Saturday, September 04, 2010
Yesterday I suggested a route to the BW and got an agreement on what order to visit people so that we weren’t backtracking all the time. When we were living in an RV I remember making three round trips between Milwaukee and various places in Ohio. That was six trips through Chicago, one of my favorite places not to tow a trailer.
After she agreed, I searched out motels, and after she agreed, made a reservation at each one. They are all non-smoking rooms, all on the first floor, and all expecting two dogs. It doesn’t seem like a terribly difficult task, but I spent several hours at it, and did agree to stay in Norwalk instead of Mansfield two nights.
Then we agreed that the plan is fixed, we aren’t going to stay longer anywhere, and we aren’t going to add new side trips just because one of the relatives thinks we should. Because she didn’t want to do it on the phone, I wrote an E-mail and sent it about half an hour after my bedtime. We have reservations, with confirmation numbers, in 8 motels covering 12 days, and I have two copies of everything – one stashed in the car we will take and one in a pocket notebook that I will put in my shirt pocket when we leave.
Today, after walking the dogs and having a shower and shave, I made it to Burnham’s house before Papuga got there. We have two six foot by two foot grills mounted on a light utility trailer, which we use to cook pancakes and (if we get the front one working) grill sausage. The front one is one that we had given away, then recovered after it sat unused for a few years. At our last pancake event, the sausage guys couldn’t light the front grill.
We unbolted and lifted the top off the front grill using chains wired to each end of the steel grill (it is heavy). The second step was to disconnect and remove the burners that John Burnham had wired in place. Then I fired up my compressor and we waited until it got to 100 PSI, before trying to blow through the plumbing. We couldn’t feel anything coming out of the tiny mixer holes, so we removed a couple of the fuel/air mixers that feed the burners. That didn’t help – there was still nothing coming through.
The next step was a complete disassembly of the stove, burners, and everything else. When everything was in pieces, we could blow into the pipes and still not get anything through. That was when someone (not me) realized that the burner valves were turned off. Burnham grabbed the handles, and it turned out that we could in fact blot through the black iron pipes. At that stage we had the plumbing out of the case, every screw nut and washer carefully laid is four separate piles, and no excuse for not having a working stove. We did blot high pressure air through each burner, and a little dust came out of each one, but they weren’t blocked.
So we just laid the plumbing back without tying anything down, replaced two mixers, stuck the burners back in the mixers, and hooked up the propane. John had bought a pressure regulator and connected it in the hose line that runs from the tank to the grill, and when we turned the gas on, the burners lit. Then I turned the pressure up, and they almost went out. I looked carefully, and the way you turn the pressure regulator up is to screw the handle out, and screwing it in to turn it off allows the gas to make it through the regulator. The best guess anyone could make is that the regulator was turned the wrong way at the Triathlon.
So Three guys spent three hours this morning, working hard to learn to read the instructions on a new device. It reminds me of my early days as a design engineer when a complicated breadboard didn’t work right – you spend eight hours slaving away, and in the end change one resistor. Then the thing works the way you want.
PS. We put everything back together before Papuga and I left.
Friday, September 03, 2010
There is a line of live oaks standing shoulder to shoulder along the east side of 15th Street from Tampa Road up to the street on the north side of the elementary school, which is a long way by eyeball. I don’t know how far, but it’s plenty long for the dogs because that is what I call “Squirrel Alley.” It is on many of the south loops I take, and I was taking the dogs with me. The squirrels are thick on the ground in the morning, picking up acorns or just fooling around. This morning I was walking along and as I started into squirrel alley I noticed a couple of things falling out of the sky. Just as I figured out that they were leaves, and acorn dropped in front of me.
The live oaks are a strange tree in that they never get completely bare, but they do drop a lot of their leaves in the fall and winter. It was a terrible problem to rake them up and cart them away when we were living in the park model trailer in Caladesi RV Park.
The park model is essentially a mobile home, but limited to 400 square feet by law. They are much easier to move than a real mobile home, because they have a fixed tongue and all you need to do is remove the tie-downs, make sure the tires are inflated, hitch up, and leave (assuming you have a good tow vehicle, because they can weight more than 10,000 pounds). I saw two moved from the road down to the lake and set up with all utilities in a little over two hours one morning. That was in the park across Tampa Road.
Back to Caladesi RV – I would rake up several wheelbarrow loads of leaves and carry them down to the collection point, then have to do it again in another week. The leaves are small and thick, and they pack down very nicely – it’s not like raking maple leaves in the north – or even like red or white oak leaves.
Pinellas County has strict laws about removing a live oak – and also strict penalties if you do cut one down without a permit after they reach either four or six inches in diameter. As a consequence, you find parking lots with paving blocks that are half holes so the air and water can get to the tree’s roots, and you find true Floridians that look for shade instead of close when they park their cars. I am that way myself now.
I once read that there are 17 varieties of live oak in Pinellas County, and they’re everywhere. They’re no good for lumber – they spread out like crazy, and in the spring their pollen will turn your car a bright yellow if you let it sit too long. It will also make your eyes itch and your nose run if you’re allergic.
Before I drifted off, I was going to say that it was 72 degrees at 8 AM again today, and it looks as if fall is coming faster than usual.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Today is another really good day. When I looked at my thermometer it read 72 degrees at 8:00, which is just fine walking weather for man or dog. I feel cold in the winter when the high is in the 70’s, but 70’s are great for the summer. Usually you have to wait until the second half of October to have weather like this.
I made two stuffed Cubanelle peppers for a late lunch, but the BW wasn’t hungry – she is taking a nap now because she is totally miserable. I had a 730 calorie breakfast, and I probably will be ready to eat half or a full one for supper, which will be after the TOPS meeting this evening. My calculation says that they’re about 300 calories for each half of a pepper, or 600 if you eat the whole thing. I’ll probably eat mine all, but the next time (if these are good) I’ll stick with the standard green pepper. The long skinny ones are too hard to stuff and don’t want to stay upright for baking. They smell good, and I hope they’ll taste good.
We got a nice e-mail from the youngest daughter. She is getting the grandkids to eat better by giving them lunch money and telling them that they have to take their lunch to school when they run out of money. They also get to keep the money if they don’t spend it all. So far both boys and at least one girl are taking all their lunches, which makes the mom happy because they eat more nutritious food for lunch. The kids are happy because they have more money. Everyone is happy. You seldom find that.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Today was an extremely pleasant day, all day long. When I got back from walking the dogs this morning the thermometer said 76, and this evening after supper we looked at a fence post in the back yard, and the BW commented on what a pleasant day it was. The sun was bright and it was hot in the sun during the day, but a cloud would shade us once in a while, and there’s always shade for a lazy guy.
I am constantly surprised that people read the stuff that I write for an extra three points, and grateful that no one points out the lack of substance. I was thinking today (while my mind wandered to keep me walking) that I probably never did anything that is memorable. There’s a difference between earning a living and being famous for the ages. The priests in early Egypt (more than 5,000 years ago) are still remembered, at least by some historians. I’m pretty sure that in a hundred years no one will remember that I ever existed. I understood how a noise radar worked, built spread spectrum data links that were extremely hard to jam, and did other things, but that doesn’t make you memorable.
Be that as it may, I checked the air pressure in all 10 tires this morning and put some in the one slow leaker on the left front of the Dodge. Maybe I’ll just buy tires for the car because they’re getting old and the tire store can’t find the problem.
Then I put the quick disconnect on the air hose and the nozzle. After checking if it leaked, I added a male quick disconnect to the gauge fitting and collected all the tools that I’ll take with me to Burnham’s on Saturday.
The BW was having a number of bad reactions to the cortisone shot so I drove her to her doctor’s appointment this afternoon. After that I looked at all our stops and made out a route that doesn’t have any backtracking and lets us visit four cities in 12 days. We agreed on when and how long to stay where, so now all I have to do is find motels that the BW approves and make the reservations.
And just now I went to Sweetbay for some 96 per cent lean ground beef, tomato sauce, and ice cream (for her) that I need to make stuffed peppers tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
At the Kiwanis meeting today we agreed to do another pancake breakfast at the Lutheran Church of the Palms for the Palm Harbor High School band. This is a service event, not a fund raiser for us, and it is for September 25. I also agreed to bring my air compressor and a few other tools to Burnham’s house at 10 Saturday morning, so we determine our ability to use the second mounted grill. We really need two grills one way or another, but I think we used the church oven last year. There were only 8 of us at the meeting, and the meeting that moved us out of the back room had 10 people.
After I came home I put the 95 gallon trash container on the curb, then got out the chain saw and took the camphor tree down in four pieces. They were pretty heavy, but there was still room in the can, so I decided to dig the stump out then, even though that’s not my favorite chore. It took a round point shovel, a square long handled shovel, a mattock, and a chain saw. With a lot of digging and chopping I got the stump loose, but not free. Finally, through the magic of a chain saw, I took the stump out in six pieces, and a lot more pieces of root. It took several trips to get all the roots in the trash can, but when I was done the entire small tree was in the can, which was pretty hard to tip. The lift on the truck didn’t have any trouble, however.
I had a cheese sandwich for lunch, then tried to find the new, closer Harbor Freight Tools store. After I gave up, I went down to E. Bay Drive, near Belcher, in Largo. I got quick disconnect fittings and an Air Blow Gun Set that is just a pistol grip valve with three tips: one is blunt, one is six inches long, and one is 12 inches long. All three have the same diameter opening, so the fastest air will come out of the blunt tip, but I don’t know where we will be blowing in the burners. I also found some welding rods and two gauges of steel wire that I have which will make long drill rods if we have to try to drill scale out of the assembly.
We called and visited with my youngest brother, who is 66, and found out that he had a stroke last Saturday, and has had a total of four mild strokes since then. The ER doctors did a CAT scan of his head, and found no permanent damage and just doubled his blood pressure medicine. If he recovers within a day he isn’t supposed to worry. The BW told him we were coming by in October and he reminded us that Frank, the in-between brother who had retired, sold his condo, and bought another in Mansfield, was worried that Ev would die before Frank got there. Instead Frank came down with sepsis and died nearly nine years ago.
The BW was going on, and I had to explain Ev’s meaning to her. He plans to outlast us all, or alternatively, it’s a crap shoot. He has friends that are passing on too. We need to just pick some dates and plan the trip so people will stop nagging us about “when?”
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