use some lithium grease or WD40 to slide better, though.

Last night I made a mac&cheese/hot dog casserole that I saw Rachael Ray make a couple weeks ago. It was ok. JP liked it, but he picked out all the pieces of onions and today he didn't want leftovers. I think that making it was more exciting for him. He has come to enjoy watching Rachael Ray with me.

Also, I picked up and installed a DVD burner. I would like to convert some home movies from 8mm tapes to DVD. But the video capture device I have isn't installing correctly under Windows XP, so, I cannot capture the video footage. Will have to try to fix the installation of the device. Anyone out there have a Dazzle Fusion and successful installation in Windows XP ??

Monday, October 24, 2005

Security alert!!

So scary as to what our government can do now.

This is upsetting but I thought I should pass it along. Check your drivers license. Now you can see anyone's Driver's License on the Internet, including your own! I just searched for mine and there it was. . . picture and all!! Thanks Homeland Security! Where are our rights? I definitely removed mine. I suggest you do the same.

Go to the web site and check it out. Just enter your name, city and state to see if yours is on file. After your license comes on the screen, click the box marked "Please Remove". This will remove it from public viewing, but not from law enforcement.

Link here.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Weekend update

Well, as expected, I was able to recover the cost of the battery for my work van. All the tree work for the weekend went off without any problems. The job today was a barter for clutter cleaning services to come soon.

This week there are more odds and ends to do and on Wednesday I will get my son for 5 straight days. His school has a fall break. I will take a few vacation days. I have a few things in mind and would like to introduce him to the new lady in my life...TV chef Rachael Ray.

A couple of weeks ago I was channel surfing and stopped a little on the food network. I had heard of Rachael Ray and seen her books, but never watched her. But this time she was on and I got hooked. She is so charismatic! In case any of my readers want to see who I'm speaking of, watch her. She is on the Food Network every weekday for 2 back to back shows starting at 6pm. I have always thought cooking was a chore. She has some good ideas such as putting on some good music that you like, and keeping a "garbage bowl" on the countertop as you're preparing your meal (saves trips back and forth to the garbage can. Anyway, I hope my son will like watching her as much as I do. (sadly, she's recently married...yeah, like I had a shot!!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

"Fix" just keep getting harder to find.

Within the past few weeks I think I have run out of things that need fixing.

1. My Dremel came back from the repair shop. It was under warranty, works great, and they even sent me a brand new wire wheel attachment for it. Cost about 6 bucks to send it for repair.

2. My logsplitter was leaking hydraulic fluid at the cylinder. Took it to a machine shop and they replaced all the seals and o-rings, and replaced all the fluid. Cost $210. A bit pricey, but this machine has worked flawlessly for years, and I have split and sold enough firewood to pay for it two times over. The mechanic told me he had never seen one in such good condition.

3. Battery in my work van. Dead, kaput. Took me two trips to the auto parts store. The first one I had to buy a special wrench for removing the terminals from a "side mount" battery (Thanks GM!). The second one was to buy the new battery. Total cost, about $70 for battery and wrench. Got it home, used the Dremel and a wire wheel to buff the battery cable terminals, applied the little bit of dielectric grease, and hooked it up. A thing of problems whatsoever. Not even a dropped wrench or busted knuckle.

4. Fixed a faulty wire connection to the phone in my office. Started off in the attic. Cut and stripped the ends of the wires, and reinstalled them on the jack. Nope! Came back to the office and took off the wall plate. Cut and stripped the ends of the wires and reinstalled them on the jack. Worked !!

5. Fixed the flex duct for the master bath fan. It had slipped off a connector. I had a guy install it maybe a year ago. Looked to me like he skimped on the duct tape. I didn't. That thing may NEVER let go now.

For now I can't think of anything else (mechanical) I own that needs repair. Of course, there's always home improvement projects, but nothing needing repair.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Burn, baby, burn !

Last night I put a 2 HUGE hunks of wood on the fire, fully expecting it to go out. One hunk was a piece of oak, about 3 feet in diameter at the base. It had been sitting in the weeds for YEARS. The outside of it was decaying and wet. But the inside must have been nice and dry. I couldn't believe it caught fire and burned out a hollow in the middle first, then smoldered it's way down. It was nearly gone this morning. When I went home at lunch to put more on the fire, it was gone! Completely ! It was probably over 100 lbs!

This morning I made 2 trips to the auto parts store. One to get a wrench for removing a "side terminal" battery. The second to replace the dead battery. At lunch I went home, cleaned the battery terminals, applied a special terminal grease and installed the battery. Et perfectly and no unexpected problems. That's for my work van, which I will be using this weekend. The money I will make will probably cover the cost of the battery. :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Flame on!

I got the fire going. While that is being fed there are other things to be done.

The weather is definitely cooler. I had thought I might be able to have my workshop wood stove operational this year. It needs to be on a fireproof platform. Early this year I built the platform out of 2x4s and plywood. But it needs cement backer board and tile. Today I bought the backer board. I've never used it before, but the man at Home Depot assured me that I could cut it if I had experience cutting drywall (and I have).

The platform is 4ft by 4ft with a "clipped corner." I did that because I am going to put the stove in a corner and place it diagonally to look nice. The front of the stove will be parallel to the clipped corner. Backer board comes in 3x5 sheets, so I needed two sheets. Because I am going to tile the front edges of the platform I don't expect to have much scrap backer board.

The tiles I intend to put in are called "Saltillos". These are thick, irregular, hand made Mexican tiles. I'm going for mass. The more insulation against the heat, the better. The stove was a great find. I saw it in a secondhand store, marked for $150. It looked almost new. The salesperson told me it had a broken, but repaired leg and said she'd take $75 for it. SOLD! The leg broke again on the way home. I did a little research and found that the stove sells new for about $1200. It was a few years old and in almost new condition except for the leg. Welding cast iron is iffy at best. I found a dealership and ordered a replacement leg...cost $25 (at worst I could have put a piece of threaded rod in place to act as a leg). I left the stove under a tarp on my trailer for too many days and humidity caused a lot of surface rust. Last year I took to it with a drill and wire brushes and got it almost rust free.

I doubt that I will have the stove operational this year. But I hope to have the tiling done, the stove set in place, and all rust cleaned off this year. Then all I'll need is flue pipe and a chimney (couple hundred dollars). By this time NEXT year my workshop should be nice and toasty.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cleanup 'prep'

Cleaning up is the first and last things you do on a particular task. The cleaning BEFORE is called preparation.

This past weekend was my visitation with my son. He does little chores with me but bores easily. We had a lot of things to do over the weekend, and I had him help me with a couple things that I knew he wouldn't mind doing. I've been burning off tree debris in the backyard inside a ring of bricks. The ring can be moved closer to the debris, which is what I thought we'd do. So, we moved a couple of bricks at a time and set up a new location. Then he helped me put debris into the ring. I demonstrated how to put some kerosene on the debris to start it, and we lit the fire. While that was going there were some spare bricks in the weeds that we moved to an open area.

I have been wanting to get back into the weedy area, clear it all out, and get grass growing. But over the years, having cut down and hauled a lot of trees for people, I had collected a lot of debris which needs to be burned. The burning IS the cleanup. But this weekend the debris was still too wet to burn. So by making a new burn circle and moving the bricks, we "prepared to cleanup."

The fire went out. So the debris needs to dry in the sun for some days. I also pulled some chunks of wood out of the shade into the sun. Next time my son stays for the weekend I would like for him to see a dramatic change.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Kitchen Cafe 2

Last night I finished installing the tiffany style lamp. Wired it up and added a dimmer switch. That's one more home project off the list. There are still a handful of things I want to accomplish this year before I start devoting free time to the workshop to make Christmas gifts.

My kitchen cafe is ok for now. But the next idea is to replace that tabletop with my own creation. My uncle, in the mountains, makes wine cork trivets. Two years ago I made some as Christmas gifts. Since then I have collected a lot more corks. Can you imagine a wine cork trivet tabletop, with a sheet of glass covering it? Here is a typical trivet. Imagine this as a 2ft by 4ft table. Will probably work on this in the spring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kitchen cafe

Today I had a little time to work on the tiffany style kitchen lamp. I bought the parts needed to hang it. Then screwed a swag hook directly above where I want the lamp to hang. The swag hook is screwed into a custom support that I made up in the attic, which spans two roof trusses. Drywall and a toggle bolt would not be strong enough.

Once I make a final decision on the height, it can be wired into the fixture. But for now you can see the excess wire in one picture. I think I'll put a dimmer switch on it as well.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Let's try that once again

Nothing from my post of Oct 3 has been accomplished, nor even started. There were some issues that came up that required attention. So I just move them forward 1 week. Should get the phone wire fixed tonight and some stripper on the chest and table.

I have a friend who started a business of helping people organize ( She has offered to come and help me clean and organize my workshop. I would certainly like to have an organized space, so I may do that. While in a bookstore this weekend I saw a magazine that had a short article of a very organized workshop. The fellow who was responsible was pictured along with his shop. It looked amazing, but also Anal Retentive. I don't know when the guy would ever find time to get anything done, what with all the organizing. I want to be organized, but not to that extreme.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

In addition to all that I want to do this week, I have been tending backyard fires. As a part time lumberjack I used to "save time" by bringing home trailer loads of tree debris, then burning it. Once we got annexed into city limits it became unlawful to have open brush fires in one's yard. Yet, I still have a big pile of debris...and I don't intend to take it up to the street twig by twig for city collection.

Walk around any home store and you will see that there is a proliferation of backyard conversational fire pits. All shapes and sizes, including chimineas. I figure that if THOSE are ok, then I should be able to do a small fire or two, completely enclosed in a "portable" fire pit constructed of dry laid bricks or granite stones. So I set up two burning areas in the surrounding a stump I would like to burn out.

Every now and then I make a fire and burn off some debris. Since the weather is nicer I have recently kept a fire going as much as possible. Last night I made a visible dent in the mound of debris. And I have since decided that the 40 minutes I used to save by not hauling a trailer load of tree debris to the appropriate landfill is not worth it. It takes MANY more hours to tend a fire to burn off that debris.

When I am done I will have reclaimed a nice large open area which I can keep mowed down and will be a good place to put my van and trailers. I may keep a fire pit set up for burning off debris that I collect in my own yard.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Recent accomplishment

Last week I finished closing up the soffit where the bees had been removed. Early in the week I started nailing on the vinyl channel that holds the soffit pieces. I looked up into the corner and there was a baby rat snake poking his head out looking at me ("Coily Jr." ?) So at that point I stopped because I need to make sure there are no places for critters.

I removed the vinyl channel pieces and the plywood soffit that the vinyl covers up. Then I used some leftover styrofoam to fill in gaps where critters could get in. I reinstalled the plywood and vinyl channels and was satisfied that this should keep out pests.

Then I started snapping in the vinyl soffit pieces that were removed in the spring, and placing a judicious nail here and there to keep everything snug. When I put in the last piece, I found that I was short on vinyl by a couple of inches. I can only think that the original installers really pushed those interlocking pieces before nailing, so over 10 or so pieces they spanned a gap that shouldnt have been spanned.

What to do? I went to Lowes and saw that the vinyl soffit there didn't have the same interlock mechanism, plus I would have had to buy a 10 foot piece where I only needed a 2 foot piece about 2 inches wide. Mulled it over a few days. Was thinking of trying to modify some leftover vinyl gutter pieces when the solution hit me. Down the street from my house there are a couple of houses being built. They are finishing up the exteriors. I figured that I might be able to find some useable scraps there before they end up in a landfill. And that worked out perfectly.

The construction crew pointed to a scrap pile and said "look in that box over there." Well, I came away with a couple of 4 foot sections that were just like what I for now and one for the future should the need arise. Within minutes I cut out and installed what I needed. Job done! One more item off the big list.

The week ahead

I want to:

  • Finish stripping the chest of drawers.
  • Make the modifications to the chest of drawers.
  • Finish stripping the base of my friend's table.
  • Reassemble the base of the table.
  • Finish assembling a bamboo windchime.
  • Get up in the attic and install the new kitchen light.
  • Fix a phone wire "drop" into my office.