Saturday, October 1st, 2011

It has been a day.

Everything was fine to start with. Morning coffee with the morning news, one sucked, the other didn’t. While B got ready to go to the farmer’s market, I threw a load of dirty clothes into the wash machine and cranked it up, then went about the rest of my morning chores: Filling the magical cat food machine that automatically dispenses kibble three times a day, then tromping down stairs to sift the crap out of the kitty litter, my favoritist job in the whole wide world! Yeah, not really, but I have to say that because I’ll blow my brains out if I ever admit to myself that I’m going to spend the next ten to fifteen years of my life sifting cat poop. So I don’t admit it.

The wash machine happened to finish the first cycle and drain the wash water while I was in the basement. The water runs down a pipe that fills up the sink in the basement, and I noticed that the water wasn’t draining. At first I thought it was draining slowly until I went back five minutes later to check on it and found the water hadn’t gone down by as much as a half inch. That’s as bad as not draining at all. Great.

But we had a trip to make to the farmer’s market, so I put it out of my mind and enjoyed walking around cap square with My Darling B. I am her bag bearer. My job is a lot easier since we bought a little cart to hang the bags from. Bag bearing used to pull my arms off but now I just drag the cart around and help her arrange the bags from the hangers. And eat scones. One chocolate chip scone is the price I ask for dragging the cart around all morning. Seems fair to me.

I set to work unclogging the drain as soon as we got back, because we couldn’t wash clothes or use the kitchen sink until it was draining again. I tried the usual tactic of shoving a garden hose down the drain and flushing it out, but that didn’t work very well this time around so I went to the garage and got the sewer snake. I hate using that thing, mostly because of the gunk that’s stuck to it when I pull it out of the sewer. It washes off, but yuck. And yet, even though I jammed twenty feet of coiled stainless steel down the sewer and gave it a good thrashing, the water still backed up in the drain. I don’t know what else to try. It may be time to finally call the professionals. That’s gonna suck.

After I got that mess cleaned up I stripped off all my mucky clothes, then stood in a blistering hot shower for about twenty minutes. I don’t usually go for ultra-hot showers, but after I’ve been splashing around in sewer water I’d like to be boiled. Since that’s not possible, I crank the temp up as hot as I can take it and stand under the shower head until my skin is bright red.

My Darling B had lunch ready when I came out, so we sat down to pulled-pork sandwiches. I had worked up enough of an appetite to wolf down two. Then I napped. I felt as though I deserved it.

My nap reminded me of the time when I was sick and trying to get some sleep in our bedroom while a woodpecker was hammering away at the side of the house. When I woke up, I tromped down stairs again to fetch a can of wood filler from the work shop, went out to the garage to grab an extension ladder, and when around to the side of the house to see about patching the gaping hole the little bastard made in the siding. It was an impressively large hole for such a little bird. He must have been working on it most of the summer. I scooped quite a bit of wood filler into it, patted it flat with a putty knife, filled in a few smaller holes and generally smeared plenty of wood filler all over the patch of siding he appeared to find so tasty, hoping the epoxy would be the ultimate yuckfest that would discourage him from ever coming back.

I had to visit the hardware store to buy some wire staples for a future project, stapling a ground wire to the back of the house where it runs down from the attic to the electric meter. I don’t know what it’s for but I pulled it off the siding last summer and had to yank another part of it off a window frame when I painted all the frames this month. I’m going to staple it back on tomorrow or maybe next weekend, unless another plumbing emergency swallows up most of a day.

And then I played with my toys. If the Justification Police had come around to see what the heck I thought I was doing, I would have pointed at the mucky sewer snake in the pail under the basement sink. I’m still laying track around the return loop at the very end of the Lost Continent Railway, but I’m nearly done. It’s a three-track around a half-circle six feet across. There are six switches and a crossover I had to build myself. In other words, there’s a lot of tiny little fiddly bits to piece together.

Today, for instance, I pieced together several bits of track leading up to a switch. Each bit had to be precisely cut to length so all the bits would fit snugly together. I bought a specially-made tool like a wire cutters that’s supposed to cut through the track easily and leave a flat, clean end, but the one I have does neither. It’s gone dull and I haven’t been able to sharpen it no matter how long or how carefully I work it over with a file. Old-timers used to cut track with a razor saw, but that’s always been a chore for me. One day, when I was desperate to cut some track, I grabbed my Dremel power tool and fitted it with a cutoff wheel. It cut through the rail like butter. I’ve cut rail with the Dremel every since. The only downside is that the friction from using a high-speed power tool makes the rail hot enough to sting my fingers.

The bits of track are held together with track joiners, inventively-named clips that must be tight enough to hold the track ends but loose enough to slide into place. They are, in fact, always, always too tight or too loose. They’re also too long. I usually cut about a third off the end, then trim the tongue off the other end so both ends are flat. I’m not sure what the tongue is supposed to do, but what it ends up doing is pushing the track ends apart, resulting in a lot of cussing. I’m not against cussing, but I am against wasting time.

I cut the track joiners with the Dremel tool, too, and that’s why I have blisters on my fingers tonight. The cutoff wheel makes the tiny track joiners so hot they burn. I’ve tried holding them with pliers, or in a vise, but I can’t make the cut as quickly that way. Speed trumps comfort. Blisters don’t change that equation.

blister | 7:52 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, hobby, LoCo Rwy, Our Humble O'Bode | Tags:
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